The Earth Without the Moon

I am a writer.

I am also a mother.

Sometimes these two soulful, vast and difficult trades I have chosen for myself seem to be symbiotic; one job perfectly complements the other, lending strength and metaphorical beauty to each experience.

Other times, not so much.

The constant struggle for time, the slow, painful growing of patience, monotony’s strain on creativity, the constant fight to finish tasks and reach goals (i.e. finding self realization) seems to pit one purpose against the other almost indefinitely, and I am left wondering why on Earth any human would ever choose to be both.

And then one night, having driven myself crazy, and (literally….. I drove myself literally) far away from both of these trades, I figured out why.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.

No, never mind, I don’t have time to go back to the beginning, I’m a mother. Let me summarize.

As a mother, there are certain days when it seems everything points to the fact that you just aren’t enough. You’re falling short. Not stacking up. You can’t be what anyone needs. Between your children’s constantly growing, changing list of needs and your own exhausted, (though well-intended) inability to possibly meet them all, sometimes a mother asks herself, inevitably:

“What is the point?”

This phenomenon is not unlike being a writer in many ways, but I’m going to leave it to you to draw your own parallels there. Let’s just say for all intents and purposes, I was having one of those days, in both regards. Whenever I have a day like that, whether it’s parenting-related, crazy-writer self-talk or both, I tend to naturally want to give myself some distance from the situation; an instinctive need for Perspective.

So I got in my car and I just drove. I passed the outlying farms and suburban communities, I passed the adjacent towns. I kept driving. I passed the further towns and suburbs and cities. I nearly took an exit, but I still didn’t really have answers or peace of mind, so I kept driving. Eventually I ended up nearly 50 miles from home, in the city. I took an exit and simply followed the path of least resistance, which led me up to a mountainside community of quaint, historic homes. It seemed to me like I had driven a thousand miles; the quiet neighborhoods a different realm.

I was beckoned to exist inside of it. I wanted to live there, if only for a couple hours. I pulled into a church parking lot and took out walking.

The annoying voice in my head was confused.

Why? You should be home tucking your kids into bed or folding laundry. You should be cranking out that new scene, or finishing up that review, or submitting that article. What do you think you’re doing, walking around in the city at night, so far away from your chosen responsibilities? 

I kept walking. The luminescent yellow glow of kitchen lights and living room lamps cast a lovely peach-colored light out onto the sidewalk, and a bone-colored Gibbous moon hung like a rounded spotlight in the early evening sky.

The moon.

I sat down on a patch of grass in a common area to consider it.

A hummingbird buzzed across my peripheral, pausing in mid-air to consider me.

hummingbirdA few weeks ago my daughters and I, faced with the long weeks of summer vacation ahead, decided to pick four subjects to learn about, every other week over the course of June and July. It gave us something to do together, some things to gather and plan, and a few activities and outings to look forward to. For our first subject, we chose to learn about the moon. In the days leading up to my strange excursion, we had learned together about the moon’s surface, how it was (theoretically) formed, its phases, and how it affects the ocean tides.

As I sat there gazing at it through a clearing in the tall trees lining the street, somewhere in the confines of my writerly, motherly heart, a strange connection was made.

I was the moon.

Mothers, everywhere are the moon.

We are quiet, radiating forces orbiting around these strange and precious spheres of life, we are transformations of other forces from long ago, held there by a strange gravitational pull. (Did you know scientists recently discovered both ice and evidence of volcanic activity on the moon? Yes, we did in fact exist as other forces before we were mothers.)

We have our influences over these strange slightly off-spinning entities. We illuminate their darkest nights. We bring forth life onto their shores and then quietly recede. We are a powerful, glowing force for our strange, beautiful, violent and perfect little globes.

The moon brings to Earth a quiet, powerful presence that the sun simply cannot.

And yet, we are limited in our affects on that which we orbit. Other things come into their atmospheres over which we have no control. For certain events, we can only hang stationary in their peripheral and offer our light when the darkness comes.

We are often frustrated because we can simply not meet all of our children’s needs.

But you see, sometimes, we simply aren’t meant to.

Thanks once again to my weirdly innate metaphorical thinking, I began to feel slightly better about my mothering ability. And then I thought about my other job. Why was I given (cursed with?) the strange, gravitational pull to write?

Earlier that week, before my feeling inadequate, before my literal drive for perspective, I knew there was something I wanted us to learn: What would the Earth be like without the moon?

Here’s what I found:

The moon helps keep the Earth balanced in a stable rotation. Without it, our axis would vary tremendously, sometimes wobbling in instability.

The ocean tides would rise and fall less than half of what they currently do. Much of tidepool life would likely cease to exist.

Days would be shorter.

Nights would be longer.

The sky would be darker.

Technically, one could exist without the other. But at what cost?

I could stay in this strange neighborhood and begin living out another life entirely. My children would survive, evolve even, without me in their orbit. But who would hold them steady in their axis? Who would bring strange and beauty onto their shores? Who would cast a soft light into their darkest nights?

I could also abandon writing for motherhood.

