Sunday, March 24, 2024

To Sing at Dawn and Dusk--- celebrating

 This morning this arrived in my inbox -- from a Third Actor. 

It should live in a post here where I can return to it often.

Sunday, July 16, 2023


Serendipitous -- the unimaginable

"Serendipity" flickr photo by $hrink

shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
 Mary OliverEvidence: Poems
Note: There are way too many "I"s in this post, yet I wanted to be able to remember in years hence how keeping "some room in your heart for the unimaginable" has led me on a joyous journey, dedicated to my Gus.
A hole in my heart and soul, following my beloved Gus' death, I again tried to open myself to possibiltiies. It seemed that had been the story of my life, sensing some barrier like the tree in this image, then open to and embracing the serendipitous, always discovering something unexpected, that extended an invitation.  
And it happened again when I read an OpEd in the New York Times by Bill McKibben about his new adventure in Third Act-- a movement for experienced Americans over 60 determined to change the world for the better.  Such important good work around climate and democracy.
My initial opportunities to contribute as a volunteer were on the Training Team and in the Educators working group.  I kept my head down, was all-in and found that when I was focused on Third Act activities, I just didn't feel my grief. My last post, On the Brink, pondered where in Third Act might I best continue to contribute to honor my Gus. 
And since then, I've traveled an unimaginable, joyous journey as serendipitous opportunities appeared.
Never, never did I imagine--
On March 21,2023, also known as the Day of Action, 3.21.23, being out in the street in downtown Cleveland with a sign protesting Chase bank's investments in fossil fuel expansion with other Third Act Ohio supporters.

Participating in an All-in Call as part of a supporter highight (absolutely scared to death), and awaking 2 days later to find this linked in a newsletter. 

 Having an opportunity to support B in his quest as lead organizer of Third Act to activate and nurture working groups to thrive and create a larger impact around the Third Act mission. Learning when to let things go and to laugh and play just for the fun of it.

Serving now as "national volunteer" and "launch mentor" and meeting "experienced" Americans, who share the same fierce determination to have an impact and who lift up Third Act's working principles. They bring me greater hope, and much joy.

And, thinking there could be nothing better, and yet there was--

Traveling to Minneapolis at Third Act's invitation to meet face to face Third Act Minnesotans and  to be a member of a team presenting in a workshop conference session all about Third Act.

Third Act Minnesota

Workshop at Forging a People Powered Democracy

 All to say--  heart open to the unimaginable-- 

Oh, my what can occur-- 

And beloved, this is for you---

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

On the brink--


"Brink" flickr photo by Tesla314
shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Warning: This is what some might call a brain dump-- trying to think through a really tough decision by looking back at where I've been because I'm on the brink again---

Some 60 years ago my father sent this quote to me-- newspaper clipping
Laminated some 40ish years ago, I still have it
And it's been, I think, in a way my life's mantra--

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." ---George Bernard Shaw
At 16, it guided me to be a teacher
And in my first classroom, I thought I had arrived at my destination.

I did discover, however, that throughout my life as I learned more and more that I was always on the brink of something-- usually full of trepidation and always ready to follow a passion.

Leaving home to go to Earlham College
Beginning my teaching career in a large inner city high school
Moving to Ontario to teach in a private Anglican school for girls, Geography 7-12
Returning to the US to continue teaching
Earning a masters degree in curriculum and instruction
Leaving the classroom to support teachers in infusing technology into learning
Writing a $250,000 grant for professional development that was funded
Moving to a new district to design, teach an innovative program for high schoolers wanting to be teachers
Earning National Board Certification
Retiring from the classroom to design online professional development for Ohio teachers for a state agency
Joining Sheryl at Powerful Learning Practice to become a leader in online communities of practice
Designing, facilitating a coaching model for online spaces with an appreciative inquiry foundation
Co authoring a book with Sheryl
Becoming caregiver for my beloved Gus
Learning to navigate this new phase of my life without my soulmate

Leaving this here for me to remember how many times I've been on the brink of a myriad of opportunities that have come my way,
always new possibilities for which I am most grateful (except, of course, for the last two)

and to support me as I consider the brink I'm on again.

