Monday, July 30, 2012

Lazy Sunday of Reading

Yesterday was lazy Sunday. I enjoyed every bit of it, except at one point I was hungry but couldn’t pull myself away from my reading. I became light headed. I finally ate. Lazy Sunday was a day of reading and I slipped in one movie based on the short story, Don’t Look Now.

On a recent visit to the library I went in search of a book that sounded interesting from my daily calendar. It led me to another book that I saw on the nearby shelves: A History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom. This wonderful book is providing me a view of the breast from a historical perspective, which I am finding fascinating so far. I already have opinions about female beauty and the differences in beauty and the power of the female body, etc., Yaloms’ book, though provides an interesting analysis as we follow the progression.

From the new section I selected A Journey through American Literature. I started reading Captain’s Courageous. I saw the movie long ago at the insistence of a friend’s father who had a selection of his favorite movies that he always wanted to share with others. The movie touched me immensely and now years later, I am reading this short work. I’m happy that he had me watch the move. I should have finished the book yesterday, but I wanted to give the other books my attention too, and I must say the dialog bogs me down a bit with the different dialects, so I read it slower than usual.

I also picked up where I left off on Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction. A question had come up about outlines for writing novels in general. Someone shared a website link, and then I shared a website link, as well as a passage where Rand shares her views on outlines and plotting. The statement that struck a discordant cord from one person was my final sharing on Rand’s opinions that though there is not a dead set rule on outlines, some prefer more details, others less detail—or no outline at all—Rand did have one strong opinion being that, “The only absolute rule is that, whether you write from the beginning or the end or the middle, you must start plotting from the end” (pg. 50).

I like being open to all views, to all modes of approaching any situation. I also tend to see where a story or essay will take me, but my strongest work has been when I have an idea of an end in sight—that of which I wish to convey. I don’t write from the end, but I have had the end in mind. I don’t feel that I’ve done this lately; however, after reading Rand’s statement, and I know she’s not the first to say it, but it resonated with me in my reading other’s people’s work, published novels or even short stories that often fall flat at the end as though there wasn’t a clear picture of what direction the author was heading. Therefore, I see that by having a purpose, the end in mind—in some cases—only makes a work that much stronger. Alternately, there may be times when it’s best to allow a story to shape itself without an end in sight, leaving the story to chance, to the characters, etc.

The bottom line is there are so many choices. We don’t have to follow the same every time. And what works for one writer won’t necessarily work for another. We can experiment and be open to all angles.

There is one piece that I wrote and in trying to find its larger truth that one reader nudged me toward (thank you, Vincent), even though it is already written and posted as a travel piece, I am going to revisit it and try to apply a framework of looking toward the end and figuring out where to go from there. I’m not sure how successful I will be, but I will give it a try.

While reading The Art of Fiction, just as Rand’s own words about Atlas Shrugged convinced me to read that novel, I now want to read The Fountain Head. I’ve downloaded a sample copy and am pretty sure I will be hitting “buy” before long. I have also downloaded a sample of her essays, Philosophy Who Needs It? I suppose I am drawn to her because of her strong opinions. I don’t agree with everything she says. I admire that she’s a thinker and she stands by her words. I admire her characters and her writing, as well as the little bit of her biography I’m aware of, how she taught herself, how self-sufficient she is, how devoted she was to her husband and how he supported and loved her and how though she said she didn’t believe in dedications, she decided to dedicate The Fountain Head to him: “Frank was the fuel. He gave me, in the hours of my own days, the reality of that sense of life which created The Fountainhead.”

Rand speaking of her decision to dedicate the novel touch me deeply:

“I had been opposed to the practice of dedicating books; I had held that a book is addressed to any reader who proves worthy of it. But, that night, I told Frank that I would dedicate The Fountainhead to him because he had saved it. And one of my happiest moments, about two years later, was given to me by the look on his face when he came home, one day, and saw the page-proofs of the book, headed by the page that stated in cold, clear, objective print: To Frank O’Connor."

More from Yesterday’s Reading

Don’t Look Now – A collection of short stories by Daphne Du Maurier selected and with an introduction by Patrick McGrath. Because I don’t usually put too much focus on the types of books I read, rather if the story sounds interesting, I will read it. I have read a couple of Patrick McGrath’s books and enjoyed them very much, especially Asylum. I found it browsing the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble at least fifteen years ago. I hadn’t given thought to the fact that I was reading a work of Gothic Fiction. The only reason it now dawns on me and I experience an “Aha” is that Daphne Du Maurier is categorized as Gothic and here McGrath has selected these pieces, a name I recognize. I do enjoy reading about the dark nature of humans, as long as it’s done tastefully, beautifully—and with a larger purpose.

A Journey Through American Literature by Kevin J. Hayes. I found this slender book on the “New” shelf in the library. It explores American literature in a digestible way, allowing me to easily see the connections in the writers that the author, Kevin J. Hayes, professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, has chosen. The book is organized by the following chapter headings: Beginnings, Travels, Autobiography, Narrative Voice and the Short Story, Poetry, The Drama of the Everyday, The Great American Novel, Endings. I am about to approach the section on poetry. I enjoyed all the chapters before that. This really is a gem. Afterthought: I think this book is what brought me back to Captain’s Courageous.

The View from the Seventh Layer by Kevin Brockmeir. I first came across this book about a year or two ago. I think I took a snapshot of the cover in my mind and remembered part of the title because of the number seven and then layer stuck too. And then another synchronistic book experience was that recently almost the same time I was trying to remember the childhood book that I thought was lost forever, I was trying to remember a short story that I read and loved. Certain images circled. The end, portions of the middle , but especially the end were cemented in my mind. I did a google search, typing in words: birds, sound, music, death, older man. I came up dry. I wondered if the story was from a collection by Haruki Marakami. No, that wasn’t it.

I tried to imagine what book had I checked out from the library years ago that could have had this story I was looking for. Why didn’t I write it down like I usually do? Then I saw the cover of The View in my mind: A planet, layers, colors of dusk . I didn’t know for sure, but I checked it out anyway. And well, it was the book! It’s the first story in the collection: A Fable Ending in the Sound of a Thousand Parakeets. I won’t say much about it, only that in these seven pages, those pages came to life. It was music and it stayed with me and I won’t forget this time and I want to keep reading it over and over. It’s an unexpected, understated beauty. I plan on finishing the collection this time. The title story was lovely, yet disturbing. It took me a few days to pull out of the feelings I felt. Subtlety. So that you don’t realize what’s happening until one gesture and then…you wonder if what you think occurred did occur or if it’s the other possibility. I was disturbed. It was effective, surreal, dreamlike.

I came back to Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. I read, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” and “A Stroke of Good Fortune.” I’m still digesting the stories. O’Connor seems to be in a class all her own. She leaves me thinking and sometimes she leaves me wanting to know more. It’s as though she’s taken me as far as she wants to and then leaves me there—as though the rest is up to me, the reader, to fill in. She’s done her job. Now, I have to do mine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Night Waves

Waves crash in the night, reflecting the light of the full moon. Sabine walks on the beach’s edge pondering love. Two kinds: love that smothers and love that let’s go. Many thoughts ebb and flow through her consciousness with the crashing of the waves. She feels the mist on her face and the taste of salt upon her lips, as her feet melt into sand crystals. She is alone on the beach.

