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Ever do perfect? Impossible.

Kindergarten 101 revisited: no perfect.

Remember?

Unleash the fire!

Unleash the fire!

So, why is it that in my mind I do everything perfect? Or I don’t do. In other words, I don’t do lots of things that really matter to me because I know the outcome will not measure up to my super high standards.

Many of my students in my writing workshops are the same way. They say something like, “I don’t want to write my novel because it will never be a best seller.”

My advice, of course, is always: “Write it anyway. Just write it.”

You can’t LIVE a dream if the fabric of it lays snarled around your mind and never sees light of day. Yes, an idea CAN LEAD to a reality; but meanwhile an idea is as dead as dead can be if it does not take shape, color and form.

Imagine this eulogy:  “She always had that book in her mind but now neither she nor the book will ever see the light of day.”  Sad indeed!

For months, okay, nearly a year, I agonized over this “Backyard Therapy” blog. I wanted to revamp it. Tweak it. Change it. Transform it until it screamed with all its might, attracted millions of followers and fans …, and … phew, let me catch a breath … the reality is, months have gone by, and NEVER MIND changing anything – I did not write one word, NOT ONE!

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Voltaire said; one of my favorite modern-day uplifting writers and thinkers Gretchin Rubin periodically refers back to that simple, but profound thought.

And, here is how I think of it: “Don’t let good out-shadow good enough.”

So now, at least for today, I have broken the frame around my picture-perfect world and I’m back again. I am especially grateful to some fellow bloggers and very special friends like Aileen DePeter O’Sullivan who actually inspired me to move out of my mind–not always the best of places to reside–and come out to be found, found out or, better yet, just find myself. There is no better company than that of other fellow travelers who like me, irk at exposing their imperfections, but marvel to see that these shortcomings are what bind us, inspire us and join us to the core of the soul.

So with that said welcome to a new year and a totally revamped blog: WTF (Where’s the Faith?) …a more critical and crystallized vehicle of expression for a very niche audience…faith-filled and spiritual inspiration for people living through personal crisis and loss…a group that I am most proud of being a member.

 Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!

I took the news personally and was dizzy in delight to hear that Dick Allen, a Trumbull resident, was named Connecticut’s new poet laureate in June.

Canterbury (CT) Public Library: Ever think I could be as great as Connecticut’s new poet laureate Dick Allen?

In the late 1970s, after getting partially off a rollercoaster ride via the adolescent addiction route, I took a poetry writing class at the University of Bridgeport with Dick Allen.  At the time, I was sandwiched in between a drug-induced past, conveniently whisked away under a shatterproof floorboard of denial, and a future that I did not dare glimpse. 

In his classroom twice a week, I emerged from my dark and solely occupied cocoon.  When Mr. Allen read his poetry, the classroom’s walls boomeranged with intonations and a rhythmic style that could dissect, pluck and reach so far into my soul that the process shook and awakened those parts in me that had been so comfy and so sleepy, wrapped in inertia, for so damn long. Although it took nearly six more years for me to shed fully my Rip Van Winkle-esque existence, the first building blocks in that course of action Mr. Allen’s influence mortared.

In other words, Mr. Allen taught me that in order to experience great poetry, like great life, you have to be alert.  Listen intently.  Peel away the brainy part of the head so that the heart has the room that it requires to breathe fully and, yes, love without restraint.  Love every damn thing down to the wart. 

As I ventured forth to become a travel writer in the 1990s, I approached each newfound milieu with a keen ear, sharp eyes and overzealous appetite that Mr. Allen had first mirrored to me in his classroom.  On my journey, nothing, absolutely nothing, whether a gnawed chicken bone on a supper plate or ladybug on a car’s windshield was mediocre.  My ears heard poetry everywhere. 

On your next day trip, before summer bats her last eyelash, whether you go on a rollercoaster ride or hide away in an alcove at an out-of-the-way library, see, hear, breath poetry.  Get off the jaded road before it is too late to hear poetry for poetry is everywhere…fine tune the hearing.  Afterwards, pick up a book written by the present Connecticut’s poet laureate, go home and read the poetry out loud as if it will be your final voice; then take this same principle on your future travels.

Ferns

By Dick Allen

Almost invisible, but once you look for them
nearly everywhere
like moss in crevices and drifting thoughts,

ferns are what it must mean
to love without yearning. Protectors
of everything small that needs to disappear,

deermice and tossed trash, bad brushstrokes in a painting,
theirs is the softest name, the softest touch.
They are social workers

as social workers should be—so full of calm
even those who don’t trust them
come into their care. Fiddleheads or not,

the rumor that once a year, on Midsummer’s Eve,
ferns blossom with tiny blue flowers
and if a pinch of fern seed falls upon your shoes

you will be less apparent—this rumor
is baseless: ferns have tiny spores
that travel in dew and raindrops,

no more magical
than Henri Rousseau, composing “The Peaceable Kingdom,”
or adder’s tongues, cinnamon, wall rue.

