Archive | Letters

A Letter from my Former Psyche by Joules Watts

Photo by Joules Watts

Dear Joules,

You have to end your quest.  Seriously!  You’ve been looking for so long to find the holy grail that will restore me and bring me back.  It’s a futile quest.  Copper toxicity and the damage that came with it turned me into the psychological equivalent of swiss cheese.  Even if you got everything back to normal, I wouldn’t be able to come back.  Too much of me is gone.  And unfortunately you, not me, have to deal with the aftermath.  I’m so sorry.

Art by Obsidian AbnormalYou remember me like I was some shining paragon of amazing and brilliance.  I really wasn’t.  Yes, I had a phenomenal memory and mental clarity.  I could learn things with ease.  I was a musician but remember I couldn’t compose or improvise worth a damn.  That was frustrating!  I was kind and empathetic, but naive as all get out.  I denied myself any negative emotion because it simply just wasn’t done.  It lead to a lot of pain.  Not just for me but for those I loved.  I wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, that’s for damn sure.

I was so very flawed, Joules.  Medicated with ritalin from 2nd grade.  I didn’t have the tools to function without meds.  If I forgot to take meds, I was close to worthless.  I couldn’t function at all.  Remember that I never learned how to recover from failure?  Yeah, when I inevitably crashed and burned, I didn’t know how to get up.  How much was lost due to my ignorance, my singular reliance on my memory and intuition?  So static, so many opportunities wasted because I didn’t have the tools to grow.

So it’s no surprise, given my fragility, that I wouldn’t be able to withstand the upcoming biomedical onslaught.  Like thin strands of sugar crystals, I shattered when I encountered resistance and nearly disintegrated.

Photo by Joules WattsBut you, Joules.  You didn’t shatter.  You didn’t scatter.  You re-forged yourself after I was gone.  And you gained so much that I don’t think you see.  You were able to learn how to get up after failure.  There is a tenacity in you that I never had.  You were able to gain skills, to adapt, to grow.  You became something I never could be.  Anxious.  Angry.  Frustrated.  Scared.  Determined.  It became a fuel source for you.  Simply brilliant.

You took your inner demons and made them your advisors.  You had the strength to not only face them but to accept them.  To integrate them.  To master them.  I ran from them and denied them.

I have seen you stare into the abyss.  The void where depression and illness and everything uncertain hides, waiting to strike.  And when it stared back at you, you sneered and winked.  Honestly it was the coolest “come at me bro” event I’ve ever witnessed.  I Photo by Joules Wattson the other hand closed my eyes and hid.  Denying that the abyss even existed.

So in the face of that, what do I have to offer?  Why are you so determined to bring me back?

I understand the near obsession of getting back what you’ve lost, more specifically what was stolen.  Your memories, your talents, your former glory.  But, dearest Joules, you can’t have mine.  Not anymore.  All that I had is nearly gone now.  You’ll have to go out and find them on your own.  Start from the beginning once again.  But this time, you have an advantage.  You know you can do it because it already happened.

Art by Obsidian AbnormalI don’t know how much of me will remain as time goes on.  As old things get fixed and as new things failed.  So I ask you this, Joules.  Remember me, as best you can.  Think of me fondly.  But accept that for all intents and purposes, that I am gone and can’t be brought back.  Stop longing for what once was and start planning on what you will now be.

So before I go, allow me a little paraphrase from the 9th Doctor.  (I know he was your fave before Peter Capaldi came in as the 12th…)

Joules, before I go, I just want to tell you you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!

-The Former Psyche of Joules Watts

About the author: Joules Watts

Joules Watts describes herself as a self driven bumbler and science afficionado.  Her husband describes her as irreverent half ifrit, which probably explains her incredible heat resistance and fiery personality.  The truth is probably a unique amalgamation of the two.

Aside from her day job, Joules is a geek (leans sci-fi), musician, writer, podcaster, gamer (both video and tabletop), and unfortunately a mildly brain damaged, semi-professional medical patient.  In her considerable free time (trademark sarcasm) she enjoys reading, top rope wall climbing, and chasing the ever elusive full night’s sleep.

Joules currently co-hosts Seize the GM, a podcast that focuses on how to be a Game Master.  (Episodes drop every Thursday, barring horrible technical issues).  She’s also a player on the podcast Hidden Grid (A Shadowrun AP podcast that’s currently on hiatus) and Legends of Earthdawn (An Earthdawn AP podcast).  Additionally she has her own podcast, Five Degrees Off Normal, which is a chronicle of her experiences being a geek with brain damage.

