I attended Jezebel’s Poetry Night at Art and Soul Studio in Nashville, an evening dedicated to Merrill Farnsworth on Friday night. The room was filled with so much love for a woman that left us for her next big adventure into another universe this past September. She was a lover of life, a poet, a lyricist, a teacher, a mother, a true leader in Nashville’s writing community, not to mention a crazy brave soul.
I met Merrill almost two years ago through her song writing retreats and instantly fell in love with her spirit, zest for life and last but not least, her writing techniques. In a very short time, I was blessed to have become a student and to call her a friend. She taught me so much about letting go of my inner “editor” and was encouraged to just “write”.
After attending two of the song writing retreats she cohosted, I look back over the pieces I’ve written under her teachings and I see so many songs on the verge of coming to life. “Heading Home” and “Watermelon Song” will both be on my next album coming in 2018. I joined her “Memoir Writing Circle” last spring and our assignment each week was to bring a memento that represented in some way “The woman I’ve become”.
One prop I brought to write about was the Hallmark card pictured above that my best friend from childhood sent me for Valentine’s Day of five little ballerina’s, four of them standing holding onto the bar while one little girl hung upside down. The card reads, “There are two kinds of people in the world- YOU and everyone else.”
For 10 minutes I wrote freely about what this card signified for me. My life as a young girl was a far cry from dance studios and ballerina shoes, but I certainly have always danced to the beat of my own drum and been the one to do things upside down and backwards from everyone else.
Pink shirts, pink skirts, upside down and backwards
Hanging from the tree or the rafters in the barn
or the jungle gym at school
Maybe I really am a monkey.
Dirt roads, alfalfa fields, corn rows, a shetland pony
A buckskin gilding, and blue heeler chasing cattle
County fairs, horseback for the Labor Day Parade
Pink and purple crepe paper streamers woven into my bicycle spokes
Cotton candy and popcorn from the concession stand
Sweet and savory BBQ. Rodeos and fireworks at midnight.
4H contests and exhibits, I became a seamstress, a photographer
A baker, a rabbit breeder, leather craftsmen
Building belts & coin purses
and writing poetry
Hand-me-downs, pig tails and braids
Pulling cockle burs and Texas sandburs in the pasture
Playing in the creek, baby calves born in the spring
Branding the day after prom
My dad had a sick sense of humor.
Summer: driving tractors, planting and irrigating corn
Cutting hay, sunshine every day
Hard work, farm chores, never getting to sleep in
Never a chance to be bored
Always work to do
Milking cows by hand morning and night
fresh milk, baby calves to feed, garden to hoe
Home grown: beef, pigs, chickens
Veggies, red and purple wild plumbs growing wild
Grandma always made jelly
What a fresh organic life!
Now I know why my stomach hated me when I went off to college.
In the sandhills of Nebraska
We made our own fun, no gadgets but
A black and white TV, two channels and bunny ears
No cable, no video games, no cell phones or computers
Just good old fashioned fun.
Three hours from a Walmart and
not a McDonald’s for 60 miles.
Sears, JCPenney and Montgomery Ward
Our amazon.com back then
Packages in the mail,
the quiet is not scary
It’s Peaceful and free
Those were the days that molded me into “The Woman I’ve Become”.