Posted in journal prompts, journaling, poetry, Writing for healing

Nothing to Fix

back alley 1 copy

Journal entry: on a deliberately UNPLUGGED Sunday evening in the desert…looking through my art…trying not glare at the news about a new radioactive leak being reported. Maybe fantasy works as a temporary cure for mankind’s insanity. I am grateful for having lived so many years without a television. Now I know better and have to take serious breaks from the dang thing.


   There’s nothing to keep up with,

    nothing to fix,

    turning it all off

    while ignoring the mix.


Above: tempera on wood- 1998 -San Francisco.




Posted in journal prompts, marketing, memoir, Writing for healing

You’ve Got to Sell Yourself

It’s true. Get your little kiosk, business cards, and your product ( a book) out there. It’s cold-blooded but everyone will tell you the same thing. You’ve got to sell yourself. And there are hungry undiscovered people all wanting the same spotlight.

Writing is to be read and to be read, one has to market the product. It’s a competitive world, so what is your message? What is the platform? Who are you writing for? The experts will tell you it’s all about a sellable product. There it is.

I write to heal.

I’m listening to a webinar  with Nina Amir and author, Linda Joy Myers ( Don’t Call Me Mother) about marketing. Memoirs are exploding right now. Everyone is writing a book. Turn the corner, another memoir. But nobody has your story. The hitch is getting somebody interested. You can bank on that. Are you freaked out yet? You should be.  Just kidding-well-not exactly. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this to myself. Then I think of people I admire, friends who have died, and my loved ones-a few of them who have never had a real chance in life… and the doubt subsides.

I write to inspire.


I started this thing over eight years ago and it’s still bugging me. I can’t write the word ” journey” any more. My book isn’t a freaking  journey-it’s a blessed chore to be accomplished. My ace card is that I made a contract with my soul. If I have to print the book myself and stand on a street corner, I’ll do it.

Gone are the old days of the great books and the traditional publishing world. It all changed with internet.

 Eight years ago I thought I wanted a master’s degree. I took all the courses making mostly A’s, paid all the fees, took the strange comp test and passed, then took time off and then didn’t get accepted back into the university. I don’t blame anyone but myself. They didn’t want me. I had an administrator’s letter of recommendation and a published author’s referral. I thought it was in the bag. I should share the poorly written rejection email just to make you cringe.  I decided I had had enough. No more. Maybe I had waited too long. Maybe I was too old. Maybe I didn’t sell myself well. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I know what rejection feels like. The thing is, rejection doesn’t scare me any more. The only thing that scares me is not doing the work.

I write to feel.

How many times do basketball players take shots at the basket? You feel me?

I write to live.

Exposure is the real deal. Nobody is going to care if the book is hidden in the back of your closet. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

I write to love.

Amir’s acronym for writing and marketing is “WOOT” which stands for:

  •  Willingness,
  • Optimism
  • Objectivity
  • Tenacity.


What do you have to lose? If you don’t try, how would you ever know? If you don’t think anyone cares, maybe prove yourself wrong.


Check it out:

“She’s kind of….crazy…” Pause. Are you interested?
” He quit his job and sold everything.” Did it make you curious?
“She made love once and became pregnant at 16.” Do you know who I’m talking about?

Back to work.

Journal prompt: Write an outline or a timeline of major events in your life. Write as quickly as you can. Don’t stop and think, just get it down. There-you have started a memoir.


Posted in angels, cystic fibrosis, journal prompts, Writing for healing

Minding Your Q’s and Dealing with Disappointment


Q's blog post

“We must first be skeptical and doubt everything, as we do in the modern world. Skepticism produces questions, questions lead to investigation…and investigation and experimentation bring answers” – Dalai Lama on What Matters Most, Conversations on Anger, Compassion, and Action

Last post I wrote about the “P’s” and doing a vision board. Vision may include sound. Sound is language, language is words and feeling. As a workshop enthusiast, one of the most inspiring group sessions I ever attended was with Barbara Marciniak, channeler of the “P’s” or the Pleiadians. What we did at the session was called toning. Hundreds of people basically hummed (chanted) one note in varying octaves for longer than five minutes. Talk about astro-planing your psyche. The result was powerful beyond words, an otherworldly yet familiar feeling of empowerment through sound. What I felt was an enormous level of affirmation similar to a religious experience I had as a child.

If that’s a bit much for you, I understand. Your mother or English teacher probably never instructed you on metaphysics when reminding you to be on your best behavior. As an angel practitioner and psychic medium, I love communicating with other realms. The result is always loving and supportive. Journal writing affects me the same way. You know it’s working because you feel good. Speaking of support, let’s talk about the Q’s.

