You Want What?

Me at age four

Me at age four

Two days ago, someone asked me to write out a brief bio of my writing life. My internal engine has been stuck on idle ever since. Although I’ve written such things when publishing a poem, I get rattled every time I’m asked, without exception. It’s that word brief. And that other word bio, short for biography.

I have been writing, pretty much everyday, for the past thirty-five years. Nothing brief about that. And my writing is what is called Confessional, meaning personal, or Biographical. That means I write about my life, my experiences, what I have learned through those experiences, what I felt, and thought, about being inside of those experiences, and how they may have altered me, or not, and why.

What might be even more important is that I’m seventy years old. In turn, that means that I didn’t start actually writing until I was in my late thirties. Why? Wouldn’t that be a rather important question to this whole topic of a writing life? Especially when one realizes that words, language, and music, have always been a central focus of my existence. I had near perfect pitch, and from the age of about four, could sing any popular song I had heard more than twice. Which might lead one to think that I was aimed at a life on stage.

But, that would be a definite, “NO.” I do suffer from a bit of stage fright. I really don’t like to be in the spotlight. And now,  we might be getting closer to all that idle rumbling I’ve been doing. Whether I like it or not, I have been in the spotlight, seem to consistently make choices that lead me there, but not with that specific intention in mind.

It might help to know that for those first thirty plus years, most of my energies were aimed at fitting in. Conformity was the call that formed and framed most of my choices. And, fitting in means not being on that stage. It means being just another face in the crowd, indistinguishable from any others. And yet, somehow, I chose to set myself apart by choosing to write, to be a writer. Worse than that, I chose to write poetry. Where I come from that’s not anywhere near being normal.

As luck would have it, or whatever you might call it, one of the first pieces I wrote, won first place in a poetry writing contest. I won a small amount of money, some other goodies, and publication. That should have stopped me cold, right? It didn’t because I had found a vehicle that changed my life, my awareness, and my understanding, but not that fear of the spotlight. The man who called me, to tell me the news about being the winner, was a bit taken aback when I rather forcefully demanded to know who had put him up to what I considered a really poor joke. After a lot of questioning on my part, and cajoling on his, I finally accepted that I’d done it correctly and been understood.

That, to me, only meant I would do more because I felt that writing was the cheapest damned therapy available, a private means to help me to understand the mixed up creature I was sure I had become. And for many years, it remained nothing more than that. The very real fact that it continued to lead me to that stage, that spotlight,  was a minor problem, at least I thought it was.

I continued to write, eventually being published in small presses but also keeping my day job, managing a bookstore. Joined the longest established poetry group in the area, eventually becoming its Moderator. Which meant I had to read my poetry out loud, never really feeling at ease when I did so. One of my poems was accepted by a large press and used as the anchor piece for an anthology, which was later turned into a set of tape cassettes and nominated for a Grammy Award, in the Spoken Word category. Now that is a spotlight. But, one that led to teaching at a University (how much more onstage can one be?), and my own column in a monthly magazine about the value to be found in a regular, personal writing regimen.

Forced into retirement because of a severe spinal condition, I still spent most of my time writing, both prose and poetry, eventually finding the blog world. I have several blogs, and that request is for an online interview that will feature one of my poems. That internal engine is still rumbling, and I have yet to write that “brief bio”. I will do it, eventually, because I do believe that writing is a straight on path to the most important conversation we will ever have. That one with self. I just can’t guarantee that it will be brief.

I truly do believe that story, especially our own, is medicine: meant to heal not only our own person, but that of the world around us. Wish me luck, although I am more comfortable in that spotlight, I have never really calmed those willies completely.





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Flutters of Change

For the most part, I write poetry. But, there are always those spaces of time, like now, when I want, and even need, more than form and structure. Want to spread out, explore more than one specific theme, thought, or idea. I have been struggling with a number of issues, and that means I need to write about them, follow the different strings, find out where they will take me, and if I really want to go there. That means I change the venue and start writing prose.

I often do the same thing with my art and the different images and designs I make. Take that butterfly image I used in my last post. I took it to the kaleidoscope app and found some very interesting things.


Although this is subtle, I think it would work well as a decorative tile for bathroom or kitchen.


This one is far more Mandala-like, perhaps representing a life cycle of earthy issues with just a hint of sunrise at its edges, and might even be suggesting that the issues might be explored so that the sunlight might emerge and alter ones existence.


Now, with the emerging sunlight at center, one might see the different paths that might be explored, with the knowledge that no matter the path, we always take our essential being with us.


This one speaks to me of the need for a strong central core, well established, which allows the individual to move in any direction without the fear of losing ones self in the process.


The future is always unknown, but no matter the number of choices we make, we bring our own light into that unknowing darkness.

Poetry allows me to speak into one specific theme, idea, or issue. But prose lets me explore many different tangents, while staying safely at center.

They say that a butterfly may flutter its wings on one side of the globe and bring about a tidal wave of changes to the other side of that spinning planet.





