Disparate Threads – Swirling Winds

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This is the next installment of Disparate Threads, a Fantasy-Fiction Blog-Serial that updates twice weekly.  To read the story from the beginning (and to learn more about the world and the characters) check out Disparate Threads.

Mikael was spotted by the inhabitants of the farmhouse before she had a chance to change out of her fine clothes — though the dress was all but destroyed by layers of mud and filth. The snow had turned from a steady fall to a driving force as she ran through the woods, stinging her face and soaking her cloak. Mitchell Pirlan, and his wife, Gloria, had welcomed Mikael welcomed to their humble home, a small farmhouse warmed primarily by a cooking stove and a single fireplace. They offered her dry clothing, a hearty meal, a place to rest her head, and asked nothing of her in return. Even after a few weeks, the snow stranding them with little hope (and little threat, Mikael found herself thinking) of contact with the outside world, there were no questions. Gloria seemed simply thrilled to have someone to talk at, and Mitchell spent much of his time digging through the snow to check on the animals. When he wasn’t outside he was downstairs in the studio carving little figurines, toys, boxes, and other things of the like.

“Things are unsettled here of late,” Gloria spoke without pausing as she bustled around the room, doing what seemed to be at least a dozen different things at once. Meanwhile, Mikael struggled with her single assigned task of peeling potatoes. It was a new experience for her, something she had watched servants do a few times but never tried herself. Slowly slicing the thin layer of the peel away from the potato, bit by bit, took nearly all her attention and care, and then there was the matter of making sure all those little shavings ended up in a small pile rather than on the floor. In her short time at the farmhouse [Read More]


#PDXLOVE — My Hometown

Just about a year ago I moved back to the part of the world that I grew up in.   Working downtown, taking the bus back and forth (and all around) I’ve been finding myself taking advantage of the camera on my phone to capture the city in pictures.
I love this city.



I NEED your thoughts

This blog (and Disparate Threads) take a lot of my time (along with my daily commute, and work)… and I’m thinking that perhaps I should cut back on my posting.  I want to have more time to interact with all of you (like, actually getting to read people’s blogs, and comment, and all that fun stuff I want to do like that) and I want to be able to put more time into each post (and on fun surrounding things for Disparate Threads, like maps, and more information about the characters and sharing some of the world-building periphery).  Also, I’d like to start being able to carve out time to work on some of my other projects that I’ve put aside (not to mention preparing for the fact that I will be starting school again in a few months, and will need to have time for that!)

So, what is a good updating schedule?  I’d like to keep Disparate updating twice a week, and I want to be updating here enough that I can have fun and say what I want to say.  But I also feel like I may be flooding people too much with blog posts, and therefore not actually being read.  So.. poll time…  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE respond!  I want to know what you think!

Disparate Threads – Into the Cold

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This is the next installment of Disparate Threads, a Fantasy-Fiction Blog-Serial that updates twice weekly.  To read the story from the beginning (and to learn more about the world and the characters) check out Disparate Threads.


As the journey continued on Mikael spent some time trying to to clear her thoughts. She let her mind drift, moving in and out of scattered thoughts, even allowing a moment to ponder where she was being sent. “Somewhere safe,” was all that Joie had said. Away from the borders, she figured. But Mikael knew that it was not going to be a truly safe place. She could try to fool herself, try to convince her mind that safety existed further from the borders, but deep in her bones she knew that the threat that was coming was something that could not be so easily escaped; true and complete safety was unlikely to be found. The thought haunted her, she hated that she did not know what it was she was seeking safety from. Was the threat simply soldiers from another country? Why were such soldiers a threat to her? What was this sense of something more sinister in the air? What was she supposed to be running from? Why was she running? And where was she running to? Where should she be running to?

As quickly as she found those questions, her mind hopped to another series of far less coherent thoughts. She settled back in her seat, allowing the thoughts to just wash through her. These incoherent fragments would come and go and she had to trust that some day, when it was the right time, they would take coherence and make sense. Until that day came, she would keep her meandering thoughts to herself, keep her head down, and follow the path that was being laid out for her. It seemed as though it would work, and she honestly could not think of any other options that would make more sense.

Mikael couldn’t recall when the first dreams had… [Read More]


Lost and Found, Part 1

Writing 101, Day 4

Write about a loss, someone (or something) that was part of your life, and isn’t anymore.
Twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-part series

And I’m going to add a different twist to this, because I feel like I’ve already talked a lot about loss.  And, probably will revisit the subject again at some point.  But, what if I challenge myself to instead write about a different kind of loss?

Loss isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes loss can be a very good thing.  Like losing those things that hold you back?  Or a loss which, though it may be sad or painful at first, ultimately teaches you something great, or gives you something powerful.

