Category Archives: success

39–“How to Not Feel a Failure” from “Frazzle”

On Rt. 60, Heading into the Sunset, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2016

“…How to remember grace and be grateful?
How to be patient and trust…

From Poem 39, “How to Not Feel a Failure,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen to poem here:

You’ve probably had days (or longer) when you were most aware of not succeeding at what you most desired, had focused all your energy on. For me, on this particular day writing this poem, it was all the healing that had not happened, all the “failures.” I was not thinking about all the problems I no longer had, the MS being gone, cancer not a factor, being able to walk easily…and on and on. All problems that at one time were my primary longing. No, I was most aware of all the healing working its way into my attention, what was yet to resolve. And now, from this vantage point, 7 years later, most big problems of that time are gone. It is good to remember…

For more poem videos from “Frazzle”

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

Mirroring Back to You

In response to my long-overdue Full Blooming News e-newsletter this week, I heard back from some people. Lovely connection!

My friend Charlotte from Georgia, commented that I even wrote my response to her poetically. We were talking about getting frustrated and discouraged sometimes, feeling like giving up. And I told her a realization that had been helpful to me lately, to get out of the impossible traps we set for ourselves. (What does it mean to be successful, anyway?) She took a paragraph of mine, added line breaks and color, and the result is below, which I like it a lot. Thank you!

Charlotte is a multi-talented woman who is a pianist, composer, gardener, photographer, memoirist and makes lovely videos using all these elements. Her latest is here. She inspires me!

What have your friends mirrored back to you lately?


This is what I have come to understand:
my job, should I choose to accept it,
is to deliver the poems.

To get them out in the world
to as many as can be helped.
It is about redefining success
as I had been longing for.

Success is doing my job:
delivering the poems—
to an individual,
to a group,
as best I can.
And that is all.

To do that means
being as healthy
and balanced
and grounded as I can—
every day.

It means listening inside
and paying attention
before I “fall off the cliff.”

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2014

If you did not get your copy of the April Full Blooming News, with all kinds of new stuff from the past 6 months, check your spam folder or sign up here. (For those with Gmail, check other folders like “promotion” or “updates” that it might be filed in.) I  do not share email addresses with anyone for any reason. Happy Spring!

Belated Happy Easter!

More Poems Inspired by Virtual Choir 3 “Water Night”

The Rest of the Story:
My January post was about trying to get over laryngitis in time to sing in Virtual Choir 3. Inspired by the process and Eric Whitacre’s glorious music I wrote the poem, Creation of Water Night. It turned out that this was just the first poem that would insist on being written. All part of what became my VC3 almost-compulsion, culminating in three videos submissions. The first two recordings were seriously flawed (and ultimately deleted). I kept working and hoped I would have enough voice to record a video I felt good about. As days went on, I conserved my voice, speaking little and singing only to get warmed up. Every day I listened to the Alto 4 practice part, worked on the words, read the VC 3 Facebook page, and made sure the tech side was OK at my end.

On Monday before the deadline I was able to take a voice lesson with my teacher, Kip Snyder, which firmed up where to take my breaths. That night I got all ready, makeup on, black top, new blue yeti microphone and computer set up. And then…no voice. Disappointment. One day left. Not procrastination, but close to desperation. I wanted to be OK no matter whether I recorded a video or not, but I really, really wanted this!

And on the last day, Tuesday, in the afternoon, just before the site shut down from the deluge of new entries, I slipped in and recorded. I watched the playback and felt good about it. Not my best sound ever, but no big mistakes, good energy and warm, full heart.

Thank you Eric Whitacre and all the VC 3 people for incredible inspiration. Thank you! I read the VC Facebook page every day, soaking up all the unfailing encouragement and tech help given to others. Thank you! I was amazed and moved by the variety and poignancy of all the stories. Thank you for sharing! I felt (and feel) powerfully connected to this group (In this composite photo I am the third one down and fourth one over from the top left side.)  Had a hard time coming down to earth for days after. Here are the poems that tell the story. (With yesterday, In the Dream, the sixth and likely last poem in the series.)


