Posted in inspirational, memoir, stream of consciousness writing

Surroundings

 

 

 

On walls

through windows

within the molecules of mental constructs

my vocabulary is

delicious, tormented, peaceful, moody, changing and constant,

dreadful

boring

predictable.

I pack a suitcase and fly to Michigan

to see my oldest living relative on my mother’s side who,

at 97, gives me a gift of conversation;

she

tells me again

how my mother was one of the nicest people she’d ever met.

Then later mentions that she wasn’t such a good cook

and that smoking almost killed her.

I can only feel conflicted

but this time

in my mid-60’s mind, it’s all ok now

really, truly

something is healed.

When I am alone on adventure

the muses never fail to inspire

so when I see

the river rushing, winding,

threatening to overflow…

just like my view of life

motivated by surroundings,

the rapid water is a

savior of sorts,

like a psalm or a poem, words to remember.

 

Journal prompt: write about what motivates you. In your journal, add descriptions of who, how, what, where, when…and why.

 

Posted in inspirational, poetry

Whisper

In the dream
the ancestors showed me
the scene.
An owl looking west
perched above
in the woods.
There’s more, the dream is bold.

A whispered tale
for
me
only, in my solace, in the turning darkness,

my usual forays in hallways and destinations

trying to find my room

then the scene

changes reflecting internal visions.

You will know.
Your guide is near.

This time you waited outside.

Posted in inspirational, nature, wilderness

Rock it Better

 

 

 

rocks in the earth

They won’t tell
directly
or even acknowledge
the sparkled laser
sent without motive.

As ever,

the measured avoidance

is through.

They even stole my azure blue.

 

Shifty,  picayune & shallow

shaded murmurs are simple trinkets

of  unresolved ego ramblings.

When doubts threaten to flood

my painted longing

an eyelash flickers,

I lift the brush.

The miracle speaks
like halos talking

because you,

dear Spirit,

do

rock it better.

 

DSCF1875

Posted in inspirational, journal prompts, journaling, parenting, relationships

Thoughts of Grandfather

grampa and sue copy.jpg grampas 90th

Above: Grampa’s 90th birthday 1972. My mother made the dress.

July 17th was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. He was born in 1880 and died in 1977. He was my favorite relative. He was a man of few words and a limited education-he completed the eighth grade to be exact. Then he went to work on the family farm. When the farm was sold, he worked on Henry Ford’s farm. My grandmother, who died before I was born, took in teachers for room and board. She worked as a seamstress.

Grampa L. worked as a laborer his whole life. After he stopped working on farms, he was employed as a custodian at the local high school. One time he got on my case for throwing away pencils. He saved pencils long after the erasers were tough and unusable. Throwing out something useful was simply not done.

For as long as I can remember, Grampa would get up at 5:00 am like clockwork and put on his green janitor uniform, even after he retired. He lived by a strict schedule. His little unassuming house was always neat and clean, every tool in its place. He grew raspberries, corn, sunflowers and rhubarb in his back yard in a small Michigan village. When he let you slip your little hand into his, you felt warm and protected. He was decent. He was kind.

                                     grampa lamming

Grampa could make you obey just with a glance, and you knew he would take care of you while in his presence. I miss him and feel him on the other side. Even though my grandfather on my father’s side was a prominent and well-known physician, I favored my earthy grandfather who said “you ain’t” and “well, I guess it’s “prid’near quittin’ time.”

You could always tell when Grampa was in town. His red Mustang would be parked by the curb near the post office or  in the lot at the grocery store. He drove it until he no longer had a license, probably in his mid-80’s because I remember him driving to Cleveland alone in his 80’s. It was depressing when he couldn’t drive anymore. The Mustang went to one of my cousins.

 I remember Grampa taking me with him on errands in the village.  I’d cringe as he drove too slowly in second gear. His beloved cherry red car lurched and sputtered as he neared the end of the street. He paid no attention to the lurching. We’d get there, everything was in a half mile radius. He’d turn his head as far as he could, about 15 degrees, at the corner. I hunkered down politely until the turn was made.

Each time we visited, he’d make sure to mention my sister and me at the check out counter. He’d announce to the clerk, “These are my granddaughters. They’re visiting from Ohio.” His pride made me feel good. His words let me know I was loved in a way that is unique, unconditional; the affection is not contingent on  rank, employment, money or marital status.

What was said in private was another matter entirely.

Grampa’s handwriting was perfect and slow, like his other movements. He never failed to write me little notes in which he would include a stick of Wrigley’s licorice or Juicy Fruit gum.

