Welcome to Day 8 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @ptlperrin @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

SUNSET

By P.T.L. Perrin

Eden backed her Boston Whaler, Eden’s End, away from the dock, swung her nose into the current and gave the outboard a little gas. Still in the no-wake zone, her granddaughter hung over the side near the stern and trailed her hand in the water.

“Leigh, a shark’s gonna bite that thing right off.”

“No, it won’t. See the dolphins alongside?” She pointed her dripping finger at a pair of breeching dolphins. “Everyone knows they protect folks from sharks.”

Eden shook her head, grinned, and watched the sleek bodies leap through gray water until the pod outdistanced them. She’d never heard of a shark this far up the intracoastal, but she enjoyed teasing Leigh, even if the girl didn’t like it much. Besides, she wouldn’t have to put up with it after tonight. Her heart dropped at the thought.

Right now, they needed to get into the channel where she could open the throttle and let her fly. They’d need a bit of speed to get through the chop at the inlet’s mouth.

“Where’d you stash the drinks, baby girl? I’m thirsty.”

“Coke or ginger ale?” Leigh reached into the cooler behind the captain’s bench and waited for Eden’s answer.

“We have any bottled water?”

“Yuck.” Leigh wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out. At thirteen, she didn’t care for plain water. She grabbed a coke for herself and tossed the water toward the captain’s bench, where her grandma easily caught it.

“Come up here with me.” Eden scooted over, but Leigh grabbed the canopy support bar and stood next to her to wave to passing vessels.

They entered the main channel and accelerated. “Look at them all!” Leigh held tight to the support with one hand and with the other, pointed out small boats like theirs, yachts and excursion ships heading out to sea. “I’ve never seen so many in the channel all at once. Is all this for the sunset?”

Eden didn’t answer. She glanced at her granddaughter and wished she could keep this moment forever. Evening light bathed Leigh’s face in a gentle glow, the pink in her cheeks showing through the Florida tan she wore summer and winter. Her luminous eyes, the same amber as the natural streaks in her sun-bleached hair, crinkled at the corners as she squinted at the water. She’d be a beauty in a couple years and Eden had looked forward to scaring the sin out of any boys with the wrong idea. Just another thing she’d never get to do.

The chop demanded her attention, so she drove while Leigh held on and whooped every time their bow hit another wave. The sea calmed when they reached the Gulf of Mexico, and they found a spot to drift about a hundred yards out, away from other vessels. The current turned the stern toward the northwest, where they had a perfect view of the horizon to the west and the inlet to the east.

Eden moved to the cushioned top of the cooler in the aft cockpit. Leigh joined her, pretended to push her off with her hip, and settled close. She sipped her coke while her grandma threw an arm around her in a hug. 

The ocean breeze played with Eden’s short hair and blew tendrils of Leigh’s long hair across her chest. Eden reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a hair tie.

“Turn around, baby girl. You don’t want hair in your eyes just as the sun sinks, do you?” Leigh leaned forward while her grandma caught her hair back in a tail. She reached for a blanket bunched on a corner seat. 

“Here, Grandma. The breeze is a little cool.” Leigh pulled it over their laps.

A bank of cumulous clouds towered to the east, each layer a living painting, shifting through pink, purple, orange, and salmon in majestic slow motion. A low swell slapped against the hull, a rhythmic percussion to the visual symphony.

Eden took several deep breaths, enjoying the tang of salt air with a hint of seaweed. The scent of grilling fish tickled her nose. Her mouth watered and her stomach rumbled. They’d eat with Leigh’s parents later, at one of the seafood places on the main dock. A special treat.

Leigh snuggled close to Eden, who pulled the lightweight blanket up to cover her girl’s shoulders. 

“Are all endings sad?”

Eden swallowed hard before she could answer. “Not all.”

“Like what? Name some happy endings.”

Eden dug past the lump in her heart to find one or two. “When the prince kisses the princess and they live happily ever after. When the hero escapes from the dungeon.”

Leigh slapped her arm. “I mean for real.” She turned her gaze toward the setting sun, now barely touching the horizon’s edge. “I can think of lots of sad endings. Like when we had to leave our friends in Minnesota. And when Scruffy ran away. And when…”

Eden interrupted. “Farmers are happy when a drought ends. And what about the end of an icy cold winter? You had those in Minnesota, remember.”

“Oh, yeah. But the end of snow wasn’t so happy.”

Eden grabbed her granddaughter’s hand and pointed toward the sun, now a half-circle sitting on a dark line.

“Every ending starts a new beginning.” Just saying it lifted her own spirits a tiny bit.

Leigh picked up on it. “School starts at the end of summer. I like school.”

“And cooler weather,” Eden reminded her.

“Morning comes when night ends. I’ll be fourteen when thirteen ends.”

“And we’ll meet in heaven when life ends.” Eden wanted to take back the words as soon as they left her mouth. She sucked air in thick gulps to keep from bursting into tears. She felt her granddaughter tremble.

