Smoking Weeds

Isle Royale Lake Richie, copyright Ellen Wilson

house of reeds
where plovers sleep
plastered with crap

Kobayashi Issa

I was going to write something all esoteric and languid about how the reeds were reflected in the lake and the sky simultaneously and was looking up some haiku to accomplish this feat, when this poem by Issa came flying up through the centuries and plopped itself on the page.

Or should I say, pooped itself on the page.

I’m sure Issa is having a good laugh.

Yes, there is a light side to things, and a dark side to things, and that is why we laugh. To get us through it all. What if we never laughed? How depressing would that be? So if you are depressed, please, start laughing right now, and it will kick start the happy chemicals in your brain.

I thought of The Deep Friar and his meditative posters. That is what got me going on all of this. Friar is very funny and I’m sure they will soon promote him to Section Humor Head at the Widget Factory.  Satire is the name of his game.  And isn’t satire a little dark?  But it is oh so tasty and honest.

And I was thinking of Bob Younce, author of The Writing Journey, when I wrote this. Because he wrote an excellent piece on How Life in Unfair. And it is. Even when we want it to be.

But if life didn’t have this dark side, how could we know the light side?

So I quit smoking today. And it is Beltane. Day of renewal. And this is as good as time as ever. I like symbolism, and surely you get it. I will now be renewing my dark lungs.

I told my friend, Amy Derby, over at Write at Home, ’cause she has been through it all, and I’m sure she will be supportive.  It all really started with her, and the synchronicity of quitting smoking couldn’t have been better.  Thanks Amy!

And because I’m a bad liar?  You will know if I smoke again.

My daughter and I broke the cigs over the trash can – symbolically breaking their strength over me. The same gesture I went through with my son 10 years ago.

And If my husband, Mike, is reading this – I know he will be proud.

My friend, Brett Legree, over at 6 Weeks says, “Fail Early, and Fail Often.”

So never quit quitting.

Photocredit: © Ellen Wilson

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30 thoughts on “Smoking Weeds”

  1. Ellen

    Hahahah! That’s priceless…:-). You have a natural talent for motivational posters. (You just HAVE to Photoshop that poem onto your photo in big words!)

    PS. Thanks for the referral, and good luck with quitting smoking!

  2. Ellen,

    You will do this. I know it. Keep on keepin’ on, never give up. Fall down seven times, get up eight times.

    Mike *will* be proud of you.

    Happy Beltane my friend – we have a space reserved for you at the fire tonight, and cold beer (Labatts) 🙂


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..fix the stairs.

  3. Ellen

    Hahahah! That’s priceless! I’m glad to see my “bad attitude” has rubbed off on at least one person.

    You realize, of course, that you HAVE TO photoshop Issa poem on your photo, in bright white italic letters!

    Hey, thanks for the referral. I’m really flattered.

    And good luck with the smoking thing. I know you can do it.

    Friar’s last blog post..Beware the Soup Martyrs

  4. @Brett – There really is nothing else, is there? I mean, I have stopped and started at least 4 times in my life. One time I stopped for 6 years.

    @Darren – I’m afraid I might run out of good pictures. I might have to space them out more.

    @Friar – Yeah, you’re bad attitiude is right up there. In fact, you gave me another idea, maybe I will make some cards out of my photos with Japanese haiku inside and sell them at our local shop. It may go down well. I know a few local photographers do this, and the stuff seems to sell well – cards, bookmarks, mugs – and whatnots. Apparently it has to be “practical” items. Pictures don’t sell as well. We are all about practical in the Midwest!

    The smoking thing isn’t bad…yet. It comes in waves.

  5. It’s amazing to look back and realize the good things that came out of times that seemed really really bad, so bad I thought I wouldn’t get through them. I always think of that quote, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” I really do think that the dark side is such an important part of our human existence. And lovely photo – is that at one of the Great Lakes?

  6. Hi Mary! Thanks for stopping by. This is a photo of Lake Richie at dawn on Isle Royale, which is on Lake Superior. You can even see Canada from Isle Royale!

