Have you been drinking enough water?
Have you been sleeping okay?
Did you find someone you can talk to?
Do you need a hug?
Or a blanket and a comfy chair and a cup of your favorite tea?
If your answers look like "no", "no", "maybe... okay, but I didn't talk to them yet because STUFF", "don't touch me unless you already know me to the extent we'd hide bodies together", and "... please yes", then it's safe to say we could be having the same kind of week. Nothing really terrible happened, but all week has felt like physically and mentally fighting through two-year-old molasses to complete anything. Did something happen to increase gravity but scientists aren't allowed to tell the population because officials don't want us to panic?
Some folks have a lot of kids
And some folks only one.
Some folks have a great big house
And some folks… well, don’t have one.
Some folks’ kids are smart and witty,
Other’s kids are oh so pretty,
Some folks struggle through the day
To find their kids (who’ve lost their way).
From the outside, looking in,
We can’t say who is who.
The ones who live the hardest days
Might, from outside, look like easy lives it’s true.
Most of us are getting by with
Just trying to do our best
In a world feeling mad, and just living getting bad,
And at day’s end our kids put us to the test.
We’re mostly folks who give our best
Attempts to give our kids a life,
So they can grow and find success,
Maybe even a husband or a wife.
We’re mostly also struggling
As we watch our world seem to decay,
And wondering what we have to give
To give our kids some hope each day.
The answers aren’t so simple
And it’s different for every mom,
For every dad, for every parent;
They’re harder answers than just ‘love’.
We know they’ll need to be able to see beauty;
We know they’ll need to be able to feel love;
We know they’ll need to be confident;
We know they’ll need to be capable;
We know they’ll need to be able to live;
It’s hard to teach the answers
When struggling yourself
To find them in your own life
And still maintain an ounce of health.
Especially when misabled
With lives not fitting tidily in the norm,
With chronic pain and mismatching
Daily added to this ‘Living’ storm.
Yet most of us keep on fighting,
Our way firmly entrenched in the quest
For reaching the how and who and when and what
And where is discovered that suits us best.
Wait… perhaps within that previous stanza
Is where one answer might lie?
Perhaps within the trench itself
Is an answer we can try?
Maybe… maybe it’s not the quest?
And maybe the destination isn’t best?
Perhaps the answer is what suits us
And those unrealistic, outside expectations create unneeded fuss?
That may be our own to make.
Perhaps that is ourselves.
Might happen anytime,
For what and where?
Maybe we try looking the ways we’re compelled.
Perhaps… our answers can be found as something so simple and still impossibly hard.
Perhaps… learning our answers teaches our kids.
Our kids need to see us,
Happy us and sad,
They need to see our wins and losses
And the self-love that we have.
Hope and love aren’t sprung from roses crowds will toss us.
They’re not something lying around.
Looking outside for hope and love
Will mean they’re never found.
We can search and seek and look all over
The seemingly broken world we live in,
Or we can try, and I mean really try,
To give ourselves what we want given.
I think the most important part
Of seeking answers which can be learned,
Is that learning comes from everywhere
Not just from the lessons we think we earned.
Maybe our kids need to see us
Find a smile in a crowd
That can be passed on to a stranger.
That smile can be saved
And taken home to those we love,
Kept for a moment in-between
When we’re too damn tired to shove
And fight and push for all our own needed answers,
When we really, really need a break
From the battles and struggles
That leave us nightly lying awake.
Our kids may need to see our broken times.
The moments when us folks are forced to pause,
And are allowed to cry. (I’m telling you because your folks
(May not have shared that crying is permitted per the 9.6 Adulting Contract clause.)
The teaching we can give our kids
To help them face this world
Isn’t that we’re strong and perfect,
It’s that we’re beautifully flawed, our frayed edges curled.
Our answers for how and who and when
And what and where are not the same
As the answers that our kids will need to find
When they go out and live their name.
That smile found within a crowd
And brought home in our pocket,
It’s one us folks can give our kids
So they have it on their daily docket
Of all the things they need to do
And the battles they have to face.
All of it without us there,
Because we can’t do it in their place.
We can find hope within ourselves,
We can share our love with everyone.
We can teach our kids those things they need
Even on days we lack the strength to “get it done”.
The outside expectation of us is perfection
And that expectation is wrong.
All us folks who care, who hope, who love, we’re doing right.
Remember, life’s not an easy song.
We can try our best for the day to be good,
And if it isn’t… well, so?
Moms and dads and parents are allowed to have emotions, too,
Life’s energy is not a steady flow.
Most of us do the best we can
So our kids won’t have our scars.
I don’t think it’s bad to teach them life is tough,
Because we can also show our kids the stars.
We can prepare them for life by living,
And teach them hope and love by sharing that, too.
(Both hope and love also shared with ourselves,
Which can be very hard to do.)
