Breast cancer, Cancer, Empowerment, Faith, Fear, Healing, Hope, poetry, Stories, Writing

Empowerment through Poetry

 

And-in-the-end-its-not

Lately thoughts of cancer have floated through my mind. The word is still with a lowercase ‘c’, but it’s there, in my daily life.

I’ve learned to not stuff disturbing thoughts down into my body or heart. They always pop up somewhere, like an evil jack in the box.

When I try to stuff the thoughts, the feelings associated with the word ‘cancer,’ morph into capital letters until the word is entirely in CAPS like it’s screaming out.

I remember a phrase I read from a book whose author I can’t remember:

Feelings are energies that can be moved and transformed.

When I first read that sentence I thought “Wow, that’s empowering.” I get to direct my feelings, move them around, and create something else.

I can stop the stories in my head and create a new story.

So I grab a piece of paper and write out my thoughts, examine them, and try to figure out if I’m feeling anger, grief, fear, or all three.

Many times it’s not necessary to find ‘the answer,’ only to feel the feelings and examine the threads that make the word stand up in my mind.

Sometimes I thread those words together until they become something else, something not scary or ominous.

 

Lowercase cancer

I remember when

cancer had me by the breast

the slash, poison, burn

 a bald toxic dump.

Nurtured by family

powered by faith

seeds of hope planted

until a garden grew

a wasteland no more.

Dare you to try again

been there and back

you will meet defeat

little c

because now I’m not afraid

to die, after I’ve lived

If poetry isn’t your thing, you can also examine or deal with negative feelings by practicing meditation, deep breathing, journaling, listening to your favorite music, drawing, or reading something inspirational.

The point is you can stop the negative feelings in your head and create a new story in your heart.

Make new stories this weekend.

Family, Fear, Grief, Inspiration, Latino culture, Love, Mothers, Parents, poetry

Hurricane Mother

Maya Angelou Quote
Maya Angelou Quote

 

This quote aptly describes my mother. Now in her mid-eighties, my mom’s hurricane force has reduced to a small tornado, which is pretty impressive given that she is legally blind and uses a cane to help her walk longer distances.

The white blond streaks in her shoulder length hair, her youthful face, and laughter often have people guessing her age as 10-15 years younger. She doesn’t correct their error.

I’ve been gone for only a week and I’m missing her very much. This has me thinking about our conversations-a lot.

Mom divulges bits of her life at the most unexpected times, little puzzle pieces that drop onto the floor of our conversations while we’re cleaning a pantry or picking roses from her 45 bushes.

I’ve gathered up the first 25 years of her life and placed them in this verse:

 

Puzzle Pieces

The house on Newman St. was the center of mom’s universe, with
parents who demonstrated love, hard work, importance of family.
They made a circuit, planting, harvesting crops, from Pomona to Fresno, CA.
Labor camps of noisy dogs, clattering pans, drifting music and stories.
Happy amongst the aromas of hot tortillas, strong coffee, tired people.

Orphan, alone in a tree, peeking through branches at the house below,
hiding in books, neighbor’s houses, hopping trains into downtown.
An alcoholic uncle left to care for her and four siblings, in her parents home,
now a place filled with drunken men, screeches of profanity, groping hands.

Sisters and brothers bury their grief, help each other through the rocky terrain of life.
School is a refuge. A smart girl promoted two grades but drops out in 10th.
Her brothers grew up fast, strong, courageous enough to chase their drunken uncle away reclaim their home.

WWII emptied out the neighborhood of childhood friends and brother.
Young sisters go it alone with a fifteen-year-old brother/father, who works three jobs.
She will never forget.
At thirteen, she earns her own money from working in the packing houses,
one step up, now able to breath-just a bit-from stifling poverty.

She moves to another city, to find work, meets her first love, plans for marriage,
but is left with a child. A disgrace in those days, shame that sent her to L.A,
to one of those homes, lonely, dreary. Worse than the ones in the B movies on Turner Classic movies.
She cried for days, packed her suitcase and left, took the ridicule, pointing fingers, gossip.
Lived in a tiny trailer with her sister, in someone’s backyard. Had a baby girl. Found happy.

