Someone to Catch Me

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Someone to Catch Me

Someone to catch me.
A friend to keep me
from falling.
Offering his hand
that we might take this journey
strong and protected
side by side.

I wrote this poem about my husband, Jim. I can’t count the number of times he’s been there to catch me when I’ve felt like I was falling. There is nothing like having his hand in mine, and our looking out into the world together.

* I took this photo from Mount Solaro, which soars 589 meters above sea level and is the highest and most panoramic point on the Italian island of Capri.)


Less real to me

rozafa castle view


You speak to me with your tantalizing words.
You tell me I couldn’t have it all.
You shout at me, vibrating through me:
Who I am is not good enough.
What I want doesn’t matter.
You lay yourself in front of me.
You block entry to my soul.
You cover the essence of me in noise.

I miss opportunities when you showed up.
You neutralize my relationships.
You suck the reward from my work.

I lose so much because of you.
You steal my sense of wonder.
You squelch my curiosity.
You dismiss my dreams.

May I find the strength
to push you out of my life,
your false sense of importance
and the expectations you create
less real to me.

I wrote this poem in 2005 or 2006 sometime after I attended Radical Leadership retreats (read more about my RL experience). It seemed like the first time that I really acknowledged fear in my life. It was empowering – not only to see it alive and breathing in my life but also to realize that when it shows up, I have the power to let it carry me away or sit with it or to shift it away, even if only a little.

I chose to share this poem today because recently I’ve felt a great sense of pressure, and I’ve noticed fear creeping into my days, like an insidious little gnat that just won’t leave me alone. While I notice it and brush it away, it lingers in the distance momentarily, and then returns. While most of the time I recognize that I am at choice for how I respond, sometimes I react, the fear having pushed its way into the depths of my being. I’m getting better at treating myself with kindness and self-compassion each time that happens, although I find it challenging to accept myself when I’m anything other than my ideal self.

When I’m aware that I’ve been triggered by something that makes me afraid, I’m trying to remind myself of the essence of fear: False Expectations Appearing Real, and asking myself some questions about what I’m thinking in my head that is causing the fear, like “Is that true?”. What do you do with fear?

A related blog I wrote with Patrick Kozakiewicz: 4 Tips to Overcome Fear and Get Into Action

* I took this photo at Rozafa Castle, Skodra, Albania. (Rozafa castle is a castle near the city of Shkodër, in northwestern Albania that rises imposingly on a rocky hill, 130 metres above sea level, surrounded by the Bojana and Drin rivers. )

Into the Deep

San Agustinillo MX4

Into the Deep

What if
you respond
to the call of the sea
beckoning you
from the safety of the shore
where sand and water meet?

What if
you jump
into the surf
pushing you away
from the familiar solid feel
of your feet firmly fixed
on the earth below you?

What if
you dive
into the heart of the wave
pulsing toward you
shattering you
like a million shells
into grains of sand?

What if
you dare
to move into the endless blue deepness
luring you
into the exhilaration
of the unknown?

Into the Deep is the title poem to the second chapter in my book. The section is a collection of 8 poems about that touch on darkness, fear and the heaviness of they bring. It’s focuses attention on what I once called the ‘bad’ stuff.

What I’ve discovered by venturing into the deep is that those ‘negative’ emotions carry so much possibility for understanding myself deeply.

I wrote this poem from the sands of Playa Rinconcito in San Agustinillo, Mexico where my husband Jim and I have been closing the year for the past 10+ years. The beach there reflects the complexity of being human – sometimes calm and clear, others dark and brooding. The photo, which I took one morning at sunrise, captures the beauty that can be found even when clouds hover overhead like darkness.

* I took this photo at sunrise on Playa Rinconcito, San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico.


Our Painting

babytreesinsnowOur Painting

The canvas white with possibility.
Old expectations pushed off the edges.
Past chapters of life lost outside the frame.
Emptiness waiting impatiently to be filled.
The blank fabric inviting the dreamer.