She sees the patterns—they stare back at her; the reel turning all different ways, upside down, forward, sideways, zig zag. The flash goes off, a million tiny flashes twinkling in the sky, pulsing through her body.

The bottom of her white flowing skirt is becoming wet from the thunderous waves. Her long brown hair blows ever so soft in the wind, circling her shoulders. She takes the bottom of her skirt in her hands and runs into the ocean. Once in the water, she begins to strip her clothes from her body. She doesn’t need them any longer. She swims out and twirls around. As she swims still further, all that is visible in the distance is a shimmering on the ocean’s surface where she dances in and out of the sea.

Evening Pages ~ Little Snippets & Two Books

Today was a good day. Work was satisfying and I was so busy that I ran out of time, which was a nice change.

Two weekends ago we went to the wine country. We started in Calistoga and ended in Napa. The landscape was my favorite part. Seeing the Hawk was the highlight of my day.

I can tell I’m still trying to get back into my groove. Tomorrow is the last day of my accounting class and I am glad that it’s over—almost over. I don’t think I’ll be taking any more accounting classes ever.

I finished reading Love’s Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irving Yalom, M.D. I’ve read several of his books, both fiction and nonfiction. This one was in my bookshelves for years, and I had started and stopped it on many occasions. Just a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out from the bottom shelf, started reading, and finished a few days ago. I’ve always appreciated Yalom’s writing style, his ability to write a good story and draw the reader in. I feel like he allows us to see into the world of a psychotherapist, to really see what goes on behind the scenes. He’s honest and revealing of the process. At times I felt bad for the clients he was speaking of because of how he viewed some of them, but he kept it true and they read each of their stories before he published the book and they gave him their blessings.

A long time ago because I was so impressed with Yalom from what I read of his work, I wanted him to be my psychotherapist. I emailed him and to my surprise he actually took the time to reply that he did not have time in his schedule for new clients and he referred me to two other psychotherapists. I didn’t follow through, but I’ve always remembered that. He could have ignored my email. I wouldn’t have known. He didn’t though. He took the time to acknowledge me and that only made me respect him that much more. Life is funny like that.

I started reading Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories, edited by James Thomas & Robert Shapard. I had also checked out another very short collection of stories that were longer than in this compilation. I found these much shorter ones in Flash Fiction Forward to be much tighter and more interesting. I felt bad because part of it was the others, though still short, were too long for what I was expecting.

Here’s the first story from Flash Fiction Forward:

I thought it was a unique take on the situation, and in this small amount of space, I felt like I was there. I look forward to reading more of these flash fiction stories by other authors.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Childhood Book ~ Lost and Found

Noodle and Miss Ostrich

For years and years there has been a childhood book, an image that I could not get out of my head, but I could not remember what book the lasting image was from.

Recently, when I decided to reread Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand, that lead me to take a trip down memory lane and I did a search for children’s books from different time periods to see if I recognized other books that I may have forgotten. I saw a book that looked somewhat familiar: Noodle. I searched the library catalog and checked it out. Ah…another book by Munro Leaf. When I first saw the cover, I did not realize he also wrote this book. I set the book on the dining room table and it sat there for days before I opened it. I looked at the cover from time to time, having a vague recollection of having this book as a child, yet I had no specific memory of what was between the covers of this book.

One morning, the morning after my last blog, I opened the book and did recognize the dog fairy on the inside cover page. I began reading. The illustrations were coming back to me and I realized I did have this book as a child. I kept turning the pages, enjoying the illustrations and the story, and then—there it was—that long lost image from childhood. I had no idea that I would ever find the book that housed the image that seared itself into my memory.

It felt that it was right under my nose all of these years, if only I had dug a little deeper. The illustration that stayed with me was of Noodle when he approached Miss Ostrich, head in the sand, to ask her a question. Why of all images did this one remain? Not the dog fairy, or the wish bone, but Miss Ostrich hiding her head in the sand with Noodle beside her ready to ask his question. I became quite happy in those few moments to be connected to an image that I knew was out of a childhood book that meant something to me, yet I had no recollection of which book it came from and I accepted that. I didn’t try to search for it any longer, yet it has always been there in the background.

I love the story of Noodle, the little dog who learns to accept himself—just as he is.

I love the musty smell of this old library book, the sound of the creak of plastic as I open the book, and the thickness of the pages, so real in my hands. 

Over the years, I have searched out a few childhood books that I remembered and found again. In the case of Noodle, I wasn’t looking for that specific image that I never forgot; yet here I was—I walked right into the right book at the right time.

Noodle (1937) Story by Munro Leaf and Pictures by Ludwig Bemelmans.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moody Week, Writing, Nakedness

I’d rather stay at home all day—part of the day. If I could have my way…after I’ve written and read until I’m filled and satisfied, I’d hop in the car and drive, drive down the long tree lined road without a destination and stop when I was ready. I would find a small café, grab a sandwich and an iced tea. I would watch the ice melt, the cubes jingle in the glass after each sip, lifting the cold glass to my lips. I would open my notebook, inhale the hot pastrami warming in the oven before it was placed between two slices of onion bagel. I can smell the onions and the pastrami. I would look out the window, watch the people walk by. I would sit there with my pen in hand staring out the window, lose myself—and after some time has gone by, between bites and sips, I would begin writing, jotting anything that came to my mind and when I was full, when I was satisfied I would take a break and I’d do it all over again. In my reverie, I wouldn’t go to work at my regular job. It wouldn’t exist. I would be working doing something I love and I would make a living doing it. One day I hope to actualize this dream. The dream will have to sustain me.

It’s a moody week of ups and downs for no apparent reason. There are moments of happiness and moments of sadness. I believe the hormone fairy is about due for the cyclic visit and that always adds to my moods. I’ve lost some motivation for cooking and cleaning; although, I did prepare a pork tenderloin with a delicious rub the other night. I haven’t felt inspired to cook much of anything. Tonight though I have the desire to prepare a beef stir-fry—beef sirloin strips soaked in soy sauce, sautéed with green onions, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes, over a bed of rice. I don’t cook red meat often, but my body is craving the iron.

I overslept this morning. I’m feeling clumsy. I’m in internal cleansing mode. I’ll feel better. The day will be. Plans for camping have been postponed. It may be best. Now I will be able to attend the writer’s group meeting. The four pieces that I chose to submit for July to the group are all pulled from my blog, from the beginnings: Two poems and Two short personal essays. What’s interesting for me to observe is that I feel more nervous than when I posted them here for the first time. I will have to face people in the flesh and listen to their critiques. It definitely adds a very different element than hearing comments on the page alone. I hope that my emotions don’t get the best of me. I don’t mean it in a critical way. But even one comment from a woman in person about how she really liked something I had expressed, my closing lines—I started tearing up because of the tone in her voice. I could tell she connected with it. She understood.

The two personal essays I submitted are very personal and I only hope that my emotions don’t get the better of me. Even when I read one of my essays over, I became emotional. It sometimes takes me by surprise. I’m an emotional creature and this feels very different. I can’t hide my tears or laughter behind the screen. I will be naked, but I know I will be safe. Writers understand these things.

