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

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)

 

 

“Dozens of Days and a Thousand Smiles” by Christina Knowles

24 in colorado (1)Dozens of days in my memory play

I can’t help but smile

Rewinding the slow serenity of those days

Reflecting on each fleeting mile

Each ephemeral year that goes by

The collected hours, passed time

The unfortunate distance we multiply

That priorities realign

Separated by a thousand small details

As time seems to stretch before us without end

We can’t quite make out all it entails

And what lies around each future bend

But I remember those days when

We could just sit for awhile

Sipping coffee or talking and then

Fishing on a still mountain lake

Camping at Eleven Mile

Swapping stories in the break

While time stretched before us without end

The wind blowing through my hair

Speeding through turns

On the back of your bike, unaware

Of time slipping by, unconcerned

I remember driving cross-country in the snow

Holding our breath through the pass

A little CCR on the stereo

Rubbing the frost from the glass

As time stretched before us without end

Just watching westerns on a lazy Saturday afternoon

Nothing but time to spend

I never realized life would move on so soon

I remember when you taught me to drive

And how to work on cars, to prep and to sand

Working together, talking and laughing comprised

Our minutes and hours, a lifetime spanned

Leaving me with a thousand smiles

Memories to tend

Images of dozens of days and a million miles

As time stretches behind us without end

–Christina Knowles

 

 

 

 

 

“Remembering” by Christina Knowles

I heard a melody so sweet

Sweet as the words you once whispered to me

A fragrant sound

A tender and unexpected chord

That at once lifts my soul

And tears my heart

A tinge of melancholy among the smiles

Suddenly invades me

Measure by measure

A symphony of memories

My whole being recalls you

Not a particular day

A certain event

But the entirety of you

Inseparable the parts

Existing in a timeless encapsulation

Of every sweet experience

And simultaneously

The deep hollowness

The absence of you

—Christina Knowles

 

 

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

“Old Dogs” by Christina Knowles

Old Dog
Photo: petbucket.com

Old dogs

Gray around the temples and chin

Walk with a limp

A stiff gait

But still try to chase squirrels up gnarled oaks

Old dogs

Still enjoy slow strolls down friendly streets

Sniffing everyone they meet

Greeting neighbors and young pups

Even though they don’t smell much anymore

Old dogs

Reminisce about their youth

Days when you threw the ball in the park

And they could run like the wind and you tired long before them

Old dogs

Are more interested in tummy rubs and loving scratches behind the ears

Than in begging for treats

Or playing tug-of-war with an old rope

But they’ll still gather the energy to play

If it will make you happy

Old dogs

Embarrass easily

When the mailman sneaks up on them unnoticed

They look around to make sure you didn’t see them

Letting down their guard

Old dogs

Try hard to do their duties

Even if you tell them that it’s time

Time for them to be cared for now

Old dogs

Will muster up excitement when you come in the door

After a long hard day

They won’t let you think for a moment

That you weren’t missed

Old dogs

Fall asleep next to you and don’t wake up when you leave the room

When they do wake, they struggle to their feet

Joints stiff, and go searching for you

Old dogs

Are wiser than young dogs

They know the value of a life-long friendship

They don’t care about slippers anymore

Just companionship and loyalty

Old dogs

Can’t hear or see very well

Except with their hearts

They are selfless souls

Growing more pure with each passing year

Old dogs

Feel shame if they can’t keep up with you

Until they see their own heart shining back at them

And then they know

They’ve taught you what you needed to learn

Their work is done

Because when old dogs

Take a piece of your heart

With them when they go

You’re still better off for having known them

Because with an old dog

Your heart grows larger through each and every

Old dog you’ve ever loved.

Mulder old
Mulder Pitman Knowles (1993-2008)

—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

On Turning 50 by Christina Knowles

IMG_2412Turning 50 is supposed to be some kind of milestone, right? I should be feeling down about crossing over the threshold of another decade. But I’m not—at all. On the contrary, I have never felt better about myself. And it has nothing to do with how physically fit I am (LOL). It has everything to do with being comfortable with who I am and where I am in my life.

I have heard many women say that getting older is very freeing, and I find it to be so true. I have never cared less about what other people think about me. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s like I just don’t have time for bullshit anymore. I am who I am, and I am more and more unwilling to act like I’m anything else. I say my opinion, and if you agree, fine. If you don’t, I respectfully don’t care.BabyChristina

I am getting some gray hair, my wrinkles are taking up more and more space on my face, and I have put on a few pounds since last year. I, personally, think I look great. I am healthy and happy. I like me.

I recently started teaching college; I have left my comfort zone to teach things I have never taught before this year, and I am ROCKING it. My professional life is progressing in wonderful directions. I am planning the publication of my second book this year, a book of poetry, I’m working on a short story collection, and I have an absolutely fabulous novel in progress. I have many more plans in the works professionally as well. There’s a certain respect, which I enjoy, now that I have years of experience under my belt as well.

I am completely in love with my husband and couldn’t be happier in that realm. I look forward to growing old with someone with whom I can be completely myself. My relationship with my daughter has blossomed into the adult friendship of love and mutual respect I always hoped it would. I have numerous interests and enjoy so much about my life.

I have the most amazing friends and enjoy many adventures and fun times with them. Getting older really allows for much more satisfying friendships because I don’t have time for bullshit in that realm either. My friends and I share our lives on an honest, bullshit-free level with no drama. This is the way friendship should be.

