Monday, December 30, 2013

MERRY EVERYTHING AND HAPPY ALWAYS

(TITLE: Quotation from Christmas card from Chris and Amy)

Basking in comfort and joy 
With family and friends.
Good food, comfortable banter,
Relaxation, and easy laughter.

Next several days full of more
Friends and more family times,
Culminating tomorrow in 
Non-remarkable-birthday party.

Rejuvenating days away from work,
With stacked tasks ever looming.
Stay in each moment, lean back
Into hours of puttering and dreaming.

Gently bid adieu to eventful 2013;
Looking forward to starting anew
In 2014's 365 glowing opportunities.
Love and joy and equality and play.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 30, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE MESSIAH

Traditional exquisite concert with friends.
One asked about our favorite passage;
So many, mostly from Isaiah, prophesies.

Good fiends, good cheer, good will.
Blessed season for reflection and joy.
Brief morning snow blankets and quiets.

Classes complete, just grading remains.
Splendid students and colleagues, one and all.
A pleasurable craft to ply in this wondrous life.

Good will to all, and to all a good night on 
This longest Solstice night of year 2013.
Onward to the next steps of the journey.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 21, 2014

Friday, December 20, 2013

MINUTES AND MILESTONES

Glaringly aware of time and location.
Left home at 9:22 am, 22 minutes later
Than usual, for weekly commute south 
To private practice in Olympia, WA.
Wisely-distracting tasks delayed journey
And protected from witnessing accident
At milepost 116, 11 miles from destination.

At 10:25 am, emergency vehicles 
From various directions screamed 
Past to assess, assist, and direct.
Traffic abruptly stopped to honor
Fatality 1 mile south, occurring
Just 10 minutes earlier: 10:15 am.

Had iPad, phone, lunch sandwich.
Sister Googled, found information.
Called clients to reschedule, and 
Then called to reschedule again. 

As traffic finally crept forward,
Veil thinned between realities.
Wave upon wave of sadness,
Prompting repetitive prayers.
Chanting CD played on car
Sound system: comfort, sent 
Forward through aching heart.

Detour over overpass, glimpse of
Wreckage beyond recognition.
Tears streaming, offering assurance:
"You are safe. You are sad for family.
Rest easy now. We are here with you."

Arrived in office at 1:15 pm, 
Accompanied by sadness, 
compassion, grief, and 
Gratitude, appropriately 
Permeating regular routines.

Miles of traffic remained jammed entire day,
Drivers silently honoring, cell phones buzzing.
Left office at 8:23 pm, following blue and yellow
(Sweden's colors) Franz truck creeping at speed limit. 
Listened to same comforting, soulful chanting CD.

At first, traffic normal, until flashing lights
Signaled milepost 116. Thankfully, too
Dark to see aftermath. From milepost 
116 to milepost 130, southbound traffic 
Sat stopped on Tarmac in silent cortège;
Trucks and cars, bumper-to-bumper, 
Headlights beaming, rear lights brightly 
Lit by constant breaking; confronting presence 
Of necessity to pause in face of tragedy, 
To investigate facts, to form explanations,
To honor the dead and the injured, 
To reflect upon universal vulnerability 
And ever-present closeness of death.
Teeth clenched, heart pounding, and
Tears dropping as drove northward.

Finally, at milepost143, regained 
Coherence, relaxed jaw, passed 
Guiding blue and yellow truck.
At 10:15 pm, arrived disoriently 
And gratefully home: glaringly aware.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 16, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

IDEALIZED DADS

Three loving dads with feet of clay,
Sometimes stuck deeply in mud;
Absent in wide variety of hurtful ways.

In their wake, ignored wounds in some, 
And chose badly with one other;
Alone appeared better than conflict.

Sometimes naive hope for perfection,
Seeing falsely-redemptive opposite 
By tending to idolize cultural icons:

JFK, RFK, Mandela, Obama, and 
Martin Luther King, like us all, just 
Humans with both virtues and flaws.

Now better at acknowledging and
Embracing all my own virtues and
Flaws--just another human being,

Like all of us, continuing to honestly
Grapple with awareness of walking
Gently in my own skin on this Earth.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 14, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

MAYA ANGELOU'S FABULOUS VIDEO POEM IN TRIBUTE TO NELSON MANDELA

http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/12/state_department_releases_maya.html


His Day is Done: A Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela by Maya Angelou


"Education if the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela


UBUNTU

Ubuntu: South African and Zimbabwe philosophical term for human-ness, human kindness; coined in mid-19th Century; popularized in 1950s by Jordon Kushan Ngubane; essential to the South African liberation movement led by Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress political party; and cited in the Preamble to the Constitution of South Africa (wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu).

