Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Is Self-Care?

Two more poems reflect my feelings about the coronavirus and self-care and how we narrowly escaped Spain’s outbreak about a month ago! We could still be there!

In recovery, we talk often about self-care: measures we do to take of body, mind and soul. For me, usually I enjoy regular routines of dancing, exercising and associating with people. I also find alone time, my Quiet Time, to recharge my spirit and soul.

This coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my social and active practices and has taken self-care to a new level, adding unusual routines to my life: shelter-in-place and follow our governor’s guidelines and more. As I pondered this early in April, self-care took on a different meaning.

Self-Care

April 3, 2020

A mask
            A Bandanna
                        Social distance
                                    Space
                                                Wash my hands singing the Doxology
                                                                  Stay home
 
Self-care for
            The coronavirus
 
But what about
            My spirit
                        My soul
 
A Quiet Time
            Solace
                        Time Alone with my God
Words exchange
            Thoughts shared
 
Prayer—
            Silence
                        Solemn
                                    Desperate today
 
An ancient tradition
            Praying the Rosary
                        Repetition
                        Veneration of
                                    Mary
                                    Jesus
                                    God, the Father
                        Meditation
                                    Staying in the moment
 
I yearn for my God
            I seek him daily!
 
Who am I
            Without Him?
Who am I
            With Him?
 
An obedient girl child
            A rebellious teenager
                        A maniac in my twenties
                                    Heart-broken
                                              Destroyed by my first divorce
 
A recovered woman
            A struggling middle-aged woman
                        A desperate 50-year-old
                                    A grief-stricken 60-year-old
                                                A serene 66-year-old crone
In love with my life
            Before the coronavirus!
 
Today
            I avoid crowds
                        I wear a mask
                                    And you can’t shame me out of it
                                                I move away from you
                                                            For social distancing
           
When I take care of myself,
            I take care of you!
                        Remember that when you see
                                    Me in a mask!

I’ve taken this shelter-in-place time to go deep inside and wonder about this world and all the possibilities. We left Spain on March 8, and the virus exploded there the next day. Had we left there a couple days later, we could still be there—think about that one! Here’s my poem dealing with that:

Tomorrow is a Month

April 7, 2020

 Thirty-one days
        Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly
 
Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands!
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share it
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic
 
Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
Two bags
            I wolfed down one whole bag
                        immediately
                                    And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
 
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!

Have you used this time allotted us to look inside and seek yourself and God in a new way? I’ve relished that opportunity, as sad as it has been. What are your thoughts about self-care and this virus? When will it end? Will we ever get back to normal?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Poetic View: The Future As I Saw It in April

What does the future hold for us? Here it is nearing the end of May, and I want to share two poems I wrote at the beginning of April, more than a month ago. Not a lot has changed. The death count continues to increase daily with it nearing 100,000 in the United States.

My world & the future?

In the midst of this pandemic, people’s reactions shock me! One person posted on my Facebook page that this virus isn’t dangerous. Tell that to the families mourning 99,031 deaths. Tell that to the world whose losses stand today at 345,554 at 2:00 pm this sunny Sunday afternoon. I shudder at this callous response to this tragedy—it is dangerous and heartbreaking! Today, I choose empathy and compassion for the losses, for the pain, for the struggle, and I continue to wonder about our collective future.

In my circle of family and friends, I know someone who was diagnosed with Covid 19 ten weeks ago and is still experiencing symptoms. So some say it’s just like the flu? I’ve never had a flu that lasted that long.

My first poem contemplated the new post-coronavirus future.

Are Masks a Part of the Future?
Are Masks a Part of the Future?
What Do We Face?

April 1, 2020
 
The future always felt
            Predictable!
Not now!
            Not post-coronavirus pandemic,
                        Not after the deaths
                                    The insanity
                                                The world in turmoil!
 
What’s coming?
            Social distancing
                        ‘til April 30
 
More cases
            More deaths!
                        100,000’s dead?
                        1,000,000’s sick?
 
The uncertainty
            No one knows
                        For sure
                                    But why?
 
Our tech age believed
            We could control
                        Order
                                   Orchestrate the world!
 
But no!
            Here we stand frozen
                                    Paralyzed
                                               Isolated
 
2020—
            with all its advances
                        can’t contain
                                    this small
                                                tiny
                                                            enemy
It controls us!
 
