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

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Character Blog Hop

Such fun!  I have been invited to participate in a Character Blog hop (check out the lovely Raevenly Write’s original post).  I really had to give a lot of thought to who I would highlight here…. Part of me wanted to share one of the characters from Disparate Threads, but I also don’t want to give anything away!  So I have decided to share a bit about the story/character who is currently looking like my most likely contender to be getting my attention next.


1)  What is the name of your character?  Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Bria Lana.  She is fictional, at least, I think so.  One of those characters that took a while to appear, but when she did she wanted to make sure I heard her story loud and clear.  And with characters like her I sometimes wonder if they aren’t actually real, just dwelling in some land that I cannot see.

2) When and Where is the story set?

I don’t actually have a name for the place yet, I don’t believe.  It will have a name, eventually.  I just… have a hard time coming up with names for places (and sometimes characters).

At first it was a stand-alone place, but in the past year-or-so I’ve realized that it is a story that takes place in one of the Realms (like Disparate Threads).   There will certainly be some overlap, connections between the way things work in Bria Lana’s world, and the way they work in other Realms.  But I do know that her realm is not one of the ones overseen by the Horizon Lands.

How’s that for a referential response?  Short(ish) explanations of some of the things like Realms, and Horizon Lands, are listed on the Guide to Terms page.

A shorter answer — she spends time in a city, and all around the country (and perhaps the world) that she lives in.  Also, some in a dungeon.  It’s a more historical-feeling setting, but not tied to a specific era in our real-world history.

3) What should we know about him/her?

She is a lively, energetic young woman, who also happens to be quite powerful.   She is the baby of the family, with an older sister and an older brother.  Her brother travels all around the world, and her sister married well and lives in a big house with a loving husband and two awesome and adorable kids.  Bria Lana stays with her sister sometimes, but travels a lot herself.

She has some training in magic, but also an innate ability to access, and handle, a very rare power.   Also, without her magic, she would not have lived past childhood.  It literally saved her life (and wont easily let her forget it).

4) What is the main conflict?  What messes up his/her life?

Well, that previously mentioned training in magic… yeah, that was all carried out in secret.  Because where Bria Lana lives, magic is bad, and evil and should not be used by anyone, for anything.  Magic users are held to be the source of all that is wrong in the world, and are actively hunted down to be imprisoned and killed.  And Bria Lana isn’t just some ordinary magic user so… she’s got a bit of a problem.

As for what messes up her life, there is this one, particular moment that really starts her on her path in a more urgent manner, much sooner than she had intended.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

To survive.  Seriously, that would be nice.  To be able to settle down on the old family farm, live out a nice, long, boring life, growing old surrounded by her loved ones and dying quietly of old age.  It’s the small things, you know?

Beyond that, she would rather like to change the standing views of magic and magic users — there was a time in the past when they were better understood, and she’d like to see a return of those times.  She wants her niece and nephew to be able to live in a world that isn’t as dangerous for them (because she has seen hint of ability in at least her niece).

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Bria Lana…. Because I’m creative like that.   No, there isn’t really a working title yet… titles tend to be one of the last things I come up with.  I struggle with them almost as much as I struggle with endings.  (So, for those keeping track it goes: place/character names, titles, endings).

And at the moment this story has only a plotted out ending, one I have lived through in my mind a few times, but have not actually written yet.  It’s a fairly epic story, with many parts… and only the first segment drafted.

It has a postlude though!  Because… I also work in order… yeah….

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

I would love to get a manuscript written on this, and have a good chunk of the story already written.   But actual publications, I can’t say….  Nor can I say what form it would take.

Added bonus, though, writing this has gotten me excited about getting back to work on her story!


And I guess I’m supposed to tag people who I would like to hear from next.

But really, I’m not sure who to tag.  So instead I will beg you all to take a turn.  On your own blog (if you do post on your own blog, please, link the post in the comments!), or in a comment response, share with me a little about a character that you are currently working with, or one that you’ve had in the past that you adore, or even one that is brand new and just starting to take form.  I love hearing about other people’s characters and stories!  So please, share!

Disparate Threads – Shifting Winds

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Mikael supervised as the last package was loaded onto the carriage, maintaining a cold air of detachment. As she had been taught. Never let yourself get too close to the servants, never let them see that you had empathy for their work. Joie had made clear that any hint of sympathy or understanding could be seen as signs of weakness. You could not let them see that you felt bad that they had to stand so long in the cold winds, or that you understood how carrying the heavy bags could be aggravating an already aching back. Joie had left not doubts to the idea that such sympathy and understanding would be seen as signs of weakness. And servants, like everyone else, were simply waiting for the moment when you showed your vulnerability so that they could take advantage. You had to be on your guard, constantly ready for whatever might come, keeping an eye out for the dangers that may be reaching towards you from any side. Even if it meant a very solitary and lonely life.

