Category Archives: Writing

It’s always someone else. Until it’s not.


The surgeon from the ER is straight and practical about telling us what we face.

John wasn’t having a stroke.

I learn new words. Glioblastoma multiform, grade 4.

His brain cancer surgery is scheduled for this Friday morning.

It hurts so bad right now.

I tried to sleep some. But can’t sleep long.

I’ve had about 5.5 hours of sleep in 3 days.

One of our retired law-enforcement friends says it’s the adrenaline. And that it will run out.

And I know this.

I’m not trying to stay awake.  I’m just stuck there.

I’m still in shock.

I still want to wake up.

Now. Please.

John’s my rock.  And he’s in grave danger.

With everything I believe about energy and faith. I don’t know how to be right now.

I have to balance between being positive and being ready.

And there’s no peace in any of it.

There’s so much work to do.  So many legal and financial things.

Things I have no idea how to begin.

Why do we do this? Why do we make the system so painful?

It’s been almost 10 years since John came home from his last overseas deployment.

It was just in time, because I was falling apart.

I was afraid to be alone, because of my emotional state.

The gaping hole that simply his absence created in me.

I was not afraid for his life. He’s the most capable man I know.

It was the whole feeling of him being disconnected from me.

Not being able to pick up the phone.  Not knowing where he was.

Always waiting for a call in the middle of the night.  Maybe.

And I carried a gaping, oozing wound with me everywhere.

No matter how ok I was, I wasn’t. Because my life was constantly seeping from me.

My other half was gone, and the hole in my side would not close.

People were sometimes bewildered as to why I was so deeply affected in that way.

So was I.  It was so horrible. Long deployments are not kind.

And until that time, I had no idea how tied together John and I are.

Tough, down to earth people. We’ve faced so much hardship together.

Things most people never face. And never will.

All my greatest fears of losing this wonderful family of mine were faced back then.

I thought.

And then John went through it with me 2.5 years ago when I developed a blood clot from my ankle surgery.

And he fell apart having to face his fear of me dying.  Because his adopted sister died of a blood clot.

And now, I wonder if it was all to help prepare me/us instead. Like did God plan this all along.

And I don’t want that to take hold in me, because I don’t want to somehow manifest something I don’t wish.

I have poured out my soul in this.

I put a general announcement out to the worlds we’ve been a part of.  College, the Texas Guard, my spiritual groups, my crochet friends.

John’s name has been added to many prayer lists at churches around the world, thanks to connections we’ve gathered over time.

And I hope for many more.

Hundreds of people are praying and sending Reiki and doing energy work on him right now.  On us.

I know I’m alive because of prayer and positive will from communities and friends.

I know I’ve experienced many miracles.

But the only thing so dark as this that I’ve ever experienced before was nearly losing my son in the womb.

Those 8-9 weeks we didn’t know if our son would live or die.

The night I hemorrhaged, and prepared myself to lose my baby, I suddenly heard a voice that guided me then.

“Mommy, don’t give up on me.” 

It was clear as day, out of nowhere.

One of the most profoundly spiritual things I’ve ever experienced.

From that point on, no matter how much doctors told me that I wasn’t facing reality and needed to prepare….

I knew my unborn son was alive.

It carried me through the face of so much medical disbelief.

I so desperately want to hear a voice right now.

 

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Mom Thoughts…


As my kids grow older

and transition into adulthood,

I am ever grateful for 5 little words.

“Mom, I need a hug.”

02/10/2016
9:23 am

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Heart Carvings…


The message that daily consumes my very be-ing.

In every deed and every thing,
let not my life be a waste.
Let not my actions be careless.
Let me live as love and shine as light.
Kindness ever guiding me.

It is how I honor my family and elders.
It is how I heal my wounds.
It is how I speak when my words are stuck.
And when no one understands.

Yet there is an abyss, that once drawn, even a star cannot escape.

Written 01-21-2016, 12:56am
Copyright © 2016 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Ordinary People…


Today a friend shared her experience with reuniting a lost dog with his family.

She noticed him on the side of the road on the way to the store and again on the way back.

So she stopped.

He was exhausted and dehydrated.  He’d run his pads off.

She called the local shelter, who contacted an owner looking for the very same dog.

And she stayed with him until they were reunited.

An ordinary person. Making a difference to an ordinary dog and his family.

It’s easy to think that we don’t have time.

Or to think that we have no real impact in the world.

If I were to disappear tomorrow, the world would continue without me.
So why be bothered? Why worry?

But small random acts of kindness by ordinary people can make a difference to other ordinary people.

It is such as these that make for heroes.

Because now someone’s life and reality is different.

Now that future has shifted for the better.

And they’ll never forget the experience of kindness.

This is how we teach and mold a better society.

And this is why ordinary people matter.

I know I shan’t forget my teachers.

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Memories: Double Haiku…


I would bake a cake
We’d rent a cheap video
One hundred plus came

Pickup truck hot tub
“But bunny rabbits don’t bite!”
Best times forgotten

Written 11-15-2015, 10:50pm
Copyright © 2015 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Flight…


“I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar.” – Wash, Firefly

This is me.

