Photo Friday: Life and Death(?), and a Flash Fiction Bonus

Rumours of my impending doom have been wildly exaggerated. This week I got the results from my twenty-four hour cardiac monitoring I've tried new strategies to curb the heart palpitations and flutterings. Nothing devastating but I do need to have further investigations. (If only I could control anxiety.) I'm working on new strategies - and I've managed five nights in a row without an episode.

  

Writing (and not discussing my previous career) has helped distract me from counterproductive thoughts. I've almost finished rewrites for the first (longer) short,  From the Depths, in Viola's third journal of adventures and am reworking the second story, Tomorrow, When I Die.

We've had record summer rains and everything is so green and full of life (usually everything is dry and brown this time of year).  We've had a few chill nights (huzzah!); I've even finished another octoscarf to sell at the Salisbury Secret Garden markets tomorrow afternoon.

 

And now for a bonus flash fiction.

The girls at the pbafm Words Out Loud radio show have a tradition. They randomly choose five words from a book of their guest for the day. The challenge is to write something, using all five words, in just ten minutes. Contributions get read out on air in the following session. On my visit on the show, the words were from John Malone's latest book of poetry, Seeing Things. The words were: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo. They challenged me on the day; this was my contribution.

Enjoying the View

©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Humphrey was a fashionable snail. At least he thought he was. He'd recently taken up residence by the river. He lounged under his brand new red gazebo and surveyed the spectacular view. A wooden sign by the water shaded the yard from the midday sun. A fine crop of broccoli provided an abundant yield for his supper. Ripples glistened on the water. Perfect. He just couldn't understand why his friends hadn't joined him. Water splashed. He crawled out of the shade and edged toward the water. So cool. So inviting. Why had his friends been so concerned? Humphrey, don't go near the water, they cried. Humphrey leaned closer and touched the water. It shuddered. A large eye blinked under the surface. The piranha licked his lips, flicked his tail and swam away from the bank.
THE END
Why don't you have a go at the five word challenge? You have ten minutes to write something containing all the words: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo.
This fortnight's words from my book, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales, were: grinding, tranquil, warden, sputtered and jaundiced.
Post your stories or poems in the comments below. I'd love to see what you come up with.
Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Creating a positive from a negative.

Dear Reader,

Today's post is late. And there's a reason.

I had originally penned my thoughts on the Australia Day debate: to change the date or not to change the date? (To boil it down to basics:  The meaning of the day is more important than sticking to a date that celebrates only part of our melting pot of cultures, and creates a day of mourning for our indigenous people - who, by the way, is the longest surviving culture in the world. Think of that. Wow! I think May8 (Maate!) sounds good. But recent worldwide events have overshadowed this (important) question.

Regular readers will know I suffer from anxiety, brought on by my previous job. After years of trying to cope with work stress and the weight of worrying about my patients, taking on their worries as my own, I broke. I took up writing, first as a distraction then a form of catharsis.

Recent global events broadcast live via social media, have re-ignited my empathy and worry - worry for refugees, worry for legitimate citizens born outside their place of residence, worry for women's rights, for gay rights, native land rights - all swept away with a stroke of a pen, defying even the courts of the land. (I was barely coping with similar things in my own country, but this latest onslaught, this is mega. This is beyond belief. This is overwhelming.)

I feel for the people of the world. I fear for the people of the world.

And Friday night I had a wake up call. I woke at 2.30am - sweating, with palpitations and pain. Stress? Migraine? Or...? My anxiety escalated.

An ECG was performed, with, shall we say, not perfect results. A blood test was ordered. Four agonising hours later, I was cleared. Not a heart attack. This time.

Tomorrow I see the doctor for a follow up and, most likely, a referral to a specialist. Was the ECG a false positive or is there something that needs attention? We'll also discuss over the counter medications and other reasons for the palpitations.

I've had another wake up call. And I've made a decision.

I will try not to dwell on the negative of the recent events but look to the positive: the resistance, the fight, the wins. Rather than share the negative posts and tweets of hell unleashed, I will endeavour to share the positive results - the solidarity and resistance.

I will try to relax and focus on the victories, my family, my friends and the good times we have. I can delve into antagonist's thought process in fiction - where I can explore them (and control them) in a safe environment and purge my soul of the anxiety. (Well, I'll try.)

