Making Dreams Come True: Are dreams just for fairy tales?

As I venture down the path of my life, I have to wonder if we really can make our dreams come true. How much of life is luck, fate, and serendipity?

Perhaps some of life is luck: being in the right place in the right time, writing the right book at the right time, meeting the man or woman of your dreams when you’re both in the right place in life. Well, when it comes to writing books, I think if the book is good enough, it’s always the right time. Fads—vampires, zombies, tropical settings, or yoga—will come and go, but if a book has heart, it will find its place in the world. Because love, death, grief, sadness, redemption, passion, healing—those things never go out of style; life is always full of them. When our books have heart, they will find their place. I believe that.

So how much of life is luck and how much is hard work? There are musicians with extraordinary talent who haven’t won Grammies or signed deals with major record labels. In my hometown, I met a musician named Rachel whose voice could haunt you or move you to tears, it was so beautiful. And she didn’t just have talent, she also had an incredible heart. Rachel was one of those people with a contagious vibrancy. You couldn’t help but be happy around her. Rachel happily taught drum circles at the local heritage center and performed in small coffee houses. She’d found her calling, her heart, her dream. She ran a small nonprofit for disabled children. I didn’t know her very well, but she seemed to be as much of a fulfilled, self-actualized human being as one can be. I was young when I met her, a college student, and she inspired me. Growing up, I didn’t know any artists, but I knew I wanted to be one. Meeting her helped me become a better writer and a better person.

One thing we rarely say in our driven, ambitious, workaholic society is that it’s okay to not want to be the next biggest thing. In the last few months, I’ve started to step back and realize that I don’t want to work three jobs and eighty hours a week. Even if I love everything I do, doing all of it is killing my health. It’s okay to not be Wonder Woman. That’s a lesson I’m still learning. Saying no and toning down my nonstop activity don’t come easily to me, but I’ll keep trying. I am soooo far from perfect. And I kinda like the freedom to make mistakes, even if I don’t like actually making mistakes.

I do believe that dreams come true, as long as they’re realistic ones. At five-foot, I’ll never be a basketball player. Even if I were taller, I have no athletic talent to speak of (a video of me playing tennis could easily become a YouTube sensation). We all have limitations. There are some dreams we can make come true (penning a memoir) and some that are beyond our ability to accomplish (marrying a prince). Some things, like winning the lotto, are just luck. Many are not.

I believe if we want to be published authors or make a living selling our paintings or direct a documentary or design websites or whatever our hearts desire, we can get there. Maybe not right away. It might take five or 10 or 20 years. We might have to take detours. Life gets in the way.

Dreams, if they’re achievable, can be achieved, but we have to set goals and work toward them. We’ll never get a job in marketing if we don’t apply. And we might apply for a hundred jobs before we get one answering the phones for a marketing director. Our first novel, our opus, might be rejected 40 times. It might never sell. It might sell 200 copies. But there are other stories to tell. It’s a long road. At the end, it won’t look like what we thought it would. Real dreams change along the way.

I’ve wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember. Ten years ago, it was a distant dream. Today, it’s closer. I work toward it every day. I’m determined to make it happen. I believe in making our dreams come true.

What are your dreams? What goals are helping you to make your dreams come true? What dreams have you made come true, and how did you make those dreams a reality?

Advertisements

What I’ve learned from love: How to build a writing life—and a life, period.

In 2009, I lost my grandfather to pancreatic cancer. It was a short battle. He was diagnosed a few weeks before my wedding; he died two months later.

In the way he lived his life, he taught me how to love, how to be a good person, how to lead a good life. He wasn’t wealthy or famous. He’d worked in a coal mine, fought and was wounded in WWII, and worked in maintenance at my future alma mater.

But the day of his memorial service, the funeral home was packed with people. Some hadn’t seen him in thirty years, but they remembered when he’d helped them rebuild their house after the flood; they remembered the kind of man he was. He wasn’t perfect, but he was generous, and he had a strength of spirit, a contagious warmth and happiness, and a sense of pride that came from everyday, simple things. No one was ever prouder of their family than he was; no one ever loved deeper than he did.

In life, it’s easy to get caught up in the game. We want to be published writers, achieve some measure of financial success, or save up for a rainy day or our golden years. And those are all important things. But they can’t be end goals.

A year ago, I first started seriously researching my path as a writer. I found out about the indie writer scene via writers like Kait Nolan. I joined Virginia Romance Writers, where I met writers like Shara Lanel and Nara Malone, who taught me about small epubs and the world of digital publishing. I learned about POD, which allows smaller publishers to offer print versions of books without having to do large press runs. I bought a Kindle and got hooked on the digital book scene. I learned more about how the publishing industry works and what I should expect.

