NaPoMo poetry party.26


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Joel Clements is a graphic designer, documentary photographer, and widely involved creative soul who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario with his fabulous wife Andrea, and two adorable cats. I have witnessed the exceptional work of Joel’s hands in his woodworking, cabinetmaking, and renovating. His vintage canoe is one example of his loving and meticulous process of preserving things of beauty.

To have a creative conversation with Joel is best enjoyed with a cold craft brew in your hand and a good chunk of time to sit and wonder together. For now I’m just going to imagine the day that will happen again, and enjoy our virtual chat.

Joel is my brother, and my friend. Welcome to Buddy Breathing, JC. Your websites HERE and HERE are great resources for folk to dig in and find out more about you, and experience more of your work. Today you’ve brought us a poignant poem, and a photograph, but let’s dig first into the answers to three questions.

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Joel: I’ve been a self-employed creative for almost 14 years, so working from home hasn’t required an adjustment besides adapting to sharing the house 24/7 with my wife. Social distancing and travel restrictions are definitely having an effect on my photography. Last year at this time I was preparing for a month long documentary assignment in Malawi. I have taken the opportunity to play a little – with my Polaroid cameras and some mixed-media art projects. I take a little time out of work each day to do some art for art’s sake.

Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?

Joel: Creativity is central to my being. I love to create, and experience things that other people have created.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Joel: I received a request to submit a poem to Buddy Breathing.

Your photo and poem are gifts that seem so well suited to each other. Thank you for taking us here.

Love and hope,
Lesley-Anne

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Downtown Toronto under lock down.

Grief Moved In

Blue sweatshirts,
sweat-stained,
darkened,
sled labelled boxes
down the hall
jammed with
box-spring skeletons,
and grunt
a piano up
the stairs

The sofa rests hard
on soft shoulders,
carried away
from an empty
shrunken room.

We sit hard
on hardwood floors,
listen to squeals
of dolly wheels
rolling up plywood
ramps, eat
fried chicken
from the bucket,
sharing memories
with deaf walls
as grief moves in.

 

Time, a poem.


DSC_0069Time
 
I watch the last winter Junkos
gather at the feeder my son filled before he left.
Soon they will fly north for summer.
On the new house construction behind us
the roofers walk the hips and ridges
without safety ropes, nail-gunning shingles
without incident. When the roof was white with frost
they tied themselves down, just to be sure.
I might have done the same, tied him
to me with advice or questions, my preference
for his BB gun, his childhood. But it was well
past time for Spring, and I imagine
he already sensed the enticing green
fatigue of 05:00 hours, heard new voices
promise vital things. My voice
like friendly fire, something
best kept in the back of his mind.
 
LAE2017

What the heck


FYI: Rant ahead…

Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?

And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?

It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.

You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t!  You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.

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Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?

Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?

I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?

And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.

My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!

As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!

Sigh…rant done…

LAE

 

 

Every day is Woman’s Day


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAHairline Cracks in the Porcelain

I come from a long line

of born-again porcelain cleaners.

I am a tidy-bowl expert,

know the brush and flush, polish and rub,

I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.

I tried to put girlhood aside,

leverage being eldest

to escape wrinkled finger tips,

upright vacuum white-noise,

dusters made of outgrown undershirts.

When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows

at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits

of shared manliness with Dad.

I had no choice. I was taught

to bake and sew and clean proficiently

as an outcome of my femininity

and with all this evidence to the contrary,

one day my Father says to me,

“All things are equal.

You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”

So fast forward to University

and what appears to be a level field, free

from reference to my body’s ability

to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,

bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives

in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,

still what we do does not define our gender.

I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,

I am a self fulfilling prophecy

with EVERYTHING I want. Until…

Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence

unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation

of upside-down proportion,

all my notions of equality expanded

yet reduced to this…moment…

this…holy annunciation…

I am pregnant!

What?

Now?

What now?

I have to choose?

I choose.

He and I choose together, and my body

blossoms in maternity, my mind

rises like a phoenix

in blazing pride at this innate ability

to create and birth new beings.

Miracles… of possibility

through pain of labour, first one,

then two boys arrive…my joys.

And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.

SHE is something else entirely.

SHE unearths renewal in me.

FEMALE…we share more than DNA,

SHE is somehow hope and legacy,

SHE is the epitome of another chance

at THIS…AND…in feminine form.

But who am I to say…

I step back and let her find her way,

that dance, step in only when she asks.

Fast forward with my growing girl

my grateful orbit of her world. She says

“I might get married one day” and with a smile

“maybe I won’t have a child…”

Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”

I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,

and the beauty of no shame,

strength and intellect, all hers to claim.

She is powerful in her personhood.

(pardon boasting like I did something good)

Now she is gone from me,

like I knew she would be, eventually,

and we both thank Skype technology

for staying close with video chat.

I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…

that SHE finds space enough to BE,

to hold everything, all possibility,

glorious, wide and open…

Lesley-Anne Evans 2016

It’s Mental Health Week (and how hard it is to explain how you feel when you are depressed…)


DSC_0005So, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada… May 6 – 12, 2013. And I feel a lot better about celebrating mental health than I do admitting or even accepting that my annual seasonal disorder (SADD) and hormonal fluctuations post partum and menopausal might be a form of ‘mental illness’. Very hard to come out and say that.

Why is that? Is it because there is still so much bias, misunderstanding and confusion around the phrase? Is it because it’s just really embarrassing to say “I’m mentally ill”? (Why is it easier to say (and only to some safe people) “I’m feeling a little depressed”?) Must we identify it in order to deal with it properly? And with medication? And with counseling? And with lifestyle changes that include health of body and spirit and mind? And with the support of those who love us? Yes, to all of the above.

