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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Legacy of Words & Finding Hope

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2097 August 16, 2018
size:5}" “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there." ~ Ray Bradbury
Do you agree or disagree? If so what will you leave behind?

Without question, I will leave my daughter my words.

I have, it seems, always been writing in my life but the moment my daughter became the seed in my soul, she also became my muse. I have written about the joy of expecting her delivery, the trials of being a new mother and struggling to find balance as a working mom. I have written about the incredibly vulnerability you feel bringing a life into the world and of the fierce and all-consuming love that makes you both terribly afraid and immeasurably happy all at once. I have written about my daughter's growth, about her amazing milestones, our battles and all those sweet moments that made my heart melt.

I continue to write about her, marking her years with all the insights I can about who she is and what she is like at her various stages and ages. Her aggravating love of slime is forever immortalized in my my blogs, as is the lovely character of her laughter and the summer she fell in love with horses. I try to capture all her burgeoning beauty, grace and personality that seems to come at a rapid fire pacing I feel I can barely keep up with. My hope is that one day she can read through all my entries, all my stories and blogs and see how I saw her at age 3, age 7, age 18...and that this might tell her something about herself, about the woman she has become and most importantly, about how she was the absolute world to the woman who raised her.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1703 August 16, 2018
Prompt: Hope.
I had hope. It wasn't much hope but it was a little. Then it turned out to have a thousand pieces, Scattering it in all directions. Hope for the best, expect the worst. When is the last time you felt all hope was lost but things got better?

There have been many moments when I have felt hope scattered around me like so much broken glass. There were times when the darkness was so close to pulling me down that it seemed I could not draw enough breathe into my lungs to live another second for myself. Even in those moments, I must still have held onto hope because I did breathe. I did find a way to get back on my feet. I think I wanted so badly to know a different life, I wanted to be a different woman. I did not want to cower forever or live a life when I could not tell the difference between passion and violence. I wanted to love in another color besides red. I think I had hope even then, when a weak man's rage had me curled into a frightened ball at the base of my stairs, that this would not be my life and that it would get better...that I would love better and find someone in turn who did the same. I remember staring at my bloody fingertips and thinking, "someday it will be me or him, and I will have to chose me". Those words seemed so impossibly loud in my head and thinking them gave me hope, and that hope eventually gave me the strength to do exactly that.

Hope is this amazing thing that resides in our souls...quietly waiting until it is needed the most. In those dark times, it can be the light by which we find our way out.

"Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all" Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Jaden's Summer of Ponies

There has likely never been a summer when I have needed to write more and in a twist of cruel irony, have never had less time to do so.

We moved this summer. It has been a challenge in several, largely unanticipated ways. The unforgiving summer humidity coupled with adapting to a new home with a host of issues, has strained every relationship I have at some point. I'd like to say that with each room I "finish", we are settling in and feeling more at home but some days, that seems to be merely sugar-coating it. I know that we will reach a point when we no longer feel overwhelmed and things will become easier, more natural. I look forward to those days with the kind of hope reserved for much larger things in life. For now, I try to go day by day. I try to see the positive, I try to appreciate the progress we are making. I look for the things about this summer that are undeniably joyful.

Jaden is having a remarkable summer. She has grown into a leggy, outspoken girl who has discovered a myriad of new loves and abilities. Like a greenhouse flower, she has blossomed amid the heat and humidity, seemingly unperturbed by the dog days of a summer running a bit too long in the tooth. A surprise week at horse camp has radically transformed a unsettled summer into an adventure. She has fallen in love with horses and with trailing her Aunt Becky through her world of ponies and puppies. Jaden has become the child my sister always dreamed she'd convert from Barbies to show horses and trail rides. The first day of pickup at horse camp, I discovered my fastidious daughter covered from her head to her toes in grime and horsehair, smiling a 100 watt smile and looking as happy as I have ever seen her.

