Friday, November 28, 2014

GIVING THANKS: "Thankful Forward"

Thankful Forward

By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

I suppose this essay should come out for New Years.  That’s the precedent, really.  Except, if you think about it, do you really wait until the 26th of December to think about next year, what it means to you and what you want for it?  I doubt it.  If you were a business, you might have been thinking about it while you were spitting out watermelon seeds in July’s blazing sun.  More likely, you were thinking about it after last year’s holiday debris had been relegated to the recycling bin.  So, November is quite late to be doing this.

I am looking ahead to 2015 as I have looked forward to no other year in recent memory.  I can’t quite explain it.  Something in my gut tells me it will be different.  Of course, that’s what we all want from a new year.  However, I think I have already put my finger on what is going to make 2015 distinct, and I am beginning right now to be thankful for it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Thanksgiving 1968, with "Grandma Lillie"
My Mother’s Hands
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

When I was a little girl, family members of various generations swore that I was the very image of my maternal Grandma.  “That’s Lillie!” they would exclaim, and reference her 8th grade graduation picture as proof of the likeness.

My Grandma was someone who appeared to be very much in command of things.  She was a strong personality who always seemed to be the key decision maker.  My Grandpa, suffering significantly from the onset of lung cancer when I knew him, was much softer spoken.  I remembered him best in his recliner, and from the polished rocks he tumbled in his workshop.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It was just a year ago that I was packing up my life of 21 years, from an apartment I had loved (and still sometimes miss). Some of that life survived, some of it was sold, and some of it was given away - LOTS was given away.

I am still going through things, by the grace of friends, and evaluating what I really need to keep and what is precious.  As my friend Christina, who has been so great in helping me work through this asks me regularly when we are sorting, "Do you Love this?"

It was, and continues to be, an amazing process.  One in which, now that I am no longer surrounded by the bulk of my own possessions, really allows me to focus on what is important to me.  It is not as much as I thought!

What I always will remember about that emotional, gut-wrenching, physically painful move was the amazing possession of wonderful friends.  Some of whom went incredibly out of their way to help me.  That's something you can't pack in a box and categorize with a Sharpie label.

In memory of that moment of grace-filled friendship, I share this poem written a month or so after the move was complete.

Truly Humbled
By Judith Cullen  
(c) 2014

Everyone should experience,
Being truly humbled.
Stripping away the layers:
Stuff, status, trappings
Which surround and contain
All that is within.

An onion is easier to peel away
Tears flow just as genuine,
Doubts arise just as often
“Am I losing too much?
What happens to ‘me’
When all this is gone?”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A POEM - Kintsugi & Life

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.  As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise - an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object.

Filling the Cracks
Image from Wikimedia
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

Hands reach out
Seeking a surface kiss.
Sunlit fingertips
Touching, kneading hope.

They are surprising
What only others possess
Observable deficiencies
Breaking your pattern.

No one warns you
They are parcels of life
The price of victory,
Joy, passion, pride.

Now knowing it
Learning to honor them
Cracks of living
Filling them with gold.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NEW ESSAY: "You Are Not Alone"

You Are Not Alone
By Judith Cullen
© 2014

I went to a gathering of folks from my High School recently.  It was not a formal reunion, but simply an informal gathering at a local brewery-eatery.  There were people from several classes there, spanning the years around 1980.  I had expected some of the “old scripts” of behavior to kick in, as so often they do in such situations.  That was not the case.  Perhaps the reality of all of us being over 50 has given us a wholly different perspective.  We have lived a lot in over thirty years – each and every one of us.

Early on, a lovely woman from the year after mine obliquely referred to her struggles with depression.  It was probably the only moment in the evening that I faltered, and felt that same old awkwardness that I felt so often in High School.  I remember this woman as a bright, self-assured young lady. Depression was the last thing I would have expected to creep into her life.