Cataclysmic Reductions

My response to today’s prompt at ‘Putting My Feet in the Dirt’, which can be found here:

October Writing Prompts

Today’s poem was inspired by this photo from my friend in Colorado, of the smoke from the fire near Estes Park (The Stanley Hotel from the Shining is there). She says the place this photo was taken is about an hour away from her home, and while she is fairly sure they will be safe, it is getting pretty close. Prayers for everyone affected by the fires in Colorado!

Cataclysmic Reduction, haiku

Fire on the mountain

cataclysmic reduction

rampant destruction

© Amy Porterfield 2020

Cowardly Connections

This is my response to the prompt for 10/23 over at October Writing Prompts.

(I’m a day late. Oops. But I really liked this prompt.)

But I wanted to do something different this time, so I tried a new form, Joseph’s Star, which I had never heard of but I found over at OctPoWriMo 2020. I was going to try to meld the prompts together but it was more than I could manage when it was so early and all.

Anyway, here is a Joseph’s Star poem about cowardly connections.


looking for

weaknesses exposed

a cowardly connection

your unabashed cruelty

missed it’s mark this time

you can’t hurt


© Amy Porterfield 2020

Seriously Sexy

(This is my response to today’s prompt at )

I see him,

he doesn’t know I’m watching.

The way he folds the laundry

while he watches TV,

the way he packs lunches,

the way he still hugs and kisses

our growing sons.

His gentleness with babies and kittens,

his tender heart.

His softness is his strength,

masculinity that isn’t toxic,

that bends but never breaks

is seriously sexy.


“Entertaining a notion, like entertaining a baby cousin or entertaining a pack of hyenas, is a dangerous thing to refuse to do. If you refuse to entertain a baby cousin, the baby cousin may get bored and entertain itself by wandering off and falling down a well. If you refuse to entertain a pack of hyenas, they may become restless and entertain themselves by devouring you. But if you refuse to entertain a notion – which is just a fancy way of saying that you refuse to think about a certain idea – you have to be much braver than someone who is merely facing some blood-thirsty animals, or some parents who are upset to find their little darling at the bottom of a well, because nobody knows what an idea will do when it goes off to entertain itself.” – Lemony Snicket

I’m all out of ideas. I haven’t had a really good idea in a long time. Maybe it’s because I refused to entertain so many of them. They just didn’t seem right at the time, or I was afraid, or I decided someone else would be a better candidate, or whatever. There was always a reason. I can’t do that, I have to take care of my babies. I can’t do that, I have to work. I can’t do that, I don’t have any money. I can’t do that, I don’t have time. I can’t do that, I’m not qualified. There was always a reason.

So the ideas stopped coming. They dried up like mother’s milk. If you don’t use it, you lose it. The brilliant ideas that were meant for me moved on to someone who would entertain them, all because I was too busy spinning my cocoon of comfort and stability.

And now I’m 41 and I’m sooooooooo bored. Work, laundry, dinner, ball practice. Wash, rinse, repeat. And the only thoughts I have beyond scheduling and budgeting and caring for my family is “How can I possibly make more money?”

I’m bored and I’m boring. Trying to envision a big, bold life, but it’s just this nebulous idea I can’t grasp. Maybe I need a vision board. But a vision board implies that you have a vision to begin with. Maybe I need to meditate. I can do that while I fold the laundry or wash the dishes. Maybe I need to journal.

Whatever it takes to attract the muses back. I promise to entertain them this time.



via Daily Prompt: Entertain


A seed

in a wayward wind it blew,

it lit on me

took root, and grew.

The soil was rich,

and fertile, too.

And from that seed

a vine did sprout-

a pesky weed,

a creeping doubt-

came winding in

and winding out.

It grew so fast

and so complete,

it bound my hands

and bound my feet-

I can’t advance,

I can’t retreat.

This pestilential plant I’ve found

has got me rooted to the ground,

but I can’t make a single sound.

I just let it take me down.

Doubt is such a tricky thing. Even the spelling is tricky. Pretty sneaky, silent b! Doubt is an uncertainty, a mistrusting. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, I believe it’s important to face life with a healthy skepticism. You know, take everything with a grain of salt. What I have, and what this poem is referencing, is a crippling self-doubt. A doubt in my abilities, a doubt in my intelligence, a doubt in my worthiness. And this feeling persists regardless of any evidence to contrary. No amount of success has been able to erase it.

