Posted in interviews, journal prompts, journaling, Jung, personal transformation, self improvement, spirituality, Writing for healing

Journaling Tarot, an Interview with Mary K. Greer


Mary K. Greer2016-Mary Greer


This week I’m excited to introduce you to Tarot expert, Mary K. Greer. She’s the author of eleven books and has been a tarot teacher for years. I use her Tarot for Your Self, a Workbook for Personal Transformation regularly. I recommend that all memoir or journal writers take a serious look at tarot as a tool for self-discovery through symbolism and metaphor.

greer books

Some keywords defining the tarot journey are

  • perspective
  • imagination
  • spirituality
  • discernment
  • symbolism
  • process
  • theme
  • Jungian psychology
  • personal transformation

My personal story with oracle cards began around 1986 when I bought my first deck. I started with a non-traditional oracle deck, The Medicine Cards. Then I purchased the classic Rider Waite Tarot, and the Crowley deck intrigued by  the illustrator Pamela Colman Smith. The Jamaican-American woman artist who created the original tarot images so well-known today, supposedly was not mentioned for her work when the deck was published. Unfortunately, they say she died in poverty and obscurity, but her work is beloved by many through the ages.

the hermit sue rowland copy

      my collage  tarot card – the Hermit

Tarot is about the human saga. For brevity’s sake you can look up Tarot here. It’s uncanny how spot-on the card pulls can be as a fun tool for writing.

Aside from the twenty-two Major Arcana or Trump cards there are four suits with general associations making up the lesser arcana. When you read the cards you look at the relationships generated by the images and their meaning.

  • Cups represent emotions and water
  • Wands represent action and fire
  • Swords represent thinking and air
  • Pentacles represent materials (coins) and earth


  • What I want to explore for journal-keepers and seekers in this segment is the excavation of symbols and metaphors that help you, as a writer, discover your own personal story.

Please join me in talking with Mary K. Greer below:

SR: What got you started in the tarot path?

MKG: I was in college in Tampa Florida in the late ’60s and my best friend got Eden Gray’s Tarot Revealed for Christmas but no cards. I was fascinated and asked everyone if they knew where I could find Tarot cards. Someone told me about a “metaphysical” bookstore on the other side of Tampa. I borrowed a car and went on my first magical “quest” to find a deck. I discovered not only the cards but the whole world of the occult and metaphysical at that bookstore. Within a year I decided I would teach Tarot in college and that someday I would write a book on the subject. I had found what I never knew I was looking for. What really drew me to the Tarot was my interest, as an English/Theatre Arts major, in “archetypal criticism” involving a Jungian approach to symbolism and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, all things I was just learning about then. I soon discovered that the stories I would spontaneously tell about the cards were easy-to-interpret metaphors for what was happening in someone’s life. To me it seemed as natural as breathing, although it could be disconcerting when potential boy friends nervously complained that I knew too much about them after they asked me to read their cards!

SR: How did you decide to write about tarot?

MKG: I had been teaching Tarot in colleges for several years and started doing large lectures and wrote an article. About this time I started going out with a travel writer. We went off to live in Mexico for a year and he encouraged me to write a book. I started it there and continued it when I returned to my teaching job in San Francisco. My college had a degree-completion program for returning adults. We required students to keep a journal recording their work and life experiences. I taught the journal writing workshops and also directed the school’s “learning skills” program for which I had found a workbook that was highly effective. So my first book addressed the then-taboo that one should never read tarot for him or herself. (I love to break taboos!) I used journal techniques and the workbook format to help people overcome the so-called “problems” with reading for oneself and use Tarot for personal insight and creativity.


SR: How would you advise new students to examine their lives by using tarot?