I know who I am, what’s important to me, and the way I want to live my life. My philosophy, beliefs, and my political opinions are well-established. I’m done worrying over such things or caring about what other people think about my views.Scan 54_2

And the weird thing about getting older, which is also very cool, is that with the exception of this straightforward feeling of freedom about who I am, I still feel like who I have always been. Scan 54I still feel like the excited little girl opening her birthday presents, the little girl who can’t sleep late on Christmas morning because she is too excited to open presents, and the little girl who loves to walk barefoot in the damp grass, picking daisies to put in her starting-to-gray hair. That will always be me, and I’m glad.—Christina Knowles 🙂

10 Mind-Bending Epiphanies That Changed My Life by Christina Knowles

epiphany1) I’ll never be all caught up. Getting caught up in getting caught up is like a hamster running in a wheel. It’s pointless, so stop trying so hard. Now I make a few daily goals, but getting done with everything is no longer on the list. Knowing it is impossible sets me free to just stop and relax once in a while.

2) Pain is our friend. Whether it is physical pain or emotional pain, it is a signal that we need to do something different. It is the catalyst for change. Embrace it.

3) To some extent, you are already doing what you want to do, or you wouldn’t be doing it. Let’s be honest for a second. We can’t make ourselves do anything we don’t want to do for any length of time. Otherwise, we’d all be thin, healthy, and adept at meditation. So, the fact that I’ve been a teacher for 15 years must mean that some part of me actually wants to be a teacher. The same is true for all the rest of my habitual behavior.

4) I’ve believed lies most of my life, but because of this, I don’t know if my current beliefs are also lies. We grow up listening to and believing everything our parents or authority figures tell us. Then we find out that much of what we learned and believed is not true. We read, discover, and form our own ideas and teach them to other people who grow up and realize that much of what we taught them is not true. Who really knows the truth?

5) Marriage doesn’t have to be work, and shouldn’t be. People who tell you how hard marriage is and how much effort you have to put into it have bad marriages, so don’t listen to anything they say. Who would want to be married if it made your life more difficult? Evolutionarily speaking, the whole point of marriage is to make life easier. Don’t fight nature. Marry someone who is easy to be married to.

6) You don’t have to worry—I’m serious, you really don’t. Worrying is a choice. Sometimes we unconsciously begin to worry, but as soon as we realize we’re doing it, we can choose to stop. I know it’s cliché, but worrying never changed anything except your mood and physical health for the worse. There’s no point, and I’m too busy for pointless things. Whenever I start to worry, I allow myself to imagine the worse thing that can happen. It’s pretty ridiculous and funny, so it snaps me out of worrying pretty quickly, which leads me to number 7.

7) The only people who are stressed are people who care too much. I love the saying, “I don’t know about my bucket list, but my fucket list is getting pretty long.” The quickest way to stress-free living is shockingly not meditation—I’ve tried that. It’s saying, “Fuck it.” If something is going to cause my stomach to turn to knots, I realize that it must be something over which I have very little control, so I choose to not care about it anymore. I realize this is not possible in every case, especially when it comes to the health of loved ones, but as I understand number 6, there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.

8) We can love or hate anyone, regardless of what they are like. Almost 50 years of life has taught me that loving or hating someone is more about me than it is about them. I have learned that I am capable of loving the most unlovable person once I learn enough about them to understand their perspectives, what made them like they are, what is important to them, what they fear and for what they hope, and see them as they see themselves. Conversely, I can despise wonderful people if I choose to see them only through their faults, mistakes, or little annoyances.

9) Everyone is mentally ill, but then mental illness is normal, so no one is mentally ill. It seems like everyone has some sort of neuroses, depression, or anxiety today, so much so, that it’s hard to find someone who is not depressed, bi-polar, who does not have OCD, ADHD, addictive behavior, or some nervous disorder. It’s like allergies. Almost everyone has one. So doesn’t that make it the norm? And if it’s normal to have these brain malfunctions, then are they malfunctions? I’m not talking about serial killers here—serious sociopaths. I’m speaking of all the little idiosyncrasies that are now so common. Didn’t we always have them? We just didn’t label them and medicate them in the past. Get over it; you’re normal.

10) Death is not a big deal to the person who is dead. As a person who has serious doubts about the existence of an afterlife, I’m not worried about it. When I’m dead, I won’t know it, so what’s the big deal? Bury me, cremate me, throw me in a ditch. Who cares? I’m not there anymore. Sure, my life will be over along with all my potential, all my hopes and dreams, but again, I won’t know it, so what’s all the fuss about?

11) We choose friends in whom we see what we like about ourselves. People say that when we dislike something in another person, we are really seeing something in them which is negative about ourselves. I don’t know if that’s true, but the converse is most assuredly true. We really do choose friends in whom we see what we like about ourselves. We like them because we have these things in common, and because of them, we notice the best in ourselves.

12) People continue to lie when the best thing in the world is to be known, known by self and others, truly known. In an effort to be accepted, they never can be, and they are subconsciously preventing their own happiness.

Yes, I can count. I said there were 10 epiphanies that changed my life, but then I wrote 12. Well, as a person about to turn 50, I refuse to be constrained by a number. I am a rebel, and 10 sounded better than 12 in the title. But seriously, when I realized each one of these things, it changed my whole outlook on life, for the better, I’d like to think. So mind-bending? Yes, whenever my worldview shifts and things become clear and my life changes as a result, I consider my mind bent. —Christina Knowles

Photo courtesy of cloudfront.net

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