Dear Miracle: For the Out of Season Times by Briana Saussy

Photo by Danielle Cohen

Dear Miracles,

Earlier this year I was sitting in the dark while the full moon shined Her face out at me through gnarled Pecan tree branches and the wind was whipping through my hair, as one does. I had already completed my morning devotions and was enjoying a cup of coffee and just talking to the trees and really listening, for as you all know, the greatest part of speaking with land and tree, rock and root, is not speaking but rather listening to them as they speak in their much slower, rolling, winding, ways.

And so sitting there in the dark I heard quite clearly this, that it is ok, it is actually quite normal to have an experience where the internal season and the external seasons do not, exactly, line up. For you see, in spring of this year my family had a long visit with old Lady Death.

Now I know her well and she has been a friend of mine ever since birth, and yet, she is still like the austere great-great aunt or grandmother – the one that you are not totally sure about, she might give you a sweet or she might eat you…it is unclear.

She first came rattling into my year during the first week of January when my beloved dog died. Our doberman was 17 years old and passed in her sleep – we could not have asked for better, but I had a sense it was only a beginning.

Then, La Muerta invaded my springtime season with her ivory bones and her scent of wood smoke and apples and autumn in mid-March when my father in law passed away. My husband and I mourned his loss actively for a set amount of time, built an entire ancestor altar in his honor, and then over time became acquainted with the high and low tides that carry the unique grief of losing a parent.

Not much later, a dear friend of mine called me with the unexpected news that a beloved of hers had died – far too young and very unexpectedly. She was devastated.

And as you know, when you love someone, even if you do not know their loss as intimately, you know them, and your love for them requires that your heart be pierced too.

And so, there I was, on my swing, moon bathing, and feeling quite heartbroken. It was Springtime! The birds were signing, the weather was actually -gasp!- pretty awesome, the flowers were blooming. It wouldn’t be true to say I wasn’t aware of those things – I was, but I was also aware that inside my soul it did not feel like spring, it felt like late autumn headed into winter, and I felt out of sync with the lands where I live and all of the creatures who form my community, my home.

That is when the trees explained to me that of course we have days, weeks, months, and years, where we feel mismatched to our surroundings – be they the jobs we show up for, the partnerships we participate in, the schools we attend, the creations we make, the very bodies that we inhabit. This happens. For everything there is a season but there are also times where we feel decidedly out of season too.

Dear Miracle - Photo by Danielle Cohen

One of the reasons that the Sacred Arts have been outliers in the world of spirituality and self-help is because they speak to and resonate strongly with those who feel out of season in their lives. I suspect many of you know this feeling, right?

  • Skin that doesn’t quite fit – it is too tight, too itchy, too…something.
  • Tears that just show up in the middle of your day (usually right before the after lunch meeting of course) like uninvited guests.
  • Dreams that leave you covered in their stardust and strangeness even hours after waking.

The Sacred Arts are uniquely positioned to speak to such experiences and they call to those who have such experiences; they call to those of us who feel that we are searching…for…something, but we aren’t quite sure what. The Sacred Arts nod and wink at us mischievously.  They spit a few watermelon seeds at our toes as Kochari, the Pueblo Clown Trickster does whenever things get too serious; we might even hear them yip a bit as Coyotes are known to do, and then they tell us,

“What you are looking for amigo, you won’t find it by following the straight and narrow, and you won’t find it on the 5 lane expressway either, but if you are willing to follow me, into the moonlight, I can show you a thing to two.”

And so they do.

Primarily through story, the primary source and seedbed of all Sacred Arts, we are shown all kinds of wonders and we are reminded of the magic, dreams, divinations, prayers, and blessings, and so much more that we carry within us, yes, you too.

Spinning Gold Art by Cassandra Oswald

My Dear Miracle, stories also help us orient ourselves.

I might feel strange (well, stranger) sitting there on my swing in the pitch dark talking to trees and realizing that this is precisely it, I am out of season with the season, if I did not know stories like Tam Lin – where a hero transforms into all kinds of things within the blink of an eye, or the Snow Queen where the bite of Winter is felt in deepest Summer, or Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnelle where the physical land mirrors the drought of soul that comes over an entire kingdom. But I do. I do know those stories, and so I know that even in my hard moments, my isolated moments, my I-never-felt-so-alone moments, I am not alone but rather in excellent, storied, company.

As are you. As are we all.

And I know too, from listening and learning from story, how to create the magics and ceremonies, how to dream the dreams, cast the divinations, say the prayers, and make the blessings that carry medicine to strengthen not only myself when I have need, but other as well. For this is just one way that I spin gold from the straw of every day life and every day stuff.