But then, what strange symbiotic presence would lead me back home on my darkest nights?

What other outside force would make me stop to consider my purpose, To ask of me what I can bring into my children’s world, simply by being what I am?

What gravitational pull would keep their orbit (and mine) in balance?

 

Earth and MoonThe Earth without the Moon. A strange and fascinating premise.

But I think I’ll keep them both.

 

Till next time,

-C

This Butterfly’s Life

Hello Firefans, and Happy Mother’s Day

How are all of you?

It has been a busy, interesting and slightly difficult few months for all of us. We haven’t visited and shared here as much as we would have liked. But I promise you, Lori, Natalie and myself are still here, writing, learning, growing and we all have plenty of things to share.

In fact, when I awoke this morning, I was moved to share something with you. I’ve been feeling a blog post coming on, and waiting for the right insight or epiphany. What do you know? It arrived promptly at 6:00am on Mother’s Day. Like many times before, I sleepily pulled myself out of bed, feeling both blessed and irritated with my desire and ability to bring things out of my head and into the world through writing.

This spring my daughters and I ordered a butterfly hatching kit, similar to this one. Over the past few weeks we’ve experienced this strange and beautiful act of nature, and as each stage has progressed, I’ve been blanketed by a series of quiet, yet profound understandings about a variety of things in my life.

It soon occurred to me that watching these butterflies was so much more than teaching my girls about nature. As a writer of course metaphorical comparisons were falling out of my mind left and right. The growth, the change, the descent and the rising into something new. The periods of stillness and the fluttering and failing and falling and learning. I knew there was something, some bigger message I needed to share about what was happening, and many ways I might relate our butterfly experience. But unsure of specifics I decided to simply enjoy our experience and wait for the Muse to bring me the rest.

And then this morning I just knew.

But then, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Our journey started with the five baby caterpillars, about the size of my fingernail that arrived in a small, self sustaining jar full of food. We watched the caterpillars eat as if they were going to double their size, and then saw them triple in size in just a few days. We learned that caterpillars produce a strange silk webbing that later helps them climb to a safe place to hang in their cocoons. During one particularly grotesque stage, the caterpillars started losing giant, odd shaped chunks of themselves inside the jar. This phenomenon bothered me so deeply and at levels I did not wish to explore, I simply had to not look at them for awhile.

The kidschrysalis had no problem seeing the left-behind chunks, however and one rainy evening my littlest came pattering in excitedly to exclaim that two of the caterpillars had began making their chrysalides. Soon enough, all but one of the five had climbed to the paper covering underneath the lid and had began the (amazingly fast- did you know it takes less than a day?) process of creating the shelter in which she would become a different being entirely. The chrysalides were mostly brown, but interestingly flecked with spots of gold.

A few days later, the first butterfly had emerged. We gathered around to see her. She was about the size of a quarter and clung to the side of the netting with her wings tightly closed. As sunlight came in the window and warmed the room, she revealed the lovely, intricate pattern of black, white and vivid orange on her wings. Slowly over the next few days, the other three butterflies climbed out of their stillness and into their new being.

They were awkward at first, trying to walk around with their new heavy wings, fluttering and falling onto the bottom of the net, landing on the fruit slices, hungry but unsure what to do. They’d flip around for awhile and then have long periods of quiet stillness, their wings tightly closed. They learned quickly, by trial and a lot of lucky mistakes to flutter from side to side of the cage and use their long proboscis to draw nectar and sugar water from the fruit.

Meanwhile the littlest caterpillar, after many days of climbing up and down inside the jar, (as if she just wasn’t quite sure about the whole thing) finally climbed to the bottom of the lid and made herself the tiniest of chrysalides. We gave her a day and moved her into the net with her large, butterfly graduate friends.

In the days that followed we fed the butterflies small slices of fresh fruit and sugar water from a tiny syringe. We had to keep them warm and protect them from danger (i.e., our two cats who were more than a little curious about their arrival.) When we were at home I’d carry the butterflies from room to room with us. I felt a little silly, but it didn’t seem a bother or burden because we were all constantly, quietly drawn to watching them.

butterflyToday, the four butterflies have grown to a wingspan of about 5 inches across- nearly triple (again) their original size. They can fly from one side of the netting to the other, they flick their proboscis readily out to eat as soon as we put the fruit inside the cage, and they have learned to spread their wings wide when in sunlight to absorb heat.

They are ready to fly free.

The weather in our area has pushed the overnight temperatures down into the thirties, and we aren’t supposed to let them go unless the temps stay around 50 and up, so we get to feed, protect and observe them for a few more days. I thought, The day we let them go, I will know what it is I’m supposed to write about. I’ll do it then.

But then I awoke this morning and something occurred to me:

We are butterflies.

We all start out pretty much self-sustained. As adults, we think we know what life is about. We work and eat and travel and do the things we think we are supposed to do. And then something in us changes. We are suddenly hungry for more. We want change.

