Bittersweet

Daily Prompt: Five a Day

You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

~*~

“I’m not playing their game. Not today … not any day,” Gertrude announced to the rather large strawberry she was dipping into a warm vat of melted dark chocolate. “All these restrictions … I’m really rather bored with it.”

She popped the chocolate-covered berry into her mouth and savoured its warm, bittersweet taste. To her left an array of fresh fruit awaited her pleasure. Banana, pineapple, mango … a food group ~ one of five she’d negotiated.

The health spa had offered to provide a basket of food for a picnic but would only include five foods.

“What do you mean only five foods?'” Gertrude wanted to know. “That’s simply ridiculous! I’m a guest on this private island, not a captive! Now, I’ve paid good money to get away from it all and I want a picnic basket with five food groups. Am I clear?”

“But madame, isn’t that the same thing?” the handsome spa concierge asked, bewildered.

“Not at all!” Gertrude’s fuse was shortening. “I want a selection of fresh fruit to dip in a vat of melted dark chocolate to be delivered to a location of my choice; a selection of fresh vegetables with a side of hummus; a triple-cream brie with a fresh French baguette; a good quality Argentinian Malbec, and a bottle of spring water. Is that too much to ask?”

“But that’s more than five food groups, madame.”

“It is? No matter. I never was any good at math.” Gertrude stood firm. “That’s what I want. If it isn’t included in my spa package, add it to my bill. That is all.”

Gertrude smiled at the memory of her little victory as she cast her gaze out to the warm, rippling ocean, and reached absently for a piece of fruit. She dipped it into the dark melted chocolate. It escaped.

“Damn and blast!” she cursed, and grabbed a silver fork from the wicker picnic basket to fish it out.

“Never trust pineapple … bad pineapple,” she sighed as she finally managed to jab the fork into its side. She allowed the excess chocolate to drip back into the vat before carefully slipping the errant fruit into her mouth. “Hmmmm … good pineapple ….” Gertrude swooned, dropping the fork and flopping into the blanket that covered the bit of beach under what had become her favourite shade palm.

Above her she noticed a bunch of coconuts hovering precariously.

“Oh, I forgot about you …” she smiled. “I’ll include you in tomorrow’s five food groups.”

Captive, indeed.

~*~

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Another Silver Lining

Daily Prompt: Breaking the Law

Think about the last time you broke a rule (a big one, not just ripping the tags off your pillows). Were you burned, or did things turn out for the best?

~*~

In my 35 years of driving experience I’ve had about five speeding tickets. All were, admittedly, due to lack of awareness on my part for whatever reason. The third incident stands out as a particularly meaningful episode in my life … one of those clouds with a silver lining.

It was a beautifully clear Sunday morning in April 1999, about six weeks after my first marriage ended. I was experiencing a surreal period of my life; most unbalanced. I cried a lot, and by the grace of God and generosity of spirit of a few good friends I was hanging on.

One of these friends, who was also my shiatsu therapist, invited me to her country place for part of the weekend, including an overnight stay. Nestled in the heart of a beautiful rolling 50 acre woodland, her cabin was a 24 hour haven for me. When I left I was feeling the first glimmers of joy I’d known in a long time.

It was as I was driving home along the open, two-lane, hilly country road, not paying attention to the speed limit, that I got into trouble. I was lost in the immense sense of peace I’d finally found after weeks fraught with anxiety and sailing along enjoying a new-found emotional freedom.

And then there he was … the man in uniform. Just stepped out of the blue; flagged me down. My joy fled and was replaced again by an anxiety I’d hoped was gone ~ heart racing; hands shaking; helpless.

I tried to be sunny about it, but as soon as he started asking me questions I could feel myself choking up.

He was an older cop. Obviously seasoned. He looked at me with a bemused expression on his face and asked if I knew how fast I’d been going. I shook my head. He requested my driver’s license.

I scrambled for it in my purse and gave it to him. He scanned it back and front and pointed at the address.

