Humans can be profoundly affected by our geography and by the environments we inhabit. We experience differences in our inner thought processes, comfort level, and overall spiritual and physical health depending on where we are in the world.
Some places unsettle us and can even cause physical reactions (Las Vegas does that to me). These environments rub against the grain of our constitution and basal genetic code, causing us to feel uncomfortable in ways we can quite pinpoint, anxious to not dawdle and even frantic in trying to find your equilibrium in every passing moment.
But sometimes you find yourself in a place that seems to run roots up through your feet from the minute you land. Those places that feed your soul, encourage your balance, and fill your blood with calm and connected joy are a rarity. It can feel like the land itself speaks to the deep timelessness of your stardust and reminds you of who you are deep in the marrow.
I’ve found only two or three such places in my short time here on this earth.
The green valleys of hillside walls and
twisting archaic roads, tucked like snakes between.
Veining through time-forgotten land.
Vibrant and wet.
The countryside sewn with patches of heather and stone
And endless fields lit from Godspeak skies
give the feeling of being an island apart
from the insanity of the world
Stone fences encroached upon by lusty green growth,
Hugged tight to the tepid handy work of man,
as if to say that magic still breathes here,
and it will overtake our fleeting pillars.
My lungs indulge the mist of Loch Skeen’s mare.
And shoulders let go the weight of the lies I have lived.
Where the loamy peat and woodsmoke hearth
of cottages rendered from stone and thatch,
Nestle into knolls dotted with contented woolen faces
Call to me in dreams, once and again over,
She settles into my bones,
and fills my blood
I know this land somewhere deep in my veins.
This is where my heart lies
She is the place that calls my soul home.
The gray shores of rock and sand,
The moor I miss is more than I am used to yearning for.
Before I wow you with my versatile verses here are a couple of quick announcements:
Send me your poetry for consideration in the The Beautiful Stuff 2019 Poetry Anthology. If you don’t write poetry, but know someone who does, encourage them. Contributors will get two free copies of the anthology and bragging rights. And we all know bragging rights are way better than a cash payout…um…ahem…(*nervous throat clearing).
You can send entries via the contact page on this website or simply by emailing it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “2019 Beautiful Stuff Poetry Submission” as the subject line.
Also, The Beautiful Stuff’s weekly blog post will now be moved to Tuesdays of every week, as I want to spread out all the thought. I will be looking for guest bloggers at the beginning of April so keep your eyes open for that announcement.
And now…a little scuttle into Sarah’s latent memories.
Remember days, sunlit and spread
Tentacles of diving suns and
Russian thistles, green teeth bared,
Before winter tumbled them dry.
The sand blasted faces, relentless wind,
Grit swallowed with water from the hose.
Remember the stolen boards,
The battle of nail and hammer; an engineering feat.
The tree house mansion at the end of the road
That dropped my brother from leafy heights
And gave him the best scar of the summer.
Remember the joyful toil
Sticky hands and brown feet
Mosquito bites torn into angry holes,
Captured horny toads, succumbing to belly rubs
Such degradation of the regal king of sagebrush.
Awe filled fascination, as blood fired from their eyes
A defense of true dragonry.
Remember settling into M*A*S*H with dad,
Never noticing the sting of war around the click of Klinger’s heels.
Or the soft, seeking peace of Radar’s eyes.
The MacNeil Newshour always put me to sleep on the floor.
A sleep that never paused for the bustle of adult worry, or nuclear meltdowns.
Remember toe-headed boys and dirty-dishwater blondes,
Running naked round houses on dares,
Unfathomable speed of youthful freedom
Still not faster than motherly wrath.
When laughter tickled like a persistent cough
And sadness reserved itself for opened knees and epic bike wrecks.
Wounds that healed far faster than the heart.
And left scars you bragged about, not buried.
When life was immortal and endless,
Possibilities not yet limited by the bottleneck of time.
Must have been all that divine-smack talk from last week.
We’ve been set upon by a viral invasion from the petri dish that is the pubic education system. I’ve been fighting it off with sheer force of will, exclaiming to the ear-less, microscopic, entities that I’m simply too busy for their nonsense and to go pedal their crazy someplace else.
In the meantime, I’m emptying out the trash cans every two hours and trying to explain the gentle art of using more than a nostril width of space for each tissue. (Yes, they are ‘disposable’, but that doesn’t mean we need to dab and toss as though we were participants in some game-show challenge. Unacceptable tissue usage
For god sakes, even the lady at Costco is giving me the eye for how often I’ve been stocking up…
This blog is sometimes about life and sometimes about writing, and today I was inspired by the less-than-beautiful aspects of life.
Take my dogs…please.
Anyone with lovable, furry companions knows, they’re a plethora of bodily fluids. And, as with any creature in later years, these leakages seem to come more frequently. My bassets are mass oil producers; through their skin, through clogged pores, through bursting, bleeding cysts…gulp back that bile taste in the back of your throat…it’s actually quite fascinating.
