Trinkets and Armor, 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready


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 “And I Dare…”.


The page where I archive our weekly Trinkets and Armor prompts starts with this quote: “If life rips your heart out of your chest, make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.” A handful of you have messaged me to say that you feel inspired by what we’ve been discussing these last few weeks, that the quote itself makes you “want to do something”, makes you “wish you could join in”, but that some of the issues faced by some of the souls sharing their pains and wisdoms in this project make you feel “like a whiny poser”.

Well, my Wicked Luvs, I invite you to tell that little society-spawned voice in your head to shut it. No issue should ever be as important to you as the one that keeps you from being happy. Talking about it, trying to make sense of it, is not whining or posing. On the contrary, you take power away from the nasty spawn when you plant your feet, and growl, “My troubles matter as much as everyone else’s”. And just in case my intent isn’t as clear as my teeth when someone says, “Magaly, this is your mango!” know that this is me singing, “Join in, my Luvs, let’s dance with each other’s troubles until misery can’t tell whose foot is kicking its face.”

The thought of wiping the grin off misery’s face, one wild kick at a time, leaves me scrumptiously energized. Still, I shan’t linger on it, since today’s topic is not cathartic kicking but self-empowerment through planning, practice, readiness…


While I was a Marine Corps Combat Instructor, I learned that there would always be a young Marine who was certain he or she was cleverer than everyone who came before, especially more ingenious than those ancient combat instructors who obviously just wanted to make students’ lives hell, out of pure boredom. So, my fellow instructors and I always kept an eye out for the telling signs.

I spotted the brainiac during a gear inspection, before a 9-mile hike. A usually easy hike, sort of short, on slightly rough terrain (not too hilly… but things could get tricky when you are hiking through the forest exhausted, sleep deprived, with gear weighing as much as ¾ of you). So, yes, some young Marines searched for creative ways to reduce the weigh they had to carry. The clever young man I was watching replaced his poncho, extra socks and skivvies, and some other bits with inflated plastic bags we used for waterproofing. I sighed and headed his way.

“Hey, Devil Dog”, I said to him, “I’m going to check your pack last. You have fifteen minutes to rethink your choices.” I left to inspect my first squad, but glanced his way every now and again. I watched him re-pack properly.

Half an hour into the easy hike, it began to rain. The leaves blanketing the ground became ankle-breaking-slippery traps, the wee hills turned into steep muddy hells, packs got heavier, life sucked. Life sucked even more for a second virtuoso whose instructor explained, in a very loud manner, just how displeased he was at the fact that said genius had deemed it prudent not to pack his poncho or any extra dry gear. “Do you know what hypothermia is? Do you? Don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll find out. You’ll probably get acquainted with the Silver Bullet too…”

The shouting went on and on and… As the instructor’s screams drowned thunder, I searched for my young Marine, the one who had tried to lighten his pack earlier. I found his eyes staring at me from under the hood of his camouflaged poncho, his fingers viced around a roll of waterproofed black socks. I winked at him, and said, “Sure, Devil, you can let him borrow a pair after Sgt. S is done… teaching him”.

I will always be grateful to the Marine Corps for teaching me the same lesson when I was a student: we’ll rarely be surprised into inaction or despair, if we keep ourselves ready for whatever life (or a downpour in the woods) flings our way.

The next few months of my life will be… extra rough. Since this post is getting a bit too long, I shall wait until next week to share details about the incoming storm. Right now, I can let you know that I will spend a lot of time rearranging my closet and cabinets, placing anything I might need after September on spots I can access without having to bend too much or having to stretch my arms, I will cook like a maniac and freeze the yumminess, I will let friends know that our interactions will be erratic (since my sexy bits will claim schedules I can’t predict)… I will get my Self ready for anything, so that nothing can fill my skull with unexpected stress. And while I take care of all this, I will continue to remind myself that all the prearrangements will very likely not be enough. Life is not big on sharing plots.

This week, I would love to hear about how you dance with the unexpected, and how you deal with said unforeseen guest when it invites itself into your life, and tells you, “Yes, dearie, trying to ignore me is futile. You must deal with me.”


My poetic contribution for this week is another oldie *slightly tweaked* (partly inspired by Remedios Varo’s “Tightrope Walkers”):

“And I Dared…”

with three legs
and a wheeled limb,
my life is often misery
in a tightrope-walker world,

between two mouths and 5 eyes,
unable to wheel the world
without twisting the known rails.

