Sun Kissed Days

Sun Kissed Days

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Poet United Interview

So honored to be interviewed by Poets United, my peers and my poet community.


Today, my friends, we are jetting down to Florida, land of sea and sun, to visit our friend Ayala, who blogs at a sun kissed life.  I am so looking forward to chatting with her, and hearing her story. For this one, I think wicker chairs in the shade, and tall glasses of iced tea would be perfect. Draw your chairs in close and let's begin.

Sherry: Ayala, it is wonderful to be chatting with you. I can't believe it has taken us this long to find our way to your door. Tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, with whom you share your life. And don't forget that beautiful dog beaming from your banner every time we visit. She is such a sweetheart!

Ayala: Hi Sherry, I live in South Florida with my husband and my youngest son. 

On our recent trip to Vancouver

He just started his  sophomore high school year. My older son and his wife live in Boston. I love to visit them during the spring and summer months.

My son's wedding

The dog on the banner is my sweet Daisy. She passed away, but I kept her on my blog banner. She was on it when I began in 2010 and she will remain there. 

Sherry: Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. She lifts my spirits every time I see her photo. It is so hard to lose them. Where did you grow up, Ayala?

Ayala: I was born and raised in Israel, up until the age of thirteen . My father was a poet and he wrote in the Israeli-Romanian newspaper. He was a politician, an entertainment impresario, and an art dealer. There were always interesting people and conversations in my life. 

My father was an inspiration to me. I would listen to him recite poetry to my mother and, even then as a child, I knew that I was privileged to be a witness to their love. When I was a teenager I allowed my father to read my poems. He encouraged me and believed that I had a gift for writing.

Sherry: What a rich environment to be raised in - art, poetry and love. Wonderful! I am wondering if the reason for the family's  move to the United States may have been political?

Ayala: My brother fought in the Yom Kippur war. After the war, there was chatter and political unrest which led my parents to decide to leave Israel. They sacrificed the life that they had built for their children.

My son's graduation from his 
emergency room residency

Sherry: You had very fine and loving parents, Ayala. And, looking at your family today, we can see you all thrived. I am struck by how much you look like your mother.

Tell us about your writing journey, won't you?

Ayala: I was eight years old when I wrote my first poem. I began to write journals at the same  time and I continued to write them throughout my life. I don't believe that I chose poetry, but  that poetry chose me. 

Sherry: True poets always say that. I know it is true. Would you like to share some poems with us? And tell us a bit about each?
Ayala: Yes, I would like to share 'Unvarnished'. It is a part of my story. It was a difficult poem to write because I did not want to hurt anyone. It's about trusting, loving, betrayal and rising from the ashes. Emerging better for having gone through the pain.

Sherry: My favourite kind of story, and poem! Let's have a look!


The mirror shards,
sharp as the strands of grey hair,
like the redwood trees.
You would not recognize
the resilient starfish
left on the shore 
to die.
You were a stray dog
that followed me home.
I let you into 
my consciousness.
You wagged your tail,
you licked my face
with adoration
before you barked.
When you bit me,
I put you down.
I was sober,
you were not.
I was not a munequita
to chew and spit out.
Blindfolded I was lured
by the darkness,
misery I mired in.
You set fire and scorched
our landscape.
I  rose from the ashes,
became a 
of the past.
 Sherry: I resonate with the description of scorched earth. That is just how it feels. Thankfully, we do emerge stronger from such experiences. This is powerful, Ayala. 

Ayala: 'Forgiveness' is about someone that I loved dearly and in return betrayed my love and my trust. A relationship that spanned over thirty years. I forgave her but she could never be a part of my life again. 

I forgave her for lying
and trying to steal my soul.
I forgave her for bringing storms
into my days,
uncertainty in my steps,
and darkness in my hours.
I forgave her,
the sister I never had,
the confidante of secrets.
I brought her in from the rain,
from a past,
embraced her brokenness
unaware of her bite.
She loved me,
betrayed me,
said it was her illness. 
She took my heart,
sliced it open
watched me bleed
as she stood motionless.
I saw her photograph
on the internet,
her eyes haunted,
a scar on her forehead,
a ghost of yesterday.
It was not her words attempting
to crawl back into the place
she ravaged.
It was not her pleading voice
on the answering machine.
I forgave her
to crawl out of the gutter
she placed us in.
I forgave her as I battled
drowning in the outgoing tide.
I forgave her 
to forgive myself.
Sherry: An incredibly strong and powerful poem, I can see her haunted eyes, her sorrow, and feel the rightness in forgiving her, in order to free yourself. Such good writing!

