creative writing

The elf and her protector

One day, when the elf was a very young girl, she was out in the garden with the toads. Other creatures strolled about, including a garden nymph, watering a moonbeam lily nearby. The elf didn’t seem to want to play the usual games, and one of the toads asked her why.  The nymph watched the little elf pause, think, and open her mouth.

But just as soon as she had opened her mouth, she closed it.

For a protector had appeared and stopped them from going any further.

“Whoa, don’t do that!” it exclaimed. “If you let those words out, you can’t get them back. If you talk about it and say it, then you’ll worry people. And then they’ll feel sad about the words you spoke. And then you’ll feel even worse. So – let me hold onto your words. I’ll keep them safe right here, in this safe little nook between your chest and your throat. And then you won’t worry anyone, you won’t burden anyone, and you won’t have to worry either.”

Well, the little elf thought this was a great idea. She appreciated this protector looking out for her best interests, for watching out for her.

“Okay,” she happily agreed, and skipped away.

From then on, she had a solution. Any time those silly words wanted to escape out her mouth, words that would cause her friends and family sadness and anguish, her protector caught them and held them for her.

It was perfect.

Years later, the elf had constant tightness in her throat, pressure and heaviness in her chest. No herbs or elixer seemed to make it go away, and she feared that she was very, very ill.

One day out in the garden, that same nymph from years ago was tending to plants, fertilizing the mintberry plants. She noticed the elf laying in the hammock, and went up to her, asking her how she was doing.

When the elf replied, “I’m afraid I am not well,” the nymph knew it was time to speak the suspicion she had carried for so many years.

“Dear elf,” the nymph began. “I wonder – does that protector still live in that space between your chest and your throat?”

“Why yes, of course,” the elf replied, surprised.

“I find it curious,” the nymph continued, cautiously, “that this illness which has befallen you is occurring in the same spot as where your protector has held all of your many, many words, over the years.”

The elf listened, curious.

“You see, dear elf, I can’t help but wonder if there is simply not enough space for all of your words anymore. If maybe your pain is the words trying to get out, because they are crowded and in pain.” the nymph added.

“I just don’t see how that could be,” the elf said. “My protector assured me that this would protect me from the things I fear the most. The protector would never had lied.”

“Oh, of that I have no doubt,” the nymph reassured. “Protectors never lie, though I must tell you that over time they become very stubborn. Of course, sweet elf, it’s all out of love and care. But I do believe that now, your protector needs to be told that its services are no longer needed. That you will continue to become more and more ill if it does not begin to let the words through.”

“I’m afraid,” the elf told the nymph. “If the words come out, people will hear them. I will never get them back. And isn’t it safer to keep them hidden in their spot?”

“What’s the price of safer?” the nymph questioned. “I watch you day after day from my spot with the plants in our garden, and the price of ‘safer’ seems to be your health. I believe it’s worth a risk to save your life. And your friends, the toads and the nymphs and the fairies – they’ve been waiting, for years, to hear the words that your protector has hidden.”

The elf heard what the nymph was telling her. She knew that the nymph was right. She spoke to her protector that very night. “Oh, dear protector, I need to thank you,” she told it. “You did what you thought was right – and maybe when I was just a little girl, it was right. But it’s no longer working, for it’s making me very, very ill. Dear protector, I am not upset with you. I am grateful to how you’ve looked over me all of these years. But it’s time for you to go. And I will be brave. And I will know that all of my words – even the loud and hard and scary and deep ones – they will all be greeted warmly by the fairies and toads and nymphs. So, my dear protector – goodbye.”

And it left.

And that next morning, out in the garden, while drinking lilac-melon tea with a water fairy, the elf opened her mouth, and the words came out, and they rode right into the fairy’s heart, who welcomed them, hugged them, loved them.

Moments later, the elf felt better than she had in years. Her chest had opened. Her throat had relaxed.

She was no longer ill.

She was going to be just fine.

Pieces of fairy tales

Phrases and sentences from fairy tales have been dancing through my head like the Aurora Borealis dances across the sky. Tales of magical lands and fairies and elves and spells and monsters.

But they refuse to make themselves more than just that – sentences. Bits of stories, here and there. That’s all. So I write down the pieces that have come, and I wait until the next page in one of the stories makes itself clear.

And at once, she realized that the lily pads did, indeed, make a path from one side of the pond to another. All those years that she had tried to solve the quest of finding the path – and it had been right there, the whole time. It had been that easy.

When she was but a girl, a witch had handed her a stack of bricks. “Take these,” the witch said. “You must carry them with you, but you must not let anyone see them, or your family will be cursed.” The girl quickly opened up her skin, stuck the bricks inside, and sewed herself back up.

She had practiced and trained for the Final Fight. She had memorized moves and tactics and combinations. On the day of the Final Fight, she was calm. She was ready. Right before she entered the battle arena, her coach came running up to her. “It’s the monster,” her coach said. “You won’t be able to fight it, after all. It’s dead.”

She stepped outside and was encased in fog. She didn’t mind. In fact, she rather liked this type of fog. For it was not the scary kind, where she felt lost and disoriented and couldn’t find her way back to the castle. No, this fog was like a blanket. Gently wrapping itself around her, making the world a bit dimmer so that her eyes wouldn’t hurt.

But the little nymph was afraid of setting the dragon free from its cell. What if something even worse took its place? she feared. But she did it. She released the dragon. It didn’t come back. Nothing took its place. And she turned the cell into a blooming garden.

The elf and the spiderweb

Once upon a time there was a little elf girl who lived in a magical land. She adored her cottage and the sprawling gardens that filled it, filled with every herb and flower and elvin fruit that existed.

When she was very young, a spider had come along and scared her. She timidly made a deal with it, saying to the spider, “You can build your spiderweb if you live over there on the wall of the far side of the garden,” as she pointed across her property. Wordlessly, the spider followed her direction, and created a life for itself on that wall.

As she grew up, the elf girl avoided walking around that part of the garden. If such an occasion arose where she absolutely must, she held her breath while doing so. She knew that if she spent too long near the spider, it would scare her again.

The years went on, and that spider’s wall and part of the garden became overrun with weeds and vines. It was tangled and messy, and the girl felt torn. She adored her garden more than anything in the world, and she wanted it to thrive and bloom the way it did when she was very small. But on the other hand, she was afraid. Afraid of that spider. She took one quick walk near the wall and realized that the spider was no longer there. The spider was gone – possibly moved on to a new location, possibly dead. But all that was left was the web.

Ultimately she decided, I will just go destroy the web. It’ll be quick, and even if it’s a little messy, I’ll clean it up and my garden will bloom and I will no longer be afraid.

So one early morning, she set off into her garden with shears and a hose and gloves. She took a deep breath and began to wipe the web away. Out of nowhere, the web grabbed hold of her. Its silky strands wrapped around her arms, her body, and she was so frightened, fearing an immediate death. After some time, though, although still feeling paralyzed with fear, the girl realized that the web was not going to kill her. It had her in a deep hold, but she could breathe, and could walk. So she slowly made her way back to her cottage, feeling defeated.  I shouldn’t have ever gone near the web, she thought. Now I’m even more afraid, and in even more trouble than I was when I was just ignoring it. 

As one day turned into the next, she realized that she had to act. She realized that though dealing with this web was going to be hard and challenging, she had no other option. Patiently waiting day after day was doing nothing, and willing it away was doing nothing. The web was making her chores harder, and she couldn’t enjoy her days with a web so tightly wrapped around her body. After spending days rummaging through her musty old attic, she finally found what she needed – a pair of magic shears. She began to cut away at a part of the web, surprised at how, as she cut, it tried to hold on tighter. She realized that not only was the web wrapped around her, but it was wrapped around itself, in a series of intricate loops. Night began to fall and she had only eliminated a tiny piece of the web. Defeated, she went to bed.

The next morning she woke up, realizing she felt both discouraged that she still had the web around her, but hopeful that she could cut away at more of it.

Day by day, bit by bit, she cut away at the web. She took rest periods, for this was a hard job. She needed naps in the hammock in her garden, and plenty of healing elixers. She didn’t have time for many of her chores or other responsibilities, for this had become her priority. She learned to find patience, and though she frequently felt discouraged, she channeled that hopeful feeling, too.

One day, months later, as the season turned and fresh plants began to bloom around her cottage, she realized that she had done it. The web was gone. And she realized, despite how long and tedious of a process it had been, despite how many other chores and duties had been neglected during this time, it had been worth it. For not only was she free of the web, but she was free of the fear of the web. So, she thought to herself. Maybe it was all worth it. Maybe it’s a good thing I tried to just wipe away the web. If it had never taken hold of me, I’d never have gotten rid of it for good.

She walked out to her garden, and took a deep breath, as she walked right up to the wall where that web used to be. And she knelt down and weeded, and watered, and planted, and beautiful, colorful flowers instantly bloomed.

She was free.

Bio Poems

I was out sick yesterday, and another therapist worked with many of my therapy groups. She did a fun, creative, describing activity, called “Bio Poems” – and reading them warmed my heart so much that I just had to share. These are all done by 6-8th graders, all with language and learning disabilities. They did a few pre-writing steps with writing templates and prompts for each line, but otherwise? These are their own ideas, their own words, with nothing changed (except names!). I laughed, teared up, and had my heart melted as I read these – it’s such a powerful experience to see how these incredible kids view themselves, and what their inner workings are like. I hope you enjoy.

Who is creative, kind, and smart
Who enjoys Max Ride, math, YouTube,One Direction, tv, iPad, iPhone, pools beaches
Who is able to flexible thumbs, swim really fast, sing, act, dance
Who feels joyful playing on my iPad and happy reading my book
Who wonders what will happen next
Who fears when my mom is mad and the dark
Who cares about family, friends,cats school, books, stuff animals, necklace
Who dreams of being a famous vet/mom and meeting 1D

Who is Smart , Talkitive , Sweet
Who enjoys Playing sports , Playing with Sibilings , Drawing and
Who is able to play soccer , Draw and Color
Who feels happy when I play with my brother
Who wonders what is out there in space
Who fears Thunderstorms
Who cares about Faimly and pets
Who dreams of About being a baker or a cook

Who is cool, kind, smart
Who enjoys video games
Who is able to beat video games easily
Who feels lazy when playing with friends
Who wonders how we got here
Who fears the end of the world
Who cares about the world of nature
Who dreams of being really cool

Nice, fun, pretty
Who enjoys playing Minecraft
Who is able to do gymnastics
Who feels happy when I play Minecraft
Who fears big scary sharks
Who care about my family and friends
Who dreams of flying in the sky

Who is athletic, creative, nice
Who enjoys six flags, friends, drawing
Who is able to watch movies, go to school, play basketball
Who feels happy, loving, funny
Who wonders what I’m going to do when I grow up
Who fears spiders, reading in front of people, the dark
Who care about friends and family and animals
Who dreams to have a great rest of my life!

Who is happy, kind, creative
Who enjoys tennis, yoga, baking
Who is able to biking, swimming, yoga
Who feels nervous, happy, shy
Who wonders what I am going to do as a future job
Who fears presenting in front of the class
Who cares about family, friends
Who dreams of to be famous some day

None of us are broken.

I am not broken. I do not need to be fixed
I am not a glass sculpture that has shattered
into a million pieces
I have not shattered
I am a glass sculpture that has had dust and cobwebs collecting
in every tiny crevice
for years and years
And now
It’s time
To clean them out
To gently,
prod and wipe at every nook and cranny
Years of dusty pileup are removed
And I shine
and reflect
once more


Did you know that there are different types of cold?

There’s dark, dreary, bitter cold. In the depths of winter, when your body wilts, when it hunches over, curling into itself, trying to conserve energy from moment to moment. This is the cold that wears you down. It’s when you come straight home from work and collapse onto the couch, under a heap of blankets and pillows. You contemplate making tea, but your body begs you, Just don’t move. I don’t have the energy for even that simple task. It’s an emotional, energy-zapping cold.

There’s raw, piercing cold. During a pouring rain in the late fall or early spring. When one moment outside sends stabs of ice into every molecule of your body, no matter what clothing you protect it with. When you’re certain the raindrops will freeze onto your body, forming an ice outline. When the wind shoots raindrops sideways into your face, when the wind and the rain join evil forces to freeze you from the inside out, shattering your Self into zillions of broken ice shards.

And then. There’s beautiful, refreshing cold. This is the cold on a bright winter day. Sometimes after a fresh snow. The sun shines, reflecting off each flake of snow. Your body rises up once again, remembering how tall it can be when it has light. You bundle up, protecting your body, but the cold energizes and revitalizes you. The world is still. The wind has gone to sleep and everything is calm. The only movement is you. Maybe a bird here and there. This is the cold that you breathe in, and it expands into your lungs, filling you with life. The sun and the cold, seemingly opposite life forces, form a partnership that saves you. This type of cold is the one that you crave when you are anxious, when you can’t slow down your mind. You step outside to leave work, or run an errand, or get a change of scenery, and the partnership of the sun and the cold immediately reset you. Rather than painfully freezing you, they gently, but quickly, shock you into an alternative state of being. A reset button. A saving grace. Beauty. Hope. Stillness. Calm.

Five-Minute Friday: Blue

I am linking up with the Five-Minute Friday crew for the first time today. I read their one-word prompt each Friday, and desperately want to make myself write about it, but I am still working on writing on demand, which is much harder for me than rather than writing in a moment of inspiration.

(Also I feel the need to disclose that this feels really really vulnerable for me to write! An unedited jumble of words and phrases from my mind, raw and real. But I’ll just do it anyway because of the whole “practicing what I preach thing” and all that.)

Anyway. Blue.

The colors failed me many times in the last two weeks. Often causing me to get stuck in my closet. Blue, usually such a safe color, felt too bold, too strong, and no shade was correct. Pink made me nauseous one morning and I could barely tolerate dark maroon. The drive home that day was torturous. Greens and blues and so much stimulation I couldn’t breathe.

Usually I crave colors, crave blues and purples and pinks. But on those days, I felt calmer and safer with monochromatics. Black shirt. Or black pants. Whites. Tans.

Historically, being stuck in a depression is when I need colors and can’t find them. Anxiety is when the colors are there, but swirling so fast I can’t breathe. (Metaphorically speaking, or something). That….chaos was different. The colors were there. And calm. But I didn’t want them. The world didn’t seem real and the world was too overwhelming and maybe it was just easier in gray and black and white right then. And nothing was wrong internally except the colors were just messed up.

Lime green thunderbolts were trapped in black holes.

Storms of black with red lightning bolts raged on.

Blues were twisted and turned, into tornadoes instead of oceans.

Sunglasses needed for shades brighter than pastels.

Hues were corrupted, a type of sorcery, ruining the pure.

So I fingerpainted brown flowers.

And have been finding ways to release and free my precious colors ever since.

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