“It’s hard to embrace the future if you are continually holding on to who you used to be.”
-Jodi Foster, “Jodi Foster: What I’ve Learned,” Esquire Magazine
“It’s hard to embrace the future if you are continually holding on to who you used to be.”
-Jodi Foster, “Jodi Foster: What I’ve Learned,” Esquire Magazine
“Well,” Reagan greeted Wil, “It’s about time!”
Wil glanced around the blue table’s occupants in confusion but realized none of them seemed upset. In fact, several were smiling. Art laughed outright. Compared to Reagan’s laugh of earlier, his sounded from a well of authentic joy. “Relax, Wil,” he said. “No one’s mad.”
Wil tried to relax, but Reagan looked the way she’d sounded: mad at her. To Reagan’s right, Hope still smiled kindly. To Hope‘s right, Derek also smiled. Wil felt something flutter inside her and glanced in the safer direction of her clutched tray of food.
“Sorry,” she mumbled. She couldn’t help it.
Art rose and headed to another table. “You’re fine.” He grabbed a yellow chair. Carrying it and setting it between his chair and Stephen’s, he turned to Reagan and mouthed, Knock it off! Reagan rolled her eyes in response and continued the serious study of consuming her sack lunch. To Wil, Art turned halfway and gestured for her to sit. She did, sliding her food carefully onto the crowded surface.
“Maybe we’ll send Hope next time,” Derek teased.
“You already had Hope deliver the note,” Stephen stated. His lunch was finished and he was in process of eating his dessert. Bits of chocolate cake clung to his fingertips and lip. “Did that fail?”
Reagan snorted again. “Didn’t you hear?”
“No. Hear what?”
The dramatic girl fixed him with a look. “About this morning?”
Stephen glanced around the table. The rest of his friends appeared bemused, though Wil appeared very interested in her chicken-like gravy. He shook his head in the negative, the gesture making him look like a nervous owl.
“Well!” Reagan began, in a tone of conspiracy, “This morning, right after Wil discovered her note, Ol’ Dr. L. decided to change things up in class.” She took a drink from her water bottle. Swallowed. She leaned forward a bit, then sat back up. “Actually, I think Wil should tell it.”
Wil gagged on her soggy green beans. Startled, Stephen observed Wil’s coughing and then smacked her on the back. Wil managed to wave him off and regain composure. “I…” she began, “I know Hope was there.”
The shy girl gave Wil a half-smile. “I was.” Wil sighed in relief. “But,” Hope added, “Dr. L. was in front of my view when I heard the yell.” Wil’s former optimism died.
“Yell?” Stephen asked. “Who yelled? Wil yelled?”
“No,” Wil said. “Well -maybe yes.” Everyone stared at her. She blushed. She didn’t know how she’d been talked into this but saw she couldn’t back out now. “Carl Hurn yelled. His frien- Harry yelled. That girl probably did, too.” She stirred at her stale rice with a bandaged hand. “You see: she’d just gotten our supplies from the closet and set them on her desk. Carl said something like, ‘I know what to do,’ before heading over and tripping or something and crashing right into her…”
Panting, moving; legs dance; running? Slow he moves, yet forward goes.
Yelling, waving; crowds smile; cheering! Quick their hands and banners flow.
Road goes under, step by stepping; ev’ning sunshine asphalt raised.
Signs flash by, their message flapping; glinting sun and wind-blown praise.
Turn now, hero, enter warmly; enter ‘neath the crowds and flares.
Swift and surely, climb the mountain; climb your metal, switchback stairs.
Raise your head now, torch-lit runner
Lift your eyes from up and under;
Hear now, see now: raised-face, raised sight
Bring your arm: the dimmer torch light–
Seek the peak and flame -IGNITE!
Run and fired up for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.
April 4, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fire. It can be a flame that burns or a light that inspires. Follow the flames and go where the prompt leads!
Respond by April 9, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
You’re at a burial, dressed in shoes you didn’t have time to polish or lace up correctly. It’s a grey sort of day, overcast with rain coming soon. They’re lowering the casket into the ground and all you can do is stare at the stubborn knot in your shoelaces.
Someone lights up a cigarette after the service is over and you move away to avoid the smoke. Your heels slip into the soft ground and you get mud on the hemline of your clothes. You stop to catch your breath after a long day and close your eyes. You smell rain in the air.
