Friday, March 25, 2016

10 Simple Ways to Have an Amazing Day



Most of us awake every day with a whole montage of responsibilities we’re time-pressed to  complete in our meager 24 hour day.  With jobs, children, families and other responsibilities, it can be hard to get your day off to a great start.

I used to be a miserable old scrooge in the morning, moaning and complaining about all I had to do that I did not feel like doing.  It has taken much time, dedication, and mindfulness for me to rearrange my thought process during my early morning routine, and to maintain that positivity throughout the day.  However, since incorporating some simple, quick, and helpful strategies into my day, each day, I’ve found I’m much happier and I’m in a much better mood these days.  And what’s better, I don’t wake up grouchy to be awake like I used to!  It can be hard changing your mindset and reversing unhealthy thought processes, but with a little bit of positive thinking, gratefulness, and good music, it  can be done!

Below are my 10 simple ways to assure that I have an amazing day, every day, and I hope you can find ways of incorporating them into your life for better days ahead as well!

1.  Begin your day by moving your body.  This can be as simple as a few stretches, as complex as a yoga workout, or as strenuous as jogging a few miles. 

2.  Write in a journal.  You might wonder what you have to write about so early in the day, and the answer to that is:  a lot!  Write down some things you are grateful for as you begin your day.  Plan you day out.  Write your to-do list.  Empty your mind.  Release your worries for the day, your mind will thank you!

3.  Read an inspirational quote or story.  Some good ones I enjoy are the chicken soup books and ‘the secret’ yearly calendar.  The internet is full of free inspirational quotes.  Read one and use it as your daily positive affirmation.

4.  Drink coffee (or tea or hot chocolate or cappuccino).  Hence, have a relaxing drink that comes bearing a little bit of caffeine.  Free your mind of the advice that caffeine is bad for you and will keep you awake at night.  First of all, if you drink coffee that early in the day it’s going to have absolutely no effect upon sleeping.  Second of all, caffeine has been linked to many health benefits such as:  higher energy, elevated mood, aid in weight loss, an enhance of mental agility, and it’s high in antioxidants that help your body fight illness and boost your immune system.

5.  Have a quick, healthy breakfast.  If your mornings are busy and you don’t have a lot of time, don’t worry about food that takes a lot of preparation.  Grab a cup of yogurt and a handful of nuts or granola.  How about a breakfast bar, a banana?  Eating healthy isn’t that difficult!

6.  Turn on some good music.  Try something upbeat and lighthearted.  Not only will it lift your spirits, it will make you feel like moving.

7.  Smile.  Put on a happy face.  Did you know that even if you are not in a good mood and you smile, the act of smiling transmits messages to the neurons in your brain that actually trick the brain into thinking the smile is genuine?  So, keep smiling and eventually you’ll ‘fake it until you make it!
8.  Be kind, generous, and mindful.  This one is also easier than you think.  How about instead of getting angry at the old man who is driving fifteen miles under the speed limit (and making you late for work), focus instead on how much he reminds you of your own grandpa (great uncle, etc) and how difficult it may be for him to brave the traffic at such an age.  In a sense, you’re motivating yourself to learn to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.  Better to be late because of the traffic rather than your car quitting, right?  Happiness really is 90% perception!

9.  Pay attention to your appearance; take care good care of yourself.  Don’t forget to brush your teeth.  Dress in clothes that make you feel like doing a little dance.  When you look your best, you’ll begin to feel your best.  You’ll also notice a nice little self-esteem boost!

10.  Indulge a little and treat yourself.  You don’t have to be a millionaire to feel prosperous and well-off.  Have that piece of chocolate cake, go ahead, one piece won’t hurt you.  Buy yourself a nice piece of costume jewelry, a new moleskin journal, order a new book of amazon, or take your significant other on to that Sunday matinee.  Go out to eat for dinner on Saturday instead of staying in.  You don’t have to be rich to enjoy the good things in life.    

Here's to hoping you're having an amazing day ladies (and gentlemen).  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Word List Wednesday #7

With early Spring arriving just days ago, I have taken to my perch on the back porch of my upstairs town apartment.  The view from the back really is over an alleyway that converges with a church parking lot where, most evenings, I get to watch lots of little kids play.

Maybe it's the sunshine on my face as I sit out there mid-day and contemplate.  Or, perhaps it's the refreshing scenery of youth in Spring that calls upon the dusty corners of my memory for those stored-away relics of my own childhood.

And for that reason, I've been seeking out poetry about Spring days and sunshine.  Of freedom and innocence.  And whatever little pieces of words that aid me in new-found happiness.   This all ties in well with my read of the week The Sun on Your Shoulder by John Haines as it appears in Poetry Daily.