The USA
            Ill-prepared
                        So sad,
                                    But so true!
 
Trump, a part of the problem
            Yes,
                        But China lied!
 
Would he have acted differently
            If he knew the truth?
                        Not 81,000 deaths in China
                                    But possibly forty times that amount!
                                                3,240,000
                                                            Oh, my God!
We will never know.
 
Where are we headed?
            Done and recovered 
                                    At the end of April?
                                                May?
                                                            September?
 
I haven’t even a thought
            About our financial losses
                        Not in the wake of the deaths
                                               The sickness and trauma
                                                            The despair!
 
We’re all in the same boat
            Headed somewhere,
                        Destination unknown
 
God, help us!
LaLa Land vs. reality for the future
Living in LaLa Land

My second poem did a reality check. Reality—different to different people? I’ve struggled with reality my whole life, wanting to live in a LaLa Land of my own making, but adulthood forced me out of that imaginary land into the territory of the REAL The coronavirus catapulted me farther—into a stark face-to-face encounter with reality.

Reality Check

April 2, 2020
 
The sun keeps shining
            The world spins
                        Night follows day.
 
On the surface
            Normal is constant.
 
Yet the massive choirs
            Of heartbroken cries resound
                        Across the plains
                                     Down through the valleys
                                                 Atop the mountains
                                                                Through the deserts
 
Human kind is under attack
            A virus war zone!
People die
            The number mounts!
 
Doesn’t matter his color
                                   Her Ethnicity
                                                His Religion
                                                                No immunity!
 
The coronavirus kills
            Has no prejudices
                        Is not judicious in its target
 
The massive grief grows
            The weight of the pain stresses
                        This world to its limit
 
A mother
            A father
                        A Daughter
                                    Die alone
                                                Not a hand to hold
                                                            No last kiss and hug!
 
And it’s not just the virus’ victims
            But anyone unlucky enough
                        To die now
                                    Like my dear friend, Jan Steel
 
Karen, Joan, and Julian stood vigilant
            Outside Jan’s door
                        No kiss
                                    No touch
                                                No hug
                                                            Only death!
 
Hearts break in unison
            Too many to count—
                        Exponential pain multiplied
                                    By this devastation!
 
Yet the sun rises
            Days melt into weeks
                        Pain from this horror lingers
                                    Forever
                                                An acrid taste in my mouth
                                                            And
                                                                        Heart!

You may wonder why I keep posting my poems. I struggled so through this pandemic and recorded it. I wonder if you relate to my cares and concerns. Let me know.


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

Poetic View: I Wrestled with God, Faith & the Coronavirus

As March 2020 ended, I pondered God and faith issues in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and sheltering in place. I seldom ventured out—only for groceries and prescriptions, but I ventured inward. As always, poetry helped me wrestle with deep emotions about this controversial time and face some spiritual reservations.

Wrestling with God

Do you question God and his presence in this world? I do because we talk regularly, and we have that kind of relationship. I don’t need to blame God about the pandemic because my God is good, but I challenged Him—where are you? What about faith and fear? Can I have both at the same time?

Through my poetic view, I labored over God’s absence and my struggle with faith and fear.

God's Angel looking over the world
Where is My God?
 
March 30, 2020
 
I see the coronavirus cases
                        Increase
            Where is my God?
 
Who will protect me?
            You?
                        People have died
                                   Are dying
                                               Will die
 
Screams of despair
            Reverberate across
                        The world
 
Mass mournings in the loss
            Of a son
                        A daughter
                                    A mother
                                                A father
 
Left to die alone
            No one familiar to hold a hand
                                                Wipe a tear
                                                            Whisper, “I love you!”
 
God, in your infinite mercy,
            Where are you?
 
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
            Disguised like Mother Teresa shared as
                        A doctor
                        A nurse
                        A LPN
                        A caring neighbor
                        A stranger’s smile in the grocery store
                        A phone call or text message to check-in
                                     With loved ones
 
I believe you’re in
            The midst of this
Oh, lover of souls!
 
I believe your heart
            Breaks
                        As you watch
                                    The loss
                                                The horror
 
Have you rallied the angels?
                        The archangels?
                                    The guardian angels?
 
Have you thrown your power
            Into the wind
                        To bring a new day?
 
You hold me gently to your bosom
            Scared
                        Frightened
Yet knowing full well
You have the power
                        You are the power!
 
