Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

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 »

Poetry Book Reviews: Kym Gordon Moore and Patricia Furstenberg

(Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash)

We are Poetry: Lessons I Didn’t Learn in a Textbook by Kym Gordon Moore (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

I’ve known Kym for about a year now and regularly follow her blog on WordPress. Although we don’t always agree, I’ve always found her to be intelligent, funny, well-educated, and articulate. And, she’s fierce! Whatever causes she embraces, she puts her whole heart and soul into them.

In her latest book, Kym provides a general overview of poetry and her vision for the future of poetry as an art form, a therapeutic tool, and an educational medium. She views poetry as a living, breathing thing that can transform the poet, the community, the country, and even the world. Poetry should be as rich, colorful, and diverse as life itself.

Her book is almost a textbook on creating poetry and would be a useful tool in the classroom. She introduces the concept of ArchiPoetry, which employs architectural ideas to design and perfect poetic creations. As she writes: “By combining the use of language, imagery, metaphors, and specific patterns, the design elements in ArchiPoetry have different disciplines and poetic variations.”

While journaling has been an accepted therapeutic tool for a while in mental health, Kym developed the concept of TheraPoetry, a process through which people can find emotional relief by expressing themselves with poetry. Kym speaks from experience. After the death of her mother, it was poetry – and writing poetry – which helped her through the grieving process.

Illiteracy is an issue about which Kym is very passionate; and she wants to use poetry as a medium to teach our children how to read and improve their reading comprehension skills. We all remember rhymes that we learned as children. Those rhymes stick in our heads as rhythmical pieces of our childhood, bring back fond memories, and encourage us to pass them on to the next generation.

Poetry is creativity, mental gymnastics, lyrical composition, and inner fantasy. Poetry is emotional release, mental growth, and spiritual expression. This is why Kym championed the cause of poetry in 2014 when she persuaded mayors all across North Carolina to submit proclamations officially recognizing April as National Poetry Month. Kym also endorses and supports the Academy of American Poets as a valuable resource for educators and poets everywhere. As she says, “Poetry is a revival and reminder of our aspirations, possibilities, and achievements for all people.”

Finally, I close with Kym’s own summation of poetry:

“Poetry paints emotion

art is imagination and passion

poetry inspires art

expressionism through creativity is art and poetry

-transformation-

poetry and art is creativity through expressionism

art inspires poetry

passion and imagination is art

emotion paints poetry.”

Website: From Behind the Pen

Christmas Haiku by Patricia Furstenberg (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Patricia is a Romanian poet living in South Africa. Her poetry appears regularly on MasticadoresRomania, Spillwords Press, and other poetry sites and literary magazines. With Christmas right around the corner, I was drawn to read her book of Christmas haiku. Charmed by the simplicity of her verses and photos, I sincerely recommend this little chapbook as the perfect way to get into the candy-gingerbread-tinsel-lights holiday mood! Patricia has written numerous books for adults and children, which are all available on Amazon. So, grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!

“Christmas, snow, giggles,

Young and old around the tree.

Scent of fresh cookies.”

Website: Patricia Furstenberg, Author

34 Comments »

The Many Paths of Yoga

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union or communion. The purpose of practicing yoga is to achieve oneness with the Supreme Universal Spirit.

Yogis view the universe as an emanation of God’s love, and they see His essence in all things. Through the serious practice of yoga, they learn to realize the divine source within themselves, transcend the material world, and become one with the Divine Power.

Yoga encompasses many paths.

Karma Yoga the path of action – involves attaining enlightenment and unity through selfless service to others without any expectation of reward. 

Bhakti Yoga the emotional path – requires total absorption in a personal deity and is marked by intense love and devotion, and deep prayer and meditation.

The intellectual path is called jnana yoga, which emphasizes the study of sacred scripture and ancient wisdom.

Hatha yoga is concerned with physical self-discipline through the diligent practice of asanas, or postures. This form of yoga has become very popular in the West over the last few decades.

These postures were developed over thousands of years to exercise the muscles, nerves, and glands. They tone the body, increase flexibility, help to eliminate toxins, stimulate the release of hormones, and promote mental, physical, and spiritual balance.

People who consistently practice these postures report greater levels of energy and vitality, lightness of body, mental clarity, and a heightened sense of well-being. With persistence, they develop discipline of both mind and body, deeper spiritual awareness, and a sense of unity with the Divine.