There’s a piano you can hear in the nearby chapel playing a soft tune. You think they’re playing “Amazing Grace” and then it changes. A sudden thought strikes you: “I must get back into the car before the last note. Once the last note plays, it’ll start raining.”
You’re heading back to the car when you see a man standing at the fence. He’s dressed in overhauls and a flannel shirt, looking directly at you. You glance away but are drawn back by the man’s intense stare. He’s holding something in his hand. A letter? A book? You can’t tell. You feel you must find out, before the last piano note…
Dodging headstones and mushy half-buried plots alike, you walk to the fence. And the man. Conveniently, they are both in the same direction. As you walk, you wonder at the prevalence of recently-turned earth. Just how many people have died lately?
The eerie piano playing from the chapel plays background beat to your even tread. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will do that to a person, even if it’s a piano cover version and therefore lacks that awesome bass guitar.
Your attention draws back to the overall man who is fascinated with staring. Some people clearly need a hobby, especially since there are a lot more interesting things to stare at than a muddy-hemmed, sneaker-clad burial-crasher like you. You get closer and closer, noting his lack of blinking; his lack of attention on a bird that poops on his shoulder or on a passing dog that relieves itself on his trouser leg.
Just before you call out to him, his image blips and reloads. He is a clean, staring man again, proferring a flat object that is meant to look like a book. Thunder rumbles nearby, and he finally glances to the grey and heavy clouds. His gaze returns to you, who have stopped just before the projection of him.
“244224,” he says, monotone. “42,” he adds. Then, “2442.” He beeps.
You roll your humanoid eyes, reminded of how your familial assigners could not be happy with a short sequence like all the others. “Yes?”
“Precipitation imminent. Nirvana ending. Accept reanimation.” *Beep*
Your eyebrows raise. “Reanimation??”
“Affirmative.” He pauses, then remembers to *Beep!*
You look back and around at all the mounds of dirt, and swallow. It’s not easy considering the difficulties the body emulators had in transferring your normal shape to a humanoid form, but you manage. The sky growls again. A spot of earth near you seems to as well, but perhaps it’s the simulated imagination you’re equipped with.
Whipping back around to the hologram, you place your right forearm directly over the outstretched object in its hand image. The flat object glares a red light of warning. You realign. Still red. The growling from below ground is definitely not just your imagination now and you grit your teeth in frustration.
“Please align to shape,” the ‘man’ intones.
You try again and get the angry light again.
“Please align to shape,” he repeats.
Just as a very visible hand claws through the mud to your side and just as the final lingering notes of the piano are played, the tablet magically accepts your forearm’s outline and turns blue. “Code accepted.”
Your humanoid form releases a sigh of relief just before dematerializing. Your normal self, meanwhile, has a final, comforting thought. I am so glad that finally activated. Earth’s a real downer during a zombie apocalypse.
From the story prompt beginning shared by the highly-imaginative, amazing, wonderful, and fantastic Peregrine Arc.
You can play, too! The submission window closes on April 12.
Good day, fellow poets. May I be the first to welcome you to The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest? You, sir or madam or sidam, are attendant to the 21st iteration of this most-anticipated event.
Now! Sit back, relax, and don those thinking caps. We also advise those participating to drop a few, stingy rules at the door. Yes, you may leave your senses of meter and form there as well. If necessary, here is a general guideline to which you may reference.
Ready? Excellent! The following are the rules for this week:
You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (April 12) to submit a poem.
If you are shy, use the form. Leave me a comment saying that you did as well, just to be certain. I will be able to tell you whether I received it.
For a more social experience, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.
Sorry to keep you all waiting. The winner of this week’s terribleness is Molly Stevens.
A blustery ice cream hops
at the perfect snow
With honorable mention to the prolific poeming of Doug. My favorite of his was:
Spring festival cry
Many at reflecting pond
See each other see
Congratulations, Molly! You are the most terrible poet of the week!
Poets this week, including those who referenced seasonal germs and sneezings, wrote some amusing poems. Haiku proved the best of most, however, in that almost all of the poems were too poetic. You’re too good, darn it!
-Not that Molly isn’t a wonderful poet. But she, along with two or three others, crafted a haiku of terrible proportions. I loved the nonsensical nature of hers. It pokes fun at typical spring haiku without smacking me over the head. It’s fun.
