Lost and Found

gypsy

Prompt: Late summer. You’re wandering, lost in the woods. You come across a gypsy wagon, and you call out…”hello?”

~*~

“Hello! Is anyone there?”

The Gypsy Vanner stands quietly beside me. Such a docile giant I’ve just found wandering lost in the woods. I give him a gentle pat on his strong yet soft piebald neck, his thick mane tickling my fingers. He followed me willing, as if grateful for the company. Surely his people must miss him.

I call out again.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!”

The handsome horse tosses his flowing mane and let’s out a powerful whinny.

Then, a woman’s voice.

“Chiron?”

Finally, from between the curtains of the brightly coloured wagon she appears. Middle-aged and quite beautiful, her dark hair knotted in a nest on top of her head with tendrils of its brunette silk dusting the sides of rosy cheeks. Dark brown eyes dart while acclimating to the daylight. She sees me holding onto my belt which is loosely tied around the horse’s massive neck. It was how I was able to lead him here. The gypsy’s eyes widen in horror.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing with my Chiron?”

She jumps down from the wagon, skirts flying, and rushes over to where we’re standing some 20 feet away. Immediately she grabs the belt from my hand and releases it from around her horse’s neck, throwing it then to the ground where it withers into the grass like a dead snake.

“Answer me,” she yells to my face, “what are you doing with my Chiron?”

For a moment I am taken aback. I watch as she runs her practiced hands over her horse to make sure he’s okay. She plants a gentle kiss on the end of his muzzle and turns to me again, her expression not so tender.

“So?”

I don’t feel like defending myself. It was she who allowed her horse to wander and I who found him and brought him back.

“Next time I find your horse wandering in the woods,” I answer in a tone every bit as strident as the gypsy’s, “I’m taking him home with me. He’s too beautiful to be left to the wolves.”

I lean down to retrieve my leather belt from the grass and turn to walk away. To hell with her.

“Stop!”

And I do because I’m unhappy with the way this has resolved. I turn back. There’s a tear in the woman’s repentant eyes, her arms are wrapped around Chiron’s massive neck. I walk closer.

“I’m sorry,” she says haltingly in a thick Hungarian accent I didn’t recognize before. “It was unfair of me to take my anger out on you. Chiron means the world to me and I am angry at myself for not securing him properly so he wouldn’t wander off. Thank you for bringing him home.” She brushes the tears from her cheek and stands once again upright. “I am Erzebet. Except for my cat and my horse I travel alone. I am a fortune teller. Please, let me speak yours in gratitude for the return of Chiron.”

Now I’m uncomfortable in a whole other way.

“Really, it’s fine,” I say. “I’m just happy to have been able to restore him to you. The woods are a lonely place for the lost ones.”

Erzebet’s eyes seem to deepen in colour; almost mesmerizing. She turns to Chiron.

“What do you think, my beauty?”

Chiron puts his muzzle against Erzebet’s chest and sighs.

“Come … what is your name?” she asks me.

“Grace.”

“Come Grace … let Chiron, my wounded healer, be your guide.”

As the two of them walk away, bidding me follow, I feel their heart connection.

Erzebet calls back to me …

“You think you found Chiron in the woods today,” she stops, turns and smiles knowingly, “when, in fact, it is he that found you.”

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Music Never Dies

 

fog
Credit: Favim

~*~

Abandoned in the woods of my mind

The music I used to make.

The songs I used to sing.

The choral symphonies and

A cappella wonders that resonated

So deeply at the time I could never

Imagine my life without them.

Then life happened.

A new chapter unfolded.

A change of direction.

The company of composers

Receded to the heart chamber ~

Gone, but not forgotten

So that when the music played again

Every note; ever nuance

Every syllabic turn

Emerged from the foggy forest of my mind

To live and lighten again.

The pleasure of musical moments

Shared and memories of

Glorious music made live as though

Created yesterday.

But then, I realize, the music we inhabit

Never dies ~ it simply dwells

And resonates in every

Cell of our being to live another

Day, to uplift or

Devour the spirit according to

Our desire. Of course, only the

Heart knows the

Difference.

~*~

Music has always been an important part of my life.

I’m a singer. A soprano. Not of the operatic variety ~ that’s been done in my family. No, I’m a soprano hybrid, I guess I’d say. A little bit of everything.

