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

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.

A Letter to My Daughter

mother-and-daughter

Dearest Daughter,

First of all, I want to thank you for the person you are. I am amazed at the way you are growing and becoming the woman you will someday be. I am proud of you. You are more kind, vivacious, charitable and beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

I want to explain something about myself to you.  When I was in third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I had a wonderful teacher who gave us interesting story ideas and didn’t hinder our young imaginations with too many rules. I learned to describe my feelings and thoughts in new ways, making myself understood for the first time. I was given a voice and I never wanted to stop.

Before you were born I would write whenever Inspiration dictated. It was an impulse that couldn’t be stopped.  It was like taking a deep breath of air after swimming underwater.  You need it, crave it and nothing will stop you from getting to take that breath of refreshing air.  When I wrote, it was like coming up for air. I could see clearly and my thoughts would make sense of the world around me.

And when I wrote, I could make up any world I wanted to. Fairies, dragons and princesses existed in my world. Good always won the day and truth was always found.  Young women were always strong and smart, kind and vivacious. Come to think of it, Dearest, most of the women in my stories were like you.

I enjoyed my time writing. And then something happened. Life. I got too busy with my job and school. I started dating your father. I had responsibilities that couldn’t wait for Inspiration. I couldn’t just stop working because a great story idea struck. By the time I married your father, I had begun to ignore Inspiration. Do you know what happens when you ignore Inspiration? She stops talking to you.

For the longest time I just stopped writing. I knew something was missing from my life, but I had neglected it for so long that I didn’t know what it was. It was as if a part of me died so slowly, that I didn’t even notice.

Then one day, you found some of the things I wrote. You asked me about them and I told you that I want to be a writer. Then you said something that stopped me. You said, “But you don’t ever write. You’re not a writer if you don’t write.” I knew that you were right. I knew that if I never picked up the pen again, I would never realize my dream. I never want you to experience what it’s like to realize that you have let your dreams go, or to feel the disappointment of missing your calling in life.

And so, I write for you. I write to prove to you that your dreams do not have to die with added responsibility. I write so that you will find Inspiration in your own life. I write to show you that dreams are hard work, but with a patience and fortitude, you can become anything you want. I write to show you that marriage, motherhood and careers should enhance who you are, not detract from it. I write for you, My Love.  I write for you.

Piece by Piece (Following Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams)

stupid dreamsThe above image was found by Cindy and it makes me laugh every time I see it because it is sort of the unofficial mantra of our group. Each of us in our own way has had to face life while forging ahead with our dreams and sometimes they do seem stupid. Really, really stupid. At times it seems like you’re actually moving backwards. Sometimes it seems as if you have to choose your actual real life (kids, work, marriage, friends) or choose to follow your dreams.

For example, while I was attempting to edit a book THIS happened:

1. Three year old asked if she can go downstairs and watch TV with the older kids. I told her yes. She left. I began to edit.

2. Responded to screaming from the basement because three year old saw a spider (which was actually just a tiny beetle.) Rescued three year old from “spider.” Got told, “MOM! Be careful! It’s going to bite you to death!”

3. Responded to husband who was disturbed by the screaming of the three year old. He had been sleeping after his late-night/early-morning shift. He told me the air conditioner he just installed was broken. Checked air conditioner only to realize that he was talking in his sleep.

4. Responded to screaming 6 month old. Realized that he has pooped clear up to his neck. While cleaning him up I reassured three year old that she hasn’t pooped. (She has a fear of poop.) Reassured her that she wasn’t messy even though she was looking at someone who was. She removed her clothes just to be sure.

5. After I finished cleaning up the six month old, I realized all the diapers were in my locked bedroom with my sleeping husband. Left naked, just-learned-how-to-scoot-around six month old and naked three year old to get diaper. Came back to living room to realize that six month old had scooted off of blanket onto hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor.

6. Unwound dog hair from six month old’s nether regions because he was naked on hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor. Put diaper back on.

7. Dressed three year old under protests that she had poop up her back. Wiped her back with wipes to appease her.

8. Carried her down stairs because she was certain that the “spider” would “bite her to death.”

9. Came back to dead computer.

10. I gave up for the day.

See, when all of that is going on my dreams seem a million miles away and very, very stupid.

But the fact remains, I was born to do this. I was born to absorb life, energy, and emotion. I am driven to ponder the meaning of life, find reason amidst the chaos, express it in beautiful terms and share it.

Since my life is lived by the seat of my pants, piece by piece, moment by moment, I’ve decided to make my Facebook statuses count. I’ve been attempting creative writing through my posts on Facebook. (See below.) I’ve decided to hone my skill post by post. Right now, that’s how my dreams make sense.

And so, I am going to attain my stupid, stupid dreams one moment at a time. And I suggest you work on your stupid, stupid dreams moment by moment too.

My attempt at living my dreams piece by piece (My recent Facebook statuses):

She climbs to the top of the slide with the strength only a child knows. Standing on the precipice, holding onto the bar, staring down, tiny fear thrills her heart. She’s never done it alone. She takes a deep breath and thrusts her body down the slide.
One more moment of growth, gone in an instant. One more fear evaporated.
Sometimes she feels as if growing up isn’t going to be so difficult.