But not in the way you probably think.

I am the chronic overachiever.

The one who commits to too much.

Who steps out and says – sure! I can help you with that!

I can take that on! I’ll be happy to sit down and help you figure this out.

I barely realize my actions, because I’m so into the heart of it.

I catch the current and hitch a ride.

And then I’m Super Man for a while.

Soaring over Capital “T” in a single bound.

Awing even myself with what I’m capable of handling.

Of the difference I can make.

Until I can’t.

Until I’m burnt up like an offering to the gods.

What a sweet savor my smoke and ashes make.

Scattering in the wind like snow.

“You know nothing, John Snow.”

Diffused, I lie dormant for while, unable to breathe, unable to move.

Finally everyone backs off because, well… what can you ask of ashes?

Until one day I gather strength and arise reborn.

Only to repeat the cycle.

Each time I am wiser, but to what end?

The pattern reboots.

Congratulations!

I level up, with now more zombies to overcome.

The problem is pretty simple actually.

I don’t know how to say no.

I always think I do.

But if that were true, I’d be a race car instead.

Written 11-08-2015, 11:55pm
Copyright © 2015 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

You know nothing John Snow...

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Social Media Is Sharing…


Life is rich.  Life is risks.

And sharing it with others, even for a brief moment on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere online, helps remind me of that every single day.

It helps me stop and “smell the roses” as it were.

To slow the moment down and savor it just a little and celebrate it with the kindred spirits I’m blessed to know.

Some say that the virtual social world is a fake one.

I don’t think so.

In some ways, it’s a lifeline for me, in a daily schedule that even a chiropractor would not keep.

We get out of the social experience what we want, what we put in, and how we choose to see that world.

I would argue that you get an authentic experience when you invest one yourself.

But if you’re the kind of person who prefers to put on airs, to alter the tune before you let anyone hear, then that is all you’ll see in the people “around” you too.

Today, thanks to social media…

My day was made because…

  • a 19 year old kid doesn’t have cancer
  • a toddler I used to babysit got married
  • a mom is getting a well deserved vacation
  • a fellow artist met her goal with selling a clever t-shirt campaign
  • and a family reports that their local water park really is the bomb

And so I’m smiling….

     Life enriched…

            And getting back to work, late as it is…

…with gratitude in my heart.

 

Social Media Is Sharing - article and graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5847…


“Oh!  Mom! Mom!” my sophomore son says to me.

“I forgot to tell you! Today in PE, Coach was frustrated with the little kids, so we got to rip the squeakers out of their rubber chickens.”

I blink at him.  My kids attend a K-12 school and often help out with the lower grades.

But the phrase “rip the squeakers out” presents a picture of some rather strange carnage.  Maybe even some mayhem.

“PE? Rubber chickens? Why do the little kids have rubber chickens in PE class?”

“I don’t know, to wave around or something,” he says to me, clapping his hands and grinning mischievously from ear to ear.

“And look!  I got to keep some!”

He whips something from his pocket and holds up a fist full of white tubes.

“And guess what?!”

He declares more than asks.

“I figured out that they all make different notes. So I labeled them and…”

And while I’m still blinking at him, he holds the tubes together in his hand like some sort of modified pan flute and…

…begins to play Smoke On The Water.

With squeakers stripped from the necks of rubber chickens.

That, my friends, is metamorphosis.

And my musically talented son.

#ThisIsMySurrealLife

#AndILoveEveryMomentOfIt

Rubber chicken squeaker pan flute - graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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To Hold…


The birth of a child does funny things to a parent.

The instant they are part of your life, you can’t image life without them.

It’s like it always was

and was always going

to be.

Those first years are the time you get to know your child in a special way.

One that they will never remember and will never see the way you do.

As they grow up, gain confidence, mature, and remember this or that about their lives, those are the years and triumphs you will always secretly know better than anyone.

You will always hold their beginning.

– Julia M. Chambers
04/26/2015

Mothering, from the beginning.

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Hold Coffee Dear To Your Heart And It Will Prop You Up


Aberrant Crochet Coffee - Sunshine In A Cup

Once upon a time, I used to do the right and proper thing by coffee.

Putting it in a travel mug when I needed to drive the kids to school.

But not anymore.

Coffee has tamed me enough over the years, that we can now travel together in peace.

Clutched to my heart, I ride today with my favorite morning beverage in a mere mug.

I think it tastes better that way.

What a visage I must be, pulling up to the school.

Hunched over the steering wheel.  In my plaid pajamas and winter coat.

Mug clutched to breast bone.  Crochet hook pinned back in my hair.

Thankfully neither my kids nor their friends seem to mind.

Piling out of the car I call to them.  “Have a good day!”

“I will endeavor to try,” my daughter smiles and wryly returns.

“There is no try.  There is only do!” I say.

“Ugh! Go away Mom,” she giggles.  “I love you.”

