It Is So Ordered

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image by traciwithani.com

On Friday, June 26, 2015, I was sitting in a meeting of mostly women when the news came through about the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality. In this group, there was a lot of cheering and even some tears. This was a welcome step for our nation.

I know that the last paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s written ruling has been plastered everywhere but I thought I would put it here again. The words are profound and bear repeating.

 

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Justice Anthony Kennedy

The debate rages on.

Lots of celebrating and lots of negativity still abounds.

Debates like this have split our country apart from time to time. Slavery and the women’s right to vote are two that come to mind. Both were powerful movements in our country as I believe marriage equality will be.

There are people who spew hate over this topic and to those, I want to say, isn’t it time to put the hate away. People deserve love. We may not agree with others but this thing that makes our country great is that we all have the right to think and feel how we want to. We will never agree on everything but can we at least respect people’s rights to make their own decisions?

Isn’t it time to put aside this animosity and seek out what makes us alike? Isn’t it time to look at ourselves and say “how am I promoting hate?” Love has to win, otherwise none of this makes sense.

It is so ordered.

Find Your Bliss

Have you ever had one of those weeks? You know the ones I mean. Where its Wednesday but you could swear it had to be Friday. Or, the several days in a row where you nearly had to schedule bathroom time just so you got it in. Yep. I’ve had one of those weeks and I am grateful it is nearly over.

Having weeks like this makes me feel profoundly ungrounded. I can’t seem to pull myself together and feel as if I am always out of breath going from one thing to another. This leaves me seeking ways to unwind.

I haven’t so much as discovered the need as I’ve hungered for nature. I don’t always know I am seeking it until a breeze hits my face or I am in the presence of water, both of which have the ability to ground me back to myself. When that happens, I stop completely and just breathe. This is a new experience for me though I’ve enjoyed nature in the past. To see trees and rocks and grass feels like coming home.

At this moment, I am away from home and yet still feel this need. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an oasis in the middle of my hotel. I spent some time in this space, writing and reading, mostly alone, but, more importantly, uninterrupted.

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Though not visible in the photos, part of this garden is a koi pond. Because the courtyard is opened to the sky, the fish are covered by a net so the birds that fly in don’t carry them away. Even they are left in peace.

This oasis has all the greenery, water and a bit of sunshine that I could have asked for. The one thing that I wished was for a breeze. I didn’t expect it as this is a courtyard but somehow, as I sat reading in the quiet, a small breeze came down and brushed my face. Bliss.

How do you find your bliss?

Just a Bit of Flash

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Since I am spending June writing pieces of Flash Fiction, I’ve decided to share a recent piece. I hope you like it.

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I slam the cabinet door shut in frustration. The day is ruined. A slamming door and angry words complete it. All that work for nothing.

Cutting, chopping and stirring for an anniversary dinner. Hoping this time he would enjoy the meal. Steak, medium, just the way he likes it. His favorite potatoes and a herbed tossed salad, the meal complete and full. To top it off, chocolate peanut butter pie, a favorite of ours.

His smile, cool and expectant, gives me hope. Just five minutes more and we can eat, I tell him. He nods and sits in front of the silent television. I see him waver between turning it on and letting it go. He lets it go.

Six minutes later I have everything perfect. Steak, made just right and his favorite salad dressing sitting on the table. Its ready, I tell him. He comes without a word. The smile on his face is stiff. Thank you, it looks wonderful, he tells me.

We both begin to eat without another word. He cuts into the steak with a butter knife. I smile inwardly because this time there can be no complaints. We finish the meal without another word.

“What’s the occasion?” He asks.

Shock appears on my face and I cannot speak. Does he not remember what day this is? Before I recover, he goes on. Didn’t you remember that I am not eating red meat? Are you trying to sabotage my efforts as usual? How can you be so thoughtless? With that, he stands and walks out of the room.

As I sit, still unable to comprehend what has just happened I am reminded of another time such as this. I remember a favorite teacher and wanting to show her a picture of my favorite dress. For my effort, I was punished for using the wrong paper. I don’t remember shedding tears that day but my heart still hurts when I think about it.

That day I remained silent but no longer. I am done. I find a bag and throw some things inside, not caring what. I look toward where he sits, glowering, behind a closed door and find my purse. I walk out without another word.

 

A Summer Solstice Walk

DSC_0250Tonight my husband and I walked the road near our house. Enjoying the sun and warmth while getting some much-needed exercise.

It is also the summer solstice. I think I read that there will be 14+ hours of daylight. This is a good thing.

We realized as we walked that the heat is finally here. Its been such a cold and wet spring that it hasn’t felt much like summer. Not anymore.

We talked about a lot of things as we walked; work, people we know, growing older. All subjects that are important to us for various reasons. Walking seems to be a good place to talk. To get away from all those things “needing” to be done.

The road we walk is mostly fields, some worked and some growing wild. There is also a bit of woods with a creek that goes nearly dry by the end of summer each year.

