Out of Hiding?: A Coffee and Conversation Post

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own.

A week or so ago, I blogged about a question that’s been whirling around in my mind for months, maybe a lot longer…why do I hide when I’ve accomplished something that holds deep personal meaning. Why do I tuck that moment of glory away, rather than sharing it?

I explored a few answers – mostly surface things. And I proactively decided to stand up, at least a little, and lay claim to what I’ve done – not so much for myself, but to honor those who helped me to do it, and to stand for messages and purposes in which I deeply believe.

But, even while I was doing this, I was doing it – well, a little sideways, I guess. Looking at it peripherally, rather than directly. Staying toward the top, rather than delving the deeps, which is more my nature.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…sometimes, seeing the outer shape of something, or even just the shadow it casts when I shine a light on it, is necessary before I can even start to plumb its depths.

It was scary, doing even that much. Saying, in even that convoluted a way, “Look at me. I do things, and sometimes they’re so damned brave and awesome that I scare myself. I can be brilliant, amazing, strong, and naked before you; I can show you this tiny little glimpse of my vulnerable places.” is a big, Big Deal for me.

Because, once I’ve shown you me – even fifteen-years-ago me, with strategic digital foliage acting as a fig leave of sorts, a shield still to cover my secret places (not just nipples and vulva, but the deeps I’m not yet ready to delve myself, let alone expose to you) – well, there’s no “un-showing”.

If you’ve seen me, that way, it’s now a part of your experience of me. You’ll never again see me totally clothed in my fabric suits of armor or my skin or my words.

You know me better than that, and there’s no hiding place….

And that’s A Big, Scary Deal…

I’ve been living with that, ever since. I know I’ve changed something, given something to the world, to you, and to myself that I can’t take back. There’s no Do-Overs, here. It’s Out There, in the world, even if I have moments when I might rather it wasn’t, that I was still digging my big toe in the dirt and “aww-shucksing” my way out of taking or sharing credit for my sparks of incandescence….

But, when I take a deep breath, I see that something’s happening. It’s a Big Deal, too, this something.

And it isn’t all mine – because what happens when you give something away, offer it up to the world at large, is that people can use it however they want to, however it moves them. I can’t control that, and I don’t want to…

It started with comments. Friends of long standing and more recent, acquaintances, and even a stranger or two, dropped me a line to say they were touched or moved, and sometimes even to share their own experiences. There’s something deeply gratifying in that, in knowing that, from my own home and my own soul, I was able to reach out, share, and connect in a way that was relatable to others…

And then something wonderful happened. Someone who matters deeply to me took that post, and made it her own, blending with other ideas to create something new, something that’s hers, and not mine. It inspired her to grow and shift and look at her own life a little differently, and, by doing that, she began to find new truths and uses for them.

That’s always a little thrill for me, and, if I write these posts to work through my own emotions and life, I share them for this – for the alchemy of how what I experience, think, and feel can affect someone else, be a part of their self-examination, their life. It’s even better when it’s someone who is dear to me.

And better still when that loved one shares a bit of that with me…

And maybe the best when that growth circles back, and catches me up again, and I find myself growing more and more deeply as a result of it.

Now, with the interaction of others, I’m starting to go deeper, understand a little better what I offer, to myself and my beloveds, to my readers, and those I encounter by chance. How none of this could have happened, in this way, if I hadn’t first opened, and shared.

Does this mean that I’m going to share all my accomplishments easily and fully, from now on? Well, probably not – growth is an uneven and often unpredictable process, and everything I achieve isn’t meant to be shared that way. But it does mean that I see more benefit to sharing, now, see more clearly how it stretches and shapes not only my life, but others’, as well.

How about you? Are there things you’ve dared to share that have fed deeper growth, for you and others? Things you’ve considered sharing, but haven’t yet felt ready? I’d love to hear your input; I’ll get you a fresh beverage and a tasty virtual treat of your choice; let’s chat!



Saturday’s Share: Jeremiah, Straddling the Divide…

Jeremiah,Harry, and a DSi -August 2013. Photo credit: Sylvia Woodman.

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

Today’s Share is of Jeremiah, who is days away from turning twelve.

For me, this image encapsulates Jeremiah as he is today, on the figurative eve of huge changes. It was taken by my sisterfriend, Sylvia, at the Northeast Unschooling Conference, just over a week before Jeremiah’s twelfth birthday. He was sharing his newly-acquired DSi with Sylvia’s son, his best friend Harry, who is seven.

Miah, as he finishes his eleventh year, thinks that girls make good friends, and that, just maybe, he might someday soon be interested in them in other ways. He feels it approaching, but he’s not in a hurry. He’s got plenty to focus on.

His big love is science. He’s innately adept at physics, finds chemistry intriguing, and is passionate about technology – particularly, the technology of gaming.

We live on a modest income, and technology is a sometimes expensive passion. When Jeremiah wants something, he researches it, and if the want is worth the cost, he might negotiate for an advance on his allowance, or do some extra things around the house for pay. The summer he was 9, he arranged to work several days for his grandfather. He set up his clothes, lunch, and alarm the night before, was never late, and did as he was asked, taking only the breaks he was offered, and he learned a good deal about building, plumbing, and yard care.

