A certain unwillingness – Medillia’s Lament

“John stepped up and out of the woods onto a knoll of beach pebbles, which had been pushed up high onto the shore by a storm. His feet shifted among the stones, and his footing unsure as if he had stepped onto the moon for the first time. As John looked up, his breath was taken from him. He had never seen an ocean like this.”

Our final edits of the novel have landed in Maine and as I worked on the section this afternoon in which John finally reaches the beach for the first time I remembered a photo I had come across online.  The image taken of two people walking across a beach in Maine made me think of John and the dark shadow that has followed him for most of his life.  The image capture perfectly the heaviness of John’s past life and it’s unwillingness to keep following behind yet somehow destined to until John chose to cut it free. Jody and I have begun a dance of sorts each wanting our own version of perfection in place before we publish the novel and bring it to market.  I usually have a much looser sense of when something is market ready but this time I seem to be the anchor keeping our finger off the trigger to bring this project to a close.  We spoke this morning on the phone about the steps left to be taken and as we listened to one another and gave concession for ground gained I felt such a sense of accomplishment forging up from this project. It has truly been a collaboration in all aspects of the word and with it I feel growth for both of us as well, as writers and individuals.

 

 



  • My elusive savings – A New Family

    I’ve always done a sort of elusive dance with money. I remember knowing about it since I was very young and even having an elementary school passport savings account.  I would bring in my rolled change and would receive back my paper wallet in a week with a  greater amount posted than the week before.  I saved babysitting, birthday, and Christmas money but would eventually make large purchases that nearly cleaned out my account.  One of my first big purchases was my nickel flute in a black case with royal blue velvet lining that I emptied my savings for when I started playing in the fourth grade. I played that flute all the way into high school.  I had also saved up and purchased a piccolo in eighth grade which was a little less sweet sounding on the ears then the melodious flute I had come to know so well. That’s where my promising career of saving seemed to die out.  There were various other scattered attempts through my twenties and thirties but nothing ever that amounted to a sum or purchase I can remember now.

    I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my dance with money.  In my twenties I quickly rose up the corporate ladder and before I turned thirty I was making a nearly six figure base with commission and stock options. Companies I had started and built from an idea I woke up with would have banner days and there would be thousands of dollars sitting on my kitchen table that needed to be counted and banked after we enjoyed the small moments of financial success. During dry times, money may have avoided my bank accounts but life always seemed to arrive in the richest of forms.  I experienced travel opportunities, a renewed love and admiration of being outdoors in the forests and along the oceans, and I rediscovered my passion for writing and sharing my story.  Social media came knocking on my door in my late thirties and it has since opened up incredible windows and events that have changed my life  for the better and the way in which I value it.  With all of my incredible good fortune and company I have still yet to learn to dance equally with money and develop a healthy rhythm that keeps me in step with everyday life while being able to plan for the future. At age forty three I am still living paycheck to paycheck and have no savings.

    This week a manageable and very doable savings plan started circulating and showing up on some of my friends walls.  I looked at it closely and realized that even on my salary it would be easy to accomplish and require very little or hardly any sacrifice. It seems like it might be the perfect savings plan for beginners.  So I posted it on my wall and immediately friends began liking and sharing it.  They saw the same value I did.  So here we are on the morning of New Year’s Eve wondering what if, perhaps together, if this might be the year that we learn to dance a little better with money.  Who's ready to save

    There are all sorts of support groups and clubs out in the world for exercise, loss, and new experiences.  I was wondering if anyone out there might want to start a savings club with me. The first week is only one dollar, the second is two dollars, and the third week is three dollars.  The most you will ever have to put aside in one paycheck is fifty-two dollars and that is the very last week. We would be a group in the form of moral support only. Each of us taking care of our own accounts and decisions of course but creating a group would give us all a bit of accountability and support when we feel like taking the money saved and buying something we think we might desperately need.  Our group could be a place of reason and sensibility. The final amount that we will end up with may not seem like a lot to most but it is a thousand times more than what I have in my account today.  Send me an email jparkersobo@gmail.com or leave me a message below in the comments if you would like start saving this year!



