Monthly Archives: June 2016

Growth: While I’m Away

Lily Buds, June, 2016

Lily Buds, June, 2016

During the week of of June 26th, Marv and I will at Chautauqua, New York, attending a week-long program titled Roger Rosenblatt and Friends: On Creative Expression. It’s our third summer experience trip to Chautauqua through Road Scholar.

Every morning, I’ll be joining up to 5,000 folks— some from Road Scholar but mostly folk who book a vacation or come for the day — at Chautauqua’s open air Amphitheater. Roger Rosenblatt is a witty and delightful writer and raconteur who takes you right into the heart of things as he interviews each guest.

For example, the first morning, he will interview, Jane Pauley, author of Skywriting, A Life Out of the Blue and Gary Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury. On the second day, he’s booked Lorin Stein, editor-in-chief of The Paris Review, Pamela Paul, Editor of the New York Times Book Review, and David Lynn, Editor of The Kenyon Review.

To say that I am grateful for this opportunity is an understatement. The remainder of the presenter schedule will include songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, songwriters, Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Alan Alda, actor and author. It’s my habit to take notes and my hope is to share some of my learning and observations on creative expression in the summer blogs to come.

While I’m away, I would like to share some of my go-to readings, blogs and podcasts on mindfulness and gratitude in the hope that you might be inspired to dip in and begin or widen your gratitude practice.

Books and Magazines

  • Campbell, Don & Doman, Alex, Healing At The Speed of Sound
  • Emmons, Robert A., Thanks
  • Krech, Gregg, Naikan
  • Macy, Joanna & Johnstone, Chris, Active Hope
  • mindful magazine, taking time for what matters, http://www.mindful.org

Blogs and Web pages

I’m grateful for your taking time to read this blog and especially for the inspiration that you, as a reader, bring to me. The promise of connection and the possibility of sharing the everyday possibilities of gratitude is ever- present and helps to keep me alert and mindful of what enlivens and enriches my life. For this blog, marking the summer Solstice, I chose the picture of my lily beds filled with growing shoots. They are imbued with the promise of July blossoms and posts of creative expression.

 

 

 

Power Pause and Father’s Day, 2016

Dad & Me, circa, 1956

Dad & Me, circa, 1956

In my father’s world, order was essential—“everything in its place,” was his motto. Were my father alive today, he would be shaking his head with disbelief at the Orlando massacre, the fact that one man could get his hands on a quick trigger, semi- automatic rifle capable of shooting up to 45 rounds per minute. 49 dead; 53 wounded.

My father was the proprietor of an Army & Navy store. During WWII, sailors, coastguardsmen fresh in port, army and air force servicemen on active duty frequented his tidy store tucked in at the base of Munjoy Hill. The essentials of the uniform, regulation attire— chimney stacks of tan, white, khaki pants, stacks of color coordinated shirts, soft caps, hats with visors and sailor caps, a showcase with bright ribbons, gleaming pins, roll-up belts—could be found, in an instant, by my father.

My father was laconic, never spoke of the war stories he must have heard, never shared his reaction to the stories he read nightly— the war in Europe, the landing at Normandy, the North African Campaign, the atomic blast at Hiroshima.

He was steady, a “provider,” in my mother’s words, of a standard of life which felt secure, a contrast to the air raid drills prompted by an occasional siren warning, the need to huddle under small, wooden desks in case of bombs falling from the sky. There was fear of the enemy afar; we were at war. The doors to the school were open, no fear of an onsite shooter with an automatic rifle, the Sandy hook nightmare, the death of 20 children.

In principal, I am grateful to live in a country where, at any time, I can tune into the internet, radio, television, the alert on my smart phone. In the past few days, I have strived mightily to feel grateful in the face of a hateful man’s bloody attack on Pride Month celebrants at the Pulse nightclub, advertised as “offering live entertainment, tantalizing libations and three rooms for an unforgettable night of fun and fantasy.”

I am saddened by the loss of so many in the prime of life, yet grateful for the stories of courage and care of those who responded in the face of immediate danger. I am grateful to the police and first responders, the doctors, nurses, and health care workers, who stayed the course to tend to the wounded. I am grateful to the promise of love and a network for healing from Orlando’s mayor, Buddy Dyer.

I am grateful for the possibility of pause— the action of Senator Christopher Murphey’s 15 hour filibuster. At the final hour, he said, “It is our understanding … that we have been given a commitment on a path forward to get votes on the floor of the Senate — on a measure to assure that those on the terrorist watch list do not get guns and an amendment … to expand background checks to gun shows and to internet sales.”

I am grateful for the pause of reflection wedded to action; for possibility…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wed 62 Years

Faye & Marvin Snider wedding, circa 1954

Faye & Marvin Snider wedding, 1954

I’m married to a quiet man, a smart man—philosopher, writer, psychologist/therapist, father, grandfather (known as Pops.) On June 13th, we celebrate our 62nd anniversary.

