Monthly Archives: February 2014

#tbt Poetry – Silence

In keeping with my “Throwback Thursday” poetry idea from last week, here’s one from 2011.  (Didn’t throwback too far with this one.  Truthfully, I seem to have misplaced my old poetry folder in my recent move, so I’m still searching.  I’ll get to the really old ones as I soon as I find that darn thing….)

***

Silence

Nothingness.
Quiet.
Confusion.
Silence.

Memories begin to drift back to the noise…
Back to the happiness,
the lights, the sounds,
the laughter
Spinning around at top speed on a merry-go-round
Filled with smiles and giggling children and chirping birds
“Tickets, get your tickets!”
Come ride the ride!

Then suddenly…

Silence.

Where did it go?
Was it even real?

I want my money back.

silence

What A Novel Idea

“I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.”
– Johnny Depp

chapteroneSo, have I mentioned that I’m writing a novel?

Finally.  After all of these years of writing poetry and essays, I finally decided to bite the bullet and give a novel a try.  I never thought I could do this.  First of all, I have never been the greatest at that whole “follow through” thing.  Oh you know how it is – you get these great big grandiose ideas in your mind, and maybe you even actually start on them, but to follow through?  Ok, I’m out.  That follow through thing takes too much work.  On to the next great idea…

You feel me?  Been there yourself?  Oh yeah – when it comes to follow through, jumping ship has always been my superpower.

And another reason I’ve been hesitant to write a novel?  Well, I’m not exactly a ‘fiction’ writer.  Most everything I’ve written over the years has just been observations of the world around me, not something that I  made up in my mind.  Yes, yes, I know all books don’t have to be fiction.  There are plenty of great non-fiction books out there in the world.  But something I came across once in some “how to be a writer” article or another was this piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten.  It said that there is something important that you need to remember when you are ready to take on the challenge of writing a novel.

“Write something that you would like to read.”

Although at first glance that seems pretty obvious, there’s actually much more wisdom to that than you might think.  While I have always written poetry and essays, when I go to a bookstore, are the poetry and essay books the first ones I head to?  Nope.  I like novels.  Fiction.  I love them.  I eat them up.  I love the ones about family connections, the ones about mysteries, the ones with a strong, likeable heroine as the main character….all that stuff.

So, why am I not writing that?

Well, other than the reasons I’ve mentioned before, there’s also the big reason.  The reason that we all have whenever we’re afraid to rise to any challenge in our lives.  What’s that reason, you ask?  Well, I think you know.

I’m afraid I’ll fail.

What if I spend all this time writing a fiction novel…and it blows?  You know?  I mean, it’s highly likely for that to be the case.  I’m not a novelist.  I’m a beginner.  It may never get read by anyone except my boyfriend Richard.  (You know he’ll be forced to read it. I’m sure he already thinks I’m a little crazy for talking about these characters as if they were real people as it is…)  It may never get published and may just remain a pile of words sitting on a computer hard drive somewhere for the rest of my life.

Or.

Or…maybe someone will like it.  Maybe it will get published.  And read.  And (as is the most important thing to me…), identified with.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Eh.  Either way.  It’s time to try, right?

I compare it to when I first started running.  I remember the absolute glee I felt the first time I ran one mile without stopping.  (Quotes?)  And then the first time I ran an actual 5K.  (Poetry?)  And then the pride and accomplishment I felt when I ran my first half marathon.  (Essays?).  Well, now it’s time to rise to the challenge and take it a step further.  Just as I never thought I’d be able to get this far with my running, I also thought I’d never get this far with my writing.  I have an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, for Heaven’s sakes!  That’s a big deal.  And I’ve ran not one, but two half marathons.  The lesson to be learned is that I can do things that I never thought possible.

Maybe it’s time to step up my game?

So here’s to the future.  Here’s to a finished novel (good or bad) and to a full marathon one of these days.  It doesn’t have to be the best – it just has to get done.  It just has to.

Bucket list, make room.  A few more things are about to join the ranks…

***

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone.  You have so much incredible potential on the inside.  God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.”
– Joel Osteen

#tbt Poetry – Forgotten Mistress

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
– W. H. Auden
I see everyone posting these “Throwback Thursday” photos on Facebook, so I have decided to do my own little blog version of it.  Every Thursday, I plan to post an old poem that I wrote, together with the approximate year it was written.  I used to write a lot of poetry back in the day (not great poetry, mind you) before I started writing the essay/short story style writings that I now prefer.  So, let’s dig out some of this old stuff and broadcast that old undeveloped talent, shall we? 😉

First up, is Forgotten Mistress.  Written in 2003.

