This post will be short and sweet. I am a self flagellator. Generally. I allowed some physical and emotional trials to get in the way of my words. Instead of using them to move past the experiences, I didn’t want to feel.
I started fresh. I am writing. I discovered I do have a tribe. They have pointed me in directions where I can play and compete and learn to improve my words.
That’s it. I move forward.
I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to share my experiences as a writer during the pandemic as a guest on the Pages Penned During the Pandemic blog. It’s live today so follow the link to check it out. https://www.kaylakingbooks.com/blog/tag/pages+penned+in+pandemic
This is the link, open for Submissions, for an anthology collection about what you have written during the Pandemic. https://www.kaylakingbooks.com/the-collective
I will not do things I don’t love again!
My promise to myself when I turned the big 5-0. Yet, here I am at 57 working in a job that doesn’t fulfill my artistic side at any level. How often have I created a mantra then not lived it? Singing? Acting? Writing? Friendships?
I’ve decided, as I’ve been told, it’s a lack of faith only in myself. I don’t believe me. It’s easier to see what I believe as I’ve instilled this habit in my children. It doesn’t matter what others say…I don’t believe me. I don’t believe what?
I’m worth it or I’m not worth it?
I am enough or I’m not enough?
It’s that voice in my head (heart) that reminds me that I’m a great actress, and so I have been able to hoodwink those that profess to believe in me.
I circle around success, teasing myself that it could happen if I work hard enough, long enough—attempt enough—the truth of what I’m afraid of always hanging out there.
What if it did happen?
I haven’t felt the pain of losing a child, but I have seen the pain of losing a child. Written on the faces of my family, and friends…and now a nation…repeatedly. When I read the headline ‘school shooting’ I already know what I will see when I open any social media app. The left sucks. The right sucks. What about the children?
What about the children?
Is it wrong to ask that we are allowed a moment, to gather, as a United front, and mourn our children? Mourn for their parents and the pain they will have to endure? Not only the loss of their child, but the loss to mourn—knowing they’re “wrong” depending on which side of the argument they are on? Mourn for our loss as a nation to be United? Even for a moment?
When the planes hit the twin towers, we mourned. We weren’t mocked for sending thoughts and prayers to those whose families had lost loved ones. To those whose bravery is still held as a standard today. To those who lived near, and watched as their city imploded. We gathered, UNITED, and mourned. We didn’t shout from the rooftops…NO MORE PLANES. PLANES ARE A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION. We took a moment and mourned.
What about the children?
I work in a middle school. We have lock down drills…real lock down drills. Not the nuclear bomb, get under your desk ones. Or, in the event of an earthquake run to a door frame drill. But, real, where can I hide these students…don’t make a sound…text your parents, and tell them we’re having a drill, and you are safe…someone banging on doors trying to get you to open them before the drill is called off…why are you giggling, someone will hear you kind of drills. These are the CHILDREN. They know this is real. They don’t know if their school is next. And then, nothing…we don’t talk about it. We send them home.
These events have become so commonplace we are numb. They are numb. It has become wrong to say we’re sorry. Wrong to voice that, though we are miles apart, we feel the pain of the loss. Instead, we shout about which side is right or wrong. Children don’t see us teaching, or reaching, solutions.
They see us throwing tantrums.
They watch us name-calling.
They witness us fighting in the halls.
I don’t have a solution. I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. And I feel helpless, because I don’t have the answers all the faces of students ask for when they’re dropped off at school. Is today the day? But, I do know I want the children—my own, and the students I encounter to know—I mourn with them. I mourn with the parents of the children and students that are lost. I will take a moment. I will send thoughts, and prayers, because I can’t be there to hug those parents and the friends that have lost someone. I can’t prevent it from happening again, right now. I will say I’m sorry. I will beg we can Unite for just a day, or a minute, and join in the mourning with these families…whatever side they’re on…because we are all on the side of the children.
Maybe I’ll blog, I think with no real intention (again) of putting effort behind the thought. But then, today, I read the blog of a “friend”–basically someone I met while studying for my MFA- whose words have always touched me in ways I can’t explain. Today they made me cry while I read them. You can find them here: https://www.peninmyhand.com/single-post/2018/02/13/Wildflowers
Krista writes of wildflowers, winters, waiting for spring, and finding beauty in the unconventional–weeds.
Again, I can’t explain it, but they made me cry, and then want to share my own words. That is the power of words. We are moved by them. When not moved I feel they have failed us in some way. When used by a talented writer they inspire, enrage, make us laugh, cry, but they find a way to move us.
Reading of Krista’s wildflowers made me think of family. Sometimes I feel that is what we represent, a garden of wildflowers, but not planted by a landscaper, rather a bunch of seeds tossed together, and we wait to see what blossoms each spring. We are a mixed bag of step/blood/foster and adopted. Each a different bud striving to reach the sunlight and blossom into a beautiful plant. A cactus that doesn’t take much tending, but still thirsts for love and, when received, continues to thrive and stand tall against all kinds of weather and drought. Others that need constant attention…too much they wilt…too little they die…just the right amount of nurturing and they become vibrant and colorful. A rose bush covered in thorns, but if you’re willing to carefully tend, and reach between the thorns, a blossom full of scented life is your reward. Others that grow willy nilly and shower our lives with intensity and zing.
Each brings a beauty and fills a hole. Each support one another at times, at others we have to carefully pull them away so they don’t strangle the needs of the others, or overpower them into disappearing.
I didn’t always succeed as the landscaper. At times I overwatered, underwatered, let too many weeds in, or tore off too many buds. However our garden continues to thrive…in spite of me. Today our garden is more empty than full as our children have grown, married and moved on to begin their own nurseries. So, when I think of Krista’s words, and her standing at her sink, I’m moved, and reminded, as our garden expands, my job may just have become to sit back, and enjoy what blossoms each spring, too.
