COVID-19 has changed life as we know it across the world. Here at Building a Better Story we've been sharing stories and wisdom on the inevitable—aging. Now the universe has tossed a time bomb into our timelines. Instead of aging gracefully, we need to stay alive! I'm asking our guest contributors to share their thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic. Returning to Building a Better Story, please welcome poet Theresa Ortez with her positive message on the lockdown and disease, Shelter in Place. Welcome back, Theresa!

By Theresa Ortez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you meet on the street
Stay away 6 feet
Cover mouth and nose
Don’t get too close
Stay inside
Seniors should abide
Still, I want to go outside
No handshaking to greet
Can I use my feet?
Stay healthy until we meet
We are in this together
We shall defeat

April 2020 might not look like past years: the bright green of new grasses, the pinks and creams of flowering fruit trees, sunny daffodils, Easter-colored tulips. Maybe you haven't been out to see the lambs gamboling in the country or noticed the sparrows building nests. Maybe that orange  isn't the blooming California poppies but  the fake tan on President Trump as he makes himself actor, director and producer of Coronavirus—It'll Go Away Soon so Just Forget It.

 

Even if you're sheltering in place, you can turn off the horror show, step outside and watch Spring. Pull some weeds or tie up your spent daffodils. Rake up the dropped camellias. Pick daisies. Watch your trees unfurl new leaves. Tweet with the chickadees, listen to the doves. Count the crows—there's one more than last year. Take a breath, let it out slowly. Feel the renewing energy of the season, and let go of your anxiety. Now find a sunny corner and read a poem. Or better yet, write a poem. It's Poetry Month after all. Nothing is as healing as a good dose of nature and poetry!

 

The Dilemma of the Quercus—Or—Oak Erotica

You elongate your catkins,

male flowers dangled

from the tips of your naked limbs

in seduction of the wind before Spring

unfurls your pink or chartreuse canopy.

Your few females tuck up at the crook

Nondescript, awaiting the ecstasy of pollen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monoecious yet self-incompatible

you must count on your distant-relations

standing near, and the hillsides

abreeze in ochre, or the powdered

buzz of native bees

to deliver the yellow dust

that pollinates life into your acorns

to grow fine new trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find this and many more poems in my latest chapbook available on Amazon.

Author Dana Rodney rejoins Building a Better Story with more thoughts on getting older. Here's her story. ~AnaM

 

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Author Dana Rodney: Before

Just kidding, aging isn’t a joy, you just don’t have any choice. Like they say, getting old ain’t for sissies. I’m sure there are some advantages to growing older: grandchildren, more free time, discounts. But if we’re being brutally honest, the negatives outweigh the positives. So instead of wringing my brain to come up with a list of the joys of aging, how about a list called:

Weird and Unexpected Things About Aging:

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And After

 

#1-  You don’t look as good but it’s a relief.

Mostly, not looking young sucks, but there’s an unexpected advantage to it; you’ve worried about your looks and been judged for it all your life (especially women.) Suddenly you’ve lost them…and it’s a perverse relief. You don’t have to stress about it anymore. Game over. Sure, you still have to be presentable and put in a little effort… but admit it, no one’s looking.

#2-  Whatever you’re gonna do you’ve already done.

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By the time you’re 60, you’ve built your career (or not,) you’ve had a family (or not,) you’ve achieved—or not achieved. At this point you can just accept it. Probably not gonna change the status quo at this point. Like baking a cake. You have one chance to get it right. If it collapses a little in the middle, you can’t go back and fix it. Spread some frosting on top and enjoy the party.

#3-  You don’t care what people think.

You’re not trying to fit in anymore or be like someone else. You’ve become who you are through decades of trial and error and making millions of choices that you can’t undo. You are who you are, might as well stand behind your work.

#4-  Death doesn’t scare you. 

By the time you’re a senior citizen, you’ve seen, experienced, tasted it all. You’re just going through the motions again and again. like re-reading a favorite book, it’s enjoyable, but there are no surprises. Maybe you’re secretly curious about death; it’s the only surprise left. The final adventure awaits!

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#5-  You inadvertently become a mindfulness practitioner.

Retirement is an interesting experiment. Your whole life you’ve been pushed to succeed, produce, make money, then overnight your world paradigm shifts. It takes a while to convince your frantic mind you don’t need to be anywhere, there are no pressing deadlines, you can sleep in. But when your mind finally accepts it, what a naughty joy it is to sit for thirty minutes drinking coffee at noon and watch the hummingbirds.

Well, okay…maybe there are some joys to aging after all.

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An interview with Dana Rodney:

AM~ How did you start writing?

DR~ I started writing in 2017 after I retired from a career in the design industry. Seeking inspiration, I wandered into a free writing class in my hometown in the Napa Valley, California. One of the writing exercises I did inspired me, and I just kept writing. A year later, I had a novel finished titled,  THE BUTTERFLY WING, a story which explores Napa Valley history. It is soon to be published, and I will be offering some excerpts from the book in the "Writing" section of my website

AM~ I had the opportunity to be one of your early readers and loved The Butterfly Wing. Are you continuing to  write period pieces?

DR~ Yes, but the time is the future. I am currently working on a new novel on the subject of climate change titled- THE ECSTASY OF ICE, which chronicles the last year in the life of Anuk, the last polar bear on planet earth, in her first-person point of view. 

AM~ Tell me about your background. What else have you done?

DR~I am also a lettering artist. I started doing calligraphy in the 80's when it was an artsy- craftsy trend. Thirty years later I picked up my dip pen again and started creating  calligraphy art incorporating Asian-inspired shapes, original watercolor washes and the words of the mystics like Buddha and Rumi. 

AM~ It sounds like words are important to you.

 DR~I guess I just love words. Take a look my calligraphy art on the "Modern Calligraphy" tab in the navigation bar of my website

AM~What message do you have for readers?

DR~ Please join my writing journey.  My BLOG  is a fascinating selection of issues that have inspired my books such as climate change, women's empowerment, history and the natural world. I always am interested in what readers have to add to the discussion. You can also check out my Instagram, Facebook  and twitter platforms for photos of new calligraphy and posts about my ongoing creative journey. I would be tickled pink if  I  could send you a page or two from one of my novels every month. Your comments would be welcome. Click here to join my list: DanaRodney.com

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Dana Rodney: Now