He liked to read Westerns and when we were little girls, he would hide the books that had bad words in them. The words were mild compared to today’s ever-present in-your-face, irritating, unavoidable vulgarity. One time I snuck and anxiously prowled through the  book until I found the offensive word. It was “pecker.”

Can you believe it? Gone are the days of good and proper verbiage. Gone.

God bless you, Grampa. I can’t wait to see you again on the other side.

Journal prompt: write about your grandparents. Did you know your grandparents? Who is (or was) your favorite? What words and feelings would you use to describe them?

 

© 2016 Susan E. Rowland

Posted in friends, inspirational, poetry, Writing for healing

You Left Me

Dear readers, I’m so sorry to be MIA but it’s been nuts lately. I haven’t forgotten you.

We have lost some dear friends and family members recently. Once again  I’m writing about grief. I haven’t been able to bring myself to compose something about Navajo angel Ashlynn Mike. Her little life must be honored and remembered. Words fail me completely with her death. The only thing I can think of is that our adopted mom, Bettye, crossed over in time to take Ashlynn’s hand and to comfort her on the other side. Yes, I believe in such things.

 

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You Left Me

I thought we had one more visit
and until then
a phone call would suffice.
It was not to be
because you up and died
you rascal, you!
You left me.

This blast of grief is different
and catches me like a trumpet–
Gabriel’s trumpet,
fierce and full in my ear at sundown
and first thing in the morning,
doubling me down at noon.
You left me.

Why did I mistake the brilliant
orange tanager who landed in the mesquite,
a sign a symbol I should have cherished
by action and not writing some silly line
in my journal,
brief, non-committed.
You left me.

I thought I had one more visit
and you sent the warning through a bird
they always do that, you know…
there’s a warning, a message.
but I thought there was time, dammit.
It’s over.
You left me.

at bettye's summer 2007 004

With my dear friend and adopted Mom, Bettye B. RIP

 

copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Rowland

 

Posted in Gandhi, inspirational, interviews, journal prompts, profiles, spirituality, Writing for healing

Learning Peace From the Inside Out, an Interview with Arun Gandhi

arun gandhi for int

 

Dear Readers,

Today I am honored to introduce to you author Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of India’s legendary spiritual and political leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi has written a children’s book, Grandfather Gandhi with co-author Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk.

I was so excited to be able to talk with Arun by email. He exemplifies the caring and wisdom of his grandfather. However, as he shares in his book, patience was not always his strong feature. As a child he had to compete for attention among the many people who daily surrounded his grandfather. Arun struggled with childhood things such as occasional fights with other boys on the playground and learning to write Gujarati. Life in India was different from South Africa where young Arun dreamed about Western movies.

Recently I have delved into the etiology of negative emotions such as anger and frustration. Why is violence so prevalent? One wonders how spiritual teachers such as Mahatma Gandhi,  Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Thich Nhat Hanh could endure ridicule, hostility, even exile, yet be so unpretentious and truly peaceful.

The answer seems to lie within ourselves. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The interview is below:

SR: What made you want to write a book? Why a children’s book?

AG: I was twelve years old when I went to live with grandfather and some of the lessons he taught me were life changing. For more than 30 years I have been sharing these lessons with adults and they have always told me how important and inspiring these lessons have been. About 20 years ago I incorporated these lessons in a book for adults called Legacy of Love which was first published by a small time California publisher who went out of business so I took over the publication through my non-profit Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. I sold over 50,000 copies of the book and the income is used to rescue and rehabilitate impoverished and exploited children in India.

I always felt these lessons should be shared with children but I don’t know how to write for children. Then 9/11 happened and the Unity Church in NYC invited me to come and speak and give New Yorkers a positive message. They had over 700 people packed in the auditorium, among them was a young lady called Bethany Hegedus. I shared the story of anger and how grandfather had always maintained that it was a good emotion to be used constructively rather than abuse it the way we do and cause grief. Bethany was impressed and some months later she wrote to me asking if I would consider working together on a book for children. I said yes. For 12 years we could not find a publisher then Simon and Schuster bought the manuscript and Grandfather Gandhi was born.

SR: I see that you are a journalist by training. How do you usually organize your material? Do you outline? Do you keep a personal journal? What is your writing process like?

AG: I am what people would call a disorganized writer. No, I don’t journal but I write from my heart which means I write and rewrite several times until I feel satisfied.

 

SR: You have been an established writer for many years: did having a “name” help in finding a publisher?