He did this to earn the money for a 3DS, which we had offered as a Christmas gift, but which he was determined to purchase, in-store, in his chosen color, on his tenth birthday.

And he did.

Sometimes, a new acquisition takes a little extra time, because he tends to be generous with his resources, and buys things for his sister and his friends.

Jeremiah is generous by nature – with his time, his affection, his attention, his smiles, and his laughter. He’s willing to help around the house and yard, willing to hug his parents and sister – even in public, even though he’s nearly as tall as me. Tokens of sweetness and love are something he offers daily, and intentionally.

At the conference, Jeremiah had some spending money – most afforded by our budget, along with a little he saved himself. He decided to spend most of it to buy this DSi and a few games from a friend. In turn, he sold one game he didn’t want (along with his generosity, Jeremiah has a keen sense of personal economy!).

Jeremiah is even-tempered, and tends to consider things carefully before acting. After he’s made his choice, he is inclined to look upon his choices in positive terms, and to enjoy what they bring to his life. He didn’t regret the inability to buy other things during our trip; he made peace with his decision at the outset, and spent happy hours playing alone, with friends, and sharing with others.

In the picture, he’s in a familiar role -games mentor for a younger child, being generous with his time, his knowledge, and even his new treasure. His hand on his buddy’s shoulder, invites him in, lets him know he’s wanted and welcome.

Jeremiah does have that way about him, of welcoming others in a gentle, friendly, unassuming way – and making life warmer and sweeter just by being here.

Just as he’s done for nearly twelve years, now.

He’s straddling the edge of the divide between child and man, now. I can hear it in his voice, and in his ideas. I can see it in a leaning-out of his face, and in the ways he chooses to spend his time.

Sooner than seems possible now, he will be a man, a man grown from this right-now boy. So, today, as I smile at this picture, I remind myself to to see him, not as the child he has been, or the man he will become, but as he is right now…


Do you have specific images or memories of your own or your children’s growing up, or ones that seem to capture perfectly who they are or were at a certain point in their lives?  I love when readers come to share bits of their lives, because then we all get the chance to know one another better in the sharing. =D

Coming Out of My Shell, Thankfully


Growth requires emergence…emergence is better in good company. Photo courtesy WANA Commons

I am coming out of my shell…and I emerge, blinking, into the light of a new day, befuddled and bemused because I thought I’d emerged, long since…

I’m beginning to know that emergence is a matter of layers, just as going within is….maybe, even, they are the sides of the coin, the yin and yang of things….

Inward, and outward, together, with something that approaches balance and symmetry.

So, here I am.

My head is poised just past the edge of my shell, and I stop and look around me…

There is a very big world out there, waiting for me….

What am I waiting for?

In some sense, for permission. I’m not sure from whom, or why I think this is important. I know I own my life –

Or do I?

Can I, when I am awaiting the go ahead from some nebulous other?

I’m thinking I need to simply give myself permission….but I’m not quite sure how, and I sense strongly that this isn’t something I can force.


There’s that world. MY world – your world too.

Because you are all out there, not waiting, but living your lives, creating, loving, wondering, and fearing.

Just like I am, but in your own way.

I know that I’m still a little shy. I want to celebrate you today, tomorrow, and every day. I want it more, in fact, than I want to celebrate myself.

And here I am, with my head barely peeking out of my shell, staring at you, my toes digging into the dirt, not quite knowing what to do to let you all know what you mean to me – how much I appreciate your words, and what you share through them…

And then, I think that maybe it doesn’t matter to you, because, after all, who the hell am I?

I’m having that feeling more often just now….and I know it’s a sign that I am preparing to stick my neck waaay out there, and dive headlong into the pools of sharing.

I need to grow, and to change. And I can’t do that, in this shell.

So, I am going to stick my neck out, here and now.

I’m going to go ahead and celebrate you, just because I can. And because it really doesn’t matter who I am.

You deserve the notice……

Alberta Ross

You keep on writing despite any challenge that comes our way, and you do it with the simple, unassuming wisdom that only comes with age and experiences richly grokked. I am honored to know you, and to have your depth at my disposal. Doesn’t hurt a bit how much you love language.

Shah Wharton

When you realized your first ebook had some pretty major editorial problems, you might have hidden away and pretended that nothing was wrong while you covertly corrected the errors. You didn’t. You admitted to the problems, and went out of your way to be open and to remediate. I know how hard you’ve worked to put things right, and it is as inspiring to me as your delicious vampire/were/alien world.

Kristen Lamb

You give – so MUCH! I’m just realizing how much. You do it with generosity and humor and grace. You don’t sugarcoat, but you certainly entertain, and you are the single greatest catalyst for this current emergence, for me. Where once I felt guilty about wanting success as a writer, your focus on service resonates. I can do it – maybe even be wildly successful – if it means that I can be a force for good, and peace, and connection, and helping others. I might have seen it, without you breaking me open, but it would have been slower.

Eden Mabee

You’ve been a part of my life just about forever, and I know I wouldn’t be the writer – or the person – I am, without you. Any success I ever have, you will be an integral part of. It can’t be any other way. You are the best possible beta reader, because you know my world, my mind, and my objectives so well. And there are all those lovely or devil’s advocate cow trails, the lifetime of old churches and warm Meister Braus in your bedroom, or that shared boyfriend, singing, and that one terrible, wine-soaked, insane night that can never be unlived…and the griefs of lost loves, lost children, lost connection….ah,well….you know. You always do.

