A few months ago a dear friend passed away at 98 years old. She was a grandma, my great godmother, and in these last few years, a genuine friend. I miss her very much and writing her letters to mail with a poem or small story. It was our thing and I visited her as much as I was able. The last time I saw Evelyn we visited a few hours in her room. Then, I was leaving and I couldn’t get out the door to reach the elevators. Finally, I got to the elevators went out the front time and stopped.
I looked back at the wonderful care facility she’d been staying in these past three years. She was in her own home until she was 95. I had this strange feeling that I woldn’t see her again. I gazed back deciding all I could do was hope that in a month or two, she would still be alive and well. I do wish one more visit might have been possible.
She was a wonderful, outgoing, and opinionated person. She demonstrated great care with people and her hospitality is/was famous. She even drove big trucks and was a mechanic in her day besides working at the Woodwards Department store for many years. For much her life, she was a single mother. Evelyn had many talents, her cooking, her unpredictability, and a spirit that kept on shining and pushing through life’s miseries.
R.I.P Evelyn. I’ve been trying to finish this last poem for you for a few months. It’s taken me awhile to get right! I’m so happy you are with our Heavenly Father and no longer suffering in any way.
A monument falls, crumbles,
Although, she was strong.
An impenetrable force,
A spit-fire, a trail blazer.
You can press your hands against thick steel, rock, or concrete,
Wonder how such monuments are designed,
Buildings of beauty, fortified through time;
How could they fall?
Then you realize that soft skin isn’t stone,
And a woman isn’t a superhero.
When you gaze into the past, into beloved photographs,
You see how smooth marble crinkles,
As fine lines, directions on a map.
The most elegant calligraphy,
Words muted in the unforgiving sun.
And photographs appear in memories,
The warming light of conversation,
Over hearth: satisfying food and laughter.
Yet, still I attempted to see how her puckered lips,
Were once plump, young, and beguiling.
Long gone are her cherubic child’s lips,
Nearly a century ago.
And flawless cream skin is marked,
Lines settled in, can be followed,
A pattern of an Autumn leaf.
No monument left to be seen, no eyes sparkling,
With a smile uniquely hers,
Never to be repeated;
Only in whispers of genealogy.
A monument stood and —
She was significant.
Someone who was seen and not afraid to be,
A grandma who paraded around,
In forty two pairs of shoes — probably more.
Her body could be strengthened with steel,
Knees and hips better off with fabrication;
The real ones worn out.
Do stone monuments feel the pain of lost children?
Of polio’s grasp, sucking the life out of a small boy.
Of a little girl who passed away a whisper.
And of one child who survived,
A reader, a teacher, a traveller, a builder.
One who is imperfectly perfect as her.
My godfather with his wife,
My godmother, both I adore.
Yet, the stubborn cheerfulness,
Of this monument lives on in her family,
In her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren,
And beloved relatives and friends;
Partners who marked her life, always leaving early.
Sisters and brothers, marrying others becoming new brothers and sisters,
How she adored and missed all them all,
Passing away before she could blink.
For the most part, she was unsurpassed in years,
She mourned her family and friends gone first,
But reunites with them now.
And when she fell, the monument’s pieces scattered,
Although all feels lost,
She needed her relief in heaven.
And no one ever thinks that day will come,
Until it crashes upon those left behind.
Monuments fall, it happens every minute of every day,
For every type of personality,
To each person someday;
Special and authentically themselves.
It’s okay to morn the monument’s empty place,
To hunger for her caring advice,
Her kind words.
The silence is hard, her not being,
In her home or in her room.
Now she’s aged, is dust of the earth,
She is the ideal of herself, the creator’s perfection.
Her life was imperfect, as we all are,
It was shadowed by pain and misery;
Yet her optimism always pulled her through it.
Remembering her and taking comfort within,
Her greetings to all those she meets again.
The suffering and sorrow has ended, so do not cry your tears.
For every monument is eclipsed,
Heaven’s radiant light filters into the cracks,
Rebuilds the rubble.
Her figure of faith and grace.
The love she had, that does not die,
But multiplies in eternity,
Waiting for her family someday.
And for her her dear friends.
When we arrive,
She’ll wonder what took us so long.
Offering a piece of pie, uncooked fresh blueberries in a crust,
With soft dollops of whipped cream.
Her timeless love in cooking, baking, hospitality,
Good Morning! Welcome to another edition of my interview series. Since I have joined the Go-Dog-Go Writer’s community, I will be showcasing an interview with a wonderful writer every week (instead of bi-weekly).
