Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Bad Moon Rising (Halloween Hallow)


Bad Moon Rising (Halloween Hallow)

There is something about Halloween that conjures a deep yearning for the saccharinity of childhood. The smell of damp leaves that have fallen leaving the once lush trees barren only accentuates the urge to look back. As a candy-craving tot (and as an adult), I loved and looked forward to dressing up for All Saint’s Eve. My earliest memory is rushing straight home to stuff myself inside a hot as the Hades of Hell plastic Dingbat costume, complete with a suffocating mask. My parents thought it better for me to sweat bullets while trick or treating than to come home with a face full of smeared make-up. Less mess for them I guess, never mind my almost dropping dead in a ditch from heat stroke in the height of October. Dummies. What am I saying? I probably begged them for the costume. It is possible that it was on sale so cost was a determining factor thanks to frugal Father Mine, or it was the only one that would fit me. Take your pick. Memory is a funny thing.

Halloween belonged to me and Way Cooler Big Sister. Even though she was probably too old to trick or treat, she was responsible for taking me around the neighborhood. My Mother entrusted her with her overzealous youngest, it was more like a chaperone deal for her, but for me, it was thrilling to go running all over Cow Bay with her, alone without adult supervision. I always felt like I was getting away with murder. Pardon the pun. Without fail, no matter my costume, Way Cooler Big Sister always dressed as a bum. She fashioned her last minute disguise from old clothes, towels, and bed sheets; smeared her face with gunk and pulled a nubby winter hat down over her ears. When I was Ding Bat, when I was a pirate, when I was a punk rocker – her? A bum. One year, to the delight of My Mother, I went as a bum too. Zero dollars spent!

It was the same every year. Come home from school, practically vibrating with excitement. I’d come through the side door and Way Cooler Big Sister would have newspaper spread all over the kitchen table for pumpkin carving, such a gloriously ghoulish ritual. We’d spend a little time dragging the nub of pencils into the orange flesh to create our designs and then she’d cut a top on each and we’d start cleaning. The gooey pumpkin guts felt cold and criminal squishing through our fingers. We cackled our way through every disembowelled pumpkin we incised. Once our pumpkins were finished it was time to eat. My Mother would always make something quick and easy on the day, Kraft Dinner to share, tomato soup and grilled cheese, something we could gobble down in a hurry. It was hard to sit still at the table, waiting for my supper, I was always so anxious to get dressed up. Way Cooler Big Sister and I shared the massive and brightly lit bathroom mirror while we readied ourselves. Her reflection was heads taller than mine but I gleefully stood beside her and put myself together, watching her transform herself into the same boring old bum from the year before. No matter, I loved that tradition. We’d stop for parental inspection, pose for a picture, grab our pillow cases, and head off for the main event – junk! 

Walking to the first stretch of houses she reminded me to watch out for eggs. Back then, you had to be on guard for cars speeding by hurling warm eggs at random candy-seekers. Luckily, we were never struck and thank flaming Beelzebub we didn’t because she would have gone bat shit on their asses. She pretty much knew every hooligan in town. That might have saved us. Back then, when you knocked on a neighbor’s door a morsel if you didn’t say trick or treat you got diddley squat until did. By the end of the night, we were sick to death of uttering the phrase but we pillaged the whole bay stretch until our cases were so heavy you’d think we were dragging a dead body behind us. I’d usually get weary on the way back home and plead with the Village Hobo to carry my bounty. She’d refuse until I agitated her enough. I was always relieved when she grabbed the pillow case from my weakling arms. Her huffing and puffing in annoyance all the way home was worth it.

