************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adventuring Spirit - a New Way to See Myself

I’ve been listening to April Steele’s Imaginal Nurturing CDs. I wrote briefly about the first one, after hearing one track only once. I believe my evaluation of her CD may have come off as luke-warm at that time.

Since then, I’ve listened to the her CDs at least once a day for over two weeks. About the fourth time I listened to the first track, I began to feel something really new and unexpected.

All four tracks on both CDs are guided meditations.

In the first track, April begins by lulling me into a centered and quiet state. Next she has me create a place in which the meditation will take place. For the first one, this is a nursery – a room with a rocking chair and a bassinette. When that place is fully established in my mind, she has me walk to the bassinette and inside I find a tiny baby girl – a newborn.

This child, she says, represents my core. It is my inner child, but it is not the wounded child I’ve been working with for the last several years. This is the inner child as she was when she was new and perfect and untouched by the world.
Right there, that's a concept I'd never imagined before.

April continues to guide the listener through a nurturing session with this newborn. As I fell deeper into the meditation, I began to feel a connection to this newborn. I began to feel what it was like to love this tiny one, and all the time I knew that she was me. In addition, I felt what it was like to be that loved and wanted little one. I could imagine that I actually was being held and nurtured. Each time I listened to the meditation, these feelings grew stronger within me.

The second track of “I’m So Glad You’re Here” is another guided journey with this little one. Once again, I'm guided through a nurturing session with this baby that I once was.

The second CD is called, “Adventuring Spirit”. This one, in my opinion, is better than the first. For one thing, I found the music in the first CD somewhat distracting. It was soft and melodic and falls along the same lines as the Shaina Noll “Songs for the Inner Child” tracks. It was sweet baby music and there was nothing wrong with it, but I felt as if it pulled me somewhat out of my reverie as I listened to the meditation.

In Adventuring Spirit, the music is more subtly included. In addition, there are strategically placed times where the music is used as bilateral stimulation.

If you’re not familiar with this term – bilateral stimulation is what is used in EMDR and DNMS. Quite simply, it means that something is done to alternately stimulate one side of the brain and then the other. This kind of back and forth stimulation is thought to help people hang on to important messages while they’re working through issues. (Please, keep in mind, that is a simplified explanation given by someone who has experienced this in therapy but has never studied it.) As someone whose done this quite a bit, I belive that it's helpful in processing and then maintaining a sense of that processing over time.

During a few key points of the Adventuring Spirit meditations, the music plays first in the left speaker and then in the right in order to create the bilateral stimulation.
After listening to the first track on the second CD, all I could think was, “Wow.” In this one, I was guided to invent a play room of sorts. Within this playroom were a rocking chair, toys on toy shelves, and windows with light streaming in. I could see this so vividly in my mind. Now, the little one is a little older – a toddler, about a year or so old. I don’t want to give away all of April’s secrets, but during this track I really felt that connection to the little child I was. At a year old, I was old enough to have a personality, to decide what I wanted and liked and what I didn’t. I really developed a strong bond with the child – who represents my core self – and I felt myself as the child, growing in loving trust of the adult, who is also me.

In the DNMS process, I’ve learned to connect with parts of myself which we call the Resources. These Resources are made up of three parts – the Nurturer, the Protector and The Spiritual  Core Self.

Back when I first started working with my therapist, it was quite easy for me to imagine the nurturing side of me. I’m a mother. I've done some nurturing. It was equally easy to get a clear picture of the protective qualities inside me. I've had my share of maternal experiences in which I felt protective.

However, the “Spiritual Core Self” has been harder. I had no idea what my therapst meant by “core self." Even after I grew in understanding of what a core self we meant to be, I had a hard time believing I had a one. So, over time I developed a strong connection to Spirit, but it never felt like there was anything for that Spirit energy to connect TO.

Despite this issue with not being able to identify my core, the Resources have done a remarkable job of helping me re-raise the inner children C and I have been working with. I've felt as if I wasn't alone because I had the Resources to call on whenever I needed them. I never really expected the Resources to be any more than they've been for the last three years.

But... now it's changed.

