I wrote a few lines pf poetry during a very moving Sunday Service last weekend. Bob Kilpatrick was our preacher that morning, Ministry through music moves me, lifts me to a different level of consciousness. I was blessed to get signed copies of his two books. So I posted it on Instagram together with some photos I took from the day I had. I read Vanessa’s poem “breath” this morning and saw in her words an accumulation of life’s prompts that I seldom take heed of.
So I tweaked the poem a little, different now from the Instagram post and maybe this portrays December in our hearts the best. A season of hope coming to fruition.
Sting – My funny friend and me, Emperor’s New Groove
Today I am going to write for the first time something very personal. I’d love for you to come sit with me and listen to my story.
I lost my elder son, his name is Joshua, I lost him in a tragic accident on the 9th of August 2017 and my world changed. I had him for 20 years and I wish I could bargain for more. It seemed too soon to lose the child I had the most difficult pregnancy with but waited for the most, it seemed too sudden to put a full stop on a life that I had held so tenderly when I brought him home from the hospital and then hugged as fiercely as I carried his ashes out to sea.
my son Joshua
So this is my story in the café today, it’s not going to be a happy one but if you’d still like to listen please come sit with me. I don’t know, there may just be some sprinkle of funny and happy as I go along writing this because my Joshua was that to so many, a funny friend, always the one they sought and counted on, the one adults looked for at church or at youth camp to get something done right, the one kids at Sunday School clamoured around for a piggy back ride but who they obeyed when he firmly disciplined them. My perfect son. I get angry with a future I will never have with you.
I have 3 other kids, my two older girls and after Joshua my youngest son. They know how much I love Joshua and that I am writing this and know I call him my perfect child even though I know it must hurt them just a little to know that I love him more because he is not here. But that’s not true I loved him more even from before. He was the one who read my flash fiction and silly stories, the only one who called me “Mom” when all the others called me “Mother”, who reads my stories now? I have stopped writing for that very reason; I did not know it until just now.
Beauty is not just in the face beauty is a light in the heart – Khalil Gibran
My son is beautiful inside and out, he had a face that calmed people, a smile so engaging people gravitated to its warmth. I witnessed a generation of people come out to mourn his passing, while I tried to keep my grief as private and closed as I could with my small circle of family, friends and church leaders, his huge presence in so many people’s lives expanded the number of people we planned for at the wake service. His grandmother, my mother whispered to me, you only see this number of people at a wake of a very old person not a young man. How she must have hurt to put her grandson to rest yet in her sorrow saw how much he was respected and loved. I can’t console her or my brother who says he lost more than a nephew; he lost his idol, his Mr. Cool. His eulogy told us about the private things they shared. My son was a brilliant light.
my son Joshua
Indeed he was loved and that love sustained us, we could not turn people away as wake services go that way, they just come. How do you turn away a whole football team or an entire college faculty? My heart broke even more to see his friends, young strong and vibrant youth cry like little babies for a friend they told me was like no other. Many confessed how Joshua was the one that brought them to Christ, brought them to church, spoke to them when no one else bothered and was always there when they needed him. But my Joshua died alone with no friend around him, no one to hold him, especially not me. A kind hearted stranger, the Good Samaritan who crossed the street and called an ambulance after his accident was not even the last person who held him as he breathed his last, he was all alone and that grips me with a fierce anger at myself for being too caught up with my own life to not hear my son’s last breath.
My doctor friend who was Head of Trauma at the hospital said Joshua died instantly from his massive head injuries but his body looked so perfect, his arms crossed over his chest, his mouth in a crooked grin, his long lashes curved gently on his high cheek bones. Oh how the girls loved and envied his beautiful lashes. I am thinking he was greeted by his guardian angel that held him as he said goodbye to this world, so maybe he wasn’t alone. That’s why he looked so peaceful.
But I am alone in this grief, we are all handling it in our own way, we go for counselling but words cannot express or heal what we feel. We sit with people who love us and reach out to us but each one of us is truly alone and that’s the way it will be for we each honour him in our own way. The way Joshua is remembered by each of us. His brother has taken to wearing his T-shirts, his sisters take time to sit in his room or lie on his bed and just breathe him in.
It’s not what you take it’s what you leave – Jennifer Niven in All the Bright Places
And he left behind a legacy of a young man that touched the lives of people in a special yet understated way. My kids and his close friends show me the Twitter and Instagram messages and posts, I see the Facebook updates, I knew I had a special child, but this was overwhelming, an outpouring of grief by an entire community. I met primary school teachers, college lecturers, people I had not known before come up to me and say “I knew Joshua”. And they would tell me of something he did that touched them in a special way. Each one a different story, how could there be so many for such a young man?
