A Benediction for 2017

by susanna suchak

adapted from “A Blessing for the New Year” by Kayleen Asbo

(dedicated with gratitude to Mike Prepsky who always inspires)

goinginwardinvite_birchgrove

As the presence of light

begins to grow with each passing day

may the fearful places in your heart

unclench their grasp on your life;

may your courage blossom and bloom.

 
Let this be the year that you

silence the monkey’s chatter,

pick up the drawing tool,

the pen, the paintbrush, the rasp,

and compose together with

the chorus of creativity.

 

Let this be the year that you

break the invisible yardstick

of impossible expectations

and learn that, just as you are,

you are enough –

and so much more.

Let this be the year that you

embrace the messy wonder

that is your life

as it is;

hold it close 

and do the tango.

Let this be the year you

cherish your own humanity

be tickled by its

quirky charm.

Elope with the wonder

of your own true calling,

and invite the hungry world

to the wedding feast.

goinginwardinvite_birchbark

#bounceback

Caregivers are compassionate. It is their nature. For most humans it is their nature and very natural to care. It can be an exhausting job though. Sometimes the compassion well feels pretty dry and empty. Oftentimes, caregivers are not the first to notice the symptoms of empty well or exhaustion until they are just about at the end of the caring rope.

It feels awful. I know. I’ve been there.

But where do you turn?

I turned to counselling. I turned to prescription drugs for depression. But neither were enough.

Until I began searching and seeking for a way that was natural, had no side-effects, and was virtually free, I was flailing. I felt like I was sinking. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the face in front of me.

Then over a year, I dug my way out. I found joy and I found the me I remembered. It was so wonderful that I wanted to share my how.

But first I had to develop the step-by-step method. That took me another year and a bit. With the help of my wise woman, academic advisor, Reinekke Lengelle I have developed my methodology into something that others have found as helpful as I did.

I call it “Wordscaping”. Over the next few weeks, I’ll explain with pictures just what it is.

I am trusting that you will find it worthwhile to try it.

It’s a good way to practice self-care even if you are not a frontline caregiver.

Talk soon!

Crow Lessons

american_crow_6Early last spring a messenger came to me. He perched in the ancient oak tree outside my studio and peered into the window inquisitively. Crows are very curious.

Image found here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/id

All the while I was sitting there tippy tapping on my keyboard, this crow watched me, tilting his head this way and that like he was wondering what I was all about.

We connected on some deep level—me trapped inside and this bit of wild mystery. I named him “Clawed”, he didn’t seem to mind.

After a long while I got up from my perch and went to the cellar to gather some cracked corn and sunflower seeds. I threw them beneath the oak among the walking stones in the moss garden.

Clawed watched intently, cawed his thanks from his more distant perch atop the shed at the back of the property and returned when I retreated back into the house.

I worried whether Clawed would get much of that gift.

You see, he earned his name – he had a badly damaged right foot and I thought other more agile corvids might scoop up this easy meal. But day after day, we practiced this ritual and all the other birds respected the agreement – contract if you will – between Clawed and me. They ate at the back feeder and under it. Rarely venturing to the deck and walking stones nearer the house; and only after Clawed had had his fill.

I’ve since learned that this is the way of crow. Crow takes care of the injured and old – it’s like they respect the challenges of those less agile and able than they.

I’m always learning new things about crow and this time, I gained even more respect for crow than I already possessed.

Since childhood when we had a pet crow on the farm, I’ve been drawn to crows. I love the raucous cawing early mornings. I know the feeders are safe for the songbirds and wee ones – safe from the gluttonous starlings and grackles.

But crows do more than caw, caw, caw. They have a rich language of chortles, clicks and even purrs. Overhearing two or three crows communicating, you feel that each of those sounds are like phonemes of a true language full of secrets. Few have cracked the code, but the ancient Druids certainly tried so that they could learn the magical powers and obtain the secret knowledge they believed each crow possessed.

Crows are cunning Tricksters. And that’s maybe not what you might think. They are cleverer than we imagine. Do you remember the Aesop’s tale about the thirsty crow? He found a pitcher with a little bit of water on the bottom. He couldn’t reach that water. But he used his noggin. He began dropping pebbles into that pitcher until the water rose enough for him to dip his parched beak into it and quench his thirst.

Nobody taught him that. This signifies to me that crows are able to analyse and visualize and certainly use tools. (check out the link to see scientific proof) I wonder how much else they could teach me?

From childhood, I remember that they love the glitter of sunshine on objects. They need resilience to endure the vagaries of weather and they need a good sense of humour to carry them through the hard times.

