vents and surrenders


“We’ll talk soon.” was his only text reply to my full-screen of texted verbiage. Rocket Man knows me well. He knows I am fluent in the language of Emoticon and he knows a visual vent of faces is secondary in urgency to multiple screens of syllables and exclamation points. He also knows I will likely be fine once the day is surrendered at sunset.

I am in a phase of gathering. In the midst of bitchy blurts, incomplete projects and multiple unknowns.

“Well, there is a woman who comes in here regularly who swears by it!” the clerk explained as she handed me a package of 95% natural facial serum, “clinically proven to restore and repair age-damaged skin in just seven days” and give me “superhero skin.” This is another manifestation of venting for me: Seeking out all-natural products to defy a natural process.

I am in a season of noticing. In the midst of physical reminders of how many birthdays I have celebrated.

“The difference is when you speak something new, you are at the beginning; when I speak something new, I have already decided it.” Her words reminding me: my process is not my procrastination; everything counts, everything holds value.

I am in a season of solitude and reflection. In the midst of knowing my strength is a collage of my weaknesses.

To let go of something is when hope begins. -Anne Lamott

I am letting go of my self-editing. For today.

I am woman with flashes of information and inspiration. The posts I have sat down to write for Secret Rebel Club have been fragmented. I forget what I said in whispered inspiration; my jots are incoherent. I am in Big Picture mode, scheduling out plans and noting deadlines set for a year from now.

I am content with showing up as scheduled, but also with walking away without posting as I turn out the proverbial light of my writing desk here. I am learning to accept unpublished drafts as perfect pieces of a whole instead of failure or a loss.

At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh. -Natalie Goldberg

I am stepping out of my frozen self. For today.

I am a woman remembering, re-learning; a woman be-coming, a student of the stories written during the long-days of years-short. I am reacquainting my-self each morning at the mirror of my-self; noticing the projects-unfinished and lines across my face and knowing with absolute certainty: This is my time.

Time I have eagerly awaited — and yet I am holding tighter to Now and Then than my passions require for Next. It takes as long as it takes; but that doesn’t make the waiting any easier!

I am set to hit “publish” for this post at a later hour than I hoped — and in spite of mental eye rolls cued by Perfection — because I wholeheartedly embrace the value of vents and I dance wildly with Surrender!

these lines across my face  I am stargardener aka Teresa Robinson. I believe each day is a canvas awaiting the collage elements {we decide} have meaning — splashed with the authentic paint of our mind, will and emotions.

My canvases include elements from: Right Brain Planner, Secret Rebel Club as well as The Art Journaler and The Art Journaler Community — honored and attended according to my rhythms. ✩

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. -Cyril Connolly

Paper Turkey Feathers


“I thought you were going to tell me things would look better in the morning or something. I was preparing to murder you.”

- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I despise the thankful lists. Maybe it’s because I filled out one too many construction paper feathers for the turkeys in elementary school. Maybe it’s because I learned it was the obligatory way to end any prayer, because after you’ve asked for a bunch of crap, you best be telling God, if you know what’s good for you, that you do notice at least some of what he’s already given you. Or maybe it’s because the thankful lists start to come across as standardized forms where you check the boxes before family, faith, health, food, friends and home. In small print at the bottom the form reads: To maintain your likability, be sure to leave no box left unchecked.

November rolls around and you might as well get yourself a whole paper pad of these forms. You’re going to need them to prove you have a heartbeat.

For all the angst and disgust and bristling I feel towards the thankful lists, don’t let me fool you. I am a softy. One Thanksgiving I wrote a personal note on the wall of all of my Facebook friends because I was feeling so incredibly grateful for their presence in my life. And this year, I did add a few extra entries on my kindergartener’s paper turkey feather that we were to fill out as a family because I got caught up in the moment. I even pleaded with him to turn it in, even though it was a day late.

I think the heart of my issue with thankfulness is I don’t like being told I must feel good about something. Some things simply do not feel good. I have to have a chance to catch the hard of something before I can ever hope to release with ease. I usually make my way there, but good gawd don’t rob me of the process just because we both know where I “need” to end up.

I have a co-worker who throws out overused and highly sarcastic hashtags into normal everyday conversation. He used to say “hashtag blessed” or “hashtag be blessed.” His newest one? “Hashtag tripleblessed.” I appreciate the humor because it feels like it shoots an arrow straight to the heart of what I so despise about a so-called put together life because some nimrod decided to create a standardized form for gratefulness and some other nimrod decided to be sure to check them all.

