Because of You by Christina Knowles

1524025_10202288016035929_699231179_oI’ve always looked up to you

It was so easy to do

My life is so wrapped up with you

You stayed home with me

When I was sick, you comforted me tenderly

You kept me quiet on Christmas mornings

With stories of Santa and gentle warnings

I remember late night stories on your bed

To Adventure Land you led

To a world of imagination

Your words an invitation

I read everything you gave me

A new world opened gaily

Science fiction, fantasy

Suspense, a genre tapestry

I always looked up to you

My life was so wrapped up in you

I listened to you play your flute

In your room, music took root

You gave me records that I still have

Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Chopin

You introduced to me to culture I never would’ve had

It’s because of you, I’m who I am

You took to me to buy my first good skates

You listened all about my first dates

Listened to my teenage angst

Put up with all my juvenile pranks

You let me come and stay with you

Just what I needed; I guess you knew

It was so easy to do

Looking up to you

You bought my prom dress so I wouldn’t miss the event

Then you managed to get Mom’s consent

Always on my side it seems

You supported all my dreams

Tutored me, and never disdained

The hours, the concepts explained

You co-signed for my first credit

Trusted me, I’m forever indebted

When I went away, you took care of my dog

Every week, you read my blog

You went with me to Star Trek club meetings

Conventions, outings, and club proceedings

My entire life is intertwined with you

I am who I am because of you

All through our lives we’ve had such good times

Remember when we went to Disney and stood in those lines?

We screamed all the way down Splash Mountain

Took our picture in front of the fountain

Universal Studios was such a blast

That trip went way too fast

A Hawaiian luau, taking in the show

An earthquake, a flood, just Hollywood though

We haven’t taken a trip like that in a while

Now days, it’s more our style

Dinner and a movie on Friday nights

It’s still one of my favorite rites

It’s no wonder I look up to you

My life is so infused with you

The holidays we always share together

Thanksgiving at my house, no matter the weather

Christmas at yours, and candlelight service

The Living Christmas tree and your performance

Playing the bells on Christmas Eve

Christmas dinner, and after— a movie

Sometimes A Christmas Carol

Or we’d see The Nutcracker Ballet

In our finest apparel

A Christmas Story once again we’d replay

Our traditions are so special to me

Sisters, but friends, especially

My life is so wrapped up with you

It’s easy to look up to you

A chemist, a musician, an intellect to admire

An older sister, a height to aspire

A friend and a confidant

You went way beyond

What a sister should be

What a friend could see

I’ll always look up to you

It’s so easy to do

Because my life is wrapped up with you

And I am who I am because of you—Christina Knowles

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Book Tribe by Christina Knowles

BookClubCabin (2)A collective of common interests

An intellectual pursuit

Brought together by the simplest

A shared attribute

But in our group we found

A complex amity

The thread by which we’re bound

Is not the latest read

An unexpected mingling

A mélange of fine wines

In laughter with glasses clinking

A friendship is forged over time

A kaleidoscope of voices

Diverse personalities

Apparent in our choices

Or when one disagrees

These differences don’t chill

Our friendship,

The warmth we feel is real

The kinship

The bond of our group

Is refreshingly compassionate

For such a varied troupe

Drama-free protagonists

Because conflict is no good

Encouragement is our shibboleth

Our alliance understood

Destroying the feminine myth

Trust is our apothegm

We’d rather spend our time

On worthier whims

Or expanding of the mind

Whether interpreting the written word

Or sunning by the pool

Companionship is served

Gathered by the Yule

In winter or mineral springs in fall

On a weekend trip to the cabin

Or a movie at the mall

Whatever may happen

Whatever fate may decide

I’m glad I have this motley crew I affectionately call my tribe (2016)

 

 

Grateful by Christina Knowles

garden_of_the_gods_by_jawahunter003-d4p9tfg
by jawahunter003

It’s that time of year, hopefully not the only time of year, when we take stock of all the good things in our lives and express our gratitude. Well, this year has been a difficult one, and it would probably be a lot easier to list all of the things that went wrong, but that makes engaging in this type of positive reflection even more important. Realizing how good I really have it is most critical when it seems like everything is going wrong. So here are a few things for which I’m very thankful.