Becoming Virtual Choir 3

Drawn to the music
uncontrollable pull
notes aligned as iron filings
to a magnetic pole

a force of nature
to be reckoned with.
Why these notes at this time
calling to singers of the earth-based web

to unite in dissonant harmony
to sweep and swoop and soar on expelled breath
to help and heal and mold and meld
disparate stories and trials and successes

into one? Why not?
The woman who had heart surgery
the day after singing her submission,
a short reprieve, music replacing fear for her.

The young man from the Philippines
joining for the first time, struggling with technology.
Those with colds and tests and life ongoing,
husbands and kids and dogs supporting.

The woman who gave birth
soon after singing her part.
Those confident few doing what they do
and the rest of us in need of nurturing confidence.

The encouragers and tech fixers: David and Jack,
Sarah and Tony, with unfailing encouragement
and good advice, someone ever-present, determination
and persistence in support of whoever steps up to the plate.

And when the designated time is over,
to be a part of something larger,
if that is not spiritual,
what is?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012


The Signature

To EW with gratitude

The beauty of dissonance,
in itself…and resolving,
the strength of moving to
and off of and onward,

continuing the run, each note
clear and strong, not shy away from
close connection,
let all notes be possible together

in the greater scheme of things.
Regardless of what was taught
about what was right or right rules once
in the world as it existed then.

To let become and bloom
from sheer joy of breath and sound
as if the world is being
created all over again…

as indeed it is…
from pure vibration.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012

By this point I was getting desperate and that tightened my throat which did not help my voice to loft and soar.  I remembered why I sing: to be filled with joy. And my husband, Stephen, came to the rescue giving me this image from when he had coached young kids in softball. When a kid tried too hard to hit the ball and kept missing, Stephen made it easy saying, “See the ball, hit the ball,” taking the overactive brain out of the equation. As funny as it might seem, this was the perfect antidote to nerves as I made my last attempt at recording. And it worked!


See the Ball, Hit the Ball

(Remembering Singing is Joyful)

Weight of expectation
and longing full on desire
too much for fragile voice,
neck and shoulders to bear.

To be soft and lyrical
superhuman arc of breath,
to sing with a smile inside,
sound blooming in its time.

What could be ideally,
illusive now but possible
maybe just once, not perfect
but joyful… and that is enough

for temporary euphoria, transient bliss,
deep satisfaction of success.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012


Muriel Rukeyser

Translated Octavio Paz

The translator almost
byline at the bottom,
who opened a door
between one language and another,
facilitated what would come after:
the music, the singing, the connection,
dissonance melting into unity or harmony,
the web-strands covering the map,
the euphoria, the sweat, the effort,
the heart moving to tears
of joy it is said,
maybe also loss and pain.
So many choosing to join
something greater than any one.
Begun with a choice of one woman,
or begun with the poet calling and then her choice
who brought to the task
all she had been and been longing,
who took a certain risk
for reasons unknown.
How the chance was offered
with unknown compensation,
no separation between survival and poetry.
And though she is dead,
words are not and the circle
led me back to them.
When she was old did she
remember what she had done,
aware in the waning hours then
what would come?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012

Watch for the April 2 launch of Virtual Choir 3 in Water Night!

Making Big Changes

Some time ago I realized I needed to make changes in my home to support my own healing and health (and that of my family). This is a nice house, but things had gotten worn and shabby and repairs were needed. Everywhere I looked something called for attention. It was like a balloon with a thousand pinholes, leaking out the air. I noticed myself often saying that I slept better away from home. Our 22-year old carpet (and its disintegrated pad) had to go to help my breathing and to eliminate my chronic morning cough.

Years went on and though we made plans, the work did not get done. It was a big project to contemplate, a major remodeling: revitalizing the entire house.

In June, I went to my first women’s writing conference at Skidmore College (International Women’s Writing Guild.) (see June and July posts) I was welcomed and found a small group that fit me well. At lunch one day, one of my new friends said she had removed her old carpet even though they could not replace it right away. It was better to live with plywood floors! I was inspired to get going in my own house.

The time was right—or the planets and stars aligned or something. We easily found the right person to oversee the project–and right in our neighborhood! Elliot was one of those experienced, positive attitude, good energy people who was connected to the other good workers we needed.

