As if this were any normal spring day
filled with gravity-defying,
alabaster bumble bees;
Her odds and ends
and leftover pieces of soap—
Lemon and ivory.
Let’s take a walk
down the road
through the woods,
past the rolling pastures, cattle;
to where the gravel road ends
and the pavement begins–
far away and close to home.
She holds me there
threading her needle,
the warm crackle of her voice,
the constant invisible motion
of her behind me,
as I stand at the kitchen sink
stroking the fuzzy red geraniums
stirring the peppery green air.
PARAMOUNT GOALS from Always We Begin Again by John McQuiston II
What is wanted is not that we should find ultimate truth,
nor that we should become secure,
nor that we should have ease,
nor that we should be without hurt,
but that we should live fully.
Therefore we should not fear life,
nor anything in life,
We should not fear death,
nor anything in death,
We should live our lives in love with life.
It is for us to train our hearts to live in grace,
to sacrifice our self-centered desires,
to find the peace without want without seeking it for ourselves,
and when we fail,
to begin again each day.
This photo was taken on June 23, 2013, though I remember nothing about the day. Clearly I was in New York, busy, beautiful city of lights and people and energy.
To all New Yorkers and your current guests: May you be safe. May you receive everything you need.
My relationship with my mother could best be described as “difficult” when she was alive. But there was nobody better to have on your side during an emergency that Mary Everett Little-Vance.
“Nobody’s heart is broken, is it?” she might say. No broken bones. No rain coming through the roof. That we had managed to survive a thing with our hearts intact was what really mattered. Whatever “tragedy” befell us–mostly dealing with worldly security issues–Mama would point to the fact that we hadn’t lost anything truly worth our tears.
(When we were school age, the “crisis” could totally be of our own making but she would defend us first and ask questions later. She might not love what you did but she never stopped loving you.)
To breathe and to love. There’s stuff to want, material stuff, sure, but when you really boil it down, I mean at the end of the day, I think Mama was onto something.
Mary Everett Little-Vance died in February 2014. Not only do I miss her every day but I think I even “get” her a little more every day. I’m sure she’d have something good to say about “regret,” too, so I won’t try to go rearranging the past. I suppose it’s helpful that my mother never became frozen or static in death and continues to evolve as I do.
This verse was among her favorites:
“Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring to you, calling out as children do:
“Look what I have! — And these are all for you!”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay
This week, I stumbled upon a Paul Grilley flow on youtube that must be known to his followers. It’s called “flying dragon” and it’s a very elegant and powerful sequence that really moves. Here’s a link to the original performance of the sequence with Paul and Suzee Grilley and then the teaching of the flow (Paul teaches, Suzee demonstrates).
During most of the flying dragon sequence, the head is below the heart so it challenges your heart and your lungs. Honestly, it challenges your whole self and is probably a little addictive like the Macarena (I’m actually imagining I’d be addicted if I ever tried it so no Macarena, no crack). Energy-wise, the dragon fired up my brain at 4 am this morning, clear and alert, raring to figure something out. (I fell asleep again at 6…)
Whether or not you feel moved to try flying dragon, or if it’s even meant to happen in your body, it’s beautiful to watch. Enjoy!
PS As background, Paul Grilley is the inventor of Yin Yoga and I know this because one of my teachers, Douglas Johnson has trained extensively with him and is (I believe) the teacher who brought Yin Yoga to Atlanta. In fact, if you want a chilled yin class tonight, I believe Doug is live streaming and posting some donation classes on his website. Check out www.mahapathayoga.com. Yin is not only an amazing stretch, but it’s also a great intro to yoga and accessible to most people. So if you’re feeling a little stressed, this might help. PPS I just learned that Doug normally (non-coronavirus days) teaches this style of yoga–Yang Yoga–at evolation yoga Atlanta on Mondays at 4:45pm.