Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Celebrate Small Successes (Spring at Shangri-La)

Celebrate Small Successes

I am a hard task -master to myself (and sometimes to others, though I don't mean to be.)  I have high expectations, at least about certain things.

But Sonja Lyubomirsky says, "Celebrate small successes.  Celebrate steps along the way."  She says, "Make a goal, and then make subgoals, and then, if necessary, subgoals of that.  Celebrate each success, small, medium and large." 

So, here is one of my goals:  to complete and publish the Geraldine manuscripts.  This is a cycle of poems about a retarded (brain damaged) girl/woman who I once knew.  In order to complete the manuscript, I first have to finish writing all the poems as first drafts, and revise them.  The poems I am attempting to write are about pivotal points in Geraldine's life, as well as some representative daily poems.

So, I am celebrating a small success by sharing this early draft of my new poem I just wrote this morning with you.  It is odd to start in the middle of the book, especially at such a pivotal point.  So, before you read this poem, which remember, is not done yet, let me know if you would like to read the earlier poems FIRST so as not to spoil the surprise.  LOL!  Anyways, I choose to be happy because this one tiny milestone in a vast huge larger project is completed--the first draft of a new poem. 

I choose NOT to be discouraged by the fact that there are many more steps to go, but to take ONE DAY AT A TIME and do what needs to be done.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I have already taken many steps (though many remain to be taken.)

Spring at Shangri-La (How Geraldine Returns to her Lifework, May 1990)

Aunt Geraldine places a ball of warm fluff in my cupped hand. 
Tiny. Cheeping.  She beams.  In the box, eleven more.  Ricky
stands proud at her side.  Beaming too.  Their faces shine like twin
headlamps in the dim coop.  And Ricky, so oddly familiar. 
I study him, puzzled.  Geraldine adjusts the light
over the box, adds fresh water.  Scoops out some messy shavings
and adds new.  Slow, deliberate, careful.  Chickens again,
her lifework, perhaps.  Future eggs for the Home and neighbors.
Future dinners, too.  Hard to imagine this mite as dinner.

I follow them out to the garden.  Ricky's plot and Geraldine's
lie side by side in the patchwork of resident gardens. 
Here is Grandma Ethel's plot, beside Geraldine's, on the other side.
Their three are the neatest.  Their three have the most plants.
Tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, carrots.  Potatoes.  And more. 
Lacy leaves, round leaves, hairy leaves.  All small and newly
sprouted or planted and watered, from the look of them. 
Some of the other plots have nothing but weeds. 
Or a few straggly, wilted plants.

I wonder how Grandma Ethel works from her wheelchair
until Ricky confides that Geraldine does all three.  He helps.
Sometimes, Grandma Ethel gets pushed out to supervise.
Today, she is inside playing bridge with Marjorie, Ellie,
and other residents.  Her memory for card games has survived
her dementia so far. Strange workings of the mind.

Now we head out beyond the gardens.  I follow Geraldine
and Ricky follows me.  We walk single file down the narrow
path between the long rows of baby corn plants.  This row
is well-trodden.  They've been here before.  Geraldine walks
with amazing grace and spryness for her size.  She seems
to be getting younger.  The house, barns, coops and woodshed
recede, grow evermore distant, lost in vast flat fields.
The hugeness of space here no longer feels as barren as it did
in snow.  We walk and walk.  Now through a wheat field.  Now
through oats.  A field of alfalfa.  Another of corn. Woods loom ahead.

Ashes oaks and cherries are bare, maples have tiny leaves. 
The forest floor is a sea of trilliums and other wildflowers. 
We sit on a glacial erratic to admire them.  Aunt Geraldine
and Ricky smile and smile.  Sun streams through the tiny leaves
overhead in rays though a faint mist in the trees.  I think I hear
the angels again, but perhaps it is only the birds.  Geraldine
and Ricky hold hands and look at me shyly.  "Al, we want
to get married," Ricky says.  "Marjorie says we can, if you let us."

Mary Stebbins Taitt

-------this line and everything below this line is not part of the poem------
080604-0929-1b (Keith, earlier drafts, in "current work" looseleaf.)