A Poet’s Work

A Poets Work

When words fail, that’s when the poet goes to work.

Describe a scene. Relate a feeling. Evoke a mood. Any passable writer, any literate person, really, can paint those experiential portraits with some degree of success. We do it every day. So much talking. So much describing. It never stops. It began before we emerged and will continue long after we’re departed. Relating that fact as well as it can be said:

“To the as-yet unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: Watch out for life.

I have caught life. I have come down with life. I was a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness, and then a little peephole opened quite suddenly. Light and sound poured in. Voices began to describe me and my surroundings. Nothing they said could be appealed. They said I was a boy named Rudolph Waltz, and that was that. They said the year was 1932, and that was that. They said I was in Midland City, Ohio, and that was that.

They never shut up. Year after year they piled detail upon detail. They do it still. You know what they say now? They say the year is 1982, and that I am fifty years old.

Blah blah blah.”  ~ kurt vonnegut (from deadeye dick)

But, when the moment begins to cross over into the sublime,
When the never resting humming bird, with its 250 breaths per minute, its 1260 heart beats per minute, its 70 wing flaps per second, pauses a moment to look you dead in the eye – and stays until you surrender the idea of happenstance,
When the beach grass dances ever so gently with the faintest kiss of breeze,
When the sunlight refracts on the sea, breaking into millions of sparkling, dancing diamonds daring you to try to look away

When the chatter of the work-a-day mind subsides because you are listening instead to the symphony of birdsong, shore-song, and faint, distant, distant murmur of commerce

When your heart begins to expand into nature’s unstill stillness,

When every feeling turns from feeling into knowing, knowing you are on the brink of this holy moment,
Knowing you are in the midst, on the brink, and then in the midst again of this holy moment.

When words begin to fail, the poet begins to work.

© Leisa LaDell Ashbaugh 2017

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Sidewalk adornment

natures confetti

I am only 9 days into this 100 challenge to create and share something artistic everyday (I chose 3 line poems), and already it has changed my default thoughts completely. I now find myself looking at the world with keener eyes, and thinking in poetic phrases that might express my experience.

Quite a shift from the defaults of judgement, assessing threat, creating strategies for doing, insufficiency and “shouldn’t be-ness” that are the default flavor of thoughts in the playground of my mind.

Now instead, I take the dog for a walk and think of things like this. Blending what I learned at a recent retreat, with this practice of daily poems, I can hardly wait to see what gifts unfold over the remaining 100 days.

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Guru in my shoe – #100Daysof3LinePoems Day 5

Every pebble is my teacher

Guru in my shoe

Each step enlightenment


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Life and business on a human scale

The scene

I’m at a conference center near Denver. It’s the last day. I know a fellow attendee and I are on the same flight and she has reserved the shuttle, with her as the sole passenger. I call to add myself to the reservation, same van, same time, same location, same destination. Expected cost $60+.

The action

The agent is asking about how much luggage and how many are checked. I just happen to mention I have skis.

Her: “Actual skis? Any you are going to check them?”

Me: “Yes, it’s fine. The airline doesn’t mind. I checked them on the way down, and will check them on the way back.”

Her: “Well, with skis we have to send a special van, so that will be $279.”

Me: laugh “That’s absurd.” “You have a van coming and only one other passenger. The skis are in a bag, and will easily fit in the van. I’m not traveling with a whole ski team.”

Her: “I’m sorry, that’s the policy.”

Me: “So I can’t ride with my friend in the nearly empty van you are already sending?”

Her: “No.” Me: “That’s absurd.” (I didn’t bother with goodbye).

Of course it worked out, and I got a better ride that cost me nothing.

Policy vs people

Business owners and managers, I understand the need for “policy”, I really do. But when you don’t hire people who you can train and trust to empower them for real-life circumstances, you are creating a less workable, less kind, less human world. And, you are losing business. For good. And in the changing landscape of transportation options with Uber, Lyft and the rest, can you really afford to be so dogmatic in your business model? That’s retorhical – I think not.


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You know when Life starts changing on you?

And not in directions that you have charted or would have consciously chosen?

