You will go far: Pocket Wisdom

Perfectly whipped egg whites 
make for a fortunate life
(practice makes perfect),
while change can hurt
it leads a path to something better –
don’t panic; trust your smile
it will tell you what makes you feel good,
know that two days from now
tomorrow will be yesterday,
the past only a memory,
the future a dream
but a dream that will come true,
for land is always on the mind of a flying bird.
In the end, remember he who dies with the most toys, still dies.
Then, whip the egg whites and
keep smiling!

A fortune cookie poem for NaPoWriMo day 13.

We Call the Treasure Knowledge (Cento)

I have been happy, tho’ in a dream,
To follow knowledge like a sinking star
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

Last night, the moon had a golden ring
And the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky.
I saw pale kings, and princes too,
On a cloud I saw a child 
Clustered around by all her starry fays.

Here while I lie beneath this walnut bough,
Which is the bliss of solitude,
I am satisfied–I see, dance, laugh, sing
Oh! ’tis a quiet spirit-healing nook!
But I have promises to keep;
The fair and innocent shall still believe.

Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams
And dearer thy beam shall be.



This is my first attempt at a cento, Yeah Write’s poetry genre of choice for January. The title is a line from An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician, by Robert Browning. My friends at Yeah Write have been writing centos, too:

that cynking feeling: the stars in secret
raceful Press Poetry: Of the din and of the darkness

It’s All a State of Mind

I don’t, in any way, feel my age. At all.

I am about to turn 39. I feel about 16.

I also feel a bit like I’m pretending to be an adult, or playing house, and still thinking about growing up at some vague point in the future. It takes me by surprise when, every now and then, I realize that I’m already grown up. That I’m not playing house; I actually have one. That I’m capable of things like organizing a household, budgeting, being responsible.

When I hear about the various medical tests one needs to start considering at a certain age, I barely listen, immediately assuming that age is far into my future.

It isn’t.

When I see other parents at my son’s school, I think how parent-y they look. Like the parents did when I was a kid. But I don’t feel that I look parent-y like them. I think I look like a kid, older than my son and his friends, but a kid nonetheless.

I’ve been blessed with great genes, the genes of my mother and her lineage of gentle-faced, unwrinkled, strong-haired female predecessors. This means that not only do I not feel my age, I’ve never actually looked my age either.

You’d think I’d be happy – thrilled – with that but, actually, I’ve spent much of my life trying to be older.


Because I have always felt that I’m not taken seriously, that I’m overlooked for being (or seeming to be) younger than I am. That at some magical point in the future, a point I keep trying to reach, people will realize that I am mature, experienced and know what I’m talking about.

The problem, though, may be that I don’t feel any of those things. Maybe that’s what I’m putting out there.

A neighbour recently mentioned that she thought I was about 24 and that I “had a lot of living yet to do, a lot of experience yet to gain.”

Right there. That’s the reason I’ve always strived to be older. I was offended that she was surprised when I explained, as patiently as I could, that I am almost 40 and have quite a lot of living and experience under my belt, thank you very much. I’ve lived abroad, I’ve got a BA and a Masters, I’ve worked in the Federal Government for 11 years…

I’m always justifying myself.

Now that I am almost 40, I’m not quite as eager to age as I once was. I am still eager to be taken seriously, though, and weary of not being treated as though I have some measure of wisdom, some right to the respect that comes with age.

Does wisdom come with age?

It depends on the person and on the life they have lived. I find it hard to believe that the elder Kardashians, for example, are particularly wise. Then again, they’re famous for doing nothing, so maybe they’re wiser than I think.

For the most part, though, I think wisdom does come with age. Until very recently, humans revered their Elders, the Wise Ones, looking to them with respect, admiration and deference. I’d rather follow these ancient cultures than our modern one which tends to look down on its older generation and dismiss its members as fools and a burden.