The Q’s are about: quandary, questioning, query, and quiet.


  • Who ever lived without facing some form of challenge or a dreaded situation? Dealing with problems is perhaps the only way to write about the raw truth. As I’ve shared previously, our granddaughter has cystic fibrosis. When we first heard about her diagnosis and had to face the reality that her little life and body were compromised, it took all my courage to stay strong. My husband is a polio survivor. Every movement has to be calculated. We can’t just go globe-trotting without major preparations. His legs don’t work like normal people. However, Jesse has one of the best attitudes of anyone I’ve ever met-and I learn so much from him about approaching life.
  •  Questioning
    • Do you intuitively accept everything you hear or read? How do you decide whom or what to trust?
    • In blogging I’ve found that reviewing author’s books, participating in writing groups, and    constantly supporting others does not mean they will come back and support you. In fact, I’ve done Interviews and have been involved in “friendships,” only to find that the writers don’t even bother to respond on their own interviews, nor will they automatically follow your blog. Now I know better, and I’m stronger for it. People are competitive and self-involved; writers are no different from any other ambitious group. Moral of the story: stay positive.
    • Don’t get hung up on other people’s cliques. I asked one person four times to be a guest on my blog. It never happened. Another ‘spiritual’ person scoffed at someone who had less than 5000 followers on the internet. Get on down the road! Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other venues are not the only way to reach out to others. Believe in yourself. It takes time. Offer classes in person.
    •  Keep journaling. Stay with your craft.
  • Query
    • Have you learned how to do a classic query letter? Who are the experts on this? Talk to as many people as you can and read about doing this important step.
  • Quiet
    • Making time for silence and long periods of solitude are essential for self- development.
    • Entering silence can be done when physically in the presence of others. Example, read Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, or Quiet by Susan Cain. I also like Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff. She’s one of my favorite psychics, and an MD.
    • Sometimes it’s better to keep quiet.

Another aspect of quiet is calming the beastly inner critic. Banish your inside prissy, demanding, perfect boss. Guys have them too-one of my best friends told me. Men often have a fear of rejection, death or weakness. They  might not want to share openly. Sometimes what isn’t said speaks loudly.

Try a different perspective. If you’re a mechanic, go hang out at a garden club. If you’re a six figure income CEO, try volunteering in a senior center. Always had security? Try living at the cheapest, nastiest hotel you can find.

Find out what excites you.

Here’s one more Q:

Que, slang for “ what?” Say what?

  • Maybe, just maybe, others don’t get you. Years ago I wrote a piece on driving a hybrid and the instructor had no idea what I was saying. Another student understood, but I felt bad because I thought the teacher would get it. Sometimes the issue is cultural, age-specific, or gender related. Don’t worry, somebody is going to be the perfect helper for you.
  • Maybe you are in the wrong group! Go find another or start one.

So about support, if people aren’t readily available or responsive, just stay with it. Try a week in a different geographic setting. If you write in first person, try writing in third person.

Journal prompt: Which one of the “Q’s” interests you? Why? Do you enjoy ‘safe’ writing or raw writing? Pretend you are a famous critic evaluating your own work. Of course you are not Steven King or J.K. Rowling (I have the first four letters of the last name & have never read Harry Potter-but I really like her because she defied the odds), but just for a moment, pretend you are famous.

Write to yourself as a ‘nobody.’ Write yourself a rave review. How do you feel? Even if it seems ridiculous, try it anyway.

Do you have a strong writing or support group? Do you need one? Most writers will say you do. Did J. K. Rowling have a writing support group? I think she just WROTE. Are you afraid of constructive criticism? Are you honest with others about what you think of their writing? Write about who or what makes you feel like you belong. I find that artists are more accepting of other artists, than writers, for example. But that’s just me.

Discussion: Read, read, read. Reading is always my favorite way of dealing with lack of support or rejection. Right now my inner critic is on a roll, so my inner comedian wants to take over. It helps.

look up

” For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, ‘ the angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.’ ” -Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning.

close up lamp chair cherub copy.jpg 2


copyright © 2014 Susan E. Rowland




Posted in animals, inspirational, journal prompts

Just Thoughts, Just Kidding

The holiday work is done, children content, elders enjoy their meals and grandchildren are playing with their new toys. Below is one of my orignal hand painted-woodburned ornaments created years ago.

kitty ornament

I finally have a moment to sit down and write. It’s been an amazing few weeks but I’ve missed blog writing to you my dear friends and readers. I hope you’ve had  good days and that life is treating you well.