They spoke softly of a life that was lived with such tender beauty and compassion for others.
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whisper – T.S Elliot in the Hollow Man
No shouting, no screams, he went silently in the evening air, he floated above us into Jesus arms. My son was a young Christian man who led a life with such impact I can only hope to have. In a whisper he was gone. By the time I got to the hospital his body was already cold but I hugged him for the last time. That was all I got.
Sometimes you just got to accept that some people can only be in your heart and not in your life – Christopher Pike in The Last Story
He will always be in our hearts. His story lives on in all of us who know him and love him and now even in the people who only hear about him, like when our Youth Pastor preaches or when a friend uses his name and him as an example in a power point presentation for a college assignment, or when he is remembered for the words that only Joshua could coin, words remembered around a fellowship or group devotion, so newcomers would come to love him too.
Love is never wasted for its value does not depend on its reciprocity – C.S Lewis
And so this is my story this week, my intention is to give you hope not despair, I ask for a smile even though it’s sad but please don’t feel sorry for me. For I have known a true love because of the love Joshua gave me. I urge you to write and don’t get paralysed like me, trapped within the walls of my own sadness. But if you are, if you do falter, know someone is out there willing to hear your story. Be brave and write that which comes from your heart.
I end with a quote from one of Joshua’s favourite actors………..
To me friendship means loving tolerance – Robert Downey Jr.
Image : Frosts’s My November Guest was my favourite November poem
“November is the pearl-grey month, the changeling between warm crimson October and cold white December; the month when the leaves fall in slow drifting whirls and the shapes of the trees are revealed. When the earth imperceptibly wakes and stretches her bare limbs and displays her stubborn unconquerable strength before she settles uneasily into winter. November is secret and silent.” —Alison Uttley
I belong to a dynamic poetry club here in Malaysia and we have a theme when we gather to discuss and share poetry, our own as well as from published poets and writers. This month of November our theme was simple, it was well “November”!
I never knew there were so many “November” poems, with the words November as well as describing November and things that happened in history in a November month. Truly Wow! The one quoted in the text above symbolises a November in the Northern Hemisphere for me. Here on the equator November is just rainy everyday. If I could I would be a world of snow like my poem below:
Her Dance With Destiny
Out of the wardrobe she came Looking for a new friend, a game Finding fresh fallen snow She walked out a little more
From between the woolen coats She tied her safety ropes Her lifeline back to reality After her dance with destiny
Behind a cluster of white birch Stark against the whiter church She saw destiny extend his hand He asked her come join his band
He was as blue as her icy heart Shinning shimmering colder art But his smile reached her, warmer She accepted, walked out further
So she joined this band of sound Making music upon the ground Dancing deeper into whiter wonder Finding rhythm’s beauty a splendour
A new game she played Upon earth’s Teutonic plates Keeping time guessing truths Breaking rules leaving clues
at my poetry club we spend time over November poems and hot coffee
“Sometimes, people can go missing right before our very eyes. Sometimes, people discover you, even though they’ve been looking at you all the entire time. Sometimes, we lose sight of ourselves when we’re not paying enough attention. We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself. Sometimes we see the way out but wander further and deeper despite ourselves; the fear, the anger or the sadness preventing us returning. Sometimes we prefer to be lost and wandering, sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes we find our own way out. But regardless, always, we are found.”
― Cecelia Ahern, A Place Called Here
It’s been awhile since I posted in the café and I have missed being here. Life can throw us curve balls we can’t catch or dodge that hits us right in the solar plexus. We recoil, in pain, in anger, in frustration and sometimes just collapse under the sheer impact. When it happened to me, I just wanted to disappear. Just like the novel I quoted above, I wanted to be in a place called here. In a place where no one could find me.
But soon the feeling, either of pain or grief lifts and we have to resume life as we knew it, with a new found understanding that even though things may not be the same and we are not going to be the same either, but we can move on. We need to find ourselves again and allow ourselves to be found.
While I was hiding away I had a lot of time to read and I did so voraciously, like I had been deprived or had been on a strict diet. I read in every free moment and space I found. My favourite place was a cosy café where I did not want to be known or recognised. The solitude was my own prescription and the coffee my tonic. The book was my salvation.