Hang in there, moms and dads and parents,
As this world feels worse day by day.
We need to find our own answers in reality
But I hope we can remember, too, that we’re allowed to play.
I hope you find your answers,
The how, who, when, what and where that suit to you,
Because each of us learning our own answers means
A better world where our kids have means to find theirs, too.
I'm going to start with this not being a very good personal week. It wasn't a bad week, just a week that was busy with a lot of small things which combine into yucky anxiety levels for me. I lost more days than I got, but I got a lot of reading done. This doesn't seem like a big thing, except usually my anxiety forces a shutdown and the most I can do above the required is play a few of the app games on my phone while feeling a drowning-like panic clawing at the back of my throat. Reading meant I could focus on something (ie: concentrate) and I took each new chapter starting as a personal check: Do I have to use the bathroom? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Is it now time for a required thing? For the first time in a long time, I maintained an eating schedule during moderate anxiety and the levels didn't spiral (as badly).
My friends are completely to blame for this positive outcome, because we had a blast on Sunday hanging out, drinking tea, and working on our knitting and crochet projects. This was my go-to recent memory for shaking off the yucky. Yesterday I even added over 3000 words to my big story. Today is still a struggle, but writing these three sentences improved my brain-space a bit so... LOVE YOU, FRIENDS!
I'm going to end this with how awful the world is ending off this week. The mass shootings that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand, are horrific. The last report I saw had 49 dead and over 20 critically wounded. I don't know how we're going to fix this broken world, but I hope we can. Our children deserve better than what this world is.
Help a stranger, hug a friend, learn something new, strive to do no harm. I hope you can have a good weekend.
3. ... Into the Portal
"May I see them?" Murial's question broke into his head as she stopped and looked up at him with her innocent, wide-eyed features. Aston nearly fell as he tried to pause mid-step and focus on her.
"See what?" Aston asked in response once he'd gained his balance, genuinely confused. He’d stopped listening to her what seemed like hours before, and had lost track of all thought not long after. It had been mid-afternoon when he’d fled from the dragon, and now it was getting dark.
"Why, the stones that brought you here." She looked sweetly surprised, her little girl's voice slightly shocked at his ignorance.
"Oh, um..." He shook his head to try to clear it. "I think… I think that would be okay.” He dropped his hand to the pocket that held the small, smooth rocks. The familiar tingle was dull in his hand the moment his fingers were close.
Her image collapsed on itself. The landscape behind her tilted as a haggard figure leapt at his hand before he had even pulled it from his pocket. Aston ducked sharply out of her path, striking out with his other hand at the stinking thing she’d become as it flashed past the place he’d been a split second earlier. Dropping into the fighter's stance that had been ingrained from years of Tovin’s training and Drevin’s teasing, he turned to face what had been his friendly, chatterbox, walking companion.
The harpy howled in rage and lunged directly for him out of the sickly, melting forest. He caught her charge with a kick, his large boot contacting hard with her narrow chest and knocking her flat. Without so much as a second thought to what was happening to the forest around him, he dropped and drove his knee into her gasping face. The hollow bones crunched and she stopped moving.
Suddenly free of the illusion she’d held him in since he’d arrived, the rich forest snapped away to leave behind only boulders, barren dirt, gnawed bones, and sharp cliffs in the distance. She’d been leading him toward the cliffs. His stomach knotted and heaved at the change in his surroundings, but Aston could now hear the rest of the harpies calling out from the stone wall ahead and forced his stomach to hold on to what little food was still in there. The flock would have heard the howl of the one he had just killed, and were probably already coming to where she had been. Where he still was.
He had no time for vomiting.
Working as quickly as he could, Aston pulled the dagger from his boot and scratched a hasty circle on the relatively flat rock by his feet. It wouldn't be perfectly round by any stretch of the imagination, but should be good enough to at least get him out of this place once the stones were laid out, and hopefully into some place that was better this time.
His chanting was ragged from exhaustion and his hands trembled as he placed the center stone. The trembling soon subsided as he laid out the familiar pattern that should’ve taken him home the first time.
The twelve stones lifted as he chanted, rising into the air as if they were adhered to a plank that opened to the side like a trap door hinged by his left foot. The eleven outer stones traced the rough circle shape he’d scratched as they began orbiting the stationary center stone. Like the rim of a wheel, the track of each of the eleven stones soon blurred to create what appeared to be a line in the air before him. Then the stones pivoted to open the portal, shaped just like the rough circle he’d scratched into the rock. The circle grew until it was of a size he could easily step through. The center stone held absolutely still in the middle of the doorway. Ripples of light shone out in all directions from the edge of the portal where the eleven stones were now spinning so fast that they could no longer be seen.
Aston grasped the center stone like a tiny doorknob and felt the dizziness overtake him as he stepped through. In the back of his mind, behind the concentration that the High Mages had instructed would hold the door open for him, he prayed to whatever might be listening that this time he really would go home.
The doorway collapsed out of existence, the eleven edge stones following the center stone through the portal in a flash of brilliant light, leaving no trace of the Low Prince or the magic he’d used save for the hint of ozone hanging in the air.
Earlier this week, I finally had to admit that my dearest office chair – the ergonomic kneeling chair where I plunk my butt while writing – had compressed to the point where I was basically perched on the frame. The foam had died after six years of constant use (including most of my second pregnancy) and I couldn't pretend it was comfortable anymore. I used a regular chair for a day so I could remember why I'd switched to using a kneeling chair – my back painfully reminded me – and we luckily found a replacement the same day. Used, and not the same style, but still so much better than 'sitting'. My hubby then watched a couple of YouTube videos for reupholstering furniture, bought new foam, and this morning rebuilt my dear chair. I now have two chairs (the replacement can be folded for storage) and we know where to get new foam for the next time. *Happy* :D
Hope you have a good weekend!
2. Out of the Cauldron...
What was there at first appeared to be a girl. As she drifted closer it soon became apparent that she was a very small woman. Smooth and fragile featured, her fine boned height barely reached the distance of his feet to his waist. Her hair and clothing looked white, but as the details settled into place in his mind he could see hints of color. The air behind her shimmered and danced as she hovered in front of him.
It took a couple of blinks, but he finally realized that the shifting air behind her was light reflecting off her nearly transparent wings. Her tiny hands were held clasped to her mouth, and her wide, upward sloping eyes were full of laughter. She touched down within arm’s reach of him, her wings folding out of sight behind her.
"I shouldn't be laughing," she dropped her hands to reveal a sweet smile. "But you look just as shocked friend Drevin said you would."
Aston gaped at the tiny woman, feeling as shocked as she’d been told he would look that his highly confidential, High Prince brother would send out a public notice for him to be looked for. "Friend Drevin?" he finally managed to ask.
She giggled again, nodding. "Yes. He said you would be tired and worn." Her smile widened further at the corners of her bow-shaped mouth around her small, pointed teeth. "Friend Drevin also said that you 'would be likely to be wounded'."
Aston stiffened at the tone in the little woman's voice. Her words weren’t at all something that Drevin would say, but she suddenly sounded like Drevin used to when scolding for troublesome. Usually that tone was followed by Aston doing something clumsy and self-injuring, and then the tone would shift to an angry. And always – always – Drevin would have been right.
Through Aston’s eyes, Drevin was well on his way to becoming the exceptional King he’d been raised to grow into. Just like their father, Drevin was wiser than his years, smarter than he looked, and more dangerous than he posed. That was why he had been sent to lead the kingdom clear of the war that their ally was losing. The threat to their island was real as they reached the end of their father's reign. Aston, however, was often clumsy and didn’t really understand the situations he was in until he was in trouble. Like right now. He was sitting wounded in an unknown forest with nothing but the clothes on his back, the knife in his boot, and the magical stones in his pocket. He had a strong suspicion of having proved capable of living up to his established place as the family screw-up rather well.
The woman chimed out a sweet laugh. "Friend Drevin did not say your face would make so funny a look as it just did!" With that, she doubled over laughing. Aston rolled around a few choice words in his head for the next time that he and 'friend Drevin' met. (Not that he would say them out loud, but he would definitely be thinking them.)
She started speaking again as soon as she could. The woman, named Murial he soon learned, called herself a Forest Fairy. She took his hand and, pulling him to his feet, began leading him through the trees as she happily babbled about this and that. He half listened to her. She seemed content to do the talking, so he remained content to mostly ignore her as he followed where she led.
Not for the first time, Aston wondered at his exceptional lack of wisdom in wanting to test the stones. Knowing Drevin, Aston had few doubts that the Mages were now under orders to find him and bring him home as quickly as possible because Drevin was always the one getting Aston out of trouble. Drevin may be the perfect King-in-training and an older brother, but he still always tried to help Aston not to be such a... well, failure. So Drevin would be looking for him, and probably have half the army involved by now. Aston hoped, anyway.
As long as nothing during the past weeks had happened to him while he was leading the army. Into a war. Far away from home.
The forest was slowly darkening as Aston and Murial walked on for seemingly endless hours. Aston felt his body growing wearier as they walked. The slice from the dragon's talon, starting at his left shoulder and crossing to his right hip, was a constant burning pain filling his back with every movement of his body. Soon he stopped paying attention to his little companion entirely, preferring simply to focus on getting one foot continuously in front of the other as he followed her promises of food and shelter.
The Portal Problem - Episode 1: A Prince
This was a weekly blog updating on Fridays, but life got busy so now I pop in now and then to let you know I'm still chipping away at my stories. If you look back through the archive you'll find weekly quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free! Check out my Short Stories section for free downloads of most of my writing, too!