“Madame,” Henry — no. Mikael pushed the footman’s name, overheard earlier in the day, from her mind. A name made him seem more like someone to relate to, a person she might be able to converse with on the long journey ahead. Someone she might tell about her uncertainty. The footman held out his hand to her, “We are prepared to begin the journey. At your will.”

“Yes, of course.” She spoke through the scarf wrapped around her face for warmth, though the reality was that the scarf did little to keep the winds away. It was bitterly cold, and Mikael felt as though the air itself understood a great change was coming. She had felt it, deep inside, for a long time before the cold… [Read more]

The Places We are Drawn

We’re all drawn to certain places.  If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

Writing 101, Day 2.


A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most  obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.  – Joan Didion


Sunset is the moment where the magic becomes most clear.   At that magical hour when the sun begins to dip below the lake, the shoreline fills with people, all watching in awed silence as the sky fills with brilliant colors.  Vibrant reds and oranges, slowly giving way to the darkest of blues, purples, and finally black.  All reflected in the deep, still waters of the mountain lake.

The magic is there all the time, not just at sunset.  It is simply that at sunset that you can see it.  But I feel it other times too.  Nothing in the world compares to strolling along the rough dirt trail, through the dense forest, to reach the end of one of the many peninsula’s that jut into the lake.

There is one that I particularly like.  A minimal climb takes me to the perfect place, hidden below the path, away from the spot where the land gently slopes to the water.  Perfectly set to rest my back against a wall of rocks, rest my feet in the still water, and let my dreams wander.

It is a place that has wrapped Continue reading The Places We are Drawn

Disparate Threads – Learning of the Three

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Ayrella woke with the first rays of sunlight, enjoying the splendid painting of early dawn play out above her. It had been a blissfully dreamless night and the morning was spent in lazy inaction, mostly watching the shifting light and getting reacquainted with her home. Here there were no reminders of Henrich, save the framed drawings, but she still felt his presence with her and wondered if it would always be there.

Mid-morning Ikthar appeared at her door. He didn’t say a word as he was invited in, and settled comfortably in a chair at the table, looking around the room. His face softened a little at the sight of the framed picture, still on the bedside table, then he turned to look at her.

“I am to tell you what we know, so you can best determine how to proceed.” The stiff formality of his words sounded strange to her. Though he often held the role of leader of the Revered, when it was just the two of them she saw a different side. No less powerful, but quieter, and more relaxed — a different kind of strength. That he had let her see that softer side of him had been a part of the special connection between them, and she found wondering if that bond was gone forever. A question she quickly pushed from her mind. The picture he had drawn showed that he recognized her strength, but that did not necessarily mean that he was ready to forgive her for leaving.

Ayrella sat, looking at him across the table with clear eyes, trying to show the determination she had to complete this task. “Then, tell me.”

Ikthar nodded, spreading his hands out on the table in a moment of pause as he gathered his words together.

“There are three, we believe, who together are vital to stopping this….” He stopped, furrowing his brow, “We do not know, exactly, what it is we are facing. We have seen something spreading through the lands, festering. It is holding tight and we are losing our sight of the Realms.”

“They are being shaded?” The very thought seemed impossible, she had never known a time when they could not see into the Realms.

“It is drawing out the very soul of the land.” His hushed words settled over the room like a dark cloud. It was not that Ayrella had doubted the seriousness of the situation before, it had been clear that a great power was at work. She had felt it in the shifting winds, in the rumblings of battles along the borders, and the strange shifts in weather. Even within the small view of the realms that she had during her life in Kirshenelle, before Henrich’s death, she had seen that something was brewing. But something powerful enough to overshadow the Realms and draw away their souls… the very thought cause a chill to run through her.

“I cannot fight it,” the silence was broken with Ikthar’s words of frustration. “I cannot see what it is gaining. Kisha cannot get a sense of it. We can only see that it is sucking away at the land, causing strife and unrest. It is churning the weather, fighting the very Skies and taking control.”

“It…” The lost expression on Ikthar’s face was almost as frightening as the idea of something attacking the Realms. Ayrella found herself uncertain and longed to say or do something that would help. “And, what do we know of these three… the ones who are supposed to help with this?”

Ikthar shook his head slightly, but the lost look faded behind a far more familiar stone-set expression of determination, “very little. They, too, are clouded from us. Though, not as completely.” Ikthar seemed to consider her for a moment and then stood, pacing around the small room. Ayrella couldn’t help but smile, realizing that Ikthar and Henrich had the same habit of pacing when they had something they wished to share but were uncertain in the sharing of it. She let him pace in silence, watching as he seemed to get lost in his thoughts, unraveling them to find the right ways to put it all in words.

“Tell me.” She spoke softly, not wanting to jar him. He seemed to return to the room at the sound of her voice and looked at her another long moment before speaking.

“Kisha and I have seen some of these three. The others, they are only able to get the vaguest sense.”

“And what have you seen?” Gently. Ikthar closed his eyes a moment, leaning against the counter.

