Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Poetry Book Reviews: Paula Light and Lamittan Minsah

(Photo by Arash Asghari on Unsplash)

Monochrome: Poetry from the Ashes by Paula Light (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Paula is a California poet whose poetry collection is a delight to read. She writes with a gentle hand. Her poems are like butterflies which attract us with rich colors, feather-weight movements, velvety textures, and delicate wings. She explores the nature of love, loss, sadness, and acceptance with profound understanding and peace. At the same time, she has a sharp wit and approaches life with humor and positivity. When you read her WordPress blog, you will experience both sides of this very talented woman.

“Immersed in words,

Steamed in verse,

Lovesongs burning up my dreams . . .

It must be true:

I still hold

A torch for you . . .”

And from her poem, Grace:

“The night sky knows my sorrow:

An ice wind screams your name,

While thunder booms in horror

And lightning damns this place.

Then softly comes the music;

Gently falls the rainsong;

Rhythms drip down smoothly,

And the moon is bathed in grace.”

Website: Light Motifs

Let’s Talk Bride: A Poetry Collection by Lamittan Minsah (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

Lamittan is a Kenyan poet who has written a collection of poems about a very special person in his life, Apostle Darlan Rukih, also known as the Bride of the Lamb, a minister in the Bride of the Lamb Ministries International.

This book has a fascinating backstory. Darlan Rukih was born a hermaphrodite (someone who is born with both male and female genitalia and characteristics, also known as an intersex person). Since this condition is not accepted in Kenyan culture, Rukih grew up isolated, alienated, and rejected by others. But faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ helped Rukih to overcome this disability and to serve by helping others. Rukih first married a woman and was blessed with a son. After that relationship failed, Rukih dated a man and got pregnant. Blessed with two children, Rukih is devoted to helping children in need in Kenya. Reference: Mpasho website.

Lamittan’s admiration for the Bride of the Lamb knows no bounds in this fine collection of poems which praise Rukih, God, and His son, Jesus Christ. Lamittan expresses both his joy and his sorrow in these poems:

“There’s beauty walking in Africa,

Traversing a lonely desert –

A damsel formed by the maker

Out of the ribs of Adam, long ago.

There is beauty

Such as one that never was before.”

~

“They nailed our Lord by force.

The heavens roared,

His pain had reached God,

And for a moment,

Darkness covered the firmament

And hid God’s gaze from his son . . .”

Follow Lamittan Minsah on WordPress to read more of his poetry and stories and to learn more about Kenyan culture. His business site, Laminsa Indies, encourages and aids “budding writers, musicians, actors/actresses, self-publishers, photographers, drawing artists, dancers and many other talents from the creative industry.” Check it out!

Website: Laminsa Indies

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

26 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Barbara Harris Leonhard and River Dixon

(Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash)

Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir by Barbara Harris Leonhard (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

Barbara is a retired English teacher (ESL) whose award-winning work has appeared on Spillwords, MasticadoresUSA, and other poetry sites and magazines. Most recently, her poetry appeared in Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022), edited by Gabriela Marie Milton, and a #1 Amazon Bestseller. She currently serves as the editor of MasticadoresUSA.

Penned with heart-felt love, devotion, and pain, this memoir is an honest family portrait that mirrors both the mother and the daughter. The bond between mother and daughter is complex, but Barbara beautifully describes both the comfortable and uncomfortable sides of this relationship. Anybody who has cared for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, will relate to Barbara’s experience. Anybody who has missed out on motherhood and lost a child, will find Barbara’s story deeply moving. But there is no self-pity here. She has written about her life with honesty and compassion. She has experienced trauma and heartbreak. But she accepts what life brings and looks hopefully to the future instead of staying shackled to the past. She presents herself as strong, determined, and willing to learn from life’s lessons. She has written a remarkable collection of poems that are powerful in their very simplicity. Whatever trauma and pain you have endured, her poems will edify and uplift you in a positive way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

In writing about her miscarried child, she says:

“You left my broken womb

as the bloody remains of what

was never to come. I still feel you

in the waves, the flow

of my sacral river – your tears?