“Is this your current address?”

I hesitated. “No … I live in Toronto now … ” My voice shook and faded.

“When did you move?”

“About six weeks ago.” My voice shook some more.

“Are you aware that you need to change the address on your driver’s license within a week of moving?”

“No …”

And, that was it. I fell apart. I’d been rabid about changing back to my maiden name on all of my ID and forgotten my driver’s license. How could I have been so stupid? The only thing I could do was tell him what was going on in my life. I felt so terrible.

“You know,” he said blithely after a moment’s hesitation, “I could charge you with two offences today ~ a speeding ticket for 20 kms over the limit, and  failure to keep your driver’s license current … but I won’t.”

“You won’t?”

“No … let me finish,” he pulled out his speeding ticket book, “the speeding ticket I can’t do anything about. It’s $120 fine and three de-merit points.”

He started writing. My heart sank. I sat there numb contemplating how I would pay such a fine and mortified at how this would affect my driving record.

“But,” he added as he handed over the dreaded ticket, “I encourage you to challenge this in court. Tell them the truth … and tell them that it was the first beautifully sunny day of spring and that you got caught up in it and weren’t paying attention to what you were doing, and that there was no other traffic around.”

He smiled in a gruff police-officer kind of way. He had a heart.

“What about my driver’s license?” I asked, trembling.

“Go directly to the driver’s license bureau and get … it … changed.”

I wholeheartedly agreed to do this and, notwithstanding the need to attend my day in court for the speeding infraction, I was really grateful to this kind police officer. He’d recognized my unsettled circumstances and done what he could to help.

Still, it was his parting words that impressed me the most, and not so much what he said as much as how he said them.

He stopped with me for a moment longer, leaned on the open window of my car and said with emphasis while looking me straight in the eyes, “Slow down.”

Not an unusual thing for a copper to say, but in that instant it was not just the speed at which I was driving my car that was brought to mind but the insane pace at which I’d been running my life since leaving my husband. Racing to close one chapter of my life while racing to start another.

The weekend away had brought me joy, but the admonition of the police officer helped me onto the road of peace. As I thanked him and drove away, I had a feeling that everything would, in the end, be fine. (And, of course, I drove straight to the government office to update my driver’s license.)

As for my court date … it came up about three months later. I attended the court local to where I’d been stopped, and a court officer heard my story before I went before the magistrate. I don’t remember much of what happened, except that my fine was reduced to $40, which I happily paid before I left.

I’m sure that police officer has said “slow down” thousands of times in the course of his career, but he will never know just how much the kindness behind his words that day helped me to begin to see my then frenetic life in a more self-aware light.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … every cloud has a silver lining.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Daily Prompt: Race the Clock

~*~

“Turn back the clock 20 years and be who I am today but with the vitality of my 30-something self? You mean it?”

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A rare flight of fancy it is not. Who hasn’t wished they could step back in time and relive the lost moments of their lives from a clearer and more enlightened perspective?

“What do I have to do?”  I inquire of the ether.

No answer.

“What do I have to do?!!!!” I yell it at the top of my lungs into an abyss of unknowing.

Still, no answer.

“Why do you taunt me so?” I mope. “You’ve made an offer I’m not likely to refuse and then you leave me suspended in disbelief. I made my commitment yet you have reneged on yours. Why?”

Still there is silence.

I sit quietly … waiting. How much good I could do with my life taking the knowledge I have now back 20 years to a new mid-life beginning. As it is, I feel I am in a race against the clock, trying to accomplish much with all that I’ve learned while living in a body battling the ravages of time.

“You can’t go back …”

“Huh? Who said that?” I must know.

“You can’t go back …”

“Well … that’s beginning to look blatantly obvious,” I growl. “You, whoever you are, have deceived me.”

“No, you have deceived yourself. Take what you know now, use the resources you have and start here. You’re in a race against the clock and the more you lament for the past the more precious time you waste in the present. Your future depends upon it.”

