Five-Minute Sprints

“I give assignments to my writing classes because it’s hard to make something up out of a clear blue sky…It doesn’t have to be anything. It can contain a character who shows up out of breath. It can contain a lake and a bunch of swans. There can be conversation or silence. It can take place entirely in the dark. I have learned we do better when we’re not trying too hard–there is nothing more deadening to creativity than the grim determination to write.”

–Abigail Thomas

Do a five-minute sprint on each of the following words. Start with the very first thing that occurs to you and then write without stopping for five minutes. Then go on to the next word. Don’t skip any. This will increase your nimbleness as a writer:







Peanut butter



First car


  1. Fran Stekoll says

    Teeth: I remember putting mine under the pillow and waiting sleeplessly for the tooth fairy. I picture my Grandfather always placing his in a glass of water in the bathroom each night. Grandpa had diabetes and his gums would shrink and expand so he had more than one set of teeth to accommodate his gums.
    He and my Father, his son, went on a fishing trip and Grandpa got sea sick.
    He said that was the most expensive fishing trip he’d ever been on and that some fish was swimming around with his teeth. Another time we all went out to dinner. Grandpa put his extra set of teeth in his back trouser pocket. When he sat down, he bit himself. To massage his gums he’d play the harmonica.
    He got pretty good at that. One of my first jobs was as a Dental Assistant. It
    always amazed me to see how patients didn’t take care of their teeth. What really surprised me was when a gold filling had to be replaced. After drilling
    the patient was asked to spit pieces of that filling into a bowl. At the end of the day it was my job to gather the fragments of gold from a mesh drain in that bowl. These fragments were then crushed and melted and re used into
    other patients. I often wondered when I got my gold inlays, whose teeth they originally came from. Now anyone with gold in their teeth must feel very valuable @ $1600 an ounce. If a loved one passes on, usually the family is
    grieving and don’t remember to ask for their loved ones gold teeth. I often wonder if the Mortician makes extra money. I guess there’s some thing we’re
    better off not knowing.

    • says

      Fran, I loved the things I learned from your piece–like the value of gold teeth and who profits from them. And the image you your grandfather biting his own ass–well, that was priceless!

    • Beverly Boyd says

      Last year while deep cleaning my garage I came across the small bottle of gold fillings my mother had acquired somehow! The timing was perfect as I needed money to fund the project I was involved and gold was at one of its higher values in a decade. The two ounces brought $3500 at my local gold dealer.

        • Hazel says

          Interesting piece Fran, I remember my grandfather and his false teeth. He wore them all the time except when he ate. Very funny I know. He always wore striped bib overalls and they had a little pocket in the bib so he would very carefully stow his teeth in that pocket just before he sat down to eat. He said he didn’t get any “seeds or such” under them that way.

          • Beverly Boyd says

            Take it from one who knows, the tiniest crumb can cause excruciating pain so I am limited in the foods I can manage, especially in public. Take care of the teeth you were born with. Dentures are no darn fun!

      • Terry Gibson says

        Beverly, I’m so happy that windfall happened for you! I can’t think of a more deserving soul. What a joy that must’ve been! To come out of nowhere.

        Eve, if I die in your hospital, I’ll save you the trouble. No gold teeth to mine here. :) Of course, maybe I’ll put in a falsie for you, just to keep it interesting. J/K

    • Eve says

      I would love to find the fish that is swimming around with grandpa’s teeth. This was a great piece. Thank you. Now when my patients pass on to the great unknown, I am going to pull out their gold teeth so they don’t go to waste. (Just kidding)

      • Diana says

        Hi Fran
        Your piece brought forth a little know or thought about aspect of teeth, life and death. My grandmother’s dentist has the integrity to give her the gold filling of her teeth. When she looked at him incredulously he told her how valuable those filling were.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, What a great exchange your story started! I laughed at some of that stuff, marvelled at the hot commodity that is gold teeth, and remembered how my Grandfather used to chase after us in a fun way with his false teeth in hand, making them chomp too. :) Thanks! Hope you are having a good weekend, Fran.

    • Debbie says

      I laughed out loud at your Grandpa biting his butt! And, yes, I am pretty sure the morticians know to check out the teeth of those who die, even if the family does not think of it. Weird, huh?

  2. Native Cadence says

    just the first two so far:

    Betrayal – is one of the most painful actions – no matter which direction it is coming or going. The one you trust starts the betrayal long before you even realize it. The whole time the predator is planning his attack…with each escalation, there is betrayal…betrayal of my trust and my innocence and my naiveté. Scars, physical and emotional are left in the wake of betrayal.

    Wrinkles are all over her now. Her face looks like a topographical map. The flesh on her legs droops and sags. Where have the years gone? When did the wrinkles begin? AM I going to look like that when I am her age? Aging doesn’t scare me, but her wrinkles do. IDK, maybe it is not about her wrinkles – I didn’t want to touch her or be touched by her for many years before the lines formed around her eyes, in her cheeks, across her forehead. In most people I see wrinkles as character / experience / the build-up of wisdom…not just wrinkles of time. This is different. I think.

    • says

      Native, I hope you’ll post your other words too. I enjoyed reading these. The idea of these quick sprints is to make us more flexible and to expand our range beyond our habitual topics. Good luck!

      • Diana says

        you so succinctly described betrayal; i loved how you the betrayal is set in motion before you even know it is coming

    • Terry Gibson says

      Hi Native, Your descriptions are amazing. I feel scared and angry for your protagonist as I see the betrayor going about his or her task of pre-calculated hurting. “The whole time the predator is planning his attack…with each escalation, there is betrayal …” In the second sprint, I love that the wrinkles are like a ‘topographical map,’ and the varied levels of awareness that come forward as you contemplate them. Thanks.

    • Debbie says

      Native – I liked your first two words. You made me think of betrayal differently – going in either direction – and that it is painful either way. Thanks for sharing your work so far

  3. Beverly Boyd says

    I was born thirty hears too soon!
    Oh, the tortures I went through trying to correct the problem of my thin, fine and perfectly straight hair.
    In the morning the first hot water through the faucets in the kitchen had to be run for several minutes to clear them of heavy rust. Precious hot water ran down the drain. I remember one morning Mother waking me up to try out an idea. I would hang my head over the sink with a towel over my head to hold in the steam. She believed that the steam would curl my hair as it did hers. She had a natural wave. Fortunately if any curling happened it was soon gone so she only tried it once, yet it is one of my clearest memories: the hot stream in my face and the urgent hope that it would make my hair pretty.
    Then came the first home permanents: torturous things that took all day. They required a hot curling iron to apply to each small section of hair then sleeping on uncomfortable rag curls. The next day I was assured I was beautiful, but that lasted only a few days.
    I learned to sit patiently while Mother curled my hair around her finger to make Shirley Temple curls. It usually looked cute a few hours for the special event if I could remember not to get too rambunctious or shake my head. We might even get a cute picture or two
    I finally got lucky in my teenage years when home permanents became easier and more reliable and friends often traded giving each other perms.
    If left alone my hair fell perfectly straight just over my ears with bangs in front. If I had been born thirty years later, when young girls went to great lengths to straighten their hair, I would have had the perfect hair and been the envy of my friends.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt joy. I’ve had a good life and many things to be grateful for, but there has always been a kind of damper over my emotions that I am barely conscious of I’m so used to its being there. I’ve felt happy, contented, occasionally gleeful, but never quite joy. I think that the methods my mother used to make a well behaved acceptable child out of the hyperactive one she got may have resulted in my never quite being able to feel anything with natural intensity. I would probably have been on Ritalin if I had been born thirty years later and that would have been worse, I think.

