It’s Okay if You Hate Me

He sat on the floor, his back against the dark wood dresser in his bedroom. His legs drawn up to his chest, his eyes cast down, not that he could see me anyway. He had responded to my voice.

“Daddy, what did you do?”

“Oh Kristi, it’s terrible, just terrible.”

“What daddy, come on, it will be okay. It’s always okay.” I stepped into my parents bedroom and then stopped.

The air was still as the room grew dark. Day was ending, the sun going down. The bedside lamp remained off. My sister had once again been reading to our father in the afternoon. The noise of my playing and mom cooking in the kitchen the reason they had went to his bedroom. Dad needed it to be quiet when she read to him. He was studying for a college course. His limited eyesight made the reading assignments drone on. Having my sister read to him made it go much faster. I hated how it took away our play, my sister and I loved to play together.

“Not this time, bug.” My father hiccuped as tears rolled down his cheeks.

“It’s okay if you hate me. It’s okay if you never forgive me.” He pulled his knees tighter to his chest.

“Oh daddy, of course I forgive you! I could never hate you!” I rushed to him, knelt down and wrapped my seven year old arms around his neck.

Warm tears dropped onto my neck as his body quivered with each breath. I hugged him tight promising I would not let go.

He hiccuped again, his arms not leaving his knees. I hugged him. He didn’t hug me.

“I don’t hate you daddy. I promise, I won’t hate you.”

“Kristi, I’d like you to go in your room for a while. The police officers need to speak to your father.” My mom had come in and flipped on the light.

I gave my father one more squeeze and got up to leave. My mother tossled my hair as I passed by. I looked up at her face, the corners of her mouth turned down, her lips stretched tight. The wrinkles on her forehead creased deep. She looked tired. Very tired.

Before I crossed the hallway to my room I peeked in my sister’s open doorway. Prone on her bed, face planted in her pillow, her sobs muffled.

“Lisa?”

“Lisa, are you okay?”

“Go away.”

“Sis, I’m here. No matter what it is, it’s going to be okay. Come on, tell me what’s wrong.”

“I can’t. You wouldn’t understand.” Between a plugged and runny nose and the pillow it was hard to make out her words.

“What did you say? I can’t hear you?”

“I said go away, you wouldn’t understand. You’re too little.” She lifted her head long enough to cut into my heart with her words.

“I’m not too little! I can listen. You just need to talk to me!” I stomped out of my sister’s bedroom and went into my own. One of the few times I was thankful I no longer shared a room with her.

My doll was on my bed. I grabbed her and a brush and began tugging it through tangled hair. I heard voices and foot steps coming down the hallway. Two officers in blue uniforms walked past my door. My mom passed by and pulled my door closed. I could hear them talking, deep voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“What do you think the officers want, Molly?” I asked my doll as I continued brushing her golden hair. Strands of white, yellow and gold, with a hint of red mixed in her lovely hair.

“Do you think my daddy did something so bad the police men came? I don’t know what he did. Maybe Lisa did something bad, she sure is crying a lot.”

I stopped brushing, the brush once again stuck in my doll’s hair. Patiently, I pulled each strand out at a time, trying not to pull them out of her head altogether.

Rolling closet doors creaked breaking the silence. I strained to hear. Slipping off my bed, I tip-toed to the door. The adults spoke in hushed whispers. I pressed my ear against the door.

“Just wear what you have on…….” it was a man’s voice, I didn’t recognize.

“Mr. Espe, it’s time to go. Mrs. Espe, you can follow us to the station or come down in the morning. Here is my card, you can call me direct for information.” Another deep voice. I waited for my mom to speak.

I pressed my face harder against the worn door, my cheek burning from rubbing the wood. Shuffling sounds, sniffling, whomever was outside my door was crying. Feet stepped past and someone bumped into my door from the hallway.

“Lisa, Please go down the street to your grandma’s and tell Bill what is going on. He needs to come home, now.” My mother’s voice quivered as she spoke.

Why did my sister have to go get our brother? Why didn’t Bob, our oldest brother go? Lisa was so sad. I should go with her. But mom told me to go to my room. She didn’t say I could come out yet. I wish I knew what was going on out there.

The hallway grew silent. I sat down on the floor, my back against the bedroom door. I held my dolly tight against me.

“Molly, why do think daddy said it was okay if I hate him?”

(Excerpt from: ‘That is NOT Okay!”)

Copyright © 2018 by Kristina Lyn Reddy

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

Reddy 2 Write
P.O. Box 33933
Seattle, WA 98133

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Would You Rather?

Hump Day quickie….. Let’s play a game of Would You Rather? I’ll answer, and if you are so inclined post a comment with your answers as well. Cheers, and Happy Hump Day!

Would You Rather……

  1. Drink hot black coffee straight up or prick your finger with a needle?
  2. Eat cold leftover spaghetti or find a stranger’s hair in your favorite hot meal?
  3. Play an endless game of Monopoly with your 7 year old nephew who picks his nose and wipes it on the cards or sit through a 2 hour sermon on the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke chapter 3?
  4. Let out a silent but deadly while in an elevator full of people or rip a loud one in a meeting?
  5. Sit through an interview with a piece of spinach stuck between your front teeth or forget to wear deodorant on a first date with a hottie?
  6. Eat a bbq’d cricket or a hearty slice of old fashioned fruit cake?
  7. Be forced to lie to your spouse about a past relationship to save face or pluck out your eyelashes one by one?
  8. Be blind or deaf ?
  9. Eat the same meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for the rest of your life eating only foods you enjoy or eat a different meal at each meal every day for the rest of your life including foods you do not like or have never tried?

