Category Archives: Women Writing for (a) Change

A return to India!

I have karma with India for sure. But what is this every five years cycle about?

I am happily returning. It couldn’t be better: stay with my friend and writing sister Rashma Kalsie and her family (once again). Nothing like having your own personal tour guide. But this is a working vacation. Rashma, self-described bitch, I a reluctant Buddha, have a book to promote.

The Buddha & the Bitch: 2 Women, 2 Worlds, 1 Practice is soon to be available from Hay House Publishing (India). Rashma and I will visit bookstores in greater New Delhi and give talks and workshops. This book, you see, was my reason for the trip five years ago in 2013. We had a plan to create a book of the story of how we met along with two years of discussions about our different lives as women and, most importantly, women captivated by words, i.e., that special species known as women writers.

So I traveled to New Delhi Thanksgiving 2013, saw the Taj Mahal, honored the memory of Mohatma Gandhi, shopped for souvenirs, shared roads with cows and other creatures. After a week with her family, we took a plane to Chennai in South India. Pondicherry was where we began work on our book.

Now it has come to fruition. I owe it to Rashma; she is the assertive one who got Hay House to notice us. I swore her name should go first on the book.

As I sit here writing in Cincinnati, Ohio, I await a long distance delivery of a carton of 50 copies of the book. It might come today, certainly by the end of the week. I have orders already from my Thursday Morning writing class at Women Writing for (a) Change plus others via Facebook. Once we have all the details, I will have an ad via FB and also alert readers here on my blog.

I also plan to blog my trip to India with the adventures of two women promoting their book.

But back to this five year cycle to India: it began with the holiday of Holi in Varanasi. Two of us accompanied a professor who wanted to return. We paid her way and she was our Western guide. The Goddess temples drew me and the Mother protected us along the journey. But that’s another story.

If I return in another five years, I’ll be 73. I just don’t know. Already I must bring medication I didn’t require five years earlier. But I will no longer think–I won’t go back–since this obviously doesn’t work!

Jay Mata Di! Victory to the Mother! May she bless our book and all who read it.

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My mother would have been 85 today

April 9th is a date that stands out for me: it is the date of my mother’s birth.

Today she would have been 85. Always easy to remember because she was twenty when I was born and twenty is an easy number for me to add to my own birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom (wherever ‘you’ are)!

I want to share the poem I wrote about my last day on Earth with her in March 2007. All five of her children plus two spouses were there, crowded in that hospice room at Ft. Hamilton Hospital. We Beisers, at least, seem to be a stubborn bunch! I’ve been told by several nurse friends that their experience is that people often die when you leave the room. But my siblings and I were not budging.

To honor and memorialize my mother (Irene “Shirley” Hornsby), I read my poem at my Thursday class at Women Writing for (a) Change this morning. We were having a readaround where we take turns sharing a piece we wrote. So, by popular demand, (at least from family and friends on Facebook), below is the poem:

Breath

It was her death, after all;
I was only an observer.
Lung cancer or not,
it all comes down to the breath.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Towards the end, a final gasp.
My little sister, a nurse’s aide,
watched for signs:
See that blue, the
mottled colors on her feet–
the oxygen is lessening.
It all comes down to the breath.
Breathe in, breathe out.

Later I called Jeri the conductor,
the family guide to mom’s passing.
When I, the last, reached the room
my little sister informed our mother
that all five of her children were there.
She had fought hard and now
it was okay to let go.
Earlier that day–
eyes seeing something we could not—
our mother exclaimed
“amazing” with no explanation.
We like to remember the joy
in that moment; meanwhile,
it all comes down to the breath.
Breathe in, breathe out.

When it was time she opened her eyes.
The look did not include us.
There in that room
with all her children watching,
she died with her mouth open.
The nurse checked her heartbeat
then told us she was gone.
She took the oxygen tube out
of our mother’s nostrils.
She asked me to turn the tanks off.

First one, then the other.
Suddenly so silent.
No more humming,
that nagging but necessary
noise of artificial breath
that had haunted her
those final few months.
No more need for these
tanks and tubes.

2:25 on a Sunday morning
and all we could do was
breathe in, breathe out.
It all comes down to the breath.