“But … but …” I sulk.

“Make this the offer you can’t refuse … the ability to live with an open heart and an open mind, and a grace that enables you to move with the flow of life and live in a state of acceptance. Be present in your life and live in every moment. You will see a great and positive change, I promise you.”

With a sigh I concede my lot. There is no going back. The new offer is the one that cannot be refused. I’ve lived enough of my life in the past already.

~*~

If I’d known then, what I know now … Who hasn’t had that conversation with themselves? Never mind this writing exercise (which I may have snuck in to 10 minutes) I really do feel that living my life now, with all that I’ve learned and am learning is a race against the clock. And I don’t like racing.

Having come through a health crisis and still walking the road to recovery I value every moment of pure energy I have at my disposal to live the life I love. Still, in my wistful moments I do wander what it would be like to live through my 30s as the more grounded and mindfully-living person I am now.

Still, if I was offered such an opportunity, would I really take it? Would you?

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

The Much Maligned Vegetable

Daily Prompt: Embrace the Ick

~*~

Interviewer: “Tell me, Ms. Doright, when do you first recall embracing the much maligned vegetable many of our readers would agree is icky? My notes don’t actually tell me what the vegetable is, perhaps you could elaborate?”

Ms. Doright: “All in good time … Honestly, I just made up my mind it was time to change my mind. Icky is as icky does. I am in no position to make such judgements. I imagine it all depends on one’s definition of ick. Mine was more about the texture, smell and taste of the thing, but I am beginning to see things differently.”

Interiewer: “Indeed, how have you learned to see it differently?”

Ms. Doright: “Oh, I went for food sensitivity testing and the nutritionist said that my body simply cries out for … it, so … you know … one must respect all aspects of the body’s needs, not just what one thinks it needs, which is often at odds with the truth. As well, this delightfully positive woman provided some scrumptious ideas for preparation. I found her enthusiasm for said icky veggie almost infectious.”

Interviewer: “Still, forgive me, after a life-time of loathing one simple declaration has the power to change your mind? I find this hard to understand.”

Ms. Doright: “Well, believe me, learning that I should make this particularly offensive cruciferous vegetable a staple in my culinary calendar came as quite a shock. I’d only ever experienced it as over-cooked, mushy and nauseatingly repugnant. The smell would be enough to push me over the edge. But then I recalled a visit to a Portuguese restaurant last summer where this icky veggie demonstrated surprising possibilities. Baked, or maybe it was stir-fried, with a delightful combination of other ingredients including, if I’m not mistaken, ginger and garlic and other things I love, it’s crispy texture and tangy taste tickled my taste buds in ways I’d never imagined possible … with this vegetable, you understand. But then, I forgot about it until this meeting with the nutritionist. And whereas my initial response to the knowledge that my body adored this veggie (full of vitamins C and K and B6 and dietary fibre and essential minerals) was to screw up my face and declare ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’, I’ve come to realize it may not be so bad after all. I simply need to learn new ways of preparing it. … Do you understand now?”

Interviewer: “Indeed, which brings me to my final question … what the hell are we talking about?”

Ms. Doright: “Why, Brussels sprouts, of course.”

~*~

A few weeks ago I went for food sensitivity testing and found out that the vegetable I loathed more than any other (found the most icky) was in fact one my body finds particularly beneficial ~ though how it would know this when I never eat it is beyond me.

Still, to honour my body’s apparent need for the icky Brussels sprout I’m looking for a few good recipes. Any ideas? (Nothing boiled, please … )

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015 

Baa … d

Sheep herd

~*~

Aren’t you going to write something?

I don’t know what to write about.

That’s awfully rich for someone with a head full of words. You keep telling me you see things to write about all the time, and yet you can’t put pen to paper?

I can’t explain it. It’s easier said than done. The words are there, but I can’t just conjure them into something of meaning. They need to find that meaning for themselves.

