Posted in forgiveness, friends, memoir, self improvement, stream of consciousness writing, writers, Writing for healing

What People Say: Dealing with Word Wounds and How to Heal

 

Oh the things people say: “You’re good with the customers but you’re not management material.”

Why do some people react to hurtful comments while others seem to have a thicker skin? The only reason for approaching the topic in writing is that I used to be one of those sensitive types. I learned through needless suffering to deflect the jabs by setting boundaries and kicking out the insult-bearing squatters from my head. Writing a memoir or life story does bring up some of those nasty memories.

The opening scene in the rough draft of my memoir is a one-line zinger that somebody slapped on me at a family function. I got zapped. Verbally tasered. I fired back with what I thought was a classy response. The offender and I never talked about it.

Put-downs, maligning and one-upping happens to everybody. What years of being a parent, grandparent, wife, sister, and friend has taught me is that others have similar experiences. Everyone is sensitive in varying degrees, and that being a “sensitive” is actually a skill. When I earned my degree in psychology and participated in years of workshops, what I learned is that if I don’t get a handle on reacting to people who bully, I risk becoming bitter and resentful.

Writing is a good way to deal with the hurts and move on from the jabs and insults.

While I wrote jokingly in one of my blogs about men being Neanderthals, it is women, it seems, who have a special talent for murderous competition designed to make another woman want to quit. For those of you who have been the recipient of digs and jabs, please take heart and learn to fight back or move on. You’re worth it. I know, because I’ve been there. Sometimes we’re the ones who do the zapping. Everybody I know, male, female, gay, trans…whomever…has stories about the war of words.

Here are a few one-liners I’ve experienced in my life. Some are light-hearted. Some were turning points/wounds that required spiritual counseling and even regular counseling so I could heal. They might not make sense or seem that intense, but as each writer knows, words shape our stories.

Childhood:

What happened to you? Did you get sunburned through a screen?

“There’s a man down in those trees. He’s going to come and get you.”

Don’t worry, they’ll grow.

What are you doing here, jackass?

Why don’t you want to play doctor with me? Don’t be scared.

Jobs-co-workers

Who made the coffee this morning? It’s too weak.

Who made these rubber band eggs?

Who scheduled this appointment?

What about your age?

Is this the new help? (that would be me)

 Relationships/Life situations

 You’re really filling up those pants.

You act like you’re single.

You don’t care about me.

You don’t love me.

When did YOU ever grow up?

You have private property hang-ups.

You think you’re so smart. That job just landed in your lap.

You have a repressed mouth.

Why don’t you go back to Europe where you came from?

You don’t understand simple things. You have ownership issues.

Don’t do this because you’re humiliated.

We’re going to teach you a lesson.

Well I hope you learned your lesson.

You’re a two-faced elitist.

You need help.

That’s why Susan is so screwed up.

You can’t even put a lid on a jar right. What’s wrong with you?

 (Thank you Jesus, I never broke anyone’s face. I would come home from working all day and have to make dinner while my kid’s father had been home. Then he would get on my case after I’d make a cup of tea for myself to get through the meal-making).

I’ve had guests come to my house, eat the meals I prepared for them, enjoy the bedroom I fixed up for them only to have someone say, “You make me tired. Can’t you just relax?”

Boundaries!

Yes of course there are more one-liners to add to the repertoire. But I’ve done my ceremonies. Writers  & journal keepers can use the words/scenarios to add to novels, memoirs, and interweave them into their characters’ lives. Don’t forget the positives!

*********************

 

Journal prompt: Do you remember things that people have said to you that hurt? Do comments people have made stay with you for life? Write them down. Later go back and write a brief explanations after each comment. This is for you only for right now.

If you decide you want to elaborate, go back and write the emotion or feelings that you experienced after the words were spoken.

Discussion: Experts have found that the act of writing affirmations and positive summaries has a powerful affect on our health. Do the exercise again and use nice things that people have said to you. Notice if there is a difference in the way you feel. Compliment yourself in your journal often.

Also, one way to deal with hurtful words is to take the list and have a releasing ceremony. Put the written words in a fire and burn them. Say “I now release all this hurt forever.” Another way is to make a paper boat and write some of the terms or words that have wounded you and put it in a moving body of water. (please be eco-conscious).

Put your list through a shredder.