What’s the point of this? Well…the giant mess that is life I guess.
I remember when the idea of a child’s slobbery hand touching my skin would make me want to bathe in hand sanitizer and invest in a personal HazMat shower.
Now…oh now… can I tell you gentle readers how I sometimes use the puddle from a melted ice cube my child has left on the kitchen floor to wet my sock before mopping up some random bloody streak from my dog’s tail sore? Disgusting you say? I say…efficient.
Can I tell you how I can pluck a booger from my child’s nose with illusionist prowness (move over Criss Angel). How I can be sneezed on, coughed on, pooped on, peed on, vomited on, and still somehow maintain a soft focus on the words. “Its ok. No worries, baby”. How I now can look past the moist factories of human and canine function and see a moment in time. A very fleeting moment.
When I am needed.
That sounds narcissistic and I suppose it is. I know that a stable, self-sufficient woman doesn’t need to be needed. But I also know that a deep part of fulfillment for me (lets bound into the hippy side of things and say it’s the Earth/Nurturing Energy I’m predisposed to) is in being able to provide for others. To help them, to comfort them, to clean up after them and whatever that trail they’re leaving behind them is made up of.
Someday those trails will be gone. The house will be spotless, and puddle-less, hairless, and smell-less. And what an awful thought that is.
Someday, I am going to miss the loud and crazy sneeze fest. The croaky little throats asking for juice. The whining howl of a dog in the midst of a squirrel induced nightmare that causes wet flatulence.
Love life for the mess, not in spite of it.
The mess is where the magic is. The imperfect and chaotic is also the joy. Because it pulls us out of auto pilot and makes us pay attention…Because it tests what we are made of, what we can handle, and how we handle it. Because it makes memories and memories are how we count time, relate to others, and look back on a life well, if mucousily, lived.
I could live a beautiful, picture perfect life. With clean floors, and quiet halls, and never have to ask “What did I just step in?” or “Is that poop or chocolate?”. But god, what a horrible life that would be. Give me the mess. Give me your booger. Give me the bleeding, oily cysts. Give me the tiny arms and fevered foreheads pressed close in times of need, and the saggy brown eyes of an uncompromisingly loyal companion.
Give me all of these things, and I will not cringe. I will embrace. Because mucous makes memories.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…I feel a sneeze coming on…are we out of tissues?
This particular phrase came to me me during last week’s abbreviated post on home. I was limited on time and a bit “Chihuahua and fireworks” excited about Verseday, so I didn’t do justice to what home can mean and why its important to filling our lives with good things.
I’m from Wyoming, born and raised, with some detours along the way.
Wyoming has some pretty awesome colloquialisms (for more on that, keep in the loop about my new series set in Wyoming—very romantic-west) and “Home is Where You Hang Your Hat” is no exception. (Some other, unrelated, favorites; “wouldn’t mind if his boots were under my bed,” and “wish I had a swing like that on my back porch.”)
I could go into the history of hats, cowboy and otherwise, what they meant, where they came from, who wore them, the political and pop cultural significance each one carried, but you didn’t come here to listen to the historical social scientist in my back pocket, you came here for an expansion on home.
Hanging your hat up was something you used to do when you came in from a long day of work. I’m looking at you…slack-jawed twerker, with your suuuuper cool trucker’s hat turned sideways at the dinner table…you realize that it’s the same ‘model’ my 97 year-old grandfather would get free from NAPA (that’s the part store, not the wine country) and wear until the brim fell off… And, he wore it better but never at the table… sorry where were we?
Yes, gentlemen used to take off their hats inside and, in the case of coming home, would hang them on a hook or rack by the door.
A simple move that signified something so much more profound.
Hanging your hat, coming home, dropping the world at the door and breathing. Breathing in the place of your own, the space you occupy, the people who wait for you; who love you, who have seen your head without hat, your hair going gray. Coming home meant escaping the life’s demands and the outside world’s burdens and just be.
Why is it important, that we take off our ‘hats’ in today’s world? Why does it matter?
I’m glad you asked. It’s kinda why I’m here.
Humans these days are so connected by technology and the speed-of-light information bursts, that there’s really no such thing as a safe space anymore. Now your home has multiple outlets for this information to stream in, constant and blaring.
And the ‘hats’ have changed too, haven’t they? We used to wear one, maybe two. Now, we’ve got them stacked one on top of the other until they tilt in the breeze and wobble when we try to move forward. We’re doctors, and scientists, social activists and martyrs. We’re frienemies and friends, lovers and exes. We’re husbands and mothers, daughters. Victim and accuser, the pious and the demon.
We’re chained to the images that we build on our pages and constantly feel the need to live up to the happy smiling selfie that the world thinks we are. It’s getting so one can’t even close the door and drop what’s not real for a few minutes.
And if you can’t ever drop it, how do you even know who you really are?
