If you liked Olive Kitterage…


You will like Making Room for George

Notice on the screenshot from Amazon above that there are only 6 reviews showing for George

In reality, The book has 23 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 reviews but 16 of them are assiciated with the first edition (Balboa Press, 2013;about to be out of print ) and thus Amazon is unable to link them to my second edition (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016). 


So… I am capturing them myself! Isn’t that Super-Indie of me?

This reviewer compares the book to Olive Kitterage and Dinner at the Heartbreak Restaurant. Cool!

Here is what she has to say:

Take this journey. 
(click here to read it on Amazon) 

By sandy foster morrisonon June 30, 2015

I love this woman. Guts and grit, and grace under fire…until a reckoning was due. We know this story. Or know of it as I do from writing my own memoir about life in the Piney Woods. Especially if you share history with East Texas, the sights and sounds, struggles and redemption, ride back on waves of memory stifling as summer heat. My heart felt bruised and I was pissed from the first lines. The tension of small gestures. That particular brand of Texas men. Their unconsciousness. And still the feminine automatically – foolishly? – by nature, holds nurturing space for them to be. And still…the extraordinary power of love seeps up through the cracks in even the meanest of circumstances.
As I read Making Room for George, I was reminded of Dinner at the Heartbreak Restaurant and Olive Kitteridge. George is equally large in creating an immense, aching tension through the small cuts of disappointment. I feel the Bet’s insides…the small diversions…taking the top off flammable circumstance. The sleepless mind on spin cycle. The clueless man. Universal female understanding and automatic, inbred response to clueless men. That sense of entitlement. The wifely service rendered always…no matter. Until a lit match ignites the gasoline spill inside the gut.
This is a love story. But not as you imagine. The reflections shared touched me deeply, and brought me squarely home to myself: “I spent hours swinging in the shade of the elm, under the summer sun. I wrote in my journal, drank iced, herb tea, and tried to think what karmic act, what law of attraction, what principle of Quantum Theory I had set into motion that had shifted my life so dramatically in just three short years.” If you have accepted that change is the only certainty in life, and you are willing to look at yourself honestly, you will feel supported and alive to possibilities as you read this impelling story.

Suggested Reading

the beginning of change is always a new idea…   When I asked other formidable women to list for me titles of books they have read that empowered them, gave them courage to change,…

Source: Suggested Reading

a dime’s worth

Though this poignant, haunting video features worthy men and though this song was written in 1930 in the heart of the Great Depression, this unconscionable, societal neglect of our own who have served and yet, who suffer greatly also includes women.

In the song a beggar talks back to the system that stole his job.[3] Gorney said in an interview in 1974 “I didn’t want a song to depress people. I wanted to write a song to make people think. It isn’t a hand-me-out song of ‘give me a dime, I’m starving, I’m bitter’, it wasn’t that kind of sentimentality”.[6] The song asks why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war (World War I), who tilled the earth, who did what their nation asked of them should, now that the work is done and their labor no longer necessary, find themselves abandoned and in bread lines.

Wikipedia

And here, I ask:  why should a women who has served society– birthed our children, cooked our meals, washed our clothes, raised our young, nurtured our health, AND OFTEN ALSO worked a full time job as CEO, secretary, CPA, teacher, care-giver–ever find herself in danger, in need of shelter or food, and unable to find a safe, honorable place in the world?

My volunteer work at Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas brings me face to face with this need on an up close and personal level.

Saturday I met a woman who has been living at Haven temporarily. I’ll call her Darla (not her real name).  She has brain damage that causes her speech to be halting, says “I forget things.”  She told me that Haven’s social workers have found subsidized housing for her and last week they took her to see what will be her new apartment home.

I’m thinking that’s great!  Right?  I looked into her green eyes.

“Are you looking forward to having a place of your own?”    She took a deep breath, hesitating.

sadness_149 from hipish.free.frimage:  free stock from hipish

“I’m afraid the man who gave me this brain damage will find me.  I’ve been thinking I need to hire someone to check on me everyday.  I mean, I know this is silly, but I’ve been feeling safe while I’ve been here.”

My heart clenched.

“Does this man live in San Antonio?”

“Yes.  He does.  I don’t contact any of my friends I used to know or go anywhere I used to go so he can’t find me, but I’m afraid he will.”

This story is not unusual.  One in three women worldwide will experience violence against them in their lifetime:  that equals one billion women.  And the fact is, this violence is no respecter of persons.  Regardless of whether a woman is intelligent or not so much, employed or not, married or not, beautiful or not, popular or not, she is devastated and usually debilitated by domestic violence.

We must purposefully nurture loving kindness and let the choice for beauty, gentleness and harmony dissolve hatred and let the Great River carry all that does not serve downstream.

D. Ellis Phelps

What I want for this woman and for all women (and men) who are ready to go to any length to change their lives and leave abuse behind is a culturally ubiquitous commitment to healing this societal disease. I am not alone in this.  Many have joined to bring awareness to the need to stand against violence.

I am for standing together.  And of course, I want perpetrators to be held accountable and to be rehabilitated.  I want those who experience suffering to be comforted.  I want provision for all who experience lack.

