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Prompt: “It takes guts to tremble.” —Andrea Gibson
Time: 10 minutes

It takes guts to put the pen to the paper. It takes guts to press send. It takes guts to show up. It takes guts to walk out the door in the early morning, on the edge of the day’s unfolding. It takes guts to sit with the hard feelings—to really feel them. Not brush them off, stuff them down, pack them away. It takes guts to set boundaries and ask for what you need. It takes guts to smile at a stranger. It takes guts to try something, to explore, to see where things go. It takes guts to focus. It takes guts to say “I don’t know.” It takes guts to keep trying, to not let obstacles become endpoints. It takes guts to be awesome. And to be yourself. And to grow into new aspects of yourself. It takes guts to keep on keeping on. And to admit you just need a nap. Or a hug. Or a dance party. It takes guts to light up the world with your fire. It takes guts.

Shout-outs to Shira E for this inspiring post and to Gabe Radeka for the vital question and tangled important woods metaphor!

Prompt: “Consider me / As one who loved poetry / And persimmons.” —Shiki
Time: 15 minutes

And summits. And scuffed-up boots close to falling apart. And holding onto a dear hermana’s hand for dear life while I cry. And the question, “What if nothing is wrong with you?”

And clementines, with their tiny sweetness and easy rinds. And that moment my heart swells. And the contours of my inner life. And my future tiny house with its tiny wood stove and tiny reading nook and tiny tub. And blankets.

And my body, surprisingly. And the fire, in people and words and life and my skin. And music made with small blue keyboards and ukuleles and electronic things I don’t know the name of.

And when I’m in it, whatever it is. And when you—or you, or you, or you—are there with me.

And a stranger offering me her table at a crowded coffee shop. And sitting there with her in shared concentrated silence for 10 minutes before she departs and I thank her, wishing I had introduced myself.

And when I know exactly what I want. And your smile. And the spring wildflower garden on my walk to the bus. And the bus. And my shoulders. And the wine stain on my Book Mill bag from a music, art, and wine night. And the big, comfy couch.

And peering into the clearing from the woods, from the important tangle, unsure of emerging. And that deep breath.

Prompt: Weather.
Time: 10 minutes.

A snowstorm. In Cotuit. We lost power for days. No electric heat. Only fire, fueled by the dismantled coffee table.

A thunderstorm. In Lenox. We sat in the window seat, watched the lightning, faces rapt, and listened to the rain.

A rain shower. In Clinton. We jumped in the puddles, smiling our we-have-all-the-time-in-the-world smiles.

A heat wave. In Arizona. We drove and drove and drove, and our boombox melted, and we smiled.

A cold snap. In Lenox. We cooked chicken soup and sat on the brown couch and cozied in.

A blue sky. We lounged in a cemetery on my birthday and read aloud.

Be a weatherperson.


How I shall welcome the new year:

  1. Clean dishes
  2. Fresh bedsheets
  3. Reflection
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More, with Feeling”
  5. A new word
  6. Many words
  7. Intention
  8. Nourishing food
  9. Pristine, perfect calendars
  10. One achievable goal
  11. Several wild dreams
  12. A bit of dark chocolate
  13. A tiny bottle of prosecco
  14. A red dress
  15. Appreciation

Tell me yours!

Prompt: There I found myself . . .
Time: 10 minutes

There I found myself, lost. Walking up a small winding street with muddy boots. There was a misty rain, the kind that makes an umbrella feel silly, which was convenient since I didn’t have one. On some level, I knew where I was—on a tiny side street in Howth, a small coastal town north of Dublin. But I didn’t know how to get where I was going. Couldn’t locate the rocky path to the cliff walks that my friend told me I must experience. Of course, I didn’t know where I was going in the bigger ways, too. But that was less disconcerting and more refreshing, amazingly full of daunting but real possibility. I ducked into a small shop that appeared, under the guise of buying a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, a name that only just now occurs to me as redundant. Shy of only asking directions—appearing right off like the lone, lost wandering tourist and seeker that I was, even though the moment I walked in the door, I appeared as such—I first perused the shelves, made my selection, paid for it, and thanked the shopkeeper before I asked offhandedly about directions. She kindly pointed me in the right direction and told me to be careful—the trails were slippery with all the rain. She may have said something about being alone, I’m not sure. Either way, I set off with new purpose in my step, appreciating the concern for my safety, knowing that I would be fine, I would be great, I would be exactly where I needed to be no matter how lost I was.

Prompt: I come from . . .
Time: 10 minutes

I come from the earth. From the mud, from the grime, from the moss. The moss with its teeny, tiny, tree-like structures. I want to be a millimeter tall and climb them. Look out from the top across the wet, green mini-forest, the damp, brown earth below. More green, more brown above.

I come from the air—the expansive, deep breath of air I take in at the top of the mountain or just above the water as I rise from underneath the surface of the lake—or my bathtub.