Raja yoga literally means “king yoga” and is considered the supreme path, for it seeks both mental and spiritual discipline. Raja yogis struggle to purify and perfect their minds, bodies, and spirits through constant practice of yogic principles, including all the paths of yoga mentioned above. Yogis who succeed are regarded as saints. They are recognized by their profound love for humanity, their wisdom, their power to relieve suffering, and the feelings of peace and serenity which they bring to others.

~

Dawn Pisturino, RN
March 2, 2007; September 26, 2022
Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments »

Peace, Serenity with T’ai Chi

(Photo by Mark Hang Fung So on Unsplash)

T’ai Chi is a Chinese system of gentle exercise movements which developed mainly out of Taoist philosophy to promote general good health and a less violent form of self-defense.

Lao Tzu, who developed the philosophy of Taoism in the sixth century B.C., believed that human beings could find peace and serenity by understanding and acting in accordance with the flow of nature. The slow, fluid movements in T’ai Chi reflect the constant ebb and flow of opposing universal energies, called the yin and yang.

T’ai Chi has many benefits. The graceful movements can be easily learned, with practice, by people of all ages. No special equipment is needed, and the exercises can be performed in a relatively small space.

T’ai Chi provides good exercise, lays the foundation for self-defense techniques, increases mental alertness, and improves meditation abilities. As individuals progress, they often develop a more tranquil frame of mind. T’ai Chi incorporates movement meditation along with quiet meditation, based on Taoist meditation and breathing techniques.

T’ai Chi developed as an internal martial art that emphasizes wisdom and development of the mind over body. It allows practitioners to balance internal energy, called ch’i, in order to improve general health and generate new power. The use of vital energy from within becomes a self-healing modality as well as a potent force for self-defense.

T’ai Chi practitioners become highly aware of the benefits of cultivating this energy (ch’i): more rapid recovery from injury and illness, increased energy and libido, greater physical strength and flexibility, better balance and stability, improved stamina, and a stronger immune system.

Many senior citizens have found that the regular practice of T’ai Chi exercises helps them to remain more flexible and active.

(Learn T’ai Chi with Jack Mace on YouTube)

Dawn Pisturino

February 3, 2007; July 25, 2022
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, March 27, 2007
Copyright 2007-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 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 »

The Path to Wellness

Wellness, from a holistic point of view, means wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  But how do we do this?

First, we make a choice.  Making the choice may or may not be easy.  We may genuinely enjoy smoking.  We may really like going out for Sunday dinner at the local steak house.  We may really believe that one more cup of coffee won’t hurt us.  But what is the end result that we want to achieve?

Do we want to breathe easy in our old age or be hooked up to an oxygen tank?  Do we want to maintain healthy arteries through our diet or to undergo surgical procedures to clean them out?  How many medications do we want to take — and who’s going to pay for them?  Do we really like the feeling of jitteriness that coffee brings? And oh, the heartburn!

Once we make the choice, it is all a matter of sticking with it.  Making a commitment to ourselves and our well-being goes a long way to achieving wellness.  After all, nobody else can do it for us.  The family doctor can prescribe drugs and suggest lifestyle changes, but he cannot do the exercise for us.  Neither is he going to give up his steak and ice cream for us.  He will, however, be more than happy to take care of us when we end up in the hospital.  Is that the outcome we want to achieve?

Frankly, it’s hard.  It’s hard to give up the things we love and which give us a sense of comfort when we are under stress or bored.  It’s hard to give up those little pleasures which make life worth living.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about? 

And who really wants to go out and jog five miles a day?  Who has the time?  And does it really matter whether we live to be 76 or 78?

Wellness means wholeness.  Wholeness means integration and quality of life.  It is not so much the number of years that we are trying to reach but the quality of life that we are trying to achieve.  A person may live to be 100, but if they are dragging around an oxygen tank, live in a nursing home, and have no family or friends, is that wellness?  Is that wholeness?  Is that the quality of life that we are striving to achieve?

Think about it.  Examine your life now and your possible life in the future.  What do you see?  Do you like what you see?  If not, then make a commitment to yourself to achieve a greater level of wellness in your life.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006; June 28, 2022
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 27, 2007

Copyright 2006-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

The Meaning of Wellness

The term “wellness” means many things to many people but, generally speaking, it refers to a feeling of wholeness.  While many people may regard wellness as an absence of disease, it goes far beyond physical health.