For 12 years I sang second soprano in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir ~ Toronto’s esteemed symphonic chorus ~ and loved every minute of it. The rehearsals, the performances, the way 180 people from different walks of life could all come together and create music magic together. Swept away by Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven, Faure, Vaughan Williams, Gabrieli and so many more of the classical and modern repertoire ~ for those moments our troubles disappeared as we focused our minds and hearts on giving voice to music that never dies.

I sang Handel’s Messiah 60-plus times. I know the soprano line (solo and choral) in my sleep. Every Christmas we go to hear the Choir and symphony perform this incredible oratorio and the part of my heart where this slice of heaven dwells opens up and I feel the joy of its presence in my life once more.

And this is so for many, many more wonders of the choral repertoire I had the privilege to perform.

But it doesn’t stop there.

All the music I’ve ever experienced in my life ~ opera, jazz, country, rock, blues, bluegrass, folk, R&B ~ resonates within and reflects who I am.

To me, the type of music we invite in to inhabit our world is every bit as important as the books we read and the people we choose to associate with. It colours who we are and our life experience.

I have heard of people who choose to live their lives without music and I am, frankly, floored by this notion. Still, each of us must walk their own path and live according to the dictates of our own hearts.

Among the music I miss singing the most is a cappella. To me, little can match the purest form of the human voice. “Hear My Prayer, O Lord” by English Baroque composer, Henry Purcell (1659-1695) has long been one of my favourite a cappella pieces, and the first time I sang it with the Mendelssohn Choir it moved me to tears. If you would like to experience this short piece, click here. It’s lovely and meditative for a Sunday morning.

I realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. It’s part of who I am and one of those things that reminds me how good it is to be alive.

And as long as I am alive this music will live in me.

Thanks for stopping by …

Dorothy

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nPrompted by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday.

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

What Changed?

 

Balloon

~*~

My world ~

Breath by breath

An ever-expanding,

Colour-full balloon of

Possibility.

Easing toward divine potential.

What changed?

Me.

~*~

Took me a long time and a lot of personal work to begin to feel this way.

It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

And, the journey continues …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

A Simple Message

This post is written in response to a challenge offered by Lana of Living with Post Concussion Syndrome. Please take a moment to visit her inspiring blog.

The challenge: What Dreams Are Made Of … For this writing event, share a dream or two that’s had a great effect ~ even after waking.

~*~

Full moon

I always pay attention to my night time dreams. I write them down. Review the more dynamic ones with my therapist to find the meaning and application to my life. The subconscious has a lot to say and I want to know what it is.

There have been a few times in my life ~ when I was at my most distressed, as it happens ~ when my dreams have actually proven to be of some comfort.

The first one I recall occurred when I was 12 years old.

I was staying at my grandmother’s at the time and one night had gone to bed quite distressed. A much anticipated trip to a farm to see horses and make a new friend had been cancelled at the last minute by my second cousin who had arranged the excursion. Her husband wasn’t able to go so they’d decided to postpone and arrange to go another time.

I was grief-stricken, sobbing myself to sleep on the couch that served as my bed for the two months of that summer at granny’s trailer home. Inconsolable, actually. Burdened heavily by my life in survival mode (though I didn’t know it at the time) I looked at the chance to be with horses, and maybe even ride, as an escape from the unhappy circumstances in which I found myself.

During the night, a dream. Nothing elaborate. A simple message. An angel, it seems to me, appeared as an ethereal, comforting presence and a gentle voice spoke the words “everything will be alright.”

The next morning I awoke feeling much better; my heart lighter. I recall getting off the couch and going over to my grandmother, who was making breakfast in the galley kitchen, and telling her about my dream and how I felt that everything would, indeed, be okay.

Within moments the telephone rang. Granny answered. It was for me.

It was my cousin. She had changed her mind. We were going to the farm after all. Her husband could go another time.

To this young distraught girl it was a total miracle. Just as the voice in my dream had spoken, everything was going to be alright.

We did go to the farm. I did spend time with, and ride, the horses. And I met a girl the same age whose friendship I would enjoy until several years later when life got in the way.

It has occurred to me since that my grandmother, realizing how distraught I was by the change of plans, may have called my cousin after I went to bed and asked her to reconsider. And that it might have been her standing over me in the night, the angel that she was, with a reassuring voice telling me everything was going to be okay.

