Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Month: February, 2015

Kindred Friends

I’m currently taking a memoir writing class taught by Sam Uhl of The Cheerful Word. Our homework this week is to write about friendship. I don’t really have one specific story to tell, so this is more of a collection of thoughts.

_______________________________________________________________________

I have had many wonderful friends over the course of my life. I feel I have been truly blessed in this area. God has often brought just the right person at just the right time. Growing up in school, I was able to be in every peer group and yet part of none. I can be outgoing when needed, but I’m an introvert by nature. I was well liked, but not very popular.

In college, however, things shifted. I was much more the center of social groups than I had been in high school. I was an “it” girl — voted for this, nominated for that. I think this was because I felt freer and happier, in general. Later on, as an adult with the stresses of life, it was harder to make new friends. These days I find it hard to keep in touch with everyone as much as I would like to.

I’m very thankful for the age of the internet that has made it possible to keep in touch with so many. I remember when I first got on Facebook and reconnected with so many friends from the past. It was like a great reunion! We all had fun posting our pics and tagging each other. It’s great to have a supportive network at your fingertips whenever needed. I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I had that growing up.

I believe levels of friendships follow the temple model – the outer courts represent your acquaintances, the inner court would be considered good friends, and the holy place represents the inner circle — those two or three that you go to first who know you the most. Jesus had all these levels — Peter, James, and John were the inner circle, the twelve disciples would have been his closest friends, and then the masses who followed him.

In Girl Scouts we would sing the song, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I really do treasure those friends who have known me for decades. I cherish those friends who have seen me go through the ups and the downs and still believe in me, those who know the whole story and still love me. Several are worthy of mention by name –

222036_1028586475912_5767564_n Donna – we met at a church in Nashville when we were both new moms with boys about the same age. Our pastor had the great insight to invite both of us with our husbands to dinner one night and we have been dear friends ever since. She hosted a baby shower for my third child, and kept the older two while she was being born. Though we have both moved several times over the years, we always keep in touch with a phone call every few months. If either of us is passing through the other’s town, we always make time for a visit. She is a great light and I’m thankful for her.

13576_10202677438432298_6733344950930189195_nCarol – Even though we went to the same college, I did not know her until later. We became friends while I was living in Nashville and she lived about an hour away. We had been through a difficult life experience together — more than one actually — and that really bonded us together. When she went through her divorce, she came to live with me in GA. A few years later, we both made the move to Asheville. She gets me spiritually more than anyone else. I really cherish our history together.

1535697_10200994742742855_992480160_n Laura – Laura is my rock star friend — literally and figuratively. We met in Nashville. She would bring her young son to my Express Kids show at the local mall. She offered to do a website for me which turned out to be amazing. She was there when I went through a very difficult time in my life — divorce and rape. She was my “non-Christian” friend who would invite me and my three young kids over for dinner. She would check on me faithfully. I haven’t seen her in ten years, but she’s my first phone call when I need support.

Me and Ang Angie – interestingly, Angie and I met first in Honduras. I loved her sense of humor and great personality. It was because of her, and others like her, that I ultimately decided to transfer to Harding University in Arkansas, which truly changed my life forever. She and I traveled Europe together. We shared many life events together which I cherish.

Shannon and Me Shannon – Shannon is my old high school friend from the same neighborhood. She and I grew up just three houses from each other. She really knows my story from the beginning and has seen my family dynamic first-hand, which makes her invaluable as a friend. She reminds me how far I’ve come and that I’m not crazy.

 

There are also some friendships that I’ve lost or lost touch with that make me sad.

Me and Myca Myca – a great friend in college. I was in her wedding. We had great fun and spiritual depth together. Now she is divorced with two kids and travels internationally. We have just grown apart over the years. I still have a great love for her and believe that it would be easy to pick up again where we left off if ever given the opportunity.

10151231_10204026974302518_6363420376138782386_nTracy – another great friend from college. We had been English majors together and shared a lot of adventures and laughs. I was the Maid of Honor in her wedding. Soon after that, my life took an unexpected direction and I made some choices she didn’t approve of. We’ve reconnected on Facebook, but there’s no real friendship any more. She has been very successful, and my life, well, has been very painful. I believe she judges my life, and this makes me sad. I still think she is amazing.

Me and Mark Mark – an old flame; the one I always   thought was “the one”. We have kept in touch over the years, but not with the same friendship that we used to enjoy. I’m thankful that there will always be a significant connection, but sad we couldn’t keep the closeness.

 

Joanna – an old church friend. We shared a lot of laughs and have lost touch over the years. I have not been able to find her on Facebook and always wonder how she is. I’m not sure we’d have the same connection, as my religious views have changed.

