Posted by: jruthkelly | August 13, 2014

The Opposite of Depression…

…is vitality, says Andrew Solomon. Spot-on eloquence and tear-evoking insight, worth the 30 minutes to feel/hear this medicine of clarity. It is another example of what I recognize in my own life as radical grace.


“…shutting out the depression strengthens it; while you hide from it, it grows…our needs are our greatest assets…valuing one’s depression does not prevent a relapse, but it may make the prospect of relapse and even relapse itself easier to tolerate…I had learned in my own depression, how big an emotion can be, how it can be more real than facts and I have found that that experience has allowed me to experience positive emotion in a more intense and more focused way…the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality and these days my life is vital, even on the days when I’m sad…I have discovered something inside myself that I would have to call a soul…I found a way to love my depression. I love it because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide, sometimes gamely and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to cleave to the reasons for living and that, I think, is a highly privileged rapture.” Andrew Solomon

Posted by: jruthkelly | August 12, 2014

Truthful to the End, Robin Williams

Robin Williams ended his life. And it reverberates across the world, this collective uproar of loss realized. Images, endless scrolls and screens of Robin Williams’ memories and tributes. His face speaks something other than tragedy. His presence, as long as we had the privilege of it, upheld a priceless gift. It’s hard to reconcile that he would find it within himself to end it all, that someone who has made such a profound impact on humanity just by being funny and real, spontaneous and crazy, that he would take that away, decide it’s not worth another second.

But something in me feels defensive of him and of his legacy, that it not be diminished by his inability to continue. Why is that? He made a bold statement in his dying. On the one hand, he has every right to choose the time, the how. On the other hand, he’s commenting and saying that no matter how much acclaim you earn or how loved you are, if you’re not able to reach it within yourself, that source of love, all the acclaim in the world won’t save you, won’t keep you alive another second longer. He’s saying it’s just that tough. And it’s too precious to bear sometimes. Awareness and the artistry of unusual expressiveness comes with a price. Intensity cuts deep, sees more than any one soul can manage alone and if there’s not one who can share that awareness, the desolation pounds a deafening cry of seeming futility.

When a person takes his life, he is saying the one thing he will do is the one thing he can do…end the agony. Would that we, humanity, possessed much more skill in discerning when to stay with those who are so abandoned all they can do is leave us. Stay and break all the rules of propriety or discourse and insist on piercing the lie that another second of living is one too many.

Russell Brand said it better: “What platitudes then can we fling along with the listless, insufficient wreaths at the stillness that was once so animated and wired, the silence where the laughter was? That fame and accolades are no defence against mental illness and addiction? That we live in a world that has become so negligent of human values that our brightest lights are extinguishing themselves? That we must be more vigilant, more aware, more grateful, more mindful? That we can’t tarnish this tiny slice of awareness that we share on this sphere amidst the infinite blackness with conflict and hate?

That we must reach inward and outward to the light that is inside all of us? That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore?”

So it is…there are those who remind us we have so much farther to reach and deeper to dig before we have become so alive, soulfully relentless that not one would dare entertain the solution of suicide. 

Posted by: jruthkelly | August 6, 2014

The Feltness Path

“Our logic says that what happens to you doesn’t matter to me, what happens to the world isn’t happening to me, but our hearts disagree. This logic contradicts our felt experience…what’s happening to children in Haiti…to child soldiers in Africa…to the whales…to the forest…that’s happening to me too. That’s something we can feel, that’s why it hurts when you see that photo of the sea bird drenched in oil…”

One of the biggest challenges in personal growth is one of bridging the gap between the logical/separate self and the connected self. The idea of the self as separate is essential for certain phases of our growth and structuring of identity. It’s what makes us distinct. And yet we are also the connected self. If we let one rule before the other, we can lose much of what we would otherwise give in connection. And yet if we never allow the heart’s own mind to have a say…we wither. The world withers and bombs explode. With the connected self, we recognize that on this day in 1945, we lost on levels unfathomable. And we continue to lose when we turn a blind eye on the murdering of innocents, piling up the death count into numbers well beyond what we encountered on 9/11 as we shake our heads, parsing words and labeling certain lives as expendable.

So much we can make whole when we embrace the connected self while accepting the separateness that makes us unique. We get there by way of what Rilke beautifully describes as a ” …more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and kind and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.” [Letters to a Young Poet, pg 58-59]

It’s this protecting, bordering and saluting, honoring of each other as separate but precious, and connected and even as one whole expression revealing love itself (all of us, man, woman, child, animal, earth, sky, nature) which will preserve the very point of life itself. It’s that dance between unity and separateness whose only music is love’s best, a dance whose steps celebrate connection without destroying our distinctions and uniqueness.


Posted by: jruthkelly | July 26, 2014

The Moon’s Say So…

The heart of the soles of my feet of dancing sigh…they ache on earth pulsing a song long begun, hearing ancient knowing, yearning through the toes to the top of my head.

No ounce of will can bend the tides without the moon’s say so. No gumption of the reddest desire can re-write the years gone by or shift the mountain aside.

So, my feet wait and sigh, humming earth tunes through my being, reminding centuries of roots stretching deep, breathing life in spite of all the carnage haunting dreams left wanting.

And to my end this may be the most these soles know: to grow old in the hum of an ancient song and wait for the next expression of love, to know that only those gifted with fortunate favor and a timing divine make it beyond the mountain and across the sea, only those who dig deep find the center – the one source shaping stories for love’s next challenge, to know one’s failing may be the other’s best and that a world crawling on her knees never gets invited to the wedding feast.

Courtesy Of Dave Grant, 2011 - 2014

Courtesy Of Dave Grant, 2011 – 2014

Posted by: jruthkelly | July 17, 2014

Safe Harbor

“One cannot have doubt about that which he wishes to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love. One cannot admit what he does not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love. One cannot love what he does not dedicate himself to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love.” Leo Buscaglia

shore breaks here whisper
something about constancy.
love knows all our fears

tossing in tides of
change. we cling to sea’s uproar
’til the silence sighs

and we float ashore,
tumbling mystery and
faith in what we know.

Blog Post Image 2014

j. ruth kelly, 2014

Posted by: jruthkelly | July 16, 2014

Bloomers and Braids

Gonna buy me some fabric at the store by the coastal mystery, the one with no roof

and no walls ‘cept for rows and rows of fabric rolled up waiting for newness and creative wonder

and a woman whose hair is white, her hands full of keys, so many keys as she laughs at me, but not mocking.

She’s on the shoreline in the white sand at the counter and the cash register is awaiting her usual purchase. As we laugh and talk, her man is hiding amongst all those reams of fabric, spying out at me, knowing.

His dark highlights contrast against all the pale sand and call to a sea just within reach.
He trusts implicitly the woman with all those keys.

Gonna make me some bloomers from the fabric or, maybe no, I’ll do what the beautiful woman told me to do, “Order it from a catalog” ’cause…

I’ll be too busy having fun, too much going on to bother with patterns and eyelet fabric. Or sewing machines.

But fabric, I’ll abide. It hides all the best secrets and covers the future in white refusal of shame.

Gonna go find those hair bands and all the jewel-toned loose ends plaited neatly into silver sync.

And I will laugh.

And laugh. As the man behind the bolts of fabric, standing there in his safe fear-filled haven hides
and waits for the bloomers to reveal his best days: Unafraid.

One day, I’ll see his face.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

Posted by: jruthkelly | July 3, 2014

Slipping on Daylight

chasing daylight blind,
slip covering soft on soul…
my eyes failed to see.

unending shimmer
blinding clarity’s assault,
suggested love flow.

and within me now
the seeing reveals truth’s hide.
cover me quickly…

relocate heart within,
and behind the bars of life’s
intended refuge.


j. ruth kelly, 2014

j. ruth kelly, 2014



Posted by: jruthkelly | July 1, 2014

What It Be…

“Love is a momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: first, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.” Barbara Fredrickson

Stepping out into a sudden deluge of rainpour, I found wet pavement for my bare feet and a redheaded son in tow. After a week of rest after surreal travel setting my health back a bit, this feast was unavoidable. And beyond welcome. My youngest followed me out into the night and the grass underfoot was all squish wonder, wet and cool. The maples overhead, as I walked intently towards the street and the strange light in the torrential night air, fluttered under a relentless pounding wealth, dropping more fat wetness onto the top of my own red head. And I kept walking, my ancient son behind me, chattering, asking me “What are you doing?! Where are you going?!” He was shocked. I had gone from couch to doorway to outside in a fluid, silent spill. I couldn’t respond. I just laughed. Then finally the inner upwelling of little girl spoke, “I have to get out there to the street…” Then I stopped at the curb and stomped in the flow of water running like mad down the road. He balked at my madness, echoing my own endless reflections on non-point source pollution and all the possible chemical ick getting on my skin. I could only laugh, shrug it off “Whatever!” I stepped into the street, realizing my 75 year old Mama was stepping into the yard too, chattering away with my other ancient son, Isaac. They were laughing and following at their own pace. No protection, the intent clear in their progress under the same trees, towards the same street and surreal light. I spread my arms out wide and lifted my face to the downpour. Something I had murmured, I don’t recall, evoked spontaneous response in Evan. He shook his head and smiled and grabbed my arm to pull me into a hug. And held on. For whatever reason, he had needed my silly girl response to rain and fears of stupid chemicals in waterflow. He needed that reminder that I’m playful, girl, not just Mom. Then we were joined by two more and the walk down the road began. My own girlish Mama soaked to the skin and Isaac too, we laughed our way down the street. For a moment we did the silly walk, arm in arm, one leg crossing over the other’s (like the Monkeys, if anyone remembers such), singing. But mostly we basked in what it be… in love and torrential earth/sky fusion activities. We made it all the way to the end of the street and I had to turn around. It was the best I could manage after being laid out with my health for a whole week. But what a rush of renewal…

Once back under the maples and away from the street light, we lingered, all of us, chatting and grateful for a rainfall without the risk of lightning and the cool breezes coming up from all the gusty tanglings of elemental surrender. And because my youngest ancient child spoke of how we’d likely forget the moment, however wonderful, I have put this to post here. One day he’ll remember and laugh and the waterflow will call him out for another dance with the agelessness we all embody every once in a while. But I wonder where the world would be were we more eager to forget age and role and hair color and anything but soul as we soak up the song of rain, abandoning custom, worry and obstruction for just one more dance with the child within, how much more freely would love erupt and grow.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014


Posted by: jruthkelly | June 26, 2014

Gated Keep

a question arising
sings my stance:

enclosed; love brews my fresh

drive by blithe, unfeeling.
treasures sweet

into soil infusing
all these hours’

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

Posted by: jruthkelly | June 25, 2014

Shiny Badges

The older I get the more I realize how flimsy love can be in some relationships. And how ironically stalwart, solid in others and some just relentless, regardless of how inconvenient, unconventional and even mostly unavailable. I’ve left my marriage but the love is there for us both to be human (flawed), helpful (magnanimous) and flexible (willing to bend when it will help all of us). We aren’t married but, we’re married to the clean up of leftover messes and the nurturing of ongoing commitments. I’ve witnessed and been witnessed, all the worst colors of the bad and the ugly. And there’s not any petty stomping off like scared children on the playground way back in the mean streets of “elementary” school. It’s the same with my relationships with others – love full. But too few, in terms of solid, lasting maturity in relating. I look in the mirror and wonder why. I realize there are some things I’m just not going to tolerate, like being misrepresented intentionally – hence the loss of a “friend” I dearly loved last year and the resulting storm of lost connections because of the poison. And the year before? A friend of decades had no stomach for my lack of stomach for another turn of stomping on things precious, ironically. I wasn’t allowed to be human and so, no words for 2 years now. No vocal words, just those messages most safe, via social media and some texts. But I’m definitely out because I wasn’t able to do another dance with confusion in that particular long bond. I shake my head thinking of the many roundy rounds I’ve been through with confusion in another relationship. And some confusing rounds I instigated too. The love is still there. There’s no stomping away. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. But I try to make sense of it. Then there are those who are just lost in a sea of indignation because in spite of having unsuccessfully attempted to help them while being in the midst of some of my own surreal schedule and scary health challenges, I didn’t pull off the paint job. I scratch my head. This? This is love? These ridiculous missteps scattering people and creating twisted piles of “logic” like “I don’t have to say I’m sorry if I’m not sorry.” I want to say “Oh, really? Duh. Congratulations on knowing how no one makes you do a damn thing you don’t wanna. Congratulations on not feeling sorrow over loss. Congratulations on finding a shiny badge for that.”

And that is where I am after the last round of poetry and river song, somewhere between remembering the vibe of love and wondering why it has to be so randomly seemingly absent at times most critical. And why my own flaws can’t be less tiring, troublesome and hurtful. There are times when it truly feels like all the universe is waiting for is that one misstep or missed step and slam. But see now I’m whining. And I don’t do that if I can possibly help it but today, mostly, I would like to feel less affected by loss and more able to put on that shiny badge everyone else is so damn proud of.

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