There are times when I keep my writing private. It’s a way of working through stuff before presenting it to the world.  Usually I’m not at a loss for words, yet recently  found myself quiet. Forgive me-I hope to keep you inspired and somewhat entertained, or at least, be able to share something for you to read…or to look at.

A couple of things: here’s a shout out for all the agencies and shelters packed with volunteers and staff members dedicated to serving others. Aren’t you amazed at the power of goodness? Food banks, churches, Meals on Wheels, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Salvation Army, and so many other organizations are focused on giving people hope in this crazy world, especially during the holidays. Working from the heart center is a sure way to achieve unity and create community.

On another note entirely, here’s a tidbit inspired by  a photo I found in a box. I still love hard copy pictures-like real books-the kind you hold in your hands. Technology is great, but good old-fashioned textured and tangible objects can’t be beat.


billy goat



December creeps into January in the western mountains,
a little lady goat
frisky, yet full-bellied comes forward to look.
Don’t leave the garden gate open
too long-here she comes a trotting.
Innocent pleasure is freedom’s way of extrapolating a moment
meant to be savored
like the little goat
romping away from the barn, curious.

Journal prompt: Find a photo and write about anything that comes to you from the image. What is inspiring to you might not have meaning to the next person, but don’t be concerned with that. The benefit of impromptu bits of writing is that you can go back over what you have jotted down, and take one or two lines and use them later on to build a story, poem, song or even an article. One idea leads to another.

Discussion: Kidding is the term for goats delivering babies. It’s also said to be an American phrase indicating fooling someone or saying something in jest. How often do you hear people say “just kidding!” How about “kidding on the square?”

What does any of this mean? What does it have to do with Senator Al Franken? I’m not necessarily saying these are my personal views-just sharing some the origins of phrases. Until next time.

Posted in inspirational, journal prompts, journaling

On Color, Landscape, and the Journey of Life

colors and landscape copyFor the past few days I’ve been busy sorting and cleaning. My journal writing has been sporadic since this is the busy season with book sales.  I came across a sketch in a 1987 journal. My kids were ages 6 and 10. Life was routine. Everything was based around school schedules and summer breaks. We didn’t have computers back then-at least our family didn’t have them. Or cell phones.

Here is something to consider with your journal writing. Take time to discover color. Without going into a long treatise, color is  healing. Color is a descriptor. Color is invigorating.  Hues, shading, and blocks of primary colors can create mood and ambience. I suggest keeping a set of inexpensive markers at your desk or near your journal. Adding doodles and dashes in your writing brightens the appearance of your notebook.

Study landscape along with color. I have been a mountain dweller most of my adult life and even now, living in the desert, just the sight of  peaks in the distance calms me-Lone Mountain, Black Mountain and Twin Peaks are nearby. Yet, it is flat and open around here. “There’s no place to hide in the desert,” said a friend. You’d be surprised. The desert is deceptive and you can get lost easily in it. The desert is sparkling, timeless, and magical.

 Mountains are adventures with each dip and curve. Mountains represent the feminine, the earth’s shapes are like a woman’s body. The mountains nestle and protect us. Life has pinnacles and valleys-we have our ups and downs, our long open spaces and plateaus.

If you are a city dweller, you still have landscape. Neighborhoods, streets, avenues, parks, and highways make up daily life. Going underground to a subway, riding the bus or a train is symbolic in some way. Commuting or staying in place, the theme of travel is in many songs and poems-definitely it’s the highlight of great literature and modern writing, from The Odyssey  to Cheryl Strayed’s inspirational memoir,  Wild.  

The journey and spiritual development are always linked.

 I’m always surprised by noticing landmarks or buildings I’d forgotten about when I travel home to visit the places of my childhood.  Just a suggestion for journaling: take time to notice how line, structure, color, landscape, and form are present in your life.  So many treasures are ours to behold without a price tag.

Happy journaling!

Posted in friends, journal prompts

Jocelyn’s November Rose

Jocelyn's Rose   Well phooey on this Word program! I think my friend is playing tricks from the other side. The above rose is an inked stamp on paper from the collection of stationery that my friend Jocelyn, and her husband Pete, made for us one year.  Pete developed lung cancer and died in June of ’98 at age 52.  Jocelyn had an aneurysm and passed away at 38, only six months after her husband. It shocked me badly, but you somehow move forward any way you can when things happen.

Below is a free write.