My answers:

  1. Black Coffee
  2. Take my chance on the hair.
  3. Play endless monopoly with my disgusting nephew.
  4. Silent but deadly
  5. Spinach in my teeth at an interview
  6. BBQ cricket
  7. Pluck out my eye lashes
  8. Deaf
  9. Eat the same meals every day of foods I like.

What about you?

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Living the Life I Dream About

I would never label myself a dreamer. In fact, most likely the exact opposite.

dream er (n)

a person who is unpractical or idealistic

To me, a dreamer is someone who has grandiose idea(s) with no plan or means to act upon, complete or sustain their idea. . For me, a dreamer has their head in the clouds and the silver lining keeps them there, floating high above reality and those of us more accurately labeled pragmatics. There was a time when people such as these were as irritating as a thorn in my sock, poking through just enough to irritate my skin. *

I have spent my fair share of time dreaming about what it is I would love to be doing. Activities, vacations, even the so-called perfect job. Envisioning the environment, the office, the co-workers, and the tasks, large and small that I would be responsible for. The scope varied from running an orphanage for children that would never be adopted but instead live under my care, showered with love until they were old enough to begin a family of their own. To a private Family Therapy practice that helped families of all shapes sizes become the best family they could be while learning what has brought them to the point that they are at in their life of dysfunction. (Disclaimer: Obviously I am simplifying here in one blanket statement that in no way covers the wide array of families I would serve.) Or a quintessential Bed and Breakfast that erred on the side of comfort with just the right hint of luxury. Many a nights I lay in bed dreaming of how these would look and feel, the pleasure and joy they would bring to others and thus to myself. Drifting off to sleep with a renewed sense of hope that I could live the life that I was dreaming about.

Awakened by the blaring sun pouring in my window, the light forced my thoughts, along with the hope from the night before, to be neutralized and set back on the straight and narrow. Here’s the deal with living the dream, most often it is just that, a dream. It is the answer to the question, “If you could do anything, no holds bar, nothing could stop you (not lack of money, lack of education, where you live, who you are now), what would you do?” The problem is reality. In real life there are so many things to stop you from simply doing what you would love, or think you would love, to do.

Lack of education, a degree, money for start up capital, one or all of which would be needed, are often the cause of delay or complete derailing of the pursuit of happiness. And for some, where you live might be the biggy putting a damper on your dream. For instance, if you would like to be a deep sea diver and you grew up on a farm in Montana. Not a lot of access to water outside your front, or your back, door. Stories abound, a large percentage about women, single moms in particular, who have gone back to school in order to pursue a career either of passion or due to a passionate desire for financial freedom. Also known as, getting the creditors off your back. I truly admire these women/individuals. It not only takes guts, it takes grit.

Lack of education has held me back from pursuing most of my dreams. Having looked into what it takes to start a private mental health practice, I have seen first hand the daunting mountain it is necessary to climb. High school diploma, followed by a Bachelors Degree, then a Master’s Degree and finally a minimum amount of supervised experience are all required. All things told, even if I were able to go to school full time, I was looking at a minimum of 6 years of schooling. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to go full time due to family obligations, 8 was more realistic. Eight years!? That seems a life time, not mention the juggle of college classes and family life seemed overwhelming on a good day, and impossible every other day. It wasn’t the first time I had looked into this dream. The first had been when I was a newly divorced, single mom. Going to school full-time, working full-time, and raising a child in elementary school did not even seem remotely possible, not even for a dreamer.

After seriously looking into it when I had a partner to help support myself and my daughter, filling out some college applications and checking the cost, I began to question if it was really the dream I wanted to live. As much as I love listening to others, trouble shooting their problems, concerns, issues, asking questions that lead to a-ha moments, the idea of once again being obligated to a set schedule with office hours that are less flexible than flying by the seat of your pants, is not exactly what I wanted in life. The question remained, what is it that I truly want? What is my dream life? The answer, unfortunately, does not equate to a steady income. Quite frankly it may equate to no income at all.

My dream week day would consist of:

Reading (a few chapters of a book of choice)

Working out (work out video or go for a run)

Coffee with a bit more reading

A bit of house work (load of laundry, make the bed, etc.)

Lunch while watching a movie or a show (or out with a friend once a week)

Writing (a blog post, an article, work towards a novel)

Afternoon tea with a book

Time with my son (play games, go for a bike ride, soccer practice)

Cook dinner for my family

Once a week:

Volunteer with a women’s group or

Mentor a teen girl or

Writing groups or

Bake or

Walk someone’s dog….

Weekends:

Church

Family/Friends time….soccer matches, game nights, dinners

Volunteer events

About a year ago I began seriously writing my memoir. I joined a nine month program called Memory Into Memoir, now known as The Narrative Project. With specific weekly and monthly goals I made headway towards what had seemed a lofty goal. At the end of the nine month I was given the opportunity to sign up for an additional six month group that would push me forward in the process to finish my book. I held back knowing some life changes were on the horizon for my family that would take a good deal of my time and attention. Either that, or I was self sabotoging my book writing. The jury is still out on that one.

