Trinkets and Armor, 3: Boundaries Save Lives (and teeth)


If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”.


In “Normal Is a Self-Defeating Trap”, we discussed flexibility, and suggested that to overcome some of life’s challenges, we must learn to twist and stretch, to push the boundaries of who we are, until we can grow… into who we need to be.

This week, I wish to play with Flexibility’s healthily-stuck-up cousin: Boundaries. When our energy is limited (something that comes with being alive. I mean, when was the last time you saw a zombie beaten by exhaustion? Exactly! The undead will continue to bite even when their guts are gone). Anyway, when our energy is significantly restricted by ailments (or whatever), we must become rather choosy.

I’m beyond possessive when it comes to my time, my wants, the needs of my spirit and flesh. This doesn’t always endear me to most people. But I’m not all that bothered by what most people think of me, since I’ve already learned that trying to be friends with most people is a grueling impossibility. I’m careful to be as selective with my friends as I am with what my mouth consumes, what I let my brain feast on, and with the sorts of activities that occupy my time.

I understand that setting boundaries isn’t easy. You see, I have a dear friend who is often made physically ill by inconsequential political debates, by things people do to each other, by things certain oxygen thieves pretending to be people have said to her… In the past, I used to ask her, “Why do you continue talking to that energy-vampire? Why do you let people, whose words and actions have proved they have neither heart nor brain, drag you into their nonsense?” The list goes on and on… After more than one panic attack, we figured out that my sweet, huge-hearted friend was terrified of what saying “Enough!” might’ve meant. Well, it has meant many moments of tranquility and a much shorter friend list. She still stumbles into random forums of doom, every now and again. But… she can get away before the rot oozed by someone else’s idiocy swallows her whole.

My friend has developed many tools to establish boundaries. Moi? I have a trunk full of them. Let me share 3 out of the bunch: 1. I’m extremely selective when it comes to close friends. 2. I don’t waste my time on activities (or people) that bring nothing but grief into my life. 3. I always, always prioritize.

For me, the last one is the most important. It can also be the hardest, particularly when it comes to the seemingly small things. I’ll use an example from blogging, since… well, we are here, aren’t we? I’ve lost more than a handful of blog friends since I figured out that my energy levels aren’t what they used to be. In the past, I had the time and endurance to read and comment on almost everything my friends posted. But… things change. These days, you might never see me on your blog, if I haven’t seen you on mine first—I always comment on the words of people who comment on my words. It’s an efficient way of prioritizing my blog reading time. If I see you here, I will visit your cyber-home. If I don’t see you, I might visit you (if time permits, but as you already read, time isn’t that great at permitting).

My behavior says nothing about the writing of the people whose work I might not read anymore, but… when it comes to some of them, you’d think that I’ve yelled that their words are fresh crap and their mother’s best brownies look like old crap.

They aren’t happy with me. One spoke of “abandonment”. Another said that I’ve gone “commercial and unartistic” (I don’t even know what that means). The most enraged of them all went as far as to suggest that I’m “comment-hungry”, and that people read and comment on my “over-simplistic poetry” just because they expect me to “fluff their substandard drivel” with “empty sugary”. I shall be as brave as Dumbledore, and “try not to sink beneath [my] anguish… but battle on” *cough*.

Hysterical, isn’t it? I agree. So much… that I postponed the Trinkets and Armor prompt I had readied for today (Stigma) and decided to go with boundaries. You see, it is very likely that I will never go back to most of their blogs. Not because they belittled my ink and my relationship with other writers and readers, but because my immune system and I don’t need their toxic nonsense. This does not mean that I won’t miss some of the writing—some of them are quite talented. But… sometimes, one must let go of certain pleasures, in order to keep one’s sanity (and to avoid skinning one’s knuckles on other people’s broken teeth).

So… my Luvs, how good are you at setting boundaries, at recognizing your limits, at remembering to say, “Enough!” (when you must) and moving on…?


My poetic contribution for this week is part of an oldie that’s still a goodie:

“Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”

I was Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame
before she,
who claimed to have chosen me as her own,
fancied glitter could glamour
the broken spine of usurped energy.

Stagnant through time and Realms,
the twinkling twit
has met not the wisdom that feeds
the babes in evolution’s belly—

a witch in touch
with the Nature who made her
would never pretend…

or believe a rogue made of her magic
could shoot arrows through my blood.


If you are participating in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t wish to write a post, add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

a wee note…
– Trinkets and Armor is moving to Sundays, starting
August 5th will be posted sometime between Thursday night and Sunday morning whenever *cough*.


Trinkets and Armor, 2: Normal Is a Self-Defeating Trap


If you are visiting from Poets United or Kerry’s 55-er, and wish to delight only in the poetry, just scroll down to the end of the post, to read “Be Weird”.


When my brain began brewing this project, the first name that came to mind was “Reclaiming My All”. I discussed the title with friends, and we agreed it was powerful and empowering. But a few days before publishing the first prompt, I changed my mind. I am still quite fond of the phrase. I mean, it is a line from a favorite poem by a sexy, intelligent and unbelievably modest writer I know well.

But… since what I wanted was a place where we could get better at loving and nurturing and understanding who we are now, I felt (and feel) that a title that might even imply that we’re trying to hold on to the past could be dangerous.