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On Butterfly Feet

Butterfly Illusion Digital Painting by Elizabeth Crawford

Butterfly Illusion
Digital Painting
Elizabeth Crawford

Butterflies have become the symbol of change, of metamorphosis. Their wings represent the four stages that occur in the process of transformation. The first stage is the egg. This is a period of nurture for growth and taking on form. It lacks the ability for self-mobilization.

The second stage is that of the pupa. The caterpillar that is now able to move, seek nurture to sustain the following cycle. That is the chrysalis, or cocoon stage. The safe place for nurturing the energy needed for transformation and metamorphosis.

The last and final stage is that of the emergence of a whole new creature, the butterfly.

But the butterfly has another unique element. It’s senses are, for the most part, located in it’s feet. Think about that for a moment. To gather the sense of one’s environment from the place where one is standing, in any given moment. Sounds a bit like intuition, doesn’t it?

Gavin DeBecker, in his book, The Gift of Fear, writes of how intuition is hard wired into the human brain, allowing us to make a choice when threatened, to stand and fight, or run like hell and save the fight for another day. But, we can enhance that gift in several ways by taking a lesson from the butterfly, and learning how to sense the environment around us in any given moment. Not just when we are threatened.

I have been writing for well over half of my existence. Seeing as I am now seventy years old, that’s a lot of words on paper. What’s more important, is that I firmly believe that writing, on a regular basis, is the best means of enhancing that intuitive ability we all own.

Writing is how we learn to lean in and listen to the most important person we will ever know, ourselves. It hones many different skills that feed that natural intuitive ability that allows us to process, sometimes incredibly swiftly, those moments we are standing inside of.

The human brain operates on two distinct levels. That of logic, and the other by association. But both of those levels need reinforcement and training. When we write, we lodge our experiences in memory. The associative faculty may operate in the blink of an eye, but writing it out logically so that it makes sense, lodges it even deeper in the memory. And all of that memory reinforcement simply builds that intuitive function, giving it a much larger source from which to operate.

Any creative endeavor will do the same, or provide similar enhancement. Take the above image, for instance. I did not set out to create a butterfly. I was just playing with colors and trying out different effect elements in my paint program. Swirling the colors, sometimes blending them, trying different things just to see how they worked. Then dropped some black into the image, swirling that around as well. And suddenly I realized that the black swirls looked a bit like a butterfly. So, using the brush function, sketched a bit around the black to enhance what I could see there. It is one of my very favorite “happy accidents”.

Then went looking for the symbolism to be found in butterflies. In turn, learning about the transformation process, and finding out that perhaps I had been walking on subconscious, and intuitive, butterfly feet.







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Safe Place


This is a design I created through a process of pen and ink sketching, then put the sketch through the kaleidoscope app. coloring it with India ink. The image always makes me think of the phrase ‘safe place’.

There was a time, in my life, when the only safe place I owned was that inside of my own imagination. While trying to put on a practice of meditation, I created an entire environment, peopled with wild creatures. But, I soon realized that each of those critters represented a part of my own psyche. There were wolves, a tiger, a huge sleek black panther and many others.

They usually tested me in one form or another. After passing the test, they would speak to me, telling me their individual stories. And those stories usually coincided, in some part, with my past experiences. It was several years before I attended college, only to discover that I had spontaneously created a Personal Mythology.

A myth is a story told through symbolism, an allegory, where the pieces and parts of the story are given concrete meanings that represent a broader, less well-defined element. Thus myths often speak to a spiritual or psychological definition. Joseph Campbell, the leading mythologist of the past century, said that myths are the story of the development, the evolution, of the human psyche.  A Personal Mythology would be the story of the development of one individual psyche, or personality.

I have been wanting to find something to write about, here on this blog. My only thought, when I came this morning was to share this image with you. But, as often happens, that got me into something else, lol. So, I will share with you how I got involved in creating my Personal Mythology. The actual story of that is here on the blog and may be found at this location.

Just click on the addie and read the story. If you want more, come back and let me know. There are many of them.




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About Those Mis-Takes

The banner on this blog is a mistake, an accident. I was attempting to do pen and ink sketching in nature. I was somewhere in my mid-forties and wanted to learn some of the things I hadn’t while in high school art classes. Had a friend who was a visual artist and she had given me some tips, like how to draw trees.


I loved the Lake Michigan shoreline, and had decided it was time to try my sketching project at the beach. I knew of a little hidden park, where I could climb down wooden stairs, and sit quietly by myself to try what I had in mind.

I had a large leather bag that held most of my supplies: pens, extra ink cartridges, a few miscellaneous other items. I also carried a bottle of water for drinking. That day, about three quarters of the way through the sketch, I stopped to have a drink of water. I was sort of frustrated because the sketch was not turning out the way I had hoped. In my rush to get the bottle of water opened, it slipped out of my hand and water splashed over my current sketch. It was permanent ink and as soon as the water hit the sketch book, the ink began to spread out across the page. At first, I spent a moment cursing myself for my clumsiness, but then looked at the sketch and kind of liked what was happening.

Remembered that there might be a paint brush stored in one of the pockets of my bag, so found it and using the brush and a bit more water, finished up what had looked to be a mistake, but was really a happy accident. One that sent me on a small journey of exploration.


