A Kick in the Heart

‘You do not see things as they are. You see them as you are.

When you look, you see reflections of your being. When you listen, you hear echoes of yourself. If you don’t like something about what you see and hear, no point in smashing the mirror, change who you are becoming.’

I read these words on a day going wrong. It seems like once one bad thing happens, the ball starts rolling, and the bad just never stops. I’m not talking seriously bad here. I am blessed in my life with my health, a home, two healthy sons – happy is an iffy term sometimes – but all in all, my life is good.

This day, I woke late so I had to rush to get ready for work. Fight more traffic than usual because of being late. Rush to sign in and THEN deal with the feel of being behind from the get-go. Ever had one of those days?

When I finally got home, exhausted, I walked into a tornado-wreaked house. Remember the boys? Happy and healthy but totally ignorant of what it means to run a household as a working single parent.

I know what you are saying. Okay, didn’t you talk about this in another blog? Didn’t you say you got it?

I did. And I do. But it’s so easy to forget the truth in the rush and hustle of the world. Instant communication has shrunk the world to the size of a baseball. Do I want to know what somebody on the other side of the world might be eating for breakfast – plus picture? No, not really. Could I spend hours looking anyway?

Yes! Most emphatically, yes!

But when I read the quote above, the words literally kicked me back to the Now, the only moment we can ever really know. I felt like I’d been punched in the heart. In fact, I remember leaning forward as if I had been physically struck.

How, I wondered, could I have forgotten?

The world makes it easy to forget. We are all living in our own worlds, worlds that are as we see them, but that might not be how the world really is. How do I know?

I believe that you encounter the same situations or problems over and over until you overcome them. I can see my ‘situations’ all too easy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep falling into the same traps. The world makes us run so fast to keep up that we often forget who we are. Some people forget for a lifetime and I don’t want that to be me.

Am I fallible? Do I do stupid things? Hurt other’s feelings? Let the same kind of people get to me over and over again? Yes, I am. And I do. But I don’t want to be. I want to keep getting kicked in the heart over and over and over until I remember because that will mean I AM changing who I am becoming.

What kicks you back into the Now?

How Do you Kill a Monster without Becoming One….

As the story told itself, it switched around some on the actual prompt, but that’s okay. I let it go where it wanted to go. Let the speaker use his own voice which is nothing like mine. And nothing like my normal writing. But it was fascinating to watch the words flow.


It ain’t easy.  That much is for sure.  Been a long time since I killed anything but back in the day….. yeah…. back in the day…..

It came for me when I was 15.  Thought I was tough then, I did.  Big swagger as I walked down the street.   Tough words.  Angry words.  Ugly words.  Funny how when you’re young you think those things make you tough.  Don’t take me wrong.  I was a scrapper.  I’d been in any number of street fights.  All my life.  Thought that made me tough, too.  How little I knew.

It came on a Monday.  I was home.  Had to be.  My little sister was there.  Didn’t like to leave her alone at night.  Not if I could help it.  We had day-old hot dogs for dinner.  A dented can of baked beans.  Marshmellow fluff. 

Lived in a series of rooms. Used to be offices when the building was a warehouse. One central room with a hotplate, couple broke-back chairs. A table. A radio. Another room with two mattresses on the floor. A bathroom that worked. Barely. But enough for water to clean and cook. I’d installed locks on the doors. Kept us safe so far. Then again, I wasn’t asleep yet.

Been years now. Too many. Never did find my little sister. I looked for her sometimes. All the times. That face in the crowd. A voice across a street. A dream of before I’d become a monster. But now… now I am old. Haven’t killed in years.

Weren’t killing that’d made me a monster. No. Abandoning her did. Ran when the Government people finally tracked us down. Gonna take us into the system. Foster homes. Schools. The ‘right’ life. Couldn’t take that. And so I ran.

She screamed. Begged. Tears. Never did forget that. Never did forget the sound of tears. Sound rang in my ears the rest of my days. Still there now. But it’s gonna be gone soon.

Soon. Another breath. Two. Another tear. I’ll no longer be a monster.

JSW (Just Start Writing!) Prompt –

Write a paragraph or a page (or however much you want) to answer the question –

How do you destroy a monster without becoming one?