MKG: There are so many ways I can’t even begin to describe them all. Definitely keep a journal in which you write card meanings, your own readings and what is happening at that time, plus make up spreads, gather info on related myths and symbols, and so on. Do a reading at the beginning or major turning points of everything in your life. Note the patterns that appear: certain cards for certain people, when a card keeps coming up and what it finally means for you. You can go back to these readings later and write what actually happened—revisiting them again and again as you gain more insight. Write about the cards particular to you based on your birthdate numerology, astrology and so on. Dialog with these cards as if you were characters in a play, figures in an “active imagination,” asking advice or answering questions posed to you by the Tarot “archetypes.” Explore the many spreads and other processes that are found both in my books and in so many other books today. Try a variety of decks. Each will require that you look at your life from a different, perhaps totally new and fresh perspective. Create Tarot art. By the way, your “journal” can be a public or private blog, a computer file, a ring-binder, an artist’s notebook—whatever works. Start with what interests you most and go from there; you have your whole life with Tarot as your companion and your relationship with it will develop over time.

Last bit of advice: When in doubt, simply describe the card! It’s amazing where you will naturally go from there.


Thank you so much, Mary! What a treat to talk with you.  Readers, you can find Mary in the links below.

Bio: Mary K. Greer is an independent scholar, writer, teacher and professional Tarot and Lenormand consultant. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Central Florida where she first taught Tarot in 1974. With more than ten books and nearly 50 years experience in Tarot, Mary pioneered many of the Tarot reading methods used today, including reading Tarot for yourself and methods that are interactive, transformational and empowering. She leads intensive workshops every year at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY and travels internationally teaching Tarot. Visit Mary’s blog and on-line courses. Check out the “Tarot Magic Tour in Merlin’s Britain” that will take place in June 2017.



Journaling prompt: find yourself a tarot deck and try a reading. How do you like working with Tarot? What Tarot card do you resonate with?  Write about your experiences.

Discussion: A note to people who are afraid of divination or who might fear Tarot study, or are concerned that oracle decks are dangerous. (They’re not). Briefly, people are often afraid of the “occult” and imagine robed devil worshippers dancing around a fire encouraging making human sacrifices. Not true. I’ve never met any such characters.

With any study group one has to follow one’s intuition and if something or someone makes you uncomfortable, then don’t pursue it. There are times when I use “lighter” oracle decks such as Fairy Tarot or Guardian Angel Tarot.

Yes, there are cards that represent the archetypes of “the devil” and “death” etc, but these cards about symbolism rather than a literal event. Breaking the chains of addictions or illicit behavior (devil card) or the need to  change behavior or look at things from a new perspective (death card) are only indications of elements in life. Find a good teacher. Do research.

Each person who chooses to work with oracle cards or the tarot can choose a deck that isn’t frightening. There are all kinds of decks available that do not use these classic “negative” images. I will devote another blog entry to this topic.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E Rowland

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 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.


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 journal prompts, memoir, relationships, self improvement, writers, Writing for healing

What I Read in 2015, Four at a Time in Random Order


Jimmy Carter

If I want to stay in this blogging game I guess I’d better share what I read in 2015. I find that reading helps me write my manuscript. The way another author writes about an experience stays with me and inspires me to stay with it.

 This is a series of awesome reads I’d love for others to enjoy. I’m not giving it to you all at once-just four at a time. I mostly read non-fiction. Once in a while, I’ll pick up a fiction book that grabs me. Call me too serious, that’s just the way I am.

Also, I don’t rate books with stars on my blog. If I review a book, I liked it!

  • North of Normal, A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family and How I Survived Both, by Cea Sunrise Person, 2014.

The author’s name alone should tell you a little about her parents. An offbeat family living in the California suburbs chucks it all to forage in the Canadian wilderness. Eccentric, opinionated adults bored by modern society haul their child along with their dreams about independence and freedom. Living in tipis, living off the land, and on the lam from the law and social services is just one aspect of her nutty childhood and coming of age experiences. Through sheer determination, Cecelia becomes a fashion model and works her way into adulthood. What some kids have to go through is just plain mind-boggling.

Loved it. I worried about her and cheered for her.

  • A Different Kind of Same, A Memoir, by Kelley Clink, 2015.

Clink is devastated by her brother Matt’s depression and suicide. She is determined to comb through his writings while working through her own issues as a sibling left to grieve. While sifting and sorting through her brother’s belongings, she bravely attempts to find answers about why he suffered so badly. From Michigan to Alabama, and with a look at a life in New Jersey, Clink offers insight into her feelings of loss and betrayal, as well as an honest focus on emotional/mental health, and family ritual in American life.

