Archive | Cultivate (Issue #10)

Instrumental: That’s What Friends Are For by Bernie Brown

You can find them online. You can find them offline. In the grocery store. Or living next door.  In a singing club, or a quilting class, or a PTA meeting.

I’m talking about friends. The places they are found are as varied as the friends themselves, who differ in size, color, and adornment like sea shells on the beach. Different as they are, they all have qualities that make you cherish them and grow a little larger in their company.

Friends make you laugh. They may be great joke tellers, chances are they aren’t, but you both see the world through the same crazy pair of glasses. You both thought feng shui was a kind of sushi. And neither of you really get The Onion. You can admit you have liked Barry Manilow all along, and though they might not share your taste, they still like uncool you.

When success comes to you in small or large ways – you lost three pounds or your story won a writing contest—a friend cheers you on. And their good fortune doesn’t diminish yours. With a friend, joy is doubled, and troubles are halved.

They’ve seen you cry and put their arms around you while you dampened the shoulder of their brand new designer sweater. They don’t try to fix whatever is bringing on the water works, they don’t even have to understand why the bad thing is so bad. They are sad because you are. They don’t tell you to “get over it,” they just hang around until you feel better.

Griping! Venting! Sounding off! A friend will let you curse your boss, the government, the traffic. They will let you say the F word and make your ugliest face. And agree, agree, agree. The jerk! The collective stupidity! Insane drivers rule the roadways. They don’t try to get you to see reason.

You can tell a friend your dreams—a year in Paris or visit to the space station— and they won’t laugh at you. You can tell them your most unreasonable fears, and they will tell you theirs.

But sadly, sometimes friendships wither away. There is no animosity,  you just grow in different directions. She wants to run for political office, you want to train to be a yoga instructor. Calls and lunches become less frequent and after awhile, yoga classes fill your days and you’ve made a host of new buds.

At sadder times, a friendship goes bad. You realize this person is trying to hold you back, to undermine your goals. They don’t have your best interests at heart. Worse still, they make you feel bad about yourself with barely concealed remarks, “Oh, you’ll probably never go back to school. It’s just a passing whim. You’d be older than all the others, anyway.” When going back for your master’s is a dream you have always had.

Or you may feel this person is manipulating you. She joins a committee at school and then somehow you find yourself going along because she “needs a friend” and you really, truly hate committee work.

Some friendships just never get off the ground because you discover early on you aren’t going to click. The person is a whiner and whining gets old fast. Or they are a hypochondriac and bring you down. Or they constantly reschedule, throwing your calendar in an uproar and you begin to know they can’t be counted on. Save yourself further pain, and don’t encourage more contact.

But more times than not when you find yourself sitting over coffee, hot chocolate, or a glass of wine, and three hours have passed laughing, confiding, and setting straight the world, and you still have more to say, you are with a friend. You may have to go home and do laundry, but the laughs keep you smiling while you fold towels, the confidences have lightened your secret burdens, and the discussion has broadened your understanding of the world and yourself.

After all, that’s what friends are for.

About the Author: Bernie Brown

I live in Raleigh, NC where I write, read, and watch birds. My stories have appeared in several magazines, most recently Better After 50, Modern Creative Life, Indiana Voice Journal, and Watching Backyard Birds. My story “The Same Old Casserole” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Modern Creative Life. I am a Writer in Residence at the Weymouth Center, which is the perfect spot to work on my novel-in-progress. .

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Sunday Sensations: The Power of Relationships

Before I was born my mother and father were sitting in a church service listening to a message about my namesake — Tabitha (Acts 9 if you want to look it up). Tabitha was one of the rare people in the Bible where you meet her after she’s already died. Peter, one of the apostles, goes to a house full of mourning. It seems Tabitha was much loved because she made clothes for widows and orphans. Peter, struck by her compassion and the grief of the people, raises her back to life.

My parents were struck by her story and decided their first female child would be named Tabitha.

In some sense, I’ve always tried to live up to her legacy. This legacy of leaving behind people who love you and who you’ve helped. And, for me, it all starts with cultivating relationships.

I was, like many nerdy kids, pretty lonely growing up. I longed for friends. Thankfully, I had a younger sister who was my constant companion, but I wanted more. I dreamt of friendships like the books I was obsessed with reading. I ached for someone who’d tell me stories and secrets. I was consistently dumbfounded when other people didn’t like me.

Then, when I was 12, I discovered the internet.

You have to understand that the internet to me will always be this Narnia of a place. Here I could type in things I loved (mystery novels) and find people who liked the same things as I did. It was magical. Suddenly, the world was open for me to find people who liked me for who I was — not because they were in the same age group at church.

I met my first internet friend at age 16 (with my parents). I remember buzzing with happiness for days after that. Someone who loved what I loved wanted to spend time with me. I was overwhelmed.

Over the years, I’ve met so many people through the power of social media and the internet. Bounds have formed that have lasted over a decade. The number of close friends I have would boggle the younger version of myself. The internet gave me a tool to find my tribe. To click when I felt anything but clickable.

There’s an energy that happens when you meet someone you can connect with — I call it “soul buzz.” There’s just something secret sauce about the right temperament, mood, mutual loves and energy that connect in a way that proves that human beings are infinitely complex. When you find “the one” — your skin seems to dance with a level of awareness. Yes, yes! I am not alone in my weirdness — this is someone like me.

It’s the main reason I attend comic cons.

While my father is the start of all that is good and geeky in my life, growing up I was still vaguely aware that being bookish and geeky was not “normal.” Nothing drove the point home like the last summer before high school when a table of kids laughed at me for using a four syllable word. I burned with shame.

For most of my life I’m unabashedly geeky, but going to comic cons reminds me that I am not alone. There’s a group of people — many of them professional, amazing, talented, functional people, who love the same things I do and learn the same things I learn through our fandoms.

As I reflect on how happy I am and realize again that relationships are the backbone of life. My husband, my kid, my family, these friends — all of them contribute to my life being wonderful or terrible. As I build this tribe, people who follow and love me no matter what, I realize that was what Tabitha must have been doing — making relationships.

I hope she’d be proud.

About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis

Tabitha Grace ChallisTabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith. A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.

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In Shadows and Sunbeams by Æverett

Photo by Dmitry Bayer on Unsplash

 

I used to just lay in bed for hours listening to music and just daydream.
I miss that.

No, really. That’s how much of my life pre-anxiety happened. Lying still, with all that sound, staring up at the ceiling or my own hands, and thinking.
About everything.
Sometimes, I’d think of nothing and just observe the lines on my palms or the shapes my fingers would make.
More than once, I sat listening for hours and literally watched the sun move across my floor.
And most often I spent those long hours wrapped in the escapist embrace of characters I loved. Walking them through arguments and battles and romances that would never canonically be.

Whole afternoons dedicated to watching the sun move across my floor.

I think these observational stretches made me a more empathetic person. I asked questions of the Universe. I watched Time and learned what pores look like.
It made me a better writer.
Seeing the pace of Time taught me how to stretch it with words. It taught me the impact it can have.
It taught me how to use silence — a lack of dialogue — to an advantage.

There’s profound beauty in stillness, in silence and forgoance of voice. In the sun moving at a slow constant across a wood floor. In gazing up at the ceiling and wondering at the workings of the Universe, of god, of Being.
It teaches listening.
It teaches patience.
It teaches Being.

I see, in those memories, part of myself that has become forgotten and tired and sorely neglected. I have shunned it for doing, for noise, for The Scroll. I have forgotten it’s perfect majesty and pure truth.
And I have suffered for it.
I have burned out and struggled, and I have found chaos where there should be none.

Silence cultivated my creativity into what it Became.
Stillness gave me Myself.
And watching the sun walk across the Sky gave me Time.

 

About the Author: Æverett

ÆverettÆverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

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Instrumental: Am I Going to Die Alone? by Melissa Cynova

One of the questions that I get most often as a tarot reader is, “Am I going to die alone?” Usually they work up to it, but sometimes it’s right out there.

“Am I going to die alone?”
“Are my cats going to eat me when I die?”
“Did I miss my chance?”
“Is my Person behind me instead of in front of me?”

I used to just answer that question. It’s pretty straightforward. Yes or no? If it was no, don’t worry about it. It’ll happen when it happens. If it was yes, well… I would start asking the person why companionship was the most important thing. They would say a variation of “I just want to be happy.”

And then I would get to the heart of the matter.

“Why do you think that you need someone to be happy?”

Why, indeed.

Next year will be my 30th year playing around with these cards, and I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is to listen for the question under the question. To use the conversation around the question to cultivate (see what I did there?) the conversation and get to the true worry that they’re carrying around.

If we look at ‘Am I going to die alone?”, there a few layers to this.

  1. Am I going to die alone?
  2. Why do I think I need someone to be happy?
  3. Why aren’t I happy right now?
  4. Am I afraid?
  5. Am I going to be ok?

Nearly every reading that I do can be condensed down to that last question. Am I going to be ok?

What this means is that my job as a tarot reader is to be so gentle with my clients. The world is a scary place, sometimes. What this means for my clients is this – ask yourself why you’re asking the question.

