Where is Love?

wave washed heart and pink shovel_4500Where has the romantic gone?

How did she become lost?

Where is the lonely little girl who constantly poured her soul

Into a few choice words—laying bare her life, her heart, and her mind?

I have searched everywhere, yet she remains lost.

I see a form; it could be her.

Instead I am confronted with some glowering old woman

Whose sour disposition seeps forth from every seam of her face,

and every pore of her skin.

Like the odor of spoiled meat, it surrounds her in a miasma,

full of despair and dislike.

When she sees me, she grabs my sleeve

and demands querulously, “Where is love? Where has it gone?”

“I was a young woman once—in love with life and filled with joy.

Now, here I am dressed in these rags. My hair is coarse and my

face is wrinkled. I do not understand. How did I come to be this way?”

Her tears follow the runnels of her face

until they tumble free and splash against her shawl.

Her claw-like fingers still grip my sleeve

and I find myself patting her age-speckled hand.

Love is so fleeting, so swiftly fading.

With its departure do we lose our youth,

our beauty and our way.

Feeling her pain, I turn her toward the light.

Wiping away her tears, I softly explain

that love is there, in front of her.

For within the light all is joy,

and within the light all is music,

and within the light everything is love.

With a look of awe, she releases me

and reaches toward the light.

As she shuffles forward, her countenance changes.

Her face grows smoother, and her back straighter,

and as the glow surrounds her, somewhere deep

within myself I feel the tones of love resound.

Advertisements

Telling the Story

escortingcoverDo you know the difference between a novel and a non-fiction book? A non-fiction book is based in truth. However, the biggest mistake that non-fiction authors make is equating truth with a dry recitation of facts rather than the telling of a story. Despite your history teacher’s attempts to bore you with lists of dates and tables of facts, history can (and is) actually interesting. People want to know why something happened or why someone acted or reacted as they did. They want to understand the reason for events, and that’s where your story telling ability comes in. You need to show them why; you need to give them the story surrounding the event.

All stories, both fiction and non-fiction, are just that—stories. When writing a memoir, biography, or other bit of non-fiction, you still need to follow the same guidelines as an author writing a novel; however, you have a major advantage. Your story is already loosely defined for you. You have the timeline, timeframe, characters, major conflicts, and key dramatic elements, all you need to do is add the story components.

You need to develop your characters so that your readers can see them the way you do—are they shy, dynamic, geeky, or ne’er do well? The characters need depth, life, purpose, and motivation to go along with that dramatic moment. Does the moment you’re recording have to do with star-crossed lovers, a robbery gone wrong, a heroic deed, or just a crazy moment that changed the character’s life? You also need to build up the environment. What was the time period like, the culture, and the society? Help your readers understand your character’s perspectives, actions, and reactions. (For instance, the American culture and societal mores are much different today than they were in the 1970’s and understanding that can help the reader connect with the character and their plight.)

Also, just as a fictional character has wants, needs, fears, and motivations, so do your non-fictional characters. By using a first- or third-person point of view, action verbs, and a show-not-tell writing style you can catapult your readers into the story and help them appreciate the little slice of true life that you are sharing with them.

Here’s an example of a memoir that, while historically accurate, is rather dry:

In 1973, Terry got a job for the local newspaper. She did many jobs while there, such as typesetting, layout and design, and bundling (which is the bundling of flyers, ads, and other inserts with the paper). However, her favorite job was junior reporter.

Her first really major story involved the murder of a local schoolteacher. When the body was discovered, Terry was at the school to cover the latest protests.

Here is that same example, but written in a more story-like way:

1973 was a tumultuous year. It was the time of flower power, (Viet Nam) war protests, hippies dropping out, dropping in, and dropping acid, flag and bra burnings, and it was the year that Terry saw her first murder victim.

As a junior reporter for the local paper, she was at the school covering the latest protest when the screams ripped through the air.

 

Now, which memoir would you rather read?