But, in order to change, we must leave behind giant chunks of ourselves, the ways and the things and the people we were, in search of something better. For some it’s career or money or comfort or approval, for others its things that aren’t so easily given up, like addiction, or bad relationships, or guilt. We have to let those go and it isn’t a pretty process. But we do it anyway.

Some strange primeval instinct in us says we must do it or choose not to survive. And some of us don’t survive.

Our tiniest caterpillar, forever still inside her chrysalis, did not survive. For whatever reasons, she never emerged. She was overcome by the transformation, it was too much for her.

No one ever said a butterfly’s life was easy after all. And some of our friends, the ones whom we place the most hope inside of, are lost to us.

For those of us that find strength to move on, there is unknowing. There is a profound period of stillness, solitude, darkness, internal reflection. And there is waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. And wondering. So much wondering.

But then one day, when it seems the stillness and dark will never retreat, the warmth of the sun beckons. It illuminates things we think we’d like to see, to know. Soon, we can’t stay inside one minute longer and we push forward, climb out into the world to explore ourselves as a creature of an entirely different kind.

We feel different, bigger, more powerful, more real. And we are STARVING. We want to soak up the world and everything in it with this newfound energy. We stumble forward on long, newborn legs into a familiar, yet altered new universe. We don’t know exactly how to do the things we are driven to do, but we do them anyway, awkwardly hoping we happen upon the right way.

And soon, so much sooner than we ever thought possible we are soaring across the landscapes of our lives. It’s as if we were born to fly. Yes, we were in facbutterfly is freet born to fly.

We have wings.

And you know the most beautiful part?

The wings were within us all along.

 

Thanks for reading

~C

Beltane

bonfire

This has been a long time in coming. We’ve promised, several times, to let you know what it was that we have learned this summer. We’ve all been so busy applying what we’ve learned that we haven’t actually had time to write about it on the blog. (Although, there has been PLENTY of writing about it.)

Our lessons came in a few, somewhat insane, highly symbolic, events.

By the end of winter, all of us had become aware of significant doubt, pain, and regrets that we each felt within our hearts. It was a difficult winter for each of us in different ways. Our desolation and heartache were keeping us from becoming who we needed to be. We had lost ourselves somewhere in the past. All of us could see it in the others, but somehow missed it in ourselves.

Natalie came to us with the notion of Beltane (Pronounced: BEY-al-TIN-ah). It’s a Celtic holiday which celebrates the coming of summer and new growth. We didn’t need the growth of crops, however, we needed to expand our souls. We needed to let the things from the past fall away, and to encourage our spirits to move on to the next part of who we were to become.

We formed a plan. In the weeks leading up to Beltane, we each thought about what we wanted most in life. We were to gather pictures of the things we wanted most and put them in a vision board, the desires of our inner selves made manifest in photos.

Our vision boards became a topic of discussion every time we were together. It wasn’t unusual to hear, “Ooo! I want to put that on mine!” Nor, was it unusual for us to stalk people, houses, and things, snap pictures, and find a place for it on our vision board. The beauty of this exercise was that we were limited only by our imaginations. (With a group of writers, imagination is abundant.)

Traditionally, there would be a bonfire at a Beltane. We decided that we would write down those things which we needed to let go, past injuries, regrets, unhealthy desires and we would throw the list into the fire. We wanted to begin letting go of the negativity in our lives by watching it go up in smoke – literally.

It was all wonderfully planned.

However, something was missing.

We needed to do something symbolic to remind ourselves to let our dreams grow, to pay attention to the whisperings of our souls. My Aunt, who is in tune with our little group even though she lives in Wales, suggested that we plant our vision board in a pot and let it nourish a plant. Our dreams would feed the plant just as they feed us. As we tended to the life of the plant, we would be reminded to tend to our dreams, keeping them alive as well.

The day of our celebration came.

We lit a small fire and watched the flames ripple upward. We sat is silence. Each of us took a moment to reflect and release the sadness and suffering that had been plaguing us for decades. When we were ready, we tossed our list of troubles into the fire, watching the light catch hold of the the list. The paper blazed brightly, then turned to black ash, the fire easily dissolving our problems in its power.

Something similar happened in our souls as we watched them burn. It was as if a fire was rekindled in our own hearts. One that could envelope and destroy agony, defeat, and sorrow and empower us to LIVE.

It’s strange how one action, when done in the right moment, with the right people, can instil you with ancient knowledge, knowledge that has always been there waiting for you to see it.

We sat in silence for a few moments, lost in the freedom of purging such darkness from within ourselves.

One of us asked whether the others wanted to share our dreams. A discussion, which has never quite ended, began that night. We discussed our desires, and the things we felt that we were supposed to accomplish in this life. There were tears, encouragement and beauty as we began to realize all that we wanted lay at our fingertips. We came to understand that we were born to succeed.

The light began to die down and it came time to plant young, fresh, lavender with our vision boards. The soil seemed to clean our hearts as we gently tucked our vision in among the roots.

We departed in the enchantment that only comes in a May evening.

In the months since, we have continued to believe in ourselves. Something happened that night, an openness that was not there before. We know where we are going, we have faith in each other and in ourselves.

