Passionate Responses To Words

Self-Defining Words

I read the poem….

“You Bring Out The Mexican In Me”
by Sandra Cisneros

I fell on it.  I think that is the best way to find things, when it’s the last thing on your to-do list:

  •  Go to cleaners
  •  Stop at pharmacy
  •  Drop off the clothes from weekend closet clean out at the Goodwill
  •  Other mindless tasks that you hate doing but that need to be done

Nowhere on the list is:

  • Discovery of the unexpected

Without a warning, the unexpected finds its way into your life.  Such was this poem for me today. I read it through once without breathing or blinking. After I finished reading my muscles relaxed, my eyes leaked, and the air trapped in my lungs burst through my mouth blowing me, and the chair on wheels I sit on a few inches back. WOW! Her words, big and mighty, so big the sentiment soaked through the epidermis and intoxicated me as if I had just finished a third glass of Etude Pinot Noir.

Hoping to forget about it, pass it off as a fluke. I failed. The voices clamoring in my head had other plans for me. “It’s like the book, like the book,” they said.  Not exactly, but close enough to for me to pause and consider the possibility of an epiphany.  I finished Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina López. The sparks between nerve cells connecting were too bright to ignore. I finally understand the expression, ‘deer in a headlight’.


1)   Because I’ve been in  a self-evaluation phase (an ongoing, never ending, stop and start process in this woman’s life)  and recently wondered if my voice was too much.

2)   Because I had randomly selected to read these two pieces by Latin authors back to back – despite being a Latin Woman myself, I don’t normally read work by my ‘people’. I can’t always relate so I pass it by. In some cases, my life is the same as what Latin authors write about, but not always. I am certain that aliens, and not the sort from south of the border, raised me.

Lopez’s book is about a woman who believes passion is essential in life, but has lost it. The arch of the story is how she rediscovers it. The journey is a sensual spiritual reawakening that brings back her hunger for life.

Cisneros’s poem is about passion, not lost passion, but the sort that explodes inside of a woman at the hand of another (my view, anyway).

I said to my shadows on the wall (not really), but I did say aloud inside of my mind, is something wrong with me. Am I to open, too honest, too much?  I concede over a glass or two of wine I am I am ‘too everything’. At least twice a week for a few seconds a day, I’ll admit to my friends, ‘the shadows’, I can be intense. It got me thinking that maybe I am ODD. I am, for better or worse, passionate, and like a bougainvillea, colorful and sprawling. I speak my thoughts without running them through a sieve.  I make people wary, nervous even, so I alter myself for their comfort.

I was wondering how I might ‘abridge’ myself.  But after finishing the book and the poem, I concluded that there are things about myself I don’t understand. Further, maybe those parts that I don’t understand sometimes make people wary of me. I see me in my writing, the way I speak and how I say things—it’s not veiled. This can make people uncomfortable.

Today after reading ‘You Bring out the Mexican in Me’, I think maybe I am fine the way I am, just as I am, ‘too much’ of everything. I am OK as the passionate person I am. I always was but the reading of the poem reminded me just how OK I am.

Are you ever moved to tears by words you read?

You Bring Out the Mexican In Me


I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

39 thoughts on “Passionate Responses To Words

  1. Brenda? You could never overwhelm me…and know what? Not only do i love your writing (its seems to ride a smoother seep into my veins every time i read you) but i also love you:)
    brynne recently posted….Happy Easter!My Profile

    • Brynne, your words are perfectly timed. I had one a rough day today and had a little wobble about this publishing journey I am on.. it rocks me daily, but I get up, dust myself off, and start again. big hugs from my heart to yours.

        • Jodi, you are ever a bright spot in my day. As always, your words are warm and kind. Clearly, I think about writing as much as I am breathing and I wonder about tomorrows, but while I am wondering I keep my heart light (by writing away any dark) and my fingers dancing.

    • Thanks kindly, Mike. I am sad about the video, can’t seem to get it to work. I did update to include a link. I appreciate your visiting. I’ll stop by your site tomorrow.

      • Mike Adams

        I did not intend for there to be two links to my site in that comment…not sure how I managed to mess that up…sorry for it! seems in poor taste! :-) I’ll look through and find the link now so I can see the video…thanks!

  2. k~

    I am often moved to tears by words. They are capable of many things emotionally driven. For me, they are like the flesh I wear, the blood within and the emotion that is a part of all I am. Yes, they can, and often do, move me… sometimes to tears.
    k~ recently posted….H ~ He Said it With His HandsMy Profile

  3. Can I just say that reading Stella’s story brought me to tears? You have this ability with your words, which is probably why you can so easily feel it in the words of others. This is why I love reading your work, Brenda. You have that special something that really speaks to your reader.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Monday Mishmash 4/9/12My Profile

    • Kelly, I am not sure what to say to you. I cried typing it, but I figured that was because I am the writer. Most days I stare up at the sky and ask myself, is this how it feels to be a writer?

