From the Boughs of a Cradle


Poetry flows freely from my pen onto yellow pads, yet it seldom finds its voice at the keyboard.  Perhaps that makes sense since it’s difficult to walk leisurely through the woods while pecking away on a laptop.  My appreciation for the stimulation that Mother Nature provides began as a small child while wondering the hill of the Missouri Ozarks.  My love of poetry can be attributed to Robert Frost.

Mr. Frost shared the same love for God’s creations that I do.  He created his own footprints in The Road Not Taken and he touched the hollows of my soul through poems such as Bereft.  I felt a kindred connection to his need to share melancholy thoughts in the form of poems.

While I cannot compare my writings to such a master of the art, I share with you a poem that formed from my futile thoughts one evening after watching the local news.

From the Boughs of a Cradle

From the boughs of a cradle, much like you and me

So dependent on others, so innocent and free

He grinned with a smile that would capture your heart

No clue that his world would soon fall apart

Left alone once too often; forced to grow up too fast

The pleasures that warmed him were soon part of his past

The drugs and the booze became his whole life

Such a sense of abandon, such continuous strife

From street gangs to prison, he followed the path

Consumed by his anger, his hatred, his wrath

Now death by injection, the sentence he waits

So hopeless and helpless behind steel gates

The cradle is empty, the smile worn away

No family or friends to protect him today

 Will his soul die before us as inevitable fate

Or will a spirit embrace him?  Is it ever too late?

 

By Diane How

What’s in it for You?


It amazes me how many people publish books and write blogs.  There were over a million posts on WordPress.com just today.  My inherent desire to understand fellow writers leads me to ask the question “Why do you write?”

For me, I think there are three main reasons that come to mind.

  1. Writing is my passion.  Pens and paper can be found on nearly every flat surface in my house.  It comforts me to work through my emotions whether I am happy or sad, frustrated or fulfilled.  Writing my first book, Peaks and Valley, (available through Amazon and Kindle) provided me an opportunity to revisit my childhood.  It also allowed me to recognize issues that sometimes kept me from embracing life to the fullest.  The therapeutic aspect was an unexpected bonus.  By writing I can script romantic fascinations and be openly honest without risking being misunderstood by family and friends.
  2. When I retired, I began to feel removed from people other than my immediate family.  I thrive on being connected to other people.  Writing my blog increases the chance of connecting with people who share a common interest, fellow writers.  When I check my stats and see that someone read one of my posts, it brings a smile to my face.  Should someone take the time to leave a comment, I am delighted and encouraged to keep writing.
  3. On numerous occasions, something I wrote, a poem, a letter, a short story, has touched another person’s soul and perhaps made their day a little brighter.  There is a voice in my head, call it divine intervention or a gift that speaks words of comfort for me to share with others in times of need.  It is my belief that each of us are blessed with gifts and once we recognize them, it is our duty to share them.

So why do you write?  I’d love to know.

Making Order Out of Chaos


It came to me at 4 a.m.  I woke an hour earlier and could not force my eyelids to close, so I wandered into the dining room table, my makeshift study, and turned on my laptop.  Deep thoughts, remnants of an unfinished dream scattered about my mind waiting for me to release them in a journal or on my blog.

By the time I turn the coffee pot on and settle down on the hard oak chair, the burning words have drifted too far and I cannot retrieve them.

I double-click on Free Cell, a guilty pleasure that often consumes many hours of my day.  Silently I reprimand myself for wasting more time on a silly game when I should be writing, or catching a few more minutes of elusive sleep.

It is a form of Solitaire.  The cards are randomly dealt into eight rows and the goal is to end up with each suit placed in one of the four cells at the top.  I click and drag a jack of clubs onto a queen of hearts.  After a few minutes, I watch the cards spill forth in celebration, announcing that I have won another game.

Then it comes to me, as clear as black ink on white paper.  The strong attraction to this game is that it makes sense out of chaos.  The rules are clear, the goal defined and I know each game can be won, if only I have the patience to sort out the solution.  For a few minutes each time I play, I can figure out how to fit the final piece of the puzzle into place and delight momentarily in a sense of accomplishment.

If only life were so easy.

A Glance Back


Trying to measure where the last two years have disappeared is like trying to hug a passing cloud.  I could no more complete an after action report accounting for the time than I could return to working full time every day.

Often, an inner voice urges me to accomplish more than I have done, yet another voice reminds me that I have crossed off a few bucket-list items.  Sometimes I yearn for more, but today, I choose to focus on those things that have brought me pleasure and a sense of fulfillment.

Writing tops my list of achievements.  No, I cannot proclaim a best-seller, but I did publish my first book, Peaks and Valleys.  The non-fiction memoir begins in the 50’s in my childhood hometown of Pine Lawn, Missouri.  As indicated by the title, many of the tales brought a smile to my face as I wrote them.  Some of them were written as tears fell from my eyes.  Revisiting the happy, and sometimes painful, times of my life had a therapeutic consequence.  When I finished, it brought me peace, comfort and an appreciation for the experiences that made me whom I am today.  The journey is worth taking, for everyone.  I hope others will be inspired to follow my path and clean out a few of their own closets along the way.  The book is available through Amazon.com and Kindle.