The loveliness of emergence….photo courtesy WANA Commons.

Wow – once I stuck my neck out, it was not so very hard to do, after all….

How about you? Is there some shell you feel a need to poke out of? Is there some small step that can help you in your emergence?

I absolutely love comments – and, more likely than not, I already think you are a remarkable person. Even if this is our first interaction, I will be honored if you share below.

Trusting my Truth – #ROW80 Update, 2/27/13

Curious? Click here!

I’m going to make a declaration here, today. I’ve made it before, in a wishy-washy way.

Now, it’s time to state it, loud, proud, and without shame.

 I write Star Trek fan fiction erotica.

Damned good Star Trek fan fiction erotica, too!

It’s not all I write, but it is vital to the worlds I have created, because my female antagonist was originally conceived to be the woman Spock deserved. As a Vulcan male intended to have a lifebond that is a rich telepathic connection, he needs a mate – a mate who can fascinate, accept, inspire, and challenge him, on many levels.

There is a lot of Star Trek erotica out there, and much of it seems to ignore character and canon simply to be lascivious.

That’s not what I write.

Characters matter, to me. Spock must be Spock, always. But there is so much more to him than is shown in the series and movies, so much that is left unsaid. So much passion that so often gets overlooked, so many possibilities not played with…

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William S...

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so, I go there. And I’m done feeling apologetic about it.

I will be offering my Trueborn double series, both Warp and Weft, in the form of flash fiction pieces, throughout April, as my contribution to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. These stories will be set in the childhoods of Spock and Niaan, when they first become aware of one another.

  • I hope that people will read them, and give me feedback.
  • I hope that claiming this part of my writing life wholly will free me in all parts of it….
  • And I hope that I will, at the end of the month, have created beauty, and a fuller vision of these characters and the story they share…three stories in, I think I have made a good beginning.

What I write may become the basis of the first books in the Trueborn series. I’ve never written Spock’s childhood at length before, and I’ve been debating what to do with the handwritten and typed manuscripts for Niaan’s girlhood (the original WIP, Trueborn, to be renamed), since I don’t have it on the computer.

Now, I’m beginning to know…I will write these stories, and the revision will be richer and more textured. Those drafts will simmer with the new flash fiction, and become something new…

Yes, it will be some work, and likely a long process. That’s OK. When I’m done, I will have a revised original novel ready for beta readers – and a fanfic novel to share freely ….

Which is a lotta good!

 ROW80 stuff:


Homeschool reports:

  • I am happy to report that these are done and submitted. Three months now before the next quarter’s are due.

Goal attained! =)

WANA 113:

  • Completed raw word dump of my word cloud grokking.
  • Connected with most of the remaining class members.
  • On course to hit both targets.
  • Have begun the small but gradual incorporation of some class and conference ideas into my social media.

Targets: Word cloud grokking submitted by Sunday, March 3.

Connect with all classmates by Sunday, March 10.

Other stuff :

Reading slowed while I completed the reports, but progressed. The need for input is easing, and I will likely be writing more, and reading less, within the next week or two.

Queen of My Infinite Spaces –

  • Nothing new written.
  • I took a glimpse at the NaNoEdMo site. Since I plan to edit a poetry collection, I won’t officially register, although I will still focus on editing in March.


  • Dedication and acknowledgments by March 1, which will give me a completed rough draft.
  • Look into NaNoEdMo by February 28, and decide if I want to participate.

The second target is complete.

750 Words

  • Each day – exposition and fanfic (began A to Z posts and exposition).

Sponsor visits: I’m up to date on these.

Sponsor post:

  • The Imagery of Possibility went up on 2/25.
  • I’ve received several positive comments, and two Tweets of this post.
  • I’m feeling humbled and happy that it spoke to people, and a little shy about it, too….
  • I’m going to, in small steps, be sharing this post myself, in several places, and doing more of this type of writing…

What’s next…?


WANA 113

  • Connect with remaining classmates
  • Complete word cloud grokking and post.


  • Dedication and early acknowledgments.

Other stuff:

  • Continue reading.
  • Begin exercises in Steering.
  • Work on action plans for blogging and noveling.
  • Submit guest post and “something else” by month’s end….
  • Beta read “Blow Me a Candy Kiss” and return with comments (aim for March 1).
  • Adjustments and changes to blogs and social media will be gradual, but ongoing.
  • Continue with A to Z posts (using 750 words).
  • Sponsor visits.

Do you have any secret writing passions? =)

Lookee what I found at the Air and Space Museum! =D

It’s a BLOG HOP!!!

Tsunamis of Words


The tsunami had already commenced, before my first birthday.

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, but, for many years, my writing was sporadic and hidden. If anyone said anything remotely critical about it, I would react by retreating, defending, and feeling crushed.

Recently, in a swirling stew of ingredients, I got a flash of insight into why this was so.

As so many things do, for me, it goes back to childhood, and habits and patterns I learned there, which have remained, hidden beneath all those extra words, rambling explanations…my verbal, nearly compulsive need to get out ALL the details, at once, without forgetting anything, to follow all side trails…

I have a long and intense string of memories, that come with a single catch phrase, in my mother’s voice.