There’s an unspoken camaraderie among readers and coffee drinkers in cosy, quiet cafes, the silent welcome with downcast eyes peering over book tops. The gentle nod as you glance up once every so often to rest tired eyes, eyes that sometimes tear with not reason, and you blame it on the story in the book, and that gentle nod from a stranger tells you, they understand too. I craved the anonymity yet looked forward to the familiar faces. I did not need spoken words; I hated the sound of speech and laughter grated on my nerves. A quiet, cosy café gave me a place to grieve against the impact of the curveballs that left me paralysed and aching for answers to questions I had no one to ask.
But while I sat alone in the real world café, safely detached from all possible human interaction my friends in this virtual community of writers, poets and storytellers never let me be alone. They sought me out from my hiding place, they offered me comfort and encouragement through my hardest days, days of struggling with own thoughts that wound like a tight rubber band in my head waiting to snap, and my beautiful friends help loosen the cinch of that painful ache around my head and heart.
As always, this is the part where I stop and ask myself, what’s my point? Where am I going with all this? Belonging to a community is important, as a human first and then as a writer, we need each other, we thrive because the others never stop nurturing and encouraging us and our talent. The backbone of this café community was built on trust, faith, admiration and respect for one another. While tough times will always appear, tougher people stand stronger together; especially when one is floundering we join hands and provide a web of support, affirmation and love.
I love that I have this community to belong to, a place I can call home. Not just a place called here. A place where I am welcomed even when I am at my worst for then I can rest to become my next very best.
Come sit with me because I found a cafe that was empty at 5 am one Friday morning! It was called the Morning After and the coffee was ground fresh as you ordered it and served with a smile and little chat that warmed my heart.
My mind has been filled with mathematical equations, work instructions and achieving deadlines it seems all I really want to do is have a good cup of coffee to restore sanity to my life.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity that has left me breathless and gasping for air before I finally crash at day’s end and sleep till the alarm goes off. I must thank my beautiful family for dutifully assuming their roles and carrying out their responsibilities while I was present but hardly around.
I thank Sangbad for writing in my absence and keeping the café vibe alive. His post for last week’s “Come Sit with Me” was brilliant and we may take turns writing this segment.
And I also want to thank the lovely café community for the support and love that continues to make this a special place, the place where we can hang out and just be ourselves and where everyone knows your name!
This week I have hardly had the chance to read other blogs and have left my unattended but I have managed to sit in a few cafes while on my travels and read novels, combining my two loves as the days swirled past me. I devoured books as I was introduced to new writers and I felt my life enriched beyond expectation.
This past few weeks I have read to name a few:
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland – gifted to me by my good friend and blogger here in Malaysia Ally L Mare, I loved it Ally and made notes so hope to write a review of this and the other book The Giverby Lois Lowry one day!! But just a quick word, to encourage you to pick it up, the ending was totally unexpected of a Young Adult novel, it started out dealing with teenage problems but finished saying something really profound to the adult we all need to become.
The Arab of Our Future Parts 1 & 2 by Riad Satouff, my book club reads interesting books and there are interesting people I connect with in this club that brings so much flavour than just being solitary in my choice of reading material. I have never read a graphic novel before this and started with trepidation but happy I persevered, it was an amazing look at the life of an immigrant, told through the eyes of a talented child.
Hemmingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – fact and fiction interwoven set against the Depression Era in Key West with the 1935 Labour Day Hurricane as the event that brought the community together. My love for historical fiction and anything that deals with the war and veterans of the war pulled me into this fascinating story and I finished it during my 3-hour flight. If you have read Ernest Hemmingway, read this, it’s Papa come to life. And I felt like his daughter, and as a writer felt the ache a writer feels for the subjects we write on.
I was introduced to writers I would never have picked up ever, the Australian National Treasure – Tim Winton and his bookBreath, a look at taking risks and how far we would go living a reckless life. The Heart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad and his travel through the Congo narrated while on a Thames riverboat is riveting reading.
So where am I going with all this? This week while I have had limited online interaction and missed it so much, the break has enabled me to connect with people in my physical world and be part of real life after hiding for a good many years. And reading books from a time long reinvents me I feel. And I think about what my assignment is, in writing and churning out stories and poetry?
I read this piece a few weeks back and it has stayed in my head, about the assignment we have as writers in dark and trying times equally in good and happy times. I quote the text from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings a favourite inspirational site that blends science and art.
“This is your assignment created by Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin offer a heartening answer in a collaboration that stands as a mighty manifesto for our time and a testament to the only mechanism by which the creative spirit has ever pulled humanity out of every abyss of its own making.”
Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.
Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)
Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.
This is your assignment.
Wow! Isn’t that amazing to read and let sink in. Then after reading Hemmingway’s Girl I found out about this article he, Ernest Hemmingway wrote, or as I would like to refer to him: Papa as he is affectionately known, and here it is for your reference. http://www.unz.org/Pub/NewMasses-1935sep17-00009
I’ve copied below two passages that show you Hemingway’s anguish over the fate of the war veterans during that time and for some others that touched his life.
“Who sent them down there?
I hope he reads this—and how does he feel?
He will die too, himself, perhaps even without a hurricane warning, but maybe it will be an easy death, that’s the best you get, so that you do not have to hang onto something until you can’t hang on, until your fingers won’t hold on, and it is dark. And the wind makes, a noise like a locomotive passing, with a shriek on top of that, because the wind has a scream exactly as it has in books, and then the fill goes and the high wall of water rolls you over and over and then, whatever it is, you get it and we find you, now of no importance, stinking in the mangroves.
* * * *
You’re dead now, brother, but who left you there in the hurricane months on the Keys, where a thousand men died before you in the hurricane months when they were building the road that’s now washed out?
Who left you there? And what’s the punishment for manslaughter now?”
Read about a time when people were at their lowest, financially, morally and spiritually and then a hurricane hits and your government forgets about you. Forgets about the men and women who sacrificed to defend country in the war, left to die building a road for the economic prosperity of a town inhabited by the rich and famous and beautiful. A road to be built by the scarred, broken, ugly veterans who seemed to have less use than the envisioned road in a society focused on being beautiful and staying strong.
I was moved by his writing; Hemmingway knew how to live life one way only, loud and intense and died the same, but the life he led was honest to what he believed was the right way to live. Yet he never forgot the man on the street, defended the weak and tried to be a good person according to the standards of the people around him. That made him capture the people he lived with and he wrote them into his novels. How often do we do that? And is right to keep people between the pages of our stories?
So what is your assignment? Is there something happening around you that you must write about? Is there something that you read that has moved you to write your own words in response? If there has been, pick up your pen and write or your thoughts will be forgotten with the rush of day and then it becomes a distant memory you will never recapture.
This is your assignment!
I hope the weekend will be especially sweet and filled with memories, if they aren’t yet, go out and make them. I am looking forward to book hunting and more café moments this weekend besides a picnic in a park and holding hands under the stars.
This was actually written more than a year ago , a chapter from my book that is still in progress, but I thought it would fit so well here right now!
It is also a continuation from the Cafe Moment posted earlier, you can read it here.
It drizzled this morning. I was grateful for the warmth of the café.
Each time the door opened I stopped myself from turning to see if it was her. I looked at the newspaper, it helped calm me, I could not order any food, I felt nausea rising with the panic.
I smelt her perfume even before I saw her. She sat exactly opposite me again. I sipped the lukewarm coffee and pretended not to stare.
She did not look up. She pointed to the menu and nodded at the server. She looked sad.
My courage increased with her evident sadness. Her cheeks are flushed and her perfume intoxicated me.
I went over and sat on the chair next to her. She looked at me with misty eyes. I don’t speak and she stayed silent. I felt bolder and settled down.
I signaled the waitress to bring my coffee and newspaper over. The waitress brings her her frothy cup at the same time. We lifted our cups almost in unison and our eyes met for a brief moment.
We sat in silent agreement.
Her sadness weighed her shoulders down and I wanted to curve my arms around her. Instead I looked at her hands and let my fingers touch hers. I continued to read my paper. She continued to look down at our fingers touching slightly.
She moved a little, a jerk.
She has curled her fingers around mine. I felt her sigh through her skin.
Our lives turned and curved to meet at this point and I would take the opportunities that fate gave me.
“Hello, I am Lisa”, she says. “Would you like to take a walk with me?”
I am still holding her hand as we curved around the block and headed down main street away from the cafe where we first met.
Get your coffee and come sit with me, I have my flat white ready!
I was recently introduced to John Berger an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. I was given his novel G (which won the 1972 Booker Prize) as a reading assignment by my reading partner. It was not an easy read and I felt intellectually challenged as art has not been something I could ever comment on, not being a visually inspired person, most art is lost on me. But I did pick up something from reading his words, he had a keen eye for the insignificant. I love this quote from him – “If I am a storyteller, it’s because I listen”.
