Excerpt for Soul Reflection: A Collection of Poems, Essays & Short Stories by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Soul Reflection;


A Collection of Poems, Essays & Short Stories

By Keri L.

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Keri L.


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.














Table of Contents


The Artist


I Do


A Stranger’s Love


The Pool of Reflection


Positivity vs Negativity


Goodbye


What If It Was You?


A Letter & Prayer for Our Police Officers


Ireland


The Power of Memories


A Love Letter from God


Louisiana Boy


Seasons


Moment


Façade


Stop the Cycle


Untitled Poem


The Circle of Lies


A Letter of Love to Myself


Because of the Brave


New Age Love Affair


When I Look at You


Believe


Where the Heart Is


Shine


Miracles


About Keri L.


Connect With Keri L.


Other Books by Keri L.



















The Artist


A broken, tattered canvas stood in the corner of the large room that was filled with an uncountable number of pictures and frames, seemingly forgotten. Its cherry wood frame no longer gleamed, its reddish hue dulled to a dusty grey. The canvas itself was a sad sight to see, blotches of mismatching colors splattered across it. A dried-out palette of mixed paint and a stiff brush lay on the floor next to it, as if dropped, like the artist couldn't bear to go on and had decided to start on a fresh canvas. 

The door to the room opened, its un-oiled hinges angrily protesting, and a man entered, a case of paints in his hand. It was a room that no one besides him was allowed to enter, and in it, magic was known to be wrought, and whispers were heard, saying the canvases could talk.

He looked around, taking in the beautiful pictures he'd painted not too long ago, and he gave a small laugh at the scene he'd created the day before.

He strode to the windows and forced them open, and a sudden breeze made the tatters on the lonely canvas in the corner lift, and when they settled back down, it was as if they had sighed.

The man paused, turning toward the soft noise, and sadness filled his kind eyes as he gazed at the canvas, a canvas that had been determined to paint itself from the moment it'd been created. It had seemed to fight him every step of the way, demanding colors and patterns that made no sense, and finally, it had told him to go away. Years had passed, and time and its attempts to paint itself had given it holes and gouges. One day, it had finally given up and had sat quietly, never beckoning to him, though he asked it every single day.

Until now. Every morning, he came in and opened the windows, and every morning, the breeze would move through the room, but today was the first day it had stirred the tatters, and it did so again, and this time, a whisper reached the artist's ears. "Please."

In an instant, he was in the corner, carefully lifting the canvas, mindful to not grip it too tightly. He carried it to the center of the room where the sun shone in with a warm beam and set it on his easel.

He ran his hand over it, feeling its fragility, and his calloused fingers were gentle. He opened his case and perused his colors, his breathing slow and steady.

He decided on red, a vibrant red, one that bore the label 'Anew.' He squeezed some onto his clean palette and swirled it around with his feather soft brush.

"For a fresh start," he whispered lovingly, and gently touched the brush to the canvas. Over and over he dipped the brush into the paint, then put it to the canvas, and everywhere he spread the red, the canvas became a startlingly white.

A few of the small tatters and gouges he filled in, but some he left alone, and moving so quickly he almost tripped, he changed colors to a dark blue that was called 'Love,' and after that, to a soft pink titled 'Joy.'

Hour after hour he stood in the room, painting, creating, breathing life, and though he had thick scars in the palms of both of his hands, he had the gentlest touch. His eyes often filled with tears, but his hand never wavered, and the sun seemed to stand still.

Only once did he stop, when the canvas shuddered, and with a sigh he said, "It might hurt right now, but you need to trust me. Let me help, I can make it better."

The canvas resisted a moment longer then finally yielded, and over the spot that caused so much pain, he painted with his finger.

He stood back to admire his work, but halted when he heard a protest. "I'm full of holes, no paint can fix that. So, tell me, why bother?"

"I'm not yet done," he said, just a bit sternly, and went back to his case where he rummaged around. A minute later he came up with some tiny bulbs, and going behind the canvas he whispered, "This is better than fixing the holes, it's certainly much prettier. And when people see the light, they'll realize that for all their paintings, they need to come to me."

He gently pushed a bulb in a hole, its white light twinkling merrily. "It might hurt a bit a first," he continued as the canvas cried out, "but in time, it will only bring splendor."

This time when he stood to admire his work after polishing the frame, the canvas remained silent. Colors in every hue were melded together in a picture that was one of a kind. Here and there the white lights shone, and with a nod, the artist smiled.

"Now," he said, "how do you feel?"

The canvas let out a laugh that carried a sigh. "I feel so different, completely new! How can I ever thank you?" It laughed again, and its lights glowed brighter, and while there were many murmurs of appreciation from the other paintings, from the other end of the room, the artist heard a sad sigh.

"I think I'll put you here," he said, lifting the newly painted canvas and carrying it to the back of the room. "Of course, I'm not done yet, but for now, you're exactly what you need to be."

He carefully set it down across from another canvas, which was really just a frame with black tatters around the edges. "This is just temporary," he told his shining painting, reminding it of a dream he'd given it long ago. He moved away, his heart hopeful as he watched the black tatters of the damaged canvas begin to stretch out toward the sparkle of its new neighbor's lights.