I come from the fire—the smoky wood smell, the red- and orange- and blue-flamed fire. The fires I’ve seen of a house across the street, of the hotel where my parents worked—flames shooting up from the roof. From the fire of emotions—of anger, of love, of something equally strong but in between. From the fire deep within me, inextinguishable, sometimes raging, sometimes crackling, sometimes merely quietly smoldering.

I come from everywhere. And anywhere. And some places in particular. A dark corner in a carpeted closet. A warmly lighted entryway into a cozy apartment. A dream.

Prompt: What I’m listening to right now.
Time: 10 minutes.

I’m listening to Ani DiFranco. I’m listening to Kris Delmhorst’s Horses Swimming over and over again—never old, never tired. I’m listening to the sound of rain on my car as I drive on this road and that, in search of something, something. I’m listening to the buzz of my speakers. I’m listening to the buzz of my refrigerator. I’m listening to a mix entitled Time Past and Time Future. And indeed, I’m listening to my past and my future for clues to my present. I’m listening to people living small pieces of their lives in the hallway outside of my apartment door—bringing their clothes to the laundry room, locking or unlocking their doors, greeting cheerfully or not their neighbors in passing. I am listening to the whirring thoughts in my head and the pressure of feelings building in my chest. I’m not sure yet what they’re all saying to me, or what to focus on out of all of the many messages they’re delivering or seem to be delivering or I want them to be delivering. But there is something—something deep, something real, something important—in this listening. The creak of the floorboards and the wind outside my huge windows and the hum of my computer. The scratch of my pen against paper, the click of my knitting needles against one another, the intake of breath as I awake from a dream. Surely they each have something to tell me.

Prompt: There is a new kind of night.
Time: 10 minutes.

There is a new kind of night. It is not completely dark. There are no empty spaces, in your neighborhood, in your apartment, in your heart. There is a softness, a rounded-edges-ness to the night. There is certainty and calm where once there was otherwise. There is no scary in this new kind of night, just comfort, just warmth. There is enough sleep and enough dreaming and enough quiet reflecting. There is no yearning, no fear. There is no need to line all of your stuffed animals—armed guards, sentinels—along the outline of your body under the covers. There is no clutter, no piles of books, no electronic devices to tether you to the outside world. There is always fresh air. There are moonlit walks, no matter the season. And the day dawning from this new kind of night is similarly transformed.

Prompt: The house we live in…
Time: 10 minutes

There is a light in the kitchen by the back door that I look for at night as I pull into the parking lot. It signals warmth, coziness, presence. There is a large, brown couch in the living room, in the shape of an “L,” only each side is equally long. It’s the kind of couch you plop down on at the end of a long day. Or burrow in on days when you feel as rainy as it is outside. The one corner, by the lamp, has a permanent dip where I sit all the time. It’s pronounced, so I make sure that when our guests spend the night that they sleep at the other end. My purple blanket—I like to call it mine—often sits in the corner, folded up. In the kitchen, there is soup on the stove. The hole in the window lets in a small, welcome breeze—we stuff a dish towel in it usually—and the cookbook lays open on the long, but not wide, breakfast-bar-type counter. On it also sits a pin that reads “la cocina que canta”—the kitchen that sings. My apron hangs on a hook by the door; you are using yours. I’ve already made up the table—placemats, spoons for the soup and the yogurt, napkins that usually live in the basket in the corner. I sit, curled up on the couch, reading, breathing in the smells—onions, chicken, carrots, and yes, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. And that song plays in my head for a few minutes until I come up against the part where I lose the melody and am thrust back into the aromas.

Prompt: You stand there…
Time: 10 minutes

You stand there. You stand there. At the edge. The edge of a doorway, of a decision, of a new life. Pulled back, propelled forward. It’s like how you felt on that ridge. Wind, clouds, rime ice all around you, you stepped to the edge of the trail. All of the people, and there were a lot of people on the trail that day—the Canadians that weren’t nearly as annoying as your friends thought they were, the college kids in jeans and sweatshirts that had partied the whole last night through, the friendly guy who fired guns for a living (a consultant, he said)—they all fell away, disappeared. And it was just you and the edge. It was exhilarating, and you wanted to see it all from a step closer. But the wave of not exactly panic but some distant cousin rose from your toes up through your core into your stomach and heart and throat and ears. And it makes you think about that cheesy quote—the kind of cheesy that you can’t help but love—about stepping to the edge and one of two things will happen and there’s wings involved or maybe it’s like Indiana Jones or was it Harry Potter where the ground doesn’t appear until you take the step?

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Partly It's the Boots is ever-evolving (just like me)—opinions, wonderings, projects, freewrites, fascinations, adventures, and the like. Not to mention current events, feminist perspectives, lefty politics, LGBTQ equality, and much more.

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