Still Here, Still Standing


14557_1308787279173_1215328008_30948435_7422599_nSome days I hardly recognize myself.

It’s not just when I look into the mirror and see some bald chick looking back at me.

Or that I spend an inordinate amount of time laying around and watching TV  because I don’t have the energy for much else, or may be experiencing a low grade depression.

It’s not my preoccupation with what’s going on with my body, or what’s going into my body, or what’s coming out of my body (yeah…maybe a little TMI there…sorry.)

It’s not even that my world has become so very small, cloistered as I am for the most part within the confines of my home.

No.

It’s that so many of the ways in which I identified Who I Am seem to be falling away, like it’s all up for grabs right now.  Everything from my employment to my appearance to my activities to my health.  Seriously, all of it.

And I’m learning to be OK with that, in a very “Shit, are you kidding me right now??” sort of way.

My biggest challenge is to feel safe while going through this disintegration phase. It’s kinda tricky.  A lot tricky, actually.  It’s forcing my roots to shoot deep deep deep into my foundational beliefs.  To actually question what is is I believe in – Who I believe in – and why.  Because right now, these beliefs are my grounding.

I love trees.  I’m a tree hugger from way back, and I’ve always related more to being a tree than a flower. (I started this blog back in 2007 because of my connection with a tree …you can read about that here.  And wrote again in 2010 about identifying as an Oak tree here.)

Picturing myself as a tree is actually beneficial.  As a tree, I remember to bend with the storms of life so I don’t break.  And if something does break off, it doesn’t mean I’m finished.  Dead leaves and dead wood should fall away.  Pruning is healthy for me.  Hardening off my bark ensures strength to endure.   Deeper roots help me to stand.

And this is good.

ONE DAY WHEN I WAS OLD

by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

I remember one day when I was young,
forty-five years or so old,
I woke up an old woman that morning.
Not quite in body all the way, but close.
And also in mind.
And I thought, “This is good.”
For also, in the face I was changed,
a little bark-chipped and creased,
like a tree long-lived enough
after having been planted so long ago
by some winged bird
accidentally letting fall a semi-sacred seed
into some almost impossible place,
precisely the way most of us came to earth–
unplanned, and yet sticking to the place
where we were dropped,
growing, growing flowers and fruits
set into our DNA–
and this too was good.

I leaned through the window
of my bathroom mirror,
and touched her old, cracked face…
I soothed back her black hair
with fire opals
in its strands of white.

And I saw as I leaned in,
There were permanent diamonds
in her tear ducts,
those gotten from years of use
and pressure in dark places.

And I gazed at the body
she and I share,
and I saw that rubies
had grown into all my cuts
and that tiny mirrors shone
in all my widders and spalls…

and I saw that I was old
and strong
and delicate
and fierce, like a queen
who has ruled the lands within her reach,
not perfectly, but despite brutal winters,
she was still alive,
the heartwood hardened off just enough,
the tender capillaries still able to carry
the juice and the warmth.

And then, twenty-some years later,
I crossed the crone line,
wearing the tissue-paper crown
with the sacred words “Still here,
still standing…”
engraved upon it.
These words of triumph for all of us elders,
these words “Still here… Still standing,”
they’re the ultimate royal “Ha!”,
the ultimate para la vida “Ha!”,
to life, with life, all of life, filled with life.
Us, crossed now, the crone line,
para la vida, filled with life.

I remember one day when I was young,
forty-five years old or so,
I woke up an old woman that morning.
Not in body quite all the way, but close.
Also in mind, and this was good.
And also in the face I was changed
with all the marks of rings like a tree,
and this too was good.

I looked at my body
and saw that rubies had grown
in all my cuts,
and mirrors shone in all the widders and spalls.
And I saw I was old and strong,
like a queen who had ruled herself
not perfectly, but well.

And I leaned in and touched her old, cracked face,
and I saw the permanent diamonds in her tear ducts
that were gotten from years of hard use
and pressure in dark places.

I remember one day when I was young,
forty-five years old or so,
I woke up an old woman.
And I have been more and more free
ever since.

______________________

CODA

And so may it be for you.
And so may it be for me.
And so may it be for all of us.
Amen.
And as my grandmother used to say,
“Amen… and a little woman.”

_______________________

“One Day When I Was Old,” a blessing-poem by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Copyright ©1990, 2010, All Rights Reserved, including but not limited to electronic, performance, theatrical, musical, graphic, film, commercial, derivative. Uses: You are welcome to use this blessing poem in non-commercial ways without adding to nor deleting any part, just using the work in its entirety along with author’s name and this copyright notice attached.

19 thoughts on “Still Here, Still Standing

  1. Makes me think of the Buddhist readings about “grasping”.. we grasp after things we think are fixed. We think our bodies, our looks, who we are, the world around us, etc., all as fixed states and struggle when that is challenged.

    You, however, have a deeper wisdom and understanding so you see this shedding of the outer self as a way to define (or redefine) the inner self.

    You are that tree, dropping bark and dead branches, but still rising upwards towards the warmth of the sun as your roots seek sustenance and succor from the earth below. Perhaps hibernating a bit as you heal as well but even a hibernating creature still undergoes profound changes while seemingly “just sleeping”.. or in your case watching TV ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL Exactly. Even though I watch more TV now that I have in probably a decade, there IS a lot going on under the surface. And I don’t sit still for long…it’s a pop in, pop out sort of thing. No grasping here, though. Ready and willing for all that needs to, to drop away. Got your email. xox Will answer soon. Definitely kin!