When my parents decided they wanted to remodel their foyer, I was placed in charge of deconstruction and painting. It was while painting the ceiling I first had the idea for a story about an artist, but initially, it was going to be a poem. One morning half way into the remodeling project, as I was drying my hair, I was struck with a sudden urge to sit down and write. I had no idea what I would say, but as soon as my pen touched the paper of my pocket notebook, I knew exactly what to write. The words seemed to flow out of me, and twice, I attempted to put my pen down and go about my day, but each time, I felt that I shouldn’t, almost as if the Lord Himself was pressing a hand to my shoulder, urging me to finish. When I finally did, I was crying. I had never written anything like that before, nor have I since. To this day, ‘The Artist’ is still my favorite short story, and I hope it touches you as much as it touched me, and that you learn what I did; no matter the mistakes you’ve made, no matter how messy you feel your canvas has become, God is the Artist, and if we but give our lives to Him, He will create a master piece that like no other.


I Do



Today, I make this vow

Today, I swear this oath

To be yours forever and evermore

To hold you close and never let go



When I look in your eyes

I can see our future

And I know that whatever comes our way

We’ll make it through, fighting together



Today, I hold your hand

And my heart is complete

As we become one till the end of all time

In a promise that we’ll always keep



Anywhere I will go

I’ll be with you in health

I promise to be with you in sickness

Would take your place should it lead to death



Deep in my soul I know

We’ll make it through all things

I can’t even say how much I love you

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine





Today, I make this vow

Today, I swear this oath

Before God and man, I do solemnly declare

With everything that is in my soul

I do



I’ve always loved writing poetry, and ‘I Do’ was my first serious poem. I wrote it using my second eldest brother’s wedding as inspiration, and I actually submitted it to a contest. Though I didn’t win the competition, I was given the opportunity to have it featured in a book of poetry, and though I’ve written dozens of poems since, this one still has a special place in my heart.







































A Stranger’s Love


“What do you have to say for yourself? Any last words to try to clear yourself of the charges brought against you?”

I flinched back as spit hit my face while someone delivered a sharp kick to my calf. Blood was dripping down the side of my neck, and I could feel multiple bruises and cuts burn my skin, more being added every minute. My clothes were torn, reduced to rags by the wrathful crowd that surrounded me, and even my sneakers were ripped and scuffed. Sweat ran down my arms and back, and I could feel it sliding through the grime that coated my body from the multiple times I’d been thrown to the dusty ground, subjected to beatings.

My hair hung about my face in ratted snarls, and I could barely see out of my left eye, which was almost swollen shut from when I’d been punched an hour earlier. The sun beat down on me, a high-pitched whine filling my ears, and I could only shake my head as someone shoved a cell phone in my face, recording every moment of my humiliation and shame. There was nothing I could say to clear myself of the accusations, because every charge that had been brought against me was true. I deserved what was happening - I deserved every bit of this punishment.

Laughter rang out, and it only increased in fervor when I let out a cry after a rock was thrown at me, bruising my shoulder, my shirt full of holes, the sleeves ripped away. Tears and snot dripped off my chin and I sobbed, shaking my head harder even as I was forced to the ground, my knees crying out in pain as the gravel bit into them, the smell of dirt and sweat filling my senses. A blow to the side of my head left my mind spinning, the dull roar in it drowned out by the jeers and insults of the crowd as another wad of spit landed on my cheek.

“Well?” one of my accusers demanded, jerking my face up to meet his, using my hair to do so. “Got anything to say?”

“No,” I choked out, my body lurching forward as a boot met the small of my back. “I have nothing to say, the charges are true. Please,” I begged, “have mercy on me. Please.”

My words were cut off when the man slapped my cheek. Letting my head drop back down, he straightened and waited for the crowd to quiet. When they had, he said, “She is found guilty! Guilty, I tell you! Yet she begs for mercy. Shall we give it to her?” The crowd answered with angry screams and he laughed. “That’s what I thought.”

He placed his hands on his hips. “So, what say you? What shall we do with her? What does she deserve?”

“Crucify!” someone shouted, and within moments it was a chant, yelled out by hundreds of people, many throwing rocks at me, those closest slapping me as I wept into my bloody hands. “Crucify her! Crucify her! Crucify her!”

I was jerked to my feet and pushed forward, and looking up, I saw that we were headed to the top of a nearby hill, and my legs went numb, knowing what was coming, but also knowing that it was only right, that it was everything I deserved. I could see a young woman standing at the top, twirling a yellow and black hammer in her hands, a snarl on her face, and I shuddered, vomit filling my throat even as blood covered my vision.

I was shoved forward, the crowd chanting behind me as one of them ripped my shirt away, my nakedness on display for all to see, but suddenly, I was pushed to the side as a man stepped in front of me, his brown hair ruffling in the hot wind that blew over the city. “I will take her place!” he shouted, and the shrieks of the crowd increased, then fell silent a moment later. “I will take her place. Crucify me, instead.”

The woman stopped twirling the hammer and gave him a dark look. “You will, eh?” she said in a mocking tone. “Do you have any idea what she’s done? She deserves everything she’s got coming, you know.”

“Maybe so,” the man replied calmly, “but still, I will take her place. Take my life instead of hers. I offer my life as a sacrifice to atone for what she has done.”

