Grappling

I am old. Or at least I feel that way right now. And the blessing and power of age is that I feel resolute. Anxious, but resolute.

I am a child of a segregated south. I watched the murders of my president and my heroes Bobby and Martin;  I witnessed news reports of cities on fire. I walked over grass flattened by the Poor People’s March On Washington. I laughed with black kids imported from black schools to meet Gov. Holden’s desegregation quotas, while strangers shouted “n*****-lover”. And all that was before I got a driver’s license.

We have lived chaos before. We Americans have grappled with the meaning of “democracy” and “liberty,” and have had a president who believed he was above the law (DICK NIXON *clap clap* BEFORE HE DICKS YOU). What is in my living memory resides in others, too. We don’t have to go to some other country’s history to see lessons in coping with being marginalized and demonized. We can see this in the cyclic work of our country’s contradictions. I offer these gleanings.

Institutions will not automatically grow democracy. Individuals have to work at it, cultivating the individual habits of mutuality and accountability that are core to institutional success.

img_3246We each have ways of moving through these tough times. Protesters create space for conversation. Writers invite us to intersections of issues, norms, imagination. Moms and dads modeling mutual respect and loving dissent in everyday relations cultivate democratic habits–with their friends and with their kids. Sciencing on the regular normalizes critical thinking. Reading books in groups cultivates safe space for thinking out loud. Living in your own authenticity and with intention plants habits of courage and hope in your soul.

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.

All things break. And all things can be mended.

Not with time, as they say, but with intention.

So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.

The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

~~L. R. Knost

Hope Gone Viral

Snow Additions

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Every day the lake reveals new angles, edges, ripples.  Winter magic.

Well…that didn’t work

A few weeks ago I proclaimed that deadlines were my friend.

Every day was a potential deadline. Stories would simply rise to the surface of my consciousness, like well watered seeds sprouting above composted leaves.

Clearly that didn’t work. Deadlines are horrible friends and daily deadlines just lead to dead lines.

Words are stuck in my drafts file. Incapable of stirring my emotions or piquing my curiosity, I refuse to press publish.  My ideas fail to hook MY interest.  Why edit?

Yesterday a line from Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong intensified my self-critiqueing.

I still feel scared and exposed and vulnerable as I prepare to share a new idea with the world. I still flinch a little when I turn to my community and say, ‘I’m trying this, and I would love your support!’ But I try to remind myself that, on the flip side, I love it when someone is genuinely excited about his or her work.  I’ve also learned in all of my rumble that if you don’t put value on your work, no on is going to do that for you.

I stop my writing from growing into a full-ledged wonder story in all sorts of ways.  I don’t value the process, the shitty first draft, or the second and third and fourth shitty drafts.  I don’t want to open myself to an avalanche of negative feedback–which I perversely assume is the natural outcome of my thoughts.  By not using this blog as a drafting, proposing, what-do-you-think platform, I rob myself of potential cousin-clicks and writer/photographer tips.

And if I don’t value my trying then who the hell should?

I don’t know that I will post every single day, but I am willing to try the whole deadline-is-my-friend thing again.  I will risk being exposed and vulnerable, while I rumble with what I see, through my lens and through the leaves of my family’s tree.

Because I am worth it.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Red Breasted Nuthatch, first snow, 8

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Y’ALL!!

Memory Scraps

James A. Corrigan, spring 1912My “decluttering for the holidays” was stymied today by the discovery of scan-able scraps that directly pertain to my previous post.  And so, as is often the case with my reorganization efforts, I am at the keyboard rather than behind the vacuum.

The photograph of James A. Corrigan was dated in the upper left corner–1912.  During this morning’s work, I found his medical school year book, Jefferson’s The Clinician, among the boxes I was sorting.  Inside the black leather cover were a few scraps of paper.

Dead stop.  Flip Pal out.

James A Corrigan at Jefferson

What a hoot!! No letter of “Congratulations! You have been admitted to the class of 1915!”  Just a notice of matriculation, number 386, confirming that James Corrigan had satisfactorily completed preparatory classes in 1911.  His family certainly counted it as an important document, and carefully preserved the scrap as proof that Jim had been admitted to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia beginning with the 1911-1912 session.

Another valuable piece of paper was this stationary, remarkable for its header.James A Corrigan at JeffersonBeing asked to serve as President of the school’s pathology society as a second year student (1912-1913) must have been quite an honor.

The scraps add dimension to the image in front of the flowering shrub.  It is  more than a photo of a thirty-something Jim Corrigan.  It is a snapshot of the Hazleton native’s transition from scholar to doctor and community leader.