Interview with the Characters from Danaria

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1A friend and I were speaking the other day about fictional characters and what it might be like to sit down with them and actually speak to them about their plans, desires, wants, and needs. I was so taken with the concept that I decided to use the library interview questions that I answered to find out more about the characters in my fantasy series. So, to find out what Joelnar, Darkwind, Neerah, Phessari, and Marek think, keep reading.

Q: What do you want most from life?

Joelnar: A quiet life of raising horses that I can share with a wife and family.
Darkwind: If not love, then at least acceptance. Everyone fears me and thinks that I’m this terrible, awful person, but they don’t know me…at least not the true me.
Neerah: I thought I wanted love and adventure, but now I’m not so sure about the adventure, anyway.
Phessari: I want to share my life with someone while using my healing talents to help people.
Marek: Honor. I want to regain, and then maintain my honor so that I and my partner can lead our people and keep our village strong.

Q: What do you notice first about people?

Joelnar: How open they are. If a person is trustworthy, they tend to be more open in the way they present themselves and speak to you, because they have nothing to hide.
Darkwind: I used to take everyone at face value. Now, however, I try to note their energy patterns to see how believable and trustworthy someone is. Despite my ‘age,’ I still have a lot to learn about people.
Neerah: I notice a person’s face and whether the person is smiling or frowning, or looks friendly or sour. If they’re sour, like old lady Enderas, then I would rather not have to spend time with them.
Phessari: Their aura. A person’s energy signature precedes them by at least four feet, so it’s the first thing I sense, and it gives me so much information about the person.
Marek: How they carry themselves. A proud and honorable person is comfortable with themselves, meets your gaze, and stands tall and strong.

Q: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I can’t say that I have ever really had any friends. But if I did, I should like them to be understanding and kind.
Neerah: Fun. I love friends who enjoy life.
Phessari: Respect. It’s not easy for some people to respect someone with different values or beliefs. So, I really appreciate having friends who respect me.
Marek: Loyalty. When I go into battle, I expect my friends to be there with me. My fight should be their fight, and their fight is my fight.

Q: What is your main fault?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I’ve been told that I’m too controlling; but then, again, I’m rather reserved, so I get very uncomfortable in unstructured situations.
Neerah: Recklessness, I guess. Joelnar, Marmian, and my grandfather have all told me that I don’t think about the consequences of my actions; that I tend to just jump into things.
Phessari: My acceptance and my convictions in my faith. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a believer.
Marek: Intolerance. I have been very intolerant of those who aren’t warriors or who do not follow warrior ways. I have little patience for spell-casters and the like.

Q: Do you have any regrets in your life, and if so, what?

Joelnar: Yes. I regret not going back to Darkwind’s when I first had the chance and rescuing my friend, Rafe, and my brother. But I’m determined to set them free, no matter what.
Darkwind:
I regret my interactions with Neerah. Of all those I have hurt, her pain cuts me the deepest.
Neerah: I regret not taking my opportunity with Joelnar when I had the chance back in the Forest of Reflections.
Phessari: I wish I knew more about the interactions of couples. I have spent so much time learning my skills as a healer that I have had little experience with emotional entanglements.
Marek: I regret my quick dismissal of those who do not follow the warrior’s path. I am just now beginning to understand that it takes more than being a great warrior to be a great person.

Q: What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?

Joelnar: I would like to have the touch with animals, especially horses, that my mother did. There wasn’t any animal anywhere that would shy away from her.
Darkwind:
Courage. I wish I had been braver when I first entered this world of physicality. Perhaps then, Ionee (now Neerah) would not have been so upset with me.
Neerah: Actually, I wish I could return the talent I was gifted with. I wish I couldn’t hear the gems singing, or use their power.
Phessari: I have already been blessed with so much, I would not ask the gods for more.
Marek: I have already been gifted with the skill and power of a mighty warrior. As a leader, this is the best talent to have.

Q: How do you wish to die?

Joelnar: Quietly, with my family around me.
Darkwind:
Free. If I die, I want to be free of d’Oessler’s control, and with Ionee’s forgiveness.
Neerah: I don’t wish to die at all. That’s morbid, ask me something else.
Phessari: I will accept whatever fate the gods may bless me with.
Marek: In battle, of course. That is how a warrior should die.

Q: What is your favorite motto?

Joelnar: With love and family, all things are possible.
Darkwind:
All are one.
Neerah: Life is a playground; let’s have fun.
Phessari: Life is a circular path leading to enlightenment.
Marek: Elai-gri nahk tie. Onward to battle!

 

Sleep Walking

dreamer2There’s a passage in one of Stephen King’s books where he talks about how his protagonist is avoiding life by burying himself in his writing. SK goes on to say that to the protagonist, the characters in the story he is writing are more real to him than the world and people in which he actually lives. I mention that because for a while I felt as if my life was that way.

I had been burying myself in a pretense of life to the exclusion of what was important. I went into work and I busied myself with how-to guides, indices and table of contents, images and tables. I scurried to meetings, and followed agendas, and answered phones, and all the time all I was really doing was avoiding life—real life.

Oh, I can see you going, “Whoa! Wait a minute; what you described is life.” But you’re so wrong. For me life has never been about creating a physical product or object, or going to meetings so I can listen to someone worry about whether deadlines will be met, or whether we should change the template of our how-to guides. For me life has always been more about why people act the way they do, care about what they do, or say what they do.

Seeing beneath the surface of the games and dramas that people participate in has always been easy for me. So easy, in fact, that I rarely got caught up in the dramas myself—at least not for any length of time. I think this is why, when I realized what I was doing, that it hit me so hard. Here I was, going through the motions of living every day and thinking that this was what it was all about, this was living; then suddenly realizing that what I was doing was really avoiding life.

I literally became a sleep walker during the days—I came into work, did my “thing” and then went home, never recognizing that what I was doing served little purpose but to occupy my mind and keep me from actually seeing beneath the surface to my real life.

I suddenly recognized just how much people do things out of habit. We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that if we don’t have gainful employment that we’ll starve, if we have nowhere to live, we’re failures. Yet, look at how many people manage to do what they want and still get by. How many people are painting, sculpting, selling poetry, hanging out at the beach riding surfboards and just enjoying life?

There’s nothing wrong with any of those options, just as there’s nothing wrong with “working” for a living. I think everyone needs to make their own choices. It’s just for me, I finally recognized that what I was calling “working for a living: was really “hiding” from life. While I want to write, and I want to make money enough to support myself and my husband, I also needed to unbury myself from this false life and continue my search for what’s real—for me. And what’s real for me is understanding the BIG picture—who we are, what we are, and where are we going.

So, although I still work writing how-to manuals, and I still participate in “normal life”, I’m also spending much more time in the astral plane. In the astral plane I can interact with others like myself who are ready to know, who are ready to see what lies beyond. Then during the day, rather than lull myself back into a walking sleep, I study the people around me. Not in a disinterested, mad-scientist way, but rather as stranger to a unique and extraordinary world that I need to understand and figure out.

I see the world through the eyes of someone new; and, like a child, I revel in the beauty and simplicity of a raindrop, or marvel at the sound of bird’s call. I enjoy the fragrance of fresh brewed coffee, or the sight of someone laughing.

Every day is a unique and marvelous occurrence just waiting for me to experience, and experience it, I do. I no longer sleep walk through life, but instead I try to make each day something joyous and positive, even if all I am doing is going to work. Every day is a wonder, and every moment a precious gem.

Tall

tallshortI decided to go for a walk…nothing unusual in that. I love walking and do it as often as I can. What was unusual was my perception of things.

I was looking down on the world as if from a great height. I,who have been height-challenged my whole life, was looking at the landscape around me as if in a body that was tall…perhaps upwards of 7 or 8 feet tall.

It was strange, yet it was also awesome. I looked down at the sidewalk and it seemed so far away. It was more than twice the distance from me as normal, while the tops of the trees, which I was now focused on, seemed so close. I reached out toward the sky and felt as if I could grab the clouds in a bear hug.

I spun around like a child…my arms extended, my face pointed skyward. As I spun, I felt almost untethered. It was if the merest of threads kept me bound to the earth. I felt that if I truly wanted to, I could simply let go of that thread and leaving my body behind, I could soar right up to the clouds drifting by.

I took a step forward and my body awkwardly responded. It was if I had just learned to walk. I had to actually think about the motions I needed to make for my body to step forward. After about half a dozen steps the body and I felt more in tune with each other, and I didn’t have to focus so much on what I wanted it to do. However, the feeling of tallness, of towering over my actual physical form continued. It was if I were two people…the short, typical me, and a towering giant standing over me. It was an awesome feeling; an interesting perception of reality.

By the time I completed my walk, the two realities had finally merged back into one…the short reality of my “normal” body. But the feelings and awareness awakened by the experience of being so “tall” lingers. And in that lingering perspective is a new and unique (for me, anyway) of viewing the world and those in it.

It gave me a feeling of connectedness and uniqueness all at the same time. It gave me feelings of being the same, yet different; and it allowed me to understand that no matter who you are, we all see the same world…we all just see it from our own unique perspective.

The soul’s voice

OnDreamsCover_Smashwords_withtextIf people’s eyes are the windows to their souls, then dreams are the soul’s voice. Dreams can praise, promise, warn, caution, sing, yell, and whisper. Dreams give voice to those hidden secrets deep in our souls, the yearnings, the passions, and desires.

Dreams may seem meaningless, and I know many people tend to ignore their dreams. However, dreams can tell us so much about ourselves and the others around us if we would just listen to them.

Dreams rarely speak in a plain and open manner. Most times they use a language that is obtuse and somewhat opaque, and the messages are oblique and sometimes hard to hear. But once you figure out the language of dreams, you will find that the information they offer can broaden your world exponentially. It’s amazing how much more you will be able to see and understand once you learn to speak “dream”.

I’ve spent decades listening to and deciphering the meaning of my dreams. I’ve become so well-versed in dream-speak, that I rarely even need a dream dictionary to understand what the dreams are telling me.

Here’s an example:

I was standing alone in the transitional plane, wandering once again whether I was on the best path for me, when the mist suddenly changed to a period room. It seemed to be a room from a well-adorned home (probably from the 1700’s). I was in a period gown, sitting on a settee, and a man came in. I couldn’t clearly see his face, but in the dream I knew him and loved him. He offered me a jewelry box and inside was a single pearl on a gold chain next to two pearl-drop earrings. The scene grayed, then returned, and the box now contained a ruby pendant and earrings. It grayed once more, and the box now held an opal pendant and earrings.

I took the box and the scene dissolved and faded away. Now I was in a grassy yard and I was holding a small, brown puppy, and barking and playing around my feet was another older puppy, golden yellow—a Labrador, maybe?—and I was smiling and very happy. The dog brought me a stick, and I tossed it and then two smiling dogs ran off to get it.

Suddenly, I was back inside the house, in the kitchen. There was a huge fireplace with a roaring fire, but I was standing near the kitchen table. I reached toward the fruit bowl for an apple and a half-dozen little spiders crawled out of the bowl and I woke up.

When I woke up I was happy and smiling, not frightened, and I’ll tell you why. Not only had I finally gotten an answer, but the answer was a positive one. But what about the spiders, I hear you asking. Even spiders are a positive “omen” in dreams.

First there was the lover’s gift of jewelry, jewels, gems, opals, rubies, and pearls. If you look up all of those symbols (gift, jewelry, jewels, gems, opals, rubies, and pearls) you find that it means:

Gift: your own innate gifts; your own innate abilities

Jewelry: if not broken, then pleasure and good fortune.

Jewels: to receive them from others, good fortune and good friends.

Gems: happiness in love and business.

Opals: great luck in the next few days.