Again awake in middle of night,
Puttering a bit, hungry a little.

Turned on TV at exact moment
President Barack Obama strode 
Into Soweto stadium in South Africa 
To offer his poetic, stirring eulogy
During national memorial event
For Nelson Rolihlala Mandela, 
"An icon of flesh and blood,"
The father of the nation, and
Affectionately known as 
Madiba and Tata (father).

Clearly touched, President Obama 
Similarly touched the citizens and 
Dignitaries gathered to celebrate 
Mandela's uncommon yet common
Life of dedication to individual
Rights and to service for the world.

Our President quoted 
Inspiration accessed by
Nelson Mandela during his
Twenty-seven years in prison:
Invictus by William Earnest Henley 
(See full text below):
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

Thank you, Godspeed, and 
Rest in deserved peace, 
Dear Nelson Mandela.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 10, 2013

Invictus by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Monday, December 9, 2013

SITTIN' IN COSTCO GAS LINE

Threat of snow brings out Northwest shoppers,
Stocking up on groceries and fuels of all kinds.
Cheaper gas; long lines on cold, clear Sunday morn.

Gas pumps, set aside from hustle and bustle of
Monstrous commercial store, offer haven of solitary
Contemplation and shopping solo from vehicle.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 8, 2013

CONTEMPT VS. COMPASSION: PRACTICE 1

Battered Del Sol, reminiscent of my beloved red version, 
But with flat-matte steel-grey paint job like late-1950s 
High school guys' 1949 2-door Ford sedan, and with 
Freight-train-loud muffler; cigarette hanging, of course, 
From driver's lower lip, baseball cap brim facing backward.

Already a test of my commitment to perceive from vantage of 
Compassion, followed by burning butt tossed from window. 
Challenge gladly accepted. Stay amused; remain empathic for
Human being in the scenario; wonder about, rather than making
Critical assumptions: What is context for motivation and intention?

And, universally and ultimately and finally, see myself in his mirror.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 9, 2013

PILGRIMAGE YEAR, 2013

Many trails and some trials:
Spiritual, emotional, physical.
Growthful contribution to
Meaning and awareness.

People consistently add
Value and companionship,
Nurture and intervention,
Initiating and receiving.

Continue to devote substantial
Energy to work endeavors,
Contributing both joy and fatigue.
Take time for joy, reflection, discernment.

Already mid-December, the final
Countdown, the 12th of twelve.
Birthday at ultimate end marks
Moments for pause and intention.

This life, my life, now in final 
Third phase. More clearly
Contemplative of focus and
Direction: What do I want?

Continue to seek and learn.
Continue to be open to and receptive of
Contacts, encounters, and opportunities.
Many paths taken, many roads to explore.
 
Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 9, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

CATCH AND RELEASE

Decorative and relaxing fish tank in radiation lobby, metaphor for 
Tender catching; then proudly displaying the beauty of treatment and 
Closeness of death; sadness and pride in releasing back into healthy life.

Last appointment with radiation oncology practitioners.
Tapped on wall next to curtained doorway to radiation lobby.
Warmly greeted; all acknowledging gift of final interactions.

Recognize admirable ability to forge close, therapeutic
Relationships; culminating in complete closure; followed by
Team members' once again warmly attaching to next patient.

Although grieving the safety of being enveloped in competent 
Embrace of all members of radiation oncology medical team, 
Also celebrating my release and their ability to lovingly let go.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 5, 2013

CONTEMPT AND COMPASSION

Still difficult for me when others behave in ways I dislike.
I (sometimes) still automatically and immediately react
With disgust, distrust, dismay, annoyance, anger, and contempt.

Those reactions clearly form protective attitudes of distancing,
Holier-than-thou, nose in the air--tightly closed by clothespin.
By distancing myself, I deny my own culpability and proximity.

By staying close, by acknowledging my sameness and 
My co-humanity, by consciously reclaiming my projections, 
I access self-compassion as well as compassion for others.

Continue to strive toward integrity and compassion, toward 
Loving interactions, facilitated by setting clear boundaries 
And standards, permeable by compassion and forgiveness.