With love,
Briana

PS: It is why I created Spinning Gold and it is why I hope you will join me in this one of a kind journey over the next year.

About the Author: Briana Saussy

Hi, I’m Briana! I am a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor, and I am part of a growing community of soulful seekers, people who are looking for wholeness, holiness and healing – for better, more rewarding lives.

The best way to work with me and begin living an enchanted life right here and now is to register for my year long course of fairy tales and magic – Spinning Gold.

Image Credits: Photos by Danielle Cohen. Graphic by Cassandra Oswald.

 

Dear Beloved Self by Kayce Hughlett

“I don’t precisely know what you need to do to take care of yourself. But I know you can figure it out.”
–Melody Beattie

Dear Beloved Self ~

Have I told you lately how much I value and support the mission of self-care in the world? Or that I continue to believe with all my heart that living life to the fullest is perhaps the one true purpose we have in life? How refreshment and restoration are essential ingredients to getting things done and stepping into our power in the world?

I know I forget sometimes, especially when the obligations of life press in and exhaustion feels like a permanent state, but if you can begin to value and accept the premises of refreshment and restoration as being one with open-heart living, then I promise your life will continue to transform in ways you haven’t even considered.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “10 Lessons Learned (& Affirmed).” I re-read it today when I was pondering about sharing refreshment and restoration with you, my Beloved Self. There it was, our two passions—self-care and living life fully—merged together to create a manifesto for daily living. I’m so sorry that I sometimes forget these essential reminders and cause you to forget them along with me.

But here they are, glorious reminders to brighten any day.

  1. Follow your heart.
  2. Be open to whatever shows up.
  3. Put on your sassy and Play, Play, Play!
  4. Make essential space for connecting with friends and loved ones – the rest will follow.
  5. We are all teachers and there are lessons to be learned in everything. Pay attention.
  6. Self-care is the best way to restore, rejuvenate, and prepare to offer our gifts (and love) back out to the world.
  7. Re-entry (each day or after time away) can be challenging.
  8. “What’s next?” takes us out of the present moment and launches us into the future. All we have is now.
  9. Have an assembled toolbox of nourishing notions nearby at all times and use it! (I imagine mine is like Mary Poppins carpetbag, filled with magical delights and the perfect thing manifesting at exactly the right moment.)
  10. Sometimes it takes a full arsenal (or the whole bag) to feel relief, but with time relief will come.

I know, Beloved Self, that you sometimes are afraid your work won’t get done if you stop to refresh and restore. Trust me, the work that needs to be done will get done; it will be done better than work that emerges from tiredness of soul and spirit. Refreshed and nourished people who love and care for themselves are soul-full people.

How wonderful to know that soul-filling can begin with a simple step of showing up and following our own heart! Remember, Beloved Self, you’ve got this. Refreshment and restoration are within your reach. They’re as close as a sip or water or breath of fresh air. Stop. Pause. Indulge. Refresh. Restore. Remember.

Namaste.

About the Author: Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Kayce Stevens Hughlett, MA, LMHC –  author, life muse, ponderer extraordinaire, speaker, joy monger, artist of being alive. 

Kayce’s 2012 book, As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life, is a lyrical and lucid treasure that invites readers to new awakenings throughout the year. Blue: a novel was released in September, 2014 to rave reviews. She is currently working on her third book, a travel memoir that follows her journey of good girl turned risk taker, fear-filled woman gone warrior, and sleepwalking accountant transformed into wide-awake SoulStroller.

Dear Heart by Æverett

Dear Heart,

I’ve come to the conclusion that you’ll never forget. Well, forget isn’t the right word, but this feeling you have for him… her… will never Photo Credit: Gaelle Marcel via Unsplashchange.

It will never​ be easier.

It will never feel okay to talk to her… him… again. Not like it was.

Because you will always remember those happy moments that made it so right.

Heart, you love him… her… It’s as simple as that. You always will. It’ll never change.

It means continuing to be friends isn’t easy. Maybe it’s not even really feasible…

You want those moments back, even though things ended for all the right reasons.

You’re jealous, that’s okay, even though the reason you let her… him… go was so he… she… could be happy with someone else.

“Love them enough to let them go.”

And you do.

It’s okay.

She… he… will keep popping into your dreams when you least expect it. It’ll keep being a quiet comfort.

You’ll keep thinking of him… her… when you’re​ trying on someone new.

She’ll… he’ll… hang on as long as you keep beating, as long as we keep breathing. He’ll… she’ll… be there at the back of your mind, lingering, with all those memories.