When I was a little girl, and I lost a barrette, I’d find it in the rafters of the derelict barn … our pet crow rocking above me on a high branch laughing in mirth at our game. You see he wasn’t laughing AT me, but WITH ME. That makes all the difference. From this, I take it that he not only likes a good joke, but wanted me to know that he admired my taste.

Clawed taught me about resilience, dealing with weather whether I liked it or not, and he demonstrated a great sense of humour and respect for the other, those different from himself.

Three seasons I enjoyed Clawed’s company.

Those were three lonely seasons or they would have been so if not for Clawed’s company. You really can’t be in a bad mood around a solitary crow. There was always some kind of conversation going on. Great conversationalists they are, but not gossips. They know how to keep a secret. Clawed and I mostly talked about ideas. I wrote, clackety clack and he echoed the sounds of the keyboard and my words.

Why am I telling you all this today?

I recently had surgery and got to feeling kind of trapped, housebound because of cold, damp weather and then I remembered Clawed and focused on the good, on what I could do, not what I couldn’t.

Clawed, wounded and different, just carried on. He found a friend to cheer on – me – and we developed a symbiotic relationship – a relationship rooted on mutual need and compassion. Clawed understood that he was supported by a circle of friends whether or not he could see them or even understand them.

So I resolved to do the same, to seek out opportunities to do and be all I could do and be and to help others to do the same.

I learned from him to fix what I could, however I could, but to admit to what I couldn’t fix, change, or make different—like other people or the limitations that I lived with day by day.

For me those limitations were short term and have pretty much subsided. The surgery was a roaring success and every day I need to express my undying gratitude to the surgeon (Dr. Patrik Nechala) the surgeon who assisted (Dr. John Caulfeild), anesthesiologist, nurses … oh just everyone who spent long hours helping me right after the surgery. And to friends who visited, brought food for Jeff and me. Their compassion and caring held us through some shaky times. I still remember that first taste of tomato juice as a friend and I sat and talked poetry.

It turns out, I have to say thanks to surgery for slowing me down so that I could have these kinds of experiences. We tend to take too much for granted. We tend to miss so many opportunities to connect.

I managed to keep busy during this past month while I recovered. Since I couldn’t really eat what I normally would, being on a liquid diet, I found things that weren’t energy draining, but that were productive just the same. And I found that I was content almost all the time. I wasn’t in pain. I wasn’t hungry. And I certainly wasn’t bored. I felt supported by my circle of friends (and family) and indeed that circle seemed to grow.

I watched for him again this year, hoping against hope that our bond carried him over a stark, hungry winter. I made sure there was always cracked corn out in the back feeder and some under the oak.

But he didn’t return. His work here is done.

And I bow to him in gratitude.

namaste-little-girl

Photo Credit:  http://theblissfollower.com/2013/07/02/why-i-say-namaste/

Tomorrow a poem…

International Fake Journal Month is just around the corner…

And … I’m taking this opportunity to jump back into the fray of journaling and blogging.

2015_IFJM_Button3This Roz Stendahl’s brilliant idea and the image will link you to a page of information and faqs about International Fake Journal Month. There is a Facebook page too so you can share and enjoy the cameraderie.

Also it’s Blogging A-Z month / challenge. A-Zblog challengeSo each day (except Sundays) I’ll try to post with themes from the alphabet.

Since my character for the Fake Journal is Hazel May, a recently widowed, live-in domestic she will combine the alphabetic themes in her journal and I will post her journal as my blog with some small commentary.

Whew! Sounds challenging.

And to top that off, Sketchbook Skool begins the next series “Stretching” so … that will be part of it too.

And lastly I’m facilitating a “wordscapes” circle over the next few weeks.

I’ll be busy and hopefully stretch myself which is just what I need after this winter.

DSC00478

Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak

Because…

Today Patti Digh called her blog Poetry Wednesdays and it gave me the idea for this.

We have had FOUR days of sunshine in Owen Sound and Juno came nowhere near. But my cousin, Dawn Walker lives in Saugus, Massachusets and they got whacked. I’ve shared this poem at Page to Stage and it seemed to resonate with the adjudicators so I’m putting my neck out and sharing it with you.

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day so I’m going to be brave and share how I deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which descends upon me here where winter seems to imprison me.

But we’ve had FOUR days of sunshine and this morning a winged fellow was singing his heart out and I know that Spring will come…will come…will come. Just because.

Because

Because Creator smiled;

Because the stars aligned;

Because our paths finally connected.

Because Gord forgot,

there was an R in his name;

Because failure crushed me.

Because your eyes sparkled;

Because I threw down a gauntlet;

Because I didn’t really think you would;

Because you did.

Because backing out was unthinkable;

Because I made a promise long ago.

