Sifting through the rubble

Inside our houses, we keep secrets.

Like flowers on the doorstep,

we disguise the truth.

Passerbies are lead by the illusion.

Pretty drapes, a new mailbox,

all show signs of what it means

to be the Joneses.

A cycle of want not need,

Will lead us places

we never knew.

It is no longer about the simple life,

but creating a place

that resembles what we thought wanted.

The Joneses are not your friends,

Smoke and mirrors will crack and fade,

to reveal the three ring circus.

-K. Lukasak

Gaining perspective by reading your writing out loud….to an audience

I always seem to find myself being “that” person. The person who cries during a commercial, at the school’s chorus concerts, and of course during movies. So why would this time be any different?

Not that this is the focus on my post, but it might help to know that I am inherently a crier. So basically don’t let that scare you away from my advice, unless you’re a crier like me, then all bets are off…….

A while back I was at a writers’ group meeting, and decided to read one of my poems out loud.

I had recently visited the traveling memorial wall for veterans, and was moved by the significance of it. All those names, and all the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I wanted to share my piece with the group. Sharing your writing makes it more than just words on paper. It brings the emotion to life, my heart was pounding but I was ready.

So obviously you’ve guessed it, I broke down crying part way through, and could barely finish reading my poem.

As embarrassed as I was, reading my words out loud to an audience made them real. I felt the emotion rather than just hearing it in my mind.

While editing your work I encourage you to do the same. Don’t just have someone read your writing and give you feedback, but read it out loud and take ownership of the words that you have written.

Hopefully you don’t cry like I did, but trust me, it will feel really good.

I have also included the poem in case you were wondering.

Memorial Wall

I saw the memorial wall,

made to honor those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

58,228 names stood in front me.

Names I did not know

People connected to families that I had never met.

I wanted to know them

I wanted to know their story,

And I wanted to know what they had left behind

When the years pass on, we tend forget.

We forget the promises that we made as a community,

As a national family to serve protect

And honor the ones who fought so hard for our freedom.

We forget the families after their tears have dried up

And the cameras leave them behind.

We forget the burning desire to make a difference

To be the change that we want to see,

And we sadly forget those who are not here anymore

To help us remember.

We forget what it is like to lose someone we love,

Until it hits home so closely it hurts.

Human nature is not to blame, but our self absorbed hearts.

We see them every day in passing, but do not stop to say hello.

They wear their hats and vests with pride,

Declaring their duty to this country and everyone who lives here.

We pass them by without a smile, without an outstretched hand,

And without saying those two words,

“Thank You”

-K. Lukasak (2014)

Easier said than done, but the words still ring true

I read somewhere recently that people who are looking to get into a new physical routine should identify themselves with the type of athlete that they want to become.

Maybe we see ourselves as a runner, yoga enthusiast or a cardio queen. Whatever it may be, studies have shown that the mind is a powerful thing, and has more control over our goals than we think.  By envisioning the type of person we want to be, we are more likely to make choices that align with our goals.

Just BeI can’t tell you how many times I hear writers say that they don’t consider themselves to be actual writers. Even though they blog, write poetry or have started working on a book, they haven’t actually internalized the idea of being a writer.

The reasoning behind this?

I can only guess, but if they are anything like I was, I was waiting for validation from someone else before I went out a limb and called myself a writer.

I had become my biggest obstacle, and the sad part is that I was the only one standing in my way.

I was doing all the things that writers do. I write often, work on honing my craft, and had even been published.

So what gives?

It’s time to start seeing yourself for what you want to be. Acceptance takes time, but it’s totally worth it. I understand if you’re not comfortable sharing your ultimate life’s journey at first, but when you do it’s amazing.

The best part, when you start seeing yourself the way you want to be seen, people will also see you that way too.

AVH Auxiliary Rotating Arts Program

The Berlin Daily Sun Weekender Columnist: The Girl Next Door (Kirstan Lukasak)

AVH Auxiliary Rotating Arts Program

Each week I continue to learn more about our community, and the opportunities seem never ending. Every month I had been publishing press releases from Androscoggin Valley Hospital highlighting their Rotating Arts Program. I loved seeing the variety of artists and local talent on display.

I couldn’t help but want to know more about the program and my quest to find the people behind the artwork lead me to Edwina Keene, volunteer coordinator for the AVH Auxiliary Rotating Arts Program.


Brad and Sue Wyman

The Arts Committee was first formed in 1978 and chaired by Jacquie Dumas. The committee started by planning a holiday art exhibit over the Christmas Holidays in the hospital lobby and corridors for the enjoyment of patients, visitors and employees.

Following the exhibit, the committee held monthly one-person exhibits. Richard Greene, AVH president at the time, said he hoped the new art program would evolve into a “true community project” under the leadership of the hospital auxiliary.