Listening to these CDs, I know that core exists. I feel it - this person inside me who is ME. I feel her and know her and I’m coming to love her.

What a remarkable thing! Suddenly, I felt Spirit come into me and I was there to greet this presence.

My therapist wrote had this to say:
Your experience has been to see the self as separate from the Resources, but it is meant to bring all together as one self that includes Resources and child parts. The CD's seem to be helping you finish the integration we have been constantly moving toward more and more. Some people do not have the "self as separate from the Resources" experience that you have had. Possibly your DID way of surviving has enforced that separateness. The important thing is that, through DNMS and then the finishing touch of the CDs, you are getting the integration we all want for you.
So - I've been doing this "differently" all along. (I’m working very hard at not saying “wrong.") I’m glad I didn't know this before.
The reality - It’s all me.

I keep saying it and each time I’m amazed at how much I feel it. It’s all me – and – I love me. What a concept.

There is a fourth track - the second one on the Adventuring Spirit CD - which I have not yet heard.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Writing Exercise

This Sunday's weekly (well, almost weekly - I missed last week) writing assignment may be a little harder than the previous ones. At least, I found it to be more challenging. I'm anxious to see what you can do with it... I'll be posting the submissions along with my "solution" on Tuesday.

Here it is:

Think of a recent interaction you've had with someone else. It could be anyone from a family member to the person behind the cash register at the grocery store. Spend about ten minutes writing about the interaction from your point of view. Next, spend about ten minutes writing about the same interaction from the other person's point of view.

Obviously, you can't know everything the other person saw, felt, or thought, but trying to imagine it can bring up some interesting insights.

Good luck!


On a side note...

As I've geen working through my feelings about my son's "coming out" last weekend, so many feelings and thoughts have come up. I want to share this one with you: 

While driving in my car, a fun and happy song came on the radio. I don't know what it's called, but I may be able to find it and put up a link, later. Anyway, this song is what they call, "unplugged"  - no electric guitars or electronics involved. In fact, most of the music comes from a single vocalist and a ukulele, with a drum beat in the background.

The song was uplifting. It just made me smile to hear it, and as I thought about that, a sentence popped into my head. 

You can't play the blues on a ukulele. 

At first this seemed pretty funny. I actually laughed out loud, alone in my car. Then, I began to see a very profound meaning behind those absurd words, and so I will leave you with this:

We all have to be who we are in order to make the music we are meant to make. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Love?

I suppose I should have seen it coming, but parents tend to see their children in all their amazing pieces and sometimes the big picture eludes me in all my endeavors... so it came as a complete suprise to me when my eighteen-year-old son "came out" late Saturday night.

I was just heading to bed and he stopped me. He had been home for a week for Spring break and had apparently been planning to telling us all week and suddenly the week was up and he realized he was about to lose his chance.

My husband and I both looked at him and waited.

My son said, "You guys know I'm gay, right?"

Well... no. We did not know. If we had an inkling it was buried inside somewhere and we had not really looked at it.

We said no, we did not know. My husband hurried from the room and I followed him pretty quickly after giving my son a hug and telling him I loved him.

Upstairs my husband broke down and I got really scared. Of course I knew I would always accept my children no matter what, that they could never do anything or be anything that would change that, but the way my husband was sobbing I suddenly became terrified that he was not going to be able to accept this. I imagined a big rift in the family forming and I felt like I was going to fall in it.

It was a bad night. I was awake until five, long after my husband had managed to fall asleep. When the alarm went off at eight, there were jack-hammers in my head and my stomach was rolling like a pro-bowler's ball.

I came downstairs to find my son packing up the last of his things. My husband was bleary-eyed, but he didn't look as bad as I felt. Still, he was quieter than usual as he poured coffee into a travel mug in preparation to make the three hour drive to the university.

As I helped my son fold the last of his laundry, I was wondering if the fraternity he had joined in the fall was all gay. Does such a thing even exist? How would I feel about it if it was?

"So, how do the kids in your fraternity feel about this?" Right or not, I wasn't ready to put the label on him. I figured he'd know what I meant.

