Holding Time Gently


Here is how I usually feel that I am dealing with my time: My days/hours are laid out in specifically shaped or metered boxes, like a weekly pill container. Each box is colored differently and I have roughly 18 “pills” of time in my hand with which to fill them (because I honestly need at least 5-6 hours to sleep or I’m just not functional). And so I count out my hours into the boxes – Work, Family, Home Care, Errands, Cooking, Listening, Driving, etc. I try, try, TRY to hold back a few bits of time just for me: things like reading, writing, taking a long hot bath, exercising, devotional time, and naps. But there’s usually something “more important” that requires doing. I am rubbish at asking for help of any kind, and so my self-care ends up getting shoved into a really short amount of time and not feeling like self-care really at all. Usually it’s me sitting on the couch after the almost nightly battle to get my daughter to bed, too tired to think, much less read or write.

I feel as though I am grasping at time, holding onto it for dear life, lamenting that there is not more of it as it slips through my fingers. Like sand, it leaves behind only tiny grains, minuscule bits of itself that don’t seem to amount to much of anything. But that is not true of sand, is it? Though its individual grains are minute, all together they create vast deserts and snow-white beaches and ocean floors that stretch on for uncountable miles. All of that is those tiny bits and pieces, not on their own but together. Perhaps I have been holding my time so tightly that I am looking at it wrongly. While my introverted soul yearns for extended blocks of retreat and refreshment, I should not–must not— discount the small pockets of time with which I am gifted, even if they are very small.

A few nights ago, I gifted myself the time involved to take a hot shower with all the lavender amenities. It boosted my spirit and refilled some of my dwindling spoon drawer to feel fresh, clean, soft, and have such a soothing scent wafting around me. It was only half an hour but there was intention behind it. The intention of care and refreshment for myself, of aloneness and quiet, even if just for a little while. It was not a week-long isolated retreat but it did help, that one half-hour.

Last year, I wrote about (and even gave a commencement speech on) not discounting the value of smallness. How fitting that here I am, a year later, reminding myself of this very oh-so-important lesson, when my own well-being and all-around health hang in the balance.

Fifteen minutes of exercise may not be the hour-long gym workouts that I was used to doing when I was a SAHM but it is something.

Ten minutes to read before bed isn’t finishing a book in a day as I did of old but it is something.

“Tea-Time Quite-Time” with my daughter isn’t an afternoon alone in a coffee shop but those quiet moments together of both of us watching the lovely “Sarah & Duck” with our tea before bedtime are something.

Putting my earbuds in of a Sunday afternoon and turning on my rain app isn’t spending a whole sleepy, rainy day in bed but dozing amidst those soothing sounds for a little while is something.

Friends, I am learning to hold my time more gently, to remember and admit that the small bits I can get, that stick here and there can indeed be helpful, refreshing, and sustaining. And, bit by bit, those fragments add up, just as grains of sand, together, can create a vast, beautiful landscape. If you are walking this path of learning and viewpoint shifting, I want to encourage you. We can be gentler with ourselves, gentler with our time and the realities of our lives. Sometimes our realities do not have space for week-long retreats for our soul. We can still find rest in the small moments, brief though they may be. A shut bedroom door (or closet door even). A second cup of coffee. Ten minutes with a book or video game or podcast. We can find those little grains of time that will add up to refreshment for us. Trust me, I wish us all extended time to rest and relax but, until then, I’ll be gently collecting grains alongside you.

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When a Smile is Needed


It’s the Thursday of Spring Break. Only a few more days of relative freedom. So why am I smiling, you ask? Because I NEED to smile. This week has been gray and largely low-feeling, especially at night. Not the best headspace for Spring Break. I’m off but everyone else is not. There are responsibilities that keep us at home and unable to drive to/stay out late with friends of an evening. Grading waits menacingly on my kitchen table like a sword of Damocles dangling over my head. So I NEED to smile today. I need to remember the good.

*My daughter in my floppy sunhat and her heart-shaped sunglasses ready for her “beach party” at preschool

*Kisses and “I love you’s” from my husband

*Unexpected, wonderful time with friends

*Reading, writing, and nap time in a quiet house

*Often-read Scripture verses touching my heart with new relevance and encouragement

*Rain pattering on my window panes and thunder growling and purring through the clouds

Today I need to remember the good. Today I need to smile. Today I need to choose the good, choose contentment. Today I need determination over motivation. Happiness is not just a happening today; today it needs to be a decision, a choice for me.

So here’s a smile. I hope it helps yours along, too, dear one.

