I am currently teaching online. Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t know how to accomplish said feat. I started this blog with the idea of getting people to find the value in keeping a journal. A regular writing regimen that allows the individual to find the value within their own experience.

Well over thirty years ago, I read something that made a world of sense to me.

Story is good medicine (Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD).

I understood that statement to mean so many things. Medicine is meant to heal, and story, read, or told, can heal and does change lives. But, that is especially true when the story is our own. We are the only person that it is essential that we come to know fully. How else to be our own best friend? We think we know, but do we really? I found that regular (daily) writing, was a gift only I could give to me. It was an ongoing conversation filled with surprising curves that affected my ongoing experience. Putting my thoughts and feelings on paper, gave them a new and sometimes unexpected meaning. It altered how I saw myself, my purpose and role in my own life, as well as that of others. It gave me permission to change those things I didn’t like and often even suggested ways of doing just that.

And best of all, it gave me the opportunity to do something I’d never have considered possible: teaching others how to make friends with themselves and to really listen to their own story, in their own words. And to do so, at the University from which I had graduated almost ten years before. A late in life career change, I would not have expected, and one of the most rewarding experiences I had so far encountered.

This blog was started as an extension of that experience, when I was retired on disability. It was what I knew and I simply wanted to go on sharing it. But, like most things it blossomed into much more (three more blogs, to be honest). It became my introduction into a global community of writers (mostly poets), but far from my own meager expectations.

Which brings me to this current writing. The online class I am teaching is all about finding the main character within ones own story. That unique individual who actually made the journey of her own life, sometimes completely unaware of what her choices and decisions meant, and where they would eventually lead her. And, as is my usual practice, doing the assignments right along with my students. Thus, reaping the reward of my own years of journal writing. The memories, and even the chronology, are easily assessable. I’ve written about those details and they are lodged in my mind, but are also still taking on new tangents because of all that I’ve learned while living my life.

We are currently living in a strange new world. A world that is bound and determined to once again, redefine the role of the feminine, and not always in a kinder and gentler manner. We are being asked to abolish, at the very least, fifty years of history. Fifty years of constant battle that allowed women to find a new role, other than the one carved out by a male-dominated society.

March is Women’s History Month. Her-story is very different from his. As a matter of fact, there are famous Historian’s who never even mention her as a viable source of any value in the living of his experience, other than as the keeper of his household, which allowed him to go about his real business of making sure the world understood his top value, and all too often, at her expense. Is that the real world we want to live in and pass on to our children, and our daughters?

I have been profoundly effected by reading my students’ stories, as well as writing my own. We are engaged in creating yet another piece of Her-story. Claiming our own space and time, as well as experience. There could be no better time for such activity. We are the source and the other half of that story. We are the nurturers of that society, but so much more. We can also be its healers. By telling our stories, we encourage others to do the same. To become the best that we, and they, can be, and finally make our society genuinely whole for the first time in recorded history.




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Unity Through Love

Please watch before reading further


I have always been into music. It has been such a deep aspect of my life that I find it hard to define why, or even how, it became of such importance to me. When I was very young, I would, and could, sing almost any song I had heard more than two or three times. And I loved doing it. That was how I learned to ice skate. Had a pair of hand-me-down skates and the skating rink was across the street, down a path through a city park, to the warming house. My older brother and sister had taken me with them, but as soon as they had their foot gear on, they were on the ice and gone.

My brother came back to check on me and had a few of his friends along with him. He said he’d pull me around a time or two, just to get me started. His friends joined hands and with me at the center, we set off on a very slow glide around the rink. Somewhere, along the way, one of his friends asked me to sing a song (it was a well-known fact that I did know most of the popular songs of the day). So, I started singing and got pulled gently round and round the rink. When I stopped singing, one of Paul’s friends handed me a nickel and thanked me for the music. And for the next couple of months, when I’d show up at the rink, one or more of them would offer me a nickel and they’d pull me around the rink as I sang whatever song they requested.

With weak ankles, I was never really good on ice skates, but I loved the music that gave me such a warm and wonderful memory, in my mind it was sort of like being in a movie. I eventually learned how to turn myself around, without falling down and to stop when I needed to do so. But, it was the music that really pushed me along and into several competitions. Some at school, others at Talent Shows, put on by the city’s Recreational Department at the city parks. Music was a staple of my existence. And still is.