So, a week in horse camp as turned into three thanks to the generosity and stubborn persistence of a favorite Aunt on a mission. Each morning she pulls on her riding tights and laces up her paddock boots. She grabs her helmet bag, a present from her Aunt, which houses the pretty pink riding helmet and riding gloves, and heads into the barn. It has to be unbearable hot most days and the smell is...well, let's just say that it is not my cup of tea, and still she pops out of bed like a daisy, eager to get the to barn and get her pony tacked up. I get videos of her lessons sometimes and I can hardly believe its the same shy girl, posting proudly in her saddle and urging her mount into the rolling canter she loves. I am proud of her and immensely happy to see her bond with my sister as she has this summer.

Bat Houses & Butterfly Wings

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1695 August 8, 2018
Prompt: "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it turned into a butterfly." What are your views on this? Write anything you want about this.

These days I feel far more like a terrestrial garden slug than a caterpillar, nevermind a butterfly. Moving twice in as many months has left me drained. It has been an incredibly humid summer and the unforgiving weather has felt like a plague. Settling into our new home has been rough going. At times it has felt like a depressing treasure hunt where you find delightful little problems like shoddy plumbing and carpentry work around every corner. Some days it has been a challenge to find the beauty in the home we had so readily fallen in love with. We have made progress on fixing the showers, waged war on the ants, even made a kind of peace with the resident bat who comes and goes from one of the outside window eaves. I tell myself it a few short weeks that bat will move on to warmer climates and when and if he returns, we will have installed a far more suitable bat house for him as an alternative. We are making progress. We are adapting to our new life, our new home but it has been surprisingly difficult some days.

I don't feel like a butterfly although the transformation sounds like just the sort of miracle I could use. I've struggled to find time for myself, for those improvements I desperately need to make. I need to build back in an exercise routine, meal prep and self-care regime. I need to fix my hair, attempt to grown my nails again...and at least start shaving my legs with some regularity again. Moving has been all-consuming. I hardly feel like myself in a house where everything feels strange and new. I try to be grateful for the potentially wonderful home we are making, remember how blessed we are...I try to find the positive. I try not to get overwhelmed. I try to remember to be patient and know that things take time. I try to be the caterpillar looking for that perfect limb on which begin my new life with wings.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Work Ethics & Truth Telling

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1665 July 9, 2018
Prompt: “Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings.” George Eliot
Why is telling the exact truth so difficult? Your thoughts…{/i}

Telling the exact truth takes a lot of courage, because truth can be painfully hard to hear for some. I have learned valuable lessons about family and loyalty through some of my own truth-telling, lessons that still leave marks...like wounds you thought healed that suddenly flare up and fester. I have always written without self-censorship and while the old adage may say, "the truth will set you free", it will also often isolate you and leave you exposed. That is the risk and one I have come to understand too well. These days however, if I feel pressed to blog or write about something to process it or just to better understand my own perceptions, I find myself taking a pause. I don't want to write purely from a place of anger anymore. I give myself a few days then I try to articulate my feelings, try to express myself as candidly as possible. In the past I have gone back and re-read a piece and thought that it sounded more angry than I might have intended it to. I don't ever want to totally white-wash the anger out, or censor the truth but I also don't want to lose myself completely in it either. I run the risk of being angry a lot, of turning my writing into a tool to lash out rather than what it should be, a tool to process my emotions and feelings. So...I take a step back, I take a breath...I "examine my words well" and make sure that what I am committing to electronic ink is the most honest version of myself that I can, the person who doesn't give in solely to the hurt and the anger, a person who reflects rather than simply reacts. One last word about truth...it is always 100% perspective - what you believe is your truth is personal and you should never have to apologize for how you feel or how you perceive someone or something.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2058: July 9, 2018
Prompt: Work Ethic. Write whatever you want about this subject. If you have a favorite quote share it.

