At Eighty
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As the expression goes, life is made up of little moments, not the chronological unfolding of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years that one lives. Those all seem to run together after awhile.

No, life is made up of special moments — moments that can be life-altering or life-changing, the memories of which stay forever in our minds, and sometimes change the way we look at things, which holds the possibility of changing the types of choices we make.

Though sometimes the fast pace of daily living causes us to miss those cherished moments, we realize that we need to slow it down enough that we can remember how precious it is to be alive, and to love.

A milestone birthday is a moment, to be sure. This month I celebrated one of those milestone birthdays, and have a poem to share as a result. It is found in one of my newest trio of books, MILESTONES*. Matter of fact, it is the lead-off poem.



AT EIGHTY

As an intro to MILESTONES, I thought it would be
Of interest to share memories from my diary.
And though I’m unique, my life’s much the same
As others who live through events and are still “in the game.”

There are wisdoms and thoughts I’d like to pass along,
And I sing them loudly, for they are my life’s song:
You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.
Keep your mind young and don’t always do what you’re told.

Becoming eighty is merely a matter of life and death.
I choose life, and I’ll live it to my very last breath.
In my dreams I’m never eighty years old.
My adventures as I sleep are marvelous to behold!

Now, granted, at eighty, my birthday suit needs pressing,
But as I look around I am happily processing
The knowledge I’ve accumulated throughout my years,
And the joys of sharing them now, without fears.

The biggest advantage of living to this age
Is the time to acquire people to love at each stage.
In my youth there were people of action and adventure;
The more physical the activity, the more excitement, to be sure.

And later I found friends who were seeking something more…
A reason for existence beyond “minding the store.”
What is my purpose? What does it all mean?
The questions were large. The answers unseen.

Time has a way of moving things along
Some answers came slowly and some poured headlong.
Enough to learn I must share what I know,
Starting with family, then others to follow.

It takes a long lifetime to grow young once more;
From birth through youth, to a full four score.
The advantage of living to 80 and more?
There’s more people to love, but who’s keeping score?


At 80,
Jessica Tandy won a Best Actress Oscar, Yuichiro Miura climbed Mt. Everest,
And Coco was still running Chanel. There’s life still to be lived!



*The other two books are GRATITUDE and TAPESTRY. They are all found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at your favorite book store (by order).

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Kathryn
Creating Balance
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In the winter of 1976 my life as I knew it, was beginning to unravel and I felt completely out of balance. I was ricocheting from side to side, down the tunnel of life, trying to keep myself and my children from harm’s way, and missing out on all the pleasures in the middle — the sweet rewards of a simple, more straightforward life.

At about the same time my father was going to Costa Rica to visit his brother for a month, and my mother didn’t want to go along, and suggested I go in her place. She would take care of my kids — take them to school, to ice skating lessons, cook and clean for them, etc. — a real grandmother’s holiday!!

So, upon landing in Costa Rica I was handed a Spanish/English dictionary by my uncle’s housekeeper, Miriam Abarca Rojas, so that she and I could communicate while my father and uncle had their visit.

Seeking balance in my life, I immediately looked up the word in Spanish, imagining it would be a most wonderful word, totally unlike its English counterpart. Imagine my dismay, and then my relief, when I found was exactly the same word: balance — only pronounced a little differently: BA-LAN-SAY.

This poem of mine is found in my book HEARTSTRINGS, on page 42. Enjoy!


CREATING BALANCE

Perhaps the single most important challenge
In life is for you to maintain
A balance as you make your way along the path —
A balance that is tricky to obtain.

Between dark and light — between spirit and form —
It’s not a choice between extremes.
The challenge is bringing the two together
Into a larger unity, with bigger themes.

You don’t have to choose either conformity or freedom.
Both are appropriate at different times;
And listening to words with acceptance or doubt
Has its place in different paradigms.

It’s not one over the other — black or white.
It’s seeing what’s appropriate when choosing.
It’s a balancing act that plays with opposites,
And takes time and thoughtful perusing.