November 11th -13th can bring me up short with surges of emotion catching me off guard. When I think of how she passed away suddenly, I become quiet, slow and pensive, wondering what is beyond this life. She’s swimming with the dolphins in heaven-she is! And Pete is fighting fires and saving lives on the other side. I remembered the day when I looked up Joce’s natal chart calling her on the phone with, “I’m so sorry!” What, what? Tell me! I could feel her reaching for a smoke. “You’re a triple Pisces! Sun, moon, and rising.”No wonder the world can seem like such a crazy place. She laughed, and went outside to put more sugar water in the hummingbird feeder, and bent to water the roses.

Her knack for upgrading the funky business we both worked for, was uncanny…great organizational skills. But the owners were reluctant to get modern until years later when some young guys came in and pushed the topic. You were about the details if somebody made a mistake.  How that mind would work overtime.

And we would warn each other:  “just put the catalog away…”  to keep from over-spending. If we were late for work and she was fussing about how she looked, it was “put the make up away and step back from the mirror.”

How we loved filling orders at work. You in the office, I in shipping. When happy, all were smiling When you suffered the clouds became a gray deluge of sorrow. And the one time I convinced you after years literally of cajoling and urging and pleading… please go with me to the high school pool for open swim, please…you don’t need a bathing suit, it isn’t that bad,girlfriend, no need to be so self-conscious, we’ll have fun! She complied one afternoon-it was a Saturday. You pulled on some  cut off jean shorts and a tank top with a t-shirt over it. I know you didn’t like people looking at your body. Brave woman you jumped into that pool and did one dive off the board, only to have the sky darkened into a deep Payne’s gray, a lightning storm came along with wind and dangerous electrical currents. All were ordered out of the pool. Just wait until I can write it all into a cohesive story.  Burt Sue Jocelyn at Bountiful Gardens Burt, Me, and Jocelyn (1960-1998) co-workers at the seed company.

  Journal prompt: Write about the approaching holidays. What memories do you have? Have you ever lost a good friend to death? Explore the emotions, don’t hold back. Remember, in journaling there is no right or wrong.   Copyright © 2014 by Susan E Rowland        

Posted in journal prompts, writers, Writing for healing

Patience for Dummies


“It is very strange that the years teach us patience-that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” Elizabeth Taylor

A great teaching occurred during the span of the last four days. Things weren’t connecting properly and I couldn’t seem to shake a feeling of foreboding. My writing seemed jagged, over-emotional, and disconnected. I kept walking outside and looking around, saying aloud “something is going on.” As an intuitive I “should” be used to this. It’s not about me-it never is. The knowing is like listening to rush hour every morning. You know it’s going to happen on weekdays. There’s nothing you can do about it, so resisting the noise is futile.

But I just couldn’t place what my angst was about and the nagging tug was making me impatient. Maybe it’s my natal karma to be impatient. Mom said I was born in an hour and she barely had time to get to the hospital after her water broke. Mars was in Gemini-meaning let’s rock and roll, people!

So last week I was ready to get back to work and fill book orders. Ten brown paper bags filled with books stacked neatly in the foyer remained unlisted on the computer.  I just couldn’t quite part with them.

So I made a list and followed it to avoid going completely mad.

Here’s what helps me when I’m feeling restless:

  • Mop the floors
  • Hang sheets out to dry in the sun
  • Work in the yard
  • Clean drawers and closets.
  • Arrange bookshelves
  • Take a walk for at least 30 minutes
  • Dance


So losing myself in  mundane chores helped…a little. By Saturday night, and then early this morning, I learned that two of my favorite inspirational authors and teachers had crossed over. Dolores Cannon and Masaru Emoto  got their wings. Cannon was one of the first psychotherapists to discover that past life regression is real and vital to patient well-being and healing.  Emoto gave us scientific validation of the healing properties of water. Check out his water crystals pictures.  Both were ahead of their time.As trailblazers, both had to be incredibly resilient and patient. Visionaries often have to work against ridicule and doubt, even outright rejection. Sometimes they don’t receive the recognition due  them. Those of us who understand wait patiently (or not) for the rest of society to catch up.

After hearing the news about their deaths my wondering about ‘the feeling” ceased.

It’s not sadness I  felt but gratitude and a big dose of patience. Within the paper bags by the front door were most of my Dolores Cannon books and extra copies of The True Power of Water, and The Hidden Messages in Water by Emoto.

                                              “The fates have given mankind a patient soul”  – Homer

Journal prompt: Write about patience. Are you generally a patient person or do you have to work at it? Do you have people in your life who have helped you become more patient? Who or what inspires you to slow down and be more thorough? What about waiting? Does waiting drive you nuts or do you enjoy it? What helps you feel more relaxed and calm?