“Three.  All young woman, interestingly enough. All with their own strengths and abilities… but none of them, I think, know what it is they can do.” He sighed, “and neither of us have been able to understand the message of the Skies, the fragmented dreams and passing visions.”

Ayrella looked up to the sky and gave a sigh of her own. “Perhaps, if this thing is so powerful, even the Skies are uncertain.” Ikthar opened his eyes, looking at her with some surprise and the slightest smile.

“Perhaps.”

“Sit down,” she found a surge of confidence arriving with this realization. It should not be a comfort to think that even the Skies did not know what was happening, but strangely it was. “Let me make you some of this Lisonar Tea that Orpin gave me, and you can tell me of the fragments you have seen.”

Ikthar sat as Ayrella started the tea. Lisonar had always been Ikthar’s favorite tea, when the winds turned chilly they would sit for hours over endless cups of the semi-sweet beverage, their conversations flowing freely. And something in this familiar action, as Ayrella boiled the water and began to brew the leaves, seemed to help wrest Ikthar from his uncertainty. He spoke of the blurry visions, words, and music that he did not know how to interpret. He shared what Kisha had seen and heard, equally uncertain fragments. Ayrella took it all in, adding it to the swirl in her mind, knowing that it was unlikely a clear understanding would come quickly. Eventually the tea was gone and Ikthar had shared all he could.

Ayrella sat with the swirl for a few moments before beginning to clear the table, knowing that sometimes movement helped the thoughts to settle and find their proper place. But they continued to swirl, overwhelmingly so, as she stood by the counter with the table half cleared. She needed to think, to be alone with the information and see what she could find.

“Thank you,” she began, looking to her brother, “I will take this all in. I will search for what I can find in it, what I can learn.” She wished that she could have more certainty in her voice, but everything seemed too far from certain for that. Ikthar did not respond right away, but stood to bring the remaining dishes from the table.

“I will leave you then, to sort it all.” Again there was a stiff formality creeping into his tone.

“Ikthar…” She hesitated, looking away from him and to the pile of dishes, as though they contained something of great interest, uncertain how he would respond to what she needed to request of him. “Will you grant me the strength I need to do this? The strength to be here once more, and to undertake this role?”

There was long silence in response and eventually Ayrella brought herself to look at him. He was watching her with a blank expression and she felt a moments fear that he would deny her that aid. He matched her gaze for a moment.

“Dear Rella,” his words came in little more than a whisper, “you don’t need any strength from me — you carry more than enough of that on your own.”

“But, will you still lend me some of yours?” She found her voice shaking as she asked it, and Ikthar did not hesitate for a moment, reaching to embrace her in a hug, which she thankfully leaned into. She could feel a lightness surround her, as Ikthar helped to lift the weights from her shoulders. Henrich’s death, her return to the Horizon Lands, the decision to leave in the first place, this new journey she must undertake — all these things that weighed so heavy on her, shared at least momentarily. Ikthar held her tight as more than a few tears escaped from her eyes, and she realized just how much she had been holding in. Just as those old farmers had known just what to do and say in her early moments of grief, Ikthar knew that she needed not words, but the knowledge that she was not going to be facing this journey alone. To know that, while she may have strength that was needed, he would be willing to occasionally help lift the burden.

“All of us will do what we can,” Ikthar said as they broke from the hug, “it is the future of our own beings at stake. And even more importantly, the safety of these Realms we have sworn to protect and serve. I know you understand the importance of this, that you do not require me to tell you more, but I… and the others… are here to lend you whatever aid you may need.” Ayrella nodded, wiping away the last of the tears and gathering herself.

“I will listen to the winds and, somehow, find these three and help them on their journey.”

After Ikthar left Ayrella found herself venturing out to the lands around the city, settling on the soft grass on one of the peaks, looking out over the distant sky and waters. With deep, centering breaths she tried to relax back onto the grass, looking to the Skies, in search of what she needed to see in the drifting winds.


Ayrella|6.6

Procrastination

I am a procrastinator… at least, I have great ability to be one and have to do a lot in order to push this inclination aside.  I know that procrastination is one of those things that many writers speak of… and non-writers as well, I’m sure.

Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?

Procrastination can take some interesting forms.  I know more than a few people who have been known to produce amazing meals and baked goods when they have deadlines approaching.

I don’t think I have ever seen so many clean homes, apartments, cars, kitchens and bathrooms as I saw when visiting classmates when finals were approaching.

There is, also, the clear and simple forms of procrastination,
Continue reading Procrastination

Look! I’m Three!

So, apparently today is the Three Year anniversary of Eclectic Alli.
Three!  And I almost missed it.

Missing “celebration dates”  is a THING, for me, apparently.

But, here I am!  Look!  3 years ago!  Woohoo!

And… uhm…

Yay?  For the first oh, 2 years and some-odd months I haven’t really updated much.  But, here is a link back to my very first post — in which, CUPCAKES occur.

So, let us celebrate!

How would you want to celebrate?  How should I celebrate?  Should I celebrate?

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

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