The World’s Embrace
by Rebecca Villarreal
All I want to do is stick my face in a blueberry
or a toothpick with a sail
and shrink to meet the fae
as they navigate the frothy waters
or perhaps I’ll slice a garden tomato
marking the circumference
like a kitchen timer
reclining and licking
the Maldon salt
in all its pyramid popping
defying the laws of the courts of saline
perhaps I’ll drift onto land
bouyed by sourdough
and begging for Irish butter
for now, I send you a poem of produce and dough
to save you from despair
you see just when the world seems masked by indifference
or perhaps so much difference
you’ll ask for a poem when
you didn’t know your heart yearned for one
The clay of our ancestors knows
your feet once had roots
your navel was the hollow of a tree
where wrens nested
and eggs hatched
for the cosmic mother
ancient and complete
to send you a blueberry sailboat
a tomato raft
and an island of sourdough
to assure you that you are loved
the soil is your succor
the earthworms your symphony
and the ink of my pen
a love letter to remind you
that your heart is full
your soul is waiting
and you deserve
the world’s embrace
I hope you felt lifted by the poem and took the time to listen to the audio version so that you could feel the world’s embrace.
I WON A PRIZE!
I’ve posted links to 88 Cups of Tea, founded by Yin Chang before. Yin has built the most amazing, supportive, loving, boundaried and NON-COMPETITIVE writing community I have ever witnessed. Consider supporting her Patreon account.
You can hear my name announced at the 1:08 mark in this podcast. I am so honored to be one of three people out of 151 submissions selected for our community’s 5-Year Anniversary Celebration. I had to fill out an application including the first pages of my first chapter of the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship as well as a synopsis and the goals of the book among other questions. I won a conversation with Holly Root, of Root Literary Agency. You want to see tears of joy on that one? I came running over to my husband and he was all, “What happened?” And I kept saying, “I won! I won! I won!” and then I played him that moment when my name was announced.
Being a part of the 88 Cups of Tea community has been transformative for my writing. We gather several times a month and write together. And one of my fellow writers told me about Heather Demetrios’ Flow Lab. After completing it, I now write an average of one hour a day, 5 days per week! I just printed my manuscript yesterday and I have forty chapters either started, midway or completed! And the podcasts and articles are like having an M.F.A. for free!
I am sending a HUGE thank you to everyone who has read my first novel, and reviewed it, purchased it and requested it at your local book store or library. I was thrilled to learn that Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon had 20 copies in stock! Recently, I received the most beautiful request from a family based on Oregon. They donated their copy to the fire relief fund in their community, and asked for the best place to purchase a copy so that I would get most of the profit because they needed to have one handy for rainy days! These kinds of stories really keep me going. I can’t wait for you all to read book 2! Hurley has a much larger role and the magic is amazing! And of course we get to travel to Italy and Morocco among other adventures in Chicago.
Goodies for Your Heart
And in other news, this morning I passed the time celebrating life, drinking mint and yarrow tea from my garden, and thinking of Mama Chelo, my grandmother who passed away several years ago at age 105. If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember this poem I wrote after her passing, her 5 Life Lessons post and her Guacamole recipe. This past week I did a cooking demo of that recipe here. A downloadable PDF of the recipe is here.
As I was pouring the tea in the glasses below, I remembered when Mama Chelo was visiting me in Washington, D.C. and we went to Dean and Deluca. She bought me a small basket and two glass tea cups. The cups have been broken for years now. When I got the glasses in the photo below as a free gift for purchasing tea, I jumped at the chance to recreate that special experience with my grandmother again. This morning, I kept pouring the tea as I thought of her. I spilled it all over the table and didn’t care as it was all part of visiting with her in my heart and mind.
The vision I had as I began cleaning up the tea was “The Affliction of Joy.” It’s this feeling that there is so much delight inside of me and it is inextricably tied to the fact that I’ve also experienced great sorrow. It’s almost as if my appreciation for joy, ecstasy and little moments of happiness has been enhanced by the dark times in my life.
As I’ve navigated the drowning grief from the loss of my brother in August and prior to that, my uncle and Godfather in May, I’ve learned some valuable lessons, not only in resilience, but in navigating joy and sorrow and embracing impermanence.
First, take good care of your adrenals, folks. I’m including a photo of some adrenal support snacks from my doctor. (Yes, it’s been on my fridge for months so it’s worn!) What that means for me is concentrating on good sleep and enjoying my caffeine in the morning. What happens if I overdo the afternoon caffeine is that I experience an enormous high that inevitably attracts a big low or dramatic drop in energy. That crash becomes fertile ground for a STUG. What’s a STUG? It’s a Sudden Temporary Upsurge of Grief. You can read about it here. And frankly, it sucks. I had four days of STUGs in September and I literally felt like I was drowning in tears. I called a helpline and spoke to a counselor and, as per my usual, listed the twelve thousands things I do for self-care and my experience navigating trauma and resilience. And though she didn’t tell me anything new, it was helpful to speak to a compassionate professional and focus on myself–not empathy for another person’s experience.
All this is to say that I have also been focusing on the idea of impermanence. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh has helped me to understand the idea of no being. In his book, No Death, No Fear, he focuses on the ideal conditions for something or someone to manifest. When I think about the people I’ve lost, whether my grandmother at 105 years old or my brother at 39 years old, I’m getting to a point where I understand that the conditions of their lives existed to support them in their human form for their lifespans on earth. I believe and feel them inside of me now. And I feel them everywhere. In the mint tea I spilled on the table, and in the good fortune I had to win a literary prize. Thich Nhat Hanh compares this to a cloud, which can manifest as rain or as snow. When the rain comes, if you’re looking for the cloud and mourning its passing, you miss the beauty of the rain and the nourishment of the plants and food all around you. Speaking of food, I have learned so much from gardening these last years (Gardener was my word of the year in 2019) and the Cherokee Purple tomato and Jacob’s Cattle Beans in the photos above are grown from the seeds I purchased from Slow Food.
Another very valuable coping strategy from Thich Nhat Hanh can be found on page 101 of his book No Mud, No Lotus. I am including a photo of it below. Of course, I love the very clear connection to trees!
Finally, I recorded the video below for you because I decided that I was going to launch my personal #4monthsoffun where I focused on the inner and outer health of my body (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), my book and my money! I recorded it on September 8, and you can join at any time and make it your own. I linked it to my Mystic Athlete approach. October 8 would make it three months of fun for you, so we can celebrate together on January 8, 2021–that’s the day I officially return to social media.
And speaking of 8s, this month I celebrate 8 years of writing this blog. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR READING!
Remember, we have a choice in how we relate during these extraordinary times. Choose to pause, breathe and react with what will serve your long-term health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!
Sending you blueberry sailboats and tomato rafts as you navigate the days ahead,