Nonsense! A pathetic excuse.

It’s not nonsense. For me, at least, words cannot be conjured. They simply need to find their place. But there’s so much going on in the field of my thought right now the words feel lost. Like sheep. They need a shepherd.

Shepherds guide their flock. I thought you just said that words need to find their own place.

They do … but they need some guidance, too. It’s complicated.

Aren’t you the shepherd of your words? Don’t you need to step into that maelstrom of wooly thought and create some order?

Ah … that’s baa … d. But you are, to some degree, correct. Word herding! I’ve never thought of it that way.

Of course you haven’t, or we wouldn’t be having this ridiculous conversation. Now, herd those words into that pen, for goodness sake, and get on with it. You’re beginning to sound more like a lost sheep than the guiding shepherd you claim to be.

Perhaps you are the writer, not I.

Give me that pen.

~*~

After a bit of a drought, a free writing exercise to get the sheep moving. 😉

Nonsense, indeed, but fun all the same.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

The Stranger

 

Night Light

~*~

“There’s a gentleman I’d like you to meet,” announces my dear friend, Sara Bartholomew-McCreedy with a rustle of silk and wink of an eye.

I’m a young, childless widow, thanks to the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and this outing is a rare treat after a year of mourning. They say “Missing in Action” is as good as dead, and since my William has been missing in action since that dreadful battle, he may as well be dead.

“Crystal Barton-Lane, listen to me!” Now Sara’s most emphatic. “He’s an officer of our age and station recently back from the war. Most pleasing to the eye, in fact. A friend of a friend of a friend. You know how it is. Not my type, but you’d like him. He owns horses and goes to the opera.”

Is she having me on? I roll my eyes. Sara’s at it again, trying to matchmake me out of social purgatory. The war has taken so many men of our age and social rank it’s hard to know where one stands. And those who have come back are often so traumatized I’ve all but given up any idea of finding a man to fill my dear husband’s shoes. Sara knows this, and still she persists.

We alight from the shiny motor carriage owned by Sara’s wealthy uncle who has offered both of us refuge in his sumptuous Bartholomew Hall until we find our feet, and make our way through the thickening London fog to the Savoy entrance. It’s 4 p.m. of a late fall afternoon. Darkness is setting in and we’re meeting this man ~ and one of these friend’s of which Sara has spoken ~ for tea at the Palm Court.

“Really, Sara, I wish you wouldn’t meddle in my affairs,” I turn to her, my annoyance on my sleeve. “I’m not quite at your level of joie de vivre yet. It’s only been a year and I still miss my William.”

Sara sends me a disarming smile.

“Crystal, darling,” she stops me before we enter the fine hotel and looks me straight in the eye, “it’s time to lift that dreary veil of tears and live. Live now! I don’t think William would want you to be moping around for him. You know how he loved life ~ the next adventure. I’m sure he’d want that for you.”

A vision of my handsome husband all decked out in top hat and tails that last night at Covent Garden and enjoying a fine performance of La Bohème makes me shiver. How excited he was about soldiering and leading a troop of his own to battle victory.

“Crystal! Snap out of it!” Sara’s voice brings me back to the present. “There he is …”

Through the amber vapours of a flickering gas light and beneath the lamppost a stranger emerges.

But he’s not a stranger at all … he’s my husband.

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday

This is the word bank prompt:

Fog – Lamp post – Veil – Top hat – Carriage

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Peace Rose

 

Peace Rose

~*~

“The world is bent on destruction at the hands of those who would themselves destroy …”

Grandma Rose raised her tea cup to her lips and sipped. She seemed unperturbed by her words, while I sensed my rose-coloured glasses slipping.

“Fighting for peace is not the wise course, but those who know not how to love themselves can never demonstrate love, or offer true peace, to others. It is not possible.”

