Sunday, December 31, 2017

"A Writer's Nightmare"

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I was surprised and pleased to hear another poem of mine has been published in Fine Lines. This time it's in the Winter 2017 issue.  

This poem is literally a bad dream I had, then woke up, and wrote it into a poem. It's about losing the words to express oneself. 

See this book on Amazon

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Present

Tanner on left and Lacey on right.

We re-enacted our 2014 Christmas couple photo. 
The obvious change is two different black and tan dogs, Tanner and Lacey, who joined our family a year ago. Our house has become a retirement home for senior dogs it seems. 
Other changes, I had forgotten until comparing the two photos: 
different couches, artwork, and TV. 
But we haven't changed a bit. Haha!  

For a peek at our 2014 photo "Christmas Past":

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Past

Sophie on left and Lulu on right.

This is our first Christmas without Lulu, the cockapoo.
Sophie, a schnauzer-terrier mix, has been gone several years.
I love this photo of them sitting with us in their furry winter coats.
 These two certainly left paw prints on our hearts!

Look ahead to "Christmas Present" at:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Hot Chocolate Memory

A mug of cocoa for a squirrel-y mom.

Today is the perfect fall day to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate. I even splurged with a messy glop of whipped cream. Not quite coffee-shop quality, but satisfying. It’s in my favorite mug, too. The one with the squirrel on one side, and a loving sentiment on the other: “Nuts About You.” It makes me grin to think of my son, Peter, who gave it to this squirrel-loving mom.

Smiling at this mug reminds me of a mug from my youth. At my best friend’s house, I was often treated to the home-made cocoa mix made by Helen’s mother. I vividly remember the taste and the surprise of my first mug of it.

Helen and her siblings and I were gathered around the kitchen table, laughing and talking after school one day. Her mom passed steaming mugs to each of us, and the conversation died as we focused on the treat.  Mmm, smooth and sweet. Not too hot, not too cold. It went down easy, warmed me up, then gave me a surprise!

With mug tipped to my mouth, I spotted something emerging from the brown liquid like a swamp monster. I almost spilled it in shock! The expectant faces around the table burst out laughing. The mug had a ceramic green frog affixed to its interior bottom!

I obviously wasn’t the first guest to be given this special treatment. And I wasn’t the last. That mug never seemed to lose its power to create a laugh. As a frequent guest at their house, I got used to sipping from the frog mug. I looked forward to spotting its bulgy eyes peeking from the cocoa.

Hmm, I wonder where that mug is now? I’m guessing it’s still in their cupboard, ready to play tricks on the grandkids.

I'm nuts about you, too, Pete!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Old Reference Books

I saw this stack of old reference books and, since I love books, it made me sad. 
I just had to take a pic and write a cinquain (5-line) poem about it.

Old Reference Books
by Janet Sobczyk, 2017ⓒ

Haphazard piles 
stacked up
like plague victims
in a narrow pauper's grave.

Speaking of books, one of my poems, "Their Eyes" recently appeared in the anthology, Fine Lines Autumn 2017.

The poem is about eyes that speak volumes from the black and white photos 
in newspaper obituary notices. 

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Happy Anniversary Month

I saved this post until September, the "anniversary month," because my two sisters and I all got married in September (to spouses, not to each other.)

This syllabic poem of mine, called "Phases of Love" was published in Screamin' Mamas magazine this year. It's about all the predictable phases that a couple goes through in a lifetime together.

I wrote it after taking a class in Human Growth and Development six years ago, and posted that incomplete version on this blog on 9-6-2012. This new posting includes the last two stanzas, which were added after Mom passed away.

Phases of Love
By Janet Sobczyk 2011
Two people fell in love.
He loved her laugh, her beauty,
and skills with cooking.
She loved his eyes, his calmness,
and sense of humor.

They talked about marriage,
about their dreams, and children.
They shopped for two rings,
made announcements, set a date;
plans fell into place.

The big day soon arrived.
He was happy, she just glowed.
She walked down the aisle,
wowed the big crowd, they said vows,
then he kissed the bride.

Their honeymoon was grand.
They flew away, for a week,
to walk on the beach,
hold hands and kiss, and relax,
loving every night.

Next they bought a house,
did some painting, laid carpet.
They filled it with stuff,
good cooking smells, and laughter.
It was what they’d dreamed.

Soon a baby arrived,
to change their lives, forever.
With smiles and gurgles,
frequent feedings, sleepless nights,
and all those diapers.

Baby worked hard to crawl
and then to walk, next to run.
Toddlers turn into
children and then, teenagers,
each phase a challenge.

Life got much busier.
With stressful jobs, and more kids,
time flew by so fast.
Car pools and school, lots of bills,
aging parents, too.

Their worries and cares grew.
Tensions emerged, pulled apart
by their hectic lives.
How well could they, or would they,
keep their love alive?

Don’t be a statistic,
stay together, for the kids,
was their decision.
Ride out the storm, and then hope,
for much better days.

The nest became empty.
How could kids leave?  It’s too soon.
Now what will they do?
Renew old ties, use the time
for themselves again.

They found some new hobbies,
Joined a card club, went dancing,
found new restaurants,
planned vacations, took pictures,
enjoyed the grand-kids.

The golden years flew by.
Old age set in, sickness too.
“’Til death do us part”
wasn’t so long, after all.
Now what will she do?

She moved from the old house,
cleaned and downsized, organized,
her kids helping now.
She made new friends, ate meals out,
and waited a while.

Her time, too, grew short.
She slowed way down, lost more weight,
didn’t care to eat.
Her children cried, “It’s okay,
go to Dad. We love you.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mother's Day Without 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

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.