I have been working for most of my adult life, starting pretty early on in my father's business. I was the kid that always wanted to go to work with him, taking on menial tasks...more of a mascot than any real help around the office. Over time though, that interest developed into a career which as times, can be more consuming than might be advisable. It is what I grew up around though, my father was never really not working...
There wasn't a family vacation where we didn't spend some time standing outside a phone booth in the blazing hot Florida sun, or after the invention of cell phones, following my Dad around like little ducks as he talked with the office with one of those big, white, early Motorolla's pressed to his ear. As a business owner, my father was always working, rarely inaccessible in those early years. It is only now, after decades of near constant work, he is taking more true breaks, he actually feels like he can step back and let others step in and handle things more. Still, the moment something heats up, or goes wrong...he's right back. He is hands-on, even at the age and level of success where he could be retiring, he rarely shows signs of slowing down. I'm not sure my father is the retiring type...he's worked his whole life, how does one turn that off? To me that is work ethic...to give what's needed and more to the job and when it is your own business, to be there for it when it needs you most. I'd like to think the man raised me the same way, to understand that kind of dedication to the work.

© Copyright 2018 MD Maurice (UN: maurice1054 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Ella's Lion

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 2056 July 6, 2018
Use these words somehow in your writing- enchanted, twilight, fireflies, rose, carousel, lion, and tinman.

The old porch fan rattled and buzzed each time it completed it's wide arch rotation, an offending interruption to the otherwise soft summer evening soundtrack. Ella quickly padded across the porch in her bare feet and switched it off. She returned to her swing and curled her long fingers around her still steaming mug of rose tea. She watched the fireflies painting brief and brilliant patterns of light all across the wide open field. The haystacks stood like silent sentinels against the darkening twilight.

Ella sat back, feeling for just a moment, a bite of pain in her stomach that took her breathe away. It was fleeting spark but she knew it would be back. Soon Ella knew she would need to swallow more of the little white pills to keep the pain from radiating through her guts, stretching its cruel fingers through her joints and delicate organs. The pain was getting harder and harder to contain, certainly an unwelcome but not wholly unexpected side effect of the cancer. Ella tried not to think about the pain now. She focused on the sweet chirping of the peep frogs and the gentle rustle of the tall grasses as the night breeze picked up and raced across the fields. Ella leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She soon slipped into her memories...

A much younger Ella raced through the gates of the tri-county agriculture fair. As she ran, her long dark tresses flowed out behind her, the only feminine thing about the rail-thin girl in the dirty overalls and duck boots. She was immediately assaulted by the smell of cinnamon sweet fried dough and fresh spun cotton candy, her favorite treats. She barreled past the tempting vendors all the same, heading to the carousel. They always set it up dead center of the fair and there was always a line. She heard the carousel's rousing tune before she saw it, rising up like an mirage from the dust and grime of the fairgrounds.

Ella was enchanted by the carousel. It was an antique marvel of engineering and art. Instead of horses, the carousel was made up of wild animals imported directly from the plains of Africa. The animals were beautifully crafted, the mahogany creatures painted and polished to a high glossy sheen. The elephants had tusks that looked like real ivory and the giraffes gazed at you with deeply soulful eyes. The hippos were comically wide, their wide mouths open revealing fat pink tongues. Nothing could have been more exotic to a farm girl from the Midwest and she would ride it several times, every day the fair was running. Ella's favorite though was the African lion. There was only one of those, a big male with a russet colored mane and broad back and massive paws. He looked so alive, the incarnation of all the power and might one would expect from a king. She loved the lion and there was little that came close to the joy she felt slipping onto his smooth back and wrapping her fingers around the leather halter looped at the beast's neck.

Ella reached the spindly gate of the carousel, alarmed to see she was pretty far back from the front of the line. She watched the other children hand their tickets to the attendant and gleefully charge up over the sides and clamoring for their animal of choice. Several children began to bicker over the camel and Ella saw one little girl struggling to climb the lion's flank. Disappointed, she stepped aside when she reached the front of the line explaining to the stoic attendant that she would wait for the next ride. He looked down at her and shrugged with a tin man's indifference, and left to check that the riders were all properly seated before putting the carousel into motion with a palm punch to a large red button.