I look at and I look up to my grandmother, my great aunt, my mother. All wise, wise women. Wise doesn’t mean you’re always right, but it does mean that you have lived enough years on this earth to have had enough experiences that you know something about something. I used to turn to my grandmother and great aunt for their advice on everything from boys to cooking.

Now, I look to my mother.

And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

I find it hard to fathom that my mother is now at the age that my grandmother and great aunt were when I turned to them. And that I am at the age I remember my Mom being. I still think of her as 40, and here I am, a year away from that milestone myself.

Having my son has made me more responsible, or rather, has imbued me with a sense of responsibility, of being responsible for a whole other life outside my own. And that makes me feel a bit older than 16. But, still, not much older.

That I had him when I was 30 remains incomprehensible to me because 30 seems so far away – in the future. So him turning 9 and me turning 39 this year is something my little brain just can’t quite wrap itself around.

But then I’ve always had difficulty with numbers.

In the end, I don’t think the number that corresponds to our age is important. That really just is a number. Age is more about how you feel and what you have lived through. It is about experience and wisdom more than it is about the simple number of years you’ve been on this planet.

A Visit from Lady Wisdom

I thought I was supposed to be transforming, curing myself of my insecurities, my self-judgement and self-doubt. I thought that was what this time off work was about. Well, that and writing.

So, almost four months in, I had been starting to flounder. I was feeling frustrated, desperate. I was sure that I would never be able to “cure” myself. That I would never get “better.” That I had plateaued. That there really was something seriously wrong with me. That perhaps I needed medication after all.

I worried that after four months, nothing had really changed.

Yes, I am calmer and panic less, have almost no panic attacks.

Yes, I know how much I can handle in a day and I do my best to make sure I don’t take on any more than that.

Yes, I recognize it now when I start judging myself.

Yes, I notice when my thoughts are whirring around in my head, making me dizzy, pulling me in. And I try, whenever I do catch myself doing this, to stop, to disentangle myself from their whirling blur and to step back and only witness them.

Yes, my capacity for concentration has improved slightly. And my sleeping and eating.


That sounds like I have made some progress.


Hesitantly, I allow myself a sense of satisfaction. I smile.

I was sitting in my garden yesterday afternoon, enjoying the early October warmth and a pot of tea with a wise woman and lifelong friend. I mean lifelong – she has known me since before I was born.

She advised, somewhat earth-shatteringly, that you can’t be cured of who you are. You will never stop being insecure, you will never stop judging yourself harshly, or experiencing self doubt. Anyone who tries to cure themselves of who they are will find themselves frustrated. But you can change how you let these thoughts affect you. That is what I should be working on.

That seems so much simpler. More logical. Eye-opening.

And actually, if I consider how far I have come in four months, I seem to have been working on this already, without really realizing that this was the goal.

See? Wise woman.

Thank goodness she came along when she did. Until she explained this to me, I really thought I was supposed to be working towards stopping all that negative chatter in my head. I had been reading yogic and self-help books, meditating, doing yoga, contemplating – but nothing banished the chatter. I couldn’t understand why.

Now I understand that the chatter will always be there. That I was working towards the wrong thing.

What a relief!

I don’t need medication after all.

And no need for despair.

This morning, I am redirecting my focus.

I am recognizing all the progress I have made.

I am re-thinking my goals and the things I need to work on.

I am course-correcting and considering all I have read and thought and contemplated from a different perspective.

I still have work to do, but I feel now that my energy is going in a more productive, positive direction.

Thank you, Lady Wisdom.

Related posts:

Searching for Inner Calm (July 29, 2013)

Nuggets of Peace and Happiness (July 31, 2013)

Write to be Fit (August 13, 2013)

I Dream of Panic (August 14, 2013)

A Treatise on Time (August 18, 2013)

On the Edge of Yoga (August 19, 2013)

Motivated and Inspired (August 21, 2013)

Another Yoga Post (September 5, 2013)

Dark Days and the Full Moon (September 24, 2013)