Monday, December 7, 2020

Queen of Wands (Prev. SOVEREIGN) is complete! I still need your support with my COVID-era cancer journey.

Hospital Selfie from Nov. 2020

In August 2019, I began writing SOVEREIGN: Recovery Poems. In December 2020, I finished it and changed the title to Queen of Wands.

The 63-page compilation of poetry and prose explores my unconventional journey with cancer and COVID while shining a light on large-scale issues of health equity.

While some poems also appear on Medium, Queen of Wands stands on its own as a unique artistic vision. The poems that you’ve seen have changed form—losing lines, gaining verses, connecting with other writing in ways that highlight how a whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Now that the manuscript’s complete, the next steps are simple. I have to edit for formatting and then approve a test copy of my work. After that, it will be available for purchase via Amazon and other retailers.

Meanwhile, everyone who donates $20 USD or more to my campaign will receive a signed copy and invitation to a launch event. Across GoFundMe, PayPal, Venmo and CashApp, my original campaign raised over $6K USD! However, I’m still set on reaching my overall goal of $9K USD. This means raising a minimum of $2500 USD this December.

These funds will help me print copies of Queen of Wands, fulfill all shipments and possibly compensate visual artists for adding their designs to the book.

These funds will also help me meet the increasingly high cost of supplements, healthy food and pharmaceuticals while also ensuring that I can maintain a safe, functional living environment for myself and my children in the days and weeks following my upcoming procedures.

Any and all contributions and shares are welcome. A signed copy of the book will also make an excellent present for anyone with an enduring interest in deeply personal writing about the many facets of healing we humans experience.

To donate and secure your copy of Queen of Wands today, please use the following links:

Venmo

CashApp

PayPal

Be sure to add a note with your name and preferred contact information!

Meanwhile, if you’ve already donated, please watch for a message confirming details about delivery options.

I’m deeply grateful to each of you. I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, compassion and sparks of beauty throughout the dark.

(This update also appears on Substack within The Grey Way and on Medium within BAMF Mag.) 

I moved to Atlanta. My cancer journey continues. COVID Christmas feels bright.

My tweens in our new home
Over the course of the past few months, I've realized a few dreams that I previously blogged about here:

First, I moved all the way to the heart of Atlanta.

Second, I completed the manuscript for SOVEREIGN: Recovery Poems (and promptly renamed the book Queen of Wands.

I've also made major strides toward completing my obligations to TerraTonz and toward establishing myself as a freelance writer, all while prepping for another cancer surgery and additional treatments. 

In Queen of Wands, I write: Trust the beauty of cycles ending. We all stay until it's safe to leave. 

My new beginnings mark a few endings, and I'm still navigating the nuances of this vast release. 

At the same time, I've invited more challenges into my life along with more joy--making the present a time for consolidation, consideration, creativity and compassion when it comes to managing my responsibilities, relationships and goals. For now, you can keep up with me via my monthly(ish) newsletter The Grey Way and/or follow me on Medium. (Links in sidebar.) 

I'll also make another post here that's exclusively about Queen of Wands

Thank you all for being all that you are. My tweens and I wish you a Merry COVID Christmas. And, yes. That's Remy the Rat atop our tree. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Pandemic Met the Protests & Time Almost Lost Its Meaning

My daughter in Rome, GA, USA.

As always, I am living on the edge of things. I entered a fourth Vocal challenge but did not make a recording. The contest has concluded, but a link to my piece is here: View from the Crossroads.

It centers on the idea of what's outside my window and explores my feelings about moving on from my current home at the same time that my grandfather will be moving in across the street from my current apartment.

As though on cue, my uncle reached out to me just after I finished the essay. He'd been assisting my grandfather with preparations for the move and had come to visit my mother, whose dementia accelerated quickly during isolation. Her brother was seeking a way to help, yet my father remains the central figure in her care. Helping him navigate his feelings about this has been one of the most rewarding parts of the pandemic for me--bringing beauty, clarity and respect to the parallel rolls we've played, and now discuss, from my side of the small back porch I share with my neighbors, a peace lily and a strawberry plant. 

