Archive for the 'creative practice' Category

Faith in the Gift

amywink February 2nd, 2018

Faith in the Gift

My mother used to tell the story of how, after she married my father in 1960 and enrolled in art classes at SMU, she had had to quit because married student housing required a fee of $70. When she told one of her art professors about the fee, he had offered her $70, which she refused to take. She told the story with a mix of pride and anger: Pride at her refusal to accept charity, pride at her choice to stop because of expense and also anger at her refusal to take the money, anger at her pride. But she favored the pride and often the story turned on how her pride had kept her from making a financial mistake. She told the story often, mostly when there was some choice to be made between money and creativity. Often when the choice was mine to make, my mother proudly spun her story out as a reason for quitting the pursuit of creativity because of the cost was too great, too foolish.

I did not hear the story like she wanted, though perhaps I actually did because I decided very early not to be a quitter if I could find the money: that money would not be the thing that stopped me in my pursuit of what I truly wanted. And yet, the story seeped into my consciousness and the voice of the adversary rises to grind me to a halt, reminding me that I will likely have to quit, that I will likely lose all I have worked for, that the pursuit of my creative happiness is useless and financially irresponsible and that I should give up my foolishness and accept a more conventional life. She is mean.

My adversary reappeared recently and I am not exactly sure what allowed that voice to start speaking, but speak she did and it was with hard talk that can give crippling self-doubt an overwhelming edge. And that crippling self-doubt seeps into everything to reinterpret my experiences and push me toward the darkness.

But I fight her. I push back against the dark. My friends push back against it and I know at these moments that their voices are far more accurate than the one in my head, she’s just closer, louder, with round-the-clock access and I have to take more decisive action to leave the argument, to turn from the devilish voice.
This week, I decided to take a leap for my writing, to take a chance for my work, to pay attention to the direction I am now pointed. My 2018 “intentions” include “Keep Creating” and “Seek Peace” and when I am writing, I am most at peace and am faithful to my gifts. When I am writing, I turn from the adversary.

But she can whisper.

As I prepared two brief selections for a manuscript contest–one from a completed manuscript, one I only just started– which I don’t usually enter because I understand the politics and marketing behind final selections, my adversary whispered, “You don’t have the money. How can you spend the money? You will not win. This chance you are taking useless. It’s money you are throwing away.” Still I worked while she whispered. My friends worked against her too. I knew that the entry was the risk. I didn’t need to know the final outcome. If I entered, I’d have taken the right risk, so that was my only goal: do not talk yourself out of entering. I pushed forward, until I added up the cost of the entry: $70. It might not seem like much but it seemed like a dangerous amount to risk. The adversary whispered.
Then, my mother’s story came back to me: “Married student housing cost $70 more. My professor offered and I didn’t take the money. I quit.” I shuddered and breathed, slow and deep.

When I asked her once why she hadn’t taken the money, she replied that she didn’t know how she’d pay it back. She hadn’t seen the gift that he offered with the money. My mother had turned down the $70 and with it, the gift her professor gave her, the gift of his faith in her art.

I paid the money. I let go of fear. I decided to have faith in my gift.

The Children of My Oldest Friends

amywink November 6th, 2017

The Children of My Oldest Friends
_For Leah, Toni, and Sharon

I was holding
someone else’s
child, asleep
across my lap,
when I knew
that would not be
the story of my life.
I worked, driven,
toward a different
kind of creating future,
one now coming
to fruition in this moment
a quarter century later,
in this moment
when the children
of my oldest friends,
daughters and sons,
enter the world changed
and changing still,
and I see, with
such illuminating joy,
in their bright faces,
those faces of
my dearest friends,
my unrelated kin,
who I first loved
in the world,
who saw,
and knew,
and loved,
without requirement
or condition other than
the growing pleasure
of my company.

Giving the Light

amywink October 27th, 2017

Giving the Light
For Alex, one of the beautiful souls I have known.

Putting Alex to bed
the lamp beside
him glows reassurance.
Though he fears his need for light,
this small, articulate boy hopes
it is okay, at three,
to be so reassured in darkness.
He questions his brother’s meaning,
asking, more than stating,
“I sleep with the light on
because I’m a scaredy-cat,”
glancing at me because the lamp
does not speak to this fear.

For this he needs a grown-up,
someone with knowledge of such names
and their accuracy,
more familiar with the world,
acquainted with whatever may
be out there, beyond his knowing.
“No,” I reply, to what he as really asked,
“you’re just afraid because you do not
know what is in the dark.”

He looks right into me.
“Are you afraid of the dark?”

How could he know what he had asked?
Right now, in my own darkness,
I am so afraid
and there is no lamp beside me,
no grownup to ask if
it is okay, at thirty, to need the light.

Truthfully, I reply, “Yes,
sometimes, because I do not know.”
and because he may know an answer for himself,
I ask, “What is in the dark?”
Quiet, he sits with his blanket, pondering
and then,
in a voice as beautiful as a photograph
he speaks,

Soft and certain, he gives me
“the moon. . . . and the stars.”


The Book of Judith

amywink October 26th, 2017


The Book of Judith
thinking about Judith, Joan, and Madeleine Albright

The truth we wield like
swords and shields,
and carry as we ride
out to meet the battles
we cannot lose,
the truth that
keeps us
moving forward,
through despair,
through weariness,
and the cloud of voices
that wheedle and irritate
our hopes, as if to gain
a footing to press against
our doubts and somehow
force retreat.

But the enemy
can not comprehend
our tender strength,
which does not lie
in the thought of
giving up
our lives
for what we
know is truth,
but instead grows
from a deeper ferocity,
the truth we
refuse to relinquish,
the truth we will not
live without.

Swimming in the Faith Lane at the Townlake Y

amywink October 19th, 2017

Swimming in the Faith Lane
at the Townlake Y

After the day’s writing,
I spend my afternoons
in water at the Townlake Y.
There, a great democracy
of bodies prevails, so away
from self-consciousness
we all swim, aged and middle young,
under the mantric banners
spanning each lane:
Faith, Responsibility,
Respect, Honesty,
and Caring, the
bright goals
for thought and
moral action.

I swim slow, almost
languid in the water,
but, in concert,
my body finally
works with mind,
so like a strong
unwavering tide,
I gain a thinking pace
unmatched by outer
progress, unfettered
by doubt or gravity,
buoyant in the
soft and necessary waters
of a consoling faith.


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