You are in control!

As you can see from this poem and last week’s, I believe God is in control of this mess, my mess, any mess that comes along. I wind my way through the caverns of questioning always to arrive at the same place!

As this pandemic has struck, many spiritual people wonder about their personal faith. Often, I hear people say either faith or fear, but I came up with a different answer.

God: Faith and Fear Not Faith or Fear
March 31, 2020
 
It’s not either or.
            I’m human—
                        Fear lurks
                                    Faith falters
 
But
            I can open my hands
                        Have faith in one
                                    And fear in the other
 
I can raise them up
            To my God!
 
I can release
            Both
                        To do what needs done.
 
Fear reminds me
            I’m vulnerable
Faith reminds me
            God is in control.
I need both.
 
Fear chokes my throat
            Strangling life out of me
Faith hugs me to close
            Saturating my heart with love
God extends his hand.
I need both.
 
Fear drives me to despair
Faith draws me to the Comforter.
Yes, I need both
            In balance.
 
Too much fear
            Paralyzes me
Too much fear
            Focuses me
                        On the problem
 
Then my faith comes
            And refocuses me
                        On the solution.
 
I want more faith
            Less fear
                        But I need both!
                                    A balance
                                                To stabilize me
                                                            To force me
                                                                        To look outside
                                                                                    
Myself to Him
           Who waits for me!
 
Faith is power
            So is fear
I yearn to be faith-powered!
God: Man and woman on two horses

I present a dichotomy in this poem—faith and fear, side-by-side and needed. What do you think?


Cover of Flippo's biography

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~WAITING FOR A KINDLE OR NOOK E-BOOK VERSION OF THE E-BOOK OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY? Hopefully, they will be available in three days! Sorry for the delay!

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Christianity · Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry · Recovery

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

I continue with a poetic view of my feelings and the coronavirus pandemic. I wrote two poems where I dealt with the question of control and prayer. As I faced these thoughts on March 28, I faced the reality of surrender which always takes me to “Let Go.” My recovery program has taught me the power of letting go of results and turning to a Power Great than myself that has everything under control. Then the next day I wondering about all my praying frenzy—who was I praying for in reality?

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

Step three 
(Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)      
            encourages me
            To view this world
                        And its trials
                                    Then let go!
Let go of
            Control
            Manipulation
            Power
            Authority
            Wisdom
            Rules
            Everything
As I let go,
            My hands open up
                        Palms face up to the sky
                                    Ready to receive
As I let go,
            Tension leaves my throat
                                    My stomach
                                    My chest
As I let go,
            I give God room 
                        to moving around
                                    in my life
                        Safety
                                    A container to work in
                                                A place to bless
Often, I scrunch my eyes shut
            Hold my breath
                        Clench on tight to
                                    False security
And try to control
            Only an illusion!

This closed-off space offers
No place to receive
                        No openness
                                    No receptivity!
If I let go
            And let God
                        Power is in the right hands!
                        I’m at ease!
                        God is in the control
                                    My fight is over!
A topsy-turvy world
of Today
Coronavirus pandemic explodes

The third step remains
            The same today
                        As always
                                    And God is in control!
Let Go!

My control issues fan out into all parts of my life, so I had to look at one of my personal private times—my prayers—and wonder deeply.

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

Stripped bare today, I wonder
            For whom am I praying
                        REALLY?
When I utter
            My prayers to my God
                        Stand naked
                                    Before him
Where is my heart really?
Does empathy reign?
            Does compassion cover
                        Me like a mantle,
                                    Rich green velvet shawl
                                                Draped over my shoulders
                                                and the world?
            Do my words
                        Include you
                                    Your needs
                                                The world's?
Or does selfishness rule?
            Does each sentence
                        Begin with I
                                    Dotted with me
                                                Sprinkled with my and mine?
I focus where?
            Inward
                        Outward
                                    Me?
                                               You?
As I turn these thoughts
            Over
                        In my mind,
                                    I know the truth!
Interdependence
            Not me, not you
                        But we!
Not mine, not yours
            But ours!

Deeply I feel that!
            Our world needs this
                        Whole-hearted unity
                        A healing alliance
                        Life-flowing love
The imaginary wall of
            Indifference melts
                        In golden droplets
                                    On the ground
Green Irish clover pops up
            Verdant and life-giving
Dutch tulips spring into action
            With lips reaching for the sky
A multi-colored, multi-cultural garden procreates
            From those drops
                        Those tears
New life forms
            And a new world begins!

