Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Winter Rules

Winter scene in Blue

Winter scene in Blue (Photo credit: BrunoDelzant)

Winter Winds


Here comes the wind

Not the balmy wind of Spring

Not the sweaty wind of Summer,

Not the  vigorous wind of Fall


Winter rules with biting grasp

Tangling around  throat

Bitter fingers of ice steal breath

With every exhilation

Sidewalks and roads slick as glass

Waiting till a pale sun arrives

To melt it all


©  2013 Lin Neiswender

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Make Visible: Memories

The Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, seen from th...

The Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, seen from the southeast side of the bridge. This is a 7×1 panoramic stich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make Visible:  Memories


Poetry is about remembering, remembering a moment in time.  Like a photograph, a poem preserves moments that can never be experienced again, at least not in the same way.  This helps the writer as much or more than the reader.  There may be moments you want to remember, not just with a photograph.  Of course, we don’t have photos for all of the important events of our lives.

Task:  Write a poem about a city or town that figures prominently in the story of your life.

Try it!

I wrote this poem for a Powell’s poetry contest.  I guess they were looking for something more avant-garde because it didn’t win.  Here’s my memory of Portland, OR:

Memories of Portland


At OMSI we learned about the space race

Watched metal balls drop, spin and disappear

And entered a giant red heart

Leaving it, heartbeats ringing in our ears

Excited by it all.


We always ended up at the Oyster Bar

Suspicious of anything with a shell

Crustacean or mollusk

I settled on clam chowder and crackers

While my family feasted on gifts from the sea.


Only in later years

Did I enjoy the simplicity of the Japanese Gardens

Observing a perfectly reenacted tea ceremony

From a distance, while the rain fell

Boulders as islands, surrounded by seas of white rock.


In my college days I could appreciate

That land mass, Powell’s, full of books

More than I could ever read in a lifetime

Losing myself in the Gold Room

Taking home a stack of books a foot high.


© Anne Westlund



“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



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Boundaries and Compassion

imageLisa Gentile, Moxie Mavericks Life Coach and Mentor Extraordinaire, has pushed, prodded, and supported the Poetic Muselings from early in our adventures. We’ve maintained an on-going exchange of ideas, building on our progress and plans. With the new year’s map unfolded on our virtual table, it seems a good time to share some of Lisa’s material on setting boundaries while maintaining compassion. Food for thought, with our reactions and additions woven in.

As the recent series of posts show, we’re excited about our projects, and new ways to approach them. Balancing the Plan Stage with the Action Stage is always difficult.

We encourage each other to stretch, do big, hairy, scary things. Act as cheerleaders and critics, as the situation called for. We try very hard to listen to the words, and hear what’s behind them, to temper our support.

Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we need to pull back; we, as friends and professional colleagues, cannot fulfill all the roles all the time. Sometimes, the subject is too close to us for us to separate ourselves from the problem.

We each have our own networks of friends, acquaintances, professionals, and family, who are the intricate web that support or entangle us. Sometimes both. We’re called on to provide support to those “others”, and rely on them for the same. What we need isn’t always what we get.

What follows is from Lisa. In many ways, her words grant us permission (if we need it) to step back, reclaim our space and know we deserve to protect ourselves — with tools of compassion for all parties.

It’s okay to protect ourselves from someone who has behaved unjustly. We can strive to do it without judgment.

From “Self-Compassion” by Kristin Neff:

“Discriminating wisdom clearly sees when an action is harmful or maladaptive, and when we need to protect ourselves from those with bad intentions. However, it also understands that all people are imperfect, that we all make mistakes.”

“It’s useful here to draw a distinction between judgment and discriminating wisdom. Discriminating wisdom recognizes when things are harmful or unjust, but also recognizes the cause and conditions that lead to situations of harm or injustice in the first place.”

When we feel vulnerable and we need to reach out for compassion, it’s okay to be selective about our confidant.