Eden turned Leigh’s face toward her and kissed her forehead. She kissed each precious cheek and wiped her tears away with her thumbs. “You know I’ll always love you, don’t you? Everything I have is yours, and no matter what, we’ll see each other again.”

“Death is a sad ending, Grandma. I don’t care what the next beginning is. I don’t want you to go.” Leigh covered her face with her hands, bent over her grandma’s lap and sobbed, shudders racking her body and tearing the heart out of Eden. 

“Watch, Leigh. Sunset isn’t over yet.” 

Leigh sat up, wiped her eyes, and took a shuddering breath. Eden’s heart swelled with love and pride at her granddaughter’s courage as the ocean swallowed the last sliver of sun, leaving the eastern clouds a gray canvas. There should have been more drama.

Eden returned to the console and started the engine.

“Wait, Grandma. Can’t we wait for the stars to come out? I need more time.”

Eden turned the key off and wrapped her arms around Leigh’s slender body. They sank to the deck, neither trying to control the eruption of grief tearing at their cores.

When their sobs turned to hiccups and they let each other go, Eden lifted Leigh’s chin and pointed to the sky. “Look at that magnificence, baby girl. God’s story written in the stars. You’re there, and so am I.”

“What do you mean, Grandma?”

“Our last sunset is an ending, but tomorrow’s a new day for both of us. I’m going home very soon, and you have a long life ahead with happy endings and beautiful beginnings.

Leigh sighed and snuggled close. “And we’ll meet again. In heaven, right?”

“That’s right.” Eden returned to her bench and turned on the engine. “I’m hungry and your parents must be starving. How about you?”

Leigh nodded, stood, and held on to the support. “I love you, Grandma.”

*****

Leigh backed her whaler, Eden’s Dawn, from the dock and headed to the channel where she joined a smattering of fishing boats, her lights joining theirs on the way to the Gulf. Her daughter snored softly, asleep beside her on the bench. Leigh tapped her shoulder to wake her.

“Faith, we’re getting to the chop.”

The child stretched and yawned, jumped to the deck, held on to the support, and whooped at every wave they hit until they reached calm water.

“Now, Mommy?” Faith pointed at the pretty box on the console that held Grandma’s ashes.

“Soon.” Leigh headed out until land was a smudge to the east and cut the engine. “Now, Sweetie.”

Leigh and Faith held the box over the stern together. Leigh kissed it, and they dropped it into the ocean while the sun rose behind a cloud bank, its golden rays streaming out to paint the morning sky pink and orange.

Leigh hugged her daughter as the box sank beneath the waves. “Goodbye, Grandma. We love you.”

Faith reached up and held her mother’s face between her small hands. “Are you sad, Mommy?”

“A little. But every ending starts a new beginning.”

Leigh lifted Faith to the bench, kissed her, and turned Eden’s Dawn toward home. 

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

PTL Perrin’s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 3 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! @fredsdiary1981 @RRBC_Org #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW

Daylight Robbery by Robert Fear

Stefan removed his glasses for a moment to clean them. He glanced across at his younger brother to make sure he had seen the agreed signal. Stefan’s heart raced as he smoothed his hair and then replaced his spectacles. With an air of confidence that belied his trembling body, he straightened the jacket of his pinstriped suit and walked over to the bank teller. At the vacant window, he pulled out the documents from his briefcase and laid them on the counter.

Anton recognised the pre-arranged sign and prepared for action. With a slight smirk to himself, he looked over at Stefan as he strode across the banking hall. Anton took the mobile phone out of his pocket and activated the app the two brothers had developed. He swiped his finger over the screen and the lights in the room flickered. The security guard turned to check what was wrong while others stared upwards. Within seconds they forgot the distraction and returned to what they were doing. Anton knew the app had worked and made his way to the front entrance.

At the counter, Stefan produced a small, silenced pistol from beneath the documents. While holding a finger to his lips, he pushed the gun through the gap in the screen so only the cashier could see it. Tired eyes widened with fear as the nozzle rested inches from the terrified employee. He read the note in front of him and as instructed passed bundles of banknotes across the counter. Stefan was aware the teller had activated the alarm, but knew it was not working. He stuffed the notes into his briefcase and sprayed a brief blast of gas at the unbelieving man, who slumped forward. With a casual turn, Stefan headed for the entrance.

Outside the bank, Anton monitored the security guard as he continued to greet customers at the front door. With a glance through the window, Anton saw the disturbance behind the counter as staff attended to their collapsed colleague. His older brother joined him, and they strolled over to two e-scooters chained to the railings. They unlocked them and sped off down an alley.

A minute later they skidded to a halt by the car they had acquired earlier. After opening the boot and stashing the e-scooters, they slipped into the front seats. Anton ripped off his latex face mask and let out a gasp of relief. He watched as his sibling took off his glasses and did the same. They roared with laughter as Stefan drove them away.