    Peanut butter: sticks to the roof of your mouth: I remember an early TV comedy routine that someone did about peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. In those days TV was all about the visual effects that were possible, though like 3D movies a few years later the number of possibilities soon got used. So this comic went on at great lengths talking through the trials of trying to get the peanut butter swallowed. Both the audio and visual gyrations of this routine were pretty funny. Several of my teenage friends wanted to regularly nflict their own version on the rest of us: Finally as one of them started we’d all chorus ” peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth.” That put an end to it.
    Peanut butter has gratefully been a staple of my family’s life. It was an easy nutritious meal for my children to fix for themselves and their younger siblings as I lay in bed with a miserable migraine, keeping an ear to the activities in the house from the guest bedroom. We had peanut butter and jelly of course, but other additions were lettuce and mayonnaise, mustard, and bananas. When my house was full of teenagers I remember regularly buying five jars at my biweekly runs to the commissary.

    First car
    When my husband graduated he used the carefully saved balance of his Naval Academy account ($1600) and bought a brand new 1958 VW bug. We were married two weeks after he picked it up. His friends, who had spent most of their accounts, bought bigger cars for twice as much anticipating the almost immediate families they planned, had car payments for a few years. Crossing the country to his first duty station in Long beach was a trip in more ways than one. VW’s were a novelty and at every stop curious folks had questions about its speed (85mph tops, though you could go faster down hill), miles per gallon (about 40) and comfort. We loved it and drove it for ten years.
    One of my favorite memories of that car was going to the commissary, loading up three shopping carts…and I do mean loading! The bagger who helped me to the car was doubtful that we could get it all in. I assured him it could be done. When he finished he looked at the full car with satisfaction for a job well done. I didn’t tell him that I was planning to rearrange the bags to make room for the four preschoolers I was on my way to pick up!

      • Hazel says

        Jeeze, I remember those first “permanents” to. Frightening! It’s a wonder all of us didn’t end up bald or worse with burn scars on our heads. Good job on your short pieces. Really enjoyed them all. Thank you for sharing.

        • Diana says

          Your piece on hair brought back memories. I had rod straight hair as a kid and when through many of the same rituals you did. Your mention of the “home” perm brought back the nasal singing, brain frying smell of those hair treatments.

    • Debbie says

      Beverly – I have your same hair!! Fine, straight, never holds a curl. I smiled as I remembered the years of home perms and my mother’s never ending desire for my to have golden curls. Several years ago, I quit fighting my natural hair and discovered precision cuts. Life is so much easier now! I also wrote about trying to talk with peanut butter in the top of your mouth. It was fun to read your associations – and note the similarities.

  4. Hazel says

    Here are a few from this morning:


    We had a plan, this head, this heart, this tongue.
    A carefully charted course to take us through
    the storm but tongue betrayed us all, said things
    other than what was on the script, got on a roll,
    could not control itself, no discipline, blathered
    off down it’s own trail becoming lost in the words
    far from the tree of knowledge. The brain’s aghast,
    the heart confused, as alarms ring harsh within the ears.
    The voice has broken, cracked, while tears drip down
    on breasts that bounce with every breath intake.
    For now we withdraw, retreat, back away from warm
    arms of lover which had been our prime objective slip
    back across the bridge into silence where tongue is
    jailed behind clenched teeth. We must regroup, this
    troupe, devise another plan as courage dwindles with
    time and fear of untrustworthy, treacherous tongue.
    Hazel S. Muller

    I am amazed at the different rate at whick people wrinkle. I am 76 and my husband is 65, I am nearly wrinkle free in my face, except the lines around my mouth that are very deep. I inherited that part of my face from my paternal grandmother. My husband’s face is as wrinkled as an old beat up shoe. He looks way older than I do. Have we done something to level out the age difference between us. I look at him and I think: What did he do to himself to cause all those wrinkles, his mother is not that wrinkled and neither was his father. Was it the smoking? The lack of eating vegetables? Was it his very fair skin that became very tanned in California when he was much younger? I don’t really know but I do know that my skin is like an oil factory, I could contract out with Shell. I have always had a good tan which may be part of my Indian heritage. Anyway, I don’t worry about wrinkles on my face. We just won’t talk about wrinkles on any other parts!


    There are only imperfections in the things that I create. I myself have none because I am “perfectly me.” I look at an oil painting that I said was finished and is framed and hanging on the wall and I see a thousand things I should have done differently that might make it perfect. A flower here or not a flower there, a little more foam on that wave, the grass is not thick enough to really look real. The beaded insects I am making now, there is always something that would make them more perfect in my eyes. The gourds I grew in my garden and I have turned into beautiful jewelry boxes or lamps, just by their very nature they are not perfect but what I did to them is very much not perfect either. I wonder if when God created the universe and our Earth if she looked at it and saw that it was not perfect and she kept tweaking it, or if she just created it, flung it out into the heavens and said “That is just great! Perfect!” and went on to wash the dishes and mop the floor before she went out to dinner where she opened the champagne and shared her joy with her friends.


    My mother had the most beautiful naturally black hair that I have ever seen. It was the contrast with her “porcelain white” skin that really made you notice it. For most of the time I was a kid she would roll it up around a “rat” so that it was off her face and neck. It also made you notice how yellow her eyes were. She was really pretty.

    My father had dark brown hair and it waved back from his forehead in beautiful rows as if he had had a “finger wave” at the beauty shop. His white cap fitted perfectly in the first wave when he was relaxed just having fun with his kids around the yard.

    My brother inherited the curls and the waves. His hair is now white as fresh winter snow but it still waves in it’s own stubborn way all over his head.

    My hair is also snow white but it is so straight that I have finally quit trying to make it curl. It is good money after bad to keep buying “permanent” waves. They only last about 3 months on of which it looks very good and then it is gone and I have to do it all over again. So, I have gone back to a style of long ago when I was in grade school with the front sides pulled up and caught with a barrette, that has some beautiful ribbon of some kind attached to it, and left to fall straight down the back with the rest of my hair. I love it! It is simple, looks good, and I don’t have to mess with it. Why didn’t I think of this years ago?

    My first car

    My father had me driving the tractor for him since I was big enough to stretch and reach the pedals, about eight I think. Then he let me drive the car when I was about thirteen on. We lived in the country so it wasn’t a big deal. There was very little traffic and besides I was good at it. When I was fifteen I had my learner’s permit getting ready for my license. My father knew that I wanted a car of my own and he thought I was ready for it although there was a lot of conversation about it with my mother. One day he came home from work and said, “I think I can get you a car for $15. It needs some work but if you have the money and will work on it I will help you and it will be a good car for you.” I was ecstatic!

    The next day was Saturday so we all drove out in the country to his friend’s house and there in the backyard sat the object of my desire, almost. I looked at it and looked at my father. The factory black paint was showing on the back and part way up one side and the rest had been painted a bright red. Not so bad you say? But it had been painted with a big brush with big thick brush marks showing. “Don’t worry about the looks we can paint it any color you want.” My father was encouraging me so said, “does it run?” Oh yes, his friend demonstrated by starting it. What did I know? If my dad thought we could make it run that was okay by me. I paid the man the $15 and my dad drove it home with me in the seat beside him. My mom drove the other car home.