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E Rowland




Posted in cystic fibrosis, journal prompts, journaling, memoir, Writing for healing

Journaling Through Intense Memories

march 2009 copy

Above is a paint sketch I did in 2009 when our granddaughter was four years old. She was learning how to interact with the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. She had been admitted to the hospital for treatment of cystic fibrosis, a condition she was born with–and diagnosed at two months old. She was  on a breathing machine to increase her lung capacity. In CF language, it’s called  a tune up.  The patient usually feels better after the procedure.

Jesse and I were visiting her in the hospital. It was challenging  to learn  to contain my emotions so my worry didn’t show.  Both my parents were deceased and I had to gather my wits and go on without their gentle encouragement. How was I going to be a good role model, to remain calm, focused and supportive?

For some reason, I was thinking about that day in Oakland as I drove around doing my errands today.  I missed my father because of his deep medical knowledge. When he explained things the world made sense. All the parts fit together. Logical. Inspirational. Detailed.

So, I went up to the post office just to get out of the house for a moment and get some orders out. I needed a break from a piece I was writing about my husband’s polio stories.

The heat made the desert plants seem vibrant. Cacti looked like valiant warriors with spears and thick, verdant skins. Everything pokes you here. Saguaro take hundreds of years to grow….I have to come to love each giant king as an individual.

The sky was clear with fantastic clouds that delighted me with their shapes and cartoon images. As a child I would spend hours looking at the sky and the patterns on walls. Long spans of time, minutes upon minutes of waiting, watching, and dreaming would take me up, slowly like an archetypal Ferris wheel. There was the moment when at the top in a rush of excitement you wonder if it will all go back down again, down to safety and security. Sleep would come, or the day would dawn and all the patterns reemerged.

At the post office a man was in line in front of me. He was quite tall and wispy thin, not unhealthy, but rather long; you had to look up to see the top of his head. He was elderly, like royally old, a gentleman I could only see from the back. Emotion caught in my throat a little as I thought of my father who was a tall man.

The man carried out his transaction at the counter with the super nice clerk who’s been there forever. The clerk called him by name, “Thanks for coming in, Sam.” My chest tightened and I squashed the feeling of water coming to my eyes. I see the magnet of camaraderie of two souls quietly talking without excess, man to man. As the customer turned around to leave, I greeted him just for a chance to make contact.

“How ya doin, sir?” I noticed his hearing aid. “What’s new?”

He looked towards me, a stranger. Then I saw his crystal clear eyes. I was startled for a second. They were like a child’s eyes. I look right into those peepers, searching. He was totally pure. No malice, no static, no anger… like a  wise wizard. He had an actual aura that I could see.

I felt the presence of angel. I caught myself. When you are in the presence of an angel, there is a shimmering.

“Oh I’m just old. And if anything is new, I’d be the last one to know.”

I laugh.

“Well, glad to see you. Have a great day.”

I continue to watch him slowly, stiffly walking out to his car and I to mine. I try not to let out an audible sigh. I was in a heightened awareness like I was being transported into another time zone. Why was I so emotional? Could a person manifest an angel? No, he was a regular! The clerk knew his name.

Then I remembered my conversation with my granddaughter last night. I tried not to ask her too many questions because it makes her get quiet. But when I say “talk to me” or “tell me all about it” it’s as if a button is pushed and away she goes into her little burst of power. What a joy. She was telling me all about learning how to write cursive. Her teacher had given her a compliment. So my sunshine was talking all over the place about science, natural resources, magnets and “expereements.” Just one conversation, hearing the squeaky little voice filled with enthusiasm catapulted my mood back into well-being.

Journal prompt: Do a sketch about a memory from your past where you couldn’t seem to fit words to the experience. Even if you are not “artistic” use stick figures or shapes to convey the feelings. If you are not comfortable with drawing, do a collage. The images don’t have to be realistic. They can be representational. Write a brief paragraph about your work. Don’t edit, rearrange or moderate your feelings. What do you notice?

Discussion: Feel free to share your work or your thoughts.

Copyright© 2014 by Susan E Rowland

Posted in journal prompts, journaling, memoir, poetry, self improvement, social commentary

Mmmm, yeah

Covering five areas:



1) Her voice on the other end of the line is soothing
someone I can really talk to.
She understands if you can’t quite make it on a certain day and she knows you
will try.
With some people you learn to read between the lines
because it’s just too hard to talk about it.
I can hear the mowers in the background in my imagination.
Smell the green colors the earth of little feet and generations

who tell me I did belong somewhere once upon a time,

adorned with hyacinth and lilac.
They’re bringing in the wheat
they had to dig some new lines for the well this weekend.
calendar with tent copy.jpg for blog











2) I love every new month because I have this thing for calendars.

