In Return

морозное утро на озереOne of my favorite poems comes from the author Wendell Berry. I first discovered it in Narada’s CD collection called “Earth Songs”. In the CD’s insert, each of the songs is inspired by a poem which the creators share along with what it was about that poem that inspired them to write the music. Both the music and the poem make me think about endings and new beginnings, constant cycles within our lives and our world.

The topic of reincarnation came up at dinner last night. My youngest told me that when he grows up, he will be a carpenter so that he can build his own house. Once his house is built, however, he is going to find a different job. He decided this would save him money. I told him, well, in order to become a carpenter, you need to train and learn the skills that the job requires. It takes time and money to do that. According to him, he already learned those skills “years ago”. I laughed and said, “When you were 2?” (He’s only 5 now.) Very seriously, he told me it was before I was born.

Silliness from a five year old, perhaps, but conversations like this always remind me of a book I read a long, long time ago about reincarnation. The author recounted an experience in which her daughter relived memories of a past life. She knew the sort of things that a typical 4 year old shouldn’t know. Kids have great imaginations though and I don’t remember what it was about the author’s description that gave me chills but it stuck with me. It made me wonder “what if”.

Who is to say that there aren’t memories of lives lived before that are tucked away in our unconscious? Who is to say that every once in a while we don’t have some glimmer of feeling to remind us of those lives that came before? That we don’t recognize another soul in a person we’ve supposedly just met but seem to already have known for so long? Places we’ve never been that feel so familiar?

I’ve always believed that we’re all intertwined in ways that we have yet to possibly understand. We’re alone but not alone.

I asked my kids what they thought about this idea – that maybe once we die, our bodies return to the earth but our souls are reborn to live again. For the most part, I think the concept went over their heads. They were concerned mostly with (1) that they have only ever been boys because being a girl would be gross and (2) being my dad in a past life would have been fun.

Ha ha Payback. ;-)

Who knows what really happens after death. It’s a mystery to all of us and will remain that way until we do die. But when we look around at nature and see the cycles of life that are constantly in motion, it’s hard to believe that death is truly “the end”.

Something to think about.

Song (4)

Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining to each all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return.

~by Wendell Berry

Let’s Have a Little Talk About … Tweetle Beetles

drseussHappy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today is a day to celebrate one of the best-loved children’s book authors and what better way to do it than by promoting Read Across America!

What is your favorite book by Dr. Seuss? There are so many to choose from. I know our family has a few favorites. I started reading Green Eggs and Ham to my oldest when he was just an infant. His name is Sam and as he’s gotten older, he’s always gotten a kick out of seeing his name in print – Sam I Am!

I read Happy Birthday to You as part of our family birthday traditions.

The title of my blog post you may recognize from the book Fox in Socks, another one of our personal favorites and one I love to read out loud to the kids because of all the tricky tongue twisters. It’s tough! When the kindergarten teacher asked for volunteers to read a Dr. Seuss book to the class today, you can bet that I not only jumped at the opportunity, but I pulled out Fox in Socks. I anticipate many giggles.

Unfortunately, weather didn’t work in our favor and the green eggs and ham breakfast that I was supposed to help out with had to be cancelled. That would have been a lot of fun too.

I decided the best way to honor Dr. Seuss on his birthday would be to share some of my favorite quotes so here goes…

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Dr. Seuss

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
Dr. Seuss
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
These are just a handful of the quotes I love. Do you have a special quote that you love?

20 Random Facts About – Me!

me jan 2015 02Happy Friday!

In an effort to blog more, I have resorted to finding blog challenges and using the prompts to give me a push. As a result, if you stick with me, you will soon learn twenty completely random things. Maybe you will find we have a few things in common … or the opposite! Either way, I hope you have as much fun reading a little about me as I did writing a little about me. I’ve included links for fun.

In no particular order, here we go…

1) I am an Aries with Libra Rising. This, apparently, makes me very charming and difficult to resist, not to mention, high energy. I’m also an INFP. I agree with this. If you tell me your birthday, I’ll probably never forget it.

2) My favorite foods are pizza, shrimp, and chicken parmesan. Yum, yum, yum! Let’s not forget the chocolate for dessert, especially if it is a chocolate milkshake. Or brownies. Or anything. I firmly believe that dessert should come first.

3) I started studying French in junior high school. I loved it so much that I added Spanish in high school. When I got to college, I also studied Portuguese and German while I chose Spanish Language and Culture as my major. At the time, I was intent on teaching English as a Second Language and living in Puerto Rico.