“Well,” a man behind me said, “a life is a life, I suppose. If we take yours, she’ll be free to go, her debt will be paid. Sure that’s what you want, friend?”

The man turned, and said, “Yes. I want her to go free. I will take her place, I will bear her punishment.”

He finally met my eyes, and in their brown depths I saw compassion and what I can only describe as an unconditional love. They were filled with tears, and one slipped down his olive-skinned cheek to be absorbed into his thick beard. “Why?” I whispered. “Why are you doing this? You don’t even know me.”

He touched his hand to my cheek and the callouses on it were rough against my skin, his knuckles adorned with cuts and little scars. “Because,” he replied softly as the crowd muttered behind us, the woman in front of us snapping her gum impatiently, “I love you. I don’t expect you to understand, but I do expect you to accept this.”

He turned away, facing the woman again. He gave a nod and I felt myself get shoved back as the crowd rushed forward, screaming curses and insults at him, deciding to accept his offer, making him the focus of their scorn, and I screamed with them, though my cry was one of agony and confusion, not hate and rage. They fell on my savior, beating him with their hands, their shoes, rocks they picked up, even grabbing the hammer from the young woman. I could hear his clothes being torn from his body, blood blooming on his dark skin, bruises staining his body, his muffled groans of pain feeling deafening to my ears.

I heard a shout and turned to watch a young man appear on the other side of the hill, a metal pipe in his hand, and the crowd parted, making way for him. With a shout, he thrust the pipe into my redeemer’s side, who let out a guttural groan as blood spurted out around it before it was jerked out by an old woman who cackled and shook it in the air like it was some sort of trophy.

The man fell to the ground, clutching his side, eyes shut in pain, his tears dripping to the blood splattered grass, but when he finally opened them, they weren’t filled with anger or hate, they were filled with… love. They met mine as I stared at him through a gap in the mob, and I could feel warmth surround me, could feel the ache of my pain be soothed, then he was thrown backwards, spread out over the wooden structure that lay on the dirt.

A darkness seemed to swirl among the people running about, and I backed away even as the hammer rose and fell and my defender’s piercing cries of pain rose up as a thick nail was driven through his wrist, much to the crowd’s pleasure. Twice more the thunk of the hammer rang out, and twice more his agonized screams rent the air, blood gushing from his side, from his feet, his wrists, and I turned and pushed my way through the crowd, trying to block out what was happening behind me, trying to be blind to the punishment that should have been mine.

I ran for I don’t know how long until I dropped from exhaustion, my wounds draining me, my sorrow like an endless scream in my mind. I was vaguely aware of being dragged into a house, and when I woke up later that night, I was on a strange couch, clothed in a big tee shirt, my body washed, my wounds attended to. The woman who had nursed me helped me to her table, quietly serving me a bowl of soup and a chunk of bread even as I sobbed, and she wrapped her arms around me, resting her head on mine.

“Why?” I cried. “Why would he do that? Who was he? Why would he take my place? Why would he do such a thing when this is tradition?”

The woman sat down across from me, the candle on the table between us flickering, casting her face into shadows. “You do not know?” she asked, her voice carrying a slight accent, and I shook my head. “Well,” she said, “that man… that man was Jesus, from over in Nazarene. You have not heard of him?”

“No,” I replied brokenly, and she gestured for me to eat.

When I had finally taken a bite of the bread, she said, “He was a very good man. I cannot understand much of what he did in his life, but he was everything we are not. He was so kind, so compassionate. I think that is why he took your place today.”

“But he didn’t even know me!” I yelled, my tears falling to mix with my soup, and she reached across the table and touched my bandaged hand.

“I don’t think that’s how love works,” she said. “I don’t think you have to know someone to love them.”

“But,” I interrupted her, “I deserved what was happening, not him. It was my punishment! Mine! Not his!”

“Who can understand all the ways of love?” she demanded. “Who can fathom its depths? He loved you, so he took your place, because that is what love does. Accept it, please! Don’t let his sacrifice be in vain. He didn’t do it for you to live your life in shame and guilt because he took your place, he did it so that you could be free. He did it because he loved you. He found you to be worthy of such a sacrifice, and even if you don’t think the same, it can’t change what has happened. If you weren’t worthy before, you are now, because his death made it so. But, I beg you, accept this priceless gift, accept this second chance for a new life! You have been redeemed, your punishment taken away, your sins forgiven. It is not up to you to understand, it is up to you accept this freedom. Will you?


A Stranger’s Love’ was a bit difficult for me to write, as I had never truly given any in-depth thought to the crucifixion. While I’d read the passage in the Bible multiple times, had attended countless Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, it never really hit home until I was inspired to write this piece. I struggled to aptly express my feelings as for the first time, I put myself in Jesus’ place, made myself feel a hint of what He felt. It was horrible, and it really made me realize just how much He loves me. I also realized that I struggle with feeling worthy of God’s love, and brought that point out in the story, and I hope that if there is only one thing you walk away with from reading it, it’s that you are worthy of the cross, you are worthy of God’s love, and that will never change.





The Pool of Reflection


If you could see your soul’s reflection, would you like it?



When I was a child, my parents often told me stories about a magical pool that was said to reflect your soul. Everyone’s reflection was different, and I longed to find the pool, to see my reflection – my true reflection.

