I’m thrilled to share the collaboration has begun with an amazing illustrator for my first children’s book!! The release date will be later this year, specifics TBD. This road is one I haven’t traveled before, so a learning curve is ever present. But the journey will be delightful as I watch my adorable character come to life in color on pages through beautiful illustrations. Not to mention, the important message included in the story for both children and adults. More information will follow throughout the year as progress moves forward, and I’m sporting a Big smile…
So, food for thought in haiku form…
visualize dreams transform into intentions rewards lie in wait
As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, the progress for my upcoming book, Ever So Gently, is slowly advancing. Life has interrupted at times, but the plan is to release it next month. For the cover, I wanted a minimalist design with soothing shades to complement the title and message I’m conveying. I may play around with the font and placing of the text, but below is a mock sample:
A snippet from the introduction:
“Ever So Gently expresses how I welcome nature’s offerings. The gentle way in which I should react to life’s challenges. The gentle grace in my heart that is full of gratitude for the love in my life, for being loved. For the support of my family and friends through every stumble and every celebration. When I greet a new day, I am reminded to breathe and live gently. We live in a world riddled with chaos and tragedy, but beauty surrounds us if we open our eyes. I may not always succeed in gentle, but if I slip up, I will try again. A variety of emotions is felt throughout the collection because life can be joyful, but it can also be messy. As to the style of poetry, most are free verse, but since I enjoy trying different forms, I’ve included syllabic poetry as well.
Style notwithstanding, the purpose of compiling this collection is for you, the reader, to discover at least one, but hopefully, a few poems that will evoke a special memory or remind you that you are not alone living with the emotions in your heart. Perhaps you’ll get a good laugh or experience an aha moment. Most importantly, when you turn the last page, I hope you discover the reward of living Ever So Gently.“
Thank you for reading and for your wonderful support in the past! Stay tuned for more information on both books in future posts. May your weekend be filled with adventure and big smiles! ❤️
I found this form of Cinquain poetry and decided to give it a try. I’m sharing eight poems and would love to hear if any of them resonate or stand out for you. Don’t be shy. Some are serious and some are simply fun. The rules are:
Didactic Cinquain Poem Form 1:
This is a very popular form of cinquain that instead of incorporating stress and syllables, it uses word counts.
The first line is one word which is the title of the poem.
The second line contains two words which are adjectives that describe the title.
The third line has three words that tell the reader more about the subject of the poem or show action. Many times these words are gerunds that end with -ing.
The fourth line has four words that show emotions about the subject of the poem and may be individual words or a phrase.
The fifth line is one word that is a synonym of the title or is very similar to it.
And now for the poems and some of my photos:
Emotions Raw, hurtful Aching, reeling, falling Catches you by surprise Reactions
In the midst of working on my upcoming poetry collection, I carved out time to read some wonderful books. They piled up, waiting for reviews to be written, and I finally finished. All are well worth the five stars I give them, and the order in which they’re presented is irrelevant, as well as the length of my reviews. I enjoyed all of these books equally. There is something here for everyone: for poetry lovers, crime novel enthusiasts, and those who enjoy an entertaining and authentic memoir. I hope you dive in!
Lion Scream by Robbie Cheadle – An effective poetry collection conveying a vital message.
While I turned the pages of Robbie Cheadle’s new book, I became enlightened. I absorbed the information she includes about South African wildlife and the vital message that flows seamlessly from beginning to end. Lion Scream is a unique and touching collection of poetry that takes the reader on a journey to learn about the wildlife in South Africa from Robbie’s personal experiences in the bush, but not to omit “their plight in the face of the Sixth Mass Extinction.” Her passion for wildlife is surely felt throughout the pages.
A wide variety of animals are highlighted in this collection with stunning, color photos. Animals range from lions, tigers, cheetahs, hippos, and elephants to the Hadeda bird that I had never heard of before. Robbie profoundly expresses how the habitats of these incredible animals have been lost due to global warming, and how the animals’ safety has been compromised due to the evil actions of humans, all because of greed. Robbie’s emotions are palpable through her powerful and sometimes distressing poems. The book takes a detour in the end with a short story that touches on mental health, but the story ties into the initial issue of global warming and the lost habitats.
