On Living from the Low Places

As you get older, you learn to listen from the places inside of you that have always been speaking to you, but that have been in hiding. Here’s to honoring those places. This one’s for Johanna, Mindy, Angela, and Carema. And the rest of the women in my life who are living from these places.

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Oh, the tides are low. Let them be low. Let them be sinking, maroon, purple, deep, burgeoning. Let them be what they are. They have little faces  – little bodies and lives, these tides in you. You can’t take them out of you – they ARE you, so live them, sweetness. Take a hold of them like they’re your only child. Rock them. Feel their purpleness. Remind them they aren’t bruised or bruising or lost or found. Tell them they are welcome anytime to be a part of who you are, parts that you recognize and honor each day. Now you know, at this age, more intimately than you have before, that these low things in you are not for being shamed. They give you richness, boldness, force. They help you bring a knife to the things in your life that truly need to be cut. They speak to you: frank things, right things, honest things. Beneath their bubbly, wispy, watery swirls, the tides come bellowing up from your sea. They help the waters blend and mix. They make the sea life talk to each other. Little seahorses to fish, and fish to turtles, and turtles to whales. They are all the forgotten pieces of you that are always waiting to be seen. Let them out. Let them move. Their longing is so deep. They are what give you depth. No one else needs to call you love. Tell yourself. Tell yourself, like you’re five and still feel the currents in every step you take. Tell yourself with the urgency of a life wanting to be fully lived, that the low things make you move.

 

~Jennifer Sandberg

Mindy-Natalie, as in, We All Need Mindy-Natalies

 

My friend in the panhandle sent me a box and now it’s a shrine on my bookshelf. It wasn’t just any box, but a box filled with connections and thoughtfulness that only a true friend would feel led to send. Opening the box on the patio was one of those moments where you feel that the universe is conspiring gently and very clearly, on your behalf. In it was a light catcher with the word, “play” etched in one of the silver pieces, and three books: The Artist’s Way, Writing Down the Bones, and Do It! (subtitled quite comically, Let’s Get Off Our Butts).

 

I went to the nearest coffee house with an outdoor patio and sloshed around in the words. I had read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones before moving to Spain a few years ago, but her admonishments struck me differently this time. I’m not as interested in being appropriate and successful as I once was, so the encouragement to write anything, “even garbage” was a welcome invitation. I wanted to move into her words themselves, take up residence with them, and linger there all evening. I said a soft thank you to  my friend, Mindy, and the raw writing of Natalie Goldberg, each of which confirmed what I have known is true for so, so long: Your true nature wants to come out. It’s been knocking for a long, long time.

 

Trio

AJ empties himself into the drum

while I sit, alone and tiny

on the maroon couch,

a distant, frontal position

so that he can see me and I him.

But not too closely.

In every moment, even a fresh one like

this, I’m wedded to strategy.

 

The guitarist opens his mouth to

“Just the Two of Us,” and lifts his chin

above the microphone,

eyes squinting, forehead creased,

reaching up for the note he

imagines he wants.

 

Two friends on that little stage

and me, tiny on the couch.

Hoping for some way

to lower myself into drums,

to go screeching my way into light.

 

–Jennifer Sandberg