And you feel all drifty, like in a row boat in the ocean, except you never really intended to being doing a solo circumnavigation of the globe, even in a well-equipped yacht, let alone some rickety thing barely fit for a pond?

So you forgot the charts, compass, survival suit, and emergency rations; and everything else you have always relied on is really just a memory, nowhere closer than the moon?

And the sea may be calm, but you know it could change drastically, dramatically in an instant?

And when it does, all you will have to face it is you; your wits, your heart, your will?

Ya. Me. Now. Like that.

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On Longing

long·ing [lawng-ing, long-]
1. strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant: filled with longing for home.

This, my time of longing
This, my time of growth
This, my time of expanse and insight
This, my time of connection
with truth of me and why

This, my time of longing
This, my time of freedom
repreave from fear and doubt
This is my time of Spirit moving
unburdened by distraction within, without

Breathe deep this time of longing
Feel full this expanse of time
Live complete this moment of ache and solace
Exist whole in every and each universe
Anchor firm the allness and isness of now

Abandon absolute
one moment of now, and now, and now

This, my foundation
This, my root
This, my ground

From this ground, expanse
From this moment, eternity
From this longing, fulfillment

This, my time of longing

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Meet the Multitudinous Andrea – One Word Wednesday

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. ~ Walt Whitman

Andrea is one of those amazing people that were it not for Twitter, I would never have met, even though she lives nearby –  just a few miles South of my home in Seattle.

How we made our exact connection is fuzzy. But what’s clear is this: I saw a few of her tweets, and followed. I was intrigued by her grace and wisdom. I clicked and read further, and I was hooked. I reached out, we chatted, we met. And suddenly I was delighted and blessed to have a new friend.

In a world of blogging and business that’s constantly giving the message that in order to succeed one must focus, define your message and your market, and speak very specifically to one topic, one segment, Andrea’s blog – A Multitude of Things – is delightfully, unabashedly multitudinous.

When I think of Andrea, I’m reminded of this quote:

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
~  e e cummings

Andrea is most assuredly herself. And if she’s fighting, she makes it look effortless.

What’s the one thing you know about words?

Words are amazing.
They travel in our consciousness and stick there. If you don’t agree, just think back to the last time your mother’s voice came out of your mouth! Words have the ability to shift perspectives and change lives. They can pick you up or drag you down. They can paint incredible pictures. They can describe you and your innermost self. I speak two languages and am always surprised when I find a word in one language that captures feelings or concepts that are almost impossible to translate directly in the other language. Simply amazing.

What one word describes you and why?

I am happiest when I am playing with ideas – either on my own behalf or for others. I am especially delighted when my ideas are able to inspire others or give them a fresh view on something that has been troubling them. My friends are used to getting emails from me that start with, “hey, what do you think about this idea?”

What one word describes your mission, or your message (and why)?

Too often, we seem to choose a path of struggle, divisiveness, or negativity in our lives when it would be just as easy to choose joy. Joy can be found in a moment. Why not choose it? After a while, all those joyful moments add up to a lifetime of joy.

What one word would you give to your audience – like a superpower (and why)?

I believe in the power of dreaming. Dreams are the messengers that allow us to consider different possibilities for ourselves and can send us on delicious journeys of discovery. I strongly recommend having at least good “dreaming” session a day. It only takes a moment and can be done while waiting at the doctor’s office, standing in line to pick the mail, or, savoring a cup of coffee.

What’s your “go to” word? The one that you can always count on to rock your day, or to turn the moment around if you are not on your game?

It’s all good.
I suppose that’s really three words but, when I hear them or say them, I am re-invigorated and soothed at the same time.

Say a little bit about the role that words and language play in your life and your work.

Being bilingual, words have always fascinated me. Their ability to express different thoughts and emotions. Their ability to tell stories. From the moment I learned to read, words became my constant companions. As a child, I often got in trouble in school because I was so engrossed in what I was reading that I completely missed that the teacher had moved on to a different subject. I love words.

Any last words about the power of words?

Choose wisely.
There are so many words out there that we can put in our mouths. Pick the best ones. The ones that will lift you up. The ones that will give others wings.

Andrea helps people fuel their creativity in a multitude of ways. You can follow her on Twitter. Learn more about Andrea and her work at her blog.


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