The Word List:

grass
cloverheads
arrowy
blades
undersides
leaves
cloud
seed
childhood
silence
water
sun
green




Honestly, when I was eight-years-old, I'd spend evenings on fluffy towels or fleece blankets (whichever I could steal from the linen closet without my mother knowing, although later the grass stains always gave me away) spread across the grass.  I'd surround myself with storybooks and my favorite Barbie dolls and seriously just imagine and read myself into too many other worlds to even count, returning home only for a cold glass of lemonade or fruit that wouldn't perish in the heat.  I'm sure I've spent partial summers beneath huge, sprawling oak leaves with enough shade to sustain me in even the sweatiest of heat.

We lived way out inside a paradise of country (as I grew older I couldn't wait to escape but these days I really just long to return) so there were no worries about speeding cars or strange people.  Children were perfectly safe to roam the hills and pretend until moonlight guided them home well past 8pm.  I suppose this poem is just  tiny glimpse into the world I miss so much these days, what with technology and how impersonal everyone has became.

Technological advancements are miraculous but I really am missing those old country stores where homely old ladies were always friendly.  I miss neighbors who said hello.  I miss people who cared enough to stop by or call, rather than gloss their social media pages of some half-truth.  The older I get, the less I concern myself with perfections.  I am not impressed by material things.  I am searching for soul, for a certain, precious sense of innocence that this world has lost.  The world inside this poem:



A Place Where the Sun Still Shines

Certain moments live on
Inside your limbs long after
Time has swung her shiny-handed
Pendulum across seconds spent.
Like the memory of early-spring days
When shade gave way
To the greenest country grass,
Each underside a dull blade
Across the eight-year-old fingers
Of my yesterday, how the
Symphony of each weed-stalk
Blew its own song into the breeze:
A bed to lay my head upon,
A book atop my knees.
The heartbeat of my childhood
Rested the breast of itself
Across cloverhead, danced the
Early-life of myself through the
Twilight cloud of dandelion seed,
A magical nature-stage marked of
A fading evening sun and the silent,
Arrowy call of a red-breasted robin
And sparrow talk; the rustle of
Freshly-blooming leaves was the
Only language spoken against
The fine-tuned tone of Spring-water
Against a hill of rock, carved of time
Between the granite hills where
My Native American ancestors
Once bathed and played and had
Their season in the sun, the shape
Of their strong hands still embedded
In the stone where I laid my own.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Another Poem Inspired me to Write This Poem

......but I will leave that poem unnamed, because after the first paragraph of this poem, I took my ideas in a completely different direction than originally planned (which is usually the way with inspiration, sort of has a mind of its own).

The prompt came from my creative people at the glorious, poetic Toads page.







Dancing in a Strange Room

The day was humid,
Air grainy of pollen seed
And the smell of freshly-cut weeds..
We were riding into the country,
A romantic getaway, two bottles
Of Pepsi between us as the world
Slid by, a series of still-life photos
Of decaying farmhouses and a shanty
Community church where a
Paint-chipped Jesus beckoned from
A crooked cross like a relic from
Someone’s forgotten Halloween party.

He spoke of his new Pontiac Sunfire,
The color candy-apple red,
And of paychecks and back-taxes
As I laid my head across his shoulder
And thought about rosaries, tried to
Mention the colors of curtains
We would eventually need for
The new place we would buy
But he wasn’t listening.

He parked the car,
Spinning the wheels one time
To kick up the dust,
A choking cloud of roadside
Sediment and country-mile mud;
Told me to keep quiet about
Our secret place as we ran
Hand-in-hand, giddy as the kids
We were, beyond fields of wildflower
That choked our ankles, 
Four sneakers screeching as we 
Climbed the chain-link fence,
Two seventeen-year-old delinquents,
Only no one ever knew.

How sweet the fresh smell of wood,
Pine tree trunk turned log mansion,
Four eyes wide of newly-renovated rooms
Where, like villains of the 8pm hour,
We soaked in hot tubs full with
Shiny chrome fixtures
And danced our kisses across carpet
Thick enough to drown our feet
Before we emerged, finally, into the
Yellow moon of a new night
And crossed fields full of fog and firefly,
Fresh-sexed silhouettes, half-dreaming.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Life Observations (A Somewhat Cynical, Yet Encouraging, Read)



In the past year (or maybe two years) I feel as if I've been maneuvering the metaphorical 'valley' of my life.  Things have been rough, and for a long time I seem to have hit a spiritual drought as well.  I lost a good friend and several family members (to death).  I lost my beloved kitten, Finn, for which I bottle-fed and nursed 24/7.  He was a rescue cat abandoned by a stray.  Finn lived to be almost 8 weeks old, I thought we were out of the woods for sure, but like usual, I was wrong.