However, since I do not have the time to put together a full interview each week, every second week will be a ‘Rewind Interview’ showcasing a wonderful writer or blogger from past interviews. You can expect this both on the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as on my own blog Mandibelle16.
Most of my upcoming interviews for the summer will be baristas from the Go Dog Go Cafe as well as a couple of interviews I had scheduled previously.
We will be focusing on her personal blogging and writing for this Rewind Interview.
1. Please Tell Us About Yourself?
My blog is called “A Life Less Lived” and I use the name “Singledust” as the author of all my blog posts. I live in Malaysia, in a vibrant suburb south of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a town packed with malls and teeming with life! It is also a college town and the young demographic we have means lots of lovely cafes and hangout joints where the vibe is always amazing.
2. What is Your Blog About? What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
I started my blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began. In early days the blog was a lot of self-discovery and deciding what my blog was going to be about. I had to figure out what to write about and much personal information I should I share.
I went down a couple of paths, tried doing travel related stories at first, then showcasing foods I liked and places to go eat the different foods in my country, but I wasn’t feeling fulfillment from that kind of writing. I wrote because I needed words to come out of me after suppressing it for so long.
Then I came across Flash Fiction prompts and was hooked. I found I liked writing stories. I had grown up with lots of storytelling after all and thought why not incorporate some of the tales I remembered into new ones I created. So that’s what I did and wrote some poetry on the days the stories seemed more musical. I had never written poetry before this blog so I amazed myself even!
From Flash Fiction challenges, I expanded into longer pieces called “Tales From The Equator,” stories I remembered from my childhood as well as those I told my kids as they were growing up.
All this has provided me with a huge collection of stories and poetry I have rummaged through to eventually another book. My blog is my training ground and preparation. It is an amazing place to read other writers, get feedback, develop new story lines, and network.
“I started the blog because my daughter asked me to stop scribbling in notebooks and publish all I wanted to say. She set the blog up and I began” -Gina Gallyot
3. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging and Why?
I started a year ago in February 2016 after some parts of my life finally got settled and I closed painful chapters of my life for good. In my new life, the writing side of me reawakened as I needed an outlet. When I started the blog it was a place for me to write so I would not forget my journey of self-discovery but after some time I realized that the journey was part of my healing and there was no end in sight.
I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own. And as I wrote I released anger and frustration inside me for so long — things I cannot talk about in whole honesty — writing allowed me to layer stories and fantasies into my writing and in that sense has permitted me to heal and recover, like a journal of my life. My life is stories!
4. How Does Your Writing Help Other People and Give You Meaning?
Just seeing words on paper (well now on screen) brings me joy and blogging have enabled me to connect with amazing people all around the world I would have never met otherwise. I love being able to read their stories and be able to see that the world is full of people such as me, going through trials and overcoming them through writing and in turn, I hope my stories will help others healing or reaching a new spiritual place.
I affectionately call my stories, “my little lines.” I would humbly like to believe that it also inspires others together with the comments I give on the posts I read.
“I will continue my healing journey as long as I live. The process has never come to a screeching halt with magical solutions. Each day has a lesson of its own.” – Gina Gallyot
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation?
My inspiration is the life I have lived, a life less lived; while trying to survive my struggles, never feeling as if I had actually lived. I existed for the next day to start and end, and stories were my refuge. They were places I would go in my mind and create a safe place for myself and my children.
The world around me is also so beautiful in its ordinary splendor. I don’t need the highest mountain or deepest sea, a walk around my neighborhood inspires me with the beautiful life of nature and people. Every single thing on earth has value and has a story of its own.
Additionally, I’m inspired by the people I meet, strong people carrying heavy burdens in life, broken people standing tall for others to lean on, humble gentle caring souls oblivious of their own sorrow as they comfort others. In short, the human spirit is extremely inspirational and resilient.
Every person also has their own story, but there is the question of who stops to listen when we are all so busy trying to tell our own stories. I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.
6. Do You Have Any Particular Writing Habits? How Does your Blog Fit in With You Are?
I hope my writing has helped inspire people and encourage then to be better than what they think of themselves in low times. I would like to think that my writing (my blog) is a soft spot to land after all the bad news and horror people read. I would like to be a soft voice and a place people can unmask and be themselves as they read my stories and poetry. I hope they remember it is possible to live life happy and free and know that living a better life is possible at any stage in life.
“I try to listen to life happening around me in all forms. It’s important to me to give value to everything and everyone I meet in my short life on earth. It is vital that I never forget people are all connected by invisible threads of endless thoughts and feelings and need to treat each other gently.” -Gina Gallyot
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects on Your Blog or Otherwise?
