Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thursday Tales: A Cinderella Ending

I know it's not Thursday, but this just showed up in my head this morning. :)



"Are there any other girls living in the house?" The words of the official floated into the kitchen from the living room.

I held my breath, waiting for the answer, as the dishwater dripped from my hands into the sink. "Oh... just Ellie," my stepmother answered.  Oh, just Ellie, I mimicked in my head. That woman just got under my skin. I couldn't wait until I had saved up enough side money to get my own place. "But, she never goes anywhere. She can't possibly be the girl you're looking for."

I laughed in my head. Oh, how little you know. But, for once, I was glad for her dismissal of me. It made things so much easier.

But, the poor schmuck saddled with the drudging task argued, "I'm sorry, ma'am. But my orders are to try this shoe on EVERY unmarried girl in town."

I could hear my stepmother sigh dramatically before calling, "Ellie!  Get in here!!!"

This was about to get complicated.  Ladies, if you find yourself saddled with a fairy godmother, make sure all her abilities are intact.  Like, oh I don't know... her hearing.  "I want to be tall" really isn't the same thing as "I want to go to the ball."  I'm just saying. Wiping my hands on the dishtowel, I stepped into the room, hoping the baseball cap I had stuffed my hair into would be enough to shield my face from being recognized.

"Miss," the official nodded his head slightly, with the smallest of smiles tugging up the corners of his mouth. I should have recognized Mr. Thomas's voice... the prince's security supervisor... and his best friend. This wasn't going to be easy to get out of. "Take a seat, please."

Gesturing at my cleaning clothes, I protested, "Is this really necessary? Surely, you can see that I'm not really the ball type."

"Just sit." Oh, why didn't I go back for that stupid shoe? Shouldn't fairy godmothers give you clothes that fit?

I kicked off my sneaker, and offered my thickly socked foot to Mr Thomas.

"Ah, nice try," he smiled. "Socks, too?"  I tugged one off and tossed it onto the floor, once again proferring the appendage for examination. "Thank you."  He slipped the shoe onto my foot, and sat back. "Huh.  Seems to fit pretty well, actually."

My stepmother rushed forward to argue. "Mr. Thomas, I assure you that Ellie was nowhere near the palace any of the last few nights. There is absolutely no way that she could be the girl you're looking for."

Mr. Thomas rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Is that so, Mrs. Baker?"  He turned his gaze on me. "Is that true? And consider yourself on the record, if that helps your tongue."

I glared at him and wriggled uncomfortably. "Well... it's not... exactly... true. It's... possible... that I might have slipped into the building."

"Mmmhmm." Mr Thomas turned to speak into his intercom. "Tell the prince I found his girl, Doug.  And bring him pronto."

I groaned. "Mr. Thomas... I assure you, I'm not what the prince thinks I am."

"Oh, I can see that, miss.  But, the prince is so taken, he's ordered the whole place searched for you." His gaze travelled over my clothes. "Not sure what he'll say when he sees you like that, though."

I stuck my tongue out at him. They can't jail you for that, right?

Still on his knees at my feet, he looked up at me and said quietly, "You could have said something at the ball. This all would have been much different."



I paced the room for the next 20 minutes, biting my fingernails and waiting for the royal car to arrive. When it did, the prince jumped out, not even waiting for the door to be opened for him.  Rushing into the house without knocking (charming, eh?), he addressed Mr. Thomas. "Chris, you found my girl?"

Mr Thomas nodded slowly. "She may not be what you're expecting."

The prince turned to me and fell at my feet, "Oh my sweet girl, I can't believe I found you. I've had Chris searching every house for three days!"

"Yes... I saw on the news..."

He grabbed my hand and kissed it. "It's no matter, it's no matter.  Now that I've found you, we can marry and you can move into the castle and you can have everything...  No more dishes!  No more... of whatever that is you're wearing... My god, I can't believe --"

"Your Highness," I interrupted him gently. "I...  I don't really know how to say this.  You're a really sweet guy, and I had a lot of fun at the ball. Really, I did, and I just want to thank you for the dances. But... I don't really think I'm ready to marry you... possibly ever.  I'm sorry that you went to all this trouble."

