I’m a late bloomer. Not the way mums offer a final color-splash to the perennial gardens of Autumn. More the way Night-blooming Cereus sings when everyone’s sleeping. No one listening but the poets. Right now, my heart feels like moonlight petals and whispers. This strange and amazing thing happening inside that no one else can see. I’ve had to start my life over again the last few years- everything quite new, the future wide open. This might explain my wariness of the “about me” page. The way the life there can seem pinned down like an entomologist’s specimen.
I love dynamic movement: Art in all its forms. The natural world. My children. The faces of the very old. A good joke. A good cry. Early morning rain. Spring cleaning. The way it describes the profound and restorative silence at the heart of things. I’m interested in the heart of the matter, and sometimes I over-think things. My free-spirit fourteen year old daughter pointed this out. She sings in the shower and sketches the faces of the kids at school who perplex her. There are more faces in her math notebook than numbers. We each have our own way of figuring things out.
I was born in Canada. Ontario. In the first grade I fell in love with a boy named Kevin. For five years I chased that boy around the playground at recess. He wouldn’t let me catch him. But on the last day of fifth grade, the day before my parents were moving us to Michigan to open a family restaurant, he came over to me as I was saying goodbye to my friends, and he kissed me. It’s one of my most vivid memories from childhood. It’s one of the moments forever inside me that loves to be remembered by a good poem.
Despite the teasing from kids at school about my accent, I didn’t mind our move. We had a swimming pool and a tree house. I got to take ballet lessons. When I was 13 it came to me one day in the middle of a woodworking class, of all places, that I was a writer. That entire school year I worked on a love story that I wrote in installments, giving it chapter by chapter to friends to pass around. Nothing made me happier than one of them looking up from the pages I had given her to ask, “What happens next?”
That became a big question for me many years later, long after high school, after college, and a wedding, and four children, and graduate school, and, finally, the painful end of my long marriage, and all of my life as I knew it. What happens next? And that’s a hard one to ask when you’re in the thick of things, when what you really want to know is, Where did I go wrong? I couldn’t fathom what might or ought to come next. Dark night of the soul, they call it. It honed my listening skills. Eventually, taught me the importance of forgiveness, compassion, and patience.
I found, and continue to find, guidance in yoga and meditation. Long walks alone through the woods. In slowing down and poetry. In teaching. In nourishing myself. In letting go. I’m learning to accept that life will be messy and beautiful at the same time. That I’m creative, and there are qualities I can cultivate so that I can use it to my life’s advantage. That I’m a work in progress.
Maybe that’s all we really need to know.
There are flowers that bloom in the dark.
Anything could happen next.
We’re given the gift of creativity not to guarantee a predictable next chapter, but to engage whatever is courageously, with an open mind and heart.