Saturday Scribbles – Thief

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Most of the time, I get ideas for stories or characters from my own dreams (my imagination seems to go into overdrive when I’m asleep), bits of conversations I overhear or my observations of strangers while I’m out and about. Not to mention pieces of my friends and family. Every once in a while though, I meet someone new and before I know anything about them at all, a story begins to fire off inside my head with them taking center stage. It’s never predictable when it happens and always catches me off guard. It’s quite startling sometimes. When introduced, I usually find myself smiling absentmindedly, nodding, but having no idea what the person is saying or sadly, even what their name is. It’s terribly rude I know, and thankfully it doesn’t happen often. But when it does, this rudeness can be blamed on the fact that I’m desperately trying to hold on to the fragments of story bouncing around in my head long enough to get them written down somewhere.

Oddly enough, this has happened to me twice in the last couple of weeks. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about either person. On both occasions mutual friends introduced us. I think I managed at least a polite smile and a hand shake each time, but one look and the wheels in my head were already turning.

On both occasions the word thief came to mind. That’s a strange thing to think upon first meeting someone, but I can’t help these things when they pop in my head. They just appear. In these particular cases, I don’t mean thief in the law-breaking sense exactly, more in the sense that each of them stole attention of some kind. And on both occasions I couldn’t get my hand on pen and paper fast enough.

Both of these guys have stolen quite a few of my thoughts over the last several days and I have a story concocted for each of them. I’m just not sure where they will show up yet. My writing partner and I will be starting work on our second book this month. Perhaps one, or both of these guys, will show up there???

Anyways, I decided I would go ahead and share these two scribbles here, on this fine Saturday. It felt necessary today. Cheers Everyone and Happy Plotting wherever it decides to show up for you! You never know when inspiration will hit! (And I’ll go ahead and state an apology for the record, to those who cross my path from day to day….you might just end up in a story at some point….anonymously, of course. 😉 )

 

The Farmer

 

Unexpected grace in beat up cowboy boots.

Gentle hands, exquisitely calloused.

Quiet strength bleeding kindness.

Raw spirit beckoning ….come and see.

 

Thief of one city girl’s heart.

 

 

The Executive

 

A natural politician;

he works the crowd effortlessly…

with those painfully gorgeous blue eyes and that damn smirk of his.

 

People love him.

They can’t help it.

 

He’s electric.

Magnetic.

Mesmerizing charm.

 

Even my own jaded attention…stolen.

 

And he has no idea how dangerous he really is.

 

Chelsey Whitlow

November’s Tale

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The air is reverent here. Peace married with sorrow and bone.

The snow crunches beneath my boots, announcing each step I takes towards you… the only sound that dares shatter the eerie quiet of your resting place.

Even the sounds of the city beyond these gates, keep their distance. As though they know better than to disturb. As if in respect.

I do not know what called me to your grave this evening. All I know is, when dusk began to settle all cold and heavy with coming winter, I couldn’t think of another place I wanted to be.

I’ve never ventured here alone.

So, why this moment?

Why such urgency?

Perhaps to recollect your words.

Perhaps because the cold has always suited my spirit best when restlessness threatens.

Perhaps to be reminded that in the silence, truth and courage and revelation lie in wait.

Perhaps only to remember that I am not alone.

Chelsey Whitlow

Wonder – A Snowy Sunday Scribble

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At what point do we begin to lose our sense of wonder?

When do we let that sense of awe at the simplest things slip through our fingers?

At what point do we begin to explain away the magic around us as something…well, ordinary?

I love this picture above of T. I took it last Christmas when my fam and I went to visit Santa at the museum. Santa is great and all, but I think, by evidence of T’s face, the dinosaurs and fossils and other exhibits were far more exciting. That night at the museum was so much fun, chasing the boys around as they discovered all sort of things. Their little faces were full of wonder and excitement. They couldn’t take everything in fast enough.

