Musings from My Younger Self | Troubled

Altered Rose-1Warning: Today’s poem is not so bright and cheerful, but I’m sharing it because it demonstrates the range of topics of the poetry of my youth.

Troubled
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Troubled,
the man killed himself–
not physically.
He stopped living.
He fell out of love with himself.
He fell out of love with life.
No one understood him.
No one cared.

He lived in seclusion,
a place of total isolation
and that is where he died.

No one knows the world he lives in
or how to bring him back.
Those who know him–
They know not what to do.
All they want to do is see him,
hear him,
touch him,
love him.

This poem is a little scary for me. I had planned to post it some time ago, but put it on hold because it felt so dark. But, now it feels “prophetic.” Even though I wrote it many, many, many moons ago, I have a beloved mentor who is in a similar situation. He abruptly and inexplicably cut himself off from all who know and love him. All attempts to draw him out have failed. Considering the “life of the party” he usually is–both socially and intellectually–it is painful to imagine him in this state. Prayers, please.

Musings from My Younger Self | Composed in My Bedroom

Altered Daisies-1

I wrote several collections of poetry in my younger years. The poem I posted yesterday, “Gentle Rage,” comes from a collection entitled On a Sleepless Night. Today’s poem, “Composed in My Bedroom on a Saturday Night, comes from a collection entitled, Looking for the Strength. Denise, one of my high school besties, did the research and found the information to help me get my collections copyrighted through the Library of Congress. (I’ve always had such wonderful, encouraging friends).

Composed in My Bedroom on a Saturday Night
Chandra Lynn (Age: 18)

The walls of concentration
are my prison tonight.
I cannot hear the muffled sounds of the TV
or my daddy’s snoring from the next room.
I’m deep in thought,
lost in a world of my own.

I like the music played softly
in the background:
the peace of mind
that comes with joy
that comes with knowing and accepting myself.

I cherish the memories that crowd my thoughts,
as laughter and tears flood my soul,
happy to be free.

My world is more intriguing and beneficial
than the world going on around me–
So many just hold on to life
while I reach toward a dream.

I confront the loneliness that I’d know
if I were unhappy about being alone.
Loneliness and aloneness
are two different states of mind.
I delight in being alone,
but loneliness will not arrive
unless I desert myself.


Unlike yesterday’s poem, I remember the details of writing this poem. This was written a few months after I graduated from high school, a few days after my 18th birthday. Most of my friends were in college, but going to college didn’t feel right for me at the time. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to major in music, English, journalism, or psychology, so I took a gap year (and, because it was still all so overwhelming, another). That’s a story for another time, but with everyone gone or busy, I often spent my Saturday nights at home in my room. I wrote this poem in my bedroom one such evening, enjoying the quiet and the time alone. I was typically content with being alone–as long as I had my books, music, journals, stickers, and pens. I don’t think much has changed. 🙂

Musings from My Younger Self | Silent Battle

Altered Sunflowes-1

Gentle Rage
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

There’s a peaceful war
a silent battle,
a gentle raging
taking place;
involved are my mind
and my heart.
I can do nothing to put it to an end.
If it ends, it ends.
Victory will be the conclusion.
Defeat will be the outcome.


This week on the blog, I will be sharing “musings from my younger self,” poetry (and maybe prose) I wrote during my teen years. Sometimes, I will comment, but if today is an indicator of the week ahead, I’ll probably just share the poem. I wrote the poem above when I was 15. If only my memory would allow me to tap into the context of the poem!

Sunny Blossoms | You Are a Gift

I am just hopping off the road from a trip to New Orleans, so I am too exhausted for the words I’d planned for this evening’s blog post. Rather than “skimp” on the pen friend who sent me a very thoughtful sunflower and letter, I’m sharing one of my own sunflower doodles paired with “poetic wisdom” from Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk.

img_0801

May these words stir you to appreciate the gift you are…

Sunny Blossoms | Sunflowers at Her Grave

“Shine Brightly.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

Some time ago I shared a short sunflower poem written by rupi kaur on the blog. I think of this poem often—whenever I think of my sisters, my friend Julie’s oldest daughter (who was also my student), my pen friend Eileen V’s daughter, and others who passed far too soon.

As I was noting the darkness in my office one stormy morning this week, I mentioned to Julie that I need to transfer my sunflower wall back to my office at work, and she began telling me her special sunflower story.

She planted sunflowers at her daughter’s gravesite. For some time, she tended that garden, a necessary act as she worked through those first shocking moments of grief. The garden grew and grew, as gardens do. Eventually but unsurprisingly, she was told it had to be scaled back (out of respect for other decedents and their families). She was able to chuckle a little when she shared that part, as there has been by this time enough distance between the shattering pain of losing a daughter so young and the present moment.

The image of a gravesite bedecked in sunflowers reminded me of the statement my blogging friend, writer Ellen H, made in a comment on one of my recent posts about grief—

Beauty is both stunning and sad. —Ellen Hawley

There is a cost to beauty, so while I marvel over the amazing grace God showers on mothers who lose their daughters, I am keenly aware that the loss leaves a wound that never heals. As Julie says, “it’s a club to which no mother wants to belong.”

