Friday Speak Out!: Writing and Balance, Guest Post by Linda Rhinehart Neas

Friday, September 10, 2010
Writing and Balance

by Linda Rhinehart Neas

Balance is a tenuous dance we all do to remain on what Buddhist call, “the center path.” At times, it seems that the slightest push can send us reeling into the gullies of despair, confusion or fear. Writing is the ballast that keeps me coming back to center.

Plagued early in life by disease, poverty and abuse, I became a tenacious survivor thanks to a mother who loved literature, especially poetry. She planted a seed deep within the fertile fields of my soul. Watered and feed by both the local librarian, who sent my first poem into the Hornbook Children’s Contest, and by several gifted educators, my love for the written word germinated and bloomed.

By the time I was in high school, I knew I was a writer. However, for a brief time, I stopped writing daily. I had shared a love poem with my boyfriend and he corrected my spelling and syntax. I was devastated. In the fog that most abuse victims live in, I thought he was “helping” me realize that I was not a poet. After all, I was not a college student. How could I hope to compete in the real world?

The Muse, however, had other ideas. I continued to have inspirational moments when entire poems came rushing out of my solar plexus onto paper, which happened when my first daughter was born. Motherhood was fertile ground - deep, dark and full of possibilities.

But it wasn’t until one morning, as I rub the pregnant bulge of my soon to be third daughter, watching my two oldest daughters play, that I truly understood my calling. On the table was the Officer’s Wives Newsletter, which I edited on a remote SAC base in the Great Lakes. If I could do that, why not write professionally?

The news of another military confrontation loomed in the media. It was fodder for my first professionally published article.

“Let There Be Peace,” appeared in the Boston Globe. The respected professionals at The Globe deemed my work worthy of print, and they paid me! I began writing in earnest.

Eventually, the local newspaper weekly newspaper offered me my own column. The column allowed me to keep honing my craft.

Once my daughters were in school, I turned my attention to inspiring others to write. The persona of “The Poetry Lady” was born. I began giving poetry readings in the local schools, at the historical society, and for fundraisers to help women’s organizations. I helped teachers become inspired to teach poetry to their classes.

Recently, I returned to school to finish a BA and M.Ed. Walking across the dais to receive my diploma, a dream was not only been realized, it was validated. My entire life had led me to this moment, to this realization, that I cannot live without writing.

Writing is the lifeblood that fuels my soul. It is the silence between the beats of my heart. It is the outstretched hand in times of need. It is the essence of this being I call, “Me.”

* * *

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas has written extensively in various venues, publishing and performing her work throughout New England.

Her first complete book of poems, Winter of the Soul, was published in February 2008. Gogo’s Dream: Discovering Swaziland, a collection of poems dedicated to those who work to aid the peoples of Swaziland was published this year. All proceeds from the sale of Gogo’s Dream go directly to Possible Dreams International.

She is currently working on several children’s books. Ms. Neas lives in an enchanted cottage with her Beloved.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Thank you, Alison! I have been blessed.
What I didn't include is that as a child, I had an undiagnosed learning disability. I had to teach myself how to overcome it. Sometimes, I still have issues, but I manage.

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