Things That Flowered

Things that flowered
Yesterday, last week,
Have passed
And new things bloom. 
This morning
It’s the daisies, lean and
Scrawny, with their
Cheerful petaled faces. 
In only ten days time,
The heavy purple lilacs
And scented fields
Of lily of the valley
Have given way to
Honeysuckle and
The early roses—
Soon lemon lilies. 
How to celebrate
Each one,
Each moment,
Every season,
Feeling still
The momentary sadness
Comes with knowing
That the beauty
That was yesterday’s
Is gone. 
    Judy Brown
    June 16, 2018
     Leland, Michigan  

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The Lion Tamer

The Lion Tamer

Time magazine recently ran a piece on all the factors that contributed to the closing of Ringling Brothers Circus.  Not the least of which has been the rise of a different kind of circus:Cirque de Soleil. While I've been fascinated with the ascent of Cirque, I am
haunted by a photo that accompanied the Time magazine story--a photo of the empty Ringling Bros circus circle with the lion tamer and lion together in what could only be described as an embrace. A last embrace.

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The Work of Many Hands

The Work of Many Hands

I subscribe to a daily poetry post created by Joe Riley.  It’s called Panhala.  Because the poems he selects, so often speak to me personally, I find it a good way to start my day.  And yesterday to my amazement, the poem to start my day was one of my own about my brother David who builds and rebuilds wooden boats:

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Lunch with Alice

Lunch with Alice

Years back I wrote a poem prompted by something the Dean of our Public Policy school said to me in passing.

Poems have a habit of showing up that way, popping up out of a conversation in the hallway.


But this one was unusual--it had a specific name in the title--"Lunch with Alice."  And I thought of it as a love story, and also a story of wisdom about how we choose to spend our moments.

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Leadership Development: “results are not immediate.”

Leadership Development: “results are not immediate.”

Last week a group of non-profit leaders from elder-serving organizations met here, and one thread that ran through our conversations, was begun by my colleague Audrey, who said that she was increasingly aware in leadership development work that “results are not immediate.”  Results come in their own time. 

 Her words have stayed with me, particularly after watching the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics.  How long people trained to compete at that level!  The amount of practice to develop that level of mastery.  The quality of coaching.  The support of family, friends.  “The results are not immediate.”

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On Encouragement

On Encouragement

I came away from last week's poetry gathering at Kirkridge--Bread for the Journey--thinking of the power of encouragement in the lives of those who love poetry and those who write it. 

Eighty-four of us gathered for four days--listening to poets and poetry. And to stories about poets and their poetry.  And everywhere were stories of encouragement. 

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Perfectly All Right

Perfectly All Right

Recently I was co-facilitating a weekend retreat at Pendle Hill on the theme of The Undivided Life.  My co-facilitator, Carol Kortsch had brought along a collection of natural materials from woods and garden—items that are beautiful even in the winter, simple, natural.  Rocks.  Branches.  A turtle shell (her favorite).  And a complex twist of roots and twigs bleached out into a single piece of driftwood.  That was my favorite.  

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Baggage

Baggage

I’ve made a commitment to travel lighter these days.  Take with me only what I will really use.  Still my suitcase is often heavier than it needs to be. Which means on most trips, I have to check a bag.  Which is what put me at baggage claim at the Sacramento Airport last month.  Gawking at a remarkable piece of public art:  An enormous pillar of baggage.

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How Poetry Has Found Its Way Into My Life

How Poetry Has Found Its Way Into My Life

As a group of us are looking forward to a gathering in April focused on the renewing power of poetry, I’ve begun to think about how poetry has found its way into my life, and why it has turned out to be so handy, so practical, so useful.  As a practical, native Michigander from a farming family, poetry has often been far from my mind.  In fact, when a wonderful mentor of mine, John Gardner read my book

The Choice

and said it was a fine policy book on end of life decision-making, but that I was a poet and my poetry should be published, I remember being dismayed at the idea.

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Snow days for Grown-ups

The reported excitement of children who were snowed out from attending school these last few days, reminded me that all of us need an occasional surprise time-out from the regular responsibilities and duties that we carry.  A pocket-holiday akin to the tiny pocket-parks that have developed in cities.  Tiny but hugely appreciated. Renewing.

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