Before she goes to bed, her three year old soul rushes to the open window.
“I need to fill my lungs with air,” she says and inhales the fresh night. Smiling, she peacefully slips into her bed.

My hair hangs down my shoulders, stringy and damp. I smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and sweat. My eyes burn and my muscles are tired. Children’s laughter still echoes in my mind as I caress my sleeping infant. Summer is tiptoeing out the door. Shorter days are ahead, days of books, lessons and discussions. But for now I’m going to soak up summer with my children. Time passes swiftly and my heart gently aches, knowing that these days will be gone.

We sat, we two, on cool iron cafe chairs as the fragrant night breezes washed away the cares of the day. We soaked in the deepening summer night, laughing at jokes understood by only a handful of people. The barista turned off the lights to remind us that we had responsibilities to attend. We wandered slowly to our cars and drove home to be greeted by the sounds of lazy summer crickets.

Wet scales. Wriggling bodies. Cold water. I had forgotten how beautiful it is to touch a wild animal that lives in a completely different world than I do. Connecting with alien life, alien life right here reachable and touchable. I’d forgotten, and I loved it.

Fragment Friday um yeah its late sorry.

Well hey Y’all I know its Saturday and not Friday and that fragment and Saturday do not begin with the same letter. I am sorry I did not get this done yesterday. I have been working on this story for a while and it is well special for a lot of reasons. Despite the lateness of it I hope you enjoy it. And yes although I have been working on it forever it is still a little rough. Until next time peace out homies.

Emily pushed open the sun bleached wooden door of the bookstore, the delicious musty scent enveloped her immediately. She loved the smell, it reminded her of her grandma’s house. Her grandma had a room that had been floor to ceiling books and Emily had spent many happy days of her childhood in the center of that floor surrounded by a mountain of books. Drinking in the details of every adventure and savoring the flavor of every character. Then cancer came and stole her grandma from her.

Since then Emily had kept reading to escape the harsh reality of her life. Mr. Lindon’s bookstore had allowed her a small amount of happiness amid the chaos.

At 15 her life was hectic her mother and father were too caught up in their own issues to Mr Lindon's be parents to her or her younger siblings. Emily had become a surrogate mother to the children. Making sure that they were fed, dressed in clean clothes, and in bed at a decent hour. Her mother did give her an allowance weekly and she spent most of that at Mr. Lindon’s.

She had developed a friendship with the kind, man and he had become an adopted grandfather to her. She began wandering through the aisles stopping at this book or that, perusing the covers, titles, and first few pages.

“Is that you Em?” Mr Lindon called out from his tiny office.

“Hey Mr. Lindon yep it’s me. Did anything new come in?”

“Oh yes I have been waiting for you,” he said his bright green eyes twinkling with excitement. He shuffled out of his office and along the ornate mahogany counter, past the antique cash register, to the bookshelf on the far end. “There are a few I set aside for you, but one in particular.”

fairy adventuresEmily made her way to join him and there in his hands was the most beautiful book she had ever seen. The cover was made of dark purple velvet there was silver writing on the front and spine and a silver braided book mark hung between pages that had yellowed with age. Upon closer inspection she saw that the writing on the cover said Fairy Adventures. Emily grew even more excited as she carefully took the book from Mr. Lindon.

“I found this while going through some of my wife’s old things” he said. ”It was her journal of all the adventures she had when she was young. It was never published but I thought you might enjoy it.”

“That would be great Mr. Lindon. I would be honored to read it.” Emily said, carefully fingering the delicate pages.

“Just a warning there are some rules you must follow when reading this book. It can be dangerous.”

“Dangerous?! How so?” She asked.

“Well, it changes things, not just things, everything.”

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

A Little Bit of Nothing

The post we received from our guest blogger, Margo Loftus, started a conversation in the group about the things that mean a lot to us even though they are small and seemingly insignificant.

I thought that, in the spirit of “Nothing” I would share a small experience I had…

My sister came home. She’s been living in another state for over a year, and has just moved back, she brought with her two beautiful, enchanting girls and one handsome and loving husband.

Her husband and his girls immediately fit into our, somewhat unbalanced family. He was funny, engaging, forgiving and kind and the girls are a reflection of those values.

One day last week, my sister and her family stopped by my house after spending much of their day unpacking. My children played with her children, and chaos reigned (as it usually does at these family get-togethers.)

Maybe not exactly like this.

Maybe not exactly like this.

My readers must understand that I have four children, my home is lived in and comfortable, at no time would Better Homes and Gardens come to ask organization advise from me or take photographs of my home. (Read…her house looks like a landfill.) To add to the mess, my 3 year old has some large flash cards which she loves to play with. To her they are not flash cards, they are confetti, paper airplanes, skis, stepping stones and anything else that involves throwing them all over the floor.

My new Brother – in – Law, after visiting for a few moments assisted my 3 year old in flash cardscollecting her flash cards and putting them back on the book shelf. This is a task I do multiple times a day, and having him take on that small task, was such a relief. It seems like such a simple thing to pick up flash cards, but to a busy mom who does it several times a day, it was a blessing.

So thank you New Brother – in – Law!

Please stay tuned for the rest of the month, we will be discussing our goals and Beltane, but I will try to keep you posted on the great “Nothings” that happen in my life.