Category Archives: Dreams

Forever


MomandDad

There was nothing left to prove; eighty-four years had been a long time to figure out, and then to realize that every moment was not going to lead up to something spectacular.

The journey–it had certainly been interesting, briefly promising, stimulating, challenging, and even thoroughly enjoyable–but it had not been what she had expected, nor what she had wanted.

Her true love, a dashing Harry-Connick-like ladies’ man, had broken her heart over and over again and only when he lay dying, seven years after having left her, did he tell her: “I want to come home.”

Oh how many times she had replayed these words in her mind and fantasized about what it would have been like to have brought him home and to have loved him like she should have done had she not been so busy keeping the perfect house and raising their five children in keeping with the times; times when a woman had a defined role to play; times when you kept up appearances only to realize far too late that keeping something else up would have been better.

Nevertheless, she now lay dying, and having been given sufficient permission, she had decided that instead of trying to conquer the living, she would visit her beloved dead: “I want to come home too,” she whispered to him before taking her last  breath.

Today’s post is “Five Sentence Fiction,” the birthchild of Lillie McFerrin.  This week’s word:  conquer. Visit this intriguing weekly challenge by clicking on the icon below:

Lillie McFerrin Writes

 

 

 

New

My emotions have been fluctuating between total euphoria and abject fear lately. I am embracing change. This is to be expected; change is defined by its instability, its intriguing yet menacing nature, its inherent ability to simultaneously beckon and intimidate while working its black magic.

I have erected an imposing change-crane in the midst of a massive construction project called My Family. Prior to the crane, which is now working 24/7 to build a new infrastructure, I found fossils buried in the foundation. I might not have noticed them had I not become curious and begun exploring the landscape after a long period of ennui. Furiously digging as it became clear to me that all was not as it had seemed at the outset, I unearthed the long-buried treasures of passion, desire, metamorphosis, laughter and pure joy.

I quickly realized that the smooth, carefully calculated, surely laid base I had called Home, was in danger of eroding, imploding, caving in, or all three at once; if not immediately, then surely later. Living with the risk, though I had unwittingly been dealing with it for many years, was suddenly untenable. It was time for further excavation, and due to the urgency pressing against my sternum and the resonance of truth in my belly, it had to be swift and sure. Its immediacy became my new reality, even as I struggled to internalize the mass destruction I was endorsing with my selfish, singleminded reconstruction project. As Foreman, all the important decisions were mine. Even acknowledging my conscience as Construction Supervisor did not dissuade me.

Still the near-impossibility of successfully managing such a delicate undertaking was not lost on me, after all what archaeologist impatiently claws out treasures that have lain in the earth for aeons, treasures that in some cases have survived ferocious conditions, ancient battles? Nevertheless the required patience was obliterated by an incessantly urgent and loud beating; the pounding knowledge that it was “now or never.” In doing so, I had to acknowledge that speed over caution would necessitate some fallout, some less than ideal conditions in which to work. Nevertheless, like harmonious hammers flying, their steel heads landing perfectly on nail after nail in rapid succession, joining board to board to create something new, a tangible rhythm spurred me on and told me there was something fresh and beautiful in the making.

The permits have been secured, the foundation laid and the treasures protected. The bulldozers have been returned and the wrecking ball is now attached to the crane. The final vestiges of what once was will be mutilated with a few crushing blows and then the rebuilding will commence.

It would be easier to dismantle the ball and crane, to send the remaining crew home with their pay. It would be easier to simply display the unearthed treasures on a special shelf as a symbol of a past life or of dreams that were not meant to be. I am a practical soul though, and a firm believer that treasures are best when they serve a useful purpose. I also like to finish what I begin, though some would argue against my reasons and my methods for doing so.

Let the wrecking ball swing. Let this new life begin. I have decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Tomorrow is a New Moon.

Rest in sweet peace Susan Jeffers (author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and other publications).

If I told you

You will blush if I tell you what he did to me.

If I told you about the way he kissed me, his passion devouring my lips like fine chocolate, you would be okay, your face impassive, colorless.

Even if I told you about us falling into bed, hungry as wild animals deprived too long from succulent, wild kill, you would merely smile at the imagery.

