Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

Feeling My Way Around Mexico

IMG_0306 - CopyThis is not an extensive travelogue and it doesn’t cover all I saw during my trip, but rather these are some really subjective impressions of traveling in and around Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Puebla recently with my 24-year-old daughter. She is such a private person, and so far the only way she has allowed me to show her image on this blog is through this caricature a wonderful artist did for us. She’s beautiful and as the portrait suggests, she looks young for her age. She’s a sweetheart but don’t let appearances fool you: She’s also a tough cookie.

Before getting to Mexico, I had a feeling that it would be a life-altering trip for me and I wasn’t wrong. In addition to wanting to see my daughter, I was well overdue to shake up my routine, get away from worries, clear my head, and just relax. Being around my daughter’s energy was a huge factor in helping bring me back in balance.

The Guantajuato mountainside

The Guantajuato mountainside

At first, I was a bit nervous about the trip because my Spanish is not very good. However, it’s true that when you lose one sense, such as sight or hearing, your other senses get stronger. In this case,  (more…)

Here I go again …

471235_69107547Life gives us many opportunities for “do-overs.” For instance, I think parenthood is an opportunity to redo our childhoods. While some of us repeat mistakes made by our parents, some of us seize the opportunity to do things differently. That’s the concept on a big scale but there are opportunities for do-overs on a smaller scale nearly every day.

I’ve been going through some sort of a spiritual journey that started taking shape in a significant way (more…)


I’m not a year older,
but a year wiser:

a quaint phrase that belongs
to another century,
gone the way of home phones
and desktops.

The world changes,
nothing is safe and
not much can be known.

Maybe there is  wisdom
in knowing that,
wisdom in withholding trust,
wisdom in reporting the duffel bag
left alone on a crowded street,
wisdom in recording it,
in searching passing faces.

Tomorrow is not promised:
that’s a wisdom
life taught me young.

It took longer to understand
I’d rather be gutted than lied to.
The depths are as infinite as the sky.
Life is a gas, not a solid.
I can do this.
“This” is everything.
When I figure out who I am,
I’ll know everything.
I’m always changing.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2013

The Obligatory

Poetry challenge: write a poem a day for the month.
Work before pleasure. Then stow away the left brain.
The washout period: staring out of my window,
contemplating all that goes on without me.
Right brain, left in silence too long,
is crammed with thoughts,
the opposite of writer’s block
but just as frozen. And so it’s time
to pull it out. It is the obligatory
“Damn, this is hard” poem
“to write a poem a day.”
Right brain says, “Do the workshop thing
and don’t put down the pen for 20 minutes, and don’t censor.”
And I’m like, “Yeah, this could be a rant, my ‘Howl,'”
except even if I could write something so fabulous
it would take months, not minutes, if not years, to write
and it would still sound more like sucking my teeth than howling.
More like uttering a weak interjection. Really?
And once I get over my doubts about
whether this is even a poem or not,
or what, if anything, this implies abut me,
I’ll remember this:
I’ve survived enough madness in my generation,
enough intimate inhumanities in my life,
and by sheer chance, enough bombings and shootings in the world,
to know these thoughts are the least of anything.
So with a nod to the self referential,
I edit out some lines I wish I had the nerve to keep in,
add a few others, and wrap it up for Day 17.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2013

Prying Loose My Thoughts

Reality and Perception

I see me as reinventing myself, in a manner of speaking. But what does that mean? Is it changing my hairstyle, revamping my wardrobe, rearranging the furniture, taking a different career path, altering my lifestyle, shifting priorities? As I do these things, am I really becoming somebody different or am I aligning myself closer to who I really am? I think of the lyrics of a Beatles song, “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged.”

Isn’t It Comedic Tragic Ironic

The better I become at writing,  the harder it is to do.

You Really Like Me


Kalyani Magazine has accepted two of my poems for publication. I took them down from the blog but some of you may vaguely remember them: “7 Haiku: Geese” and “they said.” I’m really excited because this type of recognition of my poetry has eluded me for years. Although it’s good to believe in yourself, it’s nice to have a little external validation once in a while. And if any self help gurus are offended by that statement, you have just proved my point!