Apparently this feeling has a name- impostor syndrome. It’s the feeling that any achievement or success a person may experience is based on luck, or charm, or any other factor rather than actual knowledge, experience, competence, etc. I cannot believe or accept that I’ve earned or deserved any award or accomplishment I’ve received in my whole life ever. All my degrees and certificates are shoved in a box in the back of a closet somewhere because they aren’t real, they are meaningless, and I don’t deserve them. I always feel like I’m in over my head, but at the same time I have to keep pushing myself to do more and be more because I crave validation. Gold stars, pats on the back, affirmations, whatever. I’m a big black hole of need. So I work too much, I take on extra responsibilities, I over-prepare and yet the cycle continues. Nothing is ever enough, nothing satisfies. The voice in my head tells me, “You don’t deserve this.” “Don’t get a big head- nobody likes a know-it-all.” and the one that makes me the most sad, “Who are you to want this, to dream this?”

So in a weird way, impostor syndrome pushes me and holds me back at the same time. I feel like I excel at being mediocre. I’m afraid to try new things because I don’t think I’ll be successful, but even if I was successful it wouldn’t be good enough. I think even if I won a Nobel Prize, the voice in my head would say, “So what? Anybody could do that.”

OK, so you have a problem. But what to do about it? I did some reading and research (because of course I did…) and I found this article from The Muse to be helpful. I need to be more mindful of the way I think and speak about myself and my accomplishments. Stop seeking external validation, and learn to cultivate internal validation. Take risks, try new things, and focus more on the process, not the product. Screw up and be OK with it. And finally, make friends with that inner voice. If I can’t shut her up, at least I don’t have to listen to her.

To this end, I’ve decided every month to try something new, something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. Something I might even (gasp!) NOT BE GOOD AT. Something at which I might even (gulp!) FAIL. I have no idea what this will look like or how it will unfold, because I’m so deeply entrenched in my comfort zone that I can’t even see beyond it. So in the coming days and weeks I’ll be doing some soul searching and reflecting. What is something I’ve always wanted to try? What would I love to do if I wasn’t afraid? Amazingly, these questions draw complete blanks. I have no idea. So I guess this month’s adventure is compiling a list. Which on the surface seems boring and stupid, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

And I’ll learn to embrace my inner impostor along the way.

Where does the time go?

This time of year is typically all about making resolutions and setting goals, but I haven’t set any goals in a long time. I think I became jaded after failing to accomplish just about everything I set out to do; get fit, eat healthier, read more books… I haven’t done any of these things, and it always comes down to one reason- I don’t have time. So this year I want to address my time management skills, because not having time is really just a big fat lie I tell myself that keeps me from being successful.

So where does the time go?

The majority of my time is spent at work. Every teacher knows that a 40 hour work week is difficult to achieve. I easily put in 50+ hours every week. Some of it can’t be helped- I sponsor an after school club every other Tuesday, and I teach in the after school tutoring program once a week. So I need to look at the rest of that time. I have to plan and prepare, but how can I be more efficient? Firstly, I could make use of my amazing parent volunteers. I have the best parents this year! They could help with the cutting out, making, and organizing of all the center stuff and the materials for crafts and  lessons. They want to help. I should let them.

Secondly, I need to stop allowing myself to be interrupted and stop interrupting others. This one is hard because I love my colleagues and I love to visit with them. Adult conversation is so rare and precious in teacher/mom life! But so often it happens that one simple question will turn into a 30 minute chat session (or gripe session depending on the day), and before you know it it’s five o’clock and my work is not finished and I still have to go home and be mom. Not to mention the fact that my poor children are at school All. The. Time. My goal for the rest of this year is to be out the door by 4 p.m. at the latest on days I don’t have club meetings or tutoring. My action steps are to stop running my mouth so much and delegate the things I can.

My next biggest time waster is social media. I spend much too much time checking Facebook and Instagram. I don’t post so much as I just mindlessly scroll through my newsfeed, reading status updates, looking at my friends’ photos, reading articles and blogs…for way longer than I should. This obsession is fueled in part by FOMO, in part by the loneliness of motherhood, and in part by the sheer exhaustion of carrying the mental load. Mindless scrolling is just that- mindless. Not having to think about anything for a few minutes seems like it should be relaxing, but what I’ve found is that being plugged in to social media all the time rouses feelings of competition and jealousy, and an overall dissatisfaction with my life. Why do we never go on exotic vacations? Why can she lose her baby weight and I can’t? Why does everyone else seem to be flourishing and I’m barely keeping my head above water? Even though intellectually I know that Facebook and Instagram are only showing the highlight reel and not the struggles, it still gets to me emotionally sometimes. To combat the urge to check in constantly I’ve removed Facebook and Instagram from my phone. I won’t go so far as to deactivate my accounts, because it is nice to keep up with family and friends and I like my groups, but logging on once or twice a day is enough.

