Through You

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of postings of encouragement to other writers on Instagram. I think one of the reasons is because part of me is really nervous about receiving my editor’s notes on my latest manuscript. I go from “Why isn’t she finished? Where is her email?!” to “Oh, good, I don’t have her comments yet and I don’t have to begin the tedious process of editing.”

I know that once I begin the process, I will be in another place in time. I will forget where I put things (more often), forget the wet towels in the dryer, not return phone calls, postpone going full-mask to the grocery store, etc.

But I will press on, do what needs to be done, then beg forgiveness to those I have ignored.

Step Away from the Ledge

IMG_3773

What are you doing way up there?

Are you trying to branch out? Expand your horizons? Or deaden them?

How many ladders do you need? Are two not enough?

Really, you don’t need ladders.

Get down off that ledge. It won’t solve anything and, besides, it makes me nervous.

Perhaps you could climb the shadows instead. Climb them until their dark is gone. Climb them until all you see are those useless ladders. The ones you don’t need in order to arrive safely at the place you want to be.

Don’t be afraid. The ground will support you.

And it’s amazing how high you can jump if you try.

 

photo by C. Dennis-Willingham

via Branch

Filling the Sinkhole Together

There has to be a loophole

for us who still believe

in justice, freedom and our rights

amidst dishonesty.

 

This gap won’t last much longer

for together we’ll encroach

to fill the sinkhole with the hearts

we’ll never let them poach.

 

Hands united, standing tall

we’ll show a greater strength

than those who are unwilling

to detect our common link.

 

Photo one credit

Photo two credit

via Loophole

The Way of Things

I remember this, my last conversation with Papa.

He, trying to alleviate our pain.

But I heard, through his bravado

the saddened beat of my heart

submerged in deep water

no knowledge of how to stay afloat

grief no words could express

He said,

“Remember the sandhill crane?”

How could I forget?

Long necks

the sound of their rattle calls  

broad wings flying over

ancestral farmland

He said,

“She’s like the hourglass that drips the sand of time

replenishes herself by picking leftovers from the field

She keeps moving forward.

She never stops.

She is you

and she is me.

Our fields, too deep to forget

Too vast to go away.

I will never truly leave you” 

“Is this the way of things, Papa?”

 “Ja, mein liebes.” 

“It is,” he smiled.

sandhill-cranes-dancing-jon-janosik

 

Prose adapted from my novel, “Naked, She Lies

Photo credit

Express

Quelling Dispair

Unknown

 

 

Life by Charlotte Bronte

LIFE, believe, is not a dream

So dark as sages say;

Oft a little morning rain

Foretells a pleasant day.

Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,

But these are transient all;

If the shower will make the roses bloom,

O why lament its fall ?

Rapidly, merrily,

Life’s sunny hours flit by,

Gratefully, cheerily,

Enjoy them as they fly !

What though Death at times steps in

And calls our Best away ?

What though sorrow seems to win,

O’er hope, a heavy sway ?

Yet hope again elastic springs,

Unconquered, though she fell;

Still buoyant are her golden wings,

Still strong to bear us well.

Manfully, fearlessly,

The day of trial bear,

For gloriously, victoriously,

Can courage quell despair !

 

 

Art

Daily word prompt: Elastic

What does it mean to educate?

It means having a sister like mine. Words cannot express how proud I am of her. Pat has forever changed the lives of so many people including the ones who struggled and fought to be the first in their families to receive a higher education. Well done, “Dr. Witherspoon.” Well done.

Love always,

Your baby sister

P.S. Thank you for reading to me when I was little.

 

reference for following article:

Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon Retires

Last Updated on August 30, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Originally published August 30, 2017

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

 

When Javier Aguilar-Garcia met Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., nearly four years ago, he was wandering the halls of the Liberal Arts Building searching for a University 1301 class.

UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., (right) retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio (left) hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo by UTEP News Staff

(UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., right, retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio, left, hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications.)

As a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso, Aguilar-Garcia was still finding his way around campus. At the time, the first-generation college student had no clue that Witherspoon, the passerby he stopped to ask for help, was the dean of the UTEP College of Liberal Arts (COLA). She smiled warmly and directed him down the hall.

