getting home


It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

We learn, grow and become compassionate and generous as much through exile as homecoming, as much through loss as gain, as much through giving things away as in receiving what we believe to be our due.  – David Whyte

As we continue to explore closeness of the personal and political, we discussed the efforts to find home that is safe and loving to us. I focus this week’s post on our group’s writing. Below, you will read four different visions of home – those made, those lost, and those held in memory as each of us struggle to make a home in ourselves or return to the homes we love.


My mom once asked me, “Have you ever felt homesick even when you’re in your own home?” –Yes. “Home” is not where you live. It is not four walls that you pay taxes on and costs you a certain number of zeros. “Home” is that unique touch you add to your space no matter where yo go. “Home” is that familiar scent that clears your mind, that makes your eyes slide shut–the scent you don’t want to exhale because you might lose it. “Home” is that color the crayon experts don’t put in the box because there’s no word to describe it. It’s the place you see in your mind when you reminisce about the happy times in your childhood. Spring cleaning at mom’s; after dinner cookies with Grandma, cooking in the kitchen; Papa’s stale cigarette smoke from a long night up with the bills; the after-school snack with the kids as you listen – again – to how math sucks and recess is too short.




Home, something remembers long ago, memories in time where mother tucked her babes into their beds, softly kiss their little heads. Seeming every night there innocence shines the brightest while they’re at their quietest. Home feels like memories so bold so warm and loving, the most true love and peace she has known. Home always longing for even though she feels like her reaching is never ending.
Home has become a vision now instead of reality. So sad to see a mother so strong and loving feel clipped of happiness. So little could ever replace their sweet admiring faces, forever frozen in memory’s traces. Home, something remembered long ago, darkness tries to fold her in and take control trying to win. She finds herself some days wanting the end. No more tears of lost time. No more loneliness that embarasses. No desperation for love. What is home when there is no home to go to. What is home when there’s no love to fill it. What is home when there’s too many reasons not to return.

What is home, she dreams and dreams, but wakes up in the same concrete walls, slamming doors, cold, lonely, floors. What is home is memories and dreams. Home is long ago before dreaming had to be her only comforting reality.

So off to her dream, mother slips eyes now closed. There her son’s asleep in their beds. She leans down and kisses their heads. She can almost smell that smell only mother/sons share. Always in every dream, she yearns to never wake up, just to finally be home again.



I know what a home should be, what it could become. I would have to say that the picturesque, white picket fence, perfect pretty little yard just never existed in my world. It never will. The dark child never gets their dream. There was no fence that kept the bad guys out, instead there were bars that kept me in. No perfect family, just a tattered heart, and a beat up soul. No little yard to play…just one room. The room consumed anything good and spit it out the window. No home cooked meals to eat. Just a needle and spoon that fed my hunger. Survival became little baggies and pills that rocked me to sleep at night. There was no love lost and I never found love; the world shook with vengeance and I didn’t even care. No one noticed that I slipped away, no one noticed I was gone. I can’t say I blamed them. Time ticked and days passed. How many, I couldn’t say. My home is darkness. I prefer it here. I like the company I keep. They never say much and they haven’t left me…They tell me they won’t. If you toss me out, they’ll follow me down. That’s more than I can say for anything else. Home is 100 cc’s of magic. It’s a disappearing act, you see. The act of a century. Home is where you will never find me.



If they crave you
that doesn’t mean they love you.
Trust me, it’s lust.
They just want to get in bed with you.
Keep your walls up.
Don’t let that wall built up by betrayal, decayed like ashes.
Don’t me him in.
Be strong, give them what they want.
Not the emotional piece.
Break their hearts.
Walk all over them in high-heeled boots
until they walk away,
broken and betrayed.
You sure showed them how the game is played.
That ain’t me.
Been there, done that.
It brings nothing but pain and regret.
Not all men are responsible
for the one who betrayed you and broke your hearts.
Brokenness turns you bitter, even cold as stone!
Odds are there are good people in this world
waiting to meet you
so like a never-ending carousel,
I’ll forgive you and forget the past
so I can be happy and make it last.


finding home

“Whatever we live through becomes real to us as we turn raw experience into the story of what’s happening.”  Christina Baldwin,  The Power of Personal Writing

By loving and caring for our natural seasons we protect our lives from being dragged into someone else’s rhythm, someone else’s dance, someone else’s hunger.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

Last week we completed our summer study of ‘Sealskin, Soulskin,’ the retelling of the selkie myth by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her probing and revelatory Women Who Run with the Wolves. The story reminds women of the need to return to the wildish nature from time to time as part of the cycle of health and well-being. Themes of home, seasons, solitude,  nurture and body memory emerged in the week’s writing from the reading, epigraphs, and discussion.