All of above are simply spokes in wheel of life, pieces of whole pie.
Join human race richly comprised of culpable and lovable beings.
Continually reflect upon the fullness of love and hate, joy and pain.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 6, 2013

HAND ON BREAST, NEXT TO HEART

As I sit with my hand warming my left breast,
Spontaneous memory: Grandma's same gesture.

My reason, warming nipple against pain of cold.
Grandma's purpose? Comfort, protection, habit?

Feel humbled by poignant closeness, sad connection.
I am not alone in this process--Grandma led the way.

Wish neither had had this experience, and, if we had to,
Which apparently we did, her company consoles me.

Breast cancer, and other forms, flit though the generations 
of my family; too many children, women, and men afflicted.

Winter Holidays prompt reflection and end-of-year
Pondering, surfacing both memories and intentions.

Goodbye, God Be with Thee, and Fond Farewell to 2013;
Anticipatory hopeful energy for new experiences in 2014.

Connecting cards sent to and fro with love and joy:
Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Every Living Being.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 7, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HOLIDAY WISHES

                                                  
                                                year
                                                  to
                                            remember
                                                 but 
                                            even better.
                                                  In
                                 July, Karin and I began to
                                                walk
                       the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage
                                                  in
                           Spain, but after 8 days, I returned
                                                  to 
                        Sweden for my own family pilgrimage.
                                                Then
               to Denmark, Wales, and London for more adventures.
                                                   I
        returned home to be treated for 2 small, early breast cancer sites.
                                                   I
    was supported by an exceptional team of family, friends, and medicos.
                                                  The
    Jungian Psychotherapists Association celebrated our 20th Anniversary
                                                  with
    both Ann Belford Ulanov and John Bebee as presenters par excellence.
                                                  And
            throughout the year, almost daily writing of poems and essays
                                                   at
                                abbelcamino.blogspot.com
                                                  So
                                         Happy Holidays,
                                         Happy New Year
                                                 to you
                                             and yours
                                               for now
                                               and for
                                               always.
                                   Love and Joy from Ann.

ADDITIVE HEALING

Shakespeare so eloquently stated,
"To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance 
to dream; ay, there's the rub." Hamlet.
"the innocent sleep, sleep, that knits 
Up the ravell'd sleave of care." Macbeth.

In orbit, we follow predetermined paths,
Yet, ALSO accompanied by free will,
We forge unique AND repeated patterns.

Said before, AND worth repeating:
Sufficiently facilitated, bodies heal
Themselves, as do all psyches.

Like plants, given sufficient soil,
Water, and light, we grow upward,
Even after various obstructions.

"Sufficiently facilitated:" challenging
AND simultaneously uncomplicated:
Cooperate AND get out of the way.

To stand with, to accompany, to attune:
Useful and fruitful tactics, ALONG WITH
Active engagement with self AND world.

Seemingly contradictive, yet generatively
True AND simultaneously ubiquitous;
Opposites AND essential companions.

Necessary coupling of active AND passive
Modes of healing and rejuvenation, employing
Conscious AND unconscious partners.

As my mind and body recuperate from
Recent essential interventions, along
With current reparative medication,

I take both active AND stand-aside stances:
I cooperate by providing food and exercise
And sleep and productive work endeavors.

Yet the balance, the equilibrium, the alert calm--
All necessary AND yet difficult to maintain and
Sustain--the continuing and constant goal.

Even just now, awake in middle of night,
With words needing to be written down:
Competing yet cooperating needs AND wants:

Create AND regenerate. Facilitate AND relax.
Stand aside AND be alert. Relax AND reset.
Sleep AND dream. Sleep AND repair.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 4, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

10 LIFE CHANGING TIPS FROM RUMI

1. Challenge Fear
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget Safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.”
2. Be Bold
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.”
3. Have Gratitude
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”
4. Take Action
“Why should I stay at the bottom of a well, when a strong rope is in my hand?”
5. Have Faith
“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.”
6. Embrace Setbacks
“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”
7. Look Inside
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
8. Learn From Suffering
“The wound is the place where Light enters you.”
9. Don’t Be Concerned With What Other Think Of You
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
10. Do What You Love
“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”

http://sharabehayat.wordpress.com/tag/rumi/
Posted on May 4, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

SLEEP POSTURE

Childhood artifact: sleep
On left side, perpendicular 
To mattress and pillows.

Recovery from treatment
Interferes with habitual, 
Comforting sleep position.

Usual tossing and turning,
Now abrupt shift away from
Discomfort to default modes.