Robbie’s poem entitled, “Lion Scream” may be short, but its message is concise and effective:
There is no jungle/Only acres of smooth stumps/There is no jungle/No habitat, no food source/Hopeless lion screams tonight
And below is a verse from the heartbreaking poem “Rhino Dilemma” –
Savage men move quickly/Hack out valued horn/Animal left bleeding; awakes to sure death/Tears of pain and anguish/Slide from fading eyes
Years ago, I read two non-fiction books about elephants, and I instantly fell in love with them. So, reading Robbie’s poems about these amazing animals and the poaching horrors they endure is beyond heart wrenching. But a few poems are playful, painting a delightful picture:
Now it’s time for some fun/Trunk draws in water/Up it comes, spraying a fountain overhead/Cool drops sprinkle downward/She trumpets with joy
A few of Robbie’s poems made me smile, but most tugged at my heart because of the serious issues of extinction, human actions that result in the animals’ suffering, and climate change. Anyone who wishes to become educated on these issues or who wishes to foster a solution where humans and animals can contentedly coexist should read Lion Scream. Highly recommended.
Poet’s Touch by Kamal Roohani – Beautiful expressions of loving life!
Poet’s Touch by Kamal Roohani is a delightful collection of freestyle poetry that I savored over several days. Each poem evokes an emotion, most are uplifting, but a tinge of sadness lies in a few. I kept Kamal’s lovely book on our coffee table, so each morning I read a few poems while enjoying my cup. I’ve followed Kamal’s blog for a while now, and I find her passion for living is just as apparent in this collection as it is in each of her blog posts. She writes about life, her love of nature, adding a touch of romance. After reading Kamal’s beautiful poetry that often exudes wisdom to live by, I had no doubt that she views life as beautiful, which is reiterated in one of her poems:
Life is a beautiful journey/Do what makes you happy/Let go of things you do not want/And she will take you by her hand/Upon the spiritual doorways of bliss
Kamal inspires her readers effortlessly to feel elation and gratitude as she does when receiving the gift of a new day. Her poem entitled “Key to Happiness” is a leading example:
Unlocking the key to happiness Is purely in your gentle hands. Break open the chains Of tarnished rust Smeared with greasy stains Worn out beyond repairs. Let go of fears that befall you, Oil the locks with golden waves. They will fall as thunderous roars And shatter to imaginative pieces. Once the doors are wide open Happiness enters with a wide grin Radiating the entire room With bundles of infectious delights Snugly tiptoeing in Hearts Made of song and dance And with a pinch of humor Opening gateways to love.
Another favorite is “I Thought to Myself” where Kamal pens “Happily upon the silvery greens/and in this profound silence/a captivating moment of peace/I realized that I am the sphere/and all life in rhythmic fragments/moves within Me.
Poet’s Touch is Kamal’s debut poetry book with a lovely cover created by her son, but I hope she releases more books in the future. Highly recommended for poetry lovers and for anyone who welcomes inspiration and a reminder that life truly is a gift.
The Lilac Notebook by Carol Balawyder – A compelling crime novel unlike any I’ve read before!
The Lilac Notebook touches on three intense subjects: Alzheimer’s, Incest, and Murder. The mystery component is accompanied with the main protagonist, Holly, being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Sadly, she follows in her mother’s footsteps. She’s also been married for two decades to a controlling man who can’t be burdened with her disease. So, Holly finds herself on her own, dealing with the slow declining of her mind. But she meets and befriends two women along the way; both have been abused in their childhood, but both view the abuse from opposite spectrums. And of all things to happen, Holly discovers a dead body! She loses her ability to speak and write, but she can formulate thoughts, and perseveres to the end to find the killer!
Carol Balawyder does a superb job in keeping the reader engaged until the last page. Along with telling a story that kept me on the edge of my seat, she incorporates facts about Alzheimer’s. My brother-in-law passed away years ago from this horrible disease, and even though my sister is a nurse, the effects drained her. It was heartbreaking for her to see the love of her life transform through the various phases, and it was heartbreaking for me to witness her caring for him.
