Plant Growth Leaf Green Sprout  - shadi6454 / Pixabay


Smoke has barely risen off the scorched earth,

yet I can sense it.

A tremulous green sprout,

shuddering in the hot wind.

I almost feel sorry for the first sign of life

after a controlled burn.

Worried and, at the same time, curious.

I bend down for a closer look.

Paper thin leaves, a wisp of a stalk;

they struggle to wrestle nutrients from ash.

“What happened to you?” I ask,

“better yet, how are you surviving?”

The plant makes no response,

so I pause a moment in contemplation.

Then I hear it.

The small cries of the sprout rise to a roar,

sweeping over me – hot, holy flames

of an ancient consciousness.

“To die to oneself is to be born again.

Awaken, arise, and sing.”

I could pretend to understand what these words mean,

if I wasn’t in mourning for the tender sprout.

Like the duende dancers speak of,

destruction flirting with the hem of ecstasy’s skirt,

the plant is walking a tightrope line

between extinction and existence.

“What if you die?” I shout.

“Oh, but what if I live?” the sprout sings.

The plant has a point,

a reason for being which I am sorely lacking.

“You’ve been through hell,” I say.

“Yes,” it replies. “I was close to despair.

The fire split my seed apart,

and I lay in the soil for days, silent.

Next the rains came,

and after that the golden light.”

Imprisonment as a means to an end?

God, if I haven’t been ignorant, blind.

The pungent air holds mystery,

and the word paradox comes to mind.

Pain is sacred when we open ourselves to it,

and allow the light to shine inside.

This plant is smarter than I am.

It transforms ash to beauty,

without giving a second thought to the strain.

An innocent gift of pure happenstance.

I touch the leaves and it sings.

My heart trembles in reply.



I have to brag about this book! Piranesi is the most elegant, masterfully woven tale of magical realism I have red to date this year — if not the last few years, to be honest. Though on the surface it’s a quiet, richly detailed labyrinthine literary adventure, underneath the narrative lies a symbolic depiction of one man’s descent into and subsequent recovery from mental illness. It’s a work of true genius, poignantly and deftly rendered. 

The effect on me has been so profound, I will hardly be able to forget what I’ve read. 

In terms of plot particulars, Piranesi lives in a House like no other, with endless corridors lined by an infinite variety of statues. He’s learned his way around the labyrinth, memorizing the times of the ocean tides that come sweeping up the stairs and crashing through the hallways, flooding the House’s rooms and sealing in its secrets. There is one Other who visits the House twice a week, and asks for Piranesi’s help with research into a Great and Secret Knowledge. 

Contrary to his belief that only fifteen people exist in the world, thirteen of whom are dead inside the House, Piranesi learns there is a 16. When indications of 16’s presence emerge in the halls of the House, Piranesi uncovers evidence of a life he used to know, one that is no longer familiar to him, but which he desperately seeks to remember. 

Few books leave me feeling this haunted after finishing them, but Piranesi is one of them. With poetic and lyrical prose, Susanna Clarke lulled me into a lush fantasy world I didn’t want to leave. Her theme is what resonates with me most strongly, though. It echoes down every corridor in the labyrinth, whispers from every statue lining the House’s walls, and can perhaps best be summed up by Piranesi’s own words: The Beauty of the House is immeasureable; its kindness infinite. 

Must a thing be deemed real to be of ultimate value to mankind? Whether imagined or not, the House’s inherent spiritual value is what both sustains Piranesi during his time there, and rehabilitates him to the larger world he once knew and must become a part of once again.

Read this book, guys. You have to. Then message me and tell me what you think. I’ll probably be reading the book a second or a third time, nose pressed tight against the pages. 


Impermanence Of Life Hope  - lovini / Pixabay


If you’re someone like me, an intuitive empath coping with a daily load of existential dread, I’ll wager you’re probably finding it extra hard to tap into your creativity lately. (For purposes of this blog, let’s assume you are. If not, you may as well quit reading. This article isn’t meant for you, you bold and wonderful creature.) As if the aftermath of dealing with a global pandemic and losing my father this past fall weren’t enough, now there’s a horrific war raging overseas, the likes of which I hoped never to experience in my lifetime. It’s more than a little distracting when it comes to letting my imagination run wild and setting words to the page. 

What if I told you this is exactly the reason why we as creatives should be throwing ourselves into making our art?