From “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown:

“We have to own our story and share it with someone who has earned the right to hear it, someone whom we can count on to respond with compassion . . . We definitely want to avoid the following…:

The friend who takes on your pain so you end up comforting her.
The friend who responds with sympathy rather than empathy.
The friend who is disappointed in you.
The friend who is so vulnerable that she scolds you or looks for someone to blame.
The friend who is made so uncomfortable by mistakes that she denies your story.
The friend who speaks as if one-upping you is the same as connecting with your vulnerability.”

We all do all of the above from time to time and may continue to be good friends to others. But when we are vulnerable we need the right friend for the occasion.

“When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, able to bend, and most of all, we need someone who embraces us for our strengths and struggles.”

Our exchanges have given me something to think about in terms of tactics for erecting these boundaries. I am open to further thoughts on the matter.

Lisa Gentile, M.S.
Moxie Mavericks Life Coaching


imageOnce again, thank you, Lisa.

Building on what Lisa has identified above, we invite you to ponder the following questions, and to answer with your heart:

How do you choose your confidant?
How do you recognize and communicate the type of feedback you need?
How do you recognize unjust and/or inappropriate comments or actions from others?
Does it happen repeatedly with the same person or people?
Specifically, what tactics have you developed to protect yourself in these situations, separating you (the recipient) from the message and sender of that message?
How and what do you communicate in this scenario?
How do you remain compassionate, but protect your personal boundaries?
How do you heal yourself after such an encounter?
What form of creativity helps you re-center and move forward again?

Please share your ideas, and what you’ve learned on your life’s path. Recognize your strengths; identify where you may need to establish boundaries; trust yourself to try effective methods others have developed; and maintain a sense of compassion for yourself.

In a few weeks, we’ll collate the responses into a follow-up post, so, you can continue to add to your own comments, and build on the thoughts that other people present – like an ongoing dialogue.

Thank you for your courage to participate.

(If you would like your comments to be anonymous, you can send them to me at the following, and I’ll add them in:

Michele Graf — poetic DOT muselings AT gmail DOT com. Drop the spaces, and substitute the dots and at.)

Note – these photos were copied from internet sites before I knew how to identify their priginal sources. I’m searching for that info, so I can properly credit them; if you know the source, please tell me so I can add it in. Thanks.

Decide Now!

DecideNow-NextProjectI’m a sucker for “OOH! Shiny Things!!!” One of my favorite surfing sites is Lifehacker Australia — you can learn anything from the best description of why Java was a recent menace, and how to delete it from a variety of browsers (sort of works . . . ) to how to use a binder clips and duct tape to do almost anything. They also highlight new apps and special deals on apps. I’ve finally deleted the most addictive game I played incessantly (deleted it twice, actually), and found the most wonderful new Shiny Thing to help when I get into analysis paralysis.

As are many of us creative souls, I’m a very visual person; toss in easy distractibility, a short attention span, and a tendency to try to multi-task. Result? Too many times when I know I have so many things to do and can’t figure out what to tackle first, or how to get back on track. This spiffy new app makes it fun to want to see what’s next.

Decide Now! works on the iPad and iPhone. The wheels do spin, make noise if you want, can be edited and color coded. So far, I haven’t figured out how (or if) you can sync edits. I made up a few wheels on the iPad, and loaded the app on the iPhone, via the Mac, but didn’t get my changes. So, what you see are shots from the trusty iPad.

I started by creating a “master project list” wheel. As I go along, I’ll add in some more fun stuff to keep it interesting, but for now, I have nine choices of short tasks I can do. Even if I want to do one of these, I still have a hard time getting started. But, if I really pay attention, limit my action to a few minutes (like five to ten minutes), I can giggle my way through the choice.

DecideNow-PT-KneesFor almost all the Next Project choices, I’ve created a second wheel, with detailed choices of what to do when I land on one. For instance, “Playtime” may or may not have instructions (!), but “Exercise” and “Clean House” have routine tasks. “PM Post”, “Apollo’s Lyre”, “Trip”, and others have items I need to do to catch up/finish/move a project along.