After an incredibly long weekend to which I successfully made it to the end of, I collapsed into my bed feeling ever so grateful for its coziness. Minutes after falling asleep all hell broke loose. My dog started whining. My daughter had a night terror. I stepped in something wet on the carpet. My daughter accidentally shattered a soap dish.

Eventually I made an uncomfortable “nest” out of dirty laundry on the floor of my daughter’s room (who was so scared she begged me not to leave) and I willed myself to hug her, to touch her, to cuddle her, to comfort her. But I couldn’t. I felt like a lousy mom; I just couldn’t summon the energy to give her anything more than my snarly presence.

It was then the thankful list started pouring out of me. I’m not sure I was using the word thankful in my head at the time, but the sentiment was certainly that of extreme gratefulness.

  • I am thankful I got up for her, while everyone else in the home just kept sleeping.
  • I am thankful I feel soft about her fear, soft enough to know it is not as easy as saying, “Snap out of it and pull yourself together.” (Even if that is exactly what I wish would work).
  • I am thankful I have learned how to sit in dark places, even when I can’t fix anything.
  • I am thankful for clothes to rest my head on and a blanket to keep me warm.
  • I am thankful that we went to therapy and we have some options to help her with her anxiety.
  • I am thankful for fans that cool her down.
  • I am thankful my dog wants to sleep with her and cuddle close to her.
  • I am thankful that I alone get to have this moment with her, even if I am cranky and she is wide-eyed and trembly.
  • I am thankful for a towel close by to throw on top of whatever was wet on the carpet.
  • I am thankful I don’t have to work tomorrow.
  • I am thankful I get more sleep at night than I used to when we had babies.
  • I am thankful for lavendar oil.

Though I was still annoyed, my thankful list that night would have been far too substantial to fit on just one construction paper turkey feather.

The thankful list wasn’t forced. It wasn’t obligatory. It wasn’t standardized.

It came on its own accord because I didn’t want to make myself feel worse about an already incredibly difficult situation. It came as relief. It came softly. It came as unique and intimate and poignant. It came as a release after a catch in my gut.

My thankful lists have to sneak up on me, and they have to taste of a moment never yet explored and never again visited.

“Did you come here to tell me to count my blessings, Felipe? Am I supposed to be inspired?…Your task then is to shame me for making such a fuss. For wallowing in self-pity.”

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell


Mandy Steward is an artist and writer who is currently in the thrilling throes of making belief. Meanwhile, she invites you to join in one or all of her WONDER-full trifecta Advent plans that consist of going dark, art journaling and showing up EXPECTANTly.

feeling the bones


the clocks are turned back an hour and i am in love.  with the chill in the air, with the dropping of leaves, with the fewer hours of sunlight.  this is strange to many (i’m told) but i love it.  i do.

with the sun setting earlier, it means the soft glow of lamps and string lights come sooner.  it means more candles are lit, and more often.  the days beg for warm and comforting foods.  they invite reflection.

as nature slows and moves into a restive sate, i feel myself doing the same.  no matter the busyness of autumn and early winter holidays, i feel the call to slow down and turn inward every year.

this isn’t to say i don’t run around like a crazy lady some days (i do).  but once i realized that nature’s movement from summer into autumn into winter mirrors my introverted longings…well, it was a bit of an aha moment for me.  it was a friend of mine who offered that thought…that, of course, this time of year suits me.  the rich darkness coming earlier each day entreats me to hunker down, to get quiet, to slow the pace, to reenergize by going in.

this isn’t also to say that i don’t enjoy spring and summer.  because i do.  but the energy of those seasons lifts me in a different way.  and once i’ve spirited my way through those delightful seasons, i’m ready (like the trees) to let certain accumulations drop away.

these words of andrew wyeth speak to me:  i prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.  something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.

and so i find myself slipping into this season with a gentle urgency to honor my interior landscape.  i want to write my story but not with the intent to get it all down, because i rather like when the whole story doesn’t show.  who needs an ending?  why not cycle round and round and round, shedding and blooming as necessary?

yes, i intend to hunker down and feel the bones for now.  and, in due time, i’ll put on a little show.




michelle gd is a photographer and writer playing with lens and verse.  she believes there is beauty in tiny moments and healing power in image and word.  you can explore your own tiny moments in the community that gathers for her e-course, 28 moments.  you can find her at her blog and on instagram @michelle_gd

What Surrounds

I keep coming and leaving. Writing and erasing. Words rise like waves of inspiration that separate, crest and meld back into the ocean. My moments are rich with meaning and beauty and terror and truth, and then they are absorbed back into the whole. The significance is not lost, but right now I seem to be unable to speak of the tree for the forest.