Ella rode the carousel that day a record sixteen times before her parents made her go home. It would be the last year the carousel came to the fair, having been replaced the very next fair by a shoddy operation with dully painted horses sporting wide eyes and gaping mouths that Ella thought looked macabre. These new horses bounced under the riders who reached for tiny gold rings and they swirled past. She never rode that carousel. Oddly, it held no magic for her.

The rising pain brought Ella to the the surface, trailing her fading memories like a gossamer wake. She opened her eyes and found her tea was cold and the night had fallen like an inky curtain. She slowly sat up, the pain now a hot cinder in her side. Ella pulled herself to her feet, gritting her teeth against the agony. It made her light-headed and her vision blurred. She rubbed at her eyes and her knuckles came away with a coating of hot tears. Then, off in the distance, she caught of glimpse of something through the veil of water in her eyes.

She limped down off the porch and into the yard, straining to get a better look at the thing that was impossibly perched on the edge of the farthest field. Ella's heart rallied even as her brain told her in no uncertain terms, that the thing was absolutely not that magnificent carousel from her youth. But, as Ella drew closer, she saw that somehow, indeed it was the very same one. Her ears began to pick out that familiar lilting tune and there, yes, right there as he'd always been, was the lion. Her lion.

Ella barely registered the pain now, it was as if it was fading, giving her space to breath again.

With an energy that surprised her, Ella rushed the last few yards to the gate. She swung it open and stood, looking at the beautiful beast with his flaming mane and soft eyes. Without a moment's hesitation, Ella swung herself up, onto his broad back. She pressed her cheek against his cool smoothness, closed her eyes and felt the carousel begin to slowly move.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 1662 July 6, 2018
You've met three people on your way to do an errand. They're all talking about something they overheard but are positive you're the reason it's happening. Are they right or wrong? Weave us a tale about the three people and yourself and whatever is happen

Christina felt the frown forming despite her best efforts to keep it at bay. She knew the three women were talking about her. Not for the first time that day, Christina cursed the small town with its limited resources and its one and only, tiny pharmacy. It was hard to avoid people in a town this size, the very reason she had left for the big city with its legions of bustling strangers. There had been an absolute certainty she was going to run into someone she knew on the brief dash into town but here she was, annoyed to find it had happened after all. Despite her mother being a bit of a recluse, she had been well-known in town and the rumor mill was incredibly small but efficient here.

One of the women had clearly been appointed as emissary. She made her way toward Christina, rearranging her features into a mask of sympathy.

"We were all so sorry to hear about your Mother. She was such a nice lady. You look just like her!"

Christina bit back an acidic response and only nodded, allowing the woman to rub her bicep awkwardly for a few moments before she spun back to her troops. The pharmacist called her name and Christina rushed up and snatched the bag and dashed out of the store.

What could she have expected? Of course her mother's death would be fodder for the people she lived, or mostly, lived among. Though Ella has been private, most people had known about the cancer diagnosis and of her stubborn refusal of treatment. They had all known she preferred to live out her days in the farmhouse among the fallow fields her family once tended, despite the doctor's advice and Christina's agonized pleading.

Two nights ago, Christina had gotten the call she had long dreaded. Her mother had been found, inexplicably at the far edges of the family property, just lying in the field. She had passed away sometime in the night and by all accounts it had been a peaceful passing, even though given the late stage of her disease, she must have been suffering in considerable pain. The man who found her told Christina she had looked like she was sleeping, dreaming the most wonderful of dreams. Her plain face rendered beautiful in death by an oddly childish smile.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Truth in Renovation - Circa 2012, Reflected on 2018

