Tag Archives: Adversity and Resilience

December Dawn

Carol A. Hand

December Dawn – 2017

***

A new day dawning

finally free of a burden

that caused so much pain

across decades

because yesterday I chose

to trust

caring competent others

and face my greatest fears.

***

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Reflections about Options

Carol A. Hand

Two childhood dreams
One of darkness, one of light
One that freezes action in midnight terror
The other daylight freedom flight
A tender child then, perhaps by fate,
could choose to observe life as if from above
detached, compassionate,
but is this really living love?

The reality now in the world today
reminds me of dark storm clouds rolling in
although this storm feels as if it’s here to stay
It’s time for us to stand alone, together, bearing light
to face these fearsome times come what may

***

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Morning Messengers

Carol A. Hand

She who is born to seek peace
will live through times of conflict
She who seeks light
will walk through dark nights of the spirit
She who seeks to live love and compassion
will sometimes be surrounded by
hatred and cruelty to test her earnestness
And she who seeks to live joy
will know the depth of aloneness and doubt
and the wrenching sorrow of witnessing suffering
she cannot heal

But one morning after 70 winters
she understands why it is so
as she gazes up at the morning sky
in mid-November before another winter
watching the last leaves fall
twirling, floating, and dancing
in the wind as they return to source

Leafless Willow – November 15, 2017

A little grey squirrel quietly joins her
and sits at her feet gazing up at her face
unafraid for the briefest of instants
Somehow the paradoxical journey
to this moment suddenly makes sense
But the moment passes
signaling the need to return
to a different paradoxical constructed reality

Grading Papers

Carol A. Hand

Grading student papers is not an easy job. It’s the reason I haven’t been on WordPress often these past weeks.  Yet I have learned how important it is to grade mindfully, because the words we use can change lives – for better or worse.

I’m posting a poem my colleague shared with me tonight that speaks to this truth with power and eloquence.

My Name Is Not Those People, a poem by Julie K. Dinsmore, read Danny Grover on YouTube:

A November Morning 2017

Carol A. Hand

 

bright reflecting sunshine

a dusting of snow

bracing cold air

the heavy odor

of diesel fuel

outside

everywhere

remind me

winter life in the city

comes with circi

convenience 

and costs

requiring

care

***

Pensive Pinto – November 9, 2017

***

Note:

Circi, also spelled as sirsee, circe, surcy, and surcee, is a word used mostly in the southern U.S. that means “an unexpected, usually small, gift” (English Language & Usage Stack Exchange).

November Reflections and Connections

Carol A. Hand

Reflections – November 1, 2017

Do you ever have mornings when a question plays in your thoughts and you don’t know the answer? This morning, as I gazed at the trees on this first day of November, I wondered if they process carbon dioxide in the winter. The answers I found are fascinating. Maybe everyone else learned this and remembers. But just in case, I thought others might find the answers interesting, too.

The first question that came to mind – Do trees process carbon dioxide (CO2) in winter?

Birch Tree in November, 2016

The answer –

“Most of the land mass of the earth is in the northern hemisphere, and most of the vegetation is Northern hemisphere. During autumn and winter, the leaves fall and exhale carbon dioxide (through decomposition). Throughout the spring and summer days, leaves grow and inhale carbon dioxide. So, when it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, global CO2 levels rise quite sharply and fall again during the warmer months.” (Michael Bloch, 2006, November 30. “Deciduous trees and carbon dioxide,” available at greenlivingtips.com).

Another site offered a more global, connected perspective.

“In general, it is inevitable (whether or not trees lose their leaves) that photosynthesis should reduce during the winter months, simply because there is less sunlight through the winter months. The question is as to where greater photosynthesis is happening, in the southern hemisphere (with large oceans, and more marine algae), or in the northern hemisphere (much great land masses), so which winter is the more significant (that of the north or that of the south)? Then you have the additional issue that as oceans get colder in winter, they will dissolve more CO2, and as they get warmer in the summer they will release some of this CO2 back into the atmosphere (this is also made more difficult to judge because of the complexities of the ocean currents).” (The Naked Scientists, 2007, July 10. “Carbon Dioxide in Winter,” available at thenakedscientists.com).

February 3, 2017

Winter, or rather, below freezing temperatures, affect photosynthesis for coniferous trees as well. (Ayumi Tanaka (2007), “Photosynthetic activity in winter needles of the evergreen tree Taxus cuspidata at low temperatures (2007), Tree Physiology 27, 641–648 © 2007 Heron Publishing—Victoria, Canada).

There is so much to learn about the complex interconnections on earth and how much we all depend on each and every being that shares the same tiny home. The most critical processes are often invisible. It makes me wonder about an educational system that fails in many cases to recognize our interdependence and responsibility for inclusive stewardship. In school, I learned how to dissect things, name all their parts with Latin words, and a little about how other living beings interact with their immediate environments. But we often don’t learn about the interconnections within a larger context, and the importance of helping to maintain the delicate balance necessary for all life to harmonize as each unique being performs its functions as part of a grand symphony throughout the millennia.

I’m grateful for the winter that brings rest for trees and the scent of new fallen snow, even if the air is laden with more CO2.

