Prompt #7: Where are you at in your writing?

Prompt #7: Where are you at in your writing?

PROMPT: June 2014: Where are you at in your writing? What does this writing group bring to you?

This prompt was written 3 1/2  years ago, in June, 2014. My life hasn’t come close to this level of turmoil since, and for that I give thanks.

What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.

Shoebox Diarama

Where am I at in my writing, is the question. Where I am at in my life, is my first consideration. It’s been a years-long season of scrambling, chaos, and seat-of-the-pants reacting while taking every thought captive so I could remain calm in whatever the moment demanded.

But the season has suddenly ended. To be honest, I’m dumbfounded. This winter has been so encompassing, I’m no longer sure what spring looks like.

It’s been so long.

So long.

The writer in me rattled my keyboard during this winter of pandemonium. It fuelled my words— my struggle, my apathy demanded introspection as I transferred inadequacy onto the screen.

That’s where I’ve been in my writing.

I’m not sure where I’m at today, though, and I’m okay with not knowing.

What does this writing group bring to me?

I smile as I consider the question.

With no effort of will, nor validity of purpose, their prompts have sown thoughts in soil outside the caregiving shoe-box that has been my world for such a long time. My tiny diorama was in desperate need of variation, something I couldn’t generate myself. My fellow writers shared prompts spawned  from their passions, their yearnings, their humour. The group was a God-send, each month bringing to light the bubbling surprise that there existed still within myself a world beyond the cramped locale of my caregiving cubby hole.

Here I heard concepts I couldn’t find on my own. Sure, I knew they existed, but I’d lost the ability to tug at a thread, to follow its fragile shadow of reflection. My tiny, shoe-box view had no space for such abstraction on a day to day basis, but oh, how exciting it was each time we met, each time I discovered dusky distances, and shimmering plots not governed by caregiving, old-age, and frailty, by eldercare, continuing care, dementia care, and caregiver self-care.

In this group I remembered that I could indeed think outside my box — at least once a month.

Looking back, I’m surprised to realize that the monthly escape couldn’t extend to a future beyond my distended shoe-box. You see, it never occurred to me a time would have to come when the diorama would crumble.

And now it has.

Since our last meeting, both my parents have died. One went gently, in her nursing home, attended with kindness and care. The other had a passing fraught with the shame of being a burden, dignity peeled away as his care was fractured through funding shortfalls and overworked staff.

I took notes through both. Of course I took notes. It’s what we writers do.

In a week both services will be wrapped up; in a month red tape and paperwork concluded. Next fall, their estates will be finalized.

The diarama shoe-box will be no more.

And my writing group goes on; a place to revel in the cornucopia of life, of joys and sufferings, histories and hopes, dreams and nightmares. Together we’re safe to explore, to nudge each other to peek into corners almost ready to be bathed in a light that only the written word can shine.

We call this ‘Writing Dangerously’, our group a lifeline as we drift away from our secure shadows and bring the truth to light.

Epilogue: My notes were to become a book, The Reluctant Caregiver, which was published later that year.

Prompt #6: A Choice of Four Quotes

Prompt #6: A Choice of Four Quotes

PROMPT:  Jan. 2017 Read the quotes below and write what comes to mind.

Phillip Yancy: The issue is not whether I agree with someone, but rather how I treat someone with whom I profoundly disagree.  Ravi Zacharias: If truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.  Pastor Brad: This is not how I wanted God to answer my prayer.  Ravi Zacharias: We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.

What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.

Girl in the Night

It was dark. She rarely found herself out walking after dark, not in the city where she lived, at least. And not in the summer, because the days were so much longer, and dark came so much later. But this was summer, and they weren’t in the city. They were on holiday at a campground in Calgary. A big campground, next to Callaway Amusement Park. Excitement ricocheted off the rides as screams and lights and raspy music bounced onto the road she followed, threading through trees, pock-marked with tents and trailers and wash stations. People ventured through the night – parents with kids, couples holding hands. And her. Alone.

Her parents were struggling to erect their tent in the dark. Her brother had taken off with some boys. And she, snatching this unprecedented window of freedom, had called out, “Going for a walk,” and slipped away.

The air was warm. Intoxicating scents drifted across the asphalt path. Music from the amusement park caught her ear and she sang along with a top-ten tune. “Hey there little Red Riding Hood, you sure are looking good…”

It was an other-worldly moment, one she hadn’t touched before. At thirteen, she found herself dipping a toe into the enticing stream of independence. At home, rules forced her to stay close, safe, secure. Those rules hadn’t managed to travel as fast as the family car, though. Busy setting up their campsite, her parents hadn’t surveyed possible dangers in time to prevent her from ducking out from under their cautious control. In this warm, dark, stirring moment she felt alive in a way she never had before.

A noise.

Behind her.

One foot moved in front of the other as her ears strained for discernment.

Boys goofing around, she decided. Being silly, like boys at school would be. But they sounded older, their voices deeper.

Then a whistle. A wolf whistle, they called it.

“Hey, Chickie” one called out. To her? She was pretty sure it was to her.

This was unprecedented. She’d never been approached by a boy before. Quiet, socially awkward, she was what some called a loner.

Not knowing what else to do, her feet continued to carry her forward.

“Hey, Cutie Pie, wait up,” another voice called.

More laughing.

They must like my back, she thought. I must look okay to them.

Maybe they’d like me too, she thought, and kept walking, staring straight ahead.

The laughing was closer. The comments continued – friendly, inviting. Too shy to respond, she didn’t turn towards them, but she couldn’t ignore the excitement of garnering such attention.

Until… until…

“Hey, Sweet Face!” they came along beside her.

“Oh man,” one said. “She’s a dog!”

And off they ran down the path ahead of her.

Leaving her to continue to walk alone. In the warm, dark, fragrant night.

