The Poetry We Live

magnetic words on a fridge
Daily Inspiration….

I often stand at our fridge, looking at the dozens of words, all magnetized and waiting to be noticed, moved, and meshed into a poem or story. I wait to see what jumps out at me – combinations of words that take on a life of their own. A few months ago, four words stood out – each in its own place on the fridge, but each needing to be moved closer to the others. Here’s what they said:





I moved them close together. Gave them their own space. Those four words have been there every day since, each time catching my eye when I walk by… and every time, I think, “What will the art look like that gets these words?” 

Truth is – I can’t limit those four words to one piece of art. Every day something happens, and I think, The poetry we live….

Recently, a dear friend texted to tell me her Dad was just diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She knew our family had been through the cancer fight two short years ago and that I’d understand. I do. Sort of. I cried when I read her message. Stage 4 is devastating. She told me a few days later that they are fighting ’til the end. Fight the Good Fight, my friend. Fight the Good Fight. I thought to myself… The poetry we live.  And then I prayed.

Then last Sunday, I met up with a friend for coffee. While we chatted, I began to think, The poetry we live…. I could feel it in the words we spoke and see it in the people around us – rushing in, waiting for their coffee, checking their phones, hugging friends, and heading out into the gray Sunday weather…. It was kind of surreal, actually.

Fast-forward to today….  I was working on a piece of art for my mom. She sent me a picture of my youngest sister (grown woman with 3 kiddos) and her pig. Yes, pig! In the picture, my sister has recently returned home from shopping and flung her bags down in an adjacent chair. She leans over to pet her beloved pig. And I swear, the pig is smiling….  

You see, she (my sister, not the pig), after fighting cancer, decided to work on her Bucket List, which apparently included living on a farm/property with lots of animals, along with her husband and children. They are crazy-happy. As I neared completion of the first draft of the watercolor rendering, I thought to myself, The poetry we live….. And I smiled… 🙂

magnetic words on a fridge - the poetry we live
Daily thoughtfulness…

And so it goes – our lives are filled with poetry we write each day – those moments we live …. aware or not…. happy or not … all contributing to our story.

Have a great evening, friends… and — go live your poetry.



Phase 1: And So it Begins…..

A few days ago, in between periods 3 and 4, I noticed I had a handful of text messages.

With 25 teenagers shuffling in and out of my classroom every 55 minutes, needing hall passes, homework updates, and hugs when the day is off-kilter, looking at my cell phone is a luxury that happens in a fraction of a minute.

Time in a classroom is unlike time anywhere else on the planet. I’m certain of this.

With a quick glance, one message stood out:

Phase 1

it read.

There, looking back at the camera was our beautiful sister, whose hair the day before had been a long braid winding down over her tiny chest as she sat through treatment.  Now, a new bob just above her shoulders gave insight to what’s coming next….

I was overwhelmed with pride and respect for this beautiful young woman who, 14 years my junior, is my baby sister, but in many ways, my baby, too. When she was born, folks often thought in the rural community where we lived at the time, that she was my child. I carried her with me everywhere, keeping her safe, making her laugh, and letting her know how much I loved her every day.

Now, I can only carry her in my heart and wish that I could take away her burden.

In the six weeks since receiving her diagnosis and two weeks since beginning her chemo, she’s gained so much perspective and understanding. She has found acceptance. She is strong. She is beautiful. She is a fighter.

 A few hours later….

… as I entered our local grocery store after school, a list forming in my tired brain, I looked up to see pale blue eyes looking back at me in the bustle of people entering the store ~ she on the exit, I on the entrance.

Everything around us stopped.

No noise.

No movement.

Just pale blue eyes looking at me.


A yarn cap hid the petite woman’s shorn head. Our eyes met. I looked away quickly.

Instantly, I wanted to say, “I’m not looking away in embarrassment, but out of respect.” It was too late. I felt horrible. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want her to think I was staring. I really wanted to say I understandMy sister is going through it, too.

Instead, I said nothing and felt intense sadness.

It was what my sister fears will happen to her. People will look away.

I looked back after she passed by, noticing the pastels of her tattered yarn cap. I wondered about her age. Was she older, as she appeared to be, or younger, but worn down by the drugs invading her body?

I pushed my cart quietly into the store and thought, “Is this what #BabySister will encounter? How will she feel?”

I feel like I betrayed my sister and the quiet woman with the pale blue eyes in my moment of uncertainty.

I should’ve ….  what?  I’m not sure, exactly. Maybe just smiled a polite smile, as I would’ve to anyone in the store? Said hello, as I often do to others?

The sounds of afternoon busy-ness returned. People pushed past me.

Tears began to fall.

Phase 1.  And so it begins….

Sorry, Nurse Ratched

You can’t do that in here! There are privacy laws.
You might want to walk away….
I just did.
And will again.
You are going through the motions.
We are going through the emotions.
She is 1 in 8.
She is our Baby Sister. 
She is a mother of three.
She loves, laughs, and cries.
She adores Danny.
And kitties.
And dogs.
And all things good in this world.
She is beautiful.
Inside and Out.
Her body is betraying her.
We are documenting this journey, a life to celebrate.  
Because… She’s Got This!
She will beat it.
She is strong.
She is our Baby Sister.
Please …. we need you to tolerate, not berate.
Sorry, Nurse Ratched.
You might want to walk away.



Bodacious to Body Conscious: What Cancer Does….

Source credit:
Source credit:

For as long as I can remember, since I was 10 or 11, my chest has been the interest of others.

From staring to envy, even jokes by our mother …. my hourglass shape has drawn attention.  Unwanted attention.

In turn, I developed an unhealthy relationship with my body, most notably, my ‘girls’ – always wanting to hide them or wishing them away. I have been resentful of and embarrassed by my chest.   I know, I know… the grass is always greener.  I get it.

Recently, though… things changed. Almost imperceptibly at first, but growing as the days passed.

You see, my baby sister’s newly diagnosed breast cancer has created a new perspective in me, one that’s been absent for 35+ years….

With the quickness of a diagnosis and the realization that comes from doctors’ visits, I’ve come to see the girls as something not to resent, but as they are – appendages like any other body part, that can become sick, diseased, capable of derailing you.

What a startling discovery for me.  No longer just an object of unwanted attention, these parts that define women, are objectified by many, and nurture babies, are so much more.  Or, maybe so much less.  They are just a body part – to be aware of, taken care of, kept healthy.

In my search to understand, I ran across this blog post as I was writing mine.  Seems my evolving feelings about the ta-tas aren’t that different from others when BC comes knocking.  In my case, though… I’m the outsider. The sister. Looking in. Trying to understand.

I’m not sure I’ve done an adequate job explaining my changing feelings here, but it’s a start. As I talked with the tech yesterday before my annual mammography, I found myself trying to explain it to her.  Give her credit – she said she understood.  Did she?  I’m not sure I did. Or do.

I just know my perspective is changed…. Altered. Transformed. Adapted.

This is what Cancer does.


She Has Cancer

I am devastated.

Sometimes, it takes a mountain to move you.

I am moved.

She has cancer.

How do you respond to this statement?

How do you respond when it’s your baby sister?

Mother of three

Beautiful woman

Tormented soul

I haven’t blogged publicly in a few months. Today seems to be the day I need to put it out there.

I am devastated.


Plastic surgeon

BRCA testing

I just don’t even know how to respond…..

Why, God?  Why her?

Is it ironic that we learn this news on the eve of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Cruel irony, indeed.