Throughout this compelling murder mystery, I felt compassion for Holly, fearful for her safety, and questioned the trustworthiness of her two new friends. Other supporting characters had me wondering if they were the murderer. This book is a real nail-biter for those who enjoy crime novels, but also for anyone whose life has been intruded by Alzheimer’s. Carol inserts a plethora of information, so reading this story is a way to gain more knowledge on this disease. Highly recommended!
Hidden in Childhood – A moving poetry anthology edited by Gabriela Marie Milton.
Hidden in Childhood is a poetry anthology consisting of the works from 150 poets and edited by Gabriela Marie Milton. The poems are written about the good and the bad as indicated on the cover. Some reflect upon wonderful memories in childhood, the fairytales, while others return to the horrors, the memories wished to be erased. The writing is beautiful, raw, emotional, delightful, and heartfelt in varying styles. It was difficult to read about the horrors, but I respect the authors for telling their story to the world through this poignant collection. My heart broke when reading about the unthinkable scenarios that were so very real. But throughout the book, I also felt joy.
There are too many poems to list that stood out. Several either made my heart sing or cracked it in two. And with the length of this anthology, I prefer not to name any favorites. Every poem is well written, and I congratulate Gabriela in compiling this large collection of emotional writing. I applaud all the contributors, and my heart goes out to the authors whose horrific memories continue to haunt them. I highly recommend this book for all poetry lovers but warn your heart of the hidden truths. We were all children at one time but reading the ‘stories’ in this book will inform that everyone’s experience simply is not the same. Highly recommended.
Grow Damn It! By Cheryl Oreglia – An honest, entertaining, and relatable telling of life!
Grow Damn It! is a collection of essays that interlace into a memoir of moments that made me double over in laughter and turn inward, reflecting on my own life. For anyone living their second half of life, this book is for you! Cheryl tells it like it is. She doesn’t hold back, speaks the truth, and adds humor that is the perfect ingredient to make this book an enjoyable read. But along with laughter, some stories tugged at my heart, and many were relatable being around the same age as her. I also found subtle messages of wisdom to grasp and live by sprinkled throughout the turning of the pages. Her writing is so relaxed that I felt like the two of us were sitting on the patio one summer evening enjoying a glass of wine, catching up about marriage, children, grandchildren, and even dealing with loss of loved ones.
I had many favorites, but to name a few, I could relate to “After You Say I Do” when she writes about her long-time marriage. Having been happily married to my husband for thirty-four years, her words truly touched home. “Life Turns On Small Choices” made me pause when I read about her finding out that her son had been in an accident – the phone call no parent wants to answer. In “Can I Tell You About My Day?” Cheryl talks about sheltering in place during the early days of the pandemic. An example of her humor begins the story, “Good, because if I don’t let it out, it’s going to escape in some other form and, at my age, excessive flatulence is unbecoming!” But setting humor aside, this story ends on a serious note with a valuable life lesson from three precious little girls.
Another favorite is “Honey, I’m Home Forever” in which she inserts these lines that I agree with, “The thing is, home is not the house, or the town in which you live. It’s the people you love and the ones who love you, and it’s not just when you get together. It’s not a place but the experience of each other that creates a shelter as if bricks, one that you carry with you for your entire life, that’s home.” And yet another story that resonates since both of my parents have passed, and my father-in-law just turned 100 years old is “25 Things I Wish I had Asked My Parents.” My father-in-law still gets peppered with questions from his family, and his mind is as sharp as ever. But new questions pop up now and then that I wish I had asked my parents. I can’t help but hold a few tiny regrets.
I could go on and on telling you about the stories that were special to me. All the essays form a wonderful memoir full of life, love, laughter, and tears, and yes, Growth! Highly recommended for entertainment, reflection, and for being reminded that life is meant to live fully!
Grief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau – a beautiful, poetic tribute to loved ones who have passed.