Besides being a tad too pretty, the rest of the poets weren’t half bad. Here they are:
In your face I sneeze
Springtime, meant to spread disease
by Violet Lentz
Grace, Charm and Beauty
The three graces escape me
In mud covered boots
To me, spring cleaning
Means finding out what’s taken
Root under the fridge.
Giai’s hot flashes
Window panes on roller skates
Shall I continue?
There are more where those came from.
I’m game if you are
Gentle April rain
Dog fertilizing the lawn
From poo comes flowers
Dark grey April sky
Shocking us with late snowfall
Yet they call it spring
The blossoms trail far
Do not tarry, dripping nose
For allergies wait.
Morning meets meadow
Gentle, glistening dewdrops
Fill wee buttercups
Morning meets meadow
Yellow, glistening dewdrops
Fill wee buttercups
Morning meets meadow
Creamy, glistening dewdrops
Fill wet buttercups
Trial for heart attack
Collapsed Spring-man on marble
Rose crying on steps
Our exploding Spring
Couples in weeping willows
Release spirit ashes
By meowing lions
Lambs in meadow lake ripples
Spring sneezes deadly mocking
Lunch time in the park
A man gushing blood on tree
Cops jumping Spring to catch him
Probetag für die
kollabierender Mann trist
Frühling weint vorbei
Test day for the
collapsing man dreary
Spring is crying over
Haru ga naite imasu
Test day of
Spring is crying
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes a pumpkin.
by Bladud Fleas
Daylight saving time:
Getting out of bed later
Or too early, d’uh
Oh the gentle breeze
And lovely blossoms of spring
Masked in cold degrees
Springtime is here and flow,
ers will soon be blooming – brrr –
winter’s on the way.
Spring haiku sprang to my mind
“Whatever,” she said
As always, thank you to everyone for the dubious poetry. Give yourselves a private congratulation for your terrible talent.
It’s that time again: time to cure our depression. Way back in January, I proposed that curing isn’t exactly possible -BUT I listed 14 ideas that will help. We’ve talked about 8 or 9 others; like connecting with people, eating right, talking to a doctor or therapist, medicating, and doing happy things.
Today, I’d like to get into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. At least, I thought to get into it. I opened my hand-me-down laptop, typed that big, impressive-sounding word into a search, and then thought, Holy flipping crap! (Yep, I don’t swear often.)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is LEGIT. It has its own, lengthy Wikipedia page.
Aaaaand I’ve just barely heard about it.
Hopefully, that means that all of YOU readers are nearly as clueless as I was, and will be impressed and amazed at the paltry light I’ll be shedding on this topic.
So, first: What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often abbreviated to CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (hereafter referred to as “CBT,” for the laziness of the writer) is simply a bunch of exercises to teach our brains better habits.
Second: Why do we need it?
Let’s say that you’re a little kid playing with a hose out in the mud. You, sweet little unsupervised thing, have full command of an entire patch of mud and have decided to make trails and paths and mountains and mudpies. It’s a glorious, messy afternoon!
Using only the best sticks you find laying around, you begin digging waterways. The hose water follows. You’re a kid, so are not quite the best at design and such. Some of your water pools at places, overruns its banks at others, and ultimately empties right into the neighbor’s back fence and washes away their freshly-planted flowers.
An adult comes over to help. He says he’s Dr. Civil Engineer and is also licensed in psychology. “Let’s turn off the water first,” he says. “Now, my good friend and trusted colleague, CBT, is going to gently help you with mud-forming.”
You aren’t exactly sure what a colleague is, or CBT. You just want to play in the mud, and get the neighbor to stop yelling at you about flowers. Don’t flowers need water? You shrug, and watch what CBT starts doing with your mud. CBT builds up a turn, repairs an overflow area, and (most frequently) digs new paths into less destructive directions.
What’s more, CBT tells you what it is doing and how you can do it, too.
Third: We need this. Professionals say so.
My paid friend keeps telling me that my brain has learned behaviors (almost all negative) and I need to stop and complete them with the more-positive truth when negative thoughts come up. Psychologists refer to these learned behaviors as cognitive distortions. Like the mud and water analogy, our mind forms automatic reactions to situations or thoughts or feelings in order to handle them next time; and, like our first, unguided attempts, they’re not always the best.
These automatic reactions are like cringing when hit in sensitive areas, crying when our nose gets hurt, or kicking our leg when the tendon below our patella is hit.