There are days when I simply go on You Tube and spend time roaming through different pieces, listening, singing softly along, and just letting the music create a path to some unknown place of satiation and satisfaction. And if it lasts for a couple of hours, I find that time well spent. It comforts me as nothing else can.

Today, I was on Facebook, and someone had posted a quiz of fifteen songs from the Catholic Hymnal. Each question was a line from a hymn or popular religious song, and you had to choose the right word to fill in the missing blank/s. I attended a Catholic Parochial School from second to eighth grade. So, I tried it. And got every one of the fifteen answers correctly. It’s been a long time (years) since I attended church, so was rather surprised that I did so well, even the ones in Latin. Afterwards, I realized that it had been a while since I’d visited You Tube, and decided it was time for that. But, in the nano-second between the thought and the click of the mouse, I also realized exactly what I wanted to listen to. I went directly to the video above. It is perhaps, my favorite, because it speaks to, and shows the reality of different individuals coming together and, through the art and act of loving music, finding incredible unity.

Before the quiz, I had read several articles about the alarming course in our present reality. The deliberate choice of cabinet members who are opposed to the positive affects of the offices they are to hold, a working plan to deconstruct our democracy. The unfounded attempts to block and redefine the peaceful water protectors in Dakota as unlawful and dangerous criminals, and a public official who is in support of sterilizing poor women, to name a few. I believe I took the quiz to distract myself, if nothing else. Whatever the reason, it led me back to this song, these words, that help me to realize that love is still the answer. No matter the level of hatred and ugliness we may be forced to watch and come to understand, love is the only weapon that might stop that approaching darkness, or heal our world. Love for one, love for all. But, especially, those who hate.

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The image above is a kaleidoscope made from a photograph. The photo was one shared on Facebook by Marilyn B. I was fascinated by the colors.


This is the original photograph. I have spent a part of each day, for the past week, cleaning up files, both here in my office, and on my computer. Making a path for myself through those foothills I mentioned in my last two posts. I reward myself for this ‘cleaning’ with a movie on Netflix. However, the last three movies I’ve chosen to watch have been about time travel into other dimensions, Sci Fi films. Not my usual fare, but interesting, none the less. Each one sort of centered around crossing boundaries and the consequences of doing so. And many of the consequences were negative, even destructive. I began to wonder why I was making the choices that found me watching them at all. Was I trying to widen my own boundaries, or to set new ones in place?

Boundaries are sometimes rather strange things. We set personal boundaries hoping to keep ourselves safe and comfortable. These are the lines we choose not to cross because we decide it isn’t safe to do so, for the reason that it might harm others, or ourselves. But, often those lines get altered as we live our lives and find that others might work better. We create a personal space that we guard and defend from others who might not be aware of such restrictions. And when those boundaries are crossed we feel threatened and the feeling is one of fear.

We are now living in a world where boundaries are being crossed everyday, or so it seems. Some of them are personal, others are political, while others are geographical. And yes, we feel threatened and fear what each new day will bring. Some, who can not tolerate that feeling of ongoing fear are lashing out, hurting others they think might be responsible, or assuming they are simply taking the next logical steps to ensure a return to safety. My question would be, is it even possible to find that sense of safety now that it has been breached? And my answer to that question? I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I have no desire to hurt or harm anyone. Yet, my world has been altered in so many ways, and so swiftly, that I have to stop and collect myself, think before I act in response to only my feelings. The number one means, for me, to do that is to get involved in images, drawing and playing with colors and photos. That activity always settles me down, allows me to breathe more slowly, thus allows me to think. The funny part of that, is when I put a photo into the kaleidoscope app, I am breaching the boundaries set within the photo, altering it, creating new boundaries and creating a new and unknown landscape for different aspects of that image. But no one is harmed by what I am doing. And the beauty of the created image is sort of like magic. Which means I will continue to do it as long as I am able.

I have long believed that creativity, in any form, is a healing agent built into the human psyche. We all carry that healing agent within us. It can and does, take a thousand different forms, if we allow it. And we most desperately need to allow that now, in our current situation. We need to learn new ways to deal with our altered reality. We need to give our world its best chance to grow, and to heal. And how we proceed must be both creative and with positive thought processes. If we take a few minutes, each day, to slow down our reactive emotional states, we have the ability to allow ourselves to breathe and to think. More importantly, we give ourselves the means to find a positive way to create new and better boundaries, rather than just accepting those set by unknown others, who don’t have our best interests in mind.

What do you do to get away from all the fear and distress in the present moment?