Because love stays with you.

You never forget.

It never fades.

And it’s going to drive you crazy.

Just keep hanging in there and take each memory in stride. Each day it gets easier. Each day it doesn’t feel easier.

Your devoted confidant,

Brain

About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett 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.

Dear Blank Page by Jennifer Belthoff

Dear Blank Page,

I see you sitting there in your unassuming fashion and immediately I smile.  Thank you for inviting me in the way you always do.  You have no idea how grateful I am for our friendship and how it was you who saved my life.

When was it when we first met?  I cannot remember exactly but know that our love affair began quickly.  It came at a time when I didn’t even understand how strong love could be.  Long before I knew how deeply you would become a part of my life.

You are never too tired to meet and never once worried what time it was when I reached for you.  I admire the way you don’t complain, even when I wake you up at three in the morning.  You give me space to spill out the contents of my heart and hold my hand along the way.

Oh the adventures we have gone on.  Remember when we traveled across the country?  How radiant the Grand Canyon was.  How quickly I fell for Ray.  How I didn’t want to get back in the car because we were in the home stretch and I wasn’t quite ready to be back.

You hold all of my moments with gentleness and ease.  You do not care if I am in my pajamas, my hair is a mess, and my words don’t make sense.  You understand that the healing comes from the process and that whatever spills out is what needed to get out.

You soak up each word and never once have you judged me.  It is with you that I feel the safest.  I know that I can tell you anything.  I never have to pretend.  I never have to protect how I feel.  I do not need to hid behind a curtain of joy when I am feeling down.  You see me in my rawest form and you invite me to unfold deeper.

Remember when we were sitting in the coffee shop together and I started to write about my dream of becoming a teacher.  Along the way my words began to travel in a completely unexpected direction.  Tears welled up in my eyes and you caught each one as it rolled off my cheek.  When I first sat down to write I did not know there was an untold story that needed to be told.  But you did, and you were there for me as you always are.

What would I do if we had never met?  Where would I be?  What would my life look like?  One thing I know for certain is that I would be a total mess.  If I didn’t have you I would lost.  When I said that you saved my life I wasn’t kidding.  Yes, it was you who saved me.  You who helped me navigate the heartache, the pain, the unknown.  You who celebrated my successes and pushed me to keep stretching further and further.

Oh the stories you could tell.

What I love most about you is how deeply our trust for one another runs.  I know that every word I share with you is between you and I.  What a gift that is to me.  You are the only one in this world that I have that type of relationship with.

I want you to know that the reason I carry you with me everywhere I go is because knowing you are right beside me encourages me to keep stepping forward.  I know I always have you to lean on.  And you will be there ready for anything.

I love you deeply.  From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for always being there for me.  They say true love last a lifetime and I know that you and I will be together forever.

Sending you so much love and a giant hug!

Love,

Jennifer

About the Author: Jennifer Belthoff

Jennifer is a writer and explorer who believes in the power of the written word.  She encourages strangers to exchange handwritten notes with one another in the mail through the Love Notes Postcard Project.

Join her for the next round beginning July 9th.  Learn more at www.jenniferbelthoff.com

A Letter to Spring by Melissa A. Bartell

Little Flower Crocus

Dear Spring,

I have to confess, I’ve developed a sort of love/hate relationship with you over the years. It was inevitable, I guess. I mean, no one stays in love forever, right?

As a child, the coming of spring meant that I got to put away heavy winter coats and thick tights that were always too long for me. I could wrap my feet in sneakers instead of boots and sometimes, I could even wear sandals.

Even now, you bring with you some important rituals, like changing the wreath on my front door to one that celebrates flowers, birds, and butterflies. After a winter of wearing shoes and socks inside the house, your return sends me to the nail salon for a luxurious pedicure with time spent soaking my feet in hot wax and then getting pink polish on my toes. Sometimes, even with a flower.

And then there’s the first new pair of flip-flops of the year. I found mine at the grocery store this time – no, really! – but usually Target is my go-to source.

There are certain aspects of you, Spring, that I never want to miss: dancing on the deck in a warm rain-shower, the return of fresh, seasonal fruits to my store, the opening of the local farmers’ market.

But then there’s the flip-side.

The part of your arrival that beings out the hatred in me.

I mean, yes, I love spring rain, but I live in North-Central Texas, which means that we get days on end of weather that threatens – promises – rain, but never delivers. The gray light and thick skies go right to my head, and I’m forced to retreat to a cool, dark room until the tension breaks and the water cascades down.

