Musings from My Younger Self | Three Country Heartbreak Poems

52Frames Week 10 Low Key

“Wilting Sunflower.” My submission for 52Frames Week 10: Low Key

Tonight I’m dropping in to make good on a promise I made last month—to share some of the “country heartbreak” poems of my youth.  I really have no idea what I was exposed to that made me write them. They might be based on songs I listened to, soap operas I watched, or even books I read. I repeat: I.have.no.idea.  By today’s standards, I lived a pretty sheltered life, so even though the subject matter of the poems is not comical, my knowing I had little to no first- (or even second-) hand experience makes these poems pretty funny to me. 

I wrote all three poems the same day, about a month after I turned 15. There was a note at the top of “Guilty” that “all grammatical errors were done on purpose.” 

Guilty! 
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

I turned my back
and you’re headed on another road.
Well, I’m glad you’re gone
‘cause I don’t want you no mo’.

Comin’ home late ev’ry night
wit’ whiskey on your breath;
I’m telling you now,
nothin’s happened, not jus’ yet.

‘Cause when I git started,
I’m gonna go rough,
‘cause it’s no-good punks like you
who make a woman’s life tough.

So when you’re found guilty,
don’t act like you’re surprised.
Your pathetic life
is gonna flash before your eyes.

Promises! Promises! Promises!
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

You promised you’d come back;
you said you’d be back quick.
You promised we’d get married;
you put me in a fix.

Well, now you are back,
only two years late;
now, you’re married,
and I’m not your mate.

You said you love me,
but how could you?
You’ve hurt my feelings
and double-crossed me too.

Now, here I am,
a heart as cold as ice;
I am so heartbroken
that I cry all night.

You made too many promises,
promises you didn’t keep.
You told me you love me,
but the love you had wasn’t deep.

Our Illegitimate Child
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Life has no meaning now—
You have gone away.
I gaze out my window,
praying you’d come back some day.

Nothing seems to happen;
I guess, that’s how it’s meant to be—
I take two steps forward,
and you turn around and leave me.

Nothing or no one can replace you
or your smile,
only this one reminder—
our illegitimate child.

Yes. I know the poems are problematic and flawed, but as I told an Instagrammer who offered unsolicited tips on improving one of my “youthful poems,” adult me is going to let teenage me be who she was as a writer. If you’re not already following my Musings Instagram, click here to follow: Musings from My Younger Self.

Literary Wisdom: Sunflowers and Light

You Are One of the Lights

I am thinking about participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) this year. I participated from 2016-2019, but I missed the last couple of years because the thought of blogging daily during the height of the pandemic was overwhelming. Now, I feel like I might need the daily distraction of Pics and Posts to help me stay sane. I’ll spend the next couple of days figuring out a strategy (and topics), and we’ll see how life goes. I already missed Day 1, so if I decide to post every day, I will end on December 1 instead of November 30. 

For today, I’m sharing a postcard from my Wildflowers literary sister, Gina B. Her postcard carrying sunflowers and light arrived just when it should have. In this quote from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Dr. Van Helsing enthuses over the work of Mina Murray who transcribes the diaries of Lucy Westenra, Dracula’s first victim. 

Here’s an interesting tidbit: I could not read Dracula. One of my graduate professors suggested the book for my master’s thesis, but I only read a little more than half the book before deciding against including it in my work. I was having very vivid nightmares associated with the characters and plot and simply could not allow myself to be tortured any longer. Despite the nightmares, there’s no denying the postcard Gina B sent presents a beautiful bit of literary wisdom!

There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.

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 | 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!

Snail Mail | Join the Revolution!

Lori Anne Address Book Cover

I spent a good part of Sunday clearing my desk and making a note of all the people to whom I owe letters. Since my father’s passing (in February), I have had little inclination to pen letters and postcards. In fact, I realized my snail mail life has been a mess. Not only are there letters I haven’t responded to yet, but I discovered there are many notes and letters that I haven’t even read!

How can this be?! What kind of snail mail revolutionary have I become?

As I decluttered my desk, I had two brilliant ideas. Yes, brilliant. I gathered all the stickers, postcards, stationery, washi tape, and other embellishments I came across. Instead of relocating them into their proper containers, I placed them in a ziplock bag and decided that I would write letters and notes with all the desk clutter. That way, I minimize the sense of overwhelm I feel lately when choosing cards, envelopes, stickers, etc.  Desk clutter mail kit. That’s idea #1. 