Again, feel free to post your response in the comments or to link your responses to this blog so that others can read them.  I always love to see how different writers interpret the same scene or sentence.  I’ll be posting my response in the next day or two.  

Response to Writing Prompt

It was my turn to start digging……

Bone-weary and mud-splattered, I rose from where I hunkered against the lichen-covered headstone, picked up my shovel, and headed back towards the grave. Boyston was just hoisting himself out of the hole. He shook his head towards me, wiping mud-covered hands on equally mud-covered coveralls.

A hundred yards away, secure and dry under a large tarp, stood the Client. All I could see was the dark solid of his body, servants and henchmen ringed round him like a King’s Court. Unfortunately for me, I was liking this Client less and less as the night wore on.

Truth was, we knew very little about him which, at this point, was perfectly fine. What I wanted most was to collect our money, take a hot shower, don dry clothes, and drink myself into a stupor. All right, the drinking into a stupor wasn’t likely to happen, but that’s how I felt. Cold and wet and tired and hungry and antsy as all get-out.

Stepping onto the small wooden platform hung over the open grave, I unhitched the rope that allowed me to lower myself down, stepping off once I hit bottom. Not that deep, head-high, but it was bad enough when the space was small. My boot heels thudded on wood and I looked up at my partner.

Kneeling on the lip of the grave, he cupped his hands around his cigarette, lighting it and shielding it from the rain. “My time up on the clock,” he shrugged and I knew he was laughing. “I know how equal you always like to be.”

With a snort, I turned away. How easy would it have been to scrape away the remaining mud and save me another trip to hell? But that’s one thing Boyston never did, stand in my way to hell.

It only took me about a half hour to scrape away the mug and dig a small trench around the coffin, just enough to allow the hooks of the Lift to sink into the rotting wood and hoist the coffin to the surface.

“Ready?” Boyston called and I sudden became aware of the chill that always hit me when the Client was near. Rain poured down my face and body, sliding beneath my collar, sending shivers running along my spine.

“Yeah, send’em down,” I called, never looking up. The next moment, Boyston lowered the hooks and I attached them to the box. That was all it was, right? A wood box. Whatever lay inside must have surely turned to dust long ago. Funny, how that thought didn’t comfort; how it was almost as if I could feel a hum emanating from the box beneath my boots.

“Ready,” I called roughly, stepping to the center of the box as the wrench started to lift the coffin towards the surface. It was almost as if I was rising from the dead, coming slowly out of the grave, first the touch of breeze on my hair, then my face and neck and chest and….

I stepped off the coffin onto solid ground, tossing my shovel aside. At the Client’s silent motions, Boyston and I picked up the box, me in the front and him at the back, carrying it over to a small cart. The horse stirred uneasily as if it, too, sensed the danger in the night. We shoved and heaved, finally loading the box. It was damned heavy for a load of dust and bones. Boyston and I intentionally didn’t look at each other.

One of the henchmen stepped forward, a man in his thirties looking as if he’d never shaved a day in his life. He handed me a small disk. “Your payment. Now you will fill the grave back in and disappear into your lives, saying nothing.”

“Wait a minute,” I protested, “nothing in our agreement stated we’d be filling the damn hole back in. Fill it yourself if you want it done!”

“Christ,” Boyston muttered, shifting uneasily.

The man considered a moment and then pulled out another disk, dropped it into my palm. “For your trouble,” he intoned, “and your silence.”

I snapped my hand closed and slipped both disks into my pocket. Turning silent, I grabbed my shovel and started to work.

Writing Prompt

Last post published, I decided that instead of just musing about being a writer- as important as that is – I needed to JSW – Just Start Writing. So I am going to post a writing prompt tonight and post my response tomorrow.

Feel free to write to the prompt if you wish. I would love to see how my fellow writers imagine the same sentence.

So, the writing prompt for today is:

‘It was my turn to start digging…..’

What Does it Mean to be a Writer?