I bet that got your attention. Why? Because, like everyone else in the world, we want to know:

Why make art in the first place?
Does art even matter?
Who cares what I have to say?
Why is my vision important?
What’s the point of writing a (fill-in-the-genre) story when the world is falling apart?
Shouldn’t I be using my energy for something more constructive than making art right now?
How is making this art going to do the world any good?

Do I have a right to be an artist when the world and people around me are suffering so?

The next time you hear anything even remotely similar to any of the above, ask yourself one question. Pay particular attention to the first answer that comes to mind.

When you’re going through hell, how much is it worth to you when someone holds out a light in the darkness?


Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. ~Helen Keller~


Clover Leaves Forest Moss Nature  - KRiemer / Pixabay


I have been thinking

about lifting

like the three-lobed leaves

of the potted shamrock 

on my counter.


They rise and fall

with the cycle of the sun.

When I first realized 

this is what they were doing,

I was awestruck.


If I were a shamrock,

I would spend the entire night

longing for the flow of energy

up my stems

that would fling my leaves aloft.


What I mean is,

can I count on hope

to always be there?

We trust the sun to rise,

even when a storm darkens the horizon.


The fire of it burns

regardless of our ability

to see it behind the clouds.

We may not feel its warmth,

but we know it’s there.


Spider-web delicate roots

drink hope from the soil

and by an invisible sun’s power,

shuttle it through trusting stems.

I raise my hands.


The sky opens,

raining hope.



For fans of Clue, this is your classic whodunnit murder mystery, complete with a number of characters named after the familiar colors on the game board. While The Maid begins a s a lighthearted caper, the plot winds through a series of unexpected twists and turns, enmeshing you in the question of whether or not you’re dealing with a reliable narrator. Before you know it, you’ve arrived at the end, staring into the face of a rather shocking conclusion. 

I don’t know about you, but when I read mysteries, I’m intent on figuring out from page one who the murderer is. Who’s the most likely suspect? Who has the most to gain from the victim’s death, and most importantly, who has the most to hide? More often than not, my hunches are usually right. 

Not in this case!

Molly Gray, or Molly Maid, as she calls herself, may have a regular job, but she is far from ordinary. Her quirky, awkward demeanor and compulsive tendencies make it difficult for her to cultivate most relationships other than with her beloved gran. But those self-same qualities don’t keep her from a job well done when it comes to the upkeep of the guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel. Despite her recent loss of Gran, Molly is determined to live up to the ideals she was taught. 

The longer you live, the more you learn. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Life has a way of sorting itself out. 

When she enters the suite of one of the hotel’s wealthiest VIP’s, Charles Black, and finds him dead in his bed and the room in a state of disarray, Molly quickly learns that not everyone who claims to be her friend in acting in her best interest. Her misplaced trust in her coworkers unwittingly lands Molly in the spotlight as the lead suspect in Mr. Black’s murder. In over her head, Molly teams up with an unlikely set of new friends who side with her in an effort to track down the real killer. 

But will they solve the mystery in time before it’s too late?

You’ll have to read and find out.

Tell you what, if you do, message me and let’s chat! I would love to hear who you thought the murderer was. The Maid is a story I won’t soon forget. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.


Drawing Charcoal Progress Sketch  - KaylinArt / Pixabay


Recently, I walked into my first drawing class not knowing what to expect. I’m a writer, but I wanted to explore other avenues of creative expression. Not only does it make great artistic fodder, but it’s fun, right? Letting our creative sides run wild. 

I quickly realized I was surrounded by a number of artists far more talented than me and my Impostor Syndrome swung into overdrive. What was I thinking taking this class? Why didn’t I stick with the medium most comfortable to me, namely words and the stuff of stories?

Stop it, i told myself. You’re here to learn and have fun. Relax.

The teacher quickly put me at ease. A lifelong artist and an experienced educator in the arts, he said the one thing I most wanted to hear. “Most of you already know how to draw, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. What I’m going to teach you is how to draw more efficiently, so you’re finishing pieces within a few hours at most. If your drawings are taking days to complete, you’re working too hard.” 

Yes! I want to relax my grip on the pencil when I draw, move fluidly across the page, not THINK so much about it, just FEEL it. Let the work come to life on its own as I shape it.

Inwardly, my heart rejoiced. I’ve struggled for months (years, even) to feel that way on the page as I write, and here was my drawing instructor, offering to teach me the same skills in a visual way in a few short weeks.