It doesn’t matter how it transpired. I have never forgotten those gentle and oh, so important words ~ words that have comforted, guided and consoled ever since, during times of sorrow, grief, uncertainty and pain. At times that simple message was the only thing I had to hold on to, giving me the strength and the understanding to know that whatever happened I would be fine.

In recent years I have come to admire the supremely talented Canadian singer/songwriter Jacob Moon who, a few years ago, penned a song called, believe it or not, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” When I first heard it I was reduced to tears by its simple melody and moving words. Jacob had put to music the song in my heart. Now whenever I hear it I am moved to remember that moment, long ago, when a simple message comforted the heart of a distraught young girl. Words I continue to lean on as my life unfolds and realize that in my trials I am not alone.

Here’s a link to Jacob Moon performing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” via YouTube. Please take a moment to listen and hear the beautiful words.

Thanks for visiting. And thank you, Lana, for the opportunity to share this special moment from my life …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Giving Voice to Anger

God's GrandeurAt this middle-age stage of life I wonder: “Is there time left for me to see and be my truth?”

Recently, at therapy, a discussion around anger. My anger suppressed and turned inward.

Emotionally-abandoned as a child, my MO became to hold all my hurt and anger in so as not to create any more reasons for the adults in my life to walk away.

When certain adults abused my trust I, as any child would, turned that inside and found fault with myself.

Of course, as I grew older I learned to understand that being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people when one is an innocent is not a fault. It just is. If we are fortunate enough to survive we continue on our life path, however diverted, the best we can until we find our compass once again and can move on.

Still, for many years I paid the price for others’ delusions. As the perps walked off into their miserable sunset I was left with a heap of baggage for which I didn’t ask. For years I struggled to find a way to walk my path with my head held high while bearing the additional burden of a heavy, uncertain heart.

All the while I held my anger. I turned it inside. Beat myself up. Disguised my pain with the quest for perfection demanding nothing less of myself. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I lived in a constant state of needy anxiety, expending my precious energy making good for everyone but myself.

Well, in recent years this has stopped for the most part. My guided journey to self-awareness has helped me to release a lot of the baggage and, to some degree, lifted the weight off my heart.

Perhaps now it is safe to express my anger in a wholesome and healing way. And perhaps by learning to freely express my anger I will finally secure my voice.

We’ll see …

 

Anger

The beginning of anger

Where does it start?

The abyss of the mind?

The depths of the heart?

Where does it live

When we can’t set it free,

When we turn it inside

So that no one will see?

~*~

Say nothing, I beg you,

No, don’t let them know

Don’t give them another

Bad reason to go.

~*~

So, down I suppress it

Down, down somewhere deep

Where no one will venture.

Still, I feel it creep

Like a deep-sea diversion

Off balance and old,

That feeds my self-loathing ~

My soul feeling sold.

~*~

Dark is this truth that

Resides deep within,

My anger derived

From another man’s sin.

The choices he made;

The energy he stole;

A childhood lost

Made this adult less whole.

~*~

Give voice to my anger?

Oh yes, it is time,

Through essay or story;

Through free verse or rhyme.

Free of the burden

Free of the pain

The loss of this misery

Surely my gain.

~*~

Thanks for visiting.

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

 

The Fabric of Music

Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo

Music has always been a part of our family fabric.

From the ancestors who played in the brass bands of northern Michigan in the 1800s to my grandfather who played a multitude of instruments in his living room, to my grandmother who warbled like a bird while painting portraits of her beloved mountains, there was never any lack of music in my family.

It was only logical then, that at some point a generation would cultivate the gift of music and do something with it.

One side of the family inhabited the rock genre for many decades, touring the west coast of Canada and the U.S.

On our side of the family my mother Lois McDonallin the early 1970s, burst onto the international operatic stage as a dramatic soprano specializing in the Bel Canto repertoire.

It was her career and a vital part of our formative lives. Divorced and raising two kids on her own in a land far from everything she knew, mom was the sole breadwinner and worked long hours to provide for my brother and I. We enjoyed a comfortable, but not extravagant life.

Lois McDonall, my mother, as Violetta in Guiseppe Verdi's "La Traviata." English National Opera production.
Lois McDonall, my mother, as Violetta in Guiseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata.” English National Opera production.

Given her humble beginnings in the middle-of-nowhere, Alberta, and the difficult upbringing she had as an only child in a deeply troubled home, her success in her chosen field of music  was nothing less than miraculous. (Some day, when I feel so inclined, I may write about it.)

