Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Let’s come back to earth for a post or two as the magical publishing date has arrived...May 27...but alas, a recent word from the publisher is, “Looks like we have a 2-3 week delay from the printer.” Dang!

Thanks to all of you who are awaiting the book as impatiently as I am—does an author’s heart good to know she’s not a total narcissist. Talk about earnestly desiring…but we’ll leave that subject for a bit and return to another FAQ surrounding Poems from the Boatyard:

“How big was the boat?”

This second-most-frequently-asked question is interesting because it is most often asked with an air of entrapment, as if I would answer something like a rowboat, canoe, or small dinghy. As if I was pulling their leg, and they caught themselves in the act of believing that my father was actually building a real boat. As if the size of the boat would determines the heft of the project, the goal, the dream, the lunacy, or the depth of the loss. Small dreams, small loss--big dreams, big loss?

“Big” as an answer wasn’t cutting it. My inquirers are no dummies; they know everything is big to a kid. I needed a number.

I know it was over 20’, but how much over? By now, you’ve probably seen some of the photos, so you have an idea of the scale of the boat, but I checked with the sibs to see who remembered. After a flurry of emails and guesses, Pete mentioned that we still had the blueprints. We could just look at those. Blueprints?! Really?!

Another round of emails--"He has it"--"No, he has it"--"No, I'm sure it's at their house"--and then Paul offered up this tidbit: “Somewhere in my archives I have a set of the 'Mechanics Illustrated' construction drawings for the Tahiti Ketch. Back in the day it was my favorite style sailboat. There was a nice one in Oyster Bay harbor during the late fifties, and then we got to see one up close & personal when Frank Bladykis [one of our neighbors] built his magnificent boat in the sixties. He picked that design because "you could walk around deck like a gentleman." Dad's boat was a flush deck cutter sailboat called "Discovery," which also may have been from Mechanics Illustrated. I'll look for it.”

"Discovery”--ironic name for the boatyard full of discoveries this chapbook as shaken out: the world of publishing, book reviews and social media marketing, childhood memories of course, but different ones, some I'd never heard before, as perspectives are different in a large family; photos emerge that make us laugh and recall gentler days; nautical terminology (anyone know what a ketch is?!); the importance of the father; creativity, imagination, and the indispensable and completely human activity called 'desire.'

The search is on among the sibs to find the blueprints, a search of archelogical proportions in our cavernous homes, and soon we will verify the actual size and make of the boat. Inquiring minds want to know, some of them even outside our family...

In the meantime, let's look up ketch--and while we're at it flush deck cutter.

All things come to those who wait--dreams, chapbooks, blueprints.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! Do get out on a sailboat or prowl a boatyard or marina if you can!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let's Get Large!

More food for thought from Saint Nelson (Mandela):

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?

"You are a child of God; small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is no example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of God that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others."

We want to be larger than we are, yet we are afraid of it. Julia Cameron calls it ‘shape shifting: "...we often try to play small and even stay small. When the creative power moving though us asks us to expand, we would rather contract...We are spiritual beings, and when our spirit grows larger, so must we. There will be no comfortable resting in yesterday's definition of ourselves. It is spiritual law that as the Great Creator is always exploring, experiencing, and expanding through its creations, we must cooperate or feel the pitch of spiritual dis-ease. We can try to play small, but if the universe has big plans for us, we are better off cooperating than resisting. Creativity is God's true nature and our own. As we surrender to becoming as large as we are meant to be, great events can come to pass for us...In a sense, the size the Great Creator makes of us is none of our business. We work on art and we are the Great Creator's work of art. Perhaps we shouldn't meddle." (Walking on Water, pg. 45)

So, what size are you feeling these days?! Can you imagine a new one? What would it look like?

I can feel the one I’m presently in, and would normally call it ‘molting’—what the snake does when it sheds skin. Ever shed a former way of thinking or being? It’s kind of uncomfortable, isn’t it? Especially around those who know you well. You feel exposed, vulnerable—will they like you in the new skin? Will they pressure you, consciously or unconsciously, to behave like your old self? How did you navigate that?

I’m not sure where I’m headed, and maybe you don’t either. But for now, I’m just trying to imagine a few “What if…” scenarios. And wondering how big my next size is, and trying to shed a few fears about it. How about you?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Climbing the Hills of Desire

So! What do you earnestly desire? Have you had time to think about it this week? What did you come up with?