4) I am often described as “quiet” and “easy going”. My best feature is my eyes. They are three different colors and I’ve been told they say a lot more than I do.

5) I’ve always been a fan of exercise, especially running, yoga, and pilates.

6) Some say I’m strange because I don’t drink coffee and I don’t eat butter, margarine, or any of the substitutes. As a matter of fact, when pregnant, the smell of coffee used to make me vomit. Blech. I don’t have to be pregnant to have that reaction to butter. Gross stuff. Plain toast, plain baked potato. Plain bread. Plain is good if it means avoiding butter.

7) My first favorite song was “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band. I was too young to understand it then. Now, I just find it ironic. Music has always been a big part of my life. As a kid, I made “videos” in my head when I listened to my favorite songs. Now when I do it, I call it writing.

8) I’ve watched “Stand by Me” more than any other movie. During one summer as a kid, I watched it every day. Literally. Every. Single. Freaking. Day. I had a bit of crush on Kiefer Sutherland, admittedly. The only exception to my obsessive watching was that when it came to the scene with the dead body at the end of the movie, I closed my eyes every time. It wasn’t until later in life when I came across the movie that I actually saw that scene. Crazy but true.

9) London, England is my favorite city. During my younger days, my brother and I decided we wanted to visit so we made it happen. I had such a great time that I returned the following year on my own. It never occurred to me not to enjoy traveling alone. I stayed in a youth hostel and met some of the most interesting people. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll have to blog about it someday.

10) My favorite Disney movie was and always will be “Lady and the Tramp“. The link will take you to a youtube clip of the best scene in that movie.

11) I’ve always loved dancing. Any dancing! I started with a ballet obsession as a kid but later picked up all sorts of ballroom dancing as well. I loved Salsa and Swing Dancing the most. I own all the Just Dance games for Wii. :-)

12) Camping! Need I say more? I grew up camping and it’s my favorite part of looking back at my childhood. I wish my kids loved it as much as I do.

13) I have an unnatural fear of aliens and falling off the earth. I know we have this handy thing called gravity and all but have you ever laid under the stars at the top of a tall hill on a clear night and felt like you could just float away? The aliens are probably laughing at me. I’m pretty sure they abduct me while I’m sleeping just to try to figure me out. (Give it up, guys, it’s no use.)

14) My favorite color is red.

15) I may not like coffee but I do enjoy a cup of tea now and then. My favorite is Bigelow’s Earl Grey.

16) Funny guys win. For as long as I’ve noticed the opposite sex, I’ve always had a crush on the class clown. (Minus that time when I was four years old and fell for the kid with the Fudgsicle – but hey, chocolate. My love lasted as long as he shared.) The true love has always been about the guy who makes me laugh the hardest.

17) My favorite movies are comedies. See #16! I fell hard for Vince Vaughn when I saw Wedding Crashers. sigh… I’m easily amused and you will often find me laughing out loud at just about anything, even when I’m on my own. My mum has always loved that about me. :-) I’m usually pretty good at making people around me laugh too. My kids call me silly. This is probably accurate.

18) My favorite animal is a dolphin. I have always wanted to swim with them. Being a big fan of swimming as a kid, I often thought that it was a shame I had to leave the water at all. I often wished on the stars that I would turn into a mermaid. Remember the movie “Splash” ?(love, love, love Tom Hanks too.) I watched that one quite a number of times. Daryl Hannah had fins when her legs got wet. I used to concentrate very hard on making that happen to me. It hasn’t happened yet. Darn.

19) If I can’t be a mermaid, I want to be Stephanie Plum when I grow up. (See Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.)

20) But… I’ll never grow up. ;-)

Now it’s your turn to comment and tell me one random thing about you!

 

 

Wednesday Writing In Progress – The Dragon

Fantasy landscapeI have been away for a while, not absent from writing, but focused on other writing-related projects. But now here I am back where I started. The truth is it’s nice to be back. It’s nice to play with new ideas and it’s kind of nice to pick up the blog and make another effort at posting regularly. (Not my strong point, I know.) You can expect to see a lot more from me in the near future both in terms of blog posts and (hopefully) published stories. Fingers crossed!

Today I thought it would be fun to share a little snippet of a current work-in-progress. After all, it’s Wednesday and we’re midway through the week. Why not look at where we’ve been and think about where we’re headed?

I’ve always loved and been fascinated by dragons so wouldn’t it be fun to write a story that actually includes one? While I’ve always wanted to keep a dragon as a pet, the dragon of this particular story is not nearly so friendly.

I hope you enjoy my little sneak peek into my world of writing. Keep in mind that it’s still very much a first draft but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the story and where it may go from here?