The Poetry Business

976300_52203064I have a regular freelance writing gig with a magazine that features profiles of entrepreneurs. Having interviewed quite a few of them for my articles, I’ve come to admire the ability of those in business to talk positively about themselves and to promote their brand. They brag about revenues, awards, and milestones with no pretense of humility. And whoever doesn’t like it can kiss their asses all the way to the bank.

I think about myself and other poets who are trying to sell books. Very few poets make money writing poetry. Part of that is because the buying public doesn’t place much value on poetry, not realizing that the world would be barren without it. Are actors, pro sports players, and novelists really more essential than poets? If poets are ever going to be paid what they are worth, the demand has to come from the public. But there are not enough public relations spinners out there telling the masses that they need poetry.

And don’t hold your breath waiting for poets to make the case, either, because money is rarely a motivating factor for us. We poets are compelled to write poetry whether we get paid for it or not. It only makes good business sense not to pay us for it. It doesn’t get any more pathetic than that. We are our own self-deprecating enemy.

Madness in the Method

When I sit down to write poetry, the thoughts seem to occupy a physical space in my brain (the location changes from poem to poem). I have to tunnel through to extract the thoughts. I always worry that I’m going to lose my way, or if I’m able to get to that space, I won’t be able to pry the thoughts loose. Even if I accomplish those two things, I fear that I won’t be able to find my way back out again.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2013

The Blog Post Cliff

Today, America waits to see if it will fall over the fiscal cliff. I hope that just this once, politics can be set aside so that we the people who are all affected by the crushing effects of a depressed economy can finally catch a break. With my recent layoff, I was late to the party–unless, of course, you count the fact that the rest of my immediate family have been variously unemployed and underemployed throughout the entire recession. It’s been going on for nearly five years now.

I usually don’t engage in political talk here. But my preoccupation with keeping my head above water has almost made me go over the Blog Post Cliff, which is to neglect mentioning that this month marks this blog’s third year anniversary!

This was a strange and interesting year for me personally with regard to external life changes. But I also feel it was a breakthrough year internally with my poetry. I am more at peace with the words now than ever before.

I’ve shared a lot of poetry this year, included the ones in my mini collection Like. Love. Hate. available for download at Amazon and Smashwords.

Most of all, I have formed and strengthened many of my relationships with real life people, as well as with fellow bloggers and blog readers. These relationships are what get me through the day, every day.

inspiringblogaward-300px1Speaking of fellow bloggers, I just want to mention the latest wonderful writers who have honored me recently with awards. First, there’s Stuart Nager, whose latest blog is called The Opening of Doors. The tag line for the blog is “Writing To Heal, Cope, and be Restored,” which he does in a creative and honest way. Stu graciously gave me the Inspiring Blog Award.

Liebster-blog-award1-300x225-1Muriel Jacques, another stellar blogger, writes insightfully about living in London as a French expatriate. Her blog is called 40blogSpot – A French Yummy Mummy In London and she gave me the Liebster Award.

So there you have it. I’ve done my part. Here’s hoping that our political leaders do theirs.

Happy New Year, everyone! ❤

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

Childhood memories are powerful things.

Every Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of my childhood. As far back as I can remember, my mother, sister, and I spent Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas at my grandmother’s house, but the Thanksgiving celebrations were the most spirited.

My mother and her two sisters (their brother had died before I could meet him) would help Grandma in the kitchen while more than a dozen of us grandchildren caught up with each other and cut up–laughing, playing, and comparing notes from the last time we were all together.

We grouped ourselves by age range as there was a span of 15, maybe 18 years between the youngest and the oldest of us.  I remember my days sitting at the “kids” table. My group would complain about the indignity but in reality we were glad we didn’t have to sit with the grownups. We were in our own world talking, or yelling, about serious and silly matters, our etiquette careless, slovenly, and uncriticized.

I remember the food: collard greens, cornbread, turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, biscuits,  apple cider, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato pie. There was nothing else beyond this and our family that day.

