A Lesson in Thrival

Choice 1200

~*~

This past year has been a lesson in thrival. Yes, I have just invented a word. From survive and survival we go to thrive and “thrival.”

You’re welcome.

This time last year instead of setting new year’s resolutions as I would normally, I set the intention to thrive. 2019 was going to be the year I stepped out of my kick-ass survival boots and replaced them with comfortable thrival shoes.

It’s been interesting, because in setting that intention all my survival moves have been challenged.

February proved a jumping off point, first because I was re-introduced to the work of neuro-scientist and author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, who challenged me, through video and the written word, to fire and re-wire neural pathways in my brain. Basically, to replace old thought habits with new ones so I could create my desired reality based on new, more holistic information, rather than continue to struggle (a survival mode strategy) doing it based on old patterns of being. So illuminating!

He then challenged me to raise my awareness by starting each day with a 20-minute meditation. (“Rest and Renew” on YouTube). I’d meditated before but not with the commitment I now felt to thrival. So,I turned my Ikea footstool into a meditation spot and made it a practice to go their early every morning to quiet my mind and connect to my heart. With each passing day it became easier. In fact, I looked forward to it and enjoyed it so much that it very quickly it became a habit, one I’ve committed to every day to help establish and maintain equanimity. It has served me well. Getting into thrival mode has created a good deal of chaos as the people and feelings that were a product of my survival scurry out of my life. It’s like I just don’t have room for them anymore and somehow they know it.

Believe me, it’s a thing. Look at the people around you. Are they a crutch in your desperate need to survive and let you down when you don’t fulfill their agenda, or do they lift you up to a higher understanding of yourself and support you in your quest to thrive, no strings attached? There is a difference, and I learned that in spades this year.

Indignation be gone!

Part of my learning has been understanding the part indignation has played in my survival strategy. Indignation, or reacting in the heat of the moment, is rarely our friend. How often has someone or something annoyed you so much in the moment that you’ve risen to defend yourself against a perceived injustice and then regretted it? Or it backfires on you?

For me it was another moment last February when my husband and I were walking on our property and watching one of the current trainer’s horses making a meal of a spruce tree in its paddock. Horses don’t eat trees unless they’re hungry. It was mid morning and as I looked around the snow-covered paddock I noticed there wasn’t a speck of hay to be found. My back was instantly up. Horses need access to hay when there is no grass. Without realizing it I started ranting at my husband about winter turnout and how horses need hay and why don’t these horse people know this, and on and on. When he’d finally had enough, and after I’d texted the person in charge in as calm a voice as I could muster (please give this horse some hay so she’ll stop eating our tree) he forced me to look at myself and my reaction. Why was I so quick to react instead of simply observe and then respond? Why was I so hot under the collar about something that a simple conversation could fix?

This new awareness gave rise to a personal commitment to get ahead of this triggered reaction. Over time I realized that my indignation was born of a sense of injustice and this was related to the survival mode in which I’d been living my entire life. With years of therapy under my belt I already knew the whys and wherefores, now I needed to deal with the ingrained coping mechanism ~ the propensity to lash out to protect my personal and emotional space.

So, it’s been interesting. With lots of triggers on and off the farm this year, never mind out in in the world-at-large, I have had to learn to get in front of my reactions. To take stock of the moment and choose my response rather than get lost in my reaction. Wow, is that ever hard. But it’s been such a valuable lesson. I now know the moment my indignation is about to rise. I can feel it first in my chest like a thud. And then my mind clicks in and the wheels start to turn and my heart rate elevates and my mind spins and … and … and … if I don’t get ahead of it BOOM! it’s out there. And the funny thing is, it’s no kind of release, it just ramps things up even worse so that in the end I’m actually doubting what I did and then beating myself up for being reactive. In the end, I lose!

Observe . Breathe . Wait

Getting ahead of my reactions means observing, breathing and waiting. When I wait I give myself time to even consider whether or not I want to dignify the perceived offense or injustice with a response. I give myself the choice of ignoring it or responding to it later from a more solid, less volatile place. One of my strategies is to write everything down to get it out of my system. Journaling. A personal record from the heart that I can then put away and not think about again unless given a very specific reason, say, as evidence. (It also provides great resource material for other writing projects.)

