Where Servitude Ends

Born to be domesticated
in a white, controlled desert
tending to two-leggeds –

blamed for delinquencies
I fed but did not groom –
privacy overrun by wannabes

everyone has their own scheme –
I am finished, threaten to disclose
neglect – no limitation to disgust

What fate is this? Abandoned
only to perish – Have I not been
loyal?  Accepting of my role?

Tending to young, in charge of
personal care – translation:
laundry – only comfort solitude.

Past – as industrious as a line
of ants – no longer viable, I am
nothing, dependents gone;

bodily restrictions now claim me
forgotten dreams dissolved – I am
dependent, unwilling legs confine

care unpredictable – ward of the
state – semblance of nutrition
provided, encouraged to sanitize

my body, my attitude; no rest
this home is overpopulated –
vocal laments torment old ears

Pestered by small things, would
leave, stop being a burden, am
decidedly stuck, until life fades.

(Image: favim.com)

Meaning of Life, Anyone?

If I could, I would ask the dead
about the secrets of life, raise
spirits to help me understand
this phenomena of cancer, the
need to find relief in addictions,
the key to successful relations.

Or perhaps It is the youth, set
on creating the next YouTube
sensation, who have insights
I should pay attention to, but
they seem to prefer contrived
reality, ignoring mundane life.

Asking the heads of education
what the guiding principles are
for living a good life seems use-
less; they are too buried beneath
the red tape of bureaucracy, out
of touch with front line teaching.

I might ask new immigrants who
carry with them an accented
authority and certainty about the
meaning of life that I have not
considered – their faith and hope
badges of courage that betray
our lack of social cohesiveness.

I feel compelled to investigate
why this hard-working, caring
soul has sold herself three times
for love and continues to come up
victim; is it an insatiable need
for attention or lack of willingness
to let go of the past and just be?

(Image: btloc.com)

 

Oh Baby, I Have Purpose

Baby Whisperer, they call me –
some definitions we just slide
into, naturally; discovered mine
at the age of nine, when my sister,
a child herself, gave birth and I,
the babysitter, was also born.

Ran a school that summer –
charged a quarter a week to
neighbouring parents, promised
to prepare their children for the
year ahead, turned my knack
into an entrepreneurship.

Uprooted at eleven to a highrise
full of families, filled my calendar
with other’s people’s offspring –
was in demand – while other teens
partied and rebelled, my wallet
bulged with babysitter’s cash.

Projected success into future
plans, told the guidance counsellor
I wanted to get my ECE – work in
day care – she scoffed, said I was
too smart, should be a psychiatrist
the world needs shrinks, not nannies.

So I signed up for psychology and
sociology – did not find myself, quit,
married a man – really just a child –
felt I’d found myself in the role of
wife, ignored the fact that I had
only replaced his mother – grew tired,

ran into the arms of another, racing
to have children of his own – knew
how to do children – returned to school,
studied Children’s literature, psychology,
set my sights on being a teacher – but
it all fell apart; alone raising three.

Married again, finding comfort in the
mothering role, became a teacher –
replaced offspring with classrooms;
certain I was fulfilling a calling, until
illness swept it all away, confined me
to a bed, homebound, erased purpose.

But wait; the story doesn’t end there –
because now I’m a grandmother – my
babies have babies – and even from my
invalid bed, I can care for the wee  –
the Baby Whisperer still has the touch –
purpose reignited with each new life.

Salvaged

Delegated to the back room,
I am marginalized, invisible,
employ-ability in question.

I am a peripheral observer,
self-conscious of my status,
disintegrating at the edges.

Watch as relationships form,
people engage, socialize, find
purpose, ignore my presence.

Desperate, I grasp at meanings,
decipher holes in conversations,
measure lacking in interactions.
Ennui drives introspection –
a terrifying abyss of endless
confrontations and shortfalls.

Unable to bear the tedium –
madness threatening – I push
forward, reconsider stock

determine redundancies,
discern detrimental agendas,
am inspired to make changes.

Experience bears fruit, I can
salvage the situation, trim
excess, purge the sedentary.

Ideas flood, passion igniting,
prospects are not lost – creativity
fuels a new sense of belonging.

ME/CFS: Just Need Clarity

The desire to re-engage with life is so potent that when any window of wellness pops up I grasp it and, like a naughty school child, ignore all well-intended warnings of caution.  It happened yesterday.  After two weeks of slumping, I felt almost normal.

“Aha!” I said to myself.  “I have energy!”  Before sensibility could get a hold of me, I bundled up the laundry that had been amassing unsorted in the bottom of the closet, and whisked it all downstairs into the laundry room, where more piles awaited.  (I know, this is preposterously bad behaviour, but believe me, laundry has that power over me.)

th-3The plan – hastily devised – was to wait out the washing cycles downstairs.  Armed with an iPad, I thought the lazyboy would be a perfect place to set myself up in between loads.  “Seven minutes”, I told myself as I folded the stuff in the dryer, then:  “Maybe I should have done this sitting down.”  I chose to be optimistic.  “Oh well, I am feeling better today, I can afford a bit more time standing.”