You can do a freezing ceremony to get rid of your words-spoken list. Put the list of wounds in a bag and freeze it. Later on when you are ready, in a couple hours, days, months, dump your list in the garbage or compost pile if you have a garden. Another way is to paint on biodegradable materials and bury the issues in the earth. Or make art. Do a collage or sand tray exercise and work with those hurts. But at the end, it’s imperative to be positive. Make up your own ways to put the issues out of your psyche and your world.

Happy writing, everybody. Cheers!

cherub with my name

 

 

Posted in cartoons, death and dying, Writing for healing

Whacked Out News vs Hope for the Future

Hello Kindred Writers and Readers,

I haven’t been on WordPress since August but I’ve been journaling and slowly working on my memoir manuscript. I’m not giving up. It doesn’t matter to me anymore how long it takes.

As I scan over my blog I’m tempted to toss out writing and stick to art and poetry. Then I remember a few words from various teachers and authors, especially Arun Gandhi who worked on one of his books for many years and when it emerged, the final product was a children’s book.

Then I check out all the incredible, talented, and hopeful young people in the world. I can’t give up on hope when I think about people such as those involved with DACA, education, women’s rights, civil rights,  along with so many un-named s/heros who wake up every morning to remind us to have courage.

I’ve about had it with adults, especially politicians who act worse than spoiled children. Since I last made a blog entry, we’ve seen the horror of hateful and fearful lost souls (KKK)  marching in Charlottesville, juxtaposed to kind, loving and inclusive gathering of people opposing the ignorance. What a tragic event.

Then came Hurricane Harvey, a natural disaster most surely caused in part by factors of global warming from man-made pollution. The fact that our president, ( I call him Humpty), thinks he can boast and buy his way through office and railroad legal experts, is absurd. He alone, is responsible for setting the tone and pace for critical dialogue  as the leader of the free world. Wake me up from this nightmare. Yet he remains a dangerous buffoon. He claims to know more than the generals? Ok. Good luck with that one. My response: Amendment 25.

We are allowed, according to the First Amendment to write and say what we want in the US. I’m beyond disbelief anymore. I find relief in political cartoons, especially Steve Sacks  who just published his first book. I may publish some of my rudimentary cartoons this year. Here’s another link.

So, I write about death often it seems. Not that I’m trying to be morbid or depressing. Quite the opposite. Death is like love. It hurts when we are in it because of fear of losing. Yet, the big L word is uniquely about freedom and not controlling others. Much of what I’m exploring in my own life story has to do with relationships and the challenge of being “good enough.” Isn’t that nutty?

The power of love and death is undeniable. People spend their lives trying to control anything or anyone around them in search of the race against time. Then, by the time you get old enough, if you’re lucky, you realize that none of crap you fought against in the self image category is important. People may like you, hate you, or whatever. No matter you do, they will talk about you, and for the most part, people don’t care that much. The hubs and I will both attest to the fact.

I’ve been through all the fads of spirituality on the market, only to come to the conclusion that most of feel good pablum IS a market, with branding, advertising and the whole mess.

Back to the drawing board.

I hope to have something more entertaining for my next post. Rusty, dusty.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to post that our granddaughter who has cystic fibrosis is doing very well. She’s in middle school now. Thank goodness and God (I’m a believer) for medical staff, doctors, nurses, administration, and volunteers who give hope and courage for anyone dealing with a disease. When you or a loved one has a challenge, no matter how cliche it sounds, not one second, not one minute of their lives is taken for granted.

Journal prompt: How do you see the world right now? Are you concerned? Bored? Angry? Happy? Numb? Describe your feelings about your environment. Do you sense that things are improving in your life or not? What do you dream about accomplishing?

Love and light to all.

Below: original art circa 1972, charcoal drawing, “Claude”

Posted in self improvement, Writing for healing

Rejection, Breaking Dishes, and Rewrites

rejection-and-faith2

You’ve heard the quotes about how many times Babe Ruth struck out during his career. You’ve been reminded about the number of rejections J.K. Rowling received before she hit it big.  Do these reminders help when another rejection comes in?

Hell no.

What goes around does not necessarily come back around. Your dreams can die in the water if you get discouraged. Please don’t give up.

Time to toughen up, yo.

But what to do in the meantime?

Every writer knows how easy it is to get sick of your manuscript. The thrill of what you thought was so profound is being rejected by better writers, or famous peoples’  sex scandals and famous peoples’ romance. Again.

Have ever wondered how much time you’ve wasted looking at other people living their lives? Seriously.

Or, you just plain got rejected.