Naked on the page.

A Car in Neutral

Today I feel a bit like a car in neutral—at least when I first started feeling like a car this morning, that’s how I felt, then I started thinking, maybe I’m really a car in park. I prefer neutral because there’s movement. In park, I don’t go anywhere, until I move the lever, but see I feel like the lever is stuck. I’m having moments of feeling like the gears aren’t working. After today, perhaps even after I’ve gotten this out, I will be able to move ever so slightly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Welcome, Grey Day

When I woke up this morning, I looked out the window and was not expecting to see a light gray sheet pulled across the sky. It’s been hot these past few days, blue skies and playful clouds puttering around, changing shape, mingling with the sun. I poured my cup of decaf coffee, came and sat down, and thought to myself it couldn’t be…I heard the sound of car wheels riding on wet pavement. I stood to look out the window and it was indeed raining. Rain in July, right in the middle of a California summer.

Summertime was always my favorite season. That’s changed over time. I’ve grown to welcome the gray skies, the cooler, rain drenched days. We haven’t actually seen that much rain this season. But those gray skies…

I find solace in the grey.

Cool air against a backdrop

of grey and white

shakes me alive.

Hot cloudless days,

drowsy and heavy

with heat curled around,

push me down.

Cool, grey

cloud filled days snap me to attention,

make me see things differently,

colors and shapes and thoughts,

that I don’t see on summer days

in quite the same way,

blue jay,

wheat colored grass,


fuchsia blossoms burst…

splash color on the grey canvas

splashes of thought—

grey day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Miscellaneous Tidbits: Number day, Hitting Delete, and Poetry

I look forward to Friday the 13ths. Well, I don’t know if I look forward to them so much as I like when they happen. I welcome them. I’m superstitious about some things, but not Friday the 13th (knock-on-wood). So happy Friday the 13th to you!

Today is a number day: 7-13-12.

Hmm…what sort of number day is it? 13 and 12 look strong and odd together at first. Seven is one of my favorite numbers for some reason and seeing seven and 13 next to each other makes me smile. In fact, 13 looks like a smiley clown and twelve is a one with a two that decided not to be a question mark. 7, 13 and 12—a circus ring of numbers with seven as the ringmaster, while12 can turn into any animal he wants. He can shape shift. I see an elephant, no wait…a tiger…hold on…I see a seal with a red ruffled collar around his neck and he’s standing on his flippers and he’s dancing around and making his seal noises that sound like a fish barking and his whiskers shake and his body wiggles and he smiles to us, a happy circus seal.


Yesterday I hit delete. I know another who does this and I’m sure there are many others that do it and don’t talk about it. I don’t often find myself pushing the delete button. Many times though, I’ve thought about it and almost did. Something about yesterday made me do it. I had already written my blog and I didn’t realize I was going to write another and later when I reread what I wrote, I just wasn’t satisfied. I went back and forth in my mind about deleting: To Delete or To Not Delete? That was my question. After reading the first paragraph on my short second blog, I decided it was too rushed. Not quite right. I logged on and I did hit delete.

I think I’ve only ever completely deleted one or two blogs. No biggie. I see where I need to rework the deleted piece, to slow down; and one word in particular was bothering me. I decided it wasn’t necessary. I’d like to post the blog eventuall because it’s a memory—a food memory and I’d like to be able to look back.

It felt good to hit delete and it felt good knowing that I could come back to the piece because I didn’t hit delete on my computer.

Enough about delete.


I forgot how difficult poetry is to critique. Poetry can be so personal and sometimes it can mean something to the speaker that the reader will get a sense of but will not be able to enter completely. And a reader brings what they can, different experiences relate back in different ways.

Poetry can take longer to critique because there is so much there bottled into spaces of all sizes—and sizes can be deceiving. One small tiny poem can carry so much weight. With poetry every word counts even more, we move along—taken somewhere, immersed in a place or person, open to feelings. Who’s to say what is right or wrong? But of course it’s not about right or wrong, it’s sharing the experience of the poem as a reader and what I bring; it’s about what details I may be missing and noting that, what words are out of place; what feelings I feel after reaching the end; and how many times do I want to go back and keep reading? There are always questions. Sometimes I want more, even if it’s not meant to be. In some cases it can be more obvious; in other cases, it’s those fine details or lack of that you try to comb through and figure out what’s working and what’s not. And sometimes the poem is fine as it is.

There are so many ways a poem can express itself. Old schools, new schools, contemporary, rhyming, free form, etc. Just writing about this has brought a poem out of me.


Like a tunnel
suspended in space
grounded by gravity,
poetry shoots out—swoosh, bang,
into outer space,
twisting and turning,
reaching to the stars,
the shining moon—


Poetry is a wonderful mystery. I will always be in awe of what it can do, what it can pull out of each one of us.


Happy Day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Human Balance Sheet & The Heart

Driving home from accounting class a few weeks back, I was thinking about the accounting equation and I was saying to myself assets and liabilities, assets and liabilities, assets minus liabilities equals owner’s equity. And then I remembered a class: The Metaphysical Heart. One of the books we used was The Heartmath Solution by Doc Childre and Howard Martin with Donna Beech. I was trying to remember because I had a remnant of a recollection of there being a sort of human balance sheet in the book. I no longer had the book, so I checked it out from the library to see if what I saw in my memory was there or if I had seen it somewhere else instead.

That led me to back to my heart, and of bringing a sense of equanimity to my interactions and reactions, sometimes taking workplace comments personally. I turned to my heart—heart intelligence as the authors refer to it. Without much thought as though it was second nature, I would revive my heart intelligence and take it to work with me to aid me in those moments when I might go on the defensive because I’ve taken something too personally.

Since my first recollection those weeks back, it has been a ritual that when I am about six feet from opening the door to work, I imagine that my heart is in a beautiful silver protective cage. As I get closer to the door, I open the latch, allowing my heart to be my guide. I have to admit that this has helped me greatly. By bringing focus to my heart and acting from a place of love and understanding, I have been going about my work day’s much lighter, and not taking things personally and having a sort of protective love barrier. It seems I may be doing a modified version of Heart Lock-In.

Though the techniques of Heartmath can be found in other areas, such as religion, new age thinking, common sense even, I find that the Heartmath techniques offer a perspective that can only reinforce what we may already know intuitively and there are facts in the book for those that need their facts. I always try to keep compassion close by my side, along with understanding and openness, but recently it has helped me to bring my attention to my heart and to allow my responses to come from there in a more mindful and intentional way.

One day this week, I forgot to visualize the latch opening to release my heart before walking through the door. As the day progressed, I began feeling a bit stressed and it was then that I remembered that I hadn’t opened the latch—and then in those moments, I set my mind’s eye on the beautiful home of my heart and opened the latch to release her.

There are many tools to be collected and to be added to our toolboxes and this is one that my accounting class brought me back to. 

The section in the book, “Becoming Our Own Accountants,” shows us to take stock of our thoughts and emotional responses, determining which are assets and which are deficits. The page shows an “Asset/Deficit Balance Sheet” where you enter your assets and deficits and tally them up to see if you are somewhat in balance or if you may have too many items listed under deficits.