Aside

I am a woman with wings. No ordinary bird but a mythological one, one you might meet in your dreams. I have no name, I am spirit. I choose to retreat…from life…into life. I choose to rest and read and write … Continue reading

Writing retreat

I am at my laptop the last evening of the writing retreat. I am not far from home although others are. Distance is a funny thing–it can be geographical or mental. Eleven women trained by Mary Pierce Brosmer as teachers in Women Writing for a Change practices are here at the Transfiguration Spirituality Center in Glendale, Ohio. It is a (usually) annual retreat. I missed last year so I was happy to retreat this year.
We begin and end in a large circle, just as we do in classes. In between writing and discussion we eat, are in small groups getting and giving feedback, did I say eat?, and conclude our evenings with wine and laughter. We share stories from our lives, joke, touch on Big Questions. Some of us have known one another for years, decades even. It’s a sisterhood on many levels. We have shared in ways you can when you are intentional on a retreat.
I really just wanted to have this experience documented–until the next retreat, I hope.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see my mother

[This is a pantoum. If it seems like lines keep repeating themselves, they’re supposed to in a pantoum!]

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see my mother.
She is gone now, passed into another dimension.
I heard her voice once when I was gardening.
Her wind chimes send messages when I least expect them.

She is gone now, passed into another dimension.
I inherited her cheekbones and stubborn disposition.
Her wind chimes send messages when I least expect them.
I hear, “relax – don’t worry – all will be well.”

I inherited her cheekbones and stubborn disposition.
She was fiery and often showed it.
I hear, “relax – don’t worry – all will be well.”
I am grateful for all she taught me.

She was fiery and often showed it.
I like those reminders when a breeze is blowing.
I am grateful for all she taught me.
Our lives so different; I learned from her.

I like those reminders when a breeze is blowing.
I heard her voice once when I was gardening.
Our lives so different; I learned from her.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see my mother.

Phebe

written in December in the poetry class led by Mary Pierce Brosmer at Women Writing for (a) Change

Being Awake to Changes

Last week, the New Media Circle of Women Writing for (a) Change recorded our own podcast! We shared pieces we had written to the topic “Being Awake to Changes — in our life, at Women Writing for (a) Change, or the world.”

To hear this podcast, visit www.http://podcast.womenwriting.org/

These sort of assignments with deadlines force me to face the laptop screen. I began with an urge to look out the window where I witnessed a squirrel savoring the sweetness of a walnut. S/he had paused from gathering food for the winter to enjoy a taste, take a moment to savor. From the Old French savour, from Latin, saporem “taste, flavor,” savor is a word that transcends literal eating. As examples, I savor my time with this podcasting group and I savor the writing classes I take or teach with this organization that is “so much more than a writing school.”

Something about Fall makes me more reflective than usual. I look at how active my retired life is and have only myself to blame (or credit). Lately I have felt I must take a firm look at all my commitments and set some boundaries. An example: a new friend asking me to go see the film about Amelia Earhart. I didn’t have a time all week that would work. There is something wrong here! (And you might well remark that, if this is my biggest problem late October, my life is good! And you’d be right!)

So I swear I will take the lesson from the squirrel and make time to savor fall, my animal companions, friends, and life in the upcoming months. Perhaps there’s a lesson here for all my readers. Remember the squirrel!

gratitude

I’ve been AWOL from my blog for a few weeks. I had a head cold for two weeks and realized, finally, that I needed to quit fighting it and allow myself to rest. The first thing I am grateful for is that it was just a cold and not allergies.

The second thing I’m grateful for is that I got to teach two classes this summer. One was an in person class at Women Writing for (a) Change. I taught the Wednesday morning summer class in our building in ‘the heart of Silverton.’ Of the twelve women, six were brand new to WWfaC. What a privilege to turn them on to the processes of this community. The other class was an online class through Catherine of Siena Virtual College. Ten women from all over the world gathered six Saturday mornings (EST) and shared fastwrites and readbacks. Amazing! Did I mention? I got paid, too! This summer proved the saying ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’

I am also grateful for these past few days when we’ve had a glimpse of my favorite season — Fall. I have made excuses to be outside to feel the breezes. Life just feels good! I hope it does for you as well, dear readers!