Cleaved Psyche: A Poem

In a crowded room we float

Disjoined and separate

Drifting from one misty conversation

To another

Attempting jibes

And one-liners

We venture through

These strati skimming the floor.

While feet remain

Clouded in grey haze.

Later

In an intertwined embrace

We become

Mechanical mammals

In glass cages.

Wreathing and writhing

Calling out names we have yet to learn

Skin touches

Lips part

But we are forsaken

Our psyches cleaved.

(Photo by David Stroup)

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

You Are Not Alone Even in Lockdown

When I saw the headline yesterday that said, “Newsom orders all California counties to close indoor restaurants, bars,” the Covid pit in my gut I’ve tried like hell to keep at bay hardened.

I was at the gym listening to upbeat music as my feet twirled ever faster on the elliptical when I glanced up at the bank of televisions overhead to read the sad news. “Cases have climbed dramatically since then, and the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with COVID-19 has increased steadily. As of Monday, more than 334,000 confirmed cases statewide. The state has been reporting, on average, more than 8,000 new cases a day over the past week.”

Shit. I thought trying to go to that happy place exercise usually takes me. But even though I chose the most positive songs from my playlist and willed my legs to circle strongly, I couldn’t stop the stressful thoughts from coming.

I’m going to be so lonely. Again. Just when I was able to get out and see friends, enjoy my community, try a few dates it’s all shutting down. I’ll be trapped at home. Don’t even have a boyfriend to hold at night.

And it went on and on.

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I kept working out. One hour. An hour and a half. When I started to get weak around the two hour mark, I showered and headed for home. Here I was met with my sweet girls: my daughter and my roommate. They were chatting and giggling over a glass of wine and I joined them. We told jokes, silly stories, debated politics, and shared insights and I felt better.

Later, I was doing my nightly meditation of “I am” affirmations when one phrase struck me. “I am a wonderful friend. I am here for others.” And I realized that even in lockdown, that I am able to live my best self. I can continue to be part of and give to the human community .

Dear ones, if you need me I am here… Together we can endure.

With love.

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Finding Gratitude

Thank you. A simple phrase. So easy to utter.  It falls from our lips multiple times each day. Yet, have you ever thought about what it means to be thankful? To embrace the gifts all around?

I know I don’t always show gratitude. Sometimes I live in resentment,  blaming others for my successes and failures. If my step-father hadn’t beaten the women in my family, I’d have been assertive in my romantic relationships.  I would have stood up and demanded that my needs be met. If my husband hadn’t had an affair, I wouldn’t be doubting my lovability today.  Even if we’d still divorced I would have begun dating with confidence in my attractiveness.  It was my boyfriend’s job that kept me from committing fully. If he had just gotten a better paying one, we would have had the perfect relationship.

And it goes on and on.

So often, I’ve argued with what is the truth of my experience.  But I have no control over past events. I cannot change the fact that my ex-husband had a secret seven-year affair. I cannot rewrite an old boyfriend’s resume. I cannot magically erase the black eyes and broken bones my step-father inflicted.

But I can choose where to focus to my thoughts. I can say thank you for every experience. I can choose gratitude. I can thank my ex-husband for believing in me when I was just an insecure kid unsure of my life’s path. I can admire how my step-father sought counseling and tried to overcome his anger showing me that anyone can change.  I  can be grateful for how my boyfriend told me time and again to be kind to myself . How he modeled self-acceptance and making peace with what is.

Instead of fixating on what never manifested, I will remember what has.

I may be single, again, but wondrous relationships abound. My children fill my heart and mind with joy. My silly dad and worry-wort mom say ridiculous things that make me chuckle. I have rocking times with friends dancing, chatting, sharing stories. Kisses and caresses from lovers of the past linger on my skin.  I have an abundance of love for myself and others.

I am blessed.

Thank you all.

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(Photo by David Stroup)

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet, and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Candlelight Memory: A Poem

I miss you.

Your strong and calloused hands

Massaging, probing, stroking,

Clavicle, rib, sternum.

Eyes closed, I reach out

And feel

The curve of

Pelvis, abdomen, and thigh.

Brush fingers over a

Fine dusting of man down.

Your voice echoes

A virile timbre of

Power and pitch.

Your scent lingers

On this drowning woman’s

Every breath.

Succor for

Long deprived lungs

Then, in shadow

I see your soft brown eyes

Locked on mine

And blink

A candlelight memory.

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About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Dream Lover: A Poem

I see him

In shadow

And light

In dreams

And waking.

I reach out

But he isn’t there.