Tiredness lulls me to dreamland,
Irrespective of proprioceptive 
Positioning--sleep, glorious sleep.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 2, 2013

GIVING THANKS

Foggy morning shifts to sun as
I approach sister's home for 
afternoon turkey 'n fixin's dinner. 

Fog blankets Puget Sound channel
Like rippling snow drifts, reminiscent
Of aunt and uncle's Side Lake cabin.

Friday, snow tires mounted, buy socks;
Yummy organic brunch with Gwen;
Northward bound to Bellingham.

Two restful, fun, productive days 
With Deena and kids and kids.
Cozy, comfortable, connecting.

Sunday, JPA Council in gracious home;
Intense and productive discussions;
Time to curb involvement, step back.

Broader picture gratitude for family and 
Friends; renewed health; soulful career, 
Moving toward shifting down in 3 years.

Four-day weekend, breath of fresh air;
People-filled weekend ending by
Alone time and napping 'til bedtime.

Thanks to everyone; thanks for everything.

Ann Beth Blake
December 2, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

STILL WALKING DOWN ALLEYS

Eight-block walk to elementary school;
During winters, on trails at top of snow banks;
During falls and springs, down alleys paved
With cinders, from City Heat coal slags.

Even today, walking down alleys brings back
Childhood memories as well as provides
Quiet respite from busy streets and avenues
Clogged with speedy cars, trucks, and buses.

In alleyways, opportunity see other side of life.
Like the back of our hair, some backyards are
Pristine as front yards; others, in stark contrast, 
Unpainted garages propped up with cinder blocks.

Construction site stalks of rebar lined up like cattails;
Balconies with functional and frivolous decor;
Apartment windows blinded by variety of curtains;
Parking spaces defined by prohibitory signs.

Neighborhood alleys continue to entice and intrigue.
Welcome any incentive to walk out my door for exercise.
Morning alleys have different connotations than nighttime.
Maybe our paths will cross soon, but not after dark.

Ann Beth Blake
November 27, 2013

DRIVING LIKE LITTLE OLD LADY

In 20s, once clocked, and ticketed,
At 84 mph to avoid lateness to work.

Now, more often, driving in slow lane,
Keeping to city and highway speed limits.

Less willing take risks as rain splashes;
Clench hands and hold breath passing trucks.

Still too many miles and hours on I-5,
+150,000 on drives-like-butta car.

Next vehicle, a Volvo from Sweden?
Bright red & ghost flames to belie age.

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) November 27, 2013

AFTERMATH, THE POEM

Even after sleeping well and long,
Tired, tired, tired, and more tired.

Persisting localized soreness,
Improvement, then plateaus.

Almost three weeks after ending
Radiation, future peeks brightly.

Soon, Solstice, too, brings additional
Light and optimism of coming spring.

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AFTERMATH

In aftermath of crises, initial intense connections and support networks predictably evaporate, leaving a dearth of contact for patients, clients, and the bereaved. This transition, painful and necessary, is a challenging passage even when facilitated by informed knowledge.

Within intense crisis-oriented connections, informal and formal conversations are usually one-sided, resulting in patients, clients, and people in grief feeling special and well-cared for. These temporary relationships are crucial, yet limited. Abrupt closures can leave people feeling adrift, confused, isolated, abandoned, bereft. 

During crises, a variety of professionals offer kindness, thank goodness, and expertise, thank goodness. During crises, people, fortunately, get attached to caregivers, facilitating necessary connections of leaning-against, temporary-dependency, and necessary complete trust within a wide variety of treatment interventions and specific processes. Yet when intense contacts end, people 
enter a disoriented grieving process: "I should be happy, but I am so very sad." "I am deeply grateful for all the support, but now I am alone and lonely."

Informal caregivers, tired and needing respite from absolutely essential constant and concentrated attentiveness, often disappear into valiantly-earned and well-deserved breaks. These relationships can easily be re-initiated and reformed.

Vulnerable people comforted within professional relationships are protected during and afterward by fiduciary codes of ethics, offering confidentiality and strictly-defined boundaries of OK/ not-OK professional behaviors. Formal professional caregivers' ethical codes, aware of our tendency for attachment within intense, yet intentionally-temporary relationships, insist on a specifically-defined hiatus between ending professional interactions and entering into personal friendships. Ethical codes define and proscribe dual/multiple relationships between clinicians and clients/former clients (see citation sources below). Antioch University Seattle requires 5 years before instructor/student status can be renegotiated to a clinician/client relationship. The American Counseling Association's ethical code requires 5 years prior to a romantic relationship with a former client. The American Psychological Association requires a mere 2 years before clinician/client relationship can be renegotiated to romance. 