I first wrote this piece in 2012, and today as we listed the house for sale I take a moment to reread these thoughts and find the sentiments are that much more poignant today.  I realize that I am only more emotionally attached this home today, having spent more years here and made more memories.  I have loved watching my daughter playing in the backyard with her friends and reading a book in pool of afternoon sunshine.  I have loved the smell of coffee filling the kitchen on Sunday mornings while I made breakfast and listened to NPR, the dogs at my feet.  I've loved every peaceful hour lying back in a lawn chair watching the drama of our resident bird community play out high above my head in the boughs of our massive maple tree.  I have watched storms whip past the windows and felt the security of my sturdy old dame, with her plaster walls and seeping stone foundation. I don't know how long it will take to sell, I'm prepared at least, to have a few more months in which to wrap up our renovations and say our goodbyes. I am grateful that this life has given me the chance to see this house, not for the pain and fear it once housed, but for the life and love that has filled its rooms. 

The Truth in Renovation - Feb 2012
This past week we relocated the entire brood to do some much needed renovation work on the old house. We had made a difficult decision to spend our limited funds on home improvements rather than taking off to some sunny, semi-tropical destination on the theory that we would get far more out of our money that way. While my father's house wasn't on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, it was still more luxurious than our home and far more well-equipped. Jaden enjoyed being under the same roof as Grampa and took full advantage of his unlimited attention whenever possible. Fatih spent the days working on refinishing all wood floors on the first floor, repairing some plaster damage and repainting the stairwell and painting the great room. This past Tuesday I got my first real look at all his hard work. It was an amazing transformation.

My decision to keep the house after my first divorce was one born of need rather than want. I had needed a project, a mission to divert my attention from the fallout of an ugly failed relationship. I had always loved that old house but it came with a boatload of memories, most of them bad. Still, I moved in. I planned to bury those bad memories in new paint, throw out all the yard sale furniture and fill in the fist-sized holes myself. The process by which I re-invented my home was very challenging and healing. And while gutting rooms and knocking through walls was very cathartic, new paint and fancy new decor will only go so far to change your perception of a space. It was still a place that had seen to much pain, sheltered too much shame. When I met Fatih it was always my plan to sell and find a new space to build our lives together. Then we were blessed with the birth of our daughter and the decision to sell was put on hold while we adjusted to life with our precious newborn. We converted one of the spare bedrooms to nursery and told ourselves we would stay put until Jaden was walking. By the time our little girl was taking those first few steps, the recession had squashed the opportunity sell and upgrade. Suddenly the list of all those repairs and improvements seemed unavoidable...it was time to get cracking. At least we could improve our space and enjoy it until conditions again became favorable. So the plan was set, we would start with the floors and walls and go on from there.

I walked back into our home Tuesday night and I realized two things simultaneously...

First, I love this house. I love sweeping openness of the floorplan, made even more impressive with the shiny new wood floors with their depression-era pattern. I love the high ceilings,arch ways and wide rooms, made even brighter with the soft new paint. I love the character of this home and the integrity of its original construction.

Secondly, and this is the most important thing, I love that we have made a life here, the life I share with my husband and daughter. And while I know that eventually we will all move on to a quaint neighborhood in the country, the memories that I will associate with this old house belong to us now. It has been the pulse and heartbeat of our existence here that have truly managed to cleanse this space of those bad memories in a way that remodeling and renovation never could have. The spare room at the top of the stairs will always be my daughter's first room - the peaceful place I sat so many nights, rocking and dreaming of what the child I carried would be like when she finally arrived. The stairs will be the first ones she learned to climb. I will remember those floors because they will be the ones my husband coaxed ageless beauty from on his own hands and knees. That kitchen will be the one where I made the meals my daughter never ate and the place where all our parties seemed to begin and end. Those walls and rooms will be the ones that witnessed all the amazing human drama of our growing, loving family.

