Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Life: One Breath At A Time April 29, 2013

The prolific and powerful American poet Emily Dickenson had a lot to say about life and death. It breaks my heart that most of her beautiful words didn’t reach the hearts and minds of readers until after she had left this world, but what a blessing they are nonetheless. So many of her poems continue to live by breathing life into the pages of historical literature.

“To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else,” she once said.

Indeed, life can take us by surprise in so many powerful ways if we let it. Sometimes I fear we are our own stopping points because we think don’t have time to stop and take notice about the life all around us. In 2001, a very nervous 15-year-old girl made her way onto a very large stage to take notice. She shared the following words with the crowd that day:Chronicles of Life

Savor the miracle of creation

Create a day with no regrets

Regret only the unforgiven

Forgive your loved ones for not being perfect

Perfect your ability to smile

Smile at everyone you love

Love even those who have become frail

Frailty is just another part of life

Live today as an unexpected journey

Journey through life with courage

Encourage someone who needs light

Lighten up the room with a laugh

Laugh through the tough times…

It keeps you from crying

Whatever you do in this life

Always remember that somewhere out there

Someone is loving you

I’m so blessed to have a forever mom who (at the tender age of 15-years-0ld) published these beautiful words she called “The Chronicles of Life.” She won an award that night on stage, and I it is one of my biggest wishes in life I could have been there to see her so happy. So full of life.

But as I am not in the habit of living with regrets (especially over things I can’t control), I instead share these words with the world on a day when Sarah Ban Breathnach encourages us in Simple Abundance to ponder life’s simplest of mysteries.

“And there is certainly enough mystery to ponder—such as the mystery of what will happen next,” Breathnach writes. “But instead of worrying or obsessing, you decide to just let go and see what occurs. You choose to take joy in your real life as it unfolds day by day, hour by hour, a heartbeat at a time.” Startling as it may be dear Emily, life is most definitely worth living one heartbeat at a time.

 

Dreaming Out Loud April 25, 2013

I’ve noticed a trend in popular music of today involving a reverie for the younger years in life. Every song tells a story of its writer, who was inspired by any variation of emotional situations. The Lumineers tell us to keep our heads up and remember when we were young in “Stubborn Love.” Fun. suggests we are young “so let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun.” Lyrics like these bring to poetry to life.

Looking UpEvery now and then it happens to me too. I’ll be going about my day sleeping in my doggie bed, monitoring the neighborhood from my perch in the bay window, or playing with my forever people and BAM! Poetry comes to life before me. I blame author and poet Susan G. Wooldridge for this (dare I say) habit of mine. It’s no secret I’m a lover of words, but I’m also a believer in the theory that sometimes it takes a little crazy to create a unique masterpiece.

So today, I embraced my inner “crazy” by opening to a random page of Wooldridge’s “Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words,” and vowing to write a blog post about the words that followed.

“When I saw my son, Daniel, shaking our new lilac bush the spring he was three, I managed to keep myself from shrieking ‘Stop it, you’re going to kill the bush!’ Instead I asked him what he was doing,” Wooldridge writes. “‘I’m stirring the sky, Mama,’ he told me. I only asked that he stir it gently. How can you tell a child to stop stirring the sky?”

I’ve said before that little people are wise beyond their years. They are also poets. They are honest. They love unconditionally. They are wise. I’ve learned many important lessons from the little people in my life, but one of the most meaningful is their perspective on the world. Like me, they see joy from the ground up. Unlike most adults, who look down on life…in more ways than one.

Wooldridge suggests a solution to this that aligns very well with the popular lyrics of the Lumineers and Fun. “Seek out children. Jot down what they say,” Wooldridge writes. “We can find poems just by listening, being a scribe and catching the words.”

Poetry is life dreaming out loud. Let’s dream in verse…let’s look up.

 

Do You Know the Muse-ic Man? March 10, 2013

I noticed something interesting about my blog posts this week: music is clearly one of my most reliable muses. It inspires me in ways that speak to my soul. So much of the music I enjoy is poetry that feeds my vocabulary set to brilliant chords and rhythms that spark my imagination. Six of the last eight of my blog posts incorporated music into either the title or the content. Let’s review:

1. Can’t Go Wrong, Phillip Phillips – I’ll take the best of what I can from my  mistakes/And now I know, now I  know I can’t go wrong, as long as I remember where I’m from/Hold  my head up just to keep it clear/I want a chance just to face my fear, face my fear

2. Listen To Your Heart, Roxette – Sometimes you wonder if this fight is worthwhile. The precious moments are all lost in the tide, yea. They’re swept away and nothing is what it seems, the feeling of belonging to your dreams. Listen to your heart when he’s calling for you.