    All the way home my father was telling me the things we would need to do to it. He said it is was a 1937 Chevy coupe and it was important to remember that when I went to the auto parts store. He said that the oil pan was leaking and that we would have to pull the pan and replace the seal. That sounded expensive. I worked 3 hours every night after school at a local hospital and was paid eighty five cents an hour and I was wondering just how much car parts cost. He said we could sand the awful paint off and he would spray paint it for me. I could tell he was really enjoying this, but if I didn’t get out there with him and work on it he wouldn’t work on it by himself. He taught me everything I could possibly need to know about that car. Information that has been invaluable through the years. When we got through working on it it was kind of pretty, silver blue with shiny painted bumpers. I had painted the inside pale grey and pale pink and re-upholstered the seats in a dark blue. I even found a pearlized pink gearshift knob to complete the look. Yeah, that was my first car, 70 miles to a quart of re-refined oil because we never did get the oil pan to seal. I kept an apron in the car and would stop, get a quart of oil out of the trunk, find the spout, pour it in the engine, put the can back in the trunk and go on.

    Peanut Butter

    ICK! It sticks to the roof of your mouth if you don’t turn the spoon over so it all goes onto your tongue. You get peanut butter on saltine crackers after school. Dad used to use it to bait mouse traps and sometimes he would use it on his fishing lures said the fish had good taste. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the kids when we didn’t have a lot of other food to fill them up. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches in lunch pales at school. Peanut butter in cookies with the fork prints on the top. I always wondered why people put peanut butter in the groove of celery and passed it around at parties, strange. Even stranger, peanut butter pie. Used to be the oil would all float on the top and when you opened the jar it would spill all over then you would have to get a spoon and mix the oil back into it. Now it is homogenized or something like that so that does not happen anymore. That is a good thing.

    • Beverly Boyd says

      Hazel, I enjoyed all of your responses. Well done!
      My creativity has not usually expressed itself in tactile art, but I do have several pieces that were very satisfying that came from such a strong urge that I had to get out the children’s pastels and become the hand the inner me needed to express itself. One time I did not acknowledge the impulse that it was finished and ruined it by adding a few more strokes. I called that one “Ego getting in the way”

      Like you I had a patient father who loved to do things with his children by his side and taught me so much.

      I never passed peanut butter stuffed celery at parties, but, as long as I took the time to pull out the strings, my children loved celery with almost any spread you might put in a sandwich. I got my low-carb lunch and my quite normal veggie-phobic kids got some vegetables.

    • Eve says

      I loved your sprints Hazel. I especially loved the story about your dad & your first car. I love him & the kind of dad he is. Thanks for your post.

      • Hazel says

        Everybody loved my dad. At his funeral service the whole room was packed with standing room only. I don’t think he had any idea how much he was loved. He was a very simple man, uneducated, wise in the ways of practical things, and always very kind.

        I miss him!

    • Debbie says

      Hazel – this is a wonderfully written phrase:
      back across the bridge into silence where tongue is
      jailed behind clenched teeth”
      Each of your responses told such a great story. It is interesting how many similar peanut butter responses there are so far. Thanks for sharing.

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Hazel, I like that you said imperfections! I painted a tree in art class that was supposedly finished and I took it home. I brought it back last week, because I saw that I might improve it. So I spent the whole class doing just that. It looks better now, and I felt true joy while painting it!

  5. rosemary says

    wrinkles are curious sometimes the mirror in soft light protects this 70 year old from the reality and ther times, the stark light can reveal those facial afing signals for my eyes to behold. my wrinkled hands remind me of mom and as a writer, I am afraid of wrinkled hands that might interrupt the joy or writing.

    • Debbie says

      Rosemary – Welcome! What a special piece of writing. I often look at my hands and wonder at the age spots and swollen knuckles. But now I will also think of your words as well:
      “I am afraid of wrinkled hands that might interrupt the joy or writing.”
      Great line!

  6. Linda says

    Peanut Butter Ruff Draft
    peanut butter. that sweet sticky gooey concoction that sticks like paste to the roof of my dogs mouth. she sputters, throws her head from side to side, flashes her pearly white canines and looks up at me with warm loving eyes smiling at me as if I am the pure goddess of all treat-givers. the nearly empty container rolling around on the floor, with the sweet smell of childhood pasts drifting through the air. our dog takes another leap at it, then grasps it between her paws, as her tongue dives in for the last bit at the bottom. yes the simple things can make a moment magic. sometimes all it takes is a nearly empty peanut butter can and a grateful, playful spirit to make pure joy.

    • says

      Linda, I’ve enjoyed your writing for so long–it’s great to see some of it up here on the Roadmap blog. Thanks for joining our online community and I hope you keep coming back!

    • Eve says

      I loved the picture of utter ecstasy on your dog’s face. I should go give all three of my dogs a big dollop of almond butter right now & see if they too find the pure of joy of this.

    • Ilana says

      I have one word for you, Linda. “Delicious!” I loved the simple, pure, joy and love that you expressed in this piece. So glad you posted it. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      I also experience pure joy upon reading this story. I especially love “the sweet smell of childhood pasts drifting through the air.” That gave me a vivid picture of something in my life. Thanks, Linda.

    • Debbie says

      Linda – I really enjoyed how you described a simple scene imbuing it with such fun and pleasure. Thanks for sharing your peanut butter sprint with us!

      • Linda says

        Thank you all! I very much enjoy all of your writing as well! and yes, a little bit of sticky stuff goes a long way with a dog :)
        Laura, you are very welcome. I have enjoyed your promts for years as well!

  7. Eve says

    I betrayed myself. I thought this world was all supposed to revolve around me. I found out the hard way that indeed it was not. It took seeing beings burning on fire in my mirror for me to wake up to who I really was. Why would I have seen such a thing? Was it the lies I had told, the things I had stole, or was it the lives I had erased without thinking twice? Maybe it was the goddess pots or the crystals. Or maybe just the fact that I was so anti-religion at the time. I am not sure yet, but all of it went to the trash very shortly after I was given that glimpse.

    • Eve says

      I said all of IT went into the trash after the glimpse that I was given, but actually, all of ME had to go into the trash. I realized that what I thought I had already figured out about the world & myself had to be unlearned. That was on April 1st, 2006 & I am very thankful for the wake up call I was given on that morning. I believe that if it wasn’t for what He has done for me that I would have been the being that I saw burning in my mirror.

      • Debbie says

        Eve – clearly this moment in time was pivotal for you. I applaud your courage in “listening” and doing what was necessary to change your life for the better.

  8. Eve says

    I wonder if I will really have the balls to shave off all of my hair. It is as though it is a big deal. It is just hair, right? Why would I do such a thing? What will I tell my coworkers? What will I tell my patients? What will I tell my loved ones? How will I explain it to my friends? I am not sure all the answers to these questions. Here is what I am telling myself- I am doing this to remind myself what I am fighting for. When I begin the Gerson Therapy in full force very soon this will be a reminder to me of what & why I am doing this. I am in a battle for my health & my sanity. I am doing this as an advocate for my patients. They deserve to know that this therapy can heal them without making all of their hair fall out & poisoning their immune systems. They need to know that there is a way to heal the immune system. They need to know that there are therapies that are actually healing stage 4 cancer & everything in between that are being suppressed by our medical system.
    It is just hair, right?

