They Say (a poem)

It’s so much easier for me to write about the fun parts of fall than it has been to talk about the difficult summer that I’m so glad is behind me. I kept feeling I should write about it–that emotion, our hard times, are the inspiration behind the fruit of our best work. Sometimes, though, life is so hard, you can’t write about it until it’s behind you. You can’t write in the dark…no matter what they say.

They Say
By: Amanda K. Fowler

They say
you can feel bad things coming
in the wind.
But I say
it’s not true.
In the heat
of summer,
I felt nothing at all
when disaster struck
three times in three weeks.
I felt nothing
when three of my loved ones,
pieces of my heart,
fell away from me.
I felt nothing,
till I got one back,
the one I needed the most–
his near-death only near,
thank God–
and then I felt everything.

They say
water is the soother
for us all–
it is how we were born,
after all;
it cradles us,
easing the gravity
of everything.
It cleanses us.
But the waves I felt this summer
were the wrong water:
tears instead of surf.

They say
you can feel it
when summer shifts to fall,
when leaves retire
to the splendor of their finest moment–
and this time,
I agree–
it’s a slow goodbye kiss,
a healing, scabbing cool.
I feel the wind
blowing away the ash,
carrying away
the burns of summer,
finally behind me.

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Happy Easter & Happy Earth Day!

Oh readers, I’ve missed you! Life has been SO busy and demanding of my time lately (how dare it?), but mostly good. Tonight, the waitress at my sushi date with Jeremiah brought me an entire pot of tea for myself, which I was more than happy to drink all of…

View image on Twitter

 

…but less happy to be experiencing that slow-release of caffeine, still. I thought I would jot off a quick blog post before sleeping/staring at my ceiling. 😉

I’ve fallen terribly behind in my blog challenges–so tonight resumes with “H” in topic (see blog title) and form (haiku) for A-to-Z and NaPoWriMo!

I hope you had a Happy Easter, dear readers! Mine was lovely: it started with morning Easter Mass with my family, followed by Easter celebration dinner #1 with Jeremiah’s family, then concluded with Easter dinner #2 with my family. It was wonderful to spend the day so meaningfully with so many people I loved–and the spring weather was just gorgeous!

This is my official Easter bonnet! 😉 Left to right: me, Jeremiah, Jeremiah’s mom, Sarah, and Jessie ❤

Easter Treats

By: Amanda K. Fowler

Eggs full of candy–
But unlocked sweetness inside
Your heart is the treat.

 

I hope your Easter was just as lovely, dear readers–and I hope you have a Happy Earth Day, too!

Thank you for bearing with me as I adjust to the demands on my schedule. I hope to bring you more posts soon! 🙂

Fruity Little Poem: Ode to a Key Lime” | A-to-Z NaPoWriMo

Hello, dear readers! I hope, despite the bad rap it tends to get, that your Monday was pleasant. Mine was–I got to spend time shopping with my dad, followed by a book-talk-sushi-date with Jeremiah, topped off with this:

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt took me far down memory lane–back to high school, to be specific. Upon reading the prompt, I realized I’d already written a poem that matched it perfectly, from a similar assignment in Senior AP English. While I searched for the poem in the archives of my computer, I found many, many pieces of writing, including fiction, poetry, a screenplay, critical essays, memoir-style essays, and more. I even found chapters from the original version of the YA fantasy novel I’m currently working on. (Thank goodness I restarted it anew…) I was shocked to see how much I’d written, not just as a student, but also in my free time, and it’s amazing to me how long it took me to decide to be a professional writer. 😉 I was also grateful to discover the acquisition of my degrees in English and Writing & Publishing was time and money well-spent, considering my vast improvement–though I still catch vestiges of sentimental romanticism creeping into corners of my work from time to time.

NO! Bad sentimentalism!

Luckily, I found this poem wasn’t sappy–but rather tart. 😉

Today’s prompt is to write a love poem . . . but the object of the poem should be inanimate. You can write a love poem to your favorite pen, the teddy bear you had as a child (and maybe still have), or anything else, so long as it’s not alive!

Ode to a Key Lime
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Bright green:
A color usually associated with jealousy.
But you, little one,
Are more envied than envying.