But most importantly, I want to be part of a culture reconsidering the current reactive approach to widespread abuse and rage.  What we do now is like sending in the National Guard and the Red Cross after the fact to clean up the mess of a natural disaster.

These entities are necessary and powerful forces for good, providing aid in times of crises.  And let’s face it:  no amount of education will turn a tornado from its destructive pathway.

But education will stop abuse.  Education of the spirit.  And practice.

there is nothing so strong as gentleness meme

image:  meme used with permission by the artist, Brett Jordon via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

The practice of loving-kindness.  One word at a time.  One glance.  A smile.  A gentle in-breath and exhale replacing a mean retort. The decision not to hit or yell.  Ever.

The decision to ask for help. The decision to give help in healthy ways.

These are actions we each can take one moment at a time, actions that will change our world for the better.

Ask:  What simple (but not often easy), let’s say a dime’s worth of action can I take today to make my world and that of those around me more gentle, more kind?  How can I change even my thinking, especially my thinking  (this requires spiritual intervention), around someone or something I think I hate or feel the need to punish.  Can I offer forgiveness and loving-kindness instead, even for one instant?  Yes.  One Holy Instant can change everything!

Share your victories and positive choices here and share them with others.  Collect a #formidableWoman badge from this page (at right) and post it on your own website or blog.

Help us reach critical mass and tilt the collective-consciousness toward a culture of gentleness.

peace eLKayPics flickr CC

image:  “Peace” used with permission of the artist, eLKayPics via Creative Commons. Rights reserved.

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, Balboa Press, 2013.

“the surprising” continues to SURPRISE! Poetry & Song: an hour with the artist, recorded live

love seeks it my image (detail)image:  “love seeks its own” 36X12″ acrylic on canvas (detail), D. Ellis Phelps, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Follow the youtube link below to hear me reading  (about 43 minutes long) from my first full-length manuscript of ecstatic poetry entitled, “what holds her” with commentary about my recent solo show of visual art, “the surprising.”

It was recorded at Intermezzo Gallery in Boerne, Texas on Nov. 1, 2014.  I also make comments about my artistic process.

And TADA! make my debut (HA!) as a singer/songwriter, singing two new songs written during the making of the art for this show.

Fast forward to about minute 26 if you just want to hear the songs & a little of their back-story.  The first song, “love seeks it own,” was received just after completion of the fourth painting in the series also entitled “love seeks its own,” after the song.

D. Ellis Phelps is the author of Making Room for George, Balboa Press, 2013.

mourning: lost & found

mourning mother flickr image attributionimage:  “mourning mother” by Jinterwas.  Used with permission of Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Yesterday, I met a young woman whose only child died last year.

Through tears, she told me that those close to her want her to “just get over it already.”

If you are one who feels uncomfortable when in the presence of pain being experienced by another and so you tell them to buck up and move on, please know that in an emotionally healthy individual, the grieving process takes time.  Lots and lots of time.  What is lost, is lost forever.  And mourning is never “over.”

The pain comes in waves, unexpectedly, profoundly.  And sometimes, for years.

As for me and my own experience of grieving, most recently the loss of both of my parents, and within that context, the perceived permanent loss of any possible reconciliation with them, the process has been ongoing since I first realized they were both in the process of leaving their bodies, until this very day.  It has been more than five years.

The pain has subsided.  It is distant now and thoughts of my loss do not always cause me to dissolve into tears, but I do still mourn for them, for myself, and for this planet full of others mourning.

I continue to allow myself whatever form of process-release I need:  wailing, talking out loud to the deceased (believing they “hear”  and respond to me),  furious dancing, receiving bodywork and energetic intervention, talking with a trusted friend, writing and making art.

Hard-Times-Require-Furious-Dancing-Alice-Walkerimage:  Walker, Alice.  Hard Times Call for Furious Dancing, (New World Library, 2010), book cover.  Illustrations by Shiloh McCloud with Michelle Noe

I am clear on this point:  relationships do not end when one “dies,”  but they do become more difficult to navigate because the other now lives on another plane of existence, communicating in non-linear dream-time, thought waves and forms, scents, signs, nudges, and yes, even visions.

For me, writing and making art are the most significant way I move forward–toward the Light.  The point is movement, not resistance to apparent darkness.  Seeking new insight and understanding regarding what is lost and moving gently toward integration of the new understanding into my life-view and way of being in the world, in relationship, transmutes all negative energy into positive, allowing all experiences to be used for the Highest Good.

When I can truly assimilate and put into practice what I have learned from a relationship and from purposeful, deep reflection on its relational qualities and nuances, studying and accepting which is my part and which is the part of the other and how we became who we are (were) together, then the essence of the relationship is not lost but found because the essential life of it lives in me and, indeed, in all whose lives I touch.

touching water by Augustine Ruiz flicker creative commons attributionimage:  “espejo” (mirror) by Augustin Ruiz.  Used with permission of Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

This process work is a profoundly spiritual experience.  My most recent series of art,” the surprising” and my full length book of poetry, what holds her (under submission) are both examples of living this process

Further, when this kind of profound interaction between the worlds takes place, each of us heals and can then, and only then, organically move forward with living our lives as they are now, resurrected in this new form, moving more freely within and between the realms and planes of existence toward Harmony and Love–the Highest Vibrational Frequency.