Raw and honest. I admired her tenacity. Her testimony is so important.

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, 2009.

You must have heard about him. This is a true account of a boy from Malawi who grows up to become an acclaimed achiever. He creates electrical power for his people by inventing a windmill. He sees a need and discovers a way to find a solution. From a culture of magic and folklore, he advances into a world of science and accomplishment. Poetic, visual, and personal, Kamkwamba with the help of Mealer, brings the reader into a place of hope for improving people’s lives in underdeveloped countries. You can hear him on TedTalks.

Absolutely loved the book. Read all night. Do yourself a favor and learn something. Then, go out and help others.

  • You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, a True Story of Family Face Blindness, and Forgiveness, Heather Sellers, 2010.

Wow. So you’ve heard that actor Brad Pitt may suffer from prosopagnosia, a little-known neurological disorder. Sufferers are unable to recognize faces. Can you imagine? You have to memorize speech patterns and movements. Every single time you meet up with someone, even those close to you and with whom you work on a daily basis are unfamiliar to you.

Author Heather Sellers is a child with a “crazy” acting mother and a hard-drinking father who are separated in gritty, flamingo-decorated Florida. She is bewildered, different, forever compensating for her own weirdness. She attends at least five schools before third grade. Sellers somehow survives a testy, lonely childhood. YEARS LATER, as a productive, creative and literary adult, she discovers that she is “face blind.” What????

I won’t be a spoiler. You just have to read the book! Don’t blame me if you call in sick for work because you are really reading in bed with a cup of mocha java. 🙂

Journal prompt: what did you read in 2015? What are you reading now? Write a detailed list and try writing some reviews. If you don’t keep a list of what you read, try starting one. Even jotting down the titles is helpful.

Try listing articles you read. Writing about what you read, even just noting your brief impressions helps you as a journal-writer to gather ideas for your own future work.

Posted in earth friendly, journal prompts, time, Writing for healing

Soul Scenery

the mountains

Every day the images return

to strengthen a faltering resolve.

Maybe it was the scent of woods or faint hint of ocean droplets

over the ridges,

beyond pines and redwoods…

nothing is the same.

As I grasp for some semblance of hope,

any kind of resolution, for a song, a feeling,

I pick up your memory, falling into your arms

and begin again.

You were the only one who understood.



Discussion: For me, nature is the same as having a steadfast friend. I am never bored with landscapes. Each tree, each sunset, every bend in a country road or building in a neighborhood becomes part of life. I feel landscape is a part of my soul.

Journal prompt: Write a poem to your favorite landscape. Does it make you excited and wanting to dance? Peaceful, stormy, angry, powerful? What emotions would you attach to your favorite  landscapes? Add photos, drawings, or collage to your journal entry.

Posted in journal prompts, transitions, writers

Pink Snake Moan

Pink Snake jpg

It has been a long while since I wrote on my blog, but my excuse is I AM writing.  It’s just crappy rough draft stuff and it is taking forever.

My journals are filled with longhand writing however. It works for me. I would even say it’s better than sex, but as an older woman, I’d be fooling myself to think that anyone is even interested. And yes, I’m pissed off. Not about the sex, about the news. Look at the news. Even when I consciously avoid the news, I’m angry. My favorite Facebook group is “Pissed Off Women Over 50.” If you want to really know what is going on, join that group. It’s like the Daily Show without the jokes about….mmm…never mind.

I’m on a low-budget retreat, you know, what they call a staycation? I’m  in my hiding place binge reading. How can I describe heaven? Just like this, right now. Heaven is binge-reading without shame or apology. No, you can’t come and visit me right now. I’m busy! I made a list of books, made time to read them, cancelled all plans except the treadmill, and plopped down with my book stack. Honey, I am stacked!

I’ll share my list with you later.

Like the illusive pink snake with the pretty eyes (not poisonous) who came to visit a few weeks ago, I’m relishing in my delicious inertia, the archetype of the languid serpent sunning itself on a rock in summer. I’m deep into long private sittings and not sharing my innermost thoughts.

I didn’t update anything. I’m sorry. Right now I don’t care. But I still love you. It’s not you, it’s me.