You see, to live in thrival mode we must release all the survival instincts that have kept us stuck in old patterns of behaviour and re-program our vast intelligence to function more efficiently and dynamically. Interestingly, living in thrival mode is less energy sapping than survival. In survival mode we’re always alert and waiting for the other shoe to drop and believe me, that’s an exhausting and debilitating way to live. The Complex-PTSD and adrenal issues I’ve experienced did not appear by accident. However, in thrival mode we have the option to live a more edifying and enjoyable life without placing conditions on everything and everyone to be exactly as we need them to be so we can survive. Isn’t that the bane of our world right now? The fact that many of our leaders are so burrowed down in survival and fear that they must control everything to the point of utter destruction in order to make themselves feel better and more in control?

Thrival is impossible as long as we allow ourselves to be influenced and buried in the deep fear and survival mentalities of people we can’t control. This has proven a difficult challenge for me. Survival mode made me a terrible control freak and I’m still working on letting this part go, but at least I’m aware of it. At least I can get ahead of my negative momentum and stop it before it impacts another. I can thrive on my own terms, in my own happy heart, and there’s nothing you or anyone else has to do to make it happen.

In thrival mode, we claim our power at no one’s expense. In survival mode our power flails to the detriment of all.

As we head into 2020 I set my intention to Thrive 2.0. The next, more advanced level of living a full life ~ flourishing, growing, prospering. Even more comfortable thrival shoes.

May I wish you the same. Happy New Year!

Be well and thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

 

A Story for our Time

Writing a novel is a labour of love. Giving birth to the words, phrases, ideas that have the potential to shape the thoughts and lives of its readers is, in my mind, a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. I’m in the process of re-writing and editing my second novel ~ a work I hope will help to empower women to new heights of courage and self-confidence. It is, indeed, not only a labour of love but, I believe, a story for our time.

My first novel, Murder on the High Cs ~ a light-hearted murder mystery set in the melodramatic world of divas and dysfunction, was completed in late 2016, and was subsequently long-listed by Crime Writers of Canada for the 2018 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel. Since then, it’s been sitting on a shelf waiting for the next step. I have approached a few agents, but to no avail. I guess it’s time has not yet come.

In the meantime, I pursue other creative projects, not the least of which is this other untitled novel.

It’s been in the works for several years now, and is based on the true story of a woman (my late maternal grandmother) who stepped out of the shadow of an emotionally abusive 27-year marriage and into the light of her own truth and power. It’s set in the early 1960s, typically a time when women put up and shut up. Well, a day came when my gran decided she could no longer do either, and she made her dramatic escape.

It’s a story for our time about a woman ahead of her time.

This novel has become one of those projects I can’t put down. I’m invested in it as a vehicle for helping women recognize when enough is enough and find the courage to move on. My desire to demonstrate how one woman defied the odds and did just that is too strong not to finish it. I left a bad marriage once, so in my own way am familiar with the heartache, the turmoil and the emotional blows one experiences when trying to establish a new, more positive reality. Letting the old, negative conditioning go is a battle all its own.

My grandmother’s story continues to inspire me to live my best life and honour my truth. My hope is that through my telling of it she will have the opportunity to inspire other women to find their own courage under difficult circumstances and take their power back.

I’m getting terrific feedback so far. My plan is to be finished and ready to shop it by the end of spring.

Onward and upward!

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Now You See It

Sheer shimmer;

Flash of light

Vibration.

Beyond shining.

More vital;

More alive;

More present behind

The grey disguise.

Mercurial, myriad

Hues ~ blues,

Greens, pinks,

Golds.

Shades of life

Discerned by

Soul. Now you

See it; now you

Don’t.

Now you see it.

~*~

images-3I was thinking of the beautiful feldspar stone, Labradorite, while writing this. Usually I carry a piece with me always as a reminder to be present and to appreciate the multi-layered complexities of life. At first glance Labradorite can look like a grey, uninteresting stone, but hold it to the light and its luminescent beauty shines forth, dazzling and delighting not just the eye, but the Soul.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Luminescent

 

No Rush

Rush …

A fast word.

Adrenline-fed.

Exhausting.

~*~

I learned the hard way to change my life-long pattern of being “in a rush.” Years of adrenal fatigue the rude wake-up call.

Let me give you a tip ~

S-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

There really is no rush.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

No Return

To churn

is to change,

our life

re-arrange.