All because I prayed for us!
            You prayed for us!
            The world opened its heart
                        To our kinship
                                    Instead of our differences!

These hard times offer possibilities, spiritual opportunities to see everything differently. Pause with me and pray for our wounded world and its people! I would love to hear how you are praying during this turbulent time!


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · square dance

What is Normal Today?

Normal to you, normal to me? Nothing alike, I’m sure! I want to share a poem I wrote a few years ago about why I dance, then I end with one I wrote on March 27, 2020, in the midst of our unusual world!

Normal life: Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance!
Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance reception!
Why We Square Dance—Why I Dance

It’s a Friday 
                  Or
                     A Saturday night
A dance night!
 
The week lasted for eons
                  grueling
I had my work face on for five days
                  and I kept going.
I finished this week
                  Exhausted!
 
My family needs drained me
I am wilted,
                  ready to dissolve into bed!
 
But it’s my dance night.
                  I breathe deeply,
                                    I know!
 
I select my square dance outfit.
                  What do I feel like tonight?
                                    Red or turquoise
                                                      Southwest design or frilly lace?
 
The familiarity of my weekly dance routine
                  takes over
 
Systematically I put on my outfit
                  As each layer goes on,
                                    my perspective and energy level changes!
First my hose
                  With a deep breath, I release part of my stress
Then my pettipants
                  Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath
my top and skirt
                  My goodness—a glimmer of hope
my belt
                  A smile slowly crosses my lips
Next my matching petticoat and shoes
                  Yes, I sigh with relief
Finally, my club badge
                  To identify who I am—
                 
                  A square dancer!
 

A spray to finish my hair
                  a touch of lip gloss
A final look in the mirror
A pirouette and a spin
                  crinoline flowing
                                    I am complete!
My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!
 
The drive to the dance hall
                  becomes a time tunnel
                                    a vacuum
                                              a timeless space
                                                            void of the demands of this world
                                                                                                    
                  stress free
                                                                                                                                relaxing
 
Either soft music in the background
                  or
                                  a compatible silence
                  or
                                  a casual conversation
 
A bridge between the world out there
                  with its demands
and the dance world
                  with its pleasures!
 
Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family
The music starts
I step onto the dance floor
                  and I am free!
The carefree child within me
                  spins round and around
                            claps her hands
                                           and
                                                Shouts for joy!
                                                                                                            I am free!
                                                                                                                              The tip starts,
                                                                                                            and I am safe
                                                                                                            to spend two hours
                                                                                                                              In sheer joy and ecstasy!
 
I drop the world’s cares and concerns,
                  at the door,
                                    kicking them out of view!
 
So if you have problems in your world, join me
                  and
                                    leave them at the door!
 
If you are angry or sad
                  The magic begins
                                    when you show up
                                                      and
                                                            dress up!
                  The music starts
                                    and
                                    I step onto the dance floor!
And then the real magic takes over!
 
Cares melt down my shoulders
                  and flitter away on a breath
                                    giving a lightness to my step
Sorrows cluster together
                  and ride away on an angel’s wings.
 
Music playing
                  I am surrounded by dear friends
I step onto the dance floor
                  It is a safe place
                                    and
                                      I am free!
 
That’s why I dance!
 
Copyright©2015 Larada Horner-Miller

As I juxtapose these two poems against each other, I realize the loss I’m experiencing. My husband and I have had a couple of years with limited dancing because of health reasons, but I remember in 2015 when I wrote the above poem, we would dance three times a week. Then we often went away to weekend events that started on Friday evening with a dance, dance all day Saturday and Saturday night and Sunday morning. We were dancing fools!

The world I face today in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic differs drastically from our normal life.

Dream about normal life. The word dream on green leaves
I Want Normal Again

March 27, 2020
 
I want to dance
            To laugh
                        To hug
                                    To live!
I want my life back!
 
This disruption has created havoc
             Distance
                        Isolation
 
I want my old life back,
            But not at the expense
                        Of loss
                                    Of risk
                                                Of stupidity
                                                            Of you
 
I love my normal life
            Lin
                        14 Asher Lane
                                    Jesse, my cat
                                                The richness of community
                                                            Friends
                                                            Family
            Branson
                        The ranch
                                     My brother
                                                And friends
 

Sixty-six years
            Full and rich

I count my numerous joys
            And I submit to the world’s needs!
                        To my elderly neighbor
                                    To my high-risk dancing friend
                                                With a double lung transplant
                                                            To the stranger
                                                                        I want to consider
I submit; I must or perish,
            But as I say this,
                        I yearn for my life back!
 