For years, I searched for it, tracking down every lead I got, and when I was 23, I finally found it. It was in northern Austria, high in the mountains, and I could only shiver with apprehension as I stood in the small airport in the town of ‘die Richtigkeit,’* which lay at the bottom of the mountains the pool was said to be located in.

But was this something I really wanted? Did I truly want to see my real reflection? But on the other hand, why should I be afraid? I mean, I’m a good person, so my soul should be pretty, full of glitter and flowers, right? To be honest, though, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I shrugged into my backpack. Well, I’d come too far to back out now, I’d given too much -of everything- to walk away, so, tightening my jaw, I strode outside into the crisp summer air and went straight to a sports shop where I bought all the necessary supplies for the final leg of my journey. A journey that would leave me questioning every thought I’d ever had.

Three hours and a cup of hot chocolate later, I stared up at the looming mountains, their snow-covered peaks looking down on me with menacing glares, wishing for a moment that I wasn’t the only one who’d been interested in finding the Pool of Reflection. Though clad in new hiking gear, I still shivered, feeling very small, but I forced myself to take the first step – the hardest step - and began my journey.

Three days later, I finished setting up camp on a rocky overlook, something I’d become quite skilled at over the last two nights. I made a small campfire a few feet away from my tent, then feasted on some bread and jerky, sipping a cup of tea. The wind whistled past me, the lights of ‘die Richtigkeit’* flickering far below as I thought about the future, what it might bring. When I turned in for the night, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh, wondering if I was doing the right thing, wondering if I was going to regret my decision to make this journey.

The next morning found me on the trail a little after the break of dawn, and I continually checked my map, something that had cost me a great deal. Despite the cool temperatures, sweat dripped off my face as I crested a rocky hill. With a sharp intake of breath that burned my throat, I took in the sight below me.

Nestled between two high mountains was a large pool of shimmering water, its surface reflecting the sun back into my eyes, and I blinked, clearing my vision. It was surrounded by lush green grass that was dotted with wildflowers and the occasional fir tree, and the beauty of it was unlike anything I’d ever seen. After years of searching, I had finally found it.

It took over an hour to finally reach the pool that was oddly still, and I noticed there seemed to be no signs of wild life anywhere in the valley. Easing out of my gear and leaving it in a pile half way, I cautiously made my way to the edge of the water, kneeling on the grassy shore, my breath in my throat, hands shaking. I leaned over the glistening liquid, eager, yet frightened, and froze.

I had expected to see my reflection as I saw it in any mirror, but I didn’t. Gone were my green eyes and black hair, my flushed skin and freckled nose, and in its place was something I can only describe as hideous.

A creature looked back at me, its lash-less yellow eyes bloodshot. Its brownish skin was mottled with oozing sores, and its mouth parted as I gasped, revealing jagged, broken teeth. Patches of bristles covered its head, and I felt my body try to shrink away even as something in my chest reached forward, as if in recognition. I realized then that what I was gaping at, this horrible, evil creature, was me.

“Surprised?” my reflection asked, laughing quietly.

I gave a slow nod, halting in my retreat, noting that the creature’s ugliness seemed familiar. Too familiar.

“Don’t be,” it said. “I’m you and you’re me, so no need to fear, though I can see why you might, this being your first time seeing yourself as everyone else does.”

“Pardon?” I gasped into the thin air, even as my reflection scratched at a sore.

It chuckled. “Don’t tell me you were expecting something different! Remember, I’m a reflection of your soul, not your mortal body.”

“So why am I ugly, then?” I blurted out, a drop of sweat falling from my chin to the pool, sending out little ripples across my reflection’s – my soul’s- face.

My reflection grinned. “Because, silly, your soul is directly related to your actions. For every bad or good action, there is a change to your reflection – me.” It let out a huff. “I used to be pretty, until you grew up a bit. Now, I’m this.”

“So, because I’ve done bad things, my soul is ugly?” I whispered heartbrokenly.

My reflection shrugged. “Uhh, yeah. Didn’t I just say that?”

Tears pricked my eyes. “This is what everyone sees? They see you?”

It yawned. “Yep. Don’t you ever meet someone and see something similar to me?”

I paused, then nodded. Yes, I had seen others who looked like this. Well, I’d felt it more than I’d seen it, if that makes any sense, but I’d always pushed it away, but now, I understood. If people saw that, that thing when they looked at me, then no wonder sometimes they backed away.

“Why aren’t I pretty?” I whispered, thinking of all the good things I’d done in my life, how I’d given to charity and helped others.

My reflection gave me a dirty look. “Really? Weren’t you listening? Your actions dictate my looks. Pretty obvious you’ve done some bad things. Scratch that. A lot of bad things, more bad than good.”

I opened my mouth in anger, but my reflection held up a clawed hand. “Don’t argue. Think about it. What was the last thing you said to your sister?”

I thought back for a moment, remembering the irritation I’d felt at my sibling, all because I’d had a bad day. “I told her she was ugly,” I slowly replied, a blush creeping up my neck as I recalled the way I’d flung the hateful words at her, how her eyes had filled with hurt.

“Do you think that was a good action or a bad action?” came the next question, and I sighed.

“Bad.”

“Right, so therefore, it added to my charming looks.”

“But I’ve done good,” I insisted, a tear escaping its prison to trickle down my cheek.