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Finding The Foothills


My last post here, was about finding a way, a path, through the mountains we encounter in life. This post is about finding the foothills that usually proceed the actual mountains. They are often difficult, but passable. They might slow us down considerably, but they can also help as to learn new ways to pass through that landscape. In that other post, I mentioned that I had begun finding myself doing things differently, even praying in a new way. And it is the result of that new prayer process that has gotten me to these very present foothills.

The photo above, is of the used desk I found and then purchased on Craigslist, before moving into my new two-bedroom apartment. I had a one-bedroom before, so I had my puter set up in that room and it was a bit claustrophobic. I’ve always wanted a home office and this was an opportunity to see that reality come true. The desk, which had to be moved in several pieces, is quite large and definitely holds the predominant space in its current position. It took my brother-in-law, my nephew, and his friend, a couple of hours, to move all the pieces and then set it up here. And they repeatedly told me that I best be sure this was the exact space I wanted it in, because once set up, it wouldn’t be moved again, until I moved to a new address.

Once I had the puter set up and the printer in place, I began to really like the office I had started to create. And that’s when I began to create those foothills I mentioned above. I have been writing for almost forty years. That’s a lot of words, and a hell of a lot of paper. And I have a tendency to make piles around me, rather than getting up and properly filing what I’ve worked on. That’s because I have spinal stenosis and a lot of up and down movement causes pain filled nights of tossing and turning.

It was my intent, that when I moved here, I would finally finish the Poetic Memoir I had started before the move. I have three filing cabinets, two are regular office sized, and one is a shorter version. I used to make hard copies of everything I wrote, but stopped doing that several years ago, when I realized I might actually drown in paper, or be in grave and serious danger should a fire start. I took to using outside storage apparatus to keep track of all of it. Now, most of my stuff is here on the internet, and I simply don’t worry about that aspect anymore.

But, finding the material for the memoir, meant digging into those filing cabinets, and I did. And began piling up paper, on my desk and every other flat surface in this room. More to the point, I also do a lot of digital and physical art work. And that is never really finished until I can hold a printed out copy. More piles. And now my dream home office has become the foothills of my current landscape.

The new prayer process I am engaged in, is called Intercessory Prayer. One chooses to intercede for a specific individual. But, it is done in a very specific manner, which I won’t go into here, except for the pertinent part to this post. A very important aspect of this prayer process is to daily find a point of connection between oneself and the individual one is praying for. That results in removing judgement from the prayer itself. It’s far easier to forgive another if one has to first seek forgiveness for not so great, or not easily recognized, and finally acknowledged actions.

The person I am praying for often leaves messes behind, expecting others to clean them up, or straighten out any misunderstandings. I looked around me and saw only the foothills I have created for myself. Instant recognition, and the need to undo what I, myself have created. I have cleared off half of my desk surface and will continue to do more of the same after I finish here.

I have always believed that we are far more similar than different. By directing ourselves to those differences, we create foothills (sometimes mountains) in our own paths. Differences can create huge walls, mountains that separate us from not only others, but from ourselves as well. The point here is not the prayer process, but the lesson to be learned from that aspect of the process. If we take the time to relate to others, recognize that we are all human beings under whatever skin we are covered in, we create a healing energy our world desperately needs right now. Love, in the form of acceptance, can and does conquer foothills and mountains, smoothing the path to that better world we all long for .



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Finding A New Way


This is a pen and ink sketch, I did many, many years ago. It isn’t a particularly good piece of work, but I’ve kept it because it reminds me of many things. Mainly about how difficult it can be to find a way through everyday circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances try us to the very limit of our abilities and, in order to continue, we must find new ways of getting through.

I recently watched a TV series titled Hell On Wheels. It’s about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, 1865 – 1869, here in America. For some, it was meant to be a symbol of the reunification of the country after the horrible conflict of the Civil War. It drew its workforce from former army members (both North and South), the Freed black men, Irish and Oriental laborers seeking to build a new home here in the States. And one of the most difficult aspects of that endeavor was finding a way through the mountainous passages of the landscape. A rather daunting process.

There were many who simply didn’t care about the project, and many who were definitely against such a thing, and for all kinds of reasons, as well as many who simply joined in for the express purpose of making money. It became a competition between different railroad companies to see who could complete the task. But, eventually it was completed and connected travel from the Eastern to Western seashores. It was a truly incredible achievement, especially at a very tumultuous time in our History, as a nation.