Your fears I’ve abandoned you?

No, Honey. No! I’ll never forget you.”

Finally, her experiences with encephalitis and her mother’s Alzheimer’s:

“Not enough that I am

the spitting image of Mom

and her namesake.

We both experienced

a brain injury. The encephalitis

burned away my young memories;

       Alzheimer’s, her short-term ones.”

Barbara has been nominated for a Pushcart award for her poem, Mom and I Play Lassos with Our Hysterectomy Scars, a deeply provocative and sensitive poem which is included in this collection.

Website: Extraordinary Sunshine Weaver

Lost in the Hours: A Poetry Collection by River Dixon (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

River is a multi-talented poet, fiction writer, and publisher at Potter’s Grove Press. His fiction leans toward the dark side. But his poetry is honest, raw, straight-shooting, and direct. The first thing you come to realize when you read his poems is that River is a realist, not an idealist. There are few hearts and flowers here. He writes with power, intelligence, profound understanding, and articulate expression. He shares a healthy cynicism about life and the world in general. I like his poetry because he says what many of us are only thinking. He’s not afraid to criticize the status quo:

“While you drown in a shallow pool

Of only three inches of self-worth

They taught you well

How to hold your own head under

And convince you of rainbows

While they blot out the stars

One by one . . .”

His works are also available from Potter’s Grove Press, along with other avant-garde authors.

Websites: The Stories In-Between

                 Potter’s Grove Press

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

“The Girl on the Bus” on Spillwords

(Photo from Spillwords)

I’m pleased and honored to announce that my poem, The Girl on the Bus, has been published today on Spillwords. I want to thank Dagmara K. and the staff at Spillwords for publishing it. Please visit Spillwords and show them your support. Thanks!

The Girl on the Bus

by Dawn Pisturino

The bus driver watched you in the mirror,

His eyes wide with fear,

When you stood up in the middle of the bus,

Crying like a terrified child.

Passengers waited with bated breath,

Wondering what you would do.

The sharpness of your pain . . .

Please visit Spillwords here to read the rest. Thank you so much!

Have a beautiful day!

Dawn Pisturino

November 17, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

35 Comments »

Starry, Starry Night

(The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh)

I’ve visited many art galleries and museums, including the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City, and seen many wonderful and inspiring paintings, but what really stands out in my mind is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Its brilliant blue and yellow colors, active night sky, and peaceful ambience (in spite of the strong brush strokes and turbulent sky) provoke speculation, mystery, and fascination, in my mind. What was Van Gogh thinking? What was he feeling? Most importantly, what was he seeing?

It’s well known that he suffered from mental illness and attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He later died of the wound. His death surprised people who believed that he was actually in a more positive frame of mind at the time of his death. But who knew what was really going on in his mind and in his heart?

(People who have decided to kill themselves often appear more positive and energetic because they have made the final decision and no longer feel conflicted about their actions. In fact, people can feel so depressed that they lack the energy to actually harm themselves. Appearances are deceiving, and it’s important to remember this if you are dealing with someone in your life who suffers from depression and suicidal ideation.)

Sometimes, people ask if persons who are mentally ill are more artistic than others. When I worked in mental health, I met scores of patients who were phenomenal artists. Not only did they possess an exceptional natural talent for art, but engaging in art helped them to concentrate their attention, focus their thoughts, freely express their ideas and emotions, make sense of the larger world around them, distract them from troubling thoughts and feelings, and help them to cope with anxiety and depression. (When I worked in Flagstaff, we had an actual art therapist who would come in and do art projects with the patients.) I cannot say that their mental illness made them more artistic. In some cases, their lack of self-esteem and confidence actually caused them to suppress their talent. On the other hand, people who are intimately in touch with their emotions make great artists because they can freely express themselves without regard to social convention and self-constraint. But people who are over-sensitive and cannot manage their own emotions can be more susceptible to mental health issues.

