Monday, January 18, 2016

Access Granted

Western Florida is a winter home for snowbirds, a land of a thousand sand traps, manatees, and pink flamingos. Gated communities are common In this tropical land where land and water weave a colorful tapestry that attracts the snow-weary like a magnet.

However, one particular gated community offers a different sort of magnet. Rainbow flamingos grace a refuge offering acceptance for who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you come from, no matter whom you love. When a visitor enters the entrance code, it triggers an automated voice message that states, “Access granted.” 

For most of us, this simple statement is just an acknowledgement that we can proceed. However, for the women who live here or just visit for the winter months, this message says, “Home. Safe. Accepted."

These women come with bags packed with a lifetime of prejudice and pain. When the gate closes behind them, they sigh knowing they are now in the embrace of their tribe, free to be themselves in a way seldom experienced beyond these gates.

Most of the women here are retired, many in their 80s, all of them carry stories, some heartbreaking:  a daughter disowned by the mother who gave her birth, lost families and friends, love withheld. One mother, rejected by her child for loving the wrong person for forty years, died recently only a month after finally being able to marry her long time partner. She and her child were never reconciled.

Most stories are less dramatic; tales of a thousand paper cuts: bewildered families, disapproving neighbors, workplace prejudice, isolation, fear, the stress of always being on guard, never completely relaxing.

Home comes in many shapes and forms but it is always the place where we feel safe, where the message we hear when arrive is always, “access granted."

Martin & Rosa

Posted each year in honor of two people who changed our world.

Martin & Rosa

Twenty-six he was when destiny crooked its finger,
beckoning the still-green minister-scholar into the world.
Forty-two she was when she pounded on the door
Theoretically opened ninety-four years before.
It was the first of December, 1955, when history wove
Their fates together into a multi-colored tapestry of change.

“Tired,” she said, “Bone tired. Tired of giving up.
Tired of giving in,” she said and sat in the front of the bus.

Montgomery, Alabama, shivered as the temperature rose.
The old ways could be heard keening long into the night
As 42,000 people left the buses to stand by Rosa’s side.
381 days they walked: nannies, maids, carpenters, all.

Two hundred years of anger rose up to shatter the silence
And from this deafening roar came a molasses-rich voice
Spinning a song of hope with a melody of peace and love.
“I have a dream,” boomed and echoed across the land.

The young minister-leader painted a picture of a life
without color lines, a world without violence.
His voice lifted the dream: Richmond, Little Rock,
Dallas opened their buses, took down their signs.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter," he said, never silent again.
He took our hands and led us step-by-step onto a new path,
Brothers and sisters connected by heart rather than skin.

“Always avoid violence,” he said.
“If you succumb to the temptation …
unborn generations will be the recipients
of a long and desolate night of bitterness,
and your chief legacy to the future will be an
endless reign of meaningless chaos."

Thirty nine he was when one man with a gun silenced the voice,
But not the words …those four words branded into our brains:
“I have a dream …,” saffron-rich messengers left behind to
Carry forward the dream of a color-blind world of hope and peace.

Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. born January 15, 1929;
Assassinated April 4, 1968.
And Rosa Parks, civil rights activist, born February 4, 1913
Died October 24, 2005

-- Joyce Wycoff, copyright, 2011

Sunday, December 6, 2015

This Morning I Woke Up

Peace, Joyce Wycoff
This morning I woke up in a place
I’ve dreamed about 
for as long as I can remember.
It’s a place that has called to me for decades
but stubbornly remained obscured 
in the geography of my mind.

I’m not sure how I got here.
I didn’t get in a car, board a plane 
or even walk down the block.
I just woke up and found myself here,
listening to the rain fall,
feeling the cells of my body realign themselves.

I woke up in the middle of a thought
when the world suddenly went quiet
and want and need dropped away.

No one brought me here.
No thing brought me here.
Here was always here;
it was me who was somewhere else,
thinking I had things to do.

Now that I’m here,
I realize that no thing matters.
Now that I’m here,
I think I’ll stay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Wonder Why?

I wonder why?
I wonder why I, who believes in no dogma,
Who can no longer wear the badge of Christianity
Keep asking myself, “What would Jesus do?"
And receiving an answer so different
from many I see around me?

I wonder why?
I wonder why we who live in the shelter
of freedom and abundance, allow mega-corps
a free ride while our wounded wander homeless,
our children go to bed hungry, and those who
have never known freedom or abundance
are turned away from our door?

I wonder why?
I wonder why we lock our doors at night and then
turn our backs on the creeping devastation coming our way?
I wonder why we still pour our money into weapons of mass
destruction as we climb into our cars and drink manufactured
water out of invincible bottles that will inherit our earth?

I wonder why?
I wonder why the heroes of our grandchildren are vampires,
zombies, and dead souls weaving their way through a dystopian
world without hope or reason, and if they inflict pain 
on their tender bodies in a search for art and meaning?