“Help me, Faery Weird Mother,
I need a prince to kiss and poof!
the weirds that trip me.”

She instant-wished me
a DIY magazine.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

I flung the failed wish at the world
and wheeled my rage into the woods,
in search of The Cutter.

losing too many moons…
I collapsed at the edge
of a pond.

Dare, thought my mouths, fading
into the depths, becoming…

from a magic-less sleep,
to say, “Why not?”

I became my own prince,
kissed my-Self
ready for anything,

and I dared…


To participate 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 a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.


73 thoughts on “Trinkets and Armor, 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready”

  1. This is a wonderful post Magaly. Your friend in Texas will keep you in his prayers and send you thoughts of healing.

  2. This is powerful, proactive and life affirming.
    I have been feeling the tightrope walker myself lately, running barefoot on a “no slack line” I love that we feel a similar metaphor
    Have you read aTightrope by Simon Mawr ? It’s an interesting account of a British Spy driven double agent by abuse from within he own organization. It deals well with themes of complex trauma
    I love the idea of a fairy weird mother and hope mine is looking out for me as I look out for my students and the children in my life.

    And “I flung the failed wish at the world”
    Simply took my breath away

  3. Love your preparedness and fighting spirit! When an uninvited, unforseen and unwanted situation badges rudely into my life, it pisses me off. I may rage, but I will face it to deal with it the best I can so that I can gladly rid myself of it if possible, or work around it if I must. Life must go on.

  4. Your writing – and your spirit – is always white-hot and amazing, my friend. We shall be on this side of the screen to cheer you on, through whatever comes next. I have been dealing with some Unexpected myself, of late. My fallback strategy is: silence, peacefulness, allowing my Inner Tree to bend with the wind and, when it is all Too Much, lots of escape reading and sleep!

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever read that piece before. I love it! Your words always create the most vivid mind pictures.

    I can tell you exactly how I deal with the threat of the unexpected turning life upside-down: organizing and decluttering! I’m an OCD control freak! When circumstances are out of my control, I try to control my immediate environment and myself. Being organized, and paring down to only the things that I truly value and can manage, gives me a sense of preparedness to deal with whatever life throws at me. Mess and chaos make me feel vulnerable. Organization and a sort of cozy minimalism give me a sense of resilience. Plus, with less meaningless stuff everywhere, I can focus on the material things that I do enjoy, and I have more time for the most important people in my life.

  6. Ok first up*cos I seem to forget to mention it* I love your poem…twisting and turning til self realisation smacked it up straight 😀
    My way of “preparing” can seen quite morbid to most. It is a simple action, but one I find quite calming. I “let” my mind run through every “what if?” it can imagine, something that can cause panic in others. At every scenario it reaches I make it stand still and work through all possible options, choose the course of action I would prefer to take, then move on to the next scenario. This way I already know what I am prepared to do/ how far I am prepared to go should such an event occur, which leaves me free to get on with being in the now.
    Many many people discuss whether “life” is pre- ordained or random…I think it is both, but there is no rule to say WHO is doing the pre-planning so I do it myself and then dance through the Randomness ;D

    • Well, I had no idea that was morbid. I guess my is significantly morbid, too. I feel that if we sort of go through what can go wrong and try to prep for all the stuff that we can, then if things go wrong anyway all we can do is move on…. “dance through the Randomness”, as some brilliant witchy woman suggested, and grab tomorrow by the throat gently (if it doesn’t struggle much). 😀

  7. Haven’t visited your blog in quite a loooong while Magaly. Happy Sunday

    I flung the failed wish at the world
    and wheeled my rage into the woods,
    in search of The Cutter.”

    Just sprayed a cockroach in my kitchen with a brand of insecticide called ‘RAGE’. Weird humour? that’s all i got in response to your fabulous writing today.


    much love…

    • *attaches a few doses of spirit to ink-brewed wings and sends it all to Sumana’s way*

      P.S. It’s not whining when things are really kicking us, it’s just preparing for the attack (with a bit of grumbling)…

  8. As if I could skip anything and go straight to the poem! Initial response, along the way: a) You were a Marine Corps Combat Instructor?!!! b) Well of course you were; I should have known.
    Response to the whole – speechless really. And lots of other things. Sure puts some current physical challenges of my own into perspective! Awestruck thanks.

