All posts by Deborah Kelly

Mindfulness Without the “Meditation” by Renee Branson

Photo looking up through tops of trees
 

Meditation has been proven to manage stress and anxiety, increase focus, and interrupt negative thought patterns. For a variety of reasons, however, many people don’t feel that traditional meditation is for them: it feels “too woo-woo,” or counter to their practice of faith, or seems connected only to the practice of Buddhism. It needn’t be any of those things. In its simplest terms, meditation is the use of a technique to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Still, whatever a person’s reluctance towards meditation, no practice … Continue reading Mindfulness Without the “Meditation” by Renee Branson

A Visit from the “Rat Whisperer” by Celia Rivenbark

Picture of a fact cat sitting awkwardly
 

  The “rat whisperer,” as he had been jovially described to me by his co-worker who performs my regular pest control service, had been summoned. He was admirably punctual, masked and wearing starched khakis and a logo Polo shirt, the picture of professionalism. His assignment: To get to the bottom of a curious, er, dropping I had found on my kitchen counter and placed in a sandwich bag. “Here it is,” I said, holding it like it was, well, rat droppings. Head turned to the side, full arm extension. “I’m so sorry.” The rat whisperer … Continue reading A Visit from the “Rat Whisperer” by Celia Rivenbark

Don’t Walk the Writers’ Path Alone by Julie Duffy

Photo of notebook with open pages
 

  One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered about writing is that while putting words on the page can be a solitary act, “being a writer” can’t be. Mind The Gap There is a gap between what people think the writing journey looks like, and what it really looks like. Non-writers picture you, alone in a book-lined room, dashing off deathless prose from Once Upon a Time to The End, occasionally gazing moodily into the distance as you wrestle with a creative demon, but ultimately in charge of your story all the way. Even … Continue reading Don’t Walk the Writers’ Path Alone by Julie Duffy

The 21st Century Federal Writers’ Project By Deborah Kelly

2 men typing with Poet for Hire sign
 

A proposed 21st Century Federal Writers’ Project introduced in the House of Representatives last month is gaining broad support from literary and writers’ organizations hard hit by the Covid pandemic. The bill, introduced by two Texas Democrats, would hire writers to chronicle the changes wrought by the pandemic, much the way the 1930s project explored the devastating impact of the Great Depression and other historical mileposts. That enormously successful program paid emerging writers to collect oral histories and tell the stories of Americans whose lives were forever changed. Some of those hired by the program … Continue reading The 21st Century Federal Writers’ Project By Deborah Kelly

Second Acts By Martha Woodroof

Photo of white goat
 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary . . . a splat from my Charlottesville restauranting days . . . From the mid-1970s until the early 1980s, I co-owned a couple of Charlottesville restaurants with my second ex-husband. I was an accidental restauranteur. Second-ex had dropped out of law school one course short of a degree because he couldn’t bear the idea of being a lawyer. He had no idea what to do next and was understandably depressed. He knew the business side of restaurants from working in them during college and law school. I loved to cook. … Continue reading Second Acts By Martha Woodroof

The Hopeful, Courageous Power of Anger by Renee Branson

Black and white photo of black fist painted on white fence
 

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” —Augustine of Hippo There is a lot to be angry about. Skyrocketing rates of COVID, financial stress from months of quarantine, deadly racial injustice, political chaos . . . and that’s just the first few things that come to mind. I am angry. More importantly, I’m okay with being angry. One of the more common misconceptions about resilience is that there is no room for anger. … Continue reading The Hopeful, Courageous Power of Anger by Renee Branson

Just Speak by Ann E. Michael

Photo of marchers holding Stop Racist Killer Cops sign
 

Much has been going on in the blogger’s back-of-the-blog life, compounded with news of the nation. And frankly, I have been mulling for well over a week on how to say what I want to say; or how to say anything, for that matter. There are times in the life of a writer when said writer recognizes the limitations of words. Also: words can be dangerous—inflammatory, distracting, powerful, persuasive, false, painful, hurtful. People get defensive at words they feel are “aimed” at them. Aimed, a weaponized word. I have had people (okay, white people) tell … Continue reading Just Speak by Ann E. Michael

Learning to Limit Deathbed Regrets by Susan Kille

Cross-stitched pair of lungs
 

Have you heard what dying people are said to regret? Working too much. Spending too little time with family and friends. Not speaking up when someone is out of line. Postponing joy. These are real regrets. I know this. In late August four summers ago, I was preparing to die. I was in an ICU where the force of high-flow oxygen reminded me of standing on a cliff in Ireland being firehosed by wind that travels unimpeded across the Atlantic. Pulmonary fibrosis triggered by mold secretly lurking behind the drywall of our Brooklyn brownstone caused … Continue reading Learning to Limit Deathbed Regrets by Susan Kille

Silence & Solitude By Ann E. Michael

Road through tunnel of colored leaves
 

Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence. James Ragan’s Too Long a Solitude. Jane Brox’s Silence: A Social History. Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude… Is it just a coincidence, or did I subconsciously start reading books dealing with silence and solitude in the weeks before I planned to spend a few days alone in a friend’s rural cabin? And will the relative silence make my somewhat maladaptiveness to busy environs even worse? For I freely admit that living for thirty years in an area that borders on the rural, and spending so much of my time … Continue reading Silence & Solitude By Ann E. Michael

The Strangeness of Being Here at All: Franz Wright’s Redemption Story By Alex Joyner

Blurry photo of group of people
 

There are days I wake up in sluggish wonder, newly aware, as a last dream image drifts away, of the marvel of my beloved still beside me in the bed, the fan beating time through the air, and the persistence of this body and mind. Or as the poet Franz Wright would put it in a prayer: You gave me in secret one thing to perceive, the tall blue starry strangeness of being here at all. —The Only Animal “It is strange to be here. The Mystery never leaves you alone.” The Irish priest-poet John … Continue reading The Strangeness of Being Here at All: Franz Wright’s Redemption Story By Alex Joyner