Here’s my working version of , “TaCaMeFe”: a series of physical therapy exercises; instruction to go to the health club to work out, plus another nudge to go ride the stationary bicycle. Take my meds. Drink water. Go to bed!

If I’ve already done the one that shows up, I’ll spin again.

The act of thinking about choices, editing the wheels, and how to limit the time requirement so I would “do something” actually made me stop after a few cycles, as it were, put on my workout  clothes, and head for the gym.

The process of small bites also opened up my eyes to different ways to approach my workout. I need to build up my stamina and strength to do a lot of walking in a few months for a trip. I spent about 15 minutes on the air bike (big fan for a front tire, no settings, just make it go with arms and legs). Then I walked on the treadmill for another 15 minutes. Followed that with a third 15-minute segment on the regular stationary bike, and PT exercises and stretching for the final portion.

None of the pieces was overwhelming, and in a little over an hour, I had an interesting session, timed not by a clock, but by the music I listened to on the iPhone. Three longish songs per segment. Music I only listen to when working out.


Without spinning the wheel, I tackled one of the Daily/Weekly chores I procrastinate about — one of those that makes me drag my heels, cross my arms, pout, and pretend I’ll want to do it later. Right. After an intensifying level of avoidance anxiety, fear I’ll get some dreadful disease, and other flights of frantic thought, I end up handling it. At some point, I hope I realize how much time and energy is spent avoiding, and  under twenty minutes doing it.

This morning, without spinning the wheel, but thinking about it, I did my full a.m. routine before searching for coffee. This was after over  ten hours of sleep last night. I didn’t land on “Go To Bed!” but followed my body when it told me I was tired and could probably fall asleep if I tried at that point. It worked. For an insomniac, that’s a precious gift.

If nothing else, I did something I don’t do enough — I got out of my head and into my body yesterday. Exercised, sweated, stretched, groaned. Walked back and forth from my bedroom to the kitchen with the things I was hand washing; cleaned up when I was done. Washed my face, slathered lotions on it, flossed, hunkered down without trying to do it quietly — Hubby wasn’t asleep yet, and it wasn’t the middle of the night.

Today I’m at the computer, for now. Had a one-way argument with DropBox about an overload I couldn’t seem to fix. Came up with something that worked as the band-aid I needed, instead of continuing to try to make it do what I “know” it “should” do. Wrote this post; it ties in with my 2013 theme of TaCaMeFi — Take Care of Me First. Creating space for my body to move and my mind to be freed from all the shoulds circling, like planes  in limbo, waiting to land.

DecideNow-TripDecideNow- ALDecideNow-Chores


And now a few words about words . . .

The Sea of Words

Ink flows like river full of life
sometimes easy and smooth
dances over stones, around snags
follows stage direction
on cue, corps de ballet
pivot and bow in sync

Ink sticks, won’t flow
like drops lost in side eddies
circular moves, when they do “something”
otherwise stagnant
wait to be unblocked

Ink sits, bottled, waits
for someone to release
its energy,
splash outrageous thoughts
onto dead tree transformed
to half-human form,
sometimes able to stand
upright with proud spine

Ink bleeds the wounds
and pain, cleanses mind
and body, like leeches
still used to draw poisons
from the soul

Ink is the sea
nourishing, healing
when it isn’t
the water demon
whose kiss drowns


Make Visible: Rewards

Here is an idea to motivate yourself using rewards, rocks and index cards.  I adapted this idea from a post on The Simple Dollar.


Step One:  Index Cards


First, you get 20 index cards for each of your goals, ones you have trouble motivating yourself to do.  The three goals I picked out were exercise, homework and reading.  Make a number of Xs on each card.  For something that takes a lot of time, like homework I only have three Xs, for exercise, 10 Xs and for reading 12 Xs per card.  Then every time you do a step towards your goal, say go for a walk, you punch a hole in the index card.  When you have the card full you give yourself a reward of your own choosing.