He said, "They're fine with it."

"What about your roommate?"

"He's fine."

"Is he gay?"


"Are you seeing anyone?"


It was starting to feel like an interrogation. I let it drop.

"Do you have your phone, computer, chargers?"

"Yes, yes, and... yes," he said as he checked.

"Your room key? Your wallet?" I asked, trying to remember all the things our kids have left behind on previous trips back to school.

He affirmed that he had everything and slung the big duffle bag over his broad shoulder. He is so tall and strong and clean-cut looking, so handsome, so easy-going and lovable... I tried to wrap my mind around the idea that there would never be any other women in his life. No children to smile up at me with his amazing smile... so many things he would never experience on the path he was on.

I hugged him tight and told him I loved him. "I'm so glad you told us. I'm so glad you are including us in your life."

He just smiled and nodded.

I watched the van back out of the garage - my husband and son sitting side-by-side, alike in so many ways.

A few hours later, my husband called.

"So, you dropped him off?"

"I took him out to eat first, but yeah. He's back at the frat."

"How was it?"

There was a long pause.

"It was okay. We had a chance to talk."

"I told him that we would love him no matter what. He said he never doubted that. Then I said I was going to give him one piece of unwarrented advice. I said, Don't pay so much attention to labels. Just be who you are."

For the first time since this whole thing had begun, my eyes teared up. I was blown away. I'm not sure I ever loved my husband more than in that moment.

Last night, I saw on facebook that my son changed his status to "In a relationship with...".

I clicked on the name of other boy. My son's face was there, on the profile picture, along with that of another kid.

Two boy-men trying to find their way...

The expressions on their faces were undeniably . They looked like any other eighteen-year-old boys who were in love for the first time....

It's a lot to take in.

Since this happened, I've told a few people and invariably I hear, I have gay friends, a gay cousin, an uncle... I've said this myself. I do have gay friends. My CoDA sponsor is gay. I have a cousin one year older than me who is gay. I have to say this is entirely different. This is my son, my wonderful amazing son and when I laid in bed awake all Saturday night I saw a million moments of him as a baby, a toddler, his first day of school, his little league games and I felt really angry that this new thing, this undeniable thing, was going to be a part of him forever. How many gay jokes have I heard in my lifetime? How many snickers and sneers? Damn it, I don't want anyone to judge him, ever!

It will be a harder path, for sure, with pitfalls and obstacles and difficult moments... but then again I haven't heard of any truly smooth life paths. All I've ever wanted was for my children to be happy, and at this moment in his life he does seem to be happy. He's in love and he is so very loved and seeing his father accept him exactly as he is has brought up a lot of loving feelings between us and really is there a bad kind of love?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Imaginal Nurturing - A Whole Other Kind of Inner Child Work

About a month ago, an intense inner struggle began. It was not really something new, but it was the beginning of the emergence of a new part of me. As always, when a new part begins to show up in my life it’s overwhelming and very unsettling. This particular part is still quite hidden,and there is some confusion about her age. There is another part that blocks her and keeps her from being seen and heard… and held.

The “held” piece was the most distressing to me. I didn’t understand why I had this intense feeling of wanting to be held and rocked like a small child. It was a seven-year-old part that first expressed this need but I think she was really reacting to a much younger part - the one who sits alone in a dark corner of my mind. I've come to know this lonely one as "The Rag Doll". 

At first, I had to get myself past some pretty strong blocks to even want to reach the Rag Doll. It’s been hard work and frustration has been the key emotion inside as this blocking part continues to build walls around the one in the corner.

I will likely have to write about this again later. It’s still so confusing in my mind that I really haven’t wanted to try to write about it very much. There are a thousand facets to this, it seems, and it turns over and over in my mind so fast that it makes me feel dizzy when I look too long. Trying to see this piece of me reminds me of spinning round and round when I was very young. After a while all I could see was a pattern of light then dark then light then dark and finally I would fall to the floor in complete confusion as to which way was up.  

Despite the fact that the Rag Doll still sits in the corner, alone, I have made some progress. At least I’m beginning to understand why I have not allowed myself to look in this corner. 