It’s no wonder we’re overmedicated, depressed, anxious and stressed. People constantly shoving hats into our hands, telling us what we should be, what we could be, showing off how beautifully they’re balancing their own stack with perfect pictures of perfect lives through perfect filters that they post fresh every day.
It can leave a person feeling that if they aren’t getting enough ‘likes’ that no one actually likes them. That the measure of being loved is dependent on some superficial and meaningless emoji.
Listen, kid, ain’t nobody that happy. Ain’t nobody that perfect.
And the brilliance of those images, I guarantee, is hiding the same nasty, visceral darkness that resides in each of us, fed on self-doubt and anger. Jealousy, dis-ease with the person in our skin, and the pressures squeezing through our walls each day.
I just want to go home.
Let’s go back to that place.
The place where you put your phone on the shelf by the door and kick off your shoes. Leave your meal un-Instagramed. Your run un-shared. Write down the cute thing your two-year-old said, and then tell your mom face-to-face over a cup of un-tagged, un-pinned coffee.
Wait for your meal in silence and anticipation. Look up something– in a book. When you feel the need, the itch to pick up that screen, or turn that television on, or otherwise disconnect from real life, don’t. Over half of our lives are spent looking at the world through our screens and its becoming a new, cold, disconnected home where we find no respite.
The ball is in your court, the stack of hats in your arms. Drop them all, for just a moment and pick up only the ones that satisfy your soul. Even those, hang up once in a while and sort through how they make you feel when you wear them.
Find your home by letting go of the things you feel you need to be. Find the home in the center of your chest, your truest self, and come back to that. Hang your hat there. That’s your home.
I threw naked in there so you’d read this. There’s really no nudity…but you might as well continue on, because there’s some good stuff here.
This week I’m launching a new project. Wednesdays will continue to be a weekly rant about writing, and life, and inspiration, and all the strange, obscure references to pop culture I can muster while still being relevant to the topic (it’s an art form people).
But every Thursday I’ll be starting a new post series called Verseday.
I’ll be posting a poem each week that I’ve written either recently or dusted off from some old file folder. You’re welcome to contribute your criticisms and comments.
In addition I’ll be hitting up some of my talented and nimble-worded friends and colleagues for poetic contributions. This whimsy will continue until I gather a good pool of work and I’ll select the finest pieces, mine and yours, to publish the first ever Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology (I’m thinking of a snappier title as we speak).
So if you love poetry, if you write poetry, if you’d like a chance to be a part of a gathering of words and ideas, drop me a line.
The only requirements for entries are that they have to be yours, previously unpublished, and be something you’ve sunk some part of your soul into. Humorous or dark, nature-inspired or industrial driven, pious or chocked full of the f-bomb, I’ll look at them all.
I’ll set up a Facebook page to more easily contact me specifically for VersedaySubmissions. Not every poem will be selected (there’s only 52 weeks in a year after all, and I want a little of the glory too) and if you send me anything that’s horrifically violent (shockingly awful gore etc.), racist, or otherwise unjustly hateful, you probably won’t be hearing back from me.
With that in mind, keep an eye out here at The Beautiful Stuff and on my author page (S.E. Reichert on Facebook) for links to the submission guidelines.
This week’s blog was taken up by a lot of hoopla for Verseday but I want to spend the limited time left talking to you about HOME.
Home is something we humans have an odd sense of connection to. Home is where your heart is. You can’t go back Home. Home for the Holidays, Hearth and Home. Home Sweet Home. Home alone. Home again. Homeward bound. Home safe.
For some home is a physical place, for some it’s a person, some it’s a meal or a smell, or a sound. For some, it has negative connotations, a place where they suffered fear or abuse. For some it was a place that moved with changing guardians. For some it was a grandparent’s arms, or a roommate’s couch. For every person, there is a different sense of it and some of us still haven’t found it.
What does home mean to you? Is it a place you can close the door on the world and take off your bra and relax? Is it the person who’s smile and voice lowers your heart rate and washes you over in calm? Is it the wiggling furry body of a dog, anxiously excited to see you EVERY SINGLE TIME you walk in the door?
Is it a church, a synagogue, a mosque? A quiet corner where you meditate or yoga your little heart out?
Is it turkey dinner? Is it Sunday football? Is it the smell of fresh cut hay, or campfire? Is it the sound of a river rushing down a mountain’s craggy side? What makes these things home?
I’m inclined to believe that we build home at the first instrumental moments we are aware of a sense of place, safety, and worth.
When the pitch of your sister’s laugh is the same as your own. When the smell of Swedish meatballs cooking on the stove came with your mom’s hug after a tough day.
When, in the midst of personal crisis, spiraling depression, and loss of self and worth, a mountain takes you in and shows you how meaningful and symbiotic you are to the world.
Home is the lightness and comfort that settles into your heart when you don’t have to question or fear that you belong.
Next week, I want to touch on this again, and am looking for comments and replies about your version of home, and what it means to you. Good and bad. Warm or ugly. Tell me all.