 

 

 

30 day writers challenge, A Room of Her Own, Editorial calendar, Encouragement, Fear, Goals, Roadmap to My Dreams, Robert Lee Brewer, Wordsmith Studio, Writing

How to Celebrate a Writing Anniversary

Woo-Hoo, this month is my first year anniversary!

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I’m single, but I still have an anniversary to celebrate. An important one.

How to celebrate? 

Well it wouldn’t be a commemoration without food. Unfortunately, it’s not with that yummy looking cake and fizzy champagne, but with a vegan carrot cake muffin and a huge cup of coffee. 

Because an anniversary is not a one woman or one man show, the observation must include the over 130 participants in the April 2012 “30 day challenge to build and refine writer platforms,” given by Robert Lee Brewer (poet and editor).

An event such as this one is also a good time to reflect and assess the writing challenges of the last year. 
How apropos that first year anniversary gifts are paper because a letter is a perfect way to contemplate last years 30 day challenge.
Some of the tasks during that month are noteworthy because I discovered more about my writer self-and other writers- than I previously knew: my writing strengths and weaknesses, my level of commitment, and I found group support to push on during the long and bumpy road of a writer’s often lonely life.
Who understands that driving need to write whether it’s four in the morning or midnight, in the car waiting for kids, or holed up in your bedroom for a weekend other than fellow writers? Who knows the pang of rejection e-mails or the yin-yang of writing and revising? Only other writers.
But back to the celebratory part. Here are some of the highlights of the challenge:
  • The best task: Set your goals. Create an editorial calendar.
  • The hardest: Think about SEO. Go to Brewers site for that one.
  • The easiest: Join social media site (s) and participate.
  • The surprising: Do a Google search on yourself.
  • The ‘I didn’t do it:’ Pitch a guest blog post. 

Participant writers found their community and pledged to go on after the challenge was over. A year later, over 130 participants continue supporting each other via the Wordsmith Studio website, Facebook page, and other social media sites. 

The challenge to one became a writers community for the many. Now that is dedication and commitment.

Has working on a writing platform helped me? Yes-even when I thought “what does this have to do with writing?”
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You see it’s the discipline of the challenge. The tasks push you towards assignments you don’t want to deal with because of your self-imposed boundaries. 

Every day the new assignment put me in front of a task I feared, some more some less. It forced me to look at what I didn’t want to do. It made me examine, confront, and drill down to the why and find out my truth.

This self confrontation made me assess whether I was being rational or was I  just uncomfortable with the assignment. Hands down it was a comfort issue.

Through self assessment you find out if you want to keep the fear or pull up your big girl/boy chones and charge ahead. 

The great thing about this challenge was that you were not on your own, and it was easier to cross that frontier with others helping you across. (This is extremely important when you get rejection letters in your email box).

The best and most helpful part of the challenge, for me, was to “set goals and establish an editorial calendar.” From those two assignments I learned:

  1. Place “butt in chair.” Write consistently, whether it’s daily or three times a week, one or three hours, or X amount of words. Pick a number.
  2. Post your goals where you can see them. Use a Roadmap. Pay attention to it. Check your progress every week, then bi-weekly. 
  3. Set a time limit on the time sucks (social media). For me it’s write first, party later. Sometimes I can only party for 30 minutes.
  4. Push past the fears. My top two fears? Spending money for a professional edit and sending out query letters. I did both. After revisions and 10 query re-do’s, I received a request for my full manuscript three days after I sent out the final query letter. 
  5. Submit your writing. I wanted to attend a writer’s retreat, but spent the money on the professional edit, and no longer had funds in my budget. I found an organization, A Room Of Her Own (AROHO), that offered writing fellowships. When I received the award I read the letter several times because I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
As in most new relationships this past year has been a time of excitement and romance (with writing). But make no mistake, there’s a lot of hard work in this 30 day challenge

But to the hard worker comes the harvest. And best of all, after one year, I’m still in love. 

Now, please excuse me, as I have some social media sites to visit and I need another cup of coffee. 

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