This was the beginning of the Summer of Magic. We have had to renew our commitment to our dreams. Occasionally had to readjust our lives to get back in line with what we want. But that night, among fire, soil and the beauty that is May, we gave ourselves over to what we could become.

There is power in letting go.

There is magic.

There is freedom.

There is love.

There is completeness.

MagicColor4

What is Magic?

Happy Midweek Firefans.

I’m going to be honest. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m going to post, and so I think I just won’t. It’s that moment of succumbing that inspiration strikes, and I end up writing something that I really love.

That’s what happened today. I woke up thinking about the terrible tragedy that happened 12 years ago to the day, combined with the little miracles that happen in the bounty of our time on Earth. And this came out. Whether it’s good or not is really subjective, and beside the point. These words felt meaningful, passing through the shadows of my mind and out of my feeble fingertips.

So it speaks something to me…

I decided to treat it like poetry and leave it largely unedited, so forgive me for errors. Also- if you’re musically inclined- I was listening to this song as I wrote.

Hope you enjoy and find some Magic in the rest of your day.

~C

Magic is art, it is color. It is words.

It is purpose.

Magic is finding secrets in song lyrics, hope in half-written poems.

It’s the luminescent warmth of light in a newborn baby’s eyes.  It is the pure and shrill song of a young girl singing of snowflakes in July.

It is the voice of an angel that whispers me awake, both summoned and disguised by the quiet rustling of leaves outside my window.

Magic is being kissed into consciousness. It is falling asleep in the solace of the arms of one who loves without condition.  It is sitting next to another and knowing Love without words.

Magic is a child learning to read.

Magic is the quiet knowledge gained in watching the eruption of sparks in the soul of a bonfire.

It lives inside the heart of the wanderlust dreamer who believes that men should fly, and then makes it so.

It is humans that dive into the sea and breathe inside of water, and fish that use their fins to push themselves onto the barrier of sand and sea.

It is the witnessing of Earth’s evolution in the bud of a new oak leaf. It is proof of God’s great Love in the burning colors of Autumn descending across a mountain slope.

It is knowing and not knowing.

It is the mysterious solace in winter’s first snow.

Magic is ideas.

Magic is exquisite hope.

Magic is love.

 ****

Without Magic, life is bleak. It is tragic. It is gray.

 It is hindered by thick, suffocating clouds of indifference.

 It is decay.

It is shards of broken mirror in a dirty gutter. It is freeways that snake through polluted cities, haunted by greed.

Life without Magic is paraplegic forests with thirsty skin and veins that run dry. It is mountainside wastelands disfigured from careless fire.

It is scars left by silence, wounds made from words.

It is a child too young to have experienced life and yet certain there is no reason to live it.

It is blood-stained and bruised and afraid.

It is a woman covering her cheeks in layers of counterfeit color to hide her own private war. It is her child sitting alone on the cold, concrete porch steps. It is despair.

Life without Magic is a young man in his prime, crushed by the belief that he has no right to claim Love.

It is prejudice. It is children weeping at the feet of their ancestors because the world has denied their existence.

It is Nazi Germany. It is refugees killed in crossfire.

It is ignorance. It is fury.

It is men driven by hate who steer planes into towers of innocent people. It is the putrid black smoke that arises from those towers, streaming pennants of malice and destruction.

Without magic we are stagnant. We are sterile.

We are lost.

***

Magic is the human condition;

We must pursue it and claim it.

We must live and breathe and love inside of it.

Without Magic, we will cease to exist.

Guest Post- Poetry by April Stromberg

One of our loyal readers and friends experienced a painful and sudden loss in her life about a year ago. Though she hadn’t thought much about writing before, she turned to guest-postingwriting to help work through some powerful feelings about what happened.

Many times, writing is a tool to help us express words we can’t say, shed light on true emotions and set our hearts free. We here at Writing the Fire feel a kinship with those who are led to writing this way. We are honored to share April’s beautiful expression of love and loss and growth in her poems. We hope you enjoy them too.

***

The Last Time

Cold, only your face showing.
The last time I hugged you,
You weren’t alive.

Hard, speaking in short sentences.
The last time I saw you,
You were alive.

Aprils guest post

Warm, your voice was inviting.
The last time we spoke,
You were alive.

Soft, your ashes on my fingers.
The last time I touched you,
You weren’t alive.

The End

What have I learned?
Life is really too short.
Love doesn’t always last.
No one’s opinion matters.
I survived this.  I am strong.

About April Stromberg

April - Copy (2)I grew up the 5th child in a family with 7 kids, in Northern California.  After meeting my husband and dating for only 5 months, I moved to Salt Lake City and married him.  Three apartments, two houses, several jobs, two kids, one dog, several fish, and thirteen years later, I’m finally finding myself.

I never gave writing a thought until last year when my older brother died by suicide.  Not always wanting to burden my family with extra sadness, I took a pen and let the emotions flow.  It has become my therapy.  I’m allowed to say what I want without worrying about what other people think.  Most of them are sad because, well, grief is sad. 