In my nightly dreams,
            I spin off of Lin’s hand
                        We promenade around the square
                                    I hoot and holler on an allemande left
                                                I relish each hug in the "thank you" circle
 
When it is safe,
the next time we dance,
           I will hug you
                       From the depths of my soul
            And will be made new
                        In your touch
 
But for today,
            I kiss my husband
                        We hug and snuggle
                                    We touch
                                                And it keeps me alive
 
Those dreams
            Sustain my spirit
                        Today
 
And I wait for the day
            For normal to return!
 

As I compare these two poems, I mourn the loss of dance right now–the movement, the activity, the music and our friends! And I’m going to be oh, so careful on the return! How do you keep six feet apart when square dancing? How can you wear gloves and masks and dance? Do you change gloves after every tip? And no hugs? Hugs are a big part of it for me!

What does your normal life look like? I’d love to hear about the activities that feed your soul.


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  Visit my web site and you can order a book on the homepage:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s One Person’s Value in this World?

I embrace a poetic view of life—that’s me. I grew up in a ranching community where we valued and celebrated life, babies, the elderly and rain! We valued older people and children equally! We also placed value on life in any form, and in the spring, a rancher’s delight centered on spring time calving season and the birth of the new calf crop.

I watched my dad labor over a cow struggling to give birth, and if she died, then I witnessed his tender care for an orphan calf, bottle-feeding it to keep it alive. Each season offered a reason to celebrate life and nature and respect death and loss, so the environment fostered a deep yearning in my soul to look at this world in a different way. It also encouraged me to wonder about the good and the bad—the heavy summer thunderstorm that filled the reservoirs and the loss of that momma cow. Life offers me opportunities to look, to see, to wonder and that’s what I’ve done in our current world situation.

So, it was a natural reaction for me to write poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over a month ago, I wrote this following poem pondering the value of human life. As the numbers have increased, I can’t become immune to the horror. Thousands of people have died daily because of this pandemic, and it forced me to think about the value of each of those lost.

            In this past month, I’ve watched bizarre behavior on the news and wonder, “what about empathy first for the dying? For those who have lost someone in this tragedy?”

What’s One Person’s Value?

March 27, 2020
 
How do we value one person’s worth?
            How do you gauge a life?

Do we honor each other?
            Treasure each other?
 
One individual’s death
            Sends ripple
                        Across the sphere!
Angels celebrate
            With cheers and tears
Humans lament
            Their loss
These two worlds collide
 
How do we value one gone?
            You had a life
                        A family you loved
                                    Who loved you
                        A spirit
                        A soul
 
Your color doesn’t matter
            Your ethnicity
                        Your religion
                                    Your gender
 
You mattered
            To someone
Their hearts broke at your death!
Mine did, too!
 
Instead of becoming
            Immune to loss
                        During this pandemic,
My heart hurts
            Wide and deep
                        For loss
                        For disruption
                                    For you.
 
Chances are
            You died alone
No loved one held your hand
            Kissed your brow
                        Whispered sweet memories
                                    Into your ear.
 
The horrors
                        The Aloneness
The deaths
                        The losses
Gone
            Never to return!
 
What did we as a world lose
            When you died?
                        What contribution?
                                    What impact?    
          
We will never know!

What do you think—do we value the individual? Does our behavior match our words? I would love to hear your thoughts!


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Coronavirus · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry · Spain

What Does a Month Bring in Our Unusual World?

The numbers increase daily. Today, Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 10:58 pm MST, the world has identified 2,994,349 coronavirus cases! Nearing three million!

World with Stay Home Yellow Sticky

One month ago, today, I did what I do when facing a problem in my world—I started writing poetry to defuse the feelings—to get a perspective. Also like during other tragedies I’ve faced in my life, I didn’t start immediately. I needed time to identify and process the feelings before I could look at a blank sheet of paper and commence! When the words came, again like so many times before, they tumbled out effortlessly, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Woman writing

I wrote the poem below two and a half weeks after returning home from Madrid, Spain and deciding to self-quarantine for two weeks, a month from today. We left Spain on March 8th, and the coronavirus exploded there on the 9th, so Lin and I felt uneasy about the possibilities of our exposure. If exposed, we wanted to be sure not to spread it.

