Memories

stand still in time

glimmers of whispers

in the back of my mind

protected

interconnected

clouds of thought

bubbling, rising

vaporizing

Pop!

 

found poetry from one of my other blogs circa 2015

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Friday Friends: C. Streetlights “Tea & Madness”

Happy Friday, Friends!  It is my pleasure to  feature authors and bloggers on Fridays. Today I am delighted to announce that Tea and Madness by C. Streetlights is rereleased!  This gorgeous book really touched my heart.

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Tea & Madness, a memoir written in prose and poetry, is separated into the four seasons inspired by C. Streetlights’ experiences: grieving a lost baby, coping with depression, anger, betrayal, surviving rape, and the accepting that there are some things she cannot forgive. Balanced somehow within this darkness is the wonder in motherhood and empathetic relationships. As her seasons change, she continues trying to find the balance of existing between normalcy and a certain kind of madness.

“Pears” from Tea and Madness
by C. Streetlights

My grandma had already been divorced when she met my grandpa. She was the older woman; eleven years older than him when they were married. He grew a mustache to hide his true age—19-years-old. They settled into a somewhat quiet life in Compton, California. I can appreciate the bravery my grandparents had to have had in order to pursue their love better now that I am an adult than I could as a child. As a child they were just old people. As an adult, I recognize the social dynamics that should have prevented their joy.
By the time I was eight years old it became clear my grandmother had what people called Old Timer’s Disease—Alzheimer’s. And this is how I remember her best; an old tired woman fighting a losing battle against her own mind, not as the vibrant woman I know she must have been.
I had to spend a weekend with my grandparents during a time when Grandma was beginning to deteriorate in her dementia. It was an unmemorable visit except for two things: First, I learned to eat mashed potatoes by melting cheese on it, and second, my grandmother called me a tart after accusing me of stealing her lipstick.
I can laugh about this now.
My grandmother had a vanity table with an oval mirror in her bathroom—very Gibson-girlish. It displayed the cosmetics she no longer wore. I would sometimes run my fingers over their gilded cases and hold up one of her make-up mirrors. Cosmetic cases today are created for disposable or utilitarian purposes rather than display, but my grandmother’s compacts had intricate filigree designs woven around the edges. Lipstick tubes had images of birds or flowers. And what little girl could resist the powder puff?
I came home from school and overheard her being consoled by my grandfather. Curious, I went into their room and bathroom to investigate—neither room had ever been “forbidden” to the grandchildren. I stood there at the bathroom doorway watching the small drama when Grandma turned on me without warning. Her finger in my face, she asked where I put the lipstick, but her eyes weren’t accusatory. Her eyes were afraid. I was confused and told her I didn’t know what she was talking about. My grandfather put his hands on her shoulders and tried to tell her I was her granddaughter. It dawned on me at that moment that my grandma didn’t know who I was, and it broke my heart even though I couldn’t fully comprehend it. All I heard was, “There is no way this tart is my granddaughter. She stole my lipstick!”
***

After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her memoir, Tea and Madness won honorable mention for memoir in the Los Angeles Book Fair (2016) and is available for purchase on Amazon.

You can connect with C. Streetlights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.
http://www.cstreetlights.com

 

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Perspective

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noticed so many of my writer friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey and let’s chat!

My superpower is anxiety.  I’ve only recently decided to claim it as my superpower, and just doing so has already changed me.  More on this in a minute.

Recently, I shared a story at a family dinner.  The story included my oldest child, when he was but a baby.  My daughter asked me to tell her more stories about when she was a baby.  So I started rereading my personal blog posts from eight years ago.  Of course I discovered and remembered many delightful stories that I could share with her and my family. But there was more.

As I reviewed my own writings of the past eight years, themes and patterns became obvious.  Some of them painfully so.  Sure, some posts chronicled my agonizing year of regular gall bladder attacks and subsequent surgery to remove the darn thing, and then my “recovery.”  This was during the year of my husband’s job search, so there was anxiety and depression, as well.  Earlier our oldest child had received a diagnosis, actually both children have undergone surgical procedures as well as been hospitalized for days for illnesses. I know after sleeping in the chairs in hospital rooms so often, I have learned to pack my travel neck-pillow. The only reason I can come up with for  all the suffering in the world is because somewhere, somebody learns something from it. Somebody somewhere is going to find the cure for cancer.

