A Lesson from Childhood


When I was 13 years old and lived in Romania, my mother decided we would take a vacation over the summer with friends. To the sea, in a tent. Camping. All summer long, she said, so bring lots of books.

We would not be leaving the campgrounds much, and will depend on what we bring and the bare necessities within the facility. The parents would be resting, talking. Fishing. There would be storytelling, campfires, but mostly lights out early every evening. When not playing, we, the kids, would be reading.

You can imagine my confusion. I loved books, but why go all the way to the sea, five hours by train, for the whole summer to read?

“We spend too much time watching TV, talking on the phone,” Mom said. “We live in a world of sensory abundance and bonding poverty. This vacation will make up for that.”

Three weeks later, I found myself on the fly-infested rocky beach along the Black Sea coast in a place so quiet I could hear the earth’s pulse. The moaning of the sea.

Sitting cross-legged in a tent no larger than a closet, I read every evening. I met kids from Bulgaria and Poland. Told stories in quickly improvised sign language. Taught them Romanian words, and learned how to say sea and wind — among other things — in their languages. When nothing worked, we found common ground in our English-speaking skills.

What started as sensory and stimulation withdrawal turned into a heightened awareness of the elements. We listened to sounds the wind picked up from afar — broken sounds, but easily heard.

We listened to the lapping of the waves, the sea whispering its own language or that of creatures inhabiting its depths. Sitting on the beach for hours, we tried to decide if the whistling sounds came from a dolphin or some other fish. We laughed so much.

Since then, I’ve returned for more camping, but it was never like that summer, when I learned to go from crippling fear of boredom to hilarious fun and peace.

This post is part of the WordPress DailyWrite, where the prompt is to share a story about learning something new.



Reflections 2016 #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

So, the Blogging Challenge is over. Well, it’s been over for twelve days, but recovery takes time — nearly two weeks since I officially opened my blog. It’s been an extremely satisfying month, but also demanding.

After some rest and clarity, I look back at the comments, at the posts written, and I’m overwhelmed. Twenty-six posts, hundreds of comments, and thousands of visitors.

Thank you.

I liked too many blogs to compile a list of favorites — many amazing stories from many different corners of the world. And I’m fascinated by stories. By the blogging spirit out there. The drive to keep going. I admire it and feed off it, and that’s more than anyone can ask for.

My son caught a pretty nasty bug during the last week of the Challenge. All my time went to doctor visits, taking care of him, follow-ups with the doctor when the medicine didn’t work and he broke out in a rash all over his face and arms. Going back for another visit, another test, another set of medication.

Daily blogging takes energy, which was nonexistent at that point, but then I read my friend Gwynn’s posts, and came across a variety of other posts that moved me beyond words. So I kept going. And as the Challenge came to an end, my son got well.

Amazing how much people need one another, isn’t it?  Need might be a big word here, but you know what I mean. We thrive when we feel connected and supported by each other, and we suffer when connection and support are not available. We have these needs as babies and we never lose them.

Blogging, in that way, becomes a group activity. We need to connect, to read each other’s stories, learn from one another. We continue to move because we are a group. We’re in the same boat, on the same trail, so we push forward — for one another if not for ourselves. And you can’t quit or complain — well, you can, but stay with me for a moment — because it would be a disaster to the group.

So, I came away with the realization that continuing to move our feet is the only way to reach our destination. We keep going, for ourselves and for others, to prove that WE CAN DO IT.

Zone #atozchallenge


So, is the Writing Zone myth or reality?

Sure sounds like an enchanted land where our words flow from somewhere inside through our fingertips and onto our keyboards, every word a perfect concoction of powerful, vibrant prose.

A maniacally beautiful groove that goes on for hours. When we pull away from the keyboard, we’re so pumped with writerly adrenaline, ready for a run around the neighborhood before returning to our beautiful words to polish them off into envious finality.

I believe there is such a place. I spent some time there, but none of the above happened. This widely written-about Writing Zone is an accumulation of zones for this writer — ideas popping out of nowhere while driving, great dialog lines inspired by overheard snippets of conversation, the perfect setting prompted by a hike up Santa Suzanna Pass. 


Somehow, the story emerges, and that overrides all angst, because in the end … there is The End.

Another end we’ve come to is that of the Blogging Challenge. 

I’ve enjoyed meeting you, dear blogging friend, although rushed by time constrains dictated by daily blogging. It’s been a joy reconnecting with old friends. I plan to go though the list and follow you back, if I haven’t already. Sure hope we’ll continue to read each other, and you will continue to teach me much, much more.

Until then … my very best,


Images: Amberzen & DasWortgewand/Pixabay

Yard #atozchallenge


I once read that having a Zen place — a small area of our own, carved into a corner of our worlds — is important.  A place to escape to, perhaps, let the mind and spirit be.

While I don’t have a real Zen area of my own, I sit out in the backyard sometimes, alone, and do absolutely nothing. It’s a place near the rosemary plant, and my sitting area consists of a pile of bricks.


Sitting area

I’ve tried to read while there, but the place hasn’t allowed distractions from a state of complete disconnect. When I brought a book, my mind wandered off the page, my gaze crawled to the top of the trees, the roses, a cat on the neighbor’s fence; my hearing picked up someone’s voice in the distance.

Not being able to read or write was a source of annoyance, but I’ve come to realize that fragmented thoughts made their way through while in that latent state, even if they took shape and reappeared out of the ether much later.

The yard, sitting in this particular place, might be where important thoughts are born, but not where they make their first sound, not where they learn to crawl or walk.  That happens later, when the process becomes complete on its own, free of influence.

Do you have a Zen place  — a tiny corner uniquely your own?