Call and Response


You know, I have been working lately on accepting what is and being in the moment and dealing with things as they come and not being attached to outcomes and all sorts of groovy  new ways of looking at life.

I have also been trying to really listen and trust, TRUST, what I hear in this call and response that is life. Because that is what I have felt like lately…I throw out an idea and see how it sounds echoing  back to me. I write something down and pin it to the refrigerator, looking at it daily and trying to see if it will float, or if something will float out from all the thoughts, words, ideas and regurgitation coming up from my mind these days. Crazy pages of scribbling words and ideas, floating messes with differing goals. Call, ask..and respond, answer.

The trick is not jumping on one idea so quickly that I don’t listen for the answer, and I can say with some certainty that I have been doing well in this regard. I think that’s why I haven’t been writing too much, why I have been sitting with my thoughts rather than throwing them out there for comment (even though the comments I get here I treasure, seriously, you all know that!). But in the last couple of months huge shifts are happening. They happened a little over 3 years ago when I got sober. Then again when I started being open to the idea of change…beginning 11th step yoga and staying open to a higher power energy, packing up my life and selling the house, moving to my apartment and divesting myself of stuff (and more stuff). In the last year (and it has been almost exactly a year since I left my house) I have been on a quest to figure out what might be my purpose in this last part of my life. I went deeper into yoga and meditation. I continue to be present for my grief groups and learn there. I am sponsoring and that really pushes me to get more in  touch with my own recovery, which has spread from drinking to eating to emotional recovery…it’s all the same thing. I have spoken with a person who has a lot of psychic energy and she has opened my eyes to some things.

I have been listening hard, sometimes to the detriment of doing, but that has to be ok right now, because i don’t want to do anything wrong, make a mistake, screw up the rest of my life……..


Let’s just let that whole last sentence go, ok?

That sentence is the antithesis of what I want to do, and truthfully, I have NOT been doing that, for probably the first time in my life. I am listening and waiting for answers…call and response. I am trusting that the answers are all here, inside me and that they will come when I am ready. And I am being rewarded for this new tact, with new insights and certainty and hope for the future, a future I have been dreading for quite a while now.

One thing I know for sure (Oprah? is that you?) is that allowing is the way to go and that if I allow what IS to stay forefront in my mind, then allowing what is going to be will follow, because…call and response. Next right thing, next indicated action, the answers will come.

I have ideas, a lot of them. I wish I could show you the papers covered in thoughts and ideas and plans and outcomes, but I am sure you all have them too. They are a good tool though,because amidst all the mess there is one thing that keeps popping out, over and over. Grabbing my attention, calling to me, demanding attention  It is a starting point, a place that all the other ideas seem to flow from, and it surprises the hell out of me.

Yes, I am trusting and listening. YES, I hear you.


Sharing this call and response poetry I found and love: “all things in good time and all good things in time after so long waiting ,Dana. This, I believe This, I refuse to give up for another minute….”


Call and Response: Dana Gioia’s Poem, “The Letter”

Call: The Letter
by Dana Gioia

And in the end, all that is really left
Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable—
That somehow we deserved something better.
That somewhere along the line things
Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s
In charge, which certainly would have set
Everything straight between us and the world,
Never reached us. Got lost somewhere.
Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.
Or sent by mistake to an old address
Whose new tenant put it on her dresser
With the curlers and the hairspray forgetting
To give it to the landlord to forward.
And we still wait like children who have sent
Two weeks’ allowance far away
To answer an enticing advertisement
From a crumbling, yellow magazine,
Watching through years as long as a childhood summer,
Checking the postbox with impatient faith
Even on days when mail is never brought.


Response: The Letter
by Jena Strong

No, Dana. In the end,
we will have received
every letter, opened some
neatly, along the crease
of the envelope, using
the letter opener we found
that time at the five and dime
when we were little kids
with coins in our lint-lined
pockets, that somehow
we kept through all the loves
and all the moves,
all the well days
and all the hand-wringing
goodbye moments,
tucked away and taken out
to open letters announcing:
I love you, you are loved.

Others, we will have been
not so careful with,
tearing them open
with overeager hands
or our front teeth
like rabid animals,
hungry not for news
but for something to chew on
and digest, to fuel us through
one hard winter after another.

Yes, we sent messages out
to the world, in bottles,
in songs, in pleas
and prayers, in exultation
and in desperation, asking
for so much and stopping
one day and then another,
no longer wondering
if we deserved answers,
deserved return receipt,
deserved reciprocity.

