I am posting this quite a bit later in the month than I usually do. Nothing came to me, and I was kind of down in the dumps, anyway. But I have become a member of a poetry community here in Springfield, Missouri, and it has perked me up. It’s an active one, doing readings all over town: in bars, the library, a church, a neighborhood gathering, book stores, a coffee house, open mics, and poetry slams, as well as wherever someone invites us or will have us! It’s fun, and the members of the group are great people and from different generations, which has given me a variety of interesting perspectives.

There is an open mic in a coffee/ice cream shop the first Friday of each month. The first couple of times I attended and read there was only a small audience, and most of us read. But, for the September reading, there were probably 40 people. The colleges in Springfield are back in session, and I think many of the attendees were college students. It was a great night. The energy was palpable, and it enhanced the reading of poems. I loved being in the company of younger people, who may see the world in an entirely different way than I do – or maybe not! But, in any case, they accepted me just as I was, too.

I wrote a poem about my experience, and I will read it to them at the October open mic:

 

I Remember

 

They are young.

They are vibrant.

They have stories to tell

that release energy,

exploding into the air.

I feel the pain,

the joy,

that they express,

and I remember.

Yes, I remember,

and they remind me

of another time,

another life,

a life left behind

willingly, joyfully,

for this life,

the one I have now.

It’s not without some grief,

some regrets,

but full of friends

and poets who nourish me,

young and older,

and remind me where I’ve been

and how lucky I am

to be here in this time,

in this space.

The energy is palpable,

real, raw, honest.

I take it in,

and remember.

 

© 2023 Dorothy A Joslyn

 

When have you been in the company of people in a range of generations? What was your experience?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”*

What is something you do or are a part of that raises your spirits? What about it makes you happy?

 

*Mary Oliver (From New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA, Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.)

 

July is National Anti-Boredom Month.*

“I’m bored,” you think as your eyes wander around the room, trying to decide what to do next. Nothing calls to you, and you begin to feel a little guilty just sitting there doing nothing. “What can I be doing?” you think. “How did I get to this place at this time?”

Exploring these questions may lead you to some conclusions, maybe even that a little boredom is necessary for your well-being. Interesting concept, huh? There are a few things that are good about boredom:

1. When you feel stressed and overloaded, a little boredom can give you a much-needed break.
2. When you are bored, your mind wanders, maybe to new places where creativity exists.
3. Maybe you will start a new hobby or do something you haven’t tried before.
4. Volunteering is another option. Think of a cause that really matters to you and find a way to help out.
5. Just go out for a walk, maybe to someplace you haven’t been before, and really look at your surroundings. Enjoy!

The next time you feel bored, explore the feelings and try to discover the origin. Then relax and enjoy the slowing down that often comes from boredom, and maybe you’ll discover a new passion or something interesting that will free your mind, and boredom will dissipate. Then go for it!

*Information for this blog came from the following website: https://nationaltoday.com/national-anti-boredom-month/

Boredom

It creeps up on you, slowly and smoothly.
You barely recognize its arrival
until you find yourself sitting among the ashes
of a project you began but don’t want to continue.
Or maybe you’ve just finished a book
that left you hanging in suspense,
and you really don’t want to start another one right now.
Maybe you’re just tired of a task
entrenched in your being that seems to be going nowhere.
Sit back, and do a little daydreaming.
Relax your thoughts and body;
give yourself a break from worry and restlessness.
Enter the no-guilt zone,
and know that nothing will change much
if you stop for just a while,
and rest.

© 2023 Dorothy A Joslyn

What is something that bores you? Why do you think you get bored with it?

Write about some things you have found to relieve your boredom.

What do you think are some things that boredom is good for?

We had some lovely days here in Southwest Missouri to bring May to an end, and now maybe we’re ready for June. Summer will arrive soon and probably hot, humid weather, as well, but we can look back and remember how the beautiful spring days made us smile and look forward to fall and the cool down. But, wait! No! Let’s bask in summer’s offerings: trees leafed out, bright flowers in bloom, fresh produce from the farmers’ market, lush grass to walk on barefoot, coats and jackets stored away for a few months, so many things! I do love, when I go out, to just open the door, slip my feet into sandals and step out without thinking of grabbing a coat and bundling up.

I don’t know what my summer will bring, but I’m ready to get started. Are you? My mom’s birthday is in June, so I will be meeting my sisters in Illinois, where she lives, for her 91st birthday. No party, she doesn’t want a party, just family time with lots of talk and some laughter and love. It’s quite a milestone that she has entered her 90s, and we celebrate each day of her continuing life.

