Category Archives: Writing

Another dream of lions and tigers and fear, oh my!

I recently had a lovely and very surreal encounter with a lioness at the Seneca Park Zoo.

Some of you may remember the dream I had last week about lions and a tiger; I blogged about it because I felt like it was possibly a message from the muses about a creative project that I might be embarking on.

Last night, in another dream, the beasts returned.

The tiger once again made a pass through a room, this time in an old mansion where a convention was taking place. This time, he made prolonged eye contact with me, and trod over my foot with his giant paw, and hip checked me with his massive body as he passed by.

Then the lions – oh lordy, the lions! They were roaming about the building, and everyone was panicked when they knew they were near, because they were threatening. But as soon as they passed, everyone went back to business as usual, until the next sighting.

But I was on alert. I could see them around corners. I could smell them as they prowled on the floors above and below. I was both looking for them and avoiding them at the same time. Continue reading

A dream of two lions, a tiger, and a visit from the muses

Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Last night, I dreamed that I was … well, I’m not sure where I was but it was a room in a house I didn’t recognize. There was a door from the back of the house into this room and a door in this room that went out the front of the house. There were people in the room, no one I can specifically recognize, but I seem to remember a maroon couch that I was either standing on or near.

And at one point in this otherwise nondescript dream, a tiger walked in through the back door, silently and in no particular hurry, and walked past me as he made his way through the room and out the front door.  I felt his fur gently brush my skin and felt warmth radiating from his body.

I stood frozen in place as he passed, and when he was gone I said out loud, “A TIGER just walked through the room. Did anyone else see that?” Some people nodded like it was nothing exciting. Some people hadn’t even seen it. For everyone else, it was a non-event.

A bit later – because it’s a dream and I don’t remember what else was happening or how long it took – two lions came into the room. Except they didn’t just walk through. The first one came right up to me, sniffing me the way a dog might sniff a visitor to your house, and then settled herself near my feet as the other lion padded over and also gave me a once over. And then he started licking me. My feet, my legs, my hands. He gnawed softly on my shin and gently, but with intention, butted my side with his enormous head.

As with the tiger, I could feel their fur, could feel the heat from both of the beasts and smell the faint odor of animal, and I was frozen in place by their sheer power as it pressed against the air in the room.

These lions were not necessarily friends. It was clear to me, if not to anyone else, that they were dangerous predators there to investigate me and, if I was found wanting, would have gladly devoured me in a heartbeat.

This time, everyone else in the room was as frozen as I was because, apparently, two lions hanging out are more interesting than one tiger just passing through.

After what felt like an eternity in dream time, the lions both stood, looked me in the eye, and then sauntered out through the front door like the royalty of the jungle that they are.

As they disappeared over the threshold, someone in the room whispered, “That was a fucking LION.”

“No,” I replied aloud. “That was TWO fucking lions.”

And then I woke up.

* * * * *

Continue reading

Letting go of the known and soaring into the unknown

A message to a friend struggling with a major life change:

Sometimes, when we embrace who we really are – whatever that means – it sets us off on a completely different path than we or anyone we know ever imagined we would embark on.

And because new things are scary, even when we think we’re putting our feet forward, in reality our hands are firmly gripped to the walls of our past, and we content ourselves with hanging perilously to the Cliffs of the Known rather than venturing into new territory.

Even when it’s painful. Even when it’s exhausting. Even when it’s robbing us of the sustenance we need to survive.

Because clinging to the known feels safer than letting go and facing the vast, scary unknown.

What if we fall?

But what if we don’t?

Sometimes, the only way we will let go of the past and see what’s truly meant for our future is if someone stomps on our battered, bloodies hands as they struggle to grasp the rocks crumbling under our fingertips and forces us to let go.

And in that split second, when letting go of the shards of rock seems like madness but we have no choice, and we’re angry that someone has abandoned us and betrayed us, and we see our fingers release and feel the split second of weightlessness before the anticipated plummet, we surprise ourselves by the realization that we’re not falling at all.

In fact, we’re floating.

And while it’s hard to get used to our wings, because we’ve never unfurled them before, and it’s scary to look down, because we don’t knows what perils await us, very soon we realize we’re not just floating, but soaring.

And then we’re seeing the world from new heights and new perspectives. And the landscape we imagined as dangerous is actually lush and green and filled with fresh waterfalls and crystal seas and beautiful things we never saw when our faces were smashed against our past.

Never forget that you have been created for wonderful things, and you are an important link in a chain of small interactions and experiences that make the world go round.

Following your heart and embracing all you are means that everyone benefits.

Depriving yourself of all you are means we all suffer with you.