I have endured whatever pain comes in having people that you love let you down continuously (I'm not referring to romantic love, either).  I also found myself in dire straights in 2014 when I had to relocate from my town house (for which I lived peacefully for nearly five years) because neighborhood conditions became much more than I was equipped to deal with (drugs, harassment, property damage, etc).

It seems the last two years of my life have been an uphill climb.  From settling into a suitable career (still haven't found this yet)  to finding a decent place to live (I found a very nice apartment for which I do currently reside), I've ran the gamut.

For a while I stopped doing anything.  I have crawled hands and knees through months of ongoing depression.  Yet today, even after being met with yet another disappointment, I feel as if I've maneuvered my way into the light.

Prayer, meditation, yoga, inspirational reading and journal writing have all led me to this distinct piece of wisdom:  Surrender the need to control and stop concerning yourself with that which you cannot change.

Really, that's the simple piece of spiritual advice that meets me on my yoga mat, swirls its way through my candlelight as I meditate, and marks it's uttering in pen across my journal when I sit in contemplation of all that has happened to me.

Another great piece of advice that has wormed it's way through the holes in my soul:  There's nothing personal about it, it's all circumstance.

Ah, so, bad circumstances, right?  I guess that's true to an extent.  You can't control the fate of whatever family you were born into.  You can't control the actions and incentives of others.  No, it's not personal at all.  Yes, it affects me, but I'm not at fault.


But things can only affect me if I allow them to.  The study of mindfulness teaches us to allow things to enter our conscious.  It's okay to be aware of them.  But like clouds rolling across the horizon, the best thing to do is acknowledge that they are there and then allow them to pass on by without further ado.  This prevents suffering, grasping, worrying...all the mindless things that take our energy yet leave us nothing.

Yes, I've been through a lot lately.  But I'm still moving through it.  Soon I'll be past the valley and nearing my peak.  At the moment, though, I want to take the time to assess my surroundings and what I'm learning from the struggle:


1.  Don't trust things people say.  Trust what you see people actually do.  Depend on your eyes in this case.  People's words are only as good as their actions.

2.  Don't count your eggs before they hatch.  Especially if this applies to the above #1.

3.  Love everyone, but trust no one.  Don't trust everyone.  Most people aren't worth your confidence, nor is their word to you.

4.  There are still some good people in this world.  But they are rare and hard to find so if you do find one or two, hang on to them!

5.  In a world full of greedy, evil, selfish beings....you have a choice to be the light.

6.  If you can't  change it, let it go.  Spending energy on something unchangeable is futile.  It's a waste.

7.  It's okay to move on and leave people behind.  Especially if they are bad people or if they are people who wish you ill will.

8.  If the universe continuously tells you no about some issue or idea...listen!!!

9.  Peoples' personal issues with you is none of your business!  Seriously, just live for yourself.
I am who and what I am.  I need no validation, nor to give anyone any explanation for ME!

10.  Let it go!  Whatever grudge or sad thing or unpleasant memory or unkind word that hurt you...stop reliving it.  It's a heavy thing to hang onto.  Let go of it and set yourself free to experience better things.

11.  Whatever happens, it's still going to be okay.  Because time stops for no one and life goes on (unless you die, and if you die you probably won't know it anyway).

12.  The most valuable thing you own isn't money...it's time.  Use it wisely.  Use that time to do things you love.  Use that time to do things that bring yourself (and others who deserve it) happiness.

13.  People come and go.  Love them when they come but allow them to go when they go.  People change.  Circumstances change.  Sometimes hearts grow cold and cruel.  Sometimes you grow and have to leave others who aren't growing with you behind.  It's a fact of life.  Accept it.  Wish the people who must go well, and allow them to go.

14.  It doesn't matter who you are or what you do in life...someone is always going to have something to say about you.  And 99% of the time, it's going to be untrue.  Or the truth stretched.  Or a lie told by someone with a biased opinion who has decided that they dislike you (for whatever reason).  And there is NOTHING you can do about this except to disengage yourself from the immature hen clucking.  Who cares what anyone else says?  You know the truth.  Keep your head high and walk on by!

15.  Karma is real.  What goes around comes around.  You might eventually forget who put you in a bad spot and/or kept you in one, but the God of the universe doesn't!  This also means you'll reap the seeds you sew...bad times are just interest paid on good times.  So expect good times, they are due shortly!

16.  Nothing great has ever been easy.  Life is worth the struggle.  So it's best just to take the good with the bad and go rebuild those broken pieces.

17.  A few bad times doesn't equal a bad life.  What great things have you accomplished or experienced during the drought?  Life's not all bad even during bad times.  There's always some good intermixed with the deal, you just have to pay attention to see it!

18.  If you want to find peace....inner peace, peace of mind, peace with the past and present...a great combination of yoga and meditation is where it's at.  

