Day 18: Did a British pharmacy* just change my life?

You know how we scroll on and on through our social media feeds or news pages, searching vaguely for some kind of relief? You know how, secretly, we’re hoping we’ll come across the one post or bit of information that will make us feel better? It’s a terrible drain on our mental health and physical energy – most of the time.

Occasionally, we really do come across something that reorders our brain cells and jolts us into action.

“What are you doing?” my husband said when I still hadn’t turned out the light at midnight a few evenings ago.

“Writing poetry!” I replied, just as bemused as he was.

A few hours before, I’d come across news of the grand opening of the Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle, England, where the weary of heart can find solace in words. Poet Deborah Alma used to drive a Poetry Ambulance, as one does, but she raised funds on Kickstarter to renovate a high street property and create a permanent space where visitors can get recommendations for literary comfort, browse books and art, attend workshops and more. You can even get little bottles of “pills” full of perfect phrases waiting to be unfurled when you need them most. She says the idea began when, during long talks at her kitchen table, she saw how friends loved hearing just the right verse for their predicament, and realized others might benefit from something similar.

For some reason, this idea was like a match to kindling in my brain. It echoed everything I’ve been thinking lately about the magic of bookstores and the power of words. I wanted so badly to walk into that cozy space. I wanted a Poetry Pharmacy on my block right this minute. I especially wished I could set up a card table in a corner, set pen to paper and try out some improvised spirit-lifting. In minutes, I found myself hanging out yet another virtual shingle inspired by Deborah’s shop: Poems on Demand.

This latest challenge I’m setting for myself during my Year of Living (more) CostaRican-ly is to let myself be small. To relax and play, simply because I feel like it. To write something no bigger than an Instagram square; no more ambitious than “let’s have fun”; no more polished than “totally unpolished”; and no more organized than “send me any topic you want and I have to write about it.” Great Thunberg. Crickets. Reality star and activist Jonathan Van Ness. A vegan having a sudden craving at the meat counter.

So far, I’ve been scribbling with more glee than I have in more than a decade. I hope that you will send in a request or two (silly, grandiose, mundane or obscure) and follow along on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll add a fresh batch of little poems to the website every so often. Stay tuned, because as I was writing this, I got two new requests that will really test my mettle. One of them may involve radioactive peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Have you ever been ignited by a stranger’s idea before? Have you ever fallen down a rabbit hole of a new hobby or lark that made you happy? Do you use poetry to boost your mental health? Do you want to fly to England with me tomorrow and go to Bishop’s Castle? So many questions.

Let me know what you think. And thank you, Deborah Alma and your Kickstarter Donors, for creating a place so comforting that it can resonate across the sea. I started the Daily Boost because I believe that my adopted country is full of inspiration that deserves to be shared, but you reminded me this week that, by the same token, the world is full of great ideas that can strike our fancy at any moment, borders and oceans be damned.

May your customers be many.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

8 comments

  1. Great post! Let’s go! Oh, in paragraph 5 should it be waiting, not waited? I read it very quickly tho.’

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. “a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas”
    What a brilliant idea. And Deborah Alma and her fabulous Poetry Pharmacy certainly ticks those boxes. So pleased you’ve been inspired to ‘poet’ too!

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  3. I, too, fell in love with the Poetry Pharmacy article. Then I thought; “Hey….why couldn’t an art supply or a music store offer something like that, too?” (Full disclosure – I teach music therapy so that’s where my head goes – arts for the people! 🙂 Because I “liked” the Poetry Pharmacy’s FB page, your post came across my feed, and I’m delighted to discover your writing and how you are sharing inspiration – thank you!

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