For example, I am very thankful that, somewhere along the line I lost the idea that I have to do it all.  I still take on far more than I should, certainly, but I have realized that I can say “no” to things.  Just because something sounds exciting, interesting, or like the responsible thing to do (and sometimes all three), doesn’t mean I should, or need, to do it.

And some of this is because of another loss, one that has not been easy or good, but has certainly resulted in many changes, and helped me to realize a lot — about myself and others — that I might not have realized.

A few years ago, in my mid twenties, I got sick.  I still don’t exactly have a diagnosis, I worked with doctors for a while, which mostly ended up being treating symptoms, without quite getting to the cause.  A lack of insurance, and getting back to somewhat normal levels of functioning, meant that I didn’t continue to look into it.  Though I have insurance soon (yay!) and continue to investigate, that’s not the point of sharing this.

The point is, I lost something very important: My Health.  For a while, it was the  loss of the ability to spend more than a few hours out of bed in a day, or the ability to read a book (yes, that’s right, I couldn’t even manage to read a book I was so tired all the time).

Out of that loss I learned that I have to take care of myself.  Though I have, somewhat, recovered (or at least learned to manage) whatever it is, I still have to listen to my body.  I have learned to understand the signals, those things that tell me when to slow down, when to take a break and do some self-care.

Out of that loss I have learned some more about what is truly important to me.  I learned how very painful it was to not be able to do some things, and how relatively easy it was to let go of others.

Out of that loss I learned more about the struggle of learning.  As I started to recover, I also had to, in some ways, re-learn how to learn.  My memory wasn’t the same as it had been before I got sick, and more things slipped through my mind.  I had always had to work hard in school before, but when I began attending school again after it was different.  I had to change how I studied, how I approached things, how I learned.

Out of that loss I learned that there are certain things I can do which help me to refuel, and there are activities that drain me.  I still need to do some of these things that drain me, but I also need to make sure to do the things that refuel me.  And those things that refuel me are important, they are things that I need to make sure I make time for.

Loss, but loss that ultimately serves to help me learn a lot.  Loss that has led to some very good understandings, that has shaped my life and helped me learn more about myself.

A lot of learning, out of a loss.

Quotes of Note – Defining Artist

“When I say artist I don’t mean in the narrow sense of the word—but the man who is building things—creating molding the earth—whether it be the plains of the west—or the iron ore of Penn. It’s all a big game of construction—some with a brush—some with a shovel—some choose a pen.”

  –Jackson Pollock

I love the way this works to expand the traditional definition of “Artist.”

What do you think makes someone “an artist”?   How would you define such a thing?

Authenticity and Calling

Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said “In the coming world, they will not ask me: “Why were you not Moses?”  They will ask me: “Why were you not Zusya?”  (Martin Buber, Tales of Hasidism, page 252)

One of the things I’ve always tried to remind myself is the importance of being me.  To stick to my own life journey, to not compare my timeline to anyone else’s.  To write what I am called to write, to follow the studies that I am drawn to, and to be willing to explore those twists and turns that life seems to hand me.  I need to live my life aiming to be the best me that I can, not to try to live up to the standards and expectations of another.

I explored a lot around the concept of “calling” when I was in seminary, trying to understand what it was I was called to do.  I wrote papers on the matter, I held many conversations, and I kept going back to those images I talked about earlier, of weaving and wandering on twisting forested paths.  And I am continuing to trust that the path I am on, no matter the twists and turns, is the right one.  And that I can navigate it and stay true to it if I continue to be me.

Vocation does not come from willfulness.  It comes from listening.  I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about — quite apart from what I would like it to be about — or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions… If we can learn to read our own responses to our own experience — a text we are writing unconsciously every day we spend on earth — we will receive the guidance we need to live more authentic lives.”  (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, 4 & 6)

One of my favorite books during the seminary-searching (and in the time that has come since) is Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer.  He writes about looking at your life, with all the twists and turns, and letting it speak, to help inform you as you continue on the path.

This year has been full of twists and turns and unexpected decisions.  Really, so was last year… and the year before.  It is one of the reasons that I struggle with the question in job interviews of, “Where do you see yourself in five years.”

But, if I listen to my life, if I look at being authentic to me, the question becomes easier to answer.  It is not necessarily in job “x” or working on “y.”  But rather, it is a certain quality to what I do.  I see myself being creative, and interacting with people on one level or another.  I am an educator, but what that might look like in a given moment is not clear.  I “minister” to people, but again, what that looks like and what that means is not clearly defined.

Allowing myself to be true to myself has been an interesting experience.  I’ve been intentional in some of my decisions of late, and the end result has been that I feel like I am finally on the right path.  I am living authentic to myself.   This has meant leaving behind some things Continue reading Authenticity and Calling

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.

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