The one who guards her screams that this Rag Doll is not a real part at all. "It’s only a doll, only a dirty old rag doll, one nobody wanted anyway. Don’t even look at her,” she says, “she isn’t real!”

I’ve come to understand that the reason this part does not want me to see the “rag doll” as real is because of my mother’s amazing ability to turn a blind eye to what was going on in our house. If I acknowledge that this part is real, not just a dirty rag doll to be used and tossed in a corner, then I have to also acknowledge that my mother should have known, should have seen, should have been there for me. I can’t see this part as real because my mother didn’t see her as real. If I know then it seems she should have known too… so I can’t know.

Someone to whom I was confiding some of this suggested  a CD by a Canadian therapist named April Steele. The process she uses she calls, Imaginal Nurturing. The CD is called, “I’m So Glad You’re Here”. To read about it on her website, CLICK HERE.

My own take on it is that it is guided meditation which may lead me to self-acceptance and self-love by going all the way back to the baby I  was before life began to tell me who to be.

I ordered the CD but I wasn’t sure what to expect. This morning, I listened to it for the first time, and it was really a pretty powerful experience.

I know that I am easily drawn into hypnotic states and that I fall very deeply into meditation. Even so, I didn’t feel completely as if I was inside the first of the two guided meditations on the CD. I listened to it and focused on it and it was very gentle and relaxing to listen to, but it didn’t really bring me to the place inside that I sometimes can get to.

A short time into the second meditation, I had that floating feeling, almost as if I was dreaming. All my senses seemed awake and I was right there, in the safe place I created in my mind. A strong, calming sensation has stayed with me all day.

This is how I often feel when I walk out of my therapist's office after a DNMS session. It’s as if the part of my brain that is usually awake is in the background and other parts that I am not always aware of have moved to the front of the stage. However, it's different than a switch which comes on due to stress because while more than one "side of me" seems to be awake and aware, they are not vying for attention.

That’s about as close as I can come to describing it.

Right after I did the meditation, I felt a strong urge to pull out my markers and draw. I did this for a while, but I couldn’t seem to get the swirling images from my mind to the page. Nothing coherent would appear. I scrapped that drawing but I couldn't get over the feeling that I needed to create something to hang on to the changes that seemed to be going on inside me. I was not ready to write about it, so I perused images online until I found some that seemed to call to me. In photoshop I combined these images and then drew over them to create the image below.

I call it, “Connections” which is the first word that came to me when I had finished it.

I intend to listen to the CD every day for while because I expect that it may have a cumulative affect on me. I also ordered her second CD, "Adventuring Spirit." I believe the second one moves past the infant stage which the first CD focuses on and it also incorporates bilateral stimulation, which I expect will be much like that which C uses when we do EMDR or DNMS.

I've been looking for something like this for a while - something I can safely use between sessions to keep me feeling focussed and connected. I have so much hope for this CD but as C told me (when I said that to her a few days ago),

"As to the CD, it is not THE answer. Nothing is. It may give you some relief, bu it could also be misused as a way to hide out."

So, I'm very conscious of that. I am going to keep listening to it and keep in close contact with C (as always) and see where it takes me. She has told me she is willing to work with me, with the CD, so if that may be where this goes next.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oranges at the Hardware Store?

Last week, I had such a taste for oranges. I decided to buy some, so I drove to a hardware store. It appeared to be a well-stocked shop. All the shelves were full, but I looked all over the store and couldn't find any oranges.

Finally, I asked the man at the counter where they kept the oranges. You wouldn’t believe the look he gave me. It was like I was crazy, or something! I walked out of there feeling angry as well as pretty disappointed that I still didn't have any oranges.

A few days later, I was thinking some fresh squeezed orange juice would be a wonderful way to start my day. I decided to try again. I left my house with confidence that this time I would get what I needed.

When I walked into the hardware store, the man behind the counter gave me a tight-lipped look. He watched me suspiciously as I perused the aisles. I ignored him and continued to search for those oranges. Can you believe it? I could not find one orange anywhere in that store!

I was feeling nearly furious at this point. I went to the man to give him a piece of my mind but he just stared at me blankly as if he had no idea what I was talking about.

All that day and the next I wandered around my kitchen, turning up my nose at everything in the pantry and fridge. I opened a yogurt but I sure didn't enjoy it. All I really wanted was an orange. I stormed inwardly at the stupid man behind the counter, calling him every name I could think of. What was his problem, anyway? Why was he looking at me like I was crazy?

Then, yesterday, I went back to the hardware store again. I glanced around, seeing pliers, plumbers’ helpers, and every size nail one could imagine, but still no oranges. In a fit of rage I started tearing the place apart. I raged and rightfully so! All I wanted was one stinking orange and this guy wouldn’t give me even a segment!

As the policed pulled up, it finally dawned on me… This guy doesn’t have any oranges to sell. This kind of store simply does not carry oranges. It doesn’t mean it’s a shitty hardware store, only that they don’t carry oranges.


For over fifty years, I’ve been going to my mom in search of things she doesn’t have to give. There are other places I can go to get these needs met, so I think I'll stop going to the hardware store for oranges.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Writing Exercise Two - Submissions

 On Sunday I posted this image:

for Writing Exercise Two

The idea was to write (in any form) about the image. Three people submitted three very different responses. The one I wrote (at my writers' group about ten days ago) is posted last. From the dramatic to the humorous to mine - which in retrospect seems a little paranoid. I hope you had as much fun writing them as I did reading them.


The evening had left her with even more questions than when she'd left the house. She went with an open mind and actually felt calm. Was she attracted to him for his calm, gentle manner or because he reminded her of her father? She thought she'd had it all sorted out before, but after spending the evening having dinner with him, she was even more unsure of her feelings. In her dreams that night, she was waiting on the corner in the rain for him to pick her up. The car pulled up and the window rolled down and she burst into tears.

By Middle Child


Oh drat! My zip has stuck...again! Why does this always happen when I'm in a hurry? And no one is around to assist?

If only I could turn sufficiently to be able to get a good look at what's happening. It doesn't help, though...I can come up to the mirror as close as possible, I still can't see a damn thing. Even standing a little further away, doesn't help one iota!

Why can't we be like owls? They can turn their heads right around, without moving the rest of their bodies at all. That would be a great deal more helpful to me right now.

The more I tug, either up or down on this wretched zip, the more it stays stuck! This dress is far too pretty to cut myself free...I really don't want to have to do that at all, but I'm running out of time here! My flight leaves in less than two hours and I still have to get myself to the airport, through the 5 o'clock traffic. Drat! Why didn't I heed my intuition and not go to that ridiculous lunchtime function? Serves me right, wanting to get all dressed up to impress the other girls! What for? Who are they to me, anyway?

Guess I've learned my lesson the hard way, hey? Next time, I'll decline and focus on the things that are really important...like getting to the airport on time, so I can attend my parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary, on time!

What's that I hear? The doorbell? Oh, I can't believe my good fortune. Hopefully it will be someone I can explain my predicament to, without it coming across as some unlikely tale...I am, after all, a woman living alone! One hears all sorts of stories about needy women seducing the postman or plumber!

Best I head for the door... before my potential Good Samaritan decides no one's home! I definitely don't want to have to cut myself out of this dress!

by Desiree


(girl on right) I saw you. How could you. I knew all along it was you but I hoped it wasn't true.
(girl on left) what do you think you saw, nothing is what I will tell you. Nothing at all. I have nothing to hide.
(girl on right) Nothing to hide? Then what''s that?
(girl on left) What's what?
(girl on right) That bra you are hooking is mine sis - you are always taking my things, always.
(girl on left) ummm, ohhohoh,,ummm, ya. I grabbed it by mistake - sorry Sis.
(girl on right) 'whatever, just change and give it back to me, NOW.
(girl on left) k, k, geeze.....

By Gail


Whatever I do, you are always there, watching. You monitor the way I wash a dish or brush my teeth. You criticize my choice of shoes and the split ends on my uncut hair.

