All posts by Angela Harrison

Angela is a writer and poet from the backwoods of Texas. She's many other things as well, including a wife, mother, liberal, feminist, mostly straight, LGBTQ supporter, avid reader, outdoor lover, a grand multi-Para and a self proclaimed starfish flinger. She has thoughts and opinions that could be construed as many things, including being seen as a crunchy, tree hugging hippie. Religiously speaking, she’s more Pagan than Christian leaning but basically a secular type. She has been busy producing free range children since 1991 and is currently engaged in raising wild things. She has walked through fire; therefore she may occasionally leave sparkles in her wake. Early Childhood is her passion, as evidenced by the seven children that call her mommy. She considers herself to be a bit of an attachment parent, aka rebel, trouble maker and pot stirrer extraordinaire. Examples of her bucking the traditional system include co sleeping, extended breastfeeding, unschooling, engaging in gentle discipline (i.e., not spanking) and leaving kids intact. She would like to remind her readers that mommin ain’t easy! Professionally speaking, Angela is an early childhood professional, trainer, conference presenter and writer. She holds degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Business. She has worked in the field of Early Childhood Development since graduating from Texas A&M in 1998. She is certified as an Early Intervention Specialist and has worked as both a Specialized Skills Trainer and Family Service Coordinator for several Texas ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) programs. After obtaining her MBA from Texas Woman’s University, she decided to stay in the field of Early Childhood and move into management. She served as a Team Lead, Program Coordinator and Site Director at LaunchAbility (Previously Special Care and Career Services). She has presented on numerous child development issues, in a variety of venues, most notably at a conference given by the Brazelton Institute. She has been a certified Nurturing Program instructor and a trainer for the Child Care Champions program. She is a member of the honor societies of Phi Kappa Phi, Epsilon Omega Epsilon and Sigma Beta Delta. Past and current affiliations include National Organization of Women, National Association of Professional Women, North Texas Association of Early Intervention Specialists, Burleson County Community Resource Coordination Group (Vice President) and First3years (continuing education committee). She served as Vice President of fundraising for her son's PTO before branching out into homeschooling. She is the founder of the North Texas Home-school Gay Straight Alliance. She holds an endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Specialist from First3Years (formerly North Texas Association of Infant Mental Health).  She has published articles in the First3Years journal, written as the Early Childhood Examiner for Examiner.com and been a contributor to sites such as Liberal America, The Bump, Modern Mom, Global Post, and Live Strong. 

Guest Writers

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You may have noticed some posts lately from other writers.

Linda Robertson Somers is my mother and two of the pieces published this week are from her early work, written about fifty years ago or so. I find her poetry evocative, musical, lyrical, and full of imagery. It speaks to me and it gives me an inkling about where I got my own talent from. It also offers me glimpses into her soul, and for that, I cherish it.

Sian Kelly is a friend and writing partner. We exchange work and offer each other criticisms, compliments, feedback of all kinds as well as engaging in (fascinating to us, likely horribly dull to non-writers) discussions about voice, which person to write in, showing not telling, punctuation, dialogue tags etc. I find his writing intelligent, funny and often surprising in where it takes me. It inspires me and for that, I am grateful for it.

I have dabbled in writing most of my life. About three years ago I began to write seriously and in earnest. I find that when I am engaged with other writers, I myself write more. They inspire and encourage me and for that, I thank them both. I am grateful that they have both agreed to be published here, because I think they are both great talents that would likely never share their work themselves. That would be a tragedy, because it deserves to be shared. I hope you enjoy their respective works as much as I do!

No judgement here

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People often describe me as the least judgmental person they know. I strive for that. I am fairly good at being therapistish (I think I made up a word there). I wasn’t always this way. It was learned and embedded deeply in me by some wonderful mentors I’ve had over the years.

Many years ago when I was in the middle of divorce, in therapy and on antidepressants for situational depression, I finally had an epiphany. If the situation was the problem, I would change it! So I did, it was a huge leap of faith. I quit my job without another one already lined up, loaded everything into a U-Haul and relocated myself and my then only child back to the north Texas area.