Historically and recently, I have been on both sides of these intense relationships. Currently, I am highly aware of emotional and logistical reverberations. I am astonished by and appreciative of the team of talented radiation technicians' ability to warmly and playfully interact with me so that I experienced being personally welcomed and attended. The team members are able to closely attune, open their hearts, deal with closure of each patient's intense/daily treatment, and then offer equally-receptive attention to the next patient. Truly a remarkable skill and feat. 

After cessation of 16 days of radiation treatment, I poignantly and intensively missed each radiation team member as well as missed my escorting pals. Daily contact first thing each morning had become comforting and ritualized. As treatment came to a blessed end, so did contact with all my morning caregivers. My family and pals are certainly just a moment away, yet different from automatic daily contact. I now have to return to intentional and spontaneous social contact. Transition from intense relationships to low-key interactions requires awareness and assuring self-talk: "I am OK. I can grieve and be grateful. I am glad to return to normal life agin. I thoroughly appreciating people who deeply invested in accompanying me through that brief phase of treatment. I am OK." 
Thanks, and I miss you.

Antioch University Seattle, School of Applied Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy
 

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 25, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

CAPTAIN, OUR CAPTAIN

A soprano sax jazz version of "Smile, though your 
heart is breaking" plays in background as I write,
Again offering advice and admonition to hold
Opposite experiences as key to staying present.

Many half-century anniversaries; High School 
reunion last year; now 50 years from the defining 
Week for Boomers, innocents born post-WWII.
Searing shock and grief, incomprehensible 
Betrayal, this generation's direct experience of
Every generation's exposure to human inhumanity,
Behaviors beyond comprehension and meaning.

As I entered junior college women's lounge,
Linda intensely relayed that the President had
Been shot. My instant denying response, 
"The president of what?" followed by crushing
Reality that our captain, hero, contemporary savior 
Had been mortally wounded, assassinated, slain;
Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit also murdered;
And Texas governor Connolly seriously wounded.
Innocence also slain, which must necessarily occur,
But too often unexpected, suddenly glaring, ripping
And wrenching away illusion of safety and well-being.

Many defining moments followed initial disorientation:
Civil Rights struggles; 60,000 deaths in Vietnam;
Chicago Democratic Convention; Woodstock.
And many more crushing, incomprehensible losses:
Martin, Bobby, and Malcolm; Janis and Jimmy; 
Evers, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; and more.

Innocence must be shattered so that joy can be fully known.
Valuing these two opposites, and holding all other opposites, 
Yields defining, difficult challenges informing consciousness.
Breathe in and breathe out; smile and cry, smile and cry.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 22, 2013

USEFUL MISTAKES

"To err is human." Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

"We all make mistakes, which is not necessarily a bad thing."
JP Jofre, November 22, 2013

Crucial learning is usually 
The result of glaring mistakes;
Indelibly embedded, always
Memorable, indisputable.

Sometimes embarrassing,
Humiliating, shameful, but
Only when we forget to
Appreciate and embrace
Each and every decisive event.

Rumi invites us to welcome all
Guests with open arms and
Expansive hearts, to relish and 
Cherish offered experiential 
Gifts without any exception.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 23, 2013

FIRST PILL

Took first hormone-suppression
Pill today; only 5 x 365 - 1 remain.
Saving my life; could come with
Side effects; hold the vision against.

Slightly leery that such a small 
Tablet packs such a big wallop:
If missed, not OK to take two
On same day; just go forward.

Three generations of cancer
Survivors; general good health 
And resilience, augmented by 
Kind and competent medicos.

Current usual stance to assume 
Best, prepare for worst; hold each 
With equal valuing, assuming 
Emergence of integrative Third.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

RECOVERY

Rather than completed healing, 
"Recovery" implies a continuous
Process of re-achieving health,
Encompassing time as well as 
Patients' and caregivers' persistent,
Consistent involvement in treatment.

I and many people are challenged by
And/or resistant to regularly patterned, 
Daily interventions of medical care,
Medication, daily/weekly meetings.

Self-discipline, a distinctive 
Component of mature self-care,
Must be reinforced, ironically,
Via constant discernment and 
Re-orientation to healthy and mature
Actions, reactions, and responses.

