Life After Chip (100 Word Challenge for GrownUps)


Combine a little jet lag, a summer theatre, a fantasy novel with fairy tales, and this weeks picture challenge and this is the result.

You can’t escape your roots. My mother lived her life serving others with a song and a smile, even when hindered by a magic spell that turned her into a teapot. She made those difficult years a joy for me, despite the annoying chip in my rim and the handle on my side. She was overjoyed when our master, the Beast found his Beauty and fell in love, not only because it meant we could take on our human form.  The memories of the spell haunted me, so I left the castle to find my own way to serve. The memories still remain.


Diving Into the Pool of Inspiration

“Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly. ”
― Cornelia FunkeInkheart

I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks hiding inside books. I turned to favorite friends, re-entering stories I’ve read before, because I find comfort in them despite the dangers, the fears, the darkness, the sadness. The characters are my friends, and their journey of learning and growing becomes my own.

But I haven’t just been hiding, I have also been seeking. I’ve been looking for what makes great stories tick. What makes prose sing? Where do fresh metaphors come from? How does one write, or create, or paint, or anything in a way that transcends what has been done before?

After all  ” every story has already been told” (Anna Quindlan). It seems like every painting has already been painted, every song has already been written, every creative act has already been done.

But, if that’s true, I ask myself, why do so many of us continue to write? To paint? To plot? To sing? To do any kind of creative act? If it’s all been done before, what’s the use?

As I lost myself in Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart Trilogy (a series I’ve only read once before) I began to recognize the answer.

“Stories never really end…even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on. They don’t end on the last page, any more than they begin on the first page.”
― Cornelia FunkeInkspell

If it is true that stories never really end, and every story has multiple characters, then there are multiple ways to tell a story. I’ve asked a question before (oddly enough prompted by reading another YA fantasy series) “where do stories come from?”. This question takes on more meaning in Funke’s series, when the author of the imaginary Inkspell gets read into his own book, into the world he supposedly created. The world he created has grown and changed and become a world he could not imagine, and he begins to wonder if someone else was writing the story.

Who is the author of the stories? Where does creativity come from?

We all know that practice makes us better at whatever art form we aspire to. We all know that if you want to be a writer then you have to practice the craft, just as an actor needs to train, and a singer needs to rehearse, and an artist needs to get dirty.

I think we also all know that hard work and practice isn’t enough. To truly become a great artist or a great writer, we need to have access to that mystical, spiritual, perhaps imaginary place of inspiration and imagination. We need to dive into the pool of shimmering fairy dust and submerge our bodies into the energy and power that comes when people create. I’ve felt it before, walking into a theatre on opening night, or into a classroom of young people  inspired by a creative project. The energy when creative people get together to create is palpable.  I imagine that on a level beyond our sight, the air fills with bright waves of color as ideas bounce around the room. These colors pour themselves into the creative pool, feeding it more energy so that it can grow and thrive. It is a powerful, beautiful, incredible place.

The struggle, of course, is how to gain access. It is available to all, but not everyone learns how to dive in, how to immerse themselves, how to succumb to the creative energy surrounding them and let that energy guide them. Some days, I am able to write or create from that place, but more often than not I get in my own way. I think too much, or let my doubts overcome possibility. When I do that, access to the pool closes and I find myself sitting cold and lonely in the dark, crying tears of loss and emptiness. Too often that feeling comes when I focus on things outside the creation itself. Questions like, “will I ever get published?” or “what will people think if I write this?” or “how can I make money doing this?” or “does doing this make the world a better place”  or any number of things outside the process interfere with the act of creation, and I lose access to the creative pool for long periods of time.

I am empty without it.

So, my goal is not to focus on the practicality of the product, but on the journey of creation. I am tired of not moving forward because of my perception of what I “should” be doing. I am tired of clinging to money or title as evidence that somehow I have am successful or reached a point of achievement. I now want to simply bathe in the pool of inspiration as often as I can, and let it’s energy feed me as I go on a wonderful journey into my version of the story.

I want to fight the battles in this world one creation at a time.

I still have a story to tell.

Alone But Not Lonely, Writing in a Crowd

“I know I should be working on my book/course work,” I said to Nathan this morning. “But the problem is my instructor chose the story A. I don’t know where that story begins. I don’t really know what the conflict is. I’ll never be a writer.”

“Let’s talk about this,” he said, and started asking me questions about the characters, the world, and anything he thought might help.