I’ve already learned so much after just one drawing class that simultaneously relates to writing. The two creative pursuits are more intimately connected than they are different from one another. 

Allow me to explain what I mean, then apply it to your creative life as you will.

  1. Get comfortable with your tools. We used the bare minimum in my drawing class, even though some of us had brought drafting pencil kits and fancy sketch pads. “A regular pencil, eraser, and rubbing stick are all you need to get started,” the instructor told us, and he was right. “Learn to get comfortable with what you’re using,” he said while moving around the room, offering us helpful tips. As with writing, I had to learn the basics of plotting, characterization, theme, and pacing (to name a few) before I could feel confident moving from smaller to longer, more involved pieces.
  2. Start with a solid outline. One of the handy, time-saving ‘tricks’ the instructor walked us through was how to create a quick outline of the subject of our sketch. Working from an outline is infinitely faster than drawing free-hand. The same is true in writing. My efficiency made exponential improvement once I honed in on an outlining process that worked best for me. 
  3. Fill in the details. We started our drawings by identifying ‘shapes’ within the shading and filling those in first, then coming back later to fine-tune the more intricate details. At some point in the outlining process, whether it be drawing or writing, you have to start crafting the art layer by layer. Though some writers prefer to have every detail planned out ahead of time, I am not one of them. I’m a pantser, an intuitive writer true to my INFJ personality type. I start writing with as good of an outline as I can create, and the details come to me as I write.
  4. Remember that your work doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be yours. Our instructor wound through the tables, repeating this phrase in the most encouraging way possible. Some students were disheartened their work didn’t look like the model we were working off of. “That’s the point,” the teacher said. “We all see the same thing different ways. You are bringing yourself and your unique vision to this project. Show us what you see.” I couldn’t state it better myself. That kind of artistic validation speaks for itself, guys. May the Critic take heed when your Inner Artist acknowledges this about your own work.
  5. When you get stuck, distance yourself from your work. “Often I won’t know what’s wrong with a piece, or why it isn’t working, until I pin it to the wall and let it sit,” our instructor said. “If you’re stuck, or something in the drawing doesn’t look quite right, you probably just need to observe it from a distance for a day or two.” Perspective. Isn’t that the truth about a lot of problems in life? Put it down. Back up. Get some distance. Sit down again tomorrow, or a week later, and your brain will have had time to problem solve while you were busy doing other things. It’s true for writing, drawing, and I daresay, a host of other tight corners in life we find ourselves boxed into. 

I hope my lessons in drawing have been as helpful for you in your creative life as they have been for me! Above all, no matter what your process, making art is about boldly speaking your truth. Truth is powerful. It is a transcendent force that fosters memory, instills hope, and ultimately, helps us cultivate empathy for each other in the context of our shared humanity. 

Ever thought about exploring your creativity through a different venue? Music, dance, theater, or the visual arts? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear about all the ways you’re nurturing your Inner Artist! 


Brooms up! 

Little did I know I was in for such an adventure when I picked up Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster. This book transported me to Victorian London in a way no other book has – from the point of view of a young orphan chimney sweep named Nan Sparrow. Her job is not only dangerous, it’s downright life-threatening. In a harsh environment that regularly claims the lives of many, Nan has not only risen to the top as one of the best climbers, she’s also done so as a girl. Despite being forced to work under the employ of Wilkie Crudd, a ruthless master sweep who plays his young charges against each other in a battle of wits, Nan has managed to defy the odds countless times. 

When the worst happens and Nan gets caught in a chimney fire, she assumes she’s done for. She can hardly believe her good fortune when she wakes up, unharmed, in an abandoned attic and finds a mysterious creature – a golem – made from soot and ash huddled in the corner alongside her. Their heartwarming story enfolds as Nan teaches her monster about survival in the world, and he, in turn, teaches her about love and friendship in ways she’s never experienced. 

Magic and wonder are woven into this enchanting tale about love and loss, friendship and transformation, and the power that one person’s voice can have in effecting change for the better. Jonathan Auxier touches on a timeless theme in this beautiful story of the unfolding of a young girl’s life in the midst of great suffering:

We save ourselves by saving others.

I couldn’t have stated it better myself. Guys, this is a must read. I laughed and cried my way through this book, but most important of all, it brought to mind all those who have touched my life in a similar way – by sacrificing part of themselves to bring me back to life. 

I hope you discover the same. Drop me a line if you read this book, I’d love to chat!