On…

On Resolve

on resolve new year's resolution
To help my four-year-old boys’ learn how to make a resolution, I purchased, “Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution,” by Pat Miller. The core message is summed up when Bear, the librarian at Lonewood Library, explains a New Year’s Resolution to Squirrel. “A resolution is a promise you make to yourself to be better or to help others,” he says. “When we begin a new year we make a fresh start.” This year, the boys have resolved to carry groceries into the house. A solid first resolution.

In 2018, I will transition from being a stay-at-home-mom working part-time to a mother of school-aged children working…well, that is what I get to figure out. It’s not the first time I have realigned my goals with the entry of a child into school. My eldest is now twenty. Fifteen years ago, as he went into kindergarten, I attended classes at the community college, putting myself on a direct path toward what I dreamed of doing as work: writing.

Since then, I have received undergraduate and graduate degrees, published a poetry chapbook, as well as, several poems, essays and articles in various journals. All of this work was accomplished first as a single mother, then during the recession when my family (my eldest son and new husband) had to relocate for income, the birth and rearing of twin boys, and the care giving of my mother before her death in 2016.

I’ve also reconnected with family members, bonded new friendships, established a balanced diet and exercise routine, started a web development business, exorcised personal demons, became more engaged in my community, bought a house, and reared a child out of the nest and onto the path of his own artistic pursuits. For the past eleven years, I’ve enjoyed ever-strengthening, never-a-dull-moment, love and support between my husband and me.

What’s next?

2018 New Year’s Resolution

This year I resolve to write a personal and professional mission statement to define who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to accomplish. And then, I live up to that mission.

Learning From My Previous Self

Developing a mission statement and business plan is not altogether new. Five years ago, two writer friends, Claire Guyton and Suzanne Farrell Smith, and I, decided to compose our own Writing Life Business Plans. Each following year we reevaluate and refine our goals.

The deep thinking involved, in creating and revising my plan, kept me connected to writing when two babies took all my brain power and energy. Not to say I hadn’t previously maintained tenacity toward my writing goals during busy times. But nothing kept me more focused (except the community of Claire and Suzanne) then taking the time to figure out where I was as a writer, where I wanted to go, and what I needed to do to get there.

Now I’m on the precipice of the boys’ enrollment in school. Not only will I have more time, I have five years of meticulous preparation under my belt.

My resolution is a natural extension of the Writing Life Business Plan. I don’t bring in enough income from my writing life (yet) to justify not having a second career. Luckily I enjoy web design, so the new mission includes my entrepreneurial pursuits as well. Work I hope to integrate more with my writing goals, creating something altogether new and unexpected.

My plan also addresses what kind of citizen I want to be in my community. Where are my talents and skills needed most?

The personal mission statement? It asks me to look closely at my moral foundation–the precursor to all of it.

Work More and Better

From my first blog post back in 2014: “I resolve to continue integrating my work with my art and my everyday life… I vow to do this year after year after year, turning my lifetime into a series of fulfilling days.”

My days are more integrated, and have become more fulfilling. But I’m not finished. Quite the contrary. 2018 is another year where I begin again, and one of the giants’ shoulders I stand on this time, are my own.

On Refuge

By |November 29th, 2017|little wins, On..., win at life|0 Comments

on refuge

One could say I have been settling into my new refuge since August. Painting walls. Trying to establish new grass. Greasing the wheels of routine. Through the hustle of transition, I require a bit more alone time than usual. Quiet time. Me-and-my-thoughts time.

I’ve also been preoccupied with #metoo. What it means personally, professionally, culturally, historically. I’m not alone, I know. For that, I am grateful. The question I keep coming back to is not about the victims in the professional realm, those who can file formal complaints, who finally have a road paved before them. It will be more difficult for those who cannot connect their abuse to a famous name. I do worry about them.

Right now though, I think of those in their private worlds where the crime doesn’t leave the walls of a home, a party, an acquaintance. The path to retribution is muddy and unclear. Where there still is no road. How do we reach them? How do they begin to give voice to their shame and sorrows? I don’t have the answers. I just know I don’t want to forget their strength and their struggle.

Two things to check out

1) Bill Finger, who I met in a Poetry & Spirit group at UUFR asked me to be a guest on his blog, Journey Cake Spirit. He asked me to tell of how I “met” the word palimpsest. I was happy to relive the time when I encountered the word, and how it changed my life.

2) I participated in the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s 2nd Online Open Mic. Sitting in the comforts of my office, listening to NC readers throughout the state, sharing our stories, I loved it. I hope you take a listen.


Excerpt from “To Have A House,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Chance

on chance

Excerpt from “A Way of Life,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Firsts

I AM. I Burn.

Excerpt from “I Am. I Burn.,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Growth

By |June 1st, 2017|little wins, On..., win at life|Comments Off on On Growth

on movement

Excerpt from “Where I Don’t Live,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On BornWilder

what_my_son_will_know

When I created this website there was a brief explanation on the home page on how I came up with the name, BornWilder. You’re likely thinking it’s pretty obvious since I was given the last name Wilder at birth. But there was more to it.