    • Hazel says

      Yes, Eve, it is just hair. I wonder why it is we are so attached to it. We do know that it grows back, usually faster than we would like. Every time I get my hair cut or even trimmed my husband calls me “Baldy”. I get furious with him. I would like to wear my hair in a very short cut but it is not worth the fight I have to have with him. Why is that? I am not making a statement, I just would like to feel comfortable. Look at the lengths men are going to these days to re-grow their hair as it wants to fall out, which is the natural process. “It is just hair, right?”

      Well said Eve. You go girl!

      • Eve says

        Thanks Hazel. I’m going girl!!! It’s my hair and I will shave it if I want to. I am going to be bald & keep it bald for 3-6 months. If I really have the balls. It will make for some good writing, I’m sure.

    • Ilana says

      Eve- I really liked this piece because I found it so challenging. Yes, it is just hair but in a lot of ways it’s more than that, too. My hair is a huge part of my identity. Every two and a half years I lop off 10 inches to send to Locks of Love. It is a huge sacrifice for me but one I desperately need to make. It is just hair and the resounding fact is it’s YOUR hair and you have to do as you like with it. Whatever you decide to do, be proud to do it. It’s clear you are putting a lot of thought into your decision. I echo Hazel, you go girl! Thanks for posting IM

      • Eve says

        Can’t wait to read yours, Ilana. You are right, much of my identity has been caught up around my hair as well. My hair is very toxic though. I have been coloring it for the last 10 years or so. Now it is red & blue. The Gerson Therapy requires clearing out all of my sources of toxins and this is the most toxic part of me that I can think of. I would love to see my natural self again & heal my life too. It is two for one as far as I can see. I am sure that there will be some moments that I will feel like hating myself for this decision, but I must keep the end in mind and make that my focus here in the present. Reclaiming my health and becoming a health ambassador is my mission. I am standing up for global society & our right to thrive…

          • Eve says

            Thank you, Diana. I am just so glad to be freeing my voice. I do speak a brutal truth because I am trying to get myself to listen to me. I know what I should be doing, I am just having the hardest time actually doing it. I have known for 10 years now & still haven’t listened to my own Truth. I do remember daily that I am a work in progress & I remember to be gentle with me (sometimes). Ok, I may need a little more attention in that area of my life. I can be really hard on myself & others too, to be perfectly honest.

          • Eve says

            Right after I wrote my last post, this came to me from The Pocket Pema Chodron-

            Cultivate loving-kindness toward yourself

            Some people find the teachings I offer helpful because I encourage them to be kind to themselves. The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.

            This was the first time I have opened up this little book that was recommended by one of the nuns at Land of the Medicine Buddha back in December. I can see that she has some words of wisdom for all of us…

    • Debbie says

      Eve – I have secretly thought about shaving my head though I have never told anyone. Not for the courageous reasons you have identified but because it would be so much easier and I am curious as to what my head really looks like under all that hair. When one of my nieces, nephews or friend’s children come home with an over the top hair do – I am calm because it will always grow out, or back. Good luck to you whatever you decide to do

  9. Ilana says

    I just want to applaud all of you who have had the courage to post already. I found this prompt particularly challenging. My triumph for tonight is that I did a five minute sprint for each of the words on the list. In a few days I will pick one or two, edit a little bit and post. Laura, I heard your voice the whole time I was writing, as you said at the Memory to Memoir retreat “If you scratch out I WILL say something.” I am proud to say, I only deleted a little bit. (Not nearly as often as I wanted to 😉 ) Thanks for the challenge! I did a better job than I had thought I would. IM

  10. Ilana says

    Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter makes me think of candy and my children. They are behind me, at the table, laughing and rolling peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar into balls. Standing at the stove, I have melted the chocolate in my double boiler and poured a small pool of it into molds of various sizes and shapes. “Are they ready yet?” I call. “The big ones are, Mama. Do you want us to make little ones too?” I answer that I do but to give me the big ones first. A dish of ‘peanut butter balls’ is placed at my elbow and I carefully push them into the pools of chocolate. Then I cover it with more chocolate and put the mold into the freezer. In fifteen minutes we will have large heart shaped chocolates filled with peanut butter. Or maybe the smaller ones; stars or decorative circles. I love to pop a smaller one into my mouth and hold it there until the chocolate dissolves to reveal the decadent peanut butter center. The children find treats carefully wrapped in tinfoil, hidden in the bottom of their lunch boxes. Sometimes I place an enormous chocolate heart into their eager palms and take one for myself. The four of us bite into the heart and scoop out the peanut butter with our tongues. Perhaps their father will even join in and then all five of us will giggle and tease each other, as we devour the treat. Yes, for me peanut butter means deliciousness. Peanut butter means delight. Peanut butter is one of the many ways I say to my family “I love sharing my life with you”.

  11. Diana says

    I really enjoyed this exercise and surprised myself with what came to mind as I went through the list. Here is one entry and something I have not though about in decades.

    Initiation- rite of passage, privilege to enter the group- Jodie didn’t pass the initiation. He was not “officially” a fraternity brother. The end of fraternity/sorority hell week ended in a supposedly grueling initiation ceremony before a bonfire in the woods. There were the obvious silly initiation rites around campus. A pledge made to wear a dog collar and lease and toted around by a brother to do his bidding all week. The pledge that had to wear a sign that said “stupid” taped to his shirt all week. All things slightly humiliating with all of campus laughing but no real harm or long term damage done. The story with Jodie was different. He made it through pledging, through hell week only to not make it through initiation. He wound up in the hospital on the mental unit with “exhaustion”. His pledge class always claimed him as a brother even though he could not wear the fraternity colors and attend meetings. He was always around at parities. What happened to Jodie that night?

    • Ilana says

      Diana- This is beautiful. It really made me think. It also made me want to read more of the story. I wonder if that was exactly the purpose of this ‘five minute sprint’ exercise. Well done! IM

    • Debbie says

      Diana – interesting the memories that can return in an instant with a prompt. I found myself worried about Jodie. Sometimes mean things happened under the guise of “hazing”. It would be interesting for you to write more about what happened to Jodie.

  12. Ilana says

    Smile! Show us your pearly whites! What pearly whites? Yes, granted if I smile you cannot see all the flaws. I’d have to open my mouth wider for you to see the fillings that taint nearly every tooth. The back two on the left are crowns. This is where I hide my flaws. If I smile you’ll see the front teeth, the ones with porcelain fillings. I look normal. I look healthy. If I smile you may not see the hole in my heart or the year’s worth of tears that have been trapped in my chest because the sorrow has robbed me of my ability to cry. If I smile, then I can put on a show and you don’t have to see the black and broken parts of me. You won’t see the worries, the fears and the sorrow. You won’t see the shame, the anger and the hurt. My teeth look clean and pretty. They can hide my flaws and you don’t have to see the truth that so many people just don’t care to know. Sometimes when I am sick with anger and hurt I smile and examine my face in the mirror. Am I hiding it all? Do I look pretty? Do I look happy? Well enough. I shrug and plod on through the day. That smile goes on display as I laugh and joke with the women at the preschool. I hate them for not knowing how I truly feel inside. I hate myself for not telling them the truth. I hate society for making my pain such a point of shame and secrecy. One day I will stop hating, though. One day this pain will ease and I’ll have nothing to hide with my smile, nothing to be ashamed of. On that day, I will smile with pride, joy and peace. That smile will be the most beautiful, imperfect and wonderful smile I’ve ever worn.