Carrying  GB Shaw's words and now Parker Palmer's from On the Brink of Everything,  from the chapter --Living from the inside out and my lived experience with me--

"Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human world and take risks on its behalf. Clinging to what you already know is the path to an unlived life.

So walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling, then getting up to learn again and again.

Take on big jobs worth doing, jobs like the spread of love, peace, and justice. These jobs are not measured by “effectiveness”, but by the standard of “faithfulness” --

Faithfulness to your gifts, to the needs of the world, and to offering your gifts to whatever needs are within your reach."

 I'm on the brink again in Third Act. 

When I filled out the intake form to join as a volunteer, there was a question asking about willingness to lead. I stopped, I left it sit on my computer for a few days; i kept returning to it, wondering I had anything to offer, leaving it, coming back again. Finally, I clicked that box, hoping against hope that I'd done the right thing and clicked "submit".

Amazing opportunities presented themselves, one of which was to serve on the co ordinating committee of one of Third Act's working groups. I joined the first meeting and I was totally intimidated; everyone there but one person had been an academic. 

Thinking my career experience so very different-- always adjusting, resetting, adjusting and moving forward in a different way--
In an urban system,
in principals' offices meeting around tech concerns and being interrupted 5 or 6 times by police bringing students in,
taking time from class to meet with an autistic student "long distance" (he would sit in one corner of a stairwell outside my classroom while I stood in the other),
constantly adjusting and resetting plans for learning experiences that went awry because of failed technology, absentee students, or young people who just needed another way to learn,
video conferencing not working in those early days when it was the only way to connect with my students
Meaning the journey was one of roadblocks and wayfinding and climbing mountains and experiencing the ordinary becoming extraordinary-- as I look back on it, an amazing journey fueled by passion
And it seemed very different from by-laws, strict structures, time for deep discussions that I imagined filled the lives of these folks from academia--

And yet, I hoped that my experiences might be of value as I traveled Third Act's path to push for a fair, stable society and planet.

I truly took Parker Palmer's words to heart:
So walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling, then getting up to learn again and again.

Take on big jobs worth doing, jobs like the spread of love, peace, and justice.
I listened, I watched, I learned, I read all that I could for I was truly a newbie to the world of activism and climate change. And I started to contribute -- and collaborate with some of the kindest, smartest people I've known in a long time, maybe ever.  And I've had opportunities and experiences that I never dreamed I would.

And it was a joy. Joy, Third Act will tell you, is essential to our work!

And now --it isn't so much.  Really, some of the stress triggers my deepest grief and yesterday I felt so very sad and empty. And it also afftects me physically; it actually makes me sick.

Carol and Butch are worried about me and wonder if I need to find other outlets for my passion, for the urgency I feel around the mission of Third Act --
as members of the coordinating committee now want to hold back on moving forward, to discuss, and ponder on direction as they are uncomfortable with our resets
and I'm wanting to forge ahead, hopefully engaging those in our working group, hopefully sharing all that I have learned through out my life in the service of others because I believe
These jobs are not measured by “effectiveness”, but by the standard of “faithfulness” --

Faithfulness to your gifts, to the needs of the world, and to offering your gifts to whatever needs are within your reach."
So I am at the brink again--- and I'm torn-- so many other times, it was easier to make a decision
Whether it's my age, or my fidelity to Sheldon and the supporters in the working group-- this is so much harder--

I have ideas on how to move forward, to get back to a place where we all find joy again
And I'm not sure if voicing them will cause others to become more entrenched in their own thinking
I do know that creating norms works and that it seems so appropriate to a group of elders who are volunteers from varying lived experiences--

Or do I just step back and out into other initiatives of Third Act?

At this very moment, I just don't know-- and if the very act of writing this has helped or not --

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Remembering --

Gus would have been 85 today.

Hold your loved ones close.

Cherish every moment you have with them.

Tell them you love them every day.

Monday, October 17, 2022

On The Road Again?


