Upcoming Poetry Book: Dreaming At Night

It’s done. The poetry book I’ve been writing is finished, and I am happy about it.

It’s funny because last weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books, when people were looking at my books of poetry, they asked, “So what’s your poetry about?”

For some reason, I had to pause and think about the answer to that specific question. Usually, I write poems that are stemmed from life experiences and feelings – they are free verse – no haikus or sonnets. As a student of poetry writing at the University of Arizona, our journey consisted of word choice and being specific about what we wanted to say. Dreaming At Night is the new poetry book that poured out of me in a few short weeks; my persistence in writing this book was high because I was overflowing with thoughts about key issues and my heroic efforts to save myself from drowning in my words.

I want my book to be successful in helping people understand my standpoint in life and hopefully help others recruit them to love and enjoy poetry. Something came alive in me, and it was my love for poetry. I have a motto: “Poetry is Alive!”

Next month is National Poetry Month, and I will be writing a poem a day on my blog. It will be titled “Poetry is Alive!” I hope to gain a following of people who will respond to the poems and share their favorite poem or poet in the comments.

Next month, I will have a link to buy my new book Dreaming At Night.

Poetry is Alive! And, so are you, so enjoy living and do something special for yourself.

Validation

This past weekend, I exhibited my books for sale at the Tucson Festival of Books along with two beautiful friends who were also showcasing their books. The weather during the two days was terrific, and you could see the happiness on the faces of the people visiting hundreds of vendors, walking their happy, tail-wagging dogs and puppies, and little children having fun and socializing! I’m not going to mention COVID, but if we still do what we need to do, we will enjoy more activities like the festival!

However, that is not the point of this blog; the fact is that I learned a valuable lesson about validation during these two days. Yes, I am exhausted from talking to many interested people who wanted to know about my books, but I’ve learned something I’ve always known: validation comes from within.

This is the second time I’ve attended the festival as a participant (COVID shut the festival down). The first year I was, of course, extremely nervous and my friend, colleague, and fellow writer who asked me to join him in the booth had to help me with my confidence.

That’s a long story, but let’s say I sold out during those two days at the festival. Now, here we go again in 2022, and my confidence sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time, I was flanked by two writer friends whose books had intense and great plotlines – and then there’s me – the poet. For some reason, I believe that most readers are not into poetry. I know that sounds silly, especially coming from an English teacher and writer of poetry, but it is not as popular as novels.

Since Amanda Gorman showcased her extraordinary talent as a poet and wrote a spellbinding poem for Joe Biden’s Inauguration, there has been a popularity rush to heave poetry back on the creative writing table (maybe it’s only me who feels that way). When I stood in the booth over the two days, the first book out of the three I was selling (a romance novel, a book of short stories and poems, and one of my earlier works of poetry), the first one I sold was – yes – the poetry book!

The potential customer who came to the booth was an elderly woman with a cane. She came up with her friend, picked up my book (that I jokingly call a pamphlet) of 15 or so poems, looked through it, and purchased it.

She said to me, “It seems your poetry is personal, but it reflects emotions that we all feel.”

I shivered.

She got it! She understood my poems. And that became validation that my poetry is not so far out! I am relaying some feelings that people can understand.

After selling out later that day (I had one book left), my friend gave me the eye of “I told you so” (I hate it when he’s right)! And the next day, the woman and her friend returned to our booth, so the friend could buy a historical fiction book from my other friend. My first customer gave me a positive review of my poetry book, I teared up!

What am I trying to say here?

I love poetry because I can express my feelings and thoughts in many words and phrases. I do not have secrets about composing poetry; I see pictures of my words (Now I sound like I’m explaining myself on a talk show).

Before my journalism career, most of my writing was always locked up in my file cabinet – only for my eyes because I never thought anyone would get excited about poetry like me. But, what happened to me over the weekend validated that I can write poetry and not feel ashamed! I have poems that people want to read!

I am stepping out on faith, and I will network with other poets, enter poetry contests, and, yes, keep writing poetry to share with others who enjoy reading poetry. I will also open the doors to reading more of my work.

Validation.

And, by the way, if you don’t mind, please go to my author’s page on Amazon.com and take a look at my books. Humor me, or not.

https://www.amazon.com/author/watsonlisa

It’s that time again!

The Tucson Festival of Books begins tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) and ends on Sunday.

I will be sharing a booth with two friends and colleagues who wrote books, and we are going to sell our wares.

I’m nervous.

