Monday, July 30, 2012

Fall Creek Falls


I followed the advice of some prospective foster parents this weekend after they made a recommendation for me to stop at Fall Creek Falls before heading back home to Nashville. My job frequently takes me to different places all over the state of Tennessee and even though I often dread the long drives to and from foster homes, I enjoy being on the move and seeing new things.

 I’d been to this state park once when I was young, but a photograph is the only evidence of that experience since I don’t remember a thing about that first trip here as a child. I decided to forgo the windy mountain road on my trip back, as its lack of safety railings often invokes what-if-I-go-plummeting-off-a-cliff-type thoughts.

 I happily agreed to take an alternate route that would lead me through the park. I reasoned that I’d count my visit as my lunch break since I was still technically on the job this weekend. Mixing business with pleasure, I took a stroll down trails and stood on mountaintops, overlooking waterfalls below. I wish all of my weekend work trip destinations were located as conveniently close to these incredible views!

My job is definitely stressful- finding good homes for kids is a responsibility that most people don’t take lightly. On Saturday, this frazzled little social worker demonstrated exceptional time management/multitasking ability to pencil in an unscheduled appointment. Taking time for yourself is crucial to avoid the dreaded social worker burnout- At least, that’s what I told myself to excuse this all too brief lunch break at Fall Creek Falls...a little fun makes me work harder, therefore increasing company productivity and profit. This visit was completed in the best interest of maintaining my sanity, as well as the overall well being of my employers. It's for the kids- that usually works as a reason to do about anything. So... for the good of the children, I needed to be here on this day. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lighten Up & Live

“Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle…”

Yesterday, I had to keep reminding myself to stay positive. I had agreed to work on a Saturday and journey from Nashville to Spencer, TN to complete a home visit with prospective foster parents. After three hours of forcing my poor little Altima to climb up curvy mountain roads, I needed to get out of the car.

Traveling alone had provoked more thoughts than could be contained in the limited space of my cluttered car’s interior- Working in foster care does this to me sometimes…I often find myself wondering how to make things better for kids and I feel a mixture of confusing emotions when I think that my efforts don’t have near the world-changing impact that I’d anticipated…This is a common thing for social workers, I'm sure- I assured myself of the normality of self-doubt as I drove the last stretch of miles that seemed never-ending.

I took comfort in my ‘turn that frown upside down’, negative to positive altering of thought, for whatever reason- and decided I needed to take a break from thinking- and from the confinement of my car. I spotted an open field that afforded ample space for an old barn and small family cemetery. This would have to do for a rest stop, since the next one would be at least 50 miles from my almost too-rural location.

Once parked, I sprang from my car like a caged cat and slammed my driver door shut to trap and house all thoughts within. Now, standing alone in this newly discovered rest area, I felt better. I stopped debating whether or not my efforts in social work were futile. I lightened up as warm sunshine embraced me and seemingly insisted that everything would be okay. I was reminded of John Denver…Sunshine On My Shoulders, Country Roads- These melodies now, thankfully, replaced my obnoxiously conflicting thoughts as I trekked across this unknown land.

I love a line from Denver’s ‘Thank God I’m A Country Boy!’ After all, he’s right- “Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle.” Yesterday, I stopped trying to solve life’s riddle and happily accepted the peace that derived from this simplicity. Things are often far less complicated than I determine when I consistently over-analyze everything.  I did end up solving my own life’s ‘funny, funny riddle’- here in this field of mysterious healing powers- (at least, I think so) 

It may be the solution for others’ life riddles, as well:

Worrying is needless. You have more of an impact on others and on the world than you will probably ever realize during your lifetime. Do what you can to help every person you can- It DOES matter- even when you think it doesn’t. Don’t over-complicate, Don’t underestimate, Don’t under-appreciate…

Lighten up, live, and enjoy your life. Things are far simpler than they seem. In that simplicity, you’ll find happiness. 

(Listening to John Denver doesn’t hurt, either.) 
Try it for yourselves- click play and scroll on…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pondering Poetry

Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular. - Aristotle


“Listen, real poetry doesn't say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you.”
 – Jim Morrison

The Worldling, pining to be freed
From turmoil, who would turn or speed
The current of his fate,
Might stop before this favored scene,
At Nature's call, nor blush to lean
Upon the Wishing-gate.
- William Wadsworth

I’m often reminded of poetry when I’m in a garden-
Especially when rhyming lines are visibly engraved into
nearby stones. Since this is my blog, I’m permitting myself
the liberty of posting whatever I want- Today, it’s poetry. Tomorrow, 

Enjoy more pictures taken at
Cheekwood, as you scroll on to expose yourself to some
of my favorite literary excerpts…Don’t like it? That’s okay
because I do, and this is my ‘Hodge-podge’ blog of miscellaneous
postings that normally have nothing to do with my previous entries. 

I’ve heard that blogs should be specifically focused on one particular topic in order to become successful- To that, I say, pish-posh…at least, for now. 

I see too many things and think too many thoughts to focus writing and posting about just one. Poetry has always been accommodating of my varied interpretations and outlooks on life- as it has always been of yours...Kinda magical, don't you think?

“If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman.” - Socrates

I have written some poetry that I don't understand myself. – Carl Sandburg

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.

- Andrew Marvell, The Garden

Nature by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Like ripples on the water
My thoughts so gently cast
Soft glimpses to the future
And houses of the past…
- Liilia Morrison

O SOLITUDE! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,-
Nature’s observatory - whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d,
where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
- John Keats

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute.  We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.  And the human race is filled with passion.  And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.  But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.  

-Dead Poet's Society

Warm Summer Sun  
by Mark Twain

Warm summer sun,  
Shine kindly here, 
Warm southern wind,     
Blow softly here. 
Green sod above,     
Lie light, lie light. 
Good night, dear heart,     
Good night, good night.

A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house

A street house, a neat house
Be sure to wipe your feet house
I not my kind of house at all-
Let's go live in a tree house.

- Shel Silverstein

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Written by: John Donne 
 No man is an island, Entire of itself. 
Each is a piece of the continent, 
A part of the main. 
If a clod be washed away by the sea, 
Europe is the less. 
As well as if a promontory were. 
As well as if a manner of thine own 
Or of thine friend's were. 
Each man's death diminishes me, 
For I am involved in mankind. 
Therefore, send not to know 
For whom the bell tolls, 
It tolls for thee.

The Winding Stair

My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
'Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon
That quarter where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul…

- William Butler Yeats