I also wrote a second book, Burning Embers, for which I am currently searching for a publisher.  Writing a romance/suspense novel in thirty days was not on my original bucket list, rather it was a challenge introduced to me through a writing club that I joined named Pen to Paper Writing Club.  I found the experience so rewarding that I drafted an outline for my next novel which I will begin shortly.  Who knew I had an imagination?

The poet in me continues to surface whenever I cannot find the words to speak directly to friends and family.  I have contemplated publishing some of my poems, but finding gratification in the positive effect the words provide the person for whom they were written is enough for now.

As a multi-tasking person, all that writing wasn’t quite enough to keep me busy, so I began this blog.  My social media skills are limited and until one of my fellow writers encouraged me, I had never visited a blog site.  Now I follow a few that tickle my interests or touch my soul.  I’m still in the beginning stages, but I find it another way to release the writer in me. (http://authordianemhow.com)

More recently, I began volunteering with VITAS Hospice Care as a Story Keeper.  This rewarding opportunity entails recording life stories of patients who are in hospice care so that they may leave a treasure for their loved ones and future generations.  I wrote about my first visit in one of my blogs.  It is amazing how God directs us on our journey to the right place at the right time.  If you have any doubts about following His lead, read When you volunteer are you giving or receiving?.

Every day has not been as uncomplicated as this post makes it sound, but as I said, today, I am sticking with the positive, happy times.  My husband and I have found time to fish, gamble and spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend.  We’ve even managed to get in a few short trips to Branson, Lake of the Ozarks and Georgia.  Lunch and dinner dates fill a few of the squares on my calendar and provide me with the chance to catch up with family, friends, former co-workers and my wonderful Girl Scout buddies.

I yearn to know what memories filter through when you look back a few days, months or years.

Joy, joy, joy


Sometimes joy spills over from one day to the next, like a baseball winning streak.  I love when that happens.

The abundance of springtime pleasures, like sunny skies, luscious green lawns and trees that are cloaked with leaves, helps to keep my mood elevated.

Thursday evening my husband and I had dinner with my daughter, her boyfriend and his three members of his family, who were visiting from South Carolina.  We tried a new barbeque place that came highly recommended.  It turned out to be a shack, literally.  Fortunately, everyone accepted the accommodations without complaint.  Good food and good company made for a pleasant evening.

Friday, the plans were to visit the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis with the visiting family.  Storms rolled in from the west and we cancelled those plans.  Instead, we all met at a large nearby nursery where we spent an hour or two enjoying the abundance of flowers and plants.  The pleasant substitution fulfilled my urge to see mother natures’ bountiful display and to purchase a few additions for our garden.

Saturday morning I sat at the computer, frustrated that I had not found words to fill the pages of the document on the screen.  For three weeks, I tried to compose a poem to present to my brother-in-law at his eightieth birthday party.  Suddenly, my fingers began pecking at the keyboard and words appeared, as they often do.  I have found that I just need to receive them when God is ready to send them my way.

In the afternoon we attended a wonderful outdoor party for the octogenarian.  The temperatures neared 100 degrees and the humidity left everyone drenched, yet visiting with extended family on such a joyous occasion made the conditions bearable and well worth the brow wiping.

When I returned home Saturday night, I delighted in reading a post on Facebook announcing the husband of a dear friend received a phone call for a life-saving liver transplant that he desperately needed for months.

An email from my brother informed me that another relative had made significant advances in recovering from a debilitating illness.  I believe it is a sign that prayers are being answered, even if the message came with a cautiously optimistic warning.

By the time I attended church on Sunday, my cup overflowed with blessings.

I hurried home from church anxious to get an update on the condition of the liver transplant recipient.  Much to my dismay, our internet service did not work.

Computers are my nemesis.  I have a love/hate relationship with them.  My ignorance consumes many frustrating hours when something goes amiss.

I don’t really understand the difference between a router and a modem; much less know how to make them function properly after a glitch occurs.

After trying the standard options of disconnecting and restarting the pc and laptop, I turned to my husband for help.  Understanding that he shares the same limited knowledge, I watched as he completed all the familiar procedures that I performed.

He successfully restored the internet access on his personal computer.  Relieved that I could get an update on the condition of my friend’s husband, I could sleep peacefully and tackle the rest of the problem on Monday.

Unfortunately, the wireless access continued to elude my laptop.  Rain dripped down from the cloudy skies, threatening to dampen my spirits, but I am not one to lose my patience easily.

My frustration level did not rise until I realized that I could not print from my laptop without the internet connection.  On my umpteenth try, I decided to move a few wires to another port and managed to restore the connection.

After cheering and exchanging a high-five with my husband, I tried to contain the feeling of superiority that overcame me momentarily.

Life regained momentum in a positive direction.  Now, if the clouds part long enough to get a walk in, I’ll continue the winning streak.