The Butterfly Effect…or Just Great F*cking Writers

Edward Lorenz and the Discovery of the Butterfly Effect

“It used to be thought that the events that changed the world were things like big bombs, maniac politicians, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is a very old-fashioned view held by people totally out of touch with modern thought. The things that change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.”
                                                    — from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

If you’ve been following ‘the challenge’ initiated last week, you hopefully experienced the magic that happens when people break out of their comfort zones and inspire others to do the same.

If you missed out on some of the action, Tanya, our Incurable Dreamer, summed it up perfectly in “the losing of my poetry virginity

Last week, she [that’s me] wrote a poem [inspired by George Ella Lyon’ original ‘Where I’m From’], and what has transpired since then has been nothing short of extraordinary.

The poem she wrote was inspired by a prompt – Where I’m From.

Her idea was to post it on her blog and challenge someone to write a poem about where they are from, and then hopefully they too would pass it forward. Well, that is what she did, and that is exactly what happened. She challenged Tom who challenged Wulf who challenged Susan who challenged Bojana.

Inspired by Brooke’s words, Brad and  LLY1205 didn’t even wait to be challenged, they both just got right to it and wrote and posted their poems.”


                                                                                                                          * image from

This wasn’t a competition, by any means. But we were all nervous to try something that isn’t exactly our strong suit. Even our celebrated poets expressed some anxiety about presenting their piece. I suppose it’s because we are all following the same model- one that requires us to reveal some of the most intimate parts of our stories- and create something on the heels of the previous person who blew us away…

But no pressure…really.

So, back to the whole butterfly thing. Yes, I will acknowledge that I set this in motion…flapping my wings if you will. But, as Edward Lorenz, creator of the chaos theory postulates: (Cool article discussing the butterfly effect here)

“Subject to the conditions of uniqueness, continuity, and boundedness … a central trajectory, which in a certain sense is free of transient properties, is unstable if it is nonperiodic. A noncentral trajectory … is not uniformly stable if it is nonperiodic, and if it is stable at all, its very stability is one of its transient properties, which tends to die out as time progresses. In view of the impossibility of measuring initial conditions precisely, and thereby distinguishing between a central trajectory and a nearby noncentral trajectory, all nonperiodic trajectories are effectively unstable from the point of view of practical prediction.”

Simply stated, the noncentral trajectory of my challenge was effectively unstable and wouldn’t have unfolded the way it did if you all had let it die out

Okay, enough of that. In short, it was not I who accepted the challenge and wrote something brilliant enough to inspire the next person, who wrote something brilliant enough to inspire the next person…

Maybe I did initiate a breeze. But you all gave it the momentum necessary to make the next person’s words take flight, compelling them to dig deeper and soar to heights that took our writers and readers by storm and left us all spinning. 

So Tanya, thank you for finishing off this whirlwind week of words with such grace, depth and courage. And thanks to the rest of you brave souls who gave us an enchanting glimpse intowhere you are from.


See where Mirian, from Out an’ About takes us next…


Challenge, Accepted. Brilliance, Ignited

A much-deserved follow-up to The Lion’s Lair & A Challenge.

Tom being Tom certainly rose to the challenge, eliciting the following reaction. I decided to include it here because it also applies to the previous poems I got to read, written by two brave souls who were inspired by the prompt. (Their masterpieces are included below Tom’s).

These poems do everything I think poetry should- tapping into the spaces where emotions lay dormant, conjuring them up, gently at first, until the next line, then the next, until I feel all of it acutely, getting a sense of what galvanized the words, yet wanting to know more about the spaces in between…

How is the youngest different? How did you transition from a youth that seemed complacent to living your life fully, authentically, staying curious, aware, concerned? How is it that you can delve into the ‘why’s’ of the wrongs and actively contemplate how we can right them? How did you find enduring love…what do you do to keep it so?

Who did you lose? Where does the pain come from? What keeps you restless, or have your roots finally taken hold?

Where do I even begin?  Where do the maple roof and stonework reside? Is it your eyes that stay guileless? Did you find the gold you were missing to fill in the empty space?

No one needs to answer these questions, of course. The answers are there…lingering in the spaces between.

Next up, our celebrated poet, Brandenwulf, author of blogBrandewijn Words, More magic to come, of that I have no doubt.

(Addendum: Brandenwulf wasted no time, and of course, created a work of art that sent us all reeling…get ready:  I am 

Crafted by our brave soul, Tom being Tom:

Where I’m From

I am from Krypton
And from Asgard.
From the Bugle and the Planet.
From a Manhattan in my head,
Covered in Webs.

I am from The Seven,
From Cecil and from Peggy.
The spoiled one.
The youngest.
Like all the others,
Only different.

I am from wasted youth.
From passing grades,
And boredom in math,
And history and gym.
From doodling, not studying.
From building worlds,
And playing games,
And ignoring rules,
That make us “great.”

I am from barley and from hops.
From summer heat,
And charcoal and gas.
From burgers and steaks,
And spicy wieners on the grill.

I am from umbrellas,
In the rain,
To turn the meat on time.

I am from golden dogs,
And Mrs C.
And love beyond compare.

I am from the search inside.

I am from earth.
I am from you,
And you are from me,
And we are from here,
This place called home.

That we destroy.

I am from tomorrow.
Where there are no wars,
Or hunger,
Or hate.
Where the needs of the many,
Outweigh the greed of the few.
Where children do not die
Where they learn,
And borders are open,
And treatment is free,
And no one needs nations,
And no one needs gods,
To tell us we’re alright.

Because we’re alright.

I am from Hope.

And it is with Hope I shall remain.

Written by Brad, Writing to Freedom

Where I’m From

birthed in Madison Wi
raised in Mclean VA
independence sought in Portland OR and Boulder CO
landing in Fayetteville AR
my tender roots started to grow
in the shade of a giant willow tree
nature's love nested in my heart
dormant until pain demanded action
I sprung forth like a shot
traveling the country near and far
finally a winter's rest in Portland OR
with self-exploration taking hold
then off to new adventures in Boulder CO
where the men did call and brothers we became
but death came knocking and changed the game
wanderlust took hold and fear went traveling
a weary traveler landed in Arkansas
with roots tenuous at best
too little water and soil
constantly pulled by restless feet
finally defeat layed down the law
at 50 the game became survival
slowly self-love took root
nurtured in compassion and care

Where I’m From – 2

I'm from willows and creeks,
backyard retreats
riding bikes, badminton and croquet
childhood glee amid adult defeats
lost friends, isolation, and pain
solace in books, school, and work
with excellence the measure
I'm from generations of pain
locked in booze and depression
tendrils of love in booze and sex
travel, parks, hiking, and a VW Camper
I'm from men's groups, soul searching quests
advanced in hiking, biking
photography, dancing, and play
then death came calling
roots pulled up again
I'm from fear and losses
responsiblity and survival
with no clear path forward
a hint of light grew in the dark
compassion and care leading the way

Written by Elizabeth, author of Serial Outlet,

Where I am From

When you buried my shovel

I was left idle, unmasked and thinking

There is no glitter in my well

No gold ‘mong damp and mossy dark’

Most ropes would recoil

But these linen plaits graze water

Unfrayed and still and tranquil

As the maple roof and stonework above

Anglo, Roman-Catholic stays

Build ribcages smoother than granite

And flakes of mica without replace

Ingots for those who would clamber within

Some eyes stay bright and guileless through

Trials largely of one’s own making

Rope winding, coiling back to

Where I am from


For more brilliant reading, here is an additional poet who also reignited my love of poetry…reading it, anyway. ;o)

Susan, author of blog: Flowering Ink .