But if I told you about the way he looked at me, with his eyes wide open and tender, with his heart fully on his sleeve, talking to me, loving me completely, you would blush because what came next obliterated everything rational.

It’s hard for me to tell you what he said, to actually say it without blushing myself, but you must know, I have to share this: “You feel like breathing,” he said.

This week’s word: blush

Lillie McFerrin

How dare she!

My readers have been clamoring for a new post (ok, it was only one reader, and he wasn’t actually “clamoring”). Nevertheless, it got me writing…

Without sleep, or morning quiet time, or exercise, or healthy food, or adequate hugs, or a challenge, I look like this darling kitty. I may be exaggerating, but if so, not by much. Do not mistake me for high maintenance. I repeat, with emphasis: I AM NOT HIGH MAINTENANCE.

High maintenance costs big bucks, right? It’s designer clothes, Manolo Blahnik (I had to look up the spelling) shoes, diamonds in various karats, and a host of impressive friends only one level separated from Kevin Bacon. After all, I scream when I have to go shopping, and even louder when I have to take time to try anything on, get a haircut, paint my nails, or have my eyebrows threaded. I would rather, honestly, be doing just about anything else, even cleaning up the scary pile of dishes in the kitchen.

To clarify, high maintenance is falling apart if hubby doesn’t notice the designer clothes, Manolo Blahniks, diamonds, new hair cut, pretty nails, or freshly arched eyebrows– without inquiring about the costs. Complete, unquestioned adoration is required, plus deep pockets, and an even deeper understanding of the important syndromes: the “honey I have a headache” syndrome, the “I’m too tired from shopping and drinking champagne to fix dinner” syndrome, and the “Are you really going to wear that?” syndrome.

I, on the other hand (she says grandly), am quite happy in sweats, jammies, t-shirts with tiny holes, jeans, flip-flops, and various other mantles of schlumpiness. I don’t even care if hubby does not notice how pretty I look in them, and I don’t get headaches (low testosterone works wonders), nor come home too drunk to fix dinner (I have other excuses): decidedly low maintenance, albeit often a bit low on the low-maintenance side, like having blood pressure so low that I can’t donate blood. Perhaps I could go shopping and then give blood.

Ah, but I banter back and forth with myself, and with you, dear readers, while avoiding the honest-to-goodness reasons I DO qualify as high maintenance, the reasons ALL OF US do too.

Life is fan-flinging-tastically measured, and not necessarily to our individual tastes. That dream we had yesterday and tuck away for tomorrow may never happen if we don’t amp up the expectations (of ourselves, of others), and make it happen, or at least delve in far enough to realize, upon careful examination (or trial and error), that it is a different dream we want after all. By not exploring our yearnings, by not heeding our most poignant needs, by not being honest, we are short-changing ourselves, and a host of other people who look to us for inspiration (or for excuses). We must not stand idly by…or life will, in its inimitable and accidentally pernicious way, pass us by.

I have been watching my mother, now 84 and struggling with some dementia, my whole life. If there is such thing as a bone that is lazy, she does not possess it. She worked hard every single day I knew her. I’m certain that even when she was on vacation, she worked hard to keep everything clean and organized, to keep herself perfectly dressed and coiffed. But what I do not know about her, sadly, is what her dreams were. Perhaps they became dreams for others, the inescapable wishes every parent has for their children: that they will be safe, happy, and decent members of society (and that they will come visit every now and again). Did she have dreams when she was a child? Surely she did, but I am quite certain that once she began having children, she relegated them to the past, chalked them up to whimsy, or figured that someday she might get back to them.

Why is this relevant now? Because she is unhappy. Her life is nearing its end, and I’m sure she is thinking, “Was that it?” I am seeing the bitterness that she has always carried yet masked in her busyness, in her caring for others. I believe she never gave herself permission to explore her desires, though she always encouraged me to explore my own.

Furthermore, I believe she didn’t know how. Life threw her many crooked wrenches, and each time it did, she used them to re-build her life as best as she could, but never to her ultimate satisfaction. Her ability to dream; perhaps based on the expectations of her generation, or because she grew up with an alcoholic father, or perhaps even because she never got over my father, was stifled by the story she wrote for herself, the one in which the plot did not include her own satisfaction.

This morning I decided that I am just fine with my high maintenance needs, the ones I listed, and the ones I have kept tucked away behind certain expectations. I may not desire fancy things, but I do crave the kinds of pursuits that speak to me as an individual, not merely as a person playing a role. A mother who takes off for a week to dive into the ocean and take photos? How dare she! A mother who gets take-out because she was so busy writing she lost track of time? How dare she! A mother who goes back to college in the middle of homeschooling her children? How dare she!

Next week I am taking off for the day, to pick up one writer, then another…on a trek to Santa Barbara to have lunch with three other writers, writers I’ve yet to meet face to face. A whimsical, wonderful day for me, despite the responsibilities that cry out for me to stay home and take care of them. How dare she!

Infinite inklings


William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence was the first thought I had when I saw this picture in my haphazard portfolio of photo memories. To be clear, it was this small bit (the part most of us know) that came to mind:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand,
And Eternity in an hour.


William Blake (1757-1827) has seen fit to send me a personal augury (a sign or omen) today: this part of his poem, in a book of the same name; a gift from my mother, was one I read over and over again as a child. When Mom gave me a mustard seed pin, I would think of these lines yet again. Thus began my education about the power and beauty of tiny things. To this day I am fascinated by the minute: the artists who make miniature replicas of life from clay, teensy dew drops that only my macro lens can capture, microscopic particles, insects hidden under rocks and between blades of grass, and minuscule inklings about strangers.

My son’s find (pictured above), important enough to him that he stopped playing to bring it to me, made me smile then, but amazes me now. He is nine–and he loves nothing more than time outside running around with friends. That a small wheatish grain could stop him in his tracks moves me beyond words and into reverence. To see a world in a grain of sand…

Lately I have been seeing a lot of the microscopic; the importance of small moments within relationships, brought home by death, Alzheimer’s, illness and the steady march of time that grows my children up while I am blinking–unwilling to take in what I am seeing, yet embracing it all the same. There is no solace in ignoring what is before me. The greatest struggle, however, is not in the seeing, it is in my inability to refocus, or perhaps de-focus, to zoom back out and enjoy life without feeling everything at a cellular level.

I seem to be craving the opposite of Zen moments; it is oblivion and pure abandon that I crave (yet can’t imagine), but only because despite the blazing beauty of my current hyper-aware state, I am getting burned. I am living in constant awareness, attempting to make the most of everything even as life’s constant thrum stokes the fire that blazes within me. Is it okay to be this vulnerable, this open?

Fire swallowers, in order not to get burned, master the art of cutting off oxygen; sword swallowers, in order not to die, must not swallow. Surely there is a trick to living with eyes, pores, and heart wide open. I know so many who seem to clothe themselves with daily awareness as elegantly as Princess Grace; I just wonder how they do it.

Perhaps the answer lies in the kind of sloughing off one would do in a plane that is too heavy. Out would go the unnecessary items; in this case: guilt, regret, unnecessary and self-imposed expectations, insecurities, perfectionism, procrastination, fear, doubt, and that ever-present Everyman persona. Without these companions, I am already breathing so much easier that even my son holding infinity the palm of his hand won’t shake me.

Eternity in an hour, however, may be an entirely separate matter…

Just Weeds

If it hadn’t been for the wide open space; the five-thousand acre oasis requiring a two-hundred-twenty-five mile drive down a long, dusty, rocky, rutted road to get there, and a couple of laid-back neighbors who could not care less what I do with my land, I would have been busted a long time ago. But I have no time to ponder these blessings, this unexpected serendipity that has fertilized my dreams and nearly brought to fruition not only a near-lifetime of labor, but also the answer to the world’s most desperate prayer.

Today I will boast, yes boast, that all of my long-held beliefs have been true; that big-business, money-monging, greedy assholes are responsible for the unthinkable disease that permeates a planet that used to have–yes, I know this will sound unbelievable–green grass, fresh-grown vegetables, fruit trees taller than I, humans who stood over six feet tall, blue skies, a crashing, ebbing, flowing ocean (yes, I know this word is archaic), a cheese-ball moon (humor you can’t possibly understand), and children who could play in areas called “parks,” with structures built, not for work, but for play…pure, unadulterated, non-diseased, unbelievable freeplay.

Laugh if you will, but be among the shocked; those who will bow down, still open-mouthed, and beg for manna that could easily garner me god-like, heady praise, unlimited profit, and unthinkable power (Don’t be disgusted-I want none of it!), all for the simplest of cures; cures that could, if not for the political stand-still of two parties who choose being “right” over “doing” right, forfeiting peace in the process, eradicate cancer and a host of other diseases.

Today, an army of those who have trusted me, worked by my side, cast aside nay-saying family members and feigned death for this project, will march proud and strong; demonstrating and carrying the cure for cancer in their pocket, a cure that was right under our ignorant noses and only needed dirt, uncontaminated water (don’t ask!), sunlight (of which we barely had enough), and time until the perfect harvest.

Lillie McFerrin

This week’s word prompt was Harvest

Pandemos

“Seriously,” she questions herself, trying to stretch out of them as if they were merely non-existent remnants from a bleary-eyed dream; the kind of pre-waking delusion that has you in the middle of a critical interview in which you cannot convince your future boss that there is something in your eye, and that this is the reason you can barely see and keep bumping into things, “is this how the day is going to start?”

Sitting straight up, accidentally flinging kittens; of which she has six orange, black, and gray ones, in all directions with an accompanying cacophony of mewling objections, she cranes her neck to the left as far as it will go. “Damn,” she says, lingering on the vowel a bit too long, “this is one hell of a fantasy.”

Finally she rises, kittens still complaining about being unduly disturbed, and trudges, bleary-eyed, to the mirror. “Holy mother of Zeus,” she exclaims, “looks like I’ve finally earned my wings!”

This is part of Lillie McFerrin’s weekly Five Sentence Fiction. This week’s prompt: faeries

Howling at the Moon

My growing fascination with the moon, my collaboration with Deborah Batterman, and our recent field trip to The California Wolf Center, have me pondering the moon as a muse. I realize there is no novelty here; my epiphany is mundane.

Yet I’m still enamored, still fascinated by the rocky, dusty, uninhabited ball that is a mere 2,000 miles in diameter, with a tiny circumference of 6,800 miles. Earth is about four times the size. Yet, according to Gail Gibbons in The Moon Book, the moon has been revered for countless centuries; thought to be a goddess, Diana, to the Romans–Selene to the Greeks. Selene was even thought to ride through the sky in a silver chariot. Gibbons says, “Some American Indian tribes believed the moon and sun were brother and sister gods.” Clearly I am not alone with my fascination.

Last Friday at the preserve, when I was reminded that myths and beliefs about wolves are generally wrong, I was disappointed to realize that wolves also do not actually howl at the moon. I like how a wolf looks when she is howling, when the snout is pointing up toward the sky, presumably responding to the power of the moon. I’ve been known to try it myself when the neighbors are in deep REM sleep. So it is not without a bit of mourning that I give up this long-held assumption about wolves and the moon. In fact, since they howl for scads of other reasons, a teensy part of me still believes that wolves feel and respond to the unmistakable pull of the moon; fulfilling some deep, ancestral longing by howling at it.

I’ve decided that the moon-as-muse idea works well when I consider that more than four centuries ago, in 1609, Galileo gave us the first sketches of the moon (there is a fascinating JPL scientist, Jane Houston Jones, who has been sketching the moon for about 20 years) and later was condemned by the Catholic Church for “vehement suspicion of heresy” (since his discoveries contradicted the church’s stated beliefs). The fact that he had to sacrifice his freedom over his beliefs about the cosmos; eventually being forced to recant some of them, leads me to believe that it is not a stretch to say that the moon may also have been his muse.

