Every Friday I head over to the Newberg Animal Shelter for my standing date with cats from 4-6PM. This is not glamorous work by any means. Basically, I do the afternoon feeding and cleaning of all the kitties in the shelter except the ones in the quarantine room. I volunteered as I wanted to do something for the community and all things furry and four-legged who do not have a voice.
In the cacophony of barking, I say hello to the other shelter volunteers, then I greet the dogs in their kennels to see new arrivals and who has gotten adopted. In the storeroom, I don a grey Newberg Animal Shelter T-shirt and then proceed to the lobby and cat areas to get a count so I know how much food is needed. I grab a rolling cart and am off to the kitchen to prepare the cat food, get a pitcher of water and pick up cleaning supplies.
Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?
One of the most famous sketches in the hit show “Portlandia” is the “Put a Bird on It” sketch” where Frank and Carrie, the actors mock the epidemic use of birds on crafty, artsy items that abound on Etsy, other internet commerce sites and of course, Portland hipster stores. (I live an hour from Portland). Not too soon after, T-shirts, cups, and posters started appearing with the meme, “Put a bird on it.”
Beyond being a birder at an early age and loving the uniqueness of birds. I have several feeders about my house and so love watching the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and juncos as they feed. They are my neighbors. They fascinate me as they have with humanity for centuries.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
Learning can be a clunky experience. It can be humbling and gratifying at the same time. But…A little bit every day amounts to a lot every week. If you have the habit of listening to a little voice in your head that says “You’ll never be good enough,” kindly ask that voice that you are not interested in their opinion and to go find somebody else’s head to occupy. Then keep on keeping on.
I have realized rather late in life that I have the power to kick out the demons out of my head that have come calling to sabotage my self-esteem. I show them the door. Then I invite the angels that flit about my head to come in for more pleasant conversation. “Way to go! Good work! Such improvement! Encouragement is far more powerful than self-criticism. Honestly, we creative types would never talk to others like we can talk to our own sweet selves
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Set the timer and show up for 20 minutes at a pop.
Guitar- yes I can finally play that F chord on my tenor guitar as with many others and even sing some songs. I thought I’d never get there.
Yes, there are paintings in my class that are better than mine but I am on my way.
Writing. After 20 minutes here and there over months, my memoir piece is finally almost done.
I am learning that there is no such thing as there. You are never there because there is a moving target. There is where you are right now on a journey celebrating milestones along the way.
Enjoy the ride. Really, that’s what it’s all about.
Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
James Cash Penney
Last year during the local Terroir Creative Writing Festival I found that there were four of us in our rural proximity that shared a love of writing and poetry. We are all novices on a path to discovery. Why not get together now and again?
Last October we did just that. The first meeting took place on a Sunday afternoon at Patricia’s lovely greenhouse. We sat at a table nibbling a delicious homemade coffee cake and sipping tea while a tangle of tomatoes and other vegetables seemingly were our audience. Then we rotated to Linda’s, my farmhouse and next month it is Deb’s turn.
A sort of agenda has emerged. The person hosting leads off with something they’ve read that they would like to share and then some of their personal writing. I am working on a memoir piece. The last two meetings I have read parts of it. We discuss and offer feedback on pieces if requested and then take turns. We all adore Mary Oliver. At her recent passing, there has been much to share.
At our last meeting, we suggested all purchasing Oliver’s book “A Poetry Handbook” as a resource that we all have in common. For writing challenge we have suggested finding a poem we like, using it as a “pattern” and then writing a new poem with our own words to share. With all of our so-called assignments we put in the qualifier “or not.” There is no pressure here, just pleasure.
Since I have a penchant for naming things, the name “The Nuthatch Society” came into my mind for our group. The four of us live on rural property and we are quite familiar with these quirky little birds that frequent the foliage and feeders about our homes. They are busy creatures, quite chatty, cute, but fierce and have the ability to walk upside down on trees. The name seemed to fit with us.
There is value in online community but it cannot compare with four souls coming together to share a common interest over tea. I’m so looking forward to the next meeting of the Nuthatch Society and sharing my writing and all the fascinating things I’ve read this month as well as what my fellow Nuthatches have been up to in their busy lives. Community is a powerful thing- no matter how small.
Mary Oliver, the great poet is now no more in physical form on this earth as of January 17,2019. She leaves a huge void but in her wake is a monument of poetry and prose of her making. I never used to care for poetry. Poetry was presented to me in school like nematodes to be dissected in biology. I ran from them Then years later her poem, “Wild Geese” brought me to my knees. I was converted. Years later I am writing poetry. What power words can have!
Mary Oliver was a sage who connected the dots with spirituality and the natural world. The long walks she often took in the woods near her home provided much of the inspiration for her poetry. Those poems became the vessels of profound observations, questions, and ponderings and blessed the lives of many, including myself. She did far more than just visit this world. It is a better place because of her.
I recently became acquainted with this word through my online “Year of Painting class.” Alena Hennesy, the instructor uses this word frequently as she illustrates her process of intuitive painting on her videos. Wabi-sabi in short means “perfectly imperfect” Let go, let the process unfold.
I tend towards the perfectionism. As I watched the warm-up video and then looked at other’s work being posted I was paralyzed with fear. This process was way out of my comfort zone- but part of the reason for taking this class was to loosen up.
I started my first piece resisting the urge to recycle my first attempt mid-way and start over. Eventually, I worked through my fear, completed and accepted it. The piece is too bright and busy for my tastes, but others found it pleasing. It can only get easier after taking the first step. I started a small, scary journey and finished, perfectly imperfect.