Under assets you “list the positive events, conversations, and interactions of a specific time. List as many assets as you can think of, feeling appreciation for each asset as you go. Also list ongoing assets in your life—overall quality of friends, family, living and/or working environment, etc. (Notice how conscious you were of these assets during the period).”

Under deficits you “list issues, conflicts, and events that were negative or draining during that same period” (pg. 97).

Most of us may carry our human balance sheets around in our minds and may not need to go through this exercise, and for some, it may be a useful exercise and show us that we need to bring in more assets to balance out our deficits so we don’t wither away due to emotional stress and imbalance.

One of the key points at the end of this chapter is that, “by using your heart as your compass, you can see more clearly which direction to go to stop self-defeating behavior. If you take just one mental or emotional habit that really bothers or drains you and apply heart intelligence to it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your life” (pg. 101).

Back in class, those seven or eight years ago, my project was on applying love—heart intelligence—in the workplace because I was having those same issues of taking things personally and not knowing how to deal with the boss’s sometimes offhanded personality, which would leave me feeling drained and upset. We had to break out into groups to discuss our projects and when I complained of my issues, one of the group members looked to me and said, “You have a choice in how you react.” It silenced me and I knew she was right and I thanked her. There was something in her tone, her tough but caring words that got through to me. It nudged me to accept my role in the equation, to realize that I had a choice to make. The first was to stop playing the role of victim. The second was either I quit, or if I stayed—if I liked my job enough—I would need to find a way to change my reactions. I still have my buttons and there have been moments when I have failed and my reactions got the best of me.

And yet, it is comforting to come full circle, taking an accounting class that brings me back to Heartmath; still the same job, with my same boss, still having our few moments, yet 98% of the time, all is well. I have found cycling back to Heartmath to be very valuable in maintaining my overall equilibrium—a tool in my toolbox that needed dusting off because it can be used anytime, anywhere—an asset to combine with the other assets on my human balance sheet.


The first link below is very helpful in summarizing the Heartmath philosophy and introducing the techniques.

Heartmath – Summary of Heartmath and Techniques

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Grass and More Reflecting on Writing

“The Grass is
always greener
where you
water it.”

From (napkin wisdom)

I came across this blog at work when I was looking for ideas to infuse into our bi-monthly team meetings. This quote is from the blog’s most recent post and I was drawn to the optimism of this familiar quote turned on its side: Productive, self-responsible action. I shared the quote with someone, they the witty one who finds the bleak humor in situations and what this person said to me is, “What if the grass gets peed on?” I thought to myself of course you would ask that. I replied back, “Keep watering.”

Today I am on an early schedule. Still need to complete my personal morning pages. I always get excited when a new and interesting class is upon me and I have been searching about on Amazon at the different short story writing books. I already have my texts for the class, but this is where the excitement comes in and then in the writer’s group I am also energized because each writer brings something different to the group. It has forced me to want to be able to learn the craft even better and before my course begins so that my feedback is more useful. I found a few interesting books and saw one that I had when I took another creative writing course. I had let the book go, but I found myself clicking “add to cart.” I wanted to revisit that particular book: What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. I was also drawn to Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by L. Rust Hills. What If was not available for Kindle and I decided that although Writing in General was, I simply wanted the paper copy, so it’s on order. I was also curious about the micro-story collections and flash fiction collections. I think I’ll wait on those for now.

I was thinking back on my past creative writing course the other day and how I have saved the stories. What I noticed by remembering is that I was able to tell fictional stories based on fact. I was actually able to write several short stories and let myself go. One story though, as I recall, verged on all fact wrapped up in fiction, whereas the others had small emotional moments disguised, made into something different.

I look forward to the short story writing class because it seems I am still hesitant about how to do it, even though I did it. Does that make any sense at all? I believe that having a guide and new examples, and drawing on my storehouse of emotional moments, it will eventually all come together. I also still need to let go. I must admit when I wrote a couple of the short stories, one in particular was partially inspired by one of my self-portrait paintings. The painting was infused with feeling and on that night I had the painting with me down on the floor—and the element that I needed to let go completely was a couple glasses of wine and I wrote with intensity. I sense that I may enjoy a couple more glasses of wine during the upcoming short story writing class. I suppose there isn’t anything wrong with that. I will try with and without. I know many writers drink. Drink, wine, cigarettes, coffee. Don’t they all go together sometimes?

There is one story that I was pleased with. I won’t use it in the short story class because the idea is to produce new material. I can revisit it at some point if I decide I want to and present it to the writer’s group. I am so exited that I’m practically jumping inside of myself. Writing is my bliss; the learning and discovery along the way is never ending—just as it should be.

This morning’s music is Latin Lounge from the Putumayo World Music collection. It sweeps me away to a sensual and rhythmic place. It is a splendid way to begin the day.

Happy watering and creating—happy writing!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Climbing A Tree

About a month back we went on a short hike. A break from the noise, quiet and vast views was just what I needed.

Corn colored grass glistened with the sun’s rays, swayed in the wind, calling for me to run through and fall into its soft cushion.

The views are always spectacular from up high. I can see why birds and crows always find themselves on the uppermost part of a tree or building. It’s the perfect lookout and it feels liberating, close enough to everything, yet in solitude amongst the clatter.

On our way back down the hill, I stopped at the oak trees and took some photos and then I got the bug to climb up the tree and sit in the crevice that you see here. My significant other said he could push me up by my bum, while I leapt up to get hold of the trunk. I said, no, no. I don’t want to go up that way. I’d rather climb it from the fallen branch on the backside. It looked easy enough. However, when I started to amble up the large trunk, I realized that I could still fall and I had to steady myself. It wasn’t quite as easy as it looked. I took my time. It wouldn’t have been a long fall, but it wouldn’t have felt good either and may have knocked the wind out of me. Who knows, I could have sprained a wrist. I went slowly, straddling the wide trunk, and then bringing my feet up the center once I’d found my balance. I was nervous, but I kept going on all fours, hugging the tree until I reached the spot. I had to negotiate a large clump of dried branches as I climbed over a large branch in my way. And then I made it.

My childhood home had a large pine tree on the side of the house. I used to love climbing to the crook and sit there for a bit. I was more daring in my younger years. I would swing and climb. I especially enjoyed climbing onto the chimney of our house and up to the roof. I jumped off the roof a few times. My older boy cousin was probably the instigator. We’d play with toy guns and go up to my grandparent’s, and again we’d find our way atop a roof; this time, though it was the roof of the little house my grandfather had built to store tools, antique furniture, and other odds and ends.

I was a bit of a tomboy growing up and at the same time I loved my dolls and play oven and other girl things. And mom dressed me up in frilly dresses and she also dressed me in horrid boy suits. She may have only done this once or twice. I was humiliated going to school in a boy suit.

I still have an adventurous side. I’m more careful now because I’m not as flexile as I used to be and I’m mindful of the creeks and crunches in my bones. I’m glad I climbed the tree that day, while I still can.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Portland: The Traveling Man’s Gift

From our trip in late April, a memorable moment has also been a sort of preoccupation since then. It started with an act of passionate kindness. I didn’t know how long it would take me. There it lay, unopened on a crowded shelf calling my name.

