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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Random and Incomplete List


I believe the moon is beautiful, in all her phases.


I don't believe in organized religions and their canons.


I believe in the power and necessity of love.


I don't believe I can define "love," even now. I think it has to do with an open heart. I'm working on it.


I believe in food:  nourishing, tasty food that comes from the earth; meat that comes from animals raised with respect and slaughtered with reverence and thanks; agriculture that respects the earth that feeds us; and eaters who are aware of and grateful for the gifts of the earth.


I don't believe in MacDonalds. But I do reserve the right to eat a Tim Horton's doughnut once a year.


I believe in music. I believe in the music that comes from within each of us, the sound we make when we groan or grunt or allow our bodies to speak what they are feeling. I believe in personal sound. And beyond that I

believe in the power of music to bring mankind together.


However, I don't believe in Britney Spears.


I believe that it is possible, though not easy, to learn to expand our view of family so that it includes everyone we meet. And beyond that, everyone we don't meet. Our family is, ultimately, everyone who shares this earth with us.


I believe in reincarnation. At least I did the last time around.


I don't believe in hell.


I believe in nurturing and caring for every person in my life. And that includes me.


Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things to be glad about

I have so many things to be glad about that I wander through my days in a state of gratitude. Gladitude. No, I'm more than "glad" about things. I marvel at the new me who is present right now. When I choose an essay to release to the world, I find that many of the essays written in the past no longer suit. I can't send out a gloomy, depressed, self-deprecating write that was true at the time but that is so very far from the way I feel now.


Sam's mother, Julia, told me recently that she was doing the usual morning rush to get herself and Sam off to school on time. As they left the house and went to the car, she said, in a young mother's urge to get moving, "C'mon, Sam, let's run!" Sam said, "I'm too tired to run!" So they walked to the car, and Julia said, "Your energy will come back. It just isn't here yet this morning."


So during the ride to big-boy school Sam would pipe up, "My energy isn't here yet!" or ask, "When will I get my energy, Mommy?" He was giving it serious consideration.


They parked at big-boy school and Julia escorted Sam to his room and helped him with his coat and hat. As Sam headed toward his friends who were running around the room, he turned to Julia and said, "It's here, Mommy! It's here! I got my energy!"


Later, when he was at our house, I suggested that we go outside and run for a while. As we went out the door, Sam said, "I have lots of energies today, Nana! I think I have fifteen energies!" I told him I only had five or six, so he'd probably be able to win all the races. And he did.


Watching Sam is something to be glad about.


But as I think about other things I'm grateful for (grandchildren in general, good food, my dear husband, the seasons), I realize that I don't want to list them because they sound so trite.


What I'm really glad about, grateful for, is being here. Is having been here long enough to get it through my hard head, finally, that whatever it is, it is not permanent. That because of the transient nature of our existence I would do well to relax and savor every moment of whatever is. All I have to do is remember (not always the easiest thing): to remember that life is not just to be lived, as is often said, but to be en-joyed. Life is to be filled with and surrounded by joy. Our reason for being on this earth, in this physical existence, is to learn to en-joy our lives—and through that, to en-joy the lives of everyone we meet.


I can just hear you muttering, "Pollyanna, meet Deepak Chopra." Well, so be it.


Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor   

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Mind Museum

My mind is a pretty weird place to hang out. In the laneway this morning I kicked a pebble, which I love to do. Don't you? Don't you like to see how long you can follow a stone—or an acorn—that way? First you kick (hoping it will go straight). Then you walk (not breaking stride, of course) to where the stone landed (and to play with the strictest of rules, you have to keep walking straight along your path; no deviations to chase the pebble). Then you kick it again. And again.


As I kicked this morning, I got a vision of kicking a river stone—say, about as big as a tennis ball. It made my toes hurt just to think about it. And then I began to imagine the maximum size you could kick without breaking a toe. I thought that if you wore steel-toed work boots you could increase the size of the stone until you could kick a stone the size of a softball. Could you kick a stone the size of a soccer ball? No, not even with steel-toed boots. Could you do a stone-kick wearing sandals or open-toed pumps? That would be courting disaster. I could make a spread-sheet, maybe, outlining shoe types and optimal and maximum stone sizes. Maybe this is what I'll do. This will be a novel way to waste the rest of my life!


When I offer tours of the inner workings of my mind, I'll play docent. Keep your eyes peeled for the brochure. I'll send it out just as soon as I get organized . . .


Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Learning distance at my mother's knee"*

How do mothers . . .

No. Start again.

WHY do mothers have to teach us distance?

Picture the knee,

skirt-covered or

(more likely now) blue-jeaned.

The mother sits on straight-backed chair,

erect, precise.

Yes, that's the mother.

And standing before her is the toddler,

            hand on that skirt,

            that denim.


Oh. Am I being too literal?

Well, that's just my schtick.

Ignore it.

Imagine, if you prefer,

any mother,

anywhere (not in a chair).

Imagine the child of any age—

older than, younger than—

it really makes no difference

to the outcome,

which will almost always be the same:



Distance willed by mother alone, I think.

Distance as pathology.

Distance as the only path to mother's health.

Put question marks after those sentences,

            for they are not declarative

            but interrogative.




What happens if she doesn't teach the distance?

This is the real question.

Are you sure you want to look into this?

The opposite of distance is closeness,

            proximity, nearness, bonding,




We learn distance at our mother's knee,

and then we pass it on.


What's right? What's wrong?

I seem to be seesawing here,

Or swinging. The pendulum arcs

            from one polar point

            through a middle ground

            and to the other polar point.


Avoid the Poles (write a Czech instead).

Oh, don't be silly.

Avoid the poles.

Is the answer in the midde?


Mothers: teach middle distance at your knee.

Enough distance to create the boundaries.

Avoid no-distance.

Avoid great distance.

Teach the middle distance.


And how many angels can dance on the head of this pin?


Here's the way to do it:

Mothers: hold your babies as close as you can

for as long as you can.

Give good-bye kisses until they are faster than you

and move off before you can catch them.


Mothers: don't distance that lamb from its ewe

            (who is you).

The distance will come in its own time,

when it is fit and proper, meet and just.


Until then, hang on to every baby.

Baby at your knee? Play with her.

Baby at your knee? Pick him up and hug him.

Baby at your knee? Talk to her with your words

            and your hands and your arms and your whole being.

Show that baby you will not relinquish him willingly.

They'll have to pry her (metaphorically speaking)

from your cold, dead arms.


On the other hand, don't forget:

It is the duty of the parent

to inflict the sacred wound.

Maybe the wound this time is


*This line is from Louise Gluck's "Scraps" in her "First Four Books of Poems"
Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor   

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Early Miracles

Just getting out of the bed is an early miracle—some days more miraculous than others. Thank goodness for the discipline of routine. Without it, the pull of gravity (pulling downward toward the grave?), both actual and metaphorical—might be irresistible. Yes, I can imagine that without routine, the pull to pillow could conquer the otherwise sensible self and I might wrap myself in the shroud of my sheet for the rest of the day.


Or until hunger (blessed hunger) would lure me out of the bed and straight to the stove.


Early and late we are besieged—flooded, overwhelmed—by miracles of all degrees: big ones, small ones, some as big as your 'ead—no, no, that's not miracles; that's a loverly bunch of coconuts, and they have no place in this piece of writing, which seems to range from dismal to despondent (some range!) with a note or two of hope thrown in to rally the troops.


The miracle actually seems to be that we have not all annihilated each other by now. Though not for lack of trying.

Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor