Friday, January 10, 2020

Do and hope?

One of my matriarchal family lines (Caldwell-Tatum) has a centuries-old family motto:
Do and hope. Fac Et Spera. 
A lot can be read into these three simple words, even without the fancy armored arm waving a sword through a crown crest that goes along with them. As a kid and then a young woman I was drawn to the words hope and do individually, and in that order. I pictured noble ancestors hoping for a better life for themselves, their family, their country and doing the work, adventuring, rebelling, immigrating, bootlegging, and learning to make those hopes happen. I took heart in my naive hopes of saving the world and dared to tilt at windmills and bang my head into brick walls of bureaucracy and apathy. I even rallied others at times vicariously with my off-gassing of hope and determination. Hoping and doing was initially a very satisfying mantra or motto, and then I discovered I had it backward.

I'm now arguably middle-aged and have suffered through obtaining three degrees and a host of traumatic experiences in extreme environments where I could literally do nothing and the worst outcome was hopelessly inevitable. As a consequence of my jobs, I necessarily do a lot of observing only (e.g. job analysis, teamwork assessment, organizational research, executive coaching). There was nothing I could do to prevent a detective from being shot to death during my ride-along or to put life back into the many broken and defeated bodies I followed first-responders to, or to bring back an astronaut or faculty member I had worked with after a tragic incident, or to help a healthcare professional or veteran actually get past the repeating memory of a gruesome trauma. There was nothing I could do that had any hope of saving two of my best friends from a boat fire or my dog from drowning or my in-laws from a long, slow, scary cognitive decline or young family members from being exploited and disparaged into self-destructive behaviors. There is certainly nothing I can do that has any obvious or immediate hope of stopping deadly wars, natural disasters, famines, greed, or ignorance. Living has made it abundantly clear that waiting on hope to inspire me to do is completely hopeless.

Hope feeds on the fumes of doing, not the other way around. Sitting in the bullet-proof back of that police cruiser while one detective struggled to drag his partner out of the line of fire, I thought of things I could do to better select and train officers to survive and to support their families and colleagues when they did not. When the horror was over, I set about doing those things as much as possible and convincing others to pay attention to doing them too; and I found the hope to do more from there. I've learned that the doing must come first or my hope will die out as soon as the doing doesn't accomplish what it should. For me, hope survives as long as I stubbornly persist in doing. I must do in order to feed my future hope.

I still read a lot into those three words. I cling to them in their exact order now, do and hope. They save me from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They remind me that if I wait to hope, I may never do what is really necessary or actually helpful again. I do the best I can to change what I can for the better while I can with what I have and hope that makes my own or someone else's adventure living a little easier or better from that point on. I do, and I make mistakes or sometimes I just end up doing the wrong thing, but then I do something else or something differently next time, knowing that I will probably learn something that has an even better hope of influencing lives. I write and hope it will speak to what someone else needs at some point in time when they most need it, but I do not wait until I feel hopeful someone would like to read it before I write it. I certainly do not wait to write until I have hopes of achieving success (whatever that is). I write and hope I can revise it to be even better later as I learn. I do, then I hope, and that is how my next day always dawns beautiful and clean and full of purpose now.

Do and hope.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Sunlight on broken glass inside your empty house
Is as jagged as the uncertainty
Nagging at my belly.
Are you gone?
You must be.
There are only dust motes and ghosts of your intentions
Here near your teacups drying in the kitchen.
I study the upside-down enameled mug,
The one with the rainbow kitten on it,
That Adrian bought in Prague,
And the empty silicon manatee tea-infuser,
We gave her for Christmas,
Both gutted like me.
Every artifact spells out you were just here.
You planned to reappear.
Andrew’s notes above the desk outline two more years.
That picture of my uncle cock-eyed is on the magnet editing board,
Amongst the parrot from Costa Rica, a Joshua tree,
And those two of Adrian reading in a red dress by the waterfall.
Why those, all old, I wonder.
A battered wet-suit is draped over the chair on the patio
That smells faint,
Mostly of, the sea.
A book from that bookstore in San Diego
That you loved
Rests on each bedside table.
A regency romance for Adrian,
A comedic fantasy novel for Andrew,
But both bookmarked
Only a few pages in.
I can’t quite remember,
Are these books from the list I recommended to you,
Or among the ones you recommended to me?
Are voracious readers really allowed to die,
So ephemerally?
The stained-glass penguin window Laura crafted for you
Is still in a crate, as are your framed family photos,
In the one room that you still haven’t unpacked.
There are sheets on the new mattress you both complained about hauling
Into the upstairs guestroom,
Waiting for some of us to visit.
Maybe us next, or maybe Angela,
Or Kathryn and Levi with a toddler in tow.
Adrian was already worried about the Thanksgiving menu
Meeting everyone’s needs.
Andrew’s voice still echoes in my head,
Our last phone call,
“You and Laura should come. It’s only a three-day dive trip.”
I wished, but we had a wedding to attend.
“Ah well, we’ll do it again in November or April. We can have a Google hangout next week to figure it out.”
But we won’t.
You are perpetually out?
That isn’t what these artifacts say.
These trails of you evidence so many things
We have left to do
And the hopes still in count.
How do I reconcile
These artifacts
With the evidence
Of your absence?


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Someone I always thought would be here

Like the smell of rain on the grass,
or diesel in a crosswalk,
They were inevitably,
Part of the family compound.

Like a scorpion in the shower,
or changing flat tires,
They were always,
Part of something I'd maintain
awareness of how to handle.

Like the best book I ever read,
or the taste of malt on my tongue,
They were usually,
What I turned to,
When nothing else seemed familiar.

Like the start of an ancient hymn,
or the fold of my favorite jacket,
They were known,
As the backbone,
That would sustain my faith.

Someone I always thought would be there,
Most likely to help me survive,
Even stranded on a desert island,
With no place to buy beer,
and abysmally small Key Deer.

Someone I always thought would be there,
To ensure my desire to love,
Never went hungry for long,
And hope had a home to belong.

We are independent,
But part of the same song,
Even as I am alone,
Still singing along,
There are still,
the ghosts of my will,
still here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Lacey's 10 Author Fashion Essentials

It isn't always sippin' lattes and cashing royalty checks...sometimes authors have to fashion themselves for hard work. I offer you my time-tested fashion essentials, in hopes, it will save you some time to get down to authoring (so you can #BeMightyWrite!).
  1. A comfortable attitude is easier in the right pants, Chico's So Slimming Girlfriend Jeans. These go everywhere from weekends holed up in the dusty reserves of the local library to under your punky best tuxedo jacket for an international awards ceremony...and they are comfortable enough to sleep in on a long flight...and did I mention the four real pockets?
  2. A snuggly shirt for writing makes all the difference in getting through those tough-to-write, too-real scenes. I know you're thinking flannel, but broaden your mind a tiny bit to chamois. Specifically, LL Bean's Women's Heritage Chamois Shirt. It's even great for pulling over your favorite t-shirt inside over-air-conditioned libraries and cafes in the Texas Summers.
  3. Speaking of favorite t-shirts, Duluth's Women's Longtail T Lightweights also go from curled up on the sofa with a cat or five to under that tuxedo jacket or chamois shirt as needed and without shrinking.
  4. A writer must follow her feet, sometimes into nature and sometimes through the big, dirty cities and airports to a book signing. I don't like packing heavy, so I want a shoe that does it all and looks good with almost everything...even occasionally a punky little dress. Blundstone's 500 Chelsea Boot for Women in Stout Brown takes care of everything that doesn't require a tennis shoe and can be waterproofed with an $8 bottle of Camp Dry. Bombas socks (buy a pair and they donate a pair to a homeless shelter) go great with these boots.
  5. When you must wear dress shoes, but still want to be able to walk ten miles or stand around for hours, then it is all about the Rothy's shoes of your choice. They last forever too and wash in the washing machine.
  6. What about the jacket? The Womens Canvas Kuhl Trinity Moto Jacket keeps the rain off, looks cool dressed up or down, and makes your Vegan fans happy too. Carbon is my favorite color because it goes with just about everything, including my silk tank top and those Girlfriend Jeans and way-out Rothy's at the award balls.
  7. I've been around the world for work and worry with only one bag and nothing beats Timbuk2s Laptop Messenger Bags with the quick-zip that lets you cruise through security checkpoints without taking out your laptop. The main compartment also holds three to four days' worth of clothes if you need it to. Mine is custom colors, but the Jetblack Static version is pretty lesfic suave too and they're made in San Francisco!
  8. It's too easy to get distracted by a Smart Watch, especially when I have a hint of writer's block visiting. I like to have a watch with a movable dive ring too for timing my writing sessions (and to wear as a back up to my dive computer on occasion). Casio's LRW200H is so affordable I can have different colors, including the one with rose gold numbers and the one with rainbow numbers!
  9. Normally, I write on a PC (I'm a big fan of my Surface Pro now), but I don't always have a laptop handy and sometimes I don't want to drag down my phone battery by using my Dragon Speak too much. Sometimes I also just want to jot down some notes or ideas for later. In all of these instances, Moleskine's Pocket-sized Cahier Journals are great. I like the Kraft Brown version so I can sticker it up or doodle on the cover to make it a fun fashion accessory. Each journal also has a small pocket inside that is great for travel receipts that I need to have reimbursed later.
  10. For a writer, the pen is the ultimate in luxury jewels. It's my royal scepter in the vast queendom of my imagination, and yet I can sometimes lose it easily. Only one pen on the market writes like it cost hundreds of dollars, looks like a thousand bucks, but costs less than ten dollars: Zebra's Steel F-701 All Metal Retractable Ball Point Pen
    It isn't always sippin' lattes and cashing royalty checks...

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Now i Know (21)

Love's a gamble,
i take my chances,
i place my bets,
only insurance is
the house
deals regrets
win or lose
take the bruise
next time choose
which casino.

Every love-death knell
blows like iron bellows
belting over all my mettles
he's the fellow
got me
always hittin' hope,
even two on the rope,
countin' on the ace
of hearts
in every hand.

The lights draw me in.

Popular Posts