And by that same token, no more taking the phone into the bathroom! Not only is this habit gross, but it’s also not good for you. Time was, the average magazine article or back of a shampoo bottle never took longer than the average poop to read. Now I have this portable computer with an endless supply of news articles and games to keep me entertained on the toilet for as long as I can stand it. Til my legs fall asleep even. Taking the phone into the bathroom is not only gross and a huge waste of time, but it’s also really bad for your bunghole. (Hemorrhoids anyone?) So enough of that already.

My hope for the new year is to make better use of the time that I have to play with my kids, pursue hobbies, and generally enjoy more of all that life has to offer.

So 2018, this is me (in the words of Maxine Waters) reclaiming my time.

How a Pool Noodle Changed My Life

(This is a repost from a blog I had several years ago, but it was a good lesson.)

First of all let me preface this by saying I’ve never been a particularly religious person. My faith is  sort of an odd patchwork of ideas I’ve picked up in various churches, passages I’ve read in books, lessons I’ve learned from people I’ve met, and maybe there are a few ideas of my own thrown in there, too. It’s quite possible I’m going to hell in a hand basket, but I don’t know.  I just like to think of myself as a weird little soul just fumbling around through this life trying to learn and grow through experience. So there’s that, for whatever it’s worth.

That being said, I do like to acknowledge when God, the Universe, or whatever IT is reveals something to me, and I take these lessons very seriously.

This is a story about a pool noodle. A pool noodle very much like this one, but not this one.

I had taken the boys to the pool that day, and the oldest, having no further use for his noodle, left it to float away freely. No big deal, there weren’t many families there, and it was only a noodle after all. When we had finished swimming, I gathered up my boys and our belongings and headed for the playground to play in the sun and dry off a bit before getting into the car.  That’s when I saw another child playing with our free roaming noodle.

“No big deal,” I thought to myself. “He can play with it until we are ready to leave.”
Then I gave myself a mental pat on the back for being so decent and sharing my noodle.

All was right with the world until, out of the corner of my eye, I spied the boy taking my noodle and putting it in the chair next to his mother.


I felt my pulse quicken, my chest tighten. I had to investigate further. Surely this kid was not thinking of taking my noodle. I did a quick stroll around the pool just to be sure there were no other rogue noodles before I marched up to his mother to (very politely) demand my property back.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Is that your noodle?”

“Yeah, we just picked it up at the Dollar General on the way here.”

“Oh, OK, because we have one that looks just like it and it’s missing.”


That was the confrontation. I’m not one to start fights at swimming pools over toys that cost a dollar, but I was angry. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became.  Not only did these people steal from me, they lied about it. So the whole time my kids were playing, I’m staring at this woman sunbathing next to my noodle, and my anger is growing into rage and taking on a life of its own. Inside my brain is a viciousness, a steady churn of hateful thoughts. “You’re a lying liar and a thief, and you’re teaching your kids to be dirty lying thieves, too!”

I had to explain to my kids that our noodle was gone. Of course there was some whining in response, and a chorus of “Why? Why?”
“Because we didn’t take care of our things. We need to write our name on our things next time, ” was my response. But in my mind was a litany of swear words, all directed at this lying, thieving woman and her lying thieving kids. They are what’s wrong with the world today! They are the reason good, decent people can’t go to the pool and have a good time without worrying about someone stealing their stuff.
We gathered our snacks and towels and began our noodle-less walk toward the exit.

That’s when I saw it.

A little girl popped out of the water, noodle in hand, and made her way to the lifeguard stand. She placed the noodle, MY noodle on the ground next to the lifeguard and jumped back into the water.

I glanced back over at the lying thieving woman and her kids and HER noodle and I immediately felt very small.

I was wrong. I sent my son to go retrieve our property and I stood there, alone in my shame. We left the pool with everything we had come with and went home.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Well, not really. Not for me, anyway. I just couldn’t get over how angry I had become, and how quick I was to blame this woman, whom I had never met, and how quick I was to hate her. I mean HATE. I hated her. I thought the most horrible things about her and I was so self-righteous and justified in my anger and hatred of this woman. All over a pool toy that costs a dollar.  So much ugliness, all over a cheap, piece of crap pool toy.  It was as if God, the Universe, or whatever IT is held up a mirror in front of me and showed me the mean, bitchy, hateful side of myself that I like to pretend doesn’t exist. Oh, it exists, all right!

I was humbled. I was humbled by a noodle.

So from now on I will not be so quick to rush to judgement, so quick to anger,  or so quick to hate.

And thank you for the lesson. I needed it.