Like butter

from cream,

to rise from

a dream.

A process

profound,

turns our lives

upside-down.

To change

is to churn ~

one-way ticket;

no return.

~*~

When we make desired changes in our lives or take steps to live a dream we often forget that for a time there will be some discomfort; some churning of our inner world as we move into a new level of consciousness. Every transition brings uncertainty as we process and let go of what has been and make room for what might be. And once we’ve made that shift in awareness there’s simply no going back.

Be well,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Churn

Viper

Sssslithering,

ssssliding,

sssslinking ’round

tox-ssssick tree.

Shiny apple offered;

foe friendship ~

flattering,

falsssse.

Forked tongue a

twissssted tale teller.

Laden with loathssssome liessss;

sssserpent’s sssseditious charm.

Shedding sssscum-sssscaled

faux-ssssparkle sssskin,

bedazzling innocentssss

to wanton, wicked wayssss.

Sssstrike!

Hsssssssssssssssssssssssssss ….

~*~

Early last year I wrote a series of 14 poems prompted by a prolonged (and ended) entanglement with an extremely toxic person. Viper is one of those poems.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Toxic

 

Dearly Beloved

 

Dearly Beloved

Shakespeare
June 23, 2001-November 21, 2017

~*~

Dearly Beloved

Dedicated to those loved and lost

Dearly beloved …
How can you have gone?
One minute living your life,
The next ~ no life to live
And in my life
A gaping, lifeless, dark hole
Where once shone your living light.
Oh, how I miss you ~
Your touch, your presence, your grace.
Such tangible moments
A sorrow sore borne.

Alas, dearly beloved,
I must go on
Minute by minute living my life
In tribute to your wisdom, love and dignity.
Gradually filling the darkness again
With the light of
Your beloved memory ~
Your beauty, your essence, your face.
For such intangible comfort
I can scarce dream.
Dearly beloved ~ I miss you.

~*~

Thank you for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Elizabeth Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved

 

A Taste of Music

Don’t over think this, I tell  myself while contemplating a response to my niece’s inquiry about my taste in music. Amy’s 12 and at an age where she’s developing her taste for many things, music being one of them.

“Well?” Amy waits not so patiently at the wobbly kitchen table, one hand dipping into a freshly made batch of popcorn, the other clutching a glass of sparkling water and black current. No soda pop in this house.

“Music is a personal thing,” I attempt to explain. “It’s an expression of the soul. It can build up, and it can tear down. It can inspire. It can soothe. It can …” Words fail me really. My awe for the power of music is beyond description. And yet, I must try. “To develop your taste for music,” I proceed while staring out the kitchen window and tapping a finger on the table top, “you must listen to many genres to see what resonates.” I pop a piece of popcorn into my mouth and allow its buttery texture to dissolve rather than crunch on it. “I’ve developed my musical appreciation over a life time. Still,” I ruminate, “my tastes were guided most by what I was exposed to around the time I was your age.”

I smile and leave the table.

“Where are you going?” Amy calls after me.

“Don’t worry … I’ll be back.” I head into the family room to a trove of old albums hiding in an out-of-the-way antique cabinet. I’ve had them since I was Amy’s age and possibly even younger. My introduction to music was quite different than that of most. My mother was a professional opera singer, so classical music permeated our home. All other musical appreciation grew through the finely-tuned ear the great masters of music gifted me. I feel incredibly blessed.

I gather a few samples from my eclectic collection and bring them to the turntable Bill has just purchased and set up in the bay window. The old is new again.

“Amy, sweetie, come here, please!”

“But you said you were coming back!” she howls as only a beleaguered pre-teen can.

“C’mon …” I cajole.

With the scrape of her chair against the old hardwood floor … and a sigh of exasperation … Amy manages to manoeuvre her way from the kitchen to the family room. Such a journey, those few short steps. Youth is, indeed, wasted on the young.

“Why do you want me in here?” she asks as her shadow dons the door.

“You want me to answer your question about my taste in music, or not?”

“I do.”

“Well, then, you need to come in here,” I assert. “I want you to experience the music as I would have at your age, and then you might have a purer understanding.” It’s a stretch, but worth a shot.

Amy slumps in the sofa and Abbey, the rough collie, joins her. Puts her head in her lap. Moans.

“You know your grandmother was an opera singer …” I begin.