During our travels to Portland, Oregon, we visited one of the local wine bars a few times in between our other activities. From the outside, looking into the wine bar’s large window, we were immediately drawn into this cozy bistro. A few small round tables were set in the small front area looking out of the tall floor to ceiling window. There was one open table.

On this afternoon, we wanted to sit at the bar, so we walked down to the other side of the 8-seater bar to see if there were two open seats. We saw one empty stool at the end and one man standing next to it, hovering over his own empty stool. He saw us and offered up his empty chair for me to sit in and my significant other took the chair on the end. I took note that the man had a traveling look about him. He looked casual with long hair pulled loosely back, ruddy face, and a backpack. He reminded me of a man who has been traveling all his life. I pictured him out in the woods with a walking stick, windswept, the elements about him, dust, and hot sun.

The servers were busy. We recognized one from the other night. She was a friendly and helpful woman. She had fair skin with lovely freckles and strawberry blonde hair and always ready with a smile. We placed our order. The traveling man was drinking a beer. Our wine arrived. We sipped it and then the traveling man said, “if you don’t mind me asking, are you from around here?”

“I was just going to ask you the same thing,” I said, with a tinge of excitement in my voice.

He laughed and said something funny; the ice was broken.

I smiled wide. My significant other said that we were from the San Francisco area. That’s usually easier to visualize geographically than the East Bay or so we assume.

“Business or pleasure,” he said.

“Pleasure.” We all looked at each other, clinked glasses and bottles with our eyes.

There’s a dog in the bar. I assume he’s with the traveling man and don’t ask.

We continue chit chatting with the traveling man. I order a plate of cheese and crackers, nibbling in between sips of wine, in between watching the surrounding patrons, everyone talking, the servers going down the bar from left to right, keeping the glasses filled and also going out to the floor to serve the patrons there.

I look down at the dog from time to time and smile. I think he’s a schnauzer. I give him a pat on the head. He looks like he wants a treat.

The traveling man and my significant other spoke about a variety of things: sports, travel, California, Portland. I was sandwiched in between, mostly listening and also trailing off, staring out the large windows, watching people walk by, watching the sun dip in and out of the clouds, causing the wine bar to go from dim to bright. I turned to the dog and smiled. He was patient while his owner enjoyed himself. I looked over at the wine bottles on the shelves, noting the interesting labels.

I heard the traveling man and my significant other talk about Monterey and Carmel and the traveling man looked to me to be sure he was pronouncing Monterey correctly. He said that he had trouble with certain words—maybe words that had Spanish roots. I asked him where he was from. He paused a moment and if my memory serves me he said he was originally from Germany, but he had joined the service and had traveled around as a result. I believe he then lived in the mid-west for a time and now his parents live in Portland and this was now home for him—he was possibly in his mid to late fifties.

The bar is full. By the sounds of the chatter and laughter, everyone is having a good time. The buzz of the conversation makes my head spin in a good way. I feel enveloped by the good cheer and the friendly vibe that we’ve felt during our short stay in Portland.

The traveling man drank the last swig of his beer and he looked as though he was readying to leave. He turned to us and asked our names before parting. My significant other said his and then I said mine and when I did, you would have thought the man was going to pee his pants. He brought his hand to his mouth and made a squeal and said, “Ohhhh.” He paused and needed a moment to compose himself. “I think I’ve got something for you, he said” with total excitement in his voice.

My significant other and I wondered in a cautious but curious way. What on earth could it be? The man still couldn’t get a hold of himself. He reached down for his backpack and propped it up on the chair. “I hope I have it in here,” he said. He rummaged through his backpack with his nose practically inside. He looked from us to the inside of his bag. Finally, he produced a small and slender brown sack. He slowly took out the contents and handed me the movie, Rebecca. I looked at it and said, “Ah, I haven’t seen it, but a friend told me once that I should,” and then I added, “but my name is spelled with two b’s.” He made a sound as though I had wounded him. I recovered quickly, “That’s ok, it’s still my name.”  I didn’t want to ruin the moment for him. He was able to get back into his excitement as thought I hadn’t uttered a word about the spelling of my name.

He zipped up his bag. The movie still in my hand, I look to him. “Are you sure,” I say.

“We don’t want to take your treasures,” my significant other says.

“I want you to have it. I have others on order.”

“Thank you very much,” I say.

He looked at us one last time. We shook hands and said our goodbyes.

This quick parting and the coincidence of it all made me speechless.  I didn’t have time to ask questions about why he loved this movie and why he had so many on order and how often did he run into women whose names were Rebecca. There were so many questions that flooded my mind only after he left, and maybe it was meant to be this way. He was set to leave after all and the name exchange occurred at the end. The traveling man was gone.

I still had the movie in my hand. I flipped it over and read the back, then set it on top of the counter gazing at it occasionally. My significant other and I agreed this was an interesting coincidence. He had moved into the traveling man’s seat where I was now the caboose of this wine train. I took a sip of my wine and noticed the dog was still there. I had assumed the dog and the traveling man were together.

The man to my significant other’s right was clean cut and shaven. He had short blond hair and wore a stylish leather jacket. He was with a friend and apparently his dog.

I was feeling good about where I was. We were enjoying ourselves amongst other metaphorical fellow travelers. I was the observer. Notebook in hand if something should jump out at me; mostly, I listened and watched. My significant other and the blond man with the dog seemed to become instant buddies for those moments in the wine bar. I saw the blond man push over his glass of wine, give my significant other a friendly nudge on his arm and say, “try that.” After my significant other took a sip, the blond man asked,

“What do you think?”

“It’s drinkable, not my favorite.”

“I don’t like it.” The blond man had a puckered look on his face as though he had sucked a lemon.

The man to the right of the blond man—his friend—had a European accent and he was clearly a wine connoisseur with a very different palate than his friend. He also had a loud forceful voice. The blond man tasted another wine from the flight he had ordered. He seemed to like this one whereas his companion did not. This one he also pushed over to my significant other to taste from his glass. The blond man said, “it smells like dirt, but it tastes great.” I chuckled. My significant other agreed about the blond man’s assessment. They continued sharing their thoughts on the wines amongst a variety of other miscellaneous conversation and when there was a long pause. I asked the man what his dog’s name was. “Tiernen,” he said. I wanted to ask more questions about the dog’s name. How had he settled on that name? Was it the name of a character from some great novel? Does his dog come to the wine bar often? I didn’t ask. I gave the dog another pat on the head. His master gave the dog a few treats. I think it was close to being Tiernen’s dinnertime.

Time had passed unnoticed from the moment we stepped into the wine bar. The bar was at its dimmest; nightfall was upon us. It was almost dinnertime. We drank up the last of our wine. We were having such a good time, tasting, talking, laughing. I don’t remember if we exchanged names with the blond man. We said goodbye, waved to the server as we stepped out and down the street we went in search of dinner.