19.  I owe my new sense of being in the world to two amazing men, both were spiritual teachers and have reach across the centuries to me through their words:  Buddha and Rumi.

20.  I also owe my new-found sense of worth and happiness to my own self:  I am pretty amazing.  And everyday that I teach my daughter and write my words and work with amazing women on my nonprofit press, I am living my dreams.


So, I may have had a shitty deal the past year or two.  But you know what?  I've come out the better for it.  I'm going to take that shredded canvas and reassemble those pieces into something even more amazing.

Don't believe me?  Just watch!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Noteworthy Links Thursday #5

My favorite internet reads from this past week.
Enjoy!


Good-News Stories

I just loved the story A Yurt For Winter over at Positive News.  If you've ever just wanted to follow a simple dream, or dare find yourself, you'll find Francesca's story a good motivator to get yourself out there and find your own place in the world (if only just for the winter).

"This is a challenging journey and I have become far closer to my original self."


I actually found Francesca's personal website full with video diaries of her yurt living.  I am fascinated!  Perhaps you will be too.

I also found this article on Jack Kerouac's Buddhist perspective to be really enlightening.  Having read many of his works, and being a practicing Buddhist myself, I found this read to be worthy and original.



"The world you see is just a movie in your mind.

Rocks don't see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes."

I also stumbled across an article over at Amazing Women Rock that showed me just how wonderful and free it means to be yourself!  And if you've never checked out the site, it's totally worth your time.


Brain-Healthy!

Neuroscience Says These Five Rituals Will Help Your Brain Stay In Peak Condition

Who doesn't want to have a healthy brain for as long as possible?  According to the studies referred to in this article, one needs not concern themselves with multi-vitamins or heavily memory-oriented brain games.  Keeping your brain working top-notch  can mean doing something as simple as having coffee while brainstorming new ideas, merely being conscious to sit upright, and remembering to congratulate yourself for small victories.

According to this article over at Psychology Today, Social Media could actually be hindering your sense of happiness and connection!

I actually recently deleted my original Facebook page (for the last and final time, I swear it!) and I'm happy to say I'm done with it.  I find it addicting, time-wasting, and the posts are designed to appear by popularity rather than by the pages I like...which defeats the whole interest-oriented idea of pages (at least for me).  Social media reminds me of a Soap Opera, or a reality TV show where everyone wants everyone else to think their lives are so picture-perfect and news-worthy.  I'm at a place in my life where if it's not real, I'd rather not participate.


An article over at Pick The Brain states that a healthy mind really depends literally on what's going on inside your head.  If you're thinking positive, growth-enabling thoughts then your brain function will actually align itself with that positive train of thought!  The authors have outlined an easy five steps to begin improving your mind performance today.


Short Literature & Online Journals

The Singing Lesson by Katherine Mansfield proves how deeply fragile and movable the spirit of a woman.  I found myself feeling a sort of comrade with Miss Meadows, as I have also allowed the worth of my day to hang onto the words I wished to hear from another.  Yet, in the same breath, she repulses me for her selfishness towards her students and how much she lacks a sense of self worth.  I'm not sure I would have reacted the same way, given her set of circumstances.

This story touched me like a double-edged sword...I dislike the fiance for his cruelty, yet Miss Meadows seems to forgive easily and invite more assassination to her self esteem.

  ... "I feel more and more strongly that our marriage would be a mistake. Not that I do not love you. I love you as much as it is possible for me to love any woman, but, truth to tell, I have come to the conclusion that I am not a marrying man, and the idea of settling down fills me with nothing but--" and the word "disgust" was scratched out lightly and "regret" written over the top.


Staring me in the Face by Glynis Gertsch was a story that, although short, had several questionable sub-plots that kept me reading for hope that some of the mysteries would be resolved.  Toward the end, the story made me really analyze some of my friendships and ponder upon the reasons why we may gravitate toward the people whom we foster friendships with.  The main character, Leanna, was pulled into a friendship with an older man for somewhat of a selfish reason.   Yet in the end, I suppose their friendship will prevail, given it seems to have been built upon some solid foundation of trust and a sense of commonality.

After that, Malcolm often sat with us and he and I discussed a lot of things. We spoke a little about ourselves too. I told him how Mom had brought me up on her own at the start of the Hippie Era. He said he had married during that time but divorced a few  years later. Mark asked me how come Malcolm and I always had so much to talk about.

I found both of these stories over at East of the Web.  They have an amazing archive of short literature ranging from contemporary to classic, horror to childrens.  You can also find some fun words games and cool interactive online apps designed to stretch your mind.  So click on over and find yourself some new stories!



Poetic Reads

The poem Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins amused me.  Funny how a piece of literature can call to your own memories or experiences.  Sometimes the author probably doesn't even mean for us to make those parallels, but such is the magic of words.