” I love when you follow me around and prattle at me.”

I did it often. My mother would bustle about, cleaning and cooking…she likes things just so, likely as a direct response to a childhood where very little was as she would have liked it to be. With an untidy husband and four children, there was plenty to do.

She is also prone to withdrawing her affection for perceived slights – usually, without ever really explaining why, and sometimes for days in a row. She tends to see people in assigned roles, and each of her children had at least one.

Mine tended to be “the smart one”, “the good one”, “the different one”, “the closet philosopher”, and “the ditzy one with no common sense“.

I learned early that most of these were pretty good roles, ones that I wanted to keep, because there was a nearly constant maternal pitting against and judging of us four children, and it was definitely worthwhile to stay on my mother’s good side.

Communing with goats at age 11. I had plenty to say to them, too…

So, once I learned that I could entertain her with a tsunami of what was going on in my head, I brought forth all the words and ideas I could muster.

I’ve been told I think too much (although I think it’s the perfect amount for me), and I tend to get rapid-fire ideas from many sources – engaged conversation has always lit me up.

I used words the way Scheherazade used those Arabian Nights, to keep my mother entertained, to curry her favor…and, later, to win arguments, to keep a conversation going, even when the other party was clearly ready to move on…

In all cases, what I was staving off was a sense of rejection.

As I learned more about myself, and how to communicate with others, I began to see the need for concise language, well-constructed thoughts, and an understanding of purpose. Gradually, this has carried over into all of my writing.

Now, I am able to trim dross, to recognize what I need to do to find it in the first place. I can even ask others to read things and give their honest opinion, and to evaluate this without taking it as an assessment of my value as a writer.

With this new bit of personal insight, I feel a deeper shift coming… I listen to Paul Simon‘s music, lush with layers and textures, emotions and imagery, poetry and wisdom – and I am in awe. He uses so few words….and conveys so much. I see it now, in myself. Not just the what. Also, the why…

And I feel that makes a difference that will grow, from here….in writing, and in life.

Taking time for quiet contemplation….an emerging skill. Photo by Eden Mabee.

Changes and Progress…-ROW80 Goals Update, Oct. 24, 2012

Sunday, Oct 21-Tues, Oct 23, 2012

Curious? Click here!

I’ve made steady progress this week, sometimes in surprising areas.  I am shifting into NaNo mode, and I continue to work on my logline lesson and my daily poem.

It’s been mellow, here.  Good for writing and musing so that’s what I’ve been doing.

How’s your ROW going?

Honoring Myself  (Original goals post)

My goal for this round is to honor myself – my rhythms, energy, needs, truth, dreams, desires, and emotions.

A fundamental part of that is to identify my energy type each day, and summarize what I do. It’s my hope that, throughout the round, patterns will emerge which lead to a more joyful, organic writing flow – one that honors me and allows me to get the most out of my seldom predictable writing time.


Sunday (Photo credit: ex.libris)

My energy levels, activities, and poems for the last few days..

  • Sunday: Ebb Tide. I shifted strongly and rather quickly into a need for input of various types. The kids and I made a quick trip to the store, then, later, another to the car repair shop to drop off the Subaru, which will be getting some new wheel bearings. Annalise drove with me in the Sunfire, where we spoke of elections, dragons, unicorns, and crushes. Jeremiah and Jim talked mostly about the Subaru – Miah, at 11, has already started his personal countdown to his eventual driving days.
  • I wrote my poem before sleeping (I went to bed at 6am), and had most of my update finished. I read several blogposts and an article or two, added some photos to a Picasa Web Album, and did some moderate hometending, including another, slightly more focused effort to reclaim my office for the coming winter…


  • Beneath all this and winding through it, were story impressions, fragments, and ponderings that don’t quite have words yet…like the season, I am shifting and becoming…
  • Poem:  interwoven


  • Monday: Slack tide. I completed my poem,ROW80 sponsor visits,answered comments at shanjeniah, worked on NaNo planning, and added toMiah’s Reporting Pages. Read comment posted for my logline lesson, and began to consider revisions.
  • Mellow housework – tidying, laundry, and dishes.


  • Tuesday: Ebb Tide. I completed my poem, and did a lot of pondering. I did a little more open-ended planning for Sima Garo Provides, the renamed and re- envisioned version of my NaNo WIP. I responded to a post from my logline lesson teacher, and played with the line. I played some Cake Mania 2, and did just a little hometending and dancing. I feel a shift coming, but hoping to be able to channel it just a little until NaNo begins, so that I will be ready and eager to begin on a surge.
  • Poem: Claiming My Voice


Cake Mania

Cake Mania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s goin’ on..?


Priority Projects –


I am serving as a sponsor for this round.



Poetry (Photo credit: Kimli)

I am participating in the OctPo WriMo Challenge throughout October.

  • I have completed my poem each day.
  • No visits this time, as I am deep into NaNo prep.
  • Hoping to work at least a few in over the next days.


I will be participating in NaNoWriMo throughout November, writing at least 50,000 words of another novel in my Truebornseries, King of Infinite Space.

  • I’ve made some big decisions on this goal. Exciting ones!
  • The WIP is going to change. For the first time, I am going to write independent of the fanfic elements, but in a way that will still fit with them if they are paired.