  • I’ve got this friend – A New Family

    A couple of years ago someone posted this song on their facebook page.  I had never heard of the group The Civil Wars and clicked play on the link wondering what they might be about.

    I listened to the first few opening lines and smiled. My heart beat a bit faster and a silly grinned appeared on my face. Remember back in the day when they called middle school, Junior High and we used to pass notebook paper folded up into small footballs with our friends in class? Remember the feeling when you carefully and quietly unfolded the football to reveal a question followed by two boxes labeled yes and no? As I continued listening and watching The Civil Wars sing “I’ve got this friend” I felt as though I had been transported back in time and was almost thirty years younger.

    Kyle had posted this song on his page weeks after we had begun dating and I as I watched it unfold, I felt as though I was witnessing a bit of my own life being played out in a music video.  I hesitated pressing like on his page, what if I was assuming too much and he just liked the song.  Years of being an adult washed away  as I sat contemplating at my screen I had transcended back into my early teen years.  The flutter in my heart, the quickened pace in my veins set me on alert and as the words filled my head I could only sit and wonder, “what if”.

    It’s only been two and half years since we met, but it seems like we’ve already built a life full of cherished memories together and more adventures and experiences are in the works.  He loves like no other and just simply by knowing him you become a better person. I’ve become a better person.  I’m learning how to laugh when I’m frustrated, trust when I’m fearful, and love when I’m hurting.  I’m becoming a better version of me thanks to a loveless romantic who only wanted to give his heart away.engagement

     



  • Darkness Falls – Medillia’s Lament, The Novel

    outside-1910“Darkness falls and misery comes out to play. It finds solace in the lack of light and relishes in its ability to stay masked in the vast black void of guilt and shame unchecked by love.” Medillia’s Lament, The Novel

    I found this gem buried somewhere in Chicago this morning as I raced to finish editing the first half of the novel. I promised myself to not stop until I had reached the small island in Applewood and was carrying through with my promise until I read “Darkness falls and misery comes out to play..” When I write, I stream consciousness and most often have little recollection of the words that fill the page.  I hear them as they move from my mind, down my arms, out though my fingertips and finally landing on the screen in front of me and then they are gone to make room for the next stream of thought.  It’s rare that I go back to edit unless there is wavy red or green line showing up before I have moved on, then I strike backspace quickly to remove it.

    “It finds solace in the lack of light and relishes in its ability to stay masked in the vast black void of guilt and shame unchecked by love.”  I’ve included bits and pieces of myself in this novel hidden between lines meant to describe John’s existence and struggle as he searches for the smallest amount of hope in his life.  Guilt and shame are two very powerful emotions and serve to keep us down when we have fallen. Our life becomes darker as we dwell in their solace and wrap ourselves in their uncanny comfort. We find ourselves at the bottom of a well with very little light feeling damp and soggy, wrinkled and pruned not knowing how to dry ourselves out or even imagine how it feels to be warmed by the light as we once were.  If I had tried to write the two lines, I never would have been able but somehow in the trance like state I call writing they appeared on the screen and waited patiently until I discovered them.

    There is something that illuminates darkness and is able to draw us out each and every time, it is love.  Not love from another or a song or book but love from the one that matters the most. It must come from within each of us, a love of oneself will cause the clouds of guilt and shame to dissipate and move away from the top of our wells. If we are unable to love our own self than we are unable to love anyone or anything else. If we love ourselves than we are able to love all.  John’s well is so incredibly deep that the darkness has enveloped his being and blocked out all hopes of light shining down on him.  In Chicago, he is lost, cold, and damp and unwilling to love himself and as a result those around him.



  • By the fire – A Little Lift

    Runningthroughthisworld.com

    Runningthroughthisworld.com

    I sat by the fire and was warmed by all it seemed to offer. The heat spilled out from the hearth and onto my lap as it ushered my chills away.  The light grew from the flames and danced over and across the logs as snaps churned from deep inside the embers. I poked at the wood slowly being eaten away and watched as the oxygen swirled between it and stirred up new flames and heat from within. My face felt flushed and drew back quickly as the fire rose further into the chimney and brightened the space around me. Jennifer Ellen Parker



  • I believe

    photo provided by Stephanie Bennett, all rights are protected

    photo provided by Stephanie Bennett, all rights are protected

    I work with children and very often I am asked the question, “Do you believe?” regardless of what time of year it is.  This year I’ve fielded even more of these questions as the children who surround me are just a little bit older and on the cusp of becoming sophisticated in their own rights.  My answer has always simply been, “I believe.”