This poem reminded me of an ex boyfriend I once had.  He asked me what I enjoyed doing, and I answered, 'Writing poetry.'  And he replied, with a scoff of disbelief, "So, like, you're sitting around writing poetry?  Shouldn't you go out and do something?"  I didn't have nearly enough time to school this fool via a telephone conversation.

However, I knew two things ultimately upon that conversation:  #1 He had zero appreciation for the written word, or creative work (or play) in general, because if he did then he would have understood that being inside here with a great book and my journal is more amazing than any experience that any bar could ever provide me, and #2 He obviously was NOT the person for me.  Um, if you can't appreciate books and words, I just can't honestly entertain company!  Just another favor I can thank poetry for having done for me...without my ever really asking!


"But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means."




And now, as a sort of yin the yang above (I like to even out my negatives with my positives), I'd like to share one of my favorite inspirational poems from Rumi, titled Only Breath.  A few years ago, I was searching for my next poetic conquest when a friend recommended Rumi.  Since then, I have allowed his words to move, inspire, encourage, and enrichen my life.


"My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul."



If you haven't yet noticed, I pulled links from both of the previous poems from the site Best Poems Net.  This site is overflowing with great poetic works from classic to contemporary all throughout the centuries.  If you register, you can even post your own poetry and bookmark your favorite poems.  There's too much to see on there, really.  You'll have to go check it out for yourself!

In the Forest Deep



Sky serves as blanket,
leaf seeds swaying in warm breeze
Two deer graze near stream.



Created for the Haiku prompt at MindLoveMisery.

Word List Wednesday #6

Today I chose my words from Brenda Hillman's poem Girl Sleuth.

Brenda Hillman ranks high on my list of favorite female poets.  Yet, I chose to work with words from this poem because I really just enjoy the poem.  I feel a piece of my childhood inside her playful, questioning words of Nancy Drew.  Her reference to 1962 because I am enamored with vintage literature.

Here are the words:

summon
syllable
click-click
drip
Wednesday
thrash
suggestions
thorn
ignores
secrets
lockets
raincoat





I actually wrote another Haibun.  I am really enjoying playing with this poetic form.



Coffee-Table Wednesday
a Haibun

She’s a 6am fray of fleece slippers, unraveling.  She wears coffee-stains on the left shoulder of her shirt like a metaphorical holster.  Coffee-black and pen poised, words have been haunting her all night.  Syllable by rank, impulsive syllable and thrashed from slumber, they summon her to the click-click of her pen-drip no matter a Wednesday or Sunday. 

She takes the suggestion of every finger-winding soliloquy to heart, ignoring the thorn-twist of  each melodramatic ending; ignores the too-stiff enunciations, fumbles with secrets like clumsy thumbs across a closed heart-locket.  Impractical as a raincoat on a cloudless day, she’s always careful to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.


She’s the smoky bar
To Kerouacs’ lost car keys;
A stiff shot half-drank.

Monday, March 14, 2016

My First Haibun

The creative folks over at dVerse Poet's Pub have prompted us to write a Haibun this Monday.  I think the most daunting task was combining the short haiku with the longer bit of prose.

I decided to write what I'm most familiar with:  a girl who writes.







Girl at the Café
A Haibun

She sits erect, a cloudy-eyed confection in simple back tights.  Her sweater-dress is a sight for sore eyes in a room too full of lonesome eyes and the steady twang of a guitar strum.  The dated page is almost full, she’s been writing a train-wreck of mixed verse all day.  She’s still nowhere near an arrival, one expectation past expiration and still heady with desire.  The sky is whistling its moon-signal between wooden venetian blinds and table clutter.  The ice-clink of her coffee calls for drink as she bends her head, a silent prayer to Kerouac and Ginsberg. 

She sits center-seat,
Mess of café-talk and words;
World outside the world.

I Am A Writer Because I Write!

I am saddened, lately, by the amount of bloggers who have decided to close their proverbial door.  Seems more than ever, writers and poets are just giving up.  I'm not sure if they are disillusioned by rejection letters or by the great let-down of having some prestige publisher tell them their work doesn't quite measure up to par, but it makes me fearful of who's going to be leaving the blogging  community next and how much their leaving has to do with the stigma of 'success' as a poet or author.

Having devoted a great majority of my recreational time to writing my own words for a number of years now (actually, 20, if we're counting!), I also have struggled with feelings of inferiority where my work is concerned.  Sure, my poems have been published in a great number of indie and small press magazines (for which I'm proud, don't get me wrong), but they've never appeared in Poetry.  And my name isn't categorized anywhere in the lists of Famous Women Poets on all the great poetry websites.  But does that mean that I have failed as a poet?

