Poetry, Mental Illness and Motherhood: A Challenge

This week’s writing challenge is a poem.  Not a good fit for me.  I blog about parenting challenges, childhood mental illness . . . . there’s no Roses Are Red in that.

Or maybe there is.

Here’s my take on childhood mental illness presented in as much poetic format as I could manage. I’ve developed a new respect for WordPress blogging poets who wrangle with formating features on an ongoing basis. My hat’s off to you.

Golden Child, Bronx, NY
(Photo credit: Grufnik)
          The Golden Child

Sparkling child so full of promise,
Wherever did you go?
Do you hide beneath the lily
Waiting to surprise?

     I lift the leaves prepared to start
     As you spring blithely forward.
     No hand find I to clasp in mine
     And show me toward the future.

                      ~

Radiant child once full of love
Why hidest you so long?
Hear you not the blue bird singing
As sunshine warms your face?

     Old things are left behind,
     Outgrown but not replaced;
     Leaving cobwebs in the places
     That used to give you reason.

                      ~

Reclusive child once full of questions,
Queries beyond your age.
Where is the passion of your search
For keys and magic doors?

     Hinges rust and creek
     On doors that lead to knowledge;
     Well greased are portals that devour
     And strip away the nymph.

                      ~

Street child beguiled
By legions of deceit
That lure you into secrets
And darkness in their lair

     Seek strength and wisdom from the light
     And power not your own.
     Hope and Peace are calling you.
     Turn not a deafened ear.

                      ~

Saddened child once full of joy
That cascades onto others,
Your swirling ribbons and gifts of paper
Brought smiles amid the wrinkles.

     So many blessed by little gestures
     You seem to think unnoticed
     Now sit in prisons, hands extended,
     Hoping to catch your glitter.

                      ~

Half child and half adult
Caught in tentacles of self reproach 
Flailing against yourself 
To quash your gilded hue. 

     Fear not refining fire 
     That purifies -- renews. 
     Remember, child, from whence you sparkled: 
     Your heart is solid gold.

©Sandra Lafferty 2013

Learning Slowly and Forgetting Fast: Musings of an Aging Blogger

I have three blog posts started but just can’t seem to take any of them where I want them to go. I’m just not writing well this week.  There are days like that and it’s ok.  I have however been at the keyboard all morning. I’ve previewed my blog in just about all of the 180 plus themes in WordPress.  I love design.

I’m older than dirt so I predate this digital era.  When personal computers became available I had to have one and quickly started a self-taught desktop publishing business (some of you youngsters won’t even know what that is) working from my kitchen table. It did well and catapulted me into a wonderful creative world of writing, design, public relations and even teaching newsletter design at a university.   I love design.

HTML and putting together websites was recreational. I could speak code.

Today I’m struggling to do something beyond change a font with the WordPress Custom Design upgrade. Granted, I’ve never tried to use CSS before but I read about it and read about it, and it’s like I’m brain dead.  Why don’t I have dozens of fabulous pages designed?  I don’t get it.  I love design.

I think the answer resides on my birth certificate, and I don’t mean the fact that I don’t have a snazzy name.  Reality check … the brain works differently as we age. We process slower and remember less. A twenty-something Facebook friend posted a sad note about how there is no cure for memory. It was hard not to jet back a post saying yes there is, it’s called old age.

Part of me says to just forget it (pardon the pun) and use the predesigned pages as they are. After all, a pro put a lot of work into laying it all out for us. I’m a writer now not a designer.  But there is this little rebel voice in the back of my head saying not to take this lying down.  Fight back.  Read.  Study. Experiment.  If it looks ugly or blows up just start over like the old days when it was girl against machine and I never stepped down and let the machine win.

That was then and this is now.

Relax and enjoy the fact that I’ve stopped writing on the back of envelopes and hire a designer or choose an appropriate theme; or scratch and claw my way back toward a thinking, learning, human being by mastering CSS for some little tweak to my page.  I’m not sure which is the high road.  I’m not sure what to do.

I always used to be sure what to do. Being sure of everything is an essential part of youth. But young I am not. That doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent, worthy and productive. It simply means I’m different and still changing.

My creator planned it that way. He loves design.

When life exceeds fiction

     The pressure’s off.  I quit.

It seems like forever that I’ve been expected to write a book.  I freely admit to a love of writing and I’ve courted the idea for a long time. Of course by book I meant a book, not a novel. I don’t live in a world with room for make believe. My life has been surreal enough that I don’t need to add to the cadre of events with conjured up problems.

Don’t misunderstand. I want to be a writer. I have always wanted to be a writer. I think it’s who I am. (If it’s not, this wouldn’t be a good day to bring it up.)

To write fiction one must read fiction. That seems plain enough.

My attempts to hang out with the characters of Danielle Steele or David Baldacci never seem to get beyond one sitting. At the next reading I generally pick up an alternative selection from among the how-to books or better yet a magazine that allows me to pseudo-read and escape the novel I live in.

I have to read How Children Learn so I can be a guiding hand in the fuzzy world of learning disabilities. I have to read The BiPolar Child or A Bright Red Scream to find out why children want to harm themselves or others. Why, oh why, would I want to spend countless hours creating fictional people only to give them dragons to slay?

Well, write about your own life they say.

I can’t. It’s too unbelievable to be fiction.

Once upon a time I did write a book on a disability and it could have been a good book, a great book, if only I’d been willing to listen to the editor, but instead it sits as a box of typewritten pages. That’s a story for another day.

A year or so ago I bent to the pressure and tried writing a novel (which by the way is not a good way to start a first-fiction experience – the old eat an elephant one bite at a time adage, yada, yada, yada).

I have a requirement to overthink things.  I read how-to-write-a-novel books (that was fun) and bought multiple writing software programs that had me so wrapped up in structure I forgot I was crafting a story.  Learning new terms was great, but there was a continuing expectation in these programs that I fill blank spaces with fictional ideas.

I tried, I really did. But I’m done.

From now on I will sit in front of this glaring screen or in a waiting room with a notepad for at least a little time each day and require myself to write something. A paragraph, an essay, rambling thoughts, insightful musings.  It really doesn’t matter – I’m just going to write. But take heed – some of it may end up here and I can’t tell you what topic you’ll find.  But it won’t be a novel.

Life just isn’t like that.