The fields at the end where we turn around are overgrown this year. It is remarkable to me how the farmers decide which fields need to be used in a given year and which ones need to be left fallow for a year.

In one of the fallow fields, just as we were turning around, I saw a couple of heads peek up in the tall grass. Two deer who were bedding down for the night looked at who was talking. One was a buck, with tiny horns between his ears. The other female. She was the first to bolt. He followed shortly after. I wish I’d had a camera.

When we got back I snapped this picture.DSC_0255

I have done little gardening this year but sometimes the flowers prevail. These were planted last year and are in the midst of weeds. Still beautiful.

The summer season here in Northern Michigan is so short. Why not take a walk and enjoy it.

Happy Solstice!

How do you enjoy the summer?

Welcome Home

DSC_0244Today I’ve returned home to find this clematis blooming like crazy. It was a good welcome.

When we left, there were lots of buds and I’m glad I didn’t miss the full blooms. Flowers, like so many things in life are fleeting and to capture this moment is amazing.

I left a wonderful writers retreat to come home to just that: home. Where laundry and dishes call out quietly, and sometimes loudly. Where there is always something else to do and solitude is a moment stolen here and there. Though the time away was wonderful the crash of real life can burst the magic of retreat.

It is during retreat that we rediscover ourselves and perhaps make a plan for our lives. It is where we can find the quiet that lies within ourselves. It is where we can recharge for the next step in our lives.

It is easy to forget and the magic begins to disappear the moment the car turns home.

DSC_0237So, thank you to my fully blooming clematis in my favorite color and my african violet for reminding me that while going away is good to recharge, it is also good to come home.

Home to a comfortable bed and clean clothes. Home to normal life. Home to bills, chores and fully blooming flowers.

Its good to be home.

Writing Fitness – Poetry

typewriter-472849_1280I am not much of a poet, however, at my writers retreat at Interlochen College of Creative Arts, I had an opportunity to write some. One of the challenges about being a writer is to explore new genres. This is part of skill building and learning new ways to get my words out. For any writers out there, being able to get words on paper can potentially be problematic.

I’d like to share some of the pieces that I wrote during a craft talk this week. The idea was to focus on one moment of a recent experience, and, perhaps, to add emotion and end with a question?

On my walk
I interrupted a
Bathing robin.
Puffed feathers,
water all the way to skin
Shake it off.
Will he return to finish?

Here is another one:

Wind blowing
Chasing the darkness
Deep breaths
Cleansing power of nature
Why won’t it stay?

And finally:

Walking the wooded trail
Focus right foot
Focus left food
Swat, swat
Focus, left foot
Focus, right foot
Breathe in, breath out.

Again, I am not a poet but I did enjoy remembering these moments in my day. These are snapshots that I can carry with me.

Writing is like anything. It improves with practice.

Challenge – Try this exercise and use the parameters of 3-7 lines as I did.

5 Lessons in a Decaffeinated Life

the-eleventh-hour-758926_1280It’s been over a week since I’ve had any of my favorite beverage. Coffee.

I have survived but barely.

I have struggled with many things throughout the week. Between work, home and my own interests, each thing has been much more stressful due to this major change in my life.

My body and spirit haven’t fared well as I have gone through withdrawals. Here are some things that I’ve discovered:

1. My allergies have finally kicked in this spring. I won’t say that it is truly because of the lack of coffee but the timing is suspicious.
2. The 2:00 slump is real.
3. What do I drink all day? Water is so boring.
4. There are other things to order at coffee shops besides coffee? Really?
5. Bedtime is now 9:00 and I actually go to sleep. What?!?! I’ve got things to do.

This week hasn’t been so bad regardless of the above lessons. I have survived and I’m even starting to believe that I will be okay. There have been moments where I’ve wondered but the trade-off has been good.

Making a choice and sticking to it can be really difficult. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle through mud but having a healthy life is worth it.

Ready for Retreat

stones-530865_1280It’s nearly the middle of the month so I thought I would do an update on the happenings in my life.

I started a challenge of writing a flash fiction story daily for the month of June. As of this moment I am right on track. I have discovered that I like the stories I am creating in this month. Several of them have a lot of potential. I’m not stopping to edit them but hopefully after June I will be able to.

I am also getting ready to head out to this writing retreat. I’ve never done this before. I’ve been to one day writing conferences but this one is four days long and will focus on novel writing. I’m rather excited since I struggle with moving forward with that particular piece of writing.

A few days ago I presented my first chapter to my writing group and got some incredibly helpful feedback. I’m looking forward to taking those comments and the rest of my notes to this event and hopefully putting things together.

While I am gone I will also be attending a one day blog conference at the same location as the retreat. The subject is on the content of blogs so perhaps I  will be making changes in the future. I tend to implement what I learn at these conferences and I believe this will be incredibly helpful. I can’t wait to get there.

I have been reminded how hard it is to get ready for a week away from home. There are so many things to think about, pack and prepare. I’m quite certain I have overpacked but you never know what you might need.

