Thursday 30 June 2016

There's more to writing in a woman's voice than imitating the footnotes and intellectualism of academic men. There is more to writing in a woman's voice than following the path of political correctness. What I learned this past weekend meeting with three other strong women, all completely different from me and from one another, is that we are all individual souls yearning for comprehension of this astonishing world and yearning for expression of what we have learned so far. Much of this has to do with love in one or more of its myriad facets.

Happy eve of the second half of 2016. May it bring you strength and authenticity. Oh, yes, and tenderness.  

Wednesday 29 June 2016

In 2007, I posted the story of a twenty year young woman from Kenya, Mercy Adhiambo, on my Glasswoman Prize page. I wasn't the only one impressed with the story. Kim Robinson from Minnesota contacted Mercy and they have been penpals ever since. Kim's school became involved in fundraising for Mercy's college education in journalism, and when the money wasn't enough, Deb Sauter personally provided the missing funds necessary for Mercy to finish college. At this time Mercy is a journalism fellow at the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City for six months and this past weekend I got to meet Mercy, Kim, and Deb for the first time--after all Oklahoma City is only a 12 hour drive from where I live. If Mercy could come this far, I wanted to go at least those remaining miles.

Here is the story that started it all: The Untold Story.

Our meeting was amazing. I even got to share Mercy's apartment for two nights. I am in love with the strength of women's souls in general, and specifically right now with the souls of Mercy, Kim, and Deb.

May the strong threads of your lives weave similar tapestries!

Thursday 23 June 2016

I'm on my way to meet my heroes: In 2007, the Glass Woman Prize (a writing prize for women which I ran from 2007 to 2014 and plan to resume at some point) published the story of a 19 year young Kenyan woman, Mercy Adhiambo. Mercy lived in a hut in the city of Kisumu and wrote her stories on a computer at the library, provided there was electricity. A reader, Kim Robinson, was so impressed with Mercy's story, that she became penpals with Mercy and eventually got the school where she teaches involved in sponsoring Mercy's journalism studies in Nairobi. Mercy graduated with a degree in journalism in 2012. At this writing Mercy is on a 6 months internship at the Oklahoma Times in Oklahoma City, and I will drive there to visit and meet Mercy over this weekend. I will also get to meet Kim who is driving down from Minnesota. I am so stoked!

Here is a link to Mercy Adhiambo's 2007 story, The Untold Story.

And here is a link to her current work at the Oklahoma Times.

I may not have internet access until approximately June 29th, and will resume blogging then, if not before.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

The hardest thing each day is to climb out of the prison of insignificance and with all the sweat of effort and uncertainty still keep the tenderness within. I used to think it was like that for all women. I'm not so sure these days. I see lots of proud confidence and effortless joy. I'm simply not sure I always see the truth there. To the outside world, I possibly also look confident and joyous, at least some of the time. I hope we will all catch up to genuine confidence and joy, and I hope it will be sooner rather than later.

I sent you magical handholds and footholds and colorful climbing ropes today.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Second day of summer with cottonwood green by the river, flute music, and drumming, and rattles, and humming, and the blessed water gurgling around our feet.

This world is so beautiful. Let's try to leave it even more beautiful than how we found it, every moment of every day. This cannot be done with war or competition, no. It has to be done with words or music or pictures or touches of praise.

Monday 20 June 2016

A glorious first day of summer. Up on a place called Gomez Peak, the full moon set over the mountains to the west and faded into the morning light just minutes before the sun rose to the east. Moments of beauty and happiness with all this fantastic life around us.

And yet I was attacked by feelings of worthlessness throughout the day. I haven't done enough. I haven't found the ultimate gift I could give to this life that has given me so much, I have this strange suspicion if only I felt adequately entitled or even arrogant, then I could love life with all my heart, and it would love me right back, with sunrises and moonsets among other things. I don't know why we human beings have fallen into this rut of minimizing each other, and especially our children, for that's where it all starts. It hasn't helped anyone. Not even the minimizers at the very top seem to be happy. And yet we all have so much, this life, this planet, these gorgeous bodies, these interesting minds. Let's celebrate each other, with love and attention.