But the other thing I did was start work at LaunchAbility. (It’s an early childhood intervention program, I’ve worked for three different ECI programs over the last 20 years). That was about the same time that the state of Texas decided ECI would be the agency responsible for infant mental health in the state. I was all over that. I had already gone through the nurturing program both as a participant then to be certified to teach it. Then I got my endorsement through the Texas association of infant mental health and I had to work, learn and study for that. Also, that agency did something called reflective supervision, I went through it as an employee then I was trained in reflective practices as a supervisor myself.

Reflective practice is basically the act of constantly learning through reflection. So I would meet with a reflective supervisor in a confidential meeting each week to discuss whatever I needed to discuss about my work and any feelings or issues it brought up. I also learned to employee it with clients, to ask questions and let them talk, to truly listen and reflect back to them what I heard. Then there’s the regular training for dealing with grieving families.

All that is just to say, I went through a ton of training and a ton of workshops that affected me personally and deeply. This contributed greatly to both my personal and professional growth. It’s where I learned to listen without judgment, to hold space for people and in general be a source of comfort.

One thing I learned early on is that you can only take someone as far in life as you yourself have gotten. That was powerful for me and it relieved my guilt of sitting in a session about grieving and forgetting all about my clients as I processed my own unresolved grief. Learning to process my own grief made me better at helping others do the same. So the professional was also personal for me.

One of the most powerful sessions I remember was given by Dr. Michael Trout. You know you’re in trouble when you walk in and there are boxes of tissues on every single table. What? I’m not going to cry, I thought. But I did.

The session was on grieving. He talked about unresolved grief, the grief we don’t let ourselves feel for a myriad of reasons. I can’t begin to duplicate it here, but it was incredibly powerful. For the first time in my life, someone had just given me permission to grieve.

How crazy is it that we often wait for someone to give us permission? To tell us it’s ok to grieve, to be sad, to be angry even. Because in our culture, we are expected to be stoic, to get on with it, don’t look back. But we do look back.

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone needs support. Everyone is trying to be the best human they can be with the tools they have at hand. Most people just need a little love and support to grow and bloom. I know I did.

Death

By Linda Robertson Somers

Photo by Ludvig Hedenborg on Pexels.com

Death came to me in the still of night, and took me by the hand.

He said come with me my child to a far more peaceful land.

He wore a velvet cloak of the deep and darkest black,

And with him was a magic sack that he carried ‘cross his back.

When I inquired of him as to what the contents might be;

He said it was the souls of men who’d died from the beginning through eternity.

He touched my lips three times with his and pulled me from my bed.

He said I had no need to fear for soon I would be dead.

He took my hand and off we flew

thru walls and trees and morning dew.

I saw a house upon a hill

with dungeons dark and rooms to fill.

There was a game laid out to play,

and I knew I wouldn’t walk away.

In the corner were the bones

in their forever red rock homes.

The cactus and the rose

By Linda Robertson Somers

One time in a far off desert land

Where only few survive

There grew a cactus strong and tall

Who somehow stayed alive.

The cactus won all men’s respect

For her spirit was so strong

That no one pulled her from the ground

Or did her any wrong.

But the cactus wasn’t satisfied

With this earthly plan

She wanted to be beautiful

And win the love of man.

One day on a midsummers night

As she began to doze

The magic of her wish came true

And changed her to a rose.

The first one to behold the rose

Was a traveler passing through,

He saw a thing of beauty

Where once a cactus grew.

He smiled as he plucked her down

That was all she knew

Man’s love, for which she died was through

He tossed her to the ground.

Dragon hunter 2

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Find part one here.

Ari sat in a crowded tavern in the small southern village of Umbleton considering his options. The clatter of dishes and roar of voices washed over him. Umbleton was about a day’s walk from Everness and the locals had definitely noticed the smoke that had been rising in the distance for several days as the city burned. Gossip was rampant but apparently no one had been brave enough to go investigate. Ari heaved a sigh as he regarded the tankard of ale in front of him and shook his head at the cowardice and selfishness of most people. Maybe the residents of this tiny coastal village weren’t concerned, but he was. He was very concerned.

In another life Ari would have been a king. His family had traces of dragon blood in their veins. That was the story anyway. He knew he could sense things that others could not. He could track a dragon with those extra senses. And track dragons he did.

Dragons had fled the boundaries of his homeland long ago. They had flow over mountain ranges and across oceans, they had flown over forests thick and impassable, they had flown across continents. They had settled in some of those places. Mountain tops too high for people to scale, remote islands too far for people to sail to, in caves and treetops in forests too thick for people to push into. For the most part, they had left people alone. And so the legends faded into fairy tales, children’s fantasies, and stories. No one actually believed in them.

Except the Dragon Hunters Guild. The guild was small and secretive. Secretive for good reason. The secrecy wasn’t so much to protect the dragon hunters from scorn and derision as much as it was to protect stupid humans that might actually believe and go looking for one and get themselves killed.

But now people were getting killed anyway. Three villages in three months, Northern Greys in southern regions, something was very, very wrong.

He had stood facing the Ridgeback Mountains, watching the Grey until it flew out of sight and then he had used his other sight to survey that mountain range. What he found was terrifying.

Dragons, and lots of them. Many of them far from their natural habitats. What were they doing there? Why were they gathering? How were there so many? Of course, when dragons had left it was to go and grow and replenish in secret. It would seem they had been successful.

His musings were interrupted by the arrival of an older man, ancient by some measures. Poradel arrived cloaked and hooded as was his wont. Without a word he pulled the chair opposite of Ari and lowered his creaking body into it. Ari watched as the old man twisted and shifted and settled himself into the seat. Only then did he turn to acknowledge Ari, lower his hood and glance around in annoyance.

“This better be important,” he practically snarled as he glanced around the room, “I hate people. But since we are here, where’s my pint then?”

Ari motioned to the serving girl, he held his tankard up, pointed to it then to Poradel. She nodded and headed back to the bar.

Ari knew better than to try to speak to the mage until the tankard was in front of him. Tipping the girl, he motioned with a jerk of his head for her to leave. He needed privacy for this conversation.

After a long quaff, the tankard clattered to the table and the old man sighed in satisfaction while wiping away the wetness from his white and grey streaked beard.

“Now boy, what do you want?”

“Nice to see you too Uncle Del.”

“Bah! You want something.”

“Yes.”

“Well?”

Ari sighed. Poradel had no patience for the niceties of polite society. He wasn’t his really his uncle as much as he was his great-great uncle. Not that family ties mattered to Del. He was a hermit, a grouch, an anti-social asshole truth be told. But he was also a brilliant magic user, and Ari needed his help. Plus, he didn’t know anyone else in this part of the country.

“I need to contact the guild-“ he started.

“Send a letter!”

“Quickly.” He finished.

“Rent a carrier pigeon, they fly between here and all the major cities.”

“I need to contact everyone at once and I need to do it tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because the Ridgeback Mountains are full of dragons.”

Del regarded him for a bare moment, then nodded curtly.

“Ok then. My cottage, two hours, I’ll have the spell ready.”

Jayziz

by guest contributer Sian Kelly

Jayziz woke.

He instantly knew deep down in his bones that this had been a rush job, a sloppy, half-assed, and downright ugly bit of business. There was no gradual dawning of awareness, no subtle shift to consciousness.

Jayziz felt like he had been kicked out of bed by an Amazonian giantess with Sasquatch feet and had landed in a concrete tub with maybe eight inches of freezing water at the bottom- banging his head in the process- while a heart shaped nuclear reactor pumped molten lava through his veins.

Yeah, his everything hurt.

He leapt to his feet, teetered sideways, crashed to the floor. He leapt up again, only slightly more stable the second time and stared at the six robed and hooded figures standing in a circle around him.

“Awww, hell naw! Which one of you misguided motherfuckers had the nerve and unmitigated gall to resurrect me?”

The six ruling members of the mages guild glanced about uncertainly, nervously wondering who would speak for the group. Jayziz threw up both his hands in frustration. His right hand and forearm broke off and landed somewhere on the other side of the mausoleum.

“Well that’s not good.” he muttered beneath his breath. He rubbed the tattered flesh of his face with his remaining hand.