The best part of Halloween isn’t even the long arduous task of collecting the treats but getting home, scarily flushed, stripping out of your costume, and collectively dumping our loot, spread all over the living-room floor. We’d sit cross-legged and assess our sugary glut and trade each other for favorites. I traded her licorice for Tootsie Rolls. My Mother hovered hoping to score a few candy bars. I always gave her my caramels much to Way Cooler Big Sister’s dismay. Once I got a full size Mars bar and I gave it to her. One year while organizing our stuff I popped a candy kiss in my mouth. It was so tough and gooey that it sucked a loose tooth right up out of my gum. I could feel the air hit the empty pocket and fill with saliva. It scared the living daylights out of me so naturally I swore. My Mother was not pleased. Way Cooler Big Sister joked and asked me how I planned get money from the tooth fairy if it was stuck in a wad of candy. I told her easy, I’d just set it on my night table. She shook her head and told me if it wasn’t under my pillow I wouldn’t get any money. Me, the gullible goblin, thought long and hard for a second and then proceeded to nibble all the candy from around the tooth. She busted out laughing and stopped me. She said she was just kidding, “And by the way, there’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy.” Evil Sorcerer. It is bad enough she took Santa and the Easter Bunny from me, she couldn’t leave me the Tooth Fairy!? Happy friggin’ Halloween.

And, without fail, once we were tucked in good and tight, tummies aching from one too many samples of our rampage, she’d relay the story about the Ouija board. The same Ouija board they all hid in the furnace room from Father Mine who despised them and would brain anyone stowing one away in any house of his. I used to hide in there now and then if I got myself in a bit of hot water. I’d see it there, out of the corner of my eye, in its dilapidated box with the broken corners, daring me to come closer. No friggin’ way. Not after what happened the time Way Cooler Big Sister and Rock Star Brother brazenly used it to summon the dead.

They were in our basement in Cow Bay, sitting in the middle of the floor near the pool table. Way Cooler Sister said the room was dim and quiet when the each placed their trembling fingers on the heart-shaped wooded planchette. Way Cooler Big Sister said Rock Star Brother was terrified of becoming possessed by a demon but was curious enough to risk it. Supposedly, they asked a series of questions and the planchette moved under their fingers to signify yes or no answers. And then, according to Myers Family Lore, the two small basement windows lit up with violent flames and the face of a burning girl appeared. Way Cooler Sister said it scared the living shit out of them. They packed it up like bats out of hell, put it back in the furnace room where they found it, and never spoke of it again. I know for certain Way Cooler Big Sister carried a belief and a fascination for such things but I don’t know if Rock Star Brother does. Even after the experience he had in the living-room late one night.

Rock Star Brother, while still hanging at home, came home late from a gig. He took a beer into the living-room with him, sat down in the rocking chair next to the bay window, turned on the TV to unwind before sleep. Staring aimlessly at the TV, it took him a minute to realize the curtains had started blowing up and almost straight out by where he was lounging. He moved to go shut the window and then froze. Our bay window back then didn’t open. There was no air source to lift the curtains in such a way, no vent, heater, nothing. In a jolt of holy shit and disbelief, he powered everything down and put himself to bed. I bet you ten bucks if you asked him about it now, he either wouldn’t remember or admit it happened if it did. He almost shit his pants. I remember him re-telling it like it was yesterday, the wide of his eyes, talking with his hands. Way Cooler Big Sister asked him if the window was on fire. He cut his eyes at her, the expression spoke louder than words. She laughed and laughed and laughed.

***

Since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought I’d use it as an excuse to spin another little tale for my creative non-fiction project. I miss Kelly at Halloween. She decorated and loved passing out treats to the kids and often mingled with the neighbors. Save my kids, as in the ones I look forward to, I hate passing out candy. I can’t explain why but it has never been my thing and I didn’t have to worry so much about it because she was down at the door willingly. Hannah will be here tomorrow so I told her if she’s staying the night, she was in charge of passing out the treats except for my favorite Littles.

Stay safe this Halloween. It’s supposed to rain in this region but I hope it is a mere drizzle at least for the kids.