I am getting out of my comfort zone again – I am a self-publisher, and I write poetry, short stories, and a novel, a ROMANCE novel for the first time.

While the entire purpose of writing books is to possibly sell them, I’d always thought that by now, I would have an agent and be a part of a publishing house! But, here I am being scrappy and selling my books like a hawker on a street corner selling newspapers.

OK. OK. That’s dramatic, I know, but I’m a writer! My imagination gets the best of me.

So, I ask myself: Why are you afraid? I’ll tell you why. People may not like or understand what I wrote about, and they will ask for a refund or chuck it in the trash. They might whisper behind my back, “she shouldn’t quit her day job.” That would be crushing!

But, who do I write for? I did not create a survey from Survey Monkey to ask the public, “How can I please you with my writing?”

No! I write for me. I write about stories that I find exciting, and I build characters that have been stuck in my head for the longest, and they need an outlet! I create towns, cities, people with issues and problems that I steal from friends and family.

There’s one thing I KNOW that I have to do: I need to stop apologizing for my work – my art. For so long, people who found out I write begin talking to me about “you should write about this…” or “you should write about our family history…”

No. I might weave some of our family stories and history into my writing, but I cannot create something because someone said so. I’m not a seamstress and make tailored-made stories or poems.

And, that’s another thing: poetry. I write poems, and people constantly criticize poetry by stating: “I don’t understand it, so I don’t read it.” Poetry is like any other literary work – mixed with fiction and nonfiction. Poetry comes from the poet’s past or present. Poetry tells stories and symbolizes events and commentaries about the world around us.

I write poetry because it reminds me of drawing or painting a picture, and I choose careful words, like how an artist determines colors and strokes. I feel very close to my poetry, and to put it out there is like ripping my chest open to expose my heart.

OK. Again, maybe too dramatic, but I’m weighing my anxiety so that I can laugh at myself and become positive.

Whatever happens, though, I’m going to keep writing. If people buy my books or pass by, smile politely, and take my postcard, at least they see me and what I have out there.

If you’re in Tucson, please come to the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona. The weather is going to be pleasant! There will be famous authors, lots of books, food, and in Booth 232, you will find “The Poet, The Pilgrim, and The Pirate.”

See you there!

What Is It? A Cold, the Flu, COVID?

It started with a scratchy throat.

Years ago, when you had a scratchy throat, a few things floating around in your head:

“Oh, it’s allergies.”

“I might be catching a cold; I will pop a throat lozenge in my mouth and go on with my day.”

Now, it’s a stop and pause:

“Is it COVID? But, I wear my mask! I have tests now thanks to the government.”

These were my thoughts. I had a scratchy throat, but no fever, no body aches. The first thing that floated into my head was COVID, and I used half of my at-home COVID tests to find them both negative.

“What is it? Are colds still popular? I got my flu shot. I’m triple boosted! I wear a KN95 mask!”

Panic sets in because I believe in COVID when most people do not. This will not be a vaccination rant or any of the kind. However, I want to point out that what used to be a simple sore throat can turn into something so deadly!

Needless to say, I nearly bought every over-the-counter medication to help me get well. I struggled with my throat for a few days, and as a teacher, I couldn’t perform my duties with laryngitis and congestion. The following week, I was suffering from headaches and sinus pressure. Finally, I went to my doctor told him the entire story, including my at-home test results, and he concluded that I had a sinus infection.

A sinus infection? Do they still exist?

I laughed to myself because all I am worried about is COVID. People who know me warn me to not self-diagnose and look on Webmd.com, and I will comb the internet to look up my symptoms and get the wrong information.

What has this pandemic done to me?

If I suffer from indigestion, I might think it is a symptom of COVID!

While I am not making light of this horrific virus, I am trying to wrap my head around how I can literally get frightened about my health.

Everyone says “Be Safe” now. Have you noticed that? Instead of “Have a good day!” it is “Be Safe.”

I don’t mean to drag this on, but I needed to review this with someone. You, I guess.

I am feeling better. My doctor explained that I needed to drink lots of water and prescribed Amoxicillin.

I have to chill out. Relax and take care of myself. But most of all, I have to Be Safe.

Be Safe, everyone! And, remember, not every ache, pain, or sniffle is COVID.

A Long Walk to Losing Weight

I am overweight.

It’s funny because when I say this out loud to other people, their brows furrow and their heads shake.

“No, you’re not.”