Sometimes the only way to let go is to have someone rip your fingers from the ledge of who you were and shove you into the sky of who you are meant to be.

Letting go hurts in the moment, and sometimes we leave a limb behind because our grasp is so tight.

But when it’s time to let go, let go.

We all need you to keep moving forward.

We all need you.

Rochester Post Magazine cover story

It’s been a while since I’ve written a feature profile, so when Rochester Post Magazine approached me this spring about writing a piece, I debated whether or not to take the assignment. But the interview subject – Natalie Rogers-Cropper, principal dancer for Garth Fagan Dance – was too intriguing to pass up. The summer issue of Rochester Post came out in July, and my story was the cover! Rogers-Cropper is fascinating, and I’m honored to have been able to tell her story. And the magazine is gorgeous! Alas, this is the last issue the Post will be publishing, so get our copy of the magazine now.

Insomnia (humor column)

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

In yesterday’s blog post about the free writing exercises I did in a session with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, authors of Queen of Your Own Life, at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, I mentioned a column that had run in Refreshed Magazine that won a 2015 Evangelical Press Association Award. I’d been surprised to learn about the honor, because I didn’t even know the column had been submitted to the contest.

In fact, the column had originally run in the Christian Voice Magazine, I think, and was reprinted in my book, “What the Dog Said“. It was borne from a free writing exercise; I set a timer, wrote, and hoped something wonderful would come out. Success.

(Side note: I’m not really big on awards, but I will say that I am really proud of the fact that this column won an award from a religious organization, despite the fact that there is zero religious content. It’s just a general, humorous piece, and it got a perfect score from the judges, proving that humor doesn’t have to fit into a box to resonate with readers.)

I realized today that the link to the column reprint was no longer working, so here, here’s the column. This was pretty much what I wrote in the 10 minute writing sprint. See, you don’t have to be a genius to be a writer. You just have to write.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

INSOMNIA

It’s after midnight and I can’t sleep.

I have a column due in the morning and I have no idea what I’m going to write about, so I keep turning over thoughts in my head. The problem is that the column ideas are being pushed aside by weightier items demanding my attention.

Take the fortune cookie I ate today. Continue reading

Erma, Fiction, and Free Writing with the Queens

One of the sessions I attended at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop a few weeks ago was with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, best friends and authors of the book Queen of Your Own Life.

My year started with the rug being pulled out from under me, and while the shock of betrayal definitely threw me off course, in the end I realize I’ve been given a gift: the chance to pursue the things I feel like I’m supposed to be pursuing, and learning to become the human I’m supposed to be.

This is a year of change, of healing, of forgiving and being forgiven, of saying “No” to others and saying “Yes” to myself, and to demanding that people who say they love me actually treat me with respect – and, I’m realizing, learning to respect myself.

In other words, I’ve been given permission to put myself first.

But enough blathering about me.

Erma. The workshop session. So…

Kathy and Cindy gave us all timers, and we did 10 minute burst of free writing using prompts. I always say that I don’t write fiction, that I don’t know how to write fiction, as if  you have to have been born with some magic talent for making sh*t up. What I got out of this session? I can do anything, if I just stop thinking about how much I don’t know how to do it.

A lesson for life, in this year of discovery and change.

Here are the three writing exercises, and what my brain banged out in each 10 minute burst. I actually love free writing, and have used it to create some great stuff. I won an award for a column I once wrote, which was basically a free writing exercise. (An award, I might add, for a contest someone else entered on my behalf. This fact will become relevant in a minute.)

Kathy and Cindy gave us four elements, and the only guide was that the elements should be in whatever we wrote. I’m posting what I wrote, with almost no editing (in fact, I didn’t even fix the places I’ve spelled the names wrong), but I can see nuggets of stories that could be explored, hints of how these fictional women are becoming the queens of their own lives.

So who knows. Maybe I do write fiction. Or maybe I’m learning fiction has a bit of fact nestled inside. Anyway, timers ready? And, write… Continue reading

Back To Work (No Kidding!)

photo courtesy of Pixabay

(This column originally appeared in Refreshed Magazine, February 2015)

People always tell me that I’m good with kids, usually after I’ve entertained their three-year-old by asking stupid questions like “I like your sparkly shoes. Do you think I could borrow them sometime?” and “I can’t seem to find my tail. Have you seen it anywhere?”

The ironic thing is that I’m not actually good with kids. I like kids, one or two at a time, in a supervised environment, for a limited period of time. Put a bunch of kids together in one room and my anxiety level quickly shoots into the red zone. Add in a few babies, and you’re guaranteed to hear screaming and crying.

And the babies aren’t usually very happy, either. Continue reading