Still

letter_s_erteStill.

Stillness, I suppose, for the sake of clarity.

I was going to go with silence, but then I thought, no, what I really want is more than silence. To be still is to be silent, isn’t it? And a little more.

It has an edge of expectation. A quality of something that is going to happen any second and I must listen intently for it.

It reminds me of being a kid and hiding from my parents. I’d squeeze into the corner behind a bookcase and read. I wasn’t hiding from anything in particular, and I wasn’t up to no good. In fact, I was just looking for a quiet and cozy place to read. I still like the idea of a little retreat no one knows about.

My favorite time was in the late afternoon on Saturdays. I probably had to pick up my room and do a chore or two, and then I’d retire to my corner. The late afternoon sun was just enough, and everyone was winding down, so there was no noise in the house.

Stillness. Quiet. But there was something coming. My mom was moving toward the kitchen to start dinner. There was an air of transition. The day was ending, and night was coming, but not yet.

And I had to strain to hear anything outside my little space.

Things haven’t changed much decades later. I found a different little retreat: the chapel at my parish. It’s small, and I can sit in any pew and still watch the light and shadows dance across the floor like I did so many years ago behind my book case. It’s quiet there, unless the maintenance guys are doing their thing. If I’m lucky, I can sit in silence without the overhead lights on…and if I stay undisturbed just long enough, I find myself straining expectantly, listening for the elusive something that’s meant for me.

 

Rain

letter_r_erteI love rain.

I love soft rain. Rain that falls in big fat drops. Rain that falls sideways. Rain that mists instead of drips. Rain that feels so warm it’s like a shower. Rain that’s cold and chills me to the bone.

I love the sound of rain on the roof, the tinny sound on the awnings, the splatters in the mud, the drip off the eaves.

I love rain that washes away the powdery pollen. Rain that fills the ponds and showers the plants.

Rain that cleanses.

  Refreshes.

  Renews.

  Revives.

Qi

letter_q_erteQi.

My new go-to play in Words with Friends.

I don’t even know what it means. Well, yes, I kinda know, but let’s go look at the dictionary together. Obviously, if you’re doing this A to Z Challenge, you must love words as much as I do.

So qi, also spelled chi or ch’i, is a Chinese principle that is an underlying part of every living thing. Or something like that. When the article described it as kind of like “the force” in Star Wars, I lost interest.

Instead, I’ll share with you my love of Scrabble and Words with Friends, and why I think qi is both a cop-out and a brilliant play!

I first played Scrabble with my mom, who is a big time puzzle player. To this day she always has those crossword books you get in the grocery check out line lying around, often missing one or two words to complete the puzzle. She doesn’t cheat.

Let me say that again…she doesn’t cheat. I admire that. She will, however, ask for help so she can learn new words. Did I say my mother works on these puzzles in English? Did I say my mother’s first language is not English? I think she learned English watching episodes of Ironside and Marcus Welby and then working on the TV Guide crossword puzzle.

Impressive, if you ask me.

But she probably never played qi.  I don’t play scrabble to win. Well. No, that’s not true — I like to win. Let me rephrase that. Part of the delight of playing Scrabble is coming up with awesome words. Elegant placements that use lots of crosswords and and neat uses of letters are sometimes more fun that racking up points.

The problem is, you need points to win. Q is a lousy letter that requires a friendly U to accompany it, and that’s not always possible. Also, nobody wants to be caught in the endgame with a Q to reverse fortunes at the last minute.

Enter qi. The perfect little letter for unloading the Q in a hurry. That’s the cop-out if you play it too early in the game instead of looking for a neat word like quinoa.

Do you have a “safe” word for Scrabble or WWF?

Procrastination

letter_p_erteProcrastination.

I suffer from it. I’m especially suffering from it right now, even as I write this brief post. I put off doing things while I watch other things pile up in front of me. Sadly, the end result is usually in disappointing people.

I’m usually guilty of procrastination when things are running smoothly. Circumstances in my life have caused me to be “on call” a great deal. I don’t even mean this as a big complaint, just that my time is in demand, surprisingly, and there’s only one of me, ya know? So I need to figure out how to spread me around and still have time for the people that matter to me.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

I’m sure it will involve embracing “No.”

I think I can handle that. “No.”

That was easy. “No, thank you.” Ah, much better.

“No, I can’t do that right now.” Nope. That implies I might do it later. No. Nope. Not a chance.

Okay, well, I’m going to go practice.

Nothing

erte-nNothing.

Writers know a little bit about this. When we’re blocked, nothing comes and the page fills and fills with…nothing.