The progress I made was very encouraging, it was also very scary. What if I really did finish my book and send it out into the world? What if a publisher picked it up and printed my story? I found this realization equally exciting and terrifying. While considering my story and the book I was writing I thought about the platform that I hoped it would create. Writing the book would not be enough, sharing my life, my experiences, my mistakes, and my triumphs were ultimately meant to help other women who found themselves where I had been. Or better yet, teen girls who were on the same path looking for a fork in the road and the ability to choose differently. It was in that search where the idea of obtaining my license to be a mental health provider/family therapist became more serious to me. Having that degree would give me credibility, make me an expert on the subject. It would be a fantastic addition to the by-line on my book jacket cover, website and anywhere else anyone looked up to see who I was.

I would not be: Kristi Lyn Reddy the formerly abused wife telling her story. I would be Kristi Lyn Reddy, CMFT, sharing my story, my knowledge, my expertise in an effort to help other women. Those letters, CMFT (Certified Marital and Family Therapist), bearing the weight I needed to be taken seriously. I believed it would also help me obtain speaking engagements to share my story with groups of women around the city,  state,  country, maybe even the world. Not for fame and notoriety, in an effort help as many women as I could. To use my story for good. To live out my purpose. Getting those letters to have behind my name overwhelmed me. Once again, I had to stop and think, Is this my dream life?

Maybe, but maybe not. I am certain I want to use my life to help others. I am willing to use my story in any way I can in order to do that. I am not certain I want be a therapist. Putting the idea of school on hold I decided instead to focus on writing. The struggle has been juggling my time, but more honestly allowing myself to use my time to write when it isn’t a ‘job’. To me, a job is something I get paid to do. Obviously when starting out writing (and for some writers forever) you don’t get paid much, if at all. Unless you are Stephen King, you aren’t getting $400,000 for your first novel contract.

Fortunately, I have an incredible partner who believes in me and encourages me to follow my dream, my passion. He agrees my story needs to be told and also holds the same desire to live out our purpose in life. So much so, that he will be retiring from his full-time job, one that he has worked at for over 30 years very soon. Upon retirement he will join me working full-time in real estate. There will be a time of transition with me training him on areas that he has not assisted me with over the past 13 years while he worked with me part-time on weekends. Over time he will take on more as I continue to assist him as his designated broker. I will then have more time to invest in writing: blogs, articles, my memoir, and other books. It appears the only thing, or person, standing in my way, would be me.

I hereby, grant myself permission to pursue my dream. To write, now and more going forward. Typing that, invigorates me!

What is your dream life? Rather than think what you would do, no holds bar, no strings attached, think, what am I willing to fight for? To strive for? To go the extra mile for?


*Note: My idea of a dreamer is tainted by past life experiences. Many ‘dreamers’ lead successful lives and create, cause, lead amazing lives that touch others. 

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NaNoWriMo

Up until this year I had not participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I first heard about it in 2017. I would take that as meaning I wasn’t truly a writer until 2017. Some may beg to differ with me, being writers themselves and still unaware of what exactly NaNoWriMo is. It was only today that I looked up the wording to be certain I had it correct for this blog post. I joined a few writing groups in 2017, a cancer survivors group, a Christian women’s writing group, a collective women’s writing group and a memoir writing group. All met at different day, times and a variety of locations as well as varied frequencies.

It was in one of these groups I first heard the word NaNoWriMo uttered. Not wanting to seem ignorant (as all other heads in the room nodded with understanding) I remained silent and gathered information as it was given. I was freaked out when I realized they were speaking of committing to writing every single day to the tune of 1667 words each and every day! If you missed a day, you had to make up the words, as in order to win one had to complete a minimum of 50,000 written words. Woah! Unwilling to fail, I decided not to try. Take that doubting self. 

This year I was invited to join a group of writers who were writing a novel virtually. Each writer would commit to one day in which they would write one chapter in the novel. Having ignored the original blanket invitation I found myself tagged in a post looking for writers as they found they did not have the necessary 30 writers, one for each day. I liked the post and said I would give it some thought. I began to read the chapters already written. Notebook in hand I kept track of each character introduced and a few details I felt would be important should I agree to jump in and write a chapter. Within 5 chapters I was overwhelmed. My skin became alive in a not so good way as fear crawled through the hairs that stood on end. How would I ever keep their story going, I couldn’t keep the characters straight? 

I was nudged again as they approached Chapter 26 (on day 25) and still did not have a writer for that day. Like a rookie taking their first bungee jump, I put fingers to the keyboard and started writing. After 500 words logged in Word, I found the courage to post on the FaceBook page that I was in fact writing Chapter 26. As I wrapped up what I hoped to be a chapter that kept the plot moving forward while keeping the characters straight, I posted a question as to how many words I was supposed to be writing. I did not know the info above at that point (the 50,000 monthly goal equating to a 1,667 per day goal applied to this situation). I was told 1,667 minimum but that one writer had posted an update and they were behind, so 2,500 per writer would be great. For once, my wordy nature was going to come in handy, I had written over 3,100 words. If nothing else, I was getting them to their goal. 

Enough about the process of how this came to be. Below you will find Chapter 26 in ‘The Devil Wears Flannel”, a NaNoWriMo collective novel. 

CHAPTER 26 –

“It was not death, for I stood up.” Emily Dickinson

Rosalia stood in the dark basement apartment she called home, her hands shaking as she gripped them tightly in front of her body. What had she just seen? Who had she just seen? The sight of a human skull remained in her mind no matter how hard she tried to blink the image away. A shiver ran up her spine. What if whoever could do that was after her? Anyone could have been watching as she and Sarah checked the freezer at the end of their shift, been lurking in the shadows as she rushed to her car without so much as a good-bye to Sarah, both knowing it was the last they would see of each other.