“Yes.”

“Well opera, naturally, is where my taste for music began. Your grandma started her training for the operatic stage while she was pregnant with me and so naturally it formed the basis of my music education. Would you like to hear a little bit of opera?” I need to give her the choice. Being forced to listen to something that ends up grating your nerves without the option of cutting it short is hell on earth.

“Sure, I guess …” Amy hesitates, and hugs the dog.

“Okay … good.” I reach for a recording of highlights from Mozart’s captivating  The Magic Flute and select the dark, dramatic Queen of the Night aria. This should get her attention. I slide the record down the post on the turntable and place the needle at the beginning of the appropriate track. The quality of the recording is a bit tinny, but the voice behind it is divine. I flop in my chair and watch for Amy’s reaction to the trills and thrills of this particularly fine rendering. Will she ask me to turn it off? She has the option.

Her eyes close; her eyes open. She scrunches her face; she releases it. To my delight we see the aria all the way to 3:10 minutes. At the end we pause for a moment as if to allow the music somewhere to rest. Amy breaks the silence.

“Wow! Wow! Wow!” her eyes light up like fire flies; her countenance brightened. “That was awesome!! Did grandma sing like that?”

“Yes, of course, sweetie. Opera was her life, and was a huge part of mine. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it … but mostly love,” I sigh, remembering a childhood filled with trips to the theatre and introductions to the most glorious music. “It tuned my ear. Made me rather particular about the other genres I would entertain, which is okay with me. I rather like my taste in music.” I giggle to myself. I rather do.

“So, what else do you like to listen to, then?” Amy wants to explore my other musical dimensions.

“Oh, a little bit of a lot of different things, but I am, as I said, particular.”

I pick up the pile of albums from the floor beside me and head over to the sofa to sit next to my niece. She scooches over and I have to kind of work my way around the dog, but the three of us figure it out and I rest the albums on my lap.

“This … ” I pick up the first album with its dark outlines and sunset background, ” … is Hotel California by one of my favourite bands, The Eagles. I was 14 when this album was released. I’ve played it many, many times,” I tell her while feeling the cover’s frayed edges. “Their musicianship and vocal harmonies reach into the depths of my soul.” I get up from the sofa and take the vinyl out of its sleeve; slip it onto the turntable on top of the opera, and place the needle at the beginning ~ the title track. For a few minutes I’m transported to my tumultuous teenage years, a period of my life that relied heavily on music such as this.  Close my eyes. Lose myself.

“Auntie Ell …” Amy calls me back when the song is over and the needle has slipped into the next track.

“Sorry, sweetie,” I give my head a shake, “I was quite lost there for a moment.” I pick up the needle and set it on its rest.

“I know. I watched you. Where did you go?”

It’s then that I realize that the music we adopt becomes our meditation. It takes hold and moves us … for good or ill.

“It took me home.”

Amy gets her quizzical face on.

We continue in this vein for about an hour, lost in time and space as Amy patiently allows me to share with her samples from the soundtrack of my life. The records layering on the turntable just as the music has layered my life. Maybe, just maybe, I can help this young woman develop an eclectic music palette. Balance the rambunctious with the soulful; the pop with the classical. Introducing her to a variety of music gives her a choice. Every generation has its music, to be sure. Mine was light rock and disco. Likewise, every generation can benefit from, and find expansion through, the music of the past and meld it with the present. I’m rather fond of Adam Levine‘s vocal interpretations, truth be told.

I am not so eloquent at describing music’s meaning to me. Music is personal. It speaks to the soul ~ moulds it; heals it; or even destroys it. It is our choice. I only hope that in the sharing of the music I love ~ and that loves me ~ I am able to help Amy find the music that amplifies her happiness. There is music for every mood; every occasion. I have heard of people who don’t listen to music ~ even worse, don’t like it. This only makes me wonder if they have yet found the music that whispers to their soul.

I try new music on all the time. This is one of life’s more gentle explorations, yet we can never underestimate the profound power our choice of music has on our lives. I could write a book and never get to the depth of meaning music holds for me. The fact that I can sing every word and every nuance of a song I haven’t heard in 20 years still baffles me.

It’s been a full hour music sampler ~ bluegrass, blues, country, choral and more. My final selection, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most as sung by my favourite jazz songstress Ella Fitzgerald, leaves tears streaming down my cheeks. Amy brings me a tissue.