Yes. Yes. I am overweight. In fact, my doctor told me that I am overweight and I need to lose weight. A few years ago, I underwent bariatric surgery. It was successful for a few months, then, the weight began to creep up again. Needless to say, I cannot overeat because my stomach is small, but I was eating the wrong foods!

Along with diabetes, my diet radically changed as my doctor scribbled out referrals and orders for blood tests. I am on the other side of 55, which means I’m closer to 60 than 50, and I need to finally take care of my body the right way.

There were times when I said to myself: “Who cares? I am going to eat and be happy.”

Yeah, right.

I am not comfortable with my weight. My knees hurt. When I climb the staircase in my home, I’m breathing heavily. I don’t feel good. My taste buds love the food, but the inside of my body and bones are suffering. I cannot lie to myself any longer; being overweight does not feel right at all.

I was skinny as a young girl. Many people thought something was wrong with me. I mean, I didn’t look like a skeleton, but I was tall, very thin, and I ate food. I was active (and that’s part of my issue since I am not that active anymore). I had always thought that I would NEVER gain weight.

I was wrong.

As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house to California, I began to gain weight…gradually. My first apartment was down the street from In N Out Burgers. I didn’t cook so I ate out. I didn’t work out in the traditional sense. Every weekend I was out clubbing, so I considered dancing my exercise!

But, along with being a new adult and trying to pay bills, work, getting in debt, trying to date, the stress levels went up and I ate!

So here I am, years later and silently cursing my young self for not paying attention. I am on a journey to lose 75 pounds – I must get to the ideal weight for my height.

Before you make comments about what diet to choose, and which gym to join, I am on a plan directed by doctor. I have to do it right.

The other day, I looked up a healthy grocery list, bought the groceries, and literally wiped out my kitchen of the junk and unhealthy foods that I engrossed myself in (bread, pizza slices, etc.).

I am not a good cook, and I will admit that to anyone. My mother was an excellent cook and my sister, Elaine, emulates our mother’s cooking. She was blessed with that talent; unfortunately, I wasn’t. With that being said, it is a challenge for me to make meals – I can do it, but it takes so much effort and preparation.

I have such supportive family and friends. When they heard that my doctor suggested I do intermittent fasting and eat low carb and low fat food. My colleagues said they would join me, my family sent me recipes, videos, love and prayers when I told them.

I am going to execute this plan because I want to feel refreshed and I want to challenge myself!

My first step was the grocery shopping and the second step was meal prepping. I prepared little egg muffins that I received from my niece. With egg whites and almond milk, I poured in spinach leaves, turkey sausage, tomatoes, green chili, mushrooms, and cheese into muffin tins. Wow! It turned out so well and tasted so good!

Success! I was so happy and confident! These little victories! I took the rest and put them in the freezer for my breakfast during the week. My sister sent me a video from a doctor she follows on YouTube and I learned about the 12:12 Intermittent fasting: Stop eating three hours before bedtime (for example, if my bedtime is at 10:00 p.m., then I need to stop eating at 7:00 p.m.), eat breakfast the next morning around 7:00 a.m., eat lunch, eat dinner and start the fasting over again. It’s for a beginner like me.

Anyway, it’s a start for me. I am excited because I have lost five pounds since beginning this journey and I promised myself something big if I lose 25 pounds by December!

Stay tuned for more of my journey to lose weight.

Soul Poetry

It makes me wonder

All of the positive vibes, words of wisdom, scriptures on social media

And the world is still rotten.

There are glimpses of love and sincerity –

if you blink an eye, someone will smile – even under masks.

People lie saying “I hate wearing masks because I can’t smile at people or see people smile at me!”

Did you smile before? Did you smile back at others?

Do we wear masks over our masks?

Do we need to separate our darker selves?

Yes!

The demolition of our souls – the rebuilding of our spirits is underway.

I offer words of calm and comfort.

Peace.

Tranquility.

Joy.

Love.

Especially love.

Our souls need love.

I’m not wrong about this – everyone is wondering

Some are wondering is there a God? Some of us know there is.

Can you see the wind to know it is wind? You feel it. We feel God.

What does God feel like?

When I smile behind a mask, people will know it.

When I take off the mask, I will keep smiling.

I have removed the mask that has hidden my heart for so long.

I am free to love and to share that love and joy!

When I write something on social media, I believe it.

I’m not afraid of loneliness

I’m not afraid of standing alone

What I believe is something I cannot concoct in my own mind.

The rain falls and cleanses the Earth –

How will you cleanse your soul?

