Becoming Our Truest Selves

July 10, 2020

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become strengths greater than what we had when we were ‘normal’ or unbroken…. This is a philosophy that positions our toughest experiences not as barriers, but as doorways, and may be the key to us becoming our truest selves.”
—Nnedi Okorafor, Broken Places & Outer Spaces

4th of July

Opening the Gate to Joy

July 03, 2020

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Introduction by Ted Kooser: I was once on Deer Isle, Maine, on the Fourth of July, and attended their own town parade. Deer Isle isn’t big enough to mount a very long parade, so they ran it past us twice, first down to the water, and then back up. And we applauded as much with our second viewing as we did with the first. July 4th parades are a wonderful institution. And here’s a parade for you, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, who lives in southwest Colorado.  Her newest book, Hush, has just been published by Middle Creek Press.

In the Fourth of July Parade

Right down the middle of main street
the woman with the long red braids
and fairy wings strapped to her back
rode a unicycle more than two times
taller than she was—rode it with balance
and grace, her arms stretched out,
as if swimming through gravity,
as if embracing space—her smile an invitation
to join in her bliss. How simple it is, really,
to make of ourselves a gate that swings open
to the joy that is. How simple, like tossing
candy in a parade, to share the key to the gate.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “In the Fourth of July Parade,” (2019 ). Poem reprinted by permission of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy 4th of July!


Caring

How Can We Serve Others?

June 26, 2020

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

“….we often serve others best simply by honoring what we care about most. ‘To find our calling,’ wrote theologian Frederick Buechner, ‘is to find the intersection between our own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.’”
–Sarah Juniper Rabkin, What I Learned at Bug Camp

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Shedding Shells

June 19, 2020

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

“Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego. Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one sheds in beach-living; one’s pride, one’s false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor. Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world? If one ceases to compete, does one not need it? Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself. And what a liberation that would be!
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Free is one of my words of the year. So far, 2020 has been stripping away my “shells.” I’m feeling raw, but this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s beautiful Gift From the Sea is encouraging me to see the freedom that can follow that process.

Adrienne Rich

How Are You Feeling? [Check One]

June 12, 2020

Photo by Jakob Søby on Unsplash

“It’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.”
—Adrienne Rich

Emotions are running high, and we may all need to take some time to check in with our feelings. If it helps, write out your thoughts, or talk to a trusted confidante. My journal is getting a workout these days. The world is frightening and sorrowful right now—but I truly believe good will come out of all the turmoil. Wishing you a healthy, peaceful, and happy weekend!


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