Since then, I've also has the great pleasure of joining in Sera Beak's virtual Soul Sanctuary retreat space as it opened briefly and then closed just as George Floyd declared he couldn't breathe. My daughter saw the video before I did, and she has joined me in demonstrating solidarity with Black Lives Matter, in contacting officials seeking change and in standing in line to cast my vote in the primary elections. She has also turned 12, happily cut off her hair, embraced her roller skates and finally learned to tie her own shoes. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

SOVEREIGN Just $3500 USD Away from $9K Goal!


It occurs to me often these days that none of us really know what healing looks like. I think it's different for each of us and that it may be something which is felt as much as it's measured or seen. While I think I remain free from COVID-19, I do still have cancer, and healing from it (both physically and psychologically) is connected to my progress with the poetry collection Sovereign: Recovery Poems. 

When I launched the crowdfunding campaign for Sovereign last fall, I envisioned completing the project by March. I hadn't raised quite as much money as I'd hoped to, but I still considered my efforts a success. I was going to wrap up the fundraising, launch the book and hope for a new wave of support. 

Now, it's an understatement to say that things have changed. Thanks to COVID-19, it feels as though the world is collectively experiencing a period of recovery, and hopefully we will all learn a bit more about the process of becoming personally sovereign as we continue to endure the current period of isolation and forced reflection--through which our personal and collective strengths, weaknesses, fears, needs and desires come into sharper focus. 

While my collection of recovery poems still centers on my personal experience of cancer, I'm approaching it now with the understanding that the context has changed, and I'm hopeful to create something with the intention that it will speak to everyone a bit more deeply than I had originally planned. 

On that note, I had originally stated that I'd share a video of me reading a recent poem each time I raised $1K. After calculating all my donations (from across GoFundMe and other platforms) today, I've raised a total of $5,486.22! So, two videos are attached. 

I'd love you to please give them a watch and then check out the words, which are linked in the descriptions. Reading the written poems will help me out, as will donating to the campaign itself! I am now forging ahead with the intention of exceeding my initial $9K funding goal. Your contributions will help me create something which I hope can offer up a little medicine to all our souls. They will also help me continue to maintain my family's health amidst the chaos of both cancer and COVID-19. 






Wherever you are tonight, I urge you to give what thanks you can, grieve as you must and keep on keeping on with hope in your heart. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Quarantine Dreams Bring More Change


My children at Lake Conasauga in Rome, GA
I've been frustrated this year because I make awesome plans which don't quite translate into reality. With few exceptions, everything feels like almost, not quite. 

As I recently wrote in the first issue of my cannabis newsletter The Seed:

I’ve had the feeling that I needed to wait. A shift was coming. Now, it’s here. Regardless of how you view it, COVID-19 has already forced unprecedented change across the world, and it will have a lasting impact not just on global politics and economics, but also on the way we approach death and process grief.

Each of us will feel this shift on our own terms, but none of us will escape it.

In Rome, Georgia, USA, we've now experienced one week of social distancing, followed by one week of mandatory sheltering in place. I feel tighter quarantine restrictions are to come. Yesterday, my children needed a break from the apartment, so we ventured out to a local lake and walked around the circumference.

One one side, far too many people had gathered. We heard the remnants of a back yard birthday party BBQ, saw little heads bobbing up over a fence as laughing children bounced into each other on a trampoline.

On the other side, we were alone--accompanied only by some friendly ducks, the water, the wind and the stones lining the shallow lake's banks.

When I was a child, I lived near the same lake. I always asked my mother to park so we could walk around it. Instead, she would plop me in a wagon and drag me to the edges of a small, grassy pond nearby. She said the larger lake was too dangerous. Too many people.

Her warning makes more sense these days. And yet, the guidelines I'm giving my children center on balance--of hope and fear, gratitude and grief, connection and isolation.

Back home, the apartment felt like a welcome cocoon wrapping around us, keeping us safe during the world's transformation. My son (long non-verbal due to autism) practiced his speech and his dance moves. My daughter laughed on the phone with her friend and made new art.