Other than that I don’t have a lot of answers, but I’m willing to admit I struggle.  I’m willing to cast my lot in with all those who share the burden of psychological angst, times of overwhelming despair, and one who has considered not being as being better than prolonged being in this emotional state.

It’s far too complicated for me to explain my whole story, but know that I live with depression, struggle with coping, and I’ve come to recognize it as part of who I am. I am a person of faith who has doubts and darkness. I have the hope of Jesus and yet live in periods of hopelessness. There are others like me in my family. We talk about it amongst ourselves.

This attempt at bringing a little light into a dark place was written in April 2009.

The glimmer of hope is at the very end. It’s usually like that…

So yesterday about this time, I was feeling like my world was caving in along with my chest. Perhaps a little over-stressed, I had a feeling of unexplainable impending doom that was physical, and it was beginning to take over my mind as well as my body.

I stood by the sink after a morning of trying to get some of my menial household chores done, and heard a voice in my head say, “maybe you should just go and check yourself into the hospital”, as clear as day. So, I thought about that for a little while, wondering how that experience might pan out for me?

Hi, I’m here to check myself in.

What for?

Well, it’s that I just can’t seem to pull myself up by the bootstraps, you know. I can’t seem to find my stiff upper lip and suck it up princess, if you know what I mean.

I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean. What precisely are your symptoms?

I guess you could say that I feel like there’s nobody I can talk to about how I feel, and that I feel like I’m too much for everyone that I might have talked to if I could have found someone.

Are you in any pain?

Well, if this pressure on my chest, and the heavy thing that’s sitting on my head counts, then yes, I guess I’m in pain. But not a sharp stabbing pain, more like a dull repetitive one.

Are you on any medications?

No, and I don’t really want to be, and that’s why I’m even afraid to tell anyone how I really feel in case they suggest drugs might be the answer. I guess there’s the ‘Maccaroot’ supplements I’m taking… to balance and energize me… but I don’t think that’s working.

So, what precisely can we do for you ma’am?

Well, I thought maybe I could just sign in and curl up in an empty bed somewhere until I feel better able to cope, find some energy again, and maybe find a friend that I could talk to. Would that be OK……?

At this point I realize that my idea is lame, and I haven’t got a chance of convincing medical staff, nurses or doctors that there’s something wrong with me any more than I did two days ago when I tried to explain myself to my husband.

So, I continue to stand by the kitchen sink until the phone rings, goes to the answering machine, and I recognize the voice as someone who might just be able to relate to part of how I’m feeling and I dry my hands on the towel and pick up the phone.

Hi……

Sunday and still here…


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I’m sitting on my couch and the sounds of dishwasher and kids playing ping pong and dog snoozing are all I hear. I didn’t go to the church with walls and ceiling today. Instead, I stayed home and made banana pancakes for my two sons. We talked at the table. It was very good. Why not celebrate God is Love right here and now.

I’m reminded of Mies Van Der Rohe, of his “less is more” approach, and how I’ve got to be reminded of that over and over again when Spring hits and soccer and must do’s overwhelm my preferred life of simplicity. Personal time, family time, down time, meal time, is all affected. I have to seize each opportunity as it comes. Rather than live by obligation or should do’s, do what my heart says. See the beauty in the moment, like the inside of a cabbage I cut open and discovered the beauty above.

I also found this… a reflection I wrote a while ago on an old blog… but think I needed to read again today. For permission. For confirmation. For grace. For the reminder that;

I’m also a simple woman with a sphere of influence that starts at my own kitchen table.

Yes,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

midweek random ramble 022


It’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here… ranted, yes, but not rambled. So here goes, with seasonal thoughts of Christmas and snow and cold and inside warmth and preparing and stressing and singing and holiness and awe and wonder and sweet and varied moments with family and friends, all on my mind:

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

1. overheard in the front hallway, “Well mom, are you trying to be in style, or to have your own individual style? hmmm… was there a commentary in there somewhere?

2. overheard in the car, “That’s just my old man strength.”

3. overheard on the airwaves through out the house, 24/7 Christmas tunes coming at us on the net… have you ever checked out the abundant free music available online?

4. so the local soccer supply store burned down the other night. We have had such great service from the manager there who always finds us the right fit and a good deal. I sure hope they find a way to open up again before too long. We’re so sorry Soccer X-Press!

5. sent out my first Christmas package by mail to family back east… but I still feel slightly disorganized and lacking in ideas… perhaps a little pinterest coupled with a good google search might inspire and help me with some new and creative gift ideas? After all, no stress, it’s still November right?

6. trying to increase the amount of veggies and fruits and reduce the amount of meat and carbs isn’t easy in a family where teens are hungry every 2 hours… just what do I feed them to fill them up?

7. loving the way Okanagan College offers personal attention to it’s students.

8. mandarin oranges, japanese varieties, miniature varieties, chinese varieties… many varieties are in stores now. Yummm!!!

9. Advent, meaning “arrival’ is something we have adopted into our family tradition. Four Sundays leading up to Christmas are rich with potential for celebrating the Advent… the pending arrival of baby Jesus, the promise of the returning Christ, and the incarnation (the God with us) in our lives. Did you know that Advent historically involved fasting, doing without in varying degrees leading up to the 25th, so when the big Christmas feast came at last, there was a renewed appreciation of the abundant favour and blessing of God.  I like that. The tasting and seeing that God is good.

10. seeking ways to inject my life/our lives with meaning is something I am always on the lookout for… so do you have any ideas for meaning-filled Christmas activities, any stories to share?

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio (Photo credit: dok1)

11. planning and anticipating carolling with family and friends… and the faint possibility that it just might snow while we are walking around the neighbourhood from door to door. Yep, I’m sentimental.

Peace, abundant peace,

Lesley-Anne SDG