 I began to take along a small spritz bottle of water and found a lot of pleasure in my exploration. The added step in the process seemed to add a mood all its own. I went from simple pen and ink sketches,


to something that also seemed to express feelings. Even the more moody ones.


Next step was to try it with my water color pencils.


I remember that summer with a great deal of pleasure. Exploring and learning are deep inner drives, I try hard to keep alive. Yes, some mistakes can only be discarded, but I would urge you, always, to stop before doing so and ask yourself, what can I learn from this misstep? You might be surprised at how many mistakes are happy accidents waiting to be found and more deeply explored.




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A Brief Tribute To Viv




A Brief Tribute to Viv

I have four blogs. Two supposedly for poetry, the other two for prose. I am working on the last and final section of my poetic memoir, but it’s difficult. It concerns the last eight years of my life and my experiences with responding to prompts. So, I’ve been gleaning these archives for material that can be added to the manuscript. But, each time I go digging, I find a comment that Viv left in response to my efforts. And each time I do that, I sort of catch my breath a bit, acknowledge the grief I feel, and try to continue.

Viv was one of the major reasons I stayed with the blogging. Yes, I got some satisfaction from the writing and the responses I finally started receiving, but when I began, I was speaking to silence. Found myself, just plodding on, hoping that some day someone would notice and leave a comment. Eventually, that did start happening. Then I found the poetry and writing prompt circuit. And suddenly I had an audience, and one of those first respondents, was Viv.

I loved that she lived in France, but had grown up in England. I am of Native American descent, mixed with French, and some Dutch from my father. When I learned that she was over ten years older than me, I was profoundly impressed. I had been thinking that being in my mid sixties might mean I was just plain too old to do this stuff. Quietly whispering to myself, that this techie thing is for the younger people, far more agile and energetic than myself.

She instantly went on my list of heroes. If Viv could keep up with this blogging thing, certainly I could put out a bit more effort. So, I did. And now find myself digging through an enormous number of poems, all written in the last eight years. Thank you, Viv. I thought I had accumulated a lot before I entered this particular arena, but have to admit that mountain has grown to an entire range of peaks and valleys with a well defined set of foothills moving off in the distance.

Viv let me know she admired my talents and skills, but wasn’t afraid to also let me know when I’d made a typo, misspelled a word, or used the wrong tense. I admired her ability to calmly point out the mistakes and simply move on. We never stop learning, and Viv, for the most part, was a good teacher. But then, so had I been before being retired. We really did have a lot in common.

She thought her own life rather dull, in comparison to mine. I begged to differ with that. She often praised my courage and honesty, while I praised her succinct, yet vividly detailed pieces. We both disliked wordles when they appeared on the scene, and had little trouble speaking of our angst, yet both continued to tackle them, finally admitting we were actually learning something in the process. Things like using words in fresh new ways, we’d never thought of before. Just a few months ago, she left a comment on my poetry blog about how I had become a Wondrous Wordler, and I laughed out loud when I read it.

I miss her. And each time I find one of her comments, have to take a moment to let myself know that a bright candle has gone out of our world. A bit of laughter that will never be heard again, has been silenced. Wit and love of language has left our stage of words. She is, and will be, missed by many. And yet, I can still see her, somewhere sitting on a wooden rocker, a half filled glass of wine in her hand, grinning, maybe even laughing a bit, as she leans toward me and says, “Did you dot all the i’s and cross all those t’s, Elizabeth?”







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NaPoWriMo: Day 30 – Final Poem

NaPoWriMo: Day 30 – Final Poem


The above image is for you to copy to your files as a reminder of your accomplishment.


and thank you.

This final prompt is going to be different. No words. I want you to find a poem, your favorite, your favorite poet, or something you wrote, or read during this past month. Something that moved or moves you. Let’s you know that being an individual who writes poetry is of importance to how you see yourself, the world in which you live, and this thing we do. Reminds you, in some fashion, of the beauty and truth to be found in doing so. Then, using a line from that poem you have chosen, write your own poem. You can use the line as your title, first line, or somewhere else in your piece. Simply italicize it and cite the author.  You are free to make it as long, or short, as you choose, and in whatever form you see fit.

Suggestion: Remember that you have written what amounts to a chapbook over the last thirty days. This last piece should be the anchor piece of that book. A publisher once called me to tell me that my poem had been chosen to be an anchor piece for an anthology. Then asked me if I knew what an anchor piece was. I laughingly said, “Not sure, but sounds like a fancy title for the last page of the book.” She laughed with me and then told me that an anchor piece is something for the reader to take away from the book, to remember it by. Something that sums up all of its pieces and parts, but also holds the truth to be found within its theme. Sort of like the moral of the story, but a bit more subtle. I stood corrected, and asked her if she was sure that my poem could carry that kind of weight.

Whether you take my suggestion seriously, or not, have fun with this final writing. Make it something you want to carry away with you to remember what you have accomplished.

And thank you again, for sharing these past thirty days with me.

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