Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

The Liberation of Being Alone

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

A few weeks ago I was in New York City—out and about with a group of girlfriends. My friend Emma asked me, “How’s Philly?” I responded, “It’s fine.” She then said, “Don’t you get lonely? I would get lonely.”

I’m not sure if something made her associate Philadelphia specifically with loneliness or if she equated being away from New York friends or the city itself with being lonely. I didn’t ask her to clarify her question, I simply answered, “No, I don’t get lonely.” That answer is tried and true no matter what she meant. Loneliness is not an emotion I feel, and I don’t think it’s an emotion anyone has to feel and certainly not one anyone has to suffer.

I’m not sure when I overcame loneliness, but I am endlessly grateful that I did. I can trace an early lesson in being alone back to my cousin Kate. Right before I left for college, my family was gathered and going around the room offering me advice. Kate advised, “Never be afraid to do anything alone. If you want to go to a lecture or a play and none of your friends want to go, go anyway.” I followed her suggestion frequently when I got to school. I also assume it’s my craft that insists I be okay for hours, sometimes days by myself. Writing is not a group activity. One must endure the silence and the blank page for as long as it takes.

For someone who isn’t used to being alone, I imagine it’s difficult at first. Figuring out why it’s difficult and working through it, however, is an essential way to get to know yourself.

I am not afraid to be alone literally—as in by myself in a room—nor am I afraid to be alone in the grander scheme of things—as in not in a relationship. They both feel like freedom to me. The former grants me the freedom to do what I want when I want, and the latter means if and when I end up in a relationship I know I’m there because I want to be and not because I’m afraid not to be.

I’ll go so far as to say being able to be alone can help a relationship. There will be plenty of times when your significant other can’t pay that much attention to you whether it’s due to work, child rearing, a death in the family, or any number of other things. If you’ve already learned to enjoy your own company, then this can happen without necessarily being a problem. Your being able to be alone becomes a form of silent support. Author Ester Buchholz emphasizes how good solitude can be not only for the soul but also for intimacy.

What sparked this entry is the following video that I caught on Feministing earlier today. Well done Tanya! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Enjoy:

ADDENDUM: Was reading the book Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and came across this quote:

“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

Second Quarter Same as the First

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a great 2010. I wish it could be 2010 all the time! The fabulous feelings that have come with the year thus far have a bit to do with the outside happenings—career pursuits and whatnot—but more so with the inside happenings. I am shedding the skin of my twenties and moving ahead into my thirties with gusto and wiser eyes. I’m mighty excited for what this second quarter, specifically the month of April, will bring. Here are a few goings on:

Spring – It’s the first full month of spring! Welcome sweet season. We’ve missed you. Feel free to stay as long as you like.

National Card & Letter Writing Month – It’s that time again. This is my third year celebrating NC&LWM. I won’t be doing what I did last year last year—writing a letter a day for the whole month. I will, however, step it up a notch. I have a stack of letters on my desk that I’ve been meaning to respond to. I encourage everyone to handwrite at least one letter this month, unless you’re a regular letter writer then write a few extra. Here are some of my thoughts on NC&LWM from two years ago—they haven’t changed. Also, Carla over at 365 letters is still up to some fantastic letter-writing pursuits.

National Poetry Month – Not only is it the month the celebrate the art of letter writing but also the practice of writing, reading, and reciting poetry. This is my first year knowing of and actively celebrating National Poetry Month. I will do so by finally uploading some video content to the poetry blog I spoke of last June. It’s not uploaded just yet, but I’ve got my flip camera ready and aim to have it up by next week.

Communication in the 21st Century – Anyone live in the southeastern Pennsylvania region? I’m doing a lecture on communication in the 21st century at the Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli on April 18th. I’ll talk in depth about letter writing, as usual, and will also discuss they best ways to get in touch with people when we have so many options. For example, it’s best not send a resignation letter through Facebook (or even to friend your boss on Facebook). But if you want try and reach a celebrity, Twitter might just be the best way. The event is $10 at the door. RSVP by e-mail please. Thank you!

Wedding Vow WritingI’m still working on this and excited to do it. Hopefully I’ll be up and running by wedding season.

Listen to Your Emotions: They Are Always Saying Something

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I’ve blogged before about my belief that all emotions serve a purpose—even the bad ones. I came across this poem by Rumi recently, which served to reinforce my thinking. I love when Rumi and I agree =)

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of its furniture.