What I’ve learned from my family is that work is important, but it’s only one part of our lives. We have to choose the writing path that works for us as individuals, one that allows us to meet our personal and professional goals. I’ve put in some long, hard hours of introspection. I’m still finding my path, and I know that my journey will be full of changes and surprises I didn’t anticipate.

Whether my book sells a hundred copies or a million, my grandfather would’ve been equally proud. I know my husband will rejoice for me the day I sell my first book, but my worth in his eyes and in that of my friends’ and family’s is not based on my rank in sales.

Author Michelle Davidson Argyle wrote in a blog post entitled “Publishing is Like a Hot Love Affair”:

In the end it all depends on what you want as an author. Don’t kid yourself thinking there’s only one way to publish or that any path is easier than another. And don’t jump into that hot love affair with your eyes closed. It’s a wild ride and one that could end really ugly if you don’t research, gain a great amount of patience, and work hard every single day. Luck only happens to those who put themselves in its path.

Art matters. Writing matters. Craft matters. But we write about life. That’s why having options as writers is so important. Whether you go Big Six, small press, indie, or a combination thereof, your path will be the one that you feel is right for you.

It’s not about doing what’s the easiest or hardest, what’s most ambitious or most comfortable. Your writing goals have to align with your personal goals. If the rebel in you screams indie and you believe you can pull it off, go for it. If you say it’s Big Six or bust, pursue it. We have to be true to ourselves and our values. We have to know what’s truly important to us or else risk getting caught up in the rat race and losing ourselves.

Accessed at stock xchng.Springsteen was born to run; I was born to write. But I live for late-night laugh fests with my best friends, for Saturday morning family breakfasts, for kisses and stargazing, and for the tiny moments that bring me happiness or deeper awareness. My stories and publishing journey will always incorporate those things.

And what about you? What’s your path? How does it align with your personal goals? What guides your footsteps on your writing journey? And how have the ones you love inspired you?

Going confidently in the direction of your dreams (even if you must occasionally proceed in the dark)

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” –Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau ranks high on my list of inspirational people. His writings on anything from civil disobedience to simplicity to living close to nature always stir something in me.

I am and always have been a nature freak. I believe that trees have beautiful, old souls, and that when we work close to the earth, we can hear the magic that hums in its veins—that hums, too, in our veins. When I was a kid, I used to dream of having a small cabin in the woods, of waking to watch deer just footsteps from my door, of always living immersed in nature. While most kids were playing video games, I was identifying flora and fauna. (To be fair, I grew up on a farm with two brothers who hogged the Nintendo controllers and with no cable television.)

In my early 20s, I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere for a year. I wrote most of my master’s thesis there, with the company of my cats, my beagle, and a nosy horse in need of a personality transplant. I now enjoy my life in town, which, fortunately, features plenty of green space and trees, lots of squirrels, and the occasional deer. (Oh, and lattes.) But Thoreau’s quotes continue to resonate in me, and they resonate in my work.

I was trying to explain paranormal romance to someone who’d never read the genre. On the fly, the best I could come up with was, “Think Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He smiled in amusement and said, “I can’t picture you writing anything like Buffy.” He didn’t mean it as a diss. Buffy and Angel aren’t exactly what you’d expect from a soft-spoken, skinny five-foot-tall woman.

I don’t think my explanation helped the other person understand what I write and why I write. Thoreau also said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And there’s plenty of desperation in the world. Maybe by writing I’m trying to stave off a type of quiet desperation, unleashing my inner artist, feeding my soul. And I want to give the world some faith, something to believe in. Artists seek out the beauty in the world. Maybe we draw it out; maybe we cling to it. Or maybe we just find ways to let it shine through. I do know that writing makes me a better person, a deeper person, a more spiritual person.

My husband and I just did one of our periodic “this life in review” sessions. One thing we both want immensely is to buy a house. I want a garden that’s not a couple of terracotta pots on our cramped balcony, and we both want a place we can make our own. Having our own washer and dryer that don’t require quarters and not having to listen to the neighbors playing indoor hockey (that’s what I assume they were doing) would be added perks. And as thoughts of houses and mortgage payments took root, a voice inside me questioned if I shouldn’t be dedicating more of my pursuits to a more solid career, something more secure.

But I don’t believe to do that would be to go confidently in the direction of my dreams. We will own that house we dream of, a place for our family to grow, for our animals to play and for us to tend a garden, to paint the walls any damn color we please (okay, I do that anyway, but I have to paint it all back to plain old white when I move). And we’ve found plenty of happiness, good memories, and magic here in this apartment. A house can certainly be a symbol, a milestone, but it’s one part of the journey.

Even if I consult my tarot deck from time to time, I can’t see into the future, determine what choices I’ll make, where my path will lead. Faith in ourselves, in our dreams, in our goals, in whatever higher powers we believe in, those things must carry us forward. We can’t ask for certainty.

We can build, step by step, choice by choice, and word by word, a life that we’ve imagined.

Namaste.

Sneaky motifs: What’s your secret little write-obsession?

While mulling over a new novella I’m working on, it dawned on me that there is a motif that flows through nearly every story that I write. It’s not something as abstract, as love (which is a given, considering my genre) or redemption or healing (though those are common ones) or any sort of existential commentary on the human condition.

No, my novels have plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle themes that run through them. But this one was so unexpected it caught me off guard.

Tea. Yes, that’s right, tea. The beverage, preferably served hot, often with honey. In an early MG fantasy novel I was working on in grad school, a professor noted with good humor the importance to which my characters had elevated tea. One of them says, “Something big is going down. End-of-the-world big.” And the other character says, “I’ll put on the tea.”

Now, tea is my comfort food (if you could call it a food), even more than a bar of dark (very dark) chocolate. But despite my love of chocolate or ice cream or artisan cheeses, none of these things has become an unconscious motif if my stories.

Each time tea surfaces in a story, its presence feels completely natural. When someone is sick or worried, what better way to console him or her than to offer up a cup of tea? So when Cassandra (heroine in newly begun novella) arrives shivering and soaking wet on Nick’s doorstep, what is a guy to do but make her a cuppa?

I blame my best friends, those ladies who have been my confidants through the numerous ups and downs of my twenties. When some people would whip up a pitcher of margaritas (we have done that, on occasion), we usually put some hot water on and brew a pot of tea. We’ve stayed up until 5 a.m. contemplating our lives and the mysteries of the universe, anything from relationship woes to work struggles to spiritual awakenings, while imbibing endless amounts of tea. Those are good memories. And after a long day at work, there’s nothing better than coming home and sipping a cup of Lady Grey tea while allowing my body to sink into the sofa cushions.

I don’t know why tea became part of my writing universe. Maybe I associate it with the magic that runs through my life. It’s natural, earthy, relaxing—a sort of meditation and medicine. It’s a balm for the soul. And, maybe, drinking tea is even an art form.

What about you? What subtle motif has popped into your work unintentionally? And where do you think it came from?

Summer Travels:

In the last month or so, I’ve taken a break to focus on some traveling with the family.

The first stop for hubby and me was Wilmington, N.C., where we lounged on the beach, went shopping in the historic downtown area (if you ever go, check out the Cotton Exchange for some excellent local shopping), and enjoyed some excellent food. We don’t have much in the way of variety when it comes to cuisine in the town where we live, so it was nice to enjoy everything from Vietnamese food to fondue. I grew up in a family in which food is really important, so when I travel, some of my fondest memories are of the great food I get to sample. In Germany, for example, they have Eis Cafes—entire restaurants devoted to ice cream. Seriously. It rocks. And while the food at that little teahouse in Santé Fe, New Mexico, certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, the dining—ahem—experience certainly was. So I’m now on a fondue kick and spend my spare moments fantasizing about hosting a fondue party. Local peeps, break out the fondue forks!

Because I am a sunshine-lover, now that it’s sundress-and-sandal weather, I have a hard time keeping my ass glued to a seat indoors any longer than it takes to pound out another scene. My crop of lettuce, herbs, radishes, and arugula is already sprouting up a bountiful harvest, which, coupled with the leafy greens and radishes my dad gave me from his Pennsylvania garden, means my husband and I have a continual supply of salad fixings.

Last weekend, I went back to the “home country” of western Pennsylvania for a wedding. I’m always struck by how beautiful the landscape is there. It’s been marred by years of misuse—acid mine drainage from the coal industry has tinged the waters a sulfuric yellow-orange, and boney piles (hill-sized mounds of coal waste) pock the landscape. But there’s this soft beauty in the trees that reminds me of who I am and why I became a tree-hugging, Yaris-driving, nature girl in the first place. Knowing the beauty of the land but witnessing the frailty of that beauty and how hard it is to rebuild brought out in me a longing to protect it. And I do find hope in the number of wind turbines now visible there—in the heart of coal country, where my ancestors, were, in fact, coal-miners, renewable energy is now taking root.

I found my first inspiration in the forests of home. That’s where I wrote my earliest stories, where I became an artist. Long before I ever used a computer to record my stories, I sat in the woods of ferns and maples and wrote in spiral-bound notebooks. I wrapped myself in a quilt and watched the sunset from the front porch swing, surrounded by the pink blaze of rhododendrons. I dreamt of the places I’d go and the person I would become. Sometimes, before anyone else woke up, I’d creep downstairs and stare out the kitchen window, watching the mist as it draped and curled along the ground. I found more stories from the land than I ever could staring at a screen. I’ve gotten to see the beauty of landscapes and cityscapes in so many places, and each time, I take a little bit of it with me, tucked away in the back of my mind, to fuel another story. But it’s nice, every once in a while, to go back to where I first realized I wanted to be a storyteller. More than anything, what I learned from my roots was the importance of connection, of unity. I came to believe that everything in this vast universe is connected. One thing impacts the other. They say each man is an island—that may be so, but he’s still touched by the sea; the light of the stars still reaches down toward him.

Summer sunshine makes it hard to stay indoors, when so many stories are buzzing among the leaves. I have a manuscript to finish this summer, and come August, when teaching resumes, there will be a finished draft sitting on my desk.

Who knows how many of those pages will be written sitting on my balcony, where I’m moved by the poetry of the trees?

Confessions of a self-actualization junkie:

Some people want to climb the corporate ladder. Me? I just want to get to the top of Maslow’s pyramid-shaped hierarchy of needs.

Maybe it all started in psych 101, the first time I saw that pyramid. The truth is that I’ve always wanted to become the best possible version of myself, ever since I was a little girl writing in her journal and sitting in the forest, pondering the meaning of life. I knew from a young age that I wanted something different out of my life, something that didn’t even seem like a possibility at the time. I couldn’t see what I wanted, but I knew it was out there.

I am introspective by default, critical by nature, and so analytical I’m surprised smoke doesn’t occasionally pour out of my ears. I assess, I reassess, and I take careful steps. Sure, I leave space in my life for play and spontaneity, but I am so goal-driven that it can be, quite frankly, detrimental. I’ve worked myself so hard, burnt the candle at both ends, that I’ve run myself into the ground before. And even that I analyzed until I’d seen each slide of my decisions under the microscope.

I meditate, do yoga, read Martha Beck articles on Oprah.com, do numerology, read up about my astrological sign, Feng Shui my home so often I’ve earned the right to use Feng Shui as a verb, and frequently peruse books by Deepak Chopra. I know my Myers-Briggs personality type (INFJ, the idealist or protector, and the rarest type). We’re dreamers, but we’re also hard-nosed. We love goals. Repeat: Love. Goals. Personalitypage.com writes of the INFJ:

INFJs place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis [that] is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand.

Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? How does your Myers-Briggs type influence your approach to your goals?

Read more about how I’m fumbling my way toward self-actualization…

Wondrously formed:

“I have found when I tried or looked deeper inside/ What appears unadorned might be wondrously formed.” ~ Carrie Newcomer, “Geodes

I reached a point today in revising where the story just opened up; it let me in. I always talk about finding the heart of the story, the place where it sings. I caught a hint of that melody today. I’ve always known it was there in this story. My main characters, Zoe and Blake, are the kind of people who’ve had to keep a lot of their emotions and struggles on the inside. Zoe in particular isn’t good at being vulnerable and letting anyone in. Yes, sometimes me included. So when the story opened up tonight, even if I don’t have the plot hammered out, I found the haunting music of their story.

And isn’t looking inside, looking deeper, what being a writer is all about? Journalists dig for facts; poets search for images in the everyday. Storytellers, we’re all searching for heart, for meaning. Our characters change during the course of the story. But so does the writer. I don’t think I’m the same person at the end of the story as I am at the beginning. I’ve always known the characters change, the story changes, the words on the page are changed again and again. But the personal transformation of the artist. I’ve known it was there. Tonight I’m very aware of how my characters and their tale are affecting me–not just as a writer, but as a person.

I’m almost afraid to say it. It’s like a dream that might slip back into the fog; a butterfly landing on an outstretched hand. I don’t want to scare the story away. But it’s those moments that remind me why I’m a writer. They remind me of the kind of person I am. Someone who’s always looking for meaning in the world around me. Not larger-than-life meaning. But the things that give life meaning. A grandmother’s kitchen. An old love letter. An inside joke. A place that brings back a hint of a memory we can’t quite recall.