I mention it here, because the series portrays how all these different individuals, from distinctly different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems, had to find a way to work together, despite those differences. And how each unique difference was important to the whole of that completion. Especially when one realizes that the endeavor was also battling the Native Americans who adamantly didn’t want this steel ‘monster’ cutting through their hunting and living environments.

This is not a pretty, rose-colored or romantic interpretation of that time in our History. It is far more gritty and realistic in its portrayal of these clashing forces, forced to work together. Forced, by individual needs, to find ways to accomplish the task of actually learning how to work together. And yet, somehow they did.

I see an echo of that reality now in our current situation. We’ve been more than content to live our everyday lives in our own established comfort zones, going about our business, but remaining, each in our own small bubbles of familiarity. But, those bubbles are being burst with each new day since the inauguration. I also see us drawing closer together in a new form of unification on both personal and political levels. We are finding a new way.

Personally, I find myself doing things I’d never have considered before. Making phone calls, exploring my past for ways that might help, or that need to be changed to accommodate all the changes taking place. Raising my voice in protest against things that are just simply wrong, and have nothing to do with my personal situation or belief system. And encouraging others to do the same.  Taking responsibility for widening my views and then acting on those conclusions. I am finding a new way through the mountains that lie in my path. And am sincerely grateful that when I stop, and look up from trying to find the way through all of it, I can see and hear others doing the same and, who are willing to encourage and  strengthen my spirit and heart to continue. I am learning to be grateful and to pray in a new fashion. To think in new and more creative manners than ever before. There is always more strength in united numbers.

Whew! I got a great deal out of that old, homely little sketch. Can you?





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Dream Song

10-14-11 Tangle #4

I am back to that other activity I do, teaching online. We suspended the classroom for the Holiday season, and now we begin again. I had no intention of writing here for a while, but something happened that I felt was important enough to share here. This blog was originally started as a place for me to share my own experiences about writing. What it means to me personally, and many of the things I learned from keeping a daily journal for over half of my adult life. It also gave me the opportunity to share many of the things I’d taught in my late career, as an Ad Hoc Writing Instructor at the University from which I’d graduated. Which is why I am choosing to write out this latest experience about personal writing and what it can accomplish.

At the present moment, I am taking a small group of writers through the stages of the Heroic Journey. Today we begin Stage Four, which is about the energy of the Mentor. That one who comes to help us get moving forward into our own Journey, called life. When I suspended the class for the Holidays, it was my intention to just relax and enjoy those days, but something occurred, and I found myself giving daily prompts for a Creativity Challenge that lasted for forty days. Although I knew I would have to start working on the next stage of that classroom journey, I found myself putting it off each day. Telling myself, I’d get to it later. Filling my days with images that soothed and relaxed me, and to be honest, I didn’t want to quit doing that. It was working really well. But then, one morning, I woke to a dream, one that I understood was important because it was so clear and yet, left me with all kinds of questions.

Dream Song

If I needed you, would you come to me,
would you come to me, for to ease my pain?

In the dream, I entered a room, and there was a woman singing these words into a microphone. She walked slowly toward me, as she sang, then tilted the mic in my direction, inviting me to sing with her.

I was both surprised and confused. Didn’t know her, this stranger, but she seemed to know me. Or, the person I used to be. The one who sang every chance she got. And although I knew the song, it hadn’t been a particular favorite, that I could remember. Yet, when she tilted the mic toward me, I found myself singing the second half of that first verse of the song, as if it were yesterday, when I did such things.

If you needed me, I would come to you,
I would swim the sea, for to ease your pain.

Woke up because I couldn’t remember the words to the rest of the song. Got up and came in here to the computer to find them. Surprised when I found the song on Youtube, sung by Don Williams (a definite favorite) and Emmy Lou Harris. I used to have a couple of his albums. I’m sure that’s where I’d heard the song before. But, although the rest of the words were vaguely familiar, they didn’t come with the simple ease of that first verse.

Which has haunted me ever since. But, until I sat down here to write about it, I couldn’t seem to connect it to anything or anyone. The moment I decided to write about it, I saw several connections. Amazing. I believe the dream is about the Mentor energy within my own person. That energy brought to life in my relationship with my father, and continued in other disguises throughout my life. He, my Dad, was the only person, until I was an adult, who told me that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. There were one or two of my high school teachers who tried to tell me I had value, but I dismissed what they whispered because the voices of my other family members were far louder and far more immediately and regularly shouting at me, that I was no more than a liar. That I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, so made it up, or exaggerated it all out of proportion. Subsequently, leading me to believe that I couldn’t trust what went on in my own head.