And then there’s the mud. All those storms mean tons of it, and, you know, I have dogs who won’t go outside if there’s the merest hint of a drizzle, but if they realize there’s mud, all bets are off. Two of my dogs are mostly white, though if you look at them between March and June, you’d never know it.

The mud doesn’t just stay on the animals, either. They track it everywhere – the floors, the couch, my bed. Seriously, if our country ever goes to war again, they should just weaponize mud. It’s cheaper than nukes, and less harmful to the environment.

Of course, a letter to you, Spring, would have to include a word about tornadoes. I don’t know what you’re trying to prove with those twisting funnels of instant mayhem. None of us really believe that you can get to Oz that way, and frankly, they feel like a desperate grab for attention.

Seriously, Spring, must you be so needy?

It should be obvious, oh Season that transitions Winter into Summer, that my relationship with you is laced with ambivalence.

You bring so much destruction, but you also apologize for it with radiant blooms of colorful flowers – daffodils, tulips, daisies – all harbingers of happiness.

And so, Spring, I leave you with this thought: these mood swings of yours are not healthy. Do us all a favor: seek therapy. I know, I know,  you’re going to say that it’s we humans who have made you this way; that you’re only reacting to what we’ve done to your Planet.

And maybe that’s valid.

But couldn’t you at least meet us half way?

Image Copyright: ljubomirtrigubishyn / 123RF Stock Photo

About the author: Melissa A. Bartell

Melissa A. BartellMelissa is a writer, voice actor, podcaster, itinerant musician, voracious reader, and collector of hats and rescue dogs. She is the author of The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Holiday Tub. You can learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 

Dear Blinking Cursor by Tabitha Grace Challis

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_peshkov'>peshkov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Dear Blinking Cursor,

Yes, I see you. I know that you sit there waiting. “Great things are to come,” you seem to telegraph as if you were an 18th century Morse code. My head spins with stories. They have since I was tadpole-like in my ability. I have scattered words from there to here and yet, you still blink.

I’m no Euripides. No one will probably be reading this tangled web of beautiful lies I spin thousands of years from now. I will not be quoted and misquoted on Facebook like Mark Twain when all that’s left of me is dust.

And yet, you blink. Eager to be fed.

Do you not know I have a kid who needs another glass of milk? A husband with lips made just for kissing? Do you not see my hands full of bags of cat food?

You relentlessly wait. Wearing at my mind. I close my eyes and yet you are there. I’m renaming you Godot. Curse you, cursor, and your all-the-time-in-the-world stare at me.

Sometimes I imagine that you’re the entrance to a black hole. If I could just unlock you, the words would come out on their own. It’d be so easy. Less effort. Less feeling like I was letting you down. Tap into the deep part of my brain, o blinking one. Release the wild things.

I’m so tired of disappointing. I picked up this perfection mantle at age 10 and have been unable to drop it. It is tattered, frayed and worn. I want to do it all, be it all, see it all, taste it all. Yet it leads to nothing.

The whispers I ignore tell me that I’m a writer. I was meant to tell those stories. But the siren’s call (the loud kind, not the irresistible one) of life’s essentials pulls me away from you, cursor. There’s piles of laundry to tackle, dishes to clean, a dog to wash, bills to pay, and floors to vacuum.

Life happened while I was busy making plans to return to you.

Don’t give up on me, please. There are tales that I need to tell you of chickens that live on the roofs of odd buildings. I long to lose myself to chasing you across the page. I ache for there to be more and more and more words that follow you like Orpheus chased Eurydice. Were that my ending were not so tragic.

I like to think I’d give up so much just to please you. I’d sacrifice time and effort and energy. Yet, I’m spent. There are days when I can barely lift my thought process beyond survival.

Could you wait? Or will this be like the pot of water that’s been left to boil on the stove too long? Empty. Charred. Will my words burn away and be of no use to anyone?  Will you keep blinking your slow, patient  S.O.S. that calls to me? I want to be like my author heroes. I want to stick to a page until the story unfolds. I want to chase you from here to the end. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is so weak. I binge watch old TV shows as you sit in a sea of white. I play games on my phone to drown out the noise of your silent requests.

Don’t lose hope, little cursor. Together we will do great things. Perhaps we will attack them like they did on D-Day. A full-scale invasion will march forth and you will not have blinked in vain.

Too much?

Then I’ll be truthful.

Please wait. I’m coming. In the snatches of time before falling asleep. In between the rush and bustle of the every day, you and I will dance. I will find the quiet times to put thoughts to words, inaction to action, and magic to paper.

And it will be beautiful.

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.