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

Treating Each Emotion Honorably – What an abstract yet wonderful and somehow awful concept. What could it mean? My thoughts:

Don’t Numb the Pain – A glass of wine is fine—good for the heart even! And I’m not opposed to my friends indulging marijuana for entirely non-medical reasons. (I honestly don’t because it doesn’t agree with me. Strange yet true). But I urge you to pay attention to how often and in what frame of mind you turn to these things. In the moment, they might alleviate sadness, but that also means you won’t be able to feel happiness—in all her glory—later. There are other ways, aside from chemical substances, to numb pain. It can be with social activities, with food, promiscuity. Anything that offers quick fix. Anything that distracts. Anything that drowns out the sound of a persistent emotion knocking on the door. Emotions are like credit card companies. Ignore them, and they will not back down until you let them in. Give them the attention they ask for, and they will leave you alone. At least until this time next month.

The emotions most tempting to numb are sadness, disappointment, and failure. Yet by trying to do away with these dudes you can screw up your relationship with their counterparts—happiness, pleasure, and success. As the grandmother on Dawson’s Creek once said, “I know it hurts, but don’t be afraid to feel it.”

Don’t Blame – My cousin Ruth and I were discussing this over lunch a few weeks back—how much more in control of our lives we felt when we stopped blaming others for the mistakes we’ve made. The stupendous thing that happens when you say, “It was my fault,” is that you can fix it—whatever it may be. You can meet the challenge of solving the problem you’ve created. Or—if it’s inalterable—you can apologize. You can heed the lesson. You can make sure to never do it again. You can make an effort to change.

If you get in the habit of blaming others, then your life is out of your hands. It’s up to everyone else, and why leave your life up to other people?

The easiest emotions to blame on others are jealousy, embarrassment, and anger. These are trigger emotions. It appears as though the presence or action of another person has caused your reaction, when really another person has simply alerted you to something you were already feeling. Perhaps it’s an insecurity you haven’t dealt with or an old wound that hasn’t healed. Nine times out of ten your emotions are telling you something. They rarely tell anyone else anything.

Tea for Two – Treating each emotion honorably means sitting with it. Alone. You and it at the coffee table. Ask her (jealousy) why she’s here, or ask him (anger) why he stopped by unannounced. Listen to what they have to say—even if you don’t like it. They are constructive critics. They have come to edit your papers so you can get the best possible grade. (Anticipate many revisions).

If you listen to them long enough, eventually they’ll say, “I’ll be on my way now. Happiness and joy are coming. They’re arriving on the noon train tomorrow. I came to tell you so could clean the house today and have dinner ready tonight. Now when they arrive you can spend all of your time with them.”

Note: I don’t mean to disrespect those who are clinically depressed. A sadness that will not leave is tragic. It is a much greater challenge to overcome, but I believe it can be overcome. I’ve seen it! When you’ve done all you can and a negative emotion will not go away, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A therapist or other professional is not going to fix your problem, they are simply going to let you in on the healing powers you already have.

I Miss the Rumpled Corners of Correspondence

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

My friend Anna Post (Emily Post’s Great-Great-Granddaughter) posted a link to this poem by Allison Joseph on Facebook yesterday. It’s called Elegy for the Personal Letter. I often have a tough time with poems that don’t rhyme, but this one flows like a friendly river—capturing everything we letter lovers love about letters. This will surely be the next poem I memorize.

For Samara on the Occasion of Her 30th Birthday

Monday, October 5th, 2009

My mother wrote me a poem and read it at my 30th birthday party. She just gave me that paper version last night, and I thought I’d share.

By Carol O’Shea

Consider the edges ~ my love ~

Like the most delicate stationery that holds content so carefully crafted

& loving in design

Whose papery sheath is tissue soft & speckled with flecks of

Deeper color

Holding meaning forward to share ~ to tell ~ to discover . . .

But a strong carrier that will withstand time ~ 30 or other ~

Folded many times over to open and close and open again

With meaning held so dear . . .

But whose edges are a feathery design ~

Purposely allowing time to blend & sculpt & tumble meaning into

Shining Gems ~ like Cape May diamonds ~

Hold lightly the edges ~ my love.