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Making Meaning

by Jennifer Paros

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Another Resolution

by Cherie Tucker

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You Have a Sun Inside You

by Michael Candelario

 

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Making Meaning: Learning How to Give Light

 

by Jennifer Paros

 

Give light and the darkness will disappear.

~Desiderius Erasmus

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When my oldest son was eleven and about to graduate from elementary school, he broke out in hives that were so large and pervasive they covered his back. I told him hives are sometimes stress-related and can go away on their own. And so they did. But soon, a pattern emerged: when he was home, the hives appeared; when he was at school they faded. I suspected he was concerned about changing schools and that those fearful thoughts abated when he was busy, soothed by his familiar routine, then resurfaced at home once he had time to worry. This pattern continued for several days until one morning he awoke with the face of a battered prizefighter. The hives had infiltrated his lips and eyelids. That day, we took him to the pediatrician – just in case it was something other than hives, which it wasn’t.

When we returned home, my son and I sat out on a bench in our backyard. Soon he pointed to the sky and an airplane going by and told me someone with a parachute had just jumped. I hadn’t seen it and commented how unusual that was. Then I suggested he’d seen the parachuting person to help him remember that even though going to middle school might be a big leap, he’d still be okay. He too had something akin to a parachute that would provide a safe landing. He considered this; we sat for a while, and from then on, there were no more hives.

I applied a meaning to his experience that served him. I could have applied other meanings: about him being an anxious person, about his vulnerability, about his body’s ill health. But those meanings wouldn’t have encouraged him to remember who he really was – a strong, capable, resilient person. more...

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'Another Resolution

 

by Cherie Tucker

 

 

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Let’s start the year with this resolution: We will never again say, “another” into this strange construction. It supposedly means that there is another way to look at something entirely. Or something like that. Perhaps.

 

And let’s not fill that silent gap with a sigh and a “Well, anyways.” There is no “s” on “anyway.” Ellen can get away with it because she does it on purpose, making it hilarious. It won’t be funny coming from the rest of us.

 

There now, that’ll start the year off right. more...

 

 

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You Have a Sun Inside You

 

by Michael Candelario

 

I am sitting here in front of a framed painting of a map from my first fantasy book, writing an article while my wife cleans the house and balances the checkbook and deals with the stress of having a freelance writer for a husband. Chaos, these days, is a constant factor in our lives. So why do we do this to ourselves, we writers? Why do we slog away writing and revising and re-revising our books and stories? Why do we slave over the tiniest grammatical mistakes and turns of phrase?

In seeking an answer to that question, I am drawn back to a conversation I had years ago with a couple of writer friends. We were all just out of college, fresh and green to the Sisyphean struggle ahead of us, and someone spit out what has become a sort of mantra of mine:

“You have a sun inside you.”

But let me backtrack.

Picture me, working a retail job to make ends meet, hunched down in the backroom of the discount outlet, assembling furniture on hands and knees. The concrete floor is hard, it does not give against my shins, and I am on the brink of weeping. See, I have forgotten a crucial part of my existence. In the pursuit of making ends meet, I have ceased to write. It is as if my dream has been crushed. It is as if everything on which I pinned the future has crumbled in my hands. And I feel, in a word, empty. My soul is unnourished. I feel dry, washed up at the age of twenty-five. My family is counting on me, and here I am doing something that fails to water my spirit, and making a pittance besides. You would not be wrong for pitying me.

Yet, I had it wrong back then. I thought the issue was that I worked a menial job -- that I was not making a fortune. I cannot stress this enough: this was not the problem. The true issue -- the reason I was close to weeping in the back of that store, and the reason I felt dried up inside like a withered leaf -- was that I had forgotten about the sun inside me. more...

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Sharma Shields is the author of the short story collection My Favorite Monster and the novel The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, for which she won the Washington State Book Award.

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