Pearls: faithful friends and lovers; happiness

Rubies: happiness and good luck in all speculations.

Earrings: encouraging and interesting work.

Necklace: to receive a necklace as a gift means happy times and faithful lover.

Then the part about the puppies playing:

Dogs: intuition, loyalty, generosity, protection, and fidelity.

Puppies: Good, strong friends and friendships.

Green grass: happiness and wealth.

Green fields: abundance and happiness.

Followed by the kitchen scene:

Kitchen: unpleasant gossip surrounds you.

Fire: prosperity and good luck.

Fruit: (eating them) struggles

Apples: prosperity and harmony if the apples are without blemishes or worms.

Spiders: many spiders means fortune, good health, good friends, and favorable conditions are yours.

When put all together, it shows me that through my own innate gifts, my good friends and faithful lover I will enjoy prosperity, happiness, and good luck on the path I have chosen, despite a few bumps and problems.

So, what are your dreams whispering to you?

(For more about dreams and what they might be trying to tell you, read On dreams and dream symbols.)

It’s a Zoo

We all live in a zoo, of sorts. Each of us sharing some cages, and others walled off in our own private cages within the bigger cage of life. In fact, some of us have enclosed ourselves within multiple cages, each smaller and more cramped than the next one. Others have managed to break out of most of their cages, and now only huddle within the largest of them, with edges so far flung that they can’t even see the bars. For others, the edge of their cage is so close that they feel hunched and crowded no matter what they do.

However, most of us don’t wish to see or acknowledge these cages, so we don’t; after all, we are the creators of our cages, so we are hardly going to admit (even to ourselves) that we have placed these boundaries around ourselves. But think about it…how often have you told yourself that you can’t do or say something, or that you mustn’t do or say something? Every time you do that, you put another layer of boundaries (another cage) around yourself. These are cages built of fear. Whether it’s the fear of being perceived as “different than the norm”, the fear of failing, the fear of being rejected, or the fear of appearing silly or stupid, it’s still a barrier that you create around yourself.

What if it didn’t matter what anyone else thought? What if there were no way to measure success and failure? Would you do or say something then? Probably. Because it would be more difficult for the fear to take hold. Maybe not impossible, but definitely more difficult.

Some fears cause you to create a cage of solitude, walling out anyone and everyone that would even try to get close to you. Arrogance builds a fear in people of being seen for what they are rather than what they want others to believe they are. This causes someone with arrogance to build a cage around themselves to lock others away; keeping them from coming too close. Greed is another one that causes people to create a cage of solitude because they are more intent on obtaining more of whatever it is they feel they don’t have enough of. This causes the greedy ones to push people away (unless, of course, it’s people that the greedy one needs to “collect”), because they only have time for people that can help them obtain what it is they need.

Some people build cages not just around themselves, but around others, too. It could be that they fear being alone so they cage themselves together with a select chosen few to keep them close. It could be a widow who holds her grown children too close, or a clingy friend. Some people are afraid of being abandoned, so they, too, build cages around family members or friends in an attempt to hold them close.

Others build cages of “love” but the love is unbalanced, because their love is based on fear. They’re afraid that their partner might leave them, or they’re afraid that their partner only loves them because they’re beautiful/rich/powerful.

Most people do not analyze their reasons for “loving” someone else, at least not until that relationship starts to fall apart. However, even then, they will rarely recognize that their love was anything but that all shining icon called true love that we were all raised to expect and so look for endlessly.

But even an honest, balanced love can become a cage; although, it is usually a less restrictive, less inhibiting one. That is because it is constructed by all the participants in an equal and balanced way. It is more of an exclusionary barrier, keeping out those too frightened by such beauty as pure love to be able to understand or share the emotion. However, this is a rare occurrence, and this type of cage is seldom seen by the majority of us, and when it is, we usually see it as something to fear.

So, next time you think we only put animals in zoos, think about the cages you’ve built around self, and realize that we’re all in our own personal zoo.