Poll Tax

How many of my readers lived in a state that required a poll tax? If you did, do you remember the occasion? I remember mine quite clearly. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, poll tax means “a tax of a fixed amount per person levied on adults and often linked to the right to vote.”

Seven years ago, I wrote another post about poll tax, and at the time, I had not found this little piece of paper. If you are interested, you might check it out for more information, as well as a photo of me at age 21.

How this tattered remnant of my “exemption” receipt managed to remain in my treasures for the past 67 years is a miracle. I now keep it in a sealed plastic baggy for protection.

My new husband and I had recently turned 21, the age of “maturity” where we lived in Jackson, Mississippi. We went to the appropriate office to register to vote.

In order to avoid paying the $5 poll tax, we were told to correctly answer a question about the U.S. government. My question was “Who was the first president of the United States?” There was a young black man standing at the counter next to us and his question was “What were the Federalist Papers and what did Patrick Henry have to do with them?” I don’t remember if he answered or not, but I never forgot his question.

What more needs to be said about that day? The implication was clear enough and something for reflection on this weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

A hui hou!

A New Year for the Old Me!

I finally retired from teaching as of September 1 of 2021, and I’m not quite sure I like it yet. Three of my adult children have retired and they keep telling me how much I’m going to love it! Other friends who have retired say that it took up to two years before they felt comfortable being retired. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I love being active, having a purpose, not sitting still and that I don’t go looking for “fun things to do.”

So I’ve been exploring activities I have enjoyed in the past. Perhaps many of us would find it valuable to take time to remember who we were in a “past life,” i.e., in our younger years. Many surprises will arise out of that exercise.

One revealing event for me came in the form of an old email from my brother. He had sent me a link to a beautiful site called “Trawlers and Tugs Blog.” Sadly, she no longer posts on that site, but she covered beautiful art about working boats.

That site and his email triggered something deep inside me. I realize that as much as I used to enjoy painting with watercolors and messing around with colored chalks, I no longer take time to indulge in anything artistic and I told him so.

It was his answer that made me think. He said, “It bothers me that you don’t take time for yourself to make music, paint, sew, act, direct, etc. All my life I associated those kinds of things with you.” I promised him I would start again.

One of my favorite courses to teach regularly was “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” And yet in teaching it, I always put my own artistic past aside and simply taught others how to draw on their creativity. Sometimes I got a glimpse of that “old Lucy” when teaching other courses, too, but I always shoved it aside in the interest of the students.

When I find myself re-reading books like Who You Were Meant to Be: A Guide to Finding or Recovering Your Life’s Purpose by Lindsay C. Gibson, Psy.D, or other books about finding “the authentic you,” then I know there is something in my life that needs attention.

I started rummaging around for my art materials, deeply buried in a junk room. When I opened up the first box of pastels, I said “Ohhh!” right out loud. The brilliant colors took my breath away, and tears came into my eyes. I want to put them where I can see them regularly and to remind myself that it’s something I now have time to enjoy in retirement.

Perhaps you are someone who has already re-discovered the “old you” – the authentic you – and are living the life you were meant to live. If so, I congratulate you! My suspicion is that most who will read my post need a reminder to take time this New Year to think about who they are.

I must be authentic if I want to continue to inspire students and friends to be authentic – and creative.

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!
(Happy New Year!)

Covid Slump?

Have you ever been caught in the doldrums while out sailing? It’s a hard place to be, isn’t it? Waiting for the wind to lift your sails and send you on your way can feel like a thankless and endless chore.

Surely, I’m not the only person who found herself with time to write but ended up worrying about COVID instead! For some reason, I just couldn’t find the energy to do much writing. All that time spent washing my hands, social distancing, putting on a mask, and sanitizing seemed to destroy any creative streak that was trying to surface.

I have been vaccinated, and I still wash my hands, social distance myself, wear my mask, and sanitize frequently, I’m venturing out more, and I think I caught my creative muse peeking around the corner, so maybe she didn’t die after all. Resurrection can happen!

There is a fresh breeze blowing offshore, and perhaps we’ll have full sailing ability soon. Yesterday, after all this time of COVID and a blank brain, I came up with four or five new ideas and plots for books I want to write. Maybe it’s because the past eighteen or more months allowed space for a breeze to blow through the windows of my mind, but for whatever reason, I’m writing again!

