When you post something on any type of social media you never know who might read it or where it might end up. In April I shared this review on Hungry for Life and I was contacted in May by Jennifer an Assistant Senior Managing Editor at Artful Blogging asking if they might quote part of my post in their upcoming autumn issue. Heck yeah!
I BIG shout out to Honoré for sending me a copy when she heard my bookstore didn't carry it!
If you've been following my writing prompts I've written from the perspective of a bird, a cloud, and a snake. Then I wrote about my neighborhood—a lesson in seeing. This next prompt encorporated all my pieces and seemed daunting at first. We were to choose one word from our neighborhood piece and write from 3 perspectives: bird, cloud, snake. The word I chose was 'dandelions' and the form of a poem surprised me but it literally wrote itself:
The weeds are tightly
like a New York City block.
Overhead the Raven
watches intently, wings stretched
She circles like a kite
People with their
dogs and machines
are long gone
The once verdant lawn lies abandoned.
The dandelions sway
next to a few of their more colorful
who flit and flirt
with the breeze.
The Raven aloft has
Her gaze seeks other.
The cloud passing
recalls the once lush lawn
she happily shared her
Where once was new-shoot-green
now only burnt brown
and grass turned to straw.
The dandelions sway
and smile in her shadow.
She floats on
seeking a hope seeded plot
to receive her precious
The serpent cannot navigate
the weed jungle
The withered grass and weed trunks
crackle and whisper
under long belly.
Mice feet freeze while the tiniest
Mice feet DASH.
The dandelions sway
as she passes.
Only the Raven notes
I was pleased with the bird, cloud, snake prompts even though at first glance I didn't see how I could write them. Writing them expanded me as much as my view. The next writing prompt was to walk our neighborhood (a quarter mile radius) and capture what we see. I resisted for weeks. Eventually I got over it by writing about my resistance:
My quarter mile circle expands way beyond our neighborhood. I am glad. I do not wish to lace my sneakers and walk the aged asphalt roads littered with dark patched potholes like a carcinoma on freckled skin. I resist seeing the for sale signs on rickety posts with their hand lettered pleas swaying in the breeze. I ignore the encroaching weedy lawns with dandelions dancing carelessly in a once tended yard. Either indifference spreads faster than weeds or the hardworking Joes and Janes have despaired of ever having the time to dream of freshly mown grass, children running through a lawn sprinkler, or backyard barbeques.
Mostly the windows yawn empty in tired walls under tin roofs browning with rust. Lost hope is a wildfire whose flames cannot be contained but must be doused before they ignite the very heart of our community. My neighborhood houses a melting pot of souls from college students to retirees on a limited income. We each eke out a home next to each other and offer a good morning when we wheel our cumbersome lookalike trash containers to the curb. We nod or wave at the postal center under its little A-frame roof—rows of four inch square metal doors concealing the next piece of paper that may be a family’s salvation or surrender. I do not want to see my neighbor’s worn faces in the early evening dusk or the smiles that do not reach their dull eyes as they suck deeply on a cigarette and sip from a brown beer bottle gripped in tired fingers aged well before their time.
The city has encroached on our once hidden community and location is key for those who call my neighborhood home. They may need to bike to work or walk to the corner bus stop but most drive ailing cars which they back out of their driveway in a haze of gray exhaust gunning the barely idling engine and praying it will keep running on fumes one more day. My neighbors may bring you your meal on an oversized china plate and pass you a cloth napkin and inquire if you’d care for more wine. At home they use paper towels and share french-fries with their kids out a greasy white paper bag. My neighbors probably bag your groceries in colorful cloth bags and offer to push your cart to your car even though you are perfectly capable of completing this task yourself. My neighbors sweat in a factory breathing in chemical solvents so that their neighbors have clean uniforms with a pristine name tag on the breast pocket ready to wear when they change your oil or jack your car up to remove a flat tire.