    Yeah, the dark in life is a fact of life. That’s a good quote by the way. Who said that?

  7. @Brett – Yeah, that is a good one, eh?

    @Mary – A few people have asked me where I took some of these photos. I probably should go through and label them. Because I’m anal that way. It also might stimulate some interesting discussion.

  8. Regarding your quitting smoking. I’m thinking of Rob Schnieder’s line in The Waterboy

    “….You can DO EET”.

    Isle Royale is also something I’ve wanted to see. It’s amazing you get an island that big in the middle of a freshwater lake. I’ve often flown over it when visiting Alberta.

  9. Ellen,

    Good luck with that. I quit several times and then one day I quit and stayed that way. 27 years ago.

    It can be done. Sending the strong thoughts.

  10. Thanks Wendi. That means a lot to me. I’m taking your strong thoughts and putting them in my bag of tricks.

  11. Ellen,
    What a great concept. We don’t see the light in Monet’s works without the dark, almost putrid colors used behind the light…
    We don’t see the rainbows that make us think of magic and gold and childhood dreams and schemes, without the dark thundrous clouds and rains..
    And you won’t see the freedom you seek without the edge of insanity….:-)))))

    You have a host of folks at your beckon call… to tell you what you already know…that you are already a non-smoker because you bid it so…

    Keep us “posted!!”

    Harmony’s last blog post..Are You BIG Enough To Take Up Space?

  12. @Ellen

    I tried to leave a comment today at work, but the computer wouldn’t let me enter anything on your site. Probably the firewall acting up again. (Brett…help!)

    Anyway, I like the photo for Isle Royale. I’ve always wanted to check out it out. (Almost went there 2 years ago). There’s something haunting and beautiful about Lake Superiour that I love.

    I don’t smoke, but I can somewhat relate, as I’m constantly battling my weight. So Kudos to you for trying.

    ….just remember the immortal words of Rob Schneider in the movie “The Waterboy”.

    “You can DO EEEEET”.

    Friar’s last blog post..How to Take Good Meeting Notes…

  13. Ellen,

    I really enjoyed your post! I hope you stick with the “NO SMOKING” fight! It is well worth it! I also appreciated your comment on if you are depressed to start laughing. It made me smile, I’ve fought those demons and sometimes laughter is the best medicine!


    Jenny’s last blog post..Not So Random This Time!

  14. @Harmony – Your words are always wise and welcome. I will keep you posted. It got pretty bad yesterday, day 2, and I suspect day 3 will also be a demon, but I will push on. Thank you for Golden Zen. Next on my list is to get back into my Zazen routine and watch my monkey mind. You know what a bad student I am…

    @Friar – Go to Isle Royale! Mike and I are thinking of going in September. That is really the best time to go. All the tourists are gone. Lake Superior is haunting, and very cold. We lived on the shores of this old, cold lake for a few years. Literally. Yeah, Brett must get that fixed. I’m sure he will. And no, I haven’t seen the Waterboy. But if you like it, I’ll probably watch it.

    @Jenny – Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! I’m glad I could be of service. Maybe if more of us are happy, or at peace, there will be less suffering in the world.

    @Monika – Hello to you in Oz! You must be ready to sleep soon. I’m glad you liked the haiku. The Japanese monks always hit the nail on the head of meaning. My son, Nick, started teaching himself Japanese, but then he gave it up. You really need someone to practice with. I learned some words.

    Yeah, I know you all will get after me. That’s why I announced it on the Net. hehehe…

  15. Wow, wow, wow!I was transfixed by the hauntingly beautiful photograph and then moved on to the awesome post. So many thoughts, emotions and ideas running through my head. You are so right about the symbolism in the photo and the poem, well it could not be more appropriate. Like so many have commented the darkest times in my own life have brought about the most fruitful changes. Because of the dark, I do appreciate the light (whether faint, bright, clouded or hidden) so much more. Congratulations on quitting smoking! I’m here if you need moral support. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this post and for sharing your journey!

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Is it Social or Is It Business?