“Is that another gray? And another?”

I look harshly at the culprits in a magnified mirror.

“And what about that number on the scale?” you ask, accusingly.

I let you look for me because I don’t really want to know.

In every conversation, you are right behind my words.

“Tell him what you really think,” you coax, but then, “Too harsh! What will he think of you, now?”

Go away! Get out of my head! I’m tired of your intrusive presence. Let me be! I want to live my life without second guesses and reprimands; to feel present in my life. Instead, I wait for your permission and the pat on the head in the form of a peaceful moment or a good nights’ sleep.

I know who you really are. You may look like my father - angry tense and wild-eyed - and then take on the form of my mother – so needy with her brow furrowed in an eternal, perplexed frown – but really you are just me. In all my imperfection, you are just me. For once, just tell me that’s enough.

By Shen


I'll put up another, soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Writing Exercise Two

Before I get to the writing exercise, I want to ask if anyone else has watched the  TV show "The United States of Tara"? It is a fictional portrayal of a wife/mother with DID.

This program has been on for two seasons now, but I had never seen it before. I few nights ago I heard an ad that the entire second season of the show was available "On Demand" for free so I decided to check it out.

There are a lot of things that could be better researched in the program - some very dissappointing lazy writing in my opinion - and not all of them are about DID.

 For one thing, in an episode I watched last night there is a tornado coming (the show is set in Kansas). Since the creators of this program are on the West Coast, they have (obvoiusly) very little understanding about how tornadoes work. They were showing tornado warnings on TV for apparently hours before this "storm" hit - and each time they showed them it was sunny outside. Then the event itself went on for a long time and when they came out after the storm, it looked like a bomb had gone off, and the sun was shining again.

What they portrayed was much more like a hurricane than a tornado. For those who don't know, one generally has very little notice if a tornado is going to touch down nearby - if you get ten minutes you're lucky. Tornadoes don't usually come when the sun is shining. The distruction from a tornado is usually very localized - not spread for miles as they seemed to indicate. I suppose what they portrayed is possible but it would be a very uncommon event.

And then there's the DID issue. Tara's DID is not like mine, that's about all I can say for certain. She turns completely into other people, incuding a man and a famous therapist.

My understanding of DID -  from my own experience - is that it is not actually about developing a different "personality" or a whole new persona. For me, it is more like this:

I don't think I'm ever completely aware of all of my memories and experiences. Compartmentalized memories only exist for certain sides of me. So, when I am aware of one set of memories and experiences, I behave like a person who has only experienced those things. I am still behaving like me, but I am behaving like I would if only those experiences were real.

I can become very anxious, depressed, even suicidal, or very angry orcompletely calm depending on which aspects of my past I am aware of. What is most intense is when I begin to integrate these compartmentalized thoughts and have conflicting feelings and reactions. That's when it's hard to know who to "be" - but always it is me. Sometimes it may be me at age seven or me at age twelve or me that is maternal and has no concept of an abusive past or me who is completely wrapped up in the ugliest  memories... but it's always me.

I was being triggered some, last night, when Tara was having flashbacks to some event from early childhood which took place in a basement. I was reacting to her fear and the little glimpses of a small girl who was afraid and made to feel ashamed (even though we don't know what has caused the girl to feel this way, yet).

Despite the various issues I have with the program, I'm addicted to it and I can't even identify what it is about the show that is capturing me, yet.  If anyone has comments about this program, please feel free to leave those here as well. Maybe your thoughts will help me reach a more enlightened state as to what it is about this show that draws me in.


Writing Exercise Two

Last Sunday, I put up one of the writing exercises we did in my writer's group. If you'd like to see what the exercise and responses were last time, CLICK HERE.

As promised, here is another exercise for anyone who would like to take a brief intermission from life.

At our meeting last week, several images (which had been torn from magazine pages) were placed face down on the table. We chose one at random, and then wrote about the image for about twenty minutes.