This all happened as he was packing up his lunch and preparing to leave for the day, which would leave me alone in a house where you would think I could get a lot of writing done. Except that I don’t. Or maybe I can’t. Or is it simply that, in my current state of confusion, I simply don’t want to write?

No that’s not it. I want to write. I want to create a story, a world. While deep down inside I hope that I write something good enough to be published, I know that I will never achieve that if I don’t sit down and write.

Nathan left for work. A quiet home. Do I sit down and write? No. I lie down and read, not even something new as I am rereading one of my favorite YA fantasy series (the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull). But thoughts begin to distract me, and I just down some ideas on my yellow pad. I finally think I know where the story can begin.

I hop into the shower, and a chapter begins to write itself in my head.

Of course, out of the shower, over at my computer, the first thing I do is check Facebook.  Uh oh! I think, time to make a move away from the lonely so that I can get some actual work done.

I’ve written about before about the pros and cons of a coffee shop office. The truth is there are times when I want to be in the comfort of my own home, locked away in the privacy of my office, working. But, recently I find that I accomplish more when I get myself out of the house, take myself to one of the two or three locations that have internet access and wall plugs, buy myself a warm drink and a little snack, and then face the blank screen.

I guess there’s just something about being alone in a crowd that helps me focus.

Today’s writing location. I’m sure you can figure out where it is.

It seems to have worked. I have managed to write a chapter, edit some others, write a rough draft of a 1500 word summary, and now I am working on this blog post.

I was going to quit after I finished the summary, but I hopped over to Facebook to find that blogging buddy Mckenzie is attempting to write at a bakery in the hopes that it will help her write. We chatted for a minute and I started this post. She is typing away (I hope) on a chapter as we speak.

See, I’m not alone. We had a short chat and it inspired this post. Writing can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.

For me, at least, it seems I write better in a crowd. How about you?

Fiction or Non-Fiction? Finding My Voice

“I am a writer.”

I forced  encouraged myself to tell someone that for the first time yesterday,  when I went in for an eye appointment with a new doctor and they were getting my background information.

“I am a writer.”

“You’re a writer? ”

“”Well, I’m trying to be a writer?” (my inevitable self-deprecation). ” That’s the first time I’ve claimed it out loud.”

“And that’s good, isn’t it?”

I thought it was good except for my  backtracking, diminishing my belief in myself as a writer. Why is it so hard to say and believe? After all, a writer writes. I write, every day. So, I’ve only been paid for a couple of articles and that was long ago. That doesn’t mean I am not a writer.

A writer is, after all, someone who writes. Of course, I want to be a writer who writes as my profession. I would like to make a little money for my words.

First, of course,  I have to produce good work.

Part of the reason that I am (sort of) taking a break from blogging (which really means giving myself permission to blog when I feel like it, rather than feeling an imagined pressure to post every day) is so that I can focus on other writing, on Works in Progress. Up until now, I’ve had a lot of Works but not a lot of Progress.

If I want to be a writer, I have to write and complete something. Yes, I technically have two books under wraps (a dissertation and a fiction novel for middle grader readers) but they remain objects of times past,  hidden in the depths of my overstuffed bookshelves where they will probably remain, unread by any new eyes.

It is time for me to move on and practice the art of writing. If I want to be an author, then I must treat author as a verb. I must author books.

So far I have written between 5000-6000 words on both of my current full-length fiction projects.  A lot of it has been character exploration, or the wanderings of my mind as I try to figure out the actual stories I am trying to tell. Some of it may make it into the books, but some may just live on as an exploration in time, place, history, character and background–all the things I need to know to make these character’s come to life for my readers. If I ever finish them enough  to have readers.

Over the past week or so, I have discovered that I can focus more on these projects by leaving my home office for part of the day. When at home, I’m more tempted to distract myself with computer games, or books, or a little tv. When in a public place, like a coffee shop, even if I have my computer I am less susceptible to the easy access available on my screen. I may check e-mail, but I focus on my goal. I have also discovered the joy of going for walks and then exploring character or story in handwritten pages on a yellow pad, which I then transfer to my computer (with edits) when I return home.

Today, however, my journey to an outside workplace  threw challenges in my writing path. First I stopped at the office supply story to buy index cards, since they helped me plot my last writing ventures. From there I headed to the coffee shop next door, only to find after purchasing my Chai Latte and a healthy snack that there was no place to sit and plot. Not a single spot.  I didn’t want to return home, so I decided to be naughty and bring my purchases to one of my other writing haunts, a nearby Barnes & Noble. I figure I spend enough money there that bringing outside food and drink was acceptable once in a while.

While driving in search of these various possible writing locations, I listened to NPR. I only caught snippets of talk shows but they were each interviews with authors. The first was with Ruth Richardson,  an expert on Charles Dickens who wrote Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor. While I am not an avid Dickens fan, I love hearing authors discuss their work, and I am really fascinated by history and non-fiction in general.

Should I be writing non-fiction? The question popped into my head.

The second interview was with David Rees, the author of  How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers,  Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants.

I kid you not. That is the actual title.

Now, I know I am not the most comical writer in the world, so perhaps I’m not the best person to write the follow-up book of HOW TO ERASE MARKS COMPLETELY AND FULLY  AFTER USING THE PERFECTLY SHARPENED ARTISINAL PENCIL. But, the reality that a book like that exists speaks loud and clear to a fact that you can write non-fiction about anything.

Again the question, should I be focusing on non-fiction?

I can write non-fiction. I’ve been doing it almost daily in this blog. I have done it in hundreds of pages of academic speak. I have plenty of non-fiction books in my idea pile.  You know, the ideas that are works without a lot of progress.

In a publishing market where the big sellers seem to be Young Adult or non-fiction, why am I pounding away at two books that I can’t quite even classify yet? (They both lie somewhere in the realm of fantasy meets contemporary literary fiction, social satire).

In many ways I believe that part of my struggle with saying “I am a writer” relates to a general struggle I have had surrounding my life.

I cannot label myself in a single word.

Well, I can describe myself in two words: Renaissance Woman.

Perhaps I should be writing about that?

Join Me in the Seven Deadly Sins

Come on!

You know you want to.

What’s the harm?

It will be fun.

Why is it that all the images I found depict women as the sins? Hmmmm!

Seriously, k8edid has started a little fun fiction contest based on the Seven Deadly Sins.  She gave me an idea, and I will be contributing to each sin (what can I say, I’m a bad girl) in a series that, I hope will be interconnected.

Katy has posted the first five submissions about gluttony, today, including mine. Please wander over there and feast on all of the wonderful words, but be sure to leave room for more. Here is the link to Gluttony: Post 1

The Mysterious World of Bubbles

The Weekend Theme over at Sidie’s Blog is one simple (but to me) very magical word: Bubbles. I took a little trip into fantasy fiction this week, I hope you enjoy.

I have a secret. Most people don’t know this, but bubbles contain real magic. No, I’m not just talking about the visible magic of swirling colors that you can see, or the ability to ride away on invisible breezes. That’s just the nature of bubbles, not really magic.

What I am talking about is real, honest to goodness magic. The kind that takes you by surprise and whisks you away to the unexpected before you even know it happened.

Don’t believe me? I am living proof, because I have spent my life with bubble magic. I was once a normal girl like you, spending days with my family and playing silly girl games. Until one summer day, long, long ago when I discovered the secret of bubble magic, and my life has never been the same.

“There’s no bubble magic,” you scoff. “There’s no secret.”

If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself lost in the land of bubbles. And once you’ve been there, your life will change forever.

Have you ever looked into a bubble? I’m sure you have. You’ve seen the swirling colors moving around the perfect sphere until Pop! The bubble disappears with a tiny splash.

But, if you look deeper into a perfect bubble, so deep that you can’t see anything but that bubble, you might be one of the lucky few who see the truth. The shifting colors are not just blobs of color, but windows into another world filled with tiny towns, magical beings, mystical forces, grim castles, and dangerous creatures. Bubbles are the windows and doors to lands most people only find through books and imagination. Bubbles connect here from there, but only for crossing over isn’t without its risks, and only a few people ever discover the truth.

Or maybe I’m the only one.

It happened long, long ago. The summer sun sizzled and my brother, sister, and I couldn’t get motivated to do anything but complain about the heat. Mom didn’t want us wandering down to the swimming hole because our aunt and her family would be coming at some point that day, and Mom didn’t want to have to hunt us down. She made us help get the house ready, which didn’t help our moods as we cleaned in the heat. By 2:00, there was still no sign of our cousins, and Mom had thrown us out of the house, tired of our whining and complaining. Still we weren’t allowed to wander far. We each tried to find a cool place in the shade of the porch or by fanning ourselves with handmade paper fans, but the sun was slowly wilting our spirits into submission.

Then Mom, who I think felt a little guilty for keeping us trapped in an oven, brought out a special treat. Well, two special treats, an ice-cold pitcher of lemonade and a big basin filled with bubble juice. She showed us how to capture the liquid in rings she had made for us out of twigs, and fill the sky with bubbles.

I loved every single bubble.

Eventually, however, my brother and sister couldn’t take the heat anymore, and decided to take some lemonade into our tree house and read while they waited for our cousins.

I kept playing with the bubbles. The ever-changing colors inside the bubbles fascinated me. I felt like they hid secrets that I would understand if I could just make a bubble that would last longer, or a bigger more beautiful bubble. I set about experimenting with ways to create bigger and better bubbles.

Thus began my bubble obsession. My cousins eventually arrived, but I didn’t care. I spent their entire visit of two weeks experimenting with new ways to make bubbles. New tools for bubble rings. Different ways to make bubble mix. I was determined to make the biggest most beautiful bubble ever.

To both my joy and sadness, I succeeded.

Twilight had set in, and all the other kids were running around trying to capture fireflies and place them in tightly lidded jars with holes in the top. We only kept them for an hour and watched their beautiful semaphore before releasing them back into the world to find their mates. As much as I loved chasing fireflies, I didn’t join in, focusing on my bubble experiments.

I had formed a giant ring by patiently weaving together reeds that I had gathered from where they grew by the swimming whole. It had taken several days to complete, but I was sure it would create the world’s best bubble.

I dipped it into the thickest, soapiest, most colorful bubble concoction I had yet created. Raised it carefully, and then took a few running steps so the air would fill the bubble juice and make the bubble grow. It grew. A bubble the size of me. A bubble with every color of the rainbow, and some I couldn’t name. A bubble that contained what looked to me like tiny houses and tiny people in a world that mirrored my own, except that it had richer brighter colors than the tired colors that came from a summer filled with more heat than rain.

The bubble seemed to twinkle and glow, pulsing with energy. Then, in a surprising move, it didn’t float away on the slight breeze like all the others, but floated toward me. It did not pop on contact but enveloped me. Suddenly I found myself inside the bubble, looking out on the world I knew. That world wavered as the bubble rose, and the interior world of the bubble became more solid seeming, carrying with it a lilting song of the inhabitants of that bubble world, including birdsong more sweet than any I’d ever heard, the chatter of many voices, and the movement of people and animals I’d never met before.

As you can expect, I was very excited to have found my way into the bubble world. However, there is one thing I wish I had known that I didn’t find out until a few magical moments later. Before you decide to find your own way into this magical land, you need to know the truth. The only way in and out of the land is through the perfect bubble, and that gateway only lasts until the bubble goes POP!

If you want to return to the land of your home, you must find your way to another perfect bubble, made by another person who sees more in the joy of bubbles than rainbows . . . and that person is hard to find.

Are you the person to make a bubble for me so that I can come home?

Join Me in a Land of Wonder

Inspired partially by Joss‘ response to my post about childhood memories  I thought today I would simply share some clips and songs that never fail to bring me to that place where magic and miracles happen on a daily basis. Feel free to add more in the comments (I’ll have to approve, as I have to approve links) because I would love to see this list grow. So, in no particular order, enjoy.

I’ve become hooked on TANGLED and this scene never fails to make my imagination soar.

I’ve always loved the muppets, because they make me believe in everything.

Jack Johnson. Enough said.


I also thought I would share some of the things I have in my office for inspiration, because they too reflect my belief in magic:

The artist for the Sawdust posters is Ron Rodecker, and you can find more of his work here.

Join me in a land of wonder, and add some magical things below.

The Magic of Childhood Memories

A lake in New Hampshire.

1970 something.

On a boat.

The Idiot was nowhere near us, but I borrowed a few lines of his style since his post about Jaws and the discussion following made me flash on this particular memory.

Dad and Deb at the lake, I wonder if they were searching for mermaids? (Note: there are not many pictures of my adventures, mostly my brother and sister's.)

Dad and Deb again. Maybe Debbie is pointing at a lake monster in the distance.

We had a couple of lovable idiots on the boat. One of them, I called Daddy. The other was an old family friend named Hank. They had taken us out on a boat and I remember floating on the middle of the lake when both of them went overboard.

I’m not sure it was by choice. In later discussions my older sister (by five years) said that there was beer involved, and some sort of horseplay.

They were under water for a long time, and came back up covered in black gunk.

“What happened?!” I asked.

“We were attacked by a giant octopus.” Daddy said. And Hank reinforced his story.

Of course, I believed them. I mean, isn’t every New England lake inhabited by giant man-eating octopi?

Now, despite the fact that The Idiot said,

“Lisa – There is nothing I take more pride in….than dredging up old, deep, psychological wounds and memories……. So glad I could help :) “

I’m not really wounded by the gullible naiveté of that little girl, instead I am saddened that I can no longer give into that complete and utter belief of childhood.

I can no longer lie in my bed at night on Christmas wishing that, since Santa wouldn’t come to my house and bring me presents, he would at least let Rudolph knock on my window and take me for a magical ride.

Forgive my early Christmas reference.

I can no longer wander through a Halloween night, wondering if some of the creatures wandering the streets are real. [OK, I can, but I’m not supposed to admit it ;)] I cannot sit in a pumpkin patch and wait for the appearance of the Great Pumpkin. I never did that, but I always empathize with Linus when watching the special, I want so much to believe.

I can no longer wish upon a star, bursting out into song of course, and expect my wish will come true with a simple spark of fairy magic.

I can no longer run through the streets on a cool spring evening searching for Elijah in hopes that he might appear.

I can’t wander through a house that I am not familiar with looking at closet doors and wardrobes wondering if I can find an opening to a world like Narnia through one of them, and hoping I will.

More often than not, I’m driving the car, so I can’t give into the traveling fantasies of my childhood days, where I am riding a horse along the side of the road or conversing with a person just like me who lives among the stars.

I’m not supposed to believe in fairies and leprechauns, ghosts and goblins, or anything else truly magical. But that is a true loss. I wrote recently how much I would like to think like an eight year old, and I mean it.

The other day Nathan found our old video tape of Hook (1991) starring Dustin Hoffman,  Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, and Maggie Smith (love her) and directed by Steven Spielberg. Now, some people called this movie a flop, but I always loved it. Why? Because it reminds all adults, and even kids, of the value of imagination and believing in magic. How can you not love the following scene where a meal of nothing turns into a feast of fabulosity (and I know I made up that word)?

I want to get back on the boat and believe in the octopus, because believing in the impossible makes this world and this life a place full of possibility.

Don’t you think?


The Gift of Magic

This fabulous photo inspired the following.

“Hush!” the wizened old woman whispered to the excited child next to her. “It will happen soon, but we must be cautious or they will not welcome you.”

Theresa almost vibrated as she tried to contain her excitement, which would normally come out in bursts of giggles and songs. She knew that she would never be given another chance if she ruined this opportunity, as Wise Mother chose  her apprentices with care, and dismissed them quickly if they proved unable to handle the Magic. Theresa had dreamed of learning more about the Magic from the first moment she watched as Wise Mother shared a story in the village center, including images drawn in the sky that showed the adventure to all. Theresa stared at the images  and wished she knew how to create such beauty.

“Theresa, look,” Wise Mother whispered as quietly as possible, her breath tickling Theresa’s ear with each word. “They are here.”

Theresa watched in awe as the fairy ring of mushrooms began to glow, a light that emanated in many colors from the heart of the mushrooms. She lost any urge to sing or move as a faint hum filled the air, seeming to come from everywhere at once. Later Theresa would try to remember the tune so that she could sing it, but it eluded her with the complex beauty of nature singing. Wise Mother explained that it was indeed nature, the grass, the trees, the mushrooms and the earth sang with the joy of the coming meeting.

Eventually Theresa noticed that a variety of small beings had appeared in the glowing circle. Each one was indescribably beautiful and unique. She recognized them only from the lore and stories handed down at the village story circle. Fairies representing every color of the rainbow, and some colors with no names. Tiny gnomes, their wrinkled faces sparkling with joy. Brownies, whose stick-like bodies almost blended in with the color of the earth. There were other creatures as well, that Theresa could not identify.

Suddenly a silence fell, at the appearance of the largest of the fairies whose beauty and glow surpassed all the others. Her wings seemed to shine with flowing colors that sometimes looked like water shimmering, and sometimes like the twinkle of stars. All the tiny creatures bowed their heads toward her, and even the Wise Woman shifted and kneeled, pulling Theresa down.

The Fairy Queen spoke with a voice like butterfly wings, that seemed to enter straight into Theresa’s head bypassing her ears.

“Who have you brought, my young friend?”

At first Theresa was confused, as Wise Mother was anything but young. She was older than the oldest grandfather in the village, and he remembered her as being old even when he was a child. Her wisdom showed in every crinkle of her face and her eyes were hidden by the deep folds of age. But, Theresa realized, compared to these creatures who seemed to be simultaneously ancient and youthful, Wise Mother might indeed be young.