And off she goes, books in hand, chopsticks in hair.

I love you too dear.

Coffee pressed to breast, I pull away smiling.

A little more alert and with a full heart.

I’m such a geek.

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On Writing For Emergence…


Back on November 5th, I mentioned how I’d committed to a group writing project, based on the theme of Emergence.

And for some reason, I’ve really struggled with this subject.  I have actively mulled it over for weeks.  And have had trouble coming up with what I felt I could write about.

To get my head around the concept, I’ve been studying the definition and history of the meaning of the word Emergence.

Initially my only concept of the meaning was essentially that of birth.  Something coming into being when once it wasn’t there.

But simply that take alone wasn’t sitting well with me on a personal level.  My entire concept of reality is rarely that there are night and day changes.  There are all these tiny steps along the way, little micro changes that always lead us in one direction or another.  And it’s the sum of those tiny steps that come together into a culmination that suddenly look – to someone outside – as something completely different.  But from my own life, I know the tiny steps I’ve made all along.  Some chosen with precision, others simply allowed.  But conscious stepping none the less.

But then I got further into the philosophy of Emergence, as a concept that’s been around since Aristotle.  I can across this definition:

“In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties. “

On Writing For Emergence - Article By Aberrant CrochetAnd I realized – this is what I already see.  It’s my concept of Life.  This is about fragments that turn into collections, that turn into systems and then communities.

It’s about the catalyst inside each individual part.

Whether it’s information. Whether it’s the development of where I go in life and roles that I play.  Whether it’s the individual cells that form in the womb and some day become born.

Whether it’s the massive patterns you see in human history and natural evolution, where on the micro scale things seem sudden, but when you pull back and look at the whole, you realize – this was always coming.

Little individual pieces that once operated on their own, grouping together in tiny bits, then connecting again to more tiny bits, and before you know it, there’s a whole new energy.  A whole new life.  A whole new concept and wave-length and even a birthing of ideas and possibilities that weren’t there before the joining.

I’m not sure I can quite flesh out what I’m going to say for my part of that book project, themed “Emergence,” just yet.  But I see community this way. I see the connections I’ve purposely made or facilitated between people this way.  I’ve networked people and information nearly all my life.  I have created entities that did not exist before I came to be.  And even more importantly to me, I’ve facilitated memories.

And in that regard, I am a creator.  Working in my lab, allowing the Hand of the Muse to press upon me, connecting the patterns I see possible, putting pieces of an unknown puzzle together and then standing back to watch it take on its own life.

There’s something here in this project for me.  That I know.

I haven’t quite given voice to just what.  But I think this is where I’ll start.

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As If Part Of A Pink Floyd Song…


A little something I penned nearly 20 years ago….

I lie in bed… feeling as if part of a Pink Floyd song.

Ghostly sounds of the freeway pulsate, filling my ears with wails and cries from wheels and sirens.

The announcement of a rooster acutes the upper register, while groans from a slumbering grandmother warble through at mid-range.

A creak here and there from a tired old house and an exhausted water heater add to the wild rhythm of song.

At least there are no voices, only images.

Written 2-20-1995, 5:33am
Copyright © 1995 – 2014 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Emergence…


Please don’t you wake the monster. This home
is happy when she sleeps. Her only motivation is staying strong to keep me weak. She’ll hold my head down to the fire, to watch me burn awhile. 

– Playing Dead, Bobaflex

So… as if I don’t already have enough to be behind on… I agreed to co-author a book anthology with a group of friends.  By mid-December.  This year.

The theme is Emergence.

Aberrant Crochet - Typewriters Are CoolI haven’t even finished one of my own books yet.  So part of me wants to know why I’d put someone else’s project ahead of my own, again.

But the other part of me wants to kick my ass and hard.  Because my books are long overdue, my writing suffers, and my reasons grow more plentiful by the day.  Like losing a piece of my very identity, sacrificed on the altar of necessity and time.

So committing to a smaller project like this, albeit not my own original, is seed energy to rectify my own need to write.

I also wanted to help support the project (spear-headed by a friend) to see to it that it gets off the ground.  Because I’m good for helping to get ideas off the ground.  Thank God in this case I’m not in charge too.  I just have to write, a personal story, by the end of the month.  The same month I’m doing NaBloPoMo. And then later I’ll help promote the book.

What the hell am I doing.

And what value can I possibly add to the subject of Emergence?

I’ve been sent an example idea from someone else’s article, but I’ve not looked at it yet.  Not sure I will.

It dawns on me that I’m probably the youngest in the group, at 43.  And that the theme everyone else is mulling over has a lot to do with revealing a suppression or an evolution in some way.

So, like an Honor Society speech cliché, I looked to the dictionary for a bead on the subject. Some sliver of insight that would make sense for me.

Emergence:
1) the process of coming into view or becoming exposed after being concealed.
2) the process of coming into being, or of becoming important or prominent.

Yeah, not quite that helpful to me yet.  Then I came to the Great “Not-A-Source” king of all, Wikipedia.  Where I found this:

“In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.”