      Like

    • Oh, yes M’am!!! YOU are a fierce tree, my love. United we are. United we stand. Love to you and yours. We need to catch up!! Bet that baby girl is keeping you busy!! xox

      Like

  2. This morning I was thinking of you while I worked on pruning one of my mature oleanders. I’m not by choice an oleander fan, but they came with the house. When I pruned this one I had to be careful that some of the dead wood was dead all the way down. On some of the apparently dead limbs, new twigs and leaves were sprouting out lower down. Although it is still a little spindly, I hope that those new leaves will fill it in. It certainly looks a lot better now it isn’t so filled with dead sticks. Hopefully you will soon start to regrow in the same way.
    I also raked all the dead leaves from underneath, so the ground it’s in also looks bald now – another odd analogy.

    Like

    • Jen, I love BOTH of those analogies!! As a gardener myself, I know that it is absolutely a REQUIREMENT that certain plants be pruned in order for them to be their healthiest and most fruitful. A pruned rose bush looks nothing as much as a small bunch of dead sticks poking out of the ground, but we both know that come Spring, it won’t look like that! :)

      Even now, like a pruned rosebush, I know that I am “growing” in the unseen places of my life. Thank you so much for this comment. It reminds me that – in many ways – what I am undergoing is an answer to the call of my heart for a more abundant, fruitful and beautiful life. xox

      Like

    • Thank you, Joss. Yeah, it is scary….sometimes I want to cry out, “I’m melting!” LOL :) But I know that in the Big Scheme of things, all of this is working for my betterment. Thank you, dear Crone, for holding the sacred space I need for this to happen. xox

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Grace, go here http://www.whats-your-sign.com/celtic-tree-astrology.html ~ to see which tree you are and what attributes your tree represents in Celtic Tree Astrology! I love Celtic tree astrology and the Celtic view of trees as magical, mystical entities with souls, spirits and portals to other realms.

    I can so relate to transformations of the involuntary kind. All my capacities have changed now that I have a permanent disability. But, I will delve into that in my own post sometime, perhaps. Right now I just want to sit with you as you process this transition from deconstructing to reconstructing. You will rise again phoenix. XO, MW

    Like

    • Thank you, MW! I’ve been a fan of Avia’s for many years and as well as with the Celtic tree symbolism!~ In fact, the book on my desk right now is “OGAM, The Celtic Oracle of the Trees”. :) I am an Alder according to my birthday…however, without realizing what my Soul was speaking to me – about me – when I told my friend I felt like an Oak, I now know that it was very apropos. I’m thinking about writing an additional post on this very topic.

      Looking forward to reading about your own journey!

      PHOENIX. A symbol that has popped up a number of times for me in recent days. Yes! xox And thank you for being here with me through the process!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had an inkling you already knew about Celtic Tree symbolism. ;-) I would love to read another post from you on the topic. Yes, I remember you identifying with the phoenix. Maybe a new post is in order on that too. Love you, MW

        Like

  4. Mirrors never show the inside of a head. Right now I am totally disabled and Jabba The hut looking. Not doing disability well but NEVER lost what was inside the head through any of my life. Almost in manic depression and anxiety through a period of my life but it came back when I got rest. It took being undependable and that I am not doing well either but the guts inside never left. I am so undependable more then appointments month is hard for me physically. I am at risk for much movement. However, it will cure and I know. I am close now. So draw a picture of the inside and my bet is you are probably looking good. Then hang that on the mirror.

    Like

    • The GMLA…thank you so very much for sharing this with me! While I am very sorry to read about your own challenges, I feel a real sense of purpose, determination and fortitude to recover and for that I applaud you! You’re so right….these earthen vessels are only that…vessels. The “Real Us” is housed within, where only the eyes of the Heart…of Spirit…can see. You look quite wonderful from my viewpoint. May you heal completely and quickly, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely to know a fellow Tree Hugger.. :-) and I know as you move through this experience Grace you will find many facets to your nature, and you will find many Gems within your makeup :-).. that keeps you standing ever taller, ever stronger as you discover anew just who you are..
    Loved the poem share..
    Thank you Grace.. I know you are going and gaining strength in Mind Body and Spirit..
    Sending love and Joy to you Grace xxx Sue

    Like

    • Sue, reading one of your comments is always like being wrapped in a warm blanket and given a hot cuppa tea. So comforting. Thank you for your blessings – all of them. I don’t take you for granted….nor any of those that take the time to comment, for that matter. You all are very much my tribe – especially these days as I spend so much time alone. Isn’t it fun to hug a tree? I can’t seem to stop myself when I’m out and about. LOL xox Much love to you, Sue! Hugs, Grace

      Liked by 1 person

      • Awww Grace that’s a wonderful thing to say.. And Yes I was hugging a tree a huge Redwood only yesterday.. A rarity here in the UK.. but I walked in some beautiful grounds with my daughter and my hubby.. taking in the trees.. and all three of us together didn’t have arms long enough to circle it.. :-) but we tried xxx Hugs right on back xxx

        Like

  6. Pingback: If Trees Could Talk | Grace Upside Down

I love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s