CBT is training to get over knee-jerk reactions. It’s still having the jerking, but toward somewhere that doesn’t actually kick someone and, especially, with the result of leaving us feeling happy that we kicked our leg instead of then kicking ourselves for reacting.
Fourth: How does one CBT?
Doesn’t CBT sound fantastic? I think it sounds a bit difficult, myself. How do we get started? Can we actually change how we think? I am not very successful at self-run things, and (yep) I tell myself that I’m not very successful.
I highly recommend getting someone professional to run this for you. CBT is the most common therapy of its kind. However, like many major startups, it has spawned subgroups of more specific subjects, die-hard zealots of original teachings, and side-therapies of similar names run by leaders who couldn’t get credit for starting the first one. Some professional navigation of those twisty roads will help you.
Fifth: No, really: does it actually help?
CBT really does help. My counselor is of the camp that minor mental issues are wholly the result of years of negative thought processes and reactions. Psychiatrists advocate for mostly medical measures, no matter how minor. I think the farmer and the cowman can be friends and meet us halfway.
Most health professionals agree that medicine and therapy, together, are the winning combination for fighting mental health issues.
Our bodies become resistant to medications and substances. Our hormones and brain chemistry change with time and stressful situations. Our motivation becomes dependent on that boost we get from outside stimuli, like prescriptions, drug overuse, and stimulants.
CBT is very nearly the silver bullet of therapies. It empowers YOU. It teaches you how to better handle your own brain -which is great because that’s what you’re stuck with all the time! Even doctors, as empathetic or sympathetic or knowledgeable as they are, cannot EVER understand exactly what you feel and experience. They have their own brains, not yours.
Sixth: How about a run-through?
I’m getting a bit long here, even with shortening Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to CBT so many times, but can’t leave without some practical advice for all y’all. Here’s one type of CBT method you can run through, from wikihow:
Hopefully, this first method of 6(ish) steps works as a starting place for you. The wikihow article lists two other methods as well.
Seventh: A different initial approach is also helpful.
Besides these suggested steps, I’m a big proponent of creating an initial positive environment. I feel like I’m constantly in a negative haze, self-protected and negatively-pressured to the point of not sticking a toe out into the world.
A suggestion from my counselor was to think back on a time when I felt happy or good. Then, I was to keep asking myself, “Why?” until I traced it to a core emotion. For example: I said I’d felt happy driving to the appointment. Why? It was sunny and warm outside and I was alone. Why did that make you happy? I like feeling warm and comfortable. -Holy crap! I like being comfortable. Comfort was my core emotion.
One may also repeat a mantra each morning and evening. Something like, “I am of worth. I love myself;” or reciting an uplifting poem.
Morning meditation is good as well, or prayer.
Whatever activity you do, the goal is to create a positive atmosphere. We want to start our thoughts in a better direction and keep them going that way. Over time, your brain will form better neural pathways. You won’t flood anyone’s flower beds. You’ll have the practice and skills to handle past habits and fight new triggers.
And don’t get discouraged. You’ve had your entire life to build these habits; you can’t change overnight but you can change.
*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.
Waaaaay back when I worked a full-time job, I had a bit of a power struggle with one of our building’s renters. Our company leased the entire second floor of a two floor building and a few businesses leased the spaces beneath. One of those was an insurance agent.
As far as we could tell, the insurance agent did nothing. He was part of a huge umbrella company, like Allstate. He had no clients and took long lunches.
Yes, most of my team were people-watchers.
The conflict was over parking spaces. He raised a stink with the building manager, saying that he needed x number of spaces for his clients (who were nonexistent). Our rather large body of employees quickly exceeded the bounds of the lot. A few passive-aggressive maneuvers transpired until our manager asked us to respect the whiner’s parking spaces.
One day that was also the first day of my monthly cycle, I came to work feeling terrible. I parked in a no-no spot because, frankly, I did not care. I also parked there because I was certain I’d be asking my boss for the rest of the day off based on how I felt.
Cue a message from the insurance guy, who literally had nothing better to do than spy on his spaces.
Cue my boss sending me a message about how Allstate Junior wanted me to move my car.
Cue my response: Screw the insurance guy.
I got up, moved my car, took pain medications, and worked the rest of the day. Incident forgotten -or so I thought.
Months -YES, MONTHS!- later, our boss quit. A woman named Jadis* took over, since she’d been in no position that should have been promoted but we later learned the whole team was being phased out so the head people at our company really didn’t care.
