The Healing Heart

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Heart and Key padlock

Julie could hear the soles of her 4 inch platforms click ominously on the polished floor of the stage as she walked halfway to meet the Instructor. She worried that the absence of friends and family in the audience would dampen the thrill from having worked so hard and finally receiving the little piece of scrolled paper that proved it. The general noise of the auditorium seemed to cease minus a single cheer from some unseen place above. She raised her hand in triumph and cheered back into the silence that followed. Julie wondered who that kind person was as she reached out to shake the out-stretched hand and stood for the obliging photo op. The silence continued as she found her way through the bright lights to the stairs on the far side of the stage.

By the time the last step was descended, the cheers for the name that followed commenced, and Julie found her way back to her seat as she looked up into the second-level stands to see if perhaps her one fan still remained. She didn’t recognize the voice. She didn’t care. She clutched lightly at the ribbon-rolled sheet of paper and smiled to herself. She did it. That’s all she needed to know and to feel at this moment in time. Later, she would think about the lack of support that seemed to follow her around in this small town.

Perhaps that comes with being different in a town that has little experience in dealing with different; or maybe it was a result of keeping her heart hidden behind the high, mortared wall she’d built around it. After all, that was why she was there…to heal…and to learn how to heal others. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but traditional medicine was never an answer for deep, soul wounds that punctured the human psyche.

Julie thought back to the years that led to this moment.

The numbness was such a gradual thing. She hadn’t noticed at first. Pretty soon, though, it was like living in a pair of disembodied eyes. One night, she sat in a chair in her office pressing the point of a thumb tack into the flesh of her fingertips. She watched as pinpoints of blood oozed through the tiny holes in each one. When she could feel nothing, she dragged the tip of the tack across the palm of her hand and felt an irritating trail of nerves respond…still, it was not pain. Julie knew on some level that she should have felt alarm, but she could not even feel that. There was no danger, no pain, no reaction-not even fear.

            She sat in the darkened theater and silently pinched herself hard inside the wide sleeves of her gown and felt satisfied at the pain she caused herself. She felt the throbbing of her bunion as the new shoes pinched non-apologetically at the bulbous foot deformity, and thought “I’m alive, and I can feel again.” So, it didn’t matter that no-one sat beside her and shared in her private or public joy. It didn’t matter that at times she felt as if the whole world shared in the struggle to keep her down, because today she burned with the fire and strength of the phoenix, and her struggles to feel were the ashes she left behind.

She would go home and take off the dress she bought for the occasion and hang it alongside the gown that would never see the outside of a closet again, and she would pour herself a cup of tea.  She would then bake herself a celebratory cake and share it with her father as she watched fleeting memories dance across his face. Julie would hug him as she said “I did it. Today I graduated.” To which he would reply, “Well, congratulations…who are you, again?”

Moving to the couch, Julie would balance the plate of cake on her lap thinking about moments and celebrations shared with her mother, and she would pick up the fork, raise it to the high heavens and say “We did it Mom…we did it.”

She could hear her mother’s chuckle now, followed by her usual cynical, sardonic reply.

“Oh yeah? And it only cost you how much? Hehehe…”

“Cheaper than therapy, mom. A lot cheaper.” She would imagine herself saying.

Julie loved that about her mother, though. If any one of her children threatened to float higher than they had a right to, mom would be there with the straight pin waiting to burst the bubble. Not this time, though. So Julie made it a point to do it for her. God, she missed her. The pain was still raw, but even in death, she felt her presence. Not like the soft breeze wafting through the leaves of a shading tree. No, not her mother. More like the jarring ring of a phone call in the middle of the night…forceful and something to be reckoned with. Julie smiled to herself again…

“…Thank you, everybody for coming out to support our newest graduates in their time of joy. We are all so proud of each and every one of them. Let’s hear it again. One more time before we march with heads held high into a future brimming with expectation and promise!”

{We hear the sound of loud thunderous applause and the chanting of school spirit …}

Julie stirred from her mental rambles and stood with the rest of the class turning to follow them up the long line of low steps and out into the bright lights of the windowed lobby. When she made it to the top of the landing, her fellow graduates were already engaged in selfie snaps and group hugs. She quietly sat to remove her shoes and walked out of the first exit she could find into the high heat of the mid-July day.

Her future wasn’t in the room full of people with the sounds of snapping cameras. It was in the little paper she carried with her on the long walk to the car. She stopped to unravel it when she was safely seated behind the wheel. Inside she found a poem devoted to the future graduates and all their promised glory along with an announcement to pick up their degrees or certificates when they received orders to do so.

That would suffice.

*****

Julie sat there staring at the urn of her father’s ashes. She looked at the picture of him she’d picked out to be placed on the prayer candle and tried to feel…something.

Two years earlier and just weeks after graduating, her new career was forced into hibernation while she struggled with the responsibility of becoming care-taker to the essence of a person she would have to watch diminish day by day. If she was surprised that the forever good-bye that walked closely on the heels of each day did not bring with it the fear, pain, and sadness she once used to imagine it would as a child, she didn’t show it. She couldn’t. Julie no longer knew how. For two years, she studied and learned everything of the body and all its wonderful parts and then began working on restoring the sensation to her own, yet, the connection to her deeper core remained severed.

There were exceptions. She could find laughter in some of the nightly programming, she found her love of nature and animals could still be stirred by the right picture at the right moment, and of course the complete selfless love she would always feel for her children remained. However, the love and trust she felt for humanity was just a scream of an echo in an abyss. It bounced around, but never seemed to make it back to her…and she wasn’t really complaining. She became an observer of life and began to see the dark side of people she never before considered existed; would never have believed possible. She wondered if she was blind to it before or if the world had changed that much in the near three decades she lay sheltered in her small circle of family and friends that, when she finally ventured past the unseen boundaries and tried to stretch her wings, she was blind-sided by the ugly truth. She tried to think back and, as she did so, recalled some frightening times when the black shroud of humanity had threatened; but, by some odd quirk of fate or some divine intervention, something happened that would pull her back out from underneath.

At first she was terrified of this new world view. She wanted desperately for thirty years’ time to be restored and to shrink back into her corner of the world…back into the shadow of light. Instead she was forced to face days when any interaction seemed like a personal assault on her senses until finally everything was gone. All the excess love and compassion, sympathy, and thoughts of good will had slowly faded-all but the most fundamentally necessary ones. The heart had hardened. It was still there.  She knew it was, for she could feel it beating within the small confines of the wall she’d built around it.

The strangest thing was that even though that kind of love was missing-the kind that would be reciprocated if she had braved any attempt at all of bestowing it upon another, she still always felt she was smiling inside, as if she knew what kind of world it was, but it just couldn’t touch her inside. It wasn’t until strangers in lines at stores told her to smile that she suspected, to others, she appeared unhappy. She didn’t think what she felt was unhappiness. Julie thought deeper and finally decided it wasn’t. It was just reservation…or preservation; reservation about what she witnessed happening around her and preservation for the things she wished to remain holding on to. She thought if she unlocked that key to the chamber of her heart the dark side of humanity would find a way to destroy it, and she couldn’t let that happen.

 

No. Julie would figure out what it was that was actually happening before she would give dark humanity any chance of feeling the love she knew still resided deep within.

*****

Julie spun  the heavy urn around while deep in contemplation. There, in her idled state of observation, she had a great epiphany. Lately, she’d noticed signs of a message that seemed to find her repeatedly but that she assumed was never meant for her directly. She was already quite familiar with the message and was sure she was practicing it regularly…

Since her recent years of discovering the dark shroud that existed around the whole of humanity, she began to see only the bad in people. It was what she chose and continued to focus on in her attempt to understand it and to try to remain safely from it. Julie realized in a single moment of clarity that the dark had always moved within the peripheral of existence, but her focus never remained on it for long. She was too busy feeling the love that came to her in waves from every direction. They were the same ripples she herself used to send out to others.

Somehow, Julie had let the ripples of doom-the negative effects-enter into the circle she so naturally cast with her brimming love and light. She allowed a shadow of doubt to be cast on  her inner but outwardly reflected world, and like the particle that turns into whatever the believer wishes it to be, her view reflected the darkness she somehow became drawn to and unknowingly, the harder she tried keeping it at bay, the closer she was inviting it to come. She re-discovered that all happy and sad, good and bad, light and dark existed in one place simultaneously always. What she chooses to focus on is what she will draw to her.

At that moment, Julie heard the clicking of a key turning, the cylinder thumping soundly against the wall of the heart. She felt the knob twist and release the latch that held tightly the door. Creaks croaked and moans made when finally the door swung loose. What she felt was not the pouring of love filling her up from without, but a pouring of love she held firmly in reserve release. This is the love that warmed her heart.

Julie once again realized that you cannot shut the door on darkness; you MUST, instead, shine the light of love upon it.

Unpublished work © S.L. Davis 2015; all rights reserved.

**Illustration provided by ®Clipart

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5 Fantastic Signs of a Daily Prompt:

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Animal House, John Belushi, parchment wanted sign

5 Fantastic Signs of a Solid Prompt

(Fizzling Prompts Need Not Apply)

Not every prompt will have the same appeal for you or your readers. As the writer, you have to be willing to jump on the one that excites you and pushes you to write each line that eventually culminates in a series of sentences and paragraphs that tells a pleasing story. Although what constitutes a pleasing story will always remain a sort of mystery, what motivates you to write one is not.