421087_4209881164799_351530676_n Julie – another great friend from college.     She was a beautiful person, inside and out.   We shared a lot of laughs and dreams. She   married and moved away quickly, and I’ve often wondered if she is happy. I actually just found her on Facebook today! We will see if she responds to my friend request.

 

I heard someone say recently that people are with us for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. This gives me peace when people leave my life or distance separates us. I’m truly grateful for a life rich with just the right friendships.

@Asheville, NC
February 19, 2015

Advertisements

Day 4: Animal

writing-201I’m participating in Blogging University’s Writing 201 Poetry course, sponsored by The Daily Post on WordPress. It lasts for two weeks. Each day they give a topic, a poetry form, and a literary device. You can use any combination of those options or none. For this fourth assignment, I used all three. I wrote about a swan, which has always been a special animal for me; I used to collect them as a child. I’m very excited with how this one turned out! I had trouble getting the font to stick, so I eventually took a screenshot and posted it.

Day 1: Water, Haiku, Simile
Day 2: Journey, Limerick, Alliteration
Day 3: Trust, Acrostic, Internal Rhyme
Day 4: Animal, Concrete Poem, Enjambment

___________________________________________

 

Concrete Swan

 

@Asheville, NC
February 19, 2015

 

Day 3: Trust

writing-201I’m participating in Blogging University’s Writing 201 Poetry course, sponsored by The Daily Post on WordPress. It lasts for two weeks. Each day they give a topic, a poetry form, and a literary device. You can use any combination of those options or none. For this third assignment, I was surprised to accomplish all three in one poem. I almost stopped at just my first name, but I’m glad I added the last name; I like the repeated line at the end.

Day 1: Water, Haiku, Simile
Day 2: Journey, Limerick, Alliteration
Day 3: Trust, Acrostic, Internal Rhyme

___________________________________________

Just trust…
All things work together for good
Now or later
It will be clear
Show how love wins

Give your heart
Act in faith
Invest the time
Note wisdom
Evoke hope
Show how love wins

11.30-Trusting-with-All-your-Heart

 

 

 

 

 

@Asheville, NC
February 19, 2015

 

Day 2: Journey

writing-201I’m participating in Blogging University’s Writing 201 Poetry course, sponsored by The Daily Post on WordPress. It lasts for two weeks. Each day they give a topic, a poetry form, and a literary device. You can use any combination of those options or none. For this second one, I incorporated all three.

 

Day 1: Water, Haiku, Simile
Day 2: Journey, Limerick, Alliteration

_______________________________________________________

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a plane
The last time it boggled my brain
While up in the air
A turbulence scare
Since then, on the land, I remain

Airplane

 

 

 

@Asheville, NC
February 17, 2015

Haiku Poetry Slam Competition

Chris, Kailey, and I just did this for fun one night about a month ago. Topics were chosen randomly. Interestingly, for the topic of murder, we all went for the bird pun. The winning haikus from our home Haiku Poetry Slam Competition…
_____________________________________________________

images-6  ~ Murder ~
Bird poop in my eye
The crows’ revenge from above
It was just murder
(Chris)

 

~ Kiss ~  -dogs-1329737362
I remember when
You made me believe in love
With a morning kiss
(Janis)

 ~ Birthday ~  900x900px-LL-5386d85f_sweet18
It is my birthday
I am turning 18, bruh
So give me some cake
(Kailey)

 

  ~ Retirement ~PeopleAtTable
I’m getting quite old
And don’t know reverse from drive
But my bridge game’s strong
(Kailey)

 

@ Tryon, NC
January 17, 2015

Day 1: Water

writing-201I’ve signed up for Blogging University’s Writing 201 Poetry course, sponsored by The Daily Post on WordPress. It lasts for two weeks. Each day they give a topic, a poetry form, and a literary device. You can use any combination of those options or none. For this first one, I incorporated all three.

Day 1: Water, Haiku, Simile

_______________________________________________________

Fresh, pure, clean water
Transparent liquid of life
Fills my thirst like love

water_texture2346

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Asheville, NC
February 16, 2015

 

 

Money

I’m currently taking a memoir writing class taught by Sam Uhl of The Cheerful Word. Our homework this week is to write about money. This is somewhat difficult for me to write about with transparency, but here goes. As Elizabeth Gilbert says at the front of her memoir Eat, Pray, Love: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

_____________________________________________________

images-1

I grew up in a middle-class family. I didn’t always have the latest and greatest, but we always had vacations and I was blessed to travel quite a bit from a young age. I was very grateful for this experience. My parents bought my first car and paid for my college expenses beyond what any scholarships would cover. I never had the sense that my parents struggled for money. At one point, my mother worked from home part-time to be able to send my brother to a private school. I also never felt spoiled or indulged.

