Thursday, January 19, 2017

Embracing (and bracing for) Change


"Imperial" by Evonne

CHAIR LIFT
          by Maxine W. Kumin  
Nobody holds your hand up there.
You sit alone in your moving chair

It's not as smooth as an elevator.
It's scarier than an escalator.

Under your feet, the snowy humps
Of hills go by with jerks and bumps

And the only sound in the world is the clack
Of the chair lift clanking along its track.
                                                                                       Read the rest HERE
From OPENING DAYS: SPORTS  POEMS, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996).


The metaphoric chair lift has been clickety-clackety-clanking for many months now. My anxiety has been climbing as well. Now that we've reached the summit, I try to take in the grandeur and possibility of 2017, but I'm distracted by the daunting slope.

I've never been much of a skier. My introduction to downhill skiing was a weekend trip with a group of teenagers, mostly older than myself, all of whom already knew how to ski. The first morning was great—beautiful weather, I had a newbie lesson and mastered the bunny slope. But the afternoon brought sleet and an intermediate run that was well beyond what this bunny could handle. What I remember most was the trail of blue dye that followed me down the mountainside, sliding down on my bottom in brand new jeans. It would have been embarrassing had I not been paralyzed by fear. And yes, I probably could have taken my skis off and walked, but that would have been far too sensible. The second day I feigned illness and had the house all to myself. Far more sensible.

So here we are. As much as I might like to stay home and ignore the challenges ahead, it's not an option. I'm not sure what's on the horizon—politically, creatively, personally. I've got two teens of my own navigating the landscape. Whatever the future holds, it feels big and new and definitely scarier than an escalator.

                    My head is telling me to hold on. 

                                        My heart is urging me to let go.

But first it means heading back to the bunny slope for a refresher course. It means building up my core and balance, and trusting that the chaos I'm feeling right now is exactly where I need to be. To open myself up for something beautiful and extraordinary, though I'm not sure what and when and how. At first I thought my "one little word" for 2017 would be self-love. But then I realized it's not. It's change. Self-love is the means to embrace that change. I've got a new pair of jeans packed and ready for the trip. If you see a trail of blue, make sure to wave.


Photo: Andre Charland


Here's some GREAT news to start off the new year... a new Poetry Friday Power Book by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong that's a Children's Book Council "Hot Off the Press” selection for January 2017!  I'm honored have my poem "Look for the Helpers" included in HERE WE GO.  Next week I'll have an in-depth look and a power-packed giveaway.






After that, we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.  So sharpen your pencils, poets—the Ditty of the Month Club will be back on February 3rd! In the meantime, please visit Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids. She's done a wonderful write-up of The Best of Today's Little Ditty, including three poems from the anthology. Thank you, Laura!





Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup with a post that is perfect for today.







37 comments:

  1. I love how you see life. I just love how you SEE life. My introduction to skiing was very similar....but I did take the skies right off. I am determined to be positive and move forward with positive energy. However, I'm watchful. I'm watchful for a world that holds my dear ones. Feels like I"m on skiis. I don't think we will see any blue trails from you. But, if I do, I'll be happy to hold out a hand and a smile and see if we can't figure out to get upright together. I so look forward to next wee's blog post from you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So heartwarming to read this comment, Linda. Thank you. <3

      Delete
  2. If I see a blue streak, it may be me busting loose after seeing a certain orange person displaying triumph as if bragging were an olympic sport. I have been missing you, and congrats on having your poem in the new PF book. I'll sharpen my pencil and try not to waste my wits on blue streaks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Michelle for sharing your OLW. So much unhappiness is generated by resisting change... when the flip side of change is always opportunity and learning, even when we can't see it at first. Congratulations on your poem in HERE WE GO! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Irene, for many things, not the least of which is putting me on the path to being more mindful. xo

      Delete
  4. Thank you for these words ... "I try to take in the grandeur and possibility of 2017, but I'm distracted by the daunting slope." That is exactly how I feel. Some days I wonder how we'll manage, but I'm trying to have hope.

    Thank you again for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tricia, for letting me know I'm not alone in my feelings. Let's try to have hope together.

