life · memoir · nonfiction · Uncategorized · writing

First Place in a Writing Contest

Thank you to the Story Circle Network for accepting my story:  Hoping to Be Missed.

I am excited to report that I won first place in the Reflections Personal Essay Contest 2018.

To read the story and find out more about the Story Circle Network, click here.

disability · dreams · Family · Grandparenting · health · life · poetry

Oh Baby, I Have Purpose

Baby Whisperer, they call me –
some definitions we just slide
into, naturally; discovered mine
at the age of nine, when my sister,
a child herself, gave birth and I,
the babysitter, was also born.

Ran a school that summer –
charged a quarter a week to
neighbouring parents, promised
to prepare their children for the
year ahead, turned my knack
into an entrepreneurship.

Uprooted at eleven to a highrise
full of families, filled my calendar
with other’s people’s offspring –
was in demand – while other teens
partied and rebelled, my wallet
bulged with babysitter’s cash.

Projected success into future
plans, told the guidance counsellor
I wanted to get my ECE – work in
day care – she scoffed, said I was
too smart, should be a psychiatrist
the world needs shrinks, not nannies.

So I signed up for psychology and
sociology – did not find myself, quit,
married a man – really just a child –
felt I’d found myself in the role of
wife, ignored the fact that I had
only replaced his mother – grew tired,

ran into the arms of another, racing
to have children of his own – knew
how to do children – returned to school,
studied Children’s literature, psychology,
set my sights on being a teacher – but
it all fell apart; alone raising three.

Married again, finding comfort in the
mothering role, became a teacher –
replaced offspring with classrooms;
certain I was fulfilling a calling, until
illness swept it all away, confined me
to a bed, homebound, erased purpose.

But wait; the story doesn’t end there –
because now I’m a grandmother – my
babies have babies – and even from my
invalid bed, I can care for the wee  –
the Baby Whisperer still has the touch –
purpose reignited with each new life.

adversity · aging · Love · poetry · relationships

Absence

Slippers, perched at night stand,
twitching impatiently,
mark the absence of feet,
cannot appreciate the meaning
of unruffled bed covers.

Abandoned, a coffee mug
bemoans its curdling contents,
complains of thick brown lines
contaminating its porcelain shine,
has not noted absence of hands.

Chair, pushed back from desk,
in partial rotation, sits awkwardly,
commanding attention, disturbed
by its misalignment, has not thought
to ponder absence of body.

House, uncomfortable with silence
creaks unnaturally, loudly voicing
objections to the absence of footfalls,
automated machinery and incessant
rings, beeps, and chimes of technology.

I try to reassure them that the absence
is only temporary, that the man whose
presence so strikingly fills this space
will return,  hope they cannot read
the apprehension in my tremulous heart.

adversity · disability · health · poetry

Sorrow’s Vigil

There is sorrow in the nighttime,
when the light of day has faded,
and the noise of life subsided,
and all the world is slumbering.

Then my heart beats with a single
lone drum, a heaviness weighing
on me, chest punctured with grief,
distractions losing their hold.

There is sorrow in the nighttime,
a deep-seated darkness, void of
hope, the deafening echo of unshed
tears, the brutality of solitude.

When all have surrendered to dreams,
my soul – tired of the daily effort to be
courageous, to smile when I want to
rage, to protect my beloveds – weeps.

There is sorrow in the nighttime,
the grief of knowing that this defective
existence is too much for others to
bear, whose hearts have glazed over,

who will me to wellness, shake
their heads, and spew frustration,
as if I am somehow an accomplice
in this state of vile stagnation,

There is sorrow in the nighttime,
when questions rob me of sleep,
and the passage of time fails to
ease the injustice of so much loss.

And while acceptance is the best
progress, and I know that faith
will sustain me, they are fickle
companions when the sun sets.

There is sorrow in the nighttime
a restless amalgamation of so
much emotional angst, with no
shelter for relief…

 

adversity · creativity · dreams · expression · poetry

Herd or Heard

Society moves en masse,
flowing with the tides,
propelled by a shared
consciousness.

Destination unknown;
purpose undetermined.

We take flight, cling
to wings of promise,
ignore the stench
of destruction.

Reaching for the sky;
barely hanging on.

We land, school together
tell tales of adventure
document progress
avoid reality

proponents of diversity;
shunning differences

All among us has a story
shies from speaking aloud
fears castigation
deflects

fearlessly outspoken:
scapegoating sins.

Daring to speak a truth,
I falter, watch as the
crowd retreats in
shunning silence.