Rosalia had grown to love Sarah and her daughter, feeling like they were family. Something she longed for, especially during the long cold winter months on the Peninsula. Summer wasn’t too bad, what with hikers and fisherman coming to Soldotna and Homer for the Salmon runs on the Kenia River. Many brought their wives and children as fishing on the Kenai was successful no matter your skill. A smile played on the corner of her mouth for just a moment as flashes of utter joy swept across her mind. Fish after fish being reeled in by man, woman and child alike. The children often getting the biggest fish much to their daddy’s dismay. Sarah had brought Rachel out to fish with Rosalia several times. Just the girls. A tear threatened to spill over her lashes, sadness welling up inside her belly.

Smoothing her shirt with her hands to keep them busy, Rosalia glanced around the room. Not much to pack, her place was simple, lacking the personal touch typically found in a ‘home’. Move after move, over most of her life, too many memories left behind created heart-ache, the kind that could not be healed even over time. The old-adage, Time heals all wounds, struck a nerve with Rosalia. It just wasn’t true. Some wounds would never heal, and time only allowed them to fester deeper still. Lie after lie, spoken, lived out, causing the pain of the original wound to bury deeper until it coursed through her veins, a constant reminder of who she truly was.

Her only hope was that her wound, the wounds of those she had gotten involved with, had not transferred to Sarah and Rachel. Rosalia would do anything to be certain they went unharmed by all the others had done. She wished she could help them, keep them safe. The best thing would be to stay far away from them. If the authorities came after her, and they would, Rosalia did not want there to be any chance of Sarah being linked to the deaths. As much as her heart broke, thinking she would never hold Rachel again, she knew it was best for all if she went away. Even better if she could lead anyone searching for answers away from where Sarah and Rachel would go.

….

Lauren sat looking at the text her mom had sent to her. Will I come meet her for dinner? She contemplated a snide reply, ‘Will your boy toy be joining us?’. Her mother always had time for dinner or coffee when it was convenient for her, when it fit her busy realtor schedule, or when she didn’t have a guy on the line and was lonely. But when Lauren needed to talk, a shoulder to lean on, like now, when her father had been found dead, could her mother be bothered with a simple phone chat? No, she was at the beach. Now she wanted Lauren to come to dinner. Everything within her wanted to cry out, NO!, but she knew she had to go. This time not for her mother’s sake but for her own. The only way to get to the bottom of what had happened to her father, who he really was, was to get her mother to talk.

Lauren typed out a reply after deleting her desired response.

“Sure mom. See you at 7. I’ll bring the wine.”

Anne’s phone chirped a new text message coming in. Satisfaction calmed her racing heart. Lauren would come to dinner. Good. Now to figure out what to tell her. How much did she really need to know? She had been frantically thinking of ways to make it all go away, to keep the truth hidden. With two dead bodies and connections coming out of the woodworks that would potentially implicate her, at least link her attachment to Daniel, she couldn’t help but worry that Lauren just might be in danger herself. If anything happened to her baby, she would just die.

Oh, why was this happening now? Just when she was getting close to this handsome and successful guy too. Pierce was a delight. Nice to look at, easy to listen too, and financially stable on top of that. The fact that he owned a rock-climbing business certainly showed when her hand smoothed his shirt, brushing away the sand that clung to the soft cotton. Rock hard abs warm from the sun beating down on them had sent a tingling sensation through Anne’s body. Just as she leaned in certain Pierce was going to kiss her, her cell phone rang. Never one to let her phone go to voicemail for fear it was the next million-dollar listing, she had answered while her gaze had remained on his soft lips in front of her. Instead of a million-dollar listing it had been a royal pain in the ass, Detective Sergeant Steele wanting to set up a time for her to be interviewed. Nothing to worry about, just a few questions. Yeah, right. The beach date called to an abrupt end, Anne told Pierce she had to go check out a new listing ASAP before another realtor swooped it up. Thankfully he understood and said they could pick up where they left off as soon as her schedule allowed.

Anne peered inside the nearly empty fridge finding nothing more than bad take-out and a few beyond-their-shelf-life vegetables not even worthy of a catch-all stew. She would have to run to the store in order to cook something suitable for her and Lauren to eat. Unsure her stomach would hold much down considering the weight of the topic up for discussion, she decided lemon caper chicken, light on the sauce, with whipped mashed potatoes and simple green beans would be best. Anne grabbed her Prada handbag, keys and dashed out to the market.

….

Rosalia, passport in hand, along with a duffel bag with the few items she felt worth taking, took one last glance at the place she called home before sliding into the back of the car she had ordered to get her to the airport. Her flight wasn’t scheduled until later that night, it was the earliest one available on short notice. Alaska Flight 106 direct, non-stop to Mexico City boarded at 9:00 PM. She would fly over night and arrive in the early hours of the morning. With plenty of time on her hands she had decided to fly out of Anchorage, a 3- hour car-ride away. The ride would give her time to think and formulate the rest of her plan.

