Poems for recovery

powerpoetry_logo_0I had an amazing experience this week. After a year of social media exploration, accumulating over a thousand Twitter @docflamingo followers the hard way (thanking them, not buying them!), I found myself receiving a sudden flood of Retweets, those very hard to come by Twitter accolades. Were they for my novels? Were they for my travels in France? Or even my classic car adventures?

No…they were for my poetry, specifically my poems about recovery. I discovered that there are some very needy souls out there in this way too impersonal social media world, hungry for words that comfort, challenge, and bring about change.

So I have established a special page on my website called POEMS FOR RECOVERY devoted to sharing my own experience, strength, and hope. I will add more as each day passes.

I have had an early morning practice for the past six years of keeping a daily diary of my own recovery journey. I read a page out of one of my Twelve Step daily readers, re-type it, and then journal as I am inspired by the experience, strength, and hope of others. I find that angry feelings, resentments, disappointments, and grief simply fade away as each entry progresses. Occasionally, I have turned those written thoughts into poetry. Now I see that doing this simple daily exercise in written meditation is not only a help to me but succor to others.

shareI would love to see these shared. We never know who might need to gobble up a crumb of truth and hope today. How special it would be for you, friends and strangers alike, to share your own recovery journey in return. Your voice may be a lifeline for a sinking soul.

Do not cling…

worth itdo not cling
shrink wrap yourself
around something
not yours to have
not love
nor money
nor any object
of your desire

save endless
hours of emotional
wear and tear
avoid exercise in futility
you cannot stick
to Teflon dreams
that resist
the irresistible you

believe life gives
what is yours to have
let feelings linger
until dissolved
seek poetic companions
who inspire
pick author’s brains
who encourage

decide to be cheerful
just for today

Signing up to be “optional”

Maya AngelouI’ve found that Maya Angelou’s sayings pop up when least expected and most appreciated. I had been struggling with a personal dilemma and seeing her words on my FB page clarified the issue for me in that striking way that sudden insight can cause a connection between your brain, your heart, and your gut at precisely the same instant in time, producing a lightning bolt of truth.

That bolt of truth led me to a vision of an application form being completed by the person I had chosen to make a priority. I could just see the person filling in all the required information: name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, next of kin, occupation, vehicle driven. Even a list of top daily activities and priorities. Then at the very bottom, in case the applicant had something to add was this:

Additional interests ______________________ (optional).

And there I saw my name, scribbled there by none other than me.

I reached for my mental eraser and scrubbed my name off the line. And instantly a flood of similar applications flashed before my eyes, each and every one listing my name in one of the required information fields: Beloved mother, favorite grandmother, valued employee, trusted confidant, and BFF.

Moral of the story: Never sign up to be optional when you already are the real thing.


Does real conversation matter any more?

scientific americanWaiting in my chiropractor’s office, I picked up the September 2014 Special Edition of Scientific American on Evolution and read a fascinating interview with Sherry Turkle, a Sociologist at MIT. She asked an 18 year old male, “What’s wrong with conversation [vs. emailing]?” He answered, “It takes place in real time. You can’t control what you’re going to say.” Sherry commented that that is why a lot of people like to do their dealings on email–it’s not just the time shifting, it’s that you basically can get it right.

This struck a cord with me and made me think about pros and cons of using email as the ever increasing go-to for all forms of communication.

email typingMany, especially women, feel if they say it JUST RIGHT, that their listeners will better hear their message and behave or respond in a desirable way. Women have always rehearsed their speeches, read self-help books on communication, and sent long hand-written letters when they wanted to get their message across to a spouse, a child, or a boss. Now they email.

sendThe first problem that arises is that email turns even the most socially cautious person into an impulsive blabbermouth. A couple of quick revisions, if that, and our pointer finger hits the SEND button. And no more being able to fish poison-pen letters out of mail boxes with coat hangers. Emailing tends to disinhibit us. We say things in emails, usually off the top of our heads, that we would never say in person or even in a letter. We shout in ALL CAPS, belying our real timid mouse personalities. Our fingers tap out insulting and derogatory words we would never dare spout in public.

imhoThe second problem is that we begin to believe we have a real relationship with the person on the receiving end of our hyperspace missives. But they cannot hear the inflection in our voice or see the smile that says we are teasing, even when our emails are filled with a slew of IMHOs, LOLs, and OMGs. Nor can we see the smirk on their face as our words fall on deaf ears nor the faster than lightning move as they send our precious words to the trash bin hell.

The time delay (even the millisecond delay in instant messaging) prohibits a connection between emotions and words that can be so painful, or even delightful, in real conversation.

monkey keyboardSo with all its limitations and pitfalls, why are we as a nation and a world gravitating to email and similar forms of communication? Why are we allowing a brave new world of technology to degradate the one thing that most defines us a human beings, direct communication. We can teach a monkey to press keys on a keyboard and a remote voice on an iPhone can spout words at us. Sherry Turkle suggests that more and more people would actually settle for a relationship with “Her” of movie fame. Less messy.

I am the first to admit that email has often been the bane of my existence. Yes, I use it for convenience, but I also use it when I’m too fearful to speak the truth, when I think that a dozen revisions will make my words more acceptable or terribly enticing. I use it to force a connection that I know would never fly in person. I use it to circumvent my natural shyness, especially with the opposite sex.

email offendBut instead of making myself clearer, I make myself anathema, offending when not intending to do so, intruding where not welcome, badgering and manipulating, and then sending more emails to try to repair the damage.

What about blogging? Many of the same drawbacks but at least I’m giving you a chance to read or not read my pontifications. Yes, you can delete my emails without reading them. But who ever does that!

stutteringHere’s to real live conversations with all their hesitations, miscues, mumbling and stumbling, stuttering and stammering. Here’s to having a red face, a sweaty brow, and spinach between our teeth. And, most of all, here’s to precarious but precious moments of being human.