The new WIP title is Sima Garo Provides. It will tell Jeniah’s perspective of a major invasion and threat to her people and the world they belong to, and her reunion with her Severed Solemate.

  • I’ve begun planning – a basic structure, not details. I’ve called myself a pantser, but in truth, I am a discoverer, and I think this will help me to at last truly feel I know Jeniah.
  • I have also begun planning in a general sense. I have always liked to have the shape of a book in mind, and I’ve found a workable way to do this. I’m not sure I’ll complete the process before NaNo starts, but the process is revealing more of the story with each addition, so I will get as far as I am able, and might continue after the challenge begins.


Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse, NJ

Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse, NJ (Photo credit: hatchski)

I will be answering a rather embarrassing backlog of blog comments that have, in some cases, waited for months.

  • I will be answering comments atshanjeniah on Mondays and Thursdays, as long as that provides the best balance and timing for answering comments.
  • I caught up the comments at shanjeniah on schedule Monday.


  • I began addressing the waiting comments on The Unfettered Life, on Saturday, and will do this on an every other day basis until I have caught up.
  • Ramping up preparations for NaNo has meant a slowdown here.
  • I did answer several comments on Monday, and will use the same schedule as for shanjeniah until I feel more prepared or as though I have found my NaNo rhythm.


    National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills

    National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills (Photo credit: mySAPL)


New Fitness Goals – I will focus on eating something each time I am hungry (and getting protein and magnesium into every other time I eat). I will be active enough that I can always feel my body and muscles. I will add more fruits and vegetables to my diet, and be more attentive to how much water I am drinking.


Overall, I am feeling a little leaner, a little fitter, and my waist is tucking in leaving some matronly but better defined curves….this is big for me, because I am long-legged and short-bodied and voluptuous, and things have just kind of been sagging into one another for the past few months, at least. Seeing my waist again is making me want to dance more – and so I am!


  • Sunday – I did fairly well. Ate a salad, moved a little firewood, mellow hometending. A bit more water, and attentive to thirst and hunger.


  • Monday – Ate an apple and a banana. Also a few baby carrots, and cooked Asian vegetables in frozen sesame chicken dinner. Minimal hometending. Drove Subaru home – standard transmission driving is more physically active.


  • Tuesday – Another apple, frozen grapes (an everyday occurrence for me. Decided I want to go ahead and make the vegetarian lentil soup I’ve been planning for two weeks or more, and make my own pasta dishes rather than buying frozen. Added leeks, portobello caps, and frozen Asian veggies to the grocery list, as well as my favorite organic multi-grain cereal. Moderate hometending.


Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning (Photo credit: jspaw)

Short Term or Intermittent Projects:


New Projects:


Complete Logline Lesson reading, draft logline, and submit to class.

  • A week ago, I didn’t know what a logline is, and I am excited to learn, create, and then improve upon my creation. This will help me target my revisions for WIPs, and assist in future works as well.
  • I am now working through rewrites and clarifications with the class instructor. It is a process, and I am enjoying it.


Read existing segments, and write my portion of Write A Story With Me!

  • My segment has been written and submitted . I will share it when it is scheduled to be released.


Moving ahead with the Reporting Pages projects for both children..

  • My long-range goal, for the rest of this month, is to have enough material for each topic to construct the main body of the report, so that completing the reports does not conflict with my NaNo participation.
  • I have added more to Jeremiah’s Language Usage Page.
  • I have slowed on this project, as I focus more on planning for NaNo, my poetry and working on my logline.
  • I will be returning throughout the coming weeks – maybe one question for each 500 words of so of noveling would move both forward significantly without either completely taking over.

Revise and submit “Claiming My Passions”- WIP submission to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette .

  • Nothing on this for this time period.


Logs (lines are clothes lines)

Logs (lines are clothes lines) (Photo credit: aloha orangeneko)

What I’ve been reading…and watching!

Life, Death, and Gratitude -ROW Update #6

If you enjoy this post, and are so inclined, please leave something you are grateful for in the comments…I love knowing the little things that delight others.

Excerpt from July 25, 2012 75 Words entry…

I have been gearing up to write the flash fiction versions of the points for my Blood and Breath story arc. These will, I hope, form the basis for each chapter, with a built in sense of urgency due to their beginnings.

But today is July 25, and July 25 marks the end of Elijah’s Days.…the 12 days that encompassed the entire lifetime of our second child.

I have been living twice, at once, today. I am in the here and now – and I have sunk simultaneously nine years back in time, to the day in 2003 when our baby boy died….peacefully, without fanfare, simply slipping away forever beyond our reach….where we knew his soul had already gone….

A Pegacorn curled in her egg….

Today, here, live a girl who just turned 8 (a mere five days before Elijah’s Days commenced), a man who nearly died on the eve of his last birthday when a deer collided with his motorcycle, a boy who will be 11 in a bit more that five weeks, who was only 22 months old when his brother came and left so quickly, and who still carries his own memories of that time.

And me. In four days, I will be 43 years old.

My own day of birth is so close to my son’s day of death, that the two are inextricably linked in my soul; just as Annalise’s birthday, five days short of a year after that of the brother she never met, will always be inextricably bound up with his birth, and death….

If Elijah had lived, there would be no Annalise.