In the world’s secret corners,
men wish to vanish, but ferns are what look on,
trembling, holding all light green places.

From Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Collected, Sarabande Books, 1997.

New Canaan, CT, Nature Center Greenhouse

 

 

 

Old Orchard Beach, ME, Pirate’s Cove Mini-Golf

Speaking of blue skies in the previous post, Big Skies Play the Blues,

summer seems to bring out the truest, bluest landscape. 

 

Have you taken the time to notice?  (Or are you too busy complaining about…how hot…humid…whatever it is?)

 On your next day trip, here’s your assignment (yes, that’s right, assignment; I am after all a teacher!):  Observe the blues.  Relish in them.  Feel grateful to be alive.  Feel grateful to see…wow, what a privilege.  Feel grateful to be and, just be.  Feel Grateful; live GREAT&ful.

♥♥♥♥

 Who shouted with glee when the color blue was born?

~ “The book of Questions,” Pablo Neruda

 

 

Skip the hotdogs & eat Thai Food this July 4th! (Bangkok Restaurant, Danbury, CT)

One of my friend Eileen’s favorite Christmas memories was going to a Chinese restaurant and a movie with her newly divorced daughter.  Eileen was a recent widow, and her daughter did not have custody of her children on that particular Christmas Day.  As she shared about the novelty of this adventure, her face glowed in glee.  Historically, her family had always celebrated Christmases past with a traditional holiday feast and presents.  On what marked a holiday that both women had initially dreaded turned out to be one of the best ones (except the absence of the young children did tug on their heartstrings) that they had ever experienced.

On this same note, my friend Dian, who used to spend oodles of money buying Christmas gifts for her grown-up daughters, now takes them on exotic trips instead—talk about elevating experiences over things!  Don’t even ask which holidays stay in the forefront of this family’s mind!

A very important thing that my day-tripping experiences have taught me is that I can basically do what I want and with whom I choose.  So as we celebrate Independence Day weekend, I like to think about my independence and what would best suit my family’s lifestyle to refresh, rejuvenate and rejigger.*  The fact is, we don’t have to watch the fireworks.  We don’t have to have hamburgers and hot dogs.  We don’t even have to think about the meaning of the holiday.  When the kids were little and my travel-writing career was booming, in fact, most of our most memorable July 4ths were spent at places ranging from Thai restaurants  to museums.  We also spent a few exciting Independence Day weekends watching firework displays in faraway towns, miles away from our home. 

Thai food on the July Fourth? Definitely! (Bangkok Restaurant, Danbury, CT)

Day-tripping experiences have really taught me my preferences, and that I have the power to choose where I want to go as much as I have the power to choose whether or not I will have a good day, but, of course, going on a day trips sprinkles fairy dust on any given day.

Happy, safe 4th of July; celebrate in your own fashion!

*  “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010.

Make a beeline to beauty, Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, CT

In the introduction of “Consummate Connecticut: Day Trips with Panache,” I end with these words, “TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME…May the road ahead greet you gently at each turn and may you never lose the wonder to travel that extra mile. ”

This was my topic at hand for my next blog.  Before I could sit down and write about it, guess what?  I had to run an errand in Bridgeport, CT, and I decided, yep, you guessed it…to rejigger * and take the long way home; actually, I decided to investigate a little side street that I was on, and, right at the corner, the sight of a brick factory made me regress to being eight years old again. 

Just as I suspected, I espied a tiny Wonder Bread factory outlet across the street.  Pulling into the parking lot, after I strode in, I immediately felt the hovering presence of my dad beside me in his crisp, blue-ironed shirt, car keys jingling in his hand.

Here, in this minuscule place, I recaptured a giant rush of youth; so much of it spent grazing on Twinkies and spongy white bread.  The taste of memory was even sweeter as I remembered my father who, ironically, possessing an oak-tree stature, was a scarce presence in my childhood.

“How long has this store been here?”  I asked the sales clerk at the checkout counter.

“At least 50 years.”

“Wow, I haven’t been here since I was eight,” I explained, recalling how my dad, planting a seed for my adult bargain-hunting penchant, whittled away many weekends taking me to shop here with him.

“I get people in here all the time who say that,” she said with a smile from ear to ear. 

Needless to say, the day trip queen ended up eating a Twinkies while taking another chunk of the day to refuel my memories of my dad, who, I realized, wasn’t so non-existent in my early life after all, as I refueled the car, knowing the extra miles were worth the experience, certainly the wonder of reuniting with the Wonder Bread outlet.

Winding road inspiration: Stewart B. McKinley National Wildlife Refuge, Sheffield Island, Norwalk, CT

*  “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010

Consummate Author! Consummate Journalist! Consummate Motivator!

Through simple secrets to a happier life like day-trip adventures and a gratitude journal by the bedside, I have not only been able to overcome many obstacles in my life, but erase negative and useless thinking…and, yes, learn to relax, rejuvenate, rejigger. *

Rejigger *

* “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010.

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Day Trip Travel — Experiences Over Things

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