Here is a scanned copy of what I saw when I turned the piece of paper over:

What does the image suggest to you? Write about the picture in any format you choose - poetry, short story, essay, emotional reaction, an event from the past that this reminds you of, random ramblings or even a rant... the choice is yours. The idea of this exercise (like most of the ones we do in my writer's group) is to open up to a freer way of writing. Let yourself go and put down whatever this reminds you of, then go back and change things around a bit if you want to. Sometimes I'm surprised by what comes out when I let myself write whatever pops into my head.

Post your writing in the comments.

I will be removing submissions from the comments and re-posting them along with what I wrote about the image in another post, on Tuesday. I look forward to reading what this image suggests to you and sharing it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Entries to Writing Exercise Number One

How lovely to have six responses to this first writing exercise. I really needed this distraction this week. I've been pulled into a dark corner (as is obvious in the drawing and what I later wrote in my last post "The Loved One") It's sometimes hard to get out.

The exercise was to write something - a poem, essay, short story, whatever - starting with the words

"J died" and ending with the words "an Oscar Statuette".

These are the random lines I drew at my writers' group last Saturday. I then had twenty minutes to come up with something.

Here are the entries, in the order in which I received them. There's is some humor  as well as some poignant moments - a wonderful variety of ways to get from A to B (or in this case, from J to O...)

Mine is on the bottom.

J died wearing the gown he designed for Elisabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. It wasn't the actual gown of course evidently he made one for himself. We found a closet full of duplicate gowns in his size. This was surprise to his family but not to his friends. I guess technically he wasn't a cross dresser because he never went out in public and reserved his runways shows to his tight lipped friends. In the shoebox marked Cleopatra we found an Oscar statuette.

By Gail:
J died. He was only eighteen. Actually he was more like 12 but in real time he was 18. A tragic life of sorts. Born still and revived. I think he saw Jesus. I am most sure he did. In his things there was a box and in it was an Oscar statuette.

By Desiree:
J died, broken-hearted. It had been his lifelong dream to win an Oscar, yet, although his performances were inspired, even brilliant at times, he was unable to secure a nomination. He came close to it on more than three occasions, but each time Fate stepped in and he found himself declined in the final run-up. His Mother, E had of course been his most valiant supporter and, just as his coffin was being carefully lowered into the freshly dug grave, she lent forward and, ever so gently placed an ornate box on the lid. Inside was her very own Oscar statuette.

By Ivory:
J died, as did A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I before him. The little girl stood straight and tall as she sang. Each letter the alphabet rang out clear and strong before fading into history as the next letter grew into perfect tone and cadence before it, too, dyed away.
When the little girl had finished her song, the small crowd stood and applauded as she smiled and curtsied, ever so slightly. She hated singing for her parent's dinner parties, but they would never know by the stellar performance she'd just given them. As she exited the dinner hall, the little girl imagined herself leaving the stage on Oscar night, flashing a smile and carrying an Oscar statuette.

By Middle Child:
J. died. It was a rainy night and his car slid off the road and into a ravine. When the police came to inform me, I was numb.
I made all the arrangements for the funeral and contacted all I thought should know.
The day of the funeral, I awoke feeling,...different. Better? When I was able to identify the feeling, I suppose I should have felt shame but I didn't. I realized I felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders!
I got dressed for the funeral and as a last touch, I smeared my mascara under my eyes and put on a black satin hat with a lace veil that dropped below my eyes.
As I had expected, the funeral home was packed. Everybody loved J. I stood by the casket feeling nothing as they passed by telling me how wonderful he was and how much he'd be missed. I dutifully dabbed at my eyes and sniffed now and then.
In the days that followed, I allowed friends and relatives to come and take something of his to remember him by. After a while people stopped coming to the house. I took all the rest of his possesions and placed them in the burn pile out back. When it was late and very dark I brought a bottle of whiskey and a chair. I lit the pile on fire. As the flames grew, my thoughts were calm. I did not keep any momento. Everyone loved him. They did not know what happened at home and I did not tell. He was such a good actor, fooling everyone. If there were such a category in life I would say he certainly would have recieved an Oscar Statuette.

By Norm Wotherspoon:
J died on stage every Saturday night
In the bright spotlight
Of the Metro stage;
The audience clapped, everyone could tell
That J always died incredibly well,
He was the coming star of the age.

By each new morn
J was brand-new born
As an actor with stars in his eyes;
Every new role came
With its chance of fame,
And the comforts that stardom buys.

Alas! The years flew past,
And his hopes were cast
To the winds of dreams forgotten;
In his heart he knew,
They would never come true,
Dreams unwound like a reel of cotton.

Until, one day,
While browsing E-Bay;
He bought something he’d never regret.
All his friends think it’s grand,
What he bought, second-hand,
An Oscar statuette.

And finally, mine:

J died in front of 478 people. We all sit, stunned.

A man coughs, signifying the end of our moment of silence. People stand and gather their coats and purses. A woman in front of me shakes a paper cup and gives the straw one last, noisy suck. Others grab mostly empty popcorn tubs, or kick them under their chairs. Slowly they begin to file out.

I remain in my seat, eyes focused on the dead man. His face is frozen in a ghastly grin. Slowly his cheeks and lips relax. He gazes back at me, deep shame in his eyes and a flush of anger rising to his cheeks.

"What are you looking at?" he screams at me.

We're completely alone now. I shake my head at him and stay silent. I want to tell him it's okay. I want to say, "I know you tried. I know what this was supposed to look like. You were close - so close..." but I can't lie. J's performance sucked like the vacuum of space and left about as little warmth in the room.

I should slip my arms in my coat. In my mind I see myself walking out the door, pulling my collar up against the wind. I could enter the safety of my car – but I’m frozen in my seat. Outside, the real world, noisy and messy, awaits us both but we stare across the rows of seats at each other, silent, unmoving.

His face contorts again as tears begin to roll through the creases of his cheeks and nose.

Finally, I find the strength to move. I rise from my seat and walk towards the stage. I step up to where he stands. Now he is not an actor, but a man, and as my arms wrap around him my embrace becomes his Oscar Statuette.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Writing Exercise Number One

There are so many things going on at once - but I guess that's how life is. I keep thinking of things I want to post and then realizing I don't have time to put together any of it. So, briefly, something to think about.

I was sitting in traffic, heading to my writer's group this morning. I love this group and was very much looking forward to the writing exercises we would do. This is something new. We decided earlier this winter to use the first Saturday of the month to write. One member of the group comes up with writing prompts and we all write from that jumping off point for about twenty minutes, then we read aloud what we've written.

The first time we did this was a month ago and I was very nervous about the reading aloud part. It turned out that it was very cathartic to write something and then immediately share it, and the things others wrote were really extraordinary. The voice of each writer was just as present in their first draft pieces as ever - maybe more so - but the emotion and power seemed stronger in unedited words which came from a moment, from the heart.

I want to share some of these exercises here. I've decided to do a Sunday series for the next several weeks in which I will post one of the exercises. Anyone who wants to try the exercise can post their writing in the comments here. I will repost any submitted comments along with what I wrote on the following Tuesday. The writing should be spontaneous - just whatever comes to mind from the prompt provided.

Here is the first one.
Today we drew from a bag of prompted first and last lines. I'd like to know what you come up with from these same prompts.

The first words of your essay, poem, letter (whatever you want) should be:

J died

The last words should be:

an Oscar statuette

I admit, I was not thrilled with this last line as I don't watch the Oscars or really have much interest in awards of any kind. Regardless, I was pretty happy with the very short story I wrote using these two lines. I hope I get the chance to read yours.

I want to leave you with what happened next on that drive to my writer's group this morning. I was sitting in traffic and as I very slowly edged up to an intersection, I saw two men with signs and buckets collecting money for charity. The one on my side of the street was a large black man who looked to be in his fifties. He had a kind, round face but a somewhat defeated expression as he walked towards one seemingly oblvious driver after another.

I lowered my winder and scooped a handful of change from the cup holder on my armrest.

His face lit up. He waked towards me with a smile and held out his bucket.

I said, "All I have is some change."

He said, "Change is exactly what we need."

I drove on feeling like that was what I was meant to hear today. I hope it is helpful to you, as well.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.