Forgotten Mistress

I am looking in the window-
Standing on tiptoe to see-
Watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me

I see the family that loves him
Who will always welcome him home
I see the good times that abound
As I stand here all alone.

I wonder, Does he see me
Out of the corner of his eye?
Am I included in his vision
As the walls keep me outside?

Am I the secret no one mentions-
The dirty reminder of a fall?
Or have I already been forgotten
Not even thought about at all?

I know that I should turn away
From this sight I cannot bear to see
From watching the life go on inside
The life that doesn’t include me.

But yet, I stand here waiting
For that invitation I will never receive
And I’ll remain outside this window
Until I can find the strength to leave.

mistress

Story about a Dog

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”
–  Christian Nestell Bovee

I want to tell you a story about a dog.

LUCY2And it’s not just any dog, mind you.  I’d like you to meet my boyfriend Richard’s sweet little german shepherd, Lucy.  Isn’t she the cutest little booger?  So incredibly sweet.  So lovable.  So happy.  And so…*ahhem*…um, how shall I say this?…unintelligent?  Heh.  Bless her sweet little heart, she’s not exactly the brightest bulb in the box.  But she sure makes up for it in sweetness though, that’s for sure.  Well, I have a story about one of Lucy’s recent…let’s just say mental lapses…that I thought was pretty interesting.

Now Lucy is a little over a year old and, all her life, has been taught that she is NOT to come in the house.  She’s an outside dog, and that’s always been perfectly fine with her.  Well….now here we are faced with this awful winter we’ve been having, so we decided to try to bend the rules a little.  With sub-zero temps and wind chills to boot, it was time to let Lucy in the house.

Heh.  WRONG.

Lucy was having NONE of that.  You don’t teach a dog not to come in the house and then invite them in.  No way, not Miss Lucy.  Her daddy said a long time ago that she wasn’t supposed to be in the house and that was that, by gosh.  We cajoled, we pushed, we pulled, we begged…but she wasn’t budging.

So, on to Plan B.

Richard, being the sweetheart that he is, decided that he couldn’t bear knowing that all she was going to have as shelter would be a drafty garage.  Yes, it would block the worst of the wind, but it still wasn’t all that toasty in there.  So, he rigged up a little space heater for her right next to her dog bed.  That way, she would at least feel the heat from it as long as she stayed in her bed for the night.  Problem solved.  We’re going on a few months of this space heater warmth for Lucy on these cold winter nights and all has been working just fine, thank you.

Until yesterday, that is.

*sigh*

Now, I mentioned that Lucy is a sweet little thing right?  Sooooo sweet.  Smart?  Eh.  Notsomuch.

I left early in the morning for work and Richard was close behind.   We both had very long days yesterday, consisting of real estate work here and there and followed up by rehearsal (for me) and sound work (for him) at the theatre until late in the evening.  And then, after topping the night off with a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine or two at our favorite restaurant, we finally made our way back home.  And what did we find when we got there?

Lucy.  In the garage.

Stuck.

And by “stuck,” let me explain.  This space heater that I described to you is a long, low-to-the-ground type.  It resembles a baseboard heater somewhat.  Before Richard had left for the day, he went into the garage through the open door (on the opposite side of the heater) and Lucy had followed him in.  As he was leaving, he shut the garage door behind him with Lucy still inside, knowing that it was ok to do so since Lucy could easily go out the side door that we always keep open for her.  Well, what he didn’t realize, was that the heater (which was not on, by the way) had been pushed to the side just slightly and was now…um…”blocking” Lucy’s path to the side door.

Now, I mentioned this heater is low to the ground, right?  And by low to the ground, I mean probably 6 inches.  Tops.  So this 6-inch tall non-functioning space heater stood between Lucy and the side door of freedom.

It took us a minute to realize what the problem was once we got home.  I was the first to arrive and was shocked that Lucy didn’t come flying to me with her tail flapping as she always does.  I heard her whining in the garage, but she wouldn’t come to me.  I walked a little further in and saw that she was just standing there.  That’s it.  Just standing there looking at me.  (And crying, the poor little thing.)

So, I called to her.  “Come here, Lucy.  Come here, girl.”

Still.  Nothing.