The Vaccine: What a Trip!

Last Friday, I received my second an final vaccine against COVID-19. When I received the shot in the upper part of my left arm, and listened to the banter of the medical staff, I thought about the thousands of people who died of COVID. Over 400,000 Americans passed away over a period of a year, and now we are lined up in cars to receive the vaccine.

I thank God for science.

I received the Pfizer vaccine and yes, the second dose began building up my immunity about 1 a.m. Saturday morning. I woke up to body aches, chills, and a fever as high as 101.8. I looked up “side effects of the Pfizer Vaccine” and saw that yes, I was experiencing the side effects. My body was building immunity, as I kept thinking about feeling uncomfortable, hot and cold at the same time. I told my friend that I felt like my body was exploding.

Everyone’s journey with the vaccine, whether it’s with Moderna or Pfizer, people experienced different results.

The point to my blog today is to tell people to please register to get your vaccination. I know the supply is short right now, but it will eventually there will be enough for everyone. I am that confident in our current administration to get this done.

Most of us who have experienced the side effects think about the suffering of those who had COVID-19. One day of body aches, fever, and chills are nothing compared to those who were on respirators or in induced comas. I am glad to get the vaccination.

And, to those who think that they are injecting a microchip into our bodies – again – I’d rather have that than COVID.

Oh, America

This is in response to the horrible event that happened this past week.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lady Liberty dropped her torch in the Atlantic and removed the crown from her head.

She lowered her eyes as she heard the cries and whispered, “Democracy is dead.”

The anger filtering through the fields among America’s waves of grain,

And the hope of a better community slowly began to drain.

Flags were waved and tossed as they climbed the walls like imps from hell,

With murder on the lips of men, the crack grew longer on the Liberty Bell!

The lies and infection of the damned insurrection

Caused politicians to stop and stare

As our foreign allies and enemies laughed and glared.

The broken windows, offices wrecked, senators in crisis as they kneel

but in the spirit of fighting for freedom, democracy they did not steal.

This land is soaked with more than blood;

The tears and sweat of slaves and free caused a flood.

Resiliency, prayer, hope, and faith will never die.

Strength will come day after day; peace will not pass us by.

Oh America! Oh America! God will shed His grace on thee

and we will repair the brokenness to create great unity!

Next Year is Friday

Do Not Set a High Bar for Yourself in 2021

This Friday begins 2021.

I have seen people with their avatar pushing a stone-looking 2020 out of the picture on Facebook.

It’s cute and funny. We all get it.

2020 was awful because we all had to change our behavior when gathering together or attending public places. We had to stay at home, work from home, order food from home. There were drastic changes!

As a teacher, I had to adjust to teaching online. That was a real change because most of my curriculum was based on in-person learning. I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t know how to be flexible and a problem-solver. As teachers we were stressed to keep learning “as normal” which was a tall order for many teachers who were not accustomed to teaching online or tech-savvy. We had to learn new tools such as Schoology to keep our lessons organized and accessible for our students.

Then, we had to go back into the school building with students whose parents wanted them to be there and teach them at the same time with the students online! Teachers were near exhaustion and in tears because we taught black squares with just the students’ names during our Zoom sessions.

It was depressing! I teach ninth-graders, and some of them are new! I had to ask some of them to turn on their camera because I had no idea how they looked! I didn’t know who I was teaching for most of 2020!

After Thanksgiving, teachers were given a choice to teach from home again. I chose because I have asthma and I am a diabetic; and, the COVID numbers increased. The first-responders have it hard to ease the pain of the afflicted with the disease and teachers have to be present and aware while teaching with a mask.

Now we have a vaccine or vaccines available to fight against Coronavirus. In Arizona, they are looking to inoculate educators next because we need to get our students back into school. I have to admit that I have my reservations about the vaccine, but what else can I do? I get the flu shot every year and I do well with it overall; however, I am unsure about the vaccine’s strength and aggressiveness. Science like this usually takes years and years to get it right, but these pharmaceutical companies are sure of the vaccines, even after spurts of studies.

I have the feeling that everyone wants to leave 2020 behind, but in reality, we cannot do that. The beginning months of 2021 will have remnants of 2020. The beginning of a new presidential administration will be a relief, yet, the Biden-Harris team will have a lot to clean up and sort out after Trump leaves office. We can’t expect miracles to occur in the first few weeks; this is when we will need a lot of patience.