“Really?” It gestured to itself. “Clearly not very much, otherwise, I’d be a lot prettier.”

“I don’t believe you!” I yelled at it, now crying, and it reached a gnarled hand up, breaking the surface of the pool. Touching my cheek, it said,

“Please, don’t be angry. I can change. It you start doing good things instead of bad, I’ll become pretty again!”

“You’re lying!” I screamed at it. “I hate you!”

“Close your eyes,” it said, “and I’ll show you the truth. I’ll show you why I’m- you’re so ugly.” It pulled its hand back into the water and closing my eyes, I saw my life begin to play in my mind like a movie, the life of my soul next to it.

I saw my soul as it’d been created, pure and beautiful, saw the scar on its forehead appear the day I’d first called someone ugly. The scar faded away when I later apologized, but a sore took its place when I disobeyed my mom.

My life shifted forward, to when I’d called a boy in school fat, then to the time I yelled at someone in anger, and no longer did I apologize and mean it, no longer did I try to turn from my ways. The older I got, the uglier my soul became, the less good I did, the more I focused on myself.

It hit me then, even as my reflection consoled me, and I let out a sob as I saw the truth. Every time I’d called someone fat, it hadn’t diminished their value – it’d diminished mine. Every time I’d called someone ugly, it hadn’t changed their appearance, it’d changed mine. Every time I said, ‘I hate you,’ or, ‘you’re stupid,’ it didn’t make my victims those things. It didn’t make them ugly or dumb or any of the things I said. It made me those things. My reflection really was me.

“Don’t despair,” my reflection whispered as I opened my eyes. “This can change.”

“But how?” I cried. “You’re so ugly!”

“No,” came the quiet reply. “You’re ugly.” After a moment, it said, “It’ll take time, but if you change your ways, if you change your actions from bad to good, I’ll change, too.” It looked deep into my eyes. “But will you make that decision? Will you really change? This doesn’t have to be who you are.”

My reflection lowered its voice. “But in order for this to happen, you have to admit there needs to be a change, so, be honest with yourself. Do you like what you see?”


Footnote: ‘die Richtigkeit’ is German for truth.


The Pool Of Reflection’ was a strange story to write. I’d seen a post on Facebook that had said something along the lines of ‘What if you could see the reflection of your soul?’ It resonated in my heart, and it kept coming to my mind for months to follow, until one night I finally sat down and started writing. Just like with ‘The Artist’ I had no idea what would happen once I touched my pen to paper, but something did, and not only did I (well, God, actually) write a story, I found myself looking inside, exploring my heart and soul, and coming away feeling more than a little ashamed. Just like in the story, I was not happy with my soul’s reflection, but God showed me that I could change, and that it didn’t have to be a horrible little demon looking back at me anymore, and more than anything else, that’s the message I want to convey with this story.

I often joke that if I were to touch my soul, my hand would come away covered in black glitter, but, to be honest, if I was able to touch my soul, I pray it would come away white as snow.

While I do say in the story that your actions change you, I in no way mean this as a way of salvation, for salvation is by grace. I do believe, however, that being a good person is critical to your soul’s well-being, and this story serves as a reminder that unless I want to be scared witless next time I look inside, I had better be doing my utmost best to be living what I preach.













































Positivity vs Negativity


If you're like me, you've heard your mom say a thousand, if not a million times the old adage, 'A positive input means a positive outcome' or something similar. But how many of us have taken that to heart? Have you ever really thought about the wisdom and significance of those words? Taking that quote to heart can have a large impact on your life, both on the day-to-day basis, and in the long run. You truly can choose the outcome of your situations - as in, will they be negative or positive? - and it all comes from your heart and your brain.

It's very easy to say that, but it's a bit harder to actually commit to always putting in positive thoughts and feelings into your life, but just like with any habit, you can learn, and over time, it will become something that you do without even thinking about it. No matter what you are doing, if you start the task by saying and believing that it will have a positive outcome, it will. And that's the trick. Many people believe that having a positive outlook on their life means believing things will go the way they want them to, but that's not it. A positive outcome is often what we didn't plan, didn't expect, and didn't think of, rather than what we wanted, and for many of us, that's a hard thing to grasp. So, by determining that you will have a positive experience with something doesn't mean it will go the way you want it to. I could have a positive attitude about going for a driver's license test, but that doesn't mean I'll pass. What's the positive thing about that? I learned something. My eyes were opened to something they had been closed to before. And that's what positive thinking is all about. It's about a deeper understanding of yourself, others, and this crazy thing we call life. It's not about getting what we want, it's about affecting as many people as possible with good vibes. It’s about gaining a deeper sense of happiness and serving others.

On the flip side, if you put negative thoughts into your life, you will have negative outcomes. If I went to that driving test with a negative mindset, whether I pass or not, I will only dwell on the bad things. I will see faults in myself and others that don't matter in the grand scheme of life, and I will be stressed, worried, and curt. My mind will be closed, and I will have learned nothing. My negative attitude, even if I am only that way in one part of my life, will soon begin to seep into every aspect of my life, and I will never see the good, I will never learn, my mind will be closed, and I will only have a shallow idea of myself and others. Negative thinking always leads to a negative outcome. Negative thinking leads to depression, anger, fear, and the inability to enjoy life, and enjoy others. Negative thinking, negative words, and an overall negative attitude will get me nowhere. I will be stuck spinning my wheels because I refuse to learn, I refuse to open my heart and my mind, and I refuse to believe that an outcome other than what I wanted could be good.