I’ve heard that whistling can bring the desired wind, so if you are in the COVID doldrums, go “whistle up the wind!” and get back to your computer.

A hui hou!

Feral Fables

“For centuries, women and men have sought guidance and counsel to help them in processes of change, healing, and transformation.”

That is the first sentence in the introduction to my book, Feral Fables. How many of us have checked the I Ching, or Animal Medicine cards, or the Tarot to see what they have to say to us? Not only is it fun, but it also can be enlightening in some strange and inexplicable way.  

We are spoken to through many avenues. Insights may come like lightning bolts or in a still, small voice. A friend says something that strikes us as relevant to a question we’ve pondered. We hear a conversation that brings sudden understanding to a problem. A dream reveals an answer to a situation. We read a story that becomes more significant each time we read it.

Such is the nature of these fables. This is the sort of book you can have on your cell phone or iPad that you can tuck in your purse or briefcase and so it will be handy at all times. At odd moments, you can pick a fable at random to see what meaning it can bring to your life. Whether you are female or male, youth or elder, there will be something of value in each brief fable.

What is a fable anyway? The dictionary describes it as “a fictitious story meant to teach a moral lesson.” I believe it is more than just a moral lesson. I prefer to say that it shows us “Truth” greater than “truth.” I wrote these to use as I worked with psychology clients who were looking for that Truth in their lives. You can do the same for yourself.

I plan to publish it as hard copy before long, but in the meantime, I suggest that you read it as an e-book. You can get your copy of Feral Fables by clicking on this link.

You can read these fables with the intention of finding clarity on some issue in your life, or maybe the serendipity will surprise you when you read them just for fun. In either case, please let me know your reaction to these wild tales.

Aloha!

OUR FOURTH QUADRANT

As older women we have traveled Joseph Campbell’s mythological “Hero’s Journey” many times in various aspects of our lives. Through our first three quadrants of that journey, we accepted challenges, faced “dragons” and at times were pushed to depths of despair. We learned how to manage the trials and temptations of life, and we developed new insights about our lives.

According to Campbell, this fourth quadrant of the journey we have taken is a time of self-realization, of self-actualization. In my dissertation of 1992, I wrote that the “hero of today dares to seek wholeness and fulfillment through finding new pathways to unknown territory.”

That is an excellent description of the Perennial women I interviewed on my physical journey, my road trip to interview older women. I discovered their insights, what they had in common, and what they are doing in the fourth quadrant of their life journey to stay fulfilled.

Now we are ready to rethink what we can or cannot do as we get older, as we engage in this fourth quadrant of life. Now we have emerged, ready to face anything required of us, ready to find or create “new pathways to unknown territory.” Now we are feeling empowered and blessed.

Would you share with us your ideas about exciting and energizing ways we can live this fourth quadrant? What are you doing?

Are You A Perennial?

The time has come to return to this blog! I traveled throughout the mainland USA and conducted around one hundred interviews with women over 60. It was the fall semester of 2019 when I took my sabbatical. Then COVID hit!

I put some of my notes together and gave a Capstone talk to the Women’s Studies Department for UH-Mãnoa this past spring semester. I’m afraid I was limited on time, and it didn’t allow me to include everyone in my talk.

Some say I have enough material for a book but I’m not sure that’s the route I want to take yet. I’m playing around with several possibilities of what to do with the information I gathered, and one suggestion was to set up a coaching business for older women who want to retire but not quite sure what they want to do.

If you think you might be interested, let me know. I suspect most women who have reached an age where they can retire are savvy enough to know what they want to do without my help.

I have retired from several careers in the past, however, and I know how easy it is to feel at a loss. Usually, I had something else in mind or already started each time I retired, which made it easier. I’m retiring from my teaching career at the end of summer school this year, and I finally understand what people go through the first time they retire!

My mind won’t let me sit at home; it’s working overtime, I think. So, you might be hearing the thought process I go through in setting up something new for myself. I’d love your suggestions!

Stay tuned!

Lucy

P.S. I forgot to say that you can find my original posts about this under https://lavalily.com/perennial-women/ Check it out!