She had left a note in her home right on the kitchen counter, first place someone would look. And a message on the voicemail at Kodiak Burgers for Angie. At least that’s what the message sounded like, but really it was for the police or anyone who might come looking for Sarah and Rachel

“Hi, um Ang, it’s Rosalia. I, uh, know I’m not supposed to be calling you here, but, well I had to. I needed to say good-bye. I tried your cell but you didn’t answer. I wanted to be sure you got this message, direct from me and well, not from anyone else. I’m, I’m sorry for anything that I screwed up, or did, or whatever. I didn’t mean to harm anyone, I just wanted you, um, your boys, everyone to. Um you know, be okay. I’m going, well you know where I’m going. I probably shouldn’t go there, but it’s all I have left. Thank you for being there for me, you know, how you have been. Having my back and all. I’m sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen. I won’t call again. That’s all. Bye.”

Before she could give in an choose the button to erase her message, she hit the ‘end call’ button on her phone. There, it was done. Anyone with any sense at all would know where she, Rosalia would go, that she really shouldn’t go if she didn’t want to be found. Hopefully, the Detective from the lower 48 would get her drift and steer the search for her, leaving Angie, the boys and most importantly Sarah and Rachel out of this mess.

The car ride from Kenai to Anchorage was peaceful. Having lived in many different places across the US and Mexico, Rosalia had seen varied landscapes growing up. Nothing compared to the majestic mountain ranges, bodies of water, and wild life one found in the great state of Alaska. Winters were hard, no doubt, but the glaciers that remained year after year, lasting through the warm seasons, to the delight of cruise ships, tourists, and even the locals, were unparalleled anywhere else. Well, maybe Antarctica, but Rosalia hadn’t been there, not yet anyway. The sky remained bright as they approached the airport terminal, summer evenings had a difficult time coming to a close before midnight in Alaska, but her body knew this day had a been a long one already. Maybe sleep would come to her on the flight.

Rosalia made it through security with one more swipe of her fake ID and passport. She realized this very well may be the last time she used it. A glance at her watch let her know she had just enough time to grab a paperback for the plane in case sleep evaded her, a coffee and a sandwich. The long flight likely served a meal, but she wasn’t taking chances that it would be even remotely edible.

Tomorrow morning would be a new day, a new chapter in her life, a new beginning in a different country. God willing, the last time she would flee ever again.

….

Lauren decided to let Detective Sergeant Steele and Ryan know that she was having dinner with her mother. As much as she hated the thought that her mother had anything to do with all that was going on, she had to be realistic. Anne had shown no remorse, not an ounce of sadness when Lauren’s father had been found dead. Had Lauren not asked she doubted her mother would have even spoke of it. Then when she did try to ask her mom about him, she had all but told her to let it go already. Anne had been more intrigued by her new real estate client, aka conquest, then about who had killed her ex-husband and why. Lauren did not understand how even her mother could be that cold hearted. It was that thought which led to her wondering what her mother truly knew about Daniel. And did she know anything about the other man, Gregor, who had also been found dead?

“Police precinct, how may I direct your call?”

“Oh hi, um May I speak with Detective Sergeant Vera Steele please?”

“May I tell her who is calling?”

“Yes, this is Lauren Riley”

“I’ll see if Sergeant Steele is at her desk, what is the nature of your call?”

“Well, um, I have some information that may help the case she is currently working on.”

“Okay, please hold Ms. Riley.”

The hold musak crackled through the phone speaker. Why did people still use musak? In this day and age one would think they would update the hold system. There was a double beep as her call was patched through.

“Sergeant Steele speaking.”

“Hi Vera, it’s me, Lauren.”

“Oh Hi Lauren, what can I do for you today?”

“Well, I am hoping maybe I can do something for you. You see, my mom texted me today, rather out of the blue.”

“Oh, yeah, what did the message say?”

“She asked me to meet her at home for dinner tonight.”

“Okay, is that something out of the ordinary, you going home to have dinner with your mom?”

“No, not exactly. We eat dinner together a lot, or she leaves me left overs in the fridge. But this is different. I tried to talk to her on the phone about my dad the other day. I had all these questions and she just brushed me off. She told me I sounded tired and I should go take a nap.”

“Go on.” Sergeant Steele waited to hear more.

“The whole time she was talking to me I could tell she was more interested in who she was with than the questions I was asking. She was at the beach with Pierce and they were, giggling and carrying on. Then it was like she caught herself and realized I was on the line and that she should really act concerned about me dad.”

“I see. So, you think she knows something about Daniel’s murder?”

“As much as I hate to say it, yes, I do. Oh my, am I a terrible daughter? My father is murdered and here I am turning my mom into the police for suspicion!”

“Hold on, you are not a terrible daughter and you’re not turning her in. You are doing the right thing and letting me know of a concern. One that most likely will turn out to be nothing, but is the right thing to do. Okay?”

“Okay.” Lauren let out a huge sigh as her body relaxed.

“Here’s what I need you to do. I need to know what your mom has to say. Would you be comfortable asking if Ryan and I can join you for dinner? Otherwise, I think I’d like you to wear a wire.”

“A wire? Are you serious? You really think it’s that serious?” Lauren’s palms began to sweat.

“I don’t know, but what I do know is we need to get to the bottom of this and time is running out. We need whatever information, whatever may lead to finding the killers and stop this from happening to another person. Who knows your mom may just have the information we need. Are you willing to help us find out what’s going on?”

Lauren took a deep breath and let it seep out through her lips before responding. Her thoughts all over the map, visions of her dad being found dead, the photo Ryan had shown her, and the ones she had seen on his phone flashing through her mind.

“Yes, yes I am willing to help anyway I can. I think it’s best if I wear the wire. Should I come to the station now? I can be there in 15 minutes.”