I’m walking the halls of a middle school headed into the Media Center (what used to be called the Library) where I work. As I open the door I’m surrounded by books. Thousands of them. Written by writers I admire, and some that I don’t. I can’t help but think about the millions of words that have been placed carefully beside one another, to form the sentences, that create the stories, that light up the eyes of the twelve to fifteen year olds that check them out. They talk about them, share which they think their friends should read, and which they don’t. They fall in love with the characters, they hate the antagonists with a passion, eagerly awaiting the next in a series, or devastated when they realize it’s over.
This isn’t where I thought I’d find myself when I daydreamed through class a mere forty years ago, when I was thirteen-and pretty much every day since. No, I was going to be a star. I have proof of that-in a folder, tucked into a filing cabinet, holding a letter hand written to Henry Winkler. (Happy Days and the Fonz were very big back then). If I’d had the nerve to send the letter, instead of throwing it away-where where my mom found it, smoothed it out and put it in the folder-I’m sure he’d have given me the chance I begged for-to let me have a walk on part. That’s all I needed. I would have done it for free, because in my dream my talents were so great I would then be discovered in the midst of the extras. My star-light shining bright. Instead, today I shelved the book we have in the library he co-authored with Lin Oliver running my finger over what might have been.
So, do yourself a favor: Man up. Woman up. No more excuses. No more justifications. No blaming. No quitting. Just pick your head up. Rip the cords out of your ears. Grab the frickin’ pencil and let’s do this.-C. mielke
It’s 4 a.m. I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep. But, I can’t. Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain. Why? Because I am stressed about my students. Really stressed. I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.
This is what students really need to hear:
First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself. And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be…
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As I look into her face, a face I have been looking into since I was born, I lose myself in her wrinkles. Some fine and barely there, others etched in as deep as if carved there by a stone-cutter. To her the wrinkles are sometimes valued; but mostly unwanted as they mark the passing of time and reality sets in that her youth might finally be gone. The wrinkles that cross her face are like blankets to me, something I can crawl into…cover myself with…. comfort myself in…memories and the people that created them. Looking into the mirror I see my own wrinkles that are being fashioned. Some around my eyes, some near my lips and my neckline is beginning to show the roadways created by age.
I have heard her voice say, as she looks in a mirror, “I don’t even recognize myself sometimes”. I tell her…and it is true, “I don’t even see them.” When I look at her, generally, I see her from my own youthful eyes and memories. I see her from the stories my dad told of seeing her around a corner as he decided if he was going to actually meet her and how taken he was by her beautiful auburn hair. I see her from the pictures of her youth; as beautiful as any Hollywood movie star and twice as glamorous. Picking me up from school, attending my concerts and plays. I see her making dinners for family and standing by the sink cleaning the dishes after our big, loud family has gathered. I see her caring for us when we are sick. I see her worried about how she will feed us but never turning anyone away from a meal in our home. I see her arms open with a hug. Running after grandchildren, sitting in a chair in the corner crocheting Christmas stockings to hang by the fire. I see her regret when she has said or done the wrong thing. I see her too proud to say I’m sorry and I see her pride when she sees what we have accomplished.
I see her up late at night waiting for us to arrive home. I see her when she worried about the choices we were making. I see her folding laundry while my sister and I told her about our day. I see her when I would lay my head in her lap weeping over some sadness or some dumb boy and feel those hands caressing my head while she told me how amazing I was and that everything would be ok.
Now, as time rushes by and each day becomes more precious than the last, I see her as someone that needs me as much as I need her. I trace those wrinkles and hope that I can trace them again tomorrow. I see those wrinkles and wonder if I will ever know the tale of each wrinkle or how it got there. While to her each wrinkle proves she is old to me each wrinkle tells a story. Each wrinkle holds a lesson. If we could touch the wrinkle and go back in time we could see if they were created by laughter, tears, worry, fears or joy, pride, relief and happiness. Now, facing my own aging battles, what I do know…what I am sure of…is that each wrinkle holds the love of a mother locked deep inside.
I like to think I am passionate about most things. After all isn’t that what we try to teach people, or for me, my children? Do something you love or are passionate about and you will have success and be happy in life. What I wonder is, “Am I passionate about writing?” I feel like I am an idea girl. I have great ideas and burst of energy to get it started so I have learned to surround myself with people that follow through or at least make me follow through.
This is how I feel about my books. I get great bursts of ideas and can write the whole children’s book in one sitting. Than it is time for the details…revisions, editing, illustrations and working with the team that it takes for me to self-publish. That is where, so far, I have lacked passion. Follow through. That is when I begin to wonder…is this a passion or just a hobby that is an outlet for my creativity while I raise children?
I have decided I am passionate about the words I want to get out there. I am in a learning process to be passionate about details and follow through. A couple of things I have learned since starting this adventure.
1. Take each thing I am doing one step at a time. I have to see the big picture to stay passionate but break it down to accomplish what needs to be done to publish and market these books.
2. Do something. I have to work on something everyday to be able to accomplish what needs to be done to publish and market these books.
3. Finally, set aside time. This is the biggie for me. I have to make it a priority everyday which, for me, means setting aside specific times to work to accomplish what needs to be done to publish and market these books.
So, I am passionate…and because I am, I have changed myself and become more organized and focused. I have published and sold one book and I am working on my second one. I have submitted poems to magazines and written the start of a novel. I am seeing my dreams of being an artist come to fruition…not in the way I expected but in a way which brings me great joy! And, my passion lets me enjoy, and sometimes include, my favorite hobby of travel as I market the books and read at libraries. I get to bring my family and see this great country, for which I also have a great passion. I get to include my children and be inspired by them and share their lessons in the messages of the books.