Wishing this was a place that did have rules. Maybe then she wouldn’t have heard what they’d said. Maybe then she’d know what to do with her heart.

 

Prompt #5: Write about Word # 268

Prompt #5: Write about Word # 268

PROMPT:  Our InScribe Word Challenge Coordinator sent out this challenge: Reply to this email and pick a number between 1 and 365. I have a list of 365 writing prompts and will assign the corresponding prompt to the number you select. 

The prompt I received was #268 –  Write about being stranded somewhere – an island, a bus stop, a shopping mall, etc. Or you can go metaphorical and talk about being stranded in time or during a particular event, etc. Allow your muse to be stirred and let creativity take centre stage!

What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.

Stranded

Oh, look. There. That gentleman looks nice. Maybe he’ll help me.

No. He’s walking right past.

I see the bank. Was I just there? Or am I going there now? Over that way is the drugstore. That’s where I buy stamps. Am I going there?

I raise my hand to a lady rushing by. “Excuse me…” but she keeps going.

“Ma’am, what are you doing?”

Who are you? Are you here to steal my money? I was just at the bank. I have all this money in my purse. Is that what you want? If I give it to you, will you go away?

“Ma’am, you can’t stand in the middle of the crosswalk like this. The light’s going to change.”

“I’m happy, you know. But there’s so many places. How is one to know?” Doesn’t he understand I’ve lost my way? I don’t know if I’m going to the bank or away from it. I don’t know which corner I need to reach. And I don’t know if I can trust him. And I can’t find my words. Lord, help me!

“Ma’am, if you take my arm, I’ll help you across the street. Which corner did you want?”

Listen to him, asking questions like I’m some kind of fool. I yell at him: “People are all around here! How should I know?”

He tips his head and looks at me. Hard. I feel my muscles start to shake. But he’s holding out his arm like Daddy does when he says I’m his special girl. I smile and take his arm. A strong arm for Daddy’s special girl.

“Where do you live, ma’am? Do you live in the Seniors Residence there beside the drugstore? Is that where you’re going?”

I look where he’s pointing. The building is made of red brick. I eat in a building made of red brick.

“That place has a dining room,” I tell him. This is something I know. And I have found my words! “My shoes are there.”

The man is smiling now.

“My mom lived in a Seniors Home, too, “ he says. He snugs my arm in his and puts his hand on mine. We’re crossing the street. “She didn’t always remember details either. But if your shoes are there, I’m thinking that’s where you live. Am I right?”

I lean on him to climb up the curb. We pass the drugstore where I buy stamps. I smile. Here I am, coming home on the arm of this handsome young man. We come to double glass doors. I see people in there and they see me. With a nice young man. I have a key on my wrist. I hold it up for him to see.

“Is that the key for the door?” he asks. “Let’s try it.”

And just like that he opens the door and I’m inside.

“Have a nice day, ma’am,” and he is gone.

Such a nice young man. I think he liked me.

I wonder, will I tell my mother about this?

Then I look back out to the street. My goodness.

Oh, my goodness! This brain of mine left me stranded out there in the crosswalk. Four corners and I didn’t know which was mine.

Lord, thank you for finding me and bringing me home. Maybe…  maybe tomorrow you’ll bring me to my real home.

Photo: mconners@morgue_wite

 

Social Media vs. What We Need Most

Social Media vs. What We Need Most

I finally figured it out!

In our fast-paced world where billions of dollars are invested in finding ways to attract our attention, we succumb to the temptation of reaction versus proaction.

When I open Facebook, I’m not actively stepping out with conscious thought or plan. I’m scrolling, refreshing, liking, ignoring, clicking and reading, getting bored, refreshing again, and on and on and on.

I can spend hours in mind-numbing reactive mode.

Life, however, requires that we be proactive if we’re to move forward, make an impact, feel significant in some way or other.

Reactive is easy, and unproductive, a cunning trap that robs us of what we need most: Purpose.

Proactive takes work and thought, but the potential is great.

Prompt #4: 5 Letters or 1 Syllable

Prompt #4: 5 Letters or 1 Syllable

PROMPT:  A fascinating writing exercise: Write up to 250 words on something you care about using words of either 1 syllable, or 5 letters or less. Proper names and numbers are exempt. 

Several in InScribe took the challenge and sent our results to Short & Sweet Too, the second compilation of pieces written within these boundaries. 

In reading the pieces I was struck by the need for creative new descriptors. In one story, ‘morning’ became ‘the sun was new’.

If you’re a writer, you might want to give this a try!

What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.

My entry: “Who Cares”

WHO CARES?

I want to care. I try, but I poop out fast. I watch the news and my mind reels. I scroll through Facebook, and I want to cry. I care so much I have to shut down. That feels wrong, so I pout and say, “Who cares?”

To care seems the right thing to do, but to care BIG is too much. Maybe… Maybe I can care small.

A man with one leg sits by my bus stop. He holds silk roses made by his hand. He doesn’t beg, but holds out a stem, smiles, and says, “For you!” I see him and I care. Now and then I take a stem and give him five bucks. He gives back, “God bless you!”

Jesus said, “I was hungry and you fed me.” He didn’t say, “The world was a mess and you fixed it.”

Did Jesus know an age would come when the glut of news could take over our lives, our minds, our hearts until we’d say, ‘Who cares?” Is that why he gave us a simple focus? Food, drink, a roof, a coat; I can care for that kind of need. I can give to others from what the Lord has given to me.

I don’t have to fix the Earth, my city, not even my street.

To be sure, it seems that I don’t have to fix at all.

I get to bless: The man with one leg; Louise, who needs a ride; Joey, who wants to talk; Edna, whose task is too big; my adult kids, who still need their mom.

Yes. I get to bless.