 

Shadows Out and Beyond


Author’s Note: This is a creative writing for my X-men rpg (roleplay game) original character, Betsy Martin, based on the events in the film “Logan”. In the rpg I am a part of, Logan is Betsy’s mentor, teacher, and alpha; I knew that, after seeing this film, I was going to need to write her way out of all the feelings. This writing contains spoilers for the film so…read at your own risk, darlings.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: XI (The Godly Edition)


Author’s Note: This one is much inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, both favorites of my husband’s.

There is one night a year where deities get the night off. Gods, lords, fae barons, all the like: it’s their night to relax from answering prayers, helping destinies along their way, healing, protecting, teaching, growing, and abiding. Big and small gods.

But that doesn’t mean that the world is left unattended. One god is always left in charge, a sort of designated survivor, as it were. They take it in turns and that god oversees the world at large for that twelve-hour stretch, keeps records and tallies, notations on prayers and needs, and answers earnest prayers that might have time-sensitivity. Oh, and Cerberus needs to be walked, after all.

Everyone knows of God’s Night Out but life doesn’t pause, even for the gods. Their line of work’s cogs never stop. That’s why there is always a designated deity on GNO.

A favored spot for GNO is often Banebridge Farms. One: it is far from cities and multitudinous souls that inhabit them, and two: Bryan’s property boasts a large acreage of ancient forest, purposefully left un-tilled and to run wild wild. In it are groves and fairy circles, templed ruins and venerable, cracked stone tables of old. The Lord of the Hunt himself considers this place a pleasant  respite and so, once every year, Bryan Banebridge and his staff find themselves playing host to the most glorious and varied of pantheons ever assembled. Ahead of GNO, Dionysus always  brings up the ambrosia and liquor, all the tastiest ingredients, and Bryan and his cooks whip up some absolutely ethereal and otherworldly dishes and drinks. As a result, though Bryan still has to work hard and romance his investors, there are godly machinations to make sure that Banebridge Farms is never deeply in peril.

Now, it is true that not all gods attend GNO at Banebridge Farms. Some of them choose their own ways to enjoy the night off. Some of the eternally-watching gods take the opportunity for a good twelve hours’ sleep. A power nap, if you will. Others, like Atlas, take a walk to stretch their stiff legs. Night, underworld, and winter gods sometimes bask in the bright, warm sunlight of a beach in Bora Bora or Maui (hey, it’s not nighttime everywhere at once, after all).

Everyone knows about Gods’ Night Out. Even the eternal need a break. Tomorrow, it will be right back to work. Stars will be tended, sun and moon set and risen. Prayers will be assessed, requests weighed, comfort given, and answers given by the designated deity reviewed. Every god back in their place and position, their faithful adherents breathing a sigh of relief, like a child whose mother has finally returned from her night out and kissed their head as they lie waiting in their bed.

All is right with the world, and big and small gods–tanned, fed, rested, and slightly hungover–have a few new stories to tell until next year.

[X-men: Legacy] The Time Has Come


Stale cigar smoke. Bitter beer. Earth. The coppery tang of blood that soap can’t touch.

She inhales deeply as iron strong arms wrap around her and hug her. Not too tightly but close. She can hear a heart beating alongside hers; strong, maybe a little slower than in the past, but still there. Tired. But still there.

When he releases her, she gives a small smile. barely there. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” she promises, not needing to state just who “they” are.

He doesn’t say anything in return, doesn’t have to. It’s been long enough that they understand each other without having to say much at all. Time will do that to you. Time marches on but, eventually, it takes you with it.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even say goodbye. Just utters a grunted huff, the edges of a rueful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. No…not just rueful.

Proud. Sad. Determined.

Reaching out he puts a hard, rough, calloused hand against Betsy’s cheek for a moment before letting it drop to her shoulder and giving it a squeeze that would crack the bones of a less hardy person.

Then the old bastard shoulders his pack and heads off down the drive. He hops into the old ’68 mustang, roars it to life, and is gone.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Maybe that’s why they don’t say it. For them, can it ever really be goodbye, though? Or will they just end up side-by-side again when the world has turned enough times?

Who knows? In either case, goodbyes are hard. That’s why they don’t say them. Time will do that to you.

Time marches on and, eventually, it takes you with it.

(Graphic credit: Imgur, by ManWhoLovesSuperheroes)

[X-men: Legacy] The Feline and the Charmer: Mardi Gras Moon


Betsy giggles as she pulls the pink plastic baby from its cakey cocoon. 

“Well! Look at dat, chere,” Julien chuckles to the feral girl as she pulls the treasure from her slice of king cake.  “And wit’ your firs’ King Cake, too.”

She sets the baby down on the side of her plate and licks her fingers.

“Now you know dat findin’ de bebe comes wit’ a whole host of responsibilities as well as the luck, righ’?”

