Learning to Bob

Learning to BobHenry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” In Western Pennsylvania, and most of the Northeast quadrant of this country, we’ve seen our fair share of rain lately. Over the weekend, a tornado was even spotted in this area. I was up in town, setting up for the dinner shift at our historic restaurant–which is the glamorous life of a writer, by the way–when I heard a dozen cell phones go off with this newest weather alert. Thinking it was another oh-so-frequent flood warning, many dismissed it. (The weather alerts have become The Boy Who Cried Wolf, even though the boy, in this case, is usually not kidding. Isn’t is strange what we get used to?) I looked at my phone anyway, and said, “It’s not a flood. It’s a tornado this time, a warning, seven miles from here.”

Now, this town has been hit by a tornado, and many remember it clearly. I didn’t live here then, but I have my own tornado experience (and hurricane, and blizzard, and even the fearsome thundersnow), so we did what we do: We listened and heard birds chirping outside. It was an odd sound because, in all this rain lately, you don’t hear the birds so much anymore. The second thing we did was to look toward the front door where we saw the awning gently blowing in a slight breeze. These were signs that the tornado was not headed our way, or at least, not yet, so we all went back to what we were doing and didn’t waste our thoughts on it.

The tornado, which was quite real, did not hit where I was. Could it have? I suppose so. But there are times when life rocks your boat so much that you learn to bob, and panic is just a thing of the past. Does that make you brave? No. Does it make you smart? Hardly. But when Fate is at the door, we’ll simply go to meet her, face-to-merry-face, because we all have a job to do and there’s no guarantee that it’s as bad as we think.

So, I sit here typing today as the basement dries and thunder rolls again on the horizon, thinking about this tremendous month of ups and downs, from weather to writing to people coming and going from the center stage back to lurking in the fringes of my life. And I think about the light and the dark, because it is also said that without the darkness, there can be no light. So let’s undizzy ourselves and look straight ahead, unwavering, and remember that it is in the darkness that experience is born.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon. She’s currently penning her second novel, based on the life of a WWII veteran. For more on her writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

The Voice is Within

The Voice is WithinIt’s rainy and blustery here in Pittsburgh, one of my favorite kinds of days.

When the sun is out, it tends to direct your feet outside so you can enjoy the fresh air and the light on your face. You can take a walk in the woods, play a sport, mow the lawn, chat with neighbors. The sun sets the tone for the day. But dark, rainy days are for the pensive. There’s no need to run outside and look for neighbors today, no need to join in any activities today, no need even to speak. The voice is within. Everything needed is inside, so I seek refuge within today.

Some may say it’s positively gloomy. I’m afraid I must agree, especially with the positively part. There’s so much potential here. This is the kind of day you want to crawl under a blanket with a cup of hot tea and a great book—or a great notebook and a pen. Either way, it’s a day to lose yourself in story, and see what happens.

Of course, there is much to do today, places to be in, and people counting on me. But mentally, I will be wrapped up in that blanket and story, carrying them with me in my mind, until I return home to cocoon and create.

Strangely, I think of this process the way my Dad cooks. He’s mastered the art of slow cooking, so that you smell a delicious aroma for about 8 hours until it’s ready to eat. By then, the taste buds are conditioned to expect the best, and they’re never disappointed. Rainy, busy days are days for slow cooking an idea, simmering and stewing the plot until it’s just right. Then, and only then, does it get put to paper.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing.


photoI mowed the lawn today—the first mowing of the season. And I did it in the rain.

When the first drops hit my skin, I wanted to dash back inside. It felt foreign, much the way the wind felt on my arms last week when I went out for the first time this year without a coat. I pressed on, and after a minute or two in the rain, I stopped being so fussy about it.

We spend so much of our time in regimented fashion, putting our best foot forward, not messing up our hair, keeping our clothes and faces wrinkle-free… To refuse to come in from the rain was more than refreshing, it was liberating.

I felt like a kid again.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.