“You asked.” I sniff and mop up my tears, embarrassed by my self-indulgence. I really just want Amy to understand that her taste in music is as individual as she is, just as mine is to me. And I haven’t even addressed the impact that participating in good music has on us as performers. One day I’ll tell her about that, too.

She gives me a hug. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie. Now, come on … ” with a gentle push I loosen her hold and take her hand for some help up from the chair, ” … let’s eat some popcorn and turn on the radio to something you like.”

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

Daily Prompt: Music

 

Solitude is Your Friend

A little solitude. Yes, that would be a fine thing. Time to myself. Time to meditate; to day dream and, perchance, to rest.

Hmmmm … a fine thing, indeed.

And I suppose, as I watch my 12-year-old niece, Amy, snuggling with Max the big orange and white tabby who’s basking in the sun by the big ol’ barn door, I am in solitude. By myself, certainly. Enjoying my own company? Of course! While observing the innocence of youth interact with the trust of another species. It’s quite special, actually.

I want this for her. I want Amy to always feel safe and strong, so that even when the seas of life start to billow and bluff she will feel anchored and secure. Solitude helps us find that place within ourselves ~ that quiet place of strength. Lord knows I’ve had to discover this for myself along the passage of life, and often the hard way, but I have learned to enjoy my place in solitude.

I don’t find it necessary to be connected to people all the time. There is peace in finding your place in the world that starts within. Make peace with yourself and the world cannot move you without your permission.

Amy and Max have parted company now. Looks like the old barn cat has found a distraction worthy of his attention. His own solitude. I haven’t seen a mouse in our barn for years, for he and his four cohorts are terribly efficient hunters and leave no evidence of their work. Nothing goes to waste.

And here comes Amy now, running up the gravel drive toward the house and …

“Hi Auntie Ella!” The door crashes open with her exuberance and there’s a kerfuffle of boots kicked off and jacket removed and posted to an already loaded coat hook.

“So how’s ol’ Max, today?” I smile and give her a big hug after she’s stomped into the kitchen. She squeezes me back.

“Oh, he’s a happy boy,” she responds, wistfully. “We had a nice visit, and then he saw something and abandoned me to go exploring.” Disappointment tinges her words.

“How do you feel about him leaving you?” I ask, curious about how she feels about being abandoned, as she put it. We untangle and I move to the sink to fill the kettle with water; put it on the stove to heat, and then reach for the cookie tin in the ice box.

“Okay, I guess. We were having such a nice visit though. I’m sad he left.” She sounds conflicted as she plops herself down at the wobbly kitchen table and rests her head in her hands. Dirty hands.

“You need to wash up,” I admonish, nodding her over to the sink. Without questioning she gets up and wanders over to the kitchen sink and grabs the bar of hand soap. Turns on the tap and begins to scrub. “You know that cats, especially these barn boys, are predators and that’s what they do ~ always on the look out for their next meal. I hope you didn’t take his departure personally.”

Amy finishes washing her hands and turns off the tap. Grabs the tea towel to dry them.

“Not the tea towel, dear. The hand towel … beside it, please.”

“Oh … right,” she responds absently, and makes the switch. After she’s done she shuffles back to the table and sits. Still cheerful, but pensive. “I was disappointed. I was hoping we could stay there a little longer. It was so nice to play with him in the sun. I hope I didn’t do anything to put him off.”

I sigh. “Of course not, sweetie. If he didn’t like you he wouldn’t spend time with you at all. He’s a barn cat. He knows his job and he’s good at it. He caught wind of something else and went to investigate, that’s all.” I set a plate of ginger snaps on the table between us and gather cups and saucers. “If you like, we can go fill the cats’ feed tub when we’ve had tea.” The cats earn their keep, but we do like to supplement their income.

Amy smiles and nods. The kettle boils and I fill the china teapot with hot water.

“What tea would you like today?” I ask. Amy’s becoming quite the connoisseur.

“Lavender and camomile sounds good.” She knows her own mind. This is good. “I’ll get it.” Amy jumps up from the table, careful not to jog its wobbliness, and rushes over to the cupboard where the tea caddy lives. After a couple of moments spent ruffling through the packages she finds the favoured variety. She hands it to me.

“Excellent choice!” I smile. “Please put the caddy away.”