There’s one in every room and I plan ahead each year to find just the right ones.




I analyze and gaze, taking in the composition, savoring the feeling of the colors, the blocks for the days, I look at the numbers,




The times in between the dream and the paint.

Satisfied I organize. I print out my morning pages.

That is the beauty of each new month.


I may not have aced the approval codes the first time

where my little eyes crept towards walls of shame

would Daddy still love me and would I be good enough?

Would I get to be good enough? Would Mama come out from her shell?
but I did

I did when I came back
and attacked it with a vengeance.
I laid it out with their A’s and
with all the self-worth I could conjure for the second time.

to add with honors

And this time I cared. So I sent a picture and went back to work.

I may not have slam-dunked the algebra, but  I climbed your ladder to display the thing.
I never got into debt.
And didn’t spend more than I made.
And I never depended on a man for my sustenance.


When I said I hauled all the water we used
for the babies
and at that time when he left
and I had to do it all myself,
I was long and lean and strong
I did make it from sunrise to dusk


my story is true.
when Grandfather told me about laying 80 miles of barbed wire for fencing that year
his story was true.
and there was a time when the barn burned down.
that was a bad year.
He had to wait another  two years to be able to buy a new overcoat.

3) It’s cliché to wonder where it all went.
How could I not remember that I ran for president of elementary school….
I did?
Yes, you did.
I don’t remember that.
I was your campaign manager.

So memory seems to stick to the bad stuff
and trauma but I’m in a different mode now so I
create miracles, co-create and all that

you know
because this aging is not for wimps.

Maybe it was the year before Mom got sick.
Why wouldn’t I remember that?
What happened that shattered my confidence?
It never left, it just tagged along with Rip Van Winkle
believing some garbage about domestication,
that one’s worth-a woman’s worth  is measured by your waistline,
by your marriage qualities,

the checkbook and
cooking skills-not by the trouble you’d fled or avoided

but they forgot that wanderers, artists, music-makers and dancers, plus
shy people

and gypsies had to pull their carts
just another mile. But I quickly
set down roots and set ’em deep
and quietly buried the afterbirths in a special location

no I freaking did not eat it-get off me-
the old way
they told me
to do this
the ones who didn’t know English , CrowDogs
from South Dakota, the grandmother  said”you know that way,”
so when your children grow up-they will always have a place to go
if they get confused once in a while
or are in  a dark night, kinda blue
or just need to think,
to call on Spirit,
they would know where the tree is
and they could go there and gather themselves.

I did that for my children
so they would know
they always have a home near the tree.



You just tap in and access your pin number to Creator.


the work shed window
4) Spiritual competition stinks worse than crap,
religious wars and power struggles
make people act worse than the lowest animals.



A man took an assault rifle to the airport this week.It was a man with a smirk, a sneer, or was that an over-educated  glare of  contempt?

He went to the coffee shop in the Starbucks of a major busy airport… but he claims he was  just shifting the weapon

when it was aimed at a woman and her 17-year-old daughter. They were frightened-of course. Ignorance is quite frightening!

The man, a “top researcher” with a PhD in neuroscience wanted to make a statement about the right to bear arms. In the news report they claimed he didn’t treat patients at the institute.

Hmmmm, yeah.

At the airport with an assault rifle?  Oh Lord.

Jesus, hold my hand.

No ethnic, as in  professional black person  would have the cojones to do that, and I’m sure as hell you wouldn’t find an Hispanic man in sheriff Joe’s territory trying to support weapons rights by walking up to Starbucks at Sky Harbor with a rifle. Nada.

He didn’t hear about LAX? He hadn’t heard about Sandy Hook?  or even Columbine?

You want to own a gun, you leave that phallic toy at home.


And what about that other guy-the football player.  Ray. Ray, you got to get together and learn to do it right. Don’t waste your life or hurt anyone else. Dr. PHIL!

What is UP with these people lately?


You want to be mad at your wife or fiancé, you take a nice walk and talk it out, fool. Or go talk to your coach or some older dudes who have SENSE as in a BRAIN with working brain cells. You do not hit a woman. No can do.



huh ahuh



unh mmmm






Journal prompt: Try telling a story using poetry or free writing without proper punctuation or grammar rules and spelling etc.  Just get it  written down on paper or put  in the computer. Start in the present and share an event. If you find your mind is wandering, or your conversation diverts, don’t fight it just  now…. let it go where it will…and as you begin to remember other things (association) keep writing. Use short phrases in you need to.