I love to read like it’s nobody’s business.  I bake like a madwoman.  I eat until I’m full and love every bite.

I listen to happy music when I’m happy.  Sad music when I’m sad.  Melancholy music when I’m in a funk that I can’t get out of and dance music when I feel like dancing.

The End of Summer

This one is going to be short. Every member of the group is going through, what can only be described as, “The End of Summer.” We’re getting our children back to school, we’re writing schedules and organizing our homes to support the added burdens on our time. Some of us are starting school ourselves and realigning our lives to fit the time for further education.

It has been an eye opening summer. I think that this group will look back at it as the “Summer of Magic.” There has been a great deal of adventure and some heartache, but all of us have experienced a growth within our soul that can only happen in the shadows of fragrant summer nights and in the wilting heat of a hot summer day. Details are coming, and we will divulge all we have learned, but for now we are weary. Our spirits have been stretched to their limits and it’s time to let all of those things distil within us so that we can share them with you.

But I will tell you this:

  • People are amazing and kind.
  • Friends are found in the most unexpected places.
  • Hugs are healing.
  • Marriages can be saved.
  • Old friends can be found.
  • New friends can understand the core of you at your first meeting.
  • Death isn’t the end.
  • Love really is the answer to almost everything.
  • Summer nights are magical and fleeting.

And you, Dear Reader, are loved.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by us through this interesting time. (especially two husbands who would prefer to remain in the shadows throughout the pages of this blog.) Thank you to all of our readers and followers.

And personally, I would like to thank the other women in this group. I love you and you have helped me to grow in ways I would have never imagined.

2013-07-22 21.32.42

Only a Glimpse…

“Sweet dreams,” I said kissing the wisps of blonde hair on my four-year-old’s head.  I padded barefoot out of her room, quietly closed the door and leaned against it with a sigh. It had been one long day, week, month…summer. I was in some kind of foggy murk and had been for more than a week. I just wanted to collapse into my bed and, like every other day that week, forget that the day existed.

But my husband was waiting outside with the telescope. So I trudged downstairs.

Actually, it was my idea. Earlier that night I heard the words come out of my mouth, heard my own ask him to set it up, because it was the first clear night we’d had in awhile. They were my words,  but sounded so far away and unfamiliar, nearly unrecognizable to the weary soul inside. My husband was kind enough to take heed and trust them. And so I had no choice but to trust them too.

night skyI poured myself a glass of red wine and left the tepid warmth of the kitchen, stepped out on the deck into the night. It was warm, but a soft breeze was stirring the branches. The coolness of it lifted the heat away from the warm wooden planks of the deck floor. Rhythmic chirps of a hundred crickets sent a pulse into the night like a summer heartbeat. My husband, sitting at the telescope, looked up and smiled at me I closed the door.

“You…” He said, grinning, “are going to love this. Come on.”

I sat next to him on the chair he’d pulled over, squinted one eye and pressed the other softly against the lens. A faint blur of golden light streaked upwards, then disappeared.

“I don’t see anything,” I said, lifting my head. “There was some light, but it faded.”

“It moves fast.”

“What? What is it?”

“You’ll know when you see it. Here, let me find it again.” We traded places and he peered in, barely moving the lens around. “Here. Here it is.”

I sat again in the chair, moving slowly as not to bump the telescope out of place. This time when I squinted and looked into the lens, A reddish-orange circle appeared at the bottom corner. I moved my hand up carefully, turning the focus knob to sharpen the image. The circle became redder and clearer, and the outer edge was surrounded by two, rust-colored ghostlike rings, only they were circling the shape vertically instead of horizontally.

Saturn.Saturn

I held my breath. It was only in my vision for a half second before it rose to the top of the lens and out of sight. I sat up. My husband was sitting next to me, watching and waiting for my expression. We smiled at each other like we’d just uncovered some kind of ancient secret. We traded and he found it again, and eventually I figured out how to move the telescope so I could follow it myself. We took turns taking half-glimpses of it like little kids peeking through a doorway at Santa Claus. After a short while, it sunk below the trees on the horizon and we could no longer bring it into view. So we sat silent in the soft, late-summer night, thinking about our discovery.

We, ourselves had caught sight of something we’d only heard of since we were young children. We’d seen photographs of it in books, watched documentaries about planets on PBS, but now, with a hundred-dollar telescope we had seen it for ourselves. The events of the night had changed my perspective, and the murk I had been maneuvering through cleared, if only slightly.

In my desire to become my best possible self, to find purpose and Grace and enlightenment, I see Saturn too. I get short, vivid surges of knowing what I am born to do, and it’s so powerful I feel like an unstoppable force moving toward it. There is no question. There is proof. It simply is. For a half-instant, I am all powerful. And then it moves out of my peripheral and I am sent searching through darkness again.

Sometimes, I can’t find it on my own, and I am blessed enough to have people in my life like my loving husband to help me catch sight of it again. And sometimes I find it myself, without even trying. It is there, a constant, even when the murk of life prevents me from seeing it.

