Blog Archives

Be-good-to-yourself Therapy

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of caring from someone to put a bandage on a wound. During a very difficult period in my adult life when I was learning to express my voice, that someone was my massage therapist. She gave me this little elf book called Be-good-to-yourself Therapy, written by Cherry Hartman and illustrated by R.W. Alley. The hand-sized book is delicately illustrated with elves and loaded with information intended to “help you overcome the distorted notions that keep you from living fully and honestly”.

begoodtoyourself

This book is great for those times when we may be feeling down or anxious. I like to randomly open a page to see what message is waiting for me for the day… and oftentimes, those messages hit the nail on the head. For example, today I opened to message #6:

“Take the time and space you need – even if other people are wanting something from you.”

How appropriate for the holiday season!

The messages aren’t always so general such as the one mentioned above. Some are more specific to the needs of situations and offer solutions, such as message #24:

“When you want to talk to someone new and are scared, breathe. Don’t start rehearsing, just plunge in. If it doesn’t go well, you can stop.”

I suggest this book to anyone who is having a hard time experiencing happiness or seeing the brighter side of life. Its simple messages may be exactly what you need to hear.

 

 

A little tune about Herland

If Herland was a comedic Broadway play, this is a little tune I wrote for it:

(“Herland” – a Broadway tune written by me)

Males: Herland!

Females: Herland!

All: What is to become of HER?

Solo Male 2: Is it like Themyscira?

Solo Male 1: Is Aphrodite and Diana here?

Males: For two thousand years it was SHE, SHE, SHE!

Females: Strong as any HE, HE, HE!

Males: Short hair! Long pants!

Solo Male 1: The only curves were in the land!

Females: Education!

Lead Female: No reproduction without it!

Males: Education!

Solo Male 2: No man, no hog, no man’s best friend

Solo Female 2: Not even some little Lepidoptera…

All: Only Education is important in… Herland!

Solo Male 2: I will serve and protect!

Lead Female: Will not!

Solo Male 3: I will conquer and win!

Lead Female: Will not!

Males: It’s Herland!

Solo Male 1: New language, new clothes, new country, new fortress!

Solo Male 2: New land!

Males: HERland!

Solo Male 3: Now we must plan our escape.

Lead Female: Don’t think so.

Solo Male 2: But our biplane is covered in a giant cape…

Lead Female: You must master our mastering.

Males: We must obey.

Solo Male 3: We must discover their secrets of reproductivity…

Solo Male 2: We must befriend and seduce…

Lead Female: Now all of their attention is He, He, He,

Not one, not two, but three –

NONE is enough for me!

Solo Female 1: I got my eye on…

Lead Female: Enough!

Solo Male 1: I got my eye on…

Lead Female: Enough!

Males: We’ve got our eyes on Herland!

Females: They have their eyes on Herland!

All: All the eyes are on Herland!

Solo Male 2: I got my eye on HER!

herland

The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Many times I find some of the best books at library book sales. The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai, by Francois Place, is one of them. This beautifully illustrated book includes many of Japanese artist Hokusai’s works as well as other illustrations, and its fable-like storyline is enjoyable for both young and old alike.

oldmanmad

The story takes place in Japan, where a young boy, Tojiro, sells rice cakes on the street and meets an old man nine times his age. That man is a print-maker named Hokusai. Tojiro learns many lessons from Hokusai, who is like a master to him in many ways. This is a story that will have you laughing, nodding, and shaking your head all at the same time because many of us can relate to the book’s characters or have known characters much like them. Its many messages are genuinely charming to anyone who can appreciate what knowledge seniors have to share with us.

I give this book a 5-star rating.

Ode to HG Wells’ “The Country of the Blind” and “The Star”

I wrote this while taking Coursera’s Fantasy & Science Fiction course. The assignment was to write an essay on HG Wells work, but I do things my way. I combined the two stories and created a poem out of it.