  1. My husband. I am lucky to have married a kind and gentle man, who is genuinely a good and ethical person.Randy and me He’s compassionate and sincere. My husband is a true artist, a musician, who feels deeply, sees deeply, and thinks deeply. He also makes me laugh every day. When I feel lost and alone, he’s there to let me know that he’s always on my side. He’s loyal and understanding, and he never expects me to be anything other than what I am. He doesn’t need to be in charge or have everything his way. He respects my independence with no macho bullshit, and his easy-going personality makes our home a peaceful refuge from the harsh world.
  2. Family. My brothers and sisters are very close.

    We don’t agree on everything, but we always love each other. They are the kind of people you can always count on to drop everything and be there when you need them. My sisters and I get together often for movie nights and scrapbooking days. We are so different from one another, but it never matters when we are laughing and talking, sharing stories from our individual lives. I love them beyond words, and I know nothing is going to change that. It’s nice to have something certain in a world of uncertainty

  3. Health and well-being of those I love.morganfamily I am thankful that my children are healthy and are passionately pursuing things they love. ValerieI’m thankful for the medical science that has given my grandson the opportunity for a vibrant and happy life, and I’m thankful that my other grandson is full of joy and enthusiasm for life.

4. Home. I appreciate my cozy home. ChristmasWith all of its needed repairs and upkeep, my home is a beautiful refuge for me, and I love coming home to it every day. I love spending time with my husband and dog in front of a cozy fire on a cold day and planting flowers in our jungle of a yard in the summer. I love puttering around in my art studio, writing on my computer, or curling up in our family-room-converted-to-library, reading a book. It’s pure peace and relaxation.

5. Friends. I am thankful for my close friends, old and new. FriendsSome I see all the time, and some I see a few times a year, but I love them all. I am grateful that my friends do not engage in typical “friend drama.” They are mature and above that nonsense. Old friendsThey are trustworthy. I can tell my friends anything and everything, and I do. My secrets are safe with them. I am safe with them. I can be myself without any pretense, and I am still loved and accepted. They make me laugh and think. They are silly, bold, caring, intellectual, and fun. I am lucky to have them.

6. Employment. This has been a good year at work, at all of my jobs. English DepartmentTeaching high school is wonderful if you do it right. This year I’ve set boundaries with how much work I will do at home. I work my butt off all day, stay late if necessary, and barely touch it when I go home. My students are sweet, smart, and amazing, and they make it rewarding. I have a great team this year in the English department too. We really enjoy each other, and the wide-range of personalities has made lunch and meetings a lot of fun. My administration is the best I’ve ever had. They respect us and are reasonable, and they’re just good, real people.

Moonlighting at the college, teaching writing has been really fun. I enjoy the diverse interaction, the freedom, and the academic atmosphere. The extra money is good too. Of course, writing is my passion, and I am thankful for this blog, where I am free to express myself. Writing my blog is so fulfilling and freeing. Writing makes me understand myself and the world better. This year I’ve written tons of poetry and am working on a new suspense thriller as well. I have also enjoyed creating the cover for my new book. Signs of Life jpegThis is the first time I have ever taken a design from concept to completion all by myself. It was challenging and fun. I can’t wait to do it again.

  1. Dog.I am grateful that I come home each day to a sweet little guy named Chacho.IMG_1456 He fits in with us so well. He’s laid-back and gentle. His personality is quite human. Chacho is sensitive and gets his feelings hurt easily if he is slighted in some way, but he forgives easily as well. He is independent and doesn’t need a lot, but he does need love, some cuddling, yummy food, walks around the neighborhood, and trips to the dog park. Chacho deserves all this and more. He is so easy to take care of—he never chews up our things, he doesn’t have accidents in the house, he makes us laugh and smile, and he loves us.
  2. Colorado. GogI am so thankful that I get to live in one of the most beautiful and pristine places in the world. Colorado has so much of what I love—great weather, snow, snow, snow, but it’s hardly ever bitterly cold. We get wonderful fluffy snowstorms, and then the snow melts, and we have mild temperatures again. It never gets too hot in the summer. Colorado has gorgeous mountains and clear, clean air. Colorado Springs is in the foothills of Pikes Peak, and we are surrounded by forests, jutting red rocks, crystal clear lakes, and snow-covered mountains. Garden of the godsThere’s a reason why so many Christmas movies are set in Colorado. We have bike trails, dog parks, river-rafting, skiing, and the cozy little tourist towns everyone loves—the kind that seem like they came right out of a Hallmark movie. We have hippies, hipsters, and cowboys, and we usually get along together. I love my Colorado.
  3. Community groups. I am grateful for community groups like the Pikes Peak Atheists and Freethinkers of Colorado Springs. These groups organize charity work, fundraisers, toy and clothing drives, and generally are there to help people who need it in our community without any ulterior motives. They are humanists who desire to create a better world, to increase the well-being of humans (and often animals). They are also a fun and intellectual group. We have lots of get-togethers and social activities as well. They are a wonderful support group for non-believers who live in a very religious city.PPA I am really thankful I found them and that they’ve been so kind to me.
  4. Progress. I am thankful that even though the world seems like a crazy and dangerous place oftentimes, we are making progress in so many ways. As a people, we are becoming more open-minded, critically thinking, and accepting of diversity and human rights than ever before. We have made wonderful advances scientifically, morally, and intellectually. Perhaps, this contrast between progressive ideals and religious dogma is one reason why some of these tensions are escalating. Some people don’t want to see progress, but progress will win, and for that, I am thankful.