Two police cars raced by in the opposite direction, sirens blaring and lights flashing. The brothers exchanged an anxious look.

Stefan snapped, ‘You switched off your mobile, didn’t you?’

Anton flashed him a reassuring smile. ‘Don’t worry. I uninstalled the app and turned off the phone. There’s no way they can track us, even if they scanned my number in the bank.’

Traffic was slow as parents collected children from school. It took twenty minutes to clear the suburbs, but then Stefan picked up speed before arriving at a secluded parking spot on the outskirts of town. After transferring the briefcase with the cash to the boot of their sports car, they dumped the masks, gun, and gas spray into a deep well at the edge of the woods. It was only then that they removed their gloves and threw them in too.

As they roared away, the heavens opened. Torrential rain thrashed against the metal of the bodywork, and the speed of the wipers increased to clear the streaming water from the windscreen. There were loud screeches from the underside of the car as they drove through large puddles.

Amidst the gloom ahead, Anton spotted two figures in uniform at the side of the road with a device pointed in their direction.

‘Slow down bro,’ he screamed, ‘there’s a couple of cops over there. We don’t want to get caught speeding.’

Stefan eased his foot on the brake pedal. They passed the police officers, who peered at them with an accusing glare. One of them was shouting into his phone.

As the brothers started to relax, another man sprang out from the bushes and threw something across the road in front of them.

‘Watch out Stef, it’s a stinger.’

Stefan mounted the pavement to avoid the strap with its lethal metal spikes. It was too late. The tyres shredded and within seconds the car ground to a shuddering halt.

A swarm of uniformed officers, with guns raised, raced towards them.

‘How the hell did they know where to find us?’ croaked Anton.

Stefan buried his head in his hands. ‘No idea bro, you did turn your phone off, didn’t you?’

A sudden wave of realisation swept over Anton’s face. ‘What if the cashier sneaked a tracker into the cash?’

‘Sod it, we should have checked that. I thought we’d covered everything.’

Their shoulders fell and both brothers let out a shriek of exasperation as guns appeared at the side windows of the car.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISAcatalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:

Robert Fear‘s RWISA Author Profile

Welcome to Day 1 of the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISAWRW @YvetteMCalleiro


We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA catalog.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow along each day of this amazing tour of talent by visiting the tour home page!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about today’s profiled author:  

 

Yvette Calleiro, RWISA Author



The Journey
 
Dear self,
 
Oh, the journey we have had…
Its ups and downs and sideway twists,
The moments of exhilaration,
The quickened pulse and caught breath,
The scenes that left lingering loops of trauma,
The journey we have had.
 
And the journey we are on…
Getting to know you
With no boundaries or judgment,
With love and kindness,
Living one new moment at a time,
The journey we are on.
 
Ah, the journey before us…
Awareness and acceptance all around,
Gratitude grounding us,
Pausing to make peace with whatever may come,
Living to learn from experience,
Trusting where I am is
Where I need to be,
Embracing curiosity and a zest for life,
Sharing loving- kindness with each path crossing mine,
The journey before us.
 
The journey we have had built our resiliency.
The journey we are on builds our strength.
The journey before us will make us whole.
 
I wish you well, my friend.
 
Yvette M Calleiro
 
 
 
For the 2020 Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour, I decided to write this poem. This year has been difficult for many of us, but it’s especially challenging for those with anxiety and other mental disorders. As a person who lives with an anxiety disorder, I have spent many years finding ways to manage my anxiety. I have found that a combination of neurofeedback, therapy sessions, meditation, and mindfulness have worked well for me.
Neurofeedback is a therapeutic intervention where a computer program helps retrain the brain to stay within a normal parameter for response to stimuli. Imagine two horizontal bars with a space between them. A “normal” brain would show brainwaves that stay within the high and low bar with few outliers. A brain with certain conditions would show brainwaves that jump higher or lower than the horizontal bars. Neurofeedback retrains the brain to stay within those bars.
 
In my case, my neurofeedback takes place while I watch a movie at my psychologist’s office. The staff connects electrodes to various spots on my head. Those electrodes connect to a computer that monitors my brain waves. That computer is connected to a program that links to whatever movie I am watching. As I watch the movie, it registers my brain waves. So long as my brain waves stay within the normal parameter, I can see and hear the movie. When my waves jump outside the normal parameter, the volume will lower and/or the screen with get smaller or fade out. Once my brain waves return with the normal limits, the picture and volume return. In this manner, my brain learns it is rewarded when it stays within the normal limits.
 
It sounds like crazy sci-fi stuff, and I’ll admit I didn’t really believe it would work. It took me getting to the point where my health was suffering to get me to finally try it. At first, I went every week for a few months. It wasn’t a miracle overnight fix, but one day I realized I was sleeping better and not freaking out as much. My energy was returning to me. My sessions were reduced to every other week, and now, I go once a month just for a tune-up. I am not a fan of man-made medicines, so this has been a wonderful alternative to taking pills to reduce my anxiety.
 