 

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

Love’s Rewrite: A Poem

Mind revisions

Of pain

And loss

Where dreams edit

Every  goodbye

And failure.

A delete button

Of the mind

Where he never left

Cleaving me into two

And enveloping hearts intertwined.

I rewrite the past

In whispered fantasies

That lull me into

The stupor of sleep

A psyche typing REM

Day after day.

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About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

 

That Moment: A Poem

For that moment

Life was perfection

And I became

Not separate

But a part

Of something sublime.

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About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

A Break-up Mantra for Healing

Thank you God for this day.

Thank you God for this life.

I am blessed beyond compare.

I have everything I need in this moment.

I have love, health, and family.

There is joy everywhere I look.

God bless my daughter, Jessica.

God bless my son, Nicholas.

God bless my friends and family.

I vow to care for this precious gift of life.

And let those around me know how grateful I am.

To share another day loving, living, and laughing.

 

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

Hoarfrost Barricade: A Poem

He stands behind a glass wall

Inviting me to look through

Its streaked opaqueness

Gyrating his hips

And flashing a nipple.

 

As if seeing his skin

Will make me believe that

His heart is open.

 

He turns this way and that

Taunting

Teasing

Forcing my breath to come

Ever faster.

 

Then retreats.

One step

Two.

I press my fingers to

The glass

Each exhalation

Fogging his image.

 

He retreats further.

And I search for a

Hammer

To smash through this barricade

 

Pounding

Until

Hoarfrost

Rains

Down

Icy slivers tear through flesh

And open veins

We bleed.

And for a moment

Know

What truly

Beats in our chests.

 

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Connection

The weight presses down. Shortening spines. And we wonder if we can go on. Then when the loneliness seems more than we can bear, an exchanged glance comes and lightens it in immeasurable ways.  Sometimes it’s when you’re sitting in a cafe musing over a story idea.  Or when a coworker says, “Want to do lunch?” A high five during Groove at the gym. Or Dog Beach sharing puppy stories. And often with soothing music in the background.

In my divorce year I was a desolate wraith, drifting from one hollow task to another. In constant pain, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. My body moved but there was such a chasm between action and connection that I ceased to be the friend and family support I’d long prided myself on. Barely living, I began searching for a new way to define myself as I navigated this alien life thrust upon me.

After months of crying,  I swallowed my fear and forced myself out of the house to a local beach resort hosting a free outdoor concert. With the mantra. Dancing is easy. You can do this, I fisted my hands  and took two steps away from my car. Then stopped, unable to move.

I stood on that cliff staring at the diamond sea below and fought the urge to run. What if I started to cry again? Images of his hardened back came to mind. If my husband, who I trusted with life itself, didn’t want my friendship, why would anyone else? I was so full of doubts and insecurities that I was sure they flashed like a blinding lightning storm.

The tears began to well as I looked to the wispy clouds, ethereal shapes in blue that I’d so often shared with him. When we’d co-created wonder. No, I couldn’t do it. Not without my love.

Then one cirrus cloud stretched its long arms and diffused in the atmosphere. The trees rustled as I imagined a voice whispering, “Leap into the abyss.”

I took a deep breath and let it out. Shoulders back, I strode toward that grassy green where hundreds had gathered to enjoy the spring sun. Then stood on the sidelines watching. I gave one person a shy smile. They didn’t notice me. Then another. I was invisible.

A minute later, the music started to play and I remembered all the times I’d swayed to the notes. This waltz mirrored who I truly was. Dammit, just because one man didn’t see my wonder, didn’t mean it had disappeared. It was within me. But I needed help. So I walked up to group of dancing women and said, “Hi, my husband just left me and I’m newly single. Can I hang with you guys?”

“Sure!” Carol said inviting me in with hug. After she introduced me around to others with divorce stories like mine, the volume increased. That band started rocking and so did we.  Within moments we were all leaping and bouncing like children just let out to recess. And we danced round and round until the sun hung low on the Pacific.

With these accepting individuals swirling and kicking their feet, I started down a new path. A road of friendship I have been on ever since. One I continue to be thankful for. For many years now this wonderful group of women have twirled and leapt together while meeting life’s challenges.

Which come when you least expect.

Not long ago, I had another breakup and once again felt the old doubts rear their ugly head. More crying. More insecurities. More wondering who I was and where the Hell I was going.

Then I met a new friend. Experienced another time of joy.  While exploring this discovery, I expressed my thanks and said, “Life surprises us.”

To which he countered, “No, it’s what you make of it. We surprised life.”

And I nodded. Yes, by letting new people in, we do surprise life.

We absolutely astound.

 

(photo by David Stroup)

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net