"But," he looked at me in confusion. "I'm the prince."

"Yes, I know who you are."

"And you came to the ball. And we danced!"

"Yes...  yes... I was there."

"And I'm the prince." He just couldn't seem to get off that.

"You said that already." I looked over his shoulder to Mr. Thomas for help, but he just grinned at me and shrugged in amusement. "Look, you're really nice and sweet and handsome, and I'm sure that you will find a girl who loves you and who wants to move into your castle and all that... stuff.  But... it's just not me."  I stood up and took his hand, leading him to the door. "It's okay... You'll be okay. You'll have another ball and find another girl to hunt down stalkerally and to live happily ever after with.  Just not with me."

He wandered down the path back to the car, muttering... "But I'm the prince.  She can't say No.  I'm the prince.

I sighed and turned to Mr. Thomas. "He'll be okay, right?"

He smiled, "Oh sure... he falls in love every week."

I opened my mouth to speak... stopped...  and tried again. "Mr Thomas..."

He shook his head, "Please... after all this, you can call me Chris."

I chewed the inside of my cheek. "I wasn't lying to the prince. I did have a good time at the ball... but... I don't really think it was because of the prince. And I know you're busy, tracking down a lot of smitten girls. But...  if you ever have time for a cup of coffee...  you know where to find me."

"Miss Ellie...."  he put a finger to my chin and tilted my face toward his. "I just may do that."

I smiled. "But... just coffee. Don't get any ideas!"


Friday, April 25, 2014

Trusting Myself

I don't really struggle with trusting others.  Not really. I want to believe that you are who you say you are, and I want to believe that you are one of the good guys. I want to believe it, and so it's relatively easy for me to do so.

Who I don't trust as much is myself. Because I trust easily, I have trusted people who haven't taken that trust seriously. There is a tendency for me to say that they hurt me... and while that's true, I don't want to sound like I'm just blaming them for that hurt. They wouldn't have been able to do it if I hadn't trusted them enough to give them the power... or if I hadn't cared so much about what they thought or what they did. Maybe it wasn't their actions, but my perceptions and my beliefs that made the hurt especially painful.

But because I've made mistakes with my trust before, I have a hard time trusting myself that I'm making the right decisions in who to trust now. I second-guess myself a lot. I worry that my trust is misplaced.  Not necessarily because I've been given a reason not to trust you... there's just a voice in my head that plays over and over. A voice that says, "What if you're wrong? What if this one doesn't take your trust seriously either? Where will that leave your little broken heart then?"

I try to ask those closest to me for advice in those times that I'm just not sure... people who love me and who I do believe have my interests at heart. But, at the end of the day, it's me who has to decide.

It's me who I have to trust.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Tales: The Invitation





I could jump.

I could jump, slip into the sea, and I could leave it all behind. There isn't even anyone to miss me anymore.

Can I tell you about it? The story of how I ended up here on this rock, staring into the sea below? I've heard it helps sometimes.... the telling. I'm just not sure whether I want it to help me get off onto the shore... or down into the water.

It begins simply, as I imagine most stories do. We just go about our lives, not expecting that anything extraordinary is about to happen. Maybe that's our problem - the not-expecting.  It takes us so completely by surprise when it does happen that we get swept up in it before we can blink... or sometimes don't even know it's happening until it's too late to change it. Too late to go back.

We can never go back.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where You Fell

I've been listening obsessively to a new album lately, and there is a set of lyrics in one of the songs that I just love love love every time I hear it...

"i believe that you fell so you could land next to me
cause I have been where you are before
And I have felt the pain of losing who you are
And I have died so many times, but I am still alive."

"I believe that you fell so you could land next to me."

I love that idea...  that we are put into each other's circles for a reason.  I love the thought that we go through things and learn hard lessons so that when someone else goes through them later, we can be there for them. Maybe we can't solve their problems quickly any faster than we could solve our own.  But, we can walk with them and hold their hand and say, "I've been here before.  You're not alone and you will get through."

And people do that for us, as well. We fall next to people who can hold our hand, too.  And who will walk with us and help us through the struggles.

I love that.