    Last year that would put an end to the conversation and the child who asked me the question would simply turn and go about their business, this year my reply is often met with a raised eyebrow or a questioning, “really?”.  To which I always reply, “yes really.”   There were countless times in my childhood in which simply believing in something bigger than myself seemed more magical and more powerful than any human fear that could be conjured up in my tiny self. The ability to believe in life’s little magic has a way clearing away chaos and unwanted pain and sorrow.  To be able to believe in something bigger than one’s self is knowing that you are truly never alone in this journey and if you just hold on tight when life seems to get rocky there’s always a little bit of magic waiting around the corner to make things seem a little bit brighter.

    So yes, I do believe.

     



  • Moving Forward – Medillia’s Lament

    image - writingforward.com

    image – writingforward.com

    I’d rather be writing. With that said a window opened up yesterday and I was able to edit forty pages of Medillia’s Lament in one sitting.  My daughter was home sick and like the college student I used to be I seem to do all of my best work under pressure in one large chunk rather than spreading it out in responsible pieces over a generous amount of time allotted.

    As I was editing, reading Medillia’s Lament with a different mindset I furrowed my brow, squinted my eyes reaching for grammatical knowledge found in reading novels and historical fiction and from a vault of what I once deemed useless information when I was in school.  I would occasionally pull out my ear buds and yell out to Anna and Aaron about conjunctions and ask them what their teachers had said about who and whom and if it was still a major issue in writing.  I felt upside down in my place at the kitchen island.  I have always gone to my laptop to stream my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and hopes.  It was a much different sensation to suddenly be back at my keyboard trying to wrap up a two year long project that was waiting to be in the hands of others for the next step of the process.

    Writing the novel for the screenplay, Medillia’s Lament has stretched me in so many ways.  It has been a collaboration right from the start when Jody asked me to read his screenplay and make a decision as to whether or not I thought I could successfully transfer it into a novel and do the story line.  It was an adventure waiting to be had, this time I just wouldn’t be taking the lead.  It would mean giving up creative control something that I knew challenged me but there was something incredibly special in what Jody had created and I wanted to be a part of it in any way that I could. Twenty pages into editing yesterday I wanted to share what was appearing before my eyes.  Jody had gone through the first draft and asked for rewrites and additions to the novel. We had worked together to get the holes and gaps filled and the story line polished. Now it was time to smooth over the rough edges and creative a cohesiveness before an outside pair of eyes held onto the novel and made final suggestions before going to print.

    Working on this project with Jody has made me realize that writing is no longer just a hobby or side note for me, it is demanding to be moved front and center off the back burner and somehow I need to muster up the courage and space in my life to allow that to happen.



  • Welcome to the World of Wanelo – Who Cares?

    wanelo-shoppingA few years ago,  I remember being alarmed on Christmas morning to a new startling evolution of life with me and my two young girls.  Anna had come out from her room with her first ever phone that her dad had given her for her birthday. I looked at her and then looked at our tree with the sparse amount of gifts arranged under  it to make them seem like more.  She sat down on the couch and waited for her sister.  I sipped my coffee and took in one of my most favorite days of the year just as a horrible realization dawned on me.  Anna was scrolling on Instagram and would know instantly what each of her friends had opened under their tree.  I tried to remain calm and asked her softly to save her phone till after we had opened our tree as a family.  It was my own ego telling me that the presents we were able to share that year wouldn’t stand up to the gifts her peers would be opening or had already opened that morning. Looking back now I realize that moment of doubt and uncertainty was as much a reminder to me to remember what truly matters most and what is meant to be celebrated on Christmas morning.