Happy summer to you.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Almost officially summer. I want to embrace the world with tenderness. I want to egg you on to embrace the world with tenderness. If you have any brilliant ideas of how I could do that better, please let me know.

Tomorrow I will climb a nearby mountain (hill?) with 360˚ vistas for sunrise, sending tenderness and exuberance out into the world. What a beautiful planet we live on.

Saturday 11 June 2016

It's not officially summer yet, but, oh, the sensations are already all there. I'll be off my blog for a week and wish you a week of tenderest summer feelings.

Below is a poem I wrote an astonishing 37 years ago for an anthology called "Old Friend." (What did I know from old then?) Not much has changed, all in all. I am still enchanted with the world. Women still make 79 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same services. It doesn't have to be that way. Though I do like the persistent enchantment.


I must be a field,
restless and rooted in harvest,
balancing words between flower and fruit.
these are the days of the heaviest sun.
These are the sensual days that end toward gold.
They are healing the coming
of harvest in me, of memories,
and memories, and nothing, mixed
and sifted for new seed.

I must be a harvest.
I am under the ripe crown of thing
I am destined to hold.  The easiest motion
will loosen the summer I need for myself.

So I glide into the peace of Picasso’s “Nude Woman”
as though it were the lazy golden city
I thought at first it was.  And even now, the difference
between a woman and a city seems so small,
so harmless, and as insignificant as what the river does
to sunlight, or the sun to water,
both seeming so erratically nervous when they touch
and glisten through each other’s surface.
But there is little change for all the scintillating
wings of gold: The water is warmed
the light bends a little, before the river
reaches its sea, the sun its sand.

And on the roads I take, I too am bent
by waves of things that make me nervous when they touch:
I have been teased with welcome by the triangles of light
from carelessly drawn curtains on the windows of a summer night.
Then there is that ripple of almost lowered lashes.
Then I have to insist that this is my harvest.
I lower nothing.  Between the curtains, lamplight, shadows,
I can make out the riddle that belongs to me, spelled “home.”
I have deserved to see these lights,
These triangles of home. 

I must be a woman
for this most generous riddle of summer, the shadow
that a stranger bends into my hands,
a shadow of blond hair
that makes my books too heavy for my eyes,
and makes me test how many ways I know
of not saying “you are beautiful” out loud.

And something in me races,
whispers, is strange and wild.
If he can fill my hands with shadow,
then I must follow his hair
as he bends his head to lean
on his hand, his blond curls on gold,
that ring, that translation of love.
And something in my blood is
for the moment much too personal.

In that brave moment of learning
to hope he is happy, that ring is enclosing
my summer, a friend riding west
to a sun so strong he can see through
curtains, lush leaves, and substantial dresses,
a loved one testing the maze of the future,
stumbling step after step against gold,
a husband, still almost my husband, traveling
south, traveling proudly,
knowing that summer will follow him there.
Everywhere curtains are falling,
the kinds of curtains, if they rise again
one bows and smiles, no longer villain or victim.
Everywhere sunlight is streaming.
Everywhere things seem to fall like blond hair,
everything seems as precise as that ring. 

I am puzzled and spellbound
for days.  I want to touch
that stranger’s hair.  I carry flowers in my pocket,
and I want to touch in any way at all.   Nothing
changes.  He is almost a sun, I am almost a river.
I am as warm as though I had been touched.

Friday 10 June 2016

Today, mid-afternoon, an unexpected rain, and all the cactus flowers on the trail sighed, stretched, and unfolded.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Poetry that will change your life: the tender poetry in your own soul that stands in awe of this magnificent world.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

What is the most tender moment you have ever experienced? 

Mine was a bus rumbling into action, about to carry me away from a young man outside whom I had lately kissed. I didn't know if I was ever going to see him again. I knew I wanted to, but life being what it is . . . So my heart was straining to burst into pieces with disbelief and my hope was the only thing keeping me together. 

I still feel honored having had a chance to experience that rush of tenderness.

May life honor you with many tender moments. 

Tuesday 7 June 2016

What is the most tender moment you have ever witnessed?

