Enchanted – Theme Fridays

It was the oldest tree in town, reaching seventy five feet into the sky and it enchanted Sally. Her first sight of it was when she was eleven, not quite as tall or grand but even then it had an endless reach toward the heavens – this glorious Sycamore. Trees always spoke to Sally and this one spoke in wonder. She longed to climb it and know its secrets and started to but skinned her knee in the attempt. Not because she wasn’t an agile climber of trees for Sally had conquered many but because of the tow-haired boy who surprised her by yelling, “Hey!”

The peeling bark of the old syc was merciless as she slid down its trunk. “Hey what? Look, you made me skin my knee!” She grimaced at the fresh blood and broken skin.

“That’s my tree and you can’t climb it!” The boy’s blue eyes matched the morning sky but there was a little danger there too.

Sally huffed off, feeling those eyes watch her until she disappeared from their view. His tree? He must have been one of those Halligan’s. They owned most of the town and truth be told she was trespassing whenever she visited her tree, the Syc. His tree?

But she could never stay away from it, though always on the look out for the blue-eyed boy, she visited her tree, her tree, every chance she got. That had a heart in its trunk left by a broken and removed bough, that had a dancing man and woman made of twisted branches at the top. And they weathered the seasons together – in Spring Sally sat beneath it and wrote poetry, in Winter she left bread crusts in the heart for the birds and squirrels who refused to go south, in Summer she clung to its shade and in Fall she collected its blazing leaves and pressed them in books. Yes, her tree. Her Syc.

And when Sally left home to discover her own life, she brought the Syc with her and kept it close in mind and heart, longing to feel the rough bark, smell its musky scent, feel its sway with the wind and time. It was a special place Sally could go to when life was cruel and uncaring. Her life had fallen away from the simplicity of home, love refused to oblige her, work refused to fulfill her and the sky was never blue enough, never the color of that boy’s eyes. “Come home,” Mom had written so many times in so many letters. Sally resisted that request for years until the story about her tree.

Mom sent a copy of it in a letter. “Look what they’ve done with your tree, Sally,” was all the letter said. The Halligans had parceled land to the town and a park was now the permanent home of her tree. Her Syc. And she had to go see it again. Go home. Leave the empty place of small city apartments, commuter trains and singles bars.

Sally sat in her car in wonder, parked on Main. The town had changed so much – but the tree never changed. It had only grown higher and stronger and she didn’t have to worry about the blue-eyed boy, the Halligan who once claimed ownership. She could climb it now and she would.

“What are you doing with that ladder?” Dad asked seeming to know what she had in mind.

“Never mind, Dad,” Sally said and pecked his cheek as she grabbed the keys to his truck.

“The town won’t let you climb it either,” he said as she started for the door, “They’re more strict than Will Halligan ever was.”

Sally stopped and turned. “Will Halligan?”

“The boy who made you skin your knee,” Dad said. “He’s still around, loves that damn tree as much as you do.” Dad giggled a little and shook his head. “Have fun, honey.”

The sun had left only traces by the time Sally got into the park and she drove the old pick-up right up to its trunk, next to the heart. She wrangled the ladder from the truck bed and rested it firmly against the Syc. “I will climb you now, my friend,” she said rubbing its bark and feeling giggles rising up from her eleven year old soul. And when she reached the top rung, Sally clung to the Syc’s trunk, still unable to find a foothold into its arms.

“Hey!” the man’s voice startled her and the ladder rattled.

Sally looked down and there he was, that boy, now a man – Will Halligan. And though there was only moonlight to illuminate his face, the eyes were still morning sky. “What?” Sally asked annoyed and embarassed that she couldn’t move without falling.

“You’re going to break your ass trying to do that, darlin’.” Sally heard the smile in Will Halligan’s voice.

“Go away, I’m busy,” she said. “And this isn’t your tree anymore, so just go mind your business.”

Will was already in the truck bed putting his hands on the ladder to steady it. “Okay, I’ve got you, you can come down now.”

Sally looked over her shoulder and down at Will Halligan who seemed to be enjoying the view a little too much. “Who said I want to come down? I’m going to climb this tree,” she insisted.

Will laughed and it was sweet and boyish, his laughter. “Well you’ll be there quite a while. You’re going to need a cherry picker to get up there. You want me to call Bert, I think he has one. Though I don’t know if he’ll come down here at this hour…”

Sally’s arms were aching from trying to keep her embrace on the massive trunk and her pride was slipping too. “You’re an ass,” she said. “Get out of my way, I’m coming down,” and she started her descent, secretly hoping he wouldn’t let go of the ladder.

“Okay darlin’,” Will said, “you’re fine, just keep coming,” and Sally felt his hand on the small of her back to steady her. Sally was thankful for the moonlight because it wouldn’t reveal the blush that rose from her toes and reached to her face.

“I’m fine now,” Sally huffed, “you can let go.” And they stood face to face in the truck bed, in the moonlight and the blue eyes no longer held danger but something else that frightened her more. “What are you looking at?”

Will jumped down from the truck bed and grinned. “Why do you love my old tree so much?” he asked.

“Why do you still call it your tree?” Sally retorted. “It’s not your tree anymore,” she pointed out.

“Darlin’, it will always be my tree,” his grin grew wider and Sally thought she saw a wink. “So, why do you love it? Tell me.

Sally stood in the truck bed looking down at Will and resisted the smile that forced itself on her face. “Because it is perfect, because it is glorious, because I could see everything from the top, if I could get there. Because it enchanted me from the very first time I saw it,” she whispered.

Will reached out his hand to Sally and she took it and came down to solid ground but never let go, and they stood in the moonlight, beneath the Syc, looking at each other for the longest moment. “What?” Sally finally asked.

You enchanted me from the very first time I saw you.” His eyes were liquid sky and mirrored the stars.

PANTHER IS ENCHANTED HERE AND CHRISTINE’S ENCHANTEDNESS WAITS HERE

Are You Lucky?

Is it possible that one thing can change everything? One moment, one realization, one person, one event? I’m beginning to think that maybe it can. While I consider myself a realist I am also a closet optimist. I like to be real and honest but I also think life is nothing without hope and the faith that there is at least the promise that something wonderful is always possible.

We spend our day to day lives fighting traffic, arguing politics, bemoaning our bills and missed opportunities and it’s hard, folks, to step back from that and unentangle yourself from the mess. But every now and then something wonderful does happen, unexpected, smack-you-upside-the-head, never-saw-that-coming wonderful – and if we still have a brain left in our heads we grab it. And we’d better, because it doesn’t happen everyday – sometimes it doesn’t even happen every year.

For all the ‘bad luck’ that I have unearthed this year in particular – the worry, grief, frustration that has seemed to be the constant landscape of my life – some little kernel of light stayed alive in the back of my mind because I have been lucky most of my life. In big ways and small ways, unexpected ways, delightful ways, suprising ways. So I knew my luck would return to me. And it has.

But I think too that luck has a lot more to do with us, ourselves and how we think and what we think. If we walk around believing that our luck is gone, good things don’t happen, we don’t deserve it, etc., etc. then I think that’s what we get. Conversely if we walk around believing that it’s there, that it belongs to us, that we deserve it then anything is possible, the most amazing things are possible, often times things that are beyond what we dare to wish for.

And so my friends a little word of advice, never doubt your luck and never believe it has left you – because it’s always there, waiting to deliver. I promise.

Lessons Learned

During these last few weeks, my mind has decluttered, my jaw has unclenched and I’ve been able to see a few things – or maybe realize a few things. And possibly understand what people mean when they talk about lessons that life presents for one to learn. It’s been nice to get to know myself again and this few weeks has been more than getting some much needed rest.

I’ve learned that

  • I’m not a morning person. Even though I tend to wake up early, I’m only good for coffee and reading until about ten o’clock. No wonder I always groaned when the alarm went off.
  • I don’t like being the boss, which is not to say I don’t like being in charge. But being the boss is that horrible crappy job of being between the workers and the owners and it’s terrible. No one likes you, everyone protests what you want them to do and in the end you can’t save people from themselves, despite the fact that that is what you were hired to do.
  • I don’t like stress. While this seems obvious, no likes stress, right? Well, I used to think that I did. In fact, I believed that I thrived on it – controversy, being on the edge, pushing the envelope, all that exciting stuff really got my blood and adrenaline pumping. What I didn’t realize is that it was eating me up too. It isn’t actually exciting to live a life filled with conflict and opposition, it’s debilitating.
  • A long walk cures just about anything. Put a pair of sneakers on my feet and leash up the doggie and we’re ready. I’ve been forcing myself to walk everyday since I started my ‘vacation’. And despite my grumpy voice protesting its head off and trying to keep me sitting on my fat arse, I somehow manage to get out there each morning. After about 10 minutes, my muscles stop protesting, my breathing regulates and my mind declutters. I start to see what’s all around me, feel the fresh air on my face, in my lungs and the sunshine dancing along my shoulders and it feels good to be alive. Just to be alive.
  • Life is too short to be unhappy. Period. It’s a waste of time and energy to live an unhappy life and there is no good reason to do it. Not for friends, family or anyone. No one is served by being a martyr. If you’re in a bad situation, get out of it – it won’t get any better and no one will appreciate your sticking it out and suffering in their behalf.
  • Money doesn’t matter all that much to me. I only need it for the things that I need, which isn’t much. It’s better to make less money and be happy in your work, with a heart and mind at peace than it is to have to practically kill yourself to have lots of money so you can have lots of things. Who needs things?
  • I have my own pace and rhthym. I don’t like to hurry or to hit the ground running. I like to wake up the way a flower opens to the sun, slowly and deliberately. I want to see the day that is unfolding in front of me, not rush past it in my race to get to somewhere that I can see nothing but the next task to be done.
  • I like myself. I really didn’t know that and maybe I didn’t believe that. But I know it now.
  • I am truly loved. Again something I didn’t know or believe- but now I do

I suppose I could go on and on, as things like this tend to do so but I’ll leave it here. How about you, what have you learned lately?

Annie

Angels

I have a friend who sent me some angels today and I really needed them. Desperately. She is a very special person, unique in ways that defy description. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who is truly filled with love and whose goal was truly peace until I met her. I am grateful and awed to be any part of her life and honored to have her as a part of my life. In her case, I truly do believe in fate. It was fate that we met. It was fate that we found each other. I simply can’t believe otherwise.

And though we have never met in the real world, I couldn’t love her move. I couldn’t treasure that connection more. And it’s funny because we aren’t in contact in any constant sense. We don’t email everyday or gab on the phone often. Yet, I always feel like she is there, in the room with me. I carry her in my world and maybe in some inexplicable metaphysical sense, I talk to her every day on that level.

The people in our lives are so special and we so rarely acknowledge that, much less say anything out loud. I realized this today. Maybe it was the angels who opened my eyes, or the spiritual connection I feel to this most special person, or maybe it was just something I don’t need to define in any way. Maybe I just need to accept that something happened today for me. Something changed. And I’m a better person because of it.

I believe in angels, I always have. And I hope I always will.

In Your Wildest Dreams

Recently, a friend of mine offered me a visit to her home (halfway across the world, mind you) and described the stay as if it were written in some beautiful, glossy travel brochures. It sounded heavenly. I’d have no cares or woes, just fun, peaceful bliss and lots of time to do whatever I wanted. My knee-jerk reaction was to complain about how reality wouldn’t stand for it. But…it still sparked something in me. It allowed me to dream (for a minute) about what I would do if I could simply take a year off.

Like, Poof! You now have a year off to do anything your little heart desires. You will suffer no consequences and at the end of said year, you may return to your normal life – no harm, no foul.

It was a heady thought and really did get my wheels turning – can you hear the screeching? I actually sat down and gave it some thought. What would I do if I had a ‘free year’? If I could do absolutely anything and there would be no negative ramfications?

Write: I’d write. I’d write up a storm. I’d write, articles, short stories, novels, scripts, menus, letters, poems, anything and everything. I’d also submit like mad, enter every contest I could find, spend the time to get a good agent and a publisher. I’d allow myself to feel like a writer, act like a writer, think like a writer, without the dull ache of everyday interferring. And from that, I think I’d change somehow. Maybe not physically, but it’s possible, but certainly on the inside there’d be a change. I might even lose that hangdog expression I get when I feel frustrated and hopeless. The world would once again, become a fascinating, interesting and beautiful place. It would be the source of wonder and joy. An open book, so to speak. Oh yes, it would definitely change me.

Blog: Naturally, I’d blog – I doubt much of anything would change that. But I sense that my blogging would also take on a new tone. Maybe it would be more fun or interesting. I’d have more time to learn about things, people, places, whatever. Maybe I’d even learn some photoshop tricks and make cool pictures. I don’t know – but I’d be the happy, traveling, blogger.

Read: I’d read all the books I’ve been meaning to read. I’d reread my favorite books, perhaps finding a deeper meaning in them than I already do. I’d read the classics, even the Russians. Plays, novels, poetry, volumes of short stories, epress, small press, big houses, small houses. Everything from Shakespeare to Evanovich.

Volunteer: I always wanted to do volunteer work. In my life, I’ve managed some. Like most of us, I give to charities when I can. Not much, but something. But I’d really like to somehow help in a way that would make a difference. I’ve often pondered being a Big Sister or volunteering at the V/A, or a children’s ward in a hospital, St. Jude’s. All of the above, and more. I have a strong desire to help others, and it hurts that I simply don’t have the time to do it.

Garden: Remember that 40lb tomato? Oh yeah, I would love to do that. Or something similar. I have always had a knack for gardening, making things grow. There is something wonderful about seeing seeds turn into living, growing things. Something wonderful about eating fresh veggies out of the garden. Seeing a beautiful carpet of flowers zooming across the landscape. I might even learn how to make my own compost heap. Exciting stuff, eh?

Travel: With the exception of my perilous two cross country drives between here and Florida, I’ve never really traveled. Some years back, I wanted to just pay off all my bills, save some money, buy a jeep or truck and just take off. I would travel around, stop in and see friends all over the country, take on odd jobs as I needed to and write about my adventures. I’d be a travel tramp, so to speak. See much of my beautiful and awesome country, try different foods, learn about different traditions and so on. I know a lot of people might prefer to go to Europe or places more exotic, but I’ve always yearned to see my own country and learn about it. Although, I might have to make a pit stop in Austrailia, as I seem to have a few friends there. 😉 

Work Out:  Once upon a time, I was in good physical condition. I used to run 5 miles a day, had a great bod and amazing stamina. In recent years I’ve turned into a bowl of mush. It’s embarrassing – but we go back to the workaday life, the lack of time and energy and that’s what you get. I would really like to feel physically fit again. Feel like learning tennis or running a few miles wouldn’t kill me. Like to spring out of bed and greet the day, rather than groan and beg for coffee first thing in the morning.

I’d spend more time with friends and family: There never does seem to be enough time for this either. I haven’t seen my Mom or my siblings for a few years. Not to mention, cousins, aunts and uncles. And it’s not good for the soul to feel disconnected and disjointed from the family and friend units.

Of course, I realize that I’d probably have to take five years to accomplish all of this – still I wouldn’t mind trying. I wouldn’t mind at all. In fact, I’d love it. And I’m sure if I did, I’d become a different person – a better person, someone I’d like a lot. And after writing all of this down, my heart is telling me that maybe I should give it a try. How I could pull it off is a total mystery to me – but I’d sure like to.

So, there is my idyllic life, in a nutshell.

How about you? If you had a whole year off to do anything under the sun, moon and stars, what would it be? What would you do? Would you, afterwards, really be able to go back to your old life? Or would you have changed your life forever?

WC

I’m Rambling…

 

I reach out for something to grasp but find empty hands. Darkness. Confusion. Nothing there and no one home.

The only noise is the silence that moves stealth like a viral disease, looking for its next victim.

It’s shaken us, this tragedy that has no explanation – and what explanation could it have? It would still be senseless and without merit. It would still diminish, harangue and frighten.

Safe is not a place out there. It never was. Safe has to be somewhere deep inside that enables you to carry on. Proves to you that there is sunlight outside the door that stands between you and everyone else.

Clutched hands and wrinkled, sodden hankies will not help us now. “Woe is me,” is nothing but a poor replacement for saying something honest. “The world has gone mad” or has it? Are we really that helpless?

Do we not still have our free will, our ever-adaptable minds and individual spirits?

Isn’t it possible even now or because of now, to be bigger than ourselves? Rising to the challenge of facing what makes us want to run away must be key to finding our voices and ourselves again.

Do the words of a rambling mind reach or repel you?

Life is fluid, always changing, despite any indication to the contrary. If we remain frozen in the moment, we are ceasing to live and therefore exist. Aren’t we?

I wish for us, to find our joy and hold fast. To flaunt it where darkness lurks and screeches. To choke off the fear and apathy.

Safe, is the place we make in our hearts and it cannot be taken from us unless we offer it up for slaughter.