Category Archives: writing

14–“Scene: The Future” by Margaret Dubay Mikus

Some background:
In 2007 I was diagnosed with my third breast cancer tumor following a routine mammogram. Further testing showed I carry a BRCA 2 mutation, one of the genes which can lead to an increased risk of cancer. (My molecular genetics science-self found this to be a very interesting gene–as long as I didn’t think of it as affecting me.) I was stunned. This was 11 years after my previous cancer diagnosis and I thought I was done with all that.

It was summer. I sat on my garden swing in the back of the yard, to let the fear subside. I listened to my inner guidance and let the answer come to me…what to do? After gathering information and consulting with many people: doctors, family, dear friends, I decided to have the bilateral (double) mastectomy. Since I had so much radiation with the previous treatment, the tissue was very scarred and I did not to do reconstruction, a very personal choice. This is the kind of decision that jars you not just at the time, but later, when grief for what is lost can surface unexpectedly.

Writing continued to be essential to me during that time. Although not many of those poems have been published, my chapbook, New Year’s Eve Surgery, has a few poems I collected to give to my medical team. I needed them to know something about me—after all, they would be doing a very personal surgery and had not even met me beforehand. My sister had the idea for the entire medical team to sign my copy of the chapbook and they wrote me amazing healing notes of support. My poems changed the conversations from very medical and impersonal to very human and healing.

What insights came to you through medical experiences?

In Poem 14, “Scene: The Future,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine, I am thinking ahead to a future when cancer treatment may have changed a lot. Listen here:

Listen to more video poems from “Frazzle”

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

13–“The Crack Between” by Margaret Dubay Mikus

With our complex lives, sometimes there is only a tiny space to write, when inspiration insists. Here is a poem that came through that space one day. Poem 13, “The Crack Between,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing:

When I first started writing my poetic journal 21 years ago, I had spiral notebooks stashed everywhere, so whenever a poem came to me I could write it down. I would even jump back out of bed at night…multiple times. I was intoxicated by the creative impulse. I knew if I waited, those specific compelling words would vanish and that poem would be gone.

After a point I realized I had to have some balance. I needed sleep, I had to pay attention driving, I had other responsibilities to myself and to family and friends. And so I made a decision to limit writing time (with a few exceptions). I don’t sit at my desk and spend a designated amount of hours each day. I write poems wherever I am when words come to me that intrigue, that seem to be leading to somewhere interesting. (Unlike ordinary thoughts, the opening lines of a poem seem “highlighted” in some way.) I still have notebooks in several places, but fewer. I rarely jump up from bed at night, though a poem may come out of a dream upon waking.

I consider these poems a divine gift, a sacred trust. And if I write something for someone, I try my best to get it to them. I hear the words and that is how I write them on the page, so that you can “hear” them too.

How do you find balance in your life between the inner and outer demands?

Listen to more video poems from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine

US Review of Books: Recommends Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine

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

Exciting news to share with you! My book, “Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine,” is Recommended by US Review of Books! Yay! I am most grateful. Here is the review:

Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Ph.D., Three Heart Press, reviewed by Donna Ford

“…take this lifeboat with me through some rough seas and calm, into the streaming light on the far shore. Let me tell you a story…”

Whether in the midst of a stormy period of life or having recently passed through such a time, you will instantly relate to what the author means by being thrown into the Frazzle Machine. Beating multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and other health issues, Mikus remains so much more than a survivor. Taking inspiration from her full life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, she demonstrates how to overcome.

This collection of poignant poems resonates with the input of two halves of one skillful poet. The research biologist can be recognized by her wielding of medical knowledge and naming body parts unmentionable in polite company. The living woman pours out her experiences on behalf of readers who need support to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and move into future healing. Mikus’ sensitive words warm the reader similar to the gentle touch of a friend on the sufferer’s shoulder. Balancing the high drama inherent in hospital stays and visits is a series of poems titled “Evening Walks.” Vivid colors of the sky, trees, and glowing paths fade into evening to bring elements of peaceful closure to the often tiresome days of life.

Mikus has previously proven her skill as a poet of note by winning an Eric Hoffer award for As Easy As Breathing. Her lines of poetry are short and rhythmic, almost like a heartbeat. Punctuation is fluid to maintain the steady flow of thoughts and experiences. Repetition of key phrases is a technique used for emphasis, for example, “be loving… be joyful… be a good example.” The book is to be commended for its extensive Table of Contents and a Time Line covering events in the poet’s life between 2009 and 2014. These two organizational strategies help tie a specific poem to an actual life event.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review
© 2016 All Rights Reserved

“Floating on Sitar Notes and Drum Beats” from “Frazzle”

I usually carry a small notebook and a pen. (I write my poems in longhand and then put into them the computer.) I try not to write when I’m out with other people. It seems rude to ignore them and pay attention to my inner voices, however compelling. Sometimes the call to write is so strong I give in to it (with apologies). This poem was one of those times.

Stephen and I were out for Valentine’s Day dinner at an Indian restaurant we had often gone to. This time, unexpectedly, there was live music and a special menu. The sitar and drums and the ambiance, both familiar and altered, insisted I catch that…something…

And so I wrote during dinner putting down a line or two as we ate, still paying attention to my husband. As I observed the scene with great awareness, the smells of curry and other herbs, the vivid colors, listening intently to the music as it swirled around me, letting it shape the lines. All of it woven into what was happening in my life, my healing practice.

Consider closing your eyes and allow the scene to play out in your imagination as you listen. What does this evoke in you? Do you have any music that sweeps you away to somewhere else?

Here is your poem for today, from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

Listen to more poems from “Frazzle”

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

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

I Am Willing: An Aid to Writing for Personal Revelation

I Am Willing: An Aid to Writing for Personal Revelation

I Am Willing: An Aid to Writing for Personal Revelation

Big news! I will just blurt it out. I just released my latest project: a guided journal based on my poem. “I Am Willing” (from my book, As Easy as Breathing)! This has been in the works for years and I will post more of the stories later. For now, a huge thank you to Anne Schneider (from the International Women’s Writing Guild) who contacted me in April to ask about using the poem in a women’s writing group. Her request got me moving…again.

Here is the brand new link to I Am Willing: An Aid to Writing for Personal Revelation

I used my poems as writing prompts when I taught my Expanding Our Possibilities ™ workshop series. To continue supporting writing for healing and personal growth, I created this lovely guided journal based on my poem, “I Am Willing.” The poem has been shared by blogs all over the world. This volume is for you to write, expressing and exploring your dreams and challenges, your hopes and fears. Ideal to use on your own or in a group setting, it also makes a thoughtful gift for someone in the midst of life changes.

The complete poem, from my book, As Easy as Breathing, is included at the start with a brief introduction. A stanza of the poem tops each writing page with ample space for your reflections and revelations. Use this guide however seems right to you. You may begin with the first verse and sequentially work through the poem, or you might open to any line that speaks to you right then. In preparation you can sit quietly, deeply breathing for a few minutes, or read the lines aloud. To get your pen moving you could copy the lines at the top of the page or dive directly into your own writing. Be patient. Trust. Be kind to yourself. Poetry or prose, let the words flow, no concerns about spelling or punctuation. Right now this is for you. Later you can decide if you want to share any of these insights. There is no right way, only what you choose, what feels right in the moment. Write, draw, color, decorate with stickers if you like. Make this books your own. Now begin…

6in by 9in, 70 pages, lined for writing. Check out the cool back cover on Amazon.

This poem has traveled all over the world. More stories to come. Please share.

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

From As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation—Poems, Letters, and Inner Listening