I felt hopeless. She’d lived her life while most of mine was still ahead of me. The world seemingly falling apart around me. Still, I could see her point. How many times had I witnessed the mask of love a-kilter on the faces of those who felt nothing but self-loathing? Their acts of redemption couched in resentment and frosted with anger. The glass half empty with a cracked smile on its face.

Fighting for peace ~ the greatest oxymoron of all.

“What is to be done?” I asked.

Grandma Rose raised herself up, replaced her tea cup to the coffee table, and focused her attention on me.

“Love yourself. Genuinely love yourself ~ warts and all. Look inside your soul. Whatever troubles you, address it, embrace it and love it away. Even those we consider unworthy just want to be loved. They act out for attention. They act out because they don’t understand the source of their pain. If people would just look inside to find, address and love away their suffering they would feel no need to cause suffering in others. Only when the people can find this place of peace in themselves will there be peace in the world.”

A sigh rose from the depths of my own suffering; a tear pooled in my eye. I knew she was right. I had learned a long time before that love begins at home ~ the home of my soul ~ and that it resonates and colours the lives of others according to my intention. Love begins with the inner journey ~ a painful journey I understood all too well. A journey that creates empathy and a liberating knowledge of self that disengages the power of pain and sets us on a course of love in its purest sense.

Grandma Rose, ever the philosopher, noted my discomfort and offered this consolation:

“When you ask the meaningful questions, my dear, it is my privilege to give you the meaningful answers. As my wisdom is born of the inner journey so will yours be. It is a hard road but one worth travelling. Remember, the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have have them do unto you.’ As long as you live by this treatise you will not go wrong … as long as you understand how you would like to be treated … and why.”

~*~

A free-writing exercise …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

Lost and Found … Part III

gypsy

~*~

The gentle gypsy gestures for me to stand beside her. I move over yet keep my distance, still feeling my uncertainty.

“Good,” Erzebet’s voice is comforting. “Just a few things I would say before you enter the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom.” She smiles reassuringly, noting my discomfiture. “Don’t worry, you are perfectly safe as long as you follow my instruction.”

I offer a loose smile, my thoughts wandering to wondering what on earth I’m doing here.

“Grace, please … your attention.”

I bring myself back, embarrassed.

“Good … thank you,” Erzebet says without the least bit of impatience or reprimand in her voice. She shows me a long twig the end of which is held firmly in her hand. “With this wand you have the power to establish a protective boundary through which Chiron may not pass.” She demonstrates how to use it by forcefully drawing an arc in the dirt in front of her. “You stand your ground, creating a space for Chiron to respect. Only when you invite him may he enter. You understand?”

I nod my head. She gives me the twig. “You try.”

With the end of the wand firmly in my grasp I sweep the tip of it through the dirt to make an impressive arc. It feels good. Empowering. I sigh and smile. Erzebet smiles back and shares more.

“The safest spot for you is in the centre ~ the heart ~ of the Circle. From here you can see wherever Chiron moves. You can follow him simply by turning your body wherever he goes. You hold this space. Move if you wish but return here for grounding. Do not get trapped between him and the edge of the Circle where there is no escape. There is danger there. You understand?”

I nod my head again. She hasn’t finished.

“When you feel secure, place the wand on the ground beside you. It will be there if you need it. Time slows in this reflective space; it is on your side. From the heart of the Circle, and when you feel ready, grounded, you express your heart’s desire to Chiron. The same desire you expressed to me. Through your breathing seek a heart connection. He is waiting for it. When the connection is made … and you will sense it … you may begin your dialogue.”

I nod my head in understanding, sort of. Even though I have spent a life time with horses this is all so new; so unfamiliar. Still, I am here, drawn into this moment by something I know not. When the student is ready the teacher will appear, comes to mind. Something my mother used to say. Regardless, somehow I am unworried. It feels right. And besides, I don’t want to leave.

“Oh, and another thing,” notes Erzebet firmly, “No judgement; no agenda. Be in the moment and allow it to unfold. The ego has no place here. It will sabotage the true nature of your experience, your true Self. Do you understand?”