Exotic in origin;
Nothing commonplace about you.
Divorce yourself from your family,
Take your own name and the equatorial beach house.

Beautiful, perfect fruit;
Bewitch your victims into biting your bitter flesh.
Intoxicating, electrifying;
They can’t stop drinking till your body is drained.

Prima donna of flora,
Grace us with your presence!
We eagerly await your renaissance all year,
Only to have to part after so few months.

Pies, juices, garnishes;
Tart though you may be,
We find a way to glorify you;
For you deserve the honor of kings.

“Charm for Happiness,” “Dancing,” & “Eternity”: Poems for A-to-Z NaPoWriMo

Hello, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! It seems spring is coming here in fits and starts, which is making for some pretty weather–and lovely poetry inspiration. 🙂 This weekend, I got to visit Jeremiah’s farm; take a long walk with my mom; and play ukulele music (my newest instrument to learn!) to celebrate a birthday party against the backdrop of springtime drizzle and fog. These picturesque experiences have inspired my poetry for tonight.

Today’s post is catching up on letters C, D, and E for the A-to-Z Challenge, and the corresponding NaPoWriMo poems (the prompts, for which, I will post directly above the poem, along with the inspiration).

In keeping with today’s status as the third day of NaPoWriMo, I challenge you to write a charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme.

When I read this prompt, I wondered what kind of charm I would come up with, if I had the power for it (beyond just my pen 😉 ). I immediately thought of the conversations I’ve been having with multiple people lately on the elusiveness–and importance–of happiness. I know there are a few things that are guaranteed to perk up my mood, and they’ve gone into my charm below. Feel free to borrow the spell for your own use–it just might work. 😉

Charm for Happiness
By: Amanda K. Fowler

An ocean’s tide lapping your toes,
The scent of wildflowers tickling your nose,
A cuddle or snuggle with fur or skin,
Messy epiphanies with your favorite pen,
The warmth of the sun bathing your face,
The kindness of strangers–a show of grace,
A few bars of song played with fingers or voice,
All of these things to make you rejoice.


Write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem. 

The nighttime fog last week was so gorgeous, I just had to turn it into a poem. 🙂

Dancing
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Still, dense, heavy,
Fog drapes like a blanket
Covering the night.

It hushes, hides–
But under the gleaming streetlights,
It is dancing.


The night sky is always so beautiful and vast out in the country. It’s truly awe-inspiring, and I realized–there is power in perspective. No prompt for this one; just my own idea.

Eternity
By: Amanda K. Fowler

A million stars dot the sky,
twinkling, shimmering,
ruling over their planets
and the life they hold.
I am just one pair of eyes
staring at the infinite,
but–I can cover ten stars
with just my thumb.

Two Challenges, Day Two: “April First” and “Brynhildr’s Passion” (A-to-Z & NaPoWriMo Day 1 & 2)

Hello, dear readers! Well, April is off to a busy start for me. I’ve decided to do my best with the challenges–even if the posts will be short, I’d like to attempt them. They broaden my creativity, and I would like to use them as warm-ups for the bigger writing projects I’m focusing on. I mentioned the specifics of the challenges in my last post, but I will define them here, for future reference:

A-to-Z Challenge: Every day in April (except Sundays), write a blog entry based on a topic beginning with consecutive letters (i.e., April 1 = A, etc.). The origins of the challenge are explained here.

NaPoWriMo Challenge: Every day in April, write a new poem from your own imagination of from the daily prompt here.

Without further ado, I present to you days one and two, below.

Day 1–A:

April First’s Verse Curse
By: Amanda Fowler

April Fools…
…I broke the rules.

Perhaps it’s best
I started late–
for all is jest
on this date.

Day 2–B:

Prompt: Write a poem based on a non-Greco-Roman myth. You could write a poem inspired by Norse mythology, or perhaps by one of these creatures from Japanese legend.

I consulted my resident Norse mythology expert, Jeremiah, for this prompt; he recommended Brynhildr.