For me it was many years ago my then eight year old niece snuggling on the make-shift floor bed while we were all staying with relatives. She held her arms around my sleeping husband's face without touching him and she looked at him with eyes liquid with love and admiration. She held her breath so as not to disturb him. I held my breath so as not to disturb them. He was breathing the deep breath of undisturbed sleep.

Celebrate your tenderness today.

Monday 6 June 2016

Everyday tenderness: A phoebe was trying, twice, to build a nest under our porch roof. My husband wanted to discourage this and took the first blade of grass or two away. The phoebe, undaunted, tried again. I, incidentally, wouldn't have minded the nest. Still, I love him, so I suggested to put a wind chime right by the nest construction site, and this seems to be working. On the other hand, I wish I could talk phoebe and explain to the probably frustrated bird that it is welcome anywhere on the 1.7 acres, with plenty of trees and so forth, just not directly by the house. I can imagine what a disappointment it must have been to find this perfect sheltered spot and preparing to build and looking forward to moving in. I can't talk phoebe, so I'll just carry the tenderness.

Incidentally, this is the same husband who spends hours each week feeding the neighborhood birds.

Incidentally, this is the same husband who last night turned on the light in the guest bedroom because he had just rescued a praying mantis from the entrance door mat and placed it on the window screen of said bedroom and thought the light might help attract some winged prey for the big-eyed and probably slightly disoriented praying mantis.

Incidentally, this is the same husband whom I dropped off at the airport today. He will only be gone for five nights, and I am passionately looking forward to my days of solitude. At the same time I already miss him. And so it goes with everyday tenderness.

Sunday 5 June 2016

The tenderness of rain today. The century plant outside of the house is putting out its first sign of bloom, little snake tongues I call them, stamens reaching out into the world. I am in love with the summer worlds taking place around me.

Watch and write what makes your heart beat in a good way today.

Saturday 4 June 2016

I have to learn from the flowers
over and over and over again
that I do not need attention
to do what needs to be done.

Oh, but it is difficult to be human
and invisible, so you, my friends, do
honor your craving for attention today.

Friday 3 June 2016

Tenderness for things unseen. Each day on the mountain path I see and sometimes feel new things, a cactus in bloom that didn't bloom yet yesterday, new leaves on the scrub oak, strong mid-day scent of sun on earth and old pine needles, or early morning scent of light night rain. And that's just on the side of the path. So sometimes I wonder what goes on in the deeper places of the forest where I never go, with thing I will likely never see, where lizards, rabbits, snakes, and birds conduct their lives without disturbance. And then I think with a bit of a sigh of many things I will likely never see, but would probably be enchanted with. The waterfalls of South America, the beaches of Lesbos where Sappho once dreamed, the costume shop of Cirque du Soleil, the center of a flashingly lit stage. And then I think of all the things I don't even know I am missing. What a small creature I am in this vast majestic universe. And yet, to quote Iris Murdoch, "People from another planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us." So I will be mad with joy at what I do see, and tender with yearning for all things unseen that I might just fall in love with. What a fascinating journey this life is. Who would have thought the little girl hopping around on cobble stones in a different world would in early old age wander about in the wilderness?

Feel strong in your own tenderness today!

Thursday 2 June 2016

Confidence. "With faith." When men write or speak in a tender voice (or any quality of voice at all), they use their voice with confidence. Even when they don't know what they are talking about, confidence often carries that day.

I don't know where to come up with that kind of confidence for myself. If I knew, I would share the source. If I ever find out, I will share the source. Having been raised with self-doubt and politeness and even obsequiousness--as have been so many of us--I have to make do with what I've got. And I will make do, of course.

Meanwhile, today I honor my tenderness and I hope you honor yours.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Happy first day of June! I want to dedicate this month to the quest for tenderness--together with exuberance, tenderness is one the two chief components of my true voice that I no longer want to deny but have in some ways mislaid or wrapped into too many veils of protection.

So many dreams crisscross and weave the tapestry of our human lives--sometimes I watch, and I am moved by the immensity of it all. For example, I stood at the Grand Canyon and was in awe of the canyon itself, of course, but also in awe of the faces of the people around me. So many wishes, dreams, irritations, prayers, all contained and so often barely visible. How beautiful we are.

Honor your tenderness today.