 
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Kathryn
Gratitude
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Yes, I realize that the month of November has been traditionally set aside as the “official” time of the year to be grateful; and it all culminates around a turkey dinner with lots of mashed potatoes and gravy, topped off with pumpkin pie and whipped cream . . . followed by a nap in front of the TV while the football game noisily concludes and . . .

WAIT A MINUTE!!! NO!!!! Stop this scenario!!

Gratitude is universal, and needs to be present in our lives on a daily basis . . . all 12 months!! Gratitude is the gateway to a positive life. (It is really hard to be angry when you’re grateful.) As Oprah Winfrey shares in her book, This I Know For Sure:

“It’s when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to effect change in your life — this I know for sure.”

This poem of mine, GRATITUDE, is found in my book of poetry called HEARTSTRINGS, on page 51, and is here for you to enjoy:


GRATITUDE

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life;
It turns what we have into more.
It’s the healthiest of all the human emotions,
The highest form of thought, and furthermore…

It’s the greatest of virtues, the parent of all.
Gratitude helps us grow and expand;
It brings joy and laughter into our lives.
It makes sense of our past;
We know where we stand.

And as we express our gratitude
We must never forget this wisdom:
The highest appreciation for what we have
Is not to utter the words, but live by them.

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Kathryn
It’s Never Too Late
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Birthing a poem is akin to birthing a baby — there’s a tendency to over-protect it and not let it go out into the world and live a life of its own. Maybe that’s what took so much time for me to decide to get my poems published and on the market. Over a few years I shared some of them in my annual Christmas letters, and the responses from friends and family convinced me to share them with the world.

The synchronistic way in which the first three books — Celebrations, Heartstrings, and Inspirations — came into being was nothing short of miraculous. Absolutely the right people, at exactly the right time, and in the proper order, came into my life and helped make it happen! Once I made the decision to publish, heaven and earth moved organically and quickly for me to bring my beautiful books into being. Three more were added two years later: Sanctuary, Awakenings, and Sojourns.

Writing the poems began in the 70s.

My first husband moved us to California in 1970 with our two children (ages 7 and 3) to seek his fortune, and after several failed attempts, I took a job at a local weekly newspaper, The Tiburon Ark, to “tide us over” until he could bring an idea to fruition.

Unfortunately for him, my disillusioned husband fell victim to a major mid-life crisis, and in his haste to reach what he considered Nirvana, followed the teaching of Timothy Leary, and “turned on, tuned in, and dropped out.”

Contrastingly, and fortunately for me, my work at the newspaper allowed me an opportunity to really grow into my own talents. With a limited staff, I became a “Jill of All Trades.” I managed the office, did the typesetting, helped design some of the advertising and also wrote a couple of weekly columns — a California History column, and a Restaurant Review column called “Shore Leave.” (The Ark — Shore Leave — get it?)

My marriage was on the ropes — we were growing in two different directions: he down the drugged path of least resistance and me into my talents. His verbal and physical violence and abuse forced me to end the marriage. I advanced rapidly into the role of single parenthood. To give my children something they could count on as tradition, I began the Advent Poems, the Lessons on Life and Love. I felt that after what our family had been through, the kids needed some input of good old-fashioned common sense. Each day of Advent they would receive a poem (24 in all, each year). The messages were helpful for making some of life’s hard choices: perseverance, patience, helpfulness, kindness, forgiveness, and above all, being true to themselves. I hoped the poems would enable them to make good choices and have a healthy self-image. (Messages in rhyme are easier to digest than a lecture from Mom.)

My good choice was to move back to Washington where I met my second husband with whom I shared a life for 25 years until he died of Alzheimer’s in 2008.

So why start a business in my 70s?

Well, you can be old at 30 or young at 90, and I choose “young.”

When I turned 75 in 2014, I published the first three books. And at 77, the next three.

And in seriously looking back at my life, I realized there was a very important part missing: making something special out of my life that was mine alone… that I could pass on — not only to my own adult children and step-children, and their children, but to people all over the country… the world.

Our present world is broken and divisive now, and my poems of Life and Love are meant to help heal this broken world.

 
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Kathryn