It surprised me that an art critic who had a keen eye for form and structure was also a keen listener. So I decided I would try to be both a keen listener and also observer of insignificant things and moments.
I did after all receive a lot of my stories from listening or rather eavesdropping when I was a child. My mind absorbed all of them and later I think I made up my own when I forgot the facts! But I was always listening to whoever wanted to speak to me, I found that the highest honour.
Then I came across this piece:
Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab, related one of the most stinging experiences in his life. He had maintained a 4.0 GPA in college and wanted to graduate with a perfect GPA. The final exam for a business strategy course was a blank piece of paper. The professor said he had taught them everything he could about business, so he only had one more question: What is the name of the lady who cleans this building?
Mr. Bettinger said that was the only test he ever failed. He had seen her, but never taken the time to speak to her or find out who she was. He learned the lesson to always get to know the people who can seem insignificant to us.
Always stop and listen to someone even if you think there are insignificant, you will never know what you miss. And never dismiss anything or anyone as insignificant.
And what did you miss at the café this week?
Come sit with me and let’s see!
The week started rather gravely for us as our Café Captain, S Francis observed a period of silence and mourning for the lives of the sailors lost at sea from the USS Fitzgerald collision early Sunday morning the 18th of June. S Francis has taken a period of time off from blogging to show respect and honour for these souls and their families during their most heartbreaking time. We stand by him and support him and offer comfort and understanding as what affects one affects all of us. We remember those who sacrifice so much to serve. My father was a Navy man too and I remember the weight of saying goodbye and not knowing when I would see him again. The loss these families must endure is unimaginable.
Again these maybe few and insignificant against the thousands who are in service but no, no one should just be a number, each a name and a soul we must remember.
Christine has led us during his absence and we continue to spread the warm spirit of community at the Go Dog Go Café.
Mr Davy D has a lovely discussion going on the subject of Why We Write Poetry? Davy says, “Shakespeare, according to some sources, wrote part of his poetry to supplement his income when plague closed the London theatres and stopped the performances of his plays. William Wordsworth’s poetry grew from his love and obsession with his childhood and nature.”
Davy then wrote a poem in response to his thoughts on the question and trying to solve the puzzle.
And I never wrote poetry till I started blogging! That puzzled me!
Read Davy’s post and the comments to understand why some of us write poetry.
Christine did a most evocative Spoken Word Spotlight. This week she introduced us to a gorgeous poem written by Lois E. Linkens that was originally published by the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. We strongly recommend that you visit Lois’ blog and read more of her excellent poetry. Sit back, take a sip of coffee, close your eyes and enjoy.
If you would like Christine to highlight a piece of your writing or contribute a story, please contact Go Dog Go through our Contact Form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was pleased and a little overwhelmed to read Amanda’s rewind of an interview she did with me some weeks back. Thank you Amanda for the questions that prompted me to share and open up, you are a truly gifted person, and juggle so much yet produce such amazing work. Each Tuesday Amanda will post an interview she has conducted. Soon all the Baristas here will be interviewed too, so watch this space if you have a favourite you are waiting to read! If you would like to be a part of Amanda’s bi-weekly interview series, please reach out to her through her Contact Page.
And we have two fabulous call and response poems from Chrstine and Chuck, two brilliant poets. Using words in tight spaces to tell a story of courage and resilience. Read them both here. The Call / The Response.
I leave you with a quote from one of my favourite poets, a wise and tender soul:
“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” – Rumi
This was originally written for the Word Press Daily Prompt from last year, here it is now with some revision. I have since captured the moment I thought I had lost forever!
When I worked the early shift in Auckland I would ride the bus down Mt. Eden Road and look into the shops starting business as early as 5am. There was one I wanted to go into so badly and so one morning off duty I rode the first bus out and had coffee at the Circus Circus!
The lights of the cafe had called out to the whimsical side of me and I am easily persuaded by twinkling lights. Its a tiny little place and you sit close to other early morning people and feel a companionship without having to speak just a nod or a smile and its like the place your heart has been looking for all this time.
I miss this little coffee shop on the slope of the hill, I miss the bright red and twinkling lights and I miss the flat white coffee in New Zealand.
I only went once because I waited to experience it with someone special but that day never came and I had already left the island. Lesson learned…..don’t wait too long.
And so now writing a revision to this little cafe moment I am happy to say I managed to capture the moment I thought lost forever. Just a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to sit in the same cafe and with the person I wanted to from before. There was magic, thick in the air and so electric and the coffee never tasted so good!