I try to participate in at least five Flash Fiction challenges per week to keep the creativity going. I am beginning to become involved in the poetry community, though I am like the littlest baby there as I never wrote poetry prior to this blog! I am trying to compile all the stories and poetry into categories and maybe publish them in a few of years. Every writer’s dream right?!
I have two recent poetry submissions published onSpillWords. Here are the links and publication dates:
My biggest writing achievement is my poetry book titled: Remember my: Sweet Whispers – I Loved You From A Time Once Before.
It is available on Smashwords as a free download and includes poems I wrote that people enjoyed on my blog.
8. What Are You Future Plans For Your Blog and Writing?
No big ones as of yet. I have blog posts as well as guest posts featured on other sites but that’s about it. I still feel I am new to this and I like to let things move at a slow pace and see progress in steps rather than leaps and bounds. I am enjoying the journey, not the destination. Future plans might be to start focusing on a book I started last year but got distracted and have never completed. Blogging at my own pace and enjoying the company I meet along the way has been rewarding so I will continue on this path.
9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Have Support for Your Writing and Blogging in Your Life?
Well, I decided to write again after a negative influence was removed from my life. I wrote a lot as a young girl and well into my early youth. I was sidetracked by the ‘merry go round of life.’ Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.
My support comes from my tenacity for life. My four children have been my pillars of strength and support me with enthusiasm and love. Recently a more meaningful relationship has been the wind beneath my wings and encouraged me to soar higher. I also always have hope.
“Coming back to my first love of writing stories has been like meeting an old flame and feeling the spark we had long ago that has developed into a mature romance. It’s a safe and uplifting romance of heart and soul, paper and pen, words and emotions.” – Gina Gallyot
10. How Do you Maintain Discipline in Writing? Do You Prefer Certain Writing or Reading Genres?
I discipline myself to write consistently and have a few stories or poetry on file to go over so I am never without material. Flash Fiction is incredibly helpful in clearing the cobwebs to write better in other areas of writing. It allows me to try different styles I might not usually do and this versatility helps me develop a better vocabulary too.
Reading is important too because people need to be inspired by other authors and writers. I spend a great deal of time reading new books and also re-reading previous favorites from beloved authors. My favorite writers are ‘mystical writers. Simple strong words in long flowing sentences that convey images of times we have all once traveled upon are inspiring to read about.
I fell in love with Yeats as a young girl and am still smitten with him. Poets and writers who write like Yeats and draw emotions from other worlds and bring that feeling into our world, I find interesting. I like human based stories, like those from Khaled Hosseini and recently John Green.
My all time favorite novels include The Alchemist and 100 years of Solitude. Another writer that fascinates me till is John Farris and his Wildwood, Chilling Experiments in the Backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains.I feel a strange attraction to that region although I have never been there before.
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Us?
Write from the heart what you want to say. You can use your metaphors, pseudo names, or examples (metaphors and literary devices) that distract from you, but write as if it is the last essay or poem you will ever get to write.
That’s what makes you stand out from other writers — sharing your heart. Don’t let the blogging statistics derail or distract you. Numbers have no real weight in comparison to what you write from your own heart and feelings.
Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.
People read these ‘little lines’ and feel uplifted because the world they live in is trying to confine them. I want ‘little lines’ to help set people free and be whoever they want to be, never living a mediocre life in thought, word, and deed.
“Moreover, I have never wanted to live a mediocre life in either thought, word, or deed. While I joke and say I write ‘little lines’ and often am told to give more respect and emphasis to my ‘little lines,’ they are strong on their own and not fragile lines but lines that encourage people who think they are not worth much.” – Gina Gallyot
12. What Are Your Three-Favorite Blogs you Follow or Enjoy, just for Fun? What Do You Like About Them?
I love reading blogs in this order: flash fiction, poetry, and long reads. They inspire me to write better stories, and each writer has their own flavor. It’s too hard to mention a top three or even top ten. I enjoy each writer for their own kind of fiction and emotion.
13. Please Share With Us Some of Your Favorite Pieces:
A special one to me from the tales from the equator series:
She was a pretty tiny bird living in a big white cage. Her master would sit each morning and evening and admire her beauty from just outside her cage. She loved it when he came to sit with her, he read her stories and sang songs and she was his inspiration. He was an artist and he drew lovely paintings of her, sold them and even put some around his lovely house. She longed for him to open the cage, just once and let her out so she could sit in the palm of his hand, but he never did. Always just looking at her, smiling and saying soft soothing words, he would always leave when the woman came.