Turn off my tornado thoughts? Wow! There’s a notion. Still, I nod my head, and sigh.

“And lastly,” she adds with utmost importance, “thank Chiron before you leave the Circle, which you may do at any time.” She smiles a broad, comforting smile. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.” The word comes out choked. “Yes.” I repeat more firmly.

The beautiful gypsy ushers me into the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom and, taking a deep breath, I walk alone to the heart of it. Chiron stands at the far edge, quiet and attentive. For a moment I close my eyes; take a deep cleansing breath remembering the odd pressure in my jaw. Finally, I place the wand on the ground beside me and wait. After several minutes Chiron has still made no attempt to acknowledge my presence.

I feel sad. Still, I continue to breathe into what I believe to be a heart connection and without speaking make a misguided attempt to convey my heart’s desire by some weird sense of osmosis ~ as if Chiron should be able to read my mind. Erzebet hovers quietly in the background, observing.

Chiron ignores me and ambles over to the spot where I entered the Circle. He paws at the ground, the sound of crackling twigs and sticks and leaves shredding the air. I don’t understand. Not knowing what else to do, I walk over to him and stop a few feet away. His pawing stops but beyond that he doesn’t acknowledge my presence.

The judge in me brings down the hammer of disappointment. Confused, I start to walk around the Circle away from Chiron, hoping he’ll follow. I clutch at my lucky labradorite pendant, an intuitive stone, hanging on a white gold chain around my neck and wonder what the heck I’m doing.

When my walk around the Sacred Circle is complete I return to its heart and wait, wishing, hoping for something, some sign of acknowledgment from Chiron. But he has not moved. I feel numb; a verdict of failure delivered by that inner, unwelcome judge.

Dejected, I collect the wand from the ground and walk over to Chiron again. When I reach out a hand to touch his silken mane he walks away. I thank him anyway and leave the Sacred Circle with a singular feeling of unworthiness. A nearby fallen tree trunk invites me to sit.

Erzebet takes a seat beside me. “When you are ready, tell me of your experience,” she says plainly.

For a moment I have no words. That lump in my throat is back, my jaw tighter than ever. The beautiful gypsy waits patiently for a few moments and then asks a question.

“Why did you not speak openly with Chiron?”

I sigh. I don’t know.

“I see it is difficult for you. Have courage. Feel the heart connection; express your heart’s desire,” she says with a firm kindness that buoys me a little. “Chiron reads your body, not your mind. Speak. He hears your words and reads your intent. As you are closed so he too closes. It is up to you.”

A tear springs to my eye. Erzebet continues:

“When Chiron was standing at the entrance and pawing at the ground making all that noise he was inviting you to a new way of being. To me he was telling you to ‘make noise.’ And yet the entire time you spent with him you said nothing.” She admonishes me gently, “If you want to be able to speak freely and without judgement you must first speak. Yes?”

I nod my head, acutely aware of the fact that even now I am afraid to share how I feel and what I am thinking.

“Grace, would you be willing to visit with Chiron again and speak to him?”

I smile weakly and manage a “Yes …” and, with a deep breath, draw myself up from the tree trunk and walk once again to the edge of the Sacred Circle.

“Enter when you are ready. Remember what I have told you. Speak your heart, freely and without judgement. Where’s your wand?”

I retrieve it from the ground where I’m standing and wave it at her.

“Good … now proceed.”

Taking a deep, cleansing breath I move to the heart of the Circle. As I ground I notice Chiron is standing where he was the last time I entered, however this time he moves to the entrance almost immediately, and waits. A second chance. I drop the wand at my feet. Gather myself. Here goes …

“Chiron …” His name comes out garbled. I clear my throat, say it again and continue, “Chiron … you are such a beautiful boy … It is such an honour to stand in this Circle with you today.” He begins to chew.

