Thursday, July 2, 2015

NEW ESSAY! The Only Constant is Change

Planning Time for the Unexpected
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

I remember my Franklin Day Planner fondly.  It is such a great system for learning time management. I used them for years.  You can still get them in their attractive binders as well as the now obligatory electronic apps.  I still use a lot of the methods from those Franklin days: making lists, marking what has to be done versus what could be done, open Os in front of things started but not completed, big Xs on things completed. I get great satisfaction from making those Os and Xs, like hugs and kisses all over my daily intentions.

Something has changed from those halcyon days of my Planner.  It is something I did not expect to happen, naturally, and I am not sure that there was a symbol in the Franklin method for marking it, denoting it, categorizing it.  Back in the old days, blurred into the haze of fond memory, it did not seem that things ever got totally out of control on any given day.  Somehow, there was a way to write everything down and make things conform to a plan.  But that’s not the same in my life anymore.  Sometimes something happens that just guts my entire direction.  It can be technical, emotional. How am I supposed to mark the unexpected?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

COMING SOON - A New Release!

Photo Cover Art by MJ McGalliard
Coming in August:

"The Highway is a great rolling stage for drama.  Some are grand and expansive, complete with flashing lights, bells, and confrontations of life and death.  Others of these rolling epochs are simple moments of delight and justice, for where would tragedy be without comedy?"

What began as a single short story has blossomed into a series of observations and adventures inspired by interstate highway travel.  Stories in this collection will include:
  • The Red Car
  • The Bubble of Me
  • The Terrible Tuesday After
  • Road Construction
  • Whole Brain Drive
And more! Coming to Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

As we gear up for this release, enjoy this quite amusing look at the future of motor travel as envisioned by the artists of the Walt Disney Company: Disney's Magic Highway from 1958.  You have to admit, highway travel can be as funny as it can be terrifying!


IMPORTANT NOTE: The sharing of this video in this post in no way reflects, nor should be construed to indicate, the support or endorsement by the Walt Disney Company of this, or any other book by this author.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

FIVE DAY POETRY CHALLENGE

I have happily accepted a poetry challenge by friend and fellow artist Cath Blackfeather to write one poem a day for five days (Click on her name to visit her site and read some of her fascinating writing).  

You can find each day’s poem here, in this post. These challenges always seem tough when you start out.  However, some of the best poetry and haiku that I have written have come from just such as this.  This has been great fun, and I encourage anyone to take this challenge on, whether you consider yourself a poet/writer, or not. Poems don;t have to be complex, elegant, or complicated.  Sometimes they can just be fun!

Photo "Chicken Noodle Soup" by Casja Lilliehook from Wikimedia Commons

Day #5

The Last Poem
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

A Cup O’ Noodles at 5am,
Face in a steamy reverie
Poem five must post today
What the heck will this one be?

Nature’s glory? That was four
No need to be repeating
Perhaps some deep, heartfelt emotion?
Number two, beware of prating

Inspiration lurks all around
Just need to see and catch it
The cat? the light? my asthma wheeze?
Good Lord!  Could I just scratch this?

Just sit your butt and start to write
The words will come, you know
There's always ideas awaiting release
A thought reveals and shows

The room, the hour seem desolate
What possibly can be said?
“It will come later” my inner voice says,
“Lay down, go back to bed”

##

Click "More" to read the previous poems...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

MUSINGS: "All My Cousins"

All My Cousins
My Great Aunt Cornelia, my Grandmother
Lillie, and my Great Uncle Robert as children.
Love those smiles!

by Judith Cullen
(c) 2015

We’ve always been a bit apart, my cousins and I.  Hard times, good times, distances near and far, as well as the various interpersonal mixes that are part and parcel of an extended family are the understandable cause.  My sister and I have not always been in close touch with our contemporaries across the family strata, nor they with us.

Family is a blessing.  Family can make you crazy.  Family is wild and diverse: you are theirs and they are yours whether you like it or not.  A collection of sub-divisions on both sides of my family spin themselves into a bright spectrum of personalities: a generation vibrantly reflecting those that came before while each having a unique light all their own. Those are my cousins.