    Flash forward to last night, the girls were in the living room doing their homework camped out by the fireplace and brightly lit Christmas tree.  A lot has transpired in our lives since that Christmas morning awakening on Instagram.  We had found our center, our balance of being a divorced family and we had started discovering the many things in life that can bring joy and happiness when your checkbook balance is in limbo from day to day.  When we reached what seemed to feel like equilibrium, we met Kyle. Dating, marriage, a new home, a new life including a blended family and here we are once again trying to find that point of equilibrium. But this time we are doing it surrounded and blanketed in love.  So last night as Kyle and I worked together ironing out some bumps in the road, the girls camped out in the living room taking care of their daily responsibilities and winding down from school and activities.

    Anna came into the kitchen to show me something.  She had gone quiet for a bit and I had wondered what she might be creating. She handed me her phone with a wide, bright grin painted across her face. On the screen was a collage of images, items I assumed she liked or thought were cool.  She innocently offered, “It’s Wanelo.”  My mind flew back to the year of the Instagram Christmas and with hesitation I returned her grin with a smile.  I asked her how I could view what I assumed was her first ever electronic Christmas list.  She set me up with my own account and after I had put both girls to bed, Kyle, Aaron, and I sat at the kitchen island scrolling down her list.  Instead of finding an unending list of needs, wants and desires, I began to uncover a new connection to my teenage daughter.  Suddenly in front of me, displayed in bright real life images, was a collage of her books she wanted to read, art she wanted to hang, and a emerging style that would bring her from her childhood into the young adult place she has so gracefully landed.  I wasn’t looking at items she needed to have or she would die.  I had been given a front row seat to the person she was becoming and perhaps had always been.

    I wanted to reach through my screen and give Wanelo a giant standing ovation, Christmas Cheer, and a hug for creating a bit of technology that instead of widening the gap between me and my newly found teenager, it had built a bridge for me to step over into her world for just a moment or two.  This morning she woke up and shared that she had updated her Wanelo account and that she didn’t want me to think that she expected to get everything or anything from the items she had placed on her page, just that they were the things she liked and made her smile when she came across them.  I nodded and I know that she understands the monetary connection between what I do for work and what her expectations could be for what may fall under the tree. Honestly I don’t even believe that she thinks about it in that way.  That makes my heart beat stronger and fills my being with glee and joy especially during the holiday season that I know was once incredibly tight for us and is still  for many.  So as I poured over Anna’s Wanelo page discovering a deeper sense of who she is becoming, I delighted in picking a few of the things to add to Santa’s sack to be left for Anna this Christmas morning.



  • Somewhere in the middle of chaos – A New Family

    photo by Kyle Weaver

    photo by Kyle Weaver

    A tradition that began more than twelve years ago with a batch of five homemade gingerbread houses has erupted into an event that now involves a full day of mixing, molding, baking, and assembling to yield just over twenty houses as our family has evolved and grown into what it is today. Sunday, which has become known as our date day, was devoted entirely to making sure that we created more than enough houses to keep a time honored tradition alive and kicking. This year was no different than the past two years.  We met the challenge head on and even somewhere in the middle when we had found our rhythm our white light Christmas tree in the kitchen decided to crash for a fourth time. We refused to be derailed in accomplishing our one day goal of creating the houses. A little bit heartbroken at the sight of even more broken ornaments we scurried to get the tree upright and secure, even choosing a different location in the kitchen.

    photo by Kyle Weaver

    photo by Kyle Weaver

    This year even without the added stress of a tippy tree, we knew we would be behind the eight ball in trying to get them all finished in one day without help so we reached out to our friends who we have been hanging out with more and more.  With the promise of a simple dinner and drinks provided in exchange for some help in getting the houses finished we seemed to have made our timeless tradition a little more special. Somehow Kyle and I knew that we still needed to get everything mixed and baked and that our best bet would be to save making the icing and assembling for after dinner.

    The gingerbread tradition for me has always been about my children and their friends that they invite to decorate with endless amounts of candy and icing.  It’s been magical watching it evolve over the years as the original group of four handed over the reins to the next in line and all of her friends and then as my youngest grew old enough to invite her friends and finally inviting Kyle’s two children to join in the festivities with their friends.  But somehow this year in inviting our friends to help create the houses, the tradition has evolved into something a little bit more magical. It feels as though it grew another layer of its own and has already created memories for Kyle and I to cherish.