The Lion’s Lair & A Challenge

Okay, a break from soulmates. I received an unexpected, much-needed gift this week and got to spend a couple of hours with my writing teacher, Miss Lisa Jones.

I discovered Lisa when I was in a coffee shop doing research for my upcoming trip to the Congo. I was thinking I should learn how to write so I could share my experience with friends and family, looked up from my computer and there was her flyer posted on the community board. I was sitting next to her within a couple of weeks.

Four years later, now a self-declared writer, I got to revisit the process of trying to follow her prompts and find the courage to read what I came up with (which is never what I want it to be) out loud to a room full of strangers. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and always sends me soaring way outside my comfort zone.

Poetry. I kinda hate it. I don’t know how to do it, and I always feel like I’m imitating Dr. Suess.

So, of course, our first prompt was a poem. I’ll share it with you and what I came up with (which I think sounds like a darker, more jaded version of Dr. Suess).

Okay, so a challenge: I’m gonna pass this off to one of you, and if you are up for it, I would love to see your version, your story.

When you post, or if you prefer to pass, send to on to someone you think might want to experiment with it.

The first victim, if he so chooses, is Tom being Tom. :o)

My version of Lyon’s original:

Where I’m From: The Lion’s Lair

I am from pigtails, teddy bears, things tied in bows
From cow pastures, barbed wire, dry, dusty roads
From Vodka bottles buried
beneath dirty clothes

I’m from TV dinners, pudding pops, sweetened ice tea
From silence, shame, and muffled screams
From two best friends
only I could see

I am from weeping willows, bare feet, Fourth of July
From Bible study, train tracks, the cicadas’ cry
From climbing trees, scraped up knees
chasing fireflies

I’m from dreaming of anyplace but here
From invented fairytales and judgmental stares
From her inevitable return
from the lion’s lair

I am from faded photographs of faces unknown
From a wild heart with a gypsy’s soul
From an untethered spirit
that can never let go

Where I’m From

~ George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded–
leaf-fall from the family tree




Finding your Soulmate 101 (or whatever the prereq to that would be)

“Do you believe soulmates exist?”

My friend asked me this as he was telling me about his impending breakup.

“And if they do, how do we know we’ve found our actual soul mate vs. just a deep connection or fleeting love? Is it really worth the energy and potential pain if we’re not sure?”

I answered the first question without hesitation. “Yes, absolutely.” But the second one gave me pause. How do you know, especially in the beginning, when it all feels magical?

But yes, there is definitely a distinction. Putting it into words, however, is the equivalent of trying to explain how it feels to be loved or to have faith.

Love feels like your soul has been kissed. Faith feels like love in its purest form.

But that’s hard to conjure up on a whim, especially while trying to avoid saying all the things that made me cringe when I was in the thick of a heartbreak.

My enlightened response? 

“I don’t know…you just know.”

If that doesn’t make you cringe…ambiguities and sweeping generalizations are the last thing you want to hear when your heart is being ripped out. You want fucking answers.

So I decided it best to keep my mouth shut, nod my head empathetically and refrain from rattling off reasons why it’s for the best. All I really wanted to do, however, was encourage him to memorize how he feels right now so he’ll remember the next time this happens: the pain really doesn’t last forever…I think.

Thankfully, I opted to keep my mouth shut.

I saw his relationship unfold from the beginning. There were obvious warning signs, but he couldn’t see them, of course. We rarely can.

We’re too immersed in the present moment, relishing in the excitement of discovery. We finally found someone who fits, who can finish our sentences, celebrate our quirks, shine light on the beautiful parts that get lost when no one’s there to name them. We found someone to play with, to laugh with, to make our hearts fuller, lighter. We found our soul mate…

Or did we? How do we know for sure, if what we found is real, if it’s worth the gamble when the stakes are so high.

We don’t, I guess…until we do.

Full Disclosure:

Okay, I don’t really know that “you just know.”