My second idea? To make this “snail mail” month on the blog. Yep, pretty brilliant. Right? June will be a month of snail mail tips, happy inbox and outbox mailbox shares, and more. Of course, this means, my blog readers will become my snail mail accountability partners. If I tell you I’m going to do it, then I have to do it. 

Maybe, you’d like to become a snail mail revolutionary too. You probably have everything you need:

  • Stamps
  • Postcards or stationery with envelopes
  • Pen, typewriter, or computer and printer
  • Friends’ and family members’ addresses
  • Desk or some other sturdy surface

And if you want to get a little fancy, some extras:

  • Stickers
  • Washi tape
  • Colored pens, pencils, markers
  • Quotes, poems, song lyrics

Join me. Sending mail is one of the small pleasures of life, and with all the madness going on, the world needs more gestures of kindness and love. It’s a win-win in both directions!


About the Image: The image above is actually an analog address book made by my artsy pen friend, Lori-Anne C. I am honored to be the recipient of one of only three of these hand-painted Lori-Anne originals. And yes, I still keep a physical address book, so this gift couldn’t be more perfect! Well, actually, the sunflower puts it over the top! [Lori-Anne makes gorgeous art. Click her name to see more. I’ll be sharing another Lori-Anne original later this month, so be sure to tune in].

Sunflowers and Poetry | How We Fit

“Le prince solaire” by A. Kumurdjian

Today has been filled with too much talking, too much paper-shuffling, and not enough silence. Even as I type these few words, I hear the text messages [that I will ignore until morning] coming in. So, for now, a very short poem from Meister Eckhart’s Book of Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul by Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Borrows. May we all find a bit of stillness in this moment. 

How We Fit
Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows

You made us for Yourself.
and we fit not as one part

to another but rather as
emptiness meets fullness.

as darkness seeks light,
as loneliness wants love,

as what is wounded
longs for healing.

About the Image: My Love Notes friend Sarah S sent the photo postcard above for International Women’s Day. She sent the postcards with “prayers for peace, strength, and women all over the world, especially women of the Ukraine.” The majestic sunflower was shot by A. Kumurdian. Don’t you just love the postal tattoos? 🙂

Expressive Pics | What Remains

beauty remains smaller text

I have been almost obsessive about photographing the sunflowers a friend gave me a few weeks ago. I’ve been capturing them as petals wilt and drop off one by one. I am struck by the beauty that remains in a sunflower even after the bright petals which initially attract us are gone.

Think […] of the beauty that still remains. –Anne Frank

As I vacillate between grief over my father’s passing and gratitude over his beautifully long life, Anne Frank’s words [above] resonate, so these are the words that came to mind as I positioned my “transforming” sunflowers for pictures.

The madness of the outer world and the turmoil of our inner world can try us in unimaginable ways, but there is always beauty–even after the things of this world have left our souls ravaged and torn. We all need a reminder every now and then to shift our focus not to what is not or no longer but to what is and what endures.

There is always beauty. Always.

Seeking Light

Sunflower BW 02-27-22

Sadly, the only cure for grief is to grieve. —Mark Lemon

This was spring break week for our university. Thankfully. I desperately needed time to “just be” and sit with my grief.

I needed to sleep as much as my body would allow. I needed to escape the usual colors and sounds of life because at the moment everything seems too bright and too loud. I needed to take one-day-at-a-time and not bear the weight of grief through meetings, planning, students, and other interactions. I needed to call my mom in the middle of the day just to hear her voice. I needed to clear my desk and shoot a million photos of the sunflowers friends delivered along with gift cards to Olive Garden because no one feels like cooking or even deciding on a menu. I needed to draw sunflowers and tweak the poem I wrote about my dad five days before he passed. I needed to move through my day without purpose. I needed to feel safe in my grief and not feel the need to excuse myself or apologize for being inattentive or not completely present. I needed to look through family pictures and savor the memories. I needed to listen to the same Daryl Coley song over and over and over and over because it is the only song that soothes my soul right now. I needed to sit in silence with God and be filled by His presence.