Something remarkable has happened over the past few years and, for all its dangers and cultural pitfalls, social media has made this easier than it would have been for previous generations.  We’ve all been reconnecting.  I think my sister, as usual, took the lead and began the process.  For me, it really began when a cousin came down from her home in Alaska last summer to visit her immediate family here in the Puget Sound. Almost every connection and encounter since then has been tinted with the same sweetness and surprise – the same delight.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NEW ESSAY from Upcoming Release: "Beauty on the Interstate"

I have been busy enjoying the last moments of the release of The Blackberry & Other Tales That Creep while preparing the text for August's collection, entitled Beauty On the Interstate.  I am really enjoying the revision process of the 8-10 essays and stories that will be part of this release.

The following story is a little preview from the planned essays for Beauty... .  ENJOY!


Public Domain photo by Alex Grichenko
Hurry Up and Wait
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

I’ll never forget that morning.  It was a typically overcast, drizzly Pacific Northwest weekday anonymously tucked somewhere between November and March.  It was the kind of morning that would typically blend into the sameness of other winter, weekday morning commutes. The sky hung in a misty, moist silver blur as I pulled out onto the main drag by my house, embarking once more on the 30 mile trek to a job in the state capitol.

When I first started driving this particular commute nearly two years ago, I remembered every turn, every leaf and branch, every bridge and stream of the very scenic journey.  At the time my amazement was such that I said a loud to myself, “I wonder if I will ever get tired of this lovely drive?” The drive was, and is, filled with loveliness to fill any scenic sensibility: vibrant mixes of green, leafy trees; the different glimpses of sky and mountains; the far off ripple and sparkle of Puget Sound waters.  The answer turned out to be “yes, sort of.”  I’ve long since stopped noticing every scenic bit and bob along the way.  I still enjoy the views and the changes of season, but not as attentively as I once did.  It was not going to be scenery, this particular morning, which made this trip stand out.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

NEW POEM: "Using Your Words"

Image "WPLetter - closeup" from publicdomainreview.org
Using Your Words
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

The billboard announced, the message weaving its way
Among great deals on tires, and tempting vacation spots.
“Words Hurt” it said, simple and clear.

The song’s plaintive tenor wailed on the radio,
Wedged between”My Sharona,” and “Barbra Ann”
“It’s only words,” it declared innocently.

Words can be convicts fleeing solitary confinement,
Escapees from the dark depths of your baser self.
Once out of your control, they rend and tear.

Weapons wielded, consolations offered, gifts shared,
And concrete wads of unconsidered, crumpled thoughts
Tossed without forethought, or latter concern.

Words can be all we have:
To shred psyches, to build confidence,
To take esteem, to deny a heart,
To offer kindness, to impart true affection

How many might still roam unrestricted? children of mine
Roaring around the landscape with havoc in their wake
Once they are out, not neatly or easily contained.

Are they really what I meant?
It is never “only” words. 
“Words Hurt” it said, simple and clear.

And they can.

##

Monday, May 25, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY

Memory can seem like both a blessing and a curse.  The pleasant kind of memory helps us get through the difficult times and remember that we are loved and valued, and remember those to whom we return these empowering feeling.  The other kind of memory - loss, grief, anger - these seem like a liability, but they can be a positive challenge as well: an opportunity for triumph over tragedy (spoken in the most dramatic terms).
But for today, Memorial Day, I want to share a haiku cycle I wrote in 2013 in recognition of the men and women who serve and have served - those who allow their lives to be changes irrevocably so that the rest of us can live in relative freedom.

Today, as with many days, I remember my father - Douglas G. Cullen - who served in the Korean Conflict.

The Experience    
by Judith Cullen
(c) 2013     


A reality
one’s self is changed forever
skilled maturity

Trained for all action
committed at high level
participation

Can we understand
their sweat, their blood given us
in a foreign land

Our best acquaintance
ever honor, and duty
their experience