It makes sense that you would. I’ve heard that’s how it works. But I honestly can’t speak from experience. I’ve never met mine, not that kind, I don’t think. I thought I did. But, I would know, right?

The whole thing got me thinking. Not just about ‘finding my soulmate’, all of it- the different shades, degrees and patterns of connection, love and relationships.

But seriously, I’m still here? 101? I should have a Ph.D. in this shit by now. Or at least be making substantial progress. So why do I still feel like I’m learning how to spell?

Y-O-U  A-R-E  D-O-I-N-G  T-H-I-S  A-L-L  W-R-O-N-G

No, this isn’t where I want to be- sifting through relationships that are frustrating and unfulfilling. And truly, as much as it might appear to consume me, I’m not on some mad quest to find the one. I’m fine with a break from it all, knowing that I’m still a bit fragile and borderline calloused…not a good place to start from, I’ve discovered.

Yet they continue to surface, and I continue to play them out: these impossible scenarios that turn into an insidious dance- one that gets replayed over and over, making sure I stay a little fragile and increasingly calloused.

So time for a bit more self-reflection (which I assure you, I’m super excited about).

However, I have additional incentive this time; my friend needs some answers.

So I did a little research…

Picture courtesy- KosovaLive360

Next week: No assignments. Attendance encouraged, open-mind required.
Extra credit for any shared soulmate encounters.


To write or not to write? Or maybe just what to write is the question.

I have a favor to ask. More of a question to pose, I guess. Although I’m realizing as I type this, I think this might be more of an existential crisis versus a casual inquiry about writing.

I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve never considered myself ‘a writer’. Sure, I could write a decent academic paper. My travel stories seemed to amuse my friends. (But seriously, the insanity I get myself into on foreign land can’t help but entertain.)

I’ve had people tell me I should write a book, but mainly because my life has been an extraordinary string of adventures interlaced with a good amount of tragedy I’ve had to overcome. And there’s always been an undercurrent of magic that makes us all look around and wonder what the hell just happened.

All to say, I was never compelled to write until I fell in love. I had been in love before, clearly. My love for ‘E’ is deep and enduring. But the most recent fall left me no choice. The words filled up every part of me, demanding to be released. I gladly submitted, believing ‘our story’ was one that needed to be shared. I wanted people to know it exists- magic- so they wouldn’t give up on it or dismiss it as “too risky” or unrealistic or bad timing or whatever other reason we come up with to cling to safety.

That was my intention, anyway, to write a love story. But that clearly didn’t happen. This blog happened instead.

The words continued to make their demands, but this time I was a hostage, at their mercy until I offered up everything I had. It was a hostile but necessary takeover: their release is gradually leading to my liberation…I think.

I’m convinced these words, and you all receiving them, saved me (along with a handful of angels that swooped in to keep me from going under).

So here I am a year later with a blog- surrounded by a community of brilliant writers- a few published articles and this ‘book’ I’m writing.

But I’m not writing a book. I have the beginning of a story that I don’t want to tell- a few short paragraphs about what I believed to be magic and then an endless series of desperate pleas and incoherent attempts to get my head around a fall that was anything but magical.

I’ve tried to salvage it, condense the story of  ‘us’ into just a chapter that would serve as the Supreme Ordeal in the heroine’s journey, the point when I seize the sword and rise back up on my path to redemption.

But it’s not working. I suppose I’m still too close to it all to provide an enlightened perspective. I can rattle off the gift and lessons learned from it, but I feel my heart squirm every time I do it. The truth is, it still just fucking hurts and I feel like I’ll never make peace with it.

I can forgive myself, for the most part. I made some bad choices, but I made them because I followed my heart, I loved someone with everything I had and truly believed that would be enough.

And yes, I still wrestle with hurt and anger. I still regret that I didn’t get to have a relationship with him, that I had to go to war with his demons instead. But I’ll always hold him in a space of love. His essence, the part of him I know to be his truth- is loving, compassionate and beautiful. That is what I carry with me.

All to say, I know, ultimately, this is my story. I know it’s extraordinary in many ways and isn’t reduced to just that part of my life.

So herein lies the problem. Can I really write a story while it’s still unfolding? I know, our stories are always unfolding. But I mean the ‘happy ending’ is missing, that point of redemption when the reader can exhale because the heroine proved it really does all work out in the end, that everything really does happen for a reason. The reader can take solace in the fact that, no matter how shitty they might feel right now, they will, in fact, rise up and return with the elixir.

I believe they will…most days. But I can’t actually prove it at this point.

Well, that should inspire the shit out of everyone…

“Yes, do as I did: leap, take a risk, follow your heart. Okay, I crashed and burned, but you might not. If you do, though, just know the ‘rising up from the ashes’ phase will most likely be excruciatingly painful and take way longer than you want it to. But please, read my book. I’ll give you a play by play of what heartbreak, pain, and destruction look like and exactly how you, too, can make a complete mess out of your life.”

Yep, that will definitely have any potential readers earmarking their favorite pages and passing it on to their closest friends.

This is where you come in. I just need you to tell me what to write.

Should I take the whole ‘build it and they will come’ approach? Just start writing and trust that redemption or the happy ending or at least a promising new chapter will manifest? Is the thing I don’t want to write about with every fiber of my being the very thing I have to write about? Is it too soon? Do I just try to have patience and wait for divine inspiration?

Yes, I recognize this is a bit rhetorical. You can’t answer this for me.

But any words of wisdom are welcome…



A Love Story of Sorts

In keeping with the theme this week, I’ll offer up a love story of sorts.

Okay, it’s not really a “love story”, in the traditional sense. But it is a story, and it does involve love.

In the romantic sense, love has proven itself to be a fickle companion. I’ve lost myself in it and also found myself. I’ve sworn it off completely, and then blindly plunged back in. I’ve felt it with a force as powerful as breath, and now find myself wondering if it even exists.

But I’m a romantic and seem to be incapable of giving up on it completely.

So that brings me to Valentine’s Day. I admittedly get seduced by it all: a day dedicated solely to celebrating the person I love and being spoiled by the person who loves me. It’s a subject I believe worthy of its own holiday.

But I’m also acutely aware that this day can place loneliness and heartbreak at center stage, making the absence of the person we love as consuming as their presence used to be liberating.

That’s the side of it I was on, once again. There was no lover to spoil. And besides the sweet guy at the coffee shop, I wasn’t the object of anyone’s affection. (okay, that didn’t prove to be entirely true, but we’ll stick to the subject at hand.)

All to say, I expected to be in the same place I was last year: front and center.

I am, in fact, front and center, but not in the same place.

It feels more like equilibrium.

There was no huge revelation that occurred. I didn’t even realize anything had changed until the sweet boy at the coffee shop gave me a chocolate heart. It made me happy. And I didn’t want it to be from anyone else. And I was completely content with the fact that I had the whole day to myself. And there wasn’t anyone I was missing (not entirely true, either. I miss Biscuit terribly but “subject at hand”.)

It seems I unknowingly declared a truce.

Despite the fact that I desperately wanted to move on, I kept looking back. I’ve recycled everything possible- memories, relationships, behaviors- all of which kept taking me back to the exact same place I was before…which was the last place I wanted to be.

This isn’t to say that my mind has completely stopped reminding me of what’s lurking beneath the surface. But I finally understand its tactics. I can catch it now, reel it in and release what has clearly been sustaining my demons all along.

Okay, confession.

There is this one last relationship I’m trying to rekindle. It’s risky to be sure. It was extremely messy before and full-on destructive when we parted ways. But I really do believe it will be different this time.

I think she’s finally realized she had something special that she came really close to losing.



And the Nominees Are…



To be honest, I don’t know much about this, other than it’s a vehicle to give accolades to our fellow writers.

