Vena Cava

06 Jan

Through Poetry Friday friend Ruth, I discovered the writings of Jan Richardson and her Women’s Christmas Retreat booklets. Last year I downloaded the one for 2015 (Illuminating the Threshold) and worked my way through part of it using its questions as writing prompts.

She ended the third chapter “The Cave of the Heart” with these questions:

“The ‘cave of the heart’ is a way of describing that place where, even for some small space of time, we can turn inward and pay attention to what is stirring within us. How do you find or create this kind of space? Are there practices, people, or places that help you listen to your life in a way that enables you to return to the world with renewed vision?” – p. 11.

My one little word for 2017 is LISTEN, and so the question: “Are there practices, people, or places that help you listen to your life…” popped out at me as I re-read these comments just now, and the poem I wrote in response last February:


Vena Cava*

The vena cava of the psyche
also needs the in and out of breath
the in of distance—
a walk
a drive
a vacation
the out of spill
a journal
a pen
the in of a song
the out of tears
the in of an essay or poem
the out of conversation

So the blood of growth and change
pumps from the cave of the heart
to the head, the hands, and the feet.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

I’d love to know: How do you listen to your life?

You can find Jan Richardson’s Women’s Christmas Retreat booklets available for download on THIS page.

* The vena cava are either of two large veins discharging blood into the right atrium of the heart, one (superior vena cava) conveying blood from the head, chest, and upper extremities, the other  (inferior vena cava) conveying blood from all parts below the diaphragm –

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today Linda at Teacher Dance.



Posted by on January 6, 2017 in Personal, Poetry Friday


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Vena Cava

  1. cvarsalona

    January 6, 2017 at 9:39 am

    What an important finding. Am I truly listening to my life? This question makes me stop and wonder, Violet. Thank you for sharing Jan Richardson’s work. I will read through the material and dig deeper. You are already letting your OLW guide your life. Your poem strikes a cord with me. We talk about breath all the time in yoga so I must be more aware of the in and out flow and how it can become more fluid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brenda Davis Harsham

    January 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Violet, great poem, and thoughtful response to the stimuli. I especially love “the in of a song/ the out of tears” because it reminds me of the beautiful tears. When expressed, they empty a hurting place, that then heals. Music, poetry, healing. They are the things alchemists searched for. They thought they were looking for gold, but instead they were looking for light.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tabatha

    January 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Wow! You inspire me, Violet. I love this imagery, and the pumping rhythm of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kiesha Shepard

    January 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    So neat, Violet! I listen to my life throughout my walks with nature. I intend to listen more as well in this new year. Thank you for posing this thoughtful question!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff)

    January 6, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    I also chose listen as my OLW for this year. Thank you for sharing this reflection and your poem. It gives me much to think about as I listen for what this new year might bring.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Keri Collins Lewis

    January 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Last year my word was MIRROR, which came to mind with the question, “how do you listen to your life?” I spent a lot of time thinking about what my life reflected, writing in my journal, and keeping track of how I spent my time to see if I was being wise about that spending! I hope you enjoy your year of listening!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lindabaie

    January 6, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Now that I’m retired & also on my own, I’ve spent time with choices, something I haven’t had as much before. Life fills with others, work, needs, etc. i try to listen & choose what feels right to me, through reading & observing. The journey takes new paths & sometimes it’s good, sometimes not. Your post and poem made me think, Violet. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. margaretsmn

    January 6, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    The out of spill… that’s what we do, we spill the heart-blood out on the page. Be brace in your listening. I like what you are hearing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. margaretsmn

    January 6, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    brave, not brace

    Liked by 1 person

  10. carwilc

    January 7, 2017 at 5:42 am

    I love the idea of the in/out. Most of the time, I think, I am not very good at the in part, but then I get rushed and stressed and impatient, and it shows in what comes out. This is such an important reminder about that rhythm. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Linda Mitchell

    January 7, 2017 at 6:47 am

    The heart beat of listen….what a beautiful and foundational thought. I love it! Listen was my olw for last year. It will stretch you! But, in all the good ways. Your poem is quiet and strong a call and a blessing. An in and an out for us all. I am richer for having read it. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Robyn Hood Black

    January 7, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    As is Margaret, I’m in love with “the out of spill…” – what a wonderful poem, Violet, which describes what is necessary for the artistic/creative life. I’ll look forward to reading about what you HEAR this year! I’ll try to do more listening, too.


  13. haitiruth

    January 8, 2017 at 5:02 am

    I’m so glad I introduced you to Jan Richardson! She’s wonderful – and so are you! Hope you have a good year of listening. Ruth,


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 8, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Double thanks, Ruth, for the introduction and your kind words! Hope 2017 is a wonderful year for you.




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