I did what I often need to do these days--lie down, feeling waves of emotions and physical sensation weave their way through my neurologically divergent mind and cancer-infused body. Like many Americans, I'm uncertain whether I've already had the virus, have the virus now or have somehow avoided it thus far.

I do know that, when I allow myself to feel everything that comes up, I end up feeling better. Then, I'm able to write.

I'm going to spare you (and me) a precise of vision of how my writing will unfold over the course of this pandemic and beyond. However, I am going to link to a few things I've done thus far.

The Seed, Issue 1: Cannabis and Quarantine

The Corona Virus Has Become a Super Meme

Proven Paths to Freelance Success, Before and After COVID-19

Finally, your donations to SOVEREIGN: Recovery Poems are still welcome and needed now more than ever. Thank you so much for everything!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Write Club ATL Welcomed Me to the Stage & SOVEREIGN Reached Half of Total Funding Goal

This post originally appeared within my Medium.com publication BAMF Mag and was shared with subscribers to BAMF Daily.


Kelli Lynn Grey takes the mic.
Photo by Melanie Sharon.
I have a problem with people mistaking me for what they call the fae. This is to say, they think I’m some sort of human embodiment of a fairy who just stumbled right out of a dark forest, my mind on mischief and magic.

I get it. I guess. I mean, my dad kind of started it by deriving my childhood nickname, Tink, from what he perceived as my likeness to Peter Pan’s companion, the fairy Tinkerbell.

I also don’t really get it.

I am okay embracing the weird truth that I know A LOT of people who think it’s totally normal to imagine humans as the descendants of mystical beings. But, it feels short-sighted that they jump right to the fae when they see me — no offense to the fae among us, of course.

With my dad, it still feels sweet (and relatively normal) that he sees a shadow of my childhood self before seeing the whole of me. With everyone else, it’s like they are deliberately choosing to ignore the core of who I am and fixating only on what makes them feel whimsically inspired.

I much preferred meeting an ex-Mormon writer at a workshop one time who told me I struck her as a panther. I also really love Atlanta’s monthly reading series Write Club because it self identifies as an act of “tender bloodsport.” In other words, we’re all panthers there — or, at least, we’re all encouraged to embrace the side of ourselves which gracefully takes no BS and lays deep truths bare onstage before an audience hungry to judge which ones of us have most effectively slayed the others with just the right balance of authenticity, mystery, poise, wit and fire.

One month ago, I was invited to the Write Club stage, and I slayed with this poem about my assigned topic, history. I had nothing up until the day of the show. Then I went and sat down on one of the many ginkgo covered terraces of the historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery where I live in Rome, Georgia, USA. I began writing what came up for me as a result of being in that space, every word of it true. Then I drove the hour to the city of Atlanta, arriving almost just in time to take my place on the stage.

To show for my efforts, I have the following things:

1. A tiny plastic trophy very close to my heart.

2. The satisfaction that my chosen charity Peachtree NORML Foundation received my share of the door.

3. The introduction to five other writers — each of whom delivered a stunning performance, truth be told. (Here’s to you: Zack Linly, Leo Starr, Allison Dayne, Audrey Taylor Ward and AnĂ¯sa Lewis.)

If done well, Write Club is a forum where we all walk away with something of value. It is also a charitable fundraiser and an honored US tradition — practiced not just in Atlanta but also in Denver, Los Angeles and, its birthplace, Chicago.

Write Club ATL’s Nov. 2019 ensemble.
Photo provided courtesy of the author and Write Club Atlanta.

I like feeling connected to the creative pulse of all those cities. It makes me feel like I’m a panther with a pack — or something like it. Thank you, Ian Belknap, for having the vision for Write Club and making it so. I hope to meet you one day. Thank you, Myke Johns and Nicholas Tecosky, for offering me a place within Write Club Atlanta.

