Monday, August 13, 2018


13 August 2018

Just finished reading Brene' Brown's Rising Strong, and though there were times I felt like I was attending a seminar for work (she is a social worker which was my field, so that's not surprising), there were also parts of the book that spoke to me and begged for some introspection on my part, so I decided to utilize the Questions and Topics for Discussion pages. This is the fist page. First, there is a reference from page xviii in the book regarding vulnerability. The questions (and my responses) follow.

1. How do you define vulnerability?  I thin of vulnerability as an area of weakness in my character. I see it as something similar to my Achilles tendon. Vulnerability is putting myself out there knowing I could get hurt. Vulnerability is letting down my guard and waiting for the chips to fall. It is exposing myself to what could be something damaging to my psyche but rising it anyway.  It is letting others know something about me which I have, for the most part, kept hidden or protected.

2. When do you feel vulnerable?  How do you experience vulnerability?  Hmmm. When do I feel vulnerable? When I accept an invitation to a party (which I don't these days), I feel vulnerable. Even if I know everyone there, I feel there is an expectation for me to participate in the gathering. After all, why go and why have a party?  Recently, my daughter surprised me with a small gathering of friends at The Crowded House in Madisonville to celebrate my upcoming retirement. I was surprised and honored that she would plan such a wonderful evening for me, but I was also uncomfortable. I sat next to a friend I haven't seen in several years. At one point in time, we were very close friends, but as the years passed and our lives went in different directions, we no longer called one another on the phone and no longer visited with one another.  When Facebook came along, she sent a friend request, and we correspond on there, but we never see each other. I was glad she was there, and at the same time, I felt vulnerable. I felt like surely she was looking at me and thinking: My god, Margaret's aged and gotten really heavy. She looked amazing. Nice clothes, cute hair style, overweight but not like I am, and she was just as gregarious, funny, and complimentary as she always was.  Then, there were several of my former coworkers who became friends through the years. I sat across from them and didn't get to visit much, but I still felt anxious and really wished I had had time to down a margarita before going so I wouldn't have been much more relaxed. My neighbors were there, my sister-in-law, two of my children, my grandchildren, another friend,  whose son was tragically killed in a car accident in 2007 and who happened to be one of Lauren's closest friends was there, and one of Lauren's friends from Nashville. I didn't even open my gifts! I mostly held Zollie and made small talk. I didn't give a speech. As things were winding down and people were saying their goodbyes, I thanked each of them for being there and told each of them how grateful I was to see them, but I suppose my vulnerability or introversion prevented me from doing more.  All in all, though, it was a lovely night.

I feel vulnerable when I am in a group of people I don't know well. I used to feel vulnerable at monthly staff meetings or when a head honcho from my organization was at our clinic, and I knew they may stop in and see me. I feel vulnerable when I am trying to explain my opinion but can't seem to find the right words to articulate how I feel. I feel vulnerable in almost every face-to-face situation.


Okay. I think that's all the introspection I'm up to right now. Short attention span. Something has been terribly wrong with me. All I aspire to do most days is play solitaire on my phone, which won't stay charged. Maybe I'm still feeling the burnout from the job I just left after 10 years. Loads of vicarious trauma with that job, but I'm retired now. Maybe as I adjust, my enthusiasm will return. I have projects planned and have completed two of them. I painted my outdoor bench red and I planted a white hydrangea in front of Dad's memory garden. I have a new porch swing cushion and a cushion for the outdoor rocker ordered, and I know what color I'm going to paint the floor. I'm just not doing that today.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Revised poem

What They Found
A container of wrapping tape, three
cookbooks with handwritten notes,
fifteen hardback journals filled
with rhetoric of homespun, volumes
of poetry with sticky notes holding
hands with the pages, dried flowers crumbling
at the touch. In another room, outlines
of an English garden and plans to extend
the back room, replete with French
doors and a deck, boxes of baby
items, each neatly noted, half-worked
crossword puzzles, some with notations
scrawled in the margins regarding the limitations
of language, dental floss on the bedside
table & Kleenex wadded up and scattered
like magnolia blossoms after the storm.
Room by room, they go, these who were left
behind, these who thought they knew.
In the kitchen, this: colorful asides
on the O'Keeffe calendar pages, musings
on the finer qualities of cabernet, Almanac
facts regarding the heat, enigmatic inscriptions
with no apparent relevancy: No phone call
from B , 15 Maybe 20 at the best, trade offs
seldom pay off. This is all that is left
of her life, all that remains of a body
that lived among them, attached to them
like tendrils of wisteria vine, clinging
tightly to the closest storm-proof refuge,
rising and falling above them like no sky
they had ever seen, below them like strange
organisms of the deep they considered
a time or two when pondering the mysteries
of the unknown. Work not done, they enter
a sanctuary, a refuge when they were frightened
in the dark and the straight way was lost,
the room where she held them to her breast
and stroked their small heads as they clung to life,
where she kissed tears and patted the shoulders
of worry when the long, long nights turned longer,
where she curled herself up, fetal position.
There, a lavender pillowcase littered
with fine brown strands, some smeared mascara,
the stains of a mouth-breathing sleeper,
clothes cast off in the night, no longer willing
to be confined or defined, a ceramic cherub-embossed
bowl with trinkets and jewelry, a mother's broken watch,
a dead friend's amethyst necklace, a strand
of Job's Tears beads they never saw her wear,
a class ring with some forgotten sprinter
breaking the tape in a race that mattered
far too much many years ago, a faux Celtic
pendant engraved in runes, a shiny and radiant
lock of auburn hair, clipped in a moment of abandon,
saved for a purpose, for a memory of a time
when cutting a lock meant something.