After being home from Portland, as the days edged on, I became more and more curious about Rebecca. I searched for the book in the library catalog. I have long known of the movie and may not have been aware of the book. I really had no intention all these years of reading the book let alone watch the movie. Why, I’m not sure. After reading about the author, Daphne Du Maurier, and learning about the style of the book, and what the story was about, I knew that before I watched the movie, I must first read the book. The opening lines sucked me right into the book. I was taken. At first, though, I read it in short spurts and then the desire to watch the movie grew and as the book progressed, I wanted to be with the book for longer periods—I wanted to finish it— and since it’s only about 400 pages, it didn’t take me long.

I finished the book on the last day of June. I wanted so much to finish it the night before, but my eyes would not stay open. My plan was to watch the movie immediately after. The following morning I did finish the book. I loved everything about it, the writing, the setting, the characters, and the psychological depth of Du Maurier. And so that same morning I put my disk into my laptop, put my headphones on and watched the movie with full attention. I was not disappointed. There were some alterations and cuts, but the movie unfolded just like the book. I felt as though I was watching the book come to life and I enjoyed both equally.

If not for the traveling man, I most likely would not have read or watched Rebecca. It has made me want to read more of Du Murier’s work, especially her short stories. It seems as though she was an under appreciated author in her time. She deals with the darker elements of the human psyche, and as with Rebecca, it seems natural territory for her. I have one of her collections on hold from the library and the cover alone frightens me. In this particular collection, she may delve even deeper. 

My desire to finish the book and watch the movie was propelled by meeting this man—the traveling man. I’ll never know exactly what Rebecca meant to him, not the specifics anyway. I was moved by his passion and it became a sort-of mini obsession for me to read the book and see the movie. I often leave books, come back to them later, but it was different with this one. I had the man in my mind. I wanted to see this world that he carried around with him in his backpack and that he shared with me. I’ll probably always remember that moment in the wine bar because it was unique and it felt like a strange fairy tale, and synchronistic moments like this are what make travel and life interesting. For this, I thank you, dear traveling man, wherever you are, and perhaps our paths may cross again one day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Personal Essay ~ A Multitude of Containers

It’s interesting for me to step back and examine my writing progression. I read an essay this morning that I wrote in the spring of 2006 for a Stress and Human Health class. The title of the paper is “Behavior Modification: Toward Self-Empowerment.” It’s about four pages, double-spaced. I can tell right where I was in spirit and mind by the metaphor I used throughout the paper. It was a different chapter of my life, with different characters, different setting—a chapter now in time and space. I feel that at some point I will post the essay as a blog, after some edits.

At this same juncture in my life, which wasn’t all that long ago, I remember one of my instructors—may she RIP—I remember her kindness and openness of mind. I remember being inspired that she was still teaching. She must have been in her late seventies, possibly her eighties. I didn’t often raise my hand in class. I would want to say something, but my heart would thump, my palms would get moist, and a lump would form in my throat rising to a dry mouth. The anxiety would set in—all this because I was imagining myself speaking up—I would become unable to follow through. This happened each time I wanted to contribute, but I couldn’t push past it.

Her name was Mary and one thing she did differently in this one class was to have us write her a final letter stating what grade we thought we should receive and why. Besides my participation, I thought that the work that I did in the class merited an “A.” When I received my letter back, she had given me a “B” because I had not participated in class discussions. I accepted it. She was right. I respected that she gave me the “B” and not the “A.” I’m appreciative that she planted a seed. She told me that I had things to share and others may benefit and/or be able to add on to the discussion from there, that I shouldn’t hold back.

Later when I took another class she taught, she met with each student one on one. I told her how much I loved writing and that’s what I saw in my future. I imagined it differently then, but I’m doing it now, not solely in my personal journals, but by putting myself out there. I told her writing was my way of sharing. It’s the element I felt comfortable in and at home in. She smiled deeply and wished me luck.

I think of Mary from time to time because she was kind and generous. She was excited and passionate about what she taught and she took the time to know her students, if even a little bit.

What’s interesting about writing essays in class for an instructor is you have a set audience of one and a proposed topic, but I can tell by what I wrote in several essays across different classes is that I also wrote for people—for anyone that may find something to relate to—a way to see themselves reflected back.

Presently, there are certain pieces that may be strictly personal. I still post them because that’s part of me, part of my world. And there are others, where like today, I have a thought, I open an old essay to read, it brings me back to Mary, to a small slice of my road and then I follow where the words lead me. This morning I was going to work on a recent piece that I wrote. It needs a little work and if I still have time this morning, I’m going to look at it.

Writing blogs has changed the way I approach writing. I don’t always have a set focus or plan. There is less structure. Speaking of structure. That makes me think of an English class I took a long time ago at the community college. I was explaining to the instructor why I had written the essay as I had, that I didn’t want to be confined by the structure; I wanted to find my own container.

Containers are fascinating. A little over a year ago I picked up a book called The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present selected and with an introduction by Phillip Lopate. When I bought it I read the introduction and the first few essays. I put it back on the shelf. A week ago or so I picked it back out of the shelf and thumbed through it. I happened on G. K. Chesterton. The book has two of his essays and the one that I loved is called “A Piece of Chalk.” It’s not a long essay, three pages in this book. What he does in three pages with his imagination, imagery, and wanderings is so very satisfying.

I also recently downloaded a book to my Kindle called Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction by Dinty W. Moore. What I appreciate most about this book is that Moore breaks the book down into various types of essays.

Moore sees the essay as “The gentle art,” and expands in answer to his question of what is an essay? “The personal essay is, of course personal, meaning of you, from your unique point-of-view. And it is an “assay,” derived from a French word meaning “to try” or “to attempt” (Kindle pg. 5)

Books about writing have always been a source of reading enjoyment for me. I have a small bookshelf that I go to now and again. The essays I remember from school were different, not as personal, though a few were because of the nature of the classes. Out of all the writing courses that I’ve taken, one that I gained much from, but that I did not have an interest in pursuing was the journalism feature-writing course. I know my voice; I can hear it and depending on who or what I’m writing about, and my moods, the musical notes may change, but I’m still there. When I wrote my feature pieces for class, my voice seemed to go away. It felt for me that the container was much too rigid. I wouldn’t want to write for a paper or magazine because of the loss of freedom. I’m happy writing and sharing on my blog.

Moore goes on to say, “Here the essence of the form is found: The personal essayist (that would be you) takes a topic—virtually any topic under the yellow sun—and holds it up to the bright light, turning it this way and that, upside and down, studying every perspective, fault, and reflection, in an artful attempt to perceive something fresh and significant. But it is always an effort, a trial, not a lecture or diatribe. The essayist does not sit down at her desk already knowing all the right answers, because if she did, there would be no reason to write” (Kindle pg. 5).

This also makes me reconsider how I view the essay or any other writing. Rather than think of the essay as a label, I can think of it as a container with many possibilities, roads, turnoffs, signals. This to me is more liberating. I also realize that the more containers that I expose myself to, the more that I keep following myself on the page, the more that I see and appreciate the organic-ness of the process. Often times I have no destination. I explore the whites space on the page, pave small roads, plant flower beds, try to figure out what I’m doing or thinking for those moments the light is on. It always feels different. I don’t always know where I’ll end up, and I like that.