Even so, I thank God for Karlette, Lori, Témar, and Alanna. Though there is sadness, I am in awe of the stunning gifts of their brief but brilliant lives.

despite knowing
they won’t be here for long

they still choose to live

their brightest lives

rupi kaur, “sunflowers,” from the sun and her flowers


About the Image: The sunflower art in this evening’s post comes from a photo-art journal crafted by my swap-bot pal, Diane W (aka midteacher). I shared most of the beautiful journal on the blog a few years ago, with a promise to come back and share four of the images in individual posts. I’ll get to the other three…eventually.

Sunny Blossoms | Miles and Miles of Golden Green

sunflower field from deb t

Miles and miles of golden green
where the sunflowers blow
in a solid glow. –Robert Browning
(from “A Lover’s Quarrel”)

The panorama postcard above was sent to me a couple of years ago (?) by Debbie T, one of my Wildflower friends. It was included in a package of gorgeous floral postcards featuring the work of artist Christopher Arndt, who developed a unique style of photo painting. From the postcard back:

The field of sunflowers blooms on a traditional small family farm in northern Wisconsin with a red barn in the background.

The card is part of his Door County, Wisconsin series. Another postcard from that series is featured in an earlier post. You can find and purchase his art by clicking the link above.

I thought I’d slip in this evening and write something beautiful to match Arndt’s gorgeous field of sunflowers. But, I gave this week all I had to give. I survived and gained a new appreciation for the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF). Now, I just want to sit quietly with my thoughts until I succumb to sleep.

Until tomorrow…

Sunny Blossoms | Glow, Baby, Glow

Christine Brooks Sunflower Alcohol Ink

Sunflower by Christine B.

There was little sun in Northern Alabama today, so this alcohol ink sunflower from my friend Christine B brought the brilliance for us—reminding us to shine, glow, and live life to the fullest!

Stop dimming your
light and shine. If you’re
too bright for them, they’ll
find some shade. Shine,
glow and embody your
life to the fullest. –Sylvester McNutt

Shine on!

Seven Favorites from World Watercolor Month | Faith and Butterflies

Watercolor 30-2022

World Water Color Month 2022, Day 30 (July 30, 2022)

If I had to choose one favorite from the images I crafted for World Watercolor Month 2022, I think this Spice Bush Swallowtail would be the one. I worked this one on my father’s birthday as I thought about him and all the gifts he gave me. 

“Faith,” the poem below by Ullie-Kaye seems an appropriate fit for this butterfly, since the journey with grief is also a journey of faith. 

faith
ullie-kaye

faith does not begin where fear ends.
she comes when you are still lying in

the bottom of the gutter. hands trembling.
doubts running rampant. seas stormy.

breath insufficient. darkness winning.
thoughts blurring. skies fading. more black
than blue. obstructed view. no way through.
there. in the absence. in the tragedy.
in the emptiness. in the wreckage that made
its way into the very marrow of your bones.
in the fire that could not be drenched.
in the thirst that could not be quenched.
in the wounds that would not heal. in the

heart that could not feel. in the broken.
the lost. and surreal. that’s when she comes. 

I hope you enjoyed our seven-post trip into photo art and the beautiful words I encountered daily. 

WWCM 2022 Collage

Here’s a collage of the photo art posted for World Watercolor Month, including the three extra (butterflies) I posted on the blog (but not on Instagram). Do you have a favorite?

Sorrow | Bow Down

Butterfly BW Pink Border wm

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been given

–Mary Oliver, from “Love Sorrow.”

My dad’s birthday is in a few days. He would have been 87. How do I handle this first birthday without him?

Grief and I have been wrestling for control over my emotions the last few days. This is a busy time, so I keep reminding myself that I don’t have time to fall apart. But sorrow is no respecter of persons, does not yield to schedules or timelines. It expects me to bow in obeisance. I resist…at first. Eventually, I give in because I am neither monster nor machine, and I cannot control this thing.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Negative Space, Scorching Days, and a Tree Poem

Japanese Maple

It has been difficult for me to get in a bit of tree love this summer. I need a bit of tree therapy, but my body cannot handle the extreme heat. I am trying to figure out solutions to this problem, but for now, I capture trees “in passing”–as I exit a building on my way to my car or as I exit my car on the way to a building.

Such was the case with the photo in this post. While heading to the parking lot after an appointment, I looked up and beheld glorious bright orange leaves against a clear blue sky. I stood still for a literal second to breathe and take a couple of quick snaps with my phone. [One of those snaps is featured as a watercolor edit in today’s Instagram post]. 

The photo above served as my 52Frames, Week 27 submission for the prompt negative space. I intended to type an excerpt of a poem in the space, but it felt wrong to cover up the gorgeous blue sky with words.

I have been carrying Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk with me for the past couple of weeks, so her poem inviting us to use the tree as our model for how to appreciate our unique selves is my gift to you for this #ThursdayTreeLove.

stand tall
Cleo Wade

the tree never
feels less like a tree
because it is different
from the others
in the forest

so why would we ever think we are meant to all be the same?

to be unique is to be a living thing


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.