Riches and Rhymes

The Poetry and Writing of Janis Gaines

Category: Reflections

Protected: 2015 Year in Review

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Rape: Victim or Survivor?

Reading tonight on Facebook, and this article about a college girl’s experience dealing with date rape and the labels people use (survivor vs victim) prompted this response from me.

The line that resonated with me from the article was this one: “We ignore the responsibility to help them recover.” In my opinion, the word survivor implies that you’re somehow “over it.” You’ve survived; life moves on. Usually, no visible scars are left, but internal ones may be abundant.

Recovery can take a lifetime. Much like a war veteran may survive violent battles with a terrorist and have lifelong post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), many rape victims/survivors have similar ongoing struggles, and yet their is little acknowledgement, validation, or support for them. It’s still a crime that nobody wants to talk about and few know how to help. What label you use is just semantics. This is a person who lives with an often unshakable grief, unimaginable triggers, and who needs continual love and support. They’ve lived through their own personal terror attack, and life is never quite the same.

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More from me on my experience with this topic…

Wishing I Had Cancer – a reflection about my rape experience

“The Boiler Room” – a poem I wrote to express some of my feelings about this experience. This deserves its own extended post someday soon.

“That was so holy…” – another previous reflection I wrote about my rape experience.

Cosmopolitan Magazine Article
This article highlights the some of the details of what happened

Dateline  – “Through the Pouring Rain”
This show features two other survivors of the same attacker; my specific story is not mentioned here.

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© November 17, 2015
Tryon, NC

 

School 2.0

WordPress Prompt from The Daily Post: You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?

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As a teacher for the past 20 years, I have a lot of opinions about education. If I were redesigning school, I would give more attention to the creative disciplines, like art and music, and require less math and science. So much is mandatory to learn that most people will never need or use, like calculus or trig. Instead, I would encourage more practical applications of math and science, money and finance, and health and relationship skills. I think relationship skills should be taught; a counseling class should be mandatory where students are given support to learn to process emotions in a non-destructive way. I also believe in blogging as a way to keep a record of one’s life and learning, to encourage students to take more ownership and pride in their work. So much is just done for a teacher and then dismissed or thrown away, not to be remembered in the future, while blogs can be forever. Blogs can be personal and they inspire a real sense of community, which is often lacking for young people. Blogs start conversations and keep ideas flowing.

I believe students should have more say over what they are learning — more choices about books, subjects, etc. And what if students really had choices about teachers or schools? I dream of creating an educational company that would give teachers the freedom to teach what they want to teach and to do it in the way they do it best without lots of government controls or admin oversight, as well as providing options for students to choose their teachers and course material. I would also design it so that reaching certain levels offers certain rewards, much like video games are structured. There needs to be more fun, freedom, and creativity in the whole learning process.

I believe in apprenticeship more than college, which focuses mainly on book-learning. I believe in travel and community involvement, volunteering. I would incorporate all of these things into the “normal” track for education. I would chunk learning into smaller modules. For example, instead of taking math for a whole year, choose an emphasis for six weeks, and then do something else for a while. Do another math intensive later on. Kids need to be allowed to have more work/like balance if we want them to have it as adults. I would want kids to learn homesteading, self-sufficiency, entrepreneurial skills — if they want to.

I would put less emphasis on formalized testing and more on experiential outcomes. I would model networking. So often in life and in business, it’s who know and who you ARE versus what you know. Anyone can be taught the what if they truly want to learn it; you must have a solid foundation of character to build upon. Less paperwork and hoops for teachers that rob them of their joy and ability to focus on what they really signed up for and what they are truly gifted at. Some big dreams here that may sound far-fetched, but the educational system is definitely due for some big changes. I hope to help lead some of these changes in my life time.

© October 14, 2015
Tryon, NC

An Interview for The Cracked Pot

One of the student editors for our school newspaper The Cracked Pot wanted to interview me about poetry. These were her questions and my responses. I will post the article here as well when it’s finished. This was a great honor — thanks for thinking of me, Abby!

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First, tell me a little about yourself, especially about your writing journey (when did you start, did you pursue it in college or for a career, what are you writing now, etc.)?

 

English was my favorite subject in school. I always had my nose in a book, and I loved to read and write. I won an English award in 7th grade, and I think that helped to set my course early on. In college, I started out as a political science major, but eventually switched to English and decided to teach because I believed that would be the best career to have and still raise a family.