That’s when I realized that she was refusing to step across the little heater.  I walked over and simply pushed the heater a few inches to the side, and let me tell you – you would not believe the happiness that burst forth from that sweet little dog.  She bolted out of that garage, went straight to the yard to ‘take care of some overdue business,’ and then came bounding back to me for her “Hello, I’m glad you’re home, I love you, I love you, I love you” kisses.

When Richard got home, we laughed about that silly dog being “stuck” in the garage, all because she refused to step across the heater.  But then the more we talked about it, the more we realized that, although the heater wasn’t hot at the moment, Lucy must have learned (the hard way, I’m guessing) that that heater could be hot.  So, she figured it was best to play it safe.  Even if it meant imprisonment.

Now, you guys realize I’m a writer right?  And one thing I’ve noticed about we writers…we simply cannot see a situation in only a literal sense.  Oh no – there is always a deeper meaning to just about everything.  This time was no exception.

I thought about poor sweet Lucy and wondered how many times I’ve done that myself.  How many times have I chosen imprisonment and sacrificed my freedom, simply because I was afraid to attempt something that may have hurt me in the past?  And how many times was that thing that I thought was going to hurt me, simply just there for my benefit and not going to hurt me at all?  And how many times have I, due to being ignorant to the harmlessness of the obstacle (simply because I was not willing to test it out), therefore remained in the tiny, lonely, confined space of my own making?

And while we’re on the subject – how many times have you done that?

Pretty dumb, isn’t it?

So, yes, maybe this was just one instance of a not-so-smart doggy getting stuck in a garage behind a heater.  Or…

Or.

Maybe this was one of those lessons that life puts in front of you all of the time…if you’ll just take a moment to stop and notice it.

I don’t know about you, but I sure do know that Lucy was pretty darn happy to be free.  Maybe you should give freedom a try yourself.

LUCY1

***

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”
– Marilyn Ferguson

To My Valentine

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”
Plato

To My Valentine….

Valentine’s Day’s
the time they say
to show what they mean to you;
Chocolate bars,
sappy cards,
dinners just for two

Candlelight talks,
moonlit walks,
Sweet music to serenade
One night to show
that special glow
From the love you both have made

It sounds so nice
most don’t think twice
They throw their all into this day
And while I do understand
most couple’s plans
For us, it’s not quite this way

The lives we lead
are busy indeed
And are filled with much to do
With four kids between
(and most are teens!)
Little remains for me and you

With their needs galore;
clothes, concerts and more
Birthday presents around every bend
The wallet stays bare;
(surprised we even have hair!)
And before we know it, the money’s all spent

So we find other means
(not requiring much green)
To show the love that lies within
Those arms that you place
around my waist
Those sweet dimples in your grin

The hours you spend
shoveling snow with no end
So my little car can get out of the drive
The errands you run
when I’m coming undone
From the stress of these busy lives

Your sweet, gentle ways
through these hectic days
That keeps me from coming unglued
Every kiss that you place
upon my grateful face
Shows how much I am loved by you

I hope mere words are enough
to thank you for your love
For all the many loving things that you do,
Valentine’s Day and the rest
I am loved by the best –
Thank God for the gift that is you.

valentine

V-Day Giveaway

“A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay –
Love isn’t love
‘Til you give it away.”
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, “You Are Sixteen (Reprise)”

Ahhhh.  ‘Tis the season for romance, right?  Chocolate hearts, teddy bears, lovey-dovey sweet nothings….

Blech.

I know, I know…I’m very happily in love and should be happy about Valentine’s Day, right?  Well, I am happy that I’m in a relationship with such a wonderful, amazing man.  Don’t get me wrong.  But the idea that it should all be centered around one day?  Eh.  Pardon my French here, but I just think that’s a bunch of BS.

And besides, I haven’t always been deliriously happy on Valentine’s Day.  As some of you may remember, this wasn’t the case for me last year.  Richard and I had split up.  (And, believe me, Richard just loooooves when I bring this up….).  I wrote a blog (a year ago today actually) about how I had attempted to see Valentine’s Day in a different light that year.  And it worked for a while.  It really did.  But then, a few days later, you’ll see the blog I wrote on the day after Valentine’s Day.  (Aptly titled “The Day After Valentine’s Day…” Man, I was creative back in the old days…)  I had psyched myself to get through that day, and then felt the sadness all over again once it was over.