There are 5 basic responses behind a good prompt.

Number 1

Is that smoke I smell?

Or is that just the grinding from the wheels spinning in your head?

Are there sparks shooting out from your eyes?

This effect should cause the sound of metal on metal; a forging, forward momentum that should be activated upon reading a good prompt. It’s the beginning of an 8-hour shift and someone has just turned on the automated system. If you ask someone to stop the line, your co-workers {a.k.a, fiercely firing fingers} will look at you and threaten to personally stretch your bladder for you.

The only way you are going to stop typing is if someone douses you with a fire hose!

Number 2

Are those tears in your eyes? Geez…get a grip!

Did you just read or see something that provoked an immediate emotional response from you? There’s already the heat from the grinding in your head, now it has to register in some way with your emotional strings. But remember:  Emotional responses don’t have to be, well…mushy.

Was there one that made you laugh out loud or think about something else that made you laugh? Even if the prompt is a photo of the Zombie Apocalypse but you spot a man in the shot talking on his cell phone and is totally oblivious to the slobbering, blood-thirsty leeches crouching up around him.

What do you think could be so engrossing about that conversation? How funny would it be if he tells one of them to “buzz off dude! Can’t you see I’m freaking on the phone? I’M UP FOR THE PART!

This one is going to be a reflection of how you think…or feel… and respond. So don’t see an image of Zombies.

Look for the part of the image that speaks to you in some way and pulls that emotional trigger.

More examples of these: Anger, Fear, Hate, Love, Sorrow, and Guilt (just to name a few).

If the emotional response is strong enough, the story will sustain itself.

Number 3

I was just talking about this!!!

We know!!! You talk about it all…the…time.

This one may seem obvious, but doesn’t need to be. Maybe it only slightly resembles a topic you’re interested in; Call them distant cousins. You’re into space and the moon walk, but the prompt is the story of a rare and beautiful stone that was found near a natural crater. Suddenly, you are holding the jewel from the crown of Luna, queen of  the Stone Thrown (pun intended) and ruler of the dark side of the moon.

Yeah, she lost it in a struggle with Neil Armstrong while he was racing back to the Apollo in what is still an unclassified encounter with a UFO. There was an exchange of fire and the stone was struck from the clutching gloves of Armstrong that sent it hurdling through space and on a direct course to Earth. Haven’t you ever wondered why there was never another moon walk?

Humph…that crown has been in the family for ions! They are mad as Hell and they want it back!

Number 4

You didn’t really just write that, did you?

Can it be adapted to your style of writing without causing an adverse emotional response in others?

Conversely, depending on your style, that may be the effect you are going for.

But assuming for a moment it isn’t: you have a picture in your possession that tells an incredible story; a family gathering that SPARKS your interest and invokes a warm and fun EMOTIONAL response to a memory you have of that day. With this picture you get to showcase your humor and dazzle your readers with your wit.

However, the image in the picture could generate ill-will with readers and potentially cause hot-topic discussions you hadn’t counted on, nor wanted. In other words, controversy isn’t your style.

Does that mean you shouldn’t use the picture? Probably so.

Does it mean you shouldn’t write the story? Not if the story itself isn’t offensive. There may be similar photos you can find in public domain sites that allow you to use images for free that will still catch the general feel of the original photo, or you can take the original photo and remove the offending part. This might require the use of technical skills in Photoshop® or another similar program.

If your artistic skills are any good, you could try creating an image yourself through the same process.

If the story is good enough and pulls the right cords in you, you will find a way to complete the image you had in mind for the story.

And finally:

Number 5

This is Kizmit!

 

Does the story seem to write itself?

Sometimes we get lucky. We stumble upon an idea or prompt that just seems to manifest from thin air. As much as the greats of writing will tell you, “Writing is hard work!” there are times when the keys on the pad feel like the tip of a magic wand, and words just appear on the screen faster than you can say “Your momma’s uncle.”

The sentences are formed like perfect little negatives reeling from a projector flashing on the bright white surface of the screen. You heard the sounds of the first words forming in your head and the verbal feast continues as you try to keep up with the courses…Insert belch–à here and make room for more. This is a 5 course meal and you already know what’s on the menu!

It’s when during the middle of writing dialogue for one character, you have to hit the enter button 5 times to write the backstory for the upcoming chapter. Information is flying at you like the famous food fight in ANIMAL HOUSE and you are John Belushi grabbing food- fist to mouth.

Don’t stop now my little muses…Momma’s hungry!

There you have it.

Does it create the initial spark?

Does it provoke an emotional response?

Does it feed a passion?

Can it be adapted to your style?

Does the story seem to write itself?

If so, break out the good china and let’s eat!