I don’t have as much time to write as I would like to have, but since 2012 I’ve been working on a poetry blog and cataloging all of my writing that I’ve saved over the years. This has been a time-consuming, but rewarding project. I recently took a memoir writing class, and I enjoyed that too. I believe it’s important to preserve and honor your work.

What are some disadvantages and advantages of poetry, as compared to other types of writing (essays, short stories, etc.)?

 

The advantage of poetry is that it can pack a powerful punch in a short space. It’s like taking a snapshot with words, and when it’s done well, it can be just as breath-taking as the best photos. Most poems are relatively short, and that appeals to some people who otherwise wouldn’t take the time to read.

The disadvantage of poetry is that it is often ambiguous. The meaning is not always clear right away, and some won’t take the time to decipher it. Or, even when you do decipher it, you still can’t relate. Poetry tends to be more personal in nature; just like there are certain people or personality types we don’t connect with, there will be certain poems that, no matter how hard we try, we still won’t connect with.


As a teacher, what are some common problems you see in students’ poetry, and what are some ways to correct them?

 

The main problems I see in student poetry writing have to do with structure and cohesion. Students are usually good at having consistent rhyme, but some struggle with having a consistent meter. This would be like trying to listen to your favorite song on the radio, but it’s off beat. Imagine someone clapping off beat. That’s how some amateur poetry comes across.

In terms of cohesion, some students will mix metaphors or switch themes mid-stream, and that’s just as weird as if you were to do the same thing in a formal essay. You wouldn’t start out writing a character analysis on To Kill A Mockingbird and then end your essay with a treatise about how kids need more exercise. That’s best separated into two papers, and it’s no different with poetry. Stick with one key them or emotion to create your best work.

 

Because poetry is so varied in terms of structure and so subjective, as with all art, how do you personally decide whether a poem is good? What are some things you look for in a good poem?

 

You’re right — there’s both a science and an art to any type of good writing. Some of that can be taught or “caught” through good mentoring, reading other good writers, etc. To me a poem is good if I connect with it on some level — like a batter connects with a baseball. Sometimes you miss and every hit may not be a home run, but a game is won through consistent contact with the ball. Success in poetry is gained through consistent connection with your audience in ways that they can appreciate and relate to.I believe every writer has an audience. I also believe in fostering young talent. Just like an athletic coach can see an athlete’s potential, I try to encourage your writers as well when I see the same glimmers of potential. I know how far I have come from my first writing attempts, and I appreciate the support I’ve received along the way, so I try to pay that forward, so to speak.

I like poems with creative word play or language that makes me see or, better yet, feel something in a new way. I’m impressed with poems that follow a highly-structured pattern, like the sonnet. I like spiritual poems written several hundred years ago, like those of John Donne; they make me feel like I’m connecting with a rich legacy of faith that’s just as alive and relevant today. Writing poetry leaves a legacy for generations to come and continues to speak even long after you are gone.

How does poetry, and writing in general, affect your life—faith, ministry, relationships, doing the dishes? =)

 

Poetry enriches my life. When I write poetry, it’s an outlet for my emotions. It can help me to process a mood like sadness or regret — and then be free from it and move on. I think people can find this same relief through many creative forms of expression, such as music or painting. For me, poetry also reflects my connection with God. Through times of prayer and meditation, He will often speak to me in songs, and many of these have truly been “songs of deliverance” that have helped me through difficult times.

Psalms 107:20 says, “He sent his word and he healed them…” This is often the power of poetry. Sometimes there’s a word or a phrase or a whole poem that will speak directly to you or your situation, and the beauty of that cannot be overestimated.

 

Lastly, what is some of the best advice you’ve either heard or come up with concerning writing poetry well?

 

Leonard Cohen, the songwriter who wrote the classic “Hallelujah” song, has a great line about poetry: “If your life is burning well, then poetry is just the ash.” First, you have to have a fire within that must be expressed; you can’t “hide it under a bushel, ” as Jesus said. Study the greats. Read a variety of poetry styles. Feel and think deeply. Practice often. Take a class. Become a wordsmith. Find a mentor. Sometime less is more. Know when to end.

Also, there are some websites where you can register and sign up for a poem a day. If it’s something you love and feel called to, surround yourself with it, in books, on Facebook, or Pinterest etc. 

 

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 @ April 19, 2015
Asheville, NC

 

A Near Death Experience and a Sacred Trust

I’m currently taking a memoir writing class taught by Sam Uhl of The Cheerful Word. Our homework this week is to write about death and spirituality. Enjoy this beautiful worship song by Audrey Assad based on John Donne’s classic poem, “Death, Be Not Proud.”

