1. Paula Hill says

    It was in early Spring, a time of new beginnings….a time when the small seed bursts from the husk sending delicate tendrils through the soils, reaching for the cosmic light and warmth. My daughters were at the sweet ages of four and ten years old, innocent to the fallibilities that life can bring, and with eyes that noticed bees amid the colorful flowers that began to bloom in our garden.

    The day was warm in this particular week near Easter. The waves on the sea had a sparkle that lured us to walk on the shore’s edge a block from where we lived. Life was idyllic, and I breathed the salty air as if it would last forever. Later, we walked up to the corner store for popsicles. With our treats in hand, we stood waiting for the corner signal to change. Coincidentally, my husband drove through the intersection, but he didn’t notice us for a reason that ended our marriage later that evening. In one volcanic explosion that had been silently hidden in the underworld of our lives, I watched him turn his car down the street away from our home and towards the home of the woman sitting in the seat beside him.

    The normal, familiar breath sucked out sending half of me bursting from the shell of my skin where the dark color of shock hovered around my body as a shadowy ghost. The months that followed lingered like sticky glue on sandpaper. Seeking my motherly warmth and some hint of a spark in my eyes, my daughters would crawl into my bed, each cuddling up to a side of me. Try as I could, my arms felt limp and lifeless, inept in giving them the comfort they needed.

    The days languished on into summer. The daily care of my two daughters had grounded me to earth enough to cook, drive and read goodnight stories. The tending of the garden had teased the shadow back into my body. My breath registered the soothing warmth that entered my lungs, and perhaps due to mere logistics, my heart turned to the piano that had stood silent in its corner for quite some time.

    As though an angel sat beside me on the piano bench, I listened to the voice that hovered in the ethers surrounding me and proceeded to mimic the delicious song on the ivory keys of my antique baby grand piano. Surprisingly, more music flowed in on a torrential tide, as though a gift from heaven to express my grief in the ecstasy of creative play. I began to heal….with each song, I felt an uplifting “high” from the depths of Dante’s Descent….and I healed… My daughters would lie on the couch and listen, sometimes falling asleep….and I believe, they began to heal as well because to this day, many years since, they never seem to tire of hearing those compositions.

    • Linda says

      Wow. Great job. The imagery worked well for me and I really like that is made me think as I read it — especially “…didn’t notice us for a reason that ended our marriage”. Sad and painful stuff but I like the way you handled it in your narrative.

      • Paula Hill says

        Thank you, Linda, for your very thoughtful feedback….So far this week, it feels like we’re the only two visitors of a ghost town’s journal….hee!

    • Laura Davis says

      Paula, as you know I’m traveling with Lizzy this week. Today is the first time I’ve had a chance to read these posts….what a story. I’m so glad the piano gave you solace at such a time.

    • Debbie says

      Paula – I have goosebumps! – both from the depth of the emotions you shared and the mystical images of support you created. How could your daughters not respond to such a beautiful way of healing? Thank you for this powerful glimpse into a difficult time,

    • Ilana says

      Paula- I loved this. What really caught my attention was how positive everything was until the moment you saw the car. You helped the reader experience the moment the way you did, rather than giving away the ending right away. I also appreciated your imagery, of an angel sitting next to you and your mimicking the ‘delicious song’. You tell a bittersweet story in a way that is enjoyable to read.

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Paula, I found your story to be well written and I liked the imagery. How wonderful you were able to heal by playing your piano.

  2. Alexis says

    As a foster child I found myself moving in on various families. There were typically two types of families that took in foster children. The “I don’t care what you do, so long as you are here when the social worker visits” type and the “You are going to wear the cloths I pick out for you, your part will be on the right, and you will speak properly from now on,” type.
    I realized quite early that I was either a little extra money on the side or a personal Barbie doll for a control freak. This situation was very difficult emotionally and I had to find a “safe” way of venting. Safe means not exposing my vulnerability and not harming others or myself. It was during thease times that my poetry would flow. I would captivate my teary eyed audience and leave them pleading for more. They were usually classmates that felt the same as I, only they lived with their natural parents.
    I came to realize that being a teen is tough no matter what your circumstances are. I also learned that there is a place for everyone, a home, a sense of belonging. Now that I have my home I find it difficult to write poetry with such passion. I no longer have pent up anger or raw emotions. I also find that for the life of me I cannot recall one of those many poems.