There will be some short excursions with friends. I have several small groups of women friends with whom I like to spend time doing different things. We like to get together for a variety of events and games and just visiting, which always culminates with food! It doesn’t matter the season; we just have fun sharing our lives and stories and being together.

Here is a poem I’ve written, which is my take on the four seasons we have here in the Ozarks:

Seasons

Seasons come one at a time,
each with its own pleasures,
joys, activities –
and downsides, too,

but we are better
when we take them as they come,
enjoying the variety they bring
and just living within them.

The year begins in winter,
cold, dark, but with crisp, fresh air
and opportunities to spend time indoors
with books and music and friends.

Then spring begins to bloom;
flowers come back to life,
grass grows thick and green,
and trees wake up, putting out their leaves.

Summer arrives with its myriad outdoor activities
and heat to warm our bodies and souls,
shade from trees, a welcome respite,
and fresh produce bulging from our bags.

Finally, fall drifts in, a mixed bag of weather,
but mostly relief from summer’s blast,
colors bursting from trees then falling to the ground,
and cool nights where we can rest.

Seasons are the backdrops of our lives,
hovering around us,
giving us a context for our beingness
and practice for change.

© 2023 Dorothy A Joslyn

 

Write about your favorite season. What do you like about it? What are some of the activities you do in that season?

How about summer? What do you like and dislike? What fun things do you do in the summer?

Write about friendships: things you do together, secrets your reveal to your best friend, things about individual friends you like and/or admire.

I’m lucky to still have a mom at my age. She will be 91 in June. I will see her then rather than on Mother’s Day this year. But I’ll be thinking of her and calling her. She lives in an independent/assisted living facility now where she is safer than she was living alone in a farm house with lots of stairs and a long trek out to the mailbox in all sorts of weather. It’s still a little odd seeing her there in her own little apartment, but we’re all adapting, and she seems to have settled in nicely.

She is determined to learn each person’s name, residents and staff. She participates in activities and excursions and leaves her door open during the day to greet others walking by. I admire Mom for her resilience and positive attitude.

She is the most senior family member I have left, and I celebrate her for her long and full life. She has seen a lot of changes in the world since 1932, and I admire her for forging ahead and accepting most of the changes. Technology is one area she has struggled with, but even I have problems with it sometimes! So yea, Mom. Keep going!

Here’s a poem I wrote celebrating the moms in my life:

 

The Many Facets of Moms

Mom is the one who tucked me in at night –

with a kiss on the forehead

and a wish that I would have “Sweet Dreams.”

 

Grandma held me on her lap

and rocked me singing, “Wonderful Words of Life,”

probably hoping I’d fall asleep for a nap!

 

My great aunt let me sleep with her

because I was afraid of the black darkness

on the farm, no lights anywhere.

 

She said to me, “Good night, sleep tight,

don’t let the bed bugs bite,

get up in the morning and beat on your drum.”

 

My mother-in-law was a formidable woman,

but she welcomed me into her heart and home

and years later, after her death,

 

I still smile when I remember her.

One day after she had died, without thinking,

I picked up the phone to call her for a recipe.

 

I have taken all these women for granted,

always sure of my safety and security

in their presences. . .

 

always sure of their love.

© 2023 Dorothy A Joslyn

 

Write a tribute to your mom or a mom you admire.

 

Be sure you wish your mom a Happy Mother’s Day with a call or a card or in some way that surprises her.

 

If you’re a mom, take a break one day this month to celebrate you! (Or if you’re not a mom, take a break, anyway!)

April has crept up on me, but time has a way of doing that. Spring is definitely showing itself in all its glory here in Missouri: flowers, birds, warm weather, being more comfortable outdoors. It’s an uplifting time.

The picture above is of my neighbor’s and my phlox collection, planted just last summer. They survived the winter, even showing a bloom or two between cold snaps. But, they are in their element now. Seeing them whenever I go out makes me happy.

April is also National Poetry Month. I spent last weekend at the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) conference in Denver. It was a wonderful conference with great workshops, outstanding speakers, and comfortable camaraderie. These people are one of my tribes. I’ve been a part of the association for at least 20 years, maybe a few more than that. I haven’t been active for a few years, because I stopped facilitating groups and resigned from the board. But I have attended conferences off and on since then.

I attended this conference because I missed my people, but also because of the keynote poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favorite poets. She did not disappoint. Her presentation, reading, and interview were fantastic. She is genuine and very personable, just as I’d hoped. The keynote speaker, Joy Sawyer, was dynamic, too. She recapped the history and work of NAPT and its people very well. I know her personally and was delighted to see her again after many years. The workshops I attended were well prepared and excellent. There are many talented people in this organization.