The stories we want to believe
begin like lines gracing the page.
Emotions we dare to express
create a rich and courageous texture.
Acceptance gently hiding beyond our grasp
dances like shadows on the page.
The power and grace we hold
paints a perfect balance of color.

Like hope rising
boldly from our hearts
shapes take form
and the picture emerges:
A reflection of our perfect souls.

The day I wrote this poem I was meeting a friend, Lati, for brunch, and as I awaited her arrival, the poem came to me. I sat in the quiet and comfort of the quaint little Leaf Kitchen cafe, pulled out a small pad of paper, and started to write. From the vintage chair at the table, with my herbal tea steeping, I saw something different for us.

We’d seen some dark gray days on our journey of breast cancer. Today, though, acceptance, openness and courage were available to us. We were reaching deeper into ourselves and finding our way forward. Our beliefs had the power to take us somewhere new and put us at choice for creating a new reality.

* I took this photo on Highway 151 from Dubuque, Iowa on a cold February day.





Your words a song
Your power the beat of a drum
Your grace notes filling the air
A resounding instrument
Your song leads me
To discover
Who I want to be

My favorite word coming out of the transformational Radical Leadership retreats I attended back in 2005 is possibility. As I’ve reviewed my writings over these past dozen years, curiosity, openness, wonder and hope fill my experience.

In 2009, I began to play with the possibility (smile) of writing a book of poetry. I had a rough collection of some 25-30 poems that I titled “She Just Left Neverland: In Search of Possibility”. My journal has a description of what was happening for me at the time:

It’s coming together
These flashes, these little ideas
Hinting at something

Glimpses of what I can create
when I slow down
And am open in my looking

Through the haze
I see the possibilities shining
And leading me to action

I wrote Music about a colleague, Otema, who gave me the courage to play with my words and explore writing poetry. She was an inspiration and invitation that opened the possibility of poetry for me, and put me in action. Her early advice was so brilliant:

  1. Look for themes in what you are writing
  2. Identify your purpose in sharing
  3. Read lots of poetry
  4. Be authentic
  5. Leave spaces for the reader to fill in

In gratitude.

* I took this photo in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland in 2016.


San Agustinillo (2)


Not seeing the way.
Desperately seeking
a path out.
To the other side
of this place.
This thing
that I cannot
figure out.
Despite the light
shining in,
it seems so dark,
Utterly empty.
Alone in the middle
of nowhere.
Getting dizzy.
From the corner
of my eyes
scanning for the exit.
Not even sure there is
some place I should be going.

Mostly when I think of possibility, it comes from a positive, pleasant place. My life experience has shown me that possibility can emerge from dark places, too. (I captured a darker chapter of my life on Mostly My Heart Sings.) The key for me has been to sit in the darkness, not ignore it or run from it, just be with it, and, when possible, befriend it. In so doing, often its grip is released and something new moves in.

When pulling together And Then Opens Possibility, I wasn’t sure about including the second chapter, “Into the Deep”, or at least about how deep to go. Some of my early reviewers said it felt like too much and were reluctant to include some of the darkest works. No, it’s not easy to sit in the darkness – however, doing just that was transformative for me so I yielded to the depths of my feelings.

While I have a long, long way to go, I feel that I’ve become more accepting of negative, imperfect, ugly and painful experiences. I continue to find that by opening to them, I often find a way to let them go more easily.

* I took this photo on Playa Rinconcito, San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico

Through You I See

Mallorca Sunset from Costa D'OrThrough You I See

I speak the truth that I see for you.
Only to discover that in really seeing you,
I discover what is true for me.

In the summer of 2005, I attended a couple of Radical Leadership weekend retreats that changed my life. I came out of the first workshop having found my joy – even though going into the workshop I was not even aware I had lost it! 😊

Therese Kienast, the founder of the program and an amazing Master Certified Coach, brought me out of my slumber – and truly opened me to possibility. Diana Bing, my leader at IBM who sponsored her entire organization attending the retreats, was instrumental in my opening and seeing the abundant deliciousness of life. I am forever grateful to these two incredibly inspiring women and leaders.

