Showing posts from 2017

Rachmones - Poems of Compassion

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing my friend and fellow poet, Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik about her lastest chapbook, Rachmones - Poems of Compassion, which will be "coming soon."  Pearl is an gifted writer and it is a joy to share her interview with you all. I hope you will find something that touches your heart and soul in the following.

Pearl, I am really enthralled with your new book...the poems are so personal, yet so universal! Thank you for sharing them with me. 

Thank you Linda, it means a great deal to me to hear that you enjoyed the poems.

Could you tell us a bit about who you are, what you do professionally and why you write poetry? 

First of all, I think it was a wonderful intervention of the universe that this interview came to me via my commenting on a wonderful poem of your own. In what I term a “previous life-time,” I was a teacher of English and Reading in NYC and prior to that -- a long story in itself -- randomly came to teach little children …

What Are You Saying?

With the advent of the "Me, too" campaign, I have seen a disturbing rise in the use of the word bitch on social media. What is disturbing is that young women are using this word to describe themselves. Why, I ask?

When we coop words that have been used to denegrate, demean and dehumanize people to identify ourselves, we are giving our power away, not strengthing it. This form of identity is akin to the idea of "if you can't beat them, join them." Do we, as women, really want to do that?

This blog was built on the belief that words hold power. They can hurt, as well as heal. We decide in our day-to-day use of language, which we want to promote. 

So, let's step back for a moment and look at the etymology of the word, bitch. 

"bitch (n.)Old English bicce "female dog," probably from Old Norse bikkjuna "female of the dog" (also of the fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts), which is of unknown origin. Grimm derives the Old Norse word from…

For Love

People often ask why I teach, or write, or minister. The answer is always the same...Love. I teach for the love of sharing knowledge with others. I write for the love of words and how placing them in just the right position can paint a picture in someone's mind. I minister for the love of being of service to others.
This past month, I have been participating in the 30 Poems in November! Challenge. The poems I have written have been dedicated and inspired by those I teach and for whom the money raised will benefit. I have not reached my goal, yet. I still have hope.
The money from 30 Poems goes to the programs and needs of Center for New Americans (CNA), a non-profit agency with sites in four Western Massachusetts cities. CNA helps immigrants and refugees learn English as well as assists in finding jobs, housing, citizenship and a host of other needs.
Center for New Americans runs its daily operations on grants, donations and volunteers. Fundraising is essential to our success. 30 Poe…

To the Ones Left Behind

For those of us whose ancestors came to the US long ago, the thoughts of those left behind may no longer fill our minds. However, for recent immigrants and refugees, those left behind are a constant presences in their lives. Everyday, I see this in the faces of those to whom I teach English as a second language. Everyday, I walk the tightrope of asking students to share experiences, while praying they do not fall into the PTSD caused by living and escaping the unimaginable.

The stories of my ancestors are fragmented at best. I know some dates. I know some facts. I can only imagine the rest. 

My mother's father, my Grandpa, was first generation American. Born in NYC shortly after his family arrived from what is now Slovakia. Doing my genealogy, I have learned that the family returned to the Old Country when he was a toddler and returned when he was 14, just months before the start of the First World War. At that time, Kosicka Bela (now Kosice) was part of Austria-Hungary. Who knows w…

The Time Has Come

Photo from Google Public Domain
There was a time in the history of this country when parents and teachers held up the president as an example to children. Presidents had qualities to be emulated. The family of the president was also worthy of imitation, the highest form of flattery. 

However, that was before the present administration. Now, parents fear turning on the news while children are in the room because they are not sure what words will be reported or, worse yet, spoken by the president. 

How do you explain to a child why hate, misogyny, bigotry, and poorly constructed sentences are falling from the lips of the person who is running our country? How do you justify the apparent inability to feel compassion for others? How do you defend the need to play golf when our neighbors are drowning, when their homes are burning, or when the earth opens up, swallowing everything whole? 

Worse of all, how do we explain as parents and teachers, who have trusted in the democratic system created …

30 Poems in November!

While summer and fall play tag with each other, it is difficult to think about November. However, the mid-autumn season of gratitude and poem-ing will soon be upon us.

Once again, I am taking up the challenge to write 30 Poems in November!  This is the major fundraiser for Center for New Americans were I teach English as a second language to adult immigrants and refugees. The event is community-based. Poets from 5 to 95 write poems everyday in November with others pledging their support for the writers. During December, there is a celebration at Smith College's Poetry Center, where poets read one of the poems they have written and attendees can sign up for copies of the anthology that is put together from poems written during November.

This year, I will be focusing my poems on the journey of the immigrants and refugees. I will write about their hopes, dreams, struggles, joys and pain.  I will write about my own family's journeys that make me a third generation American.

If you wo…

Summer's Finale

Summer days are getting shorter. The time for harvest will soon be upon us, along with the new school year, and a multitude of holidays. Seems like, this year, summer relaxation was usurped by the craziness of politics and the constant battle to keep peace and hope alive.