“Oh, like what?” Betsy ripostes smilingly. 

“Ohhh, well!” The Guild Prince sidles up to his feline-esque companion, close but not touching her yet. “Some people say dat whoever finds it will end up with a little’un by end o’ year, especially if you a woman.”

Betsy fairly screws up her face at that. “Yeahhhh….no litters for this feral, thanks. Even if they would turn out as beautiful as you.”

“Oh, Lor’, no!” Jules agrees, still smiling, and those ebony and ruby eyes glimmer in the lights that glimmer off the French Quarter. “There are other responsibilities, tho’.”

Betsy looks up at him, her own eyes melding to a shimmery gold. “Tell me.”

“In our househol’, the finder owes the baker a kiss,” he says with a completely straight face.

“Oh, so I should go find Henri then?” the feral girl quips mischievously.

“He would be righ’ surprised at you, I’d say. Especially since he didn’ make dis one,” Jules assures her with that self-confident smile. “I did.”

Betsy arches an eyebrow in surprise. “You?”

“Well, I couldn’ let my lovely Elizabet’s first Mardi Gras be anytin’ but the most’ special, could I?” Julien Boudreaux smiles fit to be tied at his girlfriend’s surprise.

Betsy’s cheeks pinken deeply at that and her eyes become molten, like gold heated in a forge. Stepping towards the tall Cajun, she rises up on her tiptoes, even in six-inch heels, slender hands reaching up to draw his face down towards hers. “It’s been amazing, Nawlins,” she purrs through wine-dark lips. “The parties, the parades, the food…but you…you are by far the best thing about tonight.”

Julien meets Betsy more than willingly, hands reaching out to grasp her waist and pull her close to him, lips meeting lips and a contented (and simultaneously hungry) sigh rumbling in his strong chest. That rumble lights a warmth in Betsy’s belly that sits low and heavy, her form flushing in his grasp in the warm New Orleans evening.

The music and ruckus of the French Quarter float up to meet them, the party going strong down in the streets. But here on this little rooftop oasis that Julien has concocted, they are as alone as they could possibly wish to be. Betsy has felt no silent, hidden presence watching them; Belladonna has in fact warned her people off the two teenagers for the night. Let them have their fun. Tomorrow the streets will be quiet, the church bells ringing in Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. But, for now…

Leaving the cake behind, Betsy draws Julien under an ivy, flower, and curtain strewn bower, letting the gossamer and heady scents envelope and hide them from the world for a while. After all, why go into Lent with no “sins” to confess?

Moments in Magical Modernity: X


X.

Pixie-small feet find terra firma as a mother warns against flying on the public sidewalk. On the baseball diamond in the park, there are complaints against winking from third base to home in a kickball game and the rules are changed to keep things fair all round. Starlings swarm and meld into eccentric shapes at the turn of a childish finger, the tiny birds eager to please an equally tiny artist.

Nemiah, the park’s caretaker, watches with appraising eyes as his young students imagine unruly hedges and bushes into lovely topiaries for the Children’s Garden, coaxing the plants into the shapes without every clipping or snipping a single leaf. Animals, geometrics, knights on horseback, and shapely towers materialize under the fruitful imaginations of nature-sensitive children.

Leina leads her prenatal yoga class in her studio of soft blues and whites. She guides and transitions her class through the movements in soft, soothing tones, the sound of water pouring and rushing through her dulcet voice. Together, they bathe souls and bodies weary with the work of fostering and growing life in consolation, commiseration, and calm.

A young satyr blushes from his horns to his hooves with joy as a lovely, rosy redhead accepts his invitation to the Solstice Block Party and Dance with a pretty smile.

Childhood and growth are as full and varied and joyful and tumultuous as it can ever be. Babyish “I love you’s” still give way to the intermittent “I hate you’s” of adolescence and puberty. New life is celebrated profusely and milestones. First steps, first words, first flights, first shapeshifts, first discoveries of hands, feet, tails, wings. Lullabies are sung over cradles, midnight feedings stumbled and whispered and sleepily cooed through. Children grow and learn. They make friends and attend school. Magic does not separate them. Rather, it pulls these little ones together in a world sewn together by Magic.

A little girl is awoken in the deep night, sensitive ears catching the sound of crying through her open window. Peering out, she spies the neighbor boy weeping in his darkened bedroom with only the silver of moon to witness. Weeping for fear of the shadows.  A bit of paper folding, a silvery bit of flame whispered on a breath, and the little Mrs. Darling nightlight floats across the hedge barrier to rest on the boy’s window sill. There the paper lantern sits to cheerily flicker away throughout the night and assure him that he is not alone. Never alone.

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Photo Credit – Pinterest