“A good sign,” calls the gypsy gently. “He is acknowledging your authenticity. Continue … ”

“Chiron,” I continue, “You are named after the Wounded Healer. I don’t know what your wounds are but I’m here to ask for your help with mine.” I hesitate. “My heart’s desire, Chiron, is … ” I struggle with the words ” … is to be able to express myself freely and without judgement.” I take a breath, a knot in my stomach seems to release as I forget I’m being watched. My throat clears. “The problem is really old and I’m weary with it.”

A tear of weariness masks my vision. With the back of a hand I wipe it away and then focus my eyes on the gleaming black and white of his beautiful piebald colouring for a moment. “The dark patches of your coat remind me of the shadow I’ve been dwelling in all my life and how so desperately I wish to move into the light; to shine … to be heard.”

There is movement in the noble one. From his position by the entrance where he has been standing so quietly licking and chewing affirmations of peace, he turns to face me, as if to acknowledge some kind of understanding. My heart leaps. Has it been heard? He starts lumbering calmly toward me. The sobs of my soul begin to rise from deep within until I can contain them no longer. I double over in the most exquisite emotional pain as the tension of my self-enforced silence is finally released.

Chiron stands still beside me, his head lowered, his body relaxed, as if to honour this moment with me. His quiet manner soon calms me.

“Be the light you are,” he seems to say to me. “Speak and be heard by those who would listen.”

A profound feeling of peace fills me. Somehow in this quiet place, in these quiet but intense moments, something has changed. I seek his permission to stroke his neck. He stands quietly, waiting. Gently I run my hand along the smooth white hair that runs almost the full length of his muscled neck before it turns dark at his shoulder. It is soft and warm, glistening in the last light of the day’s dying sun. We stand like this for a couple of minutes, basking in an open exchange of heart and soul and then, as if to signal his work is done, Chiron walks away quietly, leaving me to stand alone and strong in this healed emotional space we have created together.

In awe of the gentle power of this moment, I turn to thank him as he rests once again at the edge of the Sacred Circle. I leave feeling lighter and somehow more present. My tears dried. The pressure in my jaw gone. My lost voice found; my heart heard.

Erzebet joins me at the tree trunk and we sit quietly for a moment.

“You are okay?” she asks.

“I feel marvellous,” I answer.

Erzebet smiles. “Tea?”

“Yes, please,” I respond, and then stop, overwhelmed by her generosity of spirit. “How can I ever repay you for how you have helped me today?”

“You must remember first that is it I who repaid you for bringing home my wandering Chiron,” she reminds me, smiling and patting the handsome horse. “You have the soul of the Wounded Healer also. Now your voice is free use it wisely and to good purpose. It is a great gift.”

Chiron snorts in agreement.

“Extra carrots for you, my darling boy.”

THE END

~*~

The final instalment of Lost and Found ~ my response to a free writing exercise prompted by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday two weeks ago. If you’re interested in reading the first two parts, click on the links below.

Part I

Part II

Your comments are welcome. This last part became a bit of a marathon.

Thank you for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Lost and Found … Part II

The pathMy heart leaps. What could this exotic woodland gypsy possibly mean?

She doesn’t stop to explain, but continues her slow march through an archway of Sumac and into the thicket with the noble Chiron by her side.

This twist in our encounter intrigues me. My power to resist squelched. Chiron has shot his golden arrow into my heart and hit a bullseye. I am hooked. Whatever medicine the Wounded Healer has to offer is worth my curiosity.

So, I follow.

The walk becomes a meditation. I don’t know where we are going. I lose all track of time becoming acutely and, perhaps, even primitively aware of my surroundings. Not in a fearful flight and fight way, but with a feeling of wonder. Shards of late afternoon sunlight flash warmly through the trees. Leaves and twigs crunch underfoot along the grassy trail leading I don’t know where. Squirrels scurry in the branches overhead while crows caw their eerie cries somewhere off in the distance.