Circus Circus is still there, and if you are ever in the land of the long white cloud I hope you will hop on over to this place where you must have coffee amid twinkling lights while the world starts to wake around you.
And watch the face of a special person over the frothy milky foam and slowly twirling aromatic mist from your coffee cup.
And never miss an opportunity to be in a cafe where a moment is captured and treasured forever!
Good Morning! Welcome to another edition of my interview series. Since I have joined the Go-Dog-Go Writer’s community, I will be showcasing an interview with a wonderful writer every week (instead of bi-weekly).
However, since I do not have the time to put together a full interview each week,every second week will be a ‘Rewind Interview’ showcasing a wonderful writer or blogger from past interviews. You can expect this both on the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as on my own blog Mandibelle16.
Most of my upcoming interviews for the summer will be baristas from the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as a couple of interviews I had scheduled previously.
We will be focusing on her personal blogging and writing for this Rewind Interview.
1. Please Tell Us About Yourself?
My blog is called “A Life Less Lived” and I use the name “Singledust” as the author of all my blog posts. I live in Malaysia, in a vibrant suburb south of the capital city of KualaLumpur. It’s a town packed with malls and teeming with life! It is also a college town and the young demographic we have means lots of lovely cafes and hangout joints where the vibe is always amazing.
2. What is Your Blog About? What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
I started my blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began. In early days the blog was a lot of self-discovery and deciding what my blog was going to be about. I had to figure out what to write about and much personal information I should I share.
I went down a couple of paths, tried doing travel related stories at first, then showcasing foods I liked and places to go eat the different foods in my country, but I wasn’t feeling fulfillment from that kind of writing. I wrote because I needed words to come out of me after suppressing it for so long.
Then I came across Flash Fiction prompts and was hooked. I found I liked writing stories. I had grown up with lots of storytelling after all and thought why not incorporate some of the tales I remembered into new ones I created. So that’s what I did and wrote some poetry on the days the stories seemed more musical. I had never written poetry before this blog so I amazed myself even!
From Flash Fiction challenges, I expanded into longer pieces called “Tales From The Equator,” stories I remembered from my childhood as well as those I told my kids as they were growing up.
All this has provided me with a huge collection of stories and poetry I have rummaged through to eventually another book. My blog is my training ground and preparation. It is an amazing place to read other writers, get feedback, develop new story lines, and network.
“I started the blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began” -Gina Gallyot
3. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging and Why?
I started a year ago in February 2016 after some parts of my life finally got settled and I closed painful chapters of my life for good. In my new life, the writing side of me reawakened as I needed an outlet. When I started the blog it was a place for me to write so I would not forget my journey of self-discovery but after some time I realized that the journey was part of my healing and there was no end in sight.
I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own. And as I wrote I released anger and frustration inside me for so long — things I cannot talk about in whole honesty — writing allowed me to layer stories and fantasies into my writing and in that sense has permitted me to heal and recover, like a journal of my life. My life is stories!
4. How Does Your Writing Help Other People and Give You Meaning?
Just seeing words on paper (well now on screen) brings me joy and blogging have enabled me to connect with amazing people all around the world I would have never met otherwise. I love being able to read their stories and be able to see that the world is full of people such as me, going through trials and overcoming them through writing and in turn, I hope my stories will help others healing or reaching a new spiritual place.
I affectionately call my stories, “my little lines.” I would humbly like to believe that it also inspires others together with the comments I give on the posts I read.
“I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own.” – Gina Gallyot
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation?
My inspiration is the life I have lived, a life less lived; while trying to survive my struggles, never feeling as if I had actually lived. I existed for the next day to start and end, and stories were my refuge. They were places I would go in my mind and create a safe place for myself and my children.
The world around me is also so beautiful in its ordinary splendor. I don’t need the highest mountain or deepest sea, a walk around my neighborhood inspires me with the beautiful life of nature and people. Every single thing on earth has value and has a story of its own.
Additionally, I’m inspired by the people I meet, strong people carrying heavy burdens in life, broken people standing tall for others to lean on, humble gentle caring souls oblivious of their own sorrow as they comfort others. In short, the human spirit is extremely inspirational and resilient.
Every person also has their own story, but there is the question of who stops to listen when we are all so busy trying to tell our own stories. I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.