Healthy habits require self-disciplined
Attention, rather than tactics often 
Associated with "discipline," namely
Punishment or shame or force.
Instead, healthy habits are based on
Support, encouragement, acceptance,
And, especially, on realistic appraisal 
Of universal human imperfection.

All of us are on the same path of 
Ever-more-deepening self-knowledge
And self-acceptance, as well as
Ever-more-deepening knowing 
And acceptance of the reality of the 
Temporal and temporary nature of 
Our and the planet's existence.

I appreciate companions traveling
Similar paths to similar destinations.
Welcome to the practice and to the race,
That is, the imperfect human race.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

RAINY DAY AGAIN IN SEATTLE

Precipitation and wind,
Trucks splashing dense
Mist onto windshield,
Occasionally obscuring
Roadway and vehicles.

Nothing like obliterating typhoon 
In Philippine Archipelago, causing
Deaths, devastation, and disaster.
Unimaginable suffering; isolated
People, as yet, beyond assistance.

Nothing like multiple, unseasonable 
Tornadoes in Illinois, Indiana, and 
Kentucky, blowing off roofs and 
Flattening buildings and stranding 
People, most covered by insurance.

Eternal and universal continuum
Relativizes and, sometimes, 
Inadvertently minimizes or 
Masks lesser suffering, still 
Troubling to psyche, soul, body. 

How to balance and contextualize
Own suffering in the face of local
And global, individual and societal
Disasters that affect too many:
Hold my pain and joy; hold others also.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 18, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

DANCING LEAF

Golden aspen leaf dances in gusty wind,
Wildly maneuvering, yet never escaping
From two-foot circle near parent tree.

What holds the leaf in kite-like arcs?
Gravitational pull, like planets and moons?
Long, thin strand of spider's webbing?

Leaf buffets and swirls, but makes no
Substantive progress, like marginalized
Folks' persistent taps on glass ceilings.

When I returned two hours later, leaf had
Achieved independence. Relief for flight, and
Regret about not witnessing final pirouette.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 14, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

FINISHING SCHOOL

Super smart Grandma, student in
First class of Hibbing Junior College, 
Went away to complete degree,
Majoring, surprisingly, in Phys Ed,
Perhaps to teach in public schools, 
Level unknown. Upon dad's death, 
Dropped out to run and close family 
Store. Never completed college, but
Ran tight ship for family and finances.

Mom attended Macalester, one of 
Premier Minnesota colleges;
Dropped out early due to illness.
Worked as librarian in DC during
WWII; married Marine; had me.
After divorce, moved to western MN,
Echoing Gram by assisting aunt to 
Run family store and care for kids.
Met and married second husband;
Three more children; worked as 
Waitress and bar maid for 20 years.
As widow, returned to finish BA and MA
In Special Education, teaching people 
To read until and after retirement.

Each time exploring family traditions and 
Roles, new and head-tilting information 
Pops up to astonish me and to expand
My horizons and understanding of self.
Although all three successful, does my
Consistent grappling to complete echo
Gram and Mom's dropping out of college?
2nd question: Can I focus on whole picture,
Including their incredible completions?

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 14, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE

Radiation appointments completed.
Missing starting each day escorted
By companionate pals; sadly missing
Welcoming receptionists and radically
Talented, cheerful radiation tech team.
Bitter sweetness of missing contact and
Life-saving intervention, yet regaining
Ability to set own schedule, discern
Next steps and directions, re-align.

Next day, slept until awoke on my own.
Applied deodorant to both armpits,
Although three weeks sans left side 
Resulted in no discernible difference.
Teeth flossed, erupting in minor 
Bleeding from weeks of neglect.
Accomplished several essential errands.
Too tired yet to exercise, but soon.

Holding the tensions among opposite 
feelings, experiences, and priorities.
Awe and AHH! Gratitude and tacksam!
The first day of the rest of my life.

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) November 8, 2013





 

WOUNDS

Rushing down darkened hall
Toward preparing dinner, 
Slammed shin-first into 
Spout of watering can
(thankfully plastic, not metal).
Left shin, of course.

Skin broken, bump forming;
Hobbled to bed to collapse
Into gasping, eye-bulging,
Astonished agony; tears dripping;
Imagining foreverness of pain.

Strategies soon initiated to
Quell bleeding and swelling--
Slight massage to stimulate 
Healing blood flow; applied
Anti-bacterial lotion, loose
bandage, and ice, ice, ice on
Leg elevated by pillows; aspirin.