In propinquity,
Nic




Friday, October 25, 2019

We Live Dismayed


We Live Dismayed

dear lazy cliché,

            according to you
            someone higher brow than I
            someone who commonly
            refers to my ilk as assorted lowlifes
measly footnotes or failed punchlines
            is of the belief
half-hearted
duty-bound consoling messages
            matter
            carry on with your cocktail party tête-à-têtes
            while those of us delegated to the trash heap
            see you for the schmaltzy relic that you are
            we hope you understand when we laugh at
            the inordinate amount of slavish devotion
            idiot stick figures with no souls heap on you
                        it is unearned &
                        we live dismayed
            in the face of the imbalance of power your ilk
believe sets you apart from diminutive peons
we the undersigned know better
we know you’re full of shit

yours,
the dismayed

***

A wee poem to blow off a little steam. With a nod to Sex and the City.

Happy Friday!

In propinquity,
Nic


                       
           


           

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Making Up Is Hard To Do


Making Up Is Hard To Do

the last time I saw her
she was in the kitchen
making sauerkraut soup
in a pressure cooker

in the time it took her to
brown the bacon, onion
and garlic in oil she was
done with my excuses

the curt nod of her head
and the flick of her hand
was my clear dismissal
I obeyed her direct order

            I’d rather have
found a way back into
her good graces – to be
able to sit across from her

with a bowl of that soup
a slice of warm country
bread smothered in butter
a grilled sausage

and her sitting across the
table from me, laughing

if she only knew
how truly sorry I am

***

The smallest detail of a recipe in newsprint inspired this poem. The second after I saw it, I jotted the whole poem down in the margins of my crossword puzzle. It’s two parts outward spark, and two parts truth. The regretful feeling in this piece is very real. For me, it’s healthy and helpful to work it all out on the page, keeping the drama where it belongs. In art and outside of myself.

In propinquity,
Nic





Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Permanent Moonlight


Permanent Moonlight

I wish for it
an enduring nighttime
like that one we spent
at a high-rise party in
  1996
slow-dancing
across a herringbone
parquet floor
the act
upstaged
the anticipated
                        arrival of
Comet Hyakutake
other roisterers took the
stairs two at a time to
the roof to bear witness
& we just kept dancing

            I wish for it
insist for it – permanent
moonlight
            & a decent pen
with which to write it all
down
            to preserve time
to remember the steps we
took together  
            unaware

***

I am pretty sure I’m going to drink heavily tonight. Or, at the very least, open wine and drink a good quarter of it straight from the bottle. I’m mulling it over as I type. Whirlwind workday. In addition, gale force winds and accompanying rain on the commute home. An umbrella just wasn’t cutting it.

Happy to be home with a steamy bowl of Cream of Wheat for dinner. Something comforting and dependable after a rousing day of unpredictability. Happy to have penned this poem on the way home to my securities. My cat. And, my Mom who is dining quietly with me doing a crossword from the paper I brought home for her.

Is it Friday yet?!3

PS – Dusklight. Then a poem about permanent moonlight?! I’m sensing a theme here.

In propinquity,
Nic




Monday, October 21, 2019

Dusklight


Dusklight

            how sweet it is
Mercy’s sound at dusklight
paired with the taste of plum
brandy on my lips

all night I traversed
guided by a broken star map
with an armful of forgiving
wildflowers

            how kind they are
the red-wing blackbirds who
muted midnight, a riveting act
so we might

            dismantle the sun

***

It’s election day in Canada. I value the right to vote and never waste an opportunity to exercise it. I am feeling uneasy about the potential direction our country will be going in when I wake up tomorrow. I’ll be devastated if dirty campaigning and rhetoric puts Andrew Scheer in power. It’ll be like Harper 2.0 with a Trump twist and it’s not something I want for myself, my loved ones, and my country. I want my right and those of all Canadians intact. Even more than I want the budget balanced. My hope is Canadians are thoughtful with their votes today. Strategic. And, they aren’t just voting one way because they don’t like the other. It’s irresponsible to not think critically at the polls. I wish more people understood the magnitude of their actions. Or inaction.