Their paths would cross again a couple of years later when Aguilar-Garcia served as a COLA ambassador under Witherspoon. For two years, Aguilar assisted the dean at events, such as the college’s Pre-Commencement Awards and Hooding Ceremony.

While the Juárez native no longer needed directions to class, he began looking to Witherspoon for guidance about his future.

“What I learned from Dr. Witherspoon would take hours for me to say,” said Aguilar-Garcia, a multimedia journalism major who expects to graduate in December 2017. “I learned the value of hard work, to always be true to myself, and to not be afraid to think outside the box. She knows there is something special in each of us.”

Aguilar-Garcia was among the many students Witherspoon mentored over the past 17 years at UTEP. She retired from the University in August 2017 after a 36-year career in higher education.

“I came to UTEP for the students,” said Witherspoon, who led COLA since 2011. “I was impressed by these students who will do so much to get an education, and who understand so well that an education transforms not only an individual but a family.”

Witherspoon joined UTEP in the fall of 2000 as chair of the Department of Communication.

During the Dean’s Legacy Lecture this spring, Witherspoon recalled that shortly before she started her new job, her oldest son, Terry, told her that the people at UTEP really wanted her to come to the University, and she better not let them down.

Looking back, she said, “I hope I didn’t.”

At UTEP, Witherspoon hit the ground running. In 2002, she established the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, which provides academic enrichment for communication majors, communication programs to high school students, and continuing education and training for media and communication professionals.

The center’s inaugural event, “An Evening with Sam Donaldson,” in 2003 attracted top journalists, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, George Will and Ted Koppel, White House press secretaries and major news stations. The event raised more than $100,000 for the center’s endowment.

“That was a wonderful evening to remember and to honor Sam Donaldson, but it was also wonderful to see (these journalists) come out and hear about UTEP,” Witherspoon recalled.

In August 2008, Witherspoon was named dean of the University’s Graduate School. She held that position until 2010, when she became acting dean of COLA, UTEP’s largest and most varied college with nearly 7,000 students. A year later, she was appointed the college’s dean.

“There are lots of programs, lots of departments, lots of students, not enough faculty, and not enough staff,” Witherspoon said. “That is the beauty of the College of Liberal Arts; there is so much diversity here with the arts, the humanities and the social sciences.”

UTEP Senior Executive Vice President Howard Daudistel, Ph.D., was the college’s dean before Witherspoon. He said that under Witherspoon’s “extraordinary leadership,” the college strengthened its many student success initiatives and strived to continuously improve all of its academic programs.

“Dr. Witherspoon was a vigorous advocate for the many diverse departments and programs in the college and worked hard to recruit the highest quality faculty to support these programs,” Daudistel said. “Always attentive to student needs, Dr. Witherspoon was deeply committed to UTEP’s access and excellence mission while also supporting a diverse faculty of outstanding teachers, extraordinary scholars, researchers and artists.”

During her tenure, Witherspoon worked with faculty to develop forward-thinking programs that would foster student achievement. Among them was the Student Success Initiative in 2014, which provides tutoring and programs that support student academic development, and the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAHP) in 2012, which offers academic enrichment opportunities to top undergraduate liberal arts students.

Witherspoon said the LAHP has exceeded her expectations.

“Many of our LAHP students go on to graduate school or law school and have wonderful internships in other parts of the country,” she said. “They’re just outstanding.”

Witherspoon credits much of her success to the college’s outstanding faculty and dedicated staff who she said made her look good, even on those days when she did not deserve it.

“It almost never felt like work,” she said with a laugh. Despite her many accomplishments, Witherspoon is most proud of watching students succeed. Her favorite time of year was celebrating the achievements of liberal arts students at UTEP’s spring and winter Commencement ceremonies. From the stage in the Don Haskins Center, Witherspoon would watch as wave after wave of liberal arts graduates walked into the arena, ready to make their mark on the world.

In retirement, Witherspoon plans to spend time with family and stay involved with the University. She may help raise funds for COLA’s 50th Anniversary fund or teach an online undergraduate course in communication and organizational leadership.

Other projects include writing a book on the effect of culture on leadership, focusing on Mexican-American and Latino influences.

“I feel very proud and very gratified of having been a part of this campus during the last 17 years,” Witherspoon said. “The last 17 years has been a time of tremendous change and great growth, not only in numbers but in stature.”