Perhaps that strikes upon something. I’ll sleep on it and see what comes up.

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Aberrant Crochet’s Gratitude Challenge – Day 3… more or less…


My day yesterday was such that it was impossible for me to write on my blog here.  So today will be my day 3. The challenge said nothing about consecutive days, so I’ll take it.

I did think about what I’m grateful for though.  It was on my mind yesterday.  So I haven’t really skated on the job.

And  this isn’t NaBloPoMo after all (few things are).  Though this week has me pondering on how easy NaBloPoMo will be (or not) this year.  It’s less than 2 months away.  And I always, always compete. Even last year in a medical haze of medicine and recovery from a broken ankle, I competed.  And won my challenge.  But I wasn’t seeking and taking all the contract work then that I am today.  Hmmm….

Today, I’m grateful for people.

Aberrant Crochet - friendship quote - Muhammad Ali

1. I’m blessed to have good friends who don’t let the time and space between us dictate the quality of our friendship.  Friends who are just as real today was they were 5, 10, 20 years ago.  Friends who have no trouble picking up where we left off, no matter how long it’s been and don’t somehow expect our friendship to evaporate if it’s not constantly stroked and entertained and plied with drinks.

In general I believe that when I make a real friend, it’s for life.  It’s not a whim, a fad or a mood.  But I am a physical being with limitations and there are only so many hours in a day.  (Btw, this does not mean I support staying in a damaging relationship of any kind with anyone, because I don’t.)

Our modern world has made our circles of reality both bigger and smaller.  Smaller in reach and bigger on the inside.  Kind of like a TARDIS.  I’m grateful for friends who get that and believe in the same quality of friendship I do.  For the most part, I really have no fear when it comes to seeing old friends.  Our souls are the same.

2.  I’m grateful for the plethora of positive people who continually cross my path in the social and blogosphere.  Not to mention the amazing collection of just cool personalities, interests and information shared.  The support, encouragement and kindness of people never ceases to astound me.  People who don’t know me have helped me when I really needed it.  I’ve seen moods lifted, attitudes shifted and suicide thwarted… ON THE INTERNET.

Some say our fascination with digital life and technology is a sign of cultural degradation and bad for our psyche.  I’m not sure that I can ever really see it that way.  I realize I roam in a small niche of creative personalities in a sea of possible experiences, but gratefully, my experiences have taught me things and added to my life.  And I can’t say any have taken from it.

Again and again I see the inherent goodness of people and appreciate it.  It makes my day, reminds me to lift others too and keeps me going.

3.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor have the skills I do if it weren’t for many mentors who provided love, guidance and foundation in my life.  One in particular was Mrs. Kay Johnson, my school principal and classroom teacher for 4 years.

Mrs. Johnson wielded one of the largest influences in my writing and research skills and an attitude of pursuing excellence in everything.  I would even say she gave me some personality traits I might not have otherwise picked up.  And she taught me that even tiny people can command respect and move the world.  As a kind of runt, and an almost painfully shy child, I needed that living example. She was one of the smallest and most powerful women I’ve had the blessing to know in my life and sharp as a tack. I’d love to tell her in person some day.  I’m sure she doesn’t realize she impacted me that way.

To you Mrs. Johnson.  You weren’t easy on us and you always expected the best.  And I know I sometimes frustrated you.  But you were one of the best things that happened to my childhood and I thank you.

Well… so there it is.
Time for me to get back to work now.

Y’all have a great one!


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Aberrant Crochet’s Gratitude Challenge – Day 2

Aberrant Crochet’s Gratitude Challenge

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Aberrant Crochet’s Gratitude Challenge…


I have been nominated by my soul sister, Laurie Wheeler (a.k.a. Fearless Leader of The Crochet Liberation Front) to participate in the Gratitude Challenge for the next 5 days. Each day I am to post 3 things I am thankful for, and then nominate three friends to take on the challenge.

This started on Facebook, but I decided to share it here too.  What better way to reboot my blog than with gratitude?  Here goes….

Aberrant Crochet's Gratitude Challenge - 6,400 seconds today - Have you used one to smile?

I just fell in love with this guy! You?

1. I am grateful for social media. It sounds like some sort of modern cliché, but the fact remains, be it Facebook, Twitter or Ravelry, I would not be in touch with a whole lot of cool people (and some cool family) if it weren’t for social media. And sometimes that’s what keeps me going.  Keeps me praying for others.  Helps me to remember.

2. After years of a completely different reality, I’m grateful to now live in a well-built home that isn’t threatening my sanity every day.  And there are fish ponds! 🙂  I ♥♥ my house!

3. I’m grateful for work. Nearly every lick of which has been brought my way thanks to a friend and word of mouth somehow.  Because the people I know rock.  And I will give them my all for believing in me.

Now to pour myself a cup of energy, dust off some courage and get to the day….

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Memories Of Terrible Tuesday – 35 Years Later


Tomorrow, April 10th, 2014 will mark the 35th anniversary of an event that changed my life forever.

