The Doctor is “In” – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for a 100-word story, brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our wonderful host for Friday Fictioneers. Each week, we are challenged to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to J. Hardy Carroll for this week’s photo.

All are welcome to participate. Give it a try.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

(100 words)

The Doctor is “In”

She imagined the water mark in the corner lengthening, a slithering eel frothing about in the mealy ceiling, its fangs lashing out at her. A twinge ripped at her neck. It would take her into the wall and turn her into nothingness. Disappearing. That she could take.

But the stab of a knife into delicate flesh or a noose cutting into your neck, trapping your last breath. Physical pain was something she could never wrap her head around.

“Josh,” she said. Her three o’clock always sat in the same corner. “How are you?”

“Fine. And you?”

“Just fine. Thank you.”


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Chateau de Longing – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly writing group. The challenge is to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and to C.E. Ayr for the this week’s photo.

If you would like to participate, follow this link for instructions. All are welcome.

My story has two interwoven narratives; one from the son and the other is from the mother in the past. It may not be clear, but that’s my idea. Let me know what you think.

PHOTO PROMPT – © ceayr
PHOTO PROMPT – © ceayr

(100 words)

Chateau de Longing

Merv fretted and tidied miscellaneous piles of paper. They still owed on the computer that died. “Another sale bites the dust. That place is immaculate. Now it’s below market.”

Orange blossoms softened the air. He rubbed her feet as they sipped on Turkish coffee at first light of a sleepless night. 

“We have no control. We can’t force her out,” said Lisa.

Under a shimmering, bejeweled sky, he whispered, “Wait for me.”

“She wanders up and down the hall in various stages of undress. Sometimes nothing at all,” Merv said.

“What?” Lisa asked.

“My mother has officially lost her mind.”


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A Communication Tip for the Holidays and Beyond: “Me Time”


Have you ever been in a conversation where you were so busy formulating a response that you missed what the other person said altogether? Sometimes I think life happens this way; life as a conversation where we are only half-way committed, half-way listening. Many times we are so fixated on predicting what happens next that we miss out on the actual moment as it happens. We miss what was said. We miss the moment. We miss the whole point.

I had an opportunity to attend a communication skills workshop sponsored by my son’s school called, “Communicating with Family Members During the Holidays” and how to have less stress and more cooperation. I can use all the help I can get, so I went. And I was pleasantly surprised.

First, the facilitator had us play a game. A volunteer told a story about a happy event in her life. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the volunteer, half of the room was told to ignore her. All I had to do was whip out my smartphone and become consumed. I didn’t listen to a word she said. I got wrapped up in my Internet world and tuned her out. It was really easy to do.

Her point? We, as adults, ignore our kids sometimes. How does it feel when someone is talking to you and, while you very well may be listening, are staring at your smartphone? Sure, you don’t mean to do it. But there it is! That smartphone is attached to your hand and you can’t seem to get rid of it. It’s like a leech, sucking the juices out of your brain. I know, because I do it.

Then, the facilitator introduced “Me Time.” The idea is very simple. You give your child your undivided attention for a scheduled time of 10 to 15 minutes. That’s not a lot of time, right? Anyone can do that.

“Me Time” is based on principles of play therapy, which may be more widely practiced with younger children. This session of “Me Time” could even be called “Mommy and Johnny Time,” for example, or whatever makes sense for your child. My 12-year-old son has called it, “The Dreaded Time with Mom.” So, whatever works. Really, it can work for anyone at any age, including your resistant teenager.

There are few parameters for a successful session of “Me Time.” They are as follows:

  1. Schedule the 10-15 minute period of “Me Time.” I know it’s only 10-15 minutes, but if it’s scheduled it may feel more special and purposeful.
  2. Your child chooses the activity. Got that one? Your child chooses! And you must do it no matter what! If your child wants you to hop around on one foot and blow bubbles, then that’s what you must do. If your child wants to watch TV, that’s what you do. If your kid wants to play on his smartphone and ignore you, that’s your activity.
  3. Considering #2, you may suggest that the chosen activity not break any family rules (like no balls in the house).
  4. There’s no need to spend money. The activity is for such a short period, there’s really no need. Still, if you to make certain the focus is away from money, you may want to state this up front.
  5. As the parent, you cannot correct or direct the activity. Also important, you cannot ask, “Why?” Your child may view this as judging.
  6. You can’t play unless you’re asked. Don’t assume your child necessarily wants you to be involved. This idea coincides with the idea of play therapy where the child may need time to work something out. This is best done without any interference. You are merely an observer if this happens.