I am using this method to work on my memoir and may do the whole book as a series of poems. I find the poetry method much more intimate and personal when I want to evoke a mood. It is a battle of sorts if you are into poetry and prose.

Discussion: What is your experience of memory? Of course most of us will not remember everything about our lives. Some theorists claim we remember the traumatic stuff more easily or readily. How does not remembering affect you? Does it bother you when that happens?  If you are in a younger age group do you notice things about your aging relatives? What are your thoughts, if any, on aging?

Posted in journal prompts, journaling, memoir, multiculturalism

More from Dorm Days aka What Happens in College Stays in College

“She carries in the candles,

And lights the curtained room,

Shy in the doorway

And shy in the gloom”- Yeats

                                                                                               sue with sketch pad at dairy queen 70s

Always walking around with a sketch pad….

The woods of southern Ohio offered a treasure chest of foraging delight. A friend who was an experienced naturalist-we’ll call her *Heather Meadowlark and I set up a lean-to in the forest behind New Dorm. We  lashed cross beams at a slant  to two standing trees. Then we wove  long saplings and topped that with bark and brush for the roof. We created a tamped earth floor and gathered rushes for floor mats.  I loved that little shelter. We’d sit out there and draw and read. I’d cleared a patch of ground for a garden. We fancied ourselves going back to the land even though we were barely out of our teens nor we did know how to make a living. When everyone left the campus during breaks I stayed on to clean rooms for extra money and spend time in the woods.

Below is one of Heather’s delightful drawings that she put in my journal.

                                            sue working in the earth by heather 2 copy

Heather was strong legged, efficient, and very Type A. She was also surprisingly coy for a practical girl. One time we went on an outing with another kid from the dorm.  I watched  as Heather batted her eyelashes at the driver feigning ignorance in learning  a stick shift. She sat in the passenger’s front seat, gently holding the leather knob of the gear shift as Neil Goldblatt showed her first, second, and…yeah…third. Courting giggles erupted.  I was in the back seat rolling my eyes, waiting to get back to the dorm.  As I sat in  Neil’s BMW with its soft seats, and sporty engine, I marveled at  this guy having such a fancy car at his age and that Heather, with her framed glasses, transformed from  a nature geek into a come hither vixen with  one of the richest guys in the dorm. I bailed out as soon as  we got home, smoked a bunch of cigarettes (tobacco) and tried to work on my paper for art history. I never did ask her if the flirting lead anywhere.

So even though I played the lonely card  in my last blog, I have to say I  was surrounded by the most awesome  people.

That second year in New Dorm, some of my cohorts were Jimmy and Annie-a couple truly in  love. They lived two doors down. Think James Taylor and Carole King, the mini version. So sweet. Annie was nervous, anxious, and forever worried that her parents in New Rochelle, New York would find out about Jimmy and kick him out of her life. He was loyal to her as the day is long, and they were always together. Annie had naturally full, voluptuous lips, long before Angelina Jolie was a twinkle in her father’s eye. Annie was Jewish and Jimmy, a Gentile. Her parents wouldn’t approve.

Down the hall on the men’s side of the dorm lived  Bob a senior from New York who excelled in photography and  studied architecture. His wife, Jenny, a full blood Seneca, was smart and funny and always made us feel welcome. Friday nights were party nights. Saturday, Bob faithfully concentrated on his studies.  The college allowed them to live in the dorm because they were married and Bob was in his last year.  Jenny worked full-time in a law office in town.

Then there was sleek, sexy  Ming, from Vietnam and her Pekingese dog, Smokey. She seemed to swish rather than walk, even though she was small in stature. Actually, she buzzed. She spoke in staccato phrases.  She was always going somewhere, and never seemed to study. Her father was in a high level VIP and lived overseas  in France, I think. When he called, she jumped.

Another one in our eccentric group  was James, Neil’s roommate, with his thick sandy,uncooperative wavy hair and teddy bear body. He was tall and big, not heavy, not fat, just…large. His mouth would be set in a firm line more often than not. He never belly laughed. He had a soft side, a deep side. If I remember right, he was a Scorpio. James owned a purple velvet cape that he would put on when kids were partying. A woman had sewed the garment for him and I sensed a history there. The seamstress, a former lover perhaps, lived in North Carolina and was associated with the Grateful Dead. I wasn’t a “Deadhead” but was fascinated listening to the kids who were into the lingo and culture. The “dead” part scared me. People would read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, popular at that time but I never did read it, nor did I care much. I loved blues and jazz, zydeco and gospel. In literature I was into heavy stuff like Sartre and Nietzsche, as well as  the English romantic poets like Keats and Shelley. I was into Steinbeck-imagining myself doing my version of  Travels With Charley .