When as many as 38 confirmed tornadoes danced the Red River Valley.  More destruction from the same weather cell would spill into the next day, affecting parts of Arkansas and Missouri for a total of 59 tornadoes confirmed.

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979.  (Wiki commons)

Photograph of the Seymour, TX tornado of 10 April 1979. (Wiki commons)

They later called it Terrible Tuesday.  Many remember that a mile wide path was carved through Wichita Falls, TX, killing 42 people.  But another tornado also came up through the edge of my hometown of Lawton, OK a few hours before.  And we lost 3 people too.

I remember it being called an F4 or F5 long ago, but it seems that time has downgraded it in the records to an F3.

They say that particular tornado split into two, possibly three tornadoes after it hit town.

I believe it happened at my house.

I always get emotional when I remember that day.  I was 7 and a half, and I remember the day like last week’s trauma.  The jewel green look of the sky when we were at the Safeway grocery store on Ft. Sill Blvd.  The way the air tasted, tingly like a weak 9 volt battery playing in the back of your mouth.  The way everyone ignored the weather in Oklahoma and went about their business.

You gotta understand.  Tornadoes were no unusual thing.  However, usually they were small.  Maybe they take out a barn or something.  Maybe they never touch the ground.  Maybe we get a little excitement, but rarely was it that big of a deal.

People ignored tornado “warnings” all the time back then.

I remember standing at the back glass door, staring at the heavy rain when we got home.  Watching the hail come down and get louder and larger.

My mother worked for the American Red Cross at the time.  She helped train folks in disaster preparedness.  I’d watched every film our local chapter had to offer at the time.  We knew well that the safest place in the home was as close to the center as you could get and away from windows.  And we had regular drills at school, filing into the hallways, crouching on our knees with our heads face-down towards the floor and wall, our open textbooks held to cover our necks and heads.

On Monday night before, there was a PTA meeting at Will Rogers Elementary School – the school I attended and lived across the street from.  Mom and her director gave a presentation to our school and parents about tornadoes, what to look for, where to go, what to expect. The biggest thing I remembered from that meeting was the Red Cross director talking about hail and rain.  He held strings of white beads in front of a poster to represent hail as he described the pattern progression of a storm.

He said, “It’s not the rain and hail you need to be afraid of. It’s when it suddenly stops.

It’s because a tornado sucks everything up.

I stood at our back door, watching the rain and hail get harder and larger.  Suddenly it was like a switch had been flicked and there was a stunning moment of silence against the jewel green sky.  My mom hung up the phone and yelled “Kids, hit the hallway!”

The hallway in our antique home, a house old enough that it still had some of the gas pipes for lighting in the walls, was a tiny 4-5 foot circle that our bedrooms opened to before spilling into the living room.  I grabbed my cat Taffy and my little brother’s hand and we sat down low.  There was just enough room for us and mom.  She managed to flip the breaker before the first crash.

They say a tornado sounds like a freight train….

But I never heard it.

I heard my swing set crash through my bedroom window.  Nearly every window in the house broke.  The sound of glass and boards flying through our home filled my ears.  As did the sounds of my little 5 year old brother screaming as he writhed in my hand and tried to get away to run.

“Hang on to him!”

Of course he was scared.  I tightened my grip on my brother’s wrist, and suddenly my cat bolted from my arms.

And somewhere, in the middle of all the crashing noises, there was a sudden pounding on our front door, just maybe 20 feet away.  Mom got to the door to let my friend Francis in, along with her brother and sister, from across the street.  We didn’t get to play real often, and she was a little younger than me, but Francis was one of my best friends.  Her father was in the army and her mother was at work, so the kids were home alone that afternoon.

I heard Francis’ sister say over and over, “The table fell on me.  The table fell on me!”

One of them was barefoot (or was it two?).  And somehow, they made it through the storm and across the street to our house before their home collapsed like a pile of cards.

And then, as they huddled into the tiny circle of our hallway with us, it was over.  And somehow, our home filled with debris, none of us were hurt.

“There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Mom had grabbed our radio.  An announcer emphatically urged the public not to panic, that reports of a tornado were false.  “There is no tornado. There is no tornado.”

Dad had seen the tornado from downtown where he worked, just a few miles away.  He raced home.  Mom said he kicked in the only undamaged door left in the house.  My grandma lived a block away.  She saw a board come at her through her hallway and managed to get into the hall closet in time.  It would be three days before I saw my cat again, thankfully alive.

Stepping out into the world after that was surreal.  Destruction and chaos surrounded our still standing home.  We lived on a corner diagonally across the street from my school.  Surveying the damage, half the school gym was peeled away and gone.  On one side across from our corner, a neighbor’s house was missing its entire roof.  Francis’ house on the other side across from our corner was a pile of rubble.  And the house across from us next to hers had completely vanished.

People used to steal our apples all the time. I guess they won’t anymore.