“I’ll call Ryan and get the wire ready. We’ll run you through how it works. Listen Lauren, you’re doing the right thing. Thank you.”

“I know. I’ll see you soon.”

Lauren grabbed her keys and coat as she dashed out the door. She hopped into her Jetta and headed to the police station. Maybe this would be the night, all these years she had wondered about her father, wondered who Daniel was and why he had gone away, stayed away. Maybe now she would know.

..

Rosalia boarded the plane, placed her carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and slipped into the window seat, row 22 seat F. She fastened her seatbelt and flipped open the paperback book she planned to read. The plane sat idling on the runway long enough for the air to turn off overhead. Passengers began whispering wondering what was taking so long. Rosalia looked out the window of the plane to see if maybe the weather had took a turn causing a delay. The exterior door, which had been closed and sealed by the stewardess, opened and two armed officers stepped onto the plane as an announcement was made.

“Excuse passengers, my apologies for the delay, this is your flight Captain speaking, your flight will take off momentarily. Thank you for your patience. Would passenger Rosalia Flores, please stand up.” The silence was cut only by the shifting of passengers in their seats as they turned left and right straining to get a view of who the officers wanted.

“Rosalia Flores, would you please stand up if you are on board.” The stewardess repeated one more time.

Rosalie shifted in her seat and looked at the gentleman sitting next to her.

“Excuse me, I need to stand up.”

The man’s eyes grew wide. He shoved his coat to the floor and waited as the woman in seat D moved into the aisle first.

“Are you Rosalia Flores”, the officer questioned.

“No, no, I’m not. I’m moving so she can get out of her seat. Please, wait.” Her voice nearing hysterics, the woman in seat D stumbled and nearly fell into another passenger’s lap. The man sitting next to Rosalia helped the woman gain her composure and they both stepped back, clearing the way for Rosalia.

Rosalia stepped into the aisle.

“Rosalia Flores, Please place your hands in the air where we can see them. Stay where you are. Don’t move.” The first officer began walking down the aisle towards her as Rosalia raised both hands high above her head, palms facing forward in surrender.

Rocky Raccoon watched as the VW Jetta pulled up to the station. No longer hungry for food, there was only one thing he wanted now. The truth. And he had a feeling Lauren was about to bring the truth to light, at any and all costs.

Rocky wasn’t the only one watching as Lauren walked up the steps of the City Precinct. Jonathan Van Roy slunk down in his seat as best he could, large frame and all. He watched as she took each step, every part of him wanting to go after her, to stop her. What was she doing? This couldn’t possibly be good. He didn’t want her involved, didn’t want her to get hurt. If she went to the cops, getting hurt might be the least of her worries.

Something shiny caught Rocky’s eye. He turned left just in time to see a flash of light reflect off the car window. As quick as it came it was gone. Rocky sat there watching Jonathan. “One wrong move buddy and I’m all over you. Get out of that car, I dare ya! I’ve had a hankerin’ for some flesh in my teeth. Just try me,” Rocky snarled, baring all of his sharp teeth.

Kristi Lyn Reddy, mom and realtor in Seattle, WA, is new to the writing scene. Currently working on her memoir as a part of the Narrative Project.

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Collective Meditation (a writing group prompt)

aurora borealis

Meditation, not my strong suit, is the ship sailing through the fog of my life that I find myself drawn to now and again. I have a guttural need to quiet my soul, yet my mind repeatedly gets in the way. Thoughts a-buzz in a flurry of action, never-ending, often uncompleted, rushing into one another.

There are times, too many to count, when I find my thoughts have been thought out loud. These moments lead to embarrassment, confrontations, misunderstandings and such. It is then I find myself seeking forgiveness if I am brave enough, strong enough to lay aside my pride.

Left to my own thoughts in the stillness of meditation, whether it be sitting still or out for a jog in nature, is when I do some of my best writing. The words flow. Sentences become paragraphs, pages mold into stories. E-mails, letters, and speeches alike have been composed on a journey through the woods. The problem remains, my mind is not reliable enough to hold these pieces of work in order to be transcribed to Word Doc, Scrivener, or paper when the meditation comes to a close.

Collective meditation fills my mind with the vision of many bodies in one space. The beauty of the energy which flows from each individual participating, gathers together, an aurora borealis. I am mesmerized by the vast array of colors – each one a representation  of the self it permeates. I am drawn to hues of green and blue. My desire to know them, who they are, what completes them, overwhelming my thoughts. Questions fill my mind. So much to ask, so much to learn. An explosion of need – a longing to connect.

I speak, breaking the silence of the collective meditation.

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Who I Am, Comparison & Contentment

In the ever-connected world we live in, how does a mother not compare herself to other moms?

From Facebook to Instagram, the photos run through our feed pressing in on us to strive for perfection. We see mothers wearing babies while a toddler plays happily at her feet, all the while she is mixing a bowl which will become steaming hot baked banana bread, filling her home with the aroma of love. Barely a smudge of flour on her rosy cheek as she smiles at her adoring children. Next up, a selfie, beauty beyond measure, every hair on her head in place as she sits in the driver’s seat of her car and her life, shuttling her star athlete to practice. One glance down at my own rumpled, baggy sweat pants, a heavy sigh escapes my lips as the weight of not measuring up bears down on my shoulders. I find myself taking selfies after a glance in the mirror reminds me for once my hair is fixed and my make-up is on. First one, then two, finally 10 shots later I accept with only minor reservation the photo I will post. The first several rejected over a double chin, unflattering angle or yet another part of my body that did not meet the standard set by all the other selfies I awarded a thumbs up or heart gif on my social media page. Once posted I go back again and again to gauge how many ‘likes’ my photo has received, checking to see just exactly who liked it. The power of the like button weighing in on my opinion of how pretty I am or am not.

