July 12, 2024

Jasper County woman published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air’

Kellogg woman, Cindy Bear, has had a few of her poems published over the years, but she never expected her poem would be selected for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air.”

Bear read a story that the editors were looking for stories about Christmas so she sent in her poem “Healing” for consideration. She doesn’t recall exactly when the poem was sent but she received her first email July 8 that her poem had made it to the first round of the process. By July 22, Bear was notified she made it to the final round.

“On Aug. 7 I received an email that said ‘Congratulations! Your story has been selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air.’ I was both shocked and excited,” she said.

Her submission, “Healing” is a very personal and emotional story that Bear never expected to share with anyone after she wrote it, especially in a nationally published book. She had lost her second husband, Gerry White, in a car accident in July 1997. She wrote the poem just after Christmas that year to help express her thoughts and to cope with difficult situations, something she has done many times.

“(‘Healing’) describes the feeling of ‘getting through’ the process of decorating my Christmas tree,” Bear said.

The poem read, “It was going to be a very difficult Christmas. After only two years of marriage, I had lost my husband Gerry in a car accident a few months earlier, and I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas or anything else.”

The piece then describes how Bear purchased a tree that year and decorated it as a way to make it through the Christmas season. The tree also became a symbol for her as she was slowly healing after tragedy.

“For a lot of my poems/stories, it helps me to get my thoughts and feelings out in a difficult situation, while still keeping them to myself. For most of my poems, no one has ever seen them, and when I wrote this story, I never thought anyone would ever see it,” Bear said.

Bear hopes anyone who has lost a loved one and reads “Healing” can identify with the story and hopefully see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Bear grew up on a farm southeast of Newton where her parents, Kenneth and Norma March, lived their entire married life. She attended county schools and then went to sixth grade in the original B.C. Berg Middle School when it was first built. She graduated from Newton High School in 1970 and has spent most of her life in the Newton area. She and her husband of 20 years Michael, built their current home a few miles east of Newton.

She first began writing as a school assignment when her teacher had the class compose a poem. She received high praise from her teacher so Bear had to show her Grandma March, who thought the poem was wonderful. Grandma March encouraged Bear to submit the poem to Lyrical Iowa to be published, and it was. The publication is put out by Iowa Poetry Association and they host an annual contest every year and publish the winners in Lyrical Iowa.

Bear said her grandma was by far her biggest motivator.

“She was a prolific writer of both poetry and prose and had over 100 of her writings published. So whenever I showed her any of my own work, she thought I should send it in somewhere for publication,” Bear said.

Bear had another poem purchased for publication when she was 18 but she never checked to see if it was. That poem was “Can You See God?” and she later turned it into a song which a local group performed at her church, Killduff United Methodist Church, in 1981.

Writing has been a part of her life, and Bear can’t imagine not continuing putting her thoughts down in word form.

“I will definitely keep writing ... don’t think I can keep myself from doing it! Not sure if I’ll submit more. Just depends how I’m feeling at the time,” Bear said.

“It was going to be a very difficult Christmas. After only two years of marriage, I had lost my husband Gerry in a car accident a few months earlier, and I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas or anything else.”

—  Excerpt from "Healing" by Cindy Bear

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air” is a collection of 101 stories, including Bear’s poem. It is available where all books are sold and online.

Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or pampratt@newtondailynews.com

Pam Pratt

Pam Pratt

I have been at the Newton News since October 2014. I started as the Associate Editor and was promoted to Editor in April 2019.