Posted in memoir, writers, Writing for healing


In the writer’s group

the women wouldn’t read each other’s book recommendations

and after two of them moved out of state

they never bothered to talk again.


Years went by

in established hierarchy.

What was once said in syrupy hours of attention

disappeared into a silent standoff.


Another writing coach urges the buddy system

while I keep silent.

Wondering, knowing

we will never pick up the phone.


You first.






Posted in memoir, memories of houses, writers

Reading While Writing

MLK day copy.jpg for blog

Happy Martin Luther King day! I hope you all are well and taking some time to honor one our greatest American leaders.

Read any good books lately? I’m always reading even with a left eye that needs fixing. Here are a few of my recent favorite reads:

  •   Fire Shut up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow

Fantastic. Piercing. A timely memoir of male African-American lives  and family dynamics. Starts with newsman author planning to kill a haunting memory with a gun.  A relative molested him in childhood.  This is a book about personal accomplishment with an emotional resolution of trauma.  Blow, a Louisiana native reveals the torment of his childhood and his life journey to success.

He emerges from being “different” and grapples with his feelings and sensitivities.   He  achieves in sports, academics,  and then as a graphic producer for the Times. He’s tenacious. One reviewer calls it “electric.” I agree. Loved the writing style. I had no idea how vicious hazing is in colleges. After reading his book I believe the barbaric practice should be banned.

  • The Mockingbird Next Door Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills

Loved it! Writer granted interviews and was able to live next door to feisty, often self-deprecating, outrageously private Harper Lee. Just as fascinating is  her charismatic, focused sister, lawyer Alice Finch Lee. I just fell head over heels with Monroeville, Alabama (you can take Mockingbird tours there) and with Alice in the book. What a woman.

Mills, the author, was on leave from the Chicago Tribune due to complications with lupus. Mills used her talents to put together a real story of one of the most inspirational writers of our time. If you’re intrigued by Southern writers and culture, treat yourself to a most juicy book. Meet the real Harper Lee also known as “Nelle” by those close to her. She could be cantankerous and detested getting dressed up for functions.

Some claim the book was unauthorized. The permission issue hinges on two letters to Mills, one by Nelle and one by her sister Alice.  But what would I know? Read it for yourself. What do you think? I know the elderly, or at least I know mine. They don’t spend hours together, take road trips, or watch movies with just anyone.Harper Lee divided her residences between small town Alabama and New York City. Mills drives Lee up to New York City in her secondhand car.

Back to the elderly –they don’t take you to the hospital if they don’t like you. One has to be accepted into their lives by earning their trust. The Mockingbird Next Door is full of family history and friendships (Truman Capote) at its finest with all the inside details.  Congrats, Marja! Let the critics be jealous-I believe you.

I adore Southern writers (Arna Bontemps, Frank Yerby, Ernest J. Gaines, Alice Walker for example), and of course, Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t think life would be the same without Harper Lee’s classic contribution to writing, and subsequently, to film and theater.

  • Handling the Truth  On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart. I’m using this practical yet provocative book as a guide along with some others that I’ll talk about later on.  Each page is marked and underlined in my copy. My list of to-be-read books is growing because of all the memoirs cited in Handling the Truth. The author has written five memoirs and is a National Book Award finalist. If you’re writing a memoir or just enjoy writing tips, read or buy the book.

color design and book copy

Keep writing, keep journaling and let the creative juices flow!

Journal prompt: Write about what you are reading. What style appeals to you?

Posted in inspirational, stream of consciousness writing, writers, Writing for healing

A Group Poem by Some Facebook Friends




Thoughts Over Time


A light rain was falling in the desert.

Snoring from the other room

became a backdrop for her midnight story

as she tapped on the keyboard at the FB Sunday night gathering of kindred spirits.

Dormant color stirred and rolled

like a painting or a lithograph.

Cleansing my muddy rut,

I gazed out the window as tiny drops of rain danced down on the glass,

memories fill my mind, as I trace thoughts over time.