Those two weeks, I didn’t write poetry, but I worked on my current book project. I focused and used this time provided to do various tasks I needed to do to finish the book. But I didn’t capture my feelings in words through poetry—I couldn’t yet. My world was spinning! A friend spoke the word “Fear.” I looked deep inside and realized, “Yeah, that’s it!” In stressful times, I do—whatever needs to be done, then I feel. Yes, I recognized fear as it coursed through my veins. My hands shook; my stomach hurt. My restless sleep left me tired and the repeated dark space during sleep I fell into each night didn’t refresh me. Yes, I dreamed, but no detail remained the next morning—only a feeling of despair and darkness.

Fear, okay, and what else? It took time for me to arrive at other feelings: faith, devastation, panic, empathy, and grief. As you can see, what a mixture I felt scattered wildly, but isn’t that being human? As complicated feeling human beings, we have the capacity to feel a wide range of feelings, and all at the same time!

So, in the coming weeks, I’m going to share my poetry with you. You may be saying to yourself, “Oh, no! I don’t do poetry!” Let me share a suggestion—look for the feeling conveyed then see if it resonates with you. Maybe yes, maybe no, but if you give just a chance, it just might get you!

Fearful woman
Coronavirus Scares Me!

March 26, 2020

I sit here
            In quiet solitude
            A peaceful spring scene
                        Out my window
 
And the world falls apart!
            500,000 cases of the
                        coronavirus now!
 
Jesse, my elderly cat, snuggles close
            Nothing has changed
                        He eats, he pees, poos and
                                    sleeps
 
And the world falls apart!
 
Deaths—
            100’s of them
                        faces of pain fill my thoughts
                        faces of grief flood my heart
                                    Losses too sizeable to count!
 
A world turned upside down
            No, I haven’t lost someone
                        Yet!
 
Will I?
            Who might it be?
                        An elderly dancer?
                                    A young friend?
                                                A relative?
                                                            Me?
 
We all stand at the door
            Of this possibility
                        Who will it be?
                                    I dread that first!

How do you process stressful situations? Create a space place in your world? Share your remedies! Is it poetry? Walking? Artwork? Dancing? What do you do to deal?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Can Worry Paralyze You?

Woman worrying at computer

Do you worry? I have a worrier’s heart! My journey with worrying has had bumps a long the way. Genetically wired to worry, both of my parents had this trait, and I picked it up. Historically, my strongest positive characteristics worked: a goal-oriented person, an A-type who accomplishes every job given! My strongest negative trait paralyzed me: worry! The worry struggle has haunted me my whole life—I’ve overcommitted it once more! I kept going and worked through its insidious power it had over me! My current book project became one of my teacher!

I’ve been working on my current book project for three years. I started thinking about the possibility of writing Marshall Flippo’s biography in April 2017. But somehow recently my process changed—I had to trust the process. Worry has kept me awake nights and consumed my waking hours quietly in the background. I am not in control, thank God!

Flippo died in November 2018, so I focused on releasing his biography at the National Square Dance Convention in June 2019 but I couldn’t make that because I had a horrible stomach problem came up, and I had to deal with it. Then I moved my targeted release date to Revco Square Dance Festival in Indio, CA, in November 2019. Flippo had called there for years and many dancers would want to read about his life and his hilarious stories but that didn’t work—postponement again. I still needed to revise, edit and cut the massive verbiage of 258,00 words to a manageable size. Also, I got deathly ill in October, unable to work on it for a couple months, so we missed the dance altogether.

Then the perfect venue appeared in the future—CALLERLAB Convention in Reno, NV at the beginning of April 2020. All through these months of working, I worried and fretted about how to get it done—we had two international trips planned and I couldn’t imagine how I could do it! Many mornings I woke early before the alarm went off, listing in my mind everything I needed to do on the Flippo book, and the list grew, not shrunk. How could I do it? But, I’m the eternal optimist and have historically pushed myself relentlessly! I could do it!

At the end of January 2020, we went to Costa Rica, and the timing of this trip worked out. Breathing a sigh of relief, I sent the manuscript off to my editor in late December, so she had ample time to look it over and emailed me the results a couple days before we left Costa Rica. I left worry at home and really enjoyed this trip.