It’s been 8 years since she got here – and she is hugely here. She is a robust girl, interested in nature and genetics and anatomy and storytelling and fashion and horses and art…and a great many other things, as well…..

She is so very here, it’s hard to imagine a world or a life without her.

We would not be who we are, as a family.

I would not be who I am, as a parent….

Or as a woman.

There is a part of me that needed a daughter. Maybe always, maybe only after the traumatic experience of loving and letting go….of a newborn.

There is something in me that only awoke after I was the mother of a daughter….a part of me neither Jeremiah nor Jim have ever needed.

I think it’s the root of my femaleness, and hers; a way of embracing it, championing it, protecting it – without acting as though femaleness is superior to maleness.

Because, of course, it isn’t.

But neither is it worse…..

I have learned to let go of many many things since Elijah died, and I had little choice but to let him go, to let go too of the fantasy of a perfect and complete family…

As we were, three years ago….

We are a complete family, and yet we are not.

There is this fracture…..like the eight ribs that Jim fractured when he collided with the hard surface of the road, 100 feet from where he had been…

We’ve healed….we are healing, over and over, and yet that break remains.

A life was severed from us, and all the possibilities that life held.

Elijah lived only 12 days. The entirety of that life was spent in St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY. Most of that time was spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

There aren’t many memories to console ourselves with, to hang tightly to and treasure….

And maybe that’s a blessing. Maybe, in some sense, it is what forced us not to remain there, remembering and grieving, but to reach into our future, to remake our family, to remake our lives…

I have said, but seldom had it understood, that Elijah is the impetus behind our unschooling, although it was another five years before we even began to move in this direction.

Sadly, and perhaps unavoidably, considering where we began, we needed to live through several more years of controlling and forcing and punishing…..and those too-frequent outbursts of rage, directed at my children, that were the inheritance of my own childhood, by nurture and nature….

But, where I had accepted, before Elijah, that I needed to be in control in order to be a good parent, his death plunged me into a deeper place. I began to wonder why so much of mainstream parenting was about manipulating children to suit the adults “in charge”, and to wonder how this might tie in to people who see nothing wrong, as adults, in doing to their children the same things they KNEW were unfair, when they themselves were children.

Tiny Tiger, age 8 days.

I began to question…how does love laced with pain affect people? Are the people we call adults infallible? Are they always grown? Is surviving childhood enough? If my remaining children died tomorrow, what regrets would I have?

And those questions began to lead to a new and gentler way of being…..I am still learning, and growing….

And so, in some odd sense, so is Elijah….

 And now, for my ROW80 goals….

WIP Novels:

Trueborn Series

  • Trueborn:
  • Reread current rough drafts from 1998-9ish and 2000.
  • I am currently on Chapter Forty-Nine, page 196 of 240, still jotting notes and impressions as I reread.
  • Triage existing research.
  • I have begun moving the raw research to my work space, which I will be sharing with Jeremiah as he moves through his testing process. We’ll see if that means I wait to sort until later, or if we can work side-by side…
  • Blood and Breath:
  • Create a flash fiction piece for each story arc point.
  • I attempted to write the first flash fiction piece, and had trouble finding my opening point.
  • Instead, I wrote some sketchy backstory and plot elements. A few pieces that had not quite fit fell softly into place, and,when I begin to write again, I think I will find it far easier and truer.
  • Use Scrivener to compile into a pre-rough draft.
  • I am going to change this goal slightly. I like Scrivener, but, on more than one occasion, some of my files (files I know I saved) are not available to me, later.
  • I am therefore going to experiment with another program I have learned of, yWriter. It’s free, so I will explore it for this novel, and keep using Scrivener for Chameleon’s Dish, at least for now.
  • Chameleon’s Dish:
  • Finish inputting into Scrivener ( completed during break).
  • I did finish this – but fifteen chapters seem to have gone missing. I will be reinputting them as I edit them, and, if Scrivener loses them after that, I will stop using it.
  • Complete basic research based upon library books and websites; looking for information to enhance later digging and prevent hugely obvious gaffes).
  • My research reading has been going well.
  • Hamlet and Shakespeare: His Work and His World have been completed.
  • I am on page 120 of 128 in The Colonial Cookbook, and may copy several recipes to try later – tactile research, you might say, or fertile play.
  • I am on page 80 of 252 of Shakespeare’s England. I am reading for impressions rather than note-taking.
  • Experiment with removing Tisira’s story as a YA novel, with a potential optional add-on of the fanfic elements….not sure how this will work, exactly, but I think it might be the best approach to have something marketable without sacrificing my vision.
  • I think I have at least the beginnings of an idea on how to separate the stories, without losing the flavor of either, or of both, together.
  • I have begun, in a tiny way, to explore this, while re-inputting and editing the first scene, which involves only Tisira.

Jeremiah made himself three kinds of eggs!