The mist of life to quench my heart.


yellow flower


A collective effort by six women in random orderMJ Gillot, April Joy Garrett, Ginger Bliss, Vicki Soto, Vicki Butler-Hagan,  Sue Rowland-Facebook friends.


Journal prompt: Find some friends and write a group poem. Work quickly, don’t labor over the lines.Then read your poem aloud, each person taking a line and speaking it. Do you find the exercise to be uplifting? Do you feel the need to be attached or identified by what you have written?

Side note: this was an impromptu fun thing we did on the spur of the moment. The lines in the poem do not correspond with the list of participant names at the end of the blog. This does not follow a formal structured group with a “formal” leader as in a trained journal or poetry therapy group.  Imagine a group of friends breaking into song at a café and you have the setting for the poem.
















Posted in writers, Writing for healing

You’ll Never See Those People Again

spotted face copyOne day I was driving to the airport after visiting my kids and grandchild. I’d overslept and was worried about getting through the mountains and over to the  California Central Valley. It was about a four-hour drive to reach Sacramento.  I’d hurried to brush my teeth, throw the suitcase in the car and drive the distance. I arrived on schedule, which usually is absurdly early because I’m a chronic punctual type. I’ve been that way my whole life –until my late fifties when I decided panic was over-rated.

I returned the car without a problem, checked my bags, and got through security. I decided to treat myself to a chai latte. I made small talk with the nice people behind the counter who for some reason were having a hard time looking me in the eye. I suddenly felt older, dumpier, and meaner.

Just to be sure I was all set for boarding, I made a last trip to the bathroom. As I met my face in the mirror to check my hair, I gasped. There was dried white toothpaste near my mouth and chin. I turned to an older woman who’d sidled up to the sink.

“Oh my God, I am so embarrassed. I had toothpaste on my face all this time. Nobody said anything!”

The lady looked at me and said, “Honey, I’ve been all over the world. A few times. You are never going to see those people again. Don’t worry about it. Trust me.”

children's art 2015                                                                        children’s art

Journal prompt: write about one of your most embarrassing moments. How did you get through it? Do you have more than one? When you are ready, define how shame is different from embarrassment.

Discussion: Are you one of those people who will tell a stranger about an embarrassing missed detail, or do you hurry to get away?










Posted in writers

Mind Your P’s and Create a Vision Board for 2015



Here is why I do a vision board. You put your ideas into a form that you can see. When I do a vision board, as in collage-making, often the images bring their own power to the body, mind and spirit.

Vision boards serve to help you to:

  • Play
  • Plan
  • Participate
  • Produce

This year I’m looking to explore the night sky and the concept of shadow. There is no darkness because in starry nights  is the reflection of light and depth.Pure darkness might just be an illusion. In writing about life the  so-called dark parts become illuminated through examination, release, and understanding. Because I’m writing a manuscript, often my alone time is at night.

I don’t like to be outrageously self-promoting but with any creative work, marketing is a must.  Hence the stars around my name. Shameless promotion has to be in the journey-I call it confidence. I want to go swim with the dolphins and paint in Italy. The rest is self- explanatory. The little stamps at the bottom say  “1 with nature.”

Obviously I’m not anal about edges and details. Some people like to take a lot of time and make vision boards like embroidery. I just enjoy doing a quick cut and paste. The arranging is a lot of fun.

Have a great New Year 2015! If you make vision boards, please feel free to share.

                                                      DREAM BIG!

Journal prompt: create a vision board, copy and paste a photo of it in your journal. Write about your dreams and goals for the year. Write honestly and openly. Talk about why certain images have power. Did you discover anything new about yourself?

Discussion: I always add personal images to my board, that I keep private. The old saying, “loose lips sink ships” has a time-honored wisdom. Sometimes it’s good to keep our most precious goals to ourselves in order to keep them strong.


PS: My site is still under construction. Please excuse the mess.