Brunnhild by Gaston Bussière
Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Public domain under {{PD-1923}}

Brynhildr’s Passion

By: Amanda Fowler

The fire encircling your castle
is a ring of hate around your heart.
It will engulf you whole–
but your love could extinguish it all
if only you let it.

Christmas Snow Globe: A Reflection on Christmas Blessings

Good morning, dear readers! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I will share the details of my fabulous holiday soon (thank you loved ones for making it so), but today’s post is a reflection on my Christmas eight years ago.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Marianjoy held its annual Patient Christmas Party two weeks ago. It was lots of fun, including skits and carols. A coworker-friend of mine wrote a parody of the “Wassailing” song that we all performed; it was hilarious and went over really well. 🙂

We got to wear costumes if we wanted to, which of course means I did:

I dressed as an angel! My mom sewed the dress for me in high school, and my dad made the halo. I’ve worn the wings so many times they’re a little droopy. 😉

But the most special part of the event, for me, was the opening reflection. I asked our Spiritual Director if I could write a piece to share at the party, and she invited me to open the event.

As soon as we arranged it, I was intimidated. My mission was pure enough: I wanted to share some inspirational insights about hope at this time of year. No one *wants* to spend Christmas in a hospital–but if you look at it in a different way, it may be the most special Christmas you’ll ever have.

When I spent Christmas as an inpatient at Marianjoy eight years ago, it was such a unique experience. (I was discharged just a few days later.) I hadn’t planned it, of course, but it wasn’t cold or clinical–it was warm, friendly, encouraging, and full of love–all the things Christmas should be.

So I, the writer, the girl who is always talking, sat frozen at my keyboard for weeks, trying to think of how to put this into words. It was so important to me to get it right. Not only would my whole audience be experts on the subject, but the gift I wanted to give them was abstract and elusive, a long-shot: hope.

I must have gotten it at least a little right, because I had a lot of applause and people coming up to me afterwards thanking me for sharing it–patients, coworkers, the CEO, former therapists, nurses, and doctors. It was a terrific experience; better than I’d hoped for. 🙂

My writer’s block finally disappeared when I thought of the central image, which you can find in the title below. I hope you enjoy my speech. 🙂

“Christmas Snow Globe”
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Christmas in a hospital is kind of like a snow globe:

Frozen Snowglobe

(then I shook this snow globe, a Christmas present to Jennifer and me)

Your whole world is turned upside-down. You feel as if you’re suspended in a schedule of personal flurry, too busy with the rituals of therapy to notice that time is passing outside of your dome. And suddenly—it’s Christmas.

And—when you pause for a moment to catch your breath—you feel it. You’re not alone. You are surrounded by love and hope.

You might expect to hear something like this out of someone from the Marketing Department. But the way I really know this is I was a patient here myself eight years ago, due to a severe Traumatic Brain Injury that gave me only a 5% chance at survival.

When I came to Marianjoy, I was out of the danger zone, but I wasn’t back to myself, or back to my life. It was a transition, between nearly dying and nearly living. And I certainly hadn’t anticipated spending Christmas here.

For me, Christmas has always been about being home with family. But while I was here, I discovered a new family. I saw it in the compassionate faces of the therapists. I felt it in the healing touch of the doctors. I even tasted it, in the peppermint bark another patient had made for me, surprisingly—candy she guarded so closely that she gave my father strict instructions not to eat it before giving it to me. I guess she had a sixth sense about my father’s sweet tooth.

And I realized—I was spending Christmas here with my family, with this place that has become a home to me. It’s a family I have been blessed with, a gift I did not anticipate receiving that Christmas along with my life. Yes, Marianjoy is like a family to me—and, much like the in-laws who suggest staying after Christmas into New Year’s—they can’t get rid of me.

And so—I know this may not be how you planned to celebrate Christmas. But take it from someone who has been on this journey before: there is beauty all around you. In this snow globe—you are loved. There is hope here. We even asked for some fresh snow today. This transition is a special time in your life—and in a funny way, it is a gift. I will never forget the Christmas I spent here, and I hope yours is just as special. Merry Christmas.

