Vivienne Veronica Vs. Lisa Marie

Names matter. Names are symbolic, can set tone, start a conversation. A rose is a rose by any other name, but we may feel differently about that rose and it may smell rather different by another name. Perceptions change when names change. Names are part of our identity.

Last year I changed my first and middle name, from Lisa Marie to Vivienne Veronica. I love both names. Vivienne Veronica is so va va voom. It has elegance and femininity. I chose Veronica because of St Veronica who gave Christ her veil to wipe His face, and His Face left an imprint in her veil. It was around this time that headcovering was becoming important to me, so this name had significance. I also liked it because it was a four syllable religious name ending in “ca” just like Angelica after my daughter. I chose Vivienne with the French spelling because I loved the delicate look. Vivienne and Veronica go so well together. I love the alliteration.

I’ve always felt the very act of naming yourself or someone/something else is extremely creative. Names are so poetic and gorgeous and meaningful. I think I’ll always have a second name I use online or in writing or part time. I love Vivienne Veronica. I adore Zarina, July, Irene, and many others. I intend to use them at various times.

I also feel that in addition to giving me creative license and inspiration, renaming myself allows me to start over fresh.  When I renamed myself I was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and wanted a new name to reflect the new me. It was also a chance to break free of old addictions. Renaming myself provided me with a new start.

However, at the time I began using my self created name on everything from email addresses to blogs, I was not in contact with my family. There was a hole in my life. At the end of last year I got back in touch with them and we reconnected. It troubles them that I use a different name than the one they gave me. It hurts their feelings that I don’t use the name they gifted me at birth. So I split my time between the two names, leaving some people confused about what to call me, my family unhappy I’m going by another name at all, and me always having to remember whether the person I’m running into knows me as Vivienne or Lisa.

I am very attached to Vivienne Veronica, but I’ve decided it is best to start going by Lisa again, or maybe at least Marie for my legal middle name. I may always play with using other names online or creatively (naming myself is such a poetic, creative outlet for me), but legally I will keep my name Lisa Marie. Socially I will go back to being Lisa Marie. Lisa Marie is a soft, classic name with an L I really like and that gorgeous French Marie. Lisa Marie is just so female, so feminine. I know it would make my parents happy to see me going by my given name once more to people outside the family. So from now on, call me Lisa Marie, not Vivienne Veronica. I’ve changed over the last five years, and after all these changes I maybe now, more than ever, can fully be Lisa Marie. I am her. Vivienne Veronica gave me space to grow, like a chrysalis it let me grow my wings in safety. But now like any butterfly I am ready to fly. Like any river I am indebted to the rivulets at the base of my life, and they are an intrinsic part of who I am. Like a willow tree, I need to care for my roots. Vivienne Veronica was a good name for the leaves, but not the whole tree.


Art History

Quiet art history is just as dazzling as fireworks,

the artist’s eyes fluttering open in the morning an explosion of a bomb.

See the veracity of the paintbrush,

The verifiable anguish in colors prone to roam the white space,

the place where luck dies.

What arguments have painters had with invalid ideas,

high on their laudanum and making no sense to anyone but

the artist, a doctor for chartreuse concepts that long to be a lively lime.

What canonical cloudscapes inspired the Sistine chapel?

What childish memory provoked David?

Mother and Poet

I want my life to be an example of creativity and beauty to my daughter. Being a mother has completed me in some inexplicable way. It is as though I was born her mother, and Angelica’s birth was just a stage in my life cycle. When she was born it was as if I was a butterfly emerging winged from a snow white cocoon.

Because she completes me, and she widens my world, she has deepened my poetry. Motherhood has also been good for my productivity. It gives me less time to write. That may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. By allowing me less time to write, motherhood makes me focus when I do have time to write. Sometimes having all the time in the world just makes one fritter away time. When you become a mother, you appreciate time. That said, I still need my husband’s support for my writing. He lets me have a wonderful babysitter twice a week and gives me time to myself in the evening to read and write. Reading is the life blood of writing. A mother without any support and many children may find creating great literature next to impossible. Woolf was right when she said a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. But given critical aid, motherhood can enhance poetry.


-Reinvigorates me and gets my creative juices flowing

-Enriches my life and gives me more to write about.

