Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.

~Mary Oliver

Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within

the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind

she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds

Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.

I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.

Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.

Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.

What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.

MARY OLIVER

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty. 

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

 

 

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

 

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

 

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

 

 

Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness, fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?

 Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration. 

~nlm

MARY OLIVER
Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio.  She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College.  As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
  Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work.  Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
(Excerpt from the Poetry Foundation Bio)

Mary Oliver (Poetryfoundation.org)

(Great site chocked full of resources including full-length poems)

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Advice to new parents: You can never love your child too much

baby-pixie bay
Credit: Pixabay

I’ve been asked to provide some advice to a young couple expecting their first child, a girl, in a few months. I am honored to receive such a request and I thought I’d share my reply with you.

The light of your life

Parenthood changes you in ways you’d never imagine. You are one person one minute, probably sure of yourself and your place in the world with your own wants and desires. This is all you’ve had to worry about before: yourself.  Then suddenly, it is not just you anymore and in that flash of an instant your whole world and the way you view things is altered. From the first moment you hold that tiny fragile body in your arms and look into those big trusting eyes you will never be the same.

When I was a new parent, I scoured endless parenting books and I received tons of solicited and unsolicited advice. I couldn’t get enough. I was never so unsure of myself and never so scared and so careful. This tiny life was depending on me and I swore I’d never this child down.

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”
~Marcus Tullius Cicero~

The very first thing I learned and I think it was the most important: this resonates to this day. Trust yourself. You know more than you think. You have instincts and you will know your child more than anyone. This will trump anything and whatever anyone will tell you.

As a mom to two teens, one who recently entered adulthood and is about to graduate from high school, I feel a certain pride of accomplishment that both of them still talk to me after all this. They trust me and I trust them. I suppose that is because I never lost sight of the fact that they are human beings with feelings just as valid as anyone else. I think some parents lose sight of this obvious fact.

baby mother hands pixabay

No one is perfect

Never forget how you felt when you were a child. Bring this to the table when you deal with yours. She is her own person and will never quite be what you will expect. The only thing that you can expect is to be surprised…and you will be surprised. No one is perfect, your child not be and don’t expect it..no one is perfect.

As your child ages and her understanding increases share yourself. She will be curious and will want to know about you. Don’t set up your past life as one of perfection. She will feel that she’ll never quite live up to your legend and this will carry over.  She will feel inadequate in some way and will never think she measures up in your eyes or hers..

Your child will value your opinion of them more than anyone else’s. Her self-esteem will be intricately tied up with that. Remember this. You as her parent will be the most important person in her life, especially in the first years when you will be her whole world.

Listen

Another piece of advice I have is to listen. Parents are full of opinions and talk and discipline, all this is vitally important but if your child doesn’t think you will listen and give her a fair shake, she will stop talking to you and once that trust is gone, it is almost impossible to get back.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Always follow up on any consequences you may give. Make no exceptions on this. Your child will always be testing you and pushing the limits. This is inevitable, don’t hold this against her. It is not personal, it is only human nature because she is only human….allow her to see your humanity as well. Your child will learn love and compassion from you. Lead by example not just by words. Kids notice more than you think they will and they have excellent memories.

BIG red heart

LOVE

I’d say the most important thing is love. You can never love your child too much. Time passes so quickly, spend time together…you will never get this time back. Savor every moment.

So as you two embark on this journey.  Hold on for the ride of your lives…no matter what difficulties you may encounter; because I won’t sugar coat this, honestly; parenthood is tough. It will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do and it will test you and try you…but nothing will ever be as rewarding…or as worthwhile.

My prayers and best wishes to the both of you,

Love, Nancy

“Love begins at home”
~Mother Teresa~

Little Bits of Good

Baby B
My son as a baby

The other night I was talking with my son. He has just turned 18 and is thinking about what he wants to do with his life.  He conveyed to me his doubts and fears; his concerns about how the world is.  He told me he sees us humans as parasites and he voiced his concerns about how we are treating our planet and each other.

I listened and kept silent. I thought how much he sounded like myself in the past.  A past not so long ago.  These were things I thought before I decided to have children  It was a choice I considered very carefully. There was a voice in my head that said; how dare I bring another person into this crowded planet? Who was I add another hungry mouth into this already hungry world.

Another side of me: The hopeful part, the ones with dreams, the one that believes in belief, said that it wasn’t up to me to decide. Who was I to discard a potential human life…even and especially, the life of my possible child.?  Who was I to deny life to anyone? Who made me judge, jury and executioner?  If this potential child only had a few years of life…even one year, one month, one second…who was I to deny that?

Who was I to deny his beautiful blue eyes  just one sunset, one hug or one tip toe through the tulips.  Perhaps this child would contribute to the world…perhaps in a way I’d never imagine; maybe this child would be needed.  I thought all of this at the time, almost 20 years ago and all those thoughts and feelings came flooding back to me as I heard the words of my son. I understood his feelings exactly; he is an intelligent and thoughtful young man and he made some very valid points.