    • Debbie says

      Alexis –
      I am so glad that you joined the blog this week. Your post provides a glimpse into a childhood that is foreign to me. I am also very impressed with the calm tone and sense of perspective you bring to the past events. Perhaps the poetry of the past has fallen away to make room for the gifts you have to share today? Thank you for sharing your post with us!

    • Ilana says

      Alexis- Very powerful. Thank you for a glimpse into a world that I am not familiar with. You made me uncomfortable and that is a good thing.

  3. beverly Boyd says

    At first I had a hard time relating to this prompt. I’ve become familiar with a place I have been . It is totally in the moment and feels just the opposite of what i think of as being “unseated”.

    I listened to Paula’s piano story and remembered how important my own was. I played the piano a lot and quite well as a teenager, but I never created any of my own songs. The piano was important to me to release pent up emotion. My mother didn’t allow us to express anger; I think she was afraid of her own!

    So when I was angry or frustrated I went to the piano and started playing “Rustles of Spring” as loud and as fast as I could. Then I worked my way though my favorites in “59 Piano Solos You Like to Play” until I got to “Andante Cantabile”. Everything else has slipped away and I was just enjoying the music.

    Once when I told my younger sister about it, she said she knew that was what I was doing…and…she wished could learn to play as loud and fast as I did!

    • Debbie says

      Beverly –

      I am both captivated by and envious of being able to express your emotions through playing the piano. My mother played beautifully, artistically, like you and Paula describe. I took lessons, developed a deep appreciation for the unique beauty of piano – but never progressed beyond the skill of the technician who usually hits the right keys but lacks the ability to convey emotion and art. Thanks for sharing this remembrance!

  4. Debbie says

    The “art” living inside me has been incubating for a very long time. My conscious mind carefully perched over the delicate egg of inner creative desires like a doting hen afraid to leave the nest lest the life contained within break forward without her.

    The bumpy, washed out road of the last twelve months finally jostled the two apart. Protective ego separated from unexpressed art, creating the distinct possibility that the egg would be scrambled along the way as it repeatedly bumped up against the harsh realities of change. A miraculous moment happened, though, when the finally unseated “art” begin the inevitable tumble from the previous place of safety. Instead of splintering against the hardness, this new life took flight on previously undiscovered wings of freedom.

    Giddy with new perspective, creativity followed instinct to discover a delicate garden of others who had also found new vision through their art. Some flew with wild abandon, confidence flowing from every pen stroke. Others moved more tentatively, like me, continually testing how far, how high, how long these new wings would sustain them. Gliding together in an unscripted choreography of support and common understandings, they gave of their individual gifts to create a community tapestry of unparalleled beauty.

    Mother Hen, at times, can still be heard clucking away, shaking her head. But it is getting fainter, fading into the compost of personal biography. Now, It is the wings that are getting stronger.

    (Submitted with deep appreciation, admiration and respect for those “others” in this wondrous garden!

    • Paula Hill says

      Mighty fine, Debbie…..I especially loved…”….fading into the compost of personal biography.” Thank you…..

    • Ilana says

      Wow Debbie. I don’t know what to say. Yes, the imagery and metaphors are stunning and you held to your comparison of the art to an egg and the timid artist as a protective mother hen beautifully but this has so much more than quality of writing. I feel personally honored by your piece and feel the same way about all of you. Thank you for this beautiful piece. IM

  5. Ilana says

    I suppose now is a good a time as any to come clean. Though, no one else knows that what I am doing is wrong. I have experimented with telling people about my secret addiction but they always go easy on me. Even my therapist says that it’s perfectly healthy; a creative way of using my writing to access the different parts of my psyche and personality to sooth myself and solve my problems.

    Still, I do it when no one else is around. I feel like a drug addict sneaking a fix when no one is looking and hoping that nobody can see what I’ve been doing when I go back into public. I get a quick high between putting away the whites and going back downstairs to begin folding the next load of laundry. Not that I’d really know. I’ve never tried any kind of drug besides alcohol and then in moderation. But that’s what it feels like; an inescapable craving, a need, deep within me.