Early on, I realized this was a huge opportunity to clear away years of clutter, freeing up space for current living. This was a highly charged emotional process for me. Deep feelings surfaced of perceived past failures in my creative work. Self-forgiveness and inner guidance were essential. Also daily energy balancing. Unlike before, somehow I was not frustrated at having to put aside “my work”. It was clear that raising the energy of the house was the work I needed to be doing. And this would pay off in the work arena too.

Knowing me, you can imagine I wrote a lot these past three months. I will release a new collection once the dust settles. (see previous post) Here is a poem from last night (2 AM). Getting toward the end of it all and looking back.


This Big Thing

If you knew how long
it would take to do
this big thing,
this vision,

you would never begin.

If you knew how much
energy at times,
how little sleep at times,
how many tiny details

would make up the whole,
what worries, what waiting,
what driving, what negotiation,
what re-invention, what chaos,

you would never begin.

You would not know how
the progress of day to day
could feed you,
awaken you, open doors for you,

let in light and space and room to breathe.
If you had not trusted,
if you did not understand clarity,
if you thought you were standing alone

you would never begin.

Of so it seems
about all the other times
big plans stalled,
and so it seems

looking back on the
peaceful revolution miracle of
allowing change to unfold,
even embracing.

From fearful to sure,
or sure enough
to take one step…
and then another, not necessarily big leap.

Not to erase the past,
but creating the future, your future,
from the endless supply
of present moments.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2009

I Am Willing

Sometimes I get discouraged; I work hard and don’t see any progress. What is success, anyway? A few years ago, I did a Google search of my full name (which is unique). I found that big parts of my work-life were online, unbeknownst to me a lot was happening. An article I wrote for The Reiki News on Reiki and breast cancer was at and had also been translated into Spanish. A Massachusetts man I did not know listed me as a poetry mentor. My graduate research paper in the journal, Genetics, was online and had been cited recently, and my book, As Easy as Breathing, was in a library in Oregon, etc.

A woman looking for a Lenten reflection, searched online for “I am willing” and picked up my poem, “I Am Willing” from my website. She resonated with it and put it on her spiritual blog. Amazing! Since that time the poem has traveled all over the world, including blogs in Germany, Italy, UK and USA. Another woman used each of the lines of the poem as writing prompts—an exercise to enhance self-awareness and personal growth. How cool is that! I can write something that helps people I never even meet.

Sometimes changes have been introduced into the poem. One version repeats lines from the beginning right before the closing line. Sometimes the original order of lines is preserved, but with fewer line breaks. Here is the original form of the poem, from my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation—Poems, Letters and Inner Listening (revised in 2005).

I got an email from a woman in Hong Kong whose husband had MS asking if I had any advice for them. She had read about me in The South China Morning Post, a major Hong Kong newspaper! She sent me the article (which is now on It turned out that I was the lead portion of an article on alternative healing! I have no idea how that came about. But it is another sweet reminder that things are happening even if I don’t know about them. And to keep on…

For me, the poem is most potent if read aloud. Try it and let me know.


I Am Willing

I am willing
to change what doesn’t work
for me in my life.

I am willing to listen
with an open heart,
without judging.

I am willing to plant seeds
that take a long time,
if ever, to grow.

I am willing to feel
and let go.

I am willing to make mistakes
and learn from them.

I am willing
to live in the present.

I am willing to forgive
and forget in my heart.

I am willing to love as much
as my endless spirit will allow.

I am willing to be seen
in all my radiance.

I am willing to be fearless.

I am willing to be powerful.

I am willing to be peaceful.

I am willing to stand tall
and walk gracefully.

I am willing to sing with my stunning, full voice.

I am willing to allow.

I am willing to let go.

I am willing to change.

I am willing to see
and be seen.

I am willing to hear
and be heard.

I am willing to feel
and be felt.

I am willing to heal
and be healed.

I am willing to love
and be loved.

I am willing
to be fully human.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996

This poem was also included in Layers of Possibility: Healing Poetry from National Association for Poetry Therapy Members (2007), edited by Margot Van Sluytman.