To Patience, From Your Biggest Fan

Dear Patience,

I have to be honest with you—I’ve never done anything like this before. Like, written an actual fan letter. Anytime I think about it, I immediately feel embarrassed, like I’m twelve years old and very small compared to whomever I’m contemplating writing.

I’ve come close a few times. I started a letter to Joy once, but something fun caught my eye and I never made my way back to it. I thought about reaching out to Anger, but it felt too scary (although I actually think Anger is quite misunderstood and would probably appreciate little love from time to time.) And I picked out a really pretty card that I thought would be perfect for Kindness, but then I found out a good friend of mine was having a hard week so I sent it to her instead.

There is so much I want to say to you Patience, but it really all boils down to this: I want to be just like you.

You seem so mystical, so serene. You have a way of creating calm no matter what the situation and you do such an extraordinary job of putting everyone around you at ease (or at least whoever is willing to pay attention to you.) I wish I was more like that. Too often I am so eager to finish—or start—something that I miss out on a lot of details and experiences. Anytime I get it into my head that I won’t be able to feel good or have fun or be OK until this happens or that takes place I always run into trouble. You know what I’m talking about, and you know how futile it always is. In all the times I’ve let myself get frustrated and grouchy because something isn’t happening exactly the way I think it should, never once has it made time move any faster (or encouraged slow drivers in front of me to magically change lanes so I can pass them!)

In situations that have me feeling hurried and harried, I look to you, Patience, and following your example always enables me to turn things around. I stop, take a deep breath, and ponder what you would do in that moment. After I sit with this thought for a while, I usually end up wanting to do the same thing every time—nothing!

If I feel overly anxious to speak up during an argument, you encourage me to remain silent. If I notice myself sloppily folding laundry in an effort to get it done fast, thinking of you enables me to immediately sink into the simple beauty of my soft, clean bath towels. If I’m running errands and wishing I wasn’t where I was but, instead, where I was headed, you inspire me to take a very small action that never fails to pull me out of my wholly unnecessary angst. With your nudging, I look outside my window. Once I spend a moment or two admiring the trees, the clouds, and the sky, I’m no longer concerned with being in such a mad rush.

I’ve also learned that anytime I choose to ignore your example, I’ll likely pay a price. This usually involves a stubbed toe or some other such mishap. When I become fixated on getting something done as fast as possible, I literally become oblivious to my surroundings. How many bruises and nicks and scrapes do I have because there was an imaginary ticking time bomb I believed would explode if I didn’t get something started or finished or somehow resolved as soon as humanly possible?

A lot of people say you’re all about letting time unfold organically.

While I get this, and know it’s part of your charm, I’ve come to believe your most unique and potent genius is in all the ways you teach the world how to focus its attention on what truly matters. Is it important I get my dishes cleaned quickly or that I spend the time it takes to wash them being grateful for the meal I just enjoyed? Does it serve me to feel annoyed if someone doesn’t return my call right away or might it be a better idea to allow for circumstances beyond my knowledge or control? Will the situation be elevated by my saying, “What a jerk for not calling back!” or “Maybe he or she is dealing with a person crisis; I hope everything is OK.”?

You don’t teach me to just sit back and do nothing. You instill a practice of gentle, mindful immersion into the beauty of every moment.

The world is so enamored with speed these days. Immediacy seems to be the goal, no matter what the situation. I bet you feel like your work is never done around here. I wonder if you sometimes feel tired and overwhelmed. Perhaps you doubt whether or not anyone is even interested in what you have to say anymore.

I think this is why I decided it was time to take a leap and write my first fan letter—because it is important you know how desperately so many of us want and need your example, your teachings, and your wisdom.

I know you’re busy, Patience—more busy than ever—so I don’t expect a response. The only hope I send with this letter is that you find some small solace to know what a difference you’ve made in my life. You have helped me appreciate the detours and the delays, the uncertainties and the lulls. You’ve shown me how to gently slip out of tense situations, most especially the ones that became unnecessarily wound up because of my own untamed thoughts. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for all the ways you show up for me.

Happy New Year, Patience. You’re the best.

With admiration, Christine

About the Author: Christine Mason Miller

Christine Mason Miller is an author and artist who has been inspiring others to create a meaningful life since 1995. Signed copies of her memoir, Moving Water, are now available for pre-order at www.christinemasonmiller.com.

Dear Tender Heart

Dear Tender Heart,

Seven was a hard age for me. I broke my right arm in two places that year,  just as we were learning cursive. Mrs. Dean, my 2nd grade teacher didn’t love me, a shock after two years in my long academic career of being the teacher’s pet. Ballet was next to impossible with a big, heavy cast. (We won’t mention the horrible yearbook photo, with the crooked pigtails and chapped lips.)