**

Fruitlessly, she pulled and struggled against the rope. The men who had brought her here had been thorough in their attempts to keep her in place. At one time in her life, she might have called them neighbors or even friends, but as they’d prepared her for her death, not one had been willing to meet her eye or hear her plea, not even Kyrad.

Hot air washed over her with the putrid stink of the dragon’s breath as it settled just a few feet from where she lay on the platform of the high mountain. She could scream but no one would help her. They had purposely left her here to die, a sacrifice to the hungry dragon in return for peace amongst the village, a scheme which all seemed entirely too convenient in her opinion.

“Die gracefully”, they had told her when the calling had been made, “It is, after all, a great honor to be the chosen one.”

Layla sucked in her breath as she watched wide eyed as the dragon paced along the edge of its high perch. Just a few more wriggles and her left hand would be free.

The dragon let out a loud bellowing roar that shook the mountain and echoed far into the distance. Layla wondered how many people down below in the village looked up, cowering in fear, as they held fast onto each other for comfort. They were waiting for the dragon to claim his meal so that the sacrifice would be complete. Layla had been the chosen one. She closed her eyes and held back the hot tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks. No, she wouldn’t face death this way, not as a coward. There had to be another way. She continued to strain against the binds as determination filled her. In the name of her parents, she would prove them all wrong.

In the distance, thunder cracked in response to the dragon’s roar, a deep sound that shook their world. Dark clouds swirled above, moving closer at rapid speed. The first fat drops of rain began to spill down on them as the dragon turned his focus back to Layla. He sniffed tentatively and his arrow-tipped tongue tasted the air as he approached her. Even though she had nowhere to go, she sank back into the rock as though she wished the mountain would split wide and swallow her into its depths. The dragon spread his wings wide as he arched his back and shot a plume of smoke and fire into the night almost as if he were thanking the gods in triumph. Rising on his hind legs, he was easily four times the height of a grown man. Nevertheless, Layla held steadfast onto the only thing she had left – hope.

Red bead eyes regarded her with curiosity. She’d managed to free her left hand finally but she didn’t dare to move while she was under such close scrutiny. She held her breath, biding her time, waiting for the dragon to make a move.

The dragon ambled forward until its snout was nearly pressed against her nose. Layla squeezed her eyes shut and said a silent prayer to the gods and then as the dragon lifted up its head and opened its jaws wide to snap down over her, she quickly flung her weight to the right where she still dangled helplessly by the hand still tightly bound. She watched in horror as the dragon’s razor sharp teeth clamped down over the brush and rock. It recovered, snorting steam from its nostrils as it took two steps back, preparing for the next attack.

By some miracle, Layla managed to free her right hand. She scrambled into the bushes before the dragon’s teeth could catch her. The dragon roared as flames shot from it jaws and ignited the bushes where Layla had sought protection. She squealed and ran, barely escaping. The two went back and forth this way for a while, the dragon insistent on catching its prey and Layla determined to escape. She needed to get to the other side of the platform where she knew there was a way over the mountain, to the safety of the village below.

But as the dragon nipped at her feet and tore the bottom of her gown, she realized with a heavy heart, even if she managed to escape, where would she go? The village was no longer her home and her friends were no longer her friends. If she returned from the mountain, she would not be considered a hero, but rather a coward that sacrificed the village for the sake of her own life. This left her only one option, she couldn’t simply escape from the dragon’s clutches, she needed a way to destroy it. It was her only hope.

Layla grabbed a large rock and flung it as hard as she could, aiming for the dragon’s eyes. It hit with a satisfactory thunk right between the eyes. She hunched over trying to catch her breath while the dragon, stunned by the retaliation, took off to the sky and began circling overhead again. This gave Layla a moment to try to clear her head and think.

The rain fell faster around them and soaked the dress until it clung uncomfortably to her body. Layla scrambled, desperate to find anything that she could fashion into a weapon before the dragon returned to its perch. Her hand clutched the stone that still dangled around her neck on a golden chain. It had been a gift from Kyrad. Angry, she ripped it free allowing the chain to drop in a heap to the ground. She fastened it quickly to the end of the longest stick that she could find and wrapped it in place with the broken chain. She’d only just finished her makeshift weapon when the dragon’s talons touched down just a couple of feed from where she worked.

She squealed, sinking back into the shadows and nearly losing the stick in the meantime. The dragon roared, rearing its ugly head and shooting flames in every direction. This time, it meant to have its meal, the initial curiosity replaced by a ferocity that she didn’t believe she had the strength to match. Who was she to slay a dragon, after all? If it were such an easy feat then any of the large men from her village would have surely completed the task by now. Layla cowered, her heart hammering wildly in her chest, biding her time until the dragon’s next strike.