Many times I have struggled with my own indecision...should I close my blog and my small press and just move on to something more worthy?  But then, what else would bring me as much joy and enlightenment and fun as my writing?  Where else would I find such a release of emotion, yet a place to mark remembrance?  Who else would immortalize my experiences for some younger generation?  And, besides, who is anyone to decided for me that my personal work is worthy?

I  believe that the worth of a writer/poet's work lays inside the very essence of joy in having written something at all.  If I write something, if I enjoy the process of writing, and if I feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing a piece of writing....then that is enough for me.  That, alone, makes my work valuable.  But then to take my work, my thoughts, the important things I want to say and post them to this blog...to share those thoughts with others, perhaps touch a life or two...stretch a mind or two....change a mind or two.  To inspire, to teach, to enlighten....all via a published post on my personal blog...makes my work valuable whether or not a big name publisher or magazine ever picks up a piece for publication or not!

The same applies to every single other writer, blogger, poet, author with a dream of showcasing their work and touching someone else.  Even if no one ever read a word you said, if it meant something to you to write that poem and click 'publish,' then that's really all that matters.  

I'm not saying it's not important to have one's work published elsewhere.  I know, personally, the elation of having a piece of literature accepted.  I understand how our goals and our sense of worthiness can hang upon those very types of letters/emails.  But, please, don't just give up when you hit a dry spot.  Don't stop writing, don't lose that fire inside you just because one or two...or a hundred...people say something you've written isn't good enough.  Don't allow someone else's opinion to mean that much to you that you would actually stop living your passion and following your dream.

I write because the very process of writing a poem brings me pleasure.  Most of the time when I write something new, I find myself learning from myself.  I am also rewarded by comments and blog communities where I share my work.  Heck, I even self-publish my own work sometimes.  No, it's not making me rich quick but I'm making my work available for others to purchase if they wish to own a collection of my writings in their hands rather than click through this blog.  I also am making that dream come true for other writers via my independent/largely nonprofit press Pink.Girl.Ink.  

Just sharing my work and aiding others in publishing their own work is enough of a contribution for me to keep me motivated with new words and lines.  Sure, being famous would be wonderful...but it's not a necessity.  The worth of my work does not depend upon whether I'll ever be famous or not.  It depends upon what success, as a writer, means to me.  As it should for you, and everyone else!

So for the sake of the creative community, don't give up!  The world needs the contribution of your words and ideas, more now than ever!.   Keep writing for yourself, if nothing else.  Do it because you want to.  Do it because it matters more than you know.  It matters much more than an acceptance or rejection from some publisher or magazine.  Even if it's one you had your heart set on.  Believe that.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Love Affair With Words

This week, the Sunday mini-challenge at Toads prompted us to write about:

"In psychology this paramour is the anima who draws us into unconscious depths across a bridge where external and internal are hard to distinguish. That dreamy land after the sated swoon, the collective anguish of so many emptied beds. This poetry advances by receding through so many faint blue doors, as if it were trying to name at last the definitive preliterate forest from which it emerged."

and

"Write about sex, sexualized experience, sexless burning, the kiss of strange winds, the sexiness of death. Write about the arrow’s sheer barb. Or whatever else the paramour might mean to you—say, the strange wood we enter starting the next poem.

Write an original poem about your encounter with the paramour(s), what you found and what you learned."







Words and I

You first slithered yourself
Around my waist,
All 6am belly button
And shower-creamed skin
Made of words
Like Sexton and Sappho.
We'd sleep late, bed-full
Of poet-speak and brown bean,
Then meet one another
Come evening, all hush-lipped
Lullaby and wine
At back-tables of fancy
Dining halls where bowls
Of Eve’s fresh fruit sat:
My willing accomplice,
The black ink of my
Only-sometimes-starry night,
The tip to my ten brown
Curious, vagabond toes
Freshly sunned, notebook in tow,
You’d step me across dim-lit
Thresholds into worlds
Saturated of taste and color,
Fresh-tongued and tingling hands
Always willing me to wander.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Word List Wednesday #5

This week I challenged myself to write with words I pulled from the poem The Necessary Angel by Phyllis Janowitz as it appeared in Best American Poetry of 1994.


Word List:

innocuous
cresting
hinder
humans
Hollywood
theatrical
unsurpassable
eyelashes
capitulated
descending
raspingly
abrasions







Hollywood-Worthy

She is thinking of Southeast lovers,
Sea-life and water-foul cresting
The tail-end of Summer’s last evening,
The aurora-like skyline swaying leaves
As it waves its theatrical hand across
The tops of palms and evergreen.

He is bending the spoke-lights of his
Starry eyes into the folds of her eyelashes,
Skin of his calloused fingers ten tiny
Abrasions descending the skin below
Her breastbone:  he untucks her heart,
Gray as the shadow-side of a half-burned bulb,
A gesture unsurpassable.