This morning for example, I headed out and took a turn. My mind began recalling experiences and though I didn’t know they would fit snug, I followed and then on and on. This has been the way I write when I come to the page. I do my personal morning pages to get the fuzz out. Then I sit for a moment. I power up the laptop and I start typing with whatever idea or thought is there. This morning though I had other pieces on my mind, one that began as a free write a few weeks back to get the thoughts out and the other I mentioned. One is typed up and one still has to come out from the notebook to the typed page. And then that brought me to look for an essay that related to my free write. I looked through the folders on the computer and when I saw a different essay and read it, it was the seed that got my thoughts in motion.

Yes, I’m coming to appreciate the essay container from a whole different perspective. As Moore shares in his book, this is what Annie Dillard has said about the essay form:

“There’s nothing you cannot do with it; no subject matter is forbidden, no structure is proscribed. You get to make up your own structure every time, a structure that arises from the materials and best contains them. The material is the world itself, which, so far, keeps on keeping on” (Kindle pg. 6).

I think back on the English class—the one I mentioned where I wanted to find my own container, to break out of the confines of the basic structure of a college composition course. I wanted to wander. The essay does allow that. My instincts were right and I’m glad to be following wherever the moment leads.

Sometimes we need containers to break out of containers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tarot Card for Keiko

VIII Trumps – Adjustment

“The principle of balance: Justice/Realignment”

Keiko, In the photo of the card, the little bit of red in the background is the cloth that I spread the cards out on. I shuffled the deck and thought of you and asked for a card just for you.

From Tarot: Mirror of the Soul (Handbook for the Aleister Crowley Tarot) by Gerd Ziegler:

“This card portrays the sign of Libra. It is a fascinating picture of balance. A young woman (the feminine aspect of the fool), holds the great magic sword between her legs and balances on her toes…Only absolute concentration and stillness, which come from finding one’s inner center, will allow this condition of equilibrium to take place. The slightest distracting thought will cause her to waver and destroy the balance she has found, the balance that is the nature of the universe.”

“The predominant colors are blue and green. Blue is the color of spiritual and intellectual powers, such as thinking, ideas, wisdom; green is the color of creativity, the power to put ideas into action. The downward-pointing sword lends a similar meaning. The powers of thought are directed toward, and put into contact with, the earth, and serve her.”

“This card is a summons to avoid all extremes in your daily life.”

From The Tarot Book by Angeles Arrien:

This first interpretive quote below shares similar qualities to the second quote above. You can see how each author/interpreter hone in on different symbols, reaching a shared interpretation of the card.

“The perfectly shaped circles or balloon are symbols representing formulated ideas or thoughts. This is the interesting balancing and synthesizing mind which is often expressed through writing, research, and design. …Here the Ace of Swords is facing downward, symbolizing the application of creative ideas in tangible, useful ways. The Ace of Swords in its own card represents the inspired, creative, and original mind. Within this symbol, the Ace of Swords (the creative mind) is being directly applied and brought to earth in realistic and practical ways.”

You will also notice, as pointed out in Arrien’s book that the symbols within the scales are Alpha, representing beginnings, and Omega (symbolizing endings or completions). She goes on to say, “The principle of balance requires that whatever is initiated or begun (Alpha) must be completed at some time (Omega).

To conclude with are Arrien’s words about the card:

“Basically, it is important for you to simplify and balance that which is out of balance or chaotic in your life. It is a time where you desire and achieve clarity on important issues that you have been considering.”


Keiko, I hope that you were able to find something in this card, chosen for you—and by you from your intuition to mine and back to yours. And if not, that is fine too. The card is visually very interesting to me. It has an air of mystery. I like the blues and greens and how the background is bright, like light shining through. There is much to see in this card. I will let you gaze at the card and see how you feel.

Ah, the masked face…it represents “all her attention being turned inward. This makes her receptive to ideas and direction from her inner guide” (Ziegler).

I would love to hear what you think, Keiko, whether here on the blog or on email.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Tarot Card – Fortune

Tarot Card – Fortune

“The principle of opportunity, breakthrough and prosperity.”

I gaze at this card, lose myself as I swim in the purple ocean amongst a grand display of fireworks of lavender and tangerine—swirls, and lightening bolts splayed out to bright stars—and there in the center, the wheel of fortune, sun in its center, guided by the Sphinx, Monkey, and Crocodile. I am there in the purple sea, looking outward from within the great wheel of fortune. I spin and explode inside and feel the millions of stars inside of me spilling out like confetti as I continue to swim and feel the lightness—of floating under the purple sky.

“This symbol reminds us that like the goddess Fortuna in Roman mythology that we can turn our lives in more fortunate and positive directions by being objective like the Sphinx, flexible like the monkey, and reaching for new opportunities and ways to express our creative power like the crocodile.”

When I flipped this card over this morning, I was immediately pleased to see before me movement, excitement, creativity—there to be seized upon with a watchful eye and willingness to move toward opportunities that present themselves. I needed this card today for its positive energy and light.

If you land here, I hope you too will feel the energy of this card.


I took a photo of the card and have displayed it here. The Tarot deck that I always use is the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot. The deck was designed by Crowley and painted by Frieda Harris. The deck is quite a beautiful collection of symbolism and artistry. 

Quotes are from The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Evening Page ~ Dinner

Treated ourselves to a nice dinner last night.
Linguine carbonara and
pasta with seafood;
Clinking glasses filled with
Riesling and Pinot Grigio.
Apple galette a'la mode for dessert.

After dinner-- at the wine bar, we split a flight.
Already full, I reasoned with
my belly that there was still room for a small
plate of smoked pork risotto. I ate every
kernel on the plate, sipped wine, drank water,
let the music wash over me--
Filled beyond belief.

Self-Doubt ~ Thinking

It seems that there is a certain degree of self-doubt in the air. It makes me think of the many times I have experienced self-doubt; it makes me wonder what causes an individual to doubt themselves.

From time to time I reflect back on the times when I was seeing a student-therapist and he suggested that perhaps I had a fear of success, not failure, but of success. Back then I was the same person, but much more timid and I was very insecure. I had much more self-doubt. I think of his words from time to time and wonder if there could be truth in them for some people: The fear of success. I am forever grateful to him because, quite possibly without his assistance and nudging, I may not have re-signed up for community college courses, back in those beginning years. I may have continued doubting myself with a vengeance.

I feel as though I spent a great deal of my life in self-doubt and there are still moments it comes up. Mostly, I feel as though I've broken through certain self-barriers. On the one hand I can view my experience as both a blessing and a curse. It has taken me much longer to reach certain milestones because it seemed I was constantly rolling myself up a hill only to roll back down. On the other hand, if I had not rolled back down and brushed myself up and got going back up the hill, I don't know that I'd appreciate the present moment quite as much as I do.

I still stumble, but I feel better able to trust myself. After conquering one of my worst fears ever--public speaking--I've felt that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I know that may not seem like a big thing; it certainly was for me. With certain other life events, I've learned to embrace and act on the sayings that "life is too short" and "what do you have to lose?"

Our lives are each our own with very significant questions and decisions that only we can answer with help from our inner guides. It's comforting to know that we're not alone on our journeys. We may encounter a rocky road or perhaps it will be smooth. We won't know unless we try. If our passion is true in our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies, we know what we must do.