Choose today to have positive thoughts. Make a habit of complimenting yourself and others, and mean it. At the end of each day, think back over the good things, no matter how small, that happened. Think about the things you learned, the understanding and knowledge that you gained, and what you can do with it. By having this attitude, you will go far. With an open mind and a positive attitude, you will be more willing to go through doors will lead you to where you need to be. You will have more friends, and an overall happier life. You are like a pool of water. You can have white caps of anger, frustration, and negativity roll off of you and into others’ lives, or you can have gentle ripples and waves of positivity, happiness, and an easy-going manner that soothes and calms.

Choose today to be positive, and leave your negative thoughts in the trash. Be a voice of happiness in a world of negativity.


Positivity vs Negativity’ is a little blog I wrote a while back that really smacked me upside the head. On a whole, I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but rather, a realist, but at the time, I’d been feeling really down about pretty much everything in life. Sitting down and writing this article for my blog really opened my eyes to the importance of choosing to see the good in life. It also taught me to accept the bad, but not dwell on it. I found that by choosing to be positive no matter what, I was happier altogether, even if the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, and always looking for the good rather than always seeking the negative made me look forward to things, forgive easier, and love harder.



Goodbye




One day, you’re not gonna be able to hold me down

One day, my feet are gonna leave the ground

I’m spreading my wings, getting ready to leave

And try as you may, you won’t be able to stop me


It’s time I stopped living for you

And started chasing my own dreams

It’s time to finally let go

And dare to believe


You’ve held me in chains for far too long

And at last I’ve found the strength to break them

Your voice of doubt is going to fade away

And my sovereign you’ll not stay


You have a name, and yes, I dare to speak it

Your name is Fear, and I’m letting you go

It’s time for us to stop being lovers

My dear, we can’t be friends any longer


This is it, this is the end

I’m saying goodbye, bidding you farewell

God’s giving my life a brand-new start

And in it you’ll take no part


Goodbye, Fear, and all your comrades

I’ve packed my bags and my heart too

I knew you too long and I’m not sad to leave

I’m out the door, I’m living for me


Goodbye, Fear, and all the troubles you bring

Hello, World…Are you ready for me?


I’ve never written a poem as fast I wrote this one. The words just seemed to fly out of my pen and it was a hit with my writing group. I’ve always been a timid person, and this was me kicking a bit of that timidness (which, after a while proves to only be a hindrance) out the door. While I still struggle with fear every now and then, writing this poem really helped me release it, and if you’re wrestling with the same thing, I encourage you do what I did. Find something that scares the living daylights out of you, and do it anyways. (;



What If It Was You?


I have a question, I have to know

If you could see what you'd reap

Would those still be the seeds you'd sow?

Please, before you walk away, just let me speak


My question is this; what if it was you?


What if you were the people you mocked?

What if you felt what you make them feel?

Would that be enough to make you stop

Knowing it's more than just their happiness you steal?


What if it was you, staring into the mirror

Begging yourself to just keep holding on?

Doing the best you can to find a little cheer

Because all you ever get told is you don't belong


What if it was you crying in the night?

What if you were the one longing for a home?

What if it was you giving up the fight?

What if it was you who felt so alone?


What if it was you, reaching for that blade

To carve sad portraits deep into your skin?

What if it was you who thought, 'no one cares, so why stay?'

What if it was you who felt you'd reached your end?


What if it was you who walked into that room?

What if it was you who received that call?

And found out someone you loved by death had been consumed?

What would you do as you felt the tears fall?


Tell me this, what if it was you?


What if it was you who was told to shut up?

What if it was you who was denied help?

There's no room in this for you to say 'but,'

Because to no one should that hand ever be dealt


Put yourself in other's shoes, I challenge you to

Understand why to 'all' we must be a friend

Because one day you might not just be walking a mile in those shoes

One day you might be the one who owns them


This… was not an easy poem to write. For starters, it’s half the size that it first was, and secondly, it was written in an hour of great anger. I struggled with this, wept, prayed, and felt my heart break in my chest in sorrow for the pain so many people go through. What brought on my anger was hearing someone say that suicide isn’t a problem, that if someone wants to take their own life, they should be assisted, that they deserve to die, that if they have those feelings, they’re a stupid animal. It broke my heart to hear that, and it made me angry. Angry that our world has become so desensitized, that there is little compassion to be found anymore. And it made me want to change that, to say something, so I did. Originally published on my blog, this poem got a lot of views and started a lot of conversations, and I hope it will continue to do so. I also hope that it will always serve as a reminder to me to never belittle how someone else feels, or disregard what they are going through, and I hope it does the same to you.

A Letter & Prayer for Our Police Officers


Dear Police Officer(s),


I wish there was a more adequate way of expressing my gratitude to you instead of just saying thank you, but since that's what I have to work with, I shall do my best. So, thank you. Thank you for having the strength and courage to join the force, for putting on a uniform that only makes you a target. Thank you for putting on that badge and putting yourself between the good and the bad, though lately it seems you're only condemned for doing that, for doing what's right. Thank you for putting yourself in harm's way for my sake, for protecting people who spit on you.