We deserved it,
deserved it all in the end,
got what our starving
hearts feared wouldn’t come.
We arrived, at the end, here,
to this place
where open and honest learned
to lie together, lion and lamb,
storm and stasis,
breath and gifts from an abyss
of longing unwrapped,
a party in our mouths
of words and of kisses
and of running
to the mailbox after work
to lift the lid
from the tin mailbox–
It came! It came! Mama!

All things in good time
and all good things in time
after so long waiting, Dana.
This, I believe. This, I refuse
to give up for another minute,
not wasting a single morsel
of the mail, the inbox–
the sender and the receiver,
the writer and the reader
are one, and the same.





Add yours →

  1. This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read. Even though you know that I’m a huge fan of yours, I can honestly say this sincerely and without bias. In addition to what you said (more about that in a minute), you created a zen–like atmosphere. It swirled around your words and directly to me. You made me smile as I thought about the journals and scraps of paper and that are scattered all over my desk, too. In cupboards and hidden in closets.
    But, I’ve been missing something in that whole collection. Call and response.
    I had NEVER thought to do what you did…put out a message–listen and respond. Duh, right? It seems so simple, but reading your words alerts me to the fact that you can’t hear if you ain’t listening! And I ain’t listening if I’m always talking.
    The icing on the cake was the poem. Could it be any more perfect and beautiful and so heart-wrenchingly true?
    I’m heading back to read this again…and then seeing about getting more serious about yoga.
    just wow. xo

    • thank you michelle…

      things are heating up a bit in these parts, change is happening..more soon.
      but I am so glad that you liked it..and those poems?
      so perfect and surprising, but then life is so surprising lately it’s becoming usual.

      • Hi Michele,
        Been thinking about your post and (and response) all week. Of course you’ve hit my curiosity button. “heating up”? I have a feeling you aren’t talking about the thermostat in the yoga room 😉

        Speaking of yoga…I’m too fidgety to do it and wish I had the patience (and confidence) to try a class. I can sense your Zen (not making fun!) and would really like to know what else you do to instill the calm and stop a racing mind. Authors or books you’ve read? Breathing or meditation? Sorry to hijack your post with my questions, but I’m really curious and am clamoring for something good to read or new to try. No hurry! xo

  2. I too love this idea of call and response…brilliant! I have a tendency to jump on things without waiting for that call back and most often I fall on my face. Little things and not-so-little things. Now and then I get something out of it. Other than a lesson in humility and patience.

    I also like the idea of writing these things down. My wife keeps a “vision board” beside her desk, and it has all the things in her life that she wants to focus on and accomplish – work and personal. I am quite the opposite of that. I keep it inside, and frankly, I often forget, or tend to think of those things as a bit hokey. Then again, she gets all that stuff done all the time, so I am the one who needs adjusting…lol.

    I too read something from a woman with great psychic energy. Her latest post recharged me in a way. Find her here:



    • thank you Paul…

      and i like vision boards too…i like the way your wife thinks. My latest board has been bits of paper, but i spent the other night cutting words that resonated with me out of magazines so I can do a more proper one…
      they really work.
      Keep you focussed and also send a message to the universe that you are ready and willing!

  3. I’ve been slow to comment on peoples’ blogs lately, if I comment at all. I’ve been in a state of listening and trusting too. But what you wrote and those poems…wow. This is going to linger with me.

  4. Michelle,

    Your post is a gift on this Monday, July 21.
    I’ve been reading your blog and at times, was brought to tears by what you had written, and by your strength.
    This post, these poems, shine a light on this, my 2nd (really, what is probably my 1000th 2nd day) day of sobriety.

    Thank you.

    • Your welcome Kai,

      if there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know.
      Quite frankly, sobriety is what kicked me into every place that is wonderful in my life, and keeps my head above water in the less than stellar moments.
      I believe you can do this, because I did, and I know many others have.
      And i can promise you it gets easier and it gets so, so much better.

  5. It feels to me like its YOUR call I need to be listening to. Your recent post on Radical Acceptance has stayed with me this last week or 2 and is drifting through my thoughts constantly, changing my perspective, opening up my vision, quite radically affecting me. And now this………………I shall be reading and rereading this, listening, listening.

    • Listening is important, but more important, at least for me, is trusting the answers that come.
      All of my good ideas started somewhere else and I’ve taken them and made them mine, in my own way.
      Being radically affected is SO good…I’m gal something I said could do that for you.
      When we speak out truth we change, we really do.
      FINDING the truth…there’s the rub!

  6. runningonsober July 23, 2014 — 7:10 pm

    Oh. Oh. Oh.

    These poems.

    Could be the response I’ve been waiting for and her they were all along.

    (Has it really been a year? Wow.)

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