6. Do You Have Any Particular Writing Habits? How Does your Blog Fit in With You Are?
I hope my writing has helped inspire people and encourage then to be better than what they think of themselves in low times. I would like to think that my writing (my blog) is a soft spot to land after all the bad news and horror people read. I would like to be a soft voice and a place people can unmask and be themselves as they read my stories and poetry. I hope they remember it is possible to live life happy and free and know that living a better life is possible at any stage in life.
“I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.” -Gina Gallyot
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects on Your Blog or Otherwise?
I try to participate in at least five Flash Fiction challenges per week to keep the creativity going. I am beginning to become involved in the poetry community, though I am like the littlest baby there as I never wrote poetry prior to this blog! I am trying to compile all the stories and poetry into categories and maybe publish them in a few of years. Every writer’s dream right?!
I have two recent poetry submissions published on SpillWords. Here are the links and publication dates:
My biggest writing achievement is my poetry book titled Remember my: Sweet Whispers – I Loved You From A Time Once Before.
It is available on Smashwords as a free download and includes poems I wrote that people enjoyed on my blog.
8. What Are You Future Plans For Your Blog and Writing?
No big ones as of yet. I have blog posts as well as guest posts featured on other sites but that’s about it. I still feel I am new to this and I like to let things move at a slow pace and see progress in steps rather than leaps and bounds. I am enjoying the journey, not the destination. Future plans might be to start focusing on a book I started last year but got distracted and have never completed. Blogging at my own pace and enjoying the company I meet along the way has been rewarding so I will continue on this path.
9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Have Support for Your Writing and Blogging in Your Life?
Well, I decided to write again after a negative influence was removed from my life. I wrote a lot as a young girl and well into my early youth. I was sidetracked by the ‘merry go round of life.’ Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.
My support comes from my tenacity for life. My four children have been my pillars of strength and support me with enthusiasm and love. Recently a more meaningful relationship has been the wind beneath my wings and encouraged me to soar higher. I also always have hope.
“Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.” – Gina Gallyot
10. How Do you Maintain Discipline in Writing? Do You Prefer Certain Writing or Reading Genres?
I discipline myself to write consistently and have a few stories or poetry on file to go over so I am never without material. Flash Fiction is incredibly helpful in clearing the cobwebs to write better in other areas of writing. It allows me to try different styles I might not usually do and this versatility helps me develop a better vocabulary too.
Reading is important too because people need to be inspired by other authors and writers. I spend a great deal of time reading new books and also re-reading previous favorites from beloved authors. My favorite writers are ‘mystical writers. Simple strong words in long flowing sentences that convey images of times we have all once traveled upon are inspiring to read about.
I fell in love with Yeats as a young girl and am still smitten with him. Poets and writers who write like Yeats and draw emotions from other worlds and bring that feeling into our world, I find interesting. I like human based stories, like those from Khaled Hosseini and recently John Green.
My all time favorite novels include The Alchemist and 100 years of Solitude. Another writer that fascinates me till is John Farris and his Wildwood, Chilling Experiments in the Backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains.I feel a strange attraction to that region although I have never been there before.
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Us?
Write from the heart what you want to say. You can use your metaphors, pseudo names, or examples (metaphors and literary devices) that distract from you, but write as if it is the last essay or poem you will ever get to write.
That’s what makes you stand out from other writers — sharing your heart. Don’t let the blogging statistics derail or distract you. Numbers have no real weight in comparison to what you write from your own heart and feelings.
Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.
People read these ‘little lines’ and feel uplifted because the world they live in is trying to confine them. I want ‘little lines’ to help set people free and be whoever they want to be, never living a mediocre life in thought, word, and deed.
“Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.” – Gina Gallyot
12. What Are Your Three-Favorite Blogs you Follow or Enjoy, just for Fun? What Do You Like About Them?
I love reading blogs in this order: flash fiction, poetry, and long reads. They inspire me to write better stories, and each writer has their own flavor. It’s too hard to mention a top three or even top ten. I enjoy each writer for their own kind of fiction and emotion.
13. Please Share With Us Some of Your Favorite Pieces:
A special one to me from the tales from the equator series:
She was a pretty tiny bird living in a big white cage. Her master would sit each morning and evening and admire her beauty from just outside her cage. She loved it when he came to sit with her, he read her stories and sang songs and she was his inspiration. He was an artist and he drew lovely paintings of her, sold them and even put some around his lovely house. She longed for him to open the cage, just once and let her out so she could sit in the palm of his hand, but he never did. Always just looking at her, smiling and saying soft soothing words, he would always leave when the woman came.