To Pin or not to Pin, that is the question.

With a plethora of ideas at our finger tips, it is no longer necessary to call up our girlfriends or run out to the local library in search of idea books for craft time, menu planning, or decorating tips. One-click on the website Pinterest and endless ideas fill the never-ending computer screen as you scroll down the page. Beyond stepping stones for Mother’s Day and hand print wreathes for Thanksgiving, there are links to shape defining workouts, five course dinner menus, hair styles and wardrobe options. Add your friends to the pages you ‘Follow’ so you can view all the ideas that spark their interest. Yet another way to keep on the up and up of all things ‘liked’. While there is nothing wrong with ideas or making changes to our home, our bodies, our appearance, it’s when these ideas drag us down the long and winding road of self-doubt or self -deprecation, that we must question our intentions. When we no longer believe we are made in the image of our creator and thus, beautiful just the way we are, flaws and all, it is then that we have pinned one too many pins for all the wrong reasons. I read my daily bible study book this morning and the verse about leapt off the page. Ephesians 2:10 ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ A masterpiece. When you hear that what do you think of? Like me, I am sure some of you now or at times have shook your head and thought, I am no masterpiece. Before you start down that road, stop for one second. Close your eyes, still your heart and say this prayer with me, “Father, help me to see myself through your eyes. Amen.” Now, open your eyes and try again. When you hear those words, A masterpiece, what do you think of?

Merriam Webster Dictionary states the definition of Masterpiece is: a work done with extraordinary skill
especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement’

Another dictionary states it is considered the greatest work of a person’s career. Imagine that! You were created with extraordinary skill. You are a supreme intellectual and artistic achievement! A far cry from being a mistake. You are a well-planned, thought out, designed and molded masterpiece. When I find myself looking into the mirror with a critical eye, it takes great effort to drown out the voice that is reminding me he loves me just the way he made me. It is I, who doesn’t. I am working hard these days to pray that simple prayer in those moments. ‘Lord, help me to see myself through your eyes. Help me to love myself the way you made me. Help me to be who you want me to be and to love who I am.’

A closer look in the mirror.

I speak in generalities as I am certain we have all been there, done that. More than once we have found ourselves looking upon our fellow mother at the grocery store who has just waltzed in looking like she stepped off the runway, while we ourselves are simply longing for a 10-minute shower. And in that moment, we have faltered into envy, resentment, self-pity, or worse, self-hate. It happens to me most every time I walk up the sideline of the soccer field. I find myself looking at the other moms, noticing their salon worthy highlights, designer boots and wonder why it is I do not see myself in the reflection. I say I pride myself in being a simple person, and yet, in these moments I find myself wanting to measure up. Would I be a better mom, a more attractive wife in my husband’s eyes if I took the time to follow the fashions the other moms wore? Would highlights in my hair and nails from the salon step up my game? Again, there is nothing wrong with following fashion, wearing stylish clothes, going to the salon for hair and nails. It’s the idea that because I don’t do those things I am somehow less than, not good enough, that is wrong. The comparison of what I do and don’t do regarding, what other moms around me do and don’t do, weighing in on my worth, is what is bringing me down.

One year during Lent I decided I was going to give something up. A tradition I had not followed and was intrigued by. I mulled over my options: chocolate, sweets in general, alcohol, TV, Netflix, social media, the list went on. Ultimately, I decided it would be social media. After posting one final message on Facebook to let all my fans, er, I mean friends letting them know that I would be gone from the online world through Lent (and of course waiting a couple hours to see how many likes and comments my sacrifice would receive), I deleted Facebook from my laptop and the much more difficult one, my phone.

I awoke the next morning, turned off my alarm and reached for my phone, swiped the screen, entered my password, only then as the home screen came into view did I remember the blue square with the white ‘F’ for the Facebook App would not be there to greet me. No worries! I jumped out of bed ready to start my day with coffee instead. The morning breezed by as I got our son up, ready for school and out the door. No sooner was he gone, and I found myself yet again, reaching for my phone. It wasn’t ringing. I laughed at myself, Seriously? Could I not get through one day without checking Facebook? It took a few days, but I got used to the new routine. In the mornings I reached for my bible rather than my phone. A habit that I was altogether good at getting out of more-so than getting into. I fumbled reading random scriptures at first, found my way to the Psalms and Proverbs (always a good option) and finally settled on reading through the New Testament. Reading God’s word led to praying and sitting in silence listening to His voice speak to my heart.  My desire to pray, to worship, to sit in His presence grew immensely. My step was lighter, my smile brighter. My heart and my spirit renewed by this lovely time with the Lord.

I wish I could say it was the start of an ongoing area of growth in my life. Unfortunately, about 4 days after Easter, 2014, I reinstalled Facebook to my phone and let it back into my life. I am not blaming Facebook for my Christian walk being mediocre at times nor for my lack of discipline in areas of Bible reading and prayer. I have no one to blame but myself. Psalms 103:14 says, ‘For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.’ Amen. He knows. God knows my weakness, my failures, my longings, my need to be approved of, liked, accepted.  Psalm 119:73 ‘You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands.’  The entire chapter is worth reading over again. A poem with valuable insight into many of the areas I personally struggle with, time and again. Verse 8 ends, ‘Don’t give up on me!’ Yes Lord, please don’t give up on me!

