Finances, Faith, Loss and Grief
Own your Story Class free!
Stay at Home Yoga – free month then $70 annual fee for online membership – see what it constitutes and if there are classes or how it works. Interesting – potentially.
Interesting blog link below – lady with fundamentalist background who struggles with moving forward. Probably worth perusing later.
Notes scratched out during a one hour telephonic interview:
Knows lawyer who reps theater groups and artists; goes to rehearsals, gets backstage
Everything in life has an opportunity for learning
Robt is insatiably curious; kid who drove parents teachers friends crazy w questions. That curiosity has given him a way of looking at world.
Not a poet but looks at world the way a poet does looks at world in way to see what is going on
Learned if you show interest in others and what is going on, ask questions; they will put down whatever they are doing and share their lives bc nobody asks
Everybody has a story and knows something you don’t know
Talks and writes about what he does as a way of connecting w ppl, something they have in common that might be right under their noses . He talked about brushing his teeth. Now there are 5 ppl in morning tooth brush league who all brush their teeth at the same time he does every day
Writing has richness of payoff
Typically, you go to school and are told what to learn and how to learn it, never being asked if you want to learn about the topic or if you care, just learn it and you’re stuck here.
As teacher, he asked students – he asked them what they wanted to know, and how they wanted to learn it – ipod, skate board, anything, didn’t have to be school related. Just what they wanted to know about. Nobody does that.
You are told how to write a research paper, do this, make outline, bullet point — Robert Never made an outline, writes fine papers; it’s a matter of assimilating information and presenting it cohesively
He learned from doing that, and brain research, that the ways we think and get around are different from one person in world to another bc every person is different
If someone thinks differently than he does, he Says “its amazing you think that and I think something totally different; tell me how you got there”
We all get some of the same Tools to make lots of choices ; build a tree house or flower bed w same tools, used differently
Fulghum’s Three great mentors/teachers
• professor Flynn who taught them how to think about anything; great one for insisting in students knowing things they were interested in; students taught one day a week, something they think others won’t know about; teacher wants to know something about you teacher won’t know any other way
• final exam was handed out first day of class
• last question on exam was “What do you want to know?” You answered it up front and had to show passionate interest in European History; he will kick you out if you don’t want to be in his class
• Fulghum grew up on ranch and was amateur cowboy wanna be; bull rider; when his turn to teach he gave lecture on rodeo w bull riding gear; 50 yrs later he was given award by Baylor as distinguished alum;
• teacher taught the students his passion for learning and his interest in him was in audience. After formalities were over teacher sought Fulghum out, had the packet of his notes which he had furiously written 50 years earlier and said he had a question he still wanted an answer to. Made Fulghum feel marvelous.
2nd great teacher
Fulghum left Southern Baptist and became Unitarian
Attended Unitarian Seminary; wanted to be beatnik, grew beard, smoked pipe
Needed job that didn’t conflict w day courses
Took job as bartender at night
Went to ___ of school, told him he had job as bartender
Leader said that’s wonderful – don’t think this is anti religious, Jesus was out in world, talking to people, being useful; you might try it
You will learn far more out there than just tucked away w your books
He was literally broke, not a dime, wife ill, had child
Went to same person, he said he would help Fulghum, give me budget
Dr. Bartlett said budget unacceptable
They cut budget second time, oatmeal twice a day, just tight as could be
Kicked door open, yelled at him
Dr Bartlett said unacceptable budget bc there was No room in it for joy, and nothing to give away
Fulghum crying while telling story to me on ph, just barely
Reworked budget with funds for tickets to the symphony, and substantial contribution to salvation army
Did same thing to his own son after making him call Bartlett and say, ‘lesson u taught my dad, he is going to teach me’ and he did
Theologian from Harvard who came to Fulghum’s seminary
Thesis: Fulghum turned in one page, instead of 75, revision of all I learned in Kindergarten. Got the only A in class, but anticipated failing. Others turned in massive works. Theologian knew Fulghum had put LOTS of thought into his one page.
