The other day my friend Karen sent me a Facebook message about a Kickstarter campaign she’s doing to fund her book of poetry. I do a double take: I know her to be very independent. Last time I heard, she was going the entrepreneur route, selling these cool bags online that seemed to be catching on. I wonder how she’s doing, so I call her.
After the usual chit-chat we get to the Kickstarter thing. She explains that she didn’t initially set out to write a book. “I started writing these little poems about four years ago and discovered there was a thread. They’re poems about poetry. Poems about where the poems come from. It’s called ‘She and I’ because She writes the poems and I deliver them to the world.”
“Who is she?”
“She’s my soul. She’s the one who sits beside God. God whispers to her and she whispers to me. I’ve known her my whole life, but I finally gave voice to her.”
“That sounds good,” I tell her, “but what about the bags? Are you still doing them?”
“Doing the bags is where I drifted off. I was trying to start a business that would help my family financially. It was actually starting to go well, and funny enough, the more promising it got for the bags, the more depressing it got for me. I was in such turmoil.”
Then after a car accident a few years ago where Karen narrowly escaped with her life, she asked herself if this is how she’d want it to end. “That’s when ‘She’ spoke to me,” Karen reveals. “She helped me see that all I really wanted was to do my poetry. I wasn’t doing it the way I wanted because I had doubts that I could actually live my life as a poet in this world where money, status and what you are supposed to have at a certain age is so important. I had bought into the conversation of people who say, ‘ You need to get a real job and do poetry on the side.’”
Boy, I can relate.
“If anything, doing the bags showed me what could happen if I gave 100 percent, which is something I hadn’t done throughout my many years as a poet. Imagine if I put that same energy into my poetry? That’s when I decided to shut down the bags. That I will go into the ground as a poet.”
I will go into the ground as a poet.
I’m thinking of what a gutsy move that is. She’s a 50 year-old mom choosing her passion over a potentially fruitful business in a society obsessed with youth. But how old is too old to slay the dragon? Dreams don’t come with expiration dates. And though I know that being a mom shouldn’t stop her, or any of us, it still gets tough.
How do you rationalize choosing to be a poet mom when kids have needs?
She says, “Recently, I had to do a show out of town and it was the first time that I had to do it without my husband and daughter waiting in the wings. I get teary-eyed thinking about how it felt after they dropped me off at the airport. My husband said my daughter cried. It was hard, but I had to do that. I had to step outside of my comfort zone, and it was fine. She was fine. Ultimately, kids are happy when their parents are happy. I know she’s proud of me for choosing to do this book.”
The more I talk to her the more inspired I feel to keep doing my own thing. She’s a reminder that my best days have yet to come. That’s what my own ‘She’ tells me when I can hear her.
I tip-toe to Karen’s Kickstarter page yesterday, hoping to see that she’s closer to meeting her goal, when I scream, “She did it!” Her book got fully funded! I’m so excited.
This article first appeared on Madamenoire 12/7/15