When I was seven or eight, my father briefly lived on a La Jolla cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sleeping in the massive downstairs living room with the giant windowed slider slightly open, I would fall asleep to the lulling timbre of the sea; the moon often reflecting its unique manifestation of the sun’s light onto the roiling water. My fascination grew into a craving…the kind that nothing else can fulfill. And now, with my muse finally refusing to be ignored, it all makes sense. Tonight you may find me, and a few mythical wolves, howling at the moon.

Words and photographs are the creation and property of the author/photographer, Britton Minor and The Jaded Lens Photography.

Riding at Anchor

I am pondering the ironic fact that I felt less free over a decade ago while sailing over the Temecula Valley in a commercial hot air balloon than I did recently when I rose straight up over Orange County, California, in this tethered Great Park balloon.

I am reminded of another time I sailed through the air: when I careened off of a 30 ft. telephone pole as part of a team-building exercise. The atypical expletive I screamed as I jumped off the wavering wooden beast and toward the trapeze bar didn’t stop my epiphany: fear can be random and irrational. Yet fear was the last thing I had expected to feel. After all, no harm was in sight; I was harnessed and tethered. Yet “abject fear” barely defines what flooded my mind in the few moments that elapsed between climbing, standing, jumping, and gratefully connecting with that three-foot swinging bar.

Pondering fears–rational and irrational–inadvertently led me to the debate that exists between sailors who believe tethered harnesses should be the standard when sailing on the open seas, and those who don’t. Mobility and racing effectiveness are allegedly compromised when a sailor’s safety harness is tethered to  jacklines secured to the stern and bow. San Francisco and San Diego are both reeling from the recent deaths (rare occurrences in the sport) of several sailors, which has fired up ongoing concerns about sailing safety in general. Bryan Chong, a survivor of the San Francisco accident spoke up on the matter, standing clearly on the side of safety precautions that could have saved his crew mates and eliminated his horrific experience; one that he says was like being in a “washing machine with boulders.” Regarding not being tethered, Chong had this to say, “It’s simply a bad habit that formed due to a false sense of security in the ocean. It’s obvious to me now that I should have been clipped into the boat at every possible opportunity.”

Freedom creates a tantalizing fantasy that rarely considers viable dangers. Sometimes we act with wild abandon and we survive, thrive even. Other times we are left to clean up the aftermath of something we regret. There is a balance that involves weighing the risks – a “pros and cons” list we often make in our heads based on knowledge, experiences, beliefs, affinities, tolerance levels and more. It is complex and personal. This is a healthy process because we know ourselves best. But when we allow our fears to be tethered to our doubts, we are unlikely to sail toward our best dreams–the ones that bring us the most joy. Going adrift of total caution can be just what we need to spark an incredible journey.

So why did I feel more free in the tethered balloon? I have a fear of heights and a proclivity toward claustrophobia. Neither are a problem; they are mild in nature. But that day, the beauty of the Temecula Valley was obscured by my eagerness to land. The Great Park balloon on the other hand, is finite. It has a secure basket with a screen that prohibits falling out. There are openings that allow for photography, and behind the lens I was pursuing a passion that blotted out anything else. My fears were non-existent.  I was safe, and I was free.

My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones to the sea; weak solace in the fact that they died doing something they loved. Hindsight has everyone involved wishing these souls had been safely tethered. Though they would not have escaped fear, they surely would have cheated death.

Note: An anchor that is aweigh is one that has just begun to put weight onto the rope or chain by which it is being hauled up. And while this pulling up allows a ship to sail, the anchor sits ready for when it is needed again.

To “ride at anchor” is to be anchored.

photographs and thoughts are the creation and property of the author/photographer, Britton Minor

La La Land

Do you ever have moments when you don’t fit in but wish you could? Like when someone tells a joke, and everyone is laughing except you? Or when there is a common bandwagon and you don’t hear the music? Do you ever wonder what the heck is wrong with you for not appreciating every good thing in your life, and for wanting more? Do you ever second-guess a desire because it feels self-indulgent? How about a crazy dream that involves mastering something you’ve never been good at-ever had one of those?

Well, guess what…this is Disneyland, and you can paint those teacups any color you’d like. Just for today, do not, for one second, let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

 

Photograph and content belong to the author/photographer, Britton Minor/The Jaded Lens Photography