She was like a lion,

a big bright shining star

Her mane rose up,

captured the sky

like a chariot on fire,

ripping open

those that surrounded her

Push, pull, push, pull…

Most never take notice

until it’s too late

But the one with one eye –

he notices

Yes, he notices

He sees her bodacious beauty –

mountains rising above him,

he begins to feel caved in

until…

Until he realizes he’s in love.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hudnell &emdash;

Puff the Magic Dragon Inspires Fearlessness

I have very vivid dreams every night and have been keeping dream journals consistently over last several years. So far I’ve filled three dream journals over that period of time, and it seems that the more I write them down, the more I dream. Sometimes I can easily interpret them, other times I am completely lost as to why I would dream such bizarre things.

One night I had this very vivid dream of being on a journey, flying horses and calling one of them Puff the Magic Dragon. Upon waking, I had no idea what in the world any of it meant, as I did not remember the story of Puff. Thankfully for Youtube, I watched the three 9-minute segments of the 1978 cartoon and there was the answer to my dream.

I had already known that the meaning of flying in a dream is overcoming something or rising above a situation. Horses in a dream symbolize strength and endurance. Next, it was up to me to discover why I was recalling the cartoon about Puff the Magic Dragon.

The story of Puff begins with a little boy named Jackie Draper who does not speak. A dragon named Puff appears at his window and tells Jackie he is there to help him help himself. Puff draws a picture of Jackie and names him “Jackie Paper”, and takes Jackie Paper on a journey in a boat to discover the land of Honah Lee. Along the journey is a big mean-looking pirate, which at first the little boy fears.

“The first step in not being afraid is to see things as they really are,” Puff tells Jackie. All of a sudden, Jackie sees the pirate as a baker and is no longer afraid.

The next fear that Jackie must overcome is the sea. Puff tells the boy that it’s not the sea he’s afraid of, but the dark clouds that cover the stars – because the clouds are jealous of the stars. The clouds believe they can deny beauty by hiding it, and just as a star falls from the sky, Puff tells Jackie that the clouds are always happy when a star dies.

As the star lay dying in his boat and cannot speak, Jackie says, “She wants to talk but she can’t. I know how she feels,” and although he is still afraid, the boy makes it his mission to save the star – and he does. Immediately after his mission is accomplished, the boat arrives on Honah Lee, but the place is not as they expected. The inhabitants of the island are all big noses that only sneeze and feel discomfort, which helps Jackie to understand that the reason they act that way is because they feel so miserable.

In the end, the pirate-cook comes along and creates rain made of chicken soup, thereby curing the inhabitants of Honah Lee. Puff brings Jackie Paper back to his room and tells him that he needs to be Jackie Draper, who is able to speak once again.

The moral of the story is that if you are fearless and see things in a different perspective, the stars and sunshine will come out – after the clouds and rain. I then understood the meaning of my dream.

The Tree That Survived the Winter

I often find my most treasured books in secondhand stores. Not too long ago I found a little gem titled The Tree That Survived the Winter by Mary Fahy. It’s a simple story – a fable for adults – with simplistic artwork.

treewinter

The story begins about a tree that wakes up one day to see what she has survived being removed from her comfort zone and endured a harsh winter. But then the tree begins blaming the sun for not being there when she needed it most. The sun explained to the tree that she survived because she was loved, and because she had kept faith that the sun would come back. As the tree grew, she was needed and loved by people, and each of them gave her different names.

The Tree That Survived the Winter is about having faith during difficult times. When I read the book, I had just survived a brutal “winter” myself, and took it as a sign that everything will always be okay in the end.

Finding Treasures: Griffin & Sabine

Thrift stores are always having book sales, and since I am a book lover, they are the best place to find some great reads. I found this little treasure called Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. It is finely illustrated in post-card format, so the reader isn’t following a typical paragraph-type of book. It is sort of a pop-up type of book, but instead of things popping up, envelopes open to reveal letters written between the two characters Griffin and Sabine. This book is like reading letters found in an old drawer between two people you’ve never met – but with a surprise twist at the end. The book sells on Amazon for about $13. The price I paid? $1.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Sexual Innuendos, Weak & Evil Females

I took an online course taught by University of Michigan professor Eric Rabkin. Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. Our first assignment was to read Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales (Lucy Crane translation with Walter Crane illustrations) and write a themed essay of 270-320 words.

