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

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Top Ten Tuesday: Candles

candle-light

I have a young friend who is struggling. She is severely depressed and experiencing extreme loneliness.

I have been where she is.

I know the pain.

There are two great lies about depression. One is told by Depression herself; that it will never end.

As bad as that is, the other lie is just as damaging, although at first glance it doesn’t seem like it. We are lead to believe that depression is just temporary and if you change your circumstances it will get better.

The first lie causes hopelessness. When you’re wading through it, it doesn’t seem as though it will ever end. Life loses all of its reason, flavor and beauty. It seems like an endless dark cave with no hope of ever seeing the light again.

The second lie, that it is temporary, leaves room for hope. The danger is that it is often a false hope. True, real, deep depression is not temporary. It can last for years enduring the voices of those around you telling you, “Come on! It will get better!” is annoying and can cause you to sink deeper into depression. Because it can last; it can last for a very long time. People will try to change. They will change their living arrangements, marriages, jobs and anything else, but the depression stays.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Depression can last, but if you hang on, even in the darkness, there are bright moments. There are even bright days, months, and years when depression sleeps and you awaken to light and joy.

I believe that a person can live with depression, and I believe that it you can make it a good life. Part of the secret, for me, has been the choice to notice and reflect on beauty, goodness and hope. I cling to those things. I take them out of my memory and examine them again and again. They become a candle in the darkness, lighting the way for just a moment.

And so, my dear young friend, I give you the top ten beautiful things I’ve seen this week. I hope that maybe, just maybe, my words can penetrate the darkness around you and give you a glimpse of the other side.

10. It was a dank, dark, stormy day. The steel clouds hung in the sky threatening to rain. I looked at the clock on my dash and pushed the pedal down to the floor. I was late…again. The freeway seemed to stretch on forever. I came to the top of a hill. Suddenly, a narrow slit opened in the clouds and golden light poured into the valley making homes, streets and treetops gleam like part of a heavenly city set into earthly life.

9. My hair stuck to the back of my neck and sweat trickled down between my shoulder blades. It had been over a year since I had been hiking. My legs burned, and my lungs greedily sucked air into my body. I rounded a corner and peeked down a narrow path. Water! I scraped my way down to a fresh spring shooting out the side of a stony hill. I put my hands into the crystal water and washed the sweat from my face. Drinking in the nectar of life, I let it cool me to my very soul.

8. A woman, hands shaking, stood in the wings watching the play unfold. Her part was fast approaching. “I can’t do this,” her voice wavered. “What have I gotten myself into?”

Her cue echoed across the stage.

She took a deep breath and stepped into the spotlight discovering, for the first time, that she was capable of more than she knew.

7. An infant’s sleepy eyes drift to the face of his mother as she cuddles close to him on a large, cool bed. He gives her a peaceful grin and drifts into slumber, knowing that he will be safe, warm and loved as he sleeps.

6. Clouds sweep up the face of a rocky mountain on a cool autumn morning. Gray light settles in the valley, slightly shadowing the brilliant colors of fall. I smile, sip my lavender tea and sink back into my favorite novel.

5. The sun sets on an industrial building. Individuals for the next shift park their cars and are slowly swallowed up into the vast structure. Their faces are blank, and their steps slow. The stream of people finally ends and all is quiet once more.

Suddenly, an SUV comes screaming into the parking lot and stops just feet from the entrance. A woman leaps from the passenger side. All the windows come down and small faces appear with puckered lips. She walks around the vehicle reaching to kiss each child. She smiles, shouts, “I love you!” and runs through the door.

4. A dog sprawls across the floor. A small, feverish little girl leans into her softness as the child watches her favorite show on television, feeling the warmth of her fur between her fingers. They both drift into and out of sleep; each needing nothing but the company of the other.

3. A group of woman sit around a table at the coffee shop. They laugh until their faces hurt and tears stream down their cheeks. Each of them came to the meeting feeling lonely and weak. Each of them leave knowing that they are connected to each other in ways they don’t understand. Each renewed with strength.

2. A young girl stacks blocks between herself and her younger brother. She waits, holding her breath. He swings his arm and blocks go flying and bounce across the floor. Peals of laughter ring through the room as she gathers the blocks again.

1. Whispered prayers and silent hopes are answered every day. Miracles are present in the beating of our hearts, the friendships that we forge, the peace that we find in spite of our emotional challenges, the coming of autumn, warmth of spring, kindness at Christmas, good chocolate, warm beds, red roses, pumpkin pie, and emails from friends.

This is what Depression tries to hide from us, the beauty of everyday life.

We are children of a loving and giving God.

The Universe is ours to see it as we will.

This is what experience has taught me: There is a way through. There is hope for brighter days if we choose to hold to those moments which bring us joy. Yes, they can be short and distant, but holding on to them gives us hope and reminds us that there is light in the world.

These become our candles, tiny points of light, to get us through the deepest blackness of depression.

Your writing prompt for today is to write in 100 words or less about one of your candles. Write about something that you’ve found beautiful this week.

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.

Top Ten Ways to Make a Woman Angry

I don’t know if it’s the end of summer and everyone is at the peak of laziness/apathy, or if there are just several men who are acting a little stupid lately, but I want to post this as a public service announcement. Please take note.