The dragon scratched the ground with its sharp talons much like a bull paws the ground before it charges. She watched as tendrils of smoke rose into the air from its nostrils, the heat turning to steam as the rain cooled the fire. Layla shivered as fear and dampness crept along her spine. Every moment stretched into an eternity before finally, the dragon made its move, running at top speed from one end of the landing to the space where Layla laid in wait. It was now or never, she knew, so once again she said a silent prayer to the gods who listened and raised her weapon just as the dragon towered over her. Its large body shook as the beast howled into the night. And then, much to her horror, its full weight sank down over her.

Saying Goodbye

GrandmaLast week was a very long and difficult week for my family. Earlier in the month, my grandma had suffered a silent heart attack. Despite all the efforts at the hospital and the initial optimistic views that she would be going home in a few days, it never happened.

Sunday the 15th the hospital suggested that all the family come to say our goodbyes.

My grandma had six children, including my dad. Most of those children married giving her many grandchildren and even great grandchildren now as well. It’s a big family!

From Sunday to Wednesday, my dad and his brothers and sisters lived at the hospital. No one wanted to leave Grandma’s side for fear that when they did, the worst would happen. Sleeping on chairs or waiting room couches took its toll on her children but everyone else pulled together to be there and offer support in any way we could. There was always a full crowd in the waiting room and people ready to make a run to get food.

The hospital staff bent the visitation rules because there were so many of us there to see her. Instead of only allowing two to three visitors in her room at a time, there were as many as ten at a time.

It was during this time I realized how blessed I am to be part of such an amazing family. It was a sad experience to know that I was there to say goodbye to someone I loved but at the same time, it was amazing to watch everyone come together and just be there for each other – no questions asked. Sometimes we just sat, each lost in his or her own thoughts staring at the wall or with head in hands but it wasn’t always sad and serious either. The days sat by Grandma’s side were filled with reminiscing of the happy times and remembering other loved ones that had gone before her.

Tuesday night her children spent a sleepless night by her side and Wednesday morning she passed away.

Those six children are living proof of the good person my grandmother was. They are six people who will always be there to support each other in any way needed. They didn’t turn out that way by accident.

I’m sad to say goodbye. I can’t imagine the holidays without Grandma. I can’t imagine not having her around. But I am also very honored and grateful to be a part of this family so if there is any good that comes out of an otherwise painful experience, it’s knowing how much love we share and that we’re never alone.

RIP Grandma. I will always have fond memories, especially of all the fun camping trips that we shared while I was growing up.

Grandma is pictured above on my wedding day with her youngest son, my Uncle Tom.

Live in Fear of the Dreaded …. Saturday the 14th?

bad luck misfortuneIt’s kind of funny the way something that happens to us as a kid has a lasting effect on the way we approach something as meaningless as a date on the calendar. It happened to me.

Flashback to an eleven year-old Me. Back then, it was fun to “fear” Friday the 13th. But even as we poked fun at the day, I ended up having incredible luck. I don’t remember the details of what exactly made it so amazing but I remember those fly-high feelings. I remember deciding at a very young age that bad luck on Friday the 13th was nothing more than a silly superstition.

Then came Saturday, the 14th and that changed everything.

Saturday, those happy feelings came crashing down right along with me as I plummeted down the steps. As if that wasn’t bad enough, later that same day, I fell off my swing. The swing incident might not have been so bad if it weren’t for the fact that I’d instinctively clutched the metal chain trying to catch myself, slicing open both my hands in the process. Ouch!

While I didn’t suffer any major injuries for either of these mishaps, they certainly left a lasting impression, one that made me look at the calendar in a whole new light. Maybe for me, I thought, Friday the 13th isn’t the bad luck day – it’s actually Saturday, the 14th! As if someone needed to prove this theory true, since that horrible day, I don’t remember having anything good happen on a Saturday the 14th, and believe me, I pay attention.

So now, as some of you step tentatively out your door this Friday and fear what fate may lurk around the corner, I will be embracing what I expect to be a wonderful, good luck day.

And tomorrow… Well, maybe after all these years, I should finally forgive that one bad day and accept that maybe Saturday the 14th is just another day on the calendar after all…

Maybe.

In the meantime, check out this article on BBC News - Friday the 13th: The Accidental Superstition?

Do you have any superstitions or exceptionally bad luck stories that center around a specific day on the calendar?