Pain subsided, calm returned.
Memories of recent wounds
On left foot and left breast.
When body ably assisted,
Natural healing process takes
Charge and moves forward.

So, too, mind/psyche/emotions:
When made room for, attuned,
Accepted, and cherished, 
Calm regained and maintained.

So, too, relationships: when
Processed and resolved, 
Transition to deeper layers
And broader levels of
Intimacy, offering solace
And comfort and growth.

So, too, the Earth, tho'
Maimed and excavated:
When allowed to lie fallow
Or offered nutritious food,
Recovers vegetation and 
Clean, clear waters, housing
And supporting all beings.

After bruising, when afforded 
Time, patience, and care,
Everything re-generates.
Keep the Faith, Everything 
Will be OK. Lean back and 
Let go. Breathe in, then out,
Then once again and again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 11, 2013







Tuesday, November 5, 2013

AUTUMN AGAIN, AT LAST


My favorite season of all.
Colors complement my
Palette, providing comfort,
Rest, and ease; relief from
Jarringly bright summer hues.

Fall offers final joyful burst of
Energy, prelude for quiescence.
Flora and fauna change colors,
Turn inward, return home to
Recharge energetic batteries.

Autumn leaves falling, foliage
Bending backward to nourish
Earth from which they sprang.
Humans mirror by slowed pace,
Staying in to read, nap, dream.

After weeks of dampening fog,
Red leaves, shimmering, floating,
Glow in returned sunshine,
Although daylight wanes and
Shortens thru most of December.

Dark as I leave home, and dark
As I leave work toward home again.
Longer days than in Sweden, home
Away from home as oft as possible.
Snow soon blankets Scandinavia.

Seasons chronicling time, loftier
Chronometer than minutes or days,
Dividing year by fourths across
Variations of latitude; opposite
Hemispheres, opposite seasons.

Ann Beth Blake
© November 2, 2013

Last Minute Update

Only two more treatments to go. Done by November 7th--so soon! I so appreciate the radiation techs
who are kind, gentle, and cheery. They all wore costumes for Halloweeen, so I wore my button jacket, sequin cap, and sequin earrings, just for them.
Busy with school and with health, so I will write again very soon.
Love to all, Ann

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EVERY DAY!?

Only 16 days, not 30;
8 days already done.

But 6 am awakening,
Re-convincing that, 
"Yes, this is really real."
Rushing to leave home
Extra early to allow
For any and all traffic,
To totally guarantee
Arrival on time--early,
Actually, to relax
For a few moments
Prior to treatment.

But, every day, really?
Only 8 days remaining.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 29, 2013

HALFWAY MARK

Seven of sixteen, soon halfway
Through radiation treatments.

First thing on weekday morns,
In and out in 15-20 minutes.

Accompanied by variety of pals,
Comforting, dependable, light.

Still, teeth-gritting reality skitters
The edges, re-asserting each day.

No pain, only physical discomfort,
Adds to disorientation--is this true?

Not the "Why me," at all, but the
"Can this really be true?" tilting.

Guts roiling and eyes darting;
Images forming and dissipating.

Mind struggles and grapples 
To place reality in proper locale.

Totally true and not disastrous;
A "thing," yet not a huge ordeal.

Day by day until 16 days go by.
Then 5 years of tests and meds.

Day by day, moment by moment,
As always, as usual, as true.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 29, 2013



Sunday, October 27, 2013

SUPPORT STAFF

Sixteen weekdays of radiation;
Checked off grid on sticky note
Attached to bathroom mirror.

Lisa and Margaret enthusiastically,
Competently, and graciously leapt
To task of scheduling companionship 
For walks down long, underground
Hallway to Radiation Oncology lobby;
For chats during wait to be called in; and 
For warm smiles as I re-emerge to world.

Support staff, clearly, by prowess;
Loving friends by heart and action.

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) October 24, 2013

I ALREADY KNEW

Had an obliquely intuitive knowing about
Breast cancer, resulting in timely diagnosis.

Two recent dreams about people giving
Information I had already known about.

Interesting and informative content,
Integrated into contemporary self-image.

Because already known, even difficult 
News is not shocking and is absorbable.

New in my life, but not unique in universe.
We are all one; history repeats itself.

Nothing new under the moon and sun;
Repetitions, redux, and reiterations.

Lean back onto commonality; join and enjoy
Membership in larger community of all beings.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 13, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

BABA BLAKE

BABA BLAKE

Born Ann Beth Foutz, self-named
BaBa in toddler baby-talk babbling.