10. Leave your laundry on the bathroom floor – We are not your maid nor your mother. It is laundrynearly as easy to remove your clothes and put them in the hamper as it is to toss them on the bathroom floor. We hate walking into the bathroom and stepping on your clothes, especially your underwear. (You know the reason as well as we do.) We hate hunting for your socks behind the toilet. Just put your clothing in the appropriate receptacle and avoid the problem.

9. Whining – We know that things don’t always go your way. We know that you’re working hard and that you have a lot on your plate. So do we. Whining does not make it better, in fact, it makes the situation nearly unbearable. Please. If you want to complain, at least find a creative way to do it.

8. Anger at stupid things – This might seem hypocritical, but seriously, when you want to kick someone’s ass for cutting you off in traffic, we want to kick your ass.

7. Call watching YOUR children “baby-sitting” – When you spend time with your children without their mother you are NOT baby-sitting. What you are doing is being a father. Fatherhood is frightening, confusing, messy and chaotic. So is motherhood. Mothers do not have all the answers. We’re winging it just like you are. Creating children takes two. So does raising them.

6. Treating us as if we’re irrational…all the time – Look. We know that there are certain times of the month that we may seem a little bit emotional, or out of sorts. But that’s not every day. Sometimes we have a point and if you ask if it’s “that time of the month” we’re going to be upset. Even if it is “that time” why would that make what we say invalid?

5. Minimize her feelings – this one goes along with number six. Even if we might, maybe, could be irrational. The feelings we are having are real and disregarding them doesn’t make them go away. In fact, if we ignore our feelings they just get bottled up and the situation gets worse and worse. If we are feeling angry, sad or anxious, don’t tell us to NOT feel that way. Say that you understand and bring us a cup of tea, some chocolate, and listen. We’ll be happier…and so will you.

action-figures4. Putting too much stock in toys – Okay we understand that you like the X-box. We have things that we like too. We know you might have a passion for firearms, or games, or…I don’t know…action figures. Whatever it is, people are more important than your toys. Your children, your significant other, your parents, visitors, all more important. Keep your priorities straight. If someone breaks a toy, be polite, it’s okay to be upset. It’s not okay to act as if the world is about to end or to make whoever broke it feel as if they are worthless.

3. Laugh at her passion – This blog is primarily for writers, but all women have something that is their passion. Trust me, there is a fire within her for something. If she shares it with you and you treat it as if it is a joke, you’ll not only make her angry, you’ll extinguish some of that fire. Instead of laughing at her, take some time to explore her passion with her. You’ll learn something about her that will fascinate you. You’ll get a glimpse of her that she won’t show you unless she feels safe. We promise, she will come alive and you’ll be amazed at the depth of your love.

2. Ignoring magic – Magic exists. It is all around us, and most of the women I know can see it. There is magic at the turning of the seasons. There is magic in the birth of a child, in new love, in old love, in music, in poetry. Most women can see it, grow with it and enjoy it. If we try to share something magical with you, it’s probably in your best interest to agree that whatever we are speaking of is beautiful. Or at least smile and nod. If we’re trying to share magic with you and you just stare at us and then say, “Hey, did you pay the car payment? It was due yesterday.” We’re going to be really angry.

1. Forgetting to show compassion – The ability to imagine another person’s plight is part of what makes us human. Too often, we forget to try to see a person’s life through their eyes. Lacking compassion makes us judgmental and negative. Without compassion, we’re dooming ourselves to see the world through a single pair of eyes – our own. How boring! And how empty! If you want to keep us happy, practice compassion with everyone you meet. Try to understand your fellow beings on their terms. Not only will it keep us happy, you will live a more fulfilled life. It will allow you to see people as God does, as wonderful, fallible beings full of potential and promise.

compassionate

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.”

Hello Again…I’m back from my adventure!

Guess what! One of our founding members has returned to us! She has been living in another state for a year and has returned wiser, happier and excited to share our writing (and life) experiences. So without further delay, here is Ali!

 

They say you can never go home again…They lie!

By Ali White

I say that home is the best place to return to. And I am always right! Just ask my husband. I returned with a new appreciation for my home, the people, the places, and my mountains that I took for granted. I knew that I loved my family and friends, but I didn’t realize how much until my return home. I left feeling that I was finally breaking free and coming into my own. I realize now that you can’t truly be yourself unless you are grateful for your past and the people that made you who you are. It is possible to find a new connection with yourself in a new place and I recommend taking ”me time” to everyone. But always, always go home at some point to see the vast difference between who you are and who you were. Me, I am content to stay home and experience the blending of my new life and my old life. So here is Ali’s list of crap that you should know that she learned while having an adventure!

  1. NEVER forget the sunscreen!
  2. Always have an exit strategy
  3. You should always be willing to sacrifice something for those you love
  4. Patience is not given it is learned
  5. Laughter is the best way to cope
  6. McDonald’s is McDonald’s everywhere you go so be careful
  7. You can never have too many rolls of toilet paper

Now having been home from my journey for a month I am settling in and getting comfy. My new family loves it here and my muse has returned with a vengeance. I am writing again and I am so happy to be rejoining my awesome compatriots in the guild. I look forward to sharing new paths and new ideas with everyone. So until next time Peace Out Homies!