-Makes me make the most of my time. I am super productive because I know how limited my time is.

Before I met my husband I intended to go to an MFA program before starting a family. I thought two to three years with nothing to worry about but writing would be ideal. Now that life has taken me down a different path, I see that for me nothing is further from the truth. Motherhood and the awesome responsibility it entails gives me a purpose, something everyone who wants to write should have. If your whole existence is writing, you may find you have nothing to write about. See the proliferation of novels and short fiction about writers/MFA students by writers/ MFA students.

This is not to denigrate MFA programs, which can be wonderful. I am simply saying that motherhood has in many ways been a rigorous training ground for my poetry, and that the breadth of experience it provides me is nutritional for my fertile mind.

Writer’s Block


To dive into this shallow pool,
My skull breaking my jaws breaking my teeth
Takes a noisy skill.
This is the end of the beginning,
Of this bony body of beautiful bridges.
To advance higher I need to dive deepest,
Lose my face searching for the base
Of creation.


A world of color is rich,

is all I need in this fog as heavy as malevolence.

What I need is a glass of hot pink,

an elixir of glowing purple,

a tincture of pool blue,

languid and electric.

My atrocious capsules of snow lay beside my ginger ale

on my bedside table

while a documentary on contemporary

art stabs me in shades of black and white,

Sound muted.

The Gaping O


I am an absence of air.

Paris writes me telling me not to come.

Many things have fallen

into the gaping O of love.


My sick senses stretch like a violin note over

a ghostly concert hall.

Halls are caverns.

I have a hall inside my city

And he waits there.

He has a bomb wrapped like a gift,

I the suction of quicksand.

The Poet’s Way

Lately I feel vague, uneasy stirrings inside me of unrealized inspiration. I have not written fresh poetry in weeks. I am going through a dry spell, which is not abnormal but still disconcerting. Writing is usually one of the constants in my life, and this prolonged period of creative silence is disturbing. A writer is someone who writes. I identify as a writer but have not been writing. Something doesn’t add up.

Part of the problem is that I need more poetry to read. Reading stimulates creativity and imagination. To that end I am going to find two or three new poetry books online and order them this week. I have to look online because so much of what they have in the bookstore I have either already read or it is much more mainstream than my taste. There are pretty slim pickings for poetry in most bookstores, at least the book stores around me.

I need to start using Goodreads to help me hunt down good books, too.

If I really want some inspiration, I need to take more of my current poetry and run it through Google translate in Xhosa and Afrikaans. That is an ongoing project of mine, to translate my poems into these two languages and back again to English and then edit and revise my results. I can get some really fascinating results from doing this and I love to play with language. It was inspired by a South African pen pal.

Sometimes I get flashes of imagery in my head or bits of phrases I want to use, but nothing cohesive has come together. Poetry is never far from my thoughts, but I just haven’t given birth to any healthy lines.

Sometimes a little bit of creative silence can be a good thing. It gives you a chance to collect your thoughts, process the world, and provides you time to live life so that you actually have something to say. Writing is an act of communication and rare is the person who truly has something to say 24 hours a day. Sometimes I come away from creative dry spells completely re-energized and ready to tackle lots of interesting imagery and conflicting ideas. Letting my writing brain sleep allows it to awaken refreshed. But this dry spell has gone on too long and I need a sort of bootcamp to get my creative muscles taut and toned again.

To that end I need some sort of discipline and something to ignite my mind. What I will do:

Read read read

Look at images for inspiration

Try handwriting some poems to end this block.

Reread Twyla Tharpe’s book on creativity.

Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and see if I can pick up anything useful.

Continue to work on waking up earlier so I have more time to write.

Talk to other writers about maybe having a support group.

Use my Mastery app to log time writing poetry.

Be willing to write work that isn’t my best just to get something down on the page. Great artists/writers, like great athletes, need to practice.