Well the night’s forlorn and the mornin’s born
And the mornin’s born with the lights of love
And you’ll miss sunrise if you close your eyes
And that would break my heart in two

This is the voice of my inner mentor, speaking directly to me. If I remain asleep, don’t see the light of her sunrise within me, I will not learn whatever it is I need to learn. And that would not only break her heart, but mine as well. She was calling me to this lesson, but I didn’t know that at the time. Had a feeling, but not a definable one. I found myself humming the song, in odd moments, through several days. But, when I would reach for whatever was behind it, I’d draw a blank. Until I sat to write. And that is what she really wanted me to see, to understand, to comprehend. When I pick up a pen, sit to my keyboard, I am opening that door to her energy. It makes no difference how long a time passes, writing words is the key to hearing her sage and wise voice.

If I needed you, would you come to me?
Would you come to me, for to ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you
I would swim the sea for to ease your pain

Here again, is that inner voice, calling me to remember who and what I am. All that I have to offer to the world, based in my relationship with my own mental abilities and experiences. For well over thirty years, the first thing I did most mornings was to write in my journal. I was teaching myself to listen to the only individual I can ever truly know. She will swim the sea of my own confusion and my lack of knowing, help me to steady my own hand by lending hers to me, to help me up, to get me moving again. So that I might, in turn, offer it to another who might need it. For that is the purpose of the Mentor energy. To pass along whatever we have learned through living our lives.

Baby’s with me now since I showed her how
To lay her lily hand in mine
Who could ill agree she’s a sight to see
A treasure for the poor to find

All too often, I forget that I myself am the treasure within my owned existence. And a treasure has no value unless it is shared, given away freely, to anyone who would listen. When I, when we, sit to write, we begin a dialogue with our own person. Makes no difference if that dialogue is a poem, a short story, a personal essay, or the Great American Novel. All those words come from within, from our memories, imagination, personal experience, and the music we prefer. When we write, we take possession of all of those things. We create the landscape of our own journey, by engaging that mentor energy.

And don’t we need that now? When our world is being split apart by arguing voices sometimes filled with hatred and sheer nonsense? We need that voice that brings clarity to our fear and confusion. That single voice that can allow us to find and even defend whatever ground we choose to stand on.

Elizabeth 1/17/2017

Notes: The image is a line weave drawing done in pen and ink, several years ago.











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Color Therapy


This space has been calling me for several days, but I’ve managed, until now, to ignore its constant whisper. I was busy doing some color therapy. Having finished the Creativity Challenge, I wanted away from words. During the Challenge, I put up 80 posts in 40 days. First, creating the prompts here, then responding to the prompts on my main poetry blog. Now that it is all behind me, I have to wonder about my own sanity in attempting to do it at all. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it (for the most part), but was also glad when it was over. But, am also hoping that you might understand my need to get away from the words, and to sink myself in a sea of color.

The easiest way for me to do that, is to use old photographs I’ve taken, or those supplied by others, and put them through the kaleidoscope app. The photo above was taken a couple of years ago, at a library in our sister city of De Pere. I was actually looking for a writing group that met there occasionally. The group didn’t work for me, but this one photo has provided me with hours of enjoyment.


I’ve used several different kaleidoscope apps over the years. And each time I try a new one, I go back to this photo because I love the colors and the affect of the sunshine on the flowers. One of the first examples I got from playing with the photo is this one.


But the variety is endless. This is another kaleidoscope image from a very different app. Yet just as delightful, simply for its difference.


Color therapy is soothing, but it can also use up energy. There are an endless number of choices to be made, as well as alignments to be considered. And the differences can be somewhat spectacular.


Most recently, I have been pulling up all of my files and finding images I especially like and turning them into full page photo copies. And as usual, I got a bit carried away and now have enough photo images to cover most of the walls in my apartment. But that sounds a bit like too much work for this old woman. And besides, I will begin teaching online next week, which means its time to get back to the words.


Although this is only one of the means I use for color therapy, there are several others I enjoy. However, I would like to make an offer to those of you who read these posts. Do you have a favorite color? If you send me an email, with your street address, I’ll send you an image of one of my kaleidoscope photo prints, in the color/s you choose. I will need your full name and address. My email is

My wish is that you find as much pleasure in them as I do.




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