Jadis decided that she should meet with each of us. She said it was a way to get to know everyone; she probably added some tripe about team unity or whatnot. I didn’t know her very well and entered the meeting in good faith.
How little I knew.
That meeting was the worst I’ve ever had -and I’ve been fired whilst pregnant (another story, another time). Jadis proceeded to tell me that I had a terrible attitude as an employee and that I wasted time. She showed me the message I had sent to our team lead all those months ago. She explained that I would be logging every half hour each day to show I wasn’t wasting company time. She made it clear that I was on thin ice and had better shape up.
I was shocked. Yes, what I had typed about the insurance guy was immature and inappropriate. No one said anything at the time, so I thought it done and over with. Just to be sure, I tracked down our former boss and asked him. I apologized to him. No, he told me, he hadn’t been offended. Yes, he’d completely forgotten it.
Jadis, meanwhile, made my work life hell. No one had any work to do, yet I (alone) had to log my productivity. I made up things like, “verified accuracy of past files,” or “organized workspace.” I even wrote when I used the bathroom or ate lunch.
It was a double slap to the face, considering that one of the other employees had not been clocking out for lunch, had been reported by everyone, and had yet to be reprimanded or fired.
If you’re wondering where I’m going with today’s post, it is here: I think everyone has had a horrible boss or supervisor. I think you all have stories. You may have to give us the truncated version, here, but who was it? What did he or she do? Does the story have a happy ending?
My story does, in a way, but I’ll leave that for another lengthy post. In the meantime, share your dirt. Go on: I promise I won’t make you tell me when you used the bathroom.
After the catharsis of ratting on your terrible employer, read what I did last week:
Wednesday, March 27: A bit of a mind trip in disassociation with “Where IS My Mind?”
Saturday, March 30: Announced the 20th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Springtime Haiku. PLEASE ENTER!
Also posted my answers and nominations for The Mystery Blogger Award.
Monday, April 1: My answers and nominations for The Liebster Award.
Tuesday, April 2: An inspirational quote from a piece by Violet Lentz.
Finally posted “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Eight.”
Wednesday, April 3: Today.
“Yeah,” Wil said. “Harry.” She adjusted her backpack the best she could and glanced over at Reagan’s face. The girl appeared to be somewhere besides the crowded common room they were about to cross. “You all right, Reagan?”
Reagan’s eyes followed a blue spoon-shaped artwork on the wall before she returned Wil’s attentions. “What?”
“I asked,” Wil stressed the word, “If you were all right.”
A few teenagers brushed past them. “Hm …yeah,” Reagan answered. Another group walked between them, eyeing them; sending a nonverbal query as to why the two girls obstructed the base of the stairs.
“Oh.” Wil thought to elaborate; decided against it. “Well!” she said in a brighter tone, “Should we go see what the others want?”
“Oh!” Reagan blinked. “The thingie! -Yeah, Wil, let’s go!” She grabbed for Wil’s backpack again, but Wil was quick enough to pull it away this time.
“I’ll walk faster without the dragging.”
Reagan faced her, hand on hip and frown on face. “Alright.” Her tone did not sound convinced.
Wil smiled in innocence and started forward at a fairly quick pace. Pockets of chattering pupils and phone-hypnotized stragglers stood between her and the hallway to the lunchroom stairwell. She would have preferred a slower pace, but chose this over Reagan’s alternative.
With only a few stumbles and accidental shoulder-bumping, she and her impatient friend made it across. They turned and rushed down the stairs. Wil had enough spare thought to admire Reagan’s graceful descent compared to her own pell-mell lunges before she made it to the bottom without accident.
“Reagan,” she called, out of breath, just before the girl’s shadow turned the corner. The shadow stopped and looked to turn back. Wil stood and walked forward. “I. have. to. get. lunch. first,” she managed to say.
Reagan responded with another hand on hip pose. Wil took it as permission and headed to the counters.
“I’ll tell them you’re coming,” Reagan called. She left. Wil sighed in relief.
“What’s it today, dearie?” the smiling lunchlady asked. Her hair net head appeared more edible than the fare she offered, but Wil frowned and considered the options anyway. She needed to hurry, before Reagan changed her mind.
“When I abandoned all aspects of self, and melted into you, I thought, how can I lose you, if there is no distinction between where you end, and I begin?…
“No, I haven’t forgotten you- I just remembered me.”
-Violet Lentz, “Note to the Netherworld“