22 May, 2015

Friday Prompt - The Girl in the Woods

The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write
image by Anita Anti

19 May, 2015

The Swim

Here is my entry from May 15th's Creative Prompt:

She dared him that he would not jump in.

The water this time of year was freezing. They both knew it. Still, there was something in her eyes that he could not back down from. He started to undress.

She opened her mouth to object but stopped. She sucked her lips, wondering if he meant for her to go in too. She looked at the frigid water. She knew it was impossible, but somehow she could feel the cold coming off the morning waves as they lapped the wall.

He looked at her, dressed now only in his boxers and shoes. She tried to think of a way to get them both out of the swim. If he wanted to be a jerk and jump in, that was his choice. She didn’t need to get hypothermia to prove a point.

“You’re coming in right?” he asked. He motioned with his eyes towards the ocean. Apparently she did have to get hypothermia.

“You’re not seriously going in there?”

“What? Scared you might get cold.”

He scoffed. She said something under her breath. He looked back at her. Realizing there was no getting out of it, she reached to take off her shirt. The last thing she needed was to get all of her clothes wet.

Before she could answer he moved to dive in. Not one to be beaten she jumped behind him, her arms spinning behind her. The first the first drops of the water seep through her shoe. She imagined her body breaking through a sheet of water in the Arctic. Did not matter much then, they were going for a swim. 

15 May, 2015

Friday Prompt - The Swim

The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write

22 April, 2015

Journaling Earth Day

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find my previous entries in the series here.

Today is Earth Day. 

We are called to be stewards of the earth, meaning we need to care, cultivate and protect the world around us.

Too often we forget to step back and enjoy the natural beauty all around us. It often takes getting somewhere incredible for us to remember. There is something humbling and creative in nature. It can rejuvenate, inspire, humble and heal. 

John Muir, naturalist and father of the National Parks, said "Going to the mountains is going home." And I could not agree more. 

I grew up in the beauty of the mountains, on a 300 acre ranch in the middle of the national forest. It was remarkable. The quiet, the color of the sky, the beauty of the snow, the sound of the river. The rhythms of nature were my heartbeat and because we had always lived there it wasn't until we moved away that I realized how much nature was a part of me.

I'd spend HOURS outside, being an explorer, running through the woods. I had favorite overlooks and places to cross the rivers. We had horses, and I enjoyed them, but I preferred to get where I needed to be via foot or bike. 

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” ― John Muir, Our National Parks
I long to return to the mountains. I long to settle near a brook and hear the water again. I long to get snowed in and have nothing but the imprint of horses' hooves to tell me others exist.

Muir found God in the mountains. He compared Yosemite, where he spent a good majority of his life, to a cathedral. Why do we build lavish churches when we have His creation all around us? In many ways my upbringing shaped my view of God. I saw His handiwork in the mountains, the valley, the incredible sunrises, the wildflower fields.

"The mountains are calling and I must go," Muir also said. Maybe there is something intrinsic in all of us calling us back to nature. If we can learn to appreciate it, without the need to exploit or dominate it, we will all be better for it.

So on this Earth Day, I offer up two challenges for you:

1. Go to nature! Be it a park, a preserve, a waterfront, a National Park. Go and just be! Take some time to sit and reflect. Leave your cell phone behind, don't take music - nothing to distract you. Just you, a blanket, your journal and the wonder all around you.

2. Write about your favorite outdoor adventure. Did you go camping as a kid? Was there one family trip that really imprinted itself on you? Have you climbed to a highest peak or spent time in the river? Write about what you remember - get into your senses - how did it smell? What was the air like? What did you hear? Was it sunny or cloudy? Night or day? Did you eat anything? Get down everything you can remember - free write, it doesn't have to be logical. Just let your mind remember.

If you want to share, I'd love to read it.

Image via Sevenly

20 April, 2015

Why I Run TWLOHA's 5K

On May 3rd, my sister, husband, some friends and I are participating in To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)'s virtual 5k.

TWLOHA exists to bring awareness and hope to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

I am running because for too long I lived in silence. I've written before about my struggle with cutting in high school. It is a disease that we still do not understand. We too easily push it aside as "unruly teenagers" or those seeking attention. And that is not okay.