Reflections – November 6, 2017

The first Monday after
artificial “time” seasonal adjustment
allows me to wake “early”
greeted by the morning sun
streaming through the window
illuminating things that carry memories
with light and a golden glow

Morning Glow – November 6, 2017

I breathe in the light
so rare these days
highlighting poignant memories
of other times and places

The sewing table, now folded,
a legacy from my mother
like the skill I learned as a child
There was a time when I sewed often
with an old secondhand “portable” Necchi machine
if one can honestly call a 50 pound machine portable
but it traveled the country with me
from Los Angeles to Illinois,
to Massachusetts then Connecticut
to Wisconsin, Montana, and back
It’s how I clothed myself at times
and my daughter when she was a child
After decades, I had to retire the Necchi
when it could no longer be repaired

There are days when I can relate
to the feeling that one may no longer
be able to serve a useful purpose
The prayer flags hanging on the open door
symbolize family connections and repaired vision
but I honestly don’t know how
to repair a heart that keeps breaking
from senseless wars and destruction
or from cruelty and tragedy everyday

But today, I awoke to sunshine
with the awareness that I can still breathe
and do small things – trying to be mindful
and compassionate regardless of context
while I am here

Juxtaposed

Carol A. Hand

Watching the last leaves in the cottonwood trees

fluttering as they cling to branches in the breeze

then swirling and floating as they reluctantly release

landing on the earth with crispy whispers, at peace

blanketing both city’s pavement and sacred ground

Sunday morning traffic’s whir the only other sound

Nature’s gifts visible despite an otherwise bleak landscape

***

Sunday Morning View – October 29, 2017

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October Transitions

Carol A. Hand

October is a time of transitions

Sorrow and joy interwoven in memories

of celebrating a dear daughter’s birth

and grieving a beloved mother’s death

A time when the green ash tree turns gold

and glows vibrantly in the afternoon sun

***

Green Ash Tree Turned Golden – October 23, 2017

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A time when late-blooming flowers

Add grace and color to leaf-sprinkled gardens

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Late-blooming African Daisies – October 23, 2017
Late-blooming African Daisies – October 23, 2017
Late-blooming African Daisies – October 23, 2017
Tiny-blue Flowers (?) in Mixed Wildflower Garden – October 23, 2017

***

October’s transitions memorialized in photos

to remind me of blooms and golden glow

just before the first northcountry snow

now blanketing the earth in winter white

***

Morning Snow – October 27, 2013
Morning Snow – October 27, 2013
Morning Snow – October 27, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No doubt the morning snow will melt soon

before “real” winter settles in to stay for a while

***

 

Remembering…

Carol A. Hand

Seven years ago, my mother passed away in the early morning. She was 89. During the last 13 years of her life, she gradually lost her memories and her abilities to care for herself and communicate. I was thinking of her yesterday at sunset and decided to repost the poem I wrote for her two years ago.

Sunset – October 9, 2017

Mother, I Remember

Dear Mother, I remember as a child
The trips to New York City and to the Jersey shore
Camping in Cape Cod, and the Adirondack Mountains
Trips on boats, splashing in the ocean
Picking berries in the woods and laughing
Only realizing later that we were spared by
the copperheads that called the woods home
I remember the many times you cried
because you couldn’t bear the loneliness and pain
from an abusive husband who knew the way to hurt you most deeply
was to hurt the daughter you loved
But we were both survivors, you and I

I remember watching you when I was a teen as you cared for elders
and dealt with cranky staff with such kindness and diplomacy
A gifted healer and peacemaker despite the abuse you couldn’t stop
I remember that I understood from a very early age
that you didn’t see your beauty or your worth

I didn’t know how to help you or myself for awhile

***

My Mother Sending me off to College after Spring Break – 1966

***

I remember there were many years when we didn’t meet often
You had your work to keep you busy and I had mine
Yet you always found time to send letters and cards
from Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin
when you returned to the place where you were born
to use your skills to get federal funding for a health center
on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation
I remember how frightened you were to testify before Congress
How proud you were of this accomplishment
and how disappointed when the center was named after the tribal leader
whose bitterness almost sabotaged the project

I remember when I was a little older
Driving this road to your northwoods home
so many times, from so many directions
in too many different cars to recall
Only this time, the drive is different
I’m crying so hard it’s hard to see the road ahead
I’m not coming with my family to celebrate a holiday,
or taking time away from work to answer your plea for help
because you’ve grown fearful and weary of Father’s abuse
I’m not coming to help you move to the elder apartment complex
or the assisted care facility because you can no longer remember
how to care for yourself, or even who I am
This time I’m coming to bid you farewell one last time

I will always remember the love and the laughter,
the tears and the pain as I hold your hand and
gently caress your cheek and smooth your silvered hair
as you lay in your hospital bed, struggling to breathe, dying.
I kiss your cheek and whisper.
I love you, Mother. I always have. I know I will miss you
But it’s okay to let go now Mother and go home.
You’ll finally be free from suffering.”

It’s been seven years since your death
But I still remember

***

October Reflections

Carol A. Hand

As I greet the morning facing east
the rising sun is momentarily visible
between the tree-lined horizon
and the bank of clouds moving in
Multicolored leaves provide a filter
allowing light and shadow to dance
highlighting gardens and dew-laden grass
The cool pine-scented gentle breeze
kisses my face and graying hair
and sets the wind chimes singing
Rustling leaves on trees join with their own music
Wind-blown crispy fallen leaves clicking on pavement
add counterpoint to the murmur of city traffic
I wish I could share the moment with others
But of course my camera is inside

I stop to wonder
What is this perceived need to share really about?
It’s becoming more and more difficult to blog
Perhaps it’s because it’s harder and harder to hope
Perhaps it’s because my inner reserves are depleted
by so much suffering in the world
and the myopic selfishness so prevalent today
Perhaps it’s because I have too much to do
too many details that need attention
to allow me much time for poetry and music
Perhaps it’s because I know that silence
is often the wiser choice
Words carry power, conscious and unconscious intentions
to enlighten, to inspire, to entertain, to distract,
to wound, to heal, to repel, to attract

May these simple words inspire a moment of silence
to witness beauty with a deep sense of peace and gratitude

***

October Reflections – 2017

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