As I re-designed the site, I took the story (and it’s accompanying image) off the home page and squirreled them away for a future blog post. The photo now graces the cover of my first chapbook, What Binds Us. It is one of my favorite images as it captures my first born and I together, facing whatever lies before us. Our relationship was such, though I imagine he never knew just how alike we were in our attempt to understand the world.

My chapbook was just released, carrying many poems that span this time in my life. It seems appropriate to share this story again now.

BornWilder: The story

In my late twenties I found myself re-establishing my identity. Not in the usual sense of graduating college and becoming an adult with real-world bills, finding a job, a loving partner and a mortgage. As I searched for this identity I did so on the way to taking my five-year-old son to kindergarten, between classes at the community college and before my night shifts at the bar.

During a conversation with a transcontinental friend, he told me an anecdote about a friend of his, named Free. Free liked to emphasize that he was, without doubt, born Free. At the time, I still legally held my ex-husband’s last name. For weeks I admired how Free’s name allowed him to re-establish his identity, as needed. No matter the obstacle or joy that changed his life, he could always fall back on being Free.

In the throngs of living as a single parent, I felt an added pressure to establish a strong foundation for both my son’s and my future. This included basic parental teachings like right from wrong, properly brushing his teeth, and the rewards of patience, but it also meant that I needed to cultivate an identity as a woman separate from my role as a mother.

As a single parent who cooks and cleans by herself, disciplines, plays and teaches the child by herself, and financially supports her and her son by herself, there is not a lot of time or energy for herself. So, I took a different route, and though it meant not having the same name as my son, I reclaimed my maiden name.

Changes like this cannot be measured in paychecks or statistical data or even that our lights were never turned off by the electric company. This simple change modified how I perceived myself and myself in the world.

Reclaiming my name provided me, as an individual, a previously unrecognized strength in self.

At a time when most mothers, married or unmarried, feel a loss of identity to their young child, and at an age when most twenty-something’s sense an intrinsic shift in the way they perceive the future, I emerged a more peaceful and settled woman. Not that anything in my life had inherently become easier. But for the first time, I accepted and embraced, no matter what lie ahead in life, the honest nature of my personal drive. And that I was, indeed, born Wilder.


Excerpt from “A Way of Life,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by Connie L. Stewart. All rights reserved.

On The Work

what binds us books

On Tuesday I received an email from Kevin Maines, a Finishing Line Press editor, informing me that my author copies had shipped from the printers. (Official release in two weeks!) His email came in just as I was leaving to meet with the builder of our new home for the first time. A beautiful spring day turned extraordinary by the culmination of these personal, hard-fought events. When I began this blog, I wrote about the financial pressure my family experienced in the aftermath of the recession. To sit at a table talking about our brand new home, that will literally be constructed before our eyes, is more than I imagined possible.

When I graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, I walked away with a full-length poetry manuscript, To Have A House. (Today’s quote comes from what would have been the title poem.) House. Home. Shelter. Refuge. Through my desire to understand what these words meant in my life, I constructed my own home, one that had nothing to do with walls, hardwood floors, or granite countertops. Home is people. Family. Relationships.

During the past seven years I deconstructed my full-length manuscript because it had three main parts of my life running through it. Though they worked together, one of them demanded, Anything That Happens, the memoir I am currently working on. The second thread belonged in another full-length poetry manuscript with themes focused more on architecture and ideas, and not so much on my life. The third is what I hold in my hands today, What Binds Us, a beautifully-made chapbook. It is my search for home. That it was delivered one day after that first builder meeting reminds me to keep doing the hard-fought work. Not simply because it is gratifying to be in this current moment, but that it shows me I didn’t give up on love. Love for myself. Love for others. Love for the work.

Excerpt from “To Have A House,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Becoming

on becoming

Excerpt from “Spring Cleaning in Winter,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Searching For Fire

searching for fire

Excerpt from “Visitors,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.

On Having

have a house 2

Excerpt from “To Have A House,” What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press 2017).

I mentioned in the first “On Having” post the idea of pairing this same question with different images. Behold, the second installment. Honestly, I could use this same quote in every post, with every image and see how many tangents my mind can wander in to. No surprise, I have no idea how often I will use this quote, though since we are relocating in the near future it is heavy on my mind. Not that it isn’t ever-present already–the subject of home is near and dear.

It may or may not be obvious (by my lack of posting a photo in a few weeks), that I have yet to figure out a good schedule for me. This struggle has always kept me from blogging in any form, but I love the image/quote enough to put myself out there and flounder along the way until I find my rhythm. Weekends probably aren’t best. Occasionally we do get out of town. And I don’t work in the same way as Instagram phenoms do; I can’t take photos all in one or two days to then post all month. Similar to how I dislike packing for a week’s vacation because I just don’t know how I will feel in a week and therefore unsure what I will want to wear. I want the posts to reflect as much of my inner-life in the moment. So let’s just say, when I disappear for a few weeks, you are witnessing my hermit take over, the one who retreats and never asks permission first.

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.