Alicia Winski has found the cure for pain - for her, at least.
The California native credits writing for helping her emotionally survive several tragedies.
"Writing got me through the deaths," she said.
The author of "Running on Fumes," a book of poetry, Winski's writings are raw and personal.
"A lot of people call my writing 'emotional bleeding,'" Winski said, "and I bleed all over the place."
Winski, who moved to Sequim last August after her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, grew up in Los Angeles. She suffered from panic disorder and an abusive childhood and was prescribed medications to help the pain.
"I was useless as a human," she said. "The doctors buried me in pills."
In 2001, Winski's stepfather died in her arms. Five weeks later her husband was killed and two months after that her father died.
She ditched the medicine, picked up a pen and hasn't stopped since.
"I saved my life and my family," she said.
Winski and her son moved from Los Angeles to Seattle where she performed her poems at open mic events. She describes her performances as poetry with an internal rhyme or movement.
Winski hopes to start similar poetry performances in Sequim. She wants to hold them in venues like The Buzz, a coffee shop that features local artists and weekly open mic events. She wants high school students to get in on the action, too.
"There is so much more young people can be doing than hanging out in the Safeway or Walmart parking lots," she said.
Winski describes herself as the quiet type in high school, but a student with many feelings and ideas.
"I would like to open the door to the shy, quiet type of high school students," she said.
Many high school students have dreams, feelings and in-depth thoughts that are worth hearing, Winski said. She would like to see those brought out and encouraged.
More than anything, Winski hopes people will be willing to express themselves and follow their dreams, regardless of their ages.
"I want people to not give up the hope," she said.
She gave the example of Susan Boyle, the 49-year old Scottish singer who gained international attention by competing on the TV show "Britain's Got Talent" and later went on to record.
"Susan Boyle didn't give up the dream," Winski said, "and look where she is now."
Besides encouraging others to perform their poetry, Winski hopes to add some competition to the mix in the form of slam poetry. Slam poetry, a competitive event that emphasizes both writing and performance, has been around the country for years and slowly is building, Winski said. She wants to revitalize the competitions in Sequim, especially for young people, whom she calls "particularly competitive." She said that even the shyest of people will fight for a competition.
Winski will enter the slam but doesn't necessarily plan on winning.
"There's always somebody better and they could be in Sequim," she said.
Winski's mother died on June 17. Though struggling with her death, Winski knows she will make it through thanks to her writing. One particular poem, written this year while her mother was sick, states, "I stand mute, helpless and paralyzed by the weight of my grief."
Winski says she knows that writing is not a cure-all, but it is extremely healing.
She is working on her second book and hopes to have it published soon.