So yes...  I have been where you are, and I have felt the same pain.  But, I am still alive, and I promise that you will be too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poison of Hatred

Sometimes you can't help not liking people. It's all the little things, isn't it?

Maybe they clear their throat every other word. Maybe they're constantly pulling out pictures of their perfectly coiffed children. Maybe they're weirdly fascinated with a foreign boyband that they just won't shut up about.

Sometimes it's bigger things.

They belittle the things that stir your heart. They put others down. They can't ever see anything good in life.

Whatever it is, and no matter how hard you try, you just can't bring yourself to like them...  and I think that's okay. There will be people that rub you wrong, so you just don't hang around in places where they'll be. You choose not to expose yourself to them all the time, and pretty soon, it really doesn't matter that much that you don't like them.  You can co-exist in your own lives, not bothering each other.

But... hating someone.... Hating someone is a different thing entirely -- I think, because it's something you consciously choose to do. It's not enough for you to simply not expose yourself to the person. No..  no, not at all. Hatred is a choice to funnel constant negative thought and energy toward that person. It's a choice to keep them in your sights at all times, constantly looking for things to support your right to hatred.

But, much like choosing not to forgive, hatred is a thing that hurts most, not the person being hated, but the person doing the hating. For how could soaking in that much negative thought not seep into every corner of your soul?

Pretty soon, it's not them who is the hateful one...  it's you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Some of my Favorite Posts

Maybe you're a new reader to the blog, or maybe you've been with me from the beginning and beyond.  But, there's a lot of posts around here, and maybe it's a little daunting?  I had occasion to read through some of my old posts the other day, and I thought maybe it might be nice to go back and go through some of my favorites.

I know this probably still seems like a lot... but I culled it down from over 900!

Change


Change -- "Change isn't one simple choice. It's a process of a series of steps."

What Do You Do With the Hole? -- "Eventually, with nothing else to fill it with, I just filled it back up."

Becoming is Hard -- A poem of sorts about the pain of Becoming.

Making Others Change -- Have you ever been in relationship with someone and thought "If I could just get them to change this?"

More on Change



Masks and Being Yourself


Be You -- "They can't stop you from being you. Only YOU can stop you from being you, and don't you dare let 'them' be the reason that you hold back anymore."

Behind the Mask -- Who would you be if you took off your mask?

Beautiful Girl -- Did you know that you are beautiful?  Yes, you.

Choose Who You Are -- "You get to be who you want to be. You get to choose who that is."

More on Masks and Being Yourself


Friendship


You Mean Something to Me -- "To mean something, it feels important. It means we have a reason for being. A reason for getting up every day."

Love Isn't About Competition -- You get to choose what you put your time into...  are the relationships you're putting time into right now worth the investment?

What You Put Up With -- "They say that what you put up with is what you end up with. What are you putting up with?"

Accepting People Where They Are -- Thoughts on loving people for who they are and where they are right now...

More on Friendship

Hope


There Is Hope -- When your heart breaks and your soul cries out, There is hope.

Everything Has Been Done Before -- If history repeats itself... what's the point?

Word of the Day: Hope -- Sometimes hope is all we have to hold onto...  A piece written when a friend was quite ill.

Lost in Darkness -- For when the darkness is too overwhelming...

More on Hope


Hurt and Healing



Scars Left Behind -- "...a scar is never ugly. That is what the scarmakers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty... Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived.'"

It's Okay to Hurt -- "It's okay to hurt and it's okay that it hurts to smile and it's okay if you cry over stupid things"

Picking Up When You've Lost -- Starting again when you've been broken...

You Will Come Back -- "Over time, I came back to myself. Because you do. That season of heartache doesn't last forever, and you eventually come back to yourself."

Forgiveness When You're Still Hurting -- How do you forgive when you're still hurting deeply for the offense?

More on Hurt and Healing

Letting Go


Facing the Truth -- The pain in facing truths that we just don't want to!

Let Go of Your Yesterday -- What are you holding onto?

I'm Glad I Walked Away -- Sometimes you have to let go of unhealthy friendships

Letting Go Bit by Bit -- Do you let go all at once?  Or can you only stand it a little teensy bit at a time?