The vision of what we are meant to be is Saturn in the telescope. We chance upon the vision sometimes and for a few fleeting moments, what is within us is clear and true. But because we are human, easily distracted and set off course, it moves away from us. We must keep searching, sometimes led only by blind faith in possibility.  But it is there… we know it in our hearts, and every time we catch a glimpse of it that knowing becomes just a little stronger.dreams27f-1-web

If we hold a desire in our heart to one day, reach out and touch those lovely rings of light, i.e. live the dream we’ve been dreaming, we must keep searching. We must surround ourselves with the people and things that will help us reach our truest selves. And most importantly,we should never give up believing in things we can’t necessarily see.

They are not only possible, they are certain.

So keep searching. I will if you will.

-Till next time

~C

PS: This song goes with this post beautifully, if you’re inclined to read to music like our group. We like to connect songs to stories, of all kinds. 😉

Dreaming Together

Happy Thursday Firefans,

If you’ve been with us for awhile, and especially after the last couple of weeks you have probably realized now that our group is…slightly erratic to say the least. Or rather, chock-full of ups and downs. Last week, Natalie basically made a proclamation for the universe to “bring it on.” In this Monday’s Moxie post, Lori let go of some pretty major emotional baggage. After a half-summer of soul searching, and deep in the throes of a nasty summer flu, I woke one morning and found myself nothing left to write. And in this one very extremely long, scorching mid-July week, we have all uttered the same words.

“I give up.”

We are tired for reasons that are very different, and yet oddly parallel. Like everyone else on earth, there are some days we just want to quit. Everything.

And yet…even at the lowest of low, even in the darkest of voids, there is magic. It lives amidst and among our group. It lingers behind each spoken word and floats between the lines of what we write.

It showed up this morning, in a private message conversation between Lori and I. She sent me a small section of a book she was reading, Emily of New Moon. It said:

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.

That passage she sent was followed by her comment. “This is why we keep writing. This is what we must share.”

I told her I was glad she shared and asked if I could borrow the book. I needed a new one to take on an upcoming vacation. A very long vacation I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.

 And then in the conversation that followed, this incredibly magical, beautiful dream happened between us. We’re going to share it with you, let you just ever so slightly peek inside our heads to see the magic that keeps us going…as writers, as women, as close friends. As sisters.

Hope you enjoy,

~Cindy

****

Lori: When we get old, we’ll have a real vacation without children…in nature…away from everything except tea.

Cindy: and sea.

Lori: I know just the place. It’s on the outer banks, surrounded by water, shaded by trees.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds perfect. Lets live there.

Lori: We can. It’s lovely. Old small towns on the edge of the United States, tall trees, sandy beaches and ancient stories.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds like home to my soul.

We will bring old books and lavender tea. Lots of spiral notebooks and colored pens. A cat or two for comfort. Listen to classical music. And ride bicycles with baskets…

Lori: We’ll go barefoot and get up early to watch the dolphins swim just off the coast every morning.

One morning we’ll find a canoe sitting on the beach. We’ll fearlessly climb in and head out to the sunrise to see the dolphin up close. They’ll swim right beneath us. We’ll get an occasional splash from the young ones who leap out of the water to get a closer look at us.
Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Cindy: Dolphins. *sigh*

dolphinsCindy: We will wear big hats and own just a few long sundresses for summer, which we will hang out on a laundry line to dry in the fresh sea air. In the winter we will stoke fires and wear Irish sweaters and…EAT.

Homemade stew with every fresh vegetable imaginable. And fresh baked bread. And triple chocolate brownies.

Lori: We’ll learn how to make grits, cornbread and beans.

We’ll string fairy lights on every tree that will stand still and our neighbors will think we’re witches.

Cindy: Fairy lights. Yes. There will be so many fairy lights.

tree with fairy lightsCindy: And the very brave souls will come to our door and ask if we are…magic. And we will say yes and smile and send them away with warm soup and fresh bread and a brand new spiral notebook. Because only we can know that they are magic too.

Lori: Our grandchildren will come and visit. We’ll tell them stories about brave men and women so that they are prepared to face the world. But we’ll also tell stories of magic and light so that they know how to find it in their lives. We’ll cuddle, feed and educate and they will leave feeling fresh and renewed.

Our children will harbor within themselves a secret faith in magic that carries them through hard times. They’ll always know where they can come to renew their faith in all that is good…because we have been through tough times and found the light and are prepared to share it with them.

Top Ten Ways to Romance A Writer Girl

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Awhile back I read a post over at Elephant Journal titled How to Love a Girl Who Writes. I showed it to the WTF group and we all had a version of the same reaction, ranging from:

“Oh. My. God.” to

*Sigh* to

“Now I finally understand what’s wrong with me!”

Since the founders of this blog are all writers and (well duh) women,  thought it might be fun to do a top ten list in the spirit of this article. We’re all at different phases of the romantic relationship story in our lives. But when it comes down to it, I think writer girls all really just want the same thing.