I decided to see what happens when I don’t do blog entries. The obvious answer is: nothing. Nothing happens. No pressure, no gain, no stress. No feedback, no public effort, no entertainment, no sharing, no drawings, no photos, no painting. No new readers. No interaction. I won’t. Hands folded across my chest in oppositional defiance. I resist. The bridge is out, road closed, gone fishin’. No challenge.  No letdown. No widgets. No sidebar. No updates. No fear. No walking the talk. No talk, period. No hype. No high stakes. No tension. No fight. No struggle. Siesta time. Budget cuts. No entry.

Nobody cares.

No pain, no gain. Oh shut up!

So if I don’t try, I’m safe. Secure. Tormented. The drill sergeant inner critic  bullies me constantly, demanding that I stay with the goal no matter how tortoise-like I’ve become.

But safety is a total farce, an illusion like a run-on sentence, a lonely old political wannabe, a buffoon wearing a hairpiece, a rogue with paid admirers riding down an escalator and boasting about how rich and smart he is. Yes, I’m pissed off! Are you fucking kidding me? You are paying attention to this maniac? He should be in show business, not politics, dummy! Everyone knows how insecure a Gemini can be, and I am a Gemini/Snake. Before you shiver at my tendency to bite, please know I don’t, well, sometimes, but it’s not poisonous. With my Venus in Taurus placement, you’d have to really be an a-hole to get me mad, but since journaling and writing can be hideously pathetic and self-absorbed, that’s my story. Don’t step on me!  I am snakey, reserved, prone to long hibernations of inactivity and solitude. Let me be in my hidey-hole just a little longer. Then I’ll come out and tell you a story.  A true story.

Did you know in Asian astrology those born under the sign of the serpent are good luck?

So, I have been writing. I’ve done a lot of writing. I’m up to age 17 in my memoir, aka ‘memeroid.’ I’ve even skipped forward and written some new pieces. Yet,  resistance is what happens when you’re at the part that you don’t want to admit. You made a few poor choices. But survived. You chose. You deal with it. Or not.

Reading other people’s memoirs is inspiring as well as intimidating.

Limbo is just another name for hiatus.

“Coming soon” is what I’m using for bait during this fishing trip. Please don’t give up on me, I’ll do my best to give you something to bite on….later. I can promise it will be as tasty and flavorful a treat as I can muster.

Meanwhile, lots of love. You haven’t heard from me because “I’m writing.”

Two part journal prompt: 1) what do you like to read?  Do you write reviews? Do you keep books that you love to read and do you ever read them more than once? Write a book review. Don’t mince words or be too polite.

2) As a writer or blogger, do you have times where you simply have nothing to say or become challenged in how to deliver your message? Do you believe in the notion of writer’s block? I claim not to have it or believe in it, and I still don’t believe in it. Write about writing.

For me a writing hiatus is an oppositional thing.

Does any of this make sense?

Posted in journal prompts

I Prefer Puppy Kisses

cute little pups




Mainstream pundits love being clever

and they like

the word


Bright and clever and transparent is trending,

gone viral,

yet gone tomorrow,

popular disappears

with the attention span of a tweet


a disadvantaged cause left to wither.

The worst curse you can have is to be boring

when everyone is glitzy, a movie star, a newsflash.

The 50’s craze is over,

gone with milkshakes and job security.

Now you hear them say


every day,

very often





the word like,

the word you are not supposed to use

in eighth grade English class

is all over in print.


I prefer puppy kisses.


chey's bday card 2015


Journal prompt: write about language trends. Have you noticed how the word “tons” has been appearing in mainstream language? Do you think an English teacher would approve? What are your thoughts on language trends?

Why do you think the word “transparent” is so popular? Do you find an irony in the word in this day and age?







Posted in journal prompts, the muse, Writing for healing

Doodle for a Wounded Child

every mother's love

every mother's touch

I was listening during class

when a face came to pass

as they frequently do,

maybe I invented you.

The coming of a holiday

about mothers made me want to say,

for any who have felt hurt or harm

my spirit mother will touch your arm.

The spirit mother is for all, from here to there,

she loves her children everywhere.

So understand this doodle well,

and your story some day you may tell.

If your mother is not present now

of if she brought a furrow to your brow,

sing with joy a song so sweet,

and know in your hear that you will  meet.