You have several options when rejections fill your inbox-tongue in cheek-not literally.

  •  Break dishes
  •  Learn how to play golf
  • Put on your old Allman Brothers or Buddy Guy tunes and crank it up full blast
  • Run away &  put a week at a luxury hotel on your credit card-suffer later
  • Do yoga for pissed off people
  • Yell at the dog
  • Knit, break the knitting needles and ball up the yarn, donate said yarn to the Goodwill
  • Doodle
  • Rewrite

 

I favor breaking dishes, running away, and doodling. Doodling usually wins. You can find budget hotels to replace the overly expensive bed and breakfast inns, but the cold hard truth is no matter what your coping mechanisms are,  you have to  do the rewrites.  When you sink your head into the pillow, be it luxury lavender or at home on budget, the naked truth is staring at you from the ceiling.

You have to revise. And unless you have a contract,  nobody cares. You still have to do it.

Sweat.

Do the rewrite.

Again. Hog the bandwith. Be stingy with your time.

For anyone struggling with the sting of “so sorry, but we’ve had hundreds of submissions this year,” I have no advice except that you’re not alone.  As old Aunt Mathilda used to say, “just stay with it. Don’t give up, honey.” At the risk of sounding bitter and pathetic, I won’t bore you with how much I’ve spent on writing classes that haven’t gotten me any closer to finishing my manuscript. But my wasted funds might make you feel better about yourself.

Ladies, I’ve found that people in support groups don’t always pan out the way you wanted. If you think that all the law of attraction stuff and spiritual types are the best way to find kindred friends, you might want to think about joining a bowling group instead. You’ll find better camaraderie. Plus you get to smash things and make noise.

 Or if you are really into spirituality, as I am, you haven’t met your people yet. Keep the faith.

Big shots and famous people have staff writers who troll the internet to get ideas…from you! Really. I once wrote a blog post and within weeks, I saw my exact words on a high-profile spiritual hot shot’s ad. Maybe it was my imagination-I have no idea. But at least I got some form of a delusional ego-boost out of it.

STAY WITH IT!

 Writers, artists, musicians, poets, and even street bums are all about competition. “Players really only love you when they’re playing.” Shrinks debate each other over theories at workshops. Victims compare wounds in therapy groups. Psychotherapist Irving Yalom shared that one of his most vicious groups of clients were abuse survivors who battled each other over the severity of their stories. I wonder if monks in monasteries compete over how long they can meditate in silence? Does anyone know?

I’m over 60, the age when you’ve already become rather invisible unless you’ve got some kind of “it” factor.  And you’re expected not to make waves, or the threat of being labeled bitter is at your heels. Aunt Mathilda told you that you’d get more out of being sweet than the vinegar-spiced sarcastic reply. She was right, but she was wrong. Betty White and Carole Burnett can tell you all about how to age gracefully and be funny. There is  a certain freedom that comes with age.  There is less time to waste and more pack to the punch.

And to the most awesome people out there-all you young writers and artists, stay with it.

Do the rewrite.

And always have spare dishes around…

 

reclaiming-your-power-copy

 

Journal prompt: write about rejection. What are your responses? Don’t be polite. What do you find helps you get back on track with your projects? After you have written about rejection, write about a success. It can be from childhood. What is your favorite antidote for rejection? At the end of your journal entry, write: YOU ARE ACCEPTED. This is important.

Always add something positive for yourself. Write a congratulations note to yourself.

 

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

tarot-cards-23262948

  • 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.

45132883-tarot-cards-tarot-the-high-priestess-card-in-the-foreground

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 memoir, relationships, weight, writers, Writing for healing

Women, Weight, and Writing, an Interview with Amye Archer

INTERVIEW amy archer

 

Before we get started with the interview with our featured author, I want to take some time to add my condolences and prayers for everyone who is grieving from the recent tragedies in Orlando, Milwaukee, Baton Rouge, and Dallas.

                                              *****************

Almost every woman I know is self-critical about body image. It’s rampant, beginning in childhood or teen years. Happiness is shattered by the realization that all your self-worth is wrapped up into a concept society deems important. You are a clothing size. And if you don’t fit the bill, you are “nothing.” You become someone who is overlooked, ridiculed, and shamed. You have to be someone who is “easy on the eyes.” Being overweight is the new group to hate. It’s a painful membership to a club nobody enjoys.