By moving past our fears and learning to trust ourselves, acknowledging the fears, yet being open and knowing that it's going to be alright, if we trust ourselves and listen to our guts, we won't lose ourselves in the process; we will still maintain our essence--this is what I believe.

Toddler Tales

“Look!” Ever since I can remember I’ve been a curious child. And when I am considered an “Old Woman,” I shall still be a curious child. I remember asking my older brother questions and this was before the Internet, and he would tell me to go look it up. I think he became tired of my questions. I don’t know that I had the proper tools to look things up at the time, but eventually I would.

I’ve exhausted some people with my constant need to point out little details of life, “Look! Look, at the tree, look at the flower. Look, look, look!” My feelings have been hurt at times because this type of wonder and curiosity can be exhausting for some and they let me know. I don’t hold it against them. I must respect our differences in how we appreciate life and in that constant need to look and share. I have learned to curb this enthusiasm when amongst certain individuals because it only leads to exhaustion and dejection. The enthusiasm is still there; it’s just that it becomes quieter with the spoken word. I admire from my quiet world, careful not to overwhelm. It’s an interesting quandary to want to be vocal about all the simple fascinations, but that’s where this blank page comes in handy. I know that I can tell the page what I’m thinking and seeing and it will either stay quiet or it may talk back. In some way, the blank page is comforting. It’s another way for me to say, “Look,” and to help me see what I see.

I’ve had this quote that I saved from my daily Zen Calendar. It speaks to me and it also in feels connected to this blog and the journal entry that follows that I had intended to blog when I wrote it up a few days back, but didn’t and now we’re upon a new month, so it seems fitting to tie it all together.

Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and
more. Stare, pry, listen,
eavesdrop. Die knowing
something. You are not
here long.

—Walker Evans 


Toddler Tales

Digging in the “Sand”

Little A. Man, as I like to call him here on this page, is my significant other’s cousin’s boy. My significant other is also his Godfather. Little A. Man is two and a half years old. We see him from time to time, and during one point we saw him over several weekends because there were barbeques and other happenings all strung together. He was especially shy with me at first when he was much younger and I’m naturally shy myself, so there’s that. Over the recent weekend’s where he had more exposure to me, it was quite nice to enter Little A.’s world.

On one of these visits he wanted to go outside, so my significant other’s father took him and I decided to go along because I preferred the outside and playing to being inside. I went over to the small tree with loose dirt that was slightly dry and he was having such fun digging in the dirt. I was enjoying watching and running my fingers through the dirt too because this is second nature for me. And then he said, “Look Rebbecca.” He pointed at the tree. He seemed to want to be sure that I did not miss seeing this small tree right there. I believe it was a special tree that was a birthday gift from wife to husband that they dug up and brought to their new home. I am still flabbergasted that Little A. can say my name so well for a two and a half year old. I said, yes. A., what a nice tree. He dug some more, very intent on the task at hand. I saw a rolly polly bug and I said, “Look A.” He came to attention, “What is it?” he said. I took it in my hand and I said it’s a little bug. It’s a rolly polly.” The rolly polly began to unroll and then I put it back in the dirt. Later on A. saw it and said, “Look a bug.”

“Yes, you found the bug. A bug, yes,” I said.

When his grandmother and grandfather said goodbye from the other side of the gate, A. was too much in his world. He just wanted to dig. He was content.

Lego’s and Unicorns

Another time we went over to visit, A. was playing with his mother in his playroom. He had all of his animal toys out, his legos, and many other toys all spread around. He has a kitchen with a BBQ and microwave, fruits, vegetables, hamburger patties, all he needs to create a lovely picnic. I sat down and watched him and his mother play. I mostly watched and chit chatted with her. She had to get up to clear a space for where dinner would be set. I nibbled on plastic strawberries and A. called out each piece of food that he placed before me. Strawberry. Orange. Bread. Cheese. I repeated back and said, “Mmmm. Thank you.” When I didn’t understand that he was saying, “Turkey,” his strategy was to keep saying it louder and louder until he was practically screaming. I stopped saying “What” so that I could figure it out. It didn’t look like what it was and then the bulb flashed. I said to him, “Ohhh, Turkey.” And he said, “Yes.” He is a smart boy. He knows many words and seems to understand the concept of pretend. He tells stories and has quite an imagination. He knows when he’s funny and cute.

We were playing with Lego’s and then he handed me a strip of three red Lego’s and said, “unicorn.” I put the Lego’s to my forehead and said, “I’m a unicorn.”

“Yes, he said.” He smiled. He then put together another three red Lego’s and went to his mom and made her a unicorn too. “Thank you, Baby,” She said to him. He was happy. He sat back down and he continued building worlds with his Lego’s and saying out loud what he was creating and then he took his empty and dry bubble tray and he found his bubble wand and he said, “And pretend bubbles.” He blew pretend bubbles over his creation and he knew they were pretend.

I love the imagination of children. I have an imagination of my own—it’s called forth by nature—I always lose myself on a cloudy day. The last several days, in fact, have proven to be lovely cloud days. I could have tripped over my feet as I kept looking up at the clouds in the sky and the formations they made and where they took my imagination and the way the half moon shone. I wanted so badly to take a photo. I didn’t have any gadgets to snap that day. So I kept looking and I jotted a few memorable words in my notepad later, hoping that I will be able to weave a tale out of those clouds that I can still see in my mind’s eye, but that I will save for another day.  

Talking About It

On one of our last visits, I was off in the background in the TV room, but near enough to observe. Little A. was enjoying his time with his grandma, grandpa, mom and dad, having fun and telling stories. It was time for grandma and grandpa to go and A. didn’t want them to go. He was feeling upset and he slumped and he began to almost whine. His grandma said she would see him later in the week. He wasn’t appeased, so she sat down on the steps, put her hand out and lovingly said, “Do you want to talk about it. Come here, let’s talk about it.” He walked toward her, sat down by her side and she put her arm around him and said, “Let’s talk about it.” These very words seemed to calm him and she said, “You were having so much fun with grandma and grandpa, huh. And you don’t want us to go?”

“I don’t want you to go,” he said. He crinkled his feet, looking down, and looked sad, but her words gave him the acknowledgement that he seemed to need. “We’ll see you in a few days, baby, and we can play some more, OK? Give me a kiss.” He didn’t cry. He didn’t continue to almost whine, he felt better, but was still a little sad. He let her go though without out a fuss. “Talking about it” made all the difference.

Next time I saw his grandma at Father’s Day I told her how much I admired her strategy in asking, “Do you want to talk about it?” And she said with one of her own sons it was, “Let’s make a deal.” Her now grown son was there that day and remembered that yes he used to do that when she asked. She said that she actually tried this approach one day at her job. She is now retired. She had pitched something to one of her co-workers and when she could tell he wasn’t quite on board she reverted to this similar tactic and said to him, “Why don’t you take the weekend to think about it, Bob.” We both laughed when she related this story. She said after the weekend he actually had changed his mind.

No matter how I old I become, I will always be a child at heart. I can imagine from a distance how wonderful it is to bring life into this world, to feed the soul, and watch the growth.

And with writing: Blowing life onto the page, finding out by going in, taking what we see and exploring what it means to us—this form of birth—I imagine that that’s what many of us feel—with our relationship to words.