Step Two:  Rocks


I like a visual reminder of how far I’ve come.  So every time I punch a hole in one of the index cards I give myself a rock and put it in a glass vase.  I have different color rocks for each goal and a small green pearl every time I fill a card.  I got the rocks at a dollar store.


Step 3:  Rewards


When I fill an index card with punched-out holes I give myself a reward.  They are inexpensive gifts I give myself.  Every other card has 2 rewards and every 5 cards has an extra reward.


Step 4:  Review


Every so often review how far you’ve come and what goals you are still having difficulty with.  I haven’t been doing well on homework, but have been doing great on exercising!  If you try this motivational method, let me know how it works for you.


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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Shakespeare in the Park

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 6...

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 65th Street sunken Transverse Road and west of the disused Central Drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the biggest influences on my poetic ear was due to Joe Papp‘s free Shakespeare in the park.  I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. After Joe Papp won the right to put on the plays in Central Park, we never missed a performance. Even after I moved to the Boston area in 1978, I would occasionally get back to New York to see a play.

One of the reasons was that Sammy Silverman, the attorney who won Joe the permission he needed, was a long-time friend of my father. My dad, Louis C. Fieland, was an attorney, and he and Sammy went way back. How far? Alas, I don’t remember, and my father — and Sammy — are long gone.

After Sammy won the case, we all — my family, Sammy and his wife Claire — attended every performance. We could do this because Sammy and my family were sponsors. That meant we got tickets in exchange for contributing money. The tickets were free for everyone, but sponsors didn’t have to wait in line. Considering the popularity of the plays, this was a great gift.

The Pied Piper versus Goliath: Joe Papp and the fight for public theater

It was 1959 and Joe Papp was having a bad year. Not only had he lost his job at CBS, but also New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses had refused to issue Joe the permit he needed to present New York Shakespeare Festival‘s summer season of Shakespeare in the park, a permit that Joe had obtained without difficulty for the three previous summers.  The commissioner wanted Joe to charge admission. Joe refused. Joe’s vision was of free public theater. Not only did he not want to charge admission, he thought that the city should provide the funds he needed to continue his performances. The war was on.

Joe Papp, more than almost any other man, transformed the face of American theater. Joe, the son of immigrant parents, had only a high school education and didn’t go to an acting school. What Joe had, though, was a vision, optimism, and persistence. He’d need plenty of all of them.

In 1959, Robert Moses was the king of urban planning and Joe Papp was nobody. What chance did Joe have against Moses? Moses had refused to issue Joe a permit unless Joe charged admission. Joe almost gave in, but when Moses demanded Joe charge $1.00 to $2.00 a ticket, Joe refused.

And that’s when Joe got lucky. His attorney, Samuel Silverman had once worked as corporate counsel to the city and knew that Joe could bring an “article 78” proceeding against Moses. An article 78 proceeding could be brought against an official who had exceeded or abused his power. Silverman told Joe he could make a good case that Moses was being arbitrary in denying the Festival use of a public park when other groups obtained permits and in demanding the Festival, a non-profit group that didn’t want to charge anything, charge admission to their performances.

But summer was fast approaching. On May 18, Silverman brought suit against Moses on the Festival’s behalf. On June 2nd, the court found for Moses. Joe was ready to give up but Silverman persuaded him to appeal the court’s decision, and this time the court found for the Festival. Joe had won.

But Joe’s troubles still weren’t over. Moses agreed to issue the permit, provided, that is, the festival could come up for $20,000 in expenses for the city to prepare the site for the Festival’s performances.

Here Joe had a stroke of genius. He asked Moses for the money, and Moses, much to everyone’s surprise, asked the New York City Board of Estimate for $20,000 for the Festival. On June 25th the board said yes. Joe was on his way.