I've been traveling virtually with Butch! 
As he delivers huge manufactured homes to their waiting owners.
Never leaving my seat at my computer, 
 Across and back Cali (as he calls it) 
Near the Mexican border, Malibu, Havasu, 
At the ocean shore, up in the mountains 
Spectacular views

Almost as if I was his co pilot, riding shotgun as it were.
On Skype, we laugh, we commiserate together on the state of our democracy
I cry when I share stories of his Dad with him.
Without his companionship, his love, I'd be lost.
Always, just like Carol, there when grief suddenly overwhelms me--
Always, just like Carol, there to celebrate my virtual travels with Third Act too.


 And I've been in the northwoods of Wisconsin too, thanks to Carol.
On Skpe too, and in texts, our sisterhood has never been stronger
Her wisdom, her always knowing what to say--
When I'm in tears, when I'm frustrated, when I fear I'm unraveling
Is unequaled.
Without her gifts of love and grace, I don't know where I'd be now.

From a Third Act Educators Working Group Call

I've been traveling too with Third Act
meeting and welcoming educators across our nation and collaborating with other Third Actors-- 
from Alaska to Florida, California to New York, Florida to Maine (43 states total).  
And I've met, chatted with, laughed with, commiserated with the kindest, compassionate seniors who want to continue to make a difference. 
Those Zoom calls give me hope-- 
that underneath all the noise, the vitriol, and the violence are a massive group of Americans who hope to, plan to, act to, will --
stabilize our democracy and our planet
Collaborating with other elders, experienced Americans from across the country is invigorating and fun!
And as I give my all to the Educators Working Group, the National Welcome Calls, and the Google Docs on demand coaching--
I find some comfort 
And on the challenging days, I remind myself that all this is to honor my beloved Gus.

And to be entirely honest, on the road virtually is my preferred mode these days--
For everytime I get into the car
I'm alone
without my co pilot who had been always there with me
ever since I retired in 2004.
And I miss him more (if that's even possible)
His hand on my knee, 
his "ok" when he looked to the right to tell me it was ok to turn,
his choosing which CD -- Three Dog Night, Chuck Mangione
His checking out the forsythia in the spring
American flags coming home from Chardon
Or the Canadian geese in 2 different locations.
Some days I can almost smile and others a tear or two roll down my cheek.

"Grief is surprising.  Not at first, when you are prepared for it to pick you up and slam you against the rocky shore, but later, in a month or two or ten.  Anyone who thinks the shortest distance between two points is a straight line does not understand grief." --Steve Leder The Beauty of What Remains, p 137

Saturday, April 30, 2022



Listen to excerpt from Carole King-- Tapestry

40 years
The 2 of us
Since my retirement in 2004, it was 24/7
Everywhere together
Tackling projects together
In the kitchen cooking together
Grocery shopping together
In his hospital room following his surgery together 

Each complementing the other
What my shoulders couldn't stand, he did
What his legs wouldn't cooperate for, I did

"Our love is woven
Of a thousand strands—"
-The Dark Night (XVIII) May Sinclair - 1863-1946

An extraordinary tapestry created by those years together
The warp, the weft, the thousand strands--- so inextricably woven, strong and beautiful

"Weaving involves crossing two threads, the warp and the weft, one vertical and the other horizontal, one stretched taut and the other undulating and intertwined with the first. To produce the textile it is necessary for these two threads to be bound, otherwise each will remain a fragile and fluttering potentiality...if the meeting of opposites does not take place, nothing is created, for each element is defined by its opposite and takes its meaning from it."

--Dario Valcarenghi, Kilim History and Symbols, as quoted in
ZATI The Art of Weaving a Life

I think that for us, sometimes he was the warp 
And at others, it was me.  
That only added to the depth and majesty of the weave.

Then he was gone

the "weft interrupted" 
And I wondered on that tapestry
That for my life was still unfinished--

"Kilim or slit weave leaves holes in a way that keeps the fabric strong. It teaches us that where there are places of loss, where the weft is interrupted, and there is a hole in the fabric of our lives, that fabric is still strong.The gap in the fabric becomes an opening through which to see from another perspective. In our woven lives, the empty spaces are the very places where we can see with new eyes, where we can look behind the day-to-day weaving for a moment to see our deeper truths within." From

An opening through which to see from another perspective 

"Isn't that the challenge for all of us who have lost people we love-- to keep them alive, to enable them to speak to us from a measuring cup or a breeze, a smell, a taste, a dream; to let them see life, and to live life through us? ...See it, see it all for them. You who mourn lost loves, let them dwell in the pupils of your eyes, let them live in memory."  p. 205, Leder, The Beauty of What Remains

A blossoming belief that perhaps I can continue the weave on this tapestry in ways not previously considered before, yet one true to his memory and to me. But what?