Om symbol creative commons attributionimage:  “OM” symbol by Karen.  Used with permission of Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

About “the surprising” ii: commentary on “love seeks its own”

My Great-Grandmother Mary Ann Henley's rocker is over one hundred years old.  It carries powerful ancestral energy for stamina and determination.
My Great-Grandmother Mary Ann Henley’s rocker is over one hundred years old. It carries powerful ancestral energy for stamina and determination.

Five years ago, on Oct. 15, 2009, my father left his body, only 29 days after my mother had also done so.  Though I had been very close to my mom, my dad and I had been estranged for two years before his passing, our lives together, full of pain.

Since before and after his passing, I had been experiencing heart pain in the form of physical spasms and chest wall constriction plus asthma-like symptoms that seemed to be getting worse.  After consultation with doctors who said this and that as they will (nothing serious; here’s a drug), I knew I had emotional work to do, the work of reconciling this unresolved grief that had lodged itself in my heart chakra.

As I told you in my comments about “between the worlds,” my ancestors and I, especially my father most recently, have had vigorous, ongoing post-hummus communications in the form of scented visitations and vivid (often nightmarish) dreams.  My art has always been, for me, a form of prayer and communication with Higher Realms.  I also work with my dreams and visions this way, so working them and with canvas and paint to resolve my grief, to “hear” my father, to “speak” with him on behalf of healing was only natural.

And so it happened that I was fully engaged in painting and getting ready for “the surprising” during this season or anniversary of my parent’s transition from flesh and that the show would occur and the paintings would be hanging in the gallery on the anniversary of my father’s passing.

Near the finish of this painting, the fourth in the series (remember the heart chakra is the fourth chakra in the subtle body or energy system), I sat in my great-grandmother’s rocking chair across the room from it.

"love seeks its own" 36X12" acrylic on canvas
“love seeks its own” 36X12″ acrylic on canvas

My studio window was open to the sound and scent of gentle, September rain.  My heart was open to my father, to my work, to my Self.  I listened for any message the painting might have for me.  Within seconds, this lyric arrived: “love seeks its own.”  Of course, this phrase caused me to sob for many minutes, since love of the tender, accepting variety was what I had longed for from my father.  Allowing the tears to flow, I grabbed my journal, suspecting a message coming through.

Here is the message in the form of lyrics complete with a melody that came through this painting and that I believe is a message directly from my father’s essence to me, for me, for the planet and for all humans in difficult relationships:

when from beyond the grave/ love seeks it own/ in the violet play/ we are all as one/release from hate/& free to fly/ with ones who wait/for us on high

(refrain): there is no choir/no golden throne/no standard issue/white flowing robe/but everyone sings/yes everyone sings/and in a giant ring/we are dancing

the face of love is seen/as we are shown/hidden in between/all that we have known/this life we’ve lived/our lessons learned/we each are gifts/we give in turn

(refrain): there is no choir/no golden throne/no standard issue/white flowing robe/but everyone sings/yes everyone sings/and in a giant ring/we are dancing

we see no difference/from heart to heart/have only reverence/& a brand new start/the purpose of/all that we have done/becoming like the holy one

(refrain):  there is no choir/no golden throne/no standard issue/white flowing robe/but everyone sings/yes everyone sings/and in a giant ring/we are dancing

I am completely humbled by the love this message conveys.  My heart is lighter and I believe, so is my father’s.  May he rest in peace.

“coming/ in the front door/not locked/not safe/not sane”

becoming #formidable

 

https://www.sixfold.org/PoFall13/Phelps.html

These five poems published in Sixfold Fall 2013continue my work of emotional healing through “story.”  The working title of this manuscript, for tea with dolls, is referenced in poem iii.  The work itself is mined from “memory exhumed” within the context of night terrors I recorded over a two year period from 2009-2011 after both my parents crossed over within twenty-nine days of one another (this after having been divorced for thirty plus years).

Sixfold is a completely writer-edited-by-vote journal and I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in its becoming.  Writers read and critique each others work and then rank the manuscripts they read, thus the top voted manuscripts are “voted” into publication.  Mostly, the participating writers are kind and helpful.

In the case of this work, I got varied reactions.  One of them was not so kind.  She writes:

“Purely confessional, no development. More like journaling without thought to line breaks. Capitalizing on abuse doesn’t make poetry; you have to do something with the trauma: digest it, utilize it, transform it somehow. Pity is a cheap, easy, and short-lived emotion.”

Thankfully, I am no stranger to critique and I know myself and honor my work.  I could not have even submitted this work without having done a great deal of emotional healing already.  But, if I were less #formidable, this might have ended my work and thus my healing process.

What I want to say to the MFA candidate who wrote this harsh critique is this: “Who is talking to you this way about your work and healing process?”  And, “Why are you letting them?”

What I want to say to others who are participating in the healing process through story is this: “Never let anyone talk to you this way or keep you from telling your story.”