Trees, rubble and power-lines were everywhere.  The neighbor’s old tall tree beside us just missed crashing through my parents’ bedroom.  Our old sycamore tree looked shaved on one side.  The apple tree didn’t survive.

Bits of someone else’s swing set were in our yard.  Unbroken dishes that didn’t belong to us had miraculously shown up inside our house.  Even food had been blown around. For decades our neighbor had a saltine cracker framed that was put through their ceiling.  I heard that it finally fell out one year when her husband was fixing the roof.

The day took on an even deeper experience as it was also Passover night for our family.  We weren’t Jewish, but our church at the time kept Passover services after sundown on April 10th that year.  I forget why it was a day earlier than other Passover services.  Some sort of argument about the right way to figure the date.

Normally, children were not allowed at these solemn services.  But there would be no babysitter in our home that night.

We were late for the service, but I remember the deacons and other volunteers helping us in.  My brother went with my father and I with my mother for the foot washing ceremony.  I watched as a woman removed my mother’s shoes and washed away the mud and grass from her feet.  I watched as the symbolism impressed itself upon her.  Tears were in her eyes and suddenly everything felt raw to me.

More tornado sirens would go off that night. 

Some of our church members drove up from Texas for the service.  I heard that one of the families returned to Texas that night to find their home completely gone.  They thanked God they were at services instead.  Everyone murmured how we were all indeed “passed over.”

I remember sitting in a little diner that night, mom and dad talking, trying to figure out what to do.  We couldn’t go home to sleep and we didn’t really have the money to eat out or get a hotel, but there wasn’t any choice in the matter.  I remember hearing mom talk about how the mattresses would have to be replaced, that there’ve been cases of glass being embedded in mattresses by tornadoes.  The diner had those little juke boxes on the tables.  “Don’t Say Goodnight Tonight” was playing at a table nearby.  It was really popular back then, but to this day, that song feels like a haunting to me.

To my knowledge, our neighborhood and school district on the edge of town was the only part of town affected. I’ve often wondered how many people were saved thanks to mom and her director’s lecture at our school the night before.

A lot would change after that.

As the weeks would pass, our community would come together to help each other.  I remember the American Red Cross bringing relief bags with food and toiletries and the irony of it.  Grandpa came and helped my dad fix our roof.  The repairs seemed to go on forever.  And I remember how a year later, it still seemed like we’d never recover.

Our neighbor who lost his roof fixed up his house and moved away.  I can’t remember his name, but I remember that he had red hair and had been so kind.  I liked him and was angry that the tornado took him away from us.  The new neighbors never could compare.

Francis and her family also moved away and I never saw her again.  Never got an address; don’t even know her last name.  It felt like injustice and I’ve always wondered about her ever since.  I remember when the cranes came to clear away the rubble of her collapsed house.  I kept hoping she’d come back.  But it was like a curse had fallen on our neighborhood.  Her home’s lot remained empty for a long time.  And the empty lot left next to Francis’ home (where the whole house had disappeared) remained empty for the longest.

And for years, my brother and I cringed with every swirl of wind, every time the leaves blew into curls, every time a storm pounded our roof.  And for years it was hard on our parents too.  It took a long time to balance the trauma we all felt.  And the financial blow was no small thing.

I would later grow up and move on.  But every once in a while, there’s a look in the sky and a taste in the air that throws me back into the memories of a serious 7 year old child who would never forget.

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I Wish You A Day Of Ordinary Miracles….


I give you a favorite snippet sent to me once, that I’ve embellished upon.  I do not know who the originator was.

“Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles….
A fresh pot of coffee you didn’t make yourself.
dandelion_wallpaper_1280x800An unexpected phone call from an old friend.
Green stoplights on your way to work.
The fastest line at the grocery store.
Your keys right where you left them.”

And I tried to think of more ordinary miracles and added…

A good sing-along song on the radio.
A meaningful compliment paid to you.
A coupon for your favorite snack.
A discount at the gas station.
A $20 bill you forgot in a pocket.
A word of gratitude paid to you by another.
An “A” on that test, or equivalent at work.
And a chore already done.

I’m sure you can think of more ordinary miracles as well!

As we move into this holiday for Gratitude, I just want to say thanks for sharing with me, for brightening my day with your responses, for supporting my quirky dreams and for sharing with others.  Thank you for your bright lights and thanks for your feedback each step of the way.

I wish you the brightest of daily blessings….
~ Julia

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The Balance Between Communicating Too Much And Not Enough


I like details.

I like specific questions. I like specific answers.  I like conversation.  And most especially (besides sheer writing for the joy of it), I like thorough two-way communication.

But sometimes, no matter how much you like to communicate, you find yourself on uneven ground, face to face with someone else who does not communicate the same way as you.

communication_blocked_signedI’ve been told that I’m too bold, and that I’m too timid.  That I’m too detailed and that I don’t communicate enough detail.  And so often times, it begins to feel like some kind of dance.  Which direction will this dance partner take me today?  And will I be able to follow suit?

And that’s without the “do I take them literally, figuratively or read between the lines” sub-rhythm that I also know all too well.