Yet, look. There’s the cashier from Walmart sudsing a late model car with soapy water in a blue plastic bucket, her older daughter, barely school age, sprays water from a bright green Kmart hose, her younger sister runs through the arc in a tiny pink bikini. Mini droplets of miracles rain down along with the peals of their laughter. And there—I spy a newly planted flower bed, filled with lilies and mums wearing hope in multi colored petals. Listen. I hear a lawnmower roar to life—the dandelions will dance on another day. See that open window? It invites a breeze where none has been all year. The sunflower yellow cotton lifts and fills like a sail filled with possibility. A sturdy metal post has replaced the wavering hand lettered sign. A thin wooden plaque hangs horizontally from tiny links of chain, connecting them. There’s enough breeze for it to swing rhythmically, soothingly, it’s one word a catalyst for the future: Welcome.
It's all about perspective: I am a snake below the bird and cloud...
The sharp ‘krak’ from that bird’s brazen beak startles me from my doze. I am sunning the entire spectacular length of my faceted body on a grey shale boulder. Glorious heat from the yellow eye bakes my ropey form into a writhing bundle of bliss. I am whole here, satiated. The sun completes me. I inch the coils of my body in an incremental slide; dry glowing scales embracing themselves entwined in constant touch and motion. Narcissssssist? Oh yessssss. I stare at my serpentine self and swell with pride mesmerized by my own magnificence. The orange and red patterns appear like puzzle pieces on my skin as if outlined with kohl from long ago Egyptian eyes. The smaller patterns are leopard spots on my belly and attest not only my sleek beauty but my speed and agility.
The Raven has finished her scathing diatribe of the lowly crows and shuts her beak. Finally. As she escapes the earth her body is a mere blemish in the expansive dome above. My coils whisper to stillness once more. Instinctively I taste the air—for food or foes. That black blight’s pontification would have warned off either category. I taste again to be sure. Darting, seeking, my midnight tongue speaks a language of smell. Does the Raven ever wonder what green smells like or how blue tastes? Not likely.
I am content to return to my doze. The avian atrocity is up near the clouds now. At my thought of the clouds a skimpy shadow passes briefly over my domain. The cloud lacks enough substance to cool my sun salutations; the shadow is there and gone like the flit of a nightmare. On another day I will be grateful for her gift of a cool saturated world and drink it in. On another day. Today I lift my striking head to the golden orb the all-seeing one. I bow it in gratitude—not humbly. I am whole here, satiated. The sun completes me.
Jenn shared Amy’s post (scroll down to Richmond) about Patti’s daughter Tess. I liked A Dress for Tess on Facebook and images of this small child having the courage to put on a dress to face the unknown besieged me. Tess is a wise, wise soul. I have procrastinated, resisted, and ranted about rewriting the ending to my screenplay. Enough! Tess knew you see. All I needed was to put on a dress and sit down and write.
Dear Reader, what will you tackle once you slide into a dress?
If you read Krak this writing prompt came next: I am a cloud watching the bird...
Bodiless I watch the dark creature alight and soar. She is noisy where I am silent. I wonder about her form and curiously study her actions—how her wings allow her to swim through the air. How the flick of a wingtip turns her body. How perfectly designed she is. What must it feel like to be created from hollow bone and feather? Does she look at me and wonder about my incorporeal form?
I feel other beings emotions more clearly than I see them—we clouds have highly developed empathic abilities. I do not see the Raven as other beings would; I feel her movements and her joy. The instant her body enters the invisible (to her) funnel of the thermal her heart beat quadruples with excitement. A physical rush of adrenaline and exertion that I experience with her! She looks upward beyond we clouds to the Sun. If her beak allowed her to smile I imagine she would grin her joy. I feel her bliss as she does what she was born to do—fly.
I move stealthily between her and the Sun, my shadow will cool the air and dissipate the thermal. My form is still wispy I am gathering, absorbing, expanding with every molecule of moisture. I ask the wind for more speed! You may think me at his mercy—not so! Envision us as lovers entwined and he the besotted; his happiness is pleasing me. I glide freely in my domed blue expanse, I am life-bringer. My rains may spatter gently on beings below or they may be hurled with the force and thunder of my passion! We clouds do not receive the same appreciation and devotion as the Sun and are occasionally prone to a touch of jealousy.
Today though I am a wispy cloud and curious. I move past the Sun and do not cool the thermal. I float slowly beyond the Raven in her element. Her cries fade but I still luxuriate in her palpable elation. Soon my belly will be as dark as her feathers and I will release my joy and bliss—I am life-bringer and that is what I was created to do.