We completed the study by coloring images from Deborah Koff-Chapin’s wonderful new Soul Touch Coloring Journals. In many cases the drawings linked thematically to the writings. 

Below, a few excerpts and accompanying artwork as a way of sharing our writing experience at summer’s end:

I get heated within my own body, my own skin. It gets me boiling deep inside. It feels as though my body is on fire, that I’m burning from the inside out. As we turn a raw experience into the story of what’s happening, my entire body begins to tremble and shake. Shaking so fast it becomes uncontrollable to stop…  – AS

We as people start out alone, all one. We can choose to stay that way – intentional solitude. Creating conversation between our mind and soul. To me it comes natural, for I have accomplished this for so long. Sometimes I live in my head, going about the life I’m living. Many years of practice helped me through trauma; what was in my head never came to light. Days now when my mind and soul are conversing, I hear God speaking to my soul. I feel Him in my heart. I ask what I need, He listens and I hear. I love this natural, intentional solitude. – CMP

Reading these poems and dreaming of you … the warmth your love brings me. If only I could embrace the joy that you bring me and fill my soul to the brim somehow. Like a lost child without direction, I often felt – until we met and our worlds collided. Whenever I feel the weight of all the world’s pressure drowning me … sinking deeper and deeper into this sea of emotions, I try to swim. But it’s no use. Your love is the only thing that can save me …  – MEG

where home is

home is where the heart is

There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home. – Rosalynn Carter

The cause of homelessness is lack of housing.  – Jonathan Kozol

It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home. – Rumi



Between everyone in our writing circle, there has probably been hundreds of houses, apartments, sections of street, hotel rooms, and other dwellings. There have been places we’ve slept, ate, read books, cooked meals, and fed children. There are places we’ve lived for years or for days or for a couple hours. But if you ask anyone of us where our home is, we’ll probably name one, maybe to addresses.

These places are what we’ve been examining – what makes a home and what grounds us by having one. We can feel it in our bones, the placement of this home, and the tether that ties us to it  is a string continuously played on the bodies and spirits of the writers. The strain of being away is apparent. It is a song that almost never stops, except maybe when we are writing.

Continue reading

heading home

a plank path toward home

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.Maya Angelou

Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.Tad Williams



I grew up in a small city in New Hampshire. While heading home does not take long, I was recently describing to a friend how different I feel just crossing the border into my home state. It’s as though the home I know is looking out for me, that 89 is a little safer, a little less winding, and that if I needed help, I would be able to find it. It is from that sense of safety that I operate. I can just imagine my home and I’m more ready to take on the day.

For many of our writers, they have or have had a home they feel the same way about, a place where there are people and/or animals they care about and that care about them. These homes are where their children live or where they do their best cooking, where they keep their art supplies or their garden. And some of our writers don’t have a home to go to when their sentence is up which becomes one of their greatest challenges upon release. Continue reading

bitter twisted lies

Bitter & Twisted (album)

This piece about lies is hard to read. Consider yourself forewarned.

It is also – most unfortunately –  not atypical of the kind of heart wrenching history that propels many women into prison. While the specifics shift in kaleidoscopic variation, the fundamental pieces can sound searingly similar: absence of basic safety, protection and nurture in early years; lifestyles that lead to early independence without healthy models or boundaries; the list goes on.

What is hopeful is how, in the course of writing and sharing their words, these women come to understand and accept how the past played out. They develop determination for living differently going forward. This is the true kernel of why we do this work of writing inside with Vermont’s incarcerated women.

Lies, Lies and More Lies

With your bitter, twisted lies
I stay and await a darkness that’s unknown.
We first met on a bright lit midway
and you told me you’d take care of me.
That was your first lie.
You brought me to a traphouse filled
with every addict ever known.

Your second lie was you loved me,
couldn’t live without me.
You loved me so much you wanted
to pass that love among all your friends. Continue reading