Since I like writing, and because I like being thorough, when it comes to letters and emails I can tend to get wordy if I’m not careful.  And I tend to write the same way I’d converse with someone.  Some people really like that.

But not everyone.

Some people will only communicate over email in cryptic short bursts.  And more often than not, these are the people who tell me that I don’t communicate enough.  When the reality is, I gave them so much information, they just didn’t really read it.

Often when I catch on to someone’s short communication pattern, I will try to pattern after them, and keep my responses short like theirs.  My husband is more like this.  I’ve figured out that I need to keep any emails I send him short, focused and sweet, or call him instead.  One or two lines, no more.  Otherwise, he won’t read my email.  He just won’t.  And then I’ll hear later how I never told him something.

However sometimes, especially in business, I can’t justify using short burst communication, because there are too many important details that need to be addressed.  And this is when I really need whomever I’m working with to get over their preferences and adapt to me so we can get things done.

And yet, the cryptic short burst communication type folks will still tend not to read what the information they are sent.

Sometimes I try to relegate communication to “phone only” with these individuals, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to refuse to use phone conversations anymore.  Which to me is quite weird, because typing is such a one-dimensional way to communicate, much less in a few sentences of 8 words or less.

I’ve seen more misunderstandings take place thanks to only communicating in text over the internet than anything else in all my life.  Ninety percent of the time, if someone would just pick up the phone, there wouldn’t end up being a misunderstanding at all.

There’s a little rule of thumb my husband taught me that he used in his sales job and that I view as a golden truth: If it takes more than two emails, it’s time to pick up the phone.

But you can’t force someone to call you.

These are the times that try my professional soul.  And sometimes my PTO motherhood soul.  And sometimes my wifely soul too.  Though hubby and I have the luxury of recapping with each other every day.

So when that important communication blunder takes place, what can you do?

One idea: Try to head it off before it takes place.  Establish a particular format or a thumb-nail sketch of rules that you use to govern your communication by.

For instance, I used to require a phone number before I would work with anyone over a custom order and insist on talking with them over the phone at some point.  It helped a lot.  It kept me from hours on the computer just trying to talk to people, and it kept me from misunderstanding something because all I got was a 10 word response.  Having phone access gave my clients and I both a much clearer understanding of one another.  Not to mention it kept people from forgetting about their orders too.

However, I’ve gotten away from that practice, thinking perhaps I didn’t really need it, especially for internet sales.  And it hasn’t worked out as well.  Some things work out just fine and others, not so much.  When I’ve asked for someone’s address four times, it gets a little annoying after a while.  So I’m probably going to reinstate that rule again.  Along with a general structure of required information that I want before I even consider their project.

When push comes to shove in business and communication, we need a structure and a plan.  Since the only person in the world we can truly control is ourselves, sometimes we just have to check ourselves, try to listen to the beat, roll with the music and dance anyway.  But other times, we need to build checks and balances into our system to take care of potential issues that arise.  Like my phone number requirement for custom work.  Or a basic who, what, why, where, when, how approach.

The truth is, people really mostly want to hear about themselves, what interests them most and be pampered.  And it’s our job as professionals to figure out what all that is. We listen, we ask, we take notes.  But somewhere in there the customer has to meet us in the middle.

I’m here to serve you.

I’m not however a mind reader.  I do not offer, nor do I provide that service.

So it’s your job to 1) help me understand how best to serve you and 2) help me understand what your expectations are.  Because I cannot deliver what I don’t understand and I cannot live up to something I have no idea exists, much less never offered.

Which means all I have left is to take you at your own words.

All ten of them.

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Filed under Business, Crochet Ruminations, NaBloPoMo, Writing

Follow Your Heart – It’s Not Really That Clichéd – Crochet Ruminations


You know the best advice I can give an artist seeking to sell for profit is to follow your heart when it comes to creativity and listen to your customers’ feedback.

Every time I’ve ever tried to do something my heart wasn’t really into, from that creative artistic point of view, it never would sell well.

In the beginning, I got a lot of shoulds on what to make from peers and others who had input to give me, but who weren’t ever buying from me.  “You should make dog clothes!”  I don’t own dogs and I don’t know the first thing about shaping for them, I don’t think so.  “You should make purses!” Well, I might make a couple, but if I’m not really a bag lady myself, how can I possibly find it interesting enough to create them for profit or be in tune with what people want in a crochet purse. “I just want to see you succeed,” another artist told me at a show after giving unsolicited advice.

And you know what else?  Not once has a customer treated me that way either.  Kind of interesting.  Maybe they like my ideas just the way they are.

And that’s just it.  I have always succeeded by being me.  And not by trying to imitate someone else.

I believe people buy handmade and art because they are expressions of someone, and they are drawn to that spirit.  When it’s authentic, they’re fans.  When it’s not, there’s nothing to distinguish you the individual from someone else.  And when we listen to fans and to the people who are actually putting money into our hands, we’re listening to people who have tapped into our creative spirit.  Which can be really helpful when we’re feeling a bit lost and need direction.