For more information, visit:
https://www.tenderbloodsport.com/about-us

For those of you following the campaign for SOVEREIGN: Recovery Poems, "History" will be included in this collection as well. Writing it to perform at Write Club synchronized with me crossing my $4K milestone for SOVEREIGN, counting funds raised both through the official platform and elsewhere. I'm currently halfway to my $9K goal. Since finalizing my divorce last month and stepping further away from my role as a musical instrument salesperson, I also need donations more than ever! I deeply appreciate any contribution you're inspired to make. To review, a minimum of $20 USD secures a signed copy of SOVEREIGN plus an invitation to the launch party. Anything additional helps me navigate this time of transition--which includes coming out of pocket for my chosen forms of cancer care. Click here to see the official GoFundMe page.  Alternatively, donation may be received via CashApp. My user ID = $poetmom445. A recording of "History" is embedded below.


Monday, November 4, 2019

SOVEREIGN Reaches $3K Milestone! (& Write Club ATL's Bitter Harvest is on the Way)


I'm happy to report that SOVEREIGN is now officially one-third of the way to meeting its total crowdfunding goal. I deeply appreciate all contributions, and I'm genuinely excited to share my most recent work with you. A video is above. Meanwhile, the words to this piece are available here

You may also notice that this piece is inspired by the theme MYTH. This November 13, I'll be reading in a live competition at the Highland Inn Ballroom in Atlanta, GA, USA. I've been assigned the theme HISTORY.  . . . MYTH is actually the territory of my opponent. So, apparently I needed to understand the one side before I could speak about the other. If you will be in the Atlanta area on November 13, come on out and join us. Write Club is a fundraiser for charity (mine will be the Peachtree NORML Foundation) and always a good time. Click this invitation link for everything you ever wanted to know about this month's installment of Write Club!


Thank you for your support!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Life Lessons at ATL PRIDE

My daughter & her friend at PRIDE '18, photo by CRK
PRIDE 2019 centered on the fleeting moments. Our search for a parking lot showed me the way to Atlanta's Redlight Cafe, a place I've long aspired to read poetry and enjoy burlesque. Rainbow capes pulled up over our heads, my children and I sloshed through a parking lot onto a trail and under a bridge. I turned around to see my son smiling as he took in the subtle beauty of the grey sky, fallen leaves, cool air and unexpected street art stretching across the back wall of the underpass. Our plans to march with Georgia Alliance for Social Justice thwarted by a combination of road construction, weather and limited funds for the Uber we'd need to reach the starting point--we watched from the sidelines and then followed the marchers into Piedmont Park. There, we wandered miles through rainbow colored stands and crowds of people un-apologetically being themselves, or at least celebrating other people's right to do so.

My son at PRIDE '18, photo by CRK
My daughter gleamed when a broad-chested, masked man in a lacy red jumpsuit pointed to her and shouted, "Yaaas! I love your wings!" She jumped to make her cape (the wings) billow in the cool wind and led us deeper into a maze where we enjoyed the cheerful spectacle of adults line dancing to rap music and where my son paused to watch ducks swimming across a pond. When a passing stranger reached toward my son as he was duck-watching, my daughter waved away the woman's hand and pulled her brother close. In her mind, it was a kidnapping narrowly averted. I thanked her. She made her cape billow again and said in the most matter-of-fact way possible: That's what heroes do. 

Meanwhile, we had time to discuss the colors of the various flags and to name the words represented by LGBTQ. My daughter was disappointed by the lack of an A. Like many 11-year-olds, she is presently a-sexual. Unlike many 11-year-olds, she actively identities as such. 

At least, I imagine this is the case for most 11-year-olds. When I was younger, we weren't supposed to speak about our sexuality. Living in the "Bible Belt" of the USA, this remains true for many of our homeschooling peers. However, for us, taking a secular approach means embracing what is culturally relevant and applying it to our own lives. Identifying one's place along the spectrum of gender and sexual identity is having a moment, and I've embraced my daughter's interest in it. My goal with this is mostly that she understand there are many ways to identify and that she know it is okay both for her choices to change with time and for them to remain as they are. 

My children at PRIDE '19
I've taught her to wait until adulthood to make any permanent changes but to keep her mind open to whatever thoughts and feelings come. All the great life stories seem to center on self-discovery, and PRIDE serves as a doorway to observing, questioning, discovering, understanding and celebrating some key aspects of oneself--whether one identities as LGBTQ or not. I love that Atlanta's PRIDE parade syncs with National Coming Out Day, making it feel applicable to all who have closeted aspects of themselves and are navigating the many feelings which come with liberation. 