    • Diana says

      wow all I can say is wow i love how you used the metaphor of the perfect front teeth hiding the flows of the imperfect back teeth

    • Debbie says

      “That smile goes on display as I laugh and joke with the women at the preschool. I hate them for not knowing how I truly feel inside”
      Ilana, this line just jumped off the screen at me. I have done this – smiled when I was in ruins and then resented those who could not tell it was fake. I also liked where you took us with the simple prompt of “teeth”. Well done to you as well!

    • Eve says

      I too have some jacked up back teeth that I can hide. I can hide the fact that I have eaten junk food for my whole life & now I am trying to turn it around, but am failing miserably. I love the junky stuff that has caused 20 or more cavities in my mouth, 2 root canals & a fixed chipped front tooth from where my dad slapped me into a brick wall. I got caught having sex with my boyfriend when I was 15 yrs old. I deserved to have the shit beat out of me & then dropped back off at my mom’s house. I am glad that I can still smile though, even when I do have to fake it. I love the shit eating grin that God has given me… Thanks for your truth & your piece, Ilana.

  13. Ilana says


    Hair makes me think of one thing, donations. I grow my hair out for two and a half years, then lop it all off and send it to Locks of Love. Then I cry all the way home. Okay, I don’t really cry but I feel sad. I feel a loss. And yet I feel good. I have done something for someone else. For the next year I can be caught pulling at my hair, willing it to grow. I hate my hair short. I feel beautiful when it finally grows long enough to be straightened and flow down my shoulders. Yesterday I wore it down to Zumba class and tossed it with each turn, delighting in the way it flew around me. Still, I knew that it was mine only for the time being. Another year and four months and I’ll be donating it again. Why do I do this? Because the need in me to give is stronger than the need to have long flowing hair. There are little girls who have gone bald as a result of disease. I am so fortunate to be healthy. I HAVE to give to people who are not. I have no choice, it is what I need to do. I give my blood too. Every other Friday I sit with a needle in my arm, most often for more than two hours at a time. The machine takes my blood pulled out the platelets and then puts it back in my arm. It’s painful and time consuming and yet I can’t not do it. Honestly, if the blood bank would allow me to, I’d donate every week. I truly don’t understand why my need to give these two parts of my being is so intense. I only know that it is and that there is no point in questioning it, no point in judging. I only know that I have to honor that need and love myself for it.

  14. Ana says

    Betrayal: Betrayal, huh. Used to be a time when I had plenty to say about this subject. I probably could muster up a name or two…or three, of persons who betrayed me. But right now, at 7:02am Saturday, I can’t really think of one. Or perhaps it is that it takes a level of anger, or resentment, or hate to go there. Goodness, if I wake up in that state, then I’m in bad shape. Not saying I wake up all hunky dory (hmm, is that how it’s spelled?) every morning. Certainly when I’m consumed with disatisfaction over work, I not only go to bed with it but I wake with it. But this morning, I just woke up, opened the blinds so the cats could look out, and am waiting for the full of lightness to come up. Betrayal: there are so many reasons why people do it..I’ve never known it to not be wedded to some kind of fear, selfrighteous anger, or the belief that your owed something in the world.

    Wrinkles: I LOVE MY WRINKLES! I’ve always wanted to travel and yes, take photographs of the sites, but be one of those photographers who really knows how to take pictures of people and captures their essence. There’s something about the essence of wrinkles that are beautiful to me. It’s like the rings in a tree stump…if only that tree stump could talk and tell us what it has seen, what it has felt. I love my wrinkles, their like the grey hairs in the corner of a man’s temples, or the full boddied grey hair of a woman. We’re talking distinguished here! Wrinkles are the valleys that form from my experiences. So, I would love to photograph the experiences of people throughout the world by their wrinkles. Well, I’m having a wrinkle right now, I still have one minute to go and I’m running out of wrinkles to talk about…oh my cats, my beautiful lucien and sasha, they have wrinkles! I think…I’ll have to look, I know they are greying…my husband would not be surprised if he found me writing on a blog “talking” about my cats supposedly wrinkles…he knows I never stop thinking of my kids. Why shouldl I.

    Imperfections: Why do people think imperfections are not acceptable. I am from the camp that not only imperfections are perfect but it is in the grotesque one sees beauty. Maybe it’s the way I grew up? Only once do I remember being able to explain this very well, poetically one might say, succinct. Imperfections also create some kind of roadmap, if not for oneself, for others. Perhaps because of the abuse growing up I’ve grown to see so many things in the opposite way. I’ve grown to see…I’ve grown to have a more…I’ve grown to be more sensitive about imperfections, more sensitive of things that others are ready to brand as not beautiful. If we didn’t have imperfections what would we have???

    Hair: Long beautiful, here baby, there mama, everywhere hair, hair, hair, hair!! Boy when I was a kid I remember hereing that song all the time, and I connected with it because it had me in it. I had (and still do) have long hair, curly waivy hair, and my sign is Aquarious. That song made me feel free, a part of, beautiful…I would sign it at the top of my lungs with my hair untied and shake it all around. And when the lyrics “Leeeet the sun shine, Leeet the sun shine in, the suuun shine in” I’d be in tears, and raise my hands waiting for the sun of the song to fill me to the bone. I’m blanking out on the name of the song, but hair is definateley in it, I’ll look for it after I’m done here.

    Teeth: My mother was not a fan about going to the doctor, she went but with this fear of getting something. When it came to her health, on the one had she never wanted to become ill, on the other hand she was deplorable with self care. All this to say…she walked around never wanting to be sick enough that she would need to go to the hospital and be cut open. She wanted to die intact, I remember her telling me. That did not come to pass, having had heart surgery and later cancer. But those messages stuck and as I’ve gotten older I find myself in fear, not necessarily of being cut open, as I’ve had surgery for my fibroids…and I’m not saying I’m a fan of having surgery. But, I find myself saying I want to die with my teeth. There’s a part of me that’s terrified of losing my teeth. But, not unlike my mother (history truly does repeat itself) I find times when I’m not doing a good job of brushing, or I go to bed without brushing, or I leave the house in a rush in the mornings without brushing…so, who’s not taking self care seriously now, especially if I want to die with them. I have all my teeth so far, including my wisdom teeth. I’ve had dentists want to remove them for no apparent reason…well I have my tonsels too, and their not going to get that either!

    Joy: Joy’s a tough one. I always wondered whether people named Joy are joyous…probably not all the time. Joy was something I did not have growing up. I’ve had to work for Joy. Seems said to say but true. I certainly feel Joy with my kitty cats, I feel Joy when I’m playing my tamberine, or my harmonica, or my piano…badly. I think the badly’s the key, because I”m just having fun. Hmm…maybe that’s what joy is? A recipe of unconditional love coupled with the act of suspending judgement. Sounds good to me. Joy is a celebration too, I think. There’s no reason for me not to have joy today. I’ve earned it. The sun’s coming up. I can see my neighbors front lawn being touched by it, and the side of the house next door being touched by sun too. I bet if I look out my back window, the sparrows are pecking at the seeds between the grass blades that are cracking through the snow….that’s joy.

