The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


2008: A Mondo Beyondo Prospective

sky, summer 2007

Because a look backward is only half the story...

In the middle of 2006, the word "Pentecost" became my theme word. You can read how in this post, but here's an excerpt about why that word resonated with me:

Pentecost marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended on Christ's
followers, after his ascension.

Acts 2:1-4 says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

This image of rushing wind and tongues of fire. And the ability to speak in new tongues. It's so powerful. Those people must have felt that their souls had been scrubbed clean and empowered. They must have felt so alive.

I long for a Pentecost of my own. I feel so flat inside.

Be careful what you long for. My own personal Pentecost did indeed come, scrubbing my spirit clean and empowering me. Rushes of wind and tongues of fire turned my world upside down and left me breathless, all the way through 2007. I gained the ability to speak in new tongues. I learned the language of self-kindness and self-forgiveness; of living without crippling fear or constant dread. I allowed myself to speak on the page, and even started to listen to a new language of images. My personal Pentecost was exhilarating, exhausting, painful, and healing.

Now I live in a post-Pentecostal world. I can no longer go back to the old ways of living in fear, jealousy, hurt, and denial. I've been visited by the proverbial Spirit and been made new.

So what is my theme for 2008? I've settled on a group of words that are very similar, but with distinct differences.

2008 is my year of:

  • Opportunity

  • Abundance

  • Prosperity

  • Plenty

  • Creation

I’m tired of being so afraid of failure that I berate, belittle, and limit myself. This year I’m going to change the list of things that I should do into a list of opportunities that I have. (For more on shaking the shoulds, see this.)

**Instead of stressing out about how I should grow my business and make more money, I will focus on the amazing opportunity to pursue my passion and create income doing what I love.

**Instead of feeling guilty and embarrassed because I should lose weight, I will seize the opportunity to keep my body in good working order and to stay healthy as I age.

**Instead of feeling jealous and diminished when I see what other people have accomplished, I will remember that each person has her own opportunities. Just as someone else’s opportunities aren't meant for me, mine are not meant for her. All I can do is pursue my own opportunities.

In 2008, I will continue to live intentionally.

    • I intend to seek, pursue, and embrace opportunities in my business and creative life.

    • I intend to be happy for others’ successes, knowing that there is plenty of goodness and blessings to go around.

    • I intend to spend more concentrated time working on my writing, editing, and coaching business.

    • I intend to send at least one article query to at least one magazine per month.

    • I intend to love my body and to treat it to fun exercise activities and healthy/yummy foods.

    • I intend to spend my free time reading, creating, and doing things that feed my soul.

    • I intend to continue living a life full of joy and wonder.

There's a place beyond intentions; a place that feels like the wide open sea or the starry night sky. It's wild and beautiful, and it stretches for as far as you can see; far beyond your field of vision. Perhaps even beyond your imagination. You know that it is immense, and the immensity awes you so that you feel both tiny and huge. It's just too enormous to understand. This is the world of Mondo Beyondo dreams. So you look at what you can see--the waves breaking on the shore or the stars shining up above-- and you choose to believe that there is more than you can imagine. You can't see it, but you believe it. You can't see how your dreams could possibly come true, but you choose to believe that they will.

My Mondo Beyondo:

    • I want to write and publish my first book.

    • I want to start creating mixed media art and find my own path as a visual artist.

    • I want to be debt-free and financially secure.

    • I want my family to be debt-free and financially secure.

    • I want to travel to the U.K. and Italy with James.

    • I want to travel to Iceland, to a land of people who believe in elves.

    • I want to travel to Ireland with my parents, brother, and husband.

    • I want to develop and nurture deep, supportive relationships with people in my immediate and far-flung communities.

    • I want to uncover and be at peace with my decision about having a child.

    • I want to find, buy (or build) and live in our dream cottage near the beach.

    • I want to spend a week at a writers’ retreat somewhere beautiful, comfortable, and nurturing.

Some of these feel within my reach, while a few feel impossible. But I'm choosing to dream and believe big.

What are you intentions for 2008? What's beyond those intentions?

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add to kirtsy | 7:30 PM | 6 comments


2007: A Retrospective

roots, saint clair park, greensburg, pa; summer 2007

Because you've been waiting for me to write something here, and because a real story is the only story worth telling...

In 2007, I found myself again, after years of wandering lost in the wilderness of depression and despair. Ironically, I found my joi de vivre in the same year that was one of the absolute hardest of my life. During seemingly endless months of fear, anger, and sadness, when the building blocks of my life shook and threatened to shatter, I discovered that the foundation of my self was being repaired, rebuilt, and shored up.

At a time when trust seemed treacherous, foolish, and mostly impossible, I learned to trust myself again. For much of 2006 and the first half of 2007, I let myself be manipulated into believing that I was the problem, the failure, the reason for so much strife. By mid-2007, I realized that this was false. I found a vantage point of clarity, where I recognized my own true faults and mistakes without taking on the blame for every issue.

I realized—much to my surprise—that I would be able to change course and build a different life if that was necessary. I didn't want to do that, and so far haven't had to do so. But where I once thought I would fall apart and die, I realized that I would survive emotional devastation and eventually embrace new opportunities. This scared and somehow saddened me, but also made me realize that I'm brave and strong.

In 2007, I reconnected with my creative self. I tried painting and began to explore the idea that I could try my hand at different types of expression. I accepted that it's perfectly fine to make art for art's sake, not as a high-minded pursuit, but as an expression of myself and the world, just for the sake of doing it. At the same time, I unearthed my love of writing and rediscovered that it is truly my gift: a gift given to me, whether I share it with the world or not. I reaffirmed that I want to share it with those who will listen.