Lately, I’m turning to laughter and humor and wit. Let it be known that I am attempting and practicing humor and wit, all of which I deeply crave and deeply fear because it leaves me so damn vulnerable, because I often fail – but, hey! that’s just one more way to add in laughter if I let it. So, I am proactively sprinkling my days with at least attempted humor, because I’m willing to cock my head left to find the absurdity that is wedged into my life.

I think we’ve all gotta loosen up, we are so heavy on the thinking-analyzing-planning-pinning-your-life-on-a-board, making this life too damn serious and we’ve got way too many people yelling,

Manifest, make your world exactly as you want it. Change – it, yourself, everything! 


I’m taking Ariel Chiu at her lyrical word:

It’s not having what you want

It’s wanting what you’ve got

I’m adding in my sideways tilted head

cocked for the obscure joy + humor that IS

and I’m trying to see that this is what I want.


No, it is not simple or even that much fun sometimes. But, this is my life and damnit!, I want to like my life. Especially the parts that I’ve come to admit that I hate, those parts in particular are becoming my gold. I will not manifest them away anymore, I’ve started to mine them and this is done with any act of willingness {or attempted willingness} that sinks me into the deep-down of life and then,

I. stay. there.

I believe that any small acceptance that makes you go there, that allows you to say YES and bring it on is reclaiming your self-hood and your personal owning-it life. And I am not talking about an owning that treats Life as property to be changed, but an owning that is about Acceptance, Love and Cherishing the TRUE buried deep inside of all the dark.

We are still walking towards the darkest day of the year, a time where Oh, Holy Night is sung and heard and felt. How might you claim those words and that warmth and that LOVE for your life and your self and believe that there is nothing to force into manifestation, you already are a holy night.

lets go darkAdvent2014

Janae is a guest contributor in the upcoming Wild Mystics eCourse called, Into the Dark Night – A Guided, Creative Descent Into the Shadowlands of the Soul. She believes in this wholeheartedly and invites you along to unearth your own holy night.

The Gift of Distance

On my drive into work this morning the struggle to write this post began to actually bear fruit.  Words began to formulate, and as I know how my brain works I grabbed my phone and told Siri to open up voice memos.  I spoke the words, choppy and random, that it felt my soul was wanting to say.  I got to work and began typing out my dictation.  I deleted the voice recording and stared at the one next in the queue.  It was simply titled 11/11/11.  I was a little confused thinking I’d accidentally recorded a second recording without realizing it.  Obviously not paying attention to the year, let alone the day.

And then I pushed play, and it all came rushing back.

A verbal diary recorded 3 years, 1 day previously.  Five days after I watched as my life fell apart.  As I listened today I could still hear the hurt and confusion and anger that lined my voice; and tears welled in my eyes.

I don’t think it was an accident that I “stumbled” on that recording today.  This time of year is difficult for me because I remember everything with vivid clarity.  Everything.

October last year I wrote a post for SRC titled Ten Things I Want You to Know.  It was ten things I needed to be reminded of, as much as it was intended for you.  #8 was:

“You are likely much farther along than you feel.  Some days you’re going to feel like you’ve only taken a couple steps when the reality is you’ve come a long way baby.”

You see, I feel that I’m never very far from that breakdown in my life.  I feel like I’m running in place and when I look back over my shoulder it’s still right there at the tips of my outstretched fingers.  At times I feel like I’m still on the verge of retreating back into those feelings I mentioned above.  I feel hopelessness dance on the bridge of my heart, and despair gripping it with white knuckles.

Yet as I listened to this chronicle I realized I am much farther than I feel most days.  And I needed that.  I needed to feel some deliverance from these days that haunt me and taste the sweet fragrance of hope.


1233423-300I stand on the cliff and overlook the waves.  The view is beautiful from here.

A Short List of Gratitude

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My friend Isabel writes these amazing lists. They are not simply lists though. She has somehow transformed something very mundane and ordinary into moments of poignant truth and understanding. This list is inspired by her. By her way of being. By her willingness to see.


  1. I was 19 before I had my first real boyfriend. He was 9 years my senior, transplated back in the midwest from San Diego after a stint in the Navy. We met over the phone – he called to place orders and I took them. For our first date, a blind date, he took me to a steak house. I wore a trench coat and black heels and we talked about beer and the Cardinals, this new city and the coming of winter. 3 months later I was let go from that job. One month after that he broke up with me. February was a cold month.*


  1. She arrived on the unit a day or two after I did. She was model tall and just as thin with wavy blond hair that cut into her chin. Her blue eyes were swollen and for some reason – maybe it was just seeing those big blue eyes and knowing that I had sat on that very same bed only a handful of hours ago – I felt compelled to talk to her. Except I didn’t talk. I wrote. I dropped off a letter to her, placed it beside her crooked legs, and left. I can’t remember exactly what it said but I remember that she hugged me later, wrapped her arms around me. She was wearing cashmere in July.**


  1. I was raised solidly middle class: perfectly manicured lawns in homogeneous suburban neighborhoods with good public schools. I drove a new car when I turned 16 and though I didn’t have everything I wanted, I never needed anything. But I spent my mid-twenties trying to make $10 last 14 days. It might have been the days I sipped broth for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that I began to unravel and fill up on shame. My hands stayed tucked into the deepest corners of my pockets.***



* Even the breaking was gentle. Just as everything else with him had been. So I am grateful for that splitting. For him teaching me how to heal.


** I am grateful for how, in her awkward and quiet way, while draped in cashmere, she showed me the power of words – how some words never need to be spoken.


*** I am still learning how to open up the palms. I am still learning how to receive in moments of need and in moments when life is bursting with abundance. I am grateful for learning that it is okay to be full.


This is a list of gratitude that on the surface does not look like one and yet, sitting here now, during this month of November when we will begin to acknowledge all of the light in our lives, I hark back to the darkness.

Sometimes you only know where you are because of the time you had to spend feeling your way through.


I am Alisha Sommer, wife and mom of three. I drink coffee and wine, love the smell of freshly baked bread, and laying in the sun. 

I believe in stories with soul – the kind that are brave and vulnerable and warm. I believe in honoring your truth from moment to moment. I believe in finding the light and holding it close. 

I write, publish an online literary journal, write guest-posts here and there, and co-lead a cool little writing course

Am I Committed to My Own Story


I recently started reading Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women over Fifty by Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Can we all just heave a collective sigh that I have crossed over to this place, this space in time, this being the woman over fifty. How did this happen? When did this happen? Though I wrote five months ago that I am ready, now, I am not so sure. I feel more hesitant. It almost feels like I was trying to talk myself into being excited and ready for the challenge but now I just don’t know what it means to be the older woman. I am questioning.

The issue is that I don’t know my place, my way, my role in this story. In MY story. It’s never been my story. I have been the face in the crowd, the supporting cast member, the caregiver. I’ve never held the lead role. I don’t know what my lines are. I don’t know my cues. I don’t know where I am supposed to be and when.

In the introduction of Goddesses in Older Women, Jean Shinoda Bolen gives permission to become the protagonist of my own story and she asks if I am committed to that story, to my own story.

I hesitantly answer, “yes? I think I am?”

I want to be but I have to tell you that this scares me a little. No, this scares me a lot. It’s quite comforting to hide behind others and to lurk in the shadows behind the curtains. If I don’t accomplish what I think I want to accomplish, I can always just say it’s because I was too busy being a mom, being a wife, taking care of my mother. Without the spotlight, I don’t have the responsibility of succeeding, of carrying the story.

Seasons are changing. My husband and children don’t need me so much and my mother has passed away. It’s time now for my story. No more excuses. I have to step up to the microphone.

I have words to write. I have paintings to paint. I have stories to tell.

It’s time I begin with my own.


To be committed to my story, I have to know what my story is. To know what my story is, I have to know me. I have to find me. OH, have I entered the proverbial state of finding myself? Yes. I have and let it be so because I really have no desire to fade away in the background or to be a silent partner or to end up on the cutting room floor. I want to be lead role, producer, and director. I want it all. Anything less is simply just not possible.

I have made the second declaration of in my fiftieth year. I am ready and I am committed to my story. Now to put actions to the words.


“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”

~ Allen Ginsberg

Cynthia Lee is writing the rest of the story at where she has returned to all that is herself.