    Peanut butter: Oh my god…So give me (though it’s not supposed to be healthy for you anymore) a piece of Wonder Bread. A fresh piece, then smear it with some PB…most people like both sides smeared, I’m a fan of just one side. A smear that’s thick enough to exercise the jaw, but not so thick that you have a glob of PB in your mouth. After spreading the PB, take your hand, or two paper plates, but the sandwich in between, and mash it! I mean really mash that up, squeeze it together until that bread is as flat as can be. Eat the edges first, the crust never really made much sense to me, then proceed with tiny bites all around until your final piece is a rouind circle of flat bread the size of a coin. This was my ritual. This was joy. This was nuts to everyone else…but who cares. It was a tradition between me and my PB, and I loved it! (Also with mayonnase sandwiches.)

    Hunger: I went hungry plenty of times growing up. No child should go hungry. Come to think of it, no one should. Hunger is a tough topic for me. I guess I don’t have to really force this. When I’m hungry now I eat…and I try to eat no more than up to the point where I’m satisfied. If I find I’ve gone past satisfying my hunger point, and I sit back and really feel where I’m at, then I’m probably gorging?, grabbing at more than just food. Blank, blank, blank, blank, I’ll keep typing until another hunger thought comes…I wonder if animals feel the same. You think they stop to think that they’ve had enough? Or do they keep going till they fall over from over eating. But wait! Are we talking hunger for food? What about hunger for something????? I hunger for music, I hunger to be seen sometimes, I hunger for peace, I hunger for lots of other things. Last night I was with a bunch of people celebrating an anniversary and we were all laughing and telling stories and honoring this anniversary and those moments, I hunger for them. I hunger for that kind of community all the time.
    Initiation: Interesting word. It conjures up a feeling more than a definition. It conjures up the image of me initiating something, but the feeling behind it is force. When I initiate things I’m not always a delicate flower. It is with a goal of completion, a drive. Somehow I’m not quite comfortable with this word. Perhaps it’s a mirror of some sort, something I do that doesn’t necessarily…I don’t know…feel right? The word also conjures up other words: pride, ego. I want to say I’m not sure why these don’t feel right either, but I probably do. Perhaps I’m confusing initiation with initiate? Are they the same? Initiation, does that mean to induct someone into something? To initiate is to being something, right? Funny how words just take us in directions one doesn’t expect…but there it is.

    First car: I’m a real city girl so I don’t drive, but I have two dream cars. On is your old fashioned station wagon. I’d like a white one, with wood paneling on the side. Now, my husband is a total gear head and when he found out what kind of car I like he laughed. He said those cars weighed a tone…and the wood paneling? Faux. I always thought that paneling was real but it wasn’t. That’s o.k., he didn’t bum me out. I still love that car. Something about packing all your stuff and going on a road trip. Maybe it was all the movies I saw as a kid with station wagons in them. Nevertheless…. The other is a Chrysler New Yorker…also with wood paneling on side, except this one’s a convertible. A navy blue with wood paneling. Phew! It doesn’t get any better than that. A 1954 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country Convertible. It’s a beauty…oh no…shhhhh don’t tell my husband, he might think I’ve turned into a gear head and drag me to all sorts of car shows. I suppose there are worse things.

    • Ana says

      Actually all the lyrics that I was remembering were a combination of three different songs from the Broadway show HAIR: Aquarius, The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In), and of course Hair. Here are the lyrics to Hair:

      She asks me why, I’m just a hairy guy I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why, don’t know It’s not for lack of bread, like the Greatful Dead, darlin’

      Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hairShining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxenGive me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longerHere baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy Hair, flow it, show it Long as God can grow, my hair

      Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the treesGive a home to the fleas, in my hairA home for fleas, a hive for the buzzing beesA nest for birds, there ain’t no words For the beauty, splendor, the wonder of my hair

      Flow it, show it Long as God can grow, my hair
      I want long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, mattyOily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxenKnotted, polka dotted, twisted, beaded, braidedPowered, flowered and confettiedBangled, tangled, spangled and spahettied

      Oh say, can you see my eyes if you canThen my hair’s too shortDown with here, down to thereDown till there, down to where it’s stuck by itself

      They’ll be ga-ga at the go-go, when they see me in my togaMy toga made of blond, brilliantined, biblical hairMy hair like Jesus wore it, Hallelujah I adore it Hallelujah Mary loved her son, why don’t my mother love me?

      Hair, flow it, show it Long as God can grow My hair, flow it, show itLong as God can grow My hair, flow it, show itLong as God can grow My hair

    • Debbie says

      Ana – Oh my! How I really enjoyed your sprints!! I knew the songs you were mentioning because I sang them all as well. Glad you already found them from HAIR! I love how you took us in a different direction with hunger – didn’t think of that perspective at all. That is why I so enjoy this blog – so many creative people! Thanks for sharing your work with us.

  15. Dianne Brown says

    BETRAYAL. It happened just a few weeks ago. That beautiful organ—my brain, it betrayed me when I was least expecting it.
    I was packing up 9 huge boxes of educational materials for a workshop in San Diego. I had them all labeled and off with UPS way ahead of the needed date. Then yesterday the bomb dropped . . . I had forgotten to put a small, teeny-weeny part of their order in the box. This was the unforgivable sin—the unexplainable mishap with an order that I was being very, very careful with to have perfect so there could not possible be a complaint about our service.
    The woman who owns the business and who was so insistent on perfection for this, of all orders, was livid. My ability and memory and my . . . yes, my age came into question.
    How could that wonderful brain of mine have let me down at such a crucial time? How could I have forgotten to add that item to the shipment? I was betrayed by what I thought was my best friend—my brain. My mind is perfect, but the organ it operates in seems to have some glitches regarding its flexibility and well, my memory capacity.
    Luminosity claims that we have what is called “neuroplasticity” which means we can whip our brains back into shape with certain exercises. So I signed up for a year with this group and am starting to do my daily exercises. I don’t know if anyone has ever had any real success with it, but I love games and challenges, and I find that if I do a few hand-eye coordination games before I start to write, my writing really does flow more magically.
    I still feel betrayed at the one and only shipment that needed to be perfect to prove that we were professional people and not just a few fly-by-night menopausal women working in a garage. (I think of Steve Jobs—just the garage part.) Why did it have to be that order that got screwed up?
    But . . . BUT, I am encouraged by what lies behind door number two and all the wonders I expect to receive from my newly flexible, neuroplastic gray matter.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Dianne, I love this story. I get it because my mind has been showing up late a bit too often. I’m sorry about that piece left out of the shipment; it would’ve bothered me as well. My memory for details–something I’ve always been proud of–has been slipping up given my stress levels. I’m dragging my feet on math stuff and wanting to live at Luminosity. I’m glad that it is helpful to you. Sometimes, I play Texas Holdem poker (with play $$) to engage my brain in a different way. It helps! Don’t give up on your magnificent mind.

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Terry, I appreciate your encouragement and I shall not give up . . . may even try the poker for kicks!

    • Debbie says

      Dianne – a unique view of betrayal – thank you. I wish you great success in flexing your new neuroplasticity!!

      • Diana says

        I love this story of needing perfection from yourself and not getting it at the crucial moment. Well done.