I needed to seek light…in my own ways.

The Beauty of Small

Snapseed 74

“Small” seems to be the theme of the last couple of years. The pandemic invites us to scale down our lives and learn to journey through the small. These strange and unsure times urge us to take small steps, celebrate small things, and live in small moments.

I’ve been reading various articles that claim we are post-pandemic. As I skim reports of numbers rising in certain areas, I am not convinced. I am concerned that such headlines cause us to move too swiftly and risk being in the same situation we were in during the early months of the pandemic.

Though not explicitly about our Corona times, Susan Frybort’s poem, “the beauty of small,” serves as a primer for us as we move through our collective trauma and slowly make our way to living fully.

the beauty of small
susan frybort

let me paint for you the beauty of small…small words.
small observations, small greetings, short calls.

these are the bravest steps for someone shy,
someone hurt, someone trying to connect,
and someone healing from trauma.
small steps. coming out of hiding and
finally feeling safe enough to make the first move.
small steps. relaxed and ready to practice healthy ways
to bridge and bond for the very first time.
small steps, like a beautiful sunrise–
glimmering at first, before shining boldly.


About the Image: The zentangle sunflower art in today’s post was crafted by my newest Love Notes friend and Certified Zentangle Teacher, Kat van Rooyen. In a small moment she and I chatted (via Messenger) about our mutual love for sunflowers. Afterwards, she “tangled” this abstract sunflower just for me! A retired psychotherapist, Kat now teaches zentangling and uses it as a form of therapy. I chose this piece for the post because the tiny art (3.5 in x 3.5 in) represents the powerful potential of the small–for building, healing, and restoring.

If you are looking for something new as you figure out how to navigate the uncertainty, see Kat’s post for the benefits of tangling. Maybe, you’d like to give it a try!

The Masters | Anguish and Gratitude: Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with Heart

Vincent Van Gogh. “Three Sunflowers in a Vase.” Oil on Canvas. August, 1888, Arles. United States. Private Collection.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with all the sunflower goodness this week. Sadly, we’re just two more posts away from the end of “Sunflower Month.”

I am clearly intrigued by the approach of the masters to the sunflower. Many of them seem to have been as taken with its luminescent beauty as I am. I am in no way an artist like the masters featured all week, but sunflowers are certainly the most doodled flower in my journals, sketchbooks, and letters.

When I began this final week of “Sunflower Month,” I had intended to do only three posts, but I got a little carried away because there were more than three sunflower masters in my collection. My favorite, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Dutch Post-Impressionist, was always on the list. Let’s consider the “sunflower tree” a bonus post, because this week of masters will not be complete without attention to his still life sunflower series—especially with the final masters post I have in mind. 😉

Vincent Van Gogh. “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers.” Oil on Canvas. August 1888, Arles. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

From 1888-1889, van Gogh completed seven sunflower still life masterpieces in the studio he shared with Paul Gaugin in Arles, France. He had intended to fill the walls with their brilliance before Gaugin’s arrival. The two featured above are in my postcard collection, thanks to Debbie T, my Love Notes pal (Twelve Sunflowers), and Eepy on swap-bot (Three Sunflowers).

There are four others in the Sunflower Series that were completed in 1887 in Paris. One of them–Four Cut Sunflowers (below)– took my breath away the first time I saw it!

Vincent Van Gogh. Allotment with Sunflower, Paris, July 1887. Oil on Canvas. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

In a letter to his sister Willemien, van Gogh writes:

[…] the desire comes over me to remake myself and try to have myself forgiven for the fact that my paintings are, however, almost a cry of anguish while symbolizing gratitude in the rustic sunflower.  (Letter 856)

Perhaps this tension explains why van Gogh’s “still life” sunflowers are anything but “still.” Each sunflower–in the vases or cut and wilting on a table–is full of personality, life, and movement. Each evokes an emotional response.

I read somewhere that van Gogh wanted to be remembered for his brilliant sunflowers (goal accomplished!) and that people honored his desire by wearing sunflowers to his funeral.

What a radiant sendoff!

Like the Heart

Let me seek You
in the darkness
of my silence

and find You
in the silence
of Your light.

which is
love shining
like the sun

flowing
like a river
and joying

like the heart

Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows