"What doesn't kill us gives us something new to write about." -Julie Wright
The Dragons Companion
Small feet toddled along the forest floor, disturbing the leaf litter and the serenity of the forest. A mass of dirty blonde curls bounced atop the head of a small child, no more than a year old as she tried to catch up with a butterfly. It was floating just out of the child’s reach, each flutter of its wings taking it further still from the little one trying so hard to keep up with it. The woods grew deeper and the butterfly disappeared into the tops of the trees leaving the toddler bewildered staring at the sky. From behind the baby came a whisper of wings, and then a large crash as four massive feet hit the ground. The little girl was astonished, her full face splitting into a grin and curious hands reaching out toward the massive creature.
A Message In a Bottle
A woman stared out at the sea, her eyes matching the blue-green of the deeper waters. Today the clouds covered the sun, and the beach was gray and nearly empty. That’s when she liked to come, to walk along the edges of the water when no one else was there to find the treasures the ocean would lay at her feet. So far she had found beautiful pieces of sea glasses, the once harsh edges now soft and gentle against her fingers as she traced the bumps and ridges. She has found some dri ftwood for her garden at home, some small shells and even a small child’s bucket forgotten next to what must have been a sandcastle but was now reduced to a lump of sand. The wind picked up slightly, the ocean air sweeping into her lungs, making her feel a deep sense of calm. The sun peeked out for just a moment, and the woman saw the sunlight reflect off something sticking out of the sand up ahead. Making her way toward her next piece of treasure she discovered it was a bottle, the glass still intact despite the rough waves and rocks in the surf. The woman removed the little trinket from the sand and brushed it off before using the seawater to clean it further. The bottle was made of glass, and it had been in the ocean long enough to feel smooth to the touch. Curious fingers danced all around the newfound treasure, and upon turning it over there was a slight noise from inside the bottle, there was something inside. Upon noticing that there was something hidden within the woman scurried further up the beach away from the surf, not wanting to accidentally drop the bottle back into the sea and never see it again.
The night air was cold, slithering around her and settling on her skin. A graceful fog flowed from her lips as she exhaled, her eyes searching around her through the trees for the path she knew so well. Her hair seemed to dance like flames in the breeze that swept around her, but the brisk wind did nothing to shake her resolve. She continued her trek upward stopping periodically to look up at the sky, the light of the moon her only source of comfort and security, preventing her from losing her footing in the otherwise dark night that covered the forest. The sounds of the forest at night glided toward her ears on the wind, a haunting melody for those unaccustomed to this atmosphere. Still the woman pushed on, a comfortable, well-worn cloak pulled tightly around her frame. Her grey eyes pierced the night, searching for her goal, more sure footed with each step she took closer to her goal. The sounds of a brook flowing joined the myriad of nighttime noises surrounding her and in its quiet babbling she found peace, a smile ghosting across her lips. The woman walked for what felt like hours until finally she reached her destination, a clearing at the top of the mountain where there were no trees growing to obstruct her view of the moon and stars. The night beckoned to her to join it, the darkness not so unsettling now that the moon seemed so close, and she was all too happy to accept her place here. She removed a pack from her shoulder tossing it gently to the ground, disturbing the peace of the night. Removing a warm, familiar blanket from the bag she unfurled it quickly letting it settle on the grass as it had done so many times before. The woman laid the bag beneath her head and took comfort in the moon shining above her, ethereal and serene. The cold could not touch her, and neither could the problems of her day-to-day life, beneath the moon in the peace of the night she was free. With that thought settled into her mind she closed her eyes and drifted off into peaceful and uninterrupted sleep, the moon standing guard never once wavering until the morning.
A different kind of religious experience
The darkness surrounds you, envelopes you with the smell of leaves turning to dirt, the crunch of twigs beneath your feet, and the sound of birds calling to one another across the vastness of the trees. You move through this space with reverence, as a priest might move through a church, with respect and familiarity. This place is sacred, sincere, and you would never dare to disturb the serenity this place has borne for so many. Moonlight filters down through the branches of the trees and you can almost feel the rays gently touching your face, your skin, sinking beneath the surface sending a wave of calm straight to your bones. You trek on silently, the breeze gently pushing you onward toward your destination, spurring you on to one of the only places you feel the most yourself, the one place your soul feels truly at peace. In the distance you see your destination, the spot through the forest where the branches seem to create an archway, leading you like a shepherd would their flock. An old, abandoned temple long since forgotten by civilization, but the forest has not forgotten this place. Unlike people the forest does not discard its past, it turns it into something new, something far more beautiful than it ever was before. Vines have grown on the building, creeping slowly up the walls to replace the ornate decorations once hung so ostentatiously, now the building has a much more subtle beauty. The rows upon rows of unforgiving, wooden benches now have soft moss adorning them, a cushion for those who come here to worship the forest rather than the old customs. Through the cracks in the floor flowers grow, bringing life to this hallowed place. You smile to yourself taking in the appearance of the temple. You move forward toward the alter, your steps reverberating like a heartbeat through the entire structure. It feels fitting to you, you live for the forest, for the simple beauty of the nature found within these woods, within these walls. You reach the smooth stone of the alter, running your hands slowly across the cool, rough surface, the sensation familiar and comforting. You reach down to the bag hanging at your side, the leather worn and familiar, and you pull from it a small bouquet of flowers. You take the ones from the alter you left when you last came, they are withered and brittle now. You replace them with the fresh blooms, the colors seeming to glow beneath the moonlight filtering in through the holes in the roof, and against the backdrop of dark, aged stone, the sight is striking. You take a few more minutes to yourself in the temple carrying with you the old flowers to dispose of later. You sit silently on one of the old pews, relaxing as the quiet hum of the forest lulls you into a state of calm you have not felt in so long. You imagine this is the feeling that drives people to devote themselves to religion, this sense of deep peace and belonging. You consider yourself devoted to this forest, to caring for the creatures within it, and to preserving the peace you find here. You begin to doze off, the moss beneath you a comfortable and welcome cushion after your trip here. The crickets play their music, and the birds sing their beautiful songs creating a gentle lullaby, and you wish you could stay forever. You know you cannot stay though, as much as you would love to, and after some time has passed, you stand, stretching your muscles slowly, collecting your old flowers, walking toward the archway that once held a door. It is time to go home, your time in the forest is over for tonight, but you know you will be back.
Tips for Dealing with Unemployment and the COVID-19 Outbreak
Hello everyone, I hope you are all staying safe during this crazy, scary, and confusing pandemic. Most of us have never experienced anything like this before, and because of that there is a lot of confusion as far as how to handle every day life now that there are so many people who are out of work, and because so many people are out of work one of the most frustrating issues financially for most people right now is getting their unemployment. I am one of those people, I've logged thousands of calls and emails trying to get my issues with unemployment resolved, and that got me thinking. How many other people are looking for solutions to issues they're having with their unemployment? Turns out there are about 30 million Americans currently out of work due to COVID-19. Seeing that number made me feel terribly for others in my situation, waiting for unemployment to resolve their issues if they checked the wrong box on their initial application, if they put a comma in the wrong place, who knows. Something happened that delayed you from getting your unemployment, so I thought I would share a few of the different methods I tried that got me the best results for getting someone to help you with your unemployment. I know I can't be the only one that feels like they're screaming into the void with every "due to the high volume of calls waiting, we can't take your call at this time".