More on Letting Go


Fear


Bravery -- "Baby, being brave isn't about not being afraid. Being brave is about being afraid but doing what you're afraid of, anyway."

Don't Wait -- "Why do we let fear stop us from saying the things our hearts beg us to say?"

Vulnerable Girl -- "I hope you know that your vulnerable heart does not make you weak. But, it makes you incredibly strong."

When I Get Mad -- When other emotions lie underneath your anger...

More on Fear


Kindness


A Simple Thought -- Kindness when people hurt you...


Guts to Be Kind -- "It's being kind to the people you don't like, the people who rub you wrong, the people you don't agree with, the people who do things that you just don't understand... that's the hard part."

More on Kindness




Trust and Forgiveness


Tearing Down the Walls -- Learning to trust again after you've built up walls to protect yourself...

I Can't Trust You -- What if it's yourself that you can't trust?

Trust Is Like a Vase -- "It takes a long time to piece trust back together. It's a possible thing, but it's a slow, long process -- one that requires time and patience, mutual commitment and more time."

Challenge of Forgiveness -- "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiven but Not Forgotten -- Do you struggle with being trusting, forgiving, AND wise?  Me too.

Just Because They Hurt You Once -- "...if we keep on going, keeping people at arm's length, being wary of what they could do to us... where does that leave us?"

More on Trust and Forgiveness


Thursday Tales Flash Fiction


The Mirror -- The morning after a couple's devastating fight... "'Maybe we're over, then.' Had he really said those words? Had I imagined them?"

Dari Mart and Paris -- Two young women... one afraid to dream.

The Mutant -- Poor Abby... the reluctant human queen of Fairyland. A cute one that always makes me smile.

Girl in the Picture -- When the girl in the picture speaks... you should listen.

The Muse -- Another of my favorites...  She goes to the park every week to watch him paint and write him into her stories.  What would he do if he knew?

Waiting for a Boy -- A teenage girl's attempt to create opportunity for love...

At Your Feet -- "How did you make it past my defenses? I really thought that I had built them too high for anyone to climb over. That I was impenetrable. and yet here I am, lying at your feet."

Watching Her Sleep -- They can't be together... but neither can he bear to let her go.

Starting to Like You -- "I'm starting to like you and it scares me. Until now, it didn't matter. You were just a person and I was just a person, and we were just two persons living in the same world, not mattering to each other. It didn't matter if we messed up or if one of us thought the other person was weird or crazy. Because we were just two people. Two people who didn't matter."

The Quiet Girl -- It's the quiet ones you have to look out for, isn't it?

These were the hardest for me to narrow down... So many of them hold bits and pieces of my heart. You can find more of them under Thursday Tales up at the top of every page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts from a Recovering Grammar Nazi

Look, I get it.  People who can't write properly are a little irritating. It seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out when to use "their/they're/there." I, too, know the impulse to correct or mock, and oh yes, the overwhelming need to passive aggressively bemoan the state of improper grammar that permeates the internet. I have been that girl.

Until I just... stopped.

I eventually got to a point where I thought, "Who cares? Does the fact that someone else used 'effect' incorrectly really affect me? Can't I just let it go and not worry about it? Can't I relax?"

What I found out was that... I could!  And I could generally just not care whether other people used the wrong word or spelled something wrong, whether by ignorance or laziness or the sheer act of their brain moving faster than their fingers.

It's not that I never notice it. But I've stopped letting myself be affected by it, and I've stopped not-extending grace to those who may mess up.

So, relax.  No one's doing it just to piss you off.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Still in There

I believe you're still in there.

I know you feel a little lost right now, a little like you don't know you are anymore. You've changed. Of course you have. Think of the things you've just been through. The roads you've walked, the monsters you've fought, the pain you've endured.

Who wouldn't change on a road like that?

And now...  you look back at who you were and you look at who looks back at you in the mirror.  And you're not sure whose eyes they are. You're not sure who you are.  And sometimes...  sometimes in your smallest voice, you have to admit...

not knowing who you are is frightening

But, this is what I know about you.  The essence of who you are, who you always have been...  it's still inside of you. The road you've walked has refined that essence to something that maybe you're not familiar with yet.  But you will be.  And when you become familiar, you will see what I already know.