Anyway, so though it sounds clichéd, seriously – follow your heart in your craft.  Pour yourself into it.  And if you can’t?  If there’s a block? Then find an avenue that isn’t blocked.  Nowhere does it say that you have to be a yellow pencil.  Be inspired by someone?  Sure.  But genuinely do your own thing!

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Heartbeat In My Ears…


My true story. 

There’s a heartbeat sounding in my ears.

“See mom, these are the Hot Wheels I want to keep, because they have moving parts.”  The rest can go to the fundraiser.

Moving parts are always more interesting.

Thump-thump.

I hear the crashing sound of a demolition crew.

Wait….  That’s not right.  I’m sitting at a stop light.  At an intersection on the edge of town.  Nothing but trees and cacti on my right.  I turn to my left.

Heartbeat.

There’s an infinity in the space between moments.  Did I leave my body?

Heartbeat.  Silence.

My child!

If I left my body, it wasn’t for long.  But I’m frozen.

The pickup driver’s hair is blonde.

Flash…..

My earliest childhood memory takes place in my father’s arms at an amusement park.  My parents told me that I must have been about 18 months old when they took that trip.

I’m staring at a ride that looks something like a huge airplane propeller with rockets on each end.  It’s painted red, white and blue, with one end red, the other blue and a band of white at the axis.

The propeller spins and there is a boy in the blue rocket.  His shirt is yellow.  He’s screaming his head off and I can see a look in his eyes.

Flash…..

A black pickup is hanging in mid-air.  It twists and grows larger.

Fractured glass.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  There is a look in his eyes.

My hand flies out in front of my son.

Flash…..

It’s Friday before Spring Break 2005.  I’m going to see Grandma Dot and Grandpa Jack.  I packed the antique dishes Grandma Dot’s great-uncle gave her, that she passed on to me.  He was the US ambassador to Mexico once and he brought her back this set of white dishes.  I want to ask her for more details to complete the story about these dishes.  She always remembers the stories to everything.  But when I tried to ask over the phone, she wasn’t sure which set I was talking about.

They were last to load into the trunk.

“Darling, let me keep the kids.  I know you wonder if this might be the last time they’ll get to see the kids or not, but you’ll be stressed out trying to keep them away from the breakables at your grandparents.  I’ll keep the kids.  Just go, enjoy your time with your grandparents.”

My husband is wonderful.  Though guilt worries me.  What if this is the last time Grandpa is able to see his great-grandchildren?  But John’s right – Grandma’s house is not child-proof by any means.  I remove the car seats from the back seat, say goodbye to my children and leave them with John.

I always say prayers in the car when I go on a trip.

It’s Friday before spring break and Interstate 35 is filled with college students, excited for the break.  Mid-terms are over and I see kids hanging out of cars at 65 miles an hour whooping up the day.

It’s dangerous.  But I also remember college mid-terms and how delirious they make you feel.  Stress that only the young can take.  Why do we do that to them?

At mile marker 299:  The highway suddenly goes from three lanes to two, with no warning.

Some kids cut off a yellow moving truck; they’re trying to merge and going too fast.  The yellow truck practically stands on its brakes and every car around it suddenly fishes right or left to avoid collision.  There is a full shoulder on the left which only lasts for about one mile.  The young man in front of me and I quickly and successfully move to that left shoulder and safely get by.

Suddenly, there’s a force from behind me that is so great.

Can sounds blind you?

I look to my rear-view and see the demolition hitch.  It’s coming through my back window towards my head.  The white Ford F-350 doesn’t have a grill on the front.  There’s something else attached.  It looks like the front of a snow-plow.

The truck is so much higher than my silver Altima, that it never hits my bumper.  Unbounded, it plows through my back window and seat. The trunk of my car is center-punched down the middle.  Slammed, I collide into the car ahead of me.

For an instant, everything is black.

My hood blows.  Glass sprays like snow.  My shoulder hurts like hell.  My air-bag never deployed.

Just two weeks before this, I saw a little silver car smashed between the highway median wall and a semi truck on the way to the kids’ school.  I came home and told my husband, “I don’t want to drive a little silver car anymore.”

I guess I got my wish.

I start shaking uncontrollably and burst into tears.  I am going numb.

Flash…..

It’s just like a movie stunt, except without exciting music, and without a drumbeat.  Just my heart, ringing in my ears.

The little black truck is hanging high in the air – twisting, flying towards us.

I am frozen.  Caught between stories in time.

My stories.  My traumas.  My time-warp.  The words ring through me, “I just got a new home and now my child and I are going to die.”

And those aren’t spoken words.  There is no “hearing” of them.  They impress on the very soul, like a stamp.  Like a vice.  Punching through the heart and being.

My hand flies out in front of my son.  The truck slams to the ground on its nose and bounces, flipping towards us.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  I’m boxed in.  I can’t back up.

There’s nowhere to go.  I am frozen.

It is silent.


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Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo, Writing