Also, I am not going to claim a resolution that I will not keep. There are small goals that I promise not to ignore anymore. For one, I want to keep writing. I enjoy writing and I want to continue to enjoy it. I want to start reading for enjoyment and relaxation again because reading is something I enjoy! I want to take walks around the neighborhood and the university because I love the fresh air and my dog loves being outside too. If you noticed, I did not mention I lose weight or save money, or eat well. That doesn’t mean I will not do those things, but I will not put them on a list of priority resolutions – I refuse to flow with traffic because 2021 has to begin differently than other years prior.

We have changed in the last few months in 2020. Our attitudes toward health and well-being have shifted. It is a no-brainer that taking care of ourselves should and will always be at the forefront. Therefore:

I will continue to wear a mask even after I receive the vaccination.

I will continue to wash my hands (as I have always done).

I will continue to physically distance myself from others.

Yes, we will embrace 2021 like a hero rescuing people from sudden disaster; but, we cannot go back to what we have known before all of this has happened. Too many people have died from COVID (over 300,000 in the United States) for us to think we can resume business as usual. Maybe I watch the news too much, but I am trying to be a realist.

I am sharing this with all of you: Do not set a high bar for yourself in 2021. Take it easy and enter 2021 quietly and gently. Be kind to yourself – love yourself – take care of yourself mentally first. We are exiting a rough ride, and we need time to breathe and set a course to learn what 2021 will bring us.

After all, 2021 is on Friday.

Football is Life!

 I am a woman who loves football!

I have a favorite team: Dallas Cowboys, and no matter how many haters are out there, I am a true-blue fan! Ever since I could understand the game of football, I loved to watch it!

My brothers played football – my oldest brother played football in college and I was excited to go watch him play in Phoenix.

selective focus close up photo of brown wilson pigskin football on green grass
Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur Pexels.com

“We gonna watch Eric play feetball!”

My parents told me that I would say while sitting between my parents on the road on I-10 to Phoenix. When we would meet my brother on the field after the game, I stood stretching my neck and eyes up to see these guys towering above me! They all smelled sweaty and had dirty uniforms after a rough game. They didn’t look like 18 or 19-year-old boys – they looked like older adults. Well, to me at that time, they were older men!

So, my taste of football started early, and I have enjoyed watching the game ever since! I don’t know exactly what it is about football, but it is entertaining and exciting! Even if my favorite team is not playing, I will watch football. My friend always asks, why do I watch other teams? I don’t know! It’s not like I’m scouting how they play – I enjoy watching the game!

I had a stint in sports writing for a newspaper when I was younger, and I had dreamed about writing for Sports Illustrated one day. Well, that didn’t work out. I wondered if I could ever coach football, but, of course, I didn’t pursue that fantasy either.

I would love to own a football team (pipedream). However, I satisfy all of these dreams by playing fantasy football on ESPN. I have a team called the Pandemonium Pandas. Right now, my team is 3rd in the league.

I guess I am rambling on about football because, during this pandemic, I was glad to see that the NFL decided to go ahead with the season. Yes, a few teams suffered from COVID issues, but so far, the season has continued. It’s too bad about the college football season since they decided to cut it short, and many college teams who might have had excellent chances for bowl games did not make it.

When football season is over – there is a lull for me. It is anti-climatic. I can get into the NBA games (my favorite team is Boston, btw) but it doesn’t give me that same sense of excitement as football does!

I believe the field of football has opened so many opportunities for females! There is an assistant coach on the San Francisco 49ers; there is a female official, more women are seen on ESPN/NFL LIVE and calling games! Finally, I don’t feel like a freak of nature because I love the sport! I wrote a short story titled “Football Freaks” about a family whose lives gravitate around football: the husband is a winning high school football coach, the wife is a doctor, twin sons who play in the NFL, a son who is a standout high school quarterback, another son who is in little league football, and the baby, who is their only daughter. I am excited to work on this concept into a novel!

I can compare football to life: everybody is on a team, and everybody on that team has a specific role on the team. A quarterback is a person who usually executes the plan for each player – carefully guiding them through the obstacles. As you know, we are either on the offensive or defensive side of life (or both sides). And there are so many optional plays to make to get to our goals. When something attacks us, we need a plan and help from others to execute that plan. I guess that is why I like football more than basketball; basketball focuses on the one who can shoot three pointers; I’ve seen players take the ball down the court, not pass it to another teammate, and dunk the ball to show off their skills.

Maybe that is why I love football – it is a team sport. At least in my eyes, it’s more of a team sport than basketball.