Castlecore – Writing Snippet 1

The cool stone of the castle wall remains solid against my back as the trees bend this way and that, shushing loudly. Clutching my cloak closer about me, I take a deep breath and continue across the rampart, pushed by the whipping wind. It was time for one of us to pay attention to the pleas of the townspeople and no silver spoon was going to blind me to the truth. Thankfully it was dark tonight, the moon hidden by grey clouds. I struggled against the heavy wooden door, finally slipping inside and locking it behind me.

If they knew what I was doing, what a load of trouble I would be in. I descended the spiraling stairs quietly. Of course, I already had not garnered much favor, rejecting the proposal that had meant to bind our kingdom to another. No, I would not be traded as an object, treasurers bartering using my being as leverage. There was more to being a daughter of the late king than that and I was bound and determined to set things right no matter what it would take.

“Going somewhere Princess?” I paused, before straightening, facing one of the knights.
“I’m on my way to the banquet of course.”
“This is certainly an interesting route to take there.” he replied, raising a brow and eying my cloak. “Might I escort you, your majesty?”
I sighed lightly. “Fine, you caught me. I was going to the kitchen beforehand to get some extra of the good stuff before I have to act all proper and pick at my food.”
His chuckle told me that he had fallen for the half-truth. “I see” he bowed slightly before moving away. “Don’t take too long or too much. The court are deprived of one of their most precious jewels by your delay.”
I nodded, returning a small smile before continuing to the castle kitchens, careful to avoid detection by anyone else.

From Gratitude to Riches

Hello,

I’ve come home from another day at work feeling like time is moving both all too fast and not at all. The beginnings of a box of Rice-a-Roni sizzle softly on the stove, requiring me to leave the warmth of the kotatsu and stir it before it browns too much. It smells lovely and I half imagine myself to be cooking up something from scratch in a lonely forest cottage. My little mushroom mug, previously my grandma’s, fits the narrative. I’ve been sorting through my stash of tea and trying to drink it more but this time, it’s a matcha and cardemom latte. The pan that dinner is cooking in, is also a hand-me-down and I’ve ended up covering it with a baking sheet since it has no lid; how aesthetic.

There is much I want to dream into my fantastical (quite likely impossible) future but the current moment holds beauty. It’s something that I’m working on remembering. Sure, escaping into a daydream is fun, but it leaves me feeling somewhat trapped when I come back. So, I’ve settled myself in, to process the unpleasant reality that is my now and resolved to romanticize it.

It’s been bad winter weather the past two days. Snow and ice cover the roads and let’s just say the temperatures aren’t very positive. I was carefully parking yesterday when my vehicle decided to slide into the dms of the one next to it….and leave a nice scratch. That is a claim I now have to handle on top of the other matters pressing at my tired grey matter. Bills, budgeting, scheduling, pursuing the next steps for my health, and simply maintaining my space and self seem to be more than I can manage but, one task at a time. Some progress is better than no progress.

Seeking out the parts of my imperfect life that are daydream-worthy and keeping them in the setting of the present, helps me practice gratitude. I have so so much to be thankful for. Might be dealing with physical pain, burnout, and exhaustion but I have a warm home, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and a job to provide money for which to pay my medical bills. I may have yet another insurance thing to process, but the people involved have all been kind, there was minimal damage, and no one was hurt. There is probably no secluded cottage in my future, but I have my own cozy space with a kitchen to cook in. Thinking of all the things I do have, how ungrateful my mindset is most days.

It’s been said, “the present is a gift.” Trusting that right now, is good timing for what currently is, is a process. Even struggling through difficulties, I am going to practice noticing that I’m rich; rich with opportunity, rich with relationships. I am rich with a multitude of what I have in my life, and when I frame things that way, it doesn’t take much to romanticize it.

Whatever struggles or hard times, difficulties or frustrations, pain or loss of hope you may have, can you find something you are rich in? Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to use that word but what is something you are grateful for? What is something that you could pluck out of your present and place into a daydream?

Be well, friends and strangers. Thank you for joining me again.

Perfection

It is beautifully quiet, for a few precious moments. The sunlight from our frozen outdoors, bounces off of my ring onto the pillow next to me in small dancing dots. Clove is free to wander the apartment but she has returned to her cage for a mid-day hay snack and possible nap.

At the beginning of this year, a few weeks ago, I chose what goals I was going to focus on this year. Since I could not pursue them all at once, I chose to save for a house and to focus on and pursue my health all out. The result of this, has been decreased eating out with friends, fast food stops, and more appointments than time to take a breath.
For my chronic pain and fatigue, I’ve gotten two diagnoses. Hearing a medical professional say that it’s not all in my head and no, I’m not being dramatic or overly sensitive is so reassuring. Admittedly, though I am happy to have some answers, there are no cures, only treatment for symptoms to try. I now go to physical/occupational therapy twice a week before or after work, and am still working with my primary on what medication is the best for me. The other part of my health is mental health. I finally am pursuing full answers to my questions so that hopefully, I can be better equipped to take care off my brain.
I read somewhere that someone was trying to change the term to brain-health because it decreases the stigma around mental health. Mental health seems to have worth and morality assigned to it, while physical health does not. Did you know that anxiety can literally damage your brain? Brain health.

Mental health doesn’t just cover people who struggle with your labeled conditions though. Stress and our perception of ourselves affects mental health. One of the providers that I’ve seen looked at me and told me that I have amazing memory and talent. I must have looked properly shocked. “Do you not think so?”
Do I not think so… What do I think about myself on a regular basis?
“You’re letting perfectionism steal your joy.”
Wow. In my pursuit of being the best me that I can, I was self-sabotaging. I speak to myself in a way that I never would speak to a friend, often in the name of being who I want to be. Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.

I had a friend over last night and ended up reading her some of my old writings. She is absolutely convinced that I’m an amazing writer and that I need to be published. I downplayed it, made excuses, and eventually was told “I’m going to shake you every time I see you if you don’t give this a chance.” She believes in me far more than I do. It’s warming to have a friend stand up for you, even if it’s against yourself.

I’m working on it, friends and strangers.
What is your idea of perfection?

A peek over my shoulder

Hello strangers and friends!

Apologies for my late posting this week. I have, in fact, been writing! It just happens to be non-blog content. I work on the same story during the same season each year and this year I have made so much more progress than in the last ones. Still no defined plot but it’s so encouraging to see it finally starting to come together.

I don’t have much that I can put into words about my life right now, despite having many thoughts on the subject. Instead, I will share a small excerpt from yesterday’s experience at my local Renaissance Festival.

” The lines to get into fest are enough to put one in awe of the sheer amount of people. They seem to be a never ending sea, but in the forest, they ease. I was concerned that my spot by the main caravan would already be occupied but thankfully the masses were more interested in tromping in a slow line through the domain of faeries and gnomes.
I am hungry, but to purchase food, I would need to venture back up into the sun and dust to wait in a crowded line for an unknown amount of time. Alas, I will need something. Writing while hungry proves tumultuous to my line of thought.
When the forest is closed to patrons, then I will get something before the two mile walk to where I am parked. If I want to make it out of parking within the same hour, I really should set out around 6pm. That probably won’t happen quite to plan but food is important before that long trek home. “

Consider this a small offering in place of a thought provoking or escapist excerpt. Someone peered over my shoulder one of the days I was writing there and I had half a mind to poke him with my hairpin. Respect the space.

Anyway, I hope your coming weeks are well and good. Thank you for reading.

Beautiful and Tumultuous

The wind is making the trees dance in the setting sun. Spinning seeds find their way to me from an empty sky It is not quiet, yet it is peaceful. When this type of breeze makes my hair caress my arms and strands cross my face, I feel as if I must be important, strong. There is no booming, no cracking or roaring. Instead the power is quiet, soft and still beautiful.

I wonder if the wind has ever known where it’s going. As far as I can tell, it just goes. I want to be like the wind; beautiful in my collected chaos, freely fulfilling my purpose, not worried about where I’m headed.

Toast

The rain patters quietly outside of her open window, punctuated by a car alarm honking forlornly in the distance. Placing her hands on either side of her mug, the warmth seeps into her fingers and she breathes in, herbal cadence blending with fresh rain smell. It had been a long day, discouraging but she couldn’t let up just yet. She wrinkled her nose slightly, noting that the trash was not a list item that she could put off any longer. A blank spot on the opposing wall gained her steady gaze as she pondered the complex weight on her mind. How is it that no matter how much was ever accomplished in either her personal or professional life, it felt like no progress was made?

There was no answer of course. Not this time at least, so she rose from her spot on the floor to stare into the refrigerator. No food looked appealing, either requiring effort and time or unsettling her fickle appetite. She sighed. When did eating become just another item on her list of things to do? The neighbor’s bass thrummed through the wall and she finally grabbed a loaf of bread, throwing a couple slices in the toaster. She jumped when they popped up, what felt only a few seconds later. Butter. Absentmindedly, the previously utilized fork on the counter was used to spread the slices before she once again sank to the floor.

She couldn’t have turned into a robot entirely. Robots don’t care about food. The real question was, what else did she actually, truly, care about? Once again, no answers presented themselves so she continued to study the blank space on the wall and munch on the half-done toast.

Dealing with Death Daily

Maybe people don’t realize

The impact to my already cracked heart

Even the mention of another human’s passing

Can lend

Spider vein fractures on the vessel that is me

What will cause Kintsugi

Precious pain not hidden, highlighted

Empathy interlaced like gold

Potters hands still hold

Us

I was forced to think about loss of life actively yesterday, not just in passing news or a circle of people I used to be part of. Repeating that I am someone who cares quite a bit about many things, there’s a certain apathy that I employ to cope with constant pain in this world. Multiple instances of loss of life were thrust into my main focus and my heart just aches. It physically hurts in my chest.

For those that don’t know,

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”),[1] is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquerdusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-etechnique.[2][3][4] As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise

Wikipedia

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.

Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

If you’ve made it this far, I’m glad.

Thank you for reading, Strangers and Friends.

Fear and Fantasy

There’s a storm brewing. I can feel it in the air as I right my toppled zucchini plant. It’s warm, windy, and the wildness creeps into my bones. I want to be wild and free like the flying leaves; soak up the adrenaline and be at fiery peace.

Tomorrow, my favorite weekend escape opens. I can be another version of me in a different world. Going to Renaissance Festival has always given me that feeling, the one I can’t quite put into words.

My imagination is renewed and a match held to the wick of my creative spirit. Maybe it’s that I don’t have to be what most people want me to be. Keeping to myself offends no one and I can slip between groups of people like a shadow, all the while taking in such delicious details.

I’m a little afraid of my excitement. A lot has changed since I was last able to attend, and I’m afraid it won’t infect me with that restful, childlike inspiration.

Do you ever get scared by being excited for something, just hoping it is as wonderful as you remember it?

Have a lovely weekend strangers and friends. Here’s hoping you get to revisit pleasant dreams and fall asleep to the sound of a storm.

My Farm-stay Morning

This morning, 5am greeted me without alarm and I followed the suggestion of one of our hosts for enjoying garden-side bunny frolicking. Wrapped in a fleecy blanket, I quietly prepared a small french press of coffee before slipping outside to settle into the front seat of an old car by the barn. Steam rose from my cup as a chicken wandered past, no doubt wondering why I was there without it’s breakfast.

After some more sitting, watching the cottontails in the dewy grass, I visited the chicken coop, gave the goats some good head rubs, and went back inside the cottage to my cozy bed. Sleep overtook me once more and I woke a few hours later, sunlight seeping through the cracks in the curtains.

Leftover pancakes were reheated on a charming white dish and the rest of the french press drained while a fresh egg sizzled in the small cast iron skillet.

There’s something so lovely about sitting outside, shaded from the sun, with a cool, fragrant breeze stirring the pages I write on and enhancing food’s flavor. Two, towering, evergreens stand nearby, their branches swaying ever so slightly. Ants file past my bare feet on the smooth wood of the deck. A moth flits from wildflower to wildflower. Oh, what peace.

The long way home

Whenever I saw signs for the “scenic route” while driving, I was never interested. Only more recently have I found the value of taking the road not suggested by GPS as the fastest or most direct. What a map or navigational system can’t see is what one can gain from going that way.

Taking the long way home, shifts my brain from rush to reflection. I wouldn’t have even seen the sunset spreading across the sky if I had taken the direct route. I wouldn’t learn all that I am if I was already in sight of my destination.

Not every trip is meant to hold that extra few miles but sometimes those extra few miles hold something precious, otherwise missed. I know, I’m being very vague and cryptic but this is the thought that struck me. Being told that I don’t have the same timeline for my life as everyone else, has never had a pleasant ring to it. Patience is a virtue but I never asked for practice.

Maybe what I’m trying to say, is that I’m still alright, even though I can’t see home. Though I am wandering, I’m just taking the scenic route. If my life followed the timeline that I see so many others following, maybe I would miss that gorgeous sunset. What am I missing by not paying attention to or valuing this extra stretch of road?

You’re not wrong, if you’re on a different path than me, a straight shot to the top. I hope though, that you’re able to take moments into your own hands and hold them. Give yourself the freedom to take the long way home; literally or figuratively.

Be well, strangers and friends.