Headin’ Out

I’m headin’ out to a place

where air is fresh and the wind is crisp,

where shades of green vary from grass to moss to fern to tree leaves,

where the day sky is painted an azure blue with fluffy clouds and the night sky is pitch black with a bright moon and a million stars to light a path through the world,

where the rivers run swift and pure and invite us to take off our shoes and play a bit during the day and then its roar rocks us to sleep at night

where the fragrance of flowers and trees waft through the air, and the fruits of the land taste sweeter and even more juicy.

I’m headin’ out

where the dirt, stones, and trees are not imported,

where the wind whistles my name through the trees,

where the river sings along with croaking frogs, drumming woodpeckers, and strumming cicadas,

where the rocks hide ancient secrets of time.

I’m headin’ out into nature…

Gonna’ be unplugged for the next ten days for some R&R.

Writing For The Soul Of It

Living Out Loud volume 29: On Writing

Writing is the axe that breaks the frozen sea within us. ~Frank Kafka

I almost continuously have a running dialogue going in my head…in some ways I consider it writing even if those words never hit the page. I often lack the courage to give those words a voice, and other times I might not be anywhere near pen and paper or computer. Many times these things hit me in the middle of the night, and I even visualize the words appearing on my keyboard though I never rise to do so. By morning I’ve forgotten the words, but sometimes I carry the basic sentiment into the light of day. This usually leads me to dig a bit deeper until I find some hidden truth . Other times it’s a catalyst that leads me on an unexpected journey. I find connections between objects and life that I never knew existed. When I am writing poetry the images and words rumble through my head, yet I feel them gnawing in the pit of my stomach. When I finally get where I’m going it’s as if I can physically feel it travel up through my chest and jump out onto the page. I experience both relief and elation.

Writing is a voyage of discovery. ~Nadine Gordimer

Writing has become a way of analyzing and reflecting on my life and choices. It has become a tool of healing. I’ve gone through periods of writing poetry, memoir, fiction, and essay. I must say that the most rewarding has been poetry and essay. Both have given me opportunities to explore. I’ve come to know and accept who I am. I’ve grown through this process.

The role of a writer is not to say what all can say but what we are unable to say. ~Anais Nin

I have only recently become comfortable having anyone I know read my work. There are still times I struggle with showing my words. I find when I put those risky words in public, I get the most resonance from readers. I think often writers hold back because they fear acceptance from others, and yet we find others are waiting for us to say what they can’t find the words or the courage to say. I am often connected to other writers through the emotions of their words. I am thankful to those writers who say the things I don’t know how.

You’re a writer and that’s something better than being a millionaire – because it is something holy. ~Harlan Ellison

My writing road is ever changing, from poetry and fiction to memoir and essay. I haven’t sent anything out for publication in probably eight months. I’d like to publish more, but it takes work to research venues and to put myself out there which takes away from writing time. When it comes right down to it, I’d rather be writing than publishing. The personal satisfaction from the written word far surpasses any notoriety I receive. Writing has helped me get in touch with my soul. Writing has been a sacred passage. I have learned how to live with both passion and compassion. Most importantly, I’ve found a world of inner peace I never knew existed…and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Writing isn’t about the destination – writing is the journey that transforms the soul and gives meaning to all else. ~Sue Grafton

Who Paints Your Picture Perfect?

Water runs across the earth. The ground reaches into the sky. Colors blend and burst forth into life. Elements work together to give and sustain life. Picture perfect in my opinion. But who am I to set the standards?

Sometimes life seems picture perfect.

Maybe the perception depends whether we are on the outside looking in or on the inside looking out.

But who painted the picture? Is it our dream or someone else’s dream?

What is ideal anyway? Does it depend on how you were raised? Where you grew up? Where you currently live? Your religion? Your finances? Your occupation? How you dress? Your moral ethics?

Who sets the goals of achievement? Each of our ideas of success vary.

Who determines what constitutes balance in a life? We each need different things to ground us and to motivate us.

Does picture perfect equal being healthy, happy, and at peace?

Do you let others set the criteria for your life or do you set your own?

Are your expectations reasonable and attainable?

How do you define success?

Have you achieved balance in your life?

Fly Away Flies

When you approach the exterior door to my parents home you will notice a ziplock bag filled with water nailed to the wall. The first time I saw it I laughed out loud. I could hardly wait to get inside to get the story on it. I assumed it was some sort of wives tale or holistic trick that my father was trying as it is his thing. I was surprised to find that this was my mother’s doing. They had been eating a local restaurant that had bags of water posted at their entrance. She inquired to find that the bags of water supposedly keep flies out. The owner bragged that they were the only flyless eatery in town. She claimed to have told other owners about it and they wouldn’t try it and were bombarded with flies.

I asked my mother if it really works. She swears by it. She said that since she put them up, one on each side of the outside entrance, she has no longer had a fly problem. She said she doesn’t even have to keep a fly swatter on hand anymore. In the South, common houseflies are a nuisance during the hot summer months. She recommended I try it. I haven’t yet. But If flies become problematic at my house, I’ll give it a whirl. It’ll only cost me a couple of ziplocks, some water, and a couple of nails.