  4. Being honest (especially towards self) is always, always good. Being intense is good, despite what I’ve learned about many people not being comfortable with intensity. I think it means being focused. And I like that. Being passionate is good. Being romantic is good. Discovery is good. Rediscovery is better. Crying after reading is precious. Absorbing emotions is good. (I’m reading a poet ~ Mahmoud Darwish, and even though I don’t quite get his poems, I enjoy his phrases and imagery. I enjoy his words. And this, to me, is also good.)

    I have been moved to tears by characters and drama. I have been shocked aloud (exclaiming ‘Oh, no!’ or gasping in public) by drama & words. I have been moved to nod along to or smile at words. (Like the ones on your blog, Brenda.)
    Claudine Gueh recently posted….Hans Christian Andersen’s Not-All-Pretty TalesMy Profile

    • Hugs, Miss Claudine, I look forward to hearing from you. Singapore is far away from San Francisco. I am in a state of wonderment these days. I don’t know if it’s a curse or a blessing to look inward and evaluate.

    • Oh good, Bev, I am so glad you did. I don’t understand all of them either, or didn’t the first time I listened. I loved the poem because of the passionate tone I looked up the words. And thanks much for your kind words.

  5. I did a post a time ago called “when I was young and wild and more Mexican”. I understand how sometimes we feel we are too bright on the canvas. Life is full of self doubt for people who care. The one area you should have no self doubt is your writing talent! Marvelous, truly!
    Linda Medrano recently posted….Last Tango in ArgentinaMy Profile

    • Linda.. you make me smile. I am ever question my writing but not because I don’t believe in it or me, more because it’s quirky. I can’t alter my voice anymore than I can wish my size ten feet to a seven, but that doesn’t mean I won’t write about it. hugs, and thanks much.

  6. “Too much” is a message given to and taken on by too many women…alternating, curiously, with “not enough.” It’s that inner voice, often reinforced by society, that says we don’t dare be powerful or passionate or fully alive. We are conditioned to take care of others first and to apologize for being forces of nature.

    One of the things I appreciate about your blog is that it is powerful and interesting. I’m never bored by it. As you let your light shine with all its brightness, you attract others who want to do the same. Keep the volume up, girlfriend! A lot of us love it!
    Nadine Feldman recently posted….Blog Recommendation: In the Writing GrooveMy Profile

    • Nadine – as a student of the universe I am ever in awe of the world and the people in it. Ever since I picked writing as a way to clear out my thoughts, new ones continue to sprout up. I find writing to be somewhat addictive. It’s a way to explore, to challenge, to over come, to tell stories, to dance without care. I do wonder about reckless word play but I since it’s the way I roll (as it were) I don’t have much of choice but to keep up the volume. And thanks for the support.

  7. Brenda – I am never sorry to have taken the time to read your posts because I always come away inspired to write something. I am at work and can’t listen right now but I did find a text version of the poem. Yes – that is wildly passionate cup overflowing type of poem. When it comes to writing or any kind of art, too much passion is infinitely better than not enough. When you lose the passion it is hard to get it back. I need to find that novel Hungry Woman in Paris .
    Carol Apple recently posted….Socrates in the City edited by Eric Metaxas: Wine, cheese, and the big questions of lifeMy Profile

    • Thank you, Carol. Like you, I find inspiration in others. It’s one of the positives of blogging. Hungry Woman isn’t a classic but the theme made the book worthwhile.

  8. Dear Brenda,

    I read you from afar most days, rarely having the time lately to actually comment. But I must tell you that your writings *Bring out the Me in Me*!

    There is no shame or discredit in giving everything of ourselves to the world. But you know this, I know. *g*

    I had *my* moment in YOUR words “I make people wary, nervous even, so I alter myself for their comfort.” I mean, Wow! That hits home for me. It has been my life’s journey to be comfortable in my own skin, that I would never have to alter who I am for another again.

    When I find myself reaching for a Mask, in which to hide my true self, I give myself a nudge, “Just who, Miss, are you trying to fool… YOU? Or the THEM?”

    You’re Awe-Some! Just. The. Way. You. Are.
    Scarlett recently posted….*Life is in the journey!* ~ These BootsMy Profile

    • Scarlett – well color me flattered. I am glad to hear you enjoy reading and I completely understand the commenting aspect. It’s difficult to stay true to your writing, blog, self-market, and comment. I know I have more readers than commentors that or my kids are clicking on my pages to trick me into thinking people read my blog. :-) I enjoy the exploration writing allows. Generally speaking when I have hit publish on a piece I have resolved any un-answered questions. As in this piece. I am always in awe of finding answers to questions in unexpected places.