It’s been a busy week and next week will be too. I think I will need a vacation from my vacation.

We forget that peace and quiet is needed too. Though this retreat and summer are proving to be quite a challenge, I am still looking for those still, silent times. If water is involved, all the better. If not, I will still enjoy the moment.

How do you plan to retreat this summer?

An Exercise in Memories

DSC_0282In a previous post, I discussed my ever growing bookshelf.What I didn’t talk about was some of my favorites. You know, the books you read over and over again, even knowing the ending. These are the ones you never part with, even if you outgrow them.

As I progress with my writing, I am discovering that these books can be used for other things.

Mainly as a way to learn different writing skills. Though others have done things like this.

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This image came from dustyprettythings.wordpress.com.

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This one is from strawberryearth.com. The author has an entire post dedicated to how to turn old books into something useful.

I prefer to learn from my favorites and here is a writing exercise that has recently come to me:

Take the first line from your favorite book and use it to begin a story.

Here are a few of mine.

“It was an October wedding.” Incubus Dreams, Laurell K. Hamilton

“The difference from a person and an angel is easy.” Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.” Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“If anybody cares to read a simple tale told simply …” Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

book-758384_1280Books have been a part of my life since I was a child. I’ve always thought that the mark of a “favorite” book is that it would be read over and over. I can honestly say that I’ve read each of these books many times. Even now I can go to my bookshelf, pick up one of these and be lost in minutes. The story, though known, still brings me pleasure in the reading.

This is an interesting way to work up some creativity, especially if the words aren’t flowing well.

How do you jumpstart your writing?

Coffee Time, Or Not

chalkboard-620316_1280I created several goals for myself this year. Most are still a work in progress, while some aren’t really working. It will be interesting to see how things end up as the year continues.

One of these areas was health. I had in mind to exercise a bit more, find balance and discover what was going on with me, health wise.

At this point in the year I haven’t truly achieved this goal at all. However, I have worked on it.

The problems I was having, I have found answer to, though another issue has reared its ugly head, AGAIN. It is my belief that many of our ailments are lifestyle ones. That means that I don’t always look for the answer to be found in a pill. It is my belief that health can be achieved through changes in habit, i.e. diet and/or exercise. I haven’t always thought this way but I have found myself to be much healthier and more at peace by this belief.

Except when I’m not healthier and things appear to be spinning out of control.

Except for times like now when I struggle to go for a walk or do yoga (which were part of my goals for this year) or to eat what I know I should be eating. Instead of what I know I shouldn’t.

Sleep has been disrupted for over a month due to GERD, which is for the most part, heartburn. I have struggled with this on and off for several years. Sometimes using medication and sometimes not. I’d really like to sleep all the way through the night and not have any pain throughout the day. Yep, that would be a good thing.

Well, and here is the crux of the issue, treatment for GERD involves taking medication and dietary changes. I’m on meds for a month to see how things go. Dietary changes include the following no’s:
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Spicy foods
Alcohol
Tomatoes
Chocolate
Caffeine

Do you see the problem? Those who know me well understand the problem. I love coffee.

Last year at about this time I had a similar experience and was put on the medication, which worked. The only difference is that I didn’t change any part of my diet. I’ve decided that its time for a change, this has gone on long enough.

The new plan:

No more spicy foods – well this one isn’t too difficult. I haven’t been able to tolerate them for years though I like to play with fire on occasion.
Little to no alcohol – This one isn’t that difficult either since I have developed a reverse tolerance to the stuff. I just don’t recover as well as I used to and I have things I want to do with my life.
Tomatoes – While this one isn’t incredibly difficult, tomato season is coming and I love tomato sandwiches. I think this is left over comfort food from my childhood. Hopefully I will be feeling better in time for that.
Chocolate – Oh, here comes a tough one. I love chocolate and staying away may be problematic. Again, hopefully this won’t go on for long and I can once again enjoy the pleasures of a Dove dark chocolate bite.

And, here is the problem:

Caffeine – I almost don’t have the strength to go on. I repeat, I love coffee. And I am picky about it. I mean I prefer to make my own and I need a special creamer to make it just right. I’ve even been called a coffee snob. I will own that. This is a daily habit that I have been unwilling to change.

Until now.

How do I go on? How do I manage the massive headache that accompanies caffeine withdrawal? What about the social aspect of getting coffee every afternoon? How do I wake up each morning and write without that steaming cup?

It’s been two days without my normal cup of coffee and I’ve survived. The good thing is that everyone around me has too. I can only take this one moment at a time.

For me this is a choice. I want to be healthy and my body is less tolerant of the things I am putting into it than it has been. Not able to get a good night’s sleep has made me aware that I need to make changes. It is difficult to meet my goals when I don’t feel well.

So I go on sans coffee. But I go on to a better future, one where I am not in pain each day and am able to sleep at night. One where I am not required by my addiction to coffee to continually seek it out. One where I am healthy.

What would you give up to reach your goals?