And still I follow deeper into the woods, the legion of maples and ash and pines standing sentry-like, protective and true.  Finally, we enter a large circular clearing ~ a small meadow, perhaps ~ which appears almost as if carved out for a purpose. The gypsy and her noble companion stop in the centre of the circle and turn to face me. I stand my ground some 20 feet away. A shaft of light illuminates her countenance in an ethereal, angelic way I find astonishing. I sense empathy there. Tears well. I dam them.

Chiron stands quietly beside her, his tail relaxed and brushing away the flies that dare to alight upon his muscled rump. He, too, is aglow with an energy which, though it comforts me I find difficult to comprehend. I feel a lump in my throat, and then hear the gypsy speak.

“I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

I hesitate. Confused. Why is she talking to me as if we’ve never spoken before?

She repeats.

“I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

Still I hesitate.

She sees my confusion and responds.

“We are now in the Sacred Circle of Chiron, the Place of Hidden Wisdom. Out of respect it is customary to introduce ourselves to each other, and thus this sacred place, before we begin. Please … ” she repeats again, ” … I am Erzebet. This is Chiron. What is your name?”

I swallow once in an attempt to clear the lump from my throat. “Grace,” I finally choke out with a degree of reluctance and then repeat for clarity … “Grace.”

Erzebet nods.

“Greetings, beautiful Grace. You are welcome in this Sacred Circle where the healing powers of love and truth are gifted to you inasmuch as you are able to receive them.”

“Whose love? Whose truth?” I ask, confused.

Erzebet looks at me quizzically.

“Why yours … of course.”

She smiles and nods her head gently in my direction to acknowledge our connection and steps away from Chiron toward the edge of the circle.

For a moment confusion continues to reign. While the horse stands quietly but for the occasional toss of his head to disarm the flies my heart beats profoundly against my rib cage as though it might burst through. I gasp for breath.

“Breathe, dear Grace,” the beautiful gypsy bids as she glides calmly toward me in a cloud of lavender perfume. “You must breathe, deeply. In through your nose to the full capacity of your lungs and out through your mouth to a complete exhale. It is the first step to healing. Come … breathe with me.”

Erzebet stops a few feet away and begins to breathe in a way that compels me to follow her lead. Her intonation is that of a soothing chant. “In … through … your … nose … breathe … into … your … heart … release …” And as we proceed and after a few of these deep, clarifying breaths my body begins to fill with an unfamiliar warmth. My feet feel heavy and glued to Mother Earth. I am grounded. My eyes closed. Feeling.

“Send your awareness to your feeling,” the gypsy directs. “Where do you feel? What do you feel? What is it telling you?”

For a moment I’m unsure what she means. I hesitate and then offer, “My jaw feels tight for some reason.”

“Good. Now,” she continues, “this tightness in your jaw … it brings with it a message, yes?”

I shrug.

“Focus gently … this pressure in your jaw has a message. It is your heart’s desire for you, in this moment. Speak it … please.”

The notion of listening to my heart through my jaw seems strange at first. How is such a thing possible?

“Do not judge, dear Grace. Let the mind go so your heart may speak freely.”

With another deep breath I make the conscious effort to clear my head and focus on this tightness in my jaw. I am impatient, I can feel that too, but again, that is my mind getting in the way. Another breath, the prison of thought cleared, a moment of peace and then … dare I speak it?

“Go on, Grace … you have something to say, I think. Please, you are safe in this place. With me. With Chiron.”

Chiron is close behind me now. I feel the warmth of his breath against the back of my neck, comforting somehow, as I exhale deeply. “I want to be able to speak freely and without judgement … that is self-judgement.” Tears mist my eyes. I choke them back. Not even these are free.

“Thank you, Grace,” assures Erzebet. “Now … we meet with Chiron. He waits.”

~*~

You asked, I delivered … here is Part II of a free writing piece started last week courtesy of Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday.

For Part I click here.

Yes, it seems there will be a Part III.

Thanks for stopping by … and a sincere thank you to those of you who encouraged a next step in the story. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

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