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 animals, humor, wilderness, writers

Lizzy, Horatio, and Bella

head shot copy.jpg 2

She’s back! My little friend didn’t die.

Lizzy came around yesterday to check for blueberries. If you remember,  I thought maybe  Ms Kingsnake had stalked and eaten her. Or him. I don’t know. I watch the creatures I don’t pick them up. The gender thing is a mystery.

The reptile sexual identity topic reminds me of another story, a true tale of an iguana I named Horatio. One day Horatio scampered onto the back porch and hung around by the screen door, watching.  Part of his little toes had been bitten off. But he had spunk.  And he had the prettiest bright blue patch on his throat. At first he scared me, but then we decided we liked each other.

                                               horatio close up

 Horatio became a beloved low maintenance, rather dapper outdoor  pet. He came around daily on a regular schedule. Soon, he went out and got himself a girlfriend whom I named Hortense.  They showed up together  for lunch  with Hortense always hanging back in  shyness.   After a while Horatio and Hortense stopped coming around altogether  and I feared the worst. Months later during  spring cleaning we found the two iguanas curled up together at the bottom of a terra cotta pot. They had not survived. The clay was too slick and smooth for them to crawl out.

As we settled into our lifestyle here, I survived college, started a little book business,  and Jesse’s life was saved by an expert medical team who fixed his heart. We had it goin’ on. Then one day another character showed up.

                                                                                 bella nice shot with her babies

Enter Mama Javelina, (Yayassu tajacu), or collared peccary.  I named her Bella.  Bella strutted into the back yard with her stiff legs, pointy hooves and distinct style. She grazed the perimeter of our plot which is about an acre of fenced land. When javelinas make an appearance other critters take notice. Dogs go crazy and wild pigs can do serious damage to dogs…and sometimes people. You don’t want to mess with Mama Pig, or any wild boar for that matter. Bird seed on the ground and a pan of water must have attracted her to the area behind the back porch.  She wandered in, snorting and rooting,  piggy-toed and poking. She swagged in busy and unafraid with her two little ones trying to suckle-a woman on a mission.

Then, just as boldly as she had entered, Bella strolled out of the open gate without so much as a snooty  goodbye.  With her babies in tow, down the road she sauntered in  search of  food.  Yes, javelinas are dangerous. Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t encourage her. And before anyone goes all bacon on me, I didn’t feed them. I give the original inhabitants of the Sonoran landscape a wide berth.

                                                                  Javelina-Backyard-2 (2)

 On another note, about humans and animals…. and…reptiles too.  The collage below is one of my SoulCollage  ®   cards representing aspects of  my journey. Briefly, part of the process is to describe parts of your life with an “I am” statement. “I am one who observes with detachment and passion.” What I love about living in the country is the freedom to be among the creatures without disturbing them.

                                                                                     collage final jav and wh ma rec

Above symbolism of my collage: the detached observer is the  male side, the animus,  (man reading  ) representing the non-emotional, the scientific.  The  commanding curious and over-protective part represents the anima, (javelina) and is the female archetype. Both are observing of the other.  If all this sounds like mumbo-jumbo, it is. It’s basically Jungian psychology.

Discussion: I was going to include some personal anguish over writer’s ego in this piece. When I was writing about Horatio years ago, my blog got “scraped.” Two years of work got lifted and so did the names for some of my characters. Copying equals flattery but then it becomes plagiarism. There is nothing new. Everything has already been done. It’s all variations on a theme. But  really….pilfering names? Come on! Get your own names! Sigh.  One person in my writing group actually used the name I had picked out for my main character, along with some other phrases. The person said, “Oh I like that. I think I’ll use it.” And so she did. And ouch, I bit my tongue.

I have tons of pilfering stories, but they are being maturely pushed down into the discussion section of my little funky blog here. I came, I saw, I vented.

 I was in college during the Horatio years and, as always, journaling and taking notes. A particular instructor didn’t like people taking notes, especially women over 50.  During class the teacher sauntered back to where I had written something (privately), walked back to the front of the class and presented my exact words as his own psychology theory. Now I know better. If you like it, put a ring around the copyright symbol.