3. Forever Young, Rod Stewart – May the good lord be with you/Down every road you roam/And may sunshine and happiness/Surround you when you’re far from home/And may you grow to be proud/Dignified and true/And do unto others/As you’d have done to you/Be courageous and be brave/And in my heart you’ll always stay/Forever young, forever young Forever young, forever young

4. Fix You, Coldplay – When you try your best but you don’t succeed/When you get what you want but not what you need/When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep/Stuck in reverse/And the tears come streaming down your face/When you lose something you can’t replace/When you love someone but it goes to waste/Could it be worse?/Lights will guide you home/And ignite your bones/And I will try to fix you

5. Beautiful Day, U2

You’re on the road/But you’ve got no destination/You’re in the mud/In the maze of her imagination/It’s a beautiful day/Don’t let it get away/It’s a beautiful day

6. Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung

What a feeling in my soul/Love burns brighter than sunshine/Brighter than sunshine/Let the rain fall, I don’t care

Musing the Day Away

Bing defines muse as a verb as the action of thinking “about something in a deep and serious or dreamy and abstracted way,” according to Bing. While some prefer to do their deep thinking in silence, I do mine with the muse that is music.

 

Snow: My Blanket of Diamonds February 7, 2013

Art happened in my backyard today. God laid down a beautiful white blanket of diamonds. Sparkly snow covers the grass and the trees. It’s breathtaking. As I envisioned myself as a Giselle gracefully leaping across the yard, I found myself in awe of how alive art can be.

Art and poetry have that in common. They are living, evolving things that are perceived differently by every beholder. German artist and writer Goethe would argue this is because no beholder has the same experiences feeding into their vision.

“All my poems are suggested by real life and therein have a firm foundation,” he said. “No one can imitate when you write of the particular, because no others have experienced exactly the same thing.”

And so with our unique perspective we breath life into art. But I’m not so sure that’s such an easy concept to wrap our minds around. It can be more comfortable pass these moments by, or to think that our artistic perspective is not interesting enough to share. I used to fall victim to this myself. Who cares what I think? I’m just a terrier mutt with a big heart and a lot to say. That doesn’t mean anyone wants to listen.

Thank you Vincent Van Gogh for explaining what helped bring my vision back into focus.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced,” said the brilliant post-Impressionist artist. I have decided to take his advice and silence that negative train of thought. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

So does Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “Today, take a real risk that can change your life: start thinking of yourself as an artist and your life as a work-in-progress,” Breathnach challenges. “Works in progress are never perfect. But changes can be made to the rough draft during the rewrites…Art evolves. So does life. Art is never stagnant. Neither is life. The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art.”

With inspiration from beauty as rich as my own personal white blanket of diamonds, I can honestly say I never want to stop painting.

 

Finding Freedom in Flangipropping February 1, 2013

Susan G. Wooldridge is one wise wordsmith. It has been a while since I picked up my copy of her book Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, but today I felt inspired to take a wordy walk down memory lane. As always, my walk with Wooldridge’s words did not disappoint. The beautiful scenery she paints for this “outlaw on a poem walk” bring poetry to life all around me.

“Poems arrive,” she writes in the introduction. “They hide in feelings and images, in weeds and delivery vans, daring us to notice them and give them form with our words. They take us to an invisible world where light and dark, inside and outside meet.”

The notes in the margins and the (admittedly) threadbare pages bear witness to the role this book has played in my life as a lover of words. Sometimes I think it takes a little crazy to see the world as Wooldridge does, but once you adopt her playfully poetic outlook on life its hard to turn back.

In honor of the cleverly creative cadence in her book, today I shall call the poetic philosophy it inspires flangipropping.

Flangiprop (verb): to find magic in an ordinary moment.

Whether we actively seek these moments out or they knock us over the head, poetry has the ability to form itself into life right before our eyes if we let it.

Again the words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind as he pointed out that “the question is not what you look at but what you see.” What a simply complex thought to consider on this, a day when Sarah Ban Breathnach challenges us to make time in our lives for creative excursions in Simple Abundance.

“In the beginning of any intimate relationship the best gift you can offer another person is the investment of quality time together,” Breathnach writes. “So it is with your authentic self.”

My authentic (word-loving) self invested time today in thought and reflection about how I can proactively welcome more poetry in my life. I’m no stranger to the concept, but it has been a while since flangipropping was a part of my daily life.

Those days are gone now that I’ve been reminded that when it comes to words, sometimes a little crazy sets us free.Flangipropping