Soon adopted, Ann Beth Drinkwitz;
New dad fondly called me AB.

Played with initials, inserted Carol,
To sequential alphabet: ABCD.

And to mimic physician uncle,
Inserted Marie to form ABMD.

Family members always, not just in 
Reprimand, called me Ann Beth.

Friends assigned nicknames, Grace (for 
Kluziness) and Cheyanne (shy Ann).

Nephew initiated, followed by niece 
And their friends, unitary, Auntie.

When marriage approached, decided 
To choose own surname to honor

Maternal grandfather's importance
In ongoing development: Blake,

Resulting in monosyllabic Ann Beth Blake.
Name change in time for terminal degree.

Exploring maternal Karlsson family ties,
Possible nom de plum, Britta Anna Karlsson.

During recent team-building exercise, 
One more definitive iteration: BaBa Blake. 

Ann Beth Blake
(C) October 15, 2013

THIS IS WEIRD

First day of radiation, 
assorted interventions, 
Seemed like Friday, 
but really Thursday.
Confusion.

Amused as techs said,
"See you tomorrow."
Many moments of
Perplexed discerning 
About whether to show
Up very next morning.
Puzzlement.

Over weekend, dreamt 
Of missing Monday 
Morning treatment.
Then could not figure
Out transportation for
Afternoon make-up tx.
Consternation.

Monday morn, had to 
Concentrate and rehearse
Getting up and ready for
8:00 am appointment.
Distraction.

Mind and body work
Hard to adjust and 
Accommodate to 
Changes and to 
Necessary actions.
Slow to integrate.
Need to focus.
Presence.

Mind and body clearly
Communicate emotional 
And physical truths.
This is weird!

Ann Beth Blake 
(c) October 21, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

FIRST DAY

Today, first radiation treatment, 
Plus more x-rays and one more tattoo. 
Next 15 weekdays,10-15 minute radiation
Treatment, ending November 7, 2013.

Today, start to "x" days off calendar;
Breathe fully; exercise regularly;
Drink plenty of water; eat well;
Sleep long, deep, dreamy sleeps.

Today, is first day of rest of my life.
Not like coming back from death,
Not like stem cell replacement,
But merely newish start from here.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 17, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ann's Poetry Reading

Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study

POTENTIAL SPACE: An Evening of Art and Performance

An Exploration of Art, Creativity, and Psyche

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Center for Urban Horticulture, University of Washington

3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, 98105

5:00-9:00 pm

Appetizers, beverages; suggested donation: $20


Ann is the second reader in first set, about 6:30 pm


Artist’s Statement

Ann Blake, a Jungian-oriented psychologist in Olympia and Seattle, also teaches in the Clinical Mental Health Program at Antioch University Seattle.

As practice for upcoming retirement in 2016, Ann traveled during July and August, 2013. She attended to her soul by walking in Spain and Wales and by writing daily poetry and journal entries.

Ann had a busy summer and fall so far. Her summer pilgrimages turned out differently from her expectations, as always expected on pilgrimages. The best happened, followed by coming home to a lumpectomy for small, early, clean, and clear breast cancer. The four poems address some of the events in the last 4 months.

Thanks, as always, to The Team.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

MIXED EMOTIONS

Good news of 16 days of radiation
Rather than 30-day treatment.

Tattoos, just like Mom's and just like
Too many friends' treatment markings.

CAT Scan illustrates unique anatomy,
Planning to avoid heart and lung damage.

Settling in to somber reality, not catastrophic, 
But definitely a substantial situation.

Staying present to myself, acknowledging
Fleeting moment's emotion, accessing support.

All is always in transition: breath, pulse, 
Thoughts, feelings, daylight, seasons, orbits.

Hang onto your hats; we are in for the ride.
Relax and experience all pain and joy.

Ann Beth Blake
October 13, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

FEAR ITSELF

Unkown and future forces
Often erupt into fear, 
Trepidation, and anxiety.

Constant attention to parts
Of self involved in reactions;
Attend and offer comfort.

Analyst wondered about 
Inner child's tears and need 
For validation and reassurance.

Next morning, NPR reported
About current Madeline books,
Prompting listing of spunky girls.

New tradition, bedtime reading:
Madeline, Pippi Longstocking,
Eloise, Heidi, and Dahl's Matilda.

All life experiences offer gifts and
Opportunities for expanded
Knowledge of world and self.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 12, 2013