I hope this gives you some food for thought. {Oh, no she didn’t!} And gets you motivated to keep your senses peeled to the possibilities of all the promising prompts that will titillate your responses, as well as feed the 5 senses of your readers!

Unpublished work © S.L. Davis 2015; use with links and acknowledgments back to the original source.

image produced in PowerPoint using clipart®

Distraction and the Scent of a Bone

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For the past week, I’d been going crazy reading articles about blogging that led me to more articles pertaining to optimizing search engines for websites, personal branding and finally marketing and research all in an effort to learn how to build a better website. It was an endeavor that started with one article due more out of curiosity but quickly snowballed into a browser with ten open windows at once…all week long. This is not uncommon for me. It usually happens as a result of reading something that contains information or a word I’m not familiar with (that’s right, I said it…I sometimes need a dictionary to make sure I comprehend everything I’m reading. I feel no shame in telling you that!)

What I later realized, however, was how far off I veered from the original topic and from the one article I initially wanted to read. Not only did I not finish that article, but I was burdened with the thought that, now, I had a dozen more that needed to be finished. Aside from that, I realized how exhausted I felt from the effort and how, instead of having grasped completely the information from one article, I had tons of information about a lot of different articles I would need to get back to anyway.

Before closing the lid on my laptop for the night, I took a moment to look at all the tabs I’d bookmarked for future reference and promised myself I’d get to soon and was reminded of a video I saw that had me in stitches. These opened, partially read articles were not proof of my failings, but instead, were an indication of my deep hunger for knowledge. I can imagine the frenzy my mind was in as I jumped from one open window to the next in search of the sweet, succulent morsels of data just waiting to be picked. The thought had me reaching for a napkin to wipe my salivating mouth like a dog gone rabid, and I could feel that familiar excitement of eventually reading those articles surging up again. I wanted to jump right back into the insanity to feed that hunger even if I could barely keep my eyes open.

What I did, though, was take a moment to breathe deeply and picture a straight line from point A to point B and the steps I needed to take to make that happen successfully without all the side trips as represented by the many opened browser windows.

It wasn’t going to be easy. I was going to have to find a way that satiated my immediate desire for information with the assurance that I would eventually get back to all those links that interested me in the body of the article I was reading, which in some cases were many. I would need to develop and follow a plan. I decided a to-do list would work. I could bookmark the links to sites that were referenced, and in my notebook, I would add the reading of that article as something that needed to be done. No more was I willing to waste huge amounts of time and energy bouncing from side to side and page to page.

I would be satisfied with fully engaging in the content I was reading while still being aware of the periphery, like a dog in a race to the finish line drawn by the smell of a bone or a roll of bratwurst but diligently refusing to give into the temptation.  It wasn’t going to be something that was ignored, but instead would be seen as something skirting the edges of awareness I would be rewarded with later…not during, because as the attached video proves, giving into the temptation ultimately costs me large amounts of time and prevents me from running the race to the finish.

Today’s Blog Post Brought to You By Our Sponsor…

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This is silly, but during my morning routine of checking my Yahoo horoscope and eating my cereal (hey, no judging. I know most of you eat your cereal to the tune of Sponge Bob Square paints!)

breakfast

I saw the usual annoying ads flash on the pages-the same ones that we ADHD sufferers are drawn to like pirates to a treasure map. Right above the words forewarning me to abandon my usual propensity for routine because no matter how hard I tried it was just not expected to go as planned, I spotted one that really grabbed my attention. I’ve seen the ad before, but for some reason, today it just really struck me as funny and, well, sort of incredible. Not so much the invention of said item being advertised, but the timing of it in light of our ever-increasing, world-advancing, growth and domination over vast and untamed galaxies. I won’t tell you what the ad was for right this second. Let me first elaborate on the history of some of the technology that incredible men and women have labored over in order to make our world the captivating civilization it is today. Continue reading

In the beginning there were… Quotes, LOL

reblogged from Group creator of The Grotto of the Muse Facebook.

ghostlyfaerie

image

To a Scot, the past clings like sand to wet feet,
and is carried about as a burden.
The many ghosts are always a part of them, inescapable

No one in Scotland can escape from the past.
It is everywhere, haunting like a ghost.

-Geddes MacGregor

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild,

With a faery, hand in hand,

The world’s more full of weeping than you can understand!

-William B. Yeats

Witches are considered walkers between worlds according to Wicca, and are called hedgewitches, greensleeves, a connection between this world and the next…

The Aos Sidhe are known as the shining ones in Irish mythology.  Long ago they lived, until they were forced underground…  Like the Atlanteans, they took their advanced technology and disappeared without a trace below sea level, never to be seen again.

Sweet dreams,

Dear Writers!

Until next time!

—Rose Macauley

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