So, it’s a conundrum. Did Vincent Van Gogh’s mental illness make him a great artist – or did his mental illness interfere with his natural artistic talent? I don’t know.

What do you say?

Perhaps Don McLean can answer that question:

(“Vincent” by Don McLean – one of my favorite songs)

Dawn Pisturino

October 10, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

40 Comments »

Dirty Feet

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

Gandhi was a spiritual man full of wisdom and keen insight. What exactly does he mean here?

One of the first practices we learn on the spiritual path is to protect ourselves from the negative influences of the material world. A Hindu tenet is to live in the world but not of the world. In other words, although we have to live, work, love, and function in material society, our minds should be focused on our own spiritual growth. We protect ourselves from the influences of negative energy by wrapping ourselves in a cloak of blue or white light (or some other form of spiritual protection). We eat healthy, wholesome foods. We clear our minds of negative thoughts and accentuate the positive. We practice patience and forgiveness and push those dark feelings of hatred and anger from our hearts. We take care of our bodies in ways that honor and promote LIFE. We avoid hateful, chaotic, negative people. We surround ourselves with beauty, cleanliness, aromatic fragrances, peace, tranquility, and serenity. We remain calm in the face of danger and adversity. We strive to help others. We extend our hands in friendship and kindness. We turn off the noise, the hate, the violence, the chaos, the insanity directed at all of us by the media and loud, angry, hateful people. 

And it does not matter whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, or any other spiritual affiliation. The principles remain the same. Meditation and contemplation; prayer; trusting in a higher power; opening up our minds and hearts to the positive flow of energy; cleansing our minds and hearts of negative thoughts, feelings, and influences; striving to be a constructive force in the world instead of a destructive force; projecting light and a ray of hope in a dark world – all of us have the capability to shine like the brightest star in the night sky. But it takes commitment and work and a sincere belief that we all contain a divine essence inside ourselves.

May the divine spark in you shine brightly!

Dawn Pisturino

July 20, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

29 Comments »

Balancing Body, Mind, and Spirit

When you look in a mirror, what do you see? Two eyes, a mouth, two shoulders, hands, legs, and feet. But you also have a mind for thinking, planning, creating, remembering, and dreaming. You own emotions such as love, hate, anger, despair; and a spirit which searches for meaning and validation.

Even though you can’t see it, you know that your mind exists and is functioning on a day-to-day basis. You are keenly aware of your shifting emotions, even though you can’t touch them. In the face of obstacles, you call upon your inner spirit to face those obstacles and overcome them.

If you were just a body, you would function like a robot performing tasks in a mechanical fashion without deviating from the routine. If you were all mind, you wouldn’t need a body. If you were all spirit, you wouldn’t need this world at all.

Once you recognize that you are made of body, mind, and spirit, you can see yourself as a whole person. You can appreciate the beauty and wonder of yourself. Science has dissected the physical body for centuries and still has not discovered all of its secrets. Psychiatrists have tried to analyze and understand the mind, to no avail. The imagination continues to amaze and delight all of us. The world of the spirit is an infinite frontier yet to be explored. 

When you are living in balance, you are addressing the needs of body, mind, and spirit. You nourish the body with food, the mind with knowledge, and the spirit with faith and hope.

You know when you are feeling out of balance. You know when you are experiencing too much stress. You know when you are not eating right or getting enough sleep. You know when you are feeling lost and empty inside. You know when you are consumed with love or rage. You know when your body craves exercise, your mind seeks quiet, and your spirit needs comfort.

Stop for a moment. Listen to yourself. Your body, mind, and spirit are speaking to you. They are asking to be recognized and nourished. You know already what to do. If in doubt, seek help.

January 22, 2007; June 30, 2022

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, March 6, 2007

Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

17 Comments »

Your Own Best Friend

Once we have made the commitment to achieve a higher level of wellness, there are a few things we need to consider.

