Off the Wall: That Little Voice



My beautiful daughter.
My beautiful daughter.

So we watch the news or read an article on Google, maybe overhear someone talking about an incident. I for one forbid my children to go to Waffle House for ages because of two shootings that happened at two different Waffle Houses. But sadly many of the horrors that go on around us we discreetly  ignore, or in my case blame it on waffles.

But last night my 20 year old daughter called me upset after witnessing a murder right outside her doorstep. My first instinct was to move her back home away from her apartment, thinking to myself that apartment complex must be dangerous. But in fact it wasn’t the apartment complex rather  two people that made their own choices. Choices that ended up with a young woman murdered, and another on the way to jail, but in the end they controlled their own reactions. And thank goodness my daughter was smart enough to get inside with her puppy Sam.

When I went to see if there was a report about it online, I found that there were lots of shootings, and people suffering in my area, not just in some far away desert land. I realized right then that the only thing I can do is teach my children to be aware of their surroundings and hope they have the wisdom to know danger when it is near. This doesn’t mean I still don’t wish I could just move her back home. I hate that she will always know the sound of a gun shot, and the flash of light that ended someone’s life. But so many children and adults know that sound, and carry on. Could it help them see how valuable life really is and how quickly the wrong choice can end it?

I just really hope it doesn’t teach her to be scared and anxious about living. And as a parent, even though this happened at my daughter’s doorstep. I need to remember it is important she becomes an adult that is not controlled by fear but an adult that lives with wisdom and understanding life, not death. She needs to listen to the little voice in her head that seems to quietly nudge us in the right direction, help when she can, get out of harms way, and live with strength and grace.


Off the Wall: Imagination

What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.

John Keats

The Old Stone Bridge


Yes, it has been almost a full year since my last post, so I thought I’d start back with one of my favorite topics, imagination.  I once had an argument with a very intelligent but less than inventive woman, who said that knowledge is far more important than creativity. I had to point out that knowledge can be taught but the ability to create and be imaginative was something you don’t learn, it is just a part of you. But once I had spoken up, I stopped and listened to her point of view. I still couldn’t agree that knowledge is more important than imagination. But I could see that both are equally important.

You see knowledge can be merely a list of facts, or dates, your childhood phone number, or the scientific name of your favorite flower, mine is the Bellis perennis. Now I only know the scientific name for daisy because I looked it up. But knowledge can be far more than a database of  trivia answers. When you connect imagination to knowledge you began to see patterns  and better understand the logic, or lack of logic to the truths we believe to be fact. So this is my warm up blog, reminding me to connect knowledge to imagination, so that in these little writing moments I can find more truth.

Off the Wall: A Story to Tell

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya Angelou

The most valuable lesson I learned growing up, was that I could check out as many books from the library as I wanted as long as I brought them back on time. And if I brought them back late, make sure I brought some change. The late fee at my local library wasn’t very much. Stories were my teachers, my mentors. So I would find myself lost in a book, until the end. This often left me a sad wishing the story didn’t have to end. But if you think about it we do tend to learn best from stories, from fables and fairy tales, to bible stories. The lessons stories hold are vast and wondrous. 

It is no wonder I grew up to want to be a librarian. Although the mystique of the librarian did hold some appeal also. Getting to say, “shhh” is a lot of fun.  I am also very soft spoken, so much so that I often am answered with, “What?” a few times before I actually get a real answer. 

But back to the topic at hand, earlier today I was looking for inspiration to keep me going on the November Novel Writing Challenge. This week has been a bit harder than last to stay on task. I found this wonderful quote by Maya Angelou and I wanted to share it, because stories have been so fundamental to me. We all have a story to tell and the worst agony is not being able to share it. So thank you to all those who have shared their stories with me over the years. Those stories made my world far larger and gave me company when I most needed it.


We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. –Eleanor Roosevelt

My children are taking that big step from teenager to semi-adult. Or as I told my son, he is now becoming a baby man. But as they move into the realm of responsibility it is so difficult to have to stand back and let them learn. As Eleanor says each time they face fear and move forward they grow. But each time they have to do so, they also can find pain and sometimes failure. I do sometimes wish life was like a video game, where you could reset your game and fight the bad guy just one more time. But while literally we cannot have a do-over we can take the experience with us to the next challenge.

While, I sound so confident and sure of myself on this matter, I will have to admit that the obstacles that life tosses me are often overwhelming and scary even now. I can look back at myself when I was my children’s age and realize how much I thought I knew but also now I know how naive I was. Although, I will say that I don’t regret my choices now, because of how things turned out. Some of my choices did make life more difficult. I suppose as a parent I want things to be easy for my children. But by wishing for such a thing, I would also be robbing them of the feeling of succeeding, where they didn’t believe they could. They also would miss out on making those painful mistakes that often define turning points in our lives.

So part of me facing my greatest fear, is facing my children are growing up, and hoping they have the tools to stare fear in the face and become their adult-selves. Growing up is such a process, I’m still in the process myself, so I imagine the journey will continue for both myself and my children. As a mother I will always be here to guide them, but they must make their own adventures as they move forward and fight their own monsters.

Off the Wall: A walk through history

So, I’ve been away for longer than I expected, but my husband and I took a walk through history without technology!  We outlawed iPads, and laptops. Phones were only used in case the kids had to reach us. This was a vacation in itself. Not saying I don’t enjoy writing to you all, but it felt quiet. I had to laugh to myself when I wrote this, because the first thing that came to my head was, Hermoine Granger telling Harry Potter, “Even in the wizarding world,  hearing voices isn’t a good sign.” 

It does seem that technology always keeps us connected or at least it is suppose to. My daughters are always annoyed when I leave my cell phone at home. I tell them I liked it better when phones were attached to the wall, so you weren’t expected to always answer. But while I fuss and grip,  it is great that we can now communicate so easily. It just comes at the cost of solitude. I don’t want to sound like a hermit but I do think that we need to guard that treasured silence.  As Maya Angelou puts it, “Solitude can be a must-be-desired condition. In silence, we listen to ourselves, and in the quietude we may even hear the voice of God.”

I enjoyed being with my husband and myself as we went from the Chesapeake Bay area to the Outer Banks. We saw Yorktown, Jamestown, and any town in between. We walked where pirates strolled, and where men first flew. Returning to the present I can say it was great walking through the past together, without any Facebook likes. But I hope to get some ‘likes’,  when I share the trip photos!

I’d suggest a vacation from technology with an understanding that technology is a huge part of our lives.  Enjoy some solitude but be thankful for the many ways we can connect to those we love.  Just don’t let the many voices of  technology take control. I have to remind myself of this a lot. Technology can be all consuming and addictive.

Off the Wall: Gandalf Wisdom


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

No matter what time or place we find ourselves in there are always struggles. These obstacles often seem impossible, but as Gandalf says we only have one choice and that is to “decide.” So simply put as we live our lives we decide how we move forward or backwards or just stay the same. I once listened to a woman cry as she told me she had dug herself into a hole. She said, “There is nothing I can do.”

But is there really a hole so deep you can’t climb out? I do believe in most cases, no, there is usually a way. Because it all comes down to three important Gandalf lessons:

  • We make our own choices
  • We may need someone’s help to recover
  • The only aspect of life we truly control is the choices we make.

Of course some of the choices we must make are very difficult. They often involve facing the mistakes we have made, and finding the ability to forgive ourselves and others. I believe we become stuck in our own darkness, because we are too afraid to face our own choices. To take responsibility for our own actions, we cannot blame everyone else for our choices. In order to dig ourselves out of a hole we have to face ourselves, sometimes we may not like what we see. But the only person you can change is yourself.

The other problem is pride we often don’t want to ask for help. To admit to ourselves that we need others can open up past wounds. I’m sure everyone has had a time that someone let them down. But part of being strong and digging out of a hole may involve taking a risk. You need your own fellowship of friends, coworkers, parents, children, and maybe even grumpy Gimli.

Another monster that holds us back is our belief we have control of life. Be aware the only thing we truly control is ourselves and our choices. While it is scary to admit we aren’t in control, it is also liberating.  There will come a time when we must cross to the White Shores , but as Gandalf say we are only responsible for what we do with the time we have.