I can't imagine having the honor and selflessness that you do, I can't imagine helping those who project you to be a monster, when you're truly an angel. I can't begin to understand what it's like to go to work every day and know you might not come home, you might never see your spouse and kids again, because a coward might ambush you while you're only protecting him. Selfishly, I pray I never know the pain of losing a partner, and that the media will never lump my kind as hateful and evil, all because of a few bad apples. I pray I never get caught in a fight and watch my blood stain the ground. I pray these things, never understanding that they are your reality.

I can go to a restaurant and feel safe in what I order, but you aren't honored with that. You have to worry about being poisoned, about glass being dropped into your food, or just being denied service all together. Denied service all because you're doing what is right, and in a politically correct world, that paints you as a hateful jerk.

People talk about how they got Beyoncé's autograph, or how Aaron Rodgers signed this, and while I'm sure they're good people, it's not their autograph I want; it's yours. I want the autograph of a hero. You. You are a hero, you are fighting a war right here on American soil, you're sacrificing everything you hold dear so that I don't have to. People laud celebrities for doing this and that, but they forget you, the one who makes it possible for these celebrities to do what they do. You are the one who is making a difference, you are the one who is fighting evil, and I thank you so much for that.

Your sacrifice is not going unseen, and for what it's worth, I'm thankful for you. My heart is full of gratitude for what you do, and I support you, I back you, and I pray for you.  This is my prayer for you, and I hope you find strength in it.


Jesus, I come before You today with a thankful heart. I am continually in awe and wonder at the grace You have bestowed upon me, the love You rain down me, Your mercy and truth. I thank You for giving me this day, and for blessing this nation with the men and women who wear blue.

God, I ask that You watch over our police officers, that You would protect and shield them from the fiery darts of the enemy, that You would encamp angels round about them at all times. I pray that Your hand would be upon them at work and at home, and that You would guide them in the situations that they face, giving them the wisdom and knowledge that they need.

God, if there is someone who's desire is to harm them, I come against them in Your powerful name, and I plead Your precious blood over these officers' lives, that a hedge of protection would cover them from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet. Fight for them, God, destroy the enemy that lies in the darkness, seeking to hurt them. Move in a mighty way, and heal this land.

And Lord, I pray for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our cops, that you would strengthen them, give them peace for their worries and joy for their sorrows. Heal the hurts they carry, the wounds they keep hidden, ease their fears, and let Your presence be felt in their squad cars.

I pray that You touch this nation, especially our youth, and show them that these men and women are only here to help them, that they are not the enemy, and that You would convict those in the media whose intention is to lie about and destroy the force. Convict this generation, God, show us the truth, and bless and protect our men and women in blue, for Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

I pray all this in the name that is above all names, the only name that brings salvation; the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.


The only thing I’m going to say about this is that I support our men and women in blue.



Ireland

Look over this land
Tell me, what do you see?
‘Tis a land where every heart is stout
And every man’s dream is to be free

Grass the color of emeralds
Gray and blue skies that stretch to forever
Water that foams, sings its own songs
Mist drifting o’er the moors, like liquid silver

In every town, and in every borough
There’s a warmth that can’t be bought
Stories and laughter by the fireside
And many a soul finds what it’s sought

A walk in the city
You’ll always be greeted by a kind face
It doesn’t matter where you go
You know your heart has found its place

Wander through the mist shrouded land
Climb to the top of a mossy hill
Take a look out over the peaceful valleys 
– Just standing there your soul gets a thrill

Maybe a visit to an old mound
Or a place where fairies are known to be
Perhaps see the great stone structures
Hear the birds whistling in the trees

Take a stroll down a country road
Watch the waves crash against the shore
See the sun make a shy appearance
Know you’ll never long for more

This land has known heartache
She’s seen her share of blood
But she still stands strong
And her courage is like an unstoppable flood

Home of my heart
Where my soul belongs

IRELAND

Every year, my writing group holds a secret poetry contest. We all write a poem, fold it, number it, then mix them all together and randomly draw one. It’s quite a bit of fun trying to guess who wrote what, and a few years back, I was asked to pick out topic, as we always choose one (i.e, one year, it was the ocean) and I chose Ireland, my favorite country. Having read much of Ireland’s history, it wasn’t hard to write this poem, nor was it difficult for my friends to guess who the author was. Being part Irish, I’m planning to one day travel to my ancestors homeland, and this is just one of the many things where I’ve written about it.





The Power of Memories


“I can’t do this anymore,” she whispered into the silence, pressing the cool bottle of beer against her cheek. “I give up.”

She took a long pull of the drink, grimacing as the yeasty taste flooded her mouth. She had never been one for drinking, and she hated beer, but, hey, it did its job as well as any other alcoholic beverage, especially after four bottles. Though it couldn’t erase memories and events, it could temporarily dull the pain, lessen the feelings of helplessness and frustration.

She squinted at the clock that ticked away on the wall, her bleary eyes not wanting to focus, but when they did, she let out a sigh and pulled herself to her feet, momentarily swaying as the beer really hit home. She let out a wet giggle as the backs of her calves hit the couch before heading to the kitchen. Her parents were out of town till the next morning, so she needed to get rid of the beer. Though she was 23 and old enough to drink, they didn’t approve of such things, and finding out she’d dared to disobey them would only add to the abuse they dealt out to her on a daily basis.