    Human-Rights
    accessinfo.org

So, as I suspected, reflecting on the things for which I am grateful has made me realize that things are not so bad. Sure, life is difficult, and bad things happen. Sometimes just getting through the day is hard. The world is filled with tragedy and unexpected hardships. Surviving it takes a lot of energy, but there is a reason we keep at it. There are always things that make it all worthwhile. Things that make it more than bearable. Things that are downright beautiful.—Christina Knowles

“Lucky” by Christina Knowles

LuckyEverything leads to tragedy

It seems to compound

But in the in-between

I am lucky

Fate smiles smugly

While I frown

But in the darkness, I am found

I am lucky

A little fussy

But I am bound

To this life

I am lucky

Heartfelt and enigmatic

I am rife

With friends all around me

I am lucky

In tenderness abounding

I swim through the sorrow

Willingly pursuing tomorrow

I am lucky

The knell has sounded

To set me free

But I ignore it, naturally

With troubles I am hounded

But I am lucky

In the midst of falling leaves

I am surrounded

An abundance of tears deceives

I’m inclined to opine

But still I’m lucky

Flowers lose their petals

The foundation finally settles

But all around me I am grounded

In love, I’m astounded

And I’m so lucky

There’s a chance to amend

Love enough to spend

And I am lucky

Between the calm and the calamity

Lies the beauty

The artistic and the altruistic

Human duty; I’m in for a pound

Yet finally unbound, I am free

To be fairly optimistic

After all

I am so lucky.

–Christina Knowles (2015)

Photo snagged from newartcolorz.com

Books, Wine, and Friendship by Christina Knowles

Snagged from writers win.com
Snagged from writers win.com

Last night was my monthly book club meeting. And by meeting, I mean getting together with great friends, sampling delicious cheeses and different kinds of wine, sitting down to a beautiful meal, catching up on our personal lives, teasing, laughing, participating in a deep philosophical conversation, and oh yeah, discussing the book we read. I love my book club. We meet once a month and sometimes in between club meetings to go to a movie, attend a lecture, go out for tea, or even spend a day at the hot springs or a weekend in a mountain resort. I have come to love my book club ladies. I look forward to seeing them, and I never miss a meeting, even if I didn’t finish the book. We are all teachers, or former teachers. My book club ladies are very intellectual and wise, and I have gained a lot of insight about life from them, but most of all, they have become the best kind of friends anyone could have. We all fit together so well even though we are quite diverse in many ways. We range from various denominations of Christian to Atheist to New-Ager, and we encompass all the political parties, including Socialist. I’ve often wondered why we work so well as friends, and I figured out we share some very important qualities besides a love of books. Here’s what I came up with:

