Haibun and Haiku

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I spread my yellow cotton sheet out onto our lawn’s lush green grass and lay down alone with my laptop. The warm air still smells of last night’s campfire tainted with a faint hint of chlorine. Birds are chirping. Bees are buzzing. This is the perfect spot to write a poem about nature, I think. I look across the street at the young cornfield and wait for my inspiration to come to me.

I feel the sun’s warmth
as deer play in the distance,
zero distractions.

But then braided blond hair bounces by. It belongs to a giggling girl. I look up and watch as she skips through a sea of bubbles, laughing, playing fairy, granting wishes. She spies a butterfly, chases it for a moment but becomes distracted, as easily as me, by a dandelion that has gone to seed and so she pauses to make a wish of her own. I lean in and listen.

She wishes for cake
with candles. Ah, more wishes.
Mother like daughter.

She spins off and I smile and look away. I try again to write this poem. “Watch me, Mommy,” she shouts and I turn back again just as she scoots her bottom onto the swing. Then she watches me to make sure I’m watching her. I smile to reassure her. She holds on tight and launches.

Swinging on a swing,
higher and higher she goes,
toes tickling clouds.

As she looks up, I do too. I see the cotton candy blue sky above us with its big puffy white billowing clouds. They pass ethereally. Maybe they’re my inspiration. They glide by and by and as I relax into the moment my mind decides to go with them.

Floating on a cloud,
looking down, the world drifts by,
but only a dream.

The sound of sneakers on gravel brings me back to my blanket. I rub my eyes and then stare back down at the glare on the blank screen. This assignment is due soon and I feel I must focus on being inspired. I need to force this poem out of me. Just then the reflection of the sun’s rays barely stings my eyes, just enough to inspire me in a different direction.

I look away again and see Lyla at the top of the slide.

“Arr, I’m a pirate!”
Sharks are surrounding the ship.
This haiku can wait.

Hangover Mimosa (a sonnet)

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Hangover Mimosa
We laughed till the sun rose
Memories and wine were to blame
You couldn’t feel your nose
I might have forgotten my name

Ceiling spins and it rushes back to me
Stomach erupts as cartoons pierce my brain
Reminds me of responsibility
Oh how we now need to breathe through the pain

This time the hair of the dog won’t fix it
When the new puppy pees on the floor
Unsupervised minions run rampant
We must be Mommy and Daddy once more.

Plop plop fizz fizz in our OJ sure hits the spot.
A relief it is… though a mimosa it’s not.

Go Ask Alice (a personal PS)

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I first read Go Ask Alice at age 12 and it was so powerful that it’s stayed with me. It was one of my favorite books back then and reading it again at 37, it was still powerful but it was also nostalgic. I remember once I read it back then wanting all of my friends to read it, too. It felt important. And honestly I still believe every teen girl should read it. What an awesome book.

I love to write in the margins as I read. I fully intend to share this book someday with my daughter so this time I wrote notes to her in the margins. Every time “Alice” wished she had someone to talk to, I wrote a little note reminding my daughter that she can always talk to me. And each time “Alice” failed and felt badly about herself, I wrote a note telling my daughter that I will always love her no matter what.

Happily Ever After

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This exercise came from the book 4AM Breakthrough by Brian Kitely. The instructions say to write a 250 word story without repeating a single word. Each word must be different, even the title.

Whoa… this was hard! Not being able to repeat words like “the” or “a” and “an” proved pretty challenging! But to make it easier I chose to write it about my favorite muse: my daughter, Lyla. Awwww!

(Let me know if you spot any repeats!)

Happily Ever After:

Once upon a time (this one right now), there was an incredibly sweet, sassy, beautiful, bright, happy, healthy (thank God) 3-year-old little girl named Lyla Rain Henderson.

With passionate adoration for some pretty random if not wildly ordinary things, including but not limited to: vanilla ice cream, hugs, kisses, apple juice, family, friends, preschool, stars, triangles, octagons, shapes in general really, princesses, puppies, pirates, picnics, fairies, racecars, road trips, running, singing, dancing, ballet class, bologna, butterflies, baseball, the moon, stars, Looney Tunes, rainbows, horses, squirrels, cupcakes, castles, spaghetti, school busses, clouds, laughing, fruit (specifically bananas, strawberries, apples, pears, blueberries, cantaloupe…), vacation, movies, milk, McDonald’s, muddy puddles, playing games, reading, coloring, flowers, snacks, snow, knock-knock jokes, make believe, glitter, buttered toast, Twizzlers, Tootsie Rolls, toys, her hair, airplanes, fairy tales, scaring people, dresses, candy sprinkles, yogurt smoothies, green grass, taking baths, going fast, flying over railroad tracks, big trucks, hay bales, helping, holding hands, cornfields, carrots, crocodiles, edamame, using chopsticks (well, trying), magic, cardboard boxes, pancakes, presents, unicorns, Dora, being best friends, talking your ear off, telling stories, learning math (not me!), eating graham crackers (AKA: yummy rectangles), giving mosquito bites (you might say “pinching”), food shopping, swimming, smiling, stirring liquids (yeah!), swinging on swings, spinning herself dizzy and, finally, all things pink, she makes our world so much better just by being part of it.

Run-on? Maybe. Long list? Definitely. But it’s okay.

Another fortunate mommy, I love my daughter more than anything. Oops. Check that. Everything.

Word Count=250

Reading Out Loud

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I often read out loud.

In fact, I feel the need to read everything I write out loud, not just because I like to hear my own words (though I’m sure that’s part of it) but more so because I have to hear the words in order to know for sure whether or not they’re right—contextually, rhythmically and, if it’s dialogue, right for the character speaking. No matter what I write, I need to hear the words.