I saw the look of defeat in his eyes and a bit of anger too.  I know that anger all too well. The world had already been “screwed up” before either one of us got here. It’s easy to feel hopeless and angry.   I listened carefully to everything he had to say and then it was my turn…

Lately in my life I have found just the right thing to say but I don’t know actually what it will be until it comes out. This is quite new and I think it is all the writing I’ve been doing and I was very grateful for that because I found myself explaining to him much of what I just mentioned,about how I had thought carefully before deciding to have him and I told him how glad I am that he is here now.

002
The proud Mom with child circa 1995

I told him I agreed that the world is going to hell and how we’ve fouled up our seas and skies and land, and how all we humans seem to see is our differences…and how much we fight each other. I also told him how much hope I have for the future and how I believe that we have it in us to make this all right, and how we as a society can change things and how it all starts with one.

I told him how it starts with little changes and how it was up to him to be that change. It is up to him to make a difference in his little corner of the world. To find something near and dear to him and make a difference.  I told him that I thought my writing was like that and if enough people make a small difference…how that could grow and spread.

I talked and talked; a lot  I don’t remember, but I kept talking and as I did I saw the light in his eyes begin to brighten. He was listening and I could sense the lights turning on in his brain.

Then it was my turn again to listen: He told me of his interest in nature and teaching children about nature and sharing his love of it. He told me of his plans and as he did I could see his burden lifting and my heart soared as the corners of his mouth began to curl up into a wide smile.

I’ve never have been prouder of him as I was at that moment… it was very much like the moment when I first held his tiny body in my arms and gazed into his big blue trusting eyes of his; when I knew that I had made the right decision. I have brought another beautiful life into this world who will touch others with his beauty and how wonderful this all is!

baby B nature lover
A Nature advocate in the making

We may be small and insignificant in this world and our actions may seem hopeless; a mere drop in the bucket, but I believe we together…drop by drop by drop, together we are a mighty ocean. Together we can do anything….even save the world! The first step is believing….. and it all starts with you…make your drop count.

water-drop-with-ripple-in public domain
Credit: Public Domain

Thanks for listening,

Strawberryindigo.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

~Desmond Tutu~

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Related Articles

I will be a hummingbird (youtube.com)  Very inspirational!  Please watch!

Saving the World (www.savingtheworld.net)

Saving the Planet (www.ideastosavetheplanet.org)

Busyness

Tanakawho - Busy busy...(by)
Image via Wikipedia

 What’s the rush?

It seems most people are in a hurry these days, always on the run. A blur of activity. Many practically live out of their cars.  Ferrying themselves and their children from here to there, from work to home, to school, to activities. What’s for dinner is decided in the drive thru of a fast food joint and eaten in the backseat by sleepy children after a much too long day filled to the brim with busy.

Sleeping with no deadlines...There is literally no time. No time for this or that.  No time to talk..”gotta’ go”.  No time to eat, let alone cook a healthy meal. No time to say hello, or good-bye. No time for family or friends, no time to read a book or take a walk.  No time for improvement or creativity. Or fun?  No time for love. No time to stop and smell the roses or appreciate a beautiful sunset.

No time to think, or reason or ask why. No time to see the man behind the curtain.

Time ticks by and every moment; every second is a miracle. It is a gift and most of us, myself included, just plow right through it.  Always in a hurry.   Always a full agenda.  It can’t be helped, you know..I’ve said this to myself.  People have responsibilities.  I’m swimming in them and my life is full.   Sound familiar?

Busyness

How many times have you asked someone how they’ve been doing and your query was answered with “busy”  How many times have you said that?  I know I’ve said that.

It is the correct answer, most of us are busy. With jobs and families and everything else in this ever-changing ever evolving world.  Our society becomes faster paced and more complex.  The bar is set higher and higher and you better run faster and jump higher than the next guy because it’s a jungle out there.

BusynessEven when we are not busy, most of us say we are. Idleness is looked down upon. Busyness is related with importance.  An important man is a busy one and his time is more valuable than yours, so you wait.  The poor and insignificant spend a lot of time waiting.

Busy people are needed and wanted.  Busy people are in high demand. It is those that are the movers and the shakers in this world. It is the busy ones that get things done. The busier you are the more important you are and the more valuable your time is.

In Praise of Slowness

There is much to be said for slowness in our fast-paced society.  The fact that  the very concept of “slow” is seen in a negative light shows our need for the benefits that slowness brings.  It’s difficult to see clearly when your life in always in motion. Growth can only come with examination and reflection.

Life is not a road race or a competition. It’s the journey not the destination. Life is meant to be savored. The people in our lives are important, our children are important. You can do more for your child’s development and future success by talking and spending time with them rather than dragging them to a million activities and “enrichment” classes. Time spent together is essential.   Years from now when we are old and running out of it time will any of us look back with rue and regret about how we didn’t spend enough of it at Busyness?

 

Strawberryindigo.