Friday, May 19, 2017

Missing Mom





                   Mother’s Day Without Mom
by Janet Sobczyk, 2016

There’s nothing like Mother’s Day
to remind me she’s gone.

Ads mock: Show Mom your love!
On TV: commercials of beloved women,
cherub grandchildren.
In stores: bouquets, cards, chocolates,
even in the grocery aisles.

Walk away from the sight,
grief follows me home.
No more gifts to send,
calls to make,
hugs to give her.

Phone interrupts my despair:
daughter calls, sister calls, son texts.
There are flowers and hugs to receive,
gifts to open.
Gratitude swirls through sorrow,
and tears flow.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

WCW Conference thoughts


 
Click here for Wordsowers site

The Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference was definitely uplifting. I enjoyed all the workshops and interactions with other writers. My big take-away this time was from the keynote speaker Tosca Lee about "Burn the Fear, Release the Fire: Writing for an Audacious God."

She's a former Mrs. Nebraska, so it didn't surprise me that she is beautiful. The surprise is how down-to-earth she can be... as a new farmer's wife near Fremont, NE. It's so ironic that a sophisticated, big-city gal fell in love with a handsome farmer.

She opened up and spoke with honesty and passion about the challenges in her life, especially as a writer. She brought home the point that if she, (a New York Times best-selling author several times over!) can have major doubts about her work, then it's a totally normal state of mind for writers in general.

The main thing is to have the courage to write and to know that our words make a difference. God gives us ideas for a reason; we just need to follow His promptings and trust.


Thank you Tosca! We all needed to hear that.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lost Words

Writing contest: You deserve to be inspired


I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired, hosted by Positive Writer. This blog post is my entry.


Lost Words by Janet Sobczyk, 2016

Oh, how I regret the years I didn’t write.

They flew by,

one calendar page after another,

too busy raising a family to put thoughts on paper.



Mom enjoyed stories about my family life,

so like hers, yet different.

I don’t know how you do it all, she’d say.

I’d wondered the same about her.



We shared stories on the phone over too-long of a distance.

She’d laugh, empathize,

encourage me to write them down.

But I didn’t.



Now her voice is gone.
 
I still long to pick up the phone, still have stories to share.

Before my voice is silenced, too,

it’s time to write them down.



As a young mother, my creativity found expression in several ways. I snapped photographs to capture my babies’ growth, documented their milestones, cross-stitched pictures for their walls, decorated hand-made cakes for their birthdays, and sewed Halloween costumes. Those things were enjoyable because I needed to be creative to be happy. And somehow they seemed important, for my children's sake.



The writer inside me also wanted quiet time to record the funny stories and cute things they said. But the time never came. There was always another load of laundry to do, or meal to make, or carpool to drive. And it was seldom quiet. Exhaustion at the end of the day prevented writing when the kids were in bed. Getting up earlier to write didn’t even cross my sleep-deprived mind.



During the years when Facebook was in the distant future, I told my stories of raising five children to mom on a corded phone. I enjoyed making her laugh, and she lifted my spirits. She always said, “You should write a book!” 

I didn’t believe anyone (but her) would want to read my stories. After all, everyone has their own. There’s nothing special about mine. There are plenty of books on the shelves of libraries and stores. Why create another one to gather dust?



One random decision changed my thinking about writing. I decided to return to college!



While working full time, I enrolled in night classes. The biggest challenge was finding time to do the homework. Usually my best quiet time was between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.  Raising babies had prepared me to be awake in the middle of the night. 

With an Associate’s Degree in Journalism from my youth, I found it easy to write the required research papers. I could also manage deadlines well. Motherhood had taught me something about time management.



A Literature class inspired me to write poetry, which I hadn’t attempted since my teen years. It opened the door to a type of creativity that I had buried long ago. Eventually I entered the college’s writing contest, and placed first in two categories!



One of my daughters set up a blog, and showed me how to post my growing collection of poems. Soon I added photos and descriptions to provide background. 

Eventually I started submitting poems to magazines and contests, with mild success.  Now I can even visualize a self-published collection of my memoir poetry.