  16. Dianne Brown says

    WRINKLES now seem to play a bigger role in my daily ritual in front of my mirror. My face seems to be faring OK, but it seems the buttocks are a bit on the saggy side. I am sure if I did my lunges faithfully, I could tighten up some of that, and then when I stand in front of the mirror in profile, it may appear to be less wrinkled.
    My mother had beautiful skin and even in her 80s, her face was remarkably wrinkleless.
    I saw a photograph of my Dad’s mother and father. Grandpa Tony was 44 and Anna was 40. She was pregnant with my father at that time. They stood in their tobacco patch, and I swear to you they looked like the couple in the American Gothic painting. I titled the photo Rural Southern Indiana Gothic, and I used it in my book. The thing is that they both were farmers and spent the days outside in the sun. Neither of them lacked in vitamin D, but they both had leathery wrinkled skin.
    I don’t think wrinkles are our enemy, or even a harbinger of anything dreadful. I think they are proof of our having lived and are still living to tell the story. I give us all a Medal of Honor and Valor for having earned our wrinkles—wherever they are on our body. So here’s to proof of being alive and “still crazy after all these years. “ (Thanks Paul Simon.)

  17. Frances Talamantes says

    BETRAYED Suppose when my ex left me. I felt that I was married for life. That was not in his plans.
    WRINKLES Yes, yes I have them. Can’t say that I am really proud of them. They just come as we age and that is it. Just life happening.
    IMPERFECTION Yes, to these. I have them but the good part is that when you age they don’t bother you like they did when you were younger. I just watch them and say OH WELL do better next time.
    HAIR I actually have nice hair. I never realized it until a few years ago, People have made comments and I thought maybe I do.
    TEETH I think my look fine. I do need to take better care of them than I do.
    JOY I feel that I am older that I have more joy in my life. It is so nice to not
    have all of the problems you had to contend with.
    PEANUT BUTTER Oh, goodness this is one of the best foods in the world. I am just so saddened that I cannot eat my fill of it like veggies.
    HUNGER Now that I am on Weight Watchers I do feel hunger and that feels good. Tired of stuffed feeling.
    FIRST CAR A Ford Mustang. I bought it because I liked all of the cute dials.

    • says

      Frances–welcome to the Roadmap Blog! I’m sorry it took me a while to “approve” your first post–that’s something I have to do for everyone. I try to do it right away, but I’m teaching this weekend at Esalen and I’ve only had one hour or Internet access the whole weekend! But welcome–and I hope you share your words with us many times to come!

    • Debbie says

      Frances – welcome to the blog. Great list – thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing sprints with us. Come back again!

  18. Terry Gibson says

    Betrayal – This is a tough pill to swallow. It is like watching Locked Up Abroad and those stupid and/or ruthless drug dealers who act as a mule and dip capsules of heroine in oil to swallow them. On an episode last week, I watched this longhaired blonde guy start consuming the drugs twelve full hours before his flight. He swallowed them, gagged, and vomited, but continued until he finished all sixty-two pellets. His body told him to STOP. Of course, he did not; in fact, he even smoked hash while doing this. Does a total zombie draw attention going through customs in any port? At some point, you bet. Repeatedly he did it—until the Japanese authorities finally caught him with it on his person, not in his gut. This last betrayal of himself landed him in jail for five years in Tokyo.

    Sometimes I ignore signals that I am being betrayed and reluctantly inhale bits of the truth. I don’t stop because I NEED to wear blinders. The truth is too unthinkable. Too unbearable. Can I survive it? I always wonder but always do.

    • Hazel says

      Good analogy, I think I always feel betrayed the most when I have believed and/or wanted something to be what it was not really. I think deep down I know. So, betrayal is disappointment carried to the next level.

      • Diana says

        Hi Terry,
        I sometimes watch that show too. I get annoyed at how gullible some of the people are. But I guess we are all like that sometimes, ignoring the signs in others or ourselves of the betrayal to come. Good connection you made between the two subjects; the people in the stories and the acts of betrayal.

    • Debbie says

      Terry – this is an especially powerful line
      “Sometimes I ignore signals that I am being betrayed and reluctantly inhale bits of the truth.”
      I think we survive because it is the best alternative – and because there is this spark of life in us that does not want the darkness to win.

  19. Terry Gibson says

    Hair – I’ve got weird hair. It has the red pigment of my Scottish/Irish/English heritage and it has a tendency to be thick. It also flies up from the ears on either side when growing out after a fresh cut; it ends up looking like I’m wearing Sally Field’s hat in the Flying Nun. How I hate it when those curls pop up and won’t behave for weeks. I’ve coloured my hair many times and just a year ago decided to stop using all those toxins on my head. Has it helped? My hair is healthier than ever, very soft, and strong. When I was about 18, I remember going to my first male hairdresser in Trenton. I got the most popular hairstyle of the time for my long hair, one that Farrah Fawcett unabashedly copied for her show. I still have the picture even though it is fading fast, camera quality back then. I want to shave my head. Very much. I want to be okay with doing that. To share with a friend who will lose all of her hair. I’m not afraid of being bald, though I’m not sure my partner will like it. At least I wasn’t born with impossibly curly hair. I wish I was though because I find it sexy.

    Peanut butter – I hate the smell of peanut butter on the breath of anyone who kisses me. Always did. I don’t know why I had to say that; obviously somebody used to bug me that way: I mean, “Brush your teeth first, please.” Aside from that, I love peanut butter, although it’s way too fattening to enjoy often. As I write this, I can smell peanut butter cookies baking in the oven; of course, there are none there. I’m just enjoying the thought.

    First car – I got my first car when I was 18. It was a Bellaire, which was like a huge light blue boat. It was impossible to park and an odd-looking beast. With a real choice, I would never have bought that kind of car; I would have chosen my second car, a Peugeot. However, it was mine. I loved the ability to go wherever I wanted. It was amazing. Today, I would give anything for my own car. I’d love to take off to Spanish Banks or Sunset Beach any time I want. I want to see the rest of Canada and then the States—to explore everywhere. In my car, I commuted back and forth to work as a waitress in one of the Brockport hotels. I loved being free, feeling it, savouring it, no matter how fleeting. That was good enough then and is probably the same today.

    • Debbie says

      Terry – this post reminded me of the freedom of getting your first car. The desire to jump in and hit the road has never really left me. On a whim, it seems, I can take off to some new place I have never been. Last January, I packed up my sweet dog, and we drove across the country together, headed to our new life, the next chapter. I also shared in a earlier comment how I have been tempted at times to shave my head. Haven’t mustered up the nerve to date, though.

  20. Terry Gibson says

    Wrinkles – I find wrinkles sexy. Why? To me, they suggest all the experience that person has. Women’s voices get deeper as they age, sultrier. Men’s voices are deep but we don’t expect that from most women, unless they are cigarette smokers. I lived with a smoker for 18 years, used to find the smell of smokes appealing in some way. Each strike of the match gave me back a wispy memory of my rebellious phase, which never really ended. I am so happy my partner quit two years ago. Although she smoked for twenty-nine years, I hope that choice will save her from the cancer, which killed my Dad. She looks a bit healthier now and as I see the crow’s feet at her eyes, I am often taken aback; we were so young when we met. I allow myself a glance in the mirror too. The criss-cross lines are on my face as well. I like them on others. Still, generally, I cannot tolerate my face, let alone it with marked signs of aging upon it. I’m working on this. But let’s forget all that. What a wrinkle the sexiness of aging evokes!