So, again, yes, I am much much happier this year.  I’m so grateful that Richard and I made it through the hurt and sadness and found our way back to each other.  But regardless of my status this or any year, I still hate the thought of the turmoil that Valentine’s Day puts people through.  I know many people who are recently single who are bracing themselves for the dreaded V-Day just as I had to do last year.  And why is that?  Isn’t every day hard enough on the brokenhearted as it is without having to rub their faces in it once a year?  And if you’re not amongst the brokenhearted and are in a loving relationship now like I am, should you really need one particular day a year to remind you to be good to the one you love?  And do you really need to be pressured into buying expensive gifts to prove said love?

Well, I certainly don’t think so.

So…with that rant out of the way…let’s get to the point of this particular blog.  I decided that maybe I should do a Valentine’s Day give-away of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book that my story is in.  While, yes, it is a book filled with happy love stories, it’s also a book filled with real love stories.  And some of them, just like real life, don’t necessarily have such happy endings.  The book is divided into subject headings and one of them is entitled “Let’s Forget this Ever Happened.”  Another is called “It’s Not Me, It’s You” and contains a story called “Worst Date Ever.”  Anyway, you catch my drift right?  These stories are real.  And I think it’s important for us all to remember that there are a variety of “statuses” out there on stupid stinky ole Valentine’s Day.  If you’re not one of the ones in a happy relationship, don’t sweat it.  When we’re in a place of sadness, it’s easy to get it into our head that we’re the only one feeling this way.  That everyone out there has a partner and we’re the only one who is alone.  Well, you’re not alone.  Ever.  And here’s how I want to show you that.

If you read this blog, I want you to comment below.  (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’re welcome to comment there too if you can’t figure out how to comment on the actual blog site).  I want you to tell me what your relationship status is, and how you plan to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.  And I want all the stories.  From the good to the bad to the ugly.  If you’re happily in love and plan the sweetest V-Day on the planet, go ahead and tell us about it.  We’ll try not to gag.  And if you’re miserable and hateful and spiteful and grumpy – I want to hear your thoughts too.  Really.

Why am I doing this?  I want people to read the variety of answers that I hope to get.  I want people to see that in the answers to this question, there probably lies someone out there in the same position you’re in…as is always the case, no matter the circumstance.  We are just never ever alone.  Really.  We’re not.  Will my plan work?  Eh, I don’t know.  But I’m willing to bet that if people participate, it’s at least going to be entertaining to read, don’t ya think!?  And keep in mind, I don’t want an essay or anything.  Just one sentence will do.  Whether it’s “I’m single and I plan to curl in a ball and cry into the wee hours of the morn,” or “I’m deliriously in love and plan to chronicle ever single moment of my dinner/dancing/smooching lovefest on Facebook for all the world to see,” we want to read them all.  Well.  Sort of.  😉

Chicken Soup Dating GameAnd, then, on the dreaded V-Day, I will put all of the commenters names in a hat (or bowl or scattered all the floor, whatever) and I will draw a name at random at 3:00 p.m. and will send the winner an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game.  Check back here on my blog for the winner’s name and instructions on how to claim your prize.  If you’ve already purchased a book from me, enter anyway!  You can give it as a gift, maybe even with a copy of this blog so they know why you’re giving it to them.  Or, you may even opt to participate but not accept the prize and allow me to draw another name.  Either way – you’re a winner.  Right?  Let’s spread the love, people.  (And if I wasn’t a struggling, broke wannabe writer, I’d give you something better than a book, but hey – you can only give what ya got, right?…)

So.  We good?  You understand the rules?  Ok, then.  Let’s do this.  Ready, set….comment.

Seriously.  Show someone they’re not alone this Valentine’s Day.  That may just be all one person out there needs to know.

***

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
– Maya Angelou

Coke

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”
–  Felix Mendelssohn

Ok.  So, unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Super Bowl aired, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about the backlash that Coke has received for its ‘controversial’ ad aired during the game.  Didn’t see the commercial?  Well, here ya go.  Take a look:

I know I’m not going to say anything new with this blog.  Anything I have to say about my opinion on this matter has probably been said by many others.  And that’s fine.  But I still think it’s important for my voice to be heard, even amid all the others.  As Plato is quoted as saying: “Your silence gives consent.”  Well, that’s not going to happen for this girl.  I’m going to say what I have to say about the matter, and then move on.

