Turning grief into art

This past Saturday afternoon I read poetry about the death of my son and its aftermath at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center in Venice California. Two women, Chanel Brenner, and Alexis Rhone Fancher, who also experienced the death of their sons joined me. We were pleased to read before a packed standing-room-only crowd. We each started our poetry reading with our views about writing as healing. Here's mine. How Writing Helped Me Heal by Madeline Sharples My son Paul died by suicide on September 23, 1999. He was twenty-seven years old. Poems just started coming out during a writing workshop shortly after his death. Poetry seemed to be the only way I could really express my emotions. Writing allows me put my pain on the page. Instead of carrying it with me every moment of the day and night, I found a place where I could have a little relief. There was so much I couldn’t say out loud to anyone. And since there was so much anger and grief in me, I needed a place to put i … [Read more...]

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A Strawberry Marina now in place of Paul’s tree

In December 2013 we removed the tree we had planted in September 2000 on the first anniversary of  our son Paul's death. We had to because the tree we called  Paul's Tree was undermining our property.  We have finally planted a replacement. Though it's much smaller than the tree we had removed, it promises to become fuller and laden with a strawberry type of fruit high in antioxidants. It's called an Arbutus (strawberry) Marina. Right now it has a display of pink flowers and buds that attract many hummingbirds. One feature of this tree's beauty is its red multi-branched trunk that perfectly matches our home's  red tiled roof. Our new Strawberry Marina tree is bringing me joy already. While my garden maven Mike Garcia and his Enviroscape team were planting the tree, they produced two videos about it. I also took a few photos to share here. … [Read more...]

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Some thoughts about going back to a day job

My first inclination was to say no at an offer to work on a proposal for three weeks. Not because I don’t like the work. I like proposal work a lot and feel I can really do a service in helping a group of engineers write one that will win them a government contract. My main reason for wanting to say no is the more than hour drive on the freeway each way (Manhattan Beach to/from Anaheim CA). During the drive to work I have to face the light force of the rising sun, whereas my drive home is usually at dusk that turns quickly into a night sky. Traffic stops and goes along the way are also is in the mix. Driving under those conditions make me nervous and long for the ten-minute commute back and forth to the day job I retired from in 2010. However, I do like the work and I loved being asked to do it. I’ve had so much experience helping engineers write proposals that I didn’t question my ability to help them out again - even after being away from the work for so long.  Once I walked in … [Read more...]

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