“Alright, if my elbow has already rotted out then I’m guessing I’ve been dead longer than the standard 1,001 days. That means I’ve got roughly four minutes to lay back down or this back-to-life shit is gonna be permanent, so somebody better explain quick or I’m gonna Kamehameha all of you petty, pathetic, piss-poor parlor-trick magic users!”

Cowed by his tirade, the robed mages hesitated again.

“Oh? So you sons of witches think this is a game,” Jayziz said, “Ya’ll think I’m playing, huh?”

He waved his arm and his nub around in a complex, intricate pattern and shimmering waves of angry energy crackled into existence around him. He growled the word that would end them all,

“Kaamehaa-“

“Wait!” a blue robed mage said hurriedly, stepping forward, “We all worked together to resurrect you. We had no choice, Master!”

“No choice, Saulomon? Really?” Jayziz said through clenched teeth as he wrestled with the energy. “There’s always a choice!”

“No, Master, because the freaking red robes brought the apocalypse down on all of us.”

“It wasn’t my fault! Ass-rael and the greens are just as guilty, they planted the suggestion!”

“I don’t give a flying fuck whose fault it is!” Jayziz screamed in exasperation. He flung the energy to the side, blowing a horse-sized chunk out of the mausoleum wall.

“Energy not focused is energy waster. Now give me the really short version, Saul. Talk to me quick but don’t talk to me slick.”

“Eduardo here tried to pull off a McDisney’s Rapier,” Saulomon said, indicating the red-robbed mage by pointing an incriminating finger. “Instead, he bifurcated all of reality, and in the process he managed to leave one time-stream looped and the other stream just kinda sorta convex.”

Jayziz glared at Ed the Red, “You stoopid fuck.” Jayziz waved his elbow joint and with an inverted thump the red mages atoms were scattered to the far corners of the universe.

“Okay, so did he channel somatic energy the right way or did he take the material component shortcut?”

“The shortcut, of course.” Said a gaunt woman in yellow robes.

“Did he use basilisk blood or cobras venom?”

“With basilisk blood retailing at six hundred grand for a quarter ounce? You have to ask? El cheapo used cobra’s venom.”

“Well there’s your problem: Ed the Red didn’t know his asp from a hole in the ground, nahmeen? All you got do is ride the looped time-stream back to when he first began casting the spell,” Jayziz said, “Replace his snake venom with basilisk blood. Then use a Gregorovich shunt to unconvex the one time-stream, do a south Dallas crowbar to unloop the other stream, and meld them back together by performing a bilateral agreement. Easy-peasy!”

“Master, you’re a genius! That should put things back, make it like it was before!” Saulomon said.

“Yes, so once errythang is fixed back make sure you blow Ed the Red to smithereens again, just for me.”

“My pleasure Master.” Saulomon glanced at this watch. “Sixty seconds before you get stuck like that. Anything else?”

“Tell my beeyotch ex-wife I said wish you were here.” Jayziz climbed back into his casket.

“Saul, old buddy, you aren’t too shabby for a mage. Kelby, you either.”

The woman in yellow inclined her had in acknowledgement.

“The rest of you can all eat a dick. And one of you get that wall fixed. I don’t need critters gnawing on me. And the color in here sucks. Who decorated? Granite? Really? Wow, how original. Have it redone. Rose marble or some fly shit like that.”

Jayziz stretched out and yawned. Darkness was already closing in on him.

“And next time one of you brainiacs manages to destroy life, the universe and everything- even if it’s an accident- you’re just gonna be shit out of luck. Don’t come fucking with me, because I ain’t getting back up again.”

A skeletal hand shot up and flipped them the bird.

Jayziz slept.

Lunch Break?

Popped out of my little ad hoc home office today to grab a bite to eat between clients. What did I actually end up doing? Cracking all the ice and refilling the trays, making a gallon of tea so I could have some, making lunch for my 8 year old as well and putting a diaper and some clothes on the naked 2 year old. Oh yeah, and finally inhaled some food super quick before my next appointment. This is what working from home looks like.

Currently Reading

I just finished the most recent installment in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. It was fabulous, as always! I’m not going to say too much about it because I don’t want to give spoilers. But if you enjoy paranormal romance, and you haven’t read the series yet, then you should absolutely head to your nearest bookstore and remedy that situation as soon as humanly possible.