                                                      *****************

I’ve been reading women’s memoirs on body issues and relationships.  Fat Girl, Skinny really hit home for me because Archer has the uncanny ability to tease the funny bone while talking about sensitive issues. A few emotions are prevalent in writing about life and eating disorders. There is anger, grief, frustration and fear. We eat for comfort. We eat for love but the satisfaction doesn’t last.

The goal is to deal with our thoughts as habits. Then we can cherish and love our physical bodies. And, we don’t do this fight alone.

It’s interesting that Archer talks about overweight women as a “marginalized group.” Writing a memoir about your body is like walking out on a diving board naked. There comes a time when you jump in the water, naysayers be damned.

women's body and flower petals

          “I am down almost thirty pounds now, and for the first time I can remember, I am actually inviting a man to touch my body.” AA

For Archer, joining Weight Watchers offered her the support, the challenge  to get fit, and the joy of belonging. She began to reach her goals.

“I have been humiliated most of my adult life. I have worked so hard at being accepted, so sweet and nice, always over compensating for the lack of aesthetic on the outside.”  AA

Below is my interview with writer, Amye Archer, Fat Girl, Skinny. You can find her here.

 

interview with amye archer

 

SR: What made you want to write a memoir?

 AA: I’m afraid that my writing a memoir was more necessity than choice. I have a difficult time writing from an imaginary perspective. My own voice is my own, and even when I try to write fiction, the character is often exactly me. So, yes, there was a point where I felt that this story needed to be told, but I also never felt there was any other way to tell it than from my own voice.

SR: Do you journal or write your thoughts during the day or did you just sit down and decide to write a book?

 AA: I do not journal, but it’s important to know that my writing is happening in my head at all times. If you knew me in real life, you would know me to be a little clumsy, forever preoccupied, and often forgetful. And that is simple because I am always writing, and that writing takes up a lot of my mental space.

I’m also not a big fan of disciplined writing, or of “forcing it.” I sit and write when the muse is with me.

“I spent years feeling responsible for someone else.” -AA

SR: As a co-dependent in recovery, the above sentence screamed out at me and made me realize how much addiction to approval in any form can be  about relationships and childhood wounds.

 AA: I think it’s important to realize that there is a strong correlation between obesity and codependency. For me, as I grew more and more unhappy with my relationship, I found comfort in food. Sometimes it works in reverse. But there is oftentimes a connection clearly, because when we let ourselves get to morbid obesity-which I was at 275-we are clearly not taking care of ourselves, but are often great at taking care of others.

 It was a hard lesson, the idea that we must care for ourselves above all others. We live in a society to which the concept of self-love and self-care can be demonized, especially when you’re a mother. But it’s important and necessary for survival.

SR: How did your relationship with your sister factor into your writing? IE, family issues about truth and relationships are intense when writing memoir. What would you say to memoir writers who are excavating old wounds?

AA: I don’t advocate writing off family members, but the old adage is true: if they truly love you, they’ll come around.

I’m very fortunate in that I have artists in my immediate family, so the whole “laying it out there for the sake of the art” is an acceptable practice in my family. However, I understand that is not always the case, especially for those writing abuse/survivor memoir.

 My best advice is that you stay true to the message of your story. Never forget that there are people in your exact situation who can be reached through your storytelling. It takes tremendous courage to write a memoir of any kind, but it’s also a great responsibility. Be true, be honest, don’t hide or shrink from the truth and you’ll do fine.

SR: Thank you, Amye! You give everyone who struggles with body image  a feeling of hope. I love that you give us answers.  

“This is my own life taking shape around me.” -Amye Archer

                                                           *******

Right now, I am happy by being down about 12 pounds and am leaving sugar OUT of the house.

As a writer and artist, my goal is to be a healthy role model for my grandchild who has cystic fibrosis. I think about how we didn’t have so much junk food when I was a child.  Food was real food, even though we ate meat, we didn’t have access to so much processed food. For me, trauma and anxiety influenced my lonely food addiction. Now it’s a battle for health. It’s been my lifelong struggle to accept myself for who I am and not what I look like. The challenge of life’s journey for many is around learning to love the self. In turn, we become of service to others. It seems that the key to happiness has to do with how we view ourselves. I feel that gratitude is an essential factor in healing.

Dear readers, I hope you continue journaling, writing, doing art, playing music or whatever form of creative expression inspires you. The door to the path of healing is always open.

                                                       youth-active-jump-happy-40815-medium

 “Hang on. You will become one of us. We will accept you.” -Weight Watchers advisor to Amye Archer.