So, thank you very much, LemonZest, for nominating me.

Now it’s my turn to celebrate some of the writers I’ve come to love- those who have inspired me by having the courage to open their hearts, tell their stories, and share their insights with talent and grace…and/or just make me laugh.

Oh, and I should confess, I’m not following the rules exactly (shocking, I know). I chose a select few because I wanted to showcase why I chose them. So this list doesn’t include all my favorites, but since we tend to run to in tight circles, I know the rest of the names of writers I love and admire will quickly surface.

So, my nominees are, in no particular order:

  1. The Incurable Dreamer, for her gift of always making me laugh out loud while tears are simultaneously streaming down my face. Her words effortlessly express her humor, huge heart and uplifting perspectives…always with a solid dose of hutzpa to keep things interesting. “I silently wept. Not from sadness but happiness experienced in its purest form. The kind of happiness that makes you see colour for the first time, that ignites your soul and makes you not only feel like you can fly but that you already are.”  My Surgeon thinks I’m a Whore
  2. Flowering Ink, for the way her words flow, inspire and reveal all the layers, textures and depth of her strength and character. “For me, poetry is the ultimate expression and exercise of language. It is the bones, the blood and the heart, uncovered and untethered.” Stretching my Voice
  3. Desertcurmudgeon, the unassuming prophet, who always leaves me in awe of his sheer brilliance, huge heart and capacity to express his insights with wit, “Be exhaustive, be brave. Become the warrior this sad and scary world so desperately needs. In the depths of our unconfused minds…We’ll realize that we create our own reality and that everyone we meet in this place is just us with a different temporary mask. That’s where empathy begins. That’s where true, indestructible love resides. Everything will be okay.  It can’t be otherwise.Warrior Mind
  4. Brandenwulf, for never ceasing to amaze me with what he can do with words, always rising effortlessly from the page and enchanting me with their richness and texture.  Morning Kiss                                                                                                                 “Little by little it comes;
    Building drip to falling drop.
    Tiny explosions shatter, rippling
    Into a thousand points of their self.”
  5. My Dang Blog, for always making me giggle and feel more at peace with my OCD tendencies and quirky idiosyncrasies. Please know, I say this with the utmost reverence, because these characteristics just make her more colorful and interesting…plus, she’s charming, witty and should seriously consider giving up her day job and pursue stand-up.                                                                                                “She kept using the good tea towel, you know, the one that’s for show…There was another tea towel, a plainer one, that was close to the stove and sink, and simply screamed out, “Use ME!”…I would come back after a weekend at home to find it hanging all crumply and stained. Why didn’t you just tell her, you ask? Because that would be the most ridiculous conversation in the world, like “Can you not use this tea towel? It’s for show.” Driverless Cars, the ‘Good’ tea towel
  6. Tom Being Tom, for writing in a way that makes me feel like I’ve always known him, and at the same time, like I’m listening to an old soul from another time and space… “I will chase the reality and the fantasy of life. I will be broad and bold; utterly complete and evolving still.”: We are Not but One Thing
  7. Writing to Freedom, for his eye for beauty and talent for capturing it with his captivating photos and words. Peace Prevails (Note: Brad’s site is award free, but this is more about sharing his gifts.)

I’m supposed to share 7 things about myself. So, here goes:

  1. I am determined to save the elephants and gorillas and pangolins and sea turtles…(this list continues, but your time is precious.)
  2. I move around a lot.
  3. I like good coffee, kale, beer, chocolate, avocados and whipped cream.
  4. I hung out with Jane Goodall for a day. (okay, it wasn’t just me, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t recognize me if I was standing in front of her, but still…)
  5. Paris feeds my soul, Sevilla awakens it.
  6. You will never hear me say the words ‘I’ and ‘baked ‘ in the same sentence (talking pastries here, people).
  7. I believe in magic.