As my friends and readers know, I am a writer and a reader.  I love patterns in fiction and in music.  I am a believer in the hero’s journey and a sucker for the sonata form.  I can’t even take a personality quiz anymore, because I find the pattern and skew the results to what I want.  (Does anybody else do this?) Even still, I was kind of surprised to see patterns before me in black and white.

In my never-ending pseudo-dieting, it sure seemed that once I did a cleanse, I was on my way to that weight loss.  I’d find prompt results and relish in my “success” for a little while. Eventually, I’d cheat and then stop altogether.  Many times this cycle repeated.  Wow. It was almost kind of depressing reading this.

But also it was enlightening, seeing what worked. Here’s what worked for me.

Cleansing as a jump-start to eating well.  Doing a cleanse is a supercommittment and opportunity to focus.  It’s not easy, but it works.

Tracking calories using an app on my phone.  Pretty much when I stop tracking, is when I start cheating.

Practicing Gratefulness.  When I journal and write and speak of my gratefulness, it is underscored.

Practicing Yoga. Reading about how good it made me feel, made me wonder why I’d stopped.  Even if I don’t do a DVD, just taking the time to remember my favorite positions is wonderful.

Visualizing.  Envisioning positive results from whatever my struggle du jour may be. Also, breathing loving energy directly to parts of my body helps the aches and pains.

Creating Art.  After my first essay was published, I got the bug.  Writing and self-publishing my poetry collection  A Maze in Grace was a journey in itself.  But also, taking the time to collage journal and color with my children. Singing in the car.  I recorded a Christmas album and shared it with my friends and family. (Would you like an mp3?  Send me your email addy!)

Writing. Personal journal entries and blog posts.  Poems and lists.  Ideas for my breakout novel. And jukebox musical. Hey- it could happen!

Perhaps it is my writer/ reader connection with the hero’s journey that allowed me to finally accept my anxiety for what it is.  Years ago I attended a Marianne Williamson lecture in San Francisco, and she stated plainly that AIDS was a call to compassion.  I get it now. Anxiety is the Catalyst.  In the Hero’s Journey, something happens to the main character which changes everything.  It is the Call to Adventure: when Luke goes with Obi-wan to Mos Eisley, when Harry Potter gets on the Hogwarts Express.

And so I have changed my perspective on my anxiety.  How lucky am I that I have a prompt to get me back on track.  It’s like my secret superpower.

What’s yours?

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Well, Well, Wednesday

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Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is NOT to write a wellness post on Wednesday.

Sometimes I spend my entire lunch period wondering about where I should go for lunch, and then it’s too late to go anywhere. Lunchtime is over.

Wednesdays are like that, too.

I am learning to be more flexible and expect the unexpected. Again.

When I was younger, I was so carefree.
I lived life as an INFP*,
Never knowing or caring where I would be
Improvising, literally

Adulting’s responsibilities
caused me anxiety
stifling my creativity

I’m finally coming back
I’m coming home
To being Me.

See? And here I thought I was going to type a post about my reading list and the virtues of paperbacks. Maybe talk a little about writing my new book of stories and recipes. Instead I wrote a poem.

Welcome to the Key of Dee.

*Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality theory. Check it out on http://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/mbti

Friday Friends: Elizabeth Hawksworth

Happy FridayFriends Day! The indie writing community is truly amazing, and my way of giving back to the community is to spotlight those who have been particularly helpful and inspiring. Today I am honored to introduce you to Elizabeth Hawksworth, poet and author. I came across her poetry collection “Break for Beauty” as I became inspired to take the writer’s path. I really appreciated her taking the time to perceive beauty and then to write so lyrically. Ms. Hawksworth braves even through some difficult subjects, and her insights are spot-on and eloquent.
1. What have you written?