Her email shocked me! She wanted a basic rewrite—I had interviewed Flippo for over 40 hours, and in writing his biography, I relished his words and comments, so the majority of the book was his dialogue. Her comments stung, “A great script, but I need more of you in the book.” In my mind, I argued with her comments, but how smart is that—I hired her to be my editor. Now, was I going to take her advice or not?

So, when we got home, Lin suggested I take a two-week writing retreat at my home in Branson, CO away from all the local distractions, and that’s what I did. My dear friends there knew my mission and respected my need for privacy. I worked hard for those two weeks and added me to the book which was fascinating.

The timing on the next trip to Spain worked also! I saw a pattern emerge here! On both flights, I worked on revisions then enjoyed the trip. Worry looked over my shoulder occasionally but I stopped its thunderous voice. My editor’s final revisions waited for me when I got home. She loved what I had done—whew!

So, when we got home from Spain on March 9, I had prepared myself for about three weeks of long days of revisions from the final edit and all the other requirements to get the book published. You see, I self-publish, so I do it all. I could do it—I’ve always thought I could get more done in a day than is physically and mentally possible!

The saga continued. We left Spain on March 8th; the coronavirus exploded there the 9th, so my husband and I self-quarantined for two weeks, afraid of possible exposure to the virus. We had spent our last two days in Madrid, where the virus took off. Now I would have dedicated time to work, and work I did!

book cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

Before leaving for Spain, I had solicited help from some friends on the cover of the book. I had a basic mockup done, but I valued their artistic talent and opinion. It ended up they couldn’t do it but gave me valuable suggestions on how to do the back cover. A major part of any book project happens to be the cover, so a couple days after we got home, I woke up at 3:30 a.m., worrying about the cover and did it—the creative juices flowed!

Worry word cloud

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, Lin and I respected the shelter-in-place request, and I have been home basically for seven weeks finishing the book. The worries continued: which pictures to include, don’t forget to change the ISBN for all three versions, new to Ingram Sparks and cover questions, indexing woes, ad nauseam!

The CALLERLAB Convention cancelled—oh, no! The perfect venue for selling this book gone, but what I’ve found out in this process amazed me! I ended up with extra time to do a much better, more precise, more involved revision and finish.

I created a step-by-step list I have to do sequentially in the publishing of this book. Each phase, like adding pictures I thought I could do in a couple days—NOT! It took me a week and a half to do that, so I had to move out the release date—possibly April 17, then the 24th!

Then I realized I needed to do a final read-through before anything else. Somehow, mistakes escaped me in the final revision, and it really paid off, and I had the time now to do it! During this extra time, I’ve culled more interesting information from notes I had and found interesting details in emails to include. I’ve communicated with numerous callers and cuers—the extra seven weeks have been a Godsend.

Usually, I keep worry inside, not sharing it with anyone— but today I decided it had to be put out there! To date, I’ve postponed the release date several times—not my norm, but my new normal now is freeing! New release date: the first part of May—be ready!

So, my message is this! I make plans, and God laughs! Road blocks appear; I worry, fume and fuss, and it all works out better than my original plan! I must trust the Master Planner, and it’s not me!


~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: beginning of May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s Biography: How Many Pictures to Include?

That is the question! At this point, I have nearly 300 pictures in Marshall Flippo’s biography and have six more chapters to go! Luckily some of those chapters will have no pictures, so I have about four chapters that do.

To explain the major source of the pictures, during our interview time, Flippo and I roamed through three photo albums/scrapbooks that Neeca made for him. Originally, she made the first one as a Christmas gift and then she continued her thoughtful collection of memorabilia of his career throughout their marriage. She said, “I had enough for the second one and then later enough for the third one.”

So, you will see numerous references to these three albums/scrapbooks throughout the book—basically a walk down memory lane. Included in these albums/scrapbooks are photos, articles and reviews of Flippo’s newly released songs. I used all the resources I could out of these three albums/scrapbooks and much of his biography’s information came from Flippo is in response to viewing these.

Stan Jeffus scanned the albums/scrapbooks for a major presentation he did at the Chaparral weekend in Paris, Texas dance in 2016, Flippo’s last time to call at this event. Stan and I met then, and when this book project came up and Flippo lent me the albums, I wondered if Stan had already scanned them because I realized several of the photos in the albums/scrapbooks were in his presentation. He had scanned them and sent me a CD.