    I am speaking, of course, about my secret journal. This is a very special journal and if someone were to find out about it and say that I was crazy, I would agree with them. Tell me any other author (published or unpublished) does this and I will say he or she is crazy too. Do you want to know what my secret is? I’ll tell you if you’ll try to be gentle with me. Are you ready? Here it comes. I talk to my characters. Most of the time it’s one character, in particular; my lovely, magnificent, John. He was the first of my characters that I fell in love with. John is based on my husband, Zander. He is everything wonderful and beautiful about my Zander and so much more. He’s also everything I love about myself, when I manage to find self love. John is 45 years old and his wife, Lily is 47. They are supposed to be Zander and me, ten years from now. Ten years older, ten years wiser and ten years more patient with each other and those around them.

    It used to be that when I was hurting I’d soothe myself by reading particular passages of my book where John was taking care of, comforting and supporting Alyssa, the main character in the book. Oh, what I put that poor woman through to make it so John had to put her back together. Soon that wasn’t enough. I needed a bigger fix, so I began writing more violent scenes that were never to make it into the actual book. The more violent the attack the more John had do to take care of her. Eventually, even that wasn’t enough. On “14, July 2010 (7:39pm)” I took the plunge. Every interaction is dated and time stamped in just that format so I know exactly when my addiction took a turn for the completely insane. I wanted John to care about ME. I wanted him to listen to ME, comfort ME, hold ME while I cried.

    Now, more than a year and a half later, “Conversations” is 79 pages long. We meet in all sorts of places, magically created through my power as the author. Mostly it’s out in nature, by a small pond, on a rocky hiking trail, even a beach once. But more often than not, in a grassy field that stretches around us for miles and miles. John can read my mind, so that I don’t have to say what I’m thinking, if I don’t want to. Sometimes I can read his, but not quite as often. One time John brought me Lily and she took care of me too. Once he brought me Jack, a handsome newlywed from Alyssa’s new office after she gets divorced and moves to another state. All of them are loving, wonderful, people. They all want to take care of me, be there for me. I guess that’s what I’m craving; caring, love and friendship.

    So now you know about my secret addiction. Please try not to judge me too harshly. As you can see I’ve done enough of that for all of us. John makes me feel better. He sooths me when I’m hurting and no one else understands. Maybe my therapist is right. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with “using my writing to access the different parts of my personality in order to help myself heal.” Maybe, on the other hand, I’ve just gone completely nuts. At the moment, though, I don’t care which one it is. As long as it eases my pain and helps me feel comforted I will continue to talk with John. It makes me a better wife, a better person and a better mother. Surly, something that does that for me can’t be all bad, can it?

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Laura- What a compliment that you wish you had what I have created for myself. I would happily share him. He has endless time and energy and enough love to take care of all of us.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – I, for one, don’t think you are “nuts” except, perhaps, in that way that folks use the word when they shake their head and don’t understand. I am guessing I was about 10-15 years younger than you are now when I tried every afternoon to go to my “special place”. For me, it was during a very painful time in my young adulthood. I would find a place to take an afternoon “nap” but I wasn’t sleeping. I would go, in my mind, to a mystical place cloaked in fog, sitting by a lake. It was a safe place and I felt comforted. I waited, because I knew someone was coming for me. I never saw the face but would feel her take my hand and sit quietly with me, comforting me. Maybe I should have “pushed” for more from my daily fantasy – but I was so grateful to have this much. It helped me survive and heal. So, I don’t think you are “nuts” at all. I think you are healing, in your own authentic way, and on your own terms. I am grateful and honored you shared this with us.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Debbie- It took an awful lot of courage to share this with you and it means a lot that you appreciated that and felt honored by it. I, too, have gone to special places in my mind while taking a ‘nap’ and gotten so much out of it. I guess we just have to accept the different ways we sooth ourselves and just be grateful for those tools without judging them. Thank you for helping me do that. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, what can I say? I love it! So much. If you’re ever in need of someone to make tea for you, I’d be happy to meet everyone. PS. Then I’ll dissolve from view until you need tea again. In the summer, I’ll switch it up for a cold lemonade. (I love your writing. Please never stop.)