I wonder why?
I wonder why we lost our way?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Intend Peace

On September 15, 2009, I began this blog. At the time, it was called Peaceful Legacies and it helped me stay peaceful through challenging times. As my life changed, the identity of the blog changed and now it is changing again. Once again it began when a piece of art resurfaced ... art that was created as I thought about my intentions.

Here it is again with my renewed commitment to these intentions:

Trust Love
Create Beauty
Seek Truth
Give Freely
Receive Easily

Listen Generously
See Goodness
Honor Self
Laugh Often
Practice Joy

Be thankful for EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Teaspoon and the Ocean
Metaphor #1: This week I poured my teaspoon of creativity into the ocean of the world of commerce and judgment.

Metaphor #2: It’s the first morning without training wheels, and my beautiful child is wobbling down the road headed for skyscrapers and calculators.

Can I … should I … go for three? No. Enough already. I sent my first work of fiction off to be judged by an impartial panel. It was time, but now I want to call it back, enfold it in my arms and protect it from the harsh glare of day. (damn metaphors anyway … they just won’t stay away … actually, that one fell into the cliche abyss.)

The story of Sarana’s Gift is a new one for me. Two years ago, while trying to write something rational, a different something else, unknown and completely irrational, took over. I tried to put it away but it kept tapping me on the shoulder so I decided to play.

It started with someone … a young girl … riding a silver-white horse through the forest and then running … running … running … trying to get into a house she found … a house with no doors. Why was she running? I had no idea.

Then she found herself in a long, dark tunnel with no way to get out. It was impossible. The next morning, the story demanded its due again and offered me a way out of the tunnel. So, on I wrote until she wound up in another pickle with no way out. It was another impossible situation.

Next morning, another solution and another impossible task. This went on for awhile until it wound up being about 20,000 words of adventures in a fantasy world. Then, she woke up from a dream, looked around and apologized to her mom for being a jerk. What?

I didn’t know what to do with this strange bit of story so I thought maybe it was a fairy tale that I was writing for my granddaughters. Since they were going to spend a few days with me, I polished it up a bit and caught the girls in a quiet moment and started reading it to them. The silver-white horse fascinated the younger one for a few moments before her eyes glazed over. Then, they were both off to other things.

“Well, that was a nice try that didn’t work,” I thought to myself as I packed it away. Life had changed and I was packing everything away, moving on to a new life in a new place.

About a year later I was definitely in a new life in a new place … just not the one I had planned. During the unpacking, I found the story. In the midst of a tower of boxes, I sat down and read it thinking I deserved a break and I could just read it once more before packing it away forever.

Somehow, the story clung to me, calling me to give it time and space to grow. I had time so I sat down and began once more to write, again following more than leading. I never knew where it was going … or why.

Eventually, a structure formed and I started reading bits and pieces in a writer’s group. A trusted colleague read it and seemed to understand what was trying to be said. During the major rewrite that followed, I started to finally understand what was developing.

So, now, here it is out in the world. I can call it my child but it feels more like life struggling up through the concrete, reaching for sunlight, on its own path. It sounds almost too woo-woo but I feel more like the channel than the creator. I just hope my pipes weren’t too rusty, that they were clean enough to let the story be what it wanted to be.

Free advanced reading copies are available until 1/29/2016. Go to to request yours.

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Sunflowers" by Judy Garrison Spahn

Sharing a beautiful piece of work from one of my favorite artists today.

"Sunflowers" by Judy Garrison Spahn
Here's what Judy says about her art, "Quilting is satisfying, an escape of sorts, meditative, creative, social, ego boosting. I just do it.  I am a "touchy/feel-y person and fabric is very tactile. I also like making stuff look pretty, whether it's a jumble of scraps or a pile of rocks, or planting my yard in a pleasing and functional way. 

"I love that quilts are both art and function.....which may explain why I stay fairly traditional. I enjoy looking at more avante garde pieces, but my personality is all about "usefulness" and "beauty" combined.  Practical, logical, and producing a useful end result....these are my guiding traits."

"Sunflowers" by Judy Garrison Spahn, 48" x 61",  made in 2001.
Judy has been quilting since the early 1970's, making original design quilts.  Her work has remained rooted in tradition, with hand piecing and quilting becoming a huge part of her everyday life.  Scrap quilts are the norm, as she drafts designs, sews pieced units and uses the trial and error method for deciding what direction the piece will take. 

After making all of the sunflowers, deciding on how to connect them was the next step.  Judy wanted the circles to be set into a background that created the look of a complete quilt top with, perhaps, a checkerboard effect, rather than having the circles turned into traditional square blocks.  Alternating the bold red stripe, the white shirting stripe, and the "tone on tone" red print created the desired effect.   The black, red, and cream rectangles combine to create a bold pattern forming a border that contains the central design area of the quilt.

This quilt has been published in "500 Traditional Quilts," by Karey Bresenhan and currently is on loan for a traveling exhibit.