When we view ourselves from the holistic point of view, we see that we are much more than a collection of flesh and bones meandering aimlessly through life.  We have physical needs that must be met such as food, warmth, shelter, sex, etc.  Most people do well meeting these basic needs.  But once these basic needs are met, we find that we need more.  Instead of just physical gratification, we long for love and affection.  Our bodies crave healthy, wholesome foods, not just whatever junk we find in the cupboard.  We want to create an environment of peace and comfort that we can go home to at night after a long day at work.  We seek relationships and environments that are nourishing and contribute to our fulfillment in life.

Wellness begins with our physical health.  We can choose to be healthier by making better food choices, exercising more, watching our weight, and getting more rest.  We can do what we can to prevent illness, rather than trusting to luck and treating the illness after the fact, when it is more difficult and more expensive — or may be too late.

For example, we can stop smoking if we are concerned about future lung disease.  We can cut back on red meat and consume more fruits and vegetables if we are concerned about heart disease.  We can lose weight, exercise more, and cut back on starches and processed foods if we are afraid of developing Type II diabetes.  This control is in OUR hands.

Taking this a step further, then, we can also find wellness in other areas of our lives.  We can end an abusive relationship and associate with people who treat us with love and compassion.  We can quit a dead-end job, go back to school, and follow a new career.  We can cut up the credit cards and avoid incurring more debt.  We can express our creativity through hobbies, loving relationships, service to others, and spiritual practices.

Wellness, from a holistic point of view, is wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  It is a feeling of being fully integrated and connected with the world.  It is living a quality of life which brings us inner peace and a sense of well-being.

Examine your life.  Are there areas which you could improve?  Look at your options.  Are there new or better ways that you could live?  Make a choice and go with it.  You can always choose new paths later on.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006; June 27, 2022
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 13, 2007
       and The Standard, week of February 12, 2007

Copyright 2006-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

What Happened to the Age of Aquarius?

If there’s one song that best captures the hopes and dreams of the 1960s, it’s the medley, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” from the Broadway musical, Hair (1967). The 5th Dimension, who compiled the medley, really rocked it. I still want to get up and dance to the music. But, whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius?

Lyrics:

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Alright, everybody
C’mon now, we gon’ use other words for this song
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
C’mon, sing along with it

Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sun shine (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sunshine in (ahh, open up your heart)
The sunshine in (and let it shine on in)
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in

Songwriters: Rado James, Mac Dermot Arthur Terence Galt, Ragni Gerome. For non-commercial use only.

Data From: Musixmatch

Astrologically, nobody really knows when the Age of Aquarius is supposed to begin or if it already did. If you go by these lyrics, it began with the Hippie/New Age Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. But some people believe it began in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. Others believe it happened with 12/12/12 and the Mayan prophecy of spiritual realignment. Still others believe it arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic and officially established itself in February 2021. I saw one theory where Jesus and the Apostles were the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Another one promoted Valentine’s Day 2009 as the beginning. So, who knows? One thing is certain – the lyrics do not accurately reflect its beginning, according to astrologer Neil Spencer, because “Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year, and the Moon is in the 7th House for 2 hours everyday.”

According to New Age adherents, the Age of Aquarius can be identified by certain hallmarks:

  1. A rapidly-changing society, dependent on technological innovation and intuitive creativity;
  2. Universal unity, harmony, patience, love, brotherhood, peace, resilience, interconnectedness, and elevated consciousness;
  3. Increased self-awareness and self-realization, empowerment, positive thinking, personal responsibility, and intuitive guidance;
  4. The body-mind-spirit connection will resonate at a higher vibration than ever before in the history of the human race.

Some people see two paths emerging: the path of totalitarianism and enslavement by powerful elites; and the path of liberation and spiritual evolution by the masses.

In the meantime, while we wait for our astrological guides to enlighten us, we can work on these qualities as individuals and gain more control over our own lives and our own mental, physical, and spiritual development through mindfulness, yoga, spiritual practices like prayer and meditation, healthful nutrition, exercise, and kindness.

Dawn Pisturino

May 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

41 Comments »

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