Shannon's Creative Work: PARANORMAL PROJECT &emdash; History Repeats

Several of the Grimm stories contain sexual innuendos and exhibit female characters as either weak or evil. In the weaker female character versions, they can only be saved by a male.

In “The Rabbit’s Bride”, the female character (maiden) is both lonely and gullible. The male character (rabbit) lures the maiden to sit on his tail, which is clearly a sexual pun, and the gullible maiden agrees to run off with the rabbit to get married. Likewise, the female character (mouse) in “Cat & Mouse in Partnership” is both gullible and weak. She believes her male (cat) partner’s lies and in the end becomes his victim when he no longer wants her to speak. The weak and gullible female (princess) character in “Faithful John” is taken by the merchant upon false pretenses after he opens his coat and shows her his “golden wares”, which could be yet another sexual innuendo. Even after being fooled, the princess still marries the King and later believes the lies he tells her.

“Clever Grethel” lives up to her name. She is conniving with both her gullible male master (who is perhaps her husband) and his guest. Giving that she is cooking two “cocks”, it may be suggested that the guest is someone with whom Grethel is having an affair.
Shannon's Creative Work: PARANORMAL PROJECT &emdash; Out of the Darkness

Some of the stories contain both a weak and an evil female character. While the princess in “The Goose Girl” is too weak to fend for herself against the wicked waiting-woman, in the end it is a male character that saves her. “The Raven” is another example of a story in which the main female character (princess) can only be saved by a male, and the male is deceived and drugged by an evil female (old woman) to keep him from rescuing the princess.

5 Must-Have Books (and exercises) for Every Writer

Reach for the sky

This was published in Flash Fiction Chronicles a few years ago:

Five Must-Have Books (and Exercises) For Every Writer

A Look at Alice’s Character in Wonderland

An assignment in the Fiction and Fantasy course I am taking required reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. I don’t believe I’d ever read the originals, but they are far different from a child’s world of imagination when read as an adult. I really wanted to dig deeper into Alice’s world, however, the assignments only allow us less than a 400-word count, and I could have written 10 pages on just the symbolism alone. This still isn’t my best work, because I was rushed to complete this as well as another course assignment.

As this was my first time ever reading both Alice in Wonderland (AW) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (ALG), I came to the conclusion that Alice was an adolescent going through an identity crisis, perhaps suffering from mental illness, drug/alcohol introduction, and sexual abuse.

The beginning of ALW reveals instances of indulgence and innocence changed – such as the White Rabbit (fertility, innocence), the cake (something sweet), the “drink me” bottle (indulgence), a golden key, orange marmalade (sweet), and later the white roses painted red. Everything in the first chapter presented to Alice is “sinful” in one way or another, and also seemed both keep her innocence, but at the same time reveal it was not so much. Alice has indulged in the “sweetness” of cake and a drink, both of which change both her attitude (“people are pushy”) and altitude (“nothing is the same”) of things to become her. In later chapters, Alice is presented as both a victim and someone unusual (as a possible example of mental illness – remembering this is the 1800s).

In Chapter 2, Alice begins to speak to objects (her own feet) as if they can hear and understand her, and she does this as well in ALG when speaking to the kitten as if it were human (she also bullies the kitten). In both cases, Alice speaks to herself in third person, as if she is someone else altogether, and refers to herself by other names, especially after the Cheshire Cat begins to call Alice “Mary Ann.” Once the Cat tells Alice “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad,” then it becomes clear that Alice is perhaps in a place in which others are not mentally stable. Eventually, Alice admits to playing games with herself, and some of the games enter her dream – even though they may not make sense at first.