Woman on a Journey | Writing

Putting a Brave Face On

Seasons Greetings

I was in the torture chamber, known as physical therapy, having my bad arm pulled up towards my head. I had this look on my face that’s supposed to be a smile.

The physical therapist said, “I see you’re putting your brave face on.”

Putting a brave face on is actually easier for me to pull off face-to-face. It’s more difficult to do with my writing, which is why I haven’t posted here for awhile or participated much on social media.

I don’t think it’s especially healthy to withdraw from humanity and hold things inside, but on the other hand, I’m so confused about myself and my life right now that it would be foolish to try to explain what I haven’t worked out myself.

It’s like having an art project or an idea for a story that’s in the early stages. Sharing it too soon could bring in other people’s thoughts and, perhaps their criticism, which can either cause confusion that pushes the idea in a direction it wasn’t meant to go or make someone give up on their idea completely.

So no, I’ll sit with my life, kept to myself, for awhile longer and instead share a poem I wrote in a one day class called “Writing Against the Fairytale: the Truth of Women’s Lives” that I took on November 17 — taught by Kathryn Kysar and April Gibson.

We were given several writing prompts, with time to quickly write on them. This is my fairy tale poem that I wrote based on the prompt, “An Ancient Woman Bent Under a Bundle of Sticks.”

As you approach me on the path,
I can hear what you’re thinking.
You expect me to step out of the way,
me, a stupid old woman,
bent as a willow under a tangle of branches,
and as likely to break in a strong wind.

I was once like you,
a shiny object,
a sought after jewel.
A deer in the headlights is more like it,
a bunny rabbit not paying attention to a shadow with wings.

Like many antiques, I’m seen as a useless oddity,
to be placed on a ledge
or tossed away like a stinky old thing.
When I look at your confident stride, I see what I lost.

But you are not my past.
No, not if I really look.
And if I don’t, I’m as bad as them.

If only you will meet my eyes as you approach.
Perhaps you will see me under these sticks and bones.

And I will not hand you this blood red apple.


And a few things more…

  • I believe I’ve posted this video before, but I like it so I’m sharing it again.

The Longest Night from Angie Pickman on Vimeo.

  • I listened to a talk by Tara Brach called “Three Attitudes that Nourish a Liberating Practice.” The thing I most appreciated from Tara’s talk was her thoughts on a different way of approaching “problems” (that portion of her talk starts around the 17-18 minute mark).

    Tara asked, “What if this isn’t a problem? …it’s just life happening. Who am I if there’s no problem right now?”

    Of course, there are things that come up that need to be dealt with, that change our circumstances, but it has helped me to begin not calling such things problems but instead see them as a part of life — the situation I’m in right now. It doesn’t mean something “better” is around the corner, because that causes a person to wait for the better thing to come. If I don’t put a value on my current experience and it’s just life, then this day has no less of a chance of being enjoyed than any other moment in time…

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4 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your poem..reminds me of a cowboy I once knew who wrote poetry.
    Your style is like his..or his like yours.
    I’ll visit you again cause you remind me of home.

  2. No wonder you were so looking forward to the class. A powerful poem…and one I couldn’t imagine writing so freely in a class…especially with all the pain you’ve been dealing with.

  3. Oh gosh.. I LOVE your poem! I was thinking about some of your words and how I’d love to read something similar at my mother’s funeral when the day comes. Everyone forgets about the elderly because they aren’t the newest shiniest thing any longer. It so infuriates me. Over the past ten years during the time my father had Alzheimer’s and then his death and now death closing in on my mother…I could count on one hand the number of visits, or calls or just drop off a plate of food at her home. No one cares about the elderly any more. Love the little video and I’ll return in a bit and listen to the the talk. I agree with your thoughts…about problems. Great post!

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