 So without further ado…

Top Ten Ways Romance a Writer Girl

10- Give her some S P A C E

For a writer girl, the act of writing is a little like peeing. You think I’m kidding, but seriously. When all systems are in order it flows nicely, it’s a release of sorts, it feels not only natural, but necessary. But it’s private–not something that should really be experienced with another human being in proximity. Respect that not every part of a person should be shared.

And hey guys, reading over our shoulder– whether it’s the last paragraph of an epic novel or a Facebook post, it just gives us the creeps. Just…don’t.

9- Be connected, not clingy

Yes, we want you to be interested in us and the things we love. But if your happiness hinges on ours, well…we’re both in trouble. Writer girls are…uh, emotionally erratic, to say the least. If she’s all undone about the death of a fictional character, or pissy because she has a major case of writer’s  block, hug her. Smile and say you love how passionate she is. And then move on. Offer to give her some alone time, or suggest the two of you go for a drive or see a movie.

We know we are all over the place, and believe it or not, writer girls don’t want someone who’s willing to wallow in our crazy. What we truly need is someone who anchors us to what is real.

8- Go for the quirky over the traditional

When it comes to showing her your love, you aren’t going to get far with the old standbys. The best tokens of affection for writer girls are those that mean something that no-one else would understand. Example: A leaf in a box, from the tree under which you kissed her for the first time. Or an antique key like the one in the story she’s writing.

You know that scene in Stranger Than Fiction, when Will Ferrel’s character gives Maggie Gyllenhall’s character  flours? All the writer girls (not to mention the baker girls) watching at that moment went aaaahhhh and melted just a little bit.


(Not flowers, flours. She’s a baker. See? Quirky and sweet. That’s the ticket.)

7- Embrace her crazy

IMG_1042

Picture of my feet, taken by my husband. No questions asked.

Most likely, if you’re with a writer girl, part of what drew you to her in the first place is her passion. She has the ability to make even the most ordinary moments seem complex, meaningful, and mind-blowing.. (Come on guys, you know this has potential for being hot.) Now, there is the other side of it, when she’s in a dark mood and the fact that you turned on the water while she was talking sends her reeling into the break-up zone. But, instead of being (very, very) afraid- what you need to do is man up and embrace it. Love her for storming off because you brushed your teeth. Go ahead and take that picture of her bare feet on concrete without asking why. Accept her crazy as part of her passion, and she’ll adore you for the rest of her days.


6- Follow your own passions

This one is fairly straightforward. Writer girls believe to the core that everyone should be passionate. Whether its your work, your family or even developing the latest gaming software, you need something that  from time-to-time, pulls you in your own direction. We might act jealous and irritated because you were gone for a day or a weekend…off doing something that doesn’t involve us. But lets face it, a little competition never hurt anyone, and without it, we’re going to think of you as a robot. Find something you love and do it. We’re passionate and we want you to be too.

5-Be Patient

Okay, I’m going to level… Writer girls are constantly being distracted by, well, everything. Probably we’re going to ask you to pull over so we can study the sun streaming through a cornfield, or wait for us while we hammer out a new idea through our laptop keyboard, about a thousand time over the course of our relationship. We need to know this isn’t going to send you through the roof. Which is why # 6 is a great idea. That way, we’re happy, you’re happy.

And we all know what two mutually happy people in a relationship together leads to.

4- Don’t read her writing…unless she asks

For a writer girl, there is nothing more personal than her own writing, especially a work-in-progress.  Don’t invade her privacy without being asked in. And if she truly loves you, she will ask, eventually.

An addendum: If she does ask you to read it, it’s critical that you actually read it. If you pretend that you did, she’s going to know. Don’t fake it, or next time she will. 😉

3- Don’t try to give her ideas…unless she asks

Ditto above, except replace the word “writing” with the word “ideas.” Trying to force your ideas into a writers writing…not to mention into her mind is toxic for a relationship.. Just don’t do it.

2- Be prepared for an epic romance

bare feet togetherI’m going to leave this one to the imagination, which is exactly what writer girls have lots of, which is why you should prepare yourself. For some things, there simply aren’t words.

1- READ.

I chose this as number one because it’s a toughie, and it’s probably the most important. We really, really need to be with someone who reads, and more importantly thinks about what he reads.

Okay, we understand not everyone is a literary connoisseur. You don’t have to read Faulkner novels or Tennessee Williams’ screenplays to turn our heads (Though, I’m not going to lie, we think guys who read Steinbeck and mist up over Of Mice and Men are kinda hot…) Magazine articles, blog posts, even the sports section of the newspaper can offer perspectives you won’t find watching TV.

Bottom line. We’re writers. If you don’t read you’re basically saying you don’t believe in the world that created us. So just do it, okay?

 

Thanks for reading, and hey, if you’re a writer-guy and would like to guest post a Top Ten Ways to Romance a Writer Guy, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~Cindy

A Month of Poetry….Why?

