win at life

On Chance

on chance

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

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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

on movement

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

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On BornWilder

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 possible future blog post. The photo now graces the cover of my first chapbook. 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 he never knew just how alike we were in our attempt to understand the world.

It seemed appropriate to post this as my chapbook was just released and many poems span this time in my life.

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. One afternoon 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).

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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.

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On Moving

on moving

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

After my family’s stint with the flu, and the stirrings of warmer weather, I am toying with the idea of posting images twice a month. This past Sunday there was really no good reason I put off on posting. Yes, my brain was extra rusty after the flu. Yes, March Madness was a great diversion on our last day of quarantine. Yes, I spent my spare time on Saturday writing. Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m doing my best on keeping consistent and I’m training for my own personal deadlines. So far a B-. If my grade doesn’t improve then I will readjust my goals. So nice to be both student and teacher.

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On Stopping Time

on stopping time

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

Photo taken by author. All rights reserved.