Joe Papp went on to much more. Eventually, the city built the festival a permanent home, the Delacorte Theater, in Central Park. The Festival acquired winter quarters in the old Astor Library on Lafayette Street, where Joe gave young, promising playwrights a chance to put on their plays.

Joe Papp transformed the face of American Theater, giving many actors and other theater professionals their start.  And if you go to New York this summer, you will be able to stand on line for a chance to get a free ticket to see Shakespeare in the Park, all thanks to Joe Papp, a man who had a dream and the belief in himself to go along with it.

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TaCaMiFi and Show Up At The Page

What Our Favorite Quotes Say

see footnote about this quote

I start each year with a combination of wistful yearning and a load of fractured freeze-frames from past experiences.  This year I ABSOLUTELY WILL / WILL NOT . . . and wonder if I’ll ever make the changes in my life that matter — and keep them safe.

Today, while riding an old-fashioned stationary bike with the giant front-tire fan, the kind that works on arm and leg power, the phrase “Show up at the page!” became wonderfully clear.

Just show up at the page, and watch what happens. The page is a metaphor for whatever you want in life. In this context, “the page” is our health club.

Instead of a detailed plan for how many minutes I want to ride the bike, or do PT exercises, or stretch — if I just “show up at the page (the Club)” I’m 100% more likely to actually let myself do something, instead of talk about doing it, or agonize about when to go, missing a class time, etc., and doing nothing. Well, not “nothing” — I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated and beating myself up for failing.

Show up at the page.

Mary wrote about FlyLady, who I think should receive a Nobel Prize for her contribution to preserving sanity; her concepts of Baby Steps, and letting go of perfectionism; and her sage saying, “You are not behind! Jump in and start where you are!”

Don’t try to catch up with, and do penance for, all the burdens in your life. You can only do what comes next, not what you woulda/ shoulda/ coulda/ done earlier.

I forget this constantly, keep trying to time-travel back to fix … something. Investing in the guilt, shame, let-down pain never magically makes it any different.

Show up at the page. Every page that means something to you. Clutter driving you nuts? Pick up that one item that triggers the immediate feeling. Put it away, throw it away, give it away. Just one thing. Now.

Listen to FlyLady and go shine your kitchen sink — another metaphor for creating and accomplishing a small task that you keep up with. Each room, each project, can have a “shiny sink” to represent something you keep sacred for yourself.

Show up at the page, and get your buns to the place you work out for your own health and clarity. The park, the Club, the pool. Your friend’s house so you can walk and talk.

Show up at the page, and let yourself type the words you need for your blog post, whether it means starting it on the iPad, waiting for your hubby to get his hair cut, while you are running errands.

I don’t remember where I found this one, but I love it. If you know, please tell me so I can credit it properly.

Show up at the page and clean and fill TWO of your favorite fountain pens (not the whole tribe of them) and sit down for a few moments to let your mind unload all it’s carrying around before you go to bed, or to do Morning Pages — regardless of what time of the day it is.

Show up at the page. Transition between tasks. Don’t resent the note you make to remind yourself where you left off in your manuscript edit. Jot down those last ideas in the margin of your poem-in-progress.

Embrace the radical idea that doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen are actually part of “fixing dinner”. I don’t know about you, but no matter how many times I’ve told myself I’d really prefer doing the dishes later, I carry them with me until they are done.

Like juggling an armload of packages, hunting for car keys, and holding on to an insistent 55 lb. Poodle’s leash as she discovers a squirrel invading her territory. Talk about focus!

This is a long way to introduce some of the practicalities, and drop at least part of the BS, of this year’s project: Take Care of Me First, or TaCaMeFi.

Each of the issues I raised in this post are important to me, as I slow down enough to hear what’s in my heart, and explore how to treat myself with the love, respect, honesty, and support I’d give to my best friend.

I believe we must constantly pay attention to what supports our inner and outer beauty, accept that sometimes saying NO is the kindest act, and allow into our lives what helps us thrive. No matter what our age, we can never over-learn this.

