Sunday, February 24, 2013

Celebrate good times - c'mon

Earlier this week, I posted this picture on facebook and said this:
"2nd revision. 2 day deadline on Saturday. So, I'm giving myself a little time to cry and I'll eat something really bad for me then I guess I'll get to work. There's a lot more red than black on these pages. I'm just sayin'.... "

It's the 2nd revision from my editor at Segullah. (That's still thrilling to say... My Editor. I'm learning to own it, Jen.) My deadline was in 2 days and I was feeling the crunch on top of children's homework, a family wedding and cousins visiting from California with whom I really wanted to spend time.

So I sat at the computer, said a prayer and started to revise. A little later a friend came to the door bearing a gift. A cold, chocolately ice cream gift. A little later in the day, another friend stopped by with a bag of goodies, some of my favorite goodies, involving chocolate and peanut butter.

They both relayed sentiments similar to the many amazing comments on facebook. Beautiful validation and support.

My heart swelled like a sponge soaking in the outpouring of love and friendship I felt from those reaching out to offer encouragement and support, through their words, well wishes and thoughtful gifts. Who am I to deserve any of this?

As I've reflected on this over the weekend, I've learned two things.

#1. I want to be that kind of friend to others. Because it's a big deal and goes a long way to feel so much love. I want to support and encourage friends as they achieve goals and work toward their dreams. I want to be aware of and involved in what my friends, family, spouse and children are doing so I can offer the same love and strength to them with which I have been so blessed. 

The problem is I'm sort of a blockhead and I'm just not that aware. Too often I'm not paying attention, I'm wrapped up in myself or just plain distracted. It happens, doesn't it? We want to do something. We're ready and willing, we just don't know who or how. That leads me to #2.

#2. Say Something. Let your friends and family know what you're working on, dreaming about, struggling with. We want to know! (And you may get yummy treats and amazing words of affirmation.) I'm reminded of the book "Mutant Message Down Under" by Marlo Morgan. She writes about the lessons she learned on a walk-about with an aboriginal tribe. At one point, she is trying to describe birthday parties to the tribe and they are clueless. They don't celebrate birthdays.

"If you don't celebrate getting older," I said, "what do you celebrate?"
"Getting better," was the reply. "We celebrate if we are a better, wiser person this year than last. Only you would know, so it is you who tells the others when it is time to have the party."
And later in the book -
" is in recognition of the uniqueness and contribution to life. They believe that the purpose for the passage of time is to allow a person to become better, wiser, to express more and more of one's beingness. So if you are a better person this year than last, and only you know that for certain, then you call for the party. Whe you say you are ready, everyone honors that."

LOVE this concept. Hence, one of the reasons I posted on facebook in the first place. And I'm so grateful to the friends who are joining me in my journey and my celebration. 

And for the rest of us knuckleheads, let's all celebrate with each other more often. Just remember, YOU can be the one to tell us when it is time to have the party!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Red Forest: Prologue v1.0

The branches seemed to leap in front of her deliberately and swallow her deeper into the dark, empty voids of the forest, grasping angrily at her pale brown cape, like the sticky tendrils of a blind, hungry monster. The trees seemed to shift before her in a tangled and ominous dance, forming an endless maze of shadow and fear. The young girl stumbled to a stop and leaned her hand against a tree, gasping for breath. Her fingers were dirty and scratched from reaching for branches and dirt to steady herself as she raced through the forest. At almost every turn she lost her footing, fell and scrambled to stand and keep running. Her fingers told the story. Her blond hair had fallen loose from her bun, matted with leaves and dirt, and hung dirty and ragged around her young, pale face. She turned and leaned her back against the tree, resting her head against the rough bark. Her breath came out in heavy, wheezing gasps. Hot tears fell from her closed eyes, creating dirty brown rivers down her cheeks. She clenched her eyes tightly shut and willed herself to wake up, but all she saw was the vicious face of the predator hunting her.

The afternoon began with an innocent hide-and-seek game at the edge of the forest with her 5-year-old little sister before dinner. While the younger sister found her way back to the village on her own, the older sister wandered deeper into the forest, responding to the reckless craving of youth to explore and experience the mysteries of the unknown. She was fifteen and more bold than she should have been, believing the dangerous rumors of wolves in the forest were cautions only for the faint of heart. The setting of the sun had mercilessly and sufficiently demolished her naïve confidence in the invincibility of youth and launched her into a terrifying nightmare.

She heard the snap of a twig and jumped, stifling her scream with her shaking hand, eyes wide open. Her heart struggled to race faster than it already was. The force of adrenaline and blood through her body was almost unbearable. She scanned the shadows surrounding her, blue eyes wide with paralyzing fear. A snarl a few yards behind her shot enough adrenaline through her to start moving again. She clutched the front of her torn, yellow dress in her trembling hands and started running frantically, as the prey before the predator. She looked behind her and couldn’t see any movement but the horrible sound of pursuit pounded in her brain and seemed to echo all around her. The snarling pant of the wolf behind her, ever-present in her mind, screamed at her, “run!”

The wolf pursued his marked prey. The trail she left was like a brilliant streak of light through the forest. Though he could have taken his time and given her a lead, he was anxious. It had been many long years since anyone had been foolish enough to venture this far into the woods. He plowed through the trees with agility and enthusiasm. He saw a flash of yellow fabric dash behind a trunk. It was tattered and dirty. The sight of it thrilled him. He slowed his speed slightly and quieted his padded feet, veering to the left. His surprise attack would come swiftly from another direction. He was minutes away from his target.

Frantically, the young girl raced on, pushing aside the underbrush that seemed to grow taller with every step. The snarl so close behind urged her on. Each breath hurt as she sucked air into her aching lungs. It was never enough and she began to feel light headed and confused for the lack of oxygen. Panting and faint, her body involuntarily began to slow down. Her head dropped and she stumbled over a protruding root. She knew she was defeated when she hit the forest floor. It was eerily quiet and the trees seemed to spin in a slow circle around her. In a daze, she raised her eyes and saw a path in front of her.

She scrambled to her wobbling knees. She recognized this path. It was well-used by those coming into the forest to hunt, trap, harvest roots and herbs, or to find a place of solitude. She felt a flicker of hope burn through her exhaustion and despair. Somebody might see or hear her and come to her aid. In her focus on getting to the path, she never heard the wolf attack from the side. The wolf tore into her without reserve and relished the victory of the chase. He pulled her back into the forest and shared her with his pack. After his appetite was satisfied, the wolf searched the area for the young girl’s cape. With her scared scent all over it, it was not hard to find. He left it near the path, as a reminder and marker of his territory.

The same night, the villagers sent out a search party. Walking the path, they quickly came upon the cape. It was tattered and torn but easily recognizable as hers. It was no longer brown, but red, stained with her own blood. The somber news of the young girl’s horrible death spread like wildfire through the village. So did the new name of the forest, Red Forest.