Your Opinion Is Not Required

June 21, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

A few months ago, a friend went through a harrowing medical situation with a family member. In discussing it with a small group of friends, she expressed her gratitude for the nurses who had carefully tended her relative and encouraged her and the family during the recovery process.

Another person in the group commented, “I can’t stand nurses. They’re rude and bossy.”

We all stared at her for a moment, then returned our attention to our friend, who continued her story.

When someone is expressing gratitude, why would you feel it necessary or appropriate to rain negativity on them? What possible good does it do anyone to diminish someone’s appreciation of something good that has happened for them? Perhaps your experience does not match theirs, but it is not helpful to anyone for you to detract from their positive experience.

Be tactful. Be mature. Be the person Mr. Rogers knew you can be. The world has enough negativity; there’s no point in diminishing something good.


Poem: Interlude ~ Amy Lowell

June 20, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

~ Amy Lowell

When I have baked white cakes
And grated green almonds to spread upon them;
When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries
And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter;
When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working;
What then?
To-morrow it will be the same:
Cakes and strawberries,
And needles in and out of cloth.
If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter,
How much more beautiful is the moon,
Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree;
The moon,
Wavering across a bed of tulips;
The moon,
Upon your face.
You shine, Beloved,
You and the moon.
But which is the reflection?
The clock is striking eleven.
I think, when we have shut and barred the door,
The night will be dark

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

June 19, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments


This is my travel water bottle. It’s decorated with swans (imagine that!) and goes with me in the car, on plane trips, wherever I go that it makes sense to have a water bottle.

I was recently working the registration desk at a conference which takes place at a university. It’s summer, so there aren’t many students around, but there are some taking summer classes. University staff are also present in varying numbers, as well as random people taking a shortcut through the building to walk in the air conditioning instead of the heat outdoors. So, I’m used to people who aren’t affiliated with the conference stopping at the desk to ask questions. “What is this?” “What do you do?” “Can I have one of those?” (pointing to the t-shirts or other conference swag). We (the reg desk staff) are always polite and answer the questions (“it’s a conference”, “there are workshops”, “sorry, no, we have to save them for the people who paid to attend the conference”), because 1) there’s no reason not to be polite and 2) you never know when a casual inquiry this year will become an attendee next year.

The last day of the conference, however, one man stopped by and was determined to get something from us. He didn’t want a t-shirt (we sell them for $10 on the last day of the conference after all the attendees have theirs, and donate the money to charity), or a conference bag, or any of the other swag—he wanted my swan water bottle. I explained that it wasn’t part of the swag, it’s my personal possession, and no, it is not for sale. He persisted, because he “really liked it”. I gave him the name of the company that makes the bottles, and told him to check their website. That was not sufficient—he wanted to buy the one I had right there, and he had to have it.

I looked him in the eye and said, “You do not have the right to something just because you want it. Any four-year-old can tell you that.”

He was deeply offended (not my problem), and replied, “Well, you don’t have to be rude about it!” and stomped away in a manner that any four-year-old would have found embarrassing.

I think it wasn’t really about the water bottle, but him trying to get something to prove to himself how clever he is.

Either way, it didn’t work out the way he expected. Did he take the lesson? My guess is no. Perhaps we’ll find out at next year’s conference.


Poem: The Night Dances ~ Sylvia Plath

June 10, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

The Night Dances
~ Sylvia Plath

A smile fell in the grass.

And how will your night dances
Lose themselves. In mathematics?

Such pure leaps and spirals –
Surely they travel

The world forever, I shall not entirely
Sit emptied of beauties, the gift

Of your small breath, the drenched grass
Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies.

Their flesh bears no relation.
Cold folds of ego, the calla,

And the tiger, embellishing itself –
Spots, and a spread of hot petals.

The comets
Have such a space to cross,

Such coldness, forgetfulness.
So your gestures flake off –

Warm and human, then their pink light
Bleeding and peeling

Through the black amnesias of heaven.
Why am I given

These lamps, these planets
Falling like blessings, like flakes

Six sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair

Touching and melting.


Poem: In Spite of Everything, the Stars ~ Edward Hirsch

June 7, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

In Spite of Everything, the Stars
~ Edward Hirsch

Like a stunned piano, like a bucket
of fresh milk flung into the air
or a dozen fists of confetti
thrown hard at a bride
stepping down from the altar,
the stars surprise the sky.
Think of dazed stones
floating overhead, or an ocean
of starfish hung up to dry. Yes,
like a conductor’s expectant arm
about to lift toward the chorus,
or a juggler’s plates defying gravity,
or a hundred fastballs fired at once
and freezing in midair, the stars
startle the sky over the city.

And that’s why drunks leaning up
against abandoned buildings, women
hurrying home on deserted side streets,
policemen turning blind corners, and
even thieves stepping from alleys
all stare up at once. Why else do
sleepwalkers move toward the windows,
or old men drag flimsy lawn chairs
onto fire escapes, or hardened criminals
press sad foreheads to steel bars?
Because the night is alive with lamps!
That’s why in dark houses all over the city
dreams stir in the pillows, a million
plumes of breath rise into the sky.


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