Who you are, in the past and in the present and in the future...  Who you are is amazing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Insecurity of the Small Time Blogger

“I only have *so many* pageviews a day… what’s even the point of writing?” 

I think that this is something that every smallish (and maybe even every big) blogger finds themselves asking. Of course we do. We blog in a traffic-intensive and revenue-driven society now. It’s very easy to get caught up in the pressure of building our online presence. Especially for those who are involved in large blogging communities, where you exist in the shadow of very successful bloggers, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that it’s only a worthwhile pursuit if you have a lot of readers, or a lot of commenters, or a lot of people sharing your blog, or a lot of people buying your e-book, etc, etc, etc.

But, I want you to think back to when you started blogging. Did you log onto the internet one day, see that some people made money at this, and then decide to jump in? Maybe you did. But, I think that, for most of us, we didn’t. We started blogging because we loved to write. We started blogging because we wanted to share with someone what it was that we had written. We started blogging because God put something on our hearts. For most of us, growing into huge readership or getting to a spot where you could kill it on ad revenue… these reasons weren’t why we started blogging. So, why do we use them as the benchmark for whether what we write is important or worthwhile?

I started blogging over 10 years ago… And at the time, I just wanted to write. I had a lot of friends who also wrote, so we all sort of started blogging – or maybe it’s that we found each other BECAUSE we were all blogging. I can’t even remember at this point. But, it was a small community of writers… and we wrote for each other. Not for the whole internet -- blogging was new and not really like that yet. We just wrote because we did. It was just another way to develop community and friendship.

When I got into Celtic Thunder, I took a break from blogging… about three years. And when I came back in 2010, the blogging world seemed very different from the one that I had left three years earlier. Business had joined with blogging, and it was less about writing for your friends, and more about making money. It was about ad revenue, SEO, writing what your search results said your audience wanted to hear, selling your e-book, building a platform.

It was easy to get caught up in that. It is still easy to get caught up in that.

But… all that stuff isn’t why I started writing. So, when I start getting caught up in it or when I find myself criticizing my own blog because it isn’t building any of those fast enough… that’s when it’s time to go back. It’s time to go back and think about why I started blogging ten years ago.

It was for me. It was purely for me. It was because I loved to write. It was because those days when someone says, “Thank you for writing that… it really meant a lot to me” are worth more than any amount of traffic or revenue could ever provide. Even if those words come from just one person.

Some days, that isn't quite enough and I don’t write for me. Some days, I don’t feel like it… but I try to show up anyway (or at least without too many days off when life gets busy). Because of this one girl.

Last June, I felt bereft of creativity. I felt like I was in a rut, like everything I wrote sounded exactly the same, and that everyone must be sick of me. It was hard to find words… I eventually shared that on my blog, and a few days later, I got an email from a girl I didn’t know, had never “met” before, and didn’t know was reading my blog. She’d never commented, didn’t follow me anywhere that I knew of. I didn’t know she existed.

In her email, she introduced herself and told me that she’d found my blog by searching for Celtic Thunder reviews… but she had poked around , and she’d really liked all the other stuff I wrote, that it had really touched her where she was. And that she came back every evening to read what I written that day. She said that she looked forward to it, that what I wrote meant something to her… so to please, don’t stop writing.

And on the days that I feel like you do… like I’m a small blogger who is hardly a drop in the pond of big bloggers… I write for that girl. And just that girl. Sometimes it’s not the masses that we are meant to touch. Sometimes God asks us to keep doing what we love because what we love is touching ONE person. And maybe that doesn’t seem like much when you blog next to people who get thousands of hits a day. But it’s everything to that one person.

Keep doing what you love. Because what you love, while maybe it doesn’t reach thousands of people on the internet, and maybe it doesn’t bring in the revenue to count as a 2nd job in the family… it’s still important. And it’s still reaching people. And it’s still worthwhile.

---------------

And to the godsend who wrote to me, Thank you.  The reaching out you did that day has touched me more times than you know...
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