Are you having a hard time digging out that desire? Or are you, like me, probing—what do I earnestly desire now? Maybe some dreams and desires have come about; do you stop there? Are there any more on the list, or do you need a new list? Maybe you got your dream, but you aren’t challenged by it anymore. Maybe you don’t even like it anymore. Maybe it changed you, and you don’t know how to incorporate the change into life as you’ve known it. Or you gave up dreaming, because it’s been decades, and, well, maybe you just got it wrong. Maybe this dreaming stuff is all a load of hooey.

I could believe that except for the restless expansion always going on inside of me, and no doubt inside of you. And isn't it interesting how that aligns with the fact of the Universe always expanding, that children are always growing, gardens are always overtaking the neat boundaries we place on them, cities sprawl and the social network--well, how many friends do you have now?!

As Nelson Mandela said, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

For those of you who are weary of the great hill in your life, Mandela has a word: “I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

Keep walking, my friends, and keep climbing. Your long walk is not yet ended.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Poet & The Paradox

Alert readers will pick up the paradox of my last post. Since no one mentioned it, allow me!

On the one hand, I can tell myself it is selfish to pursue my dream. I may waste years in the pursuit, and valuable time or money, right? (This assumes the product is more important than the process.) I may sacrifice my children’s education, my marriage, my financial stability, in order to accomplish my dream. I may not eat this week, or pay my bills. If I pursue my dreams, I cause others to sacrifice. They lose out because of my focus. They may not eat this week!

On the other hand, I can tell myself that if I pursue my dreams, I will become a larger person. The discipline, dedication and perseverance build my character. Relationships and networks form that might never happen otherwise. I might actually inspire others, and foster their dreams. My dream, realized, might even provide for others, generating new ideas, income and relationships. So I owe it to others to pursue my dreams, right?

I’ve tried both philosophies. How about you?

With the paradox comes the deeper question: how important is it to pursue a dream?

My current paradigm is: I would rather start something and not be able to finish, than to not start for fear of not finishing. No guts, no glory. No pain, no gain.

And here are some things I’ve discovered: I have to pursue dreams. I become a larger person. It is a divine attribute; there is something eternal about it, life-giving, life-saving. It can go toxic. I have to know when it’s time to sell the boat. I’d rather trust and enjoy the process than worry about the product, although I admit, the ‘product’ of this chapbook is mighty satisfying!

So I’m going to ask you a question someone asked me once, with profound repercussions: What do you earnestly desire? If you can’t name that, take some time soon to dig it out. Listen to Thomas Traherne, 17th C. poet from England, for the most affirming message on desire I’ve ever come across:

“Desire is a mighty force, one of your most divine attributes! Whatsoever thing ye desire when ye pray believe that ye have received them and ye shall have them! See the God-like quality of desire. For it is part of the Atomic energy of the soul. The Kingdom of heaven within you is operating through desire. Do not quench it or crush it or suppress it. Rather offer it to Me. Offer Me your most elementary desires, your craving for happiness, for love, for self-expression, for well-being, for success, for joy, on any level of your being—offer these freely and without shame to me and I will transmute them so that you shall achieve release and fulfillment and complete freedom from frustration.”

Kinda makes you want to go home and make a list, eh?!

What do you earnestly desire?  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Second Question

Here is what happens when I tell people my father didn’t finish the boat: their faces fall. Their shoulders slump. Then they begin reassuring me—as if I needed it, as if I carried the weight of shame, the family burden of failure.

I can’t wait to give them the punch line—the why of my father’s not finishing—because here is what happens: a look of shocked surprise, a momentary flash of grief, then a big smile, and, more often than not, tears in the eyes.

I feel no shame whatsoever when I say my father didn’t finish the boat; in fact, I don’t think I could be more proud of him if he had finished it. His ‘failure’ was a hands-down, slam-dunk success in fathering. He made the impossible choice: providing for his family rather than pursuing his dream, demonstrating his love for us in giving up his one and only boat. He clipped his own wings so we could fly.

That’s a level of sacrificial love we all know, rarely see, and that brings tears to eyes. The difference between success and failure—however one defines these two terms—has been the second most frequent question, spawning meditative, philosophical discussions, rational analyses, and heated debates.

One father, contemplating the impending college educations of his two children, suggested that it was a resounding success if my father’s boatbuilding could finance a college education. He wished he had a boat in his backyard to sell off!

Interesting to think that pursuing one’s dreams can launch others’ dreams…

So was my father’s boatbuilding venture a success or a failure?

Guess it depends on who you talk to.

Guess you know what I think.