Posted in April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, CampNaNoWriMo, Just for Fun!, Novel Excerpts, Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Weekly Features, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

The Key to Freedom: #SoCS and #CampNaNoWriMo


Passive-aggressive behavior was something Serrah felt she’d elevated to an art form – but Donovan Nash didn’t leave her any openings to use her craft.  He just offered her options, without seeming to have any stake at all in how she used them.

While it appealed to her, the way he was, and the peace he seemed to feel, it was also frightening. What would it be like, to have that kind of freedom? To not be trying to find any little way she could to get out from under the iron-willed control Mom and Dad held over her? To stand braced on her own two feet, the way he was standing, and hold herself tall beneath the ocean sky?

Was she strong enough?

That was a question she’d avoided asking herself. It was easy, back home – other than the crazy risk she’d taken in running away and coming here to find out about the dead baby who belonged to her hostage heart, she’d never really had the chance to find out whether she was strong enough to make a choice for herself.

She’d thought she was trapped; but now, Serrah thought maybe there was a strange kind of freedom in it. With Mom and Dad making all the decisions, all she’d really had to do was decide if she was going to go along quietly, or complain to herself and find tiny, inconsequential ways to rebel. Or, as was more often the case, just dream of rebelling.

She’d been wasting her life, and she’d told herself it was Mom and Dad’s fault.

But it was her life, and there was a lot she could have been doing that she hadn’t, until she came here.

Now, she was responsible for herself, and for her own decisions, and that was a trap she’d never seen coming – because Serrah Eleanor Reed, whose middle name was for a woman who hadn’t waited around for permission to do things, even though she lived in a time when women weren’t allowed to do nearly what men could, had almost no practice in the art of living.

“Will you show me, Donovan?” Suddenly, learning tai chi seemed to be the key to freedom and power in her own life.

“All right. The first thing you’ll need to know is how to set your stance. This first one is called the bow stance.” He stepped out with his right leg, and turned his left foot out at an angle. “Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your tailbone should be tucked. If you can imagine a string connecting the top of your head to the sky, your posture will be better.”


The above was a snippet from the rough draft of Still Nameless, a Kifo Island Chronicles novel I’m working on for this month’s April CampNaNoWriMo.

It’s also my entry into this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday blog hop, where the prompt is “passive/aggressive”, with bonus points for beginning the passage with one of those words.

Learn more about CampNaNoWriMo here.

Find other SOCS posts here.


Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, writing, Writing Sample

G is for Grief Gives Ground: #atozchallenge Day 7


Ground With Presence


Grief gains ground

Grief gives ground

Ground taken with floods of tears

Ground surrendered when laughter drifts

Drifts of sorrow and

Drifts of joy

Joy is the grief-easer

Joy brings the return of the light

Light to shine into shadowed places

Light to lift us up from the dark

Dark sorrow like a shroud envelopes

Dark despair gives the lie to his life

Life given to happiness and kindness

Life lived for laughter for love for wonder

Wonder that brought spontaneity

Wonder shared with wife and children

Children nearly grown and still grieving

Children who embody his light and his love

Love given freely and without hesitation

Love we still feel can’t be erased or undone

Undone moments when the loss overwhelms

Undone business now my task alone

Alone I might be in the physical plane

Alone never truly for he is within me still

Still moments when I feel him watching

Still heard when the children laugh and sing

Sing “Eat dessert first” for that was his motto

Sing nonsense words that don’t mean anything

Anything can be a reminder

Anything can serve to lift us up

Up into the clear air of memory

Up where remembering helps us to soar

Soar as he would have wanted

Soar in spirit so we can give more

More love more laughter

More wonder more joy more sharing

Sharing his memory with one another

Sharing ourselves with the world beyond

Beyond our family and ourselves

Beyond grief and the loss of this one soul

Soul carried forward through our lives

Soul embodied anew in our choices

Choices are the stuff that life is made of

Choices to sink or choices to fly

Fly into tomorrow not burdened by grief

Fly on in our lives buoyed by his presence

Presence we had for a time

Presence we spread as we honor his life



It can be easy to be drowned and overwhelmed by grief. Grief encompasses everything, when the loss is as intimate as the loss of a husband or a father. Jim was a close, connected, fun-loving father, and, before he was my lover or my husband, he was my friend.

His physical absence is acute and ever-present. We can’t ignore or forget it.

But we don’t have to let it destroy us.

The kids and I are fans of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. We went to a live reading/Q&A quote session with the series creators, Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, just after Jim was diagnosed with terminal metastasized pancreatic cancer. During the event, a quote was shared:

“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

Jim’s part of the story ended with his death on the night of January 12. But the children and I are still alive, and our story goes on from there. It’s a new book, maybe, and certainly a new chapter,  and will take a different direction than it might have, had he lived.

That can be a reason to lock ourselves into grief and a sense of unfairness – or it can be a chance to be grateful for the parts of our story that were interwoven with his, and to carry what was best in him forward and out into the world.

I choose to do the second. Happily, so do the kids. In loving Jim, we were nourished with wonder and laughter and love.

Now it’s time to share them.

Please visit us again Monday – out of the hospital, and in hospice.

And, don’t forget to go visit more groovy G posts!

I’ll leave you with one of Jim’s favorite songs about life and death….