But, as I sit mid-afternoon, with the sun pouring warmth onto my desktop and the green smell of a garden resplendent in the full bloom brought by warm days with plenty of rain, I am grateful. 

Creator of all I see, hear my thanks.
Know that for each blossom I behold, 
for each tree I hug,
for each blade of grass that gently cups my foot,
I give thanks.

As the days diminish into autumnal splendor,
give me the grace to see the beauty in a garden gone by,
bless me with the faith to know that the magic of nature
is not always seen, but is always there.

Thank you, blessed Gardener, for the turn of the seasons and all they bring to us. 

Staying Positive

Many people ask how do I stay positive in times of utter despair. I have several tricks, but one that has yet to fail me is to spend time in my garden looking at the beautiful flowers.

I know many don't have gardens or access to them, so here is a photo journal of my time in the garden today.  Enjoy!

All Photos:  (c) 2017 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

Finding Hope

An acquaintance and I met unexpectedly the other day. I had not seen her in months, maybe even years. We greeted each other with the kind of joy one has when this happens, instantly recalling the fun we had had long ago. Of course, as tradition dictates, I asked how she was doing. Suddenly, joy went nose-diving into a long spiral of negativity that began with the horrors of her job to the state of the nation. I attempted to raise the vibration of our discussion by pointing out the blessings that surrounded her and us, but to no avail.

So, what do we do when faced with hopelessness? How do we manage not to sink into the muddy hole of despair? Practice!

Being positive and upbeat is impossible all the time, make no mistake about it. But, with practice, you can continue to see the Light, even when traversing the darkest tunnel. Every storm has a silver-lining. Every dark night has stars that light the sky. The trick is not to focus on the darkness, which never really is gone; but rather, fo…

Father's Day Thoughts

Father's day is upon us and I am called to remember how blessed I am to have had my Dad in my life and in the life of my children.  But, it wasn't an easy journey, at first.

You see, Dad struggled for many years with alcohol. However, in my early teens, he gained sobriety and kept it for the remainder of his life. In the years that followed, I was blessed with a father who had great wisdom, great compassion and great love for me and all his children and grandchildren.  

There are things I remember Dad telling me that have shaped who I am today. Some of his most memorable quotes are:

"A nursing mother is the most beautiful sight in the world!"

"You are NOT fat, you are pregnant and beautiful!"

"Make do, do over or do without. You don't need all that sh.. anyway!"

"You can do anything you put your mind to doing. You're John Neas' daughter!"

Mostly, though, Dad led by example. He taught me to help others humbly by doing little kindness…


My Dad's Boot Camp Cohort - Great Lakes

John Henry Neas, Jr. 
My Dad survived WWII, returning home after the Japanese signed the surrender. He saw service in both sides of the globe.  First, in Normandy, and then in the South Pacific.
Dad didn't talk much about the war. Like most veterans of his generation, the stories didn't come to light until their elder years, and then, usually when around their shipmates and comrades in arms.
I've written before of the stories Dad told me. Some tear at your heart and others make you laugh. The photos below are of his last ship, the USS Hyman. This was the ship that he was aboard during the kamikaze attack in which he barely escaped death.  This is the ship where the surrender was signed for the small Pacific island of Pohnpei.
Pohnpei is where the missionary wife sewed an American flag under the noses of her Japanese captors, believing with all her heart that the allies would liberate the island. The flag was presented to the sailors o…

Spirited Tales

I have as a guest Rev. Teal L. Gray, N.D., who has recently released a new book, Spirited Tales. This book is an anthology of stories by several authors of whom I am honored to be included.  I wanted to share the book with you all, but also share more about Teal and why she wrote and compiled this book.

What do you say to people who wonder how a Christian Minister writes in the genre of Horror and the Paranormal? 

I explain that the Horror story defines good and evil very clearly for the reader, often as a cautionary tale. No other genre allows for spiritual and religious content more than horror. We all must navigate through this world and not everything or everyone is good or even honestly represented. You need to be knowledgeable about all the elements of the spirit world you are navigating through. 

You wouldn’t go on a hike in unknown territory without familiarizing yourself with what type of animals, insects, snakes, and weather it has there would you? 

I want people to put down the…

The Glass Half-full

(c) 2017 Linda M Rhinehart Neas

Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday. I began the day giving thanks for her and all the things that she taught me, knowingly as well as unknowingly. I have said many times that Momma put the "fun" in dysfunctional. The older I get the more I realize what a gift that was. 

You see, life was not easy for Momma or our family. There were multiple issues that constantly reared their ugly heads, sucking the joy out of life. However, Momma would do things during these dark times that showed us how to laugh in the face of adversity, grief, and pain.
For instance, I remember having a friend over for lunch when I was young. This had been planned for several days. However, Momma did have much in the house for food because Dad had not gotten paid. (I didn't know this until adulthood.) She never let on that there was an issue. Rather, she created a feast for me and my friend out of tomato soup, crackers with peanut butter and tea. What mad…