The strength of Blood Into Ink is the writers who gather here. Each member is fierce, talented and incredibly respectful and supportive of others living with a history of trauma. We believe that their stories will move and inspire you
Aurora Phoenix – my nom de plume
Where do you live? What do you love about it?
I live in Ohio, USA, straddled between Cincinnati and Dayton (living in one, working in the other). I have lived all of my adult life here. I grew up in Detroit, MI, USA. I love the splendor of the Great Lakes, and feel very connected to Michigan, especially northern Michigan along the lake. While Ohio still feels like an adoptive home, I love the versatility of Cincinnati. It has many of the attractions of a larger city- access to arts, sporting and cultural events – while retaining smaller neighborhoods. I continue to learn unique features of this city, now through the eyes of my young adult children.
Tell us about yourself
I am essentially re-starting my life as I approach 50. I was a clinical psychologist, suburban mom and partner. Through a complicated series of events, misplaced trust in another’s actions and errors in judgment, I went to prison 3 years ago and lost everything – career, home, many friendships, respect. I am gradually rebuilding a career and my place in the world. It has been an absolutely horrendous journey, and has taught me much about the farce that is labeled justice in this country. I am frankly damn proud of how I have handled this detour in my life. Despite many moments of despair, I have remained focused on finding ways to create positives in this journey, as well as to continue to give back to others, which has always been a focus in my life. I am re-forging my bond with my 3 children, all of whom are now young adults. Whereas 3 years ago I was planning the travel that would be possible when my youngest went to college, my future is now uncertain in ways I never would have dreamed. I tangle with guilt, grief, fury, and a horde of ghosts and demons in party dresses. I work 2 jobs, appreciate the bliss and joy that is nature and I write.
* In 1991, south of Big Bend National Park, I crossed the Rio Grande in a rowboat – rowed by Mexicans from the tiny town on the other shore. Technically an illegal border crossing. *I have incredible acrophobia- the 3rd step of a stepladder is anxiety producing. * I have crawled spread-eagled on my porch roof to clean leaves out of the eaves * Last summer I went sky-diving. I figured after prison, that was NUTHIN. It was an fantabulously peaceful experience. *I love to cook, especially with my 19 year old son, who is a cooking show aficionado. * I learned to crochet as a young girl and taught myself all kinds of new stitches in prison. * I am an ardent feminist who now can gracefully allow men to open doors for me. * I am painfully shy but can rock public speaking like nobody’s business * Last week I walked into a women’s prison as a guest speaker for a re-entry class and shared my experience. It was an incredibly powerful experience
Tell us about your blog.
I blog at Insight from “Inside” My blog was begun for me, by my absolutely amazing mother, while I was incarcerated. She officially began it in July, 2015, though I had been incarcerated since October 2014. I wrote daily, on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper, and mailed them home. As my parents researched options for publishing any of my pieces, blogging was recommended as a forum that might open doors as well as help hone my writing in the awareness that there was an audience. Once I was home and had unfettered access to a computer, I took over blogging myself. Re-entry is its own trauma, and a number of months passed before I began blogging in earnest. In March, 2017, I began blogging regularly.
What motivated you to start Insight From “Inside”?
The third week into my incarceration, I had been transferred via con air out of state and was in my 4th jail. As part of their intake process, I was spending the entire weekend locked down in a cell, with literally nothing to do other than pace in a cell smaller than my home bathroom or read the Bible. I had a golf pencil and a sliver of a window. I tore the blank onion skin pages from the back of the Bible, watched an oak leaf dance in the breeze in front of the razor wire fence and began to write. I was literally writing to save my soul and prevent myself from banging my head against the cinder block walls. Unable to even control whether the lights were off or on, I conjured the title “sunshine on razor wire,” and in my half-conscious reverie, labeled my concoction “fractured poetry.” Over the next year and a half, my father referred to them as my “jottings.”
What keeps you blogging at Insights from “Inside”?
As much as my blog began in a desperate clinging by my fingernails to the edge of a cliff, it has continued as a deep dig through a tunnel to that mythical light.