Talks to this man once a week still; he critiques Fulghum’s works for him and tells him he might make a writer some day, but thinks his best work ever was that one page thesis
***The opportunity to be mentor to other ppl, to really see them, to ask them things rather than tell them things; help them sort things out in their mind, help organize and get it out** That’s the best kind of mentors
Don’t just appreciate having those; be one of those. What I learned from you: because of you, I thought for myself. That’s what Fulghum wants said at his funeral.
His lifestyle is to ask; ask in a way that says I’m really interested in what you did and how you did that
He gets invited into worlds which he knows nothing about; dared speaker to turn off powerpoint and lights and e books and tell them what you want them to know in the dark. It worked fabulously.
Dark room, imagine albino giraffe in snowstorm at night; – went on for whole lecture using imagination ; was beautiful
If ask, earnestly, non critically, it’s amazing what you’ll hear
Never started out to be a writer; everybody who’s graduated from high school says they not a writer, which is amazing bc did lots of writing
Has fundamental curiosity, doesn’t think of writing as something one sits down with tools and writes
It’s like building house, have dream of what want, think where to put it
At that point you don’t think about what color to paint walls, bc walls don’t exist
It’s going on 24 hrs, including when asleep
Everything is fodder for writing
Don’t start judging what writing about until way into process
It’s what he’s thinking about, how he sees world
3 day a week walking buddy , tells his friend what’s going on in his mind; talking it out has become process of focusing for writing
Poetry is way you can make your living worth while bc you look at the world around you and synthesize life
Poetry writers get w community of like minded ppl, have appreciative critics
Be a poet, not making living at it
The joy of doing it is essence of it
To be creative writer, put self in company of similar ppl
Internet is fascinating bc numbers of ppl are blogging and finding it satisfying
One of downsides of achieving a certain amt of fame, if allow easy access, they are overwhelmed w gifts and notes etc, no time left for self
I know something about you,
You went through speakers bureau and my assistant; you aren’t a quitter; I’m holding up mirror to you; you own that ; it’s yours
***You went the extra mile, and it paid off. Don’t miss that. Keep doing that.***
Don’t miss that; reward yourself.
When I asked for address to send note of thanks…or should I send it to your speaker’s bureau…?
Oh no, no. You’ve come this far. How can I close the door now?
Seattle, WA ____
I would love to have a note from you.
Last winter a portion of my family (my sister and her family, my dad and I) took most of the grandchildren to the park on a mild day. We had a lovely time, and the adults worked silently to fill the gap of the missing element. There is no grandmother in any of these photographs. The absence is noticeable.
Later that evening Nathaniel, the five year old, turned to me during a movie with a query. “Hey, you know what?” “What’s that?” I asked. “Well,” said he, “you should move down here and spend time with Papa. Cus, well, I had a helicopter grandma.” I confirmed I was aware of his helicopter grandma (of course I was, she was my mom!) and encouraged him to continue his thoughts. “Well, my helicopter grandma she died. She crashed. And now she’s just burned up bones. You could come down here and be my new grandma. Yeah, you could do that.” Trying not to laugh and cry simultaneously, I promised him that I would be happy to be his replacement grandma.
Palestine Cemetery is located near Quinton, Oklahoma. It is the cemetery in which many of my relatives are buried. I went three times in 2012. The day I shall describe is December 17, 2012. We buried my mother there two months prior.
Many people were present the day of the funeral. In order to not distress the onlookers, and cause them to think I needed mental help, I did not do what I wanted to do at the funeral. I returned to the cemetery accompanied only by my precious dog, who had grieved for me when I left town to deal with preparations and services.
The sun was shining this November day, although not warm, it was not chilly. In my possession was the plastic temporary placard which contained the following words: Joyce Ann Monks Ates: August 17, 1952 – September 10, 2012. There was nothing indicating who lay under that bare mound of rocky clay, and I was determined to change that.
I wended my way through the myriad of turns and curves leading to the cemetery, several miles off the main road. A sense of impending uncertainty grew larger the closer I came to the cemetery. I wasn’t sure I could get out of the car upon arrival. I pulled off the side of the road in the cemetery, near Mom’s grave. I sat in my car and just looked for a long time. I finally summoned the emotional strength to put the palm of my hand on that hot window and pushed the door open.