Grief Songs is a beautiful memoir written as a collection of poetry about the author’s loved ones who have passed. Most of the poems are written in tanka style which is a syllabic form of Japanese poetry consisting of five lines: 5/7/5/7/7. But even though the words are few, they portray memorable images and pack in emotions that are easily felt. Elizabeth’s words are emotionally personal and complemented by lovely family photos. I found this collection to be a wonderful tribute to her family members who have passed but whose love for them remains in her heart. It is also a book that keeps the special memories alive.
A couple poems that warm my heart are:
On the Porch
brother and sister brave howling winds, snow’s cruel bite safely on the porch snowsuit swish, smile for Daddy no memory of that day
nightly ritual strategic choice of story Daddy called it Time wait till your father gets home not a threat but a promise
“Boy Scout Badge” reminds me of our son’s great experiences in Boy Scouts and all the badges he earned with my husband’s guidance:
walk a dusty road distance meritorious no badge without proof Daddy matched him step for step hot August sun beating down
“For a Crooked Smile” made my heart pause:
oh, that crooked smile he was my little brother teller of tall tales he smiled for me one last time around the tube in his throat
As well as “Grief Song III” –
I held her hand/as she lay dying/death rattle/in my throat
I highly recommend this lovely poetry collection for a chance to remember, to smile, and to even let a tear slide once again. After reading Elizabeth’s poems, I appreciate her opening the door into her life through her heartfelt writing. We all have lost loved ones, so this book is a comforting reminder to keep those precious memories in the forefront of our minds.
Thank you for reading, and I do hope you find one or a few of these amazing books to snuggle up with in those much-needed quiet moments.
Have you ever sensed the tingling of a feeling arriving without a label? It stirs through your reflections, your layers, and you find yourself walking around in a daze where reality offers no place of comfort. So, the sun sets for the moon, but what does this clarify? One thing is certain – within the constellations, among the celestial stars, this emotion finds balance, graciously treasuring the safety it has stumbled upon.
He cares for his father whose body tires of everyday functions, pain raging at cyclone force from ninety-nine years of living a lifetime. Our emotions undulate – who wishes to watch a loved one suffer?
Another week of work comes to an end. With glass of wine in hand, we exhale on the patio. Then the sun says, “Good night, my dear friends,” as he gently descends, making room for the moon.
And when the moon appears, Oh, My! She takes our breath away! Bright and bold as if she senses we could use light in our souls.
We open the gate and walk into the street for an unobstructed view. Under the illumination, a woman pauses with her dog, a husky mix, with fur white as an arctic fox, another rescue, she tells us, and our hearts leap with joy.
The moon pays attention to us as the patio welcomes again. Most importantly, she listens. And though the stars act a bit bashful, they eavesdrop and we are fine that they do.
The moon and stars hear us, just an ordinary couple enjoying a Friday evening but with heavy hearts. Their absolute attention, imagine this, out of all eyes gazing at the brilliant sky – we know the moon’s lustrous presence is for us alone, and we are aware that the panoply of stars will shimmer into view soon.
Then we rise from our seats and head into the house, feeling relaxed from the wine’s fluidity, and appreciative that our troubles have been received.
For inspiration to notice surrounding beauty, to feel gratitude, to face challenges and fears while sipping your favorite coffee roast or a beverage of your choice, check out my latest book:More than Coffee.
This post is darker than most of mine, but life isn’t always rosy, so writing about those difficult times when we question our feelings can be therapeutic. Have you found yourself in a similar situation?
**************************************************************** For inspiration to notice surrounding beauty, to feel gratitude, to face challenges and fears while sipping your favorite coffee roast or another beverage of your choice, check out my latest book: More than Coffee.
Dear Mom, I know you’re listening from above, so I need you to know that I’m sorry for moving in and out of the house so many times, for putting you through that emotional turmoil. Although, I couldn’t have known back then what you were feeling, but I understand now. I realize how much your heart ached. The emptiness, the thought of your youngest leaving the nest. The strong wish to protect and keep me safe. I’m walking in those shoes now, dealing with the discomfort, and honestly, it’s not a trip to Disneyland. But I know in time, the discomfort will lessen. I don’t think it will ever disappear for good, but I know I’ll feel more at peace as the calendar pages flip.