Poetry can be, and is, used in therapy, just as art, music, and other creative activities are. I facilitated groups at my local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for several years using my NAPT training and credentials and watched it work, and work well.

I wrote a brief poem based on my experience at the conference:

The Conference

People gathering,
excited for the opportunity of being together
finally again in person after the Covid pandemic has eased.
We smile and laugh and I bask in my happiness.
In a whirlwind of activity with
speakers, poetry, workshops, and just hanging out,
we exchange experiences, personal and professional,
and give each other encouragement – and our attention.
Poetry abounds in an atmosphere of acceptance,
the open mic a showcase for our work
in all our different guises. We blossom.
In this insulated environment,
we are free to be who we are with each other.
It’s for only a few days, but we can relax
and enjoy the process and the progress we have made.

Write about one of your tribes if you have one or more. What keeps you together?

What is your favorite writing time? Write about why that is a good time for you.

Write about your experience at a conference. What did you come away with?

March is Women’s History Month where we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women. It began as International Woman’s Day on March 8, 1910. A German activist named Clara Zetkin suggested the idea at an international working women’s conference in Copenhagen, and it began to be celebrated internationally the following year. Many countries recognized and celebrated the day, but the United States didn’t begin celebrating it until 1975.

A task force in California created Women’s History Week in 1977, and President Jimmy Carter made March 8 the beginning of National Women’s History Week. In 1981, a congressional resolution sealed the deal. By 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March Women’s History Month. Since then, every president has declared the month of March Women’s History Month.

Title IX was passed on March 1, 1972. In fact, the first-ever Women’s History Week was created in order to bolster support for Title IX, which prohibited discrimination due to sex in federally funded education programs.

The theme of the month this year is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories. This theme recognizes “women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, news, and social media.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a master storyteller, and I wrote the poem below after reading her book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. My poem is based on the myth of the Wild Woman, who travels the desert picking up bones of wolves and assembling them on the desert floor. When she assembles a complete wolf, she sings and sings until the bones rise up into a live wolf.

Wild Woman
after Women Who Run with the Wolves
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

A wolf is running free in my soul
toward fire of dawn where she is fed
on bones I gather from a scattered whole.

Legends of dark myths take their toll
as nearer to the core of life I dread
to find the wolf running free in my soul.

I grasp at fading light to gain control
but fall through shadows to my bed
of bones that lie within me as a whole.

Damp mists surround me like a stole
and draw me down within the quiet dead
to run with the wolf free in my soul.

Lithe fingers of a silent dawn unroll
a glowing path where, weary, I am led
to ivory bones that rise a trembling whole.

I soar into the past to meet my goal,
laughing with the sun around my head.
A wolf is running free in my soul;
I sing her bones into a howling whole.

© 1993 Dorothy A Joslyn

Information for this blog came from the following website:
(https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month)

Write about a woman who means, or has meant, a lot to you. Why is she special? How has she influenced you to be the person you are?

Send a card or a note to a woman you care about or love. Tell her how much she means to you.

If you are a woman, celebrate yourself this month in some way that makes you happy.

I am sitting here today thinking about love in all its forms. It’s been a gloomy, cold week so far with snow and ice. So the peek of sun earlier today was a welcome sight. I love sunlight and how it’s melting some of the snow and ice, especially on the roads. It has been a little treacherous the past few days. I’ve stayed inside except for a couple of appointments I needed to keep, and then I went to the appointments and right back home. Luckily, I love being at home, too.

So, love can mean many things, including the mundane love of weather, places, things, and especially people, which isn’t mundane at all. It’s what keeps us functioning on a higher level, I think.

In this month that includes Valentine’s Day, it’s a good time to think about love and to reach out to those we love: spouses, family, friends, and mankind in general, and tell them how much we love them. We’re all fairly quirky in our own ways, but love can bridge gaps that may create. If you think about it, it’s miraculous that we can love each other as much as we do. And heartening. It gives me hope when so much negativity prevails at times.

Here is a poem I found that uplifted my heart:

I Love You, by Roy Croft

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am when I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what you have made of yourself,
But for what you are making of me.

I love you for
The part of me that you bring out;
I love you for
Putting your hand into my heaped-up heart
And passing over all the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out into the light
All the beautiful things
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it by being yourself
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means, after all.

Write about a friend or someone else you love that embodies this poem.

Write a love poem to a friend, a lover, a family member and consider giving it to that person,

What do you love about your life? Write about it.