What is the ‘controversy’ you ask?  Well, obviously, we see a video filled with people of differing nationalities, ethnicities, etc. singing America the Beautiful.  And some of our fellow Americans are saying that this is *ahhem* “un-American.”

So, first of all, I suppose I should say that I shouldn’t be surprised.  Hardly anything can happen these days without some type of controversy surrounding it, especially when it involves differences among fellow human beings (*gasp!* Heaven forbid!).  But even though I readily agree that I shouldn’t be surprised, I still have to admit that I am.  Seriously, people?  We’re still at this point?

For God’s sake, what is it going to take??

Let me ask you to do something.  Look to your left.  Now, look to your right.  And I want you to tell me what you see.  Do you see someone who looks exactly like you?  Someone who wears their hair the same way, has the same family background that you do, the same job, the same amount of money in their bank account?  Do you see someone who has the same number of children you do (or lack thereof), the same eye color, the exact same skin tone?  Does that person share your religion?  Is every single thing about them exactly the same as you?

Duh.  I’m guessing probably not.  And you know why that is?  BECAUSE WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  That’s just all there is to it.  We are not a world made up of robots.  The differences are wide and numerous and there’s no way I could sit here and list them all.  But here’s the thing: just because something is different, that doesn’t make it wrong.  Why is that so hard to understand for some people?

What gives anyone…anyone…the right to decide which differences are ok, and which ones aren’t?   So, the person to your left came from a lower class neighborhood than you did, and that’s ok.  But their first language isn’t English, and that’s not ok?  Which background differences are ones you’ll accept and which ones aren’t?  Aren’t you kind of playing God there, my friend?

And back to Coke.  First of all, every single one of the people in their ad was an American.  They said so.  They didn’t go to other countries to film this.  They didn’t bring people from other countries in to sing about our great nation.  No, they chose Americans.  Our friends and neighbors that make up our diverse land.  And they tried to show you the beauty that exists in that.  And why are we surprised that they did this?  One of the most memorable ads from my childhood is the one that Coke did in the 70s using the song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”  Remember that one?

Here’s a portion of the lyrics:

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
I’d like to hold it in my arms, and keep it company
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand.
And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.

Man. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Coke has always stuck to the theme that America is beautiful.  And it’s the diversity that makes it so.  We are supposed to pride ourselves in our acceptance of every walk of life.  Of not forcing one religion or one life path onto the millions of people who grace our land.  [Take a look at some of the other third world countries for a second if you’ve forgotten how blessed you are to live here.]  So, with the controversy that has sprung from this one commercial, what are we telling other countries?  What message are we sending to them?  And even more importantly, what message are we sending to ourselves?  To our children?

Again, like I said, I’m not saying anything that I’m sure hasn’t already been said.  I’m not changing the world and I’m most likely not changing any minds.  Unfortunately, when I type the last word on this blog and click ‘publish,’ the world will continue on as it was before…there will still be hatred, bigotry, exclusion, and hypocrisy.  I simply cannot change that.

But you know what else is going to happen after I click ‘publish’?

I am going to wrap up my work day, and then I’m headed to pick up the biggest variety of kids you’ve ever seen. Boys, girls, scholars, goofballs, white, black, geeks, jocks…you name it, I’m getting them.  And I’m transporting them all to my house for my daughter’s 14th birthday party sleepover.  We are going to eat pizza and cupcakes and watch movies and laugh until late into the night.  We’re going to sing Happy Birthday at midnight to my baby as she turns 14 (in whatever language the kids want to sing it in).  For this one night among all of the others, we are all going to come together for one purpose – to have fun celebrating a unique, talented, open-minded little teenager’s birthday.  And then tomorrow, we’re all going to go back to our separate lives.  Our separate family units, our separate religions, our separate homes.

No, I cannot change the world.  I know that.  But tomorrow as I say goodbye to this wide variety of my daughter’s friends as they return to their varied lives, I can bask in the glow of knowing that I have impacted and influenced one small part of the world.  I have raised a beautiful daughter who knows no bounds in the love she feels for those around her.  There are no exclusions when it comes to being her friend.  The more different you are, so much the better.  I have a raised a daughter that knows to look beyond outward differences, and dig a little deeper to see the heart that lies inside.

For this, I am proud.  And for this, I will continue to voice my stance on the importance of unity amid diversity.  Because I know, in the deepest part of my being, that at least one person is listening.

kelcollage

***

“Even if unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.”
– Hans Urs von Balthasar