Discuss these parameters openly before you engage in “Me Time.” There’s no need for secrets. Truly, I think this idea could work for any relationship, even spouses or significant others. Why not? I have yet to try that, but I did try this idea with my kids.

This is what happened with my 9-year-old. First we cuddled in his blanket cave and made funny faces at each other. Then, he did a series of musical numbers where he got up to sing and dance. I clapped and cheered. He was hilarious and clearly wanted to show off his dance moves. I had no idea. This is not something he does that often and, clearly, he wanted an audience.

When it came to my 12-year-old, he said, “I thought you were kidding. Really?” First, he wanted me to wait outside his room. His little joke. Come to find out, he needed help with his homework, so that’s what we did. To make up for that, we watched a few “Dear Diary” cat videos. Those are always a good laugh!

But the biggest eye-opener? It was so relaxing to surrender my time voluntarily to someone else. To not be in charge or direct. To just listen. To be completely present. It felt so refreshing and helped me refocus my energy on my kids when it goes astray as, of course, it happens even with the best intentions. I highly recommend you give it a shot, especially during the busy holiday season when you feel short of time and stressed. I bet the more often you share this experience with your kids, the more insightful it will become and maybe, just maybe, communication will improve all around.

Time, that thing we’re always chasing or running out of. Why not carve out a little space for the important people in your life and share the gift of time spent together?

photo credit: Merry Christmas! via photopin (license)

The Power of Stillness

Lizards are masters. Snakes are pros. Cats are champions at it too… when they’re asleep. What do they have in common? They all can be exceptionally still. Humans? Not so much. We need to work at it a little harder.

Stillness doesn’t seem to be in our genes. Rather, we seem programmed to do more; to work more, work out more, play more, and well, be more. Sometimes our minds are racing so much, we might not realize that we are, in fact, running our bodies ragged.

Do you sometimes feel that your body is almost a separate entity from your mind? Do your mind and body go about their day as if they have nothing to do with each other? If your mind and body were to separate from each other, would they tell the same story about your life? It could make an interesting novel, yes?

Practically speaking, the mind and body work together every day, so they must be communicating. Our minds tell our bodies to retrieve an object, and our bodies follow the instructions. When our bodies feel cold or hot, our minds say, hey fix that, I’m uncomfortable! We’re quick to fix those discomforts that are on the surface. But what about other discomforts that aren’t so obvious?

One day in my yin yoga class, I did a spinal stretch and felt a sudden rush of emotion. I saw my father in a hospital bed. My father died earlier this year, so it makes sense my body could hold on to some of that grief. The image of my dad in a hospital bed was one that happened much earlier, long before he had passed, but there it was. One simple stretch and tears streamed down my face. I breathed through the stretch, trying to shake off my sorrow, and hoped my teacher wouldn’t say a word. She didn’t. I pulled myself together.

My body may hold on to pain that I have yet to face or perhaps it’s a memory stored on the cellular level. Whether you believe such things are possible, I feel that our bodies are talking to us in some form or fashion. I felt mine talking to me that day.

The trouble is we rarely listen to our bodies. Sometimes, there may even be confusion. Is it your mind or body requesting coffee? What I know is that the quest for more often leads to less sleep and less time for ourselves. In a rush to get somewhere and be more, being still seems counterproductive.

I’m reminded of the time I danced in a tribute to Pina Bausch and one option for movement in the piece was to be still. To not move. I found that strange. We didn’t even have to give it counts; we could decide how long. The only condition was that you had to be really still. If you moved a finger or twitched an eye, you fell short of the goal of attaining real stillness. Anyway, this stillness was as much a movement as the choreographed movements; being still was its own move. And if you did it right, you could make as much a statement with it as with anything else.

Try it. Be still. It may open your eyes to not only what’s around you but allow yourself to hear your body’s story. What is it telling you? Don’t forget to breathe on purpose while you listen.

Be the rock.
Be still…like the rock.

photo credit: Rock Simplicity via photopin (license)

The Myth of Multitasking


Multitasking is a catch-all word that signifies success, adaptability and, above all, is a common descriptor on hopeful job applicants’ resumes. Friends, do you want the truth?

Our brains don’t like to multitask. In fact, they hate it and reject it. They’re simply not wired to behave in such a manner. 

