Category Archives: self-care

48–“Speaking Kidney” from “Frazzle”

Newark Hotel, Rainy Night by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2014

“…What would kidney language be like?
Like the earth speaking
in ebb and flow of tides,

crying softly in drought or deluge,
flowing currents coming and going,
pushing and pulling….”

From poem 48, in my book, “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing.” Listen here:

What does it mean to listen to the body, to notice when things are off balance and take steps to be healthier—even before illness sets in? Each organ seems to have its own language (“symptoms”). If you are like me, you may not be aware of a problem until the situation is serious. This poem asks for a gentler approach, to act as if the mind (intellect) and the body are on the same team, and vitality—without pain—is the common goal.

San Diego in the Distance, across Mission Bay by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

47–“Ask and Response” from “Frazzle”

Heading Back Home by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

“…Who has not given up

in the dark-pit times,
the apparent endlessness

of the drop down,
the fall from grace

it seems like it…”

From poem 47, “Ask and Response,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

These times we are in…perfect time for a poem about grace.

I need to have more real contact with people, talk on the phone, meet in person. It is lovely and good to be connected online, but not sufficient to sustain. I have a list of people in front of me to meet for dinner or tea or a long phone conversation. Slowly I am reconnecting with friends I had lost track of and it feels good.

Sunday I went to the Evanston Writers Resist gathering (one of a number of Writers Resist events in the Chicago area) to hear amazing inspiring speakers, but also to be with people who are all trying to navigate these chaotic days and create positive change. It was most uplifting. I am grateful. And thank you to my husband, Stephen for coming with me. It was truly an evening of grace.

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

45–“Selective Memory” from “Frazzle”

Walking to the Pond by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2016

“…I am only aware of
where I am and what is
now going on,
what healing is yet undone.
I forget where I came from…”

From poem 45, “Selective Memory,” in my book, “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine” Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing.” Listen here:

One day at a time, this project is teaching me to be where I am, not to jump ahead even one day. It is guiding me to take care of myself, be more balanced, less anxious. If I want to deliver the poems—and I do—I have to be focused and healthy, as rested as I can.

On the good days I take a lovely walk to the pond down the road, perhaps a poem begins in my head as I go. If it’s not a good day and my only two smiles are at the beginning and end of that day’s video, at least I remember I can smile. And I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at getting another poem recorded.

My intention is still to sequentially read all the poems from “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine.” At one per day, it will take over a year. You and me, sitting at the table, maybe we have cups of herbal tea with honey. Thanks for listening. See you tomorrow.

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

42–“Soave” from “Frazzle”

Walking Toward the Light, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2016

“Speak to yourself in a soft voice…”

From poem 42, “Soave,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

Llubav is a lovely woman, originally from Peru, who would say to her young toddler to settle him down, “soave.” Or at least that’s how it sounded to me. It turns out I picked the Italian spelling and I liked the layers of meaning: gentle (voice, manner); delicate, sweet (face, nature); soft, sweet (music); delicate (perfume). (Reverso Dictionary)

Time to remember to be gentle with ourselves, as part of our commitment to self-care. “Take good care.”

For more poem videos from the “Frazzle” series

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

Scar Resolution?

Last fall, I read my poem, “Life Review of External Scars” at an open mic at the Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village, NJ. I prefaced it by saying that this poem was in some ways darkly funny, though the list of scars is long and might seem dreadful. Over the years, I have developed a very well-honed dark sense of humor, sometimes laughing at times that might seem inappropriate, a funeral for example. It’s just my way of coping with what sometimes seems to be an ongoing onslaught of hard times. It is of course true that many scars are internal, not visible to the eye. Scars can also be in a culture as well as a person. “Should We” was written a few days after my bilateral lumpectomies, when I was very specifically dealing with raw, new scars on a sensitive area (emotionally and physically). I often read it now as a plea for peace. “Now As I Am” addresses the idea of being at home in the body, or the longing to feel that way, a topic I return to over and over.


Should We

be known
by our scars
or by how far
we’ve come since
that wounding?

Could we
look at
where we are,
where we’ve been
and what’s been done?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996


Now As I Am

I opened the front door
to the home I once had
and began to unwrite
the unwritten rules.

Unvoiced expectations
so heavy a load
my shoulders were bowed.
Internalized judgment
passed down generations.
Rules of behavior
kept me glued to this spot
in fear of mistakes or imperfection,
shame, guilt or embarrassment.

And even one step forward
was too much to take
under such a burden.
Time to lay that burden down.
Thank you for any gifts
and ask forgiveness.

Forgiveness for the lack of trust,
forgiveness for forgetfulness,
forgiveness for any harsh words
or unkind thoughts or anything
less than generous.

When I look into clear blue eyes
in a mirror and see the pain there
and the laughter, the willingness,

I am encouraged,
I am nourished.

And I open the door
to a home I once had
and open the windows
to let in the light,

disperse the shadows,
freshen the air,
so that now, as I am,
I can come
back in and live there.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008


Life Review of External Scars

remembered or deduced, roughly in order

The belly button it could be argued,
though the cut part fell off.

The white slash so near the right eye where
grandma’s golden retriever got me at three.

Jumping in bed, hit Mom and Dad’s dresser corner
with my chin. No staples, but butterflies to minimize scarring.

Hard swing, playground first grade, gashed skull, first stitches.
Dr. Griffin, kind man, talked me through it.

The visible, but not noticeable, line across
the fleshy lower third of my left index finger,

cut when I tried to get at a box of brown sugar
with our largest sharp knife and the hard block

did not yield, the blade slicing through the box
and into me down to the bone. Parents out,

leaving us to baby-sit: I was second oldest.
Terrified. Cold compresses to stop the bleeding.

No stitches, butterflies when Mom got home or next morning.
Four deep Staph. infections: left thumb in eighth grade;

right side of nose bridge, left temple and cheek,
in the middle of high school when most self-conscious.

Inch mystery scar outside of right thigh.
Tonsils removed at nineteen.

Small dimple scar on tailbone from pilonidal cyst
the size of a small orange, painful to sit on, then burst open.

Two episiotomies, network of stretch marks
from carrying and delivering watermelon babies.

Thirty six? was it? “voluntary” stitches to remove
suspicious, questionable large moles…that proved of no consequence.

Two and three-inch fine lines from breast cancers removed,
now replaced by two eight-inch thin seams fading to white,

overlying scar tissue where breasts once were.
Three umbilical incisions repairing hernias plus

two half inch slits at bikini line, removing tubes and ovaries.
All the mosquito bites, bee stings, falls, sprains,

strains, scrapes, burns and bruises healed to invisible.
Each one a miracle.

No physical trace of measles, chicken pox, flu,
small pox vaccines, Tb tests, hard bumps,

swollen lips, teenaged breakouts,
however transiently embarrassing.

No discoloration or inflammation from adult poison ivy,
no convincing demonstration of the initial devastation.

All this not to whine, the pitiful victim,
but to take a moment to realize how far I’ve come…

still standing.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

“Should We” is from As Easy as Breathing (p.76) and is also read on the CD, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal.