Last Wednesday morning, high on chocolate-raspberry coffee and too many sugary macaroons, I made my way to the first fall session of Tinderbox — 8 weekly workshops facilitated by Kimberly Brock. Of course I’d entered the wrong address into my GPS and ended up a few miles away, but, as per my usual M.O., I didn't panic or freak the hell out. I quickly entered the correct address and reached Broadwell Cottage on time. When I walked into the sun-dappled meeting room, a sense of serenity and acceptance washed over me. I was home, and these were my people.
My journey to Broadwell Cottage for the spring session wasn’t so bright and breezy. You see, driving scares the bejesus out of me. My overactive brain thinks I’ll lose control of my car, which will cause it to flip, and I’ll die from the resulting injuries. Morbid, I know.
Four years ago, after my family and I moved from Ireland to Atlanta, I got my first ever driver’s license at the age of 37. Over the following months, I gained some confidence on the roads, but not nearly enough to drive outside of a two-mile radius. For three years, there was no reason why I needed to venture outside of my safety circle. I was a stay-at-home mom who wrote when time allowed. I had my family, my friends, a Kroger, a Super Target, and three Starbucks nearby. All of my needs were met, weren’t they?
Nope. In May 2014, I took the route into self-publishing. A thrilling ride if ever there was one. By Christmas, I was burnt out. Self-doubt wrapped its spindly hands around my creative cup and filled it with loathing. Idiot. You think you’re a writer? Loser. You had to self-publish because no one else wanted you. Phony. You’re so ashamed of your writing; you hide behind a pen name.
Was I really all of those things? My writing friends, who, at the time, were mostly online, would say no. But my increasing uncertainty urged me to find real-life people who also fought in the self-doubt trenches. People who would understand what it’s like to have a brain wired to create and who might know how to conquer crippling fear. But here’s the thing, I run from new people and unknown environments like Wile E. Coyote’s snapping at my tail with metal teeth.
Curious about writing workshops and groups in my zip code, I asked my all-knowing friend Google to find some. A few clicks later, I found Kimberly’s blog. Her post What We Wish For touched me deeply. Here was a lady who spoke my language. The Tinderbox workshops sounded like the safe, creative space I needed. Hallelujah, right? Not so fast. A map search showed me the workshops would take place twenty minutes away from my house. It might as well have been in New York. No way no how could I drive there. I’d need an oxygen tank just to drive past Kroger—a whole 1.7 miles away.
But every few days, I’d browse through the Tinderbox website and then do a virtual drive of the route. I even had my husband drive us there so I could see how busy the roads were. But no matter how easy it seemed, I just couldn’t do it. After a particularly frustrating day where writing words was akin to wrestling adult alligators, I got a rush of the “screw its” and booked the workshop. No matter what it took, I was going.
The night before, I didn’t sleep.
The morning of, I didn’t eat.
I programmed the GPS and set out an hour earlier than needed. Do you think I got lost? Yup. Forty minutes into my drive, I pulled into a gas station in God-knows-where Atlanta. My hands shook so much that a kind trucker, who in my memory looks like Santa Claus, had to pump my gas. Tears filled my eyes, and I wanted to go home. But I stopped myself. If I didn’t make it to Broadwell Cottage, I would never get over my fear of driving, and I would forever hide behind my laptop screen afraid to reveal my true creative self to others.
Eventually, after several more wrong turns and many crumpled tear-filled tissues, I made it. I sat in my car relieved I was there, but terrified about walking through the doors. Again, self-doubt delighted in whispering all of the things I couldn’t do. There was no point going in because I wasn’t a writer. I was a wannabe. The voice of doom and gloom was right. Giving in, I turned the ignition. But then anger kicked my backside and pretty much kicked me out of the car.
I shuffled into the meeting room and sat by the door in case I needed a quick escape. I didn’t. On a beautiful Wednesday morning at the beginning of spring, I met five ladies who welcomed me with open arms and listened to my special kind of cray-cray without judgment. Over the following eight weeks, we cried, we created, we celebrated each other’s work, and we chatted like old friends. Self-doubt and the fear of driving will always be there, it’s who I am, but because I took a chance and went way out of my comfort zone, I reclaimed my creative joy.
My first drive to Tinderbox is very much like the creative journey many of us take. Moving towards your goals will be scary, at times petrifying, and several wrong turns may take you out of the way, but if you persevere, you’ll get there and what’s waiting at the other end will be worth every bump in the road.
Today, I'm a contributor over on the wonderful writers site, Writers in the Storm. If you haven't already found this resource, go check them out!
I'm talking about being in the in-between spaces and how hard that can be for writers - for anyone! You might be surprised by my conclusions...
I'd love to hear your thoughts on writing from the Blue World! Leave me a comment.
Here's the link for the post. You, Storytellers of the Blue World
By Kathleen Craft Boehmig
Helping a friend with some light hauling at his half-built and still-unplumbed cabin in North Georgia last week, I found myself needing a rest room. Fortunately for me, there was a Port-a-Potty on site.
Inside it I noticed a bit of chaff on the floor, like a tuft of grass. Or was it? I peered at it more closely. It wasn’t grass. It was the tiny skeleton of a baby bird. I saw a bit of organic residue several inches above it on the interior wall. I figured the Port-a-Potty was stored on its side when the little creature fell in and expired. Poor thing…what a stunningly brief, ignominious life. I wondered if it ever saw the light of day. Did it suffer an injury when it fell, or did it starve to death? Did it break a wing and die in pain, or of heat or dehydration on a hot summer day? Did its mother flutter outside, frantically calling and trying to get to it? How long had it cheeped for her, before succumbing to death? How deeply do baby birds feel pain, and fear?
My Louie, a Green-cheeked Conure (a small green parrot) is very loving and affectionate. He sometimes gets pissed off, but doesn’t hold grudges. He loves baths and head-scratches, and looks to me for comfort and security. He lavishes me with kisses, chuckles frequently, loves to snuggle and play, and screeches demandingly, the little sausage—when I leave the room without him. When I share a snack with him he becomes territorial about it. He tries to drag my teacup away so he can finish my decaf Earl Grey. Our dog, a pit-lab mix, is terrified of him since Louie lunges at him at every opportunity, jealous of my attention.
Louie also talks. He says hello when my phone rings. He asks, “Do you want something good?” and makes smacking noises when he’s hungry. He is a funny, rambunctious, playful creature who feels the usual emotions: love, fear, anger, loneliness, sadness, contentment, happiness. He is six ounces of badass, bodacious love. Approximately twelve parrots have owned me during my lifetime, and they have all, despite their unique personalities, shared similar characteristics.
I don’t know how the intelligence of other wild birds measures against that of parrots…but I know that any baby will cry for its mother, and most mothers diligently care for their babies. It’s instinctive. Love is the default emotion of the universe, I believe. Even for a small morsel of life like a baby bird, love and need exist.
We all need love…and we all face death. We will all fall from our earthly nests into the eternal Port-a-Potty. We may feel pain, loneliness and despair toward the end. We may cry out, and there may be no evident answer. Or we may be well-loved and content by then, ready to go. We will leave our own organic residue; but our essence will go back where it came from, no longer isolated from Source. I believe we will all, someday, fly back to that big nest in the sky, the source of our awareness, where love’s origin dwells.
So what is life for? What was the purpose of that baby bird’s life? Why was it born, just to experience death after, perhaps, just moments? What good did that little life do? Did it have meaning, other than to prompt me to ask the question? How important is that, anyway?
And what of our lives? What difference does it make whether we are wild creatures who die almost immediately after birth, or human beings capable of abstract thought who may live over 100 years? Some birds live almost that long…and some, like the deceased baby, only briefly. Are their lives less important than ours? Not to them. And, I contend, not to the universe. In the vast spectrum of eternity, our lives here are just a blip, like that baby bird’s short span.
Sometimes I wonder, what’s the use of even pondering these issues? No mortals know the answers. As Robert Frost said: “We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”
My best guess at this point is that we, as particles of Source, enable the universe to grow, play and have new experiences. Through our lives, through our differing levels of engagement with the Great Mystery, the universe lives in realms of seen and unseen patterns in its elegant sacred golden-mean geometry, its ever-reaching fractals and exquisite beauty. At some point most of us will be the needy baby, the caring parent, the playful adult. Those of us who are lucky enough may experience being wise old sages. But I don’t think our worth varies by how close we come to answering philosophical questions, or solving the problems of life on Earth. I believe we are here to engage the issues, though; and that our level of engagement, in spite of or because of our struggles, can determine character.
I couldn’t bear leaving the little skeleton in its vast, cold, blue plastic coffin. I brought it home, and buried it gently in the soft dirt of our woods where the Lenten roses are blooming. When I get back to Source, maybe I’ll get a snuggle with the soul of the fallen baby bird whose remains I found.
But for now my Louie, ever engaged, is demanding my attention. It’s a mild day, and I’m sitting outside next to the Lenten roses with Louie on my shoulder.
“Mom!” he says. “You’re a silly bird!”
He kisses my cheek, rubs his little face against mine and begs for a head scratch. It’s a sign of love…from the universe.
What signs from the universe have you experienced lately?
What comforts you in grief?
What inspires you to experience meaning and be present each day?
BIO: KATHLEEN cRAFT bOEHMIG
I’m an Atlanta native married to another one, and am the mother of a brilliant, kind, funny guy (like his dad) who’s a college freshman. A small green parrot and a crazy dog are my owners. I love the ocean, the mountains, Long Island Iced Tea, reading, Andy Griffith reruns and Jeopardy, horses, birds, and biking our greenway. I will never be completely organized. Massages and pedicures make me want to be a better person.
I love art: painting, sculpture, assemblage, mosaics, jewelry. Some of my art can be seen on my facebook page, Sparrow’s Song Art.
I also love writing, and have served as a board member of the Atlanta Writers Club, have appeared on the Writers Radio Show, and taught at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference. I have also taught memoir at Spruill Center for the Arts, and was a feature contributor in North Fulton Magazine. My pieces have appeared in O, Georgia!, Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, Sacred Stones, Lessons Learned, and North Point of View.
When Tinderbox Writers Workshop began last year, I posted this blog. We are almost three sessions into our second series and I thought I'd share it again, as a testimony and an intention and an expression of gratitude for all the good that can rise from the ashes of our lives.
And most of all, as an invitation.
There's a place for you in our circle.
WHAT WE WISH FOR
My life broke.That’s the best way I know to explain the past nine months. I’d been going ninety to nothing, publishing my first novel, loving my family hard, raising three kids, each in a different school, managing aging parents, aging pets, peanut allergies and a husband whose work kept him out of town for a good portion of every week. And I was managing. I was moving. I was shaking. I was paying attention. I was doing everything right. And then…I woke up one day and the people in my life started dropping like flies.
In truth, no one actually died, but every person who was significant went into their own personal crisis and I was the last (wo)man standing. I’d been a celebrated teacher, an award winning author, a beloved wife and mother and daughter – that didn’t stop the breaking. It was more than I could manage. And it was nothing I could mend. As the ones I loved struggled, I felt my foundations tremble. My hands were completely tied, my heart was broken, and I’d never been so alone. So here’s what I did: I went into my closet and shut the door.
The thing is, I love my closet. It is my nest. It is my metaphorical womb. It is my most favorite place. And because I have my closet, all my life I’ve been a person who persists. I’ve been a survivor. I’ve been the person who is grounded. I’ve been able to turn inward and find what I need because I lived a rich, creative, thoughtful, faith-filled life. I believe in miracles. I believe in magic. I like to act like I’m all rational and worldly, but truthfully I am a die-hard optimist in a pessimist’s clothing. But that day in January when I went into my closet and I shut my eyes and went to gather my strength and belief in good, good things, a terrible thing happened.
I was empty. Depleted. Exhausted. Where I’d always been able to come out of that closet refreshed, with a plan, ready to take on what came next, suddenly I couldn’t even bring myself to open the door. And I kept thinking the same things over and over. Mostly, I’d catch myself thinking one thing, an unfinished thought: I wish…I wish…I wish…
And when I turned to my work, the thing I thought would get me out of my mess – writing – I discovered every creative person’s nightmare. I was blocked to the bone.
What happened to me? Life broke. And the pieces created a great big dam.
For the past few months I’ve been floundering and questioning. I’ve been wandering around, blinking like a mole, picking up pieces and tucking them into my pockets. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping because it’s hard to get out of bed. I’ve been eating lots of carbs and reading lots of books and taking care of my house and not answering the phone at all. I’ve been fighting cynicism. I’ve been afraid. Of so many things. Of having nothing special to offer the world. Of being ordinary. Of days passing and watching them go by without being inspired…or inspiring someone else.
Friends and family have watched me, uneasy. It’s scary for them, too, I think. They’ve never seen me…well…stop. I mean really, seriously STOP. But I did. And something new started to happen. I realized this: creativity – the source that has always been the soul-restoring energy available to me in that nest-closet of mine – is like any other thing on this earth that FLOWS. It needs a clear path.
If I wanted to continue to survive – and especially to come back from trauma - it was going to be up to me to learn how to take care of my creativity. And that started with taking care of myself. I started by taking care of myself in all the extravagant, thoughtful ways I wished to be cared for. (Which also gave me the renewed strength to care for those around me.) I worked in ways that felt good instead of exhausting, clearing a path for my creativity. (I learned to say no to a lot of things, too. I’ve never had a problem saying no. But I did have a problem saying yes to the wrong things.) And then I allowed myself to enjoy all the unexpected ways that recovering my creativity brought well-being and purpose and joy back into my life.
Sound like I’ve gone all Oprah? Well. Not really. Half the time I’m still guessing. I don’t live in Chicago or know everything. I know very little, actually. And I like it that way. I like that I’m learning from so many women who are also on this path. So when I started looking around at the women in my life, the girls I see at the grocery store or the school meetings, ladies who sit beside me at church or on airplanes, or book clubs, I started to notice so many of them are whispering things to me.
I’m lost. I’m burnt out. I don’t even have time. I don’t even remember myself. And…I wish. LOTS of I wish.
Tinderbox Writers Workshop came out of I WISH.
I’m calling it a writers workshop, but really it’s a creativity workshop. I believe stories are the surest path to our source - our hearts. Stories teach us how to speak our truth. Stories change everything. Stories teach us about our wishes. Stories are the home of every creative effort, no matter the form.
I’m a believer that if you want something in life, you should create it. And then you should share it. I wished I could create the life I wanted each day. I wished I could create a space for women who are blocked, who are stuck, who are silenced or depleted or just searching for a safe place to discover or recover or express their gifts. I wished for a space for women to share and explore and CREATE and celebrate their stories and voices. I wished to nurture my own soul and the souls of sisters and daughters. I wished for a sanctuary where women can learn to live fully, joyously, passionately – lives lived from our creative core.
I hope you’ll join me.
Discover your story. Recover your voice. What do you wish?
Author Rona Simmons has done something that has set the bar impossibly high for me. She wrote a blog and told the world about the little stuff I try to do as I come to the page every day. And whether she knows it or not, she’s encouraged me with this piece. Rona poked me with a stick and whispered to keep at it. And I hope what she’s written will be an encouragement to a TON of other, better, more prolific or struggling or beginning writers out there. Those who pray for their publishing contracts to come through or those who go without recognition. Those who blog and those who journal. Those who want to see their words in print and those who write in secret to heal a broken heart. For all of us, for the million things we do to help along a friend or a sister or a mama who is trying to find the way to tell her stories.
What Rona says loud and clear in this blog (not just in her post about me but all the women she writes about), is this:
What you’re doing, it matters.
(If you want to read her post, click here for the link.)
****AND, I'd like to bring some attention to a post she ran a few weeks before this one, featuring the lovely and brilliant Soniah Kamal! Click here to read that piece - A Suitable Woman.****
Meeting Rona has been one of the gifts of my writing this year. I hope you’ll all rush out and pick up a couple of copies of her books. Drop by her website and see what she’s up to. She’s inspiring!
To make it easy, here are her links:
book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQBxj_gdb7w
November brings lots of tradition, memory, and emotion with it. Some of us embrace autumn and the coming holiday season and some of us fear it. This guest post is from a blogger I've enjoyed reading and getting to know over the last few weeks on her blog, I MIGHT NEED A NAP, Mama said they make me nicer. When she posted this original poem, I really wanted to share it with you here and she graciously agreed to allow me to post it to the Tinderbox Society Blog. The language is beautiful and poignant. So here's a gift from Tara Joyner Haussler.
Tara would love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts on November in the comments.
And so November begins,
pushing the door open gently
and entering, smelling of cinnamon
and cloves and things roasted over the fire,
bringing all of her
stories and memories
and celebrations in with her
The birthdays and the changing leaves
drifting down to the earth that
no longer welcomes bare feet to
wander and scamper about
The magnificent sunsets and
the brisk breezes that bring
out the scarves and hats
and mittens and fires in the hearth
November plays across the days
like a haunting melody,
familiar and comforting,
always known and sometimes sad,
as the days grow darker and the memories
remind us of the Novembers of years gone by
and how different they have become
Comforted by the rhythm of the seasons
I welcome her in
and offer her a place to be
and while I love her and all her colors
some of her stories are hard
and don’t seem to get any easier with the passage of time
Love etched in my heart
our stories intertwined
names etched in stone,
the echo of laughter and
the silence of last breaths,
tears of welcome and tears
of letting go
the tears of remembering
The pages of the calendar will turn
and the days of November will pass
and she will take her leave as
demurely as she came in,
backing out and pulling the door to
And I will close her story
and whisper goodbye
until we meet again
Tara Joyner Haussler is a Georgia girl, a connoisseur of peaches, and a lover of long naps and hot buttered grits. A graduate of Wesleyan College, she is a Mama to the Zoo Crew--one in college and two whom she homeschools and learns from every day. Tara's best memories are of the places that built her--home, Granny's farm, and her Great Aunts' houses. She is a writer who shares the stories of her people--past and present. Her favorite things in life are books, her family, a good cup of coffee, crocheted and knitted blankets she rescues from thrift shops, books, comfy socks, a good pair of blue jeans and boots, listening to folks' stories--and books. Tara has a special place in her heart for those who have no roof over their heads, foster children aging out of the system, and those who need a safe place to grieve. Her dream is to become a superhero with the superpowers to right all of these wrongs. Until then, she continues to share her stories through written and spoken word--in the hopes that we can see how much we have in common, appreciate the beauty in our differences, and just love on each other. In addition to writing, Tara serves as chief cook, bottle washer, teacher, headmaster, artist, laundry folder, and porch sitter. When she grows up, Tara wants to be.....well, she's still working on that. In the mean time, the writing and porch sitting are suiting her just fine.
Find Tara's blog here: http://imightneedanap.com/
Connect with Tara on Facebook, here.
Today's guest post is one of my favorites so far and the author is one of my favorites as well. Paige Crutcher is taking a leap with her writing and this week - TOMORROW!! - her debut novel launches! You can read her fabulous series for Publisher's Weekly here!
And you can pre-order her novel, THE ODYSSEY OF FALLING, here!
I'm so grateful to know her as my friend and honored to share her work with you!
WELCOME, Paige and leave a comment to congratulate her on going for her dreams!!
I’m pretty sure writing, and being creative, have helped me maintain my (somewhat) relative sanity all my life. The thing I know for sure about life is this; it’s mother trucking hard. What the Mamas & the Papas sang – about there being a season for everything – is true, and also only the tip of the slippery/sloppery ice burg.
When you’re a creative being, I believe there are often seasons (like sadness, anxiety, ennui) tucked inside the bigger seasons (like joy, productivity, shiny happy newness), and like one trunked up ice cream cake, the layers can make life feel utterly delicious…or like someone threw together a whole lot of flavors and ended up with a sticky mess.
Sometimes “well-being” feels unattainable. Like it’s a mystical unicorn floating on an island of Skittle-eating ligers. You can dream it up, pour out a handful of Skittles to bribe the animals into submission, but you can’t actually get there. Because there doesn’t exist. Not today.
When I’m feeling broken in this “the world is made of suck and all the curse words imaginable” way, I always turn to story.
There has been research done on the de-stressing properties of reading (which I still don’t entirely get the need for because I’m pretty sure LeVar Burton made it clear decades ago that reading = magic, but whatever) and story is proven to be a relaxant. Less calories than vodka, better for the liver than Xanax, and it has the power to change the very fiber of the reader’s being. Story, man! It’s amazing.
I mean think about it – how often has reading a great book changed who you are? How you think, what you dream, and the limitations you set (or rather release) from yourself. Reading increases my general well-being. Some days it feels like it may well save my life.
Writing, on the other hand, feeds my soul.
It’s a way to linger over moments that are pressed into the fiber of my being like brightly colored patches on a beloved pair of faded blue jeans. Moments like falling in love, discovering hope, having adventure, and being free. Because when I write, the rules are gone. As a rebelliously minded person, being able to craft worlds within words is the most freeing thing I can do.
Creativity is a tool. It helps me dig out from the suffocating amount of anxiety that tries to trick me into doubting myself. It helps me blend the colors of my world from something overwhelming into something beautiful, like when I lift a paintbrush and bring color onto a blank canvas. In the kitchen it lends to harmony as I attempt (and let’s be real, often fail) at baking a new recipe, or throwing together a Mr. Wizard-esque casserole.
I’m a mess, but aren’t we all? As flawed human beings (or rather, spiritual beings attempting to live a human life) we’re so different from one another. We seek to matter, to connect. When I’m at my best, I’m committed to showing up to my yoga mat, to being in conversation with others, encouraging an old friend or hearing a new one’s story.
When I’m struggling the most, I’m in bed watching my twelfth hour of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dawson’s Creek, wondering what addictive substance they put into Baked Cheetos that has me eating the entire large sized bag, while shaming myself over how I’m not eating organic Cheetos, because somehow the preservatives make me feel even more of a failure.
Life. It’s not a game to win at; it’s a journey to undertake.
I think part of being a creative person means feeling emotions strongly. I believe the other side of the coin should be giving yourself permission to experience what you’re going through and not shut it off. To sit in the emotion, and feel what you are going through so you can deal with whatever it is that has you stuck, and then heal as you move forward.
If it matters in a way you can’t shake, then you can go one step further and share your experience, write it into a tale, craft it into a song, paint it onto a canvas.
Because writers write, creatives create, and story is always waiting.
Paige writes, reads, rocks out her yoga mat, reports for Publishers Weekly, and writes YA. She plays well with words and others, and when she's not reporting, she's daydream excessively before putting words on the page. Sometimes they’re jibberish, sometimes they’re honest in a way that makes her feel a little awkweird, but they always come with a message of hope and love.
More often than not, she's got her nose in a book (occasionally while inside her book fort), because inside story is where she knows the magic waits.
But you don’t have to take her word for it.
Learn more about Paige at her website: http://paigecrutcher.com/ Or find her on Facebook here and Twitter here.
Today's guest post for Tinderbox Society is from Rena Blain, a self-proclaimed newborn writer! She joined the 8 week Tinderbox Workshop fall series two weeks ago and...
THIS is her first blog post -- EVER!
I'm so happy to share it here. I hope you'll read and share this sweet story. And leave Rena a comment or two, to welcome her and her voice to the party!
THE COAT RACK
One day Blue Coat had a hole that needed to be patched. She came to Coat Rack and asked if she could hang on the rack’s hook. Coat Rack, being made of strong Oak, said, “Sure, I would love to help.”
As Blue started to hang, Coat Rack thought to herself, “Her hole wasn’t that big and I really want to help people.”
Then came Red Coat, who had a torn sleeve. She asked if Coat Rack knew how to mend it. Coat Rack stated, “Hmmm, I am sure we can figure it out. Hang here while we look at this.”
As Red started to hang, Coat Rack thought, “Whoa, now I can’t see on either side of me. But that’s okay, it’s only temporary.”
In the meanwhile, Yellow Coat, with a broken zipper, came and hung herself upon Coat Rack’s mighty oak arm all on its own.
“Ouch” yelled Coat Rack. “You just scratched and scuffed some of my wood.”
Yellow snapped, “I didn’t mean to.”
Coat Rack felt bad for Yellow so she dismissed the hurt and said, “It’s okay, Yellow. I will help you, anyway.”
Before Coat Rack knew it, Purple Coat arrived. Purple gasped, “Coat Rack, you look full, but I really could use a place to hang. I only need a small mend in my hood.”
Standing up tall like the mighty oak that Coat Rack was made from, she said, “Purple, you have been my dear friend the longest. I would never leave you in a time of need.” So Purple hung on Coat Rack.
As Blue, Red, Yellow, and Purple continued with their hanging, Coat Rack was scuffed, scratched, and could no longer see because each of her arms were full. Over time, the constant added weight made her tired and not feel well. Where she once stood tall, polished, and strong she was now scratched, dingy, and weak. Her legs wobbled a little. One of her posts was loose. But apparently she still looked to be strong and stable to others. Or maybe they just ignored her struggle, because no one offered to help her.
Then one day the Coat Rack said to herself, “I cannot do this anymore. I tried to mend the ones I could. I cried with the ones I couldn’t. But I can no longer support myself, much less these others, too.”
She dropped all the coats.
Coat Rack started to withdraw and stayed to herself. She spoke with others but never really invited them to hang. Then one day, she decided to grab the sander and slowly sanded the dull stain. It hurt at times but she knew it was for the greater good. Once all the dullness was gone and the scratches were mended, she tightened her legs and then her arms. All that was left to do was to apply some varnish to make her nice and shiny.
But then, Red and Blue coat became jealous. Yellow Coat thought she became cold-hearted. Purple Coat was the only one who understood and remained loyal. Coat Rack wished they could understand that she was only one coat rack and could not help everyone. She could help them find the tools necessary to mend their problem but only they could make the actual repair.
Coat Rack could no longer put everyone else above her needs. And so she decided. To remain strong, she would help when she could but would no longer carry the problems of others.
If someone became jealous, she did not let it bother her. They could sand their dullness just like she did. If someone thought she was cold-hearted, she did not let it bother her. They could tighten their legs and arms too. Most of all, Coat Rack assured the coats by her own example that they could apply new stain and varnish to their own parts. Because no one could repair themselves better than they.
Without all that extra weight, she could stand tall and see clearly. Coat Rack remembered the mighty oak at her core and felt renewed and stronger than ever.
Rena Blain is a newborn writer and a native Georgian living just north of Atlanta. Over the years she has expressed her creativity through cross stitch, crocheting, scrapbooking, and quilting. However, she considers her biggest creative accomplishment to be her work helping others through her own practice as a Licensed Massage Therapist. You can find her here: www.southerntranquilmassage.com
Since taking a high school elective in the 80’s called Enjoy Reading, Rena has embraced the creativity and thought process that came with reading and storytelling. Currently, she is practicing writing short stories while also enjoying being a wife and mother. One day she hopes you’ll see her name in print!
Today's guest post is by Tinderbox Society member, Georgia Lee. After our first meeting this week of the Fall workshop series, she offered to share a sublime blog, which is also posted on her own site, Georgia Lee Says. I hope you'll be inspired!
The full moon pulls me outside and I rise or fall, like the obedient tide. Last night, early October, the Hunters or Harvest - each full moon has a name, you know. I don't feel like looking it up, but I'm going with Hunters. It suits my current mood. And Harvest Moon gets too much attention.
I feel sorry for the other moons, unsung by, uh - Neil Young? - prolific Southern Manhater? I hope Neil Young will remember, a southern woman don't need him around, anyhow. If only I'd stuck with my own kind, flawed though they all are, I might not be out on wet grass after midnight, alone. Alone!! With vampire mosquitoes, out for a last taste of blood before we all sink into our winters' underworld.
My friends, I am a hopeless DRAMATIC. My backyard - The Fountain Theater, is an Al Fresco cross between the Globe and the Kit-Kat Club. In its heyday: Drunken Pagan Players; Shakespeare's Bastards; 500 Megahertz Revue and Versailles A'flame drew raving reviews, from teenage vagrants, neighborhood vigilantes and the Dekalb County Police. As founder, I directed, produced and starred in most.
The 2014 Summer Season never made pre-production. Shut down, as death, unemployment, breakdowns, assaults and stalkers plagued the theater, its owners and backers.
Last night, through a rotting patio door, I entered the sad, neglected ruins. Is anything more ominous than a darkened theater? Three rows of burnt out stage lights sagged the stage, where the Italianate eponymous Fountain is a cesspool of disease-carrying vermin. Virginia Creeper and dead mimosas sling long arms over ghosts in empty seats. A breeze carries a whisper of dialogue. Smoke of dry ice slithers through weeds. Sweet, decayed gardenias swill in spilled beer.
Into this wreckage, with lavender candle, three quartz crystals and an I-Pad, I stake my gray yoga mat in the ground. Brian Eno's "Music for Airports" is near silent, drowned by the thriving cicada/cricket stereo.
For thirty minutes, I sit. Breathe in. Breathe out. Only breath. It doesn't hold me, my own breath.
I hear my father's automated coma breath, 120 hours of it as I hold the powerful pulse steadfast - on and on, the wrist. I see my mother two years ago. The last scene calls for grace under pressure - Hemingway, Gary Cooper. Even this will not touch me, within me. She rises above.
These two stars dazzle my life.Comedians. Tragedians. Quick chameleons, as all actors must be.
But...this? Are they capable of portraying the the awe, the grandeur of death? Am I, front row - suspending belief, brought to tears, or not, staying until the curtain drops? They are. I am It's over. The End.
I wait. For them to bound back out onto the stage, take several energetic, role-busting bows, applaud me, the audience, and then, with a jaunty wave, exit. Thank you, goodnight everybody!
I wait, with no script. Out for a drink, discuss the end? No. This was one night only, never repeated never duplicated never forgotten.
Tomorrow tomorrow and tomorrow. Last night. The constant moon is my Mother. She reflects shape and light, forming a mosaic of my broken pieces. Full center stage, or hidden behind scenes, in clouds, over horizons.
Dad is the stars - mystery of dreaming constellations, never judging, receiving all that is undiscovered, our surprising universe.
Lured last night into the dead Fountain Theater, I expected nothing but 30 minutes of the full Hunters Moon. I already knew the setting, the characters and the story.
I did not know the message that came behind it. I did not predict the tears. I do not pretend to understand it now. Am I bringing my own bias to it? Probably. It doesn't matter. The dead, once on this stage with us, are with us still. The sheer curtain is opaque. Life and death are equal and both are illusions, stories - a dream within a dream within a dream. There is no Third Wall.
*Save the date: The all-new, fully-renovated, 2015 Fountain Theater, will kick off its Summer 2015 Season Saturday, June 20 with a Summer Solstice Celebrations. Calling all playwrights, actors, musicians, costume and set designers, creatives, rapscallions, art and even sports enthusiasts. Step into the light - all are welcome. Please RSVP. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
DATE: June 20, 2015 EVENT: Summer Solstice Celebration WHERE: The Fountain Theater, Decatur, GA TIME: 8 p.m. until...(we don't follow Time's Arrow) Rain or Shine.
The Show Must Go On.
Georgia Lee directs Writing Center – former Bureau Chief WWD, contributor to every publication in the known world, yoga guru, psychic, Beatlemaniac, milkshake addict.
I met guest blogger and Tinderbox Society member, Jodi Burrus, a few years ago when a friend and I drove to Birmingham, Alabama to meet a mutual friend and fellow author, humorist Robin O'Bryant. We sat around a table for dinner and laughed ourselves silly, talking about our families, our writing and everything in between. I left that dinner wishing those women lived closer to me. I felt recharged. I felt my energy and confidence return. It might have been the wine or the artichoke dip, but I think there's something about sharing our stories that feeds our souls. I wanted Jodi to share her story here with you so maybe some of that magic could be recaptured and spread over your day today.
If you've ever struggled to make time for yourself, time to be still and quiet in a crazy busy life, time to listen for your own voice in all the hubbub...this one's for you!
Jodi's blog speaks to the power of friendship in our lives to nourish our creativity. Find her at thedrunch.com.
"When you meet a friend for Drunch, you know you’re going to kick back, unwind and say what you want to say. Whether it’s Marriage and Family or Nips and Tucks, no topic is off limits. Stop by The Drunch to catch up on what’s being said around the table today."
Jodi's doing a great giveaway, too, so leave a comment for her. Your going to really connect to this post and want to chat about it. Share your thoughts and yourself here and you'll win, either way!
by Jodi Burrus
Writing…until you’re a published author, people will refer to this as your “hobby,” not realizing It means so much more than the word “hobby” implies. It's not a pair of fuzzy slippers knitted at Christmas.
Still...I've not published a full-length novel, and my writing isn't a source of income. Not a "real" job. So where does writing fit in my crazy, mixed-up life? It doesn't...there's just no room.
I should explain...I'm a mom. Not just once, but four times over. Boys -- ages 9, 8, 8, and 8. That's as real as it gets.
I juggle the schedules of all six members of our family. I cook a healthy dinner (most of the time), and pack lunches, and do laundry, and remember karate outfits, and clean up dog hair, and mop the floors (sometimes). We go to school. We go to church. Sure, it looks like multi-tasking, but my focus is ALL on raising 4 boys and maintaining a somewhat sanitary/sane/livable home environment. All my eggs are in one basket. There is no TIME for writing.
But I do it anyway.
I can't help but think of my writing as the bloodletting treatments of old, where the tumultuous humors were drained away in order to leave their host healthy and sound. Sure it's junk science, but as a metaphor for writing -- it's good medicine.
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed." For me, the words build day after day, night after night, until the pressure demands an outlet. I struggle with allotting a set time every day to write. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. Kids get sick. I get exhausted. Life happens. So I've given myself permission to play hooky.
Sometimes, the laundry sours in the washer. Dinner becomes takeout, and guess what? You guys need to buy lunch at school tomorrow because I didn't make it to the grocery store today. And you know what? Life goes on. There may be some rumbles from the peanut gallery, but the earth continues to spin.
So the words flow...in fits and starts. Disjointed scenes, disrupted voices. Pages I want to burn, and phrases I wish the world could see. Is it a pointless exercise? I don't think so. I'm simply being who I'm supposed to be. Will I publish a full-length novel someday? I hope so. But if it never happens, I'll still be here...my pen dripping words onto the page.
Need a little encouragement to get your own creative juices flowing? How about a copy of the anthology “Winter Wonders” — a collection of short stories that includes Jodi's very first published YA Fiction, “The Fat Files.” Leave a comment here or on her blog at www.thedrunch.com Or send a tweet to @thedrunch saying, “Count me in!” for a chance to win.
tinderbox society blog
Life lived from your Creative Core.