Daily prompt: Educate

Mornin’ After the Beatin’

 

Ike and Cono.jpg

Ike on left, grown Cono on right. (my great grandfather and my dad)

After Cono’s dad beats the tar out him the night before, Cono’s grandpa Ike (who witnessed the beating) shows up the next morning with an extra horse and a bit of wisdom. (Cono is ten at this point) No Hill for a Stepper– based on a true story.

 

  We keep riding until we get close to the stock pond. Ike mashes on one side of his nose and snorts out snot from the other.

            “Damn,” Ike says. “Those dandelion feathers Float up my nose ev’ry time this year. He nods his head toward the water. “That pond o’re yonder?” 

            “Yeah.”

            “That there’s yer Great Grandpa Dennis’ favorite spot. Used ta ride up on him sometimes, saw him sittin’ there starin’ at the water like he was waitin’ for it ta talk to him.”

            “Did it?” I ask.

            “Prob’ly. Guess that’s why he kept goin’ back to it.”

            “Maybe I should sit there sometime.”

            “Wouldn’t do no harm. A little piece’n quiet kin go a long way for a man.”

             I liked that he said that; like he can see the man in me.

            “Kin I ask ye somethin,’ Ike?”

            “Uh huh.”

            “That time P.V. Hail beat the tar outta ye on Main Street? Did ye wanna kill ‘em?”

            “P.V.? Nah. He was jes’t doin’ his job’s all.”

            “But it wadn’t right. He shouldn’t ‘a done that.”

            “Nah, wadn’t right. But some folks feel a little too big fer their own britches.”

            Ike pauses and says, “Besides, it shor’ wouldn’t ‘a been right fer me to kill him. That’s a whole nuther thing. He’s jes’t a piss ant’s all. Kinda like this here horse I’m ridin’.” He reaches down and gives P.A. a couple of pats on his neck.

            “Did ye feel sorry fer yerself?”

            “Fer what?”

            “That you’d been done wrong.”

            “Why a’course not. That’s called pity. Hell, pityin’ yerself don’t do no good. Nobody ever got anywhere by pityin’ themselves.”

            “That a fact?”

            “Which part?”

            “The part that ye really didn’t wanna kill him.”

            “Cono, if I tell ye a rooster wears a pistol…”

            “Jes’t look under its wing,” we finish together.

            “That’s right,” he says.

            “Yer a straight shooter, ain’t ye Ike?”

            “Only way to be.”

           I stare up in the cool and clear Texas sky and picture that rooster standing up on our fence post, his wing back like he’s ready to draw. “Cock-a-doodle doo, you sons ‘a bitches. Now get up!” Then I laugh.

            “What so funny?” says Ike.

            I tell him about the picture I’d put in my head and he says, “He’s prob’ly one’a P.V.s deputies.” And when he lets out his “hee hee hee” laugh, I laugh even harder.

            “Ike,” I say. “I believe what ye say, that a rooster’s under yer wing, when ye tell me he does.” Not only that, I’m thinking that rooster’s got a six-shooter under there ready to unload.

            “Let me tell ye a little somethin’ and I want ya ta listen up.” He pauses, clicking the left side of his cheek like he’s finding the right words and I wait. I can wait all day if need be just to hear what Ike has to say. “When it comes right down to it, yer your own best friend. Most the time, ye can’t trust anybody but yer own self.”

            I think I’ve done figured that out on my own. But I say what I mean. “I trust you though.”

            “Uh huh, but trustin’ yer own self’s even better.”

 

 

I’m Noi-vus!

 

th-4

My third novel is finished. I love Emma June, Scooter, moonshine-maker Miss Helen. I love Emma June’s determination to find her mama and bring her back home. I love the heart-warming elements, the dialogue…

So why am I NOI-VUS?

Tomorrow I will send The Moonshine Thicket off to a literary agency, the owner  I met and spoke with several years ago.

This past October, I “attended” a webinar where she and one of her agents were the hosts. The perk of the webinar was being able to submit your query, synopsis, or first ten pages (a total of 10 pages).

The agent I was assigned to was more than encouraging in her review. She gave me hope.

Still, I’m pondering. Am I ready?

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