Through You I See is a poem I wrote about a Radical Leadership experience. I remember vividly participating in an activity with my 11 other workshop teammates. Each of us had a turn sitting in a chair at the front of the room, with the rest of the group sitting in a circle around the room facing the person at the front. Those in the circle wrote down two things about the person at the front that would support them in reaching their full potential. Then we went around the circle with each person sharing their ‘gifts’ with the person, who sat in receiving mode, palms open on their thighs, simply saying thank you and nothing more. Hearing other people’s truths about you is very humbling.

The most powerful part of the activity for me came as I completed the homework – going back through the list I had created to consider how each of the gifts was true for me. My discovery: my view of others is powerfully filtered through my own personal lens, and what I see in others is a reflection of myself.

I first shared the poem HERE on my Mostly My Heart Sings blog. You’ll see it was initially much longer. I thank my sister-in-law, Liz , for the power it has in its brevity now.  She took to heart my request for feedback on an early draft of my book, and my writing is stronger thanks to her insights and ideas. I am grateful.

* I took this photo from Hotel Costa D’Or, Lluc Alcari, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Beauty in motion

corfu butterfly.JPG

The sunlight streams through the window as she holds her pencil and looks into the distance. An 11-year old girl sits, quiet and contemplative at the dining room table. The paper in front of her receives her feelings and the ideas that flow through her. Each word a creation and the collection of them a story about what’s inside speaking to her.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to be a writer. In part inspired by my adopted grandfather Garber, who was an author, and consistently encouraged and affirmed my writing. I’ve had many opportunities to write through my education and work; however, only in the past dozen years have I found my way back to the girl at the table, opening my heart and allowing my experience, so rich with emotion, to melt into words.

I remember the day this book started, back in 2005, when I sat at a table and wrote down a word to capture how I felt in the present moment. That led to capturing words that inspired me and made me feel alive, and I found myself creating little word pairs and triads that spoke to me. Connecting my feelings with words allowed me to understand and express my experience – and to powerfully shape and create my experience.

This poem describes how I felt when empowered on a project at work. It’s about inspired action and the beautiful things we can create when we follow our heart’s intentions.

Beauty in Motion

Like a butterfly
Spreading her wings
Engaged in a graceful dance
Floating purposefully
Moving gently forward
Lifted by gentle breezes
Weightless as air
Beauty in motion

* This photo was taken from Mount Pantokrator, Corfu, Greece.

Truth’s Whisper

Fenore County Clare IrelandTruth’s Whisper

My truth
speaks quietly.
It whispers.
it is hard to hear.
In silent moments
of stillness,
I feel its breath
upon me.
Its voice is clear:
Be who you are

This poem is about what happens when I make time to just be, to just sit still with myself, to just let whatever comes up be what’s needed.

These quiet times with myself are not always magical. In fact, they can be downright difficult. I’m sometimes challenged by my thoughts running around like a kid on a sugar high, and just can’t shut them off. I’m sometimes overwhelmed with all that my life seems to demand of me. I’m sometimes gripped by fear of something, be it failure or success, knowing or not knowing, having or not having.

By coming back to the quiet space, time and time again, I’m sometimes gifted with the truth. A partial reinforcement effect that invites me to return with some consistency. Sometimes it speaks loudly and unquestioningly – but mostly it whispers. Mostly it entices me to listen more deeply. I’m invited to not only hear the words in my head but also to feel my experience.

As a runner, I know what it feels like to challenge my body, but to listen to it share secrets  about what’s happening when I’m sitting quietly, that’s a skill I’m still building. Yoga helps. Guided mindfulness practices help.

This is the title poem of the first chapter of And Then Opens Possibility. The chapter is a collection of 10 poems about the way possibility opens when we are vulnerable enough to be seen and courageous enough to live in integrity. I first posted a version of it on my Mostly My Heart Sings blog, which you’ll find here.

* I took the photograph at the beach in Fenore, County Clare, Ireland in 2016.