I’m an internationally published writer who has work on the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Ravishly, Blogher, and other high-profile websites. I’m also the author of two books, “Break for Beauty”, and “Lake Effect: Voices of Toronto’s History”.

2. How did you decide to rhyme/ not rhyme or write in prose for the Break for Beauty collection?

The poems were written over a period of 10 years, and I arranged them into themes that were then bookended with prose essays that I wrote during my first stint in The Real LJ Idol writing contest. I felt it helped the reader to transition from one theme to another, just like I had transitioned through my time writing the poetry. I love rhyming poetry because I love music and song, so I’m naturally drawn to writing that way, but I also sometimes like the stark beauty of blank verse, so I included some of that as well. Different poems call for different styles, in my opinion.

3. “Dancing around Freedom” is particularly compelling in the first-person narrative, how did you become inspired to write this piece?

The plight of immigrants, mostly the Irish, in Toronto is something that I have always been interested in and that I explored more in my book, “Lake Effect”. The Irish really built the city, as they were the largest group at the time Toronto was founded, and they came over in droves due to the Potato Famine. I find their stories very poignant, and this character was one that I felt needed a voice. So many immigrants and Natives in Canada never get to tell their stories. I tried to create a space for that.

4. You write so openly and eloquently of mental illness, can you tell us a bit more about writing on this subject?

Mental illness carries such a stigma in our current culture, but yet some of the most beautiful writing comes out of people who are not neurotypical. I write about it because it’s had a huge effect on my life, and dealing with my own head vs. reality, and how I see the world vs. how others think I should see it, has been something I continue to write about so that others feel less alone. I’ve also found it cathartic to write about how I feel – almost as an outsider sometimes.

5. What are some other issues which are dear to your heart? Can you tell us a bit more about those?

I am very passionate about social justice and feminism, and a lot of my articles explore different aspects of this. I am Native, so many of my recent writings explore this identity that has been denied to me my entire life, systemically and culturally. I also have been known to dabble in fanfiction a little!

6. Tell us about Athena and Ophelia. How did they become so named?

My little familiars! Athena came to me via a good college friend of mine who acquired a grey kitten but couldn’t keep her. We named her together – I always loved the Greek myths and the Iliad in particular, so I said, “Why don’t we call her ‘Athena’ after ‘grey-eyed Athena’ in the Iliad?” The name stuck, and she very much is a goddess (in her own mind!). Ophelia was so-named because I really love Hamlet, but I call her Fili (Fee-lee) for short, and she’s more of a playful carefree Dwarf than she is a dramatic, tragic lady. Both of them brighten my days and inspire me.

7. What music inspires you?

Usually, I listen to a lot of instrumental pieces while writing, but I am also really inspired by Vienna Teng, Tori Amos, Stars, Billy Joel, Elton John, and Leonard Cohen.

8. Are you working on anything right now?

Right now, I’m writing poetry about the Native experience and working on some essays in the same vein.

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Elizabeth Hawksworth is a Canadian poet, blogger and short story writer. A busy marketing professional and nanny in Toronto, Ontario, she enjoys taking in the sights and sounds of her city, writing historical fiction, and herding her two cats, Athena and Ophelia. Elizabeth blogs about feminism, body positivity, fatphobia, writing, nannying and social justice at http://www.elizabethahawksworth.com.

 

A Maze in Grace is Free! Through Friday

Happy Holidays, Friends!

In the spirit of giving, I am offering my book A Maze in Grace  for FREE on Kindle this week only.

Follow this link to the book:

http://tinyurl.com/nt3t4kp

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I wrote this book for you, as I discovered patterns in my labyrinthine life.  I think most of us can relate to our lives not unfolding according “to plan,” am I right?

If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, follow the link and click!  Remember, you do not need an actual Kindle device to read a kindle book, the app is free on your smart phone, or you can read from your amazon.com account on your desktop or laptop.

If you already have a copy, THANK YOU!  Please drop me a line and let me know what you thought!

Please enjoy these excerpts from A Maze in Grace.

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Have you downloaded it yet?  Let me know!

 

 

Peace,

Denise