Is that the real question, or the surface part?

And as a reminder: you can divine this for yourself by using a pen and your journal. Give it a try by asking each question of and allowing the words to flow from your heart.Allow yourself to go beyond the surface and discover your own real question.

Whatever is pushing it to the surface is your true concern, and the faster you figure out what that is, the faster you can answer it.

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa CynovaMelissaC_Bio is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. You can Look for her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, from Llewellyn Publishing.

Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her partner, Joe, and two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

She is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

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Step Garden by John Grey

Photo by Ernest Porzi on UnsplashThe slope is steep but cultivated:
olive and racemose carob trees,
primrose cyclamen nodding at their feet;
at the bottom, lemon trees
sipping tartness from the sea;
farther up, Spanish chestnuts,
fruit rattling in the breeze,
limbs swishing like horse tails.
A narrow trail snakes its way
through thick shadow
to low cut brush
where light bursts large.
My breath scores lemon
and salt and oil and legume.
I walk the length and back again
with you beside me,
like we’re hiking a scented
soft moment in ourselves.
With nervous lips,
I place a hungry garden
on your mouth’s sweet slopes,
for you to prune,
to fertilize.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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Welcome to Issue #10: Cultivate

Among the many definitions of “cultivate” offered by Webster’s Dictionary are, “to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine,” “to promote the growth or development of (an art, science, etc.),” “to devote oneself to (an art, science, etc.),” and “to seek to promote or foster (friendship, love, etc.).”

Clearly, cultivation is a versatile concept, one that goes far beyond getting our hands dirty by planting seeds in soil and caring for the resultant sprouts, watching as they grow into flowers, trees, fruit, or vegetables.

And yet, that first, most basic association is no less valid than the abstract uses of the word. We cultivate our arts and sciences in much the same way that we cultivate soil. We foster the growth of our friendships (or, we should) with every bit as much care as we give to plants. We constantly reach, grow, hone, refine, perfect, and protect every aspect of our lives and ourselves.

Welcome to Issue #10 of Modern Creative Life: “Cultivate”

“Solitude is the soil in which genius is planted, creativity grows, and legends bloom; faith in oneself is the rain that cultivates a hero to endure the storm, and bare the genesis of a new world, a new forest.” ― Mike Norton, White Mountain

When we were discussing this year’s themes, we all got excited about the choice of “cultivate” for our spring quarter. After all, most of us do some gardening, and all of us try to keep our artistic selves in a state of growth and tender care.

What could be more perfect, we thought, then to celebrate the many ways we cultivate the various aspects of our lives?

“By looking for the unexpected and discerning the surreptitious features in the scenery within us, we apprehend our personality, find out our identity and learn how to cultivate it. Taking care of our fingerprints will be an enduring endeavor. ( “Looking for the unexpected” )”  ― Erik Pevernagie

What does “cultivate” mean to each of us? What does it mean to you? Can we apply the work we do in backyard gardens or front porch flower pots to art, writing, and music? Can we foster spiritual growth and nurture our bodies the same way we cultivate friendships and enhance our romantic relationships?

Is it possible that a life which is too carefully cultivated can end up being as soggy as an over-watered garden or as parched as desert sands?

Don’t we need to find balance in our cultivation, as we do in all things?

These are the concepts we are exploring in this issue, and we invite you to join us in the experience.

In this issue, you’ll get a peek into the daily lives of other creative folk in our Studio Tours and Typical Tuesday series, and meet people walking fascinating creative pathways in Conversations Over Coffee. With photos and fiction, poetry and essays, as well as all kind of enlightenment, help each of us find a deeper understanding into all the ways in which you create.

As always, our mission at Modern Creative Life is to honor the pursuit and practice of joyful creativity. We believe that the creative arts enrich our everyday living, enhance our environment, create lasting connections, and sustain our souls. Please join us as we look to other creatives for ways in which they nurture and tend their own creative life so that they regularly find their process – and lives – feeling nourished instead of parched.

As we share the stories of other makers, use their experiences to illuminate your path into your own Modern Creative Life.

“Cultivate your craft. Water it daily, pour some tender loving care into it, and watch it grow. Remember that a plant doesn’t sprout immediately. Be patient, and know that in life you will reap what you sow.” ― J.B. McGee

What stories might you have to share with the world? Share the results of your cultivation with us! Don’t be afraid to dig deeply into the fertile soil of experience, memory, and imagination as way, not only to tell your story, but to help others learn from your mental, spiritual, and physical adventures.

We are open to single contributions as well as new regular contributors. Email us at moderncreativelife@gmail.com.

—Melissa A. Bartell, Editor at Large

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