It was the first day in May, and the morning air felt static with promise. I was up early. Still sleepy and warm from the shower, I stood at the top of my stairway and watched the first rays of sun break over the peak of the mountains to the Trust in Joyeast. The sunlight was falling between peaks in veil-like beams. I grabbed my phone from the nightstand and snapped a picture.

Not wanting to wake my girls, I crept downstairs to begin my morning ritual in the usual way, seeking a fresh cup of coffee. I opened the fridge to get creamer, and as I closed it I found remnants of my daughter’s poem she’d made with my magnetic poetry set the night before. It said:

Her smile was a river in the music of her voice.

 I paused and read it again, and again, letting the words swirl around inside my head.  My eight-year-old did this. She created this and simply left it there. Not worried if it made sense to anyone but her. Not wondering if anyone would accept it as art, or as truth.  I remembered feeling that way…a very long time ago.

I poured my coffee and fingered at the small rectangles of words left inside the magnetic poetry box. Not looking at the words, I placed the first two squares I picked up on the fridge. Morning, and joy. I stared for a few minutes at the light shining in through a high window, and then I found the rest of the words I was seeking, or rather, they found me.

This morning broke like trust in Joy.

Pure, effortless, and serendipitously meant for no-one else but me in that exact second of my life. Poetry.

I felt inspired, empowered. It was a gift, to be able to start the day this way. I remembered all the times in my life when and why I’d written poetry: For heartbreak, for love, for inspiration, to remember, and to forget. Poetry was a part of me even when I had chosen to stop writing it.

In that second, some strange, sure voice from within me made a promise.  I would create a new poem every day in May. There would be no rules, except to write without rules, and that it had to be something new—not something I’d ever written before.

In the next second I remembered a discussion Lori and I had about the boundless power behind being vulnerable, and so I decided I was going to share my poems publicly. I’d post them on my Facebook timeline. As I quietly readied myself for the day, there were voices in my head telling me why I couldn’t, shouldn’t do it. But there was one soft, sure voice telling me why I had to. It took me a few days to truly hear her reasons. But eventually, I did:

The first—

My writing tends to be overrun by emotion. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, but usually it’s problematic, because simple things tend to get overstated. For so many years, for so many reasons I smothered my desire and ability to write. Shut down by censorship and self-doubt, the emotion built up and bottlenecked, and when I finally led myself back to writing, it came gushing out like a volcano.  Poetry is emotion, and writing it every day, without limitation was a way to release the raw veins of it that remained.

The second—

It was time. I needed to show myself that I truly wasn’t afraid to be what I was. I wasn’t afraid to be judged or criticized or talked about behind closed doors, or even out in the open. I live in a place where the culture tends to oppress people into sameness. And as much as I told myself I wasn’t affected by it, of course there were parts of me that were.

On the fourth day I wrote about a time in my life when I felt suffocated by this very phenomenon. It was a night that I remembered well, lying sleepless in my bed, overcome with anxiety. I finally could take no more and went running barefoot into the night, not sure  whether I was trying to run to…or escape from.

Saturday May 4th

Inside my house
its tight and warm
Inside my heart
a brewing storm

 I rush for the door;
a war to end war
unable to breathe
for one second more

Raging through nightIMG_1042
 Bare feet
on concrete
a pulse-like beat

Afraid and closed in
 I run
for the fear
I might disappear.

I wrote this poem, and it was the first time I realized exactly why I was running. In fact, I learned something new every time I wrote. I learned that I could create amidst the most chaotic days. I learned that sometimes, the creative part of me just needed to sink into the narrows of my mind and hide, and that it was useless to try to force it out. I learned that I could accept criticism as mere publicity, instead of shrink away from it like a wilting flower. I learned that as a writer, my abilities can reach far beyond the recesses of my own experience, channeling others’ emotions and stories into my poems.

Often, it was free verse that came out, but sometimes a rhyme seemed to find its way into the story. Other times it was just one line, serving only one purpose. At one point, a friend who has also long denied herself of her love of writing became compelled to do a week of poetry for herself. I told myself that if nothing else came of my experiment, at least I had reached out to one other doubtful soul.

Sometimes I wrote a poem, shook my head and laughed. Sometimes I wrote something and then closed myself in a room and cried. And a few times I wondered if I was reading someone else’s mind. But I think the most powerful idea that became of my month of poetry hit me as I wrote this poem:

I searched for light

In the darkest of spaces

Finding my Purpose

in all the wrong places:

My parents quiet choices
my teachers’ silk words.
In the arms of lovers
The untamed flight of birds.

 

I found vines of it

elusive and wild
in the blue of the eyes

of my youngest child.

 

My yearning for Purpose

Long held captive by fear.

What I thought I had lost

Became suddenly clear:

 

For all that will be

And for all that had been

What I was without…

Was always within.

I finished the last verse and posted it on my page with my heart pounding. It was uncensored truth, served up in a verse, that I created both by looking both inward and outward at myself. I had rediscovered what I had once known. Poetry was always within. It is the firm, quiet hope that moves me forward into my writing and into my life.

Why did I write and share a poem every day in May? It was my purpose.

Thanks for reading.

~C