I’ve been told I like “sad” things. My husband just mentioned it today, as we were listening to the song above. Sad songs, sad books, sad movies: He’s not the first one to say it. Which I find odd, because I don’t think I like sad things. I love beauty. I love things with spirit, and meaning, and depth. I like to look down into the deep places of my soul. That’s where art comes from. That’s where love comes from.

Yes, I, too, have found that what appears unadorned might be wondrously formed. The simplest words can make magic when they come together in just the right way. A few brush strokes can make us feel something we can’t even identify. The perfect image can break us and make us whole at the same time.

The story I’m writing has a long way to go. Some days I’ll feel in tune with it. Other days I might feel as though I’m trying to pick the lock or use a battering ram to break in. Somewhere inside is the place where my characters are changing. And finding that place, I think, will change me as well.

Here are some of the lyrics to "Geodes," if anyone is interested:

Baby, it’s cold outside!

December 14. Wind chill advisory: 15 below zero (F). I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the brochure when this PA girl packed up her things and moved to the lovely mountains of Virginia (And yes, they are, truly, lovely—sometimes breathtaking.).

I’m currently sweater-clad, sitting cozily in my office, thinking warm thoughts about sunshine and orchids while a Katy Perry song runs through my head (Can you guess which one?).

As much as I might love sunny weather—sitting on a blanket next to my dog while I wear flip-flops and a tank top and scribble poetry in my journal; or thinking thoughts about the goddess while I plant seeds in the tiny container garden on my balcony—I try to remind myself that raindrops and snowflakes also contain the potential for countless stories.

In college, I sat in the lobby of the “humanities” building on my undergraduate campus, talking with a much-admired professor about the creative process. We both admired the inspirational power that rainy days hold over writers. I think that cloudy, blustery days in general force us toward an introspection that can propel the creative process forward.

In the PA mountains, it snows November through March, sometimes starting in October and carrying on into April. The warmth of stories provided a cozy refuge, but art also provided a vehicle for the exploration of winter: its meaning, its potential. The short collection of poetry I wrote that semester, under that professor’s guidance, was aptly entitled, “What the Heart Thought of, That Winter, Spent Frozen in the Pond.” On the cover, I printed a photo I’d taken of the pond behind my familial home, of water reeds bent frozen and bedecked in frost and snow, leaning over the icy surface of the pond, while leafless trees stood behind in a seemingly reflective state. And among the sleepy trees were evergreens, reminding us of the potential of life.

Maybe the Virginia summers have spoiled me, but winter seems longer and more brutal each year. I try to remember that winter is a season of quiet introspection before the fertility of spring, that it contains in it the sleeping seeds of another year. There is something to be learned from cold, from dark, from clouds, from frozen rain and snow.

And there must be, because so many of my stories find inspiration in the rain, in the winter, in the cold or in the dark. I met a character one night as I lay in bed, nestled under blankets and protected from the cold. I saw the scene: Rain poured down, and she stood at the window with her face pressed against the glass. She was waiting for something, but I didn’t know what. She was searching for something, but she didn’t know how to find it. Something was lost. There was sadness in her eyes and potential in her story.

So maybe today I’ll work up the nerve to walk over to Starbucks and buy myself a chai tea latte (I doubt it.). At the very least, this evening I will hole up in my office and listen to the wind while I curl up, sipping tea (brewed in my kitchen). And when the wind howls outside and hurls itself at the window, I’ll listen for stories.

And I’ll only whine “a little” when I have to walk the dogs.

In pockets of silence: Yoga, stillness, and making art

“Every day the sun rises/ out of low word-clouds/ into burning silence.”–Rumi, “Secret Places”

Writers, like the lovers in Rumi’s poem Secret Places, also often dwell in secret, silent places. As writers, we have an intimate relationship with language. Yet it’s what is beyond the words that matters; it’s the evocation of emotion in the reader that gives art meaning. As Ursula K. Le Guin puts it, “The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.”

I’m thinking about this because last night, after a long hiatus, I came back to my yoga practice. My hamstrings were tight, and there were a couple surprise moments where I realized how much tension I’d been carrying around with me. It’s the letting go, the paying attention to the silent tension in our bodies and releasing it into relaxation, that makes yoga so wonderful for mind, body, and spirit. We’re all carrying things we didn’t realize we were carrying. In yoga, we feel the weight of each thing, each tight muscle, each pocket of unacknowledged stress, and we work toward letting it go. At the end of my practice, I felt calmer, lighter, and grateful. Yoga practices, composed of studied poses, bring us to awareness and to stillness. Through movement, we make our way to stillness and repose.

I see yoga practice as a form of composition; if not its own art form, yoga is at least linked to my artist craft. Writing is about finding stillness and silence, and listening. It seems strange that a 95,000-word novel, with all of the energy and the flurry of activity that goes into its creation, is made up of so much listening, of so many moments of quietude.

The words are there. We’re just listening for them. We are scribes in the truest sense of the word. Someone else is talking; we’re just jotting down what they say. I don’t “create” my characters. I’m not even sure I find them. I believe they find me.

There’s so much talking in the world. A student of rhetoric, I’m fascinated by the way we make meaning, by the way we reason and debate, and by the way we communicate our ideas and beliefs to each other. It’s everywhere, in newspapers and shopping malls, in conversations in our homes and Starbucks and around the water cooler. We are creatures of meaning, and I could spend the rest of my life trying to understand how we make meaning—or how we find it.

But I don’t believe writers get to make meaning. I think we share stories. It’s up to communities of readers and individual readers to find the meaning in a story or a poem. The writer’s idea of what something means carries as much weight as each reader’s; it’s the writer’s interpretation of his or her own work as read through the writer’s eyes (the writer-reader). I’m so eager to send stories out into the world because it’s there they find their voice. Art is meant to be shared.

But it’s always the silence that I come back to, searching for the words that, if I cup an ear and stay still, will find their way to me. The notes are already there, humming in the air around me. I find a place of stillness and repose, and I listen. And then I write the songs of my characters. It’s their words, their melodies I’m writing. They are the singers. I’m just the scribe.

Here’s to a little Svasana to help us find our way back to our center and ourselves. Namaste.

The Magic and the Writing

Like the old chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, sometimes I don’t know which came first: the magic or the writing. Was the magic born of storytelling, or did the storytelling spring forth from the soil of spirit, from the earth and ground where I first found a deeper self?

Once, there was a small knoll that served as a bridge; as my brother and I crept up the gentle slope, we’d peer down the low but steep sides, wondering if the troll would emerge to exact its payment. Fallen trees made the walls of castles, and patches of briar and thorn hinted of dungeons perfect for villains. In such a world, knights and wizards and warriors were possible, and a deep magic stirred. Many days, that world meant more to me than a world of school buses and math problems. I was on to something—telling stories, but only to myself.

As I grew older and the world grew harder (yes, harder than it should have been, but that’s a different story), I made a mythology for this world of magic and tales. Mythology of seasons, of goddess and god whose love enveloped me like the scent of ferns. Grapevines and oaks, maples and beech trees, foot trails of deer and songs of birds, their world of mystery called me. The wind carried their silent voices. “Ask questions; find answers beyond words. Struggle for words; find they fall away. Walk deeper, deeper into us; find your true self.”

That’s where the stories were born. That’s where the goddess daughter, child of earth, star-gazer, moon-watcher, one whose blood hums with poetry and story, that’s where she found herself, her calling. It was a place of unquestioning truth, acceptance, and quiet guidance. I walked out beyond the words, to the edge of the world of humans, into the wild. An untamed part of me walks there often, and that belief in magic is what pulls me to the page and allows me to speak. Walking out beyond the words, I found the words. Speaking in an enchanted language, I weave the myth and the magic, the fae and the mundane, and deeper truth emerges from the quiet soul.

So, in the world of magic, I find the stories.The world of spirit is the birthplace of all art, which tells the stories alive, breathing, but hidden and formless in the everyday: in cups of tea and sidewalk cracks, in rumpled sheets and messy hair, in shadows and sunlight, behind eyes haunted or laughing.

Feeling the swell of the stories and poems is easy; they have a gorgeous, vibrant energy that sets me on edge—a wonderful, dazzling desire, like a longing to hold the stars or see the sunrise. Tapping into that deep energy is what gives me the strength, the courage, and honesty to transform those stories into words on the page.

Yet part of me still wonders whether I would hear the haunting melody of magic that runs through all things if the stories didn’t call me there. Did the magic of language draw me toward this deeper magic? Which did I find first? Since I’ve known the joy of both, perhaps that’s a stone best left unturned.

So song of love and sorrow, song of night and day, I call to you; you call to me. I thank thee. Blessed be.