On Day 36 in March I opened my Verb Tribe daily prompt to read the directions 'write a love letter to yourself'. Instant resistance. I do love myself, a million times more than I did a few decades ago, but I wasn't ready to commit it to paper. I balked for a few days. Then there was a moment of clarity, my heart shifted and said, do this. The rest of the prompt instructed us to seal letter, address it to ourselves, and give it to a friend to mail it within the next six weeks and not say when they mailed it. I gave it to Brin and eventually forgot about it.
In May I wondered where it was and almost asked once but didn't. In the middle of a difficult week: I was stuck with my writing, mired in self doubt, overwhelmed by life when I opened the little metal mailbox door with my sticky key and there was my salvation. (Thank you Brin for your ideal timimg!) This beauty of a reminder. I'd hand written it in a blank card the same as I would for a dear loved one and wrote from my heart what I knew my heart would most need to hear on a challenging day: the things I adore about myself.
You are SO gorgeously enthusiastic; you glow with radiance and possibility. You shine. Your heart is huge and filled with seeing the best in others; seeing their potential. You share your love freely and openly and honestly. Never change that. You mirror for others with your unconditional love what they most need to walk on their journey. You are an inspiration. You are the wind beneath the wings of those who love you. You are a treasure. Your smile lights up the recipient’s heart like flowers blooming in winter. Keep giving. Keep loving. Keep being who you are. Love is the answer—no matter the question and you know that deep in your wise self and you live it beautifully. When you write authentically you touch people with your passion and realness—keep sharing your words and stretching yourself you are capable of so much more than you imagine. You are possibility. You are love in action. You are love.
I love you, always and all ways, ~L.
I had no recall of what I'd written, I'd let it go. These simple truth filled words brought tears to my eyes and the biggest grin that I could not hide. It feels good to be loved. It's our purpose as human beans: to love and be loved. Loving ourselves is an especially rare seed we usually plant in dark corners and tend hesitantly. I encourage you to shine a ray of possibility on that seed, open up and be vulnerable—write yourself a rockin' love letter and ask a loved one to mail it to you. Booyah!
I began blogging in 2005 as a team of bloggers sharing our journeys as Virtual Assistants and building, launching, and running our own businesses from home. Blogging was new to me but I quickly learned how to write with the intention of starting a conversation, sharing authentically, and seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. In 2009 I took the leap and created this blog to share my weight loss journey, writing, creative endeavors, and well…my life. Artful Blogging introduced me to a community of kindred souls seeking connection for their art, passion for living their dreams, and real people striving to find a balance with who they are and what they do in this world.
Stampington & Company publish only four scrumptious issues per year. I relish my time with these pages—curling up with a cup of tea and turning the ringer on the phone to mute. The smooth thick matte texture of the paper appeals to my photographer’s eye, the colors and detailed photos burst off the page in swirls of inspiration. Reading these blogger’s journeys through art and words reveals a theme of serendipities that occur upon embarking on blogging—of finding their true north and living their dreams.
As a teenager I lost myself for weeks in the Four Lands created by Terry Brooks in the Original Sword of Shannara trilogy. I ached to create a world of good versus evil populated with unexpected heroes and dark hooded villains. I learned to write by reading—fantasy books engaged my imagination and allowed me to sprout dragon wings. As an adult when our daughter was born I even chose her name from the third book in the Shannara series; Brin (a headstrong princess disguised as a peasant boy) and Leah (a magical city).
My passion for fantasy has not ebbed over the years but I find I am choosy where I invest my time and A Storm of Swords is almost one thousand pages and I have savored every word George R.R. Martin penned in this tome. This is Book Three of a planned eight book series: A Song of Ice and Fire.
Martin’s Seven Kingdoms of Westeros has been a scintillating adventure lesson in character development. The series has a plethora of characters that are vividly realized—the proud voices of kings and knights ring clear and true from a world similar to medieval England. Martin masterfully crafts relationships and forges unforeseen connections. I found the chapters written from a child’s point of view the most captivating and inviting which has fueled my writing with alternating shadows and spotlights contrasting innocence and malice.
Curious if there are dragons? Of course there are, but I’m bewitched by the dire wolves. Have you seen the television series of Book One: Game of Thrones on HBO? Incredibly well cast and deeply detailed I'm engrossed even when I have to look away from the realistic combat scenes. You?