Just For Me

A poem on the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion Website. It just lists “Anon” under the title.

Thank you Anon. This is beautiful and powerful.

What if a poem were just for me?

What if I were audience enough because I am,

Because this person here is alive, is flesh,

Is conscious, has feelings, counts?

What if this one person mattered not just for what

She can do in the world

But because she is part of the world

And has a soft and tender heart?

What if that heart mattered,

if kindness to this one mattered?

What if she were not distinct from all others,

But instead connected to others in her sense of being distinct, of being alone,

Of being uniquely isolated, the one piece removed from the picture—

All the while vulnerable under, deep under, the layers of sedimentary defense.

Oh let me hide

Let me be ultimately great,

Ultimately shy,

Remove me, then I don’t have to…


But I am.

Through all the antics of distinctness from others, or not-really-there-ness, I remain

No matter what my disguise—

Genius, idiot, gloriousness, scum—

Underneath, it’s still just me, still here,

Still warm and breathing and human

With another chance simply to say hi, and recognize my tenderness

And be just a little bit kind to this one as well,

Because she counts, too.

Transform #tinyhearts


When I saw this heart, I immediately knew I would share something about the magical process of a becoming a butterfly. In searching, I found this poignant poem. The author wrote, “I wrote this for me…but it feels like it was meant for you too. If you know someone else who needs this, please pass it on.”  How generous! Please visit her blog Spirit Moves Dance or find her on Facebook.


by Meg Goodmanson

It will not always feel good,
This growing.
This stretching beyond the boundaries of the known,
The comfortable.

It will not always feel safe,
This learning and relearning of your own abilities
This reexamining of beliefs
This pushing of envelopes
This breaking through enclosing walls.

You will shiver.

You will doubt.

You will want to run home.

Back behind walls of safety.

This walk to the edge will not
Feel good, safe, or comfortable,
But there is no faster way to learn.
There is no other way to grow.

So step out.
Leave your home base
Your comfort zone
Your cocoon

Acknowledge the fear and discomfort

But step out all the same.

With each step you take,
Your world expands
Your caterpillar mind will
Strain to comprehend the unbounded vastness of the sky.

Step out.


Unfurl your wings.


 photo by Greg Markway

photo by Greg Markway

One Solution

Have you seen anything real lately?

Go ahead, give it a try

Muster up some courage

dare to take a peek outside your skull

and see what’s really there

Try to get a handle on something…anything.

Like mist, it passes through your fingers

leaving only a cold and damp suggestion

that anything really was

Or was it?

A world made of concrete and steel

and yet

nothing is really solid enough to put your hands on

But maybe it’s best that way.

After all, if you did grab something

would you be brave enough to look It in the eye?

Instead, give up

Admit that it is not to be grabbed



or studied with the hands



or mind

anymore than the line between this

and that

or you

and I

is to be drawn with a straight edge

and a number 2 pencil.


My brother, Bill Gerth, wrote this poem when he was in college at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. I found it today on a piece of paper in a pile of miscellaneous stuff I was going through. Thank goodness I rescued it! It was formatted differently (indentations, etc.), but I couldn’t make WordPress do it correctly.

Many of you who follow this blog know what an incredible person Bill is. You can read other posts and see videos about him here and here.

Photo credit for featured image on home page: Carolyn Tiry, via flickr, CC

Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It’s taken

Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken,

Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there,

Terribly old, crying a warning,

‘Hurry, you will be dead before-‘

(What? Before you reach the morning?

Or the end of the poem is clear?

Or love safe in the walled city?)

Now to stand still, to be here,

Feel my own weight and density!

The black shadow on the paper

Is my hand; the shadow of a word

As thought shapes the shaper

Falls heavy on the page, is heard.

All fuses now, falls into place

From wish to action, word to silence,

My work, my love, my time, my face

Gathered into one intense

Gesture of growing like a plant.

As slowly as the ripening fruit

Fertile, detached, and always spent,

Falls but does not exhaust the root,

So all the poem is, can give,

Grows in me to become the song,

Made so and rooted by love.

Now there is time and Time is young.

O, in this single hour I live

All of myself and do not move.

I, the pursued, who madly ran,

Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

May Sarton



photo taken by Greg after a recent ice storm

photo taken by Greg after a recent ice storm

I found this on a Google list serve about self-compassion. It is too perfect (irony caught) not to share.


I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.

I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.

Learning to love
the open-ended  mystery
of not knowing why

I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.

Instead I practice inconsistency,
irrationality, forgetfulness.

Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
my perfect family.

But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.

I used to fill every moment
with something I could
cross off later.

Perfect was
the laundry done and folded
all my papers graded
the whole truth and nothing but

Now the empty mind is what I seek
the formless shape
the strange  off center
sometimes fictional

Elizabeth Carlson : Source: Teaching With Fire

Ode to a Third Shift Messiah

(We’re focusing on poetry in my writing class this week. I haven’t written anything share-worthy yet, so I thought I’d post this treasured poem written by my brother and given to me in July, 1988. I was in graduate school and  just starting out as a therapist.)

Ode to a Third Shift Messiah*

On Her Way to Work

*Therapist for Broken Revolutionaries

Breathe in

        taste the deep dust,

Breathe out

        feel a need.

Look in a mirror

        see a guardian of dignity,

Look again

       see a savior of pride.

Accept this power.

Go out to a field,

        hold fast to your courage.

Let your eyes preach the gospel,

        let your words work great miracles.

Be a prayer.

As ashen arrivals ride down from the sky,

       and songs of descending bond with the night.

Photo credit: Werner Kunz, via Flickr, Creative Commons

Yo Soy (I Am)


How many of us have parts of ourselves that we don’t like? Maybe a part of our appearance (My thighs are too fat)? A part of our heritage (I hope I don’t turn out like crazy Aunt Jane)? Or a part of our personality (I’m too quiet)? Disowning any part of ourselves can be damaging. I think the subtitle of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene´ Brown says it all: “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

My niece, Jody, recently told me about an assignment she had for a class in college. They were instructed to write an “I Am” poem. Apparently, that was about the only guideline they were given. It was very unstructured and loose. She gave me permission to share her poem. I love it, not only because she’s my niece, but also because it’s such a great example of looking at all aspects of ourselves with a nonjudgmental, accepting eye. This is just how it is. This is who I am.

I’m planning on writing my own “I am” poem. If you write one, feel free to share it. Oh, and I’m sure my niece would appreciate any comments!

Yo Soy

I am curly hair that people use to categorize me.

I am the city girl stuck in a population of one-thousand.

I am the salsa heels that dance all night as if I’m still in Mexico.

I am the race with no ethnicity.

I am off-brand clothing among Sevens, Coach, and Marc Jacobs.

I am the only Jew in a rural town.

I am high-top sneakers from a resale shop.

I am the life-changing trip to Israel at age 16.

I am the passion to travel and master new languages.

I am the positive voice in a room full of negativity.

I am an ally for all people because I feel we are all connected.

I am the girl that values herself more than how boys see her.

I am the dreams that can and will be reached through hard work and dedication.