First off, making that kind of commitment could be interpreted as selfishness by the people around us.  Our spouses may not want us to go out jogging while they lay on the couch watching TV.  After all, this is an activity that has been shared for many years, and now that situation has suddenly changed.  They may feel abandoned.  They may feel threatened or afraid.  Hopefully, they will get the message and get up and join us.


Our kids may not be ready to give up mom or dad to activities that take us away from them.  They may become more demanding or attention-seeking.  On the other hand, there are many activities in which they can participate.  They, too, can achieve a higher level of wellness.

People who do not understand may try to discourage us.  Since they do not see anything wrong with themselves, they may tell us we are wasting our time.

Secondly, wellness can be costly.  Fitness center memberships and work-out gyms can cost a lot of money, especially if they go unused.  If choosing to buy organic foods, be prepared for a higher grocery bill.  Vitamins and other supplements can also lighten your wallet.

So what is the answer?

Take a moment to consider, “Who is my best friend?”

If you did not name yourself, then you need to reconsider your commitment to wellness.  In order to win on the path to wellness, you must first be your own best friend.  You must first be your own best nurse, doctor*, partner, fitness coach, mother, spiritual adviser, and cheerleader.  You must believe in yourself, your efforts, and your ability to succeed.

Make the choice.  Make the commitment.  Have faith in yourself.  Stay focused on what you are trying to achieve and stick with it.  This is not a commitment to last a day, a month, or a year.  This is a commitment to last a lifetime.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006; June 29, 2022

Copyright 2006-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

*Check with your doctor before engaging in exercise that may be harmful to your health. Even yoga and simple exercises can cause injury. Make sure that herbs and supplements do not interfere with your prescribed medications. Watch out for medical scams that promise miraculous cures. Watch out for practitioners who offer questionable therapies. DO NOT GO AGAINST YOUR DOCTOR’S MEDICAL ADVICE. DO NOT STOP TAKING PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATIONS UNLESS ORDERED AND SUPERVISED BY YOUR PSYCHIATRIST. DO NOT USE STREET DRUGS. Being “your own best doctor” means taking responsibility for your health, NOT self-diagnosing, NOT self-prescribing, and NOT self-medicating. If necessary, go to the emergency room and get the help you need.

17 Comments »

Baby Formula from the 1950s Housewife

I was in the beauty salon getting my hair cut yesterday, and all the ladies were on fire about the current national shortage of baby formula. This shortage has been going on for a while but recently worsened with the recall of Similac baby formula products a few months ago. The news media has been reporting on the shortage, otherwise, unless you have babies or grand-babies, you probably wouldn’t know anything about it.

Similac PM 60/40 Lot# 27032K80 was voluntarily recalled by Abbott Laboratories after customer complaints about infants becoming infected with Salmonella (Cronobacter sakazakii) and after one infant died.

My husband reminded me that when the CEO of a baby formula company in China was indicted for producing bad batches of baby formula in 2008 that poisoned 300,000 Chinese infants and killed six, he was executed by the Chinese Communist Party. The formula contained melamine, a toxic substance that was used to increase protein levels.

And I clearly remember the complaints against Nestle in the 1970s when the company urged third world women, particularly in Africa, to stop breast-feeding and use their baby formula products. This turned into a huge scandal which the company is still trying to live down.

Although commercial baby formula products have been around since the 1800s, breast-feeding is still considered by pediatricians to provide the best nutrition for infants. Breast-feeding popularity has gone through phases, however. Post-World War II, breast-feeding lost some of its attraction for middle-class housewives, and more women were in the workforce, so homemade baby formulas became the norm. This held true into the 1960s, when more advanced baby formulas came onto the market. In the 1970s, women’s groups demanded a return to breast-feeding as the more desirable source of nutrition for infants. Today, breast-feeding and formula use go hand-in-hand. Some women are unable to produce enough milk naturally and must supplement with formula. Some babies have special digestive problems or allergies and require special formulas.