AG: No the name was not an advantage. If Grandfather Gandhi took 12 years, my biography of Grandmother: The Forgotten Woman, took more than 25 years. All the publishers wanted a manuscript on Grandfather but no one wanted to touch the book on Grandmother. Then in 1989 Ozark Mountain Publishers in Little Rock who specialized in spiritual books decided to take a chance on this one. It received no publicity nor reviews and so it was not available in book stores. Once again, I sold more than 50,000 copies over the year by selling them wherever I went to give a talk.

SR: What advice would you give to writers who are interested in publishing children’s books?

AG: I think a good artist is as important as a good manuscript. Publishers of children’s books like a book with a message but delivered in a subtle way without being preachy. The success of Grandfather Gandhi is shared by the artist Evan Turk. He was just 12 years old when we started writing the book and this book happened to be his first upon graduating from art school.

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Thank you so much, Arun. Reading Grandfather Gandhi and speaking with you has been a privilege. I’m sure others will gain new insight into your grandfather’s life as well as yours. I feel that Grandfather Gandhi could be considered a spiritual memoir as well as a children’s book.

INFO: Arun Gandhi is president of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute and writes a blog for The Washington Post. He lives in Rochester, New York and travels the world doing speaking tours. You can listen to a wonderful talk by Mr. Gandhi here at the Cleveland City Club. I hope you will be as captivated and inspired by his true stories. I’m envisioning and holding an anger/resolution journaling class.

      Bethany Hegedus lives in Austin, Texas and has a writing school called the Writer’s Barn. Artist Evan Turk lives in New York City, originally from Colorado. See his work at the Mystic Seaport Museum.

                                                          *********

Journal prompts:

1) Try writing about your life in a format that would be suitable for a children’s book. How does this feel to you? What would you want to say to the world? Do you find writing from a child’s point of view is cathartic?

2) Do an interview with an author. Describe the process from beginning to end. Include all the details. Please don’t hesitate to share here. All are welcome!

Posted in inspirational, music, profiles, stream of consciousness writing

Poem for Nina Simone

SUEZmystic NINA

 

 

She
who played
the black and white keys,
the piano, the only friend of a lonely, dreamy, fervent
child from across the tracks.
She
grew prophetic, classical,
prolific,
little, lilted and black
yet she couldn’t strike back,
a husband who pretended to love her
with a mean hitting hand,
she

sought to ease her sorrow
looking with improvisation
for tomorrow.
Turbulence shackled her shoulders, her soul
and at corners she circled not knowing
which way to go,
raging, performing, shining on and on,
stage to stage,

stairs up and down,
the days of lights, laughter, and neighbors
and inky-deep indigo nights,

she

played and traveled and looked for a home.
We bid you only comfort, dearest,
darling with your righteous fingers
impressive
heart,
she

did what she could.
Sail on, ebony goddess, you are
forever bound in our endearments, twinkling
you settle, settle,
settled down
among the clouds of the comforting place
resting,
where you are
free, free, free.
Free to just be.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Rowland

Posted in inspirational

Make Art not War

dad painting 2 okinawa copy Resolution over conflict is no utopian fantasy, Calm the feverish pain of thundering rage, Gluttony for land, for oil, spilling  the uranium page, leaving toxic shattered wounded beaches. You are wrong. Healing is the most manly courage, not the pillage of a culture or a village. I did not choose it, nor did the children in Syria. No history is glorious when toppling tyrants, pushing insanity on others because of a shameful personal demon that must be dominated. Men and women could be deployed to rebuild, creating beauty with the will to teach and protect.

deep in painting dad on okinawa

Dad

US Army, Okinawa

Journal prompt: write freely about your thoughts on war. Do you feel war is imperative? What are your views on religious wars? Are you a veteran? What have your experiences been?

market place

Discussion: I’ve written previously about my father’s war service on Okinawa. I’m working on a longer piece about his friendships with the Okinawan artists, dear friends who taught him about Buddhism and about their culture. They also taught him painting techniques. Dad passed on his love of painting to me, and my son is a professional house painter with an eye for detail. I work with the expressive arts as a healing modality with people of all ages.  Art, dance, music, writing, and poetry…and sports…. can be a medium for conflict resolution and spiritual development. Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if we all did more art?

Copyright © 2015 by Susan E. Rowland Photos and  images may not be used

Posted in celebrations, faces, inspirational

Poor neglected bloggie

Oh I have just been so mean lately to not come and attend to my  bloggie!

Working on a rough first draft of the book has been taking up so much time,

as well as working on the website. Life has been good though.

Some sprites and spirits do come ’round and that’s always such a joy.

1920s flapper copya face

a story                                                and then

a loveUntitled-1 copy

but not like the people in the village quite expected

a spirit

and a human

could dance with such abandon and precision

there is no English word for it.