Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Writer Reawakened

Writing daily has definitely been a good practice for me this month.  Publishing what I write, despite imperfections even better.  I didn’t think I could do it.  Actually in February I wrote here about how I didn’t think it could be done.  Here we are with only two days left and a tapestry of my hopes, worries, and dreams have been painted with words across a page.  Today I am creating a poem from most of the titles of my writing this past month.  The poem lives for me as power that comes from allowing space for the written word.

A writer gone dormant…
a singular point of view.
The back story
lies in the long trip home.

Kindness given and received,
allowing both, and…
with gratitude 10 ways over,
belief and 
forgiveness layer by layer.

This journey
in pursuit of my hut,
with think time and long car rides.
and the power of "just" ten minutes
takes me to
my destination...

A vision of a hut in my heart,
yearning a space of my own
during my March tug o’ war.
Mixing science and spirit,
wrapped in a prayer shawl,
I enter the quiet room.
A splash of retreat gems reveal,
my container—
Changing my world one word at a time.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

To Change the World...One Word at a Time

The writer changes the world.
Observing the world of others,
she seeks to understand.
Offering her world to others
she seeks to be understood.

She listens to
the cackle of birds
   outside her window at dawn.
conversation between lovers
the silence of wind on water—
seeking understanding
in the ripple roar of the sound.

She views
the majesty of a morning sunrise
   waking earth in dappled splendor,
garbage strewn along the roadside,
the sheepish smile of a stranger—
seeking understanding
in the snapshot of images.

She feels
the wake-up heat of spring sun
   after a blustery, never-ending winter,
the embrace of a just-because hug from a child,
the stretch of muscle on water as she swims—
seeking understanding
in the sensations of touch.

She writes all she takes in from the world
and breathes new life in the ordinary,
She writes all she takes in from the world
molding meaning in the meaningless.
She holds the word closely
   as the word changes her—
offering the word on page to others,
she changes the world.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.

Friday, March 27, 2015

You Know You Have a Friend When...

Today I am noticing and celebrating friendship.  Tonight I am going out to dinner with three good friends.  I have been blessed with good friends, so here is a list of just a few things that I notice about my friends…

You know you have a good friend when…

  •          You come home from a long day’s work to be greeted with a package.  My package today was Hawaiian suntan oil and a DVD with scenes and sounds from the beach from a friend supporting my need for a “hut” getaway.  I love to get and give these packages.
  •           You talk to your friend almost daily, coming to and from school.
  •          You finish each other’s sentences.
  •          You share meals (sometimes cooking and dropping off the food for the friend to enjoy, sometimes cooking and sharing the bounty together, sometimes sharing a meal out)
  •          Your friend comes to be with you when you have heard devastating news.
  •          You can bring your computer to your friend’s house to hang out on a Sunday doing work together just because.
  •          You know you always have a place to stay when you travel to where your friend is.
  •          You can be at an event and both give your time to others without feeling deprived because your friend is doing other things.
  •          Your friend celebrates your accomplishments and promotes you.     
  •      Your friend tells you honestly and with love things that get in the way of a deeper friendship and willingly works to deepen the friendship.
  •           You don’t see each other for a while because you live in separate towns and the conversation picks up as if you had never been away from each other.
  •          You are troubled about something and you get regular check-in calls.
  •           Your friend tells you things they think might be getting in your way, couched in things that are appreciated.
  •          You laugh with your friend till your belly hurts and you are breathless.  And no one around you gets it, which makes you and your friend want to laugh even more.
  •          You know you can tell your friend anything and that is reciprocal.
  •           You discover more about yourself from talking to your friend.
  •           You never get tired of being with your friend.

My life is richer because of the friendships that I have.  My friends have been generous, faithful, understanding, supportive, honest, reciprocal, humorous and wise.  I have virtual friends.  I have long distant friends.  I have work friends.  I have friends that fill the daily-ness of my life.  My friends are dear to me.  They make my life rich and fill me with joy and gratitude.  Today I celebrate friendship in all of its forms.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mental Illness Has a Name

Mental Illness Has a Name
And His Name Is Not Ben
An Ode to My Son

For the past four years an unnamable disease has resided in my home.  It has slowly permeated every inch of our home, of our life.  This unnamable disease has wreaked havoc with my family structure.  It has brought needless shame and unending worry.   It comes and goes, hiding its ugly head…only to pop up again, when I think that healing is occurring.  He is the source of sleepless nights and endless worry.  This disease, unnamed by many, has a name.  His name is Mental Illness.

During my son’s senior year in college, I got a call from the college dean, as Ben was ending his first semester.  The call informed me that my son needed to take some time off of school to seek medical help.  In Ben’s first three years of college he maintained a 3.9 grade point average, won distinctive awards and had been sought by colleges for post graduate work.  Ben’s essence in life up to that point, was that of a young man who was fun-loving, gregarious, spiritual and strong.   His return home brought a young man that was markedly depressed, afraid, unsure and without hope. 

Concerned, devastated and unaware, we plowed through a mental health system, seeking answers, being blind-sided by a system that cannot meet the needs of a burgeoning population with great need.   We wanted to know, but didn’t know how to know.  We wanted to know and were scared beyond belief to know.  We were speaking a foreign language and walking unfamiliar terrain without a guide to help us along the way.  We often were left for wanting at a time when answers were of prime importance and time was of the essence.

This disease wanted to be unnamable and at the same time it aimed to rename Ben.  In the course of three years there were multiple hospital stays, a suicide attempt, multiple diagnoses with yet another change of diagnosis, changes in meds, changes in therapists, arrests, and revocation of a driver’s license.  Sometimes Ben disappeared so deeply into his disease that I could not see the young man that I had loved from infancy through his adulthood.  But I knew he was there.

Our family is of the fortunate.  Friends surrounded us in moments of greatest need.  And I became a tigress.  I became familiar with a local mental health organization and sought answers.  I discovered that our story was a common story in a community that is often unheard.  I advocated.  I demanded.  I sought to understand and stood my ground in wanting to be understood. I refused to have a disease take residence, replacing a son that I loved.   I chose at times to be responsible for a young man, incapacitated by a disease; only to release responsibility back when he began to manage the disease.

Slowly, a system that was foreign became familiar.  A therapist was found that advocates for Ben in every way.  Meds stabilized.  Behavior choices more deeply stabilized.  We have had up’s and down’s on our journey.  Through hell, back to an even keel, only to face another challenge, Ben has shown resilience, bravery and has been an inspiration to many in every way.

I don’t know where the future will go.  For now, Ben is in a stable place.  He is looking to go back to school in the fall and is building toward a manhood for which he has much to be proud.  We are in the middle of a journey and do not yet know the destination.  One thing that I do know—mental illness does not define a soul.   Mental illness has a name.  Mental illness doesn’t name.

You are Ben. 
You are not mentally ill.  
You have a mental illness.
Your disease does not name you.
You are Ben—
a son
a brother
a friend.

You are Ben—

You are Ben—
a musician
a writer
a philosopher
a lover of life
an artist.

You are Ben.
You are not mentally ill.
You have a mental illness—
A sickness that does not define your soul.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.