Homeschool Administration Ad Infinitum….:

  • Standardized Test for Miah (due Sept.1).
  • On Tuesday, Jeremiah and I had a mom/son date, and bought his pencils and an electric pencil sharpener with a cord,
  • When we got home, Jeremiah set up his work area in my office…we will share the space so that he has a dedicated place to do the testing.
  • Wednesday evening, I ordered the PASS test – it is specifically designed for homeschoolers not familiar with taking tests, and will fit into our lives rather than causing stressful disruptions in it.
  • The test should be here by midweek next week. We have four weeks to complete it, so I am thinking we will start slowly, unless Miah wants to dive in.
  • IHIPs for both children (due four weeks after receipt of packet from school district).
  • The rough drafts of both IHIPs are completed.
  • I plan to let them rest while I return to the fourth quarter reports, and return to them when I finish the report drafts or want a break from them.
  • Begin setting up portfolios for both children – invite them to be a part of this process! =)
  • I took a few more photos, and sorted a bit more art for this project.
  • Relax, enjoy, learn, grow, laugh, and … BREATHE!
  • Check. Jeremiah and I enjoyed shopping together, doing a half-mile on the track at the Y (we had been planning on t’ai chi, but he wasn’t up to the newness of it, and I was a bit concerned about my knees. We had lunch at Bruegger’s, and thoroughly enjoyed our time.
  • Meanwhile, Jim took Annalise to my parents’ house, because my mother had stopped on the way home to tell Annalise she had a gift for her. They also enjoyed watching ChoBits together.
  • Both children are growing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This has created some turbulence and disequilibrium, which seem to have coincided with Elijah’s Days, and the ebb in my energy cycle….
  • We’re all doing what we can to ride the waves with as little soaking as possible, and this does seem to be a less threatening degree of turbulence than we’ve had before…
  • Last week’s creative torrents have slipped into this week’s mellower, more sedentary pastimes…but Miah cleaned the guinea’s cage and learned to use a compass (the kind for making circles; he already knew how to read a compass), while Annalise detangled her own hair, and took a solo road walk. There’s been reading, TV, and gaming – and lots and lots of connection and flowing conversation….and we are finalizing plans for their birthday party! =)

Pegacorn hatching…..


  • Continue reading books for Bookmark Break Challenge – aim for 7 in July, 8 in August, and 9 in September, but these targets will be flexible – summer is prime traveling time for the kids and I and we have things planned and others we’re considering.
  • I have decided to let go of the official challenge, but not the reading. I will just set my own parameters, and read what delights me.
  • I am at peace with this decision, and I am grateful the Challenge was there to get me reading.
  • Guerrilla Learning Completed.
  • The Mermaid Chair – Completed.
  • Container Gardening – page 120 of 256.
  • Shakespeare’s England – page 80 of 252.
  • Since I have decided to drop the challenge, I can count The Colonial Cookbook (cookbooks weren’t allowed in the challenge). I am on page 120 of 128.
  • I have completed 3 of 7 books for this month.
  • Read at least one book each month from my Kindle Cloud Reader, as a learning and experimenting process.
  • I am continuing on with The Digital Writer’s Guide to Blogging. I have completed 64% of this book.

Other Writing:

  • Play with flash fiction pieces as the mood strikes; aim for two submittable stories each month.
  • I played a bit more with my prologue scene (not sure it hasn’t left flash territory, though), and with the opening point for the Blood and Breath story arc, although I didn’t complete anything.
  • Play with essay ideas as desired; aim for three submittable essays each month.
  • I have written a few things in 750 Words that may eventually become essays.
  • I am still composting ideas, but I feel them bubbling up to the surface; stronger now, almost a boil…and they are winding their way into my fiction planning, too….
  • Use 750 Words for whatever – flash pieces, essays, venting, ranting, reports, book reviews, etc.
  • I played more with my prologue scene.
  • I made two exploratory efforts at Blood and Breath flash fiction.
  • Those attempts led to story stuff; and I have a deeper sense of the story than I did.
  • I wrote the beginning and ending passages for my last update.
  • I wrote a bit of a tribute to Elijah, on the anniversary of his death.

A future short order breakfast cook, perhaps?

  • Organizing/Tootling my Horn…
  • Choose a new notebook; input into Penzu.
  • Jeremiah chose my October/November 1999 Writing Practice Notebook.
  • I am on page 3 of 140.
  • Continue reading marketing and ebook publishing sites and articles.
  • I am in the midst of a marketing ebook (see above).
  • Draft a loose Mission Statement to guide me through the rest of the ROWnd, and carry me forward into the next.
  • More of this is surfacing from my deeps; I think I will be writing soon! =)
  • Set aside time each week to winnow email. Read items being saved for later reading, sort or dispose as indicated.
  • My Inbox is a bit full, right now, as I have been tending to other things and not reading much from there. But it is my intention to keep it under 50 messages, and there are still more businesses and sites I will be unsubscribing from as I fine-tune this tool.
  • Be bold and daring in commenting, sharing, and submitting. Declare myself, learn, grow, and sometimes do things that make me uncomfortable. Open and blossom!
  • Like so many of the other things here….I feel it coming, a grand upswell of daring and adventure. I don’t know yet what forms it will take, but I know that it will come, and I am quietly setting myself to flow into it when it arrives…

Pegacorn, hatched and celebrating life!

Celebrating Life!

