Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Monday, February 18, 2019

When a Threat Becomes a Promise



For several years, I’d threatened to produce a collection of my poems. At first, I thought it would be a chapbook, a small, pamphlet-like book of 20 pages or so.  I started gathering the poems I’d written over the years. Then I wrote a bunch of new poems. Yikes, the chapbook was growing into an actual book!

Two summers in Oregon I began in earnest. I dedicated library time, a thumb drive, and a second laptop only to fall off the wagon or become derailed by life circumstances. But, in the fall of 2018, I made myself and Paul, the Coos Bay librarian, a promise that I would be sitting up front in the Myrtlewood Room at the author table for the library’s 2019 Authors Day.

My friend and fellow writer Joan issued a challenge: Have it finished by the Spring Conference in March. Then, Dennis voiced his encouragement and confided, “I heard about the challenge.”

My daughters, both coaches, chimed in. “What’s keeping you from doing this?” Asila asked. “Mom, you’ve got this,” Amina said.

And then, of course, I received regular encouragement and feedback from Judy as she listened while I read individual poems aloud. This was a great help in making my language more succinct.

So it took a village that included Matthew, a creative writing instructor from our local university, various Writers of Kern members and friends who answered questions, taught me new skills, and listened to me read. And, I can’t thank everyone enough!

I’m now awaiting delivery of the proof copies before my book is on the market.  Following a reading or two and making changes, it’ll be thumbs up and ready to print.

My threat became a promise to myself and others and is soon to be a reality. In the next post, I’ll let you know the title and, if you’d like to do so, how you can read these “Poems that celebrate and remember. Poems that observe and question. Poems that honor life, love, and friendship.”

~ xoA ~



Thursday, January 31, 2019

Women’s March Kern County

Photo by Kimberly Kirchmer

The 2019 Women’s March had been on my calendar for months. January 19th I would rush from my Writers of Kern meeting to find Judy at Mill Creek Park so we could show our support and raise our voices for the March’s unity values, alongside a few thousand other Kern County residents. It had been an exhilarating event in 2018, and we expected more of the same. 

I’d paid no attention to the conversation and controversy on the national Women’s March scene. Then, on the day before the March, one friend texted me to say she had some misgivings, didn’t know if she could participate in light of what was going on. Within moments, an email arrived from a friend in another state who said essentially the same thing. Those notes woke me up and sent us searching for information.

Articles about charges of anti-Semitism within the national leadership, ties between Tamika Mallory and Louis Farrakhan, and the YouTube video of “The View” segment with two of the Women’s March leaders surfaced. Judy and I dug in, reading, watching, discussing, trying to figure out what was going on. 

Sure, there were issues on the national level, attitudes that could be adjusted, problems that needed to be worked out. But we live in Bakersfield, where, among our local leadership, none of those issues had cropped up. 

The Women’s March Kern County committee members are our friends and colleagues. We knew their values and principles. We witnessed how long and hard they’d worked. And we could not let them and our community down. 

So we marched. Chanted along with thousands—women, men, kids, youth, future leaders—from all walks of life and all there for the same reasons. Cheered the speakers and entertainers. Met up with friends—old and new, and friends-to-be. Enjoyed the camaraderie of this purposeful gathering. Became buoyed up to continue voicing our choices, hopes, and demands for a better community and country. 




















Did you attend a Women’s March this year? Why or why not? If so, what was it like and how did you feel about it?


~ xoA ~

Friday, January 18, 2019

Good Hearts, Big Hearts


Photo by Steve Halama

“They have a heart of gold.” We’ve heard these words spoken about individuals from time to time. Some are celebrities like LeBron James or Marlo Thomas, who put forth money, time, and effort to help kids. Others are our friends, neighbors, and family members who are helping individuals and organizations.

This past week, I spent a little time with about 150 good-hearted folks, representatives for a varied roster of non-profits. They are my fellow citizens from Kern County who contribute countless hours and high-voltage energy to make life in our area more compassionate, more beautiful, more user friendly.

Sandy of Writers of Kern & Runa of Arts Council of Kern
These folks have one goal: to raise funds and garner volunteer time in order to fulfill their organizations’ missions or complete projects. They represent such non-profits as Marley’s Mutts, Bakersfield City Ballet, Arts Council of Kern, the Alliance Against Family Violence, Women’s March Kern County. Representatives from several organizations that lend aid and support to the growing number of homeless people in our area showed up, as did numerous others.

Give Big Kern is the day set aside to celebrate the giving spirit of our county.  Sponsored by the Kern Community Foundation, Give Big Kern provides non-profits with access to opportunities for training and resources to help make their organizations’ dreams come true. In fact, this year’s theme (spoken in  the voice of Billy the Give Big Goat who is the official mascot)  is “Dream B-i-i-i-g!”


During the kick-off of this year’s initial training, at the invitation of organizer Louis Medina, it was my honor to help with a writing exercise that started participants thinking and talking about their big dreams and how they’d use donations if money were no object. 


A woman from one of the homeless projects talked about buying used refrigerators to have available so people newly placed in homes could be sure their apartments passed approval and inspection. The representative from the ballet company dreamed of them getting their own studio instead of having to borrow or rent space from existing studios. Alpha Canine, a dog rescue organization, would build more kennels and make improvements to their facility. Everyone had a dream—a B-I-I-I-G dream!

Good-hearted, big-hearted people. Our neighbors and friends. They are working to make Kern County a better and more livable place for all of us. Bless their hearts of gold.

And what can we do? Be ready to support favorite non-profits through our dollars or volunteering our time. 

~ xoA ~