October 2017   

Greetings from Mary Kay Shanley

My first book, She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, was a simple tale about two neighbors becoming friends. Such stories, such experiences, are not ground-breaking. But if you have traveled that journey to a shared, lifelong friendship, you both know innately that your lives will never be the same. 

Most always, the pathway to this treasure begins when two strangers meet and, without planning to, become acquaintances. Occasionally some, but certainly not all, such acquaintanceships grow into friendships. And once in a great while, a  few of those friends - nurtured by love, honesty, laughter, tears and life itself - become best friends. Forever friends.  They change one another, both moving forward, making each other better at being human. We periodically share readers'  stories of their own rich journey. Please enjoy.

My Friend - A Story Worthy of Sharing
By Fran Rybarik of La Crescent, MN

My earliest memory -
Snatched from a nap to see
bright orange heat mid-day.
A house down the street implodes.
Mother's arms and my teddy bear mitigate the fright.
Next memory -
She sits at the end of my driveway.
Our mothers discuss the new house -
            her new house - being built on that lot.
We stare at each other across the closed car door.
A score of shared memories -
            The little store and a mean neighbor boy
            Hide 'n' Seek and Horse
            Magical basement nightclubs and offices
            Marching band, musicals and piano lessons
            Brownies, boyfriends, buried cats, bacon and Boston.
Separation -
Colleges, marriages, young families
and half a continent
Reconnection -
Aging parents, reunions, funerals.
She never forgets my darkest day.
Sixty years later -
We meet at that house.
Our parents have died. Her house will be sold.
I thank her for the memories and pray
that our friendship continues . . .

From Fran Rybarik: My earliest childhood memory, at age 4, is of a house burning in our neighborhood. Meeting my first friend, Ann, became intertwined with that fire when her parents built their home on that lot. We both left our small town after high school. I shared this poem with her 60 years after we met, when our parents had all passed and she came back to Wisconsin to get their house ready for sale. 

To contact the poet: Franny363@gmail.com


If you wish, please send a story or poem about your own friendship journey. If it appears here, you won't receive a monetary reward (Words is truly a non-profit endeavor). But sharing your story is a gift to others - often reason enough to write. Put "Friendship" in the subject line and send your piece along with name, city/state and a photo to marykayshanley@gmail.com. 


Something to Consider: A Workshop Experience in Reflective Writing
Topics, stories, plots, descriptions, characters and scenes emerge from mind and memory, family and friends, lived experiences, history, dreams, thoughts and imagination. As a writer, you probably start by thinking about and culling through, those resources. Then, you begin to write.
But there's another way to approach the work of writing. By tapping into a place deep within you but often unknown to you - a place where your inner self, your soul, the essence of who you are resides. Possibilities for writing wait there, too, although they are not necessarily obvious. Here, as a writer, you start by spending time reflecting - quietly, patiently, alone - until words come to you, rather than from you. Then, you begin to write.
Such reflective writing is a learned technique, aptly described by Author Pat Schneider: "May you hear in your own writing - the strangeness, the surprise of mysteries - the presence of ancestors, spirits - buried in the cells of your body."
In 2018, Diane Douiyssi, a writer and someone who mentors other writers, and I will begin offering Journey through the Forest - A Reflective Writing Retreat. During three days together, we'll discuss reflective writing, then experience it first-hand and, finally, consider the possibilities for creating meaningful copy from the multitude of words that will have emerged from reflection. If you want to be notified when a workshop is scheduled, please put "Reflective Writing Workshops" in your email subject line and send your contact information to marykayshanley@gmail.com.