As together we complete our tasks I wonder about the lesson I might teach her today about solitude. We both sit at the table at the same time, and giggle as it wobbles. I really must fix that leg.

“You know, Amy, I think cats can teach us a valuable lesson about how to be alone.”

Amy helps herself to a ginger snap and begins to nibble on it. I know she’s desperate to dunk it. Just a minute more. “What do you mean?” She finally asks.

“Well,” I fish for words she’ll understand, “if you’ve ever watched a cat you’ll have noticed that they’re quite happy to be alone. They like companionship, too, but they’re comfortable enough with themselves not to need it all the time. They can watch a bird fly by and don’t need to point it out to their buddy. They enjoy the chase alone, and often even prefer it. When they do engage with us, it’s on their own terms. Many people object to this innate sense of independence, but I admire it. Knowing how to be alone ~ how to enjoy solitude ~ is an important life lesson.” I pause while she noodles, and then add, “Do we need to control everything? Cats are excellent teachers of letting go and letting be.” The focus has drifted somewhat, but done so naturally. It’s part of the discussion.

Amy ponders a moment and immediately dunks her ginger snap in the cup of tea I’ve just placed before her. “If we aren’t in control, how do we get anything done?”

“Good question. Have you watched Max hunt?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“How much control does he have over the outcome? Is he going to catch the mouse every time? Does he?” I take a sip of tea. Bite on a biscuit.

Amy gives this some thought. “Not necessarily. I saw him get really mad last week when a vole when to ground. It was kind of funny, actually.”

“Right,” I note, “so what else do you observe when Max is mousing?”

“He’s usually alone … and he seems to be having fun.”

“Okay, so in his solitude he knows how to entertain himself. He’s enjoying the journey of being a cat, notwithstanding it can have its moments of disappointment. He doesn’t need a cheering section. Doesn’t call in the troops for help when he’s zeroed in on his next meal. He’s resourceful on his own terms.”

“I guess …” Amy’s noodling again. “Some people don’t like that cats kill things.”

“That’s a topic for another day, sweetie. Cats are hunters and they kill things to feed themselves.” I sip tea and put this behind me. I get particularly impatient with people who don’t understand the laws of nature and always wish to bend it to their will. Take a breath. “Do you see what I’m getting at about being okay being alone, though?”

“Yeah, I think so.” She dunks her ginger snap again. “I’m alone a lot actually, and I don’t mind it most of the time. But sometimes I’d like more company. My school friends always seem to be having a good time without me and sometimes I wonder why I’m left out.” She takes a sip of steaming tea. My thoughts drift back to a recent conversation about her not being invited to a sleepover and how this had devastated her at the time. “But most of the time I’m okay with it. They get into trouble a lot. I don’t need that.”

“You’re a smart cookie,” I toast her with my tea cup and take a sip. “My mother always said that when the crowd goes one way, you go the other. It’s advice that’s always worked well for me. And in its way,” I stop and consider for a moment, “it really speaks to this idea of being comfortable being alone. As long as you can enjoy your own company, you need never feel compelled to run with a questionable crowd.”

“So, it’s okay not to be surrounded by people all the time?” Amy muses. “My friends think that if you’re alone you must be a loser.”

Friends, so-called. “That’s the crowd, honey. What do you think?”

“I think I’d rather learn to enjoy my own company.”

“That’s my girl!” I smile and take a final sip of tea. “Knowing how to live in solitude will always stand you in good stead. Then you have a choice, you see? You can be with people, or not, and be completely happy either way. So many people don’t understand this. I didn’t for a long time, and I was always anxious or worried that no one wanted me around. When I finally accepted it was okay to be alone and enjoyed it, it was amazing how fast new, good friends started to show up.” I get up from the table and walk around to give Amy’s shoulders a squeeze and whisper in her ear. “Never worry about being alone. Solitude is your friend.”

“That tickles!” she giggles.

“I know … Now, finish up. Time to feed the felines.”

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2016

Daily Prompt: Solitude

Bedtime Story

“Would you read something to me before we turn out the light,” asks my sleepy niece, Amy, as I tuck her into bed. “Please.”

With her parents off on a well-deserved long weekend, Amy’s pulling an all-nighter at our house, something which doesn’t happen often, but which she loves because it means she can help out with the horses in the morning. She seems to love this more than anything in the world. Possibly even more than her devotion to all things chocolate.