 But James was quiet for a reason. His father had died during a diving accident, an underwater death. James was with his father when this traumatic event occurred. Even though he didn’t talk about it much, I sensed a great sadness, even a feeling that he somehow was responsible because at 14, he couldn’t have saved his own father.  His eyes always held a quiet discernment; there was a certain barrier that couldn’t be crossed with James. I think he was still in love with his former flame.

Also at New Dorm, lived Sheila Rothberg, who had her own huge room near the front lobby.  Somebody had pulled strings to get her that room. She also kept to herself a lot and drew huge pastel portraits of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and was into the beat poets and Castaneda. She was allowed to have a hot plate-totally against the rules.  I’d heard rumors about manic depression, but I really didn’t know much about her. She was always pleasant but I never saw her in any art classes and she would disappear from campus from time to time.

Then there was dearest Yasmin, from Afghanistan, and her American red-haired roommate, Libby. I adored them. Yasmin was quiet and loved dancing. She had olive skin and gentle ways. She felt isolated from her country and family. I never saw anyone from her family. She worked in the mail room at the college. By the second year of college they lived off campus. We had spent hours together my first year in college. Libby had the most handsome boyfriend, whom she adored, an older guy named Steve or Rick or something. He worked in a mechanic shop in her home town in Maryland  and eventually he  broke it off with Libby. I’d never seen someone so shattered when they split. She sat at her window and cried and cried. We all felt so badly for her. Cups of tea and sympathetic cards didn’t help. She would pull herself together and go to work grilling hamburgers and serving coffee at The Lodge, then come back to her room and weep again. Dear sweet Libby. She hand embroidered intricate Celtic patterns on the pockets of our jeans, just to be nice. When I think about her, my heart still wrenches at the thought of her suffering that break up.

 “Black Dorm” was upstairs on the second floor in New Dorm. African-American students wrestled an approval from the administration and negotiated having a completely segregated wing. They had the best parties. Most of the students in that wing were dedicated to their studies. Civil rights and politics were on most of our minds, at least such topics were common with the people I knew.

  Anyway,  one brother named “Sparks” was the nicest guy and was friends with everybody. Sparks was like the big brother for the whole town. He had charisma and was one of those people whom others admire. He wasn’t stand-offish to the  few of us white kids who loved to dance at the Black Dorm parties. He called me “Lil Sis” and we spoke often about life  and the outrageously beautiful  Creole girl he was in love with over at Miami. She was a high-class beauty in pre-med.  He really loved that woman. Somehow Sparks had made it out of inner city  Detroit and the future was looking good with his track and baseball accolades. He was a health nut before everyone else got into the fad.  Women flocked to him like a movie star.

Sparks wanted to read Richard Wright’s  Native Son  and I’d told him I had a copy. One late morning after a classic Black Dorm party, I went to drop off the book. As usual, I’d listened to the fantastic local band for an hour or so,  then went back to my room and slept. I got up early and went to church at the stone chapel on campus. Every Sunday they had a jazz trio perform before the sermon. I would sit up in the balcony, wanting to be transcended.  I missed my boyfriend back home. He hadn’t called and I was bluesy-it was the usual college girl funk. So I went back over to Black Dorm and hesitated before  knocking on Spark’s door.  I heard people laughing so I left the book on the floor and turned around to leave when he hollered “come in.”  He was sitting in bed with two gorgeous sisters  Oops, sorry! They chuckled and made a joke about “don’t mind us” or “care to join?” as I closed the door quickly. I mean, I wasn’t naïve, and I certainly was no prude…but… I felt as out-of-place as a redneck in overalls at a country club gala.

And no, none of those kids were my lovers, they were my pals… the kiss and tell part will just have to remain in the reader’s mind, because during this particular chapter of the Lonely Times in the Life of Sue the hot stuff was only in my head.

Journal prompt: Write about the people in your life, past or present. How did they affect you? What do you remember most about them? You can use descriptions, but more importantly, try to give the reader a sense of who they really were to you. Pretend you are writing a screen play and these are your characters. How do they act? Talk about couples, relationships, hook-ups and breakups.

* All names changed to protect the innocent. This is a work of creative non-fiction.

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Rowland, all rights reserved.