Sad Mornings

Lately I just can’t seem to feel any joy in the mornings. I don’t know why. I always have a good day to look forward to. But lately not only am I having a hard time waking up, I’m having a hard time getting up and getting going when I do finally wake up. I feel neither the urgency of the things I need to do nor the anticipation of the things I want to do. Instead I feel just sort of empty and low. I want to curl up in a ball and just stay still for the day. When I do finally get going I am okay, but I just haven’t been feeling my best in the mornings. I hope my mood is not starting to dip, as usually having a hard time getting out of bed is a sign that it is dropping. And today at lunch I actually had anxiety, which I haven’t had in a few weeks.

However I feel, I need to get more done during the day and I also want to make the most of and enjoy my mornings. So I need to come up with a plan to get me going earlier, and get me eager to start my day. I have a good life, so getting up in the morning should be something I look forward to.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to do several things to change my mornings. I’m going to set my alarm using an app called Alarm Clock Xtreme. The app settings allow you to require yourself to solve math problems of varying degrees of difficulty in order to snooze the alarm or turn it off. I’m hoping this forcing function of getting me to use my tired brain in the morning will force me to truly wake up. I’ve set the alarm for 8:02. Let’s see what time I wake up.

Now for the motivating myself to get out of bed part. I’m going to start setting daily checklists in my color note app in my color note calendar that will have reminders that pop up and show me what I need to do.  If that doesn’t help I’ll try Evernote or some other scheduling apps that might give me reminders of things I need and want to do. I’m hoping that just seeing a list of what I need and want to accomplish will help motivate me to get out of bed. I like Colornote because of the ease of use factor and because of all the rainbow colors it lets you use.

I’m going to try and start incorporating scripture in to my morning. Scripture can be so energizing and inspiring and it is the perfect way to start the day. So after making sure the baby has what she needs, and after letting the bunny out, I will dive into the Word. The Bible reminds me to take care of my family, my home, and myself – reminders I need when I’m not doing my best. And if the alarm I’m using to wake up actually works I should be awake early enough for once to have the chance to start the day with scripture.

Beyond that, I’m open to ideas. What can I do to dramatically change my mornings and my perspective on them? How can I take my mornings from unproductive and blah to creative and electric?

Iconography of a Sinner

This digital creation reminds me in feel and in color scheme of old iconography of saints, only this icon is of a sinner. The more we try to be like God the closer we will be to Him, though He is never far away.

The text is about how I connect to God. I believe in worshiping through artistic creations, loving out loud in color, and communing with God through creativity. Of course, actual communion is important too, and I’m not proud to admit how long it has been since I received communion.

The way God made me, I feel most alive when I am writing and creating. I worship through my creative endeavors, and I long to use my writing and art to bring myself and others closer to God.

Sometimes I question myself based on the verse in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where He says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others.” Is blogging about my faith journey and submission and headcovering practicing righteousness in front of others?  I hope not. I don’t feel more righteous than anyone else because of my headcovering, and I write about that and my faith and submission because they make me joyful, and because by writing about them I can process my feelings. I am not more righteous than the next person. I am not a good Christian, and I certainly am not trying to project a different image of myself. But I write about my faith because it is important to me, and because I would love to connect with other Christians, and especially with people who might become Christian. You never know who is reading your words and how you might affect them. Sometimes I need to remember that. I would love it if this blog was part of my ministry, if at some point it touched even one person’s life or made them closer to God. If it sends someone searching I’ll be glad. I don’t know that it ever will, but by being as open and authentic as I can and by being willing to talk about God here I think it could potentially have that effect. We aren’t supposed to do good things for the sake of public recognition, but as Christians we won’t have much of a witness if we aren’t openly Christian in public.

One thing I’ve been really struck by are the number of Muslim poetry and faith blogs. I know the Christian ones must be out there, indeed I read some of them. But so many are so commercialized and seem so impersonal. Very few are even vaguely creative or interested in creativity. Whereas one of my favorite poetry blogs I follow is Hijabii in the Rain, a blog by a Muslim girl who writes out poems, dreams, and visions. I haven’t found anything comparable on a Christian website (if you have, please, please pass it along!) and I figure sometimes you need to be the change you wish to see. So to that end I’m going to publish more poetry on here in addition to writing about my daily life and faith. I want it to be a personal and creative space.

If I ever seem self righteous, please tell me and let me know what I could have said or done differently. I just want this blog to be an extension of myself and my life, and I can’t express myself without talking about my faith at least some of the time.