For similar reasons, I recently started purchasing audio books and listening to the narrator read out loud while I visually read along.

I like to read others’ works out loud, too. In workshops, I often read the submissions of other writers, those I’m meant to critique, out loud. Doing so helps me focus entirely on the words and phrases as if my own voice cancels out distracting noises. Just the act of reading aloud helps me better absorb the information and it keeps me connected to it instead of spiraling off into my own head to add bullet points to any number of mental ‘to do’ lists.

I once lost my voice (literally) reading a 300 page manuscript out loud before submitting it for consideration to an agency.

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading Kindred by Octavia Butler to my three-year-old. I’m reading and analyzing it for a class and since I read to my daughter everyday anyway, I guess you could say I’m killing two birds with one stone (you’d probably only say that if you love clichés as much as I do).

Anyway, it’s not your typical toddler story but Lyla doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, she seems to enjoy hearing me read it to her. Maybe she somehow knows how much it’s helping me.

“L” is for Lyla

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Every time we pass a big yellow school bus on the street, my 2-yr-old daughter, Lyla, gets thrilled and says, “Mommy, look a schoo bus!” Sometimes she even waves to it and says “hi, schoo bus!” or “bye, schoo bus!” She leaves off the “L” at the end and, to me, that makes it even cuter.

Lyla is my inspiration for going back to school to get my MFA in Creative Writing.

I want her to believe me when I tell her again and again that she can do whatever she sets her mind to and she can become anything she wants to be. That’s what my mom used to tell me. In fact, she still tells me that and I still have no reason to doubt her. So I will teach Lyla the same. I want her to be confident and proud of herself and of her talents, skills and achievements. I want her to understand that no challenge is too big when commitment and hard work are involved. I will tell her that when all else fails, it’s OK to try harder or to try something else. But never stop trying! And most importantly, never stop believing in yourself. We are only limited by our desire to dream and our willingness to believe in ourselves.

She is looking forward to someday being big enough to ride together with the other kids on the schoo bus to the big kids’ schoo where I’m sure she’ll probably learn all about that missing “L.” I’ve been warned that I might cry when that day comes. Maybe so but for now, I plan to simply cherish my time with her as I try my best to teach her whatever I can and help her learn and grow and believe in herself.

To do that effectively, I must continue to learn and grow and believe in myself, too.

So I’m back in schoo.

And even though I don’t get to ride the wondrous yellow bus, I couldn’t be more excited about the journey. So far I’m absolutely loving every second of it.

From time to time, I plan to post some of my projects here on the blog. That way we can share the experience and you can let me know your thoughts on how I’m doing! You can even grade me if you like. Now doesn’t that sound fun?

xoxo

Mommy Confession: Clipping Toenails

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I enjoy clipping my daughter’s toenails.

There I said it. It’s weird, I know.

But when she was an infant, she and I were both afraid of the activity. And by afraid, I mean totally freaked out beyond belief to the point of paralysis. I absolutely dreaded having to clip her fingernails and toenails. I was convinced I’d accidentally clip off an imperative appendage or at the very least make her bleed. I pictured a slasher film with blood spurting and spewing everywhere. I got lightheaded at the thought of it. Come to think of it, I’m feeling a bit queasy now. She didn’t seem thrilled either… maybe she was reading my mind.

Back then, to get through it, I’d do all necessary clipping during nap time. She was relaxed. I was (almost) relaxed. We got through it together. At times, I’d skip the clipping altogether and use an emery board to file her nails instead. Once in a while, my husband would offer to do it for me but the thought of him doing it scared me even more. I’m a weirdo… I totally get that.

But even weirder? When Lyla turned 2, she started asking me to clip her nails. I was like, “Huh? You want me to do it?” She’d reply, “Please, Mommy, please!”

How could I turn her down?

There was a time in my life, a long time ago, when even the thought of someone else’s feet grossed me out. I certainly didn’t want to touch them. Ew. In fact, it took me an even longer time to let anyone touch mine. I did eventually develop a taste (for lack of a better word) for pedicures… most women eventually do, I imagine. There’s just something about being primped and pampered without having to move a muscle. It’s wonderful.

But one day, when I was pregnant and unable to reach my own toes, a spa technician cut me during a pedicure and that completely killed the relaxation… possibly forever. I still shutter and flinch at the thought of it.

So when Lyla asked me to clip her toenails, it freaked me out. What a little weirdo! But she’s my little weirdo so; somehow, I worked up the nerve and clipped away. I started out taking baby steps, no pun intended, by clipping just a teensy bit here and there. But the brave little thrill-seeker pushed me to clip more and more until her nails were actually, well, well-manicured.

I thought that was a once in a lifetime moment. No way would she make the same request again. Right? But then, a few days later, she asked again. And I obliged. And, since that first time, she now comes to me (at least) once a week and asks for her toddler mani/pedi from Mommy. And I’ve started to look forward to this, perhaps oddly untraditional, bonding time with her.

She points to a toe or a finger and says, “Clip this one!” Then she giggles as I clip and then she selects another. I’ve even learned to relax with it and, while I’m still very careful and meticulous with clipper in-hand, I’m no longer irrationally fearful of sneezing and accidentally cutting her arms and legs off. I even throw in a free foot massage, at no extra cost. She loves those, too.

These days, not only does she request her manis and pedis on a regular basis, but she also picks out her own lotions for her massages and she even lets me paint her nails, too. She’s turning into a bit of a diva while I’m turning into a self-proclaimed skillful nail technician.

So I confess…

I’ve developed a bit of a foot and hand fetish. But only with Lyla. I enjoy clipping, filing, massaging and painting her little fingers and toes. I cherish all of our special moments together and I look forward to someday taking her to a real spa and having “Mommy & Me” manis, pedis and massages together.

I love my little girl.