Another thing that has helped me has been therapy sessions. I meet with a psychologist once or twice a month either in person (pre-COVID) or via teleconference. I am a strong believer that every person should meet with a therapist at some point in his/her life. Some days, we just review my days and see what comes up. Other days, I bring something I want to speak about to the “table.” She helps me restructure how I perceive information and process it. It has helped me to understand and accept events in my past and to have more compassion for experiences I have now.
 
I started meditating as a way to silence my mind. I have a very loud inner voice. For many years, that inner voice was absolutely toxic. I had all the love in the world for everyone around me, but my inner voice made it clear there was no love left for me. It took me a long time to realize that this inner voice was not me, and I could silence her toxicity. Meditation helped me to do that.
 
It also showed me how to embrace a loving-kindness mentality toward myself. Those who know me casually will find this information a bit shocking because I always present myself as calm and kind and relaxed, but a cover doesn’t always reveal the inner layers within the book. It took me years to be kind to myself, and it is a journey I am still experiencing.
 
My meditation journey led me to mindfulness. I think of meditation and mindfulness as sisters in the same family. They are similar but distinct. Meditation is a practice where one uses a technique to train himself to become more aware or improve his attention. Mindfulness is the quality of awareness that one attains simply by purposefully paying attention without judgement. This is a great article to better understand them: https://positivepsychology.com/differences-between-mindfulness-meditation/.
Meditation helped me to silence the toxicity of my inner voice. Mindfulness helped me to become more aware of the patterns in my thoughts, see them, accept them, and let them pass through without permanence or judgment. I treasure the layer of peace it has brought me.
When I think back to the person I was six years ago, I can share loving-kindness with her and embrace the trials and tribulations she/I went through. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have suffered for so many years without seeking help. I now focus on today’s journey, knowing time is fluid and the only moment that exists is this one. I practice focusing on the here and now. It isn’t always easy, but this journey is about practice and awareness. We, as humans, will never reach perfection, and I find a certain beauty in that. We are, and always will be, a living work of heart. 😊

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

PREY FOR THE DEAD Blog Tour

Thank you, Bernard Foong, for hosting my tour today!

https://bernardfoong.typepad.com/in_the_harem/2019/04/welcome-to-the-prey-for-the-dead-blog-tour-susanneleist-4willspub-rrbc.html

Welcome to the “PREY FOR THE DEAD” Blog Tour! @SusanneLeist @4WillsPub #RRBC

Prey for The Dead

 

PREY FOR THE DEAD Blog Tour

Sometimes, it’s easier to tell a story in a poem. Let me present three poems I’ve written for THE DEAD GAME Series.

The first poem describes Linda’s fear of The Dead vampires. They appear in my first book, THE DEAD GAME.

 

Prey for the dead1

 

From under the sea

they have come for me.

Rising from the deep

they come when I sleep.

 

Through the small town, they roam

looking for a new home.

Blending with tourists at day

but at night they get to play.

 

Blood-thirsty as they are,

they don’t have to go far.

They take sustenance within reach

leaving dead bodies on the beach.

 

Tourists flee the hotel

before they’re doomed to hell.

The evil one walks tall.

Our town will surely fall.

 

**************

 

In my second poem, Linda fears Wolf, The Dead leader, has returned for her in PREY FOR THE DEAD.

 

Prey for The Dead.jpg2

 

A nip in the air.

A chill in my bones.

The Dead will be here

And in our own homes.

 

Palm trees will shiver.

The ground will quake

Along the river

And by the lake.

 

Take me far away

From this creepy place.

I refuse to stay

And see his pale face.

 

Will Linda stand strong? I’m not telling.

 

*******************

 

In the third poem, Wolf is back in Oasis, Florida. Linda refuses to succumb to his passion. Will she fall PREY TO THE DEAD? She is tempted to the dark side.

 

Prey for The Dead.jpg3

 

He’s back.

How could this be?

I should have known.

He will never rest easy.

 

Without me to torment.

Without me in his arms.

A door opens.

He tempts me with sunshine.

 

His hand reaches for me.

My skin tingles from his touch.

He whispers promises in my ear.

I turn away from his sweet words.

 

He will come for me tonight.

He will appear in a new package.

I will be prepared and ready.

I will not be fooled again.

 

Susanne Leist

 

SUSANNE LEIST BIO

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and many other authors filled my young imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn’t reading late into the night, the TV shows—Murder She Wrote and Columbo—entertained me with tales of murder and suspense.

Over the years, my taste in TV expanded to include such shows as Supernatural and The Originals. I searched for paranormal, murder mysteries but found few at the library or bookstore. So, I wrote one.

A career in writing has been a big leap for me. Accustomed to the number-crunching field of budgeting and the hectic commodity markets, I left my first career and M.B.A. in Finance behind to pursue my dream. I do not regret my foray into literature for one moment. Fellow authors helped me make my way through the competitive field. I write every day and even tried my hand at poetry. If someone tells you it’s too late in life to try something different, they are wrong. It is never too late to follow your heart.