I’m not a fan of it.

But sometimes, nothing is what the situation calls for. As in, I have nothing relevant or healthy or positive to contribute to a conversation.

I feel like that a little today.

Other times, nothing is essential. It’s an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, to clear one’s mind, to survey a blank canvas full of possibility.

I like that kind of nothingness. With a little creativity and conviction, it fills up with somethingness. And isn’t somethingness what we aspire to as artists? To look at nothing and see something? To take emptiness and fill it?

I’d like to do that today.

I’d like to take this empty space and fill it with positive words.

love*joy*happy*birdsong*hugs*peace*sunrise*laughter*puppies*kisses*chocolate*

friend*smile*warmth*daisy*dance*mountains*shade*walk*grass*blue*sing*giggle*

play*gaze*ponder*share*jump*roses*tea*conversation*sigh*celebrate*create*pray

Music

letter_m_erteMusic.

It soothes the wild beast, and it soothes me.

I like so many kinds of music…I like jazz, country, salsa, classical, top 40, classic rock, and good churchy stuff.

I don’t like screaming and cussing.

Otherwise, I’ll give it a listen — probably, I’m gonna like it. At least I’ll listen politely.

It lifts my mood or calms me down, depending on what I need. It inspires me, and makes me move, especially if it’s salsa. There nothing better to play while cleaning, that’s for sure!

I grew up with music in our home, and thank my parents for that gift. I even had guitar lessons when I was a kid though I can’t explain why reading music is still such a mystery to me. Let’s just say…me and time signatures don’t get along.

Anyway, music. I love it.

Here are a few songs that I really dig:

and this:

and finally:

Laughter

letter_l_erteLaughter.

It’s one of my favorite things.

I love to laugh, and I love people who laugh…loudly, robustly, from all the way inside their souls.

Yeah. That’s the right way to laugh.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to laugh, and boy, it was abundant.

We had a work in-service day, and I attended a drumming therapy session. I was pretty skeptical about it. I thought it was going to be one of those sharing circles, you know what I’m talking about — getting close to nature and all that bunk.

Well, let me take it back —  I don’t really think it’s bunk. That kind of deep sharing has a place in our lives. I’m just not sure the workplace environment is the place for it. At least, not for me.

But I went anyway, on the advice of a colleague with a fun spirit and a good sense of humor. At least if we were going to suffer, it was going to be entertaining.

Boy was I wrong. That was the most fun I’d had at work. Ever.

Here’s me, trying out a pretty djembe drum:

551545_10151603459655953_1188751669_n

There’s nothing like laughter to generate laughter. I don’t know if it was the physical act of drumming that was therapeutic, or the joy that came from having a good time, but I think today, the day after, I’m still enjoying the benefits of spending an hour beating on a drumhead and laughing.

What makes you laugh from all the way inside your soul?

 

Goodness

gGoodness.

Don’t we all want it? Shouldn’t we all aspire to it?

I think too often we seek it in ways that will benefit us —  we try to internalize good for ourselves. One more slice of that delicious pie will fill us up, and make us feel good. Another drink. That pretty dress. Those awesome shoes.

A quick rundown of the definition of goodness from some trusty (rusty?) online searches consistently yielded the following descriptions:

1. the state or quality of being good.
2. moral excellence; virtue.
3. kindly feeling; kindness; generosity.
4. excellence of quality: goodness of workmanship.
5. the best part of anything; essence; strength.
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I like those two definitions in boldface. The first one, especially, is something that I feel strongly about. There’s good in giving. Kindness and generosity are much greater than hoarding a pile of meaningless objects. It’s a gift that keeps giving, too.
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The best kind of goodness is not material, and can’t be measured. There’s a certain reciprocity that comes from kindness and generosity, not that we should seek it for our own ends, but that in giving freely we are somehow blessed in return.

Friend

letter_f_erteFriend.

Fun, fellowship, faith, frolic, fantastic, fair, fond, forthright, feel, fulfill, fabulous, fealty, felicity, favored, flourish, forgiveness, familiarity, fruitful, festive, frank, fortifying, fraternal, fascinating, free, formidable, familial, facilitate, flexible, folksy, funny. Faithful.

A true blessing…

Talking, eating, playing, praying, saying, hugging, listening, learning, daring, dreaming, urging, cooking, texting, calling, running, speaking, nurturing, crying, whispering, mending, holding, caring, encouraging, teaching, trusting, accepting, being, cherishing, laughing, living. Sharing.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― C.S.Lewis