We met at a Jewish Community Center singles dance, each of us determined to meet the other in defiance of a mutual friend who had offered to fix us up and rescinded. Marv was from Detroit, a Wayne University engineering major and activated air force guardsman stationed at Fort Williams in South Portland, Maine. I was a Simmons College sophomore.

The original plan had been to meet at the dance. I was home for winter break and in between boyfriends. Marv was new in town; there was no sweetheart left behind. I wore a white wool suit (skirt, not pants) with strappy black shoes. Marv wore his blue air force uniform with the short-cropped jacket and nipped waist. Twenty-three years old, he had a full head of curly hair, broad shoulders and the romantic allure of a serviceman.

There was swing music, dancing. I stood at the edge, scanning the crowd. He was my mirror image, the handsome young stranger in uniform also scanning. Our eyes locked. We met in the middle, arms seeking to dance, in the spell of Night & Day or was it The Very Thought of You?

Commonality in background and values, our mothers were like sisters, mutual respect, a bent towards history, and its effects. We married, went to graduate school, found jobs, became therapists and partners in our own mental health clinic, and raised a son and daughter during the seventies era of Rock and Roll. Both of us now in our eighties, Marv has a small practice and teaches courses on our early presidents at an independent learning in retirement program.

I am grateful to have chosen a life partner who has as much regard for creativity within the human spirit as myself. When I made the turn from therapist to poet, Marv supported my wishes to attend a summer workshop. To my surprise, the morning I prepared to leave for a two-week stay, he marinated a chicken. Mom had not approved of my decision. “How can you leave for two weeks, who will cook, what will he eat?” I laughed and still do about Marv’s message—no need for worry, when it comes to my stomach, I’m resourceful.

Marv’s support deepened when I closed my therapy practice and enrolled in the Solstice MFA program. It helped our mutuality in that I had supported Marv through writing and editing two family therapy books and in the years that followed, three more— his most popular, Tool Kit for Smart Living, a compendium of insight and knowledge accrued over his lifetime as a family therapist.

So many decades—some all good, some peppered with ill winds, illnesses among those we love, deaths, family challenges. Through it all, we have continued to partner, grateful for health and friendship, devoted children and grandchildren, and the continued thirst for learning and creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Momma

Photo of Mom courtesy of Marv Snider,1962

Photo of Mom courtesy of Marv Snider,1962

I write letters to my dead mother. Although much time has passed since her passage to the ethereal spirit world, she is within me, floating in the space of memory, forever embedded in past stories, the root of present stories.

As I age, she is more and more present— a guide, an invisible wise woman on the road ahead. As a child, perhaps, 8 or 9 years old, she had the wisdom to encourage my involvement in The Camp Fire Girls Organization. I left my safe neighborhood, took hikes in Baxter Woods, spent summers at Camp Hitinowa deep in the Maine woods, where female counselors taught me the importance of noticing a landscape, where new trees and fauna shaped or hindered our walking paths.

Mom did not hike nor go to the woods. A city person, she wrapped her identity around my father, her role as wife and mother, especially after both her parents died when I was two and a half.  I never knew any of my grandparents, never saw them age. My maternal grandmother died in her fifties; my Mom died at ninety-three. I had the privilege of walking alongside her as she encountered the challenges of a failing heart.

She was open-minded and curious, a woman who shared her joys and worries. She trusted me; we problem solved together, especially during her latter years when her strength began to wane and it was necessary to consider options to assure her wish to live out her life as independently as possible.

I am cut from the same cloth— independent to a fault. I am grateful for the lessons learned—to know when and how to share vulnerability, to ask for help, to recognize and manage my own limits.

Mom lived on her own in a ranch style home up to the day of her death. Because of limited sight and unpredictable health events, she faced the dilemma of relocating to an assisted living community or inviting a caretaker into her home. With my assurance that we could place an ad in the Portland Press Herald and screen candidates for her final approval, she chose to limit her privacy in favor of maintaining her lifestyle.

During the last few years of her life, she had two caretakers. With their help, Mom continued to make her special spaghetti sauce and much loved molasses raisin cookies. Months after her death, I savored the small cache of sauce in the container labeled in her graceful handwriting.

No wonder, I occasionally sit down and write a “Dear Momma” letter, grateful for the steadfast memory of her voice, which comes forth as I write. She never witnessed my transition from writing poetry to writing real life stories.

I’m grateful she read several of my early poems— many of which were about her. In response to the poems, she said, “Does it make you happy?” If she were to ask the same question about this post, I would say, “not so much happy as pleased.”

For prior post referencing Camp Hitinowa, see The Return— http://fayewriter.com/2016/02/29/