      Delete
  5. I don't ski anymore, and loved your description of your first time, Michelle. I remember well how terrified I was, but getting off the life was my earliest trial. Your poem/metaphor works for me in this trying/hard-to-imagine time. I just received Here We Go, quite a feat to follow so quickly after You Just Wait. Looking forward to February.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I didn't have an easy time getting off the lift either. :o/

      Delete
  6. Nice to have you back, Michelle. xo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hoping for beautiful and extraordinary things for you in 2017, Michelle--yes to being open to change.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The last time I was on skis was 30 years ago. I try to enjoy warmer climates these days. I'm glad you are starting up again. I look forward to the fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to whatever you throw my way, David!

      Delete
  9. I'm a fan of cross-country skiing...and snowshoeing...downhill, even the bunny slope, was never something I wanted to attempt. So congratulations. I'll be back at the lodge, keeping a cup of hot chocolate ready for you. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most grateful for the hot chocolate, Vivian! That's the best part of any kind of winter sport. :)

      Delete
  10. Reading your description of your first time skiing reminded me of my first--and only--trip. I enjoyed my time on the bunny slope and never made it off. Congratulations on both the poem in the Poetry Pack and the collection from Today's Little Ditty. Both are books I want to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I should have done, too, Kay. I'm a bunny-sloper through and through! Thanks for your kind congrats. :)

      Delete
  11. Oh my! The scary slopes to come! I've only gone skiing once in my whole life and I was a teenager. I admire your bravery and willingness to fail and try again. So happy to be next to you in Here We Go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect there will be a few stumbles in the months to come, Margaret, but we'll just keep getting up, right?

      Delete
  12. Michelle, your narrative had me spellbound and then, the trail of blue lines were humorous because they conjured up a memory. (My husband walked down a mountain instead of skiing because he was scared. There's more to the story but that part I recall vividly.) Life on the precipice is a scary thought but somehow we get through it. Let go and embrace change as you zip down the slopes. Now I see why you referred to the mountain in Violet's photo.

    I read Laura's review of Janet and Sylvia's book already. How exciting. I look forward to reading it soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know about that "zipping" part, Carol, but one day at a time sounds good to me. :)

      Delete
  13. Challenging poem and slope Michelle, these challenges often bring out the best in all of us. I went to a grounding meeting pre-ignauguration event last night, lead by an author. It was restful and refreshing with some interesting questions posed and discussed. Congrats on your poem in "Here We Go," I look forward to reading it, and to your blog starting up again! And how appropriate, hold on cause "Here We Go . . . "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we're on the same wavelength, Michelle! I almost titled this post "Here we are and here we go," but then I thought I better reserve "here we go" for next week. :)

      Delete
  14. Your description of learning to ski is perfect. That fear of downhill drop! That is what we are sensing. That pit in your stomach fear. But here we are at the top of the slope. And here we go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Julieanne. If nothing else, it won't be dull.

      Delete
  15. Michelle, I see what you meant when you said the mountain photo in my post meshed with yours! Indeed. I was with you all the way, petrified by skiing fear. I'm so unathletic, I never did learn to downhill ski. Cross-country was more my speed, and came to enjoy that a lot at a beginner level.

    All the best, whatever slope you tackle! (And congrats on the anthology! It sure looks lovely.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind congrats, Violet. If I ever live in a cold climate again, cross-country is definitely the way to go.

      Delete
  16. Yes, I've got cold feet and my stomach feels funny! I love this post. Maxine Kumin(we in NH claim her!)could hardly have known her poem would become such a metaphor for challenges we face this year. Yes to strength training by building up our core and to seeking balance. Congratulations on your poem in HERE WE GO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joyce! I was so pleased to see Laura Purdie Salas included your haiku in her post this week. Did you see it? http://laurasalas.com/poems-for-teachers/best-of-todays-little-ditty-poetry-friday/

      Delete
  17. Looking for the blur of blue, Michelle.

    And thanks for returning next month.
    I hope the break provided some reading, relaxing & revolution time.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Welcome back! I've missed you! Congratulations to everyone in the Anthology. As soon as I can, I'll get me a copy shipped to South Africa! So exciting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've had two concussions from skiing - my enthusiasm was greater than my skill, I'm afraid.

    Change and mindfulness - YES - me too!

    Best wishes for the new year, Michelle!

    ReplyDelete