Yesterday we had a few friends over to play board games. We introduced Terry to Steampunk Munchkin (she won). We were confronted by a most foul opponent of almost impossible strength:

A +5 radium-powered Robot Queen Victoria, empowered by Gear Beer and ready for a bar room brawl - defeated by the co-operation of all the players. Huzzah!

That, dear Reader, is how we can heal the world - by joining together against our common foe - hate and racism. Divided, we fall. Together we can triumph.

Photo ©2017 Karen J Carlisle All rights reserved.

A New Beginning

It's a new year, prompting the obligatory new year post. It's official. 2016 sucked. Its carnage weighs heavy on my soul - the almost-monthly announcements of cultural icons who have influenced my life: David Bowie and Alan Rickman from cancer, Prince, Mahammud Ali, Jon English, and the shocking accidental death of newcomer Anton Yelchin who played one of my favourite Star Trek characters. Next to go was Kenny Baker(R2D2), Gene Wilder (comedian), Leonard Cohen (poet), Robert Vaughn (Man from UNCLE), Florence Henderson (Mrs Brady), Ron Glass (Book from Firefly), Andrew Sachs (Manuel), Zsa Zsa Gabor and Rick Parfitt (Status Quo). What more could 2016 throw at us? Then came the news: Carrie Fisher - a symbol of strength as Princess Leia, the rebel fighter, and Ms Fisher, advocate for mental illness who fought to bring it out of the shadows - was rushed to hospital following a heart attack. I held my breath. While the world tweeted its outrage at 2016 for being a right, proper bastard, 2016 thumbed its nose, proved itself to be an utter, proper bastard and took George Michael and writer Richard Adams then, in defiance, finally claimed Carrie Fisher. Debbie Reynolds followed her beloved daughter into the moonlight the very next day. I suppose I could be rational. I am getting older. My heroes are aging as well. David Bowie could not live forever (though his music will keep him alive in my heart). But that's not how it feels. It feels personal. That is why I need to grieve. And I'm not alone. That is why we all need to grieve. It is why we feel the need to anthropomorphise 2016, making it the focus of our grief - particularly the anger phase. Why? Why must we grow old? Why must we die? Because, that is life - a roller coaster of emotions which makes us human. And now 2016 is gone (and good riddance!), we can look at it with a clearer perspective. The media and social media concentrated on the negative - including a hoax report of Queen Elizabeth's death - but there were also many positive stories. My personal list of positives comes from my thankful jar (write a note when something positive happens. Put it in a jar or bowl and read the notes at the end of the year, to remind us of the good things we may have forgotten). This is the third year I have done this. Here's just a few:
  • I had a couple of my photographs used for the FB banner of my Art Photographers group.
  • watched a Forever Knight mini-marathon with my friend, Anne.
  • Anne left a secret note in my thankful jar: 'Amazing hair, Karen has it!'
  • I was featured in three guest blogs this year and four interviews this year
  • launched my second, self-published book
  • my daughter shared her amazing artwork with me
  • Margaret Atwood liked one of my environmental tweets!
  • I received notification of my first sales to a US bookshop via my distributor
  • I created two new t-shirts from my Inktober original artwork
  • A cool southerly breeze, feeling great after two heatwaves
  • I got new dice and a purple octopus dice bag for my birthday
  • sold out of books at the Steampunk Festival book launch
  • back garden clean up completed
  • Dearheart hugged me.
  • and 'going through 2015 thankful jar. Wow, so many good memories'.
Now 2017 has arrived. We stand on the brink of new possibilities, a chance for renewal, a chance to concentrate on creating positives for ourselves, to create our own self-fulfilling prophesies. To create hope. That is why I make my New Year List. I don't like to call them resolutions. Too many people make new year resolutions. Too many of them fall by the wayside. I make a list of things to strive for and resolve to make this year a better one:
  • try to cope with my anxiety more effectively
  • writing more (it helps calm the black dog)
  • attend more book-related events
  • set up a website shop (jumped the gun on that one.)
  • eat more healthily (and not listen to the siren call of potato chips)
  • finish the third book in Viola's adventures
  • finish the first book in my next series, The Department of Curiosities
  • spend more time with my family
  • add memories to my 2017 thankful jar.

Welcome to 2017. Let's make some good memories.

Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle All Rights Reserved.