A Message from the President: July 2013

I just finished a four-week online with conference calls writing workshop for stroke survivors. For some survivors it was the first time they had communicated, let alone write, about their feelings about what happened, what they experienced, what they expected. For others, while they may have ‘let it all out’ earlier, it was an opportunity to learn to use expressive writing techniques to organize and share personal reflections on their recovery.

I got to know other survivors spread across the states. And will get to know others. There were three day/time option tracks; I chose the one that was best for me. Eventually the three will be linked as the last one finishes.

There was no difference in workshop content for the three tracks other than the schedule. Each week two themes were presented with several suggested topics to write about. As we finished, we posted them on a dedicated page of a website to read and comment. Similar frustrations were the norm, even though we ran the gamut from mild residual disabilities to wheelchair-bound, recent to long-term.

The workshops were made possible by American Heart Association’s off-shoot American Stroke Association’s quarterly magazine, Stroke Connection. Debi McGill, the editor of the magazine, was in charge of the nuts-and-bolts of connecting us. It was facilitated/coached by Carol Keegan, a forty-year survivor, who had the idea of developing an expressive writing group composed of stroke survivors. In her own recovery, she had relied on deep reflective writing practices like journaling and legacy letters to help her make sense of how stroke had changed her life. She had found the simple process of finding words to convey her fears and resentments allayed her need to make sense of the experience. When she sat down to write, the paper answered her nagging questions about “Why,” and “How,” and even, “What if.” The more she wrote, the more inner resources bubbled up.
So she decided that her 40th anniversary celebration would focus on finding ways to share expressive writing techniques with other survivors. She decided to develop a writing workshop that would support them through the process of harvesting their individual experiences of recovering from stroke. By sharing their writing with each other during the workshop, they could find a greater appreciation of their own coping skills and more confidence in their capacity to rebuild their lives.

We were the first to use technology to link wide-spread survivors together (the first had been with her local stroke support group).

So…that’s how I started my summer with new hopes for a writing life, getting that needed ‘kick-in-the-ass’ to my in-work-but-stalled “Life without Clots.” Hope you had a great start to your summer.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

Member Monday: Pale Eyes, Empty by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  We conclude our series on fathers with poet, illustrator, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.

Pale Eyes, Empty

by Linda Boyden

the morning my father went blind,
I found it hard to breathe;
the effort of
taking air in and
letting it out
weighed me down,
the morning he went blind.

the morning my father went blind
the echo of his words,
I want to go to the mountains and die,
swelled inside my chest,
grew into a cloud
that filled my lungs,
the morning he went blind.

the morning my father went blind
I wanted to take him by the hand,
the way he had taken mine as a child,
and lead him to his Tennessee mountains,
to his beloved place,
the morning he went blind.

we’d walk along the trail and
I’d tell him the Cherokee story
of the Valley of the Butterflies:
“Some say, butterflies will come,
thousands of dancing butterflies,
to beguile you with their colors,
and lead you to your doom.
But the trick, Daddy,
the trick is not to look.”

He’d smile then,
pale eyes empty, but face bright,
knowing there was still something
he could outsmart,
the morning my father went blind.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Defusing and Dad’s Pressure Cooker

Welcome back to Member Monday.  We continue our focus on fathers with a piece from the lovely and talented Dale Angel.

Defusing and Dad’s Pressure Cooker

by Dale Angel

I tie on my apron, wrestle the latex gloves on, sit the bleach and antibacterial soap nearby and cautiously slide out the contents from the sack into the sink

I’m ready to open the package of meat.

I’m careful not to let any of the juices splash on the counter and I  place the knives where they won’t touch anything, this chicken may have at risk history like a time bomb. I’m defusing it. Salmonella is not fun.

Its looks like it had a hard soft life, the skin is loose and fatty with little muscle to hold it together. Do I really want to make chicken soup? I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm.

You know the words ”use to be” grandmother walked out to the hen house grabbed a chicken before it knew what happened, fried chicken was served.

I missed this useful necessary skill. I also missed others, I watched my mother in law butcher deer as it hung from the Pepper tree. Her sharp knives were shared among the family. The process was clean orderly and wrapped. Nothing was wasted. I’ve been deprived, I have to suit up and buy from disinterested corporations foreign and domestic who don’t eat their own products. The constant recalling of contaminated food is a red flag…its over my house right now.

My dad always kept a rifle. Near dinner time he drove off the highway along Sacramento river where the world was moving with pheasants and the telephone lines were heavy with doves. He cleaned our dinner, we ate. He liked to use the pressure cooker and added noodles, the quick pressure cooker intrigued him. When he got older he decorated the ceiling with it, it wasn’t pretty, after three times we took it away from him and replaced it with a microwave.

After he drove me up the sidewalk knocking off the side view mirror the car stopped with a parking meter under It, he looked at me and said” that’s what happens when I forget to take my vitamin C” we took away his car. He got a motor scooter and it went into the wall of the grocery store, he got a bicycle and another pressure cooker

The cane made him mad. When he walked across eight lanes of traffic the light changed he tried to hurry, someone drove over his cane . He went to the drug store-bought a new one and sprayed it white. All traffic stopped as he leisurely walked across on his way to charge the bank with shady business practices

I thought about becoming a vegetarian but I keep remembering about Ben Franklin when he decided to become one. On a trip by sea the winds quit the ship stopped they floated aimlessly, finally depleting the food supply. The crew begin frying fish and the aroma brought him to his knees, he decided to eat whatever was put in front of him, he said ”It made life easier the rest of my life.”

I have to decide what to do with this defused chicken, I’ll close my eyes and throw it in the pan. On second thought, I’ll put on a pot of black-eyed peas in Dad’s old pressure cooker. 

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

July Call for Submissions: Summer

Thanks to all of the members who responded to the June Call for Submissions surrounding the theme “Fathers”.

We are now accepting submissions from Writers Forum members in good standing to be published in July.  The theme is “Summer”.  Poems, essays and fictional pieces are welcome.  Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free.  Feel free to include a short bio, a headshot and links to your website, blog, etc.  Submissions may be posted on the Writers Forum website and/or the Writers Forum Newsletter.  Please email submissions to:

writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com

Thank you!