“I have brought someone to be blessed by you,” Wise Mother answered. “I think she is the next person to protect your gift.”

“Are you sure?” The Fairy Queen asked.

“I am sure,” Wise Mother replied. I have tested her, and she has passed each one with strength.

“Then we shall bless her.”

With that the humming began again and grew as all the creatures moved toward Theresa, in a way that startled her.

“Do not be afraid,” Wise Mother whispered, looking deeply into Theresa’s eyes.

The fairies who could fly surrounded her head and her shoulders. The others reached up and touched as high as they could.

With each touch, Theresa felt a sense of warmth move through her body, toward her heart and her mind. Suddenly, the world seemed to shift, and the woods surrounding them took on a sharper appearance. The hum became words, that she could understand. She felt at peace and the urge to lie down and sleep.

When she awoke on the forest floor the creatures were gone and the mushrooms were simple mushrooms again. Wise Mother sat next to her, looking down with tears in her eye and a smile on her face.

“You now have the Magic too. You are, indeed, my heir.”

And so Theresa’s story began . . .

The Line Between

The world is made up of lines. Lines that connect. Lines that divide. Lines that intersect. Lines invisible and lines visible. Lines as thick as the Great Wall of China and lines as thin as an invisible filament.

I am beginning to think this metaphor of lines might play a significant role in my life. I noted yesterday that I would like to erase all the lines that divide us. But perhaps I need to understand the lines before I can change them.

What would happen if we learned to control the lines, using them only as a means of connection not separation?

I am feeling my way toward a new writing project, one that explores these lines of connection and separation. I’m not sure where this will head, but today I want to share a few old pieces of my writing that somehow relate. The first is a character description of a woman who has created the connecting lines between herself and her family, but those lines are fragile threads. She has also drawn thicker lines around herself, lines growing in weight and strength that they may be impossible to destroy.

Image of a Lost Woman

A woman sits and thinks back on her life, wondering where she went wrong.  When did she suppress all her feelings?  When did she allow the concerns of her world and her family to become more important than her soul?  Is it too late to regain what she has lost?

Her flame red hair has faded now, interspersed with hair of white.  Her face shows the lines of time, but also of frowns.  She has forgotten how to smile, and the tracks of her frowns lie ingrained deeply in her face.  When her granddaughter was born she smiled the biggest smile she had in a long time.  It was painful to see straining muscles that had been stagnant for so long.

Why had her life become like this?  She thought she had done everything right, raising three bright children, providing them with a comfortable home.  But now they have grown and moved far away.  That makes her feel like a failure, because in the fantasy world children stay near their families so that they can always be together.  Her children say that she has not failed, that she has given them the tools to think, explore, and live beyond expectations.  But she knows they are wrong.  They should want to be near family.  They should want to have family gatherings and rely on each other.  She worries that when she dies, they will lose touch with each other, like she did with her older brother.  They kept in touch with the obligatory phone call now and then, but she never really liked talking on the phone.  They saw each other every few years, until the end.  She spent time with him before he died.  She does not want that for her children.  But she fears this will happen.

It must be her fault, she thinks.  But where did she go wrong?  She has committed herself to her family since the birth of her first daughter.  She has tried to make everything perfect, and do everything right.  But now she feels alone, and like a failure.  Perhaps she lost something important along the way.

The second piece of writing I’d like to share with you today comes from an old blog post called  Dots, Lines and Connections. I share this with you because the image of lines has obviously influenced my life in many ways. Here is a passage from that post (but feel free to visit the post itself for the whole thing):

As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to find and connect the dots in my life. Each dot represents a person or an experience. My own dot is in there too, near the center, but there is no true center to this complex image.  Sometimes the lines don’t connect smoothly, and twist around to reach other dots. As this complex web grows, sometimes dots never meet, never link, never connect. It is impossible to connect everything to each other, everyone to each other. But I am fascinated by the intersections and the connections that bring people in and out of my world.

In the living version, lines stretch into the distant past and sometimes break. But sometimes they reconnect with stronger cords.  There is some old saying that says something about friends being there at the right time in your life. Perhaps that is true, but once someone has become a part of my life, I’ve connected the dots between myself and that person. The line may stretch and fade, but they never truly disappear.

One other interesting note, “The Line Between” was also a working title of one of the fantasy fiction stories that I’ve started and stopped a million times.

Maybe the metaphor of lines will lead me somewhere. I just have to follow the dotted line.

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