  • Other Side – A Little Lift

    “The spirit coming through was tall and lanky.  He was a grandfather figure who liked to fish and drive his truck.  His heart was big and open and he says that you are his girl.”

    Grampa and Dad

    Is it an undying curiosity or an unrelenting need to know that everything will turn out exactly how it is meant to be in the end that seems to keep bringing me back to mediums, willing and wanting to receive messages from the other side? Facebook has become an incredible conduit in my life connecting me to the past, my present, and now it seems to the here after.  I happened upon a page this week for Blue Tree Reiki in York, Maine.  It was pure happenstance, not sought after or even a thought in the moment.  It shared that it was having a medium circle on Thursday evening and there were two spots left.  The words on the page seemed to draw me in and before long I was glued to its descriptions of services and its founder.  My finger hovered above the meet up button wondering if I could muster the energy to attend by myself, a new place, people I had never met, most likely touching on subjects I would rather not.

    After staring at the page for what might have been minutes I allowed my finger to fall heavy upon the button and instantly commit myself to a chance encounter with the other side. And then for the following days I simply forgot about having joined and went about my way at work and resting in my bedroom at home when I should have been editing. Well after a familiar ride home in the dark on Scotland Bridge road and down 91, here I am at my keyboard, the one place where I always seem to find a certain amount of truth and clarity in my being. Now the question is like always, how much do I share?

    Walter Roscoe Parker was my paternal grandfather.  He was born on June 19th ( the same date as my childhood bestie) in the year 1900 in Tennecape Hants, Nova Scotia Canada.  He was tall and lanky, that’s a picture of him in 1945 standing next to my dad.  He died when I was only one year old from Tuberculosis.  He lived on in my family for many years, long enough for me to come to know him as incredibly loving, funny, and appreciative of all things nature seemed to offer.  I know this because he was often compared to my father who to me seemed the exact opposite.  As the woman begun giving insights in regards to which spirit had stepped forward to speak, my heart jumped a bit hoping it might be him but I wanted to make sure. He had never come through in all the years and many visits I had paid to psychics and mediums so it was curious that he would this evening.  She spoke of his fishing hat, his love for the outdoors, his truck that he drove, and his very big heart.  When I finally spoke up and shared that I could take the information she was offering, the slight skip of my heart melted into a warm sensation that filled my body and brought an instant sensation of safety and love.

    She then shared  all the places he had been recently with me and my girls. The times he sat next to me while I typed away at my kitchen island drinking TEA and writing my story. Yes, she included those descriptive phrases in her delivery. He mentioned the countless shells found throughout our home that I have collected from multiple continents and beaches on the east and west coast and he spoke about my writing. He talked a lot about my writing and that I shouldn’t doubt myself so much because I’ve always known that’s what I’m here to do. Of course there were other bits and pieces of life strewn in but more than anything else he didn’t want me to be afraid of anything anymore.  He directed me to stop holding back and to allow myself fly.

    When the medium had finished channeling spirits for the evening she slowly opened her eyes, drew a few deep breaths and joined us in a conscious sort of way.  She relayed to us that she was also a psychic and would take a couple of questions from each of us.  I had two, one about where I work now and one about my health.  She paused for each of them and answered  with a sense of clarity and honesty. I allowed her responses to settle in and sat back as she moved to my friend next to me. It’s not that I ever expect cut and dry answers to all the mysteries that seem to encompass my life at any given time, it’s more that I am hoping for validation that somehow among all of the chaos and confusion I am close to being on track.

    grampafishingAs soon as I came home I pulled my laptop from my large school bag and plugged it in and perched at my familiar writing spot on the island. I immediately went to our family tree on Wikki Tree.com and opened the images of Walter Roscoe Parker, my grandfather. Here is the first one I found, Walter fishing in his old familiar hat….now that I look at it, it seems to resemble the bucket lid we did at The Little Hat Company. It’s funny how life always seems to roll itself around.