Flexibility is a great pal to have on speed dial. And for those of us with bodies and/or minds slightly mangled (by trauma, illness, vintage-ness…), flexibility should be a best friend who never goes away. Trying to reclaim what we once had (with the tools we have now) is a dream that can promptly turn nightmare.

I said this much, perhaps in much harsher words *cough, cough*, to a friend who told me, “I hate this f*cking body. All I want is a normal life.” My explosive friend and I live with similar digestive system conditions. And if you know anything about Crohn’s Disease and other IBD, then it’s very likely that you already understand that “normal” is something that happens to somebody else.

When life changes, we must change our living. In the past, I was as rigid about my routine as Minerva McGonagall is severe about her bun. But life has been teaching me that to even have a chance in this battle called living, I must turn to Severus Snape: battling chronic illnesses “is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating…” So, guess what, my Wicked Luvs? Our behaviors and approaches must mutate too.

I fight my own many-headed monster by never forgetting that my “normal” is strange, and my strange is forever changing its face. I welcome all the faces: when my Piano Man and I must cancel a date because my body decides to house a fever that day, we change our going-out date for a naked-stay-at-home-and-veg date (Yum!); when I’m in so much pain that I can barely open my eyes, I close them and plot tales about how energy is energy is energy… until I can turn the life-sucking energy of the pain into strength-giving ink; when the pain is so bad that even the eye-closing-and-plotting trick is too much, I call a soul I love and who loves me back, and say, “I’m about to start screaming, so tell me filthy jokes. Or, let’s plot completely unrealistic strategies to get Malfoy and the Orange Infection out of Hogwarts.” Unrealistic plotting is rather therapeutic.

So, there you have it. That is how I stay afloat in normality’s seemingly insane ocean. How do you do it, my Wicked Luvs? How do you hold on to your Self when life continues changing the rules of the game without warning?


Here is my poetic contribution for this week’s prompt:

“Be Weird”

Normal is a trap—
be weird, unstuck
your spirit, tWiSt and stretch…
until you can live and love
without screaming
into deaf hands.

Of course, you can
break, I did
(and the self-stitching is never-ending…).

just love
all my pieces—
faulty flesh, weary soul…

Normal is a breakable cage

…write your Self free…


If you are participating in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t wish to write a post, add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.


Trinkets and Armor, 1: What’s Your Passion?


If you are visiting from Poets United and wish to read only the poetry, just scroll down to the end of the post, and enjoy “Cackling Through the Storm”.


In my post, Let’s Make Trinkets Out of Horrors and Armor Out of Bliss, I suggested that when life rips our hearts out of our chests, we should make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess. Earlier today, I was exploring this belief with two old-timers at the hospital. One of them said, “That’s because you were born shooting sunshine out of you’re a**hole.”

After everyone was done laughing—the lady who uttered the words is shy and soft-spoken, but she was in pain… and if you’ve ever been in serious pain, then you know that brain-to-mouth filters don’t work under certain conditions. Anyway, once the roaring stopped, we continued discussing Trinkets and Armor. I told the ladies that I would love for them to join the project. “It’s nothing formal,” I said. “Just some friends and friends-to-be talking about how they soothe and/or smack their unwanted monsters.”

I was very disappointed because I got no takers. I was plotting a new plan of attack, when the most vintage of the ladies told me, “I’m tired of people teaching me things by the numbers. It feels like work. I’m too old for work.”

Her words continued to dance in my skull the entire time I was there. When I was about to go home, I asked her, “How would you do it, ma’am? I really want this to work out, for me and for anyone who might want to join in.”

She said a lot of things, but this is what stuck: “This crap-pile of a world is full of self-helpers that seem to only help themselves. Just show people how you manage your stuff and invite them to show you how they manage their stuff. That always worked for me as an instructor, a student, and a friend.”

I’m pretty sure she is correct. So, this is my attempt to follow her advice:

When I’m facing anything that can break me, I find strength and motivation in my passion: words… wild words with sharp teeth—for smiling or ripping or biting or for nibbling hard and tender bits (teeth are versatile). “Cackling Through the Storm”, the haibun at the end of this post, should give you a poetic glimpse into how I’ve slightly weaponized my passion for words.

Now, I’m inviting you to share a bit about your own passion… Show us how you use it (or could use it) to soothe or smack your unwanted monsters.

Anything goes, my Wicked Luvs (well, almost anything). If you write, and words are your superpower, show us how your writing make things better for you. If you craft, make something that shows us how crafting helps you deal with things. If you paint, paint something and tell us how the process feeds your spirit. If you dance or listen to old songs or clean your house or garden or paint your hair blue… as a coping mechanism, show us how your choice takes you closer to the Self you wish to spend all your time with.


And this is my poem for this week’s prompt:

“Cackling Through the Storm”

I refuse to fear might-be horrors. Fretting over what’s yet to kick me in the jaw, in the throat, in the breast… is losing half the battle (perhaps the war). Yes, I care. No, I’m not pretending or hoping it will go away—my monsters and I have always sipped honesty from the same clear cup. We slow dance brow-to-brow, mouth-to-mouth… our hearts bleeding into each other’s ribs. When bleak offers my soul a kiss, I show teeth, mount my Muse… and run to devour those cruel lips (ink at the ready).

holding my passion
by horn and halo, I ride
cackling through the storm


If you are participating in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t wish to write a post, add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.