One day, when we do leave, I know I can stand in the center of that home, close my eyes and hear the echoes of my daughter's laughter. I know when we do move away, this home will be remembered as our family's first...and only that. I can not begin to describe how grateful I am for that truth.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Female Poets and the Mantas of Indonesia

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 1553 Prompt-- March 19, 2018
Prompt: The Polish poet Adam Zagajewski said that in his country, “poetry killed communism.” Do you think poets can be the forerunners of social change, and if so, how are they managing to bring such revolutions about?

I have never been a poet, even my most lyrical prose would not qualify as poetry however some of my favorite literary works are, in fact, poems. There is this incredible power in words and nothing seeks to reveal that better than a well-versed poem or passionate piece of spoken word. I believe people read poetry with a higher level of attention, a type of reverence that gives poets a unique platform to influence public opinion, raise awareness and even bring about social change. This feels particularly true of female poets who use poetry not simply as form of artful expression but as a rebellion. In some places in the world where women do not have a voice, their words are a brave act of defiance. Throughout history and all over the world, female poets lend their voices and tell their stories and people listen.

They craft their poetry from war torn countries and their words provide the narrative for the haunting images of dirty, bloodied children of a brutal conflict.

An excerpt from Najat Abdul Samad's poem, "When I am Overcome by Weakness"
"I bandage it with the steadiness of a child’s steps in the snow of a refugee camp, a child wearing a small black shoe on one foot and a large blue sandal on the other, wandering off and singing to butterflies flying in the sunny skies, butterflies and skies seen only by his eyes."

Their words testify to the struggle of being female, of being a minority in a country that comes painfully slow to change.

Maya Angelou's "I Rise", is story about the pain of the past, the challenge to find one's place in a world that is often hostile and unforgiving. Her refrain, however, is one of hope and victory and easily lends itself to becoming an empowering mantra for all those who are opposed and oppressed in this world.

"Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise."

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

In my opinion, female poets are better than most at taking a moment in history and shining a stark, unforgiving light on it. I think Halsey's poem, "A Story Like Mine", serves as a brutal examination of the reality behind the #metoo movement. It is a testimony but also a call to action.

"What do you mean, this happened to me? I'm supposed to be safe now. I earned it. It's 2018, and I've realized that nobody is safe 'long as she is alive, and every friend that I know has a story like mine, and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment.
It's Olympians and a medical resident and not one f*cking word from the man who is president. It's about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilettos, from the Hollywood Hills to the projects and ghettos … Listen, and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues."
An Excerpt from "A Story Like Mine" by Halsey

All great revolutions that spawn true social changes have many champions and I believe that brave and powerful female poets number among them.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1950: March 19, 2018
Prompt: It's Motivational Monday, write about some good news that motivates or inspires you in your life, your town, your state, your country, or go to Good News Network or some other website and share some good news that interest you.

Some days I am harder pressed to find good news in the daily fodder of this twenty-first century life. I'm pleased to learn there is a "Good News Network", a positive collective that exists to catalog the stories not often given airtime or ink. I am encouraged by the stories of efforts to clean garbage and debris from the Galapagos beaches and marine reserves and the company converting cigarette butts into useful, recycled materials. Even thought these stories might not get the international attention they deserve, it gives me hope to know they are out there, doing something to combat the abuses we inflict on our planet and its resources.

I think its important to find hope in the victories, even the ones that might seem to measure small on a global scale like the successful conversion of indigenous Indonesian's from manta hunters to manta rangers. The dedicated efforts by conservationists and marine scientists and the willingness of the people to listen has pulled a magnificent animal back from the brink of extinction. Indonesia has managed to learn what so many other countries fail to see, that a resource might actually be worth more when protected and conserved. Their manta industry has successfully converted from a dwindling, depleted consumption-based system to a wholly sustainable eco-tourist economy. In at least one corner of the world, people have come together to solve a problem and improve, not only their individual well-being but the conservation of a species and its place in the world's oceans. Recently Indonesia proudly declared itself the world's largest manta sanctuary, good news for the manta and good news for us.