For the first time that I can remember, I had days when I was just happy to be alive. Each day suddenly held beauty and joy and meaning. I was shocked to realize that I was excited about the coming day; that I looked forward to the possibility of getting up tomorrow and seeing what would happen. This new sense of euphoria left me breathless. For so long I've wanted to live a life of joy and wonder. And for so long, it escaped me. I finally realized that I had to create such a life if it would not just come to me. Of course, the more I sought to create it, the more it came to me.

I'm no longer certain of some things I used to know for sure. It's painful to question long-held beliefs and waver on what were once absolutes. Still, I think that to be unsure and seeking is better than steadfast and sleeping.

In 2007, I learned to be kind to myself, true to myself, and open to myself.

Still, I grieve for all the time that was lost in misunderstandings and hurtfulness in 2007. I spent a lot of time terrified and lonely. Sometimes I'm still disappointed in myself for not taking a harder line and demanding more. But I forgive myself for that, because it's hard to navigate the canals of heartbreak and trust. If I was talking to a friend in my situation, I'd tell her that she was too hard on herself; that she did the best she could at the time. As my dad says, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have on hand. I did the best I could, even though I wish I'd done better in retrospect.

I don't think I've forgiven as much as I need to. But I won't wallow in guilt over that. Things are so much better than they have been in so long. Despite the lingering pain and still-tender scars, I'm happy in a way I can't ever remember being. I'm working on forgiveness with a watchful heart.

I'm afraid that things will go back to the way they were. When I have a bad day, I'm terrified that the depression is returning. But I've been to the mountaintop, and I know I can find my way back if I end up in another valley. That knowledge alone comforts me and gives me hope.

What's done is done. There is no way to change the past. Now that it's over, it couldn't be any other way. (I kind of hate that, but mostly believe it to be true.) Linear time is God's gift to us. Imagine the muddled situations we'd get ourselves into if we could move forward and backward in time. Think of how much we'd lose or throw away if we had the ability to go back and change things. It would be so easy to get stuck in a loop of trying to perfect the past, of trying different actions to affect the outcome. Linear time frustrates us, but it keeps us sane. The alternative is unthinkable. (But would make a good episode of "The Twilight Zone.")

God knows the end from the beginning. All I can do is to keep moving forward.

I declare 2007 complete.

2008 is my year of opportunity.

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning." ~George Baker

I found the quote above and the format for this retrospective on Superhero Journal.


add to kirtsy | 8:01 PM | 1 comments


Top 7 Posts of '07

Lentil Soup

My First Trip to NYC

Paranoia Cha Cha Cha

The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs

We're Gonna Have Roast Rabbit!

Downward Dog

How to be Ready for Christmas

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Happiness: Now, Here

One of my newest favorite things: a felted tea cosy from Delightful Knits' Etsy shop (photo from

I can feel the hopes and goals for 2008 gently swirling around the outskirts of my thoughts. I'm anxious to get to them, eager to grow and do and change and be. But they tell me to be patient and assure me that they'll wait. They tell me to take care of my present situation before I forge ahead into the future.

For the past six days I've been knocked down with a flu-cold combo. It's had me burning up with fever and aching all over (but not in the way that people get feverish and ache for each other in romance novels). I've been nursing a sore throat, doing my best to evade a cough, and blowing something akin to jellyfish out of my nose. I can't help but wonder if this is the Universe's ironic response to my request for a day to just sit and read. For days now I haven't been able to do much but sleep, read, and watch BBC America and Food Network. It sounds nice, but I could do without those gross jellyfish.

So while I recuperate and let my unconscious mind dream unfettered about this year's Mondo Beyondo list, I thought I'd make a list of my favorite things. At a time of year when the focus is on the ways we aren't good enough and how we resolve to change, it's nice to think about what we already love in life. The idea for the list comes from this Jen Lemen post. Be sure to read the comments for other people's lists, then check out Karen's budding list over at Chookooloonks as well as Stephanie's list on Cool People I Know.

Jena at Bullseye Baby (which I recently discovered) has an edifying post about the slight difference between "nowhere" and "now here." It's just a small space, a breath; but it makes all the difference in the world.

In random order, here are 25 things that I love, here and now:

  1. My husband's funny dances, silly songs, and imaginative stories
  2. Fresh, ripe raspberries and cherries
  3. The slate-blue color of the world at twilight
  4. Smooth grey pebbles
  5. Freshly laundered bedding
  6. The ocean
  7. A good pot of Darjeeling
  8. Wearing my new Superhero necklace (which mysteriously matches everything I own)
  9. Back rubs and foot massages
  10. Fresh cut flowers from farmers' markets
  11. Immersing myself in a good novel
  12. British accents
  13. The way Cheska's fur smells after she's been sitting by an open window
  14. Ice cream, cheese, clotted cream (okay, most dairy products)
  15. The smell of freshly cut grass
  16. Thai food
  17. The rare moments when my whole family laughs in unison
  18. Serendipity
  19. Words like serendipity
  20. Dreaming about travel
  21. The way Gatwick lets me know each evening that it's time for his favorite treat: a dish of water over a few pieces of kibble
  22. Twinkly faerie lights
  23. Buttered toast
  24. Sending and receiving real mail
  25. Avocados

What makes you happy?

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    add to kirtsy | 6:29 PM | 6 comments