  • We are open-minded. We not only listen, but we consider each other’s opinions and value our differences. We respect each other’s thoughts.
  • We share ourselves. We don’t just share the flattering things that most people would want others to know about themselves, but we really let each other see our true personalities—our quirks, our insecurities, our flaws, our confusion. We really know who each one of us is. I can tell my friends anything, and I do.
  • Quotation-Oliver-Goldsmith-love-friends-manners-wine-Meetville-Quotes-58480We like each other anyway. The more I know about my friends, the more I respect them and care about them. Knowing their problems, insecurities, their frustrations, and the mistakes they make, allows me to see things through their eyes and not get upset at them when we have disagreements or don’t see eye to eye—and we don’t. As I said, we have varying political, religious, and philosophical ideologies, but we completely accept each other anyway.DinnerBookClub
  • We can trust each other. This is a rare gift. We have been through a lot together and have been friends for many years. We’ve shared secrets, and our confidences have never been betrayed. Our friendship has been tested and passed with flying colors.
  • We listen to each other. Not only do we share ourselves, we are interested in what’s going on in the lives of each one of us. We take turns talking and make sure we all get a chance to tell about what is going on in our lives. We may offer advice, but we don’t judge. I always leave book club feeling completely accepted and listened to. In the past, I’ve had many friends who only want to talk and never listen. Even if I am having a serious problem, they turn it around and make it about them. Not these ladies. My book club friends are sensitive to knowing when someone needs a friendly ear.
  • We can count on each other. I know if I had a problem, they are only a phone call away—a ride to the airport, help moving, a place to stay; we aren’t fair-weather friends.
  • We are honest. We tell each other how it is and call each other out when necessary. I think I have been told, to my face, that I am full of shit by these ladies more than by any other people I have ever known. But that’s okay because we can say that to each other without getting angry, and then go on having a lovely evening. But we take each other seriously as well, so if one of us says we are full of shit, we take the time to consider whether or not they are right.
  • We challenge each other. Like I said, we are very different people. We have different views, different ways of looking at things, and different ways of doing things. We give advice and kick each other in the butt when necessary.
  • We encourage each other. Even though we call each other out when necessary, we are the first to offer words of encouragement, truthful compliments, and uplifting advice right along with our criticisms. Besides my husband, I feel like they are my most enthusiastic cheerleaders.BookSigning
  • We inspire each other. I have often heard horror stories of women who constantly fight, are jealous, or in competition with each other. I am lucky to never have experienced this in my friendships (I’ve had many wonderful girl-friends throughout my life and am still friends with them today), and it couldn’t be further from the truth with these ladies. We support each other in every endeavor, share ideas, and help each other succeed. When I published my book, they were right there to share in my joy. They read it, helped me with editing, came to my book signing, and helped me promote it. Two of the women in my book club are writers as well. We read each other’s writing and do whatever we can to promote the success of all of us, whether it is a new job, a new relationship, or a writing project. We share genuinely in the joy of each other’s success.
  • We don’t have to be perfect for each other. We welcome each other into our homes even when they aren’t clean or we haven’t showered. We walk in without knocking. We are the kind of friends who have keys or garage codes to each other’s houses in case we show up before the owner arrives. We’ve stripped naked to change or take a dip in the hot springs without worrying about cellulite or being judged. We are comfortable with each other, and that is nice.
  • BookClubWe don’t have to feel bad when we don’t see each other for a while. Many of my book club friends travel frequently. We may go a couple of months without seeing each other certain times of the year, but nothing changes. Whenever we get back together, it’s like we never left. We pick up right where we left off. We are not needy or demanding with each other. If we can make it to something, we do. If we can’t, we understand. No pressure.
  • But we are thoughtful. We bring each other thoughtful gifts for no reason sometimes. The other day, one of my friends brought me a vegan cookbook because she knows I am interested in changing my diet along those lines. When one of us goes on vacation, we often bring back a souvenir for the rest of us. We may show up at each other’s house with a bottle of wine or a homemade loaf of bread just because.
  • MichelleandMeWe make each other laugh. We always have the best time when we’re together, often giggling uncontrollably. Once two of us went to the movies and had no idea what we were seeing. It turned out to be a very stupid and vulgar teenage boy-type thing. Being teachers, we slid down in our seats, unable to control our laughter while trying desperately not to be seen by any of our students. We’ve laughed at each other and with each other, but I would feel equally comfortable crying with them. In fact we have while attending too many funerals of former students who died way too soon.

I am a little bit of an introvert. I’m somewhat of an intellectual, I’m a bookworm, and I’m way too serious. But this group of friends brings me out in a way for which I am so grateful. We never need to make meaningless small talk, which I despise. For an introvert, it is highly important to feel comfortable and accepted in order for me to be my natural self. I think this is why I never miss an opportunity to hang out with them if possible, while I turn down other social engagements all the time. The best kinds of friends are the kind that let you be completely you without worrying about it. And more than just putting up with you, they actually enjoy being with you. We should all have friends that make us more of who we really are instead of less, and I am so grateful for mine. And the books and wine are bonuses.—Christina KnowlesBookClub

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