Destination unknown,
purpose undetermined.

th-1

Family · memoir · new project · nonfiction · writing

Four Voices

At the age of four, I moved with my family into a new house that my father had built, on the outskirts of town.  The day of our move my mother disappeared, and left to my own devices, I defied my father’s rules about staying out of certain parts of the house and discovered secret places, the beginning of my awareness that all was not as it seemed.  When my mother returned, she was carrying a new baby sister, and all was seemingly well, until one day she too discovered that the walls had secrets.

Four Voices tells the story of growing up in a family where secrets defined us; and examines the relationship between a daddy’s girl and her father, split between two worlds.  All names have been changed for this story.  Part I, starts at the end of seventeen-year-old Betty-Ann’s home life, and can be read here.

I have attempted to write this story for most of my life, however; I was always missing an essential piece – my father’s perspective.  Now, armed with new understanding, I offer you a tale of tragic misunderstanding and hope for healing.

Feedback is deeply appreciated.

 

Love · recovery · relationships

Dear Child

I know a little girl,
whose hair in ringlets
falls, unkempt from lack
of brushing; who stands
when she should be sitting;
who laughs with defiance when
challenged, her dark eyes gleaming
with mischief; who holds her chin up
high and stamps her feet, arms folded
in protest when she does not get her way.

I see that little girl,
have watched her play,
with a wild imagination,
and a fearless temperament;
have watched her climb a tree,
scrap with any bully, and dare to
venture on her own; have witnessed
her alone times, hidden and obscured,
watched as she cried unheeded, buried
herself in books, drawing, and future dreams.

I feel that little girl,
who wears such a brave
exterior to mask her inner
fears; who bears a burden of
responsibility to carry the weight
of those around her;  who believes
she has the power to make her mother
cry, to cause her father’s violence, to save
her sisters from pain; who feels the punishment
of her situation and ascribes it to unworthiness.

I love that little girl,
whose mind is always
churning, who prays to a
god she’s never seen, and
makes wishes on rainbows;
who longs to make a difference,
and refuses to believe that suffering
is all there is; who devotes herself to
being a better person, and hopes one day
that she’ll finally feel at peace in the world.

I hold that little girl,
warm within my heart,
listen to her fears, hear
her heart’s longing;  praise
her courageous efforts, appease
her doubts, offer condolences for
losses, encouragement for change,
forgive her of her burdens; allay her
misperceptions, reassure her worth,
promise to never let her go: she is me.

health · recovery

Confrontation or Consolidation?

Long legs and a swift stride
partnered with an impulsive
nature, and willingness to
grasp at change, carry me.

Straight lines rarely define
my journey – sharp turns,
backwards loops, rabbit
holes – a labyrinth of sorts.

I am independent, a free
thinker, outsider, rebel –
on the run, moss adverse,
never-look-back woman.

Until life set a roadblock,
hampered my movement,
grounded panicked escape
forced a standstill, frozen

in time, isolated, fearful,
silence as an unknown,
immobility a sentence,
punishment interpreted.

The past, ever in pursuit,
momentum full-force,
crashes into me, topples
any semblance of stability.

I am dazed, shaken, take
a step back, circle, wonder
at this intrusion, try to re-
collect, construct meaning.

Does reconnecting merit
effort, or is the past too
clouded by faulty memory
and misplaced emotion?

Am I remiss to have left
so much behind, in search
of renewal, recovery; am I
deluded to believe in change?

Or is there some essence
of eternal light, of beauty
and goodness, revealed
under the shadow of ago?

Could it be value, not sin,
which triggers the pursuit,
a loving tribute, rather than
judgment and retribution?

I will myself to have faith,
to breathe and observe,
no longer able to flee, now
must trust in discernment.

dreams · recovery

Out of Step

Perpetually looking inward,
pondering commitment,
considering risks, projecting
humiliation, shame; daring

to dream of a second chance,
room to grow, opportunities
to demonstrate value – well
guarded, precarious being.

I am floundering in a fishbowl,
crowded by co-conspirators
operating out of step, trying
to acclimatize, compulsively

examining decisions, under-
whelmed by undeniable
growth, compensating with
dark, emotional outpourings.

Need to prove self-worth is
unappealing, disregards
viable efforts, disallows
definitions of acceptance.

This inwards, backwards
outlook critiques harshly,
harbours shame, sees
fault in successes, I am

stuck in the past, static,
abandoned, anxiously
forgetting, hindered by
confinement, jumping

to conclusions; I need
objectivity, to redirect
stored misgivings and
eyes outward, perceive

kindness, communicate
misunderstandings, shake
off disbelief, consider merit
as reflected by old friends.