    • Ilana says

      Terry- This was my favorite of all your sprints. I love the idea of wrinkles being sexy, rather than a flaw. I love the idea of getting sexier, better with age, rather than just worn out. I told Zander that he’d better love my wrinkles because every one of them came from laughing at his jokes. Not exactly true, plenty of them are from worries, stress and anxiety but to take a page from your book, “Let’s forget all that.” Right now what I want to think about is your beautiful declaration that we get sexier with age. Thanks for posting it! IM

  21. Debbie says

    Betrayal: Pain, tears, no more trust, chasms of deceit, only hurts because you let yourself be vulnerable, inevitable, wondering if it is ever forgivable, sometimes in the eyes of the beholder, is it betrayal if I warned you it would happen? The ultimate risk we must face in loving someone, the dark fear we must conquer

    Wrinkles: a lifetime etched in skin, soft – no softening of a face, roadmaps of loss, reflection of days spent outside in wild abandon, formed by wind, worries and wisdom, when they are missing the face looks like a blank sheet of paper, I always loved her wrinkles – they made her face so much more interesting, not the enemy

    Imperfections: more than anyone realizes, piling up over the years of bad decisions and mistakes, learning to love my own like never before, reframing them as quirks versus imperfections, am very empathic to their existence in others just not me, exist as a backdrop to help us recognize beauty, there is never perfection

    Hair: straight, fine, limp. Such a sensual treat when thick, luxurious, blowing in the wind. A glimpse into the health and past of your life, short, long, curly, colored, blown dry, tucked up, in a pony tail, she almost always wore a ponytail, graying, thinning, missing in some cases, except on my chin where it grows thick and dark, like mutant fly hairs

    Teeth: sensitive, sharp, smooth, need to see the dentist, pain with certain foods, swollen gums, support your smile, amazing white teeth, anyone can have white teeth these days, unless you have sensitive teeth, hate to go to the dentist, always hurts even with the shots, and the shots always hurt! One growing in crooked, very discordant when they are missing

    Joy; She dances for me when I am sublime, the ultimate measure of your life- did you bring it to others, did you allow it into your own life, a hummingbird, sunset over the ocean, holding hands as you walk together along life’s path, just holding hands, being content in today, letting go of expectation, seeing the mystery surrounding you, embracing life

    Peanut Butter: and jelly on wheat bread, the go-to meal when your pantry is empty or the bank account low, with apples to make a special treat, on pancakes or french toast to freak out your family, stuck to the top of your mouth and then trying to talk, laughing at the funny words, the sure way to get my dog to take a pill, the universal food of childhood

    Hunger: I don’t trust it. I don’t know how to recognize true hunger. I eat for all sorts of reasons; time of day, enchanting smells, proximity to food, to calm anxiety, to celebrate, to soothe away the sadness, to keep the armor in place preventing intimacy. So few times have I ever really been physically hungry. My heart aches for those who endure this empty gnawing all the time.

    Initiation: getting started, “fresh eyes”, catalyst, at the beginning, full of hope and anticipation, rite of passage, bestowed by others, can one initiate oneself? Opening to a new way of being, of living, of loving, of thinking, of being.

    First Car: No I won’t ask my husband to co-sign the loan, a cute little convertible all my own! My first car, I am going to drive until it is warm enough to drop the top (in November) – ended up in Key West, pride of ownership, wind in my hair, how it handled on those winding mountains roads, Friday afternoons slipping out of Atlanta headed to Florida for the weekend, in my 27th year, the summer of my adolescence.

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- I loved the cadence, the feeling behind these sprints. That seemed to connect them all to each other. Each little bit of wisdom you gave us had your special brand of music to it. I’m so glad I have enjoyed your writing long enough to recognize it. Nice job! IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Debbie, You are so eloquent here. I love these quotes the most:

      “… is it betrayal if I warned you it would happen?
      “Such a sensual treat when thick, luxurious, blowing in the wind.”
      “My heart aches for those who endure this empty gnawing all the time”.
      “Joy; She dances for me when I am sublime, the ultimate measure of your life …”
      “Can one initiate oneself?”
      “Friday afternoons slipping out of Atlanta headed to Florida for the weekend, in my 27th year, the summer of my adolescence.”
      I love how you present your ideas and musings, Your ideas and how you convey them, is really special. Thanks!

  22. Bobbie Anne says

    When I was young, my mother cut our hair. There were seven of us, so it was necessary at the time to cut expenses. I would like to offer this tip: Try not to let your mother cut your hair when she is mad at your father. Other than that, It’s no big deal.

    My older sister disagreed with me. She had long luxurious dark hair cascading in waves about her shoulders. She took up the most time in the bathroom and you could hear the hum of her hair dryer every day. I had to be careful not to get my hand burned on her hot curling iron. I must say the end results were worth it for her.

    My father teased her and said he would come by while she was sleeping and cut off her precious locks and give her a ‘baldie’. She looked horrified until I told her that he was only joking.

    The worst day for her was when it was time for her to get a haircut. How she dreaded the day. She’d hide or go over our grandma’s house just to avoid getting her hair clipped. Eventually, she succumbed to the big day with great anxiety. I told her to relax and breathe. How bad could it be? She told me I just didn’t understand. I mentioned it was just hair. She shook her head as her dark curls fell perfectly into place. I told her I would hold her hand when it was her turn. When she sat in the chair and closed her eyes as my mother cut off her treasured tresses, she let out a smail whimper. Then she cried. As the tears rolled down her cheeks, I squeezed her hand and softly said ” Of course you know it grows back, and it will be just as beautiful”. She smiled through her tears. And it did. So all was well until the next time hair cutting day came around. Here we go again…

  23. Talia says

    Hi All,

    I was talking to my older brother about the writing prompts. In illustration I sent this sprint list. I am posting his creation here because I thought it was clever.

    My hair, teeth, and skin offer only betrayal, imperfections. Is it wisdom my wrinkles attest? or the joy of a child’s hunger smeared with peanut butter, of a teenager’s first car, or of a novitiate’s initiation to a sacrament?

    • says

      Hi Talia, Thanks for your post here….that is a short response to the prompt, that’s for sure! Just want you to know that the group tends to move on to the current week’s prompt, so probably this won’t get read much…but thanks for posting and I hope to see you in this week’s prompt as well!

  24. beverly Boyd says

    Your brother is very clever.
    My college English writing teacher sometimes gave a list of words and we were to use all of them in the same piece. He got them all in twobrief sentences!
    I still remember learning the word “palimpsest” to include in one of those writings!

  25. Celeste says

    Ten. The number of reasons I had for killing him.
    Five. The quantity of bullets on my gun.
    One. The chances I had.
    I didn’t realize I was there. Glancing through his window I saw the face of that disgusting man who claimed to be my friend. And empty program was on the t.v., while he was sitting on the leather couch with a glass on his hand and a grin on his face.
    I couldn’t believe he was happy. Not after what he had done to me, to HER. My dearest one.
    Suddenly, my memory was flooded with images of her body laying on the street, staring to the nothingness, with a knife stabbed on her chest… Just for a few dollars…
    The last thing he saw was the cold iron against his head. Only one shot. I sat on that old black couch and lifted the frozen beer to my shrivelled face, swallowing down the bitter drink as if it were my hatred.

    • says

      Celeste, I don’t know if this is fiction or memoir, but you had me from the beginning and all the way through the piece. You did a great job. In just a few lines, you really made me care about your narrator. I was completely engaged in her world and her story.

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