I am sick to death of American politics ala Trump. I can’t hear that noise across this country too. If that happens, I might lose complete and utter faith in my fellow man.

Come on, Canada.

Until then, a sweet little poem.

In propinquity,
Nic




Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Year Without My Sister



A Year Without My Sister

Somewhere in between my sister’s last breath and this morning’s timid dayrise, I stopped listening. To those who told me, “Do not exalt your sorrow.” To those who cast me aside because they didn’t know what to say so they steered clear. To those who changed the subject in favor of lighter conversation when I needed their ear or their shoulder most. I stopped listening. To the opinions, the judgements, the chatter, and the deafening silence. All of it. I took care of myself. I took care of my Mother. Kept her spirits up in the very same way she did mine. That’s what my Sister would have wanted. For us to be okay, alone together. And, we are. Somewhat. We’re getting there at least. With the help of willing and gentle familial hands, healing is possible. A dear heart shared a book about sibling loss that helped quite a bit but the truth of it is, one full year later, I am still profoundly grief-stricken. The loss of a sibling, it’s like losing the ability to breathe, losing a limb. It leaves you halved. And, I have four siblings left. The mere thought of ever having to endure a similar loss, is terrifying. My Sister was my friend my whole life, and no matter the state of our relationship, her absence has forged a deficit in my life that will forever plague me. I can’t even imagine how it feels for my Mother. If the loss of sibling hurts this much, I can’t imagine how badly her heart is broken to lose a child. From the depths of such despair, we continue to recover. Frankly, it’ll take a lifetime.

I sit alone today, remembering. Her hospital room. The grey window overlooking the rain-stained sidewalks, bare tree branches drumming on the muddled pane. My Sister, after a long restless night, unhooked from everything aside from her heart monitor, held on. Her heart beat strong even though her lungs lagged. I had one moment alone with her before she died. My family made the trek for coffees and snacks. I sat vigil at her bedside, my hand wrapped around her arm just above her wrist. She was warm and still. I talked to her quietly. She moaned softly in response. I realized after a bit of time passed, I couldn’t move my hand. I knew I should let go. I tried. And still, my fingers stayed snaked protectively around her. I tried to instruct my brain to let go and yet not a muscle in my whole body moved. Not even a twitch. I didn’t fight it. It’s just that when I found the courage to slacken my grasp, a dear friend of hers breezed through her door and called my Sister’s name. The volume and nervous tenor in her voice startled me and caused my grip to tighten but my Sister’s eyes also snapped open in response to her friend’s arrival. It was a hopeful but fleeting acknowledgment. It was all she could muster, a surprised reaction to a voice she loved more than most. For the rest of the visit, her breathing rattled on, my hand still firmly in place. When my family, the faces I’d been facing the inevitable with, returned with hot Starbucks coffee and a bite, I let go of my Sister’s arm. Guilt washed over me. My fingerprints were deep in her soft skin. Unbeknownst to me, I quite literally had a death grip on her limb. I watched the color pour back into place while I sipped my coffee and listened to her heart monitor bleeping above.

There were so many moments the night before, with the faces I’d been facing the inevitable with, circled around her dimly lit bed, that caused me great anxiety. Each time she made a strange sound, or her breath shuddered I held mine and wondered if that was it. It never was. At that time, I realized her heart monitor had been turned down and away from us. When I inquired the nurse told us families find it too scary. I requested for her to turn it around and set the volume to low. After a night of fits and starts, wondering if it was her time, I needed to be fully aware of what was happening. She was more than happy to oblige. She understood exactly the reasons why. I just could not be blind-sided. Nor did I want my Sister to slip away from us without any notice.

I still cannot believe she’s gone. When they transferred her from Dartmouth to Halifax, I thought for sure she’d be okay with the proper team, who could assess what was happening with her body and provide the necessary treatment and care. It did not occur to me that she was dying. Or, maybe it did, and I was in denial. My memory, in that capacity, does not serve. I do remember feeling a pang of optimism. That first night. A Friday. My eldest Sister and I sat with her late into the night. We decorated her space with family photos, trinkets from home, and a painting my eldest Sister’s husband painted for her. Still lucid, my Sister awoke, regarded us with sadness and said, “You guys are going to be so tired. You don’t have to stay.” A ball of pain rose in my throat at her concern considering where she was, “Don’t you worry about us,” I told her, “we just want to hang out with you a little longer, we’re fine.” Either of us wanted to leave her. On the announcement she was being moved over to Halifax, she was paralyzed with fear. She didn’t want to be transported by ambulance. She was tired she said and wasn’t sure she could handle it. I did everything I could to calm her. I promised we’d be there when she was settled in her room. And, we were. It took an incredible amount of time for them to get her there, get her settled, and let us in. We waited impatiently in one of the hospital’s family rooms. The interning doctor finally came to talk to us. She asked us a series of intense and intimate questions. They were difficult to answer. We spoke candidly and carefully. The statement from the doctor, that still to this day, sticks with me, “Your sister is not going to die imminently.” Die? Where did that come from? She died a mere five days later. Which proved to me, the care, or lack thereof, she received across the harbor, in a word, was abysmal. Die? I could have died at her words. I thought we would get answers, not be planning a funeral.

Five days later. Her heart monitor is doing its deed. Keeping us abreast of what is happening inside of her while she slept peacefully, encircled by love of family. The night before, I was in Walmart with my niece. My eldest Sister and two other nieces were with her. We received a barrage of text messages telling us to drop everything and get to the hospital. By all accounts during that day, she seemed like she was almost improving. And then, the fight to detach herself from machines began. We made our way to Halifax in a hurry. Upon entering the room, my Sister’s eyes were open, her hand partially extended. I said hello to her, she looked up at me, and to each face standing guard over her, my eldest Sister, three nieces, and said, “I love you guys.” They were her last words. So sincere, peaceful. One of her biggest fears was dying alone. At least in her absence, we can take some comfort in the fact we know she wasn’t alone and was engulfed in love.

The moment it happened; it still haunts me. I am well versed in her facial expressions from a lifetime of laughing and crying and arguing and worrying. But that last expression, the one where the life left her eyes, changed the whole person I was into someone else. I was stood at the end of her bed. My eyes frightfully went between her face and the urgent activity happening on the screen of her heart monitor. It happened in the blink of an eye. One minute she’s breathing peacefully, the very next second barely breathing, and then gone. Her face. Her eyes. Her essence, gone. Her life force lifted out of her and she ceased being. Her eyes rolled and went grey. I felt my legs give out. In the strangest haze, I lowered myself down onto the stool and whispered, “Oh my God.” I covered my face with my hands in a state of disbelief, shock. I stayed only a moment and exited the room. I sat in the chair just outside her door, composed myself and started making the dreaded calls. A few of my Sister’s dearest friends started to trickle in, ones we thought might want to say goodbye. They were all too late. I watched them, one by one, arrive, and almost buckle to the floor in the despair they didn’t make it in time. It was all so surreal. So fucking sad. Too much. I just kept thinking – I don’t know what I’ll do without her.

What have I done without her? The simple answer is – live. It has been a struggle to settle into a new normal, one that doesn’t include her. I wake up, I go to work, I go home, sometimes I let loose for a bit of fun, and somewhere in between I try to understand this world without her in it – without her boisterousness, her bullheadedness, her comedy, her cursing, and her friendship. She, very much like our Dad, who bore another gaping hole in my Universe when he passed, took up a lot of air. I don’t know what to do with what they left behind – all I can manage is to celebrate what was. Some days, it’s still hard to breathe. Other days, it’s peaceful to recall her. Most days, it’s lonely. But – every day I wake up with a pulse, with those I love still with me, is a blessing. Nothing, as I’ve painfully been reminded, is promised.

I was fortunate enough, at the last minute on Saturday after my Big Magic adventure, to encounter a psychic medium. He provided me with a good dose of comfort. There were specific details about her life, personality, experiences, and otherwise he’d never have known unless she was there to share with him, unless he knew her personally. He did not. The crux of his offering was that she is always with me, around me, appreciates me talking to her, keeping her up to date on the latest news (even though she already knows he said). The most important thing he imparted was that she was safe and happy and among us. I can only hope that’s true. After speaking with him, I am certain it is.

A year without my Sister. A year today, is also a year without me. I’ve learned from losing my Dad, when the firsts come along or occasions, it’s helpful to partake in things they liked most to be close. I’m thinking enchiladas for dinner and a playlist full of her favorite music will be a good place to start. We still haven’t gone through her things, what’s left. That’s on the agenda as well. It’s also calling for a rainstorm today. Appropriate for the current feels of remembering.

I love you, Sister. I miss you like crazy.

In propinquity,
Nic

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Making Big Magic


Making Big Magic
(w/ Elizabeth Gilbert)

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is, for lack of a better word, my Bible. It, along with a few other important creative resources, is my go-to when I find myself facing a dry well, blocked, too sad or overwhelmed to write or send a handwritten letter, even compose a grocery list. My hard cover copy, to the dismay of some of my dear hearts, is dog-eared, littered with underlined passages, margin scribbles, and stuck with Post-It Notes. You can imagine my utter delight when I heard she’d be coming to town to workshop said book. Overjoyed. Sign me up! I counted sleeps for months until the fateful day arrived.

Friday, the last work day before a long weekend had me busy as a bee. With my 4pm departure looming, I hurried and toiled until the eleventh hour but hadn’t noticed a colossal mistake I’d made. A mistake that would cause someone else extra work, someone who didn’t need something else added to her plate. I deflated. My joy turned to guilt, my guilt turned to pain. I do not like to make mistakes, especially ones that cause someone else work and/or worry. That’s how my Making Big Magic weekend started. With a giant flub that sat on my chest like an elephant. Even my ferry ride across the Halifax Harbour didn’t help. I stared out across the grey expanse with the sick feeling that in my rush to joy, I let someone down. And, I didn’t know how to shake it off.

I checked into my room at Hotel Halifax with about forty minutes until the Scotia Square mall closed. I decided to venture up to quickly browse the shops and grab a muffin and orange juice to store in my room’s mini-fridge. Still feeling like a loser, I made my way through the lobby and started up the stairs to the mall. Elizabeth Gilbert, at the very same time, was descending. She was clad warm gear (which makes sense because not long before she posted on her Instagram she was on the very cold Halifax Waterfront), she was looking down at her phone. Whatever she was watching/reading warmed her. Because I was feeling like I was, I almost let the opportunity to say hello go by. It is my common practice when I see someone of note to let them go quietly and smile to myself. I’m not one to bother folks. But, it was Elizabeth Gilbert. I said, “Hi, Liz Gilbert.” She looked up from her phone with happy eyes and a smile that enveloped me. “Hi, Sweetheart,” she replied in kind. We chatted only moments and somehow my bad day came up but I am convinced I mentioned it because I was so close to tears. I thought at least if she is aware of the day, she won’t think I’m crying because I was in front of her. I suppose it did have something to do with it. Our meet cute, in my mind, was cosmic. I was meant to run into her on those very stairs. Having the chance to say hello, was the Universe’s antidote to my day. Her hug was a salve. I bid hear adieu, feeling more like a million bucks and told her I was really looking forward to work-shopping with her in the morning. She said, “It’s going to be beautiful. See you there!” I found my goodies for breakfast and impulse bought a cozy coat sweater from Reitmans and then it was time to find dinner. I made my way across the pedway to Casino NS, parked myself at the loud crowded bar and had a bite. Rock Star Brother was playing at 9pm so I lingered long enough for a quick check-in, a hug, a few songs, and I was back in my room to do my gratitude homework. I shared with Liz I had created a gratitude bomb, something she invented for journaling. She was pleased as punch! To follow it up, I did a Thanksgiving list while sprawled out on my very own King size bed with Spotify on low. Before long, with the giant video screen on the side of the Scotia Bank Center as my night light, I drifted off with my good thoughts until my 7am alarm sounded.

One of the things on my Thanksgiving list was hotel showers. I enjoyed a long luxurious shower (so sorry Mother Earth, I know water is precious but I do conserve otherwise!) and prepared for the day. I registered for the workshop at the Convention Center, up on the 5th floor, mingled and made friends while waiting for the doors to open. Elizabeth Gilbert stood at the entrance and hugged each and every person who passed through the door. Including me. Two hugs! I moved swiftly so she could keep up the pace and found my seat. Once in, I said hello to the lovely strangers to my left and right. Strangers I spent the day with, sharing some super intimate stuff. We may or may not cross paths again but I’ll always be grateful to them for their tender attention and their trust in me with their own intimate details.

The workshop was set up in a series of letters. We were required to write deep, detailed letters to our Fear, Enchantment, Persistence, Trust, and a series of Permission Slips. I won’t share all of my letters here because much of what I composed and shared with my soul sister counterparts is private. Some of the work was difficult. Some of it was joyful. All of it was enlightening.

I want to share my letter to Fear with you. It goes like this:

Dear Nicole,

This is your Fear. This is what I want to say to you.
I am afraid that I am not enough. Not good enough. Smart enough. I am afraid I am no worthy of romantic love. I am afraid I will be alone and not know what it is to walk side by side with a partner regards me with kindness and respect.
I am afraid I am too obese to be touched. Scared my body will prevent someone from wanting me, all of me.
I am afraid to fail. Every damn day.
I am afraid that in taking care of everyone else I’ll have nothing else left for me when I really need it.
I am afraid of confrontation.
I am scared of gas-lighting.
I am afraid of losing those I love from death, from speaking my mind, from having a differing opinion.
I am afraid of conforming to other people’s moods.
I am afraid of being too cautious, enough to miss real opportunities.
I am afraid of being so strong all the time I might fall apart at the worst possible time.
I am afraid of my own infinite potential because I am aware of it and know I can soar.
I am, sometimes, afraid to die,

Thank you for listening.

Yours,
Fear

I read this aloud to my Lovely Stranger. My voice cracked. I stuttered once or twice, I paused for a hard swallow. She was no different. We were both in tears. We smiled to each other. And then, for the big sob.

Liz invited another Lovely Stranger to come forth, put her back to the room, and read what she wrote aloud. Once she was finished, she asked her to repeat the first line of her letter again, I am afraid I am not enough. Ahem. Liz then regarded us, asked anyone who said something similar to stand up. All at once, the entire room rose. Liz then asked Lovely Stranger to turn and face her peers. The moment she did, there was a collective sob. The memory of it as I type brings tears to my eyes. It was a heavy exercise. It was hard but liberating. The rest of the letters especially that to our Enchantment, was amazing. It started: Dear Nicole, I am your Enchantment. This is what I want to tell you. I love when we have artist dates … essentially, I gorgeous letter full of all the things that enchant, bring joy, fulfillment. I could have written that one for days.

Elizabeth Gilbert is a beautiful human being. An enlightened teacher who still carries her own burdens and isn’t afraid to admit she is still a work in progress. The things I learned from her I will carry with me my whole life. It’ll show up in my creative endeavors, it’ll appear in my relationships, at my workplace, in the streets, in the comfort of my own home. It was a day full of goodness, kindness, bonding, sharing, honesty, heart-rending joy. Liz put me in touch with myself. Taught me about my brain, my Spirit, my whole self. In a way that made the world crack wide open so Light could flood forth. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, to take part in a workshop, please do. Do not hesitate. It was one of the most profound experiences of my adult life. It was a gratitude bomb personified.

I was so blessed to have been there. Grateful to have taken away so much that I will apply to my life and my writing.

In propinquity,
Nic