As you might imagine, then, our home was filled to the brim with classical music.

All through my formative years my mother’s career base was the English National Opera in London’s West End. My brother and I went to the opera a lot, so our memories of music revolve heavily around this experience.

To bring balance, I guess, my personal tastes leaned toward the country rock of the Eagles and other contemporary bands of the 1970s and 80s.

Both my brother and I learned to play the piano. He eventually moved on to the clarinet.

My musical training finely tuned my ear and to this day if an artist in any genre is the least bit sharp or flat, I cringe ~ turn down the sound, change the channel, turn the dial, walk out of the bar. My ears are spoiled for true sound. I suppose that’s why I’m not a big fan of auto-tuning.

Does this make me a music snob?

Perhaps. But I know what I like and I don’t like my ears assaulted. I’d rather listen to no music than be offended by something I don’t like.

Of course, I sing. Both my brother and I do.

Our small family enjoyed sing songs around the piano of a Sunday evening. Mom took the soprano part, I sang alto and my brother switched between tenor and bass. He’s always been clever that way.

In my late 20s I had the privilege of joining the 180-voice Toronto Mendelssohn Choir as a soprano and relished 12 seasons of pure music joy.

I’d always loved choral music and it was on my bucket list from a young age to sing in a large choir. This particular choir is one of the world’s great symphonic choral organizations, and one of the oldest. It’s noted for its pureness of tone and versatility. Singing with this amazing institution is one of the great music highlights of my life. Handel’s Messiah, Mozart Requiem, Brahm’s Requiem and so, so many more amazing choral standards and contemporary works resonate so deeply it’s like soul food to me.

Following my tenure with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir I spent almost 10 years in a vocal trio ~ ChoirGirlz ~ so called because we met in the choir and decided we wanted to try our vocal chops on something new. Bluegrass and country was our first experiment, which went so well we expanded our repertoire to include a little bit of R&B, vocal jazz, as well as a lot of original material written specifically for our finely tuned voices.

ChoirGirlz' third, and final, CD ... "Livin' It."
ChoirGirlz’ third, and final, CD … “Livin’ It.”

We performed in bars, at fundraising concerts, at festivals, and recorded three CDs. We had a blast.

In 2010, we disbanded. We’d all had enough and it was time to move on.

I haven’t performed in public since, except for a hair-brained attempt at rock music in a temporary band a couple of years ago. Not my vocal genre at all, but fun. Through it I met a great voice coach with a jazz background and thought I might nurture myself into jazz. I enjoyed workshopping that for a while and have a great voice for it, but sadly adrenal fatigue put a wrench in the works. I just don’t have the extra vitality it takes (at this point, anyway) to sustain a performance to the standard I like and an audience deserves.

On one level this makes me sad. Still, if I was focusing on singing I wouldn’t be writing and that, to me, is where the thrust of my creative energy lies at this point in my life.

I have many fond memories of singing and the good fortune to have had it all start in a home filled with love and glorious music.

Once music is woven into our hearts it’s part of the fabric of our lives forever.

And what could be better than that?

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

More Music

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When The Student is Ready …

This week’s Free Write Friday prompt from Kellie Elmore

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now …

“I didn’t understand because I couldn’t understand, I wasn’t ready, Joe.” So said Magnolia as she gazed absently out the window trying to explain her life to me.

“For a time in our lives are eyes are not open wide enough to see what really matters. Our vision is narrowed by the prejudices and the illusions with which others, chiefly our family because they are the ones who first influence us, endow us. We learn to see the world their way, and for most of us the view is disconnected. They have a need to be validated through our eyes” She pauses. ” Still, if their ways are harmful, should we then perpetuate their dysfunctional view just to seek their approval?”

It’s a good question, purely rhetorical, but I answer anyway.

“What’s this got to do with me?” I respond, my ignorance laid bare. She doesn’t miss a beat.

“You are in danger of remaining a slave to the beliefs of those who have come before; of those who have patterned your life,” she says, convinced of her truth. “You are angry all the time, as displayed by your need to curse at the slightest provocation. You criticize where none is warranted. You are defensive to the point of being hostile. You hurt the people who matter most, including yourself, but don’t see it. You do not see it because you are not ready to understand there is another way.”