Those who cut are not always depressed and we do not always want to die.

I did it for a sense of control in a very chaotic time when I felt very overlooked and abandoned. I did it to remind myself that I was alive and that I could feel something other than pain.

I stopped cutting because of one person's compassion, which is why I so strongly believe that we need to take this reality out of the shadows and make it okay to talk about and address.

There is often an underlying issue behind why people cut and until that issue is addressed or resolved, no amount of guilt, shame, pressure condemnation or sheer will, will make it stop. We need to stop looking at the what (the cutting) and address the why (the root issue).

JJ Heller wrote Control about a girl she met at a Young Life event who told her she cut.

"The cut is deep, but never deep enough for me. It doesn't hurt enough to make me forget. One moment of relief is never long enough to keep the voices in my head from stealing my peace.
Oh, control. It's time, time to let you go 
Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win.  
Oh, control. It's time, time to let you go...." 

I cut for three years and no one knew. Those I tried to reach out didn't know what to do so they simply walked away. Even if you don't know what to say - just listen. Let the person talk. Do not tell them it will be okay or that things will change. Listen to what is behind what they are saying. Follow up. Be there. 

The simple reality is that we all have the ability to save a life with our compassion, empathy and the ability to walk alongside someone. It's not being a savior or having all the right things to say. It's about being there and letting someone know you see them and they do matter. 

I run for those who did not have that one person in their life. 

I run so that this can be brought out of the shadows and talked about. 

I run because I am a survivor. 

16 April, 2015

Grand Canyon Beauty

My husband and I took a road trip through the Grand Canyon over the weekend. It was remarkable. I have never been. The color, the grandeur, the vistas and views - it was breathtaking. 

We got to see the sunrise (twice) and enjoy a sunset. We hiked along the rim, drove out to the tower and took our time coming back. 

As we traveled, a song kept playing in my head. I posted the lyrics on my Facebook, but the entire song is worth a listen:

"Hey, Jamie, do you see I'm broken by this majesty. So much glory in so little time. So turn off the radio, let's listen to the songs we know all praise to Him who reigns on high

And I don't believe that I believed in You as deeply as today. I reckon what I'm saying is there's nothing more, nothing more to say.

And the mountains sing Your glory hallelujah. The canyons echo sweet amazing grace. My spirit sails, the mighty gales are bellowing Your name and I've got nothing to say. No, I've got nothing to say

Glory, glory hallelujah..." 

Has anything ever left you breathless and inspired? 

07 April, 2015

The Canyon

Here is my entry from the March 27th's Creative Prompt:

He sat on the bar overlooking the scenery. He had finally made it there. Six months late, but he had finally fulfilled her wish to come to the canyon.

The canyon – she had been obsessed with it for as long as he could remember. Their families weren’t rich and could not afford the trip. But she knew everything about it. She knew its depth, its length, the space between the ridges. She used to go on about the wildlife and the best time to go.

She knew that too – the best time to go. She always talked about how they would go there in the fall and watch the sun hit the golden leaves on the other side.

Somehow without ever seeing it she had described it perfectly.

They were married after college. He took a job the next town over and they moved. They realized money was going to be tight, but they hung a poster and started a fund to get to the canyon.

Then she got sick. It came without warning, a cold that didn’t feel right.

Tests, injections, medications… More tests. He hated the smell of hospitals. He hated waiting. He hated how every waiting area had a TV on or that people could go about their day as if it was normal.

Normal – what did that word mean?

She died less than a year later. The fund was spent to pay for her funeral. At 31, he was alone.

Unwilling to get lost in the memories, he looked over the scene again. He tried to take it all in. Tried to take in the details she had told him about. He had finally made it.

Sliding his pack from his shoulders he removed the urn. He had talked to it the entire trip, on the train ride, in the hotel room, on the hike up there. It felt silly but it also brought finality.

“We made it Elly,” he said. Opening the urn he turned it to the wind. The warm breeze hit his face, carrying his wife with it. “We made it,” he said again.

Looking to the sun on the other side of the canyon he couldn’t help but notice the colors were somehow dimmer then they had been a moment before.

© Amanda Lunday