      • Ilana says

        Terry- Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps you will join us for tea one day. :) With positive responses like the ones I get here, I will never stop writing. Thank you again, IM

        • Terry Gibson says

          Ilana, I’m so happy you realized I wasn’t laughing at you! I got scared of that and found it hard to wait for your response. Reading your piece woke up my own imagination. Thanks for that. I would love to join you for tea. :))

          • Ilana says

            You would never laugh at me. You have offered yourself as a ‘sister-survivor’ a supporter. I trust you.

  6. Rachel Staples says

    The unseated moment for me transpired over a long period of time and was so slow in its existence that I didn’t even realize my life was changing until it was over. I believe the medical types call it “perimenopause” and it is a not for the faint of heart! I have spoken about this before in journals, blogs and on paper but never thought of anything good coming from it, until now.
    My emotions ebbed and flowed, the stress warped my shoulder muscles and the depression sucked the life out of me. I struggled with the wine bottle, as it was becoming a deeper friend to me than I had ever intended or wanted. Then one day as I sat in my darkened living room watching the ever mind numbing sound box for the millionth hour, I watched a woman make a cake and thought I can do that!
    It had to be the Prozac that I was told to take for this womanly transition into stage two of my so called life because I could cook pretty well, but to take on baking seemed insane. I went to the store and bought a cookbook as well as a book of dessert recipes. With my love of reading, I studied these recipes and read them like the fictional tale of my favorite authors. The ingredients, the directions, the music that played while I would mix, whir, stir and fold. I bought utensils, kitchen accessories, and more cookbooks to perfect my craft. I would ask Santa every year for a new gadget that I needed because I knew I was on the good girl list! I was lost in the masterpieces that I created and longed for the solitary movements of the dance that was food creation. Birthday cakes, muffins for coworkers, many recipes tried by the friends of my children that I lovingly called my precious guinea pigs as I rubbed my palms back and forth. Dinner parties came next with friends and family enjoying all that lay before them on the table. The smells that filled the senses upon entering my home was that of coziness and love. Menus were the most fun to create, as the food became a Broadway play for all to enjoy. It has been about eleven years now and my kitchen is one of beauty with all my gadgets, a fill of herbs and spices and a pantry that has items that one would never think to purchase built from many recipes followed or created. The menopause? Well the hot flashes still come and go, no more night sweats and a good bottle of Merlot is still my friend and thankfully not my prison. The art that happens now no longer comes from an place unseated or a medical need to remain the same but a place of love and a craft perfected.

    • says

      Rachel, I really enjoyed this piece. I could smell your kitchen! I particularly loved the line, “Merlot is still my friend and thankfully not my prison.” Thanks for posting!

    • Ilana says

      What a triumph! I hope that I, too, can carry my passion once it is no longer coming from an “Unseated” place. Bravo!

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Rachel, I get what you wrote about perimenopause and menopause, I’ve gone and am going thru the same thing. This wasn’t talked about in our family, and I have four sisters! Oh, my mom would talk about sex and whatnot-just not about stuff that might have made this transition easier. Sometimes I wonder if men had a period, cramps, perimenopause, and menopause that more attention might be paid to this.

  7. Bobbie Anne says

    Rachel, What a way to deal with the ‘womanly transition into stage two’. It is happening to me now, and I need tips on what to do. Bravo for sharing and writing about taking on baking. I don’t bake much now, but I did bake bread. I secretly admired it while relatives gobbled it down looking for more. In the beginning, I wanted my cooking acheivement to last longer, but to me, nothing tastes as good as fresh baked bread from the oven with butter melting. I’d like to sit in your wonderful kitchen and share a loaf or two with you.

  8. Bobbie Anne says

    As a cancer survivor, I had the oportunity to take Art Therapy Classes. So, not having drawn or painted much before, I figured I go for it. Well, I did. My creativity came from an unsettled place. I was seated, but the art therapist told us to do a series self portraits and artwork last fall. I did. It was amazing to me that I could create such artwork. I decided to use it in an exhibit with my poetry. Guess what? I am taking Art Therapy classes again! I went yesterday. It puts me into an almost meditative state while I create. Plus, the other ladies and I can discuss the work and what ever else we want to. I even bring in some relaxing music. The artwork is like icing on the cake. I’m mostly drawing trees. I have one I made with a landscape. The new art teacher said it looked great. I am still glowing.

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