Queen of Cliffs

Perched cliffside,
Crowned by peeling arbutus,
On a dais of rock,
Festooned in lichen, grasses, succulents,
and sun-dappled cushions of bright moss.

The wind’s cool whisper,
A mantle across my shoulders.

Beneath my feet,
The ocean.
Wind ruffled but quiet ,
Waves caressing and fawning like a supplicant.

Were I not wiser,
I would believe it’s lamblike enticement,
And forget the cold and the fury of the winter past.

I am queen.
But it is a passing illusion,
Lasting only until the elements reassert their power,
And send me scurrying to shelter.


The Eye’s Have It!

Today’s  Red Writing Hood Writing Prompt: Physical beauty.

It can open doors – and can also shut them.

Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait. If you are doing non-fiction, you can write about yourself or someone you know.

When I think of beauty, I think first of eyes.  I think of Elizabeth Taylor’s violet eyes  that captivated movie goers.  I think of the riveting eyes of the Afghan girl on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

Eyes are compelling.  They communicate.  They can speak volumes or shutter and hide who you are. They truly are the window to your soul.

The eyes that have spoken deepest to me are the eyes of my daughter. Beautiful eyes, in a beautiful face.

As a child, her eyes were wide, innocent and improbably blue.  Kind of an electric, marine blue that drew people to her in fascination.

No matter where we went, people would be magnetically drawn to her eyes.  Strangers would frequently stop us and comment.

I remember one particular day, when Brianna was 3 or 4.  A woman in the grocery store, swooped in with an exclamation and bent down to inspect her closely.  Bursting into tears, Bree clapped her hands over her eyes and cried out, “Mommy, make them stop looking at me!”

Over the years, the beauty of her eyes was a double-edged sword.  As lovely as she was, her discomfort with people’s attention and comments grew.  She grew tired of being acknowledged for something that she had no control over.  She grew tired of her eyes being a topic of conversation.  In frustration, she would ask me how to stem the conversations and comments.  Of course, there was no way to stop the comments, so the only sensible thing to do was teach her how to be gracious about it by saying thank you and quickly moving on by changing the subject.

I’ve watched her many times over the years respond to compliments with a simple thank you, but I can always see the resignation and grimace of discomfort that accompanies the words.

When she was in university, Bree discovered she could also have fun with it.  When confronted with a persistent, and slightly inebriated commenter, she proceeded to string a yarn, explaining they weren’t actually her eyes because she’d had to have an eye transplant!

As you can tell from her picture, Bree’s eyes have lightened, as she matured, except for a dark ring around the iris.  But they are still as compelling, and serve as a window to a beautiful soul that I love.

And in a hilarious P.S. – Bree just informed me that she has also gotten away with claiming she was blind and they were glass eyes. “People are so gullible,” she observes.  I would add an additional observation that alcohol was once again probably involved!

I’m taking an alternate path today.

I’m rebelling against significance.  Here we are, two weeks into #Trust30 and I feel I am drowning in significance.  Deep questions, introspection, inspiration, and a suffocating level of significance.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But I’ve been navel gazing for too many years, and I’m so over it right now.

What I need now is action, momentum, joy.  I need to dig in the garden, ride my bike, throw myself into my work, play at the beach and laugh.

I’m longing for lightness, fun, irreverence, and a different way to stretch my writing skills. Maybe I’ll go back to writing the romance novel I started a couple of years ago, or write poetry, greeting cards or 6 word stories.  Or maybe all of the above.

I’ve surprised myself by sticking to the challenge as long as I have.  I guess it’s because I like the discipline of writing each day.  Unless a future prompt piques my interest enough to write about it, this will be my swan song.

In any case, I’ve loved reading other people’s writing, seeing the different approaches people have to the prompts and having the chance to connect with others.  But now I’m taking a left turn and following an alternate path.

Ciao baby.  Have fun!

Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

(Author: Jonathan Fields)

What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be! –  Charles Dudley Warner

It’s amazing how often we choose to live like small potatoes.

We allow our limitations to prevent us from living extraordinary lives.  Surprisingly, most of the limitations we experience are self-imposed.   We are confined by old beliefs, habits, fears and sometimes just laziness.  We become so accustomed to living in our comfort zones, that we are not even aware of the restrictions we have placed on our lives, our abilities, our joy and our success.

In 2007, I took an epic ocean kayaking adventure in the Queen Charlotte Islands, which for the most part defies description and explanation, but which gave me an opportunity to examine and overcome some of my self-imposed limitations.

The Queen Charlotte Islands are vast, wild, remote, wet and windy.  Although I’d been ocean kayaking for 15 years, I was unprepared for how this trip would challenge me.   In the days leading up to the trip, I was sick with anxiety as I worried that I was not physically capable enough for a trip of this magnitude because of a laundry list of aches and pains I had acquired.