Journal prompt: In the US, Mother’s Day is coming up, May 10th.  What does Mother’s Day mean to you? Write, draw, paint or do a collage on the topic. What was your personal experience with your bio mother, or if you were raised by someone other than your mother, write about your  adopted mother or primary caregiver. Women readers, are you a mother yourself or are  you interested in becoming one? Maybe motherhood doesn’t interest you at all. It takes a fully aware and dedicated woman to know herself well enough to make that decision.

Men, what are your thoughts? What images and reflections come to mind? What are your cultural views about women and motherhood?

Discussion: for many people the holidays can bring stress, especially if you are a trauma survivor, or are not in traditional family. Think about healthy positive activities that bring emotional comfort to you if you had a difficult time with your bio family.

Personal story: my son was born on a beautiful Sunday, Mother’s Day in 1981. It was one of those idyllic days with sun shining, flowers blooming, and birds chattering. He was born ‘at home’ with midwives. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.  We were not always a traditional family, but I learned to do the best I could with what I had.

I admire so many people and always enjoy hearing their stories. Please feel free, if you ever happen to read this blog-to come and share yours!

Posted in diversity, inspirational, journal prompts

There is No Difference: May Day Thoughts


time to heal



Where did I find you

serendipitous soul?

A song from a time when hearts come piercing,

into each other,

calling from within

and without.

There is no difference.


What exchanges could be heard

from inside a child’s pumping ventricle?

A reaching beyond clocks and calendars, winding back again,

into each mother,

calling from within

and without.

There is no difference.


Are you a dandelion in an abandoned cement city block

or a well-tended perennial in stately bloom?

Roughened or refined youth surviving, planted in stages to persist throughout lifetimes,

into each father,

calling from within

and without.

There is no difference.


old california flower pot

Discussion: Do you believe in reincarnation? What about simultaneity in time and space? Do you think life events are linked?  I have been so moved by the devastating news about the earthquake in Nepal, as well as  the death of  Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. Also,  the passing of singer- songwriter, Ben E. King comes at a time when flowers are budding and blooming here in the US.  His song “Stand by Me” is  such a perfect anthem for this beginning of May, the season of Taurus. The symbol of love,  timelessness,  and bravery is so ageless in his beautiful lyrics. He will be missed along with those who perished in the earthquake. Again, the families and communities of under-represented youth are asking hard questions about “life on the streets.”

 It is  a time for healing, in the United States and around the world, as citizens come together and rally for justice.

What impresses me the most recently is how people gather together to help one another during times of crisis or social unrest. There is so much juxtaposition and inter-mingling with events. All families grieve. All families love.

 The above poem is my May Day (double meaning) snapshot of what I jotted down in my notebook. The themes seemed to be enmeshed-life, death, aging, new growth, many lives.  I wanted to explore the concept of inner and outer, ie “as a man thinketh” conversation. Do our inner lives reflect our outer lives? Are they separate? What about gender? Race? Class?

For me, writing a poem is like working on a collage. The parts come together to make a whole, even if they seem random or disconnected. Sometimes the message is about what is NOT said, or NOT shown.  I started thinking about young people around the world and all the challenges they face. Is a young person struggling to stay alive in Nepal any different from a young man in the ghetto of a disenfranchised US city? What about the mother and fathers who love their children?

Journal prompt: write a poem or do a collage about one theme. Try taking the theme of “time” or “soul.” Work from that word or theme and free write. Just see what happens. Then, try another piece combing two or more themes. Does it work?

For example, the top collage is about time and healing.

Do you feel writing is a way to heal?


Copyright © 2015 by Susan E. Rowland




Posted in journal prompts, self improvement

Just Sharing for Happy Women’s History Month

“It’s spring cleaning time around the house. I found a faded newspaper clipping of one of my favorite poems, written by Dorothy Law Nolte. You can read the entire poem on the link below.  Here is an excerpt:


Children Learn What They Live

” If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, the learnt confidence.”


Journal prompt: What was your experience in childhood? Do any of these examples stand out for you?

I  especially like the last line because it ends on a positive thought. 🙂  Here’s to an encouraging happy ending.