Encouraged by Carol and Butch, I turned to the web to find out more about weaving itself and how I might engage-- for I had long thought (years ago) I might like to learn to weave. 

To my delight, I discovered The Creativity Patch and Lucy
What a gift as I continued weaving the threads of the new stage of my life and as I began to learn a little about weaving. 

Starting tiny (and I do mean tiny)
Moving up a bit
Sending bookmarks and mug rugs to family members yet always challenged by the selvages
Picking Lucy's brain to graduate to a larger loom and placemats, gradually increasing the difficulty of the weave. 

Seeing through another perspective-- 
Looking out through my window on the world now 
With him always with me, living in memory

That window on the world often dismaying me 
As the hate, the violence, the polarization
Continues to tear the fabric of our nation

And Carol, in one of our conversations on weaving and the state of our nation, points me to We Are Weavers, a group founded by David Brooks,

"But Weavers share an ethos that puts relationship over self. We are born into relationships, and the measure of our life is in the quality of our relationships. We precedes me.

They want to live in right relation with others and to serve the community good.

I guess my ask is that you declare your own personal declaration of interdependence and decide to become a Weaver instead of a ripper." 

That idea "we precedes me" and "to serve the community good" speaks to me--
Is that what was missing in my new weaving of the fabric of my, of our lives?

Not one for coincidence
New York Times op ed from Bill McKibben caught my attention

For those over 60 who want to work together to stabilize the planet and our democracy 
There it was---  "we precedes me" and "to serve the community good"  and more

Thinking together on Elderhood and how that suggests a different perspective

Espousing these working principles
1) Be kind
2) Be humble (a little)
3) Be inclusive—really!
4) Boost others!
5) Take care of yourself
6) Back up the youths!
7) Be generous, but not to a fault!
8) Be accountable
9) Be creative!
10) We’re all in this together
It felt right when I read about it
It feels right now
And I think it adds just the right thread, especially with an educator affinity group collaborating, to this tapestry.

"My life has been a tapestry
Of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision
Of the ever-changing view"

I'm wondering how that tapestry might grow and change in the coming days, weeks, and months of the weaving threads together?

Seeing through another perspective-- 
Looking out through my window on the world now 
With him always with me, living in memory

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The trough

September 22, 2021, the day my life was altered forever

My beloved Gus, husband and soulmate of 40 years, left this life

But for my sister, Carol, who has called every night and sent me myriads of poems and readings via US mail, and Butch, Gus' son, who skypes daily, I think I would be lost, drowned in the trough as Judy Brown so beautifully writes. Carol sent this poem at just the right time I think -- after a really tough day at the 6 month mark.  And yes I do keep count--

Unable to put feelings to words
Chest heavy and hurting
Trying to keep so busy to fill the emptiness (the house is cleaner than it's been in a long time)
Laughing with Carol or Butch and then later sobbing alone
Staying up late enough to just collapse into bed so I could sleep
This image depicts me in the first few months and intermittently now

Grief flickr photo by HerryLawford shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

As I nodded, sometimes smiled, and wept, 
And underlined and turned down corner pages
As Steve Leder's writing spoke to me
I was more able to make that choice, to choose what I remembered
Rather than be haunted by the hard months prior to his death and that night
But the joy, the love, the special times we had -- and those abound
The beauty of what remains

Each day my conversations with Gus
Focus more and more on that
And it seems that perhaps now I realize I am growing around my grief

That I can now write this, and hopefully actually be able to verbalize it soon to Carol and Butch
For that I am grateful--

As Judy writes:
But if we rest there in the trough, in silence, 
being in the low part of the wave, 
keeping our energy and noticing the shape of things, the flow, 
then time alone will bring us to another place where we can see horizon,
see land again, 
regain our sense of where we are, and where we need to swim.
I'm feeling maybe I can see the land again and may be able to regain my sense of where I need to swim--