On the third day of our 10 day paddle, I was tested, challenged and found myself wanting following a 25 kilometer paddle against a north wind and driving rain.  I felt exhausted, defeated and miserable.  The little voice in my head was feeding me a steady stream of justifications as to why I didn’t belong there; I was too old, out of shape, injured, scared and a danger to myself and others.

But here’s the point.  By giving into my fears, and making decisions based upon them as if they were real, I turned myself into a victim.  It was powerless and joyless.

Fortunately for me, once I had rested, I was able to re-group and make the choice not to fall victim to my own negative self talk and self imposed limitations.   Being willing to allow that very simple shift in belief, allowed me to paddle 34 kilometers the following day.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed I could paddle that far.  The amazing thing was that even though I was exhausted, none of the physical complaints that I had been concerned about were a problem and I was not even stiff the next day!

Ultimately the reward for challenging my limitations was a huge sense of accomplishment and pride, an experience of the compelling spirituality of the place and many amazing wildlife encounters.  For example, did you know that eagles can swim?

The thing is its very easy to live life as a small potato.  It’s easy and undemanding, but really not all that rich.

Living an extraordinary life, requires a willingness to surprise yourself, again and again.  The more often you surprise yourself, the better.

I don’t have an epic vacation planned this week, but there is always room to surprise myself.  This week I want to surprise myself with focus and productivity on an important personal project.  I know I have it in me.  I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.

Surprise by Ashley Ambirge

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.  How will you surprise yourself this week?

(Author: Ashley Ambirge)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, must be forgiven for his male-centric comment, after all he’d be 208 years old, if he were still around.  I wonder what he’d think of the intensity of our modern, amped up Society that so effectively drowns out the wee small voices of both modern men and women.

Solitude is becoming increasingly difficult commodity to find in this wired world.

People are so accustomed to being constantly connected, constantly at the beck and call of others, constantly entertained, that we are losing the knack for solitude and the gifts that it brings.  I have spoken to many people who confess they are afraid what they will find if they are alone with their thoughts.  The result being that they mask their fear by filling their minds with distractions to avoid confronting what they might find.

I feel blessed that this is not a burden that I carry any longer.  I’ve committed myself to dancing on the edge of my comfort zone and confronting the scary things that used to keep me playing in a very small sandbox.  I regularly root out and confront my fears so that they no longer run my life to the extent they have in the past.

The cool thing that you discover when you do that is the things that terrify you are much smaller in the light of day.  They are scariest in our imaginations when we have them firmly tucked in the back of our mental closets.

So yah, I have fears and insecurities like everyone else on the face of the planet, but they don’t hold me back the way they used to, and I’m able to deal with them in a timely fashion when they raise their heads.

Before you can be free, you must first be aware of what is holding you back and deal with it.  That awareness can only begin when you give yourself the gift of solitude.  Solitude, silence and the courage to listen to your own voice, are the essential first steps to overcoming fear.

Fear by Lachlan Cotter

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:

Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?

Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?

Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?

Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.

(Author: Lachlan Cotter)

Here we are on day 11 of #Trust30.  Some of the prompts I’ve loved and dived deeply into, others I’ve been grateful to skimp and write a sentence in response, and others like today’s I just want to blow off because they don’t resonate with me and I have other things calling my attention.

Imitation is suicide.  That’s a pretty passionate statement.  In a world filled with billions of people, I don’t really care all that much if what I do seems to imitate someone else, because the odds are against complete originality are so remote.  So, you won’t catch me tying myself in knots or committing suicide over a lack of complete originality.

What would concern me more however is the idea of intentional imitation.  There’s nothing quite so sad or disturbing to me as Elvis impersonators or those TV shows that remake people in the image of their favorite celebrity.  Are their lives so pathetic that they have to steal someone else’s?

We all, each and every one of us are as unique and precious as snowflakes.  We have entirely unique personalities, outlooks, and gifts that we bring to the world.  The experiences we have had and the roads we have travelled ensure we can be no one but ourselves.

So while what we do, may sometimes have an uncanny resemblance to things other people have done, who we are, can never be replicated.

So the challenge for me is not to avoid imitating someone else, it’s about being the divine, best and truest me I can be.

Divine Idea by Fabian Kruse

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?

(Author: Fabian Kruse)

I’ve been burning brain cells and writing my little fingers to the bone today, so this is going to be short, and probably a bit blunt, because I’m not going to expound further than to say:

Life can polish you up or grind you down.  It’s your choice.

There is life after circumstances.


Your Personal Message by Eric Handler

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

(Author: Eric Handler)