Time is a breast-stroke, a sweaty breeze
That blows into overturned curbside cans.
It’s the Hollywood hour of bar-tabs
And street-side cabs, corners where the
Whores roam, innocuous as last years’ lipstick
Yet still made human by the steadily-rasping
Hindrance of words whispered by strange men
In stranger cars beneath streetlights on
Whatever day the hand-strike of a calendar
Has catapulted their itchy-legged fishnets into.

The girl sitting safely in the backseat of
The boys shiny Bentley does not notice their tears;
The rain is falling now, traffic-signs blurred
Above cars where couples dine on leftover
Tiramisu and kiss to the promise of next Saturday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Searching for Soul

Sometimes (well, oftentimes), I feel totally alone in my state of mind.  My thinking.  In the way that I view the world.  I seek constantly to open my eyes.  To transcend mere momentary experience.  I want more than breath and eyes.  I look for meaning.  I try, even amidst the common  cesspool of everyday life and of meaningless interactions and of the spew of social media bullshit, always I try to dive down, deep, and find something there worth reflection.

It seems it is the times in my life when I do feel most alone that I, somehow, chance upon a book.  I open that book and inside I find a friend (or two) that I never knew existed, but that I had all along nonetheless.

Maybe I'm a deep thinker or a daydreamer or just a believer but more and more it seems I'm having to find a likeness to humanity from within the pages of a book.  Perhaps it's just this old rundown, nowhere town.  And smite me if you are from this area or not, but I'm struggling to find like-minded, open-minded, knowledge-seeking, loving, forgiving people from where I am right now.  This old gray, cracked, sad little town has offered me nothing in the way of growth.  The bible belt is a  very uninspiring corner of the earth for which to reside.

But I know my people are out there.  The explorers, the dreamers, the makers, the believers, the lovers, the healers, the writers and readers.  People with soul.  And I'm not talking sermon.  I'm talking, soul.  Real soul people who feel and remember and explain and partake in the sweet, simple mysteries of life and understand that the simple is really the grandeur.  People who know to reach out with open hands, to extend some gratitude.  Those with eyes open to all the little wonders of this vast and sparkling universe.

Soul people are magical people.  Oftentimes reflected upon by the simpletons to be about as entertaining as a circus sideshow.  Simple pay-check pushing, penny-reveling, greedy people who seek the limelight and instant gratification will never understand the sweet experience of merely sitting in a chair, hand over their heart, feeling their blood pulse and understanding how phenomenal and rare that one experience is, let alone the whole thread-spool of life.  But people with real soul do get it.  They live it and seek it and write about it and live the dream of it every single day.

No, I am not finding soul in the people whose paths I'm stumbling across lately.  But I know there are those out there like me.  And it seems I always find them when I'm starting to believe there's no one left like me at all.



Today I chose a book at random.  I have a subscription to Scribd (netflix for ebooks, really is what it is).  And, having been dealing with some hard issues of my own lately.  Personal issues really,   questions of life and fate and reason, I was faltering.  And so in my search for answers, or for at least something cheery, something to really assist me in making sense of this life, I stumbled across a book titled A Year With Rumi.  I will tell you, I have not yet even made it past the forward...but I know I've found a friend.  A fellow troubadour in Coleman Banks (and a whole montage of others whose voices appear in this book).  The first few pages, alone, have reassured me that there are those in this world who still have soul.

There is a passage inside the book, referring to the soul people, my people, myself:  If this scruffy, thoughtful, ecstatic crowd needs a name, call them them DUMS, the Disreputable Unaffiliated Mystics, though most are not at all disreputable, and many are devoutly affiliated. Vitalists.  Advocates of a perennial philosophy.  Pan-somethings or other.  Whatever you dub these bright beings, they recognize one another across the centuries and cultures...

Yes.  With a deep breath, and a sigh of relief, I will begin my year of inspirational readings of Rumi and his poetry.  I will allow his teachings to continue to teach me.  To breach the centuries with mere words:  for the soul is timeless, ever-changing, yet steadily the same.  And found inside so few people these days.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Different but the Same...

This evening I came across a poem at The Poetry Foundation.  I was having my coffee, savoring the delicacy of some chocolate pastry and looking for something to read.  Something to read that would really probe me to think.  I need not have looked far, for on the right-hand column was a poem by June Jordan titled Poem About my Rights.

I know that the essence of the poem is one woman's reflection of inequality.  The inequality of being a woman.  The unfair mis-perception of being of color.  How someone feels to have their basic humanity, their freedom, their sense of worth stripped from them by the judgement of some mere difference in characteristic of appearance.

