Laurie Pollack: To my Ten Year Old Self

Editor’s Note: As some of you may know, the TLA Network offers a Certification program. Chronicling TLA practice is a part of that process, which can be fulfilled by writing multiple pieces for the blog. This is the first post from Laurie Pollack, a poet and artist currently pursuing certification.

As part of my daily journaling practice, I write something (maybe a poem or a brief piece of “flash fiction”) in response to a prompt from a book of writing prompts. I choose each day’s prompt randomly. One day the prompt was, “Write a letter to your 10 year old self.”
I have always had a sensitivity to harsh words. As a child I could not handle this, and the adults around me were mystified and could not handle ME. As an adult I have learned to use this awareness to honor the power of words to heal and help and to weigh my words very carefully. It has turned me into a poet.
Dear Laurie ten years old

Dear Laurie ten years old,
I know you feel sad

Because you get in trouble a lot
And sit in the principal’s office.

Because the other kids call you names.
Because when they do it feels
like you were hit in the gut
and it hurts bad
and the only way to get rid of
the pain is to hit them back.

Dear Laurie ten years old
I know you are feeling alone

Because your parents do not “get”
the fact that words can hurt
and tell you to “just ignore it”

Because your mother tells you that once when
she got teased it didn’t bother her
but that she just hit them with
an umbrella and they stopped
but that you should not do that

Because the teachers tell you
you just need to control yourself
and if you ignore it they will stop and
it will be happy ever after and the kids will all be your friends

Dear Laurie ten years old
I know you are feeling angry

Because the pediatrician tells your parents
that words should not hurt like that
and that you are too sensitive
and maybe in a girl it is a sign of
Attention Deficit Disorder and he
gives you a prescription

Because tells you it is a “smart pill” to make your “motor go slower” and the kids’ words
will stop hurting

Because you thought you were smart already and you like to read authors like James Michener and Isaac Asimov and you have written poems since you were seven

Because you think your “motor” runs just fine

Because the medicine does not help
but just gives you nightmares
and makes you scared to fall asleep
and makes you want to pull out your hair all the time
and the words still hurt.

Dear Laurie ten years old

I  am writing to tell you that words DO hurt
and you have a right to feel hurt
And that one day you will be in a place and
time where you are safe
and there may be words that hurt
but you will be strong
enough to find ways to deal with the pain
other than hitting back

Because you will come to know
that words have power
not only to hurt
but to heal
to change
to manifest
to transform
to love
to heal the world
and you will use words to work for a gentler world

And when you do you will call
yourself three words
That will heal you:


20150626_203509Laurie Pollack by day works with computers weaving code using the words of the programming language Visual Basic.Net, but this is not where her heart lives. Her heart lives in writing poetry and creating art with painting and SoulCollage (R) (an intuitive collage art practice). 
She gives occasional local workshops in SoulCollage (R) and hosts several free Facebook events yearly challenging people explore their creativity in writing and the arts. In the latest, “April Fools! Break the Rules!”, participants were challenged to list 10 rules they follow in doing their art or writing then create a piece breaking at least 3 of them. She is thinking of expanding this idea into a longer online class.
She has self-published one book, PeaceWalk, in 2006 and is working on another. “The Box”, a poem set in Sime-Gen, the universe created by science fiction author Jacqueline Lichtenberg, was included in 2015 in an anthology of fan writings, “Fear and Courage: Fourteen Writers Explore Sime-Gen”.
Laurie likes to read her poems at events like desert peace walks and anti-war vigils, enjoys gardening, and shares a rowhouse near Philadelphia with Mary: her legal spouse of 2 years and life partner since 1995, and two cats, Maggie and Lucy, who rule and demand regular “tributes” of Fancy Feast. 

Laura Packer on “The Telling Life: I Am the Wicked Queen, the Cursing Fairy”

11219390_10153734314100879_7028738415293992874_nMaking a living through the arts is a way to, among living your passion, bump right against whatever doubts and fears you have about what you’re doing, how you get to earn your livelihood (or not), and the whole shebang of living your calling. Thanks to Laura Packer for writing about something we don’t often talk about in her new blog post, “The Telling Life: I Am the Wicked Queen, the Cursing Fairy.” Laura writes,

I know I’m not the only storyteller artist human being to feel this way. The old stories tell me that, because there are so many characters who struggle with feeling left behind or worthless. But the old stories don’t offer me a roadmap of a way out of these feelings; they tell me only that acting on them is evil. I remind myself that I still have worth even if I feel petty things. I do my best to not stifle others as I was stifled. I work to remain generous with my time, my mentorship, my leadership, my talent. But some days it’s not easy and all I want is to have my mirror tell me that yes, I am still fair.

Read more here, and check out Laura’s life-giving blog to any of us in transformative language arts.