Because we persist.

Because we are one.20140129-DSC00321

We shovel snow …

upon snow …

upon snow.

susanna suchak     January 10, 2015

Home and Light

“Home is where the light lives.” ~ Kayce Hughlett “As I lay pondering”

I am watching snow pile up, listening to the winds gusting, feeling “tucked-in” and safe and cozy. Though “the weather outside is frightful” the snow does brighten up the view from my window. And I am so very glad to be upright and able to write and make art again after a week of feeling the weight of being one of Grey County’s statistics … we had the rather dubious honour of having the highest incidence of reported cases of influenza over the holidays. Though my case was not reported, I imagine mine was not the only unreported case.

How fitting that my word for 2015 is light … with all its myriad meanings.

I do know that I want more light, lightness and the lilt of laughter this year. Laughter as Anne Lamott explains “is carbonated holiness” which also puts it into the category of lightness for me. Light is airy and gives us just enough contrast and a range of value in our lives to make them interesting and still manageable.

I wish you all the best that 2015 can afford … knowing that there will always be enough light if we e20140129-DSC00353ach shine in our own little corner… our place of home.

 

Photo Credit: Jeff Suchak of Mythic Landscape

Thirsty Thursday …

  Rain1 Today it rains. Il pleut.
Interestingly enough in French Il pleut can also mean “he cries” or is it “he is crying/weeping”? At any rate, I think the French have it right … for the rain often makes people a little rain2misty-eyed.

Strangely enough, not me, not today.

Perhaps it is because I have another poem to share with you. Not mine this time. Mine the other day was a very first draft … and we all know about first drafts, don’t we?

Today’s poem is by Antoinette Voûte Roeder
from her book, Still Breathing

Who isDSCF1227 God Now?

Rain.

The drops, the spaces between,

the times when it does not

rain.

Wind.

       When it blows, storms, rages,

       when it lies down in quiet pools.

Wind.

Body.

When it rises strong and free, entwines with another,DSCF1238

when it loses its luster and begins the  long descent.

Body.

Love.

In all its facets, birthing, growing, yearning,

breaking, losing.

Love.

Who is God now?

Far and near.

Here, not here.

Always, all ways.

God.

Although I no longer have a faith community that I meet with regularly … I find this comforting.

Let me know what feelings this poem evokes in you, if you like. Thanks for visiting.

listening_reflectionAll photos are my own, if you share or use them please link here. Thanks.

Poems to Ponder … a new feature

morning_Nov3

Every day blusters anew

more yellow, gold, red, brown leaves

dance down and down

delighted to joinEachLeaf_Nov3 copy

brothers and sisters

as they find their rest

on earthLeaves_Nov3

and in earth

as I

Chaos of leaves_Nov3

would do

and will doGoldLeaf_Nov3

sooner than

perhaps I

would prefer

 

Autumn’s Grace

susanna suchak

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Learning…to listen

Reflections_on_MBCTLately, it seems, I am making more time for reflection. Perhaps it is the season; perhaps that I am beginning to find comfort in the artful practice of contemplative photography; perhaps it is just who I am and who I am becoming.
Reflecting requires a high degree of listening. That said, I am beginning to realize how I listen best. I prefer face to face listening … even Skype … rather than the phone. I have always found that the phone was not an optimum method of communication. Texting is really low on my list of communication methods that work for me.
So, I am finding myself leaning into anachronism and outdatedness. Something else to reflect on.

many_ears Do more ears help?
Sure, I want to be current and connect with people of all ages, but not at the expense of authentic communication.
Not long ago, one of my sons explained to me that he felt unheard during a telephone conversation. I empathized. I’ve felt that way a great deal.
In this instance, though, it was the technology that was to blame. I liken it to getting used to our toddlers first communication attempts. Our ears are keenly attuned and we “hear” words where others hear a jumble of phonemes.

Folks who use cell phones frequently are in all likelihood, more attuned to the nuances of what comes through the fibre optics, for filling in the blanks, for filtering out the static. Me? Not so much.

It hurt deeply to hear that a very dear person to me felt unheard. It hurt more when my attempts to explain were pushed aside.

But it helped me to listen to what was under the words, to know that I have listened deeply, uncritically, and with patience and will continue to do so.

We need to listen under the words, sometimes, perhaps often. And when we do that with love and patience, we will hear volumes.

A week studying mindfulness in a great deal of silence taught me much.

Dare I say, it has changed me for ever and always. I am deeply grateful for the privilege. I am best able to listen … in stillness, in silence…red_leaf

We need to hear with our hearts.

And best of all, we need to reflect on what we heard and what we know deeply.