So Flippo and I finished the first album/scrapbook the Wednesday of the CALLERLAB Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2018, then I sent them home with him. From then on, whenever we had our weekly interview time, he viewed the physical album and I looked at the digital album—it worked out great. As Flip went from page to page, it sparked one memory and then another—exactly the bonus I had hoped for in viewing them. He laughed and chuckled and then told another story and another. Then one story would spark another totally not associated with the picture or the ad he saw. I don’t know how many stories would have been lost without the aid of those three albums/scrapbooks.

And it was the photos that fascinated me most and his unbelievable memory for a ninety-year-old man.

After Flippo died, I needed to fill in some information gaps, so I spent countless hours researching all the back issues of Sets in Order and American Square Dance magazines, searching for any reference to Marshall Flippo. In Sets in Order and American Square Dance (previously American Squares), they both first mentioned Flippo in their November 1958 issues. From that point on, Marshall Flippo appeared regularly—reviews of his recordings, interviews, ads for festivals he did, and articles he wrote.

After Flippo died, people sent me photos, so I have an abundance of them, so how do I decide which to use? The selection process has been simple—include as many as possible!

Preparing and importing the pictures has taken a lot longer than I thought it would—I’ve been working on this phase of the book production for about ten days. The process requires that I increase the dpi (dot per inch) of each picture up to 300—the book production computer program won’t allow anything less. Some have needed to be cropped; others needed smears and marks erased. I learned how to do that task and am proud of the results. Here’s one example of the fix.

I’ve enjoyed seeing all the pictures again. As I have looked at them, I can hear Flip’s comments about different ones and laugh—he had a story for each, and some stories can’t be printed! Many people have helped with naming people I didn’t know and Flippo didn’t identify, so this has been a group effort!

My evening ended last night with me importing pictures into Chapter 24, A Calling Life Revered, where I recognize all the awards Flippo received. As I looked at the pictures chronologically and thought about going through this book once more, I marveled at the handsome young caller selling thousands of records, but as I ended the selection of pictures for this chapter, my heart saddened to see the elderly statesman. The words are powerful in the book revealing a humble man who clearly made his mark in the square dance world, but the pictures expand the words as you look at his life visually—the youthful Texas, the young Navy man, the budding young caller, the maturing caller and the elderly man. So yes, the reader will see many pictures of Flippo, his friends and illustrious career events.

This three-year project has grown to a close, and the book will be out by the end of April. It has been a labor of love!

I had originally planned to release this book at the CALLERLAB Convention this year in April in Reno, Nevada but couldn’t because it was cancelled because of the pandemic. I have worked diligently for this month to fine tune all aspects of the book. I will have an online Facebook Live Stream Release Party, so keep your eye out for the date.

Do you have a favorite Marshall Flippo picture? Tell me about it!


~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS!  It will be published by the end of APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · Words Matter

POETRY: Dare I Breathe—Tomorrow is a Month!

I’m a writer, a poet! So what do I do when stressed out? WRITE POETRY! Poetry is the way I have processed life—no different during the coronavirus pandemic. Read the first in a series of poems I’ve written! What a long month! Since we got back from Spain a month ago, I’ve processed my fear and anxiety about the possibility of getting the coronavirus through words, thoughts and poems.

Here’s a poem I wrote a couple days ago, and I will be sharing more in the next couple days.

Not Today #COVID19
By: Larada Horner-Miller
April 7, 2020
 
Thirty-one days
            Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly

Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands! 
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart 
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic

Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
            Two bags
I wolfed down one whole bag
            immediately
                   And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
  
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!
 
 
 
Woman hugging a pillow, relieved.

We live in uncertain times, staying home when I’m used to being with others, dancing, traveling and hugging. I haven’t been able to visit our ranch in southeastern Colorado and be rejuvenated by open prairies, a magnificent evening sunset silhouetting Saddlerock or an evening ride around our ranch with my brother looking for wildlife and sharing favorite memories!

I’m an extrovert, so I need you and your hugs! However, we can cope with this insanity—we just have to find the best way that works for our individual personalities!

I hope my words comfort your heart—take them as a virtual hug! Let me know how you have felt during this sad time! And there will be more!


~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~ I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  It will be published by in APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42