What is it we say to our children? You are enough, just be you!

The little beings that God knowingly placed within our care, the ones whose eyes are upon our every move. Whose ears hone in on the sound of our voice whether it be loud or soft. They are watching, learning, being led by our example. To them we say, “You are exactly who God created you to be. Don’t try to be anything but you. I love you just the way you are!” When chatting with close friends about our children we hear ourselves say, “He dances to the beat of his own drum!” or “She is in her own world, a very creative type that one”. We commend our children’s individuality. Encourage them to be all they can be, all they were designed to be, even when it is different than what those around them are doing. You see, we have it right, so very right.

You and I, we, are just who we were designed to be. In the ever-faithful hands of our Creator we were molded and shaped before we were conceived. His hands, His love, His will formed us as we grew in our mother’s womb. Physically yes, spiritually, even more. In His eyes we are beautiful, for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). It is when I am drawn into His presence, when I am listening after having cried out my heart to Him, that I am reminded to look at myself through His eyes not my own, earthly ones. At times that is the prayer I lift-up for days on end. “Lord, help my eyes to see as you see. Help me to view myself clothed in your righteousness. Remove from me any desire to be anything other than your will for my life. Help me to love myself as you love me, a beautiful creation, made in your image, filled with your spirit, strengthened to do your will.” These are the good times, the times when I am closest to God, closest to His spirit that lives within me. Thankfully when life, busyness, selfish desires, my own human nature gets in the way, derailing my prayer and bible study time for periods great and small, leaving me unfulfilled, deep in the depths of discontent, God is ever faithful to draw me back to him.

Job 10:10 says, ‘You guided my conception and formed me in the womb.’ I love hearing those words. To think God was there in the very moment that I was conceived. And in that moment, he formed my very being and who I was to become. I hope that makes you feel as amazing, as loved, as wonderful as it does me. Hang on to that feeling. Allow that feeling to settle you into the contentment God wants for you. Laying aside all comparison, take hold of being just who God formed and molded you to be, a beautiful masterpiece of his creation.

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Diamante

Recently, I was asked to substitute teach an after school program, Word Magic, for one session. Of course I said, yes! I love to write. I love to teach. And I enjoy being with children. No sooner had I said yes, when I was told the topic of the lesson would be poetry. Oh, boy.

Of all the lessons I could have been given to teach, poetry would not have been at the top of my list. I can rhyme with the best of them. Have even been known to belt out a rap or two when interacting with my kids, but teach a poetry lesson. I had visions of Shakespeare and Poe in my head which immediately caused sweat beads to form, in droves. I have never been fond of poetry, at least not the kind that I imagined I was supposed to.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Your shirt is smelly
Your feet stink too.

You make me laugh
You make me smile
Your neck is so long
It stretches for a mile.

These are the typical poems I would come up with. Off the cuff, rhyming silliness. If ever I opened a poetry book and began to peruse the pages, the words swimming through my brain caught in a tumultuous current no small than the Bermuda Triangle, leaving me wondering where I had begun and how I had ended up here. Basically put, I just couldn’t make senses of what was written, the meaning or the message. And so, I put poetry aside and determined it was not for me, or I was not for it.

I grabbed my bag, library card inside, and made the brief 2 block walk to my local Seattle Public Library. Saddled up to the modern-day Dewey decimal card system, AKA computer, and began my search. Keywords: Poetry for Kids. Starting at the basics seemed my best option for success.

For those of you wondering what I found here is part of my list:

Explore Poetry with 25 Great Projects by, Andi Diehn

Nibble Nibble – Poems for Children by, Margaret Wise Brown

Friends and Foes – Poems about us all by, Douglas Florian

Now We Are Six by, A. A. Milne

Joyful Noise- Poems for Two Voices by, Paul Fleischman

among others……

I read through the first title, Explore Poetry, page by page. Each page a lesson with examples and a project. This helped me immensely. My inner poet stretched as she was awakened, her thoughts, flittering butterflies, began to stir my creativity. As I sat on a plane to Disneyland I decided to do one of the assignments.

Diamante Poem

A diamante poem has 7 lines. It’s written within this structure:

  1. One word that is the name of the shape
  2. Two adjectives that describe the shape
  3. Three verbs ending in “-ing” that describe the shape
  4. Four nouns related to the shape
  5. Three verbs ending in “-ing” that describe the shape
  6. Two adjectives that describe the shape
  7. One word that is the name of the shape

 

First I picked my shape, Circle. Next, I made a list of adjectives that I related to this shape. I wrote whatever came to mind. Nothing was kept from the list. Each word may or may not be used, it was the act of opening my mind to the shape and finding words I could work with. My next list consisted of objects I related to the shape. Once I felt my lists were enough I began to shape my poem according to the list above. My diamante poem was birthed.

 

Circle
Smooth, round
Never-ending, engaging, inviting
Ball, frisbee, moon, sun
Bouncing, flying, setting
Full, continuous
Circle

I felt light, young, free as I raised my pencil in completion. The nervous butterflies had fluttered away. I sat, my lips curved up in a smile. I had written a poem. Not only that, I had learnt something I don’t believe I had ever been taught before. It felt great! A poetry expert, I am not, but I am a little more prepared to substitute teach the kids this week. Better yet, I am looking forward to it! We will work on understanding rhyme, meter and maybe even Haiku.

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