And this poem got me.  Or, maybe, I got it.  Or we understood each other.  The poem and I.  June Jordan and I.  We had something in common there.  That feeling of judgement and exclusion.  Of somehow being wrong without fault.  Wrong without having ever tried to be wrong or not to be wrong.  Yet, judged harshly so.

For what does it matter if you're socially raped because of your color, or because of your gender, or because of your sexual orientation?  It says a lot about society when trans-gender people are throwing themselves in front of on-coming traffic for fear that they will never belong.  It makes me sad for the state of humanity when people are misplaced, disowned, left in the city gutters of civilization because they identify with LGBTQ.  Or because they believe in Buddha instead of Jesus.  Or maybe neither.

Has the world forgotten that we are, indeed, all human?  That is the basic, most core thing we have in common.  The fact that we are all flesh and blood.  We all cry when we're sad.  Our brows furrow when we're angry.  We all bleed when cut.  That, alone, should make people see how much we do, indeed, have in common and that everything else...color, sex, orientation, belief...is merely the graffiti that colors each of our individual worlds.

But obviously, even as each generation advances in technology and science, it seems the true meaning of what it means to be alive, to be human, still evades people.  There's a lot of people out there who'd rather gouge your eyes out than allow you to see them in different colored skin than yourself, or living a different lifestyle, worshiping a different God.  And it's probably one of the saddest things I've observed thus far in my lifetime.





Below is an excerpt of Jordan's poem.  And, like her, I'd like to just be able to feel safe walking alone into the night with my own body, my own mind:

"Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear   
my head about this poem about why I can’t   
go out without changing my clothes my shoes   
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/   
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want   
to do with my own body because I am the wrong   
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and   
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/   
or far into the woods and I wanted to go   
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking   
about children or thinking about the world/all of it   
disclosed by the stars and the silence:   
I could not go and I could not think and I could not   
stay there   
alone   
as I need to be   
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own   
body and   
who in the hell set things up   
like this..."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Morning Journal

Today I want to share with you a daily ritual that I've been doing for the past several years.  I call it 'morning journaling.'  Because I've reaped so many great benefits simply from religiously writing in my journal everyday, first thing in the morning, I wanted to extend this life-changing experience with other readers/writers.


How To Begin:

It's as simple as buying a journal to write in.  You can go as fancy as a moleskin or leather-bound, or as simple as a regular old spiral-bound notebook.  The important thing is to have something on hand to write in, day after day.  It's also important that you always use a pen, as I've found that over the years regular led pencils actually fade and you don't want to lose your writings!

You can also designate a regular place to sit as you journal...maybe you prefer your kitchen table with a cup of coffee (I always have my morning coffee while I write).  Or maybe you like laying in bed with a lamp or some candles.  Just go for a setting that you find comfortable and relaxing.


When, Where, and Why:

Aim to write every single morning!  Yes, at first you might find this challenging but soon you'll be able to slide some writing time right in without feeling as if you've interrupted your morning routine.  Actually, make it a goal that journaling first thing in the morning is part of your regular routine.

And no, I don't mean that as soon as the alarm clock goes off, you have to sit up (full with morning breath and frazzled hair) and slave over your notebook.  What I mean is, to fit it into your morning.  Go ahead, brush your teeth, get dressed, have your coffee....THEN write in your journal.  I think it's important to write in your journal before you begin menial chores and other responsibilities because they tend to hinder creativity and cloud the mind with concrete things like appointments, responsibilities, and 'real-worldly' things that usually take up most of our time anyway.

The purpose of the morning journal is to make some time just for you, for your inner child/self, a place for creative ideas to flourish, a space just for you to motivate and encourage yourself...and yes, a place to be free from the 'real-life' pressures of everyday existence.  


What To Write:

If you are a writer or author already, do not be confused!  The morning journal is not a place for your poetry or short stories or other creative projects.  Use another notebook for those things.  Rather, the morning journal is a place just to play with your thoughts, to relax into the process of writing, to learn about yourself without the pressure of writing something amazing every single time you pick up the pen.

Over the span of a few years, I've written probably just about anything you could think of in my personal morning journal.  However, I have found some common reoccurring themes that usually come up almost every morning. 


This is a good list you can begin with:

1)  A daily gratitude list.  Everyday I write three things I'm grateful for.
2)  Some inspirational quotes to get you motivated for a productive and happy day.
3)  At least one positive affirmation to use as your daily mantra.  So whenever you're feeling down, or overwhelmed, go back and read your daily positive affirmation again.
4)  A list of daily goals you'd like to accomplish, or a to-do list for the day.
5)  Sometimes I take a journal-writing prompt and just go with the flow.
6)  A steady stream of conscious...just write!  Really, whatever comes into your head, put it down on paper!



So, go ahead.  Buy that journal.  Commit to write every single morning.  Allow the free-writing process of the 'morning journal' to change your life!