  16. Waterboy is an average/mediocre Adam Sandler movie. Not that great. But that line “You can DO EEET” stuck in my head.

    I love Lake Superior. It’s wild and untamed. (Did you know that they didnt’ complete the Trans-Canada highway around the north shore until 1961?)

    While Americans were putting astronauts into space, we Canucks still couldn’t drive across our country. Even now it’s still mostly single lane for the 600 miles between Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

    Hmmm…Isle Royale. You’re putting vacation ideas in my head.

    September is great. I was at Batchawana Bay last year. I had a beach campsite, hardly anyone was there, and the water was actually warm enough to swim in.

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #9. Yukon in the Fall

  17. Ellen

    All kidding aside, it takes guts to publicly admit that you’re quitting smoking. Because now you’re “accountable”. Everyone will start asking you about it. And you will get a few friends who might “kick you in the behind”, as Monika says.

    (If I kick you, I promise, I’ll be gentle. 🙂

    I’m also working on some “self-improvement” (i.e. losing weight and running). But unlike you, I’m not telling anyone how much, or what my goals are. (Too much pressure!)

    Friar’s last blog post..Watercolor #9. Yukon in the Fall

  18. @Karen – I find that we are always pushing away from the dark because it is painful and uncomfortable. Like now, wanting a cigarette and feeling all hormonal. There is really no where to run to. Well, maybe a menstrual hut, but we don’t have those anymore. Too bad. We really should work on getting those back.

    @Friar – Okay, maybe I won’t watch Waterboy, then. You know, I’ve heard that Americans didn’t really put astronauts in space. That it’s all a scam. It wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve been to Thunderbay and Sudbury. Thunderbay was hosting some fair convention and a hotel could not be found throughout the entire city. I couldn’t understand that; it’s a pretty big city. Batchawana Bay? Isn’t that by Pukaskwa National Park?

    @Brett – Well, I guess it’s not too bad, I mean, you can still work on your blog! That definitely counts for something.

    Well, the thing is I don’t have to see you guys in “person” everyday, so it’s not the same as getting ragged on from non-virtual people. I could lie for awhile, eh? No, I’m not a good liar. It’s just the whole shame based, I’m a smoker thing, that’s hard to admit. And then the shame of starting again? Do I really want to deal with that? My mind keeps trying to trick me saying oh, just once in awhile will be okay. After a few beers. And at some periods of time I was able to do this. Not always, though.

  19. Ellen,

    That is true, I can still work on my blog. Though I should probably only do it “offline” for fear of getting dooced… 🙂

    I will say this, at least what I’m doing right now doesn’t require me to be on call or work long hours, so I’m getting a fair bit done at home on my personal stuff. And I have more time with my family as well!

    Anyway – you’re going to do this.


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..from dusk till dawn. a story about running.

  20. Brett,

    Man, it is hard today! I’m going to go plant some flowers now, and then go have a glass of wine.

    Carolyn is bugging me to get on the computer so she can do her Disney games. So, I’ll be off for awhile and then I’ll read Monika’s excellent query letter post again.

    Good luck with all the personal writing project stuff. Keep me posted. E

  21. Ellen,

    I can only imagine. Most people have trouble staying off sweets, and they are not at all the same. A glass of wine will help.

    I really do like Monika’s post as well. It has given me some great ideas.

    Thank you – I will keep you posted. I expect to make great progress in the next couple of months. And, I am still reviewing your work as well (haven’t forgotten about that).


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..from dusk till dawn. a story about running.

  22. Sweets aren’t my problem, too bad! Well, everyone has their thing.

    Sometimes you can get a job with a really short pitch – I’ve found. But, like Monika says, usually an editor will want to know a bit about your background, and if you get a few clips that all your really need. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to write for

    I’m sure you will accomplish anything you set out to, Brett. You have the drive.

  23. I believe it!

    Sure, fire away any questions. I’ve got to get caught up on the email. Been kinda lax today. The house and laundry were gaining ground in the dirty department. I should be caught up by tomorrow. Hopefully.

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