I suppose I could get defensive as I stand here in Magnolia’s glow. But I can’t, because that’s just it. She is glowing. She is so serene I feel something I don’t know I’ve ever felt before … a sense of peace.

Could she be right?

Could it be that my hostile way of dealing with life is due to an inability to see my Self beyond the programming of my forebears?

“It can be undone … to a degree,” she says, as if reading my mind. “But you must be willing to become self-aware; to explore the rooms of your soul that are darkest and frighten you the most. You must shed light in them, rummage through the crowded closets of negative thought and empty them of everything that clouds your ability to see your own truth. Everything that makes you unhappy.”

Pocket of Sunshine

“But how will I know what I am looking for?” I ask, somewhat bewildered.

“You will know it when you feel it.” She says, again with a confidence that creates a longing in me for my own. “It’s really quite simple when you consider the thoughts, ideas, experiences, people, places and anything else that makes you unhappy, miserable, sad, angry, devalued, diminished, distraught and all other manner of negative emotion. These are the things that need to be explored; that need to be made peace with so you can release them and make room for something new and more life affirming.”

“Like what?” I ask.

She turns to me and smiles.

“Make peace with yourself and you make peace with the world. You promote peace around you, Joe. Everything that makes you truly happy; that brings you such joy you can’t wait to share it with everyone; that causes your heart to heal and overflow with love. When you no longer feel the desire to express yourself through expletives or defend yourself all the time; when there is no need for attention at any price. The price of your dignity; your self-worth; your Self.”

She ponders for a moment.

“Where there is hatred, Joe, there can never be peace. If it is not peace you feel inside, what is it? You must decide your fate ~ to deteriorate in the face of hatred or grow in the heart of peace.”

Perhaps it’s just where I am in my life right now but for some reason this is making sense. I am middle-aged and exhausted in the wake of my reactionary existence.

I see how my life has been misguided, and possibly sabotaged, by the belief systems of people who knew no better than to influence me with their own dysfunction.

I’m beginning to see that what there is, what I have experienced, is not all.

I did not understand this before, but I understand it now.

And when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

~*~

Hmmmm … interesting where the free writing process will take us.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_n

Solo

Mrs. Cardinal

Solo

Upon her comfort

Perch she sits,

Gazing out to

Horizons golden-

Veiled, and longing

For the gilt touch

Upon her furrowed brow.

Not so far, the flight ~

But, ah, so

Alone.

The nest now but empty,

A cagéd prison

Of her untested fear.

But, the sun ~

The sun does so beckon

And the warmth

Upon her back

Would be so fine.

Thou agéd wings unfold,

Perchance the light upon this

Solo flight to shine.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014 

Trust

Trust

~*~

A precious, fragile gift

To you, from me.

Unseen to the eye,

Yet ever present in the heart.

Handle with care.

If you break it,

Don’t come back for more.

~*~

My response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday challenge for this week.

trust4

Yes, I know it’s Sunday. 😉

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_n

Winter’s Field

Winter's Field
“Winter’s Field” ~ taken with an iPhone 5

~*~

In Winter’s barren, snowy field I stand,

My tender heart gripped tightly in his icy hand.

His frosty breath across my naked soul doth blow,

Leaving in its numbing wake a frosted, ruddy glow.

*

I didn’t mean to stand in Winter’s field so bare.

When first I stood it blossomed green and lovely there.

But then, alas, the changing leaves did fall,

And that which I had first observed appeared to be nowhere at all.

*

So here I stand, in nature’s stone-cold lonely place,

The light of love gone briefly from my care-worn face.

Instead a dormant season now resides ~

Within my chilléd heart love’s smouldering fire hides.

*

Yet Winter’s frosted season too must end,

As Spring her warming greeting soon will send.

And so my frozen sojourn, too, will cease,

And once again love’s warmth in me increase.

~*~

Temperatures have plunged again. Minus 20C with windchill is not such a winter blessing.

Still, the frigid weather reminds me of this poem written years ago when my life was in a dark and chilly place.

How the years have changed me; what lessons they have taught. I am blessed to be able to look back on desperate times with an open mind and healed heart.

Winter cannot last forever. Just eight weeks until spring. 😉

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

Note: This image was taken yesterday afternoon as temperatures were dropping. What caught my eye were the prismatic colours bouncing off the clouds. It was just that cold. Do you see them?

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014