The truth about this disease (ME/CFS) is that while the mind and intentions may play tricks, the body is absolutely clear about its limitations.  The tremors began as I stood folding.  I ignored them.

With a new load underway, I collapsed on the lazyboy and scooped up my iPad.  “Distraction is what I need!”  I tried to convince myself, turning it on.

The headache started next.  “Must be the lights.  I’ll turn them off next time I’m up.”

By the time the laundry was ready to turn over, my body was very clear:  Enough already!  I am shutting down.

“But I haven’t had this much energy in weeks; just let me do a little more,” I begged, while continuing to shuffle the loads.  I returned to the lazyboy, lights now off, and thought I’d try a bit of television – nothing too heavy.

I watched with my hand over my head, trying to hold back the pain.  I waited till the laundry finished.

“What are you doing?”  Ric caught me red-handed.  “I can do this!”

“I’m alright,” I lied.  “Just finishing up.  That’s it for the day.”

He grabbed the basket out of my hands and carried it up the stairs, clearly not believing me.

Truth is, I was not okay.  I had over-extended myself.  Again.

Why is it so hard, when my body speaks with such clarity, to honour its messages?

“Why do you have to make this so difficult for yourself?” Ric asked echoing my thoughts.

“I just want to feel like I’ve contributed something; like I am useful.”

th-4That’s it really, isn’t it?  I used to know who I was, or I thought I did.  I had a sense of being a part of something greater than me; I had something to add.  Now, I am totally dependent on the kindness of others, with little to offer in return.

Who are we when all has been stripped away?  What are we left with that defines us beyond being the blob in the bed?  I guess this journey will, in time, reveal the answer.

This is the clarity I seek.

Day 207 “Discovering Your Purpose”

Yesterday, my husband lost all of the contacts on his computer, frustrating him immensely as it represents decades of business contacts, all friends, family, and commonly accessed services. In their place was a list of contacts from someone in the New Orleans area. Late into the night, Thor worked to restore the list.

Then this morning, we were awoken by a phone call, checking to see if he was okay. An email had gone out to everyone, marked “Urgent” and asking for money as he was “stranded in Italy.”

By the time we figured out what was happening, the phone was ringing incessantly, and texts and emails were flooding both our cellphones. It was overwhelming to say the least.

In the midst of this calamity came an email from a former employee of Thor’s saying he had tried to get through to the number in Italy, but was having trouble. He sent his cell number so Thor could contact him. Our initial reaction was disbelief that people would fall for this sham. Especially John, who Thor had not seen for decades, but whom he described as extremely bright.

“Why would he even thing you would ask him for money?” I wanted to know.

Thor called John and thanked him for his concern. It had actually happened to his daughter, he explained. She had been stranded overseas and needed to put a call out for money, so he didn’t like to take chances. Then they caught up on life since the last time they’d talked.

“It’s been way too long,” Thor told him as they ended the conversation. “Let’s do lunch soon.”

“Isn’t that nice that he would go out of his way after all these years.” We both agreed it was. More than nice. Heartwarming.

More messages came and a neighbour even came to the door, all checking that Thor was safe at home.

I know this post is supposed to be about “Discovering Your Purpose”, but purpose is that elusive promise that keeps our hearts and minds focused on anything but the here and now. I prefer, instead, to ask how can I live purposefully? How can I make each day count?

John did that today. He reached out to someone who once gave him a hand up in life, and risked appearing foolish, or worse, being defrauded, and brightened our day. He made a difference in someone’s life: small, but noticeable.

What if we all made that our purpose? To dare to help another, to extend a hand, and just say, “Are you okay?” To forget about ourselves for a moment, and the make the world a better place.

Day 186 “A Life Well Lived”

I am addicted to word games – the ones where you have to make as many words as you can from a limited number of letters in a limited amount of time.  As you progress, the time is shortened.  I love the challenge, and the brain workout.  And if I am stuck, I can just quit and start again.  I make ‘genius’ moves and love the positive feedback.

My job is parceled into seventy-five minute periods in which I have to solve an unlimited number of problems in a limited amount of time.  Unlike the word games, I cannot click ‘quit’ and start again.  Unlike the game, there is no score to give me immediate feedback.  I juggle, think on my feet, and then start again when the bell rings.  I only receive feedback when I have erred in my judgment, or displeased another teacher, the student, or a parent.  There is nothing ‘genius’ about what I do.

Am I making a difference?  Is this a life well lived.

How would you define a life well lived?