Sharing My Walk

City Dock

My friend (and photographer) Donna suggested I post one of my photos from my foggy morning walk. I even worked at trying to crop it appropriately, to frame what I think is most important.

Fog dissipated as we walked, lifting to a beautiful sunny day. I thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson and this quote:

The older I get, the simpler life becomes and all I yearn for is wholesome food, an early night and walking in the countryside.


Today I am feeling so grateful and full of privilege to be able to retire, travel, eat well, and spend my days as I wish.

Update on Pair Project

Last April when my friend Donna Hopkins and I decided to try a poetry/photography project, I was excited. But I didn’t know we would still be working on it these months later.

Yet, I’ve found this project has given me focus. I’ve also changed the way I see the world, much like when children view events through their own fresh eyes. And I couldn’t be more grateful for this in my life right now.

This was Donna’s idea: to make a photo and send it to me where I would react to it in writing. “Let’s see where it goes,” she said, with a smile that drew me in.

First, I love her photographs. They capture moments in her life, moments that show what it means to be human. Also, she knows I use the photos as inspiration, so my writing is not literally about the photo but what comes to me as I study it. We found we were much aligned as we moved forward. The other discovery came when she titled the project Natural Histories, a nod to this time in our lives. What a perfect way to document what we are both going through as we transition into what I think of as the last third of our lives.

An example above shows what she sent- a photo, stark in its dark green and white sign contrast, but also empty with a sign that says nothing. At first I focused on the blank sign, but then my mind moved to what happens at the moment of death. I found my feelings stirred up around the idea of after life and my mother.

We are mid-way through the project, aiming to finish up next April, a year from when we started. The beauty for me is I can create a poem but return to it before we finalize. I’ve already added and deleted lines from earlier poems, and I plan to do a once over before we publish our book.

Sebene Selassie said, “each of us can cultivate our capacity to live in ways that honor our inherent interconnection. Through intimacy and imagination we can consciously create the world we live in together.” This feels like I am creating the world in which I want to live. We will all grow old. We will all die. How do we honor the time we are here on this earth?

To Read or Not to Read

I hope Jenna doesn’t mind me using her photo from last night here. She was amazing, as were all the other readers at the Water Street Writers open mic event.

I’d brought three poems to read, just in case. But I had a feeling I wouldn’t read, beginning a few days ago. I spent my life in front of people: teaching, talking to parent groups, and speaking at technology forums. Presenting seemed easy, natural. Then I went through some life changes that, well, changed my life. Suddenly, I experienced anxiety, gut issues, and sleep problems. I ignored them for a few years, but then realized I needed to learn how to manage them.

After two or three years, I do feel like I *can* manage (not fix) them. And one way is to honor what I am feeling. I try to say “yes” when I mean yes, and I say “no” when I mean no. I knew if I read, I would feel the flutters in my stomach turn to waves. Then I’d have gut issues that wouldn’t subside for days. And I probably wouldn’t have slept last night.

I *chose* not to read. Instead I totally enjoyed sitting outside in the freezing weather listening to my Water Street writers read. The evening was relaxing!

I have become more introverted as I age. I crave solitude. Nothing makes me happier than writing, listening to podcasts, walking on the beach, or sitting in a garden. That’s not to say I don’t love my friends. It was so good to see the writers whom I usually only see on Zoom! So many smiles, so many hugs.

The past few years have taught me to honor my feelings and do what is important for my body. I don’t always make the right choices, but they are choices. That feels right.

What I’m reading/learning:


A Simple Movement for Joy

Start Where You Are

The Loveliness of it All

Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

I was never much of a hugger. Being a New Englander, and earlier having all ancestors from England, I tend to be a little stand-offish.

But I’ve had a few hugs lately that have warmed me from the the top of my head to the tip of my toes. Coming home from Rhode Island means seeing friends after months away. And after Covid (and now double boosted) and not hugging at ALL, I find a need to grab friends and hold on for a few moments.

This morning I had one of those hugs from someone I don’t see very often. After a long squeeze, we caught up, and I found myself answering her questions about family, Rhode Island, travel, and poetry. It was so affirming. I ended the quick conversation with “Life IS good.” I hadn’t said that in a while, and it felt almost overwhelming to admit. I can wallow around in dark places for too long when I start thinking about my health/aging/loss issues.

Landing back here in Virginia was hard. I missed Rhode Island desperately, and being here felt strange and awkward. I mentioned to David how loud it is. We live on an emergency route, so we hear sirens all day and night. People walk home from bars and restaurants late at night and laugh- loudly. Dogs bark. Cars and motorcycles roar their engines. It’s almost too much.

I do berate myself for getting mired in this– after all, I have two really cool places to live, food to eat, heat for my houses, and children/grandchildren I visit with regularly.

But it was good to feel like I was getting over the hump this morning. It was good to realize again what lovely friends I have here. I could feel the weight lifting.

I Want to be Alone

I’ve finally established a fairly good morning routine. Gentle, peaceful, quiet.

But what I’ve realized it this: I really like it because I am alone.

I wake slowly and drink my coffee. The I do my pilates exercises on the reformer while listening to a podcast. Next, I move to my chair where I journal or work on poetry, and finally I meditate. I do this in the room I transformed from my letterpress studio to a “room of my own.”

I am by myself. And it feels fine.

Here’s the science from an article by Jenn Grannemann:

introverts are more sensitive than extroverts to dopamine. As a result, introverts simply need less of it to feel its pleasant effects. Too much dopamine, and introverts get overstimulated, according to Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, in her 2002 book, The Introvert Advantage. ….. Interestingly, Laney writes, introverts may prefer to use a slightly different brain pathway, one that is activated by acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter tied to long-term memory, perceptual learning, and the ability to stay calm and alert, among other things. Introverts may enjoy spending time alone in part because of acetylcholine; according to Laney, this chemical may produce a happy feeling for introverts when they’re quietly reflecting, concentrating, or turned inward.

I am happiest when I am reflecting, either on paper or by sitting quietly and thinking. Even now as I write this blog post, I am content and filled with joy.

As we age, it’s important not to give up socializing. I do like my friends! I know my brain is also healthier when I see people. My goal is to find a good balance as we come out of this pandemic.

Greta and I could have been friends.