The Dead Game is the first book in The Dead Game series. It brings fantasy and the surreal to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to give spice to the mix. Once you read The Dead Game, you will never look at a dead body the same way.

In Book Two, Prey for The Dead, the suspense continues as The Dead use an exclusive club in Disney World and infiltrate the rich and famous. The Dead grow in power, and not even the sun or the swamps of Florida can weaken them. Linda–my main character–and her friends join with the human vampires or hybrids to defeat the evil forces threatening to control their town.

I hope you enjoy my books. The third book of The Dead Game Series is waiting for me to write.

 

Prey for The Dead

SUSANNE LEIST’S SOCIAL MEDIA & BOOK LINKS

Book trailer:  https://youtu.be/pILNxaD5XlI

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PB9KG4P

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130732773?ean=2940161260111

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SusanneLeist

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/susanne.leist.98

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/susanne.leist/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susanne-leist

 

*******************

 

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, Susanne is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!
Thanks for supporting this author and her work!   

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

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marcha-fox

The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon

by Marcha Fox

Charlie Whitehorse caressed the soft texture of the wool blanket as he gathered its folds around himself against the evening chill. He savored it’s earthy scent, unlocking an onslaught of memories. This wasn’t just any blanket. Over three decades before, he’d watched his ama’sa’ni create this one from scratch. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of his log cabin, gazing into the roaring fire, he recalled how he’d longed to hunt deer with his father and the other elders. But he was a child of seven, his job to help his grandmother, one of the tribe’s weavers. The process of making blankets was long and tedious, one far too boring for a young Navajo boy who felt embarrassed and demeaned performing chores assigned to squaws.

Even now, he remembered every step. First, she’d shown him how to separate the shoulder sections of the fleece, which were the cleanest with the longest staple. After that, she’d instructed him how to prepare the raw wool for spinning. This involved teasing a few locks with his fingers to separate the fibers. Next came combing them with a pair of carders that looked like large, flat dog brushes, manmade imitations of the prickly teasel. Then he’d place the resulting bats in a reed basket, miniature clouds of fluff awaiting her skilled hand. Pure lanolin coated his fingers, making them squeak when rubbed together, its odor one he’d never forget. Nor how it softened callouses earned practicing with his bow. Often he couldn’t work fast enough to keep up with her spinning, accomplished using a spindle to twist the prepared fibers into yarn.

Fortunately, once she spun enough yarn, his part became more interesting. Then he no longer had to sit for hours on end, arms aching from carding. Now he could explore a bit as he gathered the materials she needed to dye the yarn into a variety of warm colors.

The collection process for some substances required a knife or ax, which contributed to the feeling of it being a worthy task for a young brave. Bloodroot, hickory twigs, pokeweed berries, and oak bark were some of the things she requested. Among the most challenging were cochineal beetles which, when dried and ground into powder, would yield crimson. It could take an entire day to gather enough bugs for a single batch, but to both him and his ama’sa’ni, it was a day well-spent.

In fall, goldenrod blossoms were gathered to produce vibrant yellow, though color and intensity depended on various factors. When ama’sa’ni was ready to start the dye process, he’d haul water from either the iron-rich spring to the north side of their village for reds or the alum-rich one to the east for the yellows, the resident minerals necessary for the fiber to permanently retain its color.

When she’d prepared sufficient yarn, Charlie helped her warp the loom constructed from tree trunks, then wrap the different color yarns on separate sticks that served as shuttles. Then, the best part–weaving–began. He marveled as she’d skillfully alternated shuttles, colorful geometric patterns emerging with each row of weft until at long last their collective labors produced a finished blanket that was not only functional but a work of art.

Only now, as a grown man, did the wisdom of that experience impress itself upon his mind. Not only the work itself but what it taught him about nature, going full circle from the vegetation the sheep ate to dyeing the yarn with some of those same plants. Yes, the process was tedious and long; yet the result was well worth it. It taught him patience, perseverance, and appreciation. For simple things. Like a blanket that felt softer to the touch each year, improving with use, unlike so many things that didn’t last. Analogous to life itself. And old friends. A cherished cover that had kept him warm for what would soon be thirty winters, many of which were spent in the frigid Colorado Rockies.

His cultural roots demonstrated man was intended to be an integral part of nature; stewards, not conquerors. Unlike those who’d invaded their land, forced the Indigenous population to settle in inferior regions, then even drive them from there, when a wealth of silver, gold, copper, and other minerals were discovered beneath what they considered sacred ground.

Rather than extracting and processing it in a way that honored the earth and showed gratitude for its abundance, they’d virtually raped the land, leaving gaping holes and tunnels behind. Some hundred-fifty years before, his people had sadly admitted defeat and had no choice but to tolerate such behavior.

Yet, their misfortune didn’t end there. It was harvest time in 1869 when a band of drunken Whitemen raided the village, waiting until the tribesmen were away for the final hunt in preparation for winter. The invaders not only ravaged the women and burned their homes, but stampeded the horses that remained in camp. A few young braves, not yet old enough to join the hunt, had attempted to save the steeds, only to be driven by a hoard of deranged miners over the edge of a cliff to be decimated in the ravine a hundred yards below. Charlie recalled when he’d first heard the story as a youth and how he’d imagined himself as one of them.

Was it any wonder that when the tribesmen returned and found the resulting devastation that their medicine man, likewise a shaman, cursed that canyon?  So far, however, the Whiteman had continued to benefit from exploiting and abusing the entire area. Perhaps the dawn of the curse resided in the aftermath of the leaching and other processing methods used to extract the precious metals. These involved noxious substances such as arsenic and mercury. Their residue poisoned the ground and eventually migrated to nearby streams when abandoned mines filled with rain and snow melt. The toxic drainage eventually killed all aquatic creatures and drove away wildlife that depended upon such channels for drinking water.

The mines were mostly exhausted, yet water continued to accumulate in their cavities. The latest bitter irony that they were using the excavations’ polluted aftermath to further devastate the ground. The acid mine water was being used for hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, again dishonoring the earth while stealing from its depths.

It was easy for Charlie to question whether or not the curse was real. So far it was questionable, no apparent consequences answered upon those who had wreaked so much destruction for the sake of greed. Only the earth and local wildlife had suffered.

Local tradition dictated that the curse would manifest in its entirety when their actions reached the pinnacle of evil. After that, it would dissipate, but only when the Whiteman and his Indigenous brothers mended their ways; when they closed the persistent rift between them in friendship and cooperation. Unlike many, he was one of the few who had tasted of such sweetness with his friend, Bryan Reynolds. They’d met in their teens when Charlie had moved north to live with his father in his male parent’s native Cheyenne country. Oddly enough, the two boys even shared the same birthday, spending dozens of adventurous summers together, exploring, hunting, fishing, and growing up in separate cultures, yet being of one heart.

But now Bryan was dead. His life terminated in that very ravine known to his people as Dead Horse Canyon. Charlie suspected his friend’s tragic accident had been orchestrated by those to whom the curse had been directed. Yet so far, no guilty party had been identified, much less suffered due consequences. It didn’t make sense. Seven generations have passed. Surely it was time. And intuition assured him fulfillment was in progress.

But why Bryan? Why now? And what, if anything, was Charlie’s role?

The blanket’s warmth enjoined him to patience. From that first bat of carded wool to its liberation from the loom, it had comforted and instructed him in the ways of life. Legend assured him that the curse would end. Soon. And in some way, currently unknown to him, he would be part of it.

 

******

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bernard-foong

 

Stop Worrying

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom

 

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, London, England

I was delighted to see Uncle James after several months of absence. The evening before my mother’s arrival in London, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my English guardian. He had kindly invited Andy and me to sup with him at one of London’s oldest English establishments – Simpson’s-in-the-Strand.

“What is worrying you, boy?” Uncle James pressed. “You know you can ask or tell me anything. I promised your mother that I’ll do my best to assist you, while you are in my care.”

Touched by his kindheartedness, I muttered, “I know my mother is in London to whisk me away from Andy. She’d gotten wind that I am having a homosexual affair with a boy. Is that true?”

My guardian gave a hearty laugh. “That is indeed true, and it was I, who told her about Andy. Most importantly she is here to see her darling son and to meet his mannerly beau.”

“If she intends to get to know Andy Why is she bolting me, with her female entourage to Europe for two weeks?” I questioned.

“She misses her son and wants to spend time with you,” my guardian answered on my mother’s behalf.

“Knowing my relatives, they’re likely to convince her that my homosexuality is a sin,” I countered.

James acknowledged. “Although that is true, you should evince to them that you have come into your own and you have the right to love whom you choose. Young, positive actions will always speak louder than words.

“Your mother is a worldly and a well-traveled woman. She understands you more than anybody else, besides Andy.”

“It’s hard not to worry,” I opined.

Andy, who had thus far remained quiet, expressed, “My dearest, the answer lies in your beliefs in the negative and the positive about worrying. On the negative side, you may believe that your worrying is going to spiral out of control, which will drive you crazy, and may damage your health.

“On the flip-side, you may believe that your worrying will help you to avoid bad things; like preparing you for the worst and then coming up with solutions. In my opinion, your worrying shows you’re a caring and conscientious person.”

Uncle James denoted, “Andy is in part correct. Negative beliefs or worrying about worrying add to your anxiety.

“But, positive beliefs about worrying can at times be damaging. It’s tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying protects you. To stop worrying, you must give up your belief that worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem and not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.”  

He paused before he rejoined, “Young, you can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.

“Let me cite you an example: daily, I have tough decisions to make as the CFO of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and it is not easy to be productive if I allow worries and anxiety to dominate my thoughts….”

My Valet asked before my uncle could finish. “What techniques do you use to rectify that, sir?”

James responded smilingly, “It doesn’t work to tell myself to stop worrying; at least not for long even if I can distract myself for a moment. I can’t banish those anxious thoughts for good. Trying to do that often makes these thoughts stronger and more persistent.  

“Thought stopping often backfires because it forces me to pay extra attention to that very thought I want to avoid, thereby making it seem even more important. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing I can do to control worry. This is where the strategy of postponement of worrying comes in. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of the anxious thought, I give myself permission to have it, but I put off dwelling on it until later.”

He took a breather before he resumed, “Postponing worrying is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worries when I’ve other more pressing matters to attend to, yet there’s no struggle to suppress the thought or judge it. I simply save it for later. As I develop the ability to postpone my anxious thoughts, I realize that I have control over them.”

Andy inquired curiously, “How do you stop thoughts of worry from reemergence by deferment?”

The CFO answered, “There are three steps I take to accomplish this goal.  

“First, I create a ‘worry period.’ I choose a set time and place for worrying. For me, it is from 6:00 to 6:30 PM so that it is early enough for me to not be anxious before dinner and bedtime. During my worry period, I allow myself to worry about whatever is on my mind, while the rest of the day, is a worry-free zone.

“If an anxious thought comes into my head during the day, I make a brief note of it and then continue about my day. I remind myself that I will have time to think about it later. Therefore, there isn’t any need to worry about it for now.

“Lastly, I go over my worry list during the appointed worry period. If the thoughts I had written continue to bother me, I allow myself to worry about them. But only for the time I’ve set aside for my worry period. If those worry thoughts don’t seem important anymore, I cut short my worry period to enjoy the rest of my evening.”

My Valet exclaimed, “What a brilliant way to deal with worry and anxiety.”

James gave an acceding nod and added, “You see, worrisome thoughts and problem-solving are two very different things. Problem-solving involves evaluating a situation, before coming up with concrete steps to deal with it, and before putting the desired plan into action.  

“Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time I spend dwelling on the worst-case scenarios, I am no more prepared to deal with them should the actual event happen.”

I queried, “How then, do you distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries?”

“Young, It is much easier than you think. If a worry pops into my head, I start by asking myself if the problem is something I can actually solve. I ask myself these questions:  

Is the problem something I am currently facing, or an imaginary what-if? If the problem is an imaginary what-if, how likely is it to happen? Is my concern realistic? Can I do something about the problem to prepare for it, or is it out of my control?”

He sipped his wine and continued, “Productive, solvable worries are those I can take action on right away. For example: if I’m worried about my bills, I could call my creditors to see about flexible payment options.  

“Now, unproductive, unsolvable worries are those for which there is no corresponding action. Like: What if I get cancer someday? Or what if my kid gets into an accident?

“If the worry is solvable, I start brainstorming by making a list of all the possible solutions I can think of. What I try not to do, is get hung up on finding the perfect solution. I focus on the things I can change, rather than dwell on the circumstances or realities beyond my control. After I’ve evaluated my options, I draw out a plan of action. Once I have a plan, I can start to do something about the problem. This way I feel less worried.”

My lover questioned, “How do you deal with unsolvable worries or a worry I cannot solve?”

Andy, you’re not a chronic worrier, but if you are, it is vital for you to tune into your emotions. In the majority of cases, worrying helps a person avoid unpleasant emotions. Worrying keeps one in one’s head – like thinking about how to solve problems rather than allowing him or herself to feel the underlying emotions. Yet, one cannot worry one’s emotions away. While a person is worrying, his/her feelings are temporarily suppressed. As soon as the worrying stops, the feelings bounce back. Then, the person start worrying about his/her feelings, like: ‘What’s wrong with me? I should not feel this way!’” James paused when our waiter fills our wine glasses.

When he departed, my uncle resumed, “It may appear alarming to embrace one’s emotions because of a person’s negative belief system. For example, I may believe that I should always be rational and be in control and that my feelings should make sense. Or I shouldn’t feel certain emotions, such as fear or anger.

“The truth is that emotions, like life, are complex. They don’t always make sense and are not always pleasant. But as long as I can accept my feelings as part of being human, I will be able to experience them without being overwhelmed, and I can learn how to use these emotions to my advantage.”

I remarked, “Uncle, it is difficult to accept uncertainties when I don’t know the outcome.”

“That is indeed true. The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers cannot stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with a hundred percent certainty what is going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to predict what the future holds, to prevent unpleasant surprises, and to control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work.

“By thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. My dear boy, if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers,” my surrogate dad counseled.

“Worrying is usually focused on the future, on what might happen and what you’ll do about it. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries and redirect your focus back to the present. This strategy is based on observation and release, in contrast to the previous techniques I mentioned; that of challenging your anxious thoughts or postponing them to a worry period. Merging these two strategies together will help you to identify the roots of the problems and will assist you to be in touch with your emotions.

“By not ignoring, resisting, or controlling them, and through acknowledgment and observation of the anxious thoughts and feelings, one then views the worrisome thoughts without immediate reactions or judgments, from an outsider’s perspective.”  

“My dear fellas, let go of your worries. When you don’t control your anxious thoughts, they will pass; like clouds moving across the sky. Stay focus on the present, pay attention to your ever-changing emotions, and always bring your attention back to the present,” my surrogate dad reassured as our English roasts arrived for us to dig in.

******

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rhani-dchae

 

 

THE WEEK MY FATHER DIED

I was at work when my mother called to tell me that dad had been rushed to the hospital the night before, suffering from excruciating pain in his abdomen.  

Dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer about fifteen years earlier and it had spread to other parts of his body, but he had been doing fairly well so there was no reason to anticipate something like this.

Mom told me that dad had spent quite a bit of time at the hospital while they ran numerous tests to discover the cause of his pain. Long story short, his kidneys were failing and there was nothing that could be done. He was sent home with a hospice nurse so that he could be with his family in comfortable surroundings when the end came.

We rented a hospital bed and put it next to the front window so that he could see outside into the yard. We kept instrumental hymns playing on the stereo and moved mom’s chair closer to the bed so that she could be nearer to him.

And that’s when things started to get a little crazy.

James, my seeing eye son, was living with mom and dad at the time, and my sister, who I was living with at the time, drove out with me every day.  Gail, my other sister, also came out daily, as did her husband, her four children and their collection of young ones.

Gail’s grandkids were all under ten and did not really understand the severity of the situation. They knew that Papa was going home to see Jesus, but that was about as far as it went. Gail’s family had never lived close to mom and dad, so their kids only saw my parents three or four times a year. None of them had a close relationship with dad, so the thought of losing him did not rate overly high on their radar.

For five days, the kids ran through the house, slamming the doors and yelling to each other. Even when they were sent outside, the noise was loud enough to be heard everywhere in the house. Their respective parents would occasionally tell them to tone it down, but they were kids and that’s what kids do.

At one point, one of my nephews-in-law decided to commemorate the occasion by putting it on film. He videotaped everyone going to my father’s side and saying goodbye. Maybe it was the stress of the situation, but I didn’t like what he was doing. My father’s death was not a photo-op, and I resented anything that made it seem that way.

I remember being called into the living room and told to say something to dad. I had already spoken to him several times, telling him that I loved him and assuring him that mom would be taken care of. Having my niece’s husband dictate to me where to stand and how long to talk so that he could get it on film, was infuriating.

As six families moved through the house each day, my mother spent most of her time sitting with dad, reading the Bible to him and making the most of the time that remained. She loved having her family close, but as the days passed, I could see that the noise and constant disruption was getting to her. I did speak to my nieces individually on several occasions, asking if they could please keep the kids quiet, at least in the house. They always said they would, and I know that they meant it at the time, but it never happened. The noise, the chasing from room to room, and the constant interruptions into my parents’ private space, continued. I could see that it was upsetting my mother, and I finally decided to put my foot down.

I took my mom and Gail into the bedroom and asked mom what she wanted or needed. She thought about it for a long moment and then said, very simply, that she wanted to answer the phone. Either Gail or one of her daughters had been taking the phone calls and making a list of the callers. Mom wanted to speak to those people, most of them from her church and was upset that she was not being allowed to do so. And she wanted the volume around her to be turned down to a much less disruptive level.

Gail said that she would take care of it, and she did. Within hours, her grandkids had been taken by their fathers to another location. I didn’t know where they went, and I didn’t much care. They were gone, the house was quiet, and that was all that mattered to me.

Later in the day, James, my other sister Sharon and I,

took mom to Cold Stone for some ice cream. Dad was fairly unresponsive by then, so she felt that it was okay to take a little break.

We were gone for about an hour, and by the time we got back, everyone else was back as well. But at least mom had a few hours of uninterrupted time with dad, and I’m so grateful that the girls understood and were willing to do what was needed to give her that.

My father passed that night, surrounded by family and carried home on the sound of our voices singing his favorite hymns. Standing in a semi-circle around the bed, we held hands as we sang, while my brother-in-law, a minister, laid his hands on my father’s head and prayed him home.

As cancer deaths go, my father’s was fairly quick. He had been fully functional up until the night he went to the emergency room, enjoying his life without much discomfort. He avoided the long hospital stays and horrific pain that are so often a part of that kind of death. My aunt Gloria died of lung cancer when I was eighteen or so. I went to see her in the hospital, and I remember a shrunken figure in the bed, hooked up to monitors and numerous IV lines. Her time of dying took several long and torturous weeks, and I will always be thankful that my father was spared a similar end. I would have hated to have my last memory of this strong and vital man, be that of a wasted shadow of the man that he had always been.

I thank the Lord that it didn’t go that way.

                                                                       ******

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