 What does that have to do with desert creatures? It’s a competitive life. I decided not to go more deeply into a personal rant because the victim role just doesn’t suit me anymore. Life goes on!

Over and out.

Happy journaling!

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E Rowland

This is a work of creative non-fiction

Posted in self improvement, women trailblazers, writers, Writing for healing

“The Corporation has not Clouded My Gratitude”

mary Whiton Caulkins copy.jpg for blog

When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time” Oprah Winfrey

This is a free write tribute to a female trailblazer in the field of psychology and philosophy. See my post on “Those Lonely Years” to reference William James. He was the mentor and advisor to Mary Whiton Calkins. WP links to my blogpost aren’t showing.

You must do the things you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt


In a prestigious university a woman sat in a classroom where she wanted to learn psychology.
Four men got up and walked out in protest
because she wore a skirt.
She challenged the stereotype that women are intellectually inferior to men.
Thus, she was punished.

She possessed a great mind and a fire for learning.
She earned her PhD yet her credential was not granted
The Harvard Corporation would not allow it.

Backed by William James , Royce, and others, the powers in charge at Harvard would deny her the doctorate.
And  today this right is still  denied  posthumously.
I wonder how much we have advanced in respect
to all women and girls in education—
keep pushing, keep studying, and forge ahead.

Hail, hail and bravo to those who persevere despite jealousy and elitism. Introspection is a powerful ally and our heroine in the journey of women in psychology proves its worth.

Mary Whiton Calkins dedicated her life to helping others by doing behavioral research, by teaching for over 40 years and by developing theories. She originated the paired association technique and important studies in relatedness and philosophy. Mary  would leave her mark. In 1905 she became the first woman president of the APA.
Fifteen years later in 1920 women obtained the right to vote.

Male psychologists tried to take credit for her work.

Women are great thinkers. We are not lesser, we are not greater, we simply demand our equal place to do our work.

I wonder if women are included in the Great Books?

Even though all the letters and petitioning did not influence the exclusive barriers of male dominated academia

then and now, the timelessness of one person’s contribution to the world cannot be underestimated.

So if a woman is considered histrionic, over-emotional, or less-than,

I give you the research  and writings

of Mary Whiton Calkins


We remember.


Journal prompt: Have you ever been denied access to higher education? Where and why? Did you persevere? What are your personal views and experiences about gender equality?  What are your views about the advancement of women? How about transgender people?


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


Posted in blogaday, writers

Punctuation, Love it or Leave it!

                                     miscellaneous copy.jpg M

The prompt is all about punctuation. What do you think about punctuation?
This is the last post for the WordPress blogaday. It’s been great discipline and a wonderful way to meet new people.

Sometimes a rebel, sometimes a conformist, I accept the rules of formal grammar. It’s like street signs and taxes- there for a reason, we may not like such rules. “You have to know the rules in order to break them.”

I don’t think editors take kindly to poetic license and I’m not sure how most readers react. I think the general public will be irritated by grammar mistakes, typos, and non-conforming to basic rules. What do you think, as a reader?

My personal confession is a tiny OCD late night terror about the inevitable typo. I can’t seem to EVER be perfect and even when I read over what I’ve written, typos show up three days later. Sweat pours off my forehead and my shoulders tighten. Guilty as charged. I did that. I need an editor in the worst way. Even with a fine tooth comb, typos and punctuation errors show up like bugs.

There’s a scene from “Sex and the City” where Carrie hollers out that Big’s wife is so “stupid” because she misspelled a word. (I have such a great post about the characters in SATC-but you’ll have to wait).  People are judgmental- you can bank on it.

Back to the topic, the horror of a mistake is hell to pay for Type A’s.  I’m totally Type B, but I don’t like mistakes, especially my own.