  • Add some form of specific motion (t’ai chi, swimming, hiking, biking, skating, dancing, etc) to each week. Keep track of what, where, when, for how long, and how I felt during and after.
  • Monday was shopping with Miah, and walking and a bit of very light jogging on the Y track. It totaled half a mile, and, while my right knee caught several times, it was never the intensely painful locking it has been doing since May. I am looking forward to more time at the Y, hopefully helping the knee to recuperate.
  • I have done hometending and some weeding, and just a tiny bit of dancing.
  • Fill us all up with joy, and continue cultivating family peace.
  • I have been in an ebb phase, more inclined to quietness than exuberance. Still, the kids seem to be in a similar, hibernating place this week, so maybe that is the best energy to be having, right now.
  • The children have discovered that, if neither parent intervenes in their disputes, they can often work them out or just forget them. This has led to somewhat more conflict, but definitely more that they are resolving on their own, There is growth and deeper peace for us all in this, although it may take some time for both to equalize and absorb the new skills they are learning.
  • Spend time cleaning and beautifying my personal internal and external spaces each week.
  • I have worked some in my own room, and a little in my office.
  • I have gone deeper and more quietly into myself over the last days, as new things brew within me…
  • Embrace and be present in all my moments.
  • I am continuing to strive toward this goal, and I am seeing more grace, beauty, and sweetness in life…
  • Allow my emotions to be as they are. Practice expressing them calmly and reflectively.
  • The last few days have been calm and reflective for me in their nature. I am learning.
  • Tend kindly and sweetly to myself and others. =)
  • I have felt very tired, and maybe not as sweet as I might be. I am trying to make up for that when I can, and with the gift of my time and attention.

Annalise, then 5: Cameron, 9, and Jeremiah , 8.

So, it’s the day after the end of Elijah’s Days. The kids are in the midst of a South Park and Ruby Gloom session on Netflix.

I am bouncing between hometending, party organization, and reading, and writing.

The storms that were threatened…serious ones, with chances for tornadoes (not frequent, here, and we do not have a basement), have not yet arrived, although the hour or two before dark became progressively darker.

I am hugely pregnant with ideas and epiphanies, and, soon, I think, they will begin to break over me in crashing waves.

Annalise has an extremely wobbly top front tooth. Her milk teeth do not give up easily. The permanent tooth below is shoving it so far down and forward that we took to calling it Crazy Tooth two weeks ago.

We talked about the meanings of “imminent”, and “black market”, and Annalise and I discussed indexes, life in Shakespeare’s time, and colonial cooking.

We’ve discussed, the children and I, their guest list, party activities, and menu. The party will be next weekend, halfway between their birthdays, at an indoor play space they love, but which is a bit pricey to get to often.

When we come home, we will have my 12 year-old nephew, Cameron, who goes to school but wishes he didn’t, and who adds a “big brother figure” to our mix.

Ready for their close-ups!

Cam always wants to go to the state museum, and to the Y to swim. We’ve included him in other trips – to a local haunted house, to the neighborhood Aerosciences Museum, to our unschooling co-op, and to CMOST, which has a digital planetarium he loved.

Life will be swirly and maybe somewhat hectic, but largely in a good way…

So, just now, I am enjoying the lull…the quiet space of days between now and Sunday, when my own birthday will mark the figurative end of our July roller-coaster, and we begin moving outward into the world and bringing the world back in with us.

The lull before what is within me, building and growing, breaks wide open, and there is no cure for it but to write, and learn myself, and become, in the process, deeper and wider, so that there is always more awaiting its time to break loose, and more to be explored.

Hot , rumpled, and happy in Plymouth, MA, 2010

I am wrapped in a quiet type of gratitude –

  • for ebbs and flows,
  • for the taste of frozen grapes,
  • for Jeremiah making three types of eggs (sunny side up, over easy, and scrambled), just because he wanted to.
  • For the Pegafil (that’s a Pegacorn filly, of course – and a Pegacorn is a winged unicorn) who hatched in my backyard and asked me if I would own her.
  • For the many animals Lise sees in the clouds, and the tree that looks like a cascading firework.
  • For the fact that Jim took the car, and will be home before too long.
  • For the messy chaos of our lives, and the sweetness.
  • For all three of my children – the gloriously living, and the long-dead, who still lives on in my soul and makes me better.
  • For a dog who looks at me adoringly, and greets me each morning, shoving his nose up under my hands if I stop scratching his head too soon.
  • For the sound of guinea pigs purring.
  • For the sight of Margot the Manx out hunting at the edge of the brush that borders our yard, and the way she startles into perfect attentiveness when a young and foolish rabbit hops too close – but does not give chase.
  • For how she and the rabbit share a certain quality of shape and movement.
  • For a mind that stretches and a soul that delves, and the time for stretching and delving to unfold as they will.
  • For nights I stay up until past dawn, and mornings I wake to a peaceful and happy family who so often let me sleep.
  • For hot sweet coffee various people in this house are willing to bring me, because, while I love to drink it, I don’t love preparing it.
  • For good books that weave poignant stories, that engage my soul, and leave me weeping at dawn – silently, so I don’t wake the best friend softly snoring beside me….
  • For my chosen family, so far-flung, but so very much a part of my living.
  • For the growth of compassion, and the beginnings of being able to set to words something that I have longed and needed to say, but which must be said well, else not at all…
  • For the understanding that we each bring our own perceptions to the table, even when we don’t know it…
  • And for the much-needed, rejuvenating rain that has lately fallen on our parched little bit of earth….
  • And for all of you, reading this……

The Sweet Life! Annalise, 4, and Jeremiah, 7, after a trip to the New York State Museum.