Research shows that humans can only think about four things at once. And if you think you are multitasking oh so successfully, chances are you’re just not. You just spilled your coffee while you looked at that guy crossing the hall, checked an email, mistyping a word and meanwhile, while trying to hold a conversation on the phone, you didn’t hear the last two sentences. You look busy and productive, sure. How is this really going?

It’s impossible to multitask. Your brain will accommodate multiple requests by doing what’s called “spotlights.”  At most, the brain may dual-task, and divides and conquers to complete those two tasks. But two complex tasks are the limit. If you add a third task, the prefrontal cortex will simply discard one of the tasks. It’s no dummy. The results show that the brain has only two hemispheres available for task management and can only take two tasks at a time. Simply put, it needs both hemispheres to successfully complete a task.

Unless you have superpowers and several arms…well, humans are just not equipped to multitask.

As further evidence, I kid you not, while writing this post I attempted to cook dinner and burned it. Oh, what a bumble! Personally, I know that I am drained when I take on too many tasks and it usually takes me longer to complete any one task. There’s research on that, too.

Multitasking is regarded as a badge of honor by today’s youth and likely encouraged as the new “norm” by their peers. A study out of Stanford identified two separate groups, “heavy media multitaskers” (HMMs) and “light media multitaskers” (LMMs). Both groups were asked to decipher relevant information from the environment and irrelevant information based on memory, all the while switching their tasks. You guessed it, the heavy group did worse. What’s more, those who multitask actually think they’re great at it!

While attempting to do a task, I’m convinced the mind can think about a whole host of things completely unrelated to the task at hand. My yoga teacher suggests that you can think about 13 things at once and I believe her, but often it feels like much more than that. Do you have moments when you feel your brain might explode with too many thoughts flying around?

Here’s a test. Next time you feel overtaxed with too many thoughts, write them down in a list. No need to make them perfect, just them out of your head and on paper. 

Actually writing them down will slow your thinking, but what’s more, you’ll see you may not really be thinking of as many things as you feel. It’s more likely that anxiety is playing a role. It likes to get in the way. Anxiety is very bossy and is also responsible for shallow breathing and irrational thinking.

So, okay the simple solution must be to think and do one thing at a time, right? It turns out, people may have more trouble with that one. I have some ideas about this. Tune in next week, when I talk about my new passion. Breathing on purpose.

In the meantime, if things seem a little harried, stop and check in. Give yourself grace. You’re just human, after all.

photo credit: Multitasking in the Park via photopin (license)
photo credit: High-Octane Villain via photopin(license)

Maze Rumors – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright – Melanie Greenwood

 Maze Rumors

Phillip clutched the sealed envelope, his summons to complete the maze. Except for the fog swirling around, it was a straight shot.

“You do so at your peril,” said one.

“You’ll disappear,” rumored another.

None of this tiptoeing through the garden tulips. He ran for it; grubby, little hands snatched at his ankles, and they whispered at every turn.

“I can’t concentrate,” Philip yelled at no one.

He plunged ahead into a door, and they laughed at him. This was no treacherous cliff. A long corridor lead Philip to a meeting underway with a bunch of suits.

Oh, what a disappointment.


Genre: Urban Fantasy (100 words)

Perhaps, this guy needs a vacation. Thank you to Melanie Greenwood for sharing one of her vacation photos with us here, which made for a most excellent prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the Friday Fictioneers and for all her gracious time.

This story was written for Friday Fictioneers 100-word photo prompt. Check out more stories from the Fictioneers HERE.


Slipping – Guest Post

I am guest posting today over at Adam’s blog, The Dependent Independent. Please head on over and join me for a poem. Thank you!

The Dependent Independent

I was honored by Adam’s request to guest post with a poem. I don’t write poetry too often, but I like the challenge. Here, I have attempted to write in the Italian terzanelle form (with only slight cheating). I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.  – Amy from The Bumble Files



Where there’s light, there’s dark—
in the middle toils a tangled mind,
slipping, hiding, gasping,

Will I ever be enough?
Slipping away inside her head,
in the middle toils a tangled mind.

White, chalky tablets fill her hand,
her bright smile hides her dull eyes.
Slipping away inside of her head,

strength enough for everyone except herself,
Christmas baskets clog the decor.
Her bright smile hides her dull eyes,

pills distill antiseptic smells,
its rotting memories no one claims.
Christmas baskets clog the decor,

but no one says anything.
Where there’s light, there’s dark
lurking, wrestling with grace,
slipping, falling, grasping.


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