Sabbatical conversations with Perennials Zoom presentation

On May 7, 2021 at noon HST, I will present the findings of my Sabbatical conversations with Perennials throughout the country. In order to view it on Zoom, you need to register in advance. The link to register is https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqdu-trj0sG9b52nqiNFTJpmFIIlW44OM1

https://womenstudies.manoa.hawaii.edu/

https://www.facebook.com/ws.uhmanoa

https://twitter.com/on_ws_studies

May Day/Lei Day!

LEHUA BLOSSOMS ON OHIA TREE
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LEHUA BLOSSOMS ON OHIA TREE

What do you think of when May 1 comes along?

The Lehua blossoms on the Ohia tree above are one sure sign that we are on the verge of summer. By May 1, the trees are loaded with red blooms and more are opening up.

When I was a little girl many moons ago, on May 1, we made little baskets to hang on the door knobs of neighbors. Sometimes these were baskets folded out of construction paper strips that we had made in school. Not as frequently, we were able to go to the “dime store” and buy a few little woven straw baskets.

Whatever we used, we filled them with flowers as our way of saying “Happy Spring!” on May 1, or May Day. Even today, May Day is celebrated here in Hawai`i as “Lei Day” with hula, everyone wearing lots of leis, and the crowning of the May King and Queen in the schools.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a member of the May Queen’s court. As a child, I enjoyed dancing the May Pole Dance, which originated in Great Britain.

For those who have ever done any sailing, “Mayday!” meant a life and death situation at sea. Fortunately, I never had to radio that emergency when I lived on board my boat.

However you think of “May Day,” it primarily means lots of flowers and a feeling of new life in our gardens. Here are a few signs of “new life” as we begin the month of May.

I call this my “Buttercup” plant because of the many yellow blooms that cover it. Some have already fallen off but there are many more buds ready to open up.

BUTTERCUP PLANT
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BUTTERCUP PLANT

Blossoms on my little coffee tree was one of the many surprises I found this past week! What do you think the chances are that I’ll get a cup of coffee out of this?

COFFEE TREE IN BLOOM
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COFFEE TREE IN BLOOM

Two weeks ago, I planted three Spic & Span gladiolus bulbs and today, I saw that two of them have sent up spikes of almost two inches! Today, I also planted one Florence Vaughn Canna
and one Canna Indica. I can hardly wait to see these all sprout.

Somehow, I have squash vines coming up in the oddest places, especially where I did not plant them! I think the birds have left me these gifts. At any rate, here’s one of the squash plants that many people around here eat. Sometimes they get about two feet long! The vines must be spreading out at least four or five feet. Here is a squash and I have no idea what kind it is. I have another one growing where I planted okra!

VOLUNTEER SQUASH
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VOLUNTEER SQUASH

The fig tree my daughters gave me last spring has five branches covered with figs. Here is just one branch! There were two figs on it last summer and they were sweet. It looks like I’ll have more than two to eat this year, if the birds don’t get them!

FIGS
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FIGS

I’ve planted nasturtiums to cover some of the areas that are not hospitable to other plants. They have just started to come up.

NASTURTIUM
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NASTURTIUM

My donkey tail is getting plump. I need to make or buy some macramé hangers to get them up where they can really grow.

DONKEY TAIL
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DONKEY TAIL

My mixture of salad greens is about ready to give me a little salad.

SALAD GREENS
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SALAD GREENS

Along with the salad makings, I have several beautiful basils. Here is the Siam Basil.

SIAM BASIL
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SIAM BASIL

I have planted Holy Basil, also, but it’s not big enough to see yet. The Sweet Basil is growing like crazy, however. This picture was taken last week, and it’s about three times as big now. You can see the small lettuce plants a student gave me beside the basil. The other day, I ate a fresh sweet basil, tomato, and Jarlsberg cheese sandwich on whole grain bread that was heavenly.

SWEET BASIL
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SWEET BASIL

A common flower, but one of my favorites, is the geranium. These red ones are in pots outside my kitchen window, taking their cheer inside.

This peach colored geranium is starting to get a little growth on it.

PEACH GERANIUM
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PEACH GERANIUM

Today I did a lot of pruning, planting, watering, and weeding – then fed the weeds to my hens. On these warm, sunny days, I run out of time with so many projects to take care of. Once school is out (just one more week!), I’ll be able to spend more time outside.

A hui hou!