Wonder is actually one of my favorite, though seriously underused, feelings. I think that’s why I love movies and books so much. I love when other worlds or places or ordinary things come to life in incredible ways through other’s imaginations. I remember reading the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis as a child and imagining that if I crawled in my closet, perhaps I too, could travel to Narnia. And I remember as an adult, going to see the movie a few years ago and being filled with that same sense of wonder as I watched Narnia come to life on the screen in front of me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wonder over the last few days. Earlier in the week I had a particularly rough day. I got home and felt not only defeated, but everything around me just looked bleak.  I woke up the next morning still feeling pretty blue and it actually pissed me off. I didn’t want to be blue and grumpy. I didn’t want to be faced with just another bleak Tuesday…I wanted to be filled with wonder. And surprisingly I wasn’t disappointed.  I stopped at Starbucks for a festive beverage to cheer me up and on the way to work I found myself actually stunned to tears by the brilliant colors of the sunrise. If it wouldn’t have made me late, I would have pulled over and watched it unfold completely.

I drive to work to the sunrise every morning. What made it different on this morning? Was it just my decision to not be grumpy? I’ve always loved sunrises and sunsets. Why did I ever let them stop capturing me in their beauty? When did I stop letting them fill me with wonder?

Wonder is also why I loved the holidays so much as a child. The holiday season is rapidly approaching and it can be such a time of wonder. But it can also be a very difficult time for a lot of people. It’s been a hard time of year for me for the last several years. I remember as a small child wishing days like Thanksgiving and Christmas could last all year long because they always felt so magical and bright and full of amazing. Not because of the presents necessarily, but because of the stories and the lights and the music and the decorations and the food(let’s be honest, the food might be the best part).

Growing up, there was plenty of bleakness in our daily reality. But I remember the holiday season being the one time of year I could forget. I forgot about the stress and loneliness and chaos of the rest of the year and I clung to the hope and wonder of the season….

I remember the wonder of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the smell of turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. I remember the awe of watching the Nutcracker on TV and the magic of actually dancing in our local Ballet’s version year after year. I remember the smell of apple cider bubbling away on the stove and waiting for snow and the feel of cold wind burning my face as my sled flew down the hill. I remember letters to Santa and the warm glow of Christmas lights that always made our tiny living room feel like a safe place. I remember the smell of candle wax at late night church services and the enchanting melodies of O Holy Night and Little Drummer Boy. I remember these things being so much more than ordinary.

Why is it we forget this kind of wonder the rest of the year?

Life is busy and stressful and full of a lot of horrible things. But there is so much to be grateful for too. There are such good and incredible wonders around us….all the time. Like sunrises and sunsets that bring us to tears when we remember to open our eyes. And snowfall on a November Sunday that takes our breath away.  And the miracle of new life. And I could go on and on….

I want to grab hold of this wonder again. Not just as the Holiday season arrives, but on random Tuesday mornings when I’d rather stay in bed and on cold Sunday nights as I prepare for another week of work.

 

Eyes wide with wonder.

Mind dissecting each discovery.

Hands reaching to touch, to bend, to build without fear….

 

Each breath baited with the possibility of adventure.

Each color, a song of other places and other worlds.

Each shadow, a foe that can be vanquished.

Each day ending with the excitement of stories made &

Dreams of more stories yet to be told.

 

Awe…to have those eyes and mind and hands again.

 

Chelsey Whitlow

Saturday Scribbles – Cherry On Top

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On a whim a few days ago I bought a tube of red lipstick. Not sure what compelled me to make this purchase exactly. (I’m not really a red wearing kind of gal. It tends to clash with my hair) But I was feeling a little sassy, so I bought it.

As I got in my car to leave the drug store, I decided I’d dig the tube out and give it a test. I mean, what did I have to lose. I was just going to the gas station and then straight home. If it looked terrible, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. No one would really see me.

So I unwrapped it’s plastic armor and brushed it on. Then, I dared a hesitant look in my rear view mirror.

What I saw stunned me.

My whole face had transformed.

In a good way.

And I felt good… really good actually.

Reaching into my purse, I grabbed my receipt and pen and wrote down a quick line of a possible scribble. I wanted to remember this silly little moment in a drug store parking after taking a small risk with a cheap tube of “Cherry On Top” lipstick.

After stepping out of my norm and wearing this lipstick around the last couple days, I kind of feel like I’ve just discovered some new kind of secret weapon to my confidence.

Digging through my purse this morning for my keys, I came across that receipt and decided to add some more to my lipstick scribble.

It’s a little silly, I admit. But sometimes it is the simplest or most silly of things that can give us the confidence push we need to get out there and live life.

We must grab hold of these little things, even the silly ones, when they come our way.

Because, who knows…. Maybe one silly little tube of lipstick could change everything…

For too long I’ve stayed hidden under appropriate amounts of eyeliner and chapstick lips,
Draped in shades of black and gray.

Conservative voices echoing on about inner beauty.
Blemishes covered, but nothing too daring.

I’ve reveled in sideline shadows concealed among ordinary things.

Ever remaining along the fringes.

Wary of exposure…

Avoiding being truly seen,
except the copper strands of my inheritance.
Strands hard to disguise.

$2.96 and my face has a different story to tell…

Bolder steps and eyes cast up instead of anywhere else.

Confidence long buried creeping hopefully towards the surface.

Stranger’s hellos and lingering looks.

Brighter smile and the decision that shadows will no longer author my story.

The choice to step out,
to risk being noticed…

No more burrowing behind.

Present and engaged in the moment given.

A dose of courage in the color of rouge.

Chelsey Whitlow

Pieces

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I will collect you.

Your words.
Your breath.
Your tears.
Your laughter.
Your lies.
Your truth.
Your gaze upon mine when the world goes blind.
Your masks and the shards given in secret.

I will gather them all…

And piece you back together, so you will once again remember…

The truest beauty comes from broken things restored.

 

Chelsey Whitlow

 

Never According to Plan

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Warning: Some of this post may echo a bit from past posts. But it’s what I’ve been hashing out in my head lately, so I had to get it out on the page….Just in case someone new (or someone old) needed to hear it today as much as I needed to write it. So here it goes.

For all those who have ever felt like they must be broken because their story didn’t fall in line with expectations…

There is an undiscovered storyline waiting out there, just for you, if you have the courage to learn how to see it. Another possible ending that could stun even the most negative of cynics.

There really is.

For a rare few, life tends to generally play out according to their master plan… or, at least it appears that way to the rest of us mere mortals. For the rest of us, the truth is, life isn’t really known for sticking to plan. I know more people with a list of detours than I do those who have stayed on course and fallen in line dutifully. Unfortunately for some of us more cynical folks, we learned early on not to even bother making plans at all. For these, of which I have been a long time member, there will come a point when courage becomes crucial… a point where courage becomes necessary to live, really live, regardless of “a plan”.

Plans, in and of themselves, aren’t bad things. But, the truth is, real beauty, real life…the really good stuff, doesn’t come from these well-intentioned plans. It actually comes from how we handle the road blocks and pot holes that inevitably fumble us along the way.

For most of my life I’ve been the odd man out. My life has never followed the usual patterns of most of the friends and family around me. My journey so far, has been scattered with a series of road blocks, detours and traffic jams; many as a result of my own fear and a lot that were simply just unfortunate circumstance.

But, I’ve always had a choice.
We all do.

We can choose to see ourselves as broken.

Or….we can choose to grab hold of our courage and learn to dream again….to seek the beauty in the detours and embrace the random for the potential refining moments they can become.

For a long time I chose broken. I let circumstance wreck me in so many ways and saw everything through disappointed and fearful eyes, believing I would never “get it together” like others around me. I felt like I was just born broken….a hopeless mess.

In reality, all I did was refuse to embrace who I was created to be…. An out-of-the-box thinking, creative, passionate person that didn’t need a conventional plan to be beautiful or worthy or serve a good purpose in other’s lives. I harbored so much unhappiness in my need to be what others thought I should have been or tried to make me.

In my journey towards finding my brave the last couple of years, I’ve finally let one of the most valuable lessons sink in…I’ve learned to give myself grace and choose to find the beauty in the struggle.

Because the really good stuff in life comes from that struggle.

It comes from the letting go of things we cannot control and from the redemption of scars. It comes from grace and determination. It comes from the unexpected encounters caused by roadblocks and delays. It comes from choosing to stand back up, not having it all together in the first place. It comes from forgiveness of the ugly others hand us and learning to love ourselves despite the ugly we hand ourselves. It comes from endurance and blood and tears and patience.

And it comes from a hope that is anything but logical.

And if you’ll allow, it can become bigger and brighter and more inspiring than any plan could ever imagine.

Chelsey Whitlow