My sister tried it to no avail. She complained that she couldn’t get the flies out of her house and she had to resort to swatting. Come to find out, she hung her bags on the inside of her house, so maybe they were afraid to leave! She’s known for doing things a bit backwards sometimes. I haven’t asked if it worked when she corrected it.

I googled this to find that it is being used at restaurants all over the South. Some even add pennies to the water. While some scientists say there is no scientific value to this water bag fly repellant claim, many other people say that apparently the light shining through the water disorients the flies. Some same it keeps birds away as well.

I am not one to weigh in on scientific evidence. If it works it works, explainable or not. I will tell you, if the flies start congregating at my house, I won’t hesitate to put up a few bags. But then again, I’m not opposed to fly swatters either. I just can’t ever find one when I need it. And I hate bug juice on my windows!

No Dumping Allowed!

Most of us have “go to” people, and we are the people that they “go to” as well. You know what I mean, the people we vent with, share our frustrations of life and the world in general. None of us mind because after all, we’re friends. That’s what we do. We share the good, the bad, a little bit of it all.

That said, however none of us particularly like being “dumped on”. No one wants to be the person in the grocery line that the guy in front of you tells you all about how his ex-wife has taken him to the cleaners or the lady behind you tells you she just broke up with her scummy cheating boyfriend. No one enjoys being the ear on the phone from the same mere acquaintance (not someone you call a friend) every day hearing how her mother called her fat when she was young, her father liked her sister better, her friend told lies on her, the bank short changed her, and the doctor did not listen to her. (Now of course, we can freely unload all this stuff on our blogs and if people don’t want to read about it they can skip us, right?!)

It’s a well known fact that hairdressers are the cheapest therapists around. I was a hairdresser for many years. You have no idea the crap people used to tell me. Sometimes, I just stood there with my mouth gaping open. They didn’t really want my advice…good thing since I was not trained “professionally” to give it. I think they more or less enjoyed watching shock swim across my face. I must admit it was entertaining at times. Working with other hairdressers was like being part of a soap opera all in it’s own. Back then I was young, I thrived on drama (…not so much now), and was quite thankful it was their garbage and not mine. Sometimes people would tell me all the sordid office politics not realizing that I also did their coworkers’ hair. Then there were cheating husbands and boyfriends, the attorneys and policemen who were dating “exotic” dancers, back stabbing coworkers, swindlers, users, and liars of sorts…I guess they all needed a place to unload. And then there were the normal people. You know the ones who really came to get their hair cut.

There was this one instance where a young woman accused me of having been at a bar with her husband dancing the night before. I’d never heard of the bar or been there.  In fact at that point in my life, I’d never even been to a bar nor was I much of a dancer. I spent my weekends at frat parties with my husband. (He was a college student and I worked during the first few years of our marriage.) When I told the woman I’d never been to the bar, did not know her husband, and had been with my own husband, she told me it was ok that they had an open marriage. She kept telling me it was ok to admit I was with him. I continued to deny the charges and she told her friend I didn’t have to admit it because she knew it was me!

In all fairness, these people who unloaded on me back then had no idea that twenty years later we’d both have children who went to school together, played on the same sports teams, or were even friends. They had no idea I’d remember their faces, let alone their names, or their stories. So, maybe there is some truth to the saying “only your hairdresser knows for sure”. Yes, I still run into clients even now. And on occasion they recognize me, and I don’t remember them until they tell me where they worked or some tidbit of information they had shared with me. It’s only fair to say that I am friends with some of those past clients even now…no, they were not ones with sordid stories; they were the ones who formed friendships (rather than entertaining me) while getting their hair done.

I find it funny thinking back on it now. When I get my hair cut, I’d never consider airing my dirty laundry, not to a complete stranger or to the person I’ve grown to trust with my tresses. However, I must say I’ve heard a tale or two from a few of the hairdressers I’ve gone to through the years. Don’t think I’m not a talker…oh boy am I! It just happens that I save the good stuff for my “go to” people! Is my “No Dumping” sign worn out, rusted, and unreadable?

For The Love Of Reading

I. LOVE. BOOKS. I’ve always enjoyed reading. I am the type of person that if I like a book, I will keep it and read it again. Those worthy of this are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Glass Castle , Cold Sassy Tree, and A Separate Peace. This has produced a large collection of books. Every year I give away a vast number of books, and somehow they still seem to stack up.

The musty smell of a book stashed on a library shelf or the sound of pages being turned make my heart pound – thus said, I never thought I would give in and purchase a kindle. How can a book lover (not just a lover of words or reading, but a LOVER OF BOOKS) possibly enjoy reading without the sound, smell, or feel of a book at her fingertips? It was love at first touch! Gone are the piles of book that cluttered the house. Ok, I’m lying. I still have tons of book, but I have lessened my collection and am not adding more to it. It’s amazing carrying so many books in so little space. Even though the cost of ebooks are so much less than paper books, I spend more because I buy more. I take my kindle almost everywhere I go. I’m never bored. I no longer have to worry about the germs on the magazines in doctor’s offices. And I don’t get sick reading in the car any more!

