Monday, January 28, 2019

Pelican Icebergs


On a cool winter afternoon
  I chose the rust colored rocks as my perch,
Looking and listening for gifts from God.
The setting sun's warmth drew me to
  the water's edge.
Retreating as I was from my mind's 
  incessant swirling

Alone in the quiet my eyes saw
  the floating iceberg,
But my brain rejected the vision crying,
  "Not in Oklahoma!"

The iceberg continued floating and bobbing
  while my brain adjusted to the sight.
Indeed, the white iceberg remained floating
  filled with life squawking, gurgling, cooing.

Minutes upon minutes whispered by
  and I grew restless.
In God's time the Southern tip of the white bobby berg
  began lifting off from the sparkling surface.

Filled with grace and the echoing hum of a pipe organ
  the Pelicans white outstretched wings flapped in unison.
First, flying South then turning North creating 
  an ice skater's figure eight in the air. 

Down, then up again they soared in graceful
Remaining far from shore the pouch of pelicans 
  alighted on the water's surface like a blizzard of snowflakes. 

I thanked God for that moment of beauty
  and vowed to return at sunset.

As the sun reached lands end the cackling turned to cooing.
  "Good night snow white Pelicans," I whispered. 

Letty Watt, January 28, 2019 (Ft. Gibson lake, Sequoyah St. Lodge) 

Thank you Mary Oliver for being my poet muse, my nature guide to hidden beauties that we often miss.  Our poet Heron, Mary, has taken fight for heaven, but her words live on helping us observe nature's gifts.

Mary Oliver wrote: 

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.

(When Death Comes. New and Selected Poems, Vol 1, Beacon Press) 

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Awakened by Winnie-the-Pooh

"People say Nothing is Impossible
but I do nothing everyday."

5 Mile Creek, NE Oklahoma, photo by Bobby Poole

Strange, how a photo can cause the mind to stir and swim in search of a lost memory, of a story, of a time, of a place where nothing often happened.  Motor boating flat rocks across a creek is like doing nothing, but having so much fun doing nothing that one forgets there is another world out there.  Was that yesterday that I played like that?

When I first saw Bobby Poole's photographs on a Facebook page called, "You Know You Are From Miami IF......" I knew they were of home and a time long ago. They represented the places and good times of my childhood, but now they meant more. How?  What was I missing?
To avert thinking about what was missing, or to avoid my Art Gecko room which holds so many playful ideas, I instead jump up like a cat and look for a chore to do. Something is wrong.

Ironically, that same week the photos captured my mind, I watched the movie "Christopher Robin," three times. A few tears trickled down my cheek, but I managed to smile through the story of Pooh finding his long lost friend. Finding myself identifying with the lost spirit of Christopher Robin, I began to look out the windows in search of something lost. 

Pooh filled my heart with glowing happiness, through his gentle love of life and playfulness. So I listened to the CD’s of Winnie-the-Pooh and disappeared into the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh and Christopher Robin. Oh, how I giggled with the antics of that poor bear, with very little brain, always in search of honey, his shy fearful friend little Piglet, and the floppy glum old donkey named Eeyore who stayed at his side. No matter the trouble they found, Christopher Robin arrived in time to save them. 

Shoal Creek, photo by Bobby Poole

There it was, the picture of the land where I could still do nothing. Like the bridge that crosses the waters connecting our spaces my mind and heart connected.  Standing on the bridge in my mind I watch the surroundings; the hawks gliding, birds swooping, the couple kissing near the shore, the fisherman slowly floating downstream nearer and nearer the oblivious couple.  With my imagination I walk the shores and step into the cold flowing waters and do nothing, like a vacation where there's no laundry to wash, no deadlines, only time and scenic arrays, and all of this from my imagination.

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry.
We shall get there some day." 


*Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne, CD Random House Listening Library, 2009 with Judy Dench's voice and other outstanding voices is a terrific way to listen to Pooh Bear's stories.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Younger Longer. Finding Balance

The Golf Gypsy proudly standing by Dinah Shore. 

Ben Hogan, one of my childhood heroes, tells the story of learning how to bend his left knee nicely to the right, whereas before his left knee shot out when he took his back swing. He practiced so much in his family yard that there was no grass left. When his mother sent him to the grocery store a few blocks away, he would practice his golf game all the way there. Ben Hogan's Modern Fundamentals of Golf

As a youngster, I too, practiced many hours learning how to repeat a solid swing. I didn't seek the knowledge of anatomy or what my body needed to stay strong and flexible. There's a chance I never thought about growing older, and if I did then I'd just push through the pain that I'd seen other "old" people go through.

Push is exactly what I did from age thirty-five to the present. With three teens in the house my husband and I discovered the best use of weekend time was to workout together on the University of Oklahoma's  Duck Pond circuit training path. That in turn led to regular nightly workouts at the new YMCA, but time passed and my body began to wear down, The joints and the knees consistently irritated my back and hip. Little did I know that my "knock knees" would someday cause my walk (gait) and golf swing a great deal of unbalance and lack of power.

When I retired at age sixty, I enrolled in a Tai Chi class to help regain a sense of balance and rhythm, rather than my frantic teaching mode of the last four decades. The class moved so painfully slow that I dropped out after the first week. One of the few things I ever quit in my life, but why submit my body to something that demanded I slow down! Once again I participated in aerobics, long walks,
Dynamic Stretching is powerful.
Starla Boyd, instructor
stretching, and light weights to keep my body moving. Over the next decade I spent time with rehab and chiropractic work along with interment yoga, strength training, and Pilates. These technique kept me playing, helped with strength and walking even in pain, but I didn't see what was coming.

Watching the kids at the golf course play and play golf, I realized that age may make a difference, but I could most certainly improve upon my body's overall health, starting with developing strength in my feet and knees to improve my posture and balance. I began with new inserts for my golf shoes and tennis shoes from OK Runner, and became aware of the importance of footwork to minimize my knock knees. I worked on correcting my gait and then discovered Tai Chi.

The only way for a woman to compensate for her
relative lack of physical strength is for her to
build an efficient repeating swing, with
   Mickey Wright, LPGA founding member

Immediately, our instructor set aside time each class to work on balance. That became my reality check! Could I stand on one leg and do various moves with the other, and vice versa. Like a trained golfer (athlete) I recognized that this required daily practice, so in my back yard I practice various balance moves and Tai Chi moves but not on windy days in Oklahoma.  My practice wasn't helping until I learned that my must remain flexed or soft to maintain balance. (It seems as though I took a golf lesson not long ago, when my knees stiffened causing me to pull up out of my swing.) So awareness of flexed or soft knees became paramount in my venture into Tai Chi and proper balance.

Tai Chi move using balance and soft knees.
What a difference ten months of balance training has made in my everyday life and golf swing. Thanks to "finding balance" I won our Club Championship this fall, much to my surprise, and I truly can say that stronger posture, feet and knees that work together helped to improve my golf swing, power, and confidence.

Click on the links for various programs and balancing tips.

Tai Chi helps improves balance because it target all the physical components needed to stay upright--leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and reflexes--all of which tend to decline with age. Harvard study on Tai Chi

7 Exercises that Help Improve Balance (there's a app for this)

Tai Chi for Health

Tai Chi and Chi Gong

Letty Stapp Watt
historian, golfer