Risk

 Poem that "came at me" during a walk at the time of the recent summer solstice.

Poem that "came at me" during a walk at the time of the recent summer solstice.

When I was working with my webpage designer, Barbara Keany, we knew what business related pages were needed (i.e. “about,” “services,” “connect” and a “blog” to give the site movement.) As I worked on the content, she offered great advice on layout and design as I had no clue how to enter into this world of social media. I did know what I liked and didn’t like about how other webpages “felt” to me, and that was a guiding principle as the site unfolded on our journey together toward the “launch”. However I also knew I wanted to take a risk and add a page for my “poet self,” this increasingly demanding internal voice that was refusing to sit in the quiet any longer. She has made appearances at other times throughout my life, but not with the same roar and intensity.

Personally, I feel that poetry is one of the most personal expressions that can be offered when written from the authentic, uncensored self. Making the decision to risk selecting a few of my poems to put on the site was my way of testing the waters. This page itself is not “complete.” The poems are basic PDFs, nothing fancy. I do have a tendency to hold off, waiting until something is “perfect” before moving forward. In this case, I totally let that go. (Keep checking back. This page is a work in process.)

This calling myself a “poet” has come about in the last year or so. Before, I was “one who writes poems.” It is a subtle difference, but to me the naming/owing has been like a baptism. I find poems coming at me on walks, in my sleep, when I swim. I respond to them saying, “slow down, I don’t have anything to write with. Give me more time. I have to go to work you know.” And then I hurry to find something to write with, reciting the words over and over in my head, trying to honor them when they come, cradling these infant poems in my journal until I can return to fill in the spaces with more sustenance. I have more immature poems in the cradle than I have time to nurture. Some just need an hour, an afternoon or two to complete. For others, we are at a crossroads and don’t know where to go next. I have heard poets start a poem and come back to it again and again over the years before finishing it. The impatient part of me doesn’t like that, but I remind myself, some things do well with aging.

I’d like to think I’m doing well with aging. Along with being willing to take risks that my younger self shied away from, my fifty’s have offered a fresher style of confidence. I’m learning that healthy risk-taking and confidence are good partners (along with a dose of discernment.) I recently presented a one-hour breakout session at the All-State Palliative Care Conference in Eugene, OR on Sacred Medicine: Poetry as a Pathway to Deeper Healing and included a few of my own poems in the presentation and handouts. These days I often share my poems with co-workers, family and friends.

It was in initially taking workshops through Portland Women Writers http://www.pdxwomenwriters.com/ and having my voice heard that re-awoke the poet that has resided in me since childhood. It was taking the risk to share a poem here, a poem there with a friend or a co-worker that built confidence. I have a strong belief that everyone can write a poem, just as I believe everyone has a song inside them that needs to be sung. We live in a world of labels and names. They can be helpful or harmful. Come with baggage and projections or offer guidance. I placed a set of expectations on myself when I say I’m a “poet” and that isn’t healthy. Perhaps that is one reason I resisted it for so long. So, I am working on setting aside my expectations. I am allowing myself to hear the affirmations of friends, family and co-workers who appreciate what I offer. I am going to make an effort to post more poems to my website because if they keep roaring out of me, who am I to not put them out into the world?

And how about you? What is in you that is asking to be risked? Is there a voice that you’ve been quieting that wants to be heard? What does risk and confidence look like in your life?