In 2018, my children, their father, a family of friends and I marched alongside ACLU in the PRIDE parade. My son danced and twirled his way through Midtown handing out pamphlets urging citizens to go vote as he went. The sun shimmered wildly through an already clear October sky. My daughter remembers it as a foundation forming moment of her childhood.  This year, a group of teenagers passed us in the park. They were chanting and then giggling under their breath. My daughter pointed to them and said: See. That's me and my friends when we're just a little older, Mom. 

I know she's right. At 37, I can also see how important it is to have memories like the ones she's made and is preparing to make. Laughter, freedom and connection are hallmarks of a happy childhood. And, when events like PRIDE are central to those experiences, I consider that a major win. 

This story also appears on Medium within BAMF Mag. Also, GAFSJ marchers made a powerful impact sharing their message of love. For their march story and info. about upcoming events, please check out the website https://www.gafsj.org.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

SOVEREIGN Reaches $2K Milestone!



Slowly, I'm moving toward reaching my $9K crowdfunding goal for Sovereign--a full length collection of Recovery Poems. In addition to helping me finance publication, funds raised through the campaign also cover the additional expenses I've acquired while treating and recovering from invasive ductal carcinoma, diagnosed in the wake of my divorce.

People who donate at least $20 USD receive a signed copy of Sovereign and an invitation to a fun launch party! Meanwhile, for every $1K earned, I post a video of myself reading a poem from the forthcoming collection.

I composed my $2K poem over the weekend while contemplating masks and my high school reunion. Please take some time to listen and then contribute as you're able.


Thank you all for your support!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Introducing AMP Rome

This August my friend Jessie Reed called together a round table of sorts. She and many of the attendees had just orchestrated a local vigil to acknowledge and mourn the lives lost within immigrant detention centers at the United States' Southern Border. Within our Georgia town, this sparked controversy. However, the event proceeded peacefully under the protection of local law enforcement officials. That has been the trend for many years now--beginning first with the counter protest of a pre-Charlottesville white nationalist rally and encompassing a variety of vigils, marches, drives and creative expressions of and for our community during times of transition--both simple as the changing seasons and complex as the border crisis.

The purpose of the round table was to bring unity and organization to the group behind these events. In the past, members of the group had functioned using the name Turn Your Back on Hate, as well as the name PERC (Peacefully Engaging the Rome Community). There had been groundwork done toward opening a physical center but challenges finding an investor whose vision merged organically with the group's. There had also been the issue of the group understanding its own mission--as most of its actions had manifested rapidly in response to a shared feeling rather than been planned to serve a distinct purpose.

By September, the round table has evolved into an official Board of Directors, to which I've been appointed Secretary, and the group has been officially named AMP. We are co-hosting Rome, Georgia's, Winter Wonderland Festival this November, and I invite anyone with ties to Northwest Georgia to get involved. Our website is here: https://www.amprome.org.

Monday, September 2, 2019

SOVEREIGN Reaches First $1K Milestone

Last week my body scan came back showing cancer in some lymph nodes near my surgery site. Meanwhile, all my other organ systems and bones are clear! I have agreed to receive 6-8 weeks of external radiation therapy to address my affected lymph nodes.The toll of radiation (and the commute which comes with it) also means that I won't have the energy to do much more than write, so I'm deeply appreciative of the contributions I've received to my crowdfunding campaign for SOVEREIGN--the collection of recovery poems which is helping to fund my personal recovery from cancer.

Two days prior to my son's 9th birthday, SOVEREIGN earned its first one thousand dollars, and I released the embedded video of me reading "When I Dreamed of My Soul as an Owl." For every one thousand dollars the campaign earns, I will release a video of me reading another new poem. Meanwhile, all contributors to the campaign will receive a PDF download of the complete collection, and all contributors of $20 USD or more will receive a signed paperback copy of SOVEREIGN plus an invitation to the release party. Please CLICK HERE for more details about the campaign. Contributions are also welcome here:

https://venmo.com/KelliLynnGrey

CashApp ID = $poetmom445