  9. Love her voice, thank you for the link, there is so much in it, not just the words. And your voice through your words I love and admire too. I look forward to the day I can click on NPR and hear your prose :)
    Claire recently posted….Second Person SingularMy Profile

    • I am so glad, Claire. My favorite poet’s voice belongs to Edna St. Vincent Milay. I’ll have to post on my discovery of her one day so I can share her voice, there is none quite like hers. Your words tickle me pink. It’s a journey.

  10. I think we are all fine the way we are. It’s funny that the self help industry is so huge. We’re so dissatisfied with everything, but we don’t have to be. Even if we naturally enjoy self-improvement, that’s okay, go with it!

    And finding undiscovered gems is always a joy, especially if we can put it into the context of “who we are.”
    J. R. Nova recently posted….Psychology of ReadingMy Profile

    • Well, put, J.R. I’ve never wandered down the self-help isle at the book store. It seems to me the answers to the questions we seek are always with our own selves. The challenge is trusting ourselves enough to over come or deal with what is bugging us. My two cent on the subject, and why I write through my own questions.

  11. Brenda, embrace your Latina passion. I know you have it. I’ve read it in your words. I love this line:

    “Nowhere on the list is:

    Discovery of the unexpected”

    It wasn’t on my to-do list either. But perhaps it should be on all our lists, eh?
    Monica recently posted….She Who Shall Remain NamelessMy Profile

    • Oh I do, Monica. I can’t seem to shake it, nor would I if I could. I love using the label I’m Latin.. what do you think when it suits the occasion.

  12. “I was wondering how I might ‘abridge’ myself.” I caught this line and it made me wonder… how you must be pulled into a different directions as you try to publish/market your book. But I see you have realized that you can’t Coles Notes yourself! You’re just laying down new tracks.
    Moved to tears by something I’ve read? Not often. More often I have slammed a book shut mid page because the author said something to me that really hit home. Like a complete stranger telling you something about yourself that you are not ready to reveal. How dare good writers do that???
    Great post!
    Astra recently posted….I think I want to be a part of it: New York, New York…My Profile

    • I am indeed, Astra. It’s a strange sort of limbo this journey. I often wonder if it’s like the holding place between now and beyond (whatever those two are). I rage, I toss, I howl, but mostly I dislike not being in control of my destiny. Do I wait? My mind is a flutter but I do continue writing and exploring. Surprisingly, the feeling of people telling you things about yourself happens a lot here in my blog – I simply write whats in my head and heart, hit publish and am generally awe struck by the feedback. Fascinating. Agree with your about writers rendering you immobile. (and thanks much)

  13. Yes I am Brenda, in fact when I read: “Am I too open, too honest, too much?” I thought: “Brenda and I are SO alike!” Rupert Brook’s, Emily Dickinsonson’s and Wilfred Owen’s work along with many other poets can all move me to tears at certain times, along with anything about England. There’s something about our culture where we find our roots, belonging and cradle of identity that is a very safe place for us; so safe it moves us profoundly.
    Elizabeth Young recently posted….Irish ColleenMy Profile

    • Helen, it’s the reason I write – to explore and define and reinvent. I never think of my wonders as vulnerabilities, more unknowns I have to make peace with or answer. I do enjoy the exploration through writing because sometimes I find what I am looking for and other times no, and have to keep on.

  14. Brenda, I love Sandra Cisneros. I remember the first time I read “The House on Mango Street.” Her portrayal of growing up poor was captivating. The woman is a natural-born storyteller. I have to admit your post confused me a bit. You write, “Because I had randomly selected to read these two pieces by Latin authors back to back – despite being a Latin Woman myself, I don’t normally read work by my ‘people’. I can’t always relate so I pass it by. In some cases, my life is the same as what Latin authors write about, but not always.” Do you really think you can’t relate to the stories of Hispanic writers? I would think a woman whose passions run high would be able to relate to anything Latino. And no, I don’t believe Latin lovers are a stereotype. I truly believe we inhale and exhale passion; it’s in our blood to take everything up a notch. My nana called it, “Vivir con alegria,”; to live joyfully. I find that even when I can’t relate to a writer’s particular work, I’m still able to walk away with something that serves to enrich my understanding of the subject. Methinks you possess plenty of Latina passion. After all, you’re a woman of passionate pursuits! :)

    • Bella, I so enjoy reading your comments. It’s like your sitting next to me sharing you inner thoughts and reminding me stay focused. I copied your Nana’s expression. I have use for that in my new novel. Me thinks destiny is always at work. Thank you for your words, my writer’s heart is grateful.

    • Bella, I didn’t grow up in a typical Latin household. Long story but I never quite fit into a category of Latins. Although I have my own little niche and see your point. Maybe this journey will see me more connected. Who knows. Everyday I learn more.

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