This question cropped up in one of the Blogs I follow:

But what exactly do you earn if not money? Is there something else to being a writer?
Cristian Mihai

Good question. What does it mean to be a writer? There had to be a reward or we wouldn’t keep writing. Good ole Dr. Phil. How’s that working for you? I know my answer would be ‘while frustrating about NOT writing, it’s going well thank you.’ But that’s because I’ve always known deep in my heart that I am a writer. There has always been that voice inside saying ‘keep going. You’re going to get there.’ Then again, I keep writing those words, but how do you know what’s inside me? Hopefully, because you have that same driving, incessant, need inside of you.

So what do I earn if not money? I earn the privilege of becoming the person I was born to be. I earn the right to know and share the lives of characters that honor me with their stories. I win the wonderful experience of exploring a thousand worlds inside my own head, of being everywhere and every time at once. Now, if only I could bottle that scent, open the cork on a bad writing day, and take a whiff.

To me, being a writer means being open to the possibilities of the everlasting. Not that I think my writing will be remembered or even read a hundred years from now. Sure, it would be great, but I’ll be gone so what will I care? It is the stories themselves that are important; the lives, the loves, the hopes and fears and triumphants – and failures – of the characters. For it is the loves, the hopes and fears and triumphants and failures that make us human, that bind us all together.

I’ve often heard writers say ‘if one person reads my writing and is touched or changed, then I’ve done my job.’ Truer words and all that. I think, like most writers (and correct me if I’m wrong), I write for myself. I write to unfold the worlds within, to explore my own psyche and heal my own wounds, to be the person I was born to be. And what reason is more important than that?

Quote of the Da…

Quote of the Day –

“The ‘tone’ of your life is more often than not a reflection of your current attitudes and beliefs. How is your outlook? It will determine your outcomes. If you want to change the results you’re currently getting, then it begins by changing your thoughts, beliefs and viewpoints.”
Rachel Denning Blogging on Care2

Today while re-reading Ms. Denning’s blog, I felt the need to come here and quote her beautiful words; words so simple and clear and yet earthshattering.  How many times have I read/heard/thought the very same words and yet they never once made the impression upon me that they do today.  Maybe then I wasn’t ready to change, wasn’t ready to become the writer I’ve always known I would be.  Could it be that from the moment I started putting pen, -well pencil in those days – to paper I never really understood what those stories inside me meant?  I know I never understood myself, who I was, why I was and why so much pain would be allowed into my universe.  Perhaps it was the pain that kept me locked up inside myself.  I know it was hard, so very hard, to confront my character’s pain because I couldn’t confront my own.  Who was I to hold their pain up to the world when I couldn’t even hold my own?

And so I come to meditate on the tone of my life.  In the past, my life was one of turmoil and confusion and fear and simple desperation.  It’s hard being manic depressive when nobody knows – not even me.  When I finally came to the realization that, much as I had changed and improved my life over the years, my life would never be fully mine without help, I broke down.  I’d been raised that you never asked for help, you NEVER admitted anything was wrong, you never talked about anything happening inside the family outside.  In fact, you never talked about it at all.  I remember my childhood in pictures.  I don’t remember the times between the pictures, at least I didn’t.  Some has been coming back over the last years, for good or bad.  But only after I lied to my Doctor’s office that I was fatigued in order to get an appointment.  Embarrassing as it sounds, I was ashamed to tell the receptionist I was depressed.  Luckily, I have a good Doctor whom I trusted enough to admit the truth and who had been with me in my battle ever since.

So here is the tone of my life.  My life has been an uphill struggle, a battle against things I didn’t understand.  Children shouldn’t have to struggle against adult concepts but they do.  I did.  And yet my life has always been a battle because, as Ms Denning so rightly points out, my” outlook determines my outcomes.”

Later in the blog she says:

Life is what you make it.  You can choose to embrace abundance, peace, beauty and love and in the process bring more of those things to you. Or you can choose poverty, worry, disgust and hate, and continue through your own hating to bring more of it to you.  The choice is yours.  It starts today.  It starts now, by choosing to change your thoughts from low energy to high energy.

Thank you, Ms Denning, for bringing me the words I needed today. I struggled with this concept when it was nameless in my mind, but today I have been blessed with the words.  I embrace abundance, peace, beauty and love.  I ask it into my life to help me ‘begin’ again.

What do you choose?