    • Perspective is a great thing, isn’t it? When things get really, really, really bad for me, I look outside… consider that bigger picture… remind myself that I have food, shelter over my head, a loving (and extremely hot *cough*) spouse, enough energy to write some (some days better than others)… and it keeps on going. I have so much more than some other poor souls out there. So, if they can do it, so can I. And I do. And we do. And we will.

      About the skipping, I figure I should give people the choice to run for the hills before the slight rant, lol!

  9. Oh, that poem is wrenching. But your upbeat and fighting spirit is admirable. It can be extremely difficult to “deal with said unforeseen guest”. And that unforeseen guest I know very well, so many encounters with in my life.

    But I’ve learned to dance with the unexpected by keeping a sense of gratitude. You know the storm that turns one’s life upside down doesn’t last…there’s always a rainbow. Sending you strength and love.

    • To wait for the usual, or the expected to aid us with our troubles is certainly a mistake. We must get creative to survive (and more importantly, to live). If solutions don’t present themselves, we best find them… or create them ourselves.

  10. And this is exactly why you are my hero, Magaly!💞 Your energy is awesomely bright and contagious 😊 which gives others strength and power to overcome anything and everything that resembles worry, trouble and despair.

    Sending love and light your way!💞☕

  11. Ah, I like the idea of becoming our OWN prince!! We need to give ourselves that love and care that we have wished for from others.

    I don’t know what your next weeks hold, Magaly, but I can see you are already becoming prepared. Onward! Sending good thoughts your way.

  12. Your fighting spirit is truly inspiring. I hope whatever you must deal with in the coming months isn’t too hard on you. Based on the powerful energy I feel through your written words, I think you’re going to be just fine. Sending you good thoughts!

    • I think is going to be pretty hard, no way around that. But I can always bare my teeth harder, right? And tell the bastard, “No! you can’t have me. At least, not without a good fight.”

      Thank you for the good thoughts, I shall keep them close. ❤

    • Goliath thinks that because he’s big and looks dangerous and is feared that he’ll always win. Well, he should go back and talk to the ghosts of some of his fellow myths. 😀

      Yes, we must win… the alternative is too quiet for my current taste, lol!

  13. I think that when we are alone in the darkness and find our own prince (or princess) in ourselves is when we can really go out searching for the light again. The image of the pond is one that makes me feel I read a fairy tale…

    • I agree with your thoughts. Most of the time, we don’t go looking for that which we don’t need.

      I was helping translate a book of fairy tales when I wrote this one, so… guilty. 😀

  14. Laughed at the DIY magazine–that shock of who did you think would show up is slightly familiar. Your words are so completely fearless they just make me happy. I’m the person hiding in the house waiting for the slight greyness in the clouds to turn into a full-on hurricane any minute now and wondering how we’d manage.

    • I am very happy you laughed, because I might’ve said something to someone in the past which convey the same sort of feeling the DIY line tries to express, and the look of offended outraged on their faces has made me laugh a little, too. Sometimes, we ask the universe for help and then we get mad because we feel the universe is ignoring us, but… we seem to fail to see that we are still breathing and doing a whole bunch of other stuff, so… the universe is doing something… it just wants us to do stuff for ourselves, too.

      About being the person waiting for the clouds to clear, well… being watchful is a great trait to have. I suspect that if you see a person or three taking a step outside, you might join them before the hurricane is completely gone, and your presence will probably inspire the ones who were already out but terrified to death… Circles made of souls with purpose are a magnificent thing, a powerful thing, an unbreakable thing.

  15. Another poem to lift the spirits of anyone challenged –or not–by what they have to carry (yes, I read the essay, too). You and your words are gifts I always open, though it might take me a while to learn how to use them. Thank you, and Strong Light surround you.

    • And your appreciation of the words and your welcoming of them… are a gift to me. Gifts all around. I like that. I like that a lot.

      P.S. I just saw a couple of blue jays (parent and child) contemplating my tomatoes. They’re being quite vocal about it. They song made me think of your latest bird poem. 🙂

  16. Magaly, as someone who has survived more life threatening moments than a cat has lives, never have serviced my country. I struggle with survivor guilt that I shouldn’t be here. Having been told numerous times, I am lucky to be alive, after that latest event happened. Forced to make short term goals that are obtainable by me, with some work. Knowing life likes throwing curveballs, in a fastball count to me.

    • People always ask that old question, “If you could have any wish, what would it be?” I would eradicate some kinds of guilt. Survival’s guilt and guilt of not being what people expect of us would lose their heads first. They suck so much energy out of people, and they serve no good cause.