Initially, I was writing as a pressure release valve. Soon after, I was also writing because I needed people (someone, anyone, Bueller?) to witness the trauma of incarceration. The absolute disempowerment and voicelessly of that experience lit a fire in my soul.
I am by nature extraordinarily shy, so it took supreme effort for me to comment on other blogs. I am incredibly glad that I did, as I stumbled into an incredibly affirming community. I am inspired daily – creatively, emotionally, spiritually. I feel challenged to improve my writing, galvanized to learn and grow, and unconditionally accepted.
Why did you get involved with Blood Into ink?
I have been motivated around issues of trauma for years. As a psychologist, working with survivors of trauma was a particular passion for me. That professional interest was layered upon earlier personal trauma and topped with the recent trauma of incarceration. I was amazed as always with Christine’s (Brave and Reckless) endless energy. I was further astounded to be invited to be a curator of a site with such a sacred mission. (I am still adjusting to the renewed notion that I am a human being rather than a “number.”)
Saying no to such an invitation never occurred to me, and I remain extremely honored to be involved.
What does it mean to be a “Warrior Voice of Survival”?
I abhor violence, on every level, so at first glance, warrior seems ill-fitting. Yet the scars on my soul testify to the fact that I have been in a war, whether chosen or not. To me, being a warrior voice for survival means that I am stripping myself to the core in service of offering comfort and understanding to anyone else to may have experienced similar pain or be in need of it. My experience, my actions, my emotions – flawed and messy and a source of discomfort to those who wish to believe the world is neat and orderly – join with those of similar tribes. Together we raise our voices in a timeless tribute to those gone before us, chorus of those with whom we march, prelude to those who follow. Joined in survival, we are stronger than those who wish we did/do not thrive.
Tell us about your writing goals
Every time I get the sense that my writing has touched someone, I have met one of my writing goals. I absolutely write to connect with others. I strive to improve my writing, and in the connection with others on WordPress, I am frequently inspired. Of course, I would also love to be published and have a broader readership for my writing.
What is your writing process and routine?
Given my current schedule (2 jobs, 60 + hours per week, commuting), I seldom have the ability to create a large block of time in which to write. I tend to write late at night when I am finally home, often forsaking sleep. If I have not written in a day or two, I definitely make myself write in the evening.
I carry a small notebook in my purse, and scribble ideas as they occur to me. This often results in difficulty deciphering specific words later, as I write on my steering wheel while driving, in the parking lot, or whenever else inspiration strikes. I write at breaks at work, or between jobs. I have found that capitalizing on any moment of inspiration is helpful.
Has your writing appeared in print? How did that happen?
I won an essay contest in middle school, which was published in a local Catholic publication, which I have long since forgotten.
I had an article published in Orion Magazine, written about watching birds from my cell window.
What is your advice for new writers and bloggers?
I agree with all of Christine’s advice to new bloggers. The only thing I would add, coming from my own shy little shell, is “reach out.” Remember that the culture of WordPress is inclusive, kind and respectful. Your timid yet enthusiastic response to a post that moves you or touches your soul will likely pay off. I connected with Christine, as well as several other bloggers whom I am blessed to know, all through comments on posts.
Talk to us about what you like to read
I love to read all kinds of books, as long as they do at least one of the following: pull me into a story that lives and breathes and takes me out of myself; uses language that keeps me engaged and learning, while also relatable; creates at least one character with whom I can relate, emotionally if not logistically; and is not gratuitously violent.
Tell us your favorite blogs to follow
Favorite is a trigger for me, on a host of likely very uninteresting levels.
There are a number of WordPress writers who astound me and touch my soul. They are not always the same writers day to day, and yet there are always some.
Tell us which pieces of your own writing are your favorites
My first piece on Secret First Draft: Soul Rape
This was very personal, conveying layers of experience
My response to the Moon Ate the Dark Writing challenge
and my softer side in Ghost of a Love
Any final thoughts for the Blood Into Ink readers?
Being a part of the community on WordPress and especially Blood into Ink has been incredibly healing for me. Daily, I receive more than I give.
I remember, routinely, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” – Nietzsche
Also “your silence will not protect you” – Audre Lorde