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Fifteen years ago, a man broke into my house in the middle of the night and raped me at gun point. My children and I were lucky to survive that night, and for me, that was a near-death experience. While this post will not be about that event, it definitely changed how I lived.

At the time I was a single mom with three young kids (3, 5, & 6) and I was definitely not “ready to go.” For years after that experience I lived in survival mode and made very conscientious choices about staying alive and protecting my kids. I was extra careful about every little thing — personal safety, driving, locking doors, parking lots, public areas, crowds — you name it. I became hyper aware of my surroundings. It was a different way to live. I thought about things that most people never think about. Most people take their safety for granted. I also think that most men have no idea what it’s like for most women to be concerned about these things.

I lived with a new insecurity of just being in the world. I began to feel that I could die at any moment and for any reason that I may not see coming. I felt a new sense of urgency to do the things that I felt “called to do.” This mainly involved being faithful with the songs that the Lord had given me over the years. For the past decade, I had written probably 40-50 spiritual songs. I realized that if I had died that night, those songs would have died with me.

While I had written them down, I had never done anything else with them. I always felt limited due to time and money — and ability. I only sing; I do not play an instrument, so doing any kind of real recording would mean hiring musicians, paying for studio time, etc, and all of that was beyond my knowledge.

For safety reasons, I moved to Atlanta and the kids and I moved in with my parents. Shortly after this, I found a Christian man with a recording studio in his basement who lived on the other side of town an hour away. Turns out that it was Fred Standifer, who was part of a Gospel quartet. I would go once a month to his house on a Friday night, when my church would host a kids’ night out, so that parents could have a date night. That was my date night with God.

I did this for the better part of a year. I would go by myself and sing my songs acapella and record them. I thought it may not be fancy, but if something were to happen to me, at least there would be a record of what the Lord had given me. At the end of all these sessions, Mr. Standifer never charged me for any of that time. I don’t know what he thought of my work, but I wasn’t expecting it to be free.

About a year later, a friend and I had moved to some nearby apartments. She offered to type all of my songs for me, and she made a special notebook of my work. This was a great gift. I would not have had the time to do this, and it was wonderful to have everything so organized and in one place. She really honored me by doing this. I knew she believed in my work.

Over the next decade (2000-2010), I would try to do things with the music here and there, but it never felt like the right time or place. Time and money as a single mom was a continual challenge. I sang at a few weddings, participated in an Open Mic night. I recorded one or two, more professional demos as new songs and some extra money would come to me. My work has always been well received by those who hear it, and it’s still a dream to professionally record an album and do more with it — or perhaps publish the songs so someone else could do something with them.

Then in 2012, I started this blog, Riches and Rhymes, and began to compile all of my work in one place, and I’ve been so proud of it. I love having it online. I don’t want things to get lost as I move or travel. It’s been very rewarding for me personally, even if no one ever sees it, but I’m hoping it will be a nice legacy for my children someday. I think it’s inspired me to write more, although most of what I write now is poetry. I do not receive “songs from the Lord” at the rate that I used to, but it is still my dream one day to record them and honor them to the level I feel they deserve. It feels like a holy trust that I’m meant to complete. I’ve never wanted to “make a name for myself” but only to be faithful to the call.

Sometimes I feel I haven’t done that well, but I know that God’s timing is not my own and that He loves me no matter what. Since I’ve lived in Asheville, I’ve been singing on the worship team at church and that has been good experience and very rewarding as well. I don’t live with the same fear of death as I did years ago. But I feel I still have work to do. I believe that “to live is Christ, but to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) and that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). I believe that eternity will be an amazing journey, and I am secure in that. 🙂

Two Songs Inspired from this Time
Even Though He Slay Me
Forged in the Fire

© Asheville, NC
March 12, 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.

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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

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.”

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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

Wishing I Had Cancer

I wrote this tonight as a response to a Facebook post on Bruce Feiler’s page. He had asked what’s the best thing to do when something tragic happens to someone. Should you reach out and help or leave people alone to deal with personal things in private, etc? Some people posted great stories of kindnesses that others have shown. While I am healed of this event at this time in my life, both the challenges and victories are not forgotten. I have always thought I would write more about this experience, and one day I will. For now, I’m just cataloging certain thoughts here as they come to me.

