I am . . .
   the sacred
    the profane,
    the hello
    the goodbye,
    a truth
    a lie,
Again and again. In one breath.
A delicate balance of the human equation.
In the sight of heaven


T. Liptak

A Time to Heal #MeToo

You may have seen #MeToo on social media this week in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood. Women and men used it to show victims of sexual harassment and assault that they are not alone. Like it or not, there is a perceived safety in numbers. Once the initial brave person comes forward, it usually bolsters courage for so many more to share their stories.

I put up #MeToo for about six minutes last night on Facebook and then panicked and deleted it. My hands are shaking as I type this blog post, but I think it's time for me to step forward as well. Part of the narrative of sexual harassment and assault is that these predators rely on their victims feeling shame and doubt and staying silent. When a victim finds their voice and shines a light on the crime, we all take back our power.

I was raised to be a good southern girl and not make people uncomfortable or upset. To be polite, friendly, and a "lady". Not to make noise or "cause a commotion". That is exactly what a sexual predator counts on.

So, here's my story. I was sexually assaulted at the age of twelve when I was at a public pool in Denton, Texas with my gymnastic team. My parents weren't there at the time, and I told absolutely no one about what had happened. I was ashamed and terrified and wondered what I did wrong? Why me?

Fast forward decades later. I was married and had my then four-year-old son with me shopping. In a parking lot, there was a man who stopped his truck as we were leaving the store and entering the crosswalk. He rolled down his window and made a crude comment to me. I ignored him and grabbed my son's hand tighter and rushed to our car. He pulled his truck up behind the car and blocked us in for several minutes. Unfortunately, this was before the days of cell phones. All I could do was lock the doors. I angled my rear view mirror in an attempt to get a good look at his license plate and facial features. This apparently scared him off, but not before I was able to get the numbers written down. The man had a record as a sexual predator.

Another incident involved a man stalking me in our local mall. He originally approached me and told me I was beautiful. I said, "thank you" and walked away. He followed me around the mall until I approached a female clerk and asked her to call a security guard for me. She did, and the guard escorted me to my car.

Driving home from Dallas, TX, on the interstate, a man tried to box my car in with his as I drove and made lewd gestures at me until I was in fear for my safety.

These are incidents that have stayed with me and shaped who I've become. I'm a private person and very shy. It is hard for me to trust people. This is not easy to share, but I'm tired of feeling like a shell of who I could have been because of sexual predators. This is my attempt to take some of my power back. I've carried this around in silence for too long.

I realize some people will scroll right past this and not want to hear it, and that's fine. However, I know there are people like me who have gained strength from others coming forward with their stories. This is for them. Please know that I am here for you if you need someone.

Indian Summer

A last gasp.
A sighing of change on the tidal winds.
Fading colors, gorged with sea-salt memories.
Windows sealed up, boardwalk deserted.
Time moving on,
A hollowness rings in my steps.
I watch the living seasons and rhythms of life
as the season’s tired blooms hang limp.
Their beauty faded.
Only to live in memory,
recalled another day.
The sunset catches my eye.
Amber light, aflame on the water.
A full harvest moon, soon to appear.
The sun, a dying ember,
lowers to kiss the silver-capped waves.
Waves murmur a familiar melody,
offering up summer’s last song.
I turn to go,
these earth feet connected to the sand.

Art of Peace Anthology Presentation - 2017

Building Bridges

Children's Wall-hanging

It was an honor to have my poem, "He Doesn't Make a Sound" included in the 2017 Art of Peace - Building Bridges Anthology. Thanks so much to Anne McCrady and Ann Faulkner for an inspiring evening.

He Doesn’t Make a Sound

No angry fists thrown in the air.
Only a five-year-old boy, dazed and bloodied,
in the back of a war-rattled ambulance.
His black silken hair powdered white with the rubble of his homeland.
No cries. No tears. Not a sound.
Born into a world that turns away.
A future as fragile as dust.
Yet, his face transcended borders and captured the heart of the world.
For a fleeting moment, one small Syrian child became everyone’s small child.
Then, we got busy with our own lives. Our own children.

We moved on. We forgot.

In this shrinking, wounded world, we must not live as strangers,
but learn to share a grief that is not our own.
Open up. Live deeper.
Make outraged noise for a child muted by bombs.
What we think we know about each other builds walls.
What we come to know about each other builds bridges.
Remember the displaced and the lost, who yearn for a stronghold.
Their dream of peace, evergreen and universal.
Hope of a better world for one’s children,
the common thread that connects us all in this tapestry of life.

                                                                                           T. Liptak

Find Me

This night, unfinished.
A possibility.
A girlish impulse,
clear-eyed and friendly.
A lesser angel in the curve of a smile.
A stranger’s face,
beginning to feel like home.
Holding everything you need within
a mad embrace.

                                                     T. Liptak

Chasing the Light

The sweet smell of lavender drifts on the warm breeze
and all the melodies come back to me,
of summer’s sweet songs.
Time slows down as I embrace the need to devour this thing called life.
A childlike longing to break the gold-tinged day into pieces
and slip them into my pocket.
To glut and gorge on sherbet-colored sunsets and cotton candy skies.
Each day given its portion of spectacular.

                                                                                                 T. Liptak

A Chapel Without Walls

A hunger gnaws at me as the winding road inches me to my destination. My patience is rewarded as the landscape unfolds like the pages of a child’s pop-up book into something rugged and wild.

The numbing repetition of big box stores and gas stations fades away as the small jutting, striated rocky ledges and mounds soon swell into the muscles and bones of the San Juan mountains in Southwest Colorado. Mountains that rise above me like a protective mother.

Tucked in along the gentle slope of her majestic skirt that spreads along the still water, I look up. Searching. Reminded of a simple, yet profound, truth about nature, life, and myself. All we have is the now. The moment at hand. These mountains generously offer me what I didn’t even realize I was looking for before now. A permission to slow down and take a deep breath. Truly listen to what my mind has to say.

A hush embraces me as I wander along the dirt path at the base of the rocky range stacked with towering cedars and aspens. The silence broken only by the click of my camera. The cool blue of the sky presses on me, rooting me to the earth. Wisps of clouds thread through the treetops.

I do not question the sensation that I am somehow at the intersection of the past, present, and future. A flash in time. Illumination. Seeing with my heart, as well as my eyes, what is before me. A joyous focus. I embrace it and mold myself to this new feeling of wonder combined with mindfulness. A rush of gratitude and completeness sweeps over me. The sense of a connection to something much bigger than myself grows with each step into this pristine wilderness. Here in this chapel without walls.