She placed the bottles in a box and set them to the side, then turned and opened up the kitchen cabinets. One by one, she carefully packed each and every glass, every plate, saucer, skillet, and bowl into a large leather bag. She had to half climb into the cupboard after Christmas 2008. He liked to hide in the back every time.

Once done, she eased the straps of the bag over her shoulders and stood, grabbing the box of beer bottles. Looking at the bag, it was no wonder she bore deep cuts on her shoulders and scars on her palms. It weighed over a hundred pounds and dwarfed her, made her back all bent up, but, so did everyone else’s. Everyone had a bag like she did, and everyone carried it around and unpacked when they got home. It’s just the way it was. 

She carefully opened the kitchen door and slunk out into the black night, making her way to her neighbor’s house. He liked to drink, a lot, so adding her four beer bottles to the several dozen in his recycling bin that sat on the curb for pick up the next morning wouldn’t be noticed.

She tripped over a small shrub and almost fell, catching herself. “Shhh!” she whispered sloppily as her dishes clinked in her bag. She quickly deposited the bottles in the bin and made her way back to her house, where she unpacked her bag, only to realize a few minutes later that she needed to set out her garbage for pickup, as the truck came quite early, and with a grumble, she hastily repacked her dishes and went to the garage.

Once she came back, she again unpacked all her dishes and carefully positioned them just so. She’d started to leave the kitchen when she heard a cupboard door squeal open, and turned back with a sigh.

Date Night 2014 was peeking out at her, and she shook a finger at it. “No,” she said. “Not tonight. I’m not in the mood.”

Date Night 2014 only pushed the door open further, it’s chipped edges glinting in the kitchen light, and with a sigh, she stomped over and pushed it back in before slamming the cupboard door shut. It reopened and Date Night 2014 once again peeked back out, but this time when she went to push it back in, she jerked back with a startled cry.

She stared at her fingers where blood welled up from a deep cut, and something inside her broke. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was the fact she’d been pushed too far, but something broke, and with a snarl, she snatched the dish out of the cupboard and threw it to the floor where it shattered across the cheap tile. She screamed, frightened at what she had done, but then she saw her fingers were healing, the cut closing up, and she grabbed another dish and threw it as well.

High pitched tinkles met her ears as dish after dish, cup after bowl after plate, saucer, platter, and glass shattered across the floor, and with each one, another pain left her body, her back began to straighten, and she grabbed a skillet, hitting it against the countertop as hard as she could, pieces of cheap granite flying past her. She went on until the skillet was disfigured before tossing it to the floor and reaching for another, repeating the process over and over until not a dish was left in one piece, each smashed beyond recognition, beyond repair.

When at last she was done, the sun was beginning to rise and not a pain was left in her body. Date Rape 2013 was smithereens, as was Prom Night, Birthday Tears, and all the others. She smiled at the mess before her, the way the glass crunched underfoot.

A startled gasp drew her attention to the kitchen door where her mom stood, her own shoulders bent under the weight of her dish filled bag, and with a cry, she went at her daughter, hand raised to slap her, but her daughter shoved her away, doing the same with her dad.

“What have you done?!? You stupid little fool!” they screamed at her.

But this time, she screamed back. “No! I’m done! I’m done living like this! You wanna keep hauling those damned things around, be my guest, but I refuse to do it any longer!” 

Free. She was finally free.


If you hadn’t noticed, I end most of short stories quite abruptly, either with a question or like I just did. Why? Because I don’t want to write the ending, I want you to. I want these stories to leave you thinking thoughts you’ve never thought before, I want you to ask questions that scare you, to search yourself. I want you to take away something helpful, and with this story, I want you take away the importance of letting your bad memories ago. I’m not going to go into how to do so, because I’m not a therapist, but I just want to prod you in the right direction. So many people don’t realize the power memories have over them, but once you do, you’re one step closer to breaking away from them. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen, and you will be a better, happier person for it.



A Love Letter from God


Dear you,


Are you surprised to be hearing from me? You shouldn’t be. I talk to you every day, you’re just not listening. I’m with you every single second, you’re just not looking. I want so badly for you to open up and let me in all the way, not just part way. I wish so much that you would stop trying to hide the things you think you should be ashamed of, that you would stop running away every time I mention the thing that brings you so much pain when you know that I can take it away. You tell yourself that it’s your problem, not mine, that it’s something no one can change. You bury your face in your pillow and cry, your heart screaming for help, but you silence it, because you’ve been told you shouldn’t feel that way.

I miss you so much. I think about you all the time, nonstop. I think about all the amazing things that are in store for you, all the beautiful things you’re going to do. Even though you don’t want me to, I can feel your pain. Even though you do everything you can to stifle them, I can feel your tears, I can see them glitter and shimmer in the light when I hold up the bottle I collect them in. You wish I didn’t, but I can hear the sobs you try to muffle in the shower, in the car, in your head. Your pain is like a red-hot sliver slicing through my heart, and what makes it so much worse is that you won’t let me take it away, especially when you know that I can. I want nothing more than to wrap you up in my arms and stop the pain. I want to hold you close as you let everything out, but you keep pushing me away.


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