Having no children of my own, I love to spend these impossibly rare moments with her. The somnolent tête à tête before lights out, when the dying embers of the day’s thoughts finally extinguish and we are left to our individual restorative peace. For some reason Amy, even though she is 12, still likes to be read to before I leave her to slumber. Perhaps it’s the special occasion of it. Our special occasion. It is a moment I am all too willing to share.

“Of course, sweetie.” I whisper with a slight yawn while setting myself down on the edge of the bed beside her. “What would you like?”

“A Shakespeare sonnet,” she yawns, drowsily in response.

“Really …” I tease and smile. She is a young woman who already demonstrates exquisite literary taste, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the William Shakespeare of old she has in mind. “And, pray, which Shakespeare is it to whom you refer?” I ask, while reaching for a small self-published chapbook that lives on the bedside table for the pleasure of anyone who might be interested in a moment’s distraction.

“You know which one, Aunt Ella,” she mumbles with sleepy agitation.

“Old Bill?” I ask.

“Old Bear,” she insists, her bleary eyes brightening slightly with anticipation. “Read me the one about love.”

“That one again?”

“It’s my favourite. He’s such a romantic.”

He’s such a romantic. She’s such a romantic. The he to whom she refers is my horse Shakespeare who fancies himself a poet. No, perhaps I am the romantic. I can’t help myself. When you’re a writer and a horse named Shakespeare trots into your life you have to do something with it.

“Do you remember what number it is in our little book here?” I ask while thumbing through the pages.

“I think it’s XIX,” she mumbles, being literal with her Roman numerals.

I continue to flip. “Ah, here it is. It’s actually XXI. Do you remember what that is in real numbers?” I ask, since the only numbers she considers real are the ones we use day to day.

“Twenty-one?” she murmurs, a little unsure.

“Geez, you’re a smart cookie.”

“I try.” Amy hunkers down under the covers as I flatten out the pages and hold the chapbook up where I can see it in the dimness of the bedside light. My fading eyes fight for the clarity of form and function. Removing my glasses helps.

“Okay then … here goes …” I clear my throat and begin in my best poetry reading voice ~ slow, methodical, lyrical.

~*~

Sonnet XXI

As in the dark of night a thief doth steal,
New love my heart hath seizéd in a trice.
And should I share with you just how I feel:
It’s thumpity-thumpy-thump is rather nice.
A feisty filly brightens this ol’ bay,
And so profoundly fills my Soul with bliss
I scarce believe, this cold Feb’rary day,
A shift from old to new hath brought me this.

I did not look for love; no, it found me.
And in my heart-home set most perfect peace.
Where once twas blind I now more clearly see,
For ‘pon this life love’s joy hath wrought new lease.
And to my heart hath whispered pure and true
With lovely presence of someone like you.

~*~

 We both wait for a moment before breathing a word.

“He is such a clever horse,” Amy says, dreamily.

“Yes, he is rather.” I smile. Amy knows that I am the pen behind these words. Still, Shakespeare, or Bear as we like to call him, is the Muse.

“Read it to me again, please?” My sleepy niece asks as she moves onto her side to face me. The draw bridges of her eyes close in as she buries her head deeper into the duck down pillow.

“Of course, darling.” I pull the covers up around her shoulders as Indy the black cat curls up in a ball behind her bent knees.

I repeat the sonnet ~ even slower this time, wrapping my tongue around every word so as to heighten its feeling until I am, again, without words.

“Again.” Amy demands, sleepily. She’ll be gone soon.

I repeat the sonnet, now at a snail’s pace as if it becomes a meditation, slowing the day to emptiness. (Gosh, now I’m sleepy.) And soon she is gone, into a netherworld I shall never know. Soundly breathing; her long, dark hair tucked in a pony tail; the collar of her flannel pony pyjamas poking out from the top of the covers.

With great care I ease myself off the bed and bend to kiss her soft cheek. I place the chapbook back upon the bedside table where I found it and turn out the light. But for the glow of the Full Pink Moon through the dormer window and a dim light in the hall way the room is in complete shadow.

“Goodnight, my sweet,” I whisper, as I creep toward the door.

“G’nmibh …” She mutters in her sleep.

Daily Prompt: Bedtime