He lived with a beautiful woman in this house, she never came near the cage, almost never knew the little bird existed and would ask the maids to clean the cage and feed the pretty bird. Little bird looked with envy at the beautiful woman with the long black hair and flowing dresses, her feathers were short and had too many colors, her cage had no walls, she could never hide her ugliness.
One day, a praying mantis sat on the window ledge and asked the tiny pretty bird why was she quiet, why she never sang. Little tiny bird said she had no singing voice, she was made only for man’s eyes, not for his ears or heart. And the mantis thought she saw a tear, but birds don’t cry thought the mantis, not in these parts anyway.
The little bird talked to the mantis every day in between the times the artist sat by the cage and they grew to know each other more. The mantis was as old as the sands of the desert and had traveled far and lived long, she was old and wise but had no heart, yet lately talking to this tiny little bird made the old mantis feel something she had not for a very long time now. It was like an inflation of her hollow chest.
One day she asked the tiny pretty bird if she would like to be free? And the tiny heart fluttered with uncontrolled joy. But the bird asked how? And the praying mantis divulged an ancient secret.
Praying Mantis were the gods’ eyes and ears on earth for there were places the gods could not go to, the crevices and the cracks of the world, so they created the praying mantis who could slip in and out unnoticed and gather information back. The mantis had some magic and in them and was allowed one wish for their entire life and that’s how they would end their lives, by granting a wish as their final breath.
The little bird was upset and refused to listen more, but the old tired mantis coaxed her; allow me to bestow the wish on you, I have lived long and traveled far, I need to rest and move on to the next life the gods have planned for me. I have been a mantis too long, almost since this new world begun, set me free.
And the little bird because she had a lovely heart, though so tiny, it was full of love, for the handsome artist man and she wanted to feel the touch of his hand, agreed. And they decided on the right time to carry out their plan.
It was a beautiful sunny morning, where sunlight reflected off every surface and sunbeams found secret places and brought them warmth and the little bird decided today would be the day. The artist would arrive soon and she wanted to be free from her feathers and cage. The praying mantis nodded in agreement.
When they heard the man approaching, the mantis cast her final spell and the cage door flew open and the tiny pretty bird flew out and landed on the ground, now a tiny little lady with streaks of blue and green in her hair. The tiny bird was so happy to touch her own skin and pretty hair and she looked to thank the mantis, but the mantis wasn’t there.
Too late to look now, the handsome artist had approached, and the little bird now a pretty little lady smiled at him with the prettiest smile she thought she had. But the artist was taken by surprise and she never knew he could be a cruel man for she always looked at him from behind the bars of her cage and only saw what he showed her of his true self.
He shouted for the maids to chase away this intruder, he said. Chaos reigned as maids came to remove the tiny little stranger from the big lovely house. They roughly pushed her out the door and told her to do her begging elsewhere, this was the mistress and master’s house, not any common place.
Little bird tried to speak but no one could understand the language she spoke and she could hardly walk, new to feet and no feathers she felt exposed and abused with the rough hands and words. She understood them; why could they not her.
And they shut the big heavy white door and tiny little bird stood alone on the road.
Devastated that her plan had gone so disastrous, she wished she could talk to the praying mantis, her only friend all the years she sat in that cage, she wondered if she had been tricked. Living in that cage wasn’t so bad after all, at least she got to see her handsome artist twice a day and she had water and food and sunlight. Now she had nothing, she would never see his face again.
She walked down the road uncertain which way to go, her bare feet on the hot asphalt, the warmth went all the way to her chest, but never reached her heart. And she knew she could not live like this in this world; and said a soft wish to the gods who would listen, punish me for my greed and insolence, take me away from this existence. Leave me as dust in this world for I feel empty and distant.
And the spirits of the sun took her message to the skies and some gods had pity on her and said such a beautiful soul must be rescued somehow.
So they guided her thoughts till she walked further down the street and they crushed her body with a magnificent sunbeam and she became tiny flecks of dust that settled among the rocks and the grass, she would always be free now, and be part of the world yet no one would see her, she would be as she wished, just dust and glitter.
Flourish by Gina Gallyot about how much she loves her Dad.
A Walk In The Snow by Gina Gallyot, a poem about hoping to fall hopelessly in love like this one day.
Thank you to Gina for agreeing to be interviewed for her original interview and the “Rewind Interview.’ Here is the link to her blog homepage once more: A Life Less Lived. If you would like to be a part of my bi-weekly interview series, please reach out through my Contact Page. See You on next Tuesday!