May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world.
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
This blog has lost it’s identity, I think. When I started “Simple Things” in 2006 (which became “to put it simply” when I moved to WordPress) I was living in Europe and had so many things to write about. It was the best way I could chronicle my life overseas and still feel connected to everyone back at home.
I’ve entered a new season in life and feel that changing this site to reflect my current interests and activities is only fitting. So, I am working on a remodel of “to put it simply.” I’m not sure how it will look in the end, but I plan to include new topics and pages.
Dear 16-year-old Robin,
I’m writing you from 16 years down the road, from my first home, where I just moved with the love of my (our?) life. You won’t believe the amount of traveling you’ll have done by the time you reach your thirties – your trip to the British Isles in college is the first of many adventures. That nagging restlessness in your spirit of wanting to see the world will come true; you’ll even live in Europe and you will almost love every minute of it.
So much will change for you over the next 16 years. You’ll graduate high school, go to college (at NNC(U), which at this point isn’t even possible in your mind), move to California and then to Europe for five years where you will start (just not finish) a master’s degree. You’ll fall in love and then out for a long time, and then out of nowhere you’ll meet and marry a good man who makes you feel beautiful and accepts the love you give. You’ll work various jobs, doing the only thing that makes any sense to you even then. And you’ll realize over and over again that you don’t have all the answers.
I want to tell you a few things, some trivial, some more serious. On the light side:
- Growing out your bangs will prove to be a good idea.
- You will have MANY embarrassing and awkward moments, but you will always laugh at yourself.
- Coffee will become essential to your survival, though you’re not a fan right now.
- You will continue to love being the girl who finds joy in the little things.
- Turns out you are more creative than you realize, it seems you got some of your Mom’s artistic gene too.
- Heartbreak is awful at any age, but trust me: the heartbreak coming your way won’t last forever.
- Knowing what (and who) you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do.
- Over the next several years you will meet some people who are really cruel and malicious. You will learn something from each of them, and you will move on.
- Embrace the opportunities in the near future, but remember your roots.
- Asking questions is way more important, and honest, than having all the answers.
- You’ll rediscover words. It will be your best therapy yet. You’ll enjoy it and find yourself in it.
- It will be a lifelong challenge, but you have to stop trying to please everybody, trying to be all things to all people. At this point, you’ve got all the tools it takes to trust your instincts, and your instincts are good ones.
You’ll probably think I’m keeping things from you and to be honest I am, because I can’t change them from happening and they are sad and tragic will feel impossible to deal with but you will. Trust me. If I could give you a tip though, drop French class and pick up German. It will help you in the long term.
Though you don’t believe me now, everything you dislike about yourself are actually also manifestations of your greatest strengths. You have more potential in you than you can ever imagine.
Lastly, you need stop worrying about growing up; mostly because you never will. I love you, and I’m proud of you, and I’m glad you’ll always be a part of who I am.
I Met Myself– by Ian Sawicki
I met myself,
the dust of years,
smiled with hunger.
with rapt attention,
to my mouth’s curves
to my captive eyes.
‘Open this life,
quench your thirst
Eat of this spirit.’
I fed myself
down the front
of my feelings.
split hairs, ran across
the back of my neck.
I met myself
as I was leaving.
I love this womans poetry. And hers, hers, his, and theirs too. I can’t write like this, I’ve tried. It feels forced and affected, which isn’t the point of writing poetry. Instead, I collect other people’s poetry that, when I read it, makes my insides sigh with the satisfaction of finding words to express what I feel. I am so thankful for poets. Otherwise, I’d feel scattered and clunky inside.
Listen – a poem by Maya Stein
Wear orange, her arms whispered. Grab the handrails,
said her neck. Take as long as you need on the downhills,
her knees advised. Her shoulders were hoping she’d
turn up the heat. Her tongue inquired about a sip
of ice water. Shut off the television, her eyes wheedled.
Throw out the old sponges, her elbows urged. Buy a proper
sweater, cajoled her solar plexus. Eat more kale, her skin insisted.
But when the time came,
there was no mistaking the call
of her bones.
Remember who you are, they cried.
Remember what you are here to do,
they pleaded. Remember there is still
so much time left.
And then there was no choice
but to listen.
A poem by Rue
i wish the world spoke my language.
that is, i wish there were more
idle silences, like
honey seeping over tastebuds
sincere words, like
murmurs of water beneath the desert
gentle voices, like
a breath upon a dandelion.
no one would waste sweet air
on meaningless chatter.
there are so many useless words
clogging the arteries of the world’s heart.
so many ugly words.
such things are not needed
such sounds should not have to be heard.
the sounds of this world
echo in and out and around us
it becomes so difficult
to separate ourselves from the noise.
what is me and what is only the hum of the outside?
without – how could i? stay sane.
the world is buzzing with things to say
so many useless things which mean nothing at all
how can we find meaning?
extract the lovely from the din, and leave the rest
to the world’s eager ears. let them be fools.
let them babble on in ways i don’t understand.
speak beautifully, filter the sounds of reality.
dream in flower-colored language,
bees dancing on my tongue.
I’ve had a few months now to put a little distance between myself our second Life lost and I’m starting to feel like talking about it a little. Maybe it’s because of the change in the weather and the promise that warm and sunny days are on the way, but my mind is starting to clear of this fog I’ve been living in for the last several months. Most days go by now without some sort of trigger to my grief, although there isn’t a day that I don’t think about Them. I’m healing, and it’s good.
Today, while on my walk during my lunch hour I realized that I would have been 6 months along already. My instinct was to quickly shut this thought out of my mind, but I couldn’t do it. I let my mind wander back to where I was just before Thanksgiving. I started to think about the names I’d been writing over and over in pen to see if they looked as nice as they sounded. Beautiful names. I thought about the nursery I was designing in my mind– vintage, eclectic, old and new. I remembered the pair of maternity pants I’d purchased the weekend before it all ended, again. I let myself feel what it would be like if I was still carrying this Life and imagined what I would look like walking during that lunch hour at 6 months pregnant. It was good.
It’s hard to let yourself re-live what is lost and even though it’s awkward and it hurts, I need to cherish the few memories I do have. I need to honor their Lives.
- Tree of Life
Until I Do Not– written by Jennifer Saunders
I walk past the park where you did not
and did not toss stones into the shallow
laughing as the ripples ran outward to stir the
on the surface.
I glance away from the school you did not
and did not skip jump across the hopscotch patch chalked on the
shrieking with the girls when the boys stole your
from the squares.
I do not hold your hand
or braid your hair
or know the color of your eyes.
And I am happy, most days, until
I do not kiss your cheek and half catch the whorl
of your ear
and a strand of your hair
with my lips.
Then this lavender-scented sorrow
pulls me past the park where you did not
and where I wonder again over the color of