Thursday, May 29, 2014

Phenomenal Women Passing

Here’s how I process and here’s how I love.  I look for words.  I have been reading Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost for the past couple of days.  She says, “Lost really has two disparate meanings.  Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing” (p. 22).  I have been wandering in a new space where the unfamiliar has been appearing to me daily, reminding me that the world is vast and awesome, that the unfamiliar awakens my spirit, inspires me, and allows me to walk through the world in a more spacious way than I have for a while.

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." --Maya Angelou

This same spaciousness and space has led me further from family during a time when I have also been confronted with a true loss, of the familiar falling away, and I mourn.  A death at 93 is not a tragedy, but it is a loss.  A phenomenal woman who shaped me, loved me, and who is a contributor to both my wanderlust and my spirit, has moved on from this world.  My grandmother shared a generation with another woman who inspired us with her words and her passion for this life, and they left this world within days of each other.  I'd like to think that Maya Angelou's words and spirit can help me process the loss of someone I have loved so simply all of my life.

"The ache for home lives in all of us.  The safe place we can go as we are and not be questioned."  --Maya Angelou

I am from everywhere and nowhere, but I come from a family of oil rigs, football, and chicken fried steak.  I am from a world of Baptists and big families.  And, although I've never lived there, I am of the red dirt soil that is south central Oklahoma.  I am born to gentle accents and catfish.  I know that black eyed peas are for good luck.  I know that okra is damn good fried.  I know that there are highways so flat you might lose the horizon.  Where I come from is love.  It’s not easy love.  It’s not lazy love.  I come from people who know, without a doubt, that this is the reason that we are here in this world.  I come from hardscrabble folks who have become more and more "comfortable" with every generation, but I believe that there is a scrappiness and a persistence, a grit, that runs in our lineage.   I am grateful, because it is this grit that has allowed me to run far and wide in this world.  

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  --Maya Angelou

With the loss of my grandmother, I have lost another connection to family and "home." I have also been recollecting the experiences and influences in my life that allow me to walk inside of my own skin.  I hold the memory of the woman who regularly reminded me that I am enough, that I am loved, and I know I was generously afforded spaces where there was nothing to do but love.  I settle into memories of chicken frying in the kitchen and hands of gin rummy, and the smell of perfume and lipstick kisses on my cheek.

The fact that this world has held the hearts of women as phenomenal as these two who have come before me is worth celebrating, and with this is the recognition that there are many of us mourning, rejoicing, inspiring, loving, and fully embracing who we are because of women like these.

I am a Woman
Phenomenal Woman.
That's me.
--Maya Angelou

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lessons and Observations from the First Few Days in AK

What I’ve learned in my first five days in AK:

1.     Daily views of glaciers can help your mind rest.
2.     Even when you’re exhausted, seeing an eagle swoop down in front of you is something to take notice of.
3.     When the sun comes out, and it’s 60 degrees, it’s warm.
4.     The shape of the state of Alaska can be replicated with your right hand:  pinky, ring, and middle finger fold in at the middle joint; pointer and thumb remain straight.  I live at the thumb joint.  (So glad to know that there is another state besides MI that does this…I always wanted to be part of a tribe that could point to a place on their hand to represent where in the state they lived).
5.     There are five kinds of salmon in the area.  These are "easily" remembered by their correlation to fingers (at least for 2nd graders, apparently)…I can only remember the following:  Thumb=chum; pointer=sockeye; middle finger=king; ring finger =silver; pinky=???  There is no finger for “farmed” in this land.  J
6.     I come from “down south”...  As in “I have Lisa Richardson here in my office.  She just moved here from down south and wants to begin her home loan process.”
7.     There is a section of town called “Out the Road.”  When you drive “out the road” there is a sign that says, “Road ends: 24 mi.”  And the road, indeed, just ends.
8.     Bear scat in your driveway just means you should make a little noise and be “bear aware” as you move about.
9.     People swimming in a glacial lake in dry suits is kind of novel.
10.  I don’t need to add any extra time in my daily commute for traffic, but I do need to be aware that I might have to add time for “random chats with very nice strangers” along the way.
11. A ten o’clock sunset at the end of May makes me stay up WAY too late, but, thankfully, the gentlemen doing construction on the house I’m renting are un-phased by my bed-head and bleary eyes when they arrive with their power tools at 8 a.m., and as I scramble to get out of their way.
12.   There do seem to be an awful lot of men here.  And they all seem to be wearing Carhartts and doing quite manly things.  I think of this as nice icing on the already amazing scenery cake.
13.   Yoga might take on a different meaning in this setting.  Meditation might as well.
14. I haven’t heard a siren in five days.
15. I have heard a waterfall.