Janet Toone, a participant in Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s Winter 2017 TLA class, “Your Calling, Your Livelihood, Your Life,” wrote this poem during the second week of the course, which focused on The New Story of Your Life: Examining Myths & Messages about Who You Should Be.
Snow, ice, cold, threaten to shut me in, but I battle through.
Fear freezes my heart and mind, far more limiting than the weather
I shuffle, slipping and sliding on the invisible surface unsure
Exactly what the elusive enemies are binding and tearing at
My resolve. My myths I know well. The clouds begin to part.
Battles have been fought before. Often times I was very bloody,
And bowed before I thrived in spite of my perceived deficiencies.
Keeping my mind clear, my heart open, the target in my eye
My spirit willing, I move forward, seeking knowledge and skills ,
Winning those internal battles, I find purpose and build resilience.
Janet describes her approach this way:
“As I participated in Caryn’s class, I came up against the chilling reality that selling myself was going to be the most difficult aspect of actually building and sustaining a TLA livelihood. I wrote this poem while I was battling that internal war of how and what it would take for me to feel like I could legitimately market my skills and my knowledge, while I was also fighting a battle to stay vertical in the snow and ice outside. I was working on pushing through my fear and setting my resolve to continue the work, to stay vertical in the TLA world, to not give up.”
Janet’s classmates reacted:
- Your writing is very courageous. And inspiring.
- The alliteration you use in “Battles,” “bloody,” “bowed,” “Building,” and then “battles” again, really strengthens the flow of the second stanza. Very cool.
- The second stanza, begun by speaking of battles and ending with the recognition that these are internal battles, is thought-provoking and evokes a feeling of warmth in contrast to the chill of the first stanza.
- Powerful. And amen! For me, the way you took the descriptions of how winter weather shows up and connected those to the impacts of fear made the experience tangible. Real.
For Janet, “Your Calling, Your Livelihood, Your Life” was a comfortable and supportive space in which to explore uncomfortable questions. Through the expressive art of her poetry, she was able to connect with others in the class experiencing the same challenges.