So, join me in the TaCaMeFi Club. Steep dues: be honest and loving to yourself. Meetings: every day, with yourself. Create your own support team of like-minded friends and future-friends who endeavor to treat themselves as precious treasures while extending the same to you. Be mindful of critical mass.

Make time and space for your Muse. Sometimes she needs to chill with you, refill her well, while you do the same with yours. And remember to be grateful for, and nurture, all that is good in your life.

(I’m  still not sure how to give appropriate credit for items copied from sites I visit. The opening quote came from, as best I can piece it together, this site:

What Our Fav. Quotes Say url

 If I have this wrong, please let me know and I’ll be glad to fix it. There were some marvelous sayings on the site.)

2013: Looking Forward

Today begins a new year, a new Age. A time for re-evaluations, making new goals and adjusting old ones. I, for one, didn’t do very well on the goals I set in 2012. Rather than do a repeat, with likely similar results, I’m changing the way I make changes. I’m taking it from the verbal to the visual. I saw some pretty butterfly stickers at WalMart and snagged them as the basis of my reward sheet. I pulled out all my scrapbook and craft supplies, and came up with this:


My main goals are to exercise and write more, and get the house in shape as well. Very vague and insubstantial.


I’ve set a weight loss goal, but I know it takes time and the day to day can get discouraging. Solution? Celebrate both individual exercise sessions, to get in the habit and get healthy, as well as the weight loss milestones.

I’m going to add one butterfly sticker to the picture for each exercise session. For every ten butterflies, I give myself a mini-reward. Every 5 pounds lost (see the ladybug markers) earns me a bigger reward. If I lose the full 25 pounds, I get the BIG reward: a Steampunk corset.



StickersMy past experience with NaNoWriMo and writing in general has taught me that I’m not very good at focusing on one project all the way through. Rather than beat myself up for that fact, I’ll work with it. I don’t care what I work on, I just need to write! My major rule is: No new projects until I finish at least one of my FIVE Works in Progress (WIP’s).

For the sheet, one flower added for every 2500 words written. Every ten flowers gets rewarded. When I actually finish a WIP, I am taking a writers retreat. Probably something really small and local this year, like a night or two at a hotel. I think this big reward would be well earned, since I haven’t actually finished a novel since November 2007. That’s five years! No wonder I’m feeling unaccomplished.


Zone CalendarThis past five months or so I’ve been trying FlyLady. There’s great ideas there, but I hate having my days so structured. I do need some sort of plan, as my house is more a mess than not most weeks. There are a few ideas from FlyLady that work well with my shotgun approach. My biggest lesson: You Can Do Anything in 15 Minutes. That goes for my writing, housework, exercise (a starting point until I get stamina for longer sessions. Everyone can fit in at least one 15 minute session a day.

The other thing I’m taking from FlyLady is Zones. I tweaked her list a bit to come up with my own personalized House Zones. 5 Zones to cover the entire house. One zone per week, so every five weeks I’ve given attention to each part of the house. If I do a minimum of one cleaning session (15 minutes!) each day, with one day off, that’s an hour and a half cleaning in each zone. Depending on the room, I could be spending that time decluttering, or deep cleaning, or organizing. I got a little calendar from BHG. I highlighted each week in a different color for different zones.

Zone 1 (yellow): Entrance, Front Porch, and Hall
Zone 2 (orange): Kitchen and Dining
Zone 3 (green): Bathrooms and Laundry Room
Zone 4 (blue): Bedrooms and Corner Room
Zone 5 (pink): Family Room and Front Room

Looking Forward

Hopefully taking this more visual approach will be a boon. I love stickers, and butterflies and pretty things, so adding to my flower garden chart will be a motivation in and of itself. I do, however, need to start brainstorming some reward ideas for those smaller milestones. Any ideas? What are your goals for the new year?

Mary Butterfly Signature

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