My word for 2023 is “Intentional.” I want to live intentionally, give my time to what matters to me, be useful in some way, find purpose in my daily life. Like many other people, I often live randomly, just wandering from one activity to another, unplanned and disorganized. I know I can’t plan every moment of my life. In fact, that wouldn’t be a good way to live. There has to be time for spontaneity, for just doing things in the moment or not doing anything. But even then, there can be direction and purpose.

I haven’t explored completely what intentional living means. What I do know is that to me it means paying attention, looking at things carefully and clearly, acting with kindness and compassion, working toward intentions I have selected for myself for each day, week, month and the year. I use the word “intentions” instead of “goals,” because to me goals are end results of plans, and intentions are a way of life, ongoing, and may not include specific endings, and that’s how I see myself living. I may not get “there,” wherever “there” is, but the journey is what matters and what I do while I’m on it.

I wrote this alpha poem, or acrostic, (a poem where the lines begin with words that use the letters of a word or phrase) using my word, “Intentional.”

Intentional

Internally generated by my mind,
Nothing left to chance, I
Turn my thoughts
Energetically toward my truths,
Noticing the source first,
Then determining how to proceed.
Inner resources are ready,
Only focused on
Now, not yesterday or tomorrow, but
Allowing myself the
Luxury of some uncertainty.

It’s not great poetry, but it helped clarify for me how to begin the exploration of what “Intentional” will become for me in the coming year.

Write about what living intentionally means to you. What steps can you take to be intentional in your thoughts and actions.

Choose a word that has meaning to you as your word for the year. Write about that word and how it will help direct your way of life this year.

Write your own alpha poem/acrostic using your word and see where it takes you.

It’s December again – already. Where has 2022 gone? There have been ups and downs for sure this year; but here we are, getting ready to celebrate the various holidays that occur in December and looking forward, not backwards. By our actions we are showing optimism. We’re traveling, we’re shopping, we’re going to parties, being with family and friends, being crazy busy, just like in the past.

But, we’re still struggling with Covid, and now predictions are that this will be a particularly bad flu season, as well. Then there is RSV added to the mix, especially in children. We know what we can do to avoid illness this season, but will we do what it takes to keep it away? Most of us will not. We’re tired of restrictions and warnings, so we go on about our lives as we did pre-Covid. It remains to be seen what that will do to our health.

So, there is joy and reticence, abandon and carefulness, hope and a little bit of fear. I think in the long run, we’ll be okay, but we still have a way to go. Meanwhile, let’s hope and use some good sense in all that we do this holiday season. And love, fiercely love, those we care about and the world in general. Life can be difficult, but we usually know what we need to do to make it livable. We just have to do it!

A Gift to the Self

There is a bright spot on the horizon,
both at the beginning and the end of the day.
We celebrate these miracles,
sometimes without even knowing it.
We take for granted the cycle of days
and live our lives as if the cycle will never end.
We give and receive whatever love there is,
and joy fills our hearts,
and cures our sorrows.
We decide how we show up in the world each day.
It is not always easy,
but here we are,
hopeful and ready to face whatever awaits us.
We can, after all, create a life to love.

© 2022 Dorothy A Joslyn

What are you creating in your corner of the world?

Write about what makes your your life worthwhile. What matters to you?

What is a gift you can give to yourself and of yourself to others this holiday season?

Our country and the world seem to be in chaos all of the time these days: extreme weather events, political upheaval, deep divisions among people with different ideologies, wars, racial discrimination, starvation in many parts of the world, mass shootings and on and on. How can we be grateful? Yet, there are things I am grateful for tucked in among the anger and hopelessness. I have to stop sometimes and put aside the negatives for just a while and bask in the joyfulness that somehow bubbles up in me if only for a moment.

The things I am grateful for are large and small, all of them important, though. I’m going to list a few things here:

a loving family
very good friends
my life as it is
reasonable health (for my age)
my warm, comfortable home
the resources to put food on my table
fall is here (my favorite season that has been especially good this year)
the ability to engage in activities I enjoy

I could go on and on. I have a good life. It is the time of year that we often take stock and think about the things that make us happy. Sometimes we are brought up short by terrible things happening around us, maybe not to us, but things that affect us and our ways of life. What can we do? What should we do?

We can be kind. We can try to understand how someone else may be feeling and give them space to be who they are. We can love fiercely. We can give of ourselves and resources to causes that may help change the world. We can care.

In this season of Thanksgiving, let’s find things to be thankful for and do something that makes the world just a little better.

Make your own list of things you are grateful for. Spend some time basking in feelings that the list creates in you, then act on those feelings to help improve the lives of others.

Write a love poem or essay. It doesn’t have to be a romantic love poem/essay, but one that honors someone about whom you care deeply. Then, if you’re comfortable, share it with that person.