If you are moved to contribute any comments or questions, please feel free.

Journal prompt: write about weight and body image. Have you ever struggled with over-eating or addiction in any form? Use pictures and collage in your journal.

 

Quotes are from Fat Girl, Skinny. Art is mine.

 

Copyright ©2016 by Susan E. Rowland

Posted in friends, inspirational, poetry, Writing for healing

You Left Me

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

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

 

IMG_20150601_185754_639

You Left Me

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

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

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

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

at bettye's summer 2007 004

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

 

copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Rowland

 

Posted in women trailblazers, womens history month, writers, Writing for healing

Women’s History Month- Sharing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty

GABY as a GYPSY

                                                                   Gabriela

It’s Women’s History Month here in the US and it’s taken me this long to sit down with a writing prompt. During these times of intense political rants and divisions, it makes sense to remember and honor the wit and wisdom of women. I’m constantly wondering what’s going to happen next on the local, national, and international scene. Why all the craziness? What for? You’ve heard the phrase, “God is coming and boy is she pissed.” That’s the way I feel lately. Maybe we could pretend it’s Christmas season and be of good cheer and talk about peace and love–then act on it.

I’d like to share some quotes with you to honor women.

  ” A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it’s finished; no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons.” Cheyenne proverb

                                                             many baskets

                  “We women are going to bring change.” – Malala Yousafzai

Aunt-CharlieneWcal                                        My husband’s aunt Charlene-wonderful storyteller

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Life is very short and what we have to do what must be done in the now.” – Audre Lorde

” No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” – Althea Gibson

cheyenne with her blue fan copy

                                               Cheyenne Elizabeth, cystic fibrosis warrioress

“There’s always something to suggest that you’ll never be who you wanted to be. Your choice is to take it or keep on moving.” Phylicia Rashad

” The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably the thing that makes you lonely.” – Lorraine Hansberry

“If you judge people you have no time to love them.” -Mother Teresa

“I have not contended for Democrat, Republican, Protestant or Baptist for an agent. I have worked for freedom, I have laboured to give my race a voice in the affairs of the nation.” -Sarah Winnemucca

“Ignorance is fear. Nothing terrifies a person except ignorance.” – Nawal El Saadawi

” I knew that my heart and mind would always be tempted to feel anger-to find blame and hate. But I resolved that when the negative feelings came upon me, I wouldn’t wait for them to grow or fester. I would always turn immediately to the Source of all true power: I would turn to God and let His love and forgiveness protect and save me.”-Immaculee Ilibagiza


rita-pitka-blumenstein

Grandmother Rita from the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers

“Since childhood, I’ve had a passion for solitude.”- Nawal El Saadawi

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

” A word after a word after a word is power. ” – Margaret Atwood

1920s flapper copy

 

Journal prompt: write about your favorite quote by a woman.  Add artwork or collage to your journal entry.

Peace, everybody!

copyright © 2016 by Susan E Rowland

 

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

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

arun gandhi for int

 

Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

The interview is below:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

DSCF1905

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 social commentary, stream of consciousness writing, Writing for healing

Flint’s Watery Disaster

Here’s a link to how you can  help the residents of Flint.

 

IMG_20140908_213935_180

 

Oh if walls could talk, leaden paint chips
and
toxic oxidation

left to crack

and seep into

emblazoned genetic mutations,
chewing up neurons, ganglia,
and transmitters
making crazy, jagged children
whose mothers and fathers
must plead
for an answer.
Just wait. We have to prove you are being poisoned with further talk

and testing,

by crowding the icy air with our jargoned policy.
Just wait
a little longer,
we have a golf game to play

and a red carpet to stroll.
The suits sit
in boardrooms
in muffled sarcasm,

the ghosts of the land baron’s

scented bath water

reeks of parsimonious waste.
You go drink the water, sir.
You sit in the bathtub, sir.
You, who knew
in 2004
that the empire
is stained with lies and monster’s breath.
Your sleep may be haunted
by the eyes of the innocent.
There is no place to hide,
and if walls could talk,
the leaden paint chips and droppings
drifting in the water
will drip
into
the cellular structure
of apathy’s mistress.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Rowland

Journal prompt: What do you think of  the water contamination in Flint, Michigan? Have you ever been exposed to toxic chemicals? Do you have any stories about environmental disasters? What are your thoughts? Write a letter or a short science fiction story to future generations describing what is going on with chemical contamination today.

 

 

 

 

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.