**Some women, frustrated with the shortage of commercial baby formula, are making their own based on a 1950s recipe that was the standard for that time. Here’s the recipe, but I am not recommending that anybody use it. All mothers should check with their pediatricians before using it. The formula may not contain all the nutritional requirements that babies need. Infants have a sensitive digestive tract and may develop digestive issues or be allergic.**

In the 1950s, a housewife would make enough for the entire day (24 ounces) and divide it into 6 sterilized baby bottles (4 ounces each). She would refrigerate all bottles until needed.

1950s Standard Baby Formula

13 ounces evaporated milk

20 ounces water

2 tablespoons Karo corn syrup

Heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.

The 1950s doctor would prescribe liquid vitamins and iron for the baby to ensure that he or she was getting the proper nutrition. **Consult your pediatrician before giving vitamins and iron to your infant.**

Feeding Schedule

The normal schedule was to feed the baby every 4 hours, at 6 am, 10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm, 10 pm, and 2 am. I don’t know when Mom got to sleep! But the breast-feeding schedule can be even more rigorous, with baby getting fed every 2 to 4 hours.

The evaporated milk in the formula contained Vitamin D to prevent rickets. To prevent scurvy, baby was started on a solution of orange juice at 3 weeks, with the typical ratio being 1 tablespoon orange juice to 1 tablespoon water. Baby received this solution at least once a day. **(Please consult with your pediatrician before giving your infant juices and solids. The current recommendation is to wait until a baby is one year old before giving him or her orange juice.)** In addition, mom was expected to offer baby boiled, cooled water in-between feedings to prevent dehydration.

A typical baby schedule in the 1950s:

The term “hold out” is confusing, but it apparently means to hold the baby out to facilitate with passing urine, feces, and gas. Fresh air and sunshine were important components of the baby’s day, something which still holds true now. Don’t forget the sunscreen, sun hat, and clothing! I don’t know if anybody puts their baby outside to sleep anymore. I would certainly suggest that mom or another adult stay with the baby, if they do.

The importance of a schedule is to teach kids regular habits, discipline, and responsibility, but later parenting methods called for a looser lifestyle for both baby and parents. Of course, babies are all individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Some babies willingly go along with a schedule, while others don’t. And that’s okay!

Dawn Pisturino

May 12, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

**REMEMBER TO CONSULT WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN BEFORE CHANGING YOUR INFANT’S FORMULA, USING HOMEMADE FORMULA, AND CHANGING THE FOOD INTRODUCTION SCHEDULE (WHAT TYPES OF FOODS AN INFANT SHOULD EAT AT WHAT AGE). THE BABY’S DIGESTIVE TRACT CANNOT TOLERATE SOME FOODS AT AN EARLY AGE OR MAY DEVELOP ALLERGIES.**

27 Comments »

“Wounds I Healed” Anthology Acceptance

I’m pleased and proud to announce that my poem, Boudica’s Soliloquy, has been accepted for publication in the upcoming Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women anthology. I want to thank Gabriela Marie Milton (editor), Ingrid Wilson of Experiments in Fiction (publisher), and Nick Reeves for their hard work and dedication in bringing this project to fruition.

As you may have guessed, the poem is about Boudica, the fierce Celtic Queen of the Iceni tribe who reigned in the East Anglia region of Britain. In 60 C.E., she led a revolt against the Romans. Bravely driving a chariot against Roman forces, she fought for the liberation of her tribe and vengeance for the rape of her two daughters by Roman soldiers. Although defeated, she went down in history as a tragic figure and a British folk hero.

For some reason, when I heard about the anthology, Queen Boudica immediately popped into my head. She was a woman who lost everything but died with dignity and honor.

Please visit these sites:

Gabriela Marie Milton (Short Prose)

MasticadoresUSA//Gabriela Marie Milton, editor

Ingrid Wilson, Experiments in Fiction

Nick Reeves

Thank you!

Dawn Pisturino

May 9, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

49 Comments »

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

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