Leaving my dog in the car so I would not have to be concerned with her whereabouts, I made my way to that naked mound. After confirming I was the only one in the cemetery, or in sight, and that I could hear no vehicles approaching, I did what I wanted to do when the casket was above ground. I stretched out on Mom’s grave, wrapping my arms around the raised earth. That was as close as I could come to holding her one last time. Knowing Mom’s body had been burned up, and then had an autopsy performed on it, I knew the contents of her casket did not reasonable my mommy. But I needed to hold something. I needed to hold her. I wanted to say goodbye without an audience. Mom was like that also, she never wanted anyone to witness her vulnerability.
I laid there with the lumpy earth pressing the side of my face. I dampened the dry clay with my tears, and I talked to her. I told her I hoped I had made her proud, and that I was sorry for having unnecessarily distressed her by dating a black man. I also told her I was proud of her response to that situation, that she had grown as the Christian by deciding to treat him the same as anyone else I would choose to date. I know Mom had some really hard situations to deal with, and to this day I am sorry to have been the cause of some of the stressors. However, I realize that is part of growing up. It is part of being a child, and part of being a mother.
Upon completing that portion of my emotional work, I turned to the physical memorialization. Having forgotten to bring anything with which to dig, I reviewed the contents of my trunk and found the hood prop which no longer resided near the engine. With determination and tears, and armed with a bottle of water with which to soften the earth, I began the arduous task of boring a hole into that hard dry earth. Given my size, the hardness of the ground, and my inadequate tools, it seemed impossible. Nonetheless, I was determined. At great length, I succeeded in creating a muddy hole large enough to insert the placard stand.
I had mixed feelings about this task once I had begun it. On one hand I was honoring my mother by telling the world where she was. On the other hand, I felt a sense of embarrassment or that I was being disrespectful for digging in the ground under which what was left of her body resided.
Having accomplished my task, I decided to read to Mom. She used to read to us for hours upon hours in the evenings. Mom would often ask me to read to her, saying she enjoyed it. There is a concrete bench some 25 feet away. I did not want to be that far from Mom. Surveying the area, I located a large stone. Lugging it to what would have been the head of the casket, had there been a complete body, I sat on the rock and flipped through my English literature book to find something that she would enjoy. I read two or three short passages aloud in the cemetery with not one other warm body present. I happened upon a long poem that dealt with the sorrow of parting using the analogy of a ship sailing away. Mom would have appreciated the reading and the subject matter. Death, dying, and grief were not shied away from in my family. Some may find it morbid that I read to my dead mother about death; she would find it appropriate.
As I sat on the rock with the wind drying my tears, I glanced around the cemetery. Headstones were everywhere, from small white rectangles lying even with the ground to large headstones with rather elaborate pictures on them. Some of the smaller headstones had been knocked over. The mowing crew apparently consisted of roaming cattle, as the grass was cropped quite short and there were numerous hoof prints throughout the cemetery from a more moist time.
Nearby, juxtaposed diagonally to Mom’s grave is a remarkable tombstone. It belongs to her parents; my grandparents. Grandpa’s side reads: Hardy Monks, Minister, Husband, Father. The verse emblazoned on it was of his own choosing: in heaven the rich and the poor shall eat together. The background picture on the headstone is an etching of a mountain scene with a large two-story church in the foreground. There is a curved pathway leading to the church. On that pathway, walking toward the church, are a mother and father accompanied by three children. There are two girls and one boy. The smallest child, a girl, is skipping on ahead of the others. That child is me.
Grandpa Monks started a church in Buffalo, Wyoming. However, due to age and failing health he had to return to Oklahoma. My mother and father moved us all to Wyoming and took over the church for about two years. Thus, the etching on my grandparents’ headstone is of their baby daughter (my mother) and her family. It is only fitting she should be buried so close to them. Mom always was a daddy’s girl, she is now forever close to him. That pleases me.
Slowly and deliberately, I returned everything to my vehicle, except the sign telling observers who that heaped up earth represented. I left having honored and respected my mother and loving her in a way that would please her. I slowly exited the cemetery, driving underneath the ancient wrought-iron arch which informed viewers that they had reached Palestine. Or at least it’s cemetery. The sensation with which I left that day was one of accomplishment and relief. I learned I could go “see Mom” on my own and be a better person for it.