Editors do the work of correcting punctuation. I want my copy to be perfect, but when left to my own slightly ADD combing process, I often can’t see the errors. My left eye is literally not so good.  I can still hear one of my undergraduate professors ranting about consistency, grammar, and APA writing guidelines. Cringe. Even my mistakes are creative.

victor blog

Here’s my punc poem.

Punc-chu-ation, it’s a situation.
Whatchu wanna know for, anyway?
Ya gotta do it right to see the light of day.
If you don’t do right,  you’ll be thrown out on your arse,
so pull up your britches! Your knowledge of grammar is too sparse.
Faulkner could bend the rules with Quentin’s ramble,
But he had the status to take the gamble.
I am ever-making boo boos and mistakes,
punctuation still gives me the shakes.
Commas, exclamation points, semi-colons, and colons,
are penned and placed, arranged, declared and stolen.
It is time to put them where they belong,
in order to keep the flow of the song.
Help me people, cuz I really, really want to know
editor,use this paltry sum, and clean my little show.

Until next time,

Hugs! With exclamation points.

Posted in blog challenge, friends, stream of consciousness writing, the muse, writers, Writing for healing

Writing Spaces- Aliens and Cute Things

Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity.

desk for blog copy summer and moss


I’m getting feisty now- July is almost here and I like independence.

The muse comes to greet me in my sleep, while driving, when I’m walking, working, cleaning and daydreaming…after intimacy…oh baby…and just about anywhere, which is the reason for the ever-present notebook. Oh yeah, and during massages and acupuncture I get great ideas. Now that’s awkward.

I crave solitude. My favorite place to write is my sanctuary, my little office with its worn desks. One is held together with a heavy woodworking clamp. This corner fits me. My life fits me in this space.  Nothing about it is glamorous. I keep cutsie items that have meaning to me but removed them for this photo, because it’s personal. I’ll tell the story when I’m ready. Maybe.

Ideas do not judge me at my desk. He, she, it…sheeit…the muses don’t care about literacy. I didn’t study mythology, never truly got into the childhood classics like Alice in Wonderland or even The Wizard of Oz. I  haven’t read or watched Harry Potter because my kids were already grown up when it came out and my grandbaby wasn’t old enough to read. I don’t watch the latest movies for about a year. Even then, I don’t like the usual ones everyone raves about. I’m overly critical. Now you know. I struggled to get through high school.

 I have tales other people might scoff at, but… now the word is out. We’re not the only ones here. Maybe science fiction is more real than Asimov or Clarke or Bradbury ever imagined.

Back to my sanctuary, I’m relaxed in my corner. My paintings are close, photos of my loved ones and affirmations, nearby. Trinkets my  BFF cherished keep me company.  I’m peaceful, frantic, wild, sad, discouraged, saintly, sexy, irreverent, and filled with enthusiasm; my workplace is life itself. My book collection – within reach. A masterpiece lurks

God, let me mean something helpful or uplifting to someone-anyone. Maybe, just maybe,  there will be an inspired connection. I feel like I don’t belong in this era. Emily Dickenson, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, I got you. I dry your tears, hold your hand.  Wordsworth, did you ever laugh about your name? Blake, Keats, Shelley-sometimes I wonder if I should even try. Robert Service, you make me happy. Dostoevsky, I would steal a loaf of bread for Ivan. Mr. Frederick Douglass, sir, I applaud your tenacity and formality. Booker T. Washington, I can feel the hair shirt.  Vonnegut, did you ever worry about the bags underneath your eyes? I have the beginnings of them too, and am terribly concerned over it. I feel silly buying the cucumbers. Cucumbers for vanity.  But Kurt, seriously, if I could borrow an ounce of your talent, I’d not be embarrassed.

Maya Angelou-there must be one helluva party goin’ on in heaven.

As the blog challenge winds down, I have to focus on the next assignment for the last day. I haven’t done any art. I miss it.

Hey loved meeting all the new people. There are only something like 152 million bloggers out there-so might as well let it rip.

Until next time,

Hugs n more hugs!