And my sister, seven years older, had outgrown the patience to play with me, as her attention turned to boys, being a twirler with the band,  and performing at the football games. Oh, how I longed for her velvet and sequined costumes.

I arrived home from school one December Day to a big surprise: my mother had put up a tiny tree in my room and it was decorated with little felt dolls: toy soldiers, little blonde girls in Christmas dresses, and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Clause.

I had begun collecting dolls earlier that year, so the sight of all those little felt dolls made me feel so special and so loved.

I set up that little tree Christmas after Christmas until I was around twelve and began to outgrow dolls and Santa and the little table the tree sat upon.

Until this year, I had forgotten about that little tree.

I had also forgotten how, in so many ways, the mother of my childhood had been loving and generous.

Years of her depression and dissatisfaction at life had replaced the moments of light. The tantrums she threw and the hateful words she directed towards me as I grew into adolescence and womanhood overwhelmed all the kind words and gestures, pushing those memories to the recesses of my mind.

Instead, the memories that typically surface are the hard ones. I remember being a nineteen year old newlywed, so proud of my new home yet feeling confused as she screamed at me, telling me I was selfish for moving into a new house without her approval. Her demands that I “return everything she had ever given me since my marriage.”  It’s far easier for me to recall removing pictures from the walls, filling boxes with decorative knickknacks, and piling sweaters on top than it is to recall blue-clad soldiers and smiling, blonde-haired, felt faces.

The memories of neither of my parents meeting my second child until after her second birthday are stronger, oh Tender Heart, than the faded memories of a hand-stitched stocking adorned with little Gingerbread Men and my name in Gold.

Those years of pain and stress and rejection, I must admit, put layers and layers of protection around you, didn’t they, oh, Tender Heart?

I have a truly wonderful life, but I have to admit, this year has been as difficult for me as the year I was seven. There is so much anger and stress and pain in the world, it’s been a challenge to see the world from a place of love.  I create best from a space of peace and calm, and the environment of the outside world sure hasn’t been any of those things lately.

I dove into spiritual activities to soothe my soul during all the unrest in the world.

During the period between All Hallow’s Eve and Thanksgiving, I set up an “Ancestors Altar” to honor the Beloved Dead during the season of All Saints and All Souls Days. I gathered symbols of the season: an owl, a raven, and tiny pumpkins.  I retrieved the photo from our living room of my grandmother and the one of my parents along with their parents at a wedding shower, the only photo I have of either of my grandfathers. I found a photo of my friend who died on 9/11.

I dug through our photo albums.

First I pulled out photos of John’s grandparents, great grandparents, father, and brother. Then, I found the photos from my sister’s first wedding shower and bridesmaid luncheon in 1981. There, I discovered a photo of my Aunt Betty, who died two weeks after my mother. Then, I found this one photo, a picture of my mother laughing with her sister, Nita, who died in the 80’s along with their mother –  my grandmother – who died in 1992.

My mother was so young and full of joy in that photo. Still raven-haired and dressed in a bright pink dress. The mother I had before the years of depression dulled her sparkle. The mother who loved a young Debra, rather than the woman who seemed to despise the woman little Debra grew into.

Every morning through the fall, dear Tender Heart, I lit candles on that altar. I prayed for the souls of all those gathered there, seeing each face as a Beloved. I walked by their smiling faces several times a day and they kept me company as I worked.

And each day, that gaping wound of not being good enough for my mother to love began to get smaller. The walls I have constructed around you, on Tender Heart, began to crumble just a little. That is the mystical power of intention, candles, and prayer at work.

When Thanksgiving drew close, I knew it was time to break down my altar. I put away the candles, raven, and owl. I discarded the softening pumpkins and lovingly gathered the photos to save for next year.

I had no plans for another altar until St. Brigid’s Day in February and realized how bare the space would feel without the smiling faces, so I decided to put up a Christmas tree. I found a little tree at Target, on sale for $15. I bought extra lights and tiny baubles. It’s a happy little tree, illuminating the Spirit of Christmas as I work.

John arrived home from a business trip and I showed him my little office tree as we prepared to decorate the rest of our home. Then I remembered my first little tree standing in a room of my own, and I shared the story, and cried.

“You know, that’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard your mother doing for you,” he replied.

He has been my witness. By my side, celebrating each Christmas with me since my mother died. This is my sixth Christmas without her, oh, Tender Heart, and only now am I able to reach into the depths of memories and retrieve interactions with my mother that don’t involve pain or more heartache.