Throughout the years the Rotating Arts Program has had a variety of people who have dedicated their time and efforts to keep the program going. In 2008 the Arts Program was re-established by AVH volunteer Ron Fini. Not only did he handle every aspect of the event, but Ron also secured funding for special lighting and wall hangings for the cafeteria.

Now the program is run by Brad and Sue Wyman who continue to build on the efforts of Ron. Exhibits are being held every six weeks and artists are already booked through February of next year.

Some upcoming displays include travel photographs, drawings, paintings and quilts. One anticipated artist is Lloyd Alexander, a local nature photographer whose photos of a snowy owl were featured in the paper.

For more information or to schedule an exhibit, contact Edwina Keene, volunteer coordinator by calling 326-5676, e-mail or contact Mr. and Mrs. Wyman at 449-6794 or

In next week’s edition of The Girl Next Door, read about a group of local Mahjong enthusiasts. Mahjong originated in China and is played with 144 domino-like tiles. The objective of the game; building a winning combination of pieces. Deidre Blair will also be teaching a crash course for absolute beginners to learn the basics of playing the game. “Learn Mahjong” will be held Friday, Feb. 27 from 6-9 p.m. at the WREN Works Maker Studio on 117 Main Street in Berlin. For more information about the class visit or call 869-9736.

Kirstan Lukasak writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Her inspiration comes from events and people in the community who continue to work hard to make the North Country one of the best places to live. You can contact Kirstan by sending an e-mail to

Editors worth admiring

I used to dislike editors, and I say dislike lovingly. It was more of a jealously factor. Good editors had a skill that I didn’t posses. They could look at piece of writing and really fine tune it, and it usually didn’t matter to content either. A good editor understands the bigger picture, and they know what the reader is looking for.

Editors in my opinion also have an upper hand when it comes to editing some else’s work. Regardless of how much I try to detach myself from my writing and see it objectively, I really struggle with removing myself from the piece. Also being able to view a piece with fresh eyes has its advantages too.

red-pen-editIn my life I have known traditional editors and people who just love the English language. My mom is one of those editors who loves English. She understands grammar, punctuation and tense. I also think she enjoyed using a red pen.  My mother went back to school when she was older and completed her master’s in education so she could teach.

I didn’t do this on purpose, but I consider myself to be basically opposite of my mother. I just love to write and write, without any proper format in sight. My poetry used to really frustrate her the most, because I used the term “freestyle” to its fullest. My main goal was to get my feelings down on paper, beyond that I don’t spend a whole lot of time reformatting it.

My mother has also become my go to person for writing questions. Even though she doesn’t consider herself a professional, she really understands the ins and outs of writing. I know that she will be able fine tune my work, and pick up on the areas that don’t sound quite right.

She also takes it a step further and can explain to me why something doesn’t make sense, although I usually don’t remember what she said. She has also never questioned my style of writer, well except my poetry from my younger years.

Knowing that someday I will have to fine tune my editorial skills, it might be a good idea to start practicing now. One area that I feel I am lacking is overall knowledge. My knowledge of grammar and punctuation is limited, making it hard for me to feel confident as a traditional editor. I would hate to tell a writer to make some changes only to realize later on that I was wrong.

As an editor I think our views on writing are also important to take into account. My philosophy when it comes to writing is first just getting the words down. I really don’t like being too critical of someone’s work, because I feel like it can minimize their accomplishment.

I found this happening a lot with younger students who were struggling to learn how to write. It killed me to see a story just waiting to be told, but the student was hesitant because they knew it would just be covered up in red pen.

As a writer I have also known that feeling when you work really hard on piece just to have it torn down right in front of you. I have horrible memories of crying after receiving grades, because I was devastated. I can say for certain that I will never be that editor.

Life is like a snowball rolling down a hill

Sometimes life feels like a snowball rolling down the hill. It starts out small and manageable, but as you move forward it continues to grow until it is too large to handle.

Right now my snowball is too big. It isn’t serving it’s purpose, and I think it’s time to rethink things.

snowballTaking control and changing course, isn’t an easy decision to make, but once it’s done amazing things can start to happen.

This past week I have been reevaluating how I spend my time and what purpose it serves in my life.

Do the things I spend my time on really have a positive impact of my life, or is it just taking up time and space?

And lastly who am I doing them for?

I really think that all too often we do things just because we are afraid of what other people might think. When they ask us to do something it can seem easier to just say yes, rather than facing the judgments we hold against ourselves.

I haven’t completely eliminated activities, but I have decided to take a major step back from them.

Recently my time has felt spread thin, and I haven’t been able to focus on what matters most to me.

I think for now I will leave it at that.

Throughout this next week I am going to rework how I spend my time, and figure out how I can make the best use of it.