He lived with a beautiful woman in this house, she never came near the cage, almost never knew the little bird existed and would ask the maids to clean the cage and feed the pretty bird. Little bird looked with envy at the beautiful woman with the long black hair and flowing dresses, her feathers were short and had too many colors, her cage had no walls, she could never hide her ugliness.
One day, a praying mantis sat on the window ledge and asked the tiny pretty bird why was she quiet, why she never sang. Little tiny bird said she had no singing voice, she was made only for man’s eyes, not for his ears or heart. And the mantis thought she saw a tear, but birds don’t cry thought the mantis, not in these parts anyway.
The little bird talked to the mantis every day in between the times the artist sat by the cage and they grew to know each other more. The mantis was as old as the sands of the desert and had traveled far and lived long, she was old and wise but had no heart, yet lately talking to this tiny little bird made the old mantis feel something she had not for a very long time now. It was like an inflation of her hollow chest.
One day she asked the tiny pretty bird if she would like to be free? And the tiny heart fluttered with uncontrolled joy. But the bird asked how? And the praying mantis divulged an ancient secret.
Praying Mantes were the gods’ eyes and ears on earth for there were places the gods could not go to, the crevices and the cracks of the world, so they created the praying mantis who could slip in and out unnoticed and gather information back. The mantis had some magic and in them and was allowed one wish for their entire life and that’s how they would end their lives, by granting a wish as their final breath.
The little bird was upset and refused to listen more, but the old tired mantis coaxed her; allow me to bestow the wish on you, I have lived long and traveled far, I need to rest and move on to the next life the gods have planned for me. I have been a mantis too long, almost since this new world begun, set me free.
And the little bird because she had a lovely heart, though so tiny, it was full of love, for the handsome artist man and she wanted to feel the touch of his hand, agreed. And they decided on the right time to carry out their plan.
It was a beautiful sunny morning, where sunlight reflected off every surface and sunbeams found secret places and brought them warmth and the little bird decided today would be the day. The artist would arrive soon and she wanted to be free from her feathers and cage. The praying mantis nodded in agreement.
When they heard the man approaching, the mantis cast her final spell and the cage door flew open and the tiny pretty bird flew out and landed on the ground, now a tiny little lady with streaks of blue and green in her hair. The tiny bird was so happy to touch her own skin and pretty hair and she looked to thank the mantis, but the mantis wasn’t there.
Too late to look now, the handsome artist had approached, and the little bird now a pretty little lady smiled at him with the prettiest smile she thought she had. But the artist was taken by surprise and she never knew he could be a cruel man for she always looked at him from behind the bars of her cage and only saw what he showed her of his true self.
He shouted for the maids to chase away this intruder, he said. Chaos reigned as maids came to remove the tiny little stranger from the big lovely house. They roughly pushed her out the door and told her to do her begging elsewhere, this was the mistress and master’s house, not any common place.
Little bird tried to speak but no one could understand the language she spoke and she could hardly walk, new to feet and no feathers she felt exposed and abused with the rough hands and words. She understood them; why could they not her.
And they shut the big heavy white door and tiny little bird stood alone on the road.
Devastated that her plan had gone so disastrous, she wished she could talk to the praying mantis, her only friend all the years she sat in that cage, she wondered if she had been tricked. Living in that cage wasn’t so bad after all, at least she got to see her handsome artist twice a day and she had water and food and sunlight. Now she had nothing, she would never see his face again.
She walked down the road uncertain which way to go, her bare feet on the hot asphalt, the warmth went all the way to her chest, but never reached her heart. And she knew she could not live like this in this world; and said a soft wish to the gods who would listen, punish me for my greed and insolence, take me away from this existence. Leave me as dust in this world for I feel empty and distant.
And the spirits of the sun took her message to the skies and some gods had pity on her and said such a beautiful soul must be rescued somehow.
So they guided her thoughts till she walked further down the street and they crushed her body with a magnificent sunbeam and she became tiny flecks of dust that settled among the rocks and the grass, she would always be free now, and be part of the world yet no one would see her, she would be as she wished, just dust and glitter.
Flourish by Gina Gallyot about how much she loves her Dad.
A Walk In The Snow by Gina Gallyot, a poem about hoping to fall hopelessly in love like this one day.
Thank you to Gina for agreeing to be interviewed for her original interview and the “Rewind Interview.’ Here is the link to her blog homepage once more: A Life Less Lived. If you would like to be a part of my interview series, please reach out through my Contact Page. See You on next Tuesday!