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I hope you liked it, dear readers. Good luck on your New Year’s Eve preparations! If you’re not back here before then, I wish you a happy New Year full of peace, love, good health, and prosperity. ❤

Miracle Day: Eight Years After My Traumatic Brain Injury

I’ve put off writing this post until this moment, because I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every. Single. Second. of Miracle Day.

“Miracle Day” is what I’ve decided to call November 21, 2005. It was the day I almost died–but I didn’t. Last summer, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare asked me to tell my story for their annual report. Please watch this short video to learn about my journey (mobile users, click here):

I feel bad for the video editors, who had to cut down 2+ hours of my speaking about my experience into two minutes. 😉 I think they did a great job, though. There’s so much I have to say about all of this; as you may recall, I’m working on my memoir of this experience now.

Words are my gift, my tool, and I had to fight hard to get them back. Initially, I couldn’t speak, except through the American Sign Language alphabet that Jennifer and I had taught each other (half-correctly) at ages 5 and 7. Even after I was no longer intubated, my throat was damaged and my words were sludgy in my mind. With the help of some amazing therapists and the encouragement of my family and friends, along with a lot of hard (rewarding) work, I was able to make a tremendous recovery. It was this experience that taught me just how crucial communication is, and that my gift with words might be a gift indeed. It gave me the courage to be a writer, because I finally saw a way to make a difference through my writing. And I’ve never stopped.

I feel like God gave me back my life for a reason, and I have a huge sense of destiny and duty to give back and help other people. I never feel like I can do enough, and sometimes I worry I’m not working hard enough or being good enough. I know that my memoir is part of that destiny, and that’s part of what intimidates me–but also excites me–about it.

Although I only had <5% chance of surviving that injury, and even less chance of recovering to any great extent, I did. I am incredibly grateful to God and every person who helped me to come back. Each day since then has been a gift, even the bad ones, because they are days I almost didn’t have. I don’t feel like I’m living on borrowed time, but rather gifted time. My loved ones are a huge part of that gift, and I’m going to love them as hard as I can (and tell them so) to thank them for making my life so worthwhile and for all they do to keep me alive–not just when I was in the hospital bed, but also in the way they nourish my spirit and give my life purpose.

Today, Jennifer voted to wrap me in a comforter and hold me in a rocking chair by the fireplace. While I appreciated the loving thought, we deemed this too sweaty and bulky an option. Kidding aside, I feel overwhelmed by the love, congratulations, and protectiveness that surge forth on this day from loved ones. I was surprised I actually managed to convince my dad to go shopping with me today–not the shopping itself (he has always gone shopping with us and has personally found many of our best pieces), but the leaving the house on the day. But, we did have a miracle to celebrate, after all.

In retrospect, a day that might have seemed mundane was actually quite symbolic–almost eerily so. This morning, my dad picked up a collared shirt for me from Wal-Mart for my country-themed birthday celebration coming up. Eight years ago, he also picked up a couple of collared shirts for me from Wal-Mart to wear during therapy at Marianjoy. When he got back today, we left to buy a ball gown I’ve been pining over for two years, which I plan to wear (spoiler alert!) to the next Marianjoy gala. It was a far cry from the hospital gowns I was wearing as a Marianjoy patient eight years ago. To go with those hospital gowns, eight years ago, my dad had to buy me high-top gym shoes to wear in the hospital so my feet stayed upright while I slept/the muscles didn’t pronate. Today, we went shopping for shoes for my job at that hospital. We even took a picture today in our nearby downtown area, with all the Christmas lights in the background wrapped around trees and poles–pretty different than pole lights and X-rays in my hospital room. Then we ended the night with pizza, which was my #1 requested food item at Marianjoy, which they were so sweet to accommodate. So maybe I’m just reading too much YA literature, or maybe I’m just trying to justify making my dad go shopping with me, but I thought the day was awesomely symbolic.

I never feel more grateful, blessed, or awe-struck than this day, each year. It’s a nice feeling to have–it makes me feel simultaneously small in the universe and hugely impactful, predestined but powerful, loved and loving. Thank you to my family, friends, doctors, nurses, therapists, and firemen who rescued me not just from death, but from a darkness I might have entered, too. And thank you to you, my dear readers, for following my journey. ❤