Friday, June 2, 2017

Haiku #33 Sailing into the 35th Year and The End of the Haiku Project

Ten years ago today, I was jumping out of an airplane. I'm not kidding.  In 2007, I was single, graduated from college, living with roommates and feeling a little overwhelmed by the cross-roads ahead of me.

So, I chose to jump out of an airplane with two good friends and one of my best friends, who a year later, purposed marriage.  Ten years ago, everything looked gaping open and unfinished. I felt worried about my future.

Sometime in January 2007, I made a list of 25 things to do before I turned 25 and I worked my way through them until I had my birthday. The airplane thing was last on the list.  Like I've said before, I like challenges and goals.

Life is so much different now and it took a lot of time before things worked out.  Some things never worked out the way I hoped (aka, grad school). But three kids, a house, a husband, and a bird later, I wouldn't trade it for anything. My life is not easy by any means, but being in a different place brings different surprises and new chances to learn.

One thing I know is that I have learned a lot about who I am. I'm accepting the good and the bad and trying to work on what I can change, while being ok with what I can't change.  I am also proud of the fact that I am getting better at not letting discouragement and fear take me down.  Things are hard.  And mind you this example is a very trivial one...but just last night I tried my hand at the new ukulele and it was hard!  It might be easy for some, but things come slow for me.  Well, I had this panic moment when I thought maybe I had done the wrong thing. Then I remembered all the other times I had thought that and pushed through and I received a little more confidence.

The thing is, birthdays can be a downer.  Just today a friend and I were laughing about how adults celebrate birthdays.  I am proud that I still love my birthday and that I love to celebrate with balloons and lights, and cupcakes.  If anything, I view birthdays as another year to learn something else, improve, or do something I've never done before. And when I get too old and slow down, I can still learn new things .  It is so easy to give into the negative, but it takes real muscles to remain positive.

Here is the end of my Haikus.  Thanks to all who have faithfully read my poetic project and been supportive.  (ps thanks for overlooking the typos!) Maybe someone out there has learned poetry can be a delightful delicacy.  Try writing a haiku sometime.  It can be as good as chocolate for the soul.

Thirty-Five Years
by Kate Cowan

This year unfolds fast,
a layered flower in sun-
bright blooms in new shades.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Haiku #32 I Am A Writer

I have a memory from a long time ago when I was assigned to work on a little project at church and for some reason I was asked to help write a section of text.  I was probably only about 12.  But the adult who was supervising was working with us and after I helped, she looked me straight in the eye and told me I was a good writer.

When I was about nine, I got a journal and decided to start writing.  It stuck.  Before I knew it, writing became therapy for me.  All through Jr. High, High School and College, when the emotions were running rampant and I had no idea how to make sense of my world, I wrote everyday in my journal.  It was nothing amazing, but it helped me to process my life.

In some ways, I love going back and reading my past entries. Sometimes it is down right embarrassing to read, but I love seeing where I have been and where I am headed.  It always amazes me how short our memories are and how fast things fall through the cracks.  But reading what has happened, helps me put things in perspective and have faith in what is to come.  It can also upset me if I come across something from the past that brings up negative emotions like fear and sadness.  However, like scars, I have earned my life experiences and the point is to become better from them.

I still write. Writing everyday is awfully hard so sometimes I write later on about what happened, yesterday or even last week.  I love being able to read about the day my husband and I talked marriage for the first time, or the day each of my girls were born, or the day I was first published.  It can be freaky to think other generations will read my journal.  Maybe before I die, I will write an abridged version, basically getting rid of everything from my jr. high days.  But my greatest comfort  is knowing how writing has helped me heal, sort out, and understand myself.

Poetry has always been my solid, creative way to express the mess inside my mind.  Writing in my journal is my process for getting that mess outside of my head so I can think straight again.

This little haiku project is coming to an end tomorrow and all I can say is that forcing myself to think outside of the normal by writing in poetic form  has given me new energy.  I don't care how simple these little poems are.  They may never show up in places for loads of people to read, but they were for me. And doing something just for me is just fine.

by Kate Cowan

This shabby, routine day
is roughly written in lines,
the ongoing portrait.    


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Haiku #31 This Year's Birthday Present

Sadly, I have learned that I do not love surprises.  They can be really great but I kind of hate people watching me open presents.  I might be an extrovert, but there were times in my life, where I just didn't want people watching me.  Maybe me and reality T.V. wouldn't mix well.

Anyway, to simplify this year I told my husband what I wanted for my birthday and there were no surprises or presents or anything except one gift.  A ukulele. My husband had the thought a few years ago and we decided to try it out this year.

We looked up ukulele brands, researched, and read everything there was on ukuleles...down to the best wood, where they were manufactured, and what was the best size and sound for me.

Today this beautiful little thing came.  For me, it is the symbol of something new.

Last year my mother in law bought me a sewing machine and two beginning sewing classes for my birthday. I was 7 months pregnant and my first thought, was "now what am I going to do with this?" I hadn't taken a class since Jr. High and it hadn't gone well at all.  But I did have a desire to learn basics and soon, I was watching Youtube and doing skirts for my girls, diaper caddy bags, and I even learned how to sew a button with my machine.  By the time the baby was born, I had made a car seat cover and was feeling much more confident.

I am still not a very good sewer, and I am far from detailed or even accurate at times...but it was the idea of something new that sparked an interest in me.  I wanted to try something that scared me a little but that I really wanted to learn. I struggled a lot at first but the elation that comes from getting through the first learning curve is the best reward!  My husband is the same way and that is one of the best things we share.  We love to jump in head first, get messy, and try something we've never done before, working it till we get good at it.  Or at least somewhat decent.

So, this year it is the ukulele.  Something new to strum and something new to research and watch on Youtube.  Either way, it is one step closer to having a piece of a Hawaiian vacation here at home.

by Kate Cowan

This sweet instrument,
curved, glossy, lined in green shells,
awaits only me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Haiku #30 Movie Night!!!

Tonight was another night of my birthday week celebration but in addition to that, it was "self-care night." It  sounds dumb, but taking time for me is pretty much essential these days.  My husband and I try to trade off every week.  We take time to go out with friends or just go out and do a hike or something individually.  I sometimes find reasons to not go, but when I do it is like breathing fresh air!  I never regret it.

Being a mom has been so hard on my friend life.  I am a very social person and I loved working and talking to co-workers about life.  Then, I got married and had kids and now my co-workers consist of little girls under the age of 6.  So, as you can expect, these self-care nights are what keep me stable. They don't fix all the hard stuff, but they build friendships that I need to keep afloat in this lonely sea of motherhood. Connection to other moms is what helps me survive this role. It helps me be a better mom.

I love movies and tonight some friends and I left for the night and enjoyed eating salty popcorn, laughing about our crazy kids, and crying a little at the type of movie that makes you grateful for your kids.  I came home and hugged my husband and kissed the baby and was so happy that I got the chance to step away so I could appreciate this more.

At the Movies
by Kate Cowan

Down the long dim hall,
a place to settle in and
ease the day away.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Haiku #29 For My Dad

I lost my dad about two a half years ago. He had oodles of health issues but he always pulled through until one day he didn't.  It was hard to come home to the cookies he'd made 12 hours ago.  Things felt so abruptly final. But, I believe our loved ones never really leave us.

I try to visit his grave site to feel closer to him, but it isn't easy.  Mostly because the same body of the man who let me hide in his suit jacket when I was 4 and scared, or held my hand, or hugged me on my wedding day was now in the ground.  I still feel like in the winter I want to put heaters all around his gravesite and make things nicer for him.  His hands are so deep in the ground.  And, I wish they were warm again.

Memorial day is a nice day to visit this little corner of the cemetery and see that things are still beautiful. My Dad loved bright colors and he loved marigolds.  He was a scientist in a white lab coat, and he was a very hard worker.  He read/listened to more books than I could ever dream of and he loved all the Twilight Zone episodes. He was a hippie, and he had a quiet subtle sense of humor that I miss. When I look in the sky at night and think of all the things he is seeing now without the limitations of his body, I wish I could be there to see them too.  And though it is terribly quiet, I know he is still near.

My mom and dad were married in the LDS temple which seals couples for time and eternity.  It was a sacrifice for them to wait and do things that way, but I am SO glad they did.  They were sealed with power and I chose the same for me.  It means the world to me to have that sealing power in our life and in the lives of our kids.

Death sucks... but life can suck too.  Somewhere in all of this, we are being shaped for bigger things. Thank goodness my dad taught me that when I feel sad I can listen to some Simon and Garfunkel, get the sad out of my system, and then turn the music off and move on.

To My Dad
Kate Cowan

In blue bands of stars,
expanding above my head,
he still laughs with me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Haiku #28 Tasting the Opposites

Today was a day I felt like I was spiritually flatlining.  I do things each day to stay spiritually aligned and even doing those the last few days, I feel like I have been distracted by many good and interesting things that have taken me away from the basics.

So, I went with my family to church and was shocked when more than once I felt very specific messages shared in different meetings that were straight for me.  In my religion (Mormon) we attend three (one hour each) meetings each Sunday and each meeting is taught by other people in the congregation.  No one gets paid, and what is taught are the numerous spiritual experiences we are going through and how the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ apply to us as individuals and families.

Today was a day of listening to many humbling experiences from many different people of how they have truly felt God's hand in their life.  It is not easy to notice God's hand in your life and the only way I have ever noticed it is by writing one example in a gratitude journal.  But, today I was blown away at how many people testified of learning to trust and have faith in God, how to love God and have joy in taking steps of faith, how to trust God's timetable, and how they have been been blessed by doing God's will even when things are hard.  All of these spoke to me.  I have so many things to be grateful for but it is truly in the hardest times that I recognize what matters.

I was so grateful that I have the knowledge of a true and loving God who knows that through the darkness, comes the light.  We are not allowed to skiff over the surface of the hard stuff, but are asked to wade through it, holding His hand if we choose to. His hand is extended but we have to take it.

On a walk tonight, I took a picture of a lovely simple little flower in a neighbor's garden. It was striking to me that the two colors of these flowers (purple and yellow) were direct opposites.  The colors seemed to bleed into each other as if moving from the darkest hues into a place where things are lighter and brighter.  Yet, both are beautiful together.  I HATE the hard stuff, but our Lord knows we need it to become complete.  We must taste of the opposites to have the opportunity to choose HIM and be better.  In challenges, I am given a choice... to grow closer to my Father in Heaven or disconnect from him and drift farther away.  Whenever I catch myself spiritually flatlining, I quickly breath and realign with Him.  No matter how hard it is, I know things will always be better with Him.

Opposites in the flowers
by Kate Cowan

Vivid purple stacked
into a radiant yellow-
God's hand holds steady.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Haiku #27 Biking with Trains

I learned how to ride a bike extremely late in my childhood...However, I have tried to make up for it since then.  In an effort to feel confident on a bike, I got a fancy cruiser hybrid bike in my 20's and rode everywhere.  I was terribly clueless and it was quite sometime before I realized I had gears that could make bike riding so much easier. It was sad, but I was the nerd who dressed like a road biker and was zipping around on my cruiser.

Two years ago, I hurt my knee running a half marathon and no matter what I did, it wasn't getting better.  My husband and I held a garage sale, saved, and pooled funds, and I got my first road bike.  It is a lovely starry dark blue and it was about one million times faster than the heavy cruiser I was huffing around town.

I'm able to run more now after a long break, but riding my bike is still one of my favorite ways to open the day.  I went for a 27 mile bike ride this morning and though the air was crisp, it was a marvelous day to ride. When choosing a route,  I'm not one for hills.  I like the workout I get going up a hill, but I hate going down, because I am a coward by nature and the thought that only a little rock stands between me and paralysis after crashing at 40 mph is too much. But, the trail by my house is more flat and wide and I love working my way through it, winding in and out of trees, seeing the birds of the lake, and the pumpkin fields in the fall. Plus, the railroad tracks parallel the trail for a bit.  Nothing compares to the times I have flown around the corner only to hear a train come barreling up behind me going 65 mph.  I zip along with it and like a crazy dog chasing a car, I feel exhilarated and invincible.

This morning was a glorious morning to ride as the sun tipped the mountain and cast sharp shadows across my path.  It seemed like the best thing to do on one of the last cold mornings of May.

Morning Bike Ride
by Kate Cowan

Speeding fast forward,
this blue bike lightly balanced,
my path cut sun deep.