I chose a couple of felt gingerbread men to adorn my new little tree; not like the toy soldiers or felt Santa, but still with the nostalgic memories of Christmas as a Child and the stocking my mother created with her own two hands. The remembrance, oh Tender Heart, of creations from love instead of the unimaginable space of anger and dislike is critical to extending these tenuous feelings.

Now, each morning, I turn on the lights on my personal Christmas tree. I sit in a recliner – displaced for the Christmas Tree of John’s Christmas Past – writing in my journal or reading, and, like the smiling faces from those old photographs, the twinkling lights illuminate the dark, shining love and hope, nostalgia and remembrance of the other little tree.

Each day, oh Tender Heart, you find a way to heal a little more as I seek a way to recall the loving gestures instead of the hateful ones. I am allowing the magic of honoring ancestors and the mystical power of grace and forgiveness to help me forget the bitterness.

Though 2016 has been a challenging year, this gives me hope that 2017 has the potential for more.

May you continue to find love, oh Tender Heart. And heal.

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present,hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”
–Agnes M. Pahro

Happy Christmas.

Debra ♥

About the Author: Debra Smouse

Debra is a life coach and the Editor in Chief of Modern Creative Life. She is the author of three books, including the recently released Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision.

She lives in Ohio and believes in the power of Love.

Letter to My Creativity, Anna Hodges Oginsky

Dear Creativity,

Here you are. Saving me once again. While the vitriol simmers in the air like a warlock’s brew, its spell disables me… anna_o_055double, double toil and trouble. It bubbles: the hatred, the sadness, the anger, and the grief.

We are in mourning.

The comfort we had thinking everything was okay while others suffered, us unknowing; or knowing and not caring enough to act upon that knowing; perhaps wanting to act but overwhelmed by the enormity of it all; knowing and caring and wanting to act but unsure where to start. Them pleading in desperation for mercy, aching to be seen, to be heard, to be acknowledged. The comfort is no more. We are all so uncomfortable now. The shadows, the goblins, and the monsters have all emerged from the darkness. The bitterness is all out on the table. We see it. We smell it. We feel it in our bones and in every cell in our bodies. We still don’t know what to do, but we know we must do something.

I turn to you, my Creativity, my loyal friend. My light.

You are my connection to the Source, after all. You are the thread that sews me to all that is.

Where will you guide me? Us?

I am counting on you, as always, to help me heal. To help us heal.

Will we write letters, posts, essays, and books? Expressing our sorrow. Asking for help. Begging for forgiveness from others and from our own selves? Can we even begin to forgive each other? Do we even know what to forgive?

anna-oginsky-image2Will we take to the streets with paintbrushes and as we collaborate on painting a new landscape, will we see that we are one? Will we recognize that in the beginning we were but a creation and in the end we are nothing more than what we created? What are we creating now?

How do I solve these riddles for myself, Creativity? How do I weave my voice into the solutions for the whole, for all of us, for the greater good?

Thank you for giving me ways to ask these questions. Thank you for showing me these questions exist below the surface, under the spell. Thank you for giving me words and colors and images and tools to use to help me process these questions. Thank you for the music that sings to my soul while I mix potions and emotions in search of a soothing balm for my grief.

Thank you for curiosity. For wonder. For awe. Thank you for inspiration.

Thank you for giving me space to feel. For translating my feelings into something tangible. Thank you for helping me get it out. Thank you for helping me let it go.

Thank you for giving me the confidence to know that all the answers I am seeking are already inside me. Thank you for empowering me with the discernment to know that your wisdom is also mine. I trust that as inherently creative beings, we have the power to change things. To create new things. To let old things go.

Like you, we are powerful. We are the change agents that transform groceries into meals, seeds and dirt into gardens, paper into books, bricks into buildings, and blank walls into murals. Surely, we can transform ourselves. And we can transform each other. With acknowledgment, with validation, with love, patience, and compassion we can transform. We will grow. I have faith in you, in me, in us.

I remember the relief I felt after my first entry in the journal my Baba gave me in 1983. We had been shopping. She must have known that words would be my medicine. Words have always been my way in to you, Creativity. You saved me then. I am indeed indebted to you. You showed me everything would be okay. You showed me that the only way out is through. Again and again. You sat with me for many years while I stuffed my feelings into you and again when I was learning to let them out by way of you. You have always been there for me. You transform my grief to healing to peace to joy. For then and now and everything in between, I thank you.

With you by my side, I have no fear about what is to come.

With love and gratitude,

Anna

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Learn more about her book at www.mynewfriendgrief.com

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