Those were the days when my parent’s door was revolving – when I strived to find my way into the vast world outside of their home. Today, our youngest, our son, left home for the first time. Not for college, not for his internship, but for a taste of independence. The caveat is that his apartment is across the country. He’ll live closer to our daughter and son-in-law who also live on the east coast. And while this fact brings joy, I still wish their paths could have been paved on the west. Maybe someday. Or maybe, we’ll uproot and head east. The future remains a giant neon question mark.
The weekend prior to his leaving was spent with the three of us, my husband, him, and I celebrating this new adventure, as well as ours as empty nesters. Great food and wine, nostalgic conversation that at times provoked tears. Then today came. We knew it was inevitable. The day that he would begin his drive across country alone. Fortunately, his first day of driving would only be four hours, so he didn’t have to leave early in the morning. This gave him time to relax, to take one more look around the house and make sure he packed everything he needed, and to walk our dog with me one last time. He has never liked being in photos, but since this occasion rings differently in that he’s moving away, he conceded to selfies of the both of us once we reached the top of the hill, along with photos of him and his lab.
Then just as he was about to start his car for the first leg of his journey, we took selfies of the three of us: mom, dad, son. Smiles, funny expressions, all concealing the tears of what was about to come, the hugs and the “see you later.” Talk about emotions! But we got through it, and then we watched him back out of the driveway and wave to us as he rolled down the street, embarking on this exciting journey. My husband and I let the tears flow in the drama of the moment.
The pros of technology come in handy when our son can send a text in seconds, telling us that he arrived safely. Those few words including “love you all” with a heart emoji allows us to breathe again. That was his first drive. Day One. He’ll have six days of driving across country where the seventh will be the day he is handed his new apartment keys. A moment of joy, celebration, adult independence, but also nostalgia, knowing he’ll miss us, his dog, and his childhood home. It was tough for our Labrador because his doggie brain doesn’t understand the words his brother says to him. Giving those last hugs to his chocolate lab tugged at the heart. If only our beloved pets could speak our language. During the day, our lovable lab meandered into our son’s room. I have no doubt, he not only sensed his brother’s absence, but he sensed something had changed today. As smart as our furry family member can be, I’m sure he felt the profoundness of it all.
The quiet in the house is LOUD, but we know with time, the volume will soften into a sense of normalcy. Walking into his bedroom, the bare walls and empty shelves incite a wave of emotions that hit me like a tsunami. As we anticipated the day he would leave, we selfishly begged for time to slow down. Now, moving through the week to day 5, he is on his way to visit his sister and brother-in-law. We are thrilled that our kids will get a chance to visit. But we also wish for time to speed up, for him to safely arrive at his new home, the final stop on the road trip.
Two more days to go. I have never felt such an affinity for my cell phone before as I wait for his text messages to ping each evening. The tears flow less frequently now that he is over the hump of the week, but they’re still very much present, finding their freedom every now and then. They fall out of joy, from missing him, and from unleashing the tenacious worry. I feel as if I’m holding my breath while he continues to blaze through the many state lines. I’ll be able to exhale once he arrives and embraces those keys in his hand.
On the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, we are so proud of him, so excited for him to walk through the door of this new chapter. It’s what we’ve always wanted but knowing the moment of him leaving home would render tears and emptiness, too.
Eventually, my husband and I will embrace this empty nest for the precious gift it is to us now as a couple, and for what it means regarding our children – a gift from them as they are able to live life to the fullest in their adult years. We will find our new rhythm through the new empty nest chapter in our family story. And we couldn’t be more excited to make memories in their new homes. Let the journey continue!
I posted about this soon after he moved out, butIt’s been over a year now. He’s settled into his new life and so have we. Between flights, phone calls, and texts, we stay connected. Yes, we miss him as much as we miss our daughter, but the silver lining is that they’re living their lives,spreading their wings, the natural progression of life. We couldn’t be prouder.