The most recent books I’ve read are The Help and Water for Elephants. Both have been made into movies. Often I am disappointed in the movie after reading the book. However, I enjoyed Water for Elephants, and absolutely can not wait for The Help to hit the theater. The best nonfiction books I’ve read lately are A Writer’s Book of Days which gives a years worth of writing prompts and Writing and Being: Embracing Your Writing Throough Creative Journaling which is a soul searching writer’s paper back (or kindle in my case) dream.

My father is a lifelong reader. I can not remember ever seeing him in his bed without a book or newspaper in his hand. On the other hand, I don’t think I recall ever seeing my mother read a book. I mean she read, but it was always the newspaper or one of those trash mags like Enquirer or Star. I know she reads the bible and books for bible study…and she mentions novels she’s read, but I’ve never actually seen her with one in her hand. That seems really weird to me now that I think about it. At any rate, both of my parents always encouraged me to read.

When I was young reading was an adventure. It took me to places I’d never been, and allowed me for a short while the ability to be someone else. Now, I read for entertainment and education. I enjoy being lost in other worlds for short periods of time, and I also love learning new skills and information. I can spend hours in bookstores or libraries or even online looking at books and making wish lists. And now I have the ability of one click ordering directly to my kindle…talk about instant gratification (except when the book doesn’t come in kindle form)!

Sprite’s Keeper: Books

Wrinkles In Time

Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward. ~Soren Kierkegaard

Some are young blossoms in this world.

They are fresh and fragrant, willing to take on the world.

They work hard for their beauty and talents to be noticed and applauded.

Youth straps on the excess and searches for the meaning of life.

Time is hurried, pushing for tomorrow.

In youth we learn; in age we understand. ~Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

Some are well seasoned in life.

They are comfortable as they are, willing to take in the world.

After a life of hard work, they are ready to blend in the scenery.

Age strips the excess and reveals the meaning of life.

Time is measured, living for today.

We have two lives – the one we learn with and the life we live after that. ~Bernard Malamud, The Natural

Within

Are you aware of the conflicts within yourself?

Have you ventured to that dark place your shadows loom?

When we enter the forest alone we see shadows that frighten us.

The root of fear is the shadows belong to us.

Acknowledge, accept, invite the light.

Have you looked deep enough to find yourself?

Delve deep enough to find the silence.

You will stumble upon that sacred place.

That place where you reside.

The very heart of your soul.

For in this silence, feeling emerges. Words take shape…

Cleanse becomes purify, and practice becomes sacrament.

Acceptance and healing await in the silence. Find your peace.

Coloring A Life

The outline of my life has been drawn.

I’ve had the freedom to pick and choose my colors.

It’s up to me to color in the picture.

Only I can bring this sketch to life.

I glance at the black and white photograph.

When this photo was shot, did they see beyond the baby?

Did they see possibility? Did they dare draw a future for me?

I refuse to connect someone else’s dots. I will connect my own life.

Through time my outline has stretched to include all the eye does not see.

I am much more than an image, a sketch, a photograph.

I am a life. I exist in living color.

I am all that purple dares to be, yet I am a calming ocean blue.

I am scarlet, a sizzling fire, that melds to a yellowed moon.

I am the green grasses of home and the brown of forest’s deep.

I am all that hides beneath the darkness and all that sparkles within ice.

Maybe I should erase my outline and leave a rainbow instead…

after all life is possibility.

As difficult as it is to read the inside story of a black and white photograph, it’s impossible to read the colors of a black and white life.

I’m off to buy some color markers. Better yet, I think I’ll make my own paint.

The Complexity Of Happiness, Plain And Simple

The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be. (Marcel Pagnol, French writer, producer and film director)

What is happiness? Is it the lack of sadness? Is it some preconceived notion we’ve heard from someone else? Do we consider ourselves happy when we reach all the goals someone else sets before us? Are we happy when we are free of debt? Employed? Successful at our careers? Does happiness depend on good health, companionship, or financial security?

Does being happy mean that life will no longer have difficult moments? Or does it simply mean that we have attained the skills to survive set backs?

Does being happy mean we fear nothing and no one disagrees with us? Or does it simply mean we are willing to take risks and are accepting of what is different from us?

Does being happy mean we’re overjoyed every minute of every day? Or does it simply mean that we have learned to find gratitude with the familiar?

Is happiness taking responsibility for our choices, actions, and feelings?

Could happiness truly just be peace of mind and heart? A lack of worry? Could it simply be awareness and acceptance of the moment, and the ability to find comfort in the here and now?

Many consider happiness to obtained only by wealth or sacrifice. Can it not be considered a value? After all, we are all given the basic right to pursue it. It is available. It’s a matter of looking in the right place for it. Do you know where happiness thrives?

Is happiness an opportunity, a destination, or a way of living?

Writing Through Life, Journal Prompt: Happiness