When I was a little girl, I heard a lot of stories. Stories about how my grandparents stood in line for food during The Great Depression – and how mere quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies were enough to sustain a way of life.
That cold, hard well-earned change could buy loaves of bread and condiments that lasted through days or even weeks, which meant my grandparents and so many others could put food in their mouths if nothing else. There was never any mention of “easy” times – just sheer gratefulness that there was a way to move forward, even if it was inch-by-inch.
As I celebrate my first month of being a published author, I remind myself that – much like in my grandparents’ time – there is no magic formula or crystal ball that guarantees a clear path in life. I remind myself that my new book of poetry, entitled “How To Wait”, is so much more than the product of a tree and then bound together by a high-tech printer manipulated by steady hands. Nor is it the be-all, end-all to my lifelong dream of becoming a writer.
I like to think the book is a direct result of “The Great Depression mentality” that came about because of a certain set of circumstances. One of my biggest circumstances, my cerebral palsy, is the foundation of the book. My immediate surroundings – the pink walls in my bedroom, the warm glow of my computer screen and the quiet hum of the motor of my wheelchair, among other everyday sights and sounds – are the building blocks for the words that are now enshrined on the pages inside the book.
Those things are sometimes all I must construct my work off. They’re such a crucial part of my life that that they’ve become larger than any other material object I could write about. The feelings and emotions that arise because of my personal nuances then turn into inspiration for what comes out on the page.
I think the same can be said about my poetry, particularly with my book. “How To Wait”, just as a title, is an idea I’ve always been drawn to because it represents something I learned to do at a very young age – wait. It also represents what it personally means for me to be patient in times when it’s most difficult to be. The poems in the book tell a collective, reflective story about why the title bears so much weight.
Having cerebral palsy brings all of this into focus. I think my disability helps me look critically at myself as a writer, and I hope readers will see that in each poem. The book is definitely a labor of love and twenty years of hard work. However, it’s also a reminder – to myself and those who read it – that there’s no turning back from the difficult and yet incredibly unique lifestyle that my disability has afforded me. That’s part of why my path is never completely clear.
I’ve always had to clear paths for myself, in ways which some may consider unconventional. I look at the publication of “How To Wait” as the beginning of another path on my professional and personal journey. It has not been easy, but I wouldn’t trade all the blood, sweat and tears for anything.
If anyone reading this feels lost on their own journey, take a step back and think about what brought you to where you are. You might just find something you missed along the way. Most importantly, you might find a new appreciation for the road you’re on!