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I was attacked by a serial rapist 15 years ago, and it turned my whole life upside down; I was already struggling desperately as a new single mom of three. During the same season a fellow teacher had cancer. The whole school rallied around this teacher, with prayers and constant support and fund-raising. No one wants to talk about rape. They don’t want to bring it up, don’t want to hurt your feelings, don’t know what to say, but all of this just reinforces the shame and the silence and discounts the inner wounds that no one acknowledges and ignores the reality of the ongoing healing process. Everyone openly celebrated every little success and his eventual recovery; I remember thinking no one has any idea that it’s a total miracle that I got out of bed today, showed up, was a great teacher, and an amazing mom — all on my own. I remember wishing I had cancer.

Jeremiah 8:11 – “They have healed the wounds of my people lightly…” (NIV)

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Some media about the event; again, just cataloging resources for myself, mainly.

Cosmo Article
Dateline  – “Through the Pouring Rain”
This show features two other survivors of the same attacker; my specific story is not mentioned here.

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“The Boiler Room” is a poem I wrote directly about my feelings about this experience. This deserves its own extended post someday soon.

“That was so holy…” is another writing reflection I wrote about my rape experience.

 

@Asheville, NC
January 13, 2015

Protected: 2014 Year in Review

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One Year Ago

I started this blog a year ago today.

1-year-anniversary

It was at the end of a ten-day juice fast. I was in the middle of packing — wrapping up my life in Georgia and beginning a new phase of life in Asheville, NC. This was something I had thought about doing for years, and I’m glad I finally did. I remember just diving in late one night, determined to take action on something that mattered to me. Funny thing is, I never really considered myself a poet. I knew I had written some good things throughout my life, several songs I poetwanted to preserve, but I don’t know that I would have ever worn the label of a poet until this blog began to take shape.

I chose the name kinda randomly. I thought it was catchy at the time, but maybe cheesy. I thought I might change it later, but it has stuck with me and I like it. It does capture two important facets of my writing — they are poems or songs, most of which rhyme or contain rhyming elements within, and they are riches to me. They represent my heart — my struggles, my faith, my love, etc. It was important to me to create a place where I could honor my work. Before this blog, my writings were quite scattered on random shapes and sizes of papers, barely legible scribbles sometimes, hidden in old journals — some of which even I was surprised to find as I was packing up my life.

old+journals-05 It has been interesting to note that I have written much more in the past year, now that I have a place to put things. I enjoy the creative process. I enjoy choosing just the right words and rhythm, just the right picture to capture the feeling I want to express. To date, I have 45 followers. It has been fascinating and rewarding for me to see that strangers from around the world have found their way here and have liked various posts and decided to follow my work. My own family has not even done that much.

Now, instead of scraps of paper, I’m usually writing at the computer or, interestingly, in bed using the WordPress app on my iPhone. I have a handful of drafts that I’ve started but not finished. I don’t know if I ever will. I tend to write in the moment of inspiration. Usually a word or phrase or feeling will come to me and I follow it through until I feel it has beeiphone-wordpress-appn captured sufficiently. I rarely try to force things or make something up. Most of what I write just comes to me. Occasionally, I will tweak a word or phrase after the fact, but for the most part, what I write is an inspired spiritual download.

This past year I’ve also invested a little more time and energy into studying poetry, attending some workshops. I think this has been good — mainly for networking. I find that most of my inspiration comes when I have enough time and brainspace to allow myself to think and feel about my own life, which can be rare. For many years I was a single mom working two jobs and raising three kids, recovering from a handful of tragedies, and it was hard to find time to think or feel, much less write. That’s why those years are so sparse. Sad. I wonder what more I could have created if things had been different.

I wanted to record my songs for years, and I still hope to, and now I’ve added the dream of publishing someday, perhaps a poetry book or even poetry curriculum for students. Perhaps more, but that woulAboutUsd be a start. I still struggle to find time sometimes, but I’m hopeful that will increase. However, just maintaining this blog and self-publishing has been so rewarding for me. I would like to publish. Fame and fortune have some appeal, but it’s more about being heard and making an impact, a connection that means something to someone — especially me. My hope is that this will be a legacy for my children someday. They will be able to see a side of me that they didn’t know when they were young or before they were born.

My next “project” is to go back and add the stories and inspirations behind each poem. I always love hearing what happened behind the scenes of a particular song or story. That seems a little daunting since there’s over 150 posts here to date in categories including poetry, songs, haiku, and even one iStory. What I would have given to start something like this when I first started writing! I imagine what has been lost — stories, other poems or songs…I hope my students appreciate why I make them blog today. =) cheers

In the end, my work is a witness to my life and this blog is a way that I can memorialize my experiences in a way that matters — the good, the bad, the ugly. Thanks for following, listening, and reading…here’s to good things yet to come!

© June 28, 2013
Asheville, NC