      But… no capable being has asked me that old question, so I will just say that I wish with all my heart that whenever your mind and heart are filled with guilt for being alive that the thought is kicked in the teeth by something good and bright you’ve done for another. If you hadn’t been alive, you’d never be able to do that thing. If you weren’t alive right now, I would’ve never remembered at this moment that when we serve our country we don’t do it for us alone, we also do it for those who wished they could but weren’t able (and trust me, that thought makes the pains from old injuries hurt a bit less)…

      We can be islands, Therisa, but only if we have a powerful ocean keeping us afloat. And you, my dear lady, are part of that powerful ocean. You are not alone… and you are needed.

  17. I think you have a warrior spirit and can handle what comes your way . You have a caring positive attitude and that is your strength. I will send you positive energy as I sense you will need it in your journey ahead.

    The grim reaper has been making his calls, trying to crush my soul. I am slowly making my way back into the living.

    • Thanks a million for the energy. I send some your way, too. Things grow when shared, don’t they?

      May the skully one keep his distance for a very, very, very long time…

      Welcome “back into the living”. ❤

  18. Life’s hard truths go down with a lot less drama, fuss and bother when we are as prepared as we can be. There is a level of peace and empowerment in knowing, in our hearts, there is nothing more to be done. You have a wonderful attitude, Magaly. Sending you good thoughts and wishes.

    • There is a world of power and strong truth in those first 10 words of yours, Wendy. We can spend too much energy screaming and stomping our foot. I know that it is not always possible, but it’s best to use that energy to lift ourselves up and kick as hard as we can…

      Thank you for the good thoughts and wishes.

  19. This is how I deal with the unexpected. I whine, and bitch, and complain. Then by the time my self pity has worn itself out, the problem has disappeared or solved itself. So, I guess I just grumble my way through it. 🙂 I hope your upcoming deal has good results. I do plan ahead like you…sometimes.

  20. I love the title of this post because it’s what has happened, we lost a full day of power on very hot day. It was amazing how we spent summertime like we used to without technology, being outside, swimming, coloring, camping. I was not however prepared and had to rush to get ice and propane for food preservation and cooking. Lesson learned on so many levels, and I moved to a place with Hurricane seasons. When unexpected stuff in life shows up I worry and get emotional and then I plot the best way to carry on. You are in my thoughts and on my daily list of sending healing vibes. We are all here for you and thanks again for bringing this communal space together. Keep the magic swirling and twirling.

    • The planning itself keeps us from losing our cool. I like that.

      Thanks so much for keeping me in your thoughts. Guess what? You’ve been in my thoughts, too. I’ve been doing a bunch of decluttering, and every time I’m reorganizing something, I think of your first post for this project. 🙂

  21. I am such a tough olde bird. Crunchy on the outside and sloppy soft center on the inside. With that being said, I don’t think that I ever have looked at my preparation for an oncoming onslaught as anything but just how I have to “hold” myself for the storm. But upon reflection, I feel like I mostly make diamonds in my butt while the event is happening and then I let go and cry afterwards. That’s sorta been my MO for all of my looney tune life. Fear of not being good enough, of not knowing enough….etc. has kept me in chains for years. No more. Whatever time I have left on this orb will be with my head held high and hope in my heart….and new dance steps learned from others.

    • I can’t stop giggling at the image of you literally making diamonds in your butt–so that’s what they bean by buns of steel, huh? 😀

      In all seriousness though, I am so glad that you’ve allowed yourself to finally be. Life can be so oppressive and (almost always) unsatisfying when we do what we do in order to please other people.

      We shall dance!

  22. You are amazing girl!
    First, I have to say, sorry I’m late coming to your blog! I don’t know how I missed this one!
    This might sound “different” to you, but more and more, I breathe! I meditate! I listen! I use to be very, how can I say it, panic? But, not anymore. Whatever direction I am pointing to go in, I will go and trust my choices! Not to say, I don’t feel, cry, etc., but I am so much calmer now.
    I love you girl and I just wanted you to be aware of your mail. Something little coming your way. Hopefully by Saturday of this week, August 18th.
    Big Hugs!

    • It is always good to feel. If we ever stopped feeling then all the fighting would be done for nothing. So, we shall feel and cry and etc. *giggles* and throw punches, too.

      You are loved right back, and I shall stalk the mail person. LOL!

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