Writing poetry has led me to children’s stories, and to articles about parenting. One project seems to inspire another one. So I just keep making time to write, to follow the ideas as they come, enjoying where the process takes me.



I’ve learned that I am a writer, even if that is not how I earn my living. I have a reflective nature and tend to see and experience life in the context of stories and images. I always have been a writer, even during the years when I didn’t write. My creativity came out in other ways, but the desire was always there. It’s who I am.



But I also realize, after losing my mother, that my time for writing is limited. No one is guaranteed a long, healthy retirement to tackle a lengthy bucket list. Saving writing for those “golden years” is just procrastination. All anyone has is… now.


In the end, written words are what will be left of me. I can only guess who may be touched by them. Perhaps my children as they read and remember who I was, and how much I loved them. Or a great-great granddaughter who may glimpse the past through the window of my book of poetry. Or maybe a busy mom who recognizes herself in my poems about motherhood in an old magazine. 


Or maybe no one. Maybe my stories won’t matter to anyone but myself. But I am a writer, and that is reason enough for me.



  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Candyland

I found this photo taken by Monica when she was very little. She  used a simple kiddie camera, but it's composed so well! I love the way she lined up the gingerbread men holding hands. And the shadows behind them. It always amazes me to see the world from her perspective.




Back when she took this picture, she was an almost-undefeated master of the game. Her innocent luck overwhelmed us. Of course it became her favorite game!



Now at age 15, her tastes have become more advanced. She enjoys "Apples to Apples" and "Sequence." She plays those games with average ability and luck.  But if she asks you to play UNO, watch out! She is an UNO card shark with a killer strategy. Don't let her sweet face fool you. She takes fiendish delight in swamping her opponents with Draw 4's and Draw 2's right away. No holding back until an opportune moment. She is on the offensive and will take adults down!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Missing Mom






It was a year ago that Mom left us to join Dad in heaven. So last night we enjoyed Tastee Toasties (soda floats) with dinner in memory of her.  It was Andrea's idea, and she also brought a beautiful pink calla lily plant to cheer me up.  
We all miss you, Gramma!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Old Couple


This is an adorable photo taken at the Nebraska Humane Society to advertise these 12-year-old Cocker Spaniels.  They were possibly  litter-mates, but definitely lived their lives in the same home and needed to stay together. They ended up at NHS when their owner passed away. 

They had been at NHS for over a month when I spotted them while making a donation of old towels. Lacey (on the right) hooked me with her quiet smile and cute head-tilt. 

Tanner was taking his afternoon nap, so he didn't impress me much at first. But he had a chance to show his mellow, grandpa-type personality when I brought the whole family back to meet them. 

They were both so affectionate to all of us right away. They even accepted our old Cockapoo, Lulu, without any issues. So we took them home that day, a week before Thanksgiving.

The timing seemed like a poor choice with family coming home soon, but it worked out fine. The three dogs were a little underfoot, but they increased the affection level in our home enormously.

Ironically, two months before we adopted these two, I had posted a poem about adopting Lulu on the NHS site. (The photo below was taken in 2013, shortly after we adopted her.) The poem is even more appropriate now that I have three eternally grateful shadows.


 LULU
by Janet Sobczyk, 2016

My shadow
not just a sunny-day presence
she's there rain or shine.
Not a replica of me in silhouette
she's entirely herself
with four legs 
and blonde, curly fur.
She mirrors my love
lies near my feet
follows me around
eternally grateful for being adopted. 

 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Recently Published Pieces

My creative non-fiction piece, "Death of a Dryer" tied for second place in the Screamin' Mamas Magazine Spring 2016 Writing Contest. It appeared in their fall/holiday issue, which was a pleasant surprise. I assumed only the first-place pieces would appear. I love the humorous photo they found for it!


In the same issue, they also included my light-hearted poem, Collections, which validates the things we collect that have meaning to us, but pokes a little fun at their upkeep. 




Screamin' Mamas is a quarterly print-edition magazine that highlights the writing of mothers.  Check out their website at www.screaminmamas.com
Many thanks to copy editor, Lena Luig, for her email encouragement!