Ayala: 'The color of my blood' was written out of sorrow and empathy for the victims and survivors of the Orlando attack at Pulse nightclub. It shook me to the core. 

The color of my blood

The shape of my eyes,
the sound of my voice,
the shade of my skin,
my sexuality.
The color of my blood
the same 
as yours.
If you saw the light in my eyes,
if you saw my mother's tears,
if you felt her fears,
grief engraved on her skin.
Would you have yanked me
like a weed from the
garden of life,
Would you have shattered
me in pieces
 leaving me
to bleed out in the dark.
Ideologies differ,
dreams unalike,
my diversity
makes me
a beacon in the fiber
of humanity.
The shape of my eyes,
the sound of my voice,
the shade of my skin,
my sexuality.
The color of my blood
same as yours. 

Sherry: Diversity is majestic! I love "a beacon in the fiber of humanity". A fitting poem for those dark days, Ayala. Well done.

Would you tell us a bit about your blogging journey?

Ayala: I began my blog, a sun kissed life, at a painful time. My father and my mother passed away thirteen months apart. I was mourning, I was depressed, I was trying to live again. I was vulnerable. I was also afraid. My fear was to open myself up to strangers and share my feelings. I thought about it and finally I decided to take a leap. 

Sherry: Oh, Ayala, two such painful losses! How very hard. I am so sorry. And so glad you began to blog. The online community is so supportive. It really helps us through both good and hard times.

Ayala: I write for myself, so at first I was not discouraged that no one else was reading the blog. One night I was drinking, one drink too many, and I wrote a message to one of my favorite bloggers, Aidan Donnelley Rowley. She responded by visiting my blog and leaving comments. Her words fueled me to continue.  At  the same time I met Belinda Munoz and Brian Miller, on line. They were a constant source of encouragement for me. 

What I could not imagine at the time was that my writing would lift me. My writing blossomed and so did I. I began on-line relationships with kindred spirits, other poets, bloggers, journalists and authors. The on-line community was encouraging and supportive. 

Writing helped me heal. I examined my loss. I examined the ordinary and extraordinary moments of my life. Writing unearthed the gratitude that I always felt. 

"Writing unearthed the gratitude 
that I always felt."

Sherry: I am so happy you found good people. And I love your gratitude quote. Gratitude is the secret of happiness, I do believe.

Ayala: Recently one of my poems was published in a book called Poetry as a SpiritualPractice. It's a collection of personal essays and poems by fifty women. My words are alongside some of my favorite poet friends. The book was edited by the lovely Catherine Gosh. The wonderful thing is that all the proceeds go to WriteGirl, a non-profit organization that promotes creativity and self expression to help empower girls. To be a part of this gave me great satisfaction.
Sherry: It looks beautiful! And it's a wonderful cause, too! What things might we find you doing when you aren't writing, Ayala?

Ayala: When I am not writing I love to read, take walks, travel and visit museums in new places.  I also love to go fishing with my husband. He is an avid fisherman and he ignited my passion for fishing. When we are out in the ocean we see so much beauty everywhere. I realize how small we are in the universe. I always feel humbled. 

My prized Tarpon catch
(It was catch and release)

Sherry: Me, too, kiddo. Is there anything you would like to add? Anything you would like to say to Poets United?

Ayala: I would like to thank you for inviting me to share a piece of my journey. We truly bleed on the page. Having other poets sharing their struggle makes us feel less alone.

I would like to thank my fellow poets for always lifting me up. Our community is filled with great talent and great heart. I am honored to be featured here. A special thank you to you, Sherry, for everything.

Sherry: You are most welcome! Thank you for allowing us to get to know you better. I am sorry it took so long! This has been such a lovely visit!

Wasn't this heartwarming, my friends? It is wonderful, week after week, to learn more about each other's lives. It gives more depth and understanding when we read each other's poems. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Stripped of my vanity
I wear you like a crown
strands of white
downy floating on the
sides of my face.
Gentle like the wind,
gentle like my soul,
I am comfortable
in my skin,
unveiling scars of shame,
and unheard confessions.
The crows feet are seen,
I do not wish to hide them,
or erase them.
The mirror does not lie,
nor do I.
My narrative
is mine to tell.
We all have one,
or two.
How wild have you lived,
have you been afraid of your shadow.
I walked alone,
I did not need acceptance,
I did not fear the unknown.
Curiosity and wonder 
were my companions.
I wear my failures
on my skin,
on the map of my soul,
in my dark eyes
and my enlightened being.