There was one year when my age mates were about 9, 10, 11 years old that we met a “new” cousin for the first time. He was our age, born from a complicated union slightly outside of our circle, blood kin to some of us but not all of us. But we decided to consider him our cousin anyway, a dubious honor. He was nice and did his best to fit in even though he hardly knew us and didn’t speak our insider’s language. We saw him maybe one other time after that and I haven’t seen him since.

Soon, the older cousins started having children and the gatherings got even bigger and louder.  The age groups continued to set themselves apart from each other. Although we were no longer the youngest, my group never graduated to the grown up table. Too cool for school, we teenagers always chose to eat somewhere off on our own.

The years went by and one Thanksgiving I brought  my soon-to-be husband to the fray for dinner and scrutiny. But ultimately, as was our way, he was welcomed, as family to one of us was family to us all.

Not long after, my grandmother became too frail to host these holiday dinners. She became an invalid and the family rallied around caring for her in her home. When she died, the glue that held us together lost its strength. The entire family is rarely in the same place together any more. We celebrate holidays, or not, within our immediate families. Sometimes we all get together at weddings, and increasingly over the years, at funerals.

My daughter has moved out of state, so I’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner with my son and my mom. As I fuss over the turkey,  I will think of my grandmother.

Childhood memories are powerful things, always the last to go.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012

Life Reorganization

There’s nothing like being laid off from your job–as I was a few weeks ago–to throw you off schedule!

Yes, I’m no longer formally employed, no longer the editor of a medical magazine. Without putting too fine a point on it, it was all about the bottom line, which really is the story of everything. We all have to determine which of our ventures are most profitable and which of our losses to cut.

So I’m a problem solver. In part, that’s what they used to pay me to do. So I consulted with family and friends who have been where I am now, and of course, I Googled my situation. (What would we do without Google?) I got lots of different responses. But the one I liked best was the on that went along with my instinct, and that was not to jump into a hasty decision regarding what to do next.

Probably the reactive thing to do would be to try to find a job doing something similar to what I was doing. But for me, I see an opportunity to try something different.

So for me that would be to become a full-time freelance writer/editor and and go hard at being an indie author, at least until my limited funds indicate that it’s time to stop trying to live a pipe dream and get a real job! Any leads or advice on freelancing are welcome.

I haven’t blogged much lately while I’ve been rethinking, reorganizing, and reinventing my life. I didn’t think I was one of those people who defined herself by her employment but since being laid off I have had a slight crisis of identity. In addition, I go in and out of being excited about my prospects and being scared to death that I’m going to fall flat on my face. Luckily, I rallied round enough to realize that I had to write at least one post for September!

Such is life. I’m glad I have one to talk about.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012

Life Without Limits: Is That Possible?

In my last post I said that I no longer want to limit the possibilities in my life or box myself in through labels, such as wife. mother, or what have you.

However, one of the comments to that post brought up some interesting points, though it may have been slightly tongue in cheek. Here’s the comment, in part:

“But can we avoid being boxed in? What about the label ‘poet’? Is that a box? Is what we call ‘freedom’ merely the exercising of our right to choose our own boxes? Are those that refuse to be boxed in unknowingly occupying a box labelled ‘those that refused to be boxed in’? Is there life without boxes?”

Well, I’d have to say that (more…)

Down the Shore (in real time)

I not long ago got back from a few days “down the shore,” as we say in New Jersey, that is, from one of the many beach towns that hug the coast of the Atlantic in our fair state. I was there with my sister as we both badly needed to recharge our batteries that were run down from living overly busy lives. Being on the beach is my favorite thing to do for recreation.

The weather was the nicest we’ve had in a long time. Almost immediately I gave in to the atmosphere to the point where there was no thought in my head except about whatever was happening in the moment.

I was able to bond with my sister in way we haven’t  been able to do for a while. During one of our deep talks, she asked me where did I see myself in five years and what I wanted out of life.

I really appreciated her challenging me in that way as I am already in the process of reevaluating my direction in life. In essence, I said, (more…)

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