Growing up, I worked as soon as I could. I enjoyed the freedom of having my own money and paying for my own things. I made $4.00/hour to start. At age 19, I remember working one summer before going on a study abroad program in college. I had saved up $2,000 for six months worth of spending money. I made this last the whole trip. I tend to be frugal and responsible with my money. Later, my parents went to Europe for two weeks and, of course, spent way more than that. To this day they wonder how I lived on such a “small amount.”

When I got married, my life switched from one of middle-class to poverty. We had three children within four years. My ex was a painter and I stayed home with the kids. We struggled constantly just to survive. I did not know how to be poor — and it is something you have to learn, if you’ve ever been anything else. My ex was not very financially savvy and that was a cause of constant argument and frustration within the marriage. He would charge things on my credit card without me knowing. He would lie about money he had spent. He would buy foolish things for himself, like an extra gun for hunting, while the kids and I needed new shoes. This was very difficult for me. I became someone I did not recognize. I did feel ashamed not to have nice things, nice clothes. I was never able to decorate a baby room. I believe the lack of money did effect my self esteem. This was quite the switch from being the world traveler to someone shopping at Goodwill.

Of course, after the marriage ended, it was no picnic being a single mom of three. I had an English degree and taught full-time. Even then, I often worked a second job: coaching soccer, freelance writing, and yes, even a burger joint. My ex was a “deadbeat”. I hate using that term, but it fits. He rarely paid child support. One time when I dropped off the kids to be with him, I handed him $100, so he could do something fun with the kids. I resented the fact that he would spend money on alcohol, but not his kids. I would beg him just to send me $20 a week — anything would help — but he never did. The man could barely take care of himself. Last I checked, he owed over $50,000 in back child support, which I ultimately decided to “forgive.”

One of my biggest regrets is that I was not able to give my kids more of the life that I had growing up. While I think that they never did without, they never had the vacations or ease of life that I knew. I wasn’t able to buy their first car or pay for their college. And they have held this against me, which has both surprised and hurt me. They have no idea of the personal sacrifice and great accomplishment it was just to keep them fed and clothed with a roof over their head. They have blamed me and not their father, which I have never understood.

At age 17, my oldest left home and when I asked why she would not come back, the main thing she complained about was the money. This was probably the hardest emotional hit I’ve ever had to face. I had worked as much as humanly possible and had given all I had for her benefit. To not be acknowledged or appreciated was tough. We have since reconciled, and I think she sees more now, but it may be years and she may have to be a mother herself before she fully understands.

I have been very sad that my parents have not done more to help us when they are in a position to do so. They have a three-story home in Atlanta. They take luxury trips frequently; last summer they were in Dubai and last week they were in Honduras. My mom will change the wall paper or carpet just because she gets tired of looking at it. They have done a few things to help with the kids, but it has always felt like a band aid over a bleeding artery. When my oldest daughter left home and they heard about the situation, they were like “We had no idea.” I said when your daughter takes on a second job at a burger joint, that’s a clue! They did know, but they never took my struggles seriously. I don’t think they ever understood how difficult things were. Truly, I felt like they just didn’t really care. I had specifically asked for help and they had said no. Eventually, I lost a home and filed bankruptcy.

That has been many years ago, and since then, I have worked hard to become stable financially. Things have been easier now that the kids are mostly grown and gone. I feel like I spent my 20s digging a big hole. I spent my 30s climbing out of it. And now in my 40s, I’m just starting to create the authentic life that I want for myself. I live a modest life and keep money in the bank. I don’t have to shop at Goodwill unless I just want to. I rarely run into a financial emergency that I can’t handle myself. I never ask my parents for money. I never use credit cards. I enjoy being in a position to help others when needed. I enjoy being generous with gifts. I can easily splurge on a night out on the town — or a fun writing class. Three months from now my Jeep will be paid off, and I will be completely debt free. For this, I’m very grateful and happy, and the future is bright!

Bright-future

@Asheville, NC
February 2015

Join the Con-verse-ation! Writing 201: Poetry Is Starting Soon.

The Daily Post

In less than two weeks we’ll be unveiling our first-ever Blogging U. course dedicated to poetry. Does joining a verse-loving community where you can share your work in a supportive, collegial environment sound like fun? Just scroll to the bottom of the post and sign up. Need more information about this course? Read on!

Poets of the world, unite!

The idea behind Writing 201: Poetry is to bring together poets of all styles, temperaments, and experience levels in a way that encourages writing, sharing, and discussion. You get to decide how laid back or challenging you want the course to be.

Each day for the duration of the course (not counting weekends), you’ll receive an assignment, made up of three parts: a word prompt, a poetic form, and a poetic device. You get to choose which of these you want to explore (if any).

We’d like toemphasize that we welcome novices and seasoned…

View original post 385 more words