Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grammar Lesson




Before I learned
to live in the Now,
I roamed at will
through tangled fields
of long ago
and far away
and sometime soon.

Until,
a funny thing happened:
the past grew large
the future small
and roaming
isn't safe at all.
My, my,
hot stoves and pot holes.
Now,
Now is everything.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Together



We three sheltering
in an Irish rain,
my dear, a goat and I.
A perfect day
I would live again
if such a choice were mine.

Bridget Harwell

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Portsalon




The strand at Portsalon is wide and curved.
Stony mountains, too bleak for goat or sheep, rise steeply from the sea.
Across the bay,
white houses trimmed in black
are stacked like dominoes on the rounded hills.
One of them is his.

He steps back from the lapping water.
He has always been afraid of things beneath the sea.
Fishy eyes and foreign faces.
Thin as a cricket he could be caught up
and crunched in a bite.
He shivers in his woolens.
In place of sun, a day moon floats in the sky.

The sand beneath his feet is bumpy
hieroglyphics cut by rivulets ...
or the stylus of some ancient god.
He doubts he'll take this walk again
though he has known it all his life.
Too many odd thoughts fill his head
and the road back is steep.

Bridget Harwell

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good Old Albert Ellis

August is my least favorite month of the year.  Too hot, too dry and dusty, summer clothes have become a bore, mosquito bites are a misery and the whole neighborhood smells of barbeque.

This irritable, August frame of mind is kind of fun. Any day that doesn't go well, I can blame on August. Irrational, of course, but a bit of a buss man's holiday since, as a therapist, I believe that blaming is at the root of many emotional problems.  Albert Ellis (1913-2007) father of Rational Emotive Therapy, went so far as to say all problems share a single root: blaming and demanding.

Certainly, there are times when it's important to know, in the name of justice and to avoid repeating mistakes, who holds the responsibility. You might call this rational blaming.  But a ton of blaming has noting to do with rational thinking, au contraire.  Often, blaming serves to hide one's own bad behavior, to try to control the behavior of others, to get revenge and to feel superior. And then there is the cognitive error that if the wrong doer is labeled, the problem goes away. Knowing who spilt the milk will not put the milk back in the bottle ... but yelling about it is a nice release, at least temporarily.

A learned behavior, blaming can be unlearned by practicing accepting responsibility for a mistake or bad behavior even if only a part of the problem can be attributed to you.  A funny thing happens when you step up to the plate and say this part is my fault. (I am not talking about awful, false equivalency) It takes a bit of courage but it actually feels freeing.  Since you own the poor behavior, you no longer have to hide or defend.  As a bonus, you may be admired for being forthright and honest.  Sometimes, other culprits will follow your lead and also fess up.  And, importantly, owning failure allows you to learn from a mistake and move on.  Ellis had this to say: "The best years of your life are ones in which you do not blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president.  You realize that you control your own destiny."

Ellis believed that there are three "musts" (demands) that hold us back (and make us blamers) I must do well.  You must treat me well.  The world must be easy.

Having said all this, I still dislike August and I thank Mother Nature (whose fault it is not) that autumn is on its way.

Fault Lines

Soiled, smelt, dripped
Splashed, spilt, pinched,
Bawled, hit, bit.
Who spilt the milk?

Punked, rocked, flunked,
Dyed, smoked, lied,
Drink, drank, drunk.
Who do you think you are?

Swore, burnt, fried,
Fought, gnashed, crashed,
Yelled, failed, bailed.
Whose fault is it?

Broke, doped, bent,
Drooled, pooped, stooped,
Dried, cried, died.
Who made a mess?


Bridget Harwell





Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nietzche via Joseph Campbell

This is something i am currently working on:



"Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called “the love of your fate.” Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find the strength is there. Any disaster that you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.

Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Forever After



Once upon a time
pearls fell from my lips
when I spoke.
In a red cloak
I had discourse with wolves and bears.
I danced in crystal slippers
and fairy folk befriended me.

I put aside the fanciful, as one must,
and toiled long years in the rational world.
But I've grown old now and lingering
and on a soft day like this of mist and shine
with sundrops sparkling in the damp wood
I feel the tug of magic.
I hear my companions call:
fairy wings, the witch's cackle,
my sad prince's sigh.
And that old troll.
How he laughs
and slaps his knee
over the tricks
life played me.

Bridget Harwell

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Last Snow




Propped up to take a pill
to have her face washed,
her hair combed,
she saw upon the window sill
a mound of snow.
She remembered ...
that empty space
after school
between there and there.
Snow brushing her face
heat rising from the collar
of her opened coat.
Scentless air
and the soft, slow walk
through a field of all possibilities.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dude


I stopped to buy a car.
Something sure and simple
with nice upholstery.
Rick, the salesman,
thought my name was Young Lady
though I corrected him often.
Sometimes he thought I was Gal
and often I reminded him of his wife
though none of her problems,
dislike of technical explanations
and fear of driving in the snow,
were my problems.
I countered.
I called him Dude.
I said man a lot
as in man you gotta be kidding.
Though well into his seventies
I told him he was a thoughtful lad.
I thought he was naive
he thought I was peculiar.
We parted, he with his commission
I with a car
and a reminder
that the old world
turns slowly.