About ShellyLFrancis

Author, publisher, metaphortographer, courage creator.

Bringing in the New Year with My Birthday Buddies

When your family recipe for Hurry Up Chocolate birthday cake is the most delicious ever, with its pink frosting with a few drops of Nana’s ancient almond extract, well, the cake is a thing. The thing you really look forward to and savor for dessert and breakfast the following day(s).

When your tummy finally calls Uncle and asks you to eliminate sugar, eggs, flour, butter, milk, and more, there isn’t a lot of cake you can make. There is that sugar-free aquafava chocolate mousse from Lazy Cat Kitchen, which is pretty great, but this year, after a year of quarantine, we had an even better idea. 

Let’s make a sandcastle at the river-beach, light a candle, and have a birthday playdate, sans picnic.  The sand was too rocky to hold a cupcake shape, but the River’s frozen snow-ice was an even better cake-and-frosting alternative.

The Candle took fire-breathing lessons from the dragon and the West Wind must’ve been having a birthday too, because she kept blowing it out. 

My birthday buddies have plans for 2021, coming to books for you with their creative courage.

The Dragon figures in a fairy tale I’m calling “Once Upon a Heartstring.” It was in the last chapter of Damocles’ Wife, chapter 55, and now that I’m turning 56 it makes perfect sense to finish the story. Winter winds had brought a mean and terrible dragon that ravaged the village and farms, wounding the boy’s father who is barely beginning to heal. When the grownups can’t decide what to do, the boy decides to leave his village to go put an end to the dragon. Does he slay or befriend it, or does he learn something else entirely true? I wrote the beginning and end one starry night in 1998 but couldn’t imagine the middle back then. The middle has finally made itself known, and an illustrator is standing by to bring the story to life. This dragon is standing by as inspiration and model. 

The tortoise and the big elephant are also on a journey, having met each other one day in the jungle when the little tortoise was lost. How will the poetry of their unfolding friendship help them find their way home? Dr. Mukta Panda, author of Resilient Threads, is birthing this children’s book to reimagine a path to living with joy and meaning. She and I are co-leading an online retreat together in March on Reframing Resilience, Renewing Leadership.

Emotikin is going through her archives of adventures since 2003 and deciding which ones to turn into storybooks. If you didn’t see it on Solstice, you can find her first offering, Eleven Brave Pinecones, here. 

Later that 56th birthday day, by the way, my mom and dad got creative and made me a broccoli birthday cake!! It was the sweetest cake ever! Turns out you really don’t need chocolate to sing Happy Birthday to You! 

I’m already feeling the creative expansion of 2021 and hope you do, too! 

A book for you for Solstice 2020

It’s been a long LONG time since my last post. Life took detours and several coast to coast road trips where my camera was busy but my soul needed solitude and silence. The Emotikin met up with elephants, micro, mini and even full size at many zoos across America. The micro elephants are portable, pocket-sized and are here to stay. And the Emotikin is ready to come back out to play.

In fact, I thought an elephant story would be next. And there is one coming which also includes a turtle. And then I thought finishing a fairy tale about a boy and a dragon would be next (it’s a story I started in 1998 but could only see the beginning and ending back then). The middle has been emerging since August. Stay tuned for more about that! But as it turns out, the Emotikin insisted she gets to go first. The paper-version is in the works, and so for now, I am giving you this gift of a virtual book thanks to the ease of Canva. Enjoy!

Eleven Brave Pinecones ebook cover
Click to view book on a full screen. Enjoy!

Feel free to share this link, watch it on Zoom with little kids in your life. https://bit.ly/BrvPnCnz

Happy Winter!

Follow me on Instagram @ShellyLFrancis for more frequent photos and my Fortitude blog. My current work life includes having founded Creative Courage Press, publishing books by remarkable authors with refreshing ideas. Together we’re creating courage for the complexity of being human!

When Kindred Spirits Meet

I had placed my little elephant on the concrete to take a pic and this little boy made a beeline for it. His mom yelled, “Stop, that’s not yours. Don’t touch it!” I looked up and saw him. And his little dinosaurs, and his little brother, who’d all come to the plaza to play in the fountain.

“Here you go. Can my elephant meet your dinosaur? You can hold him but I need to have him back….Can I take your picture?”

The encounter didn’t last long. He handed back the elephant, reluctantly. I kept taking pics. And moved on.

So, I’m on my free-range road trip visiting lots of people and places, and taking along my micro-elephants to focus my eye on the smallest meaningful moments and metaphors. These little guys (boy, his dinosaur, and my ellie) remind me how the littlest things can connect people, if we have the courage to stop and relate.

This morning, days later, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have been more generous and given the elephant to him. Note to self, perhaps I should carry extra elephants with me at all times.

P.S. Just noticed something. Look at the last pic and reflection…do you see the other elephant face? What is that!?

#connecting #micromoments #elephantlove #freerangeroadtrip #couragewaylife #relate #reframegame

How to Slow Down on a Friday

I set myself free on Friday at noon.
Got my swing off the hazelnut tree.
The clouds had picked west, so we went to the east
to the beach with the tree with that branch.

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Folded rope, chain and thoughts filled my arms,
filled my heart.
How tight we hold what needs to go.

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The moment I slung rope-swing over the tree
The afternoon started to breathe.

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Sit down, the seat said,
Say a prayer, said the sea.
You can loosen your grip, said the chain.

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Now tune your ear to the tide,
My prayer whispered back.

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Do you feel your breath slowing too?

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The tide coming in had secrets to tell.
It didn’t take long til I listened.

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~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 If you’re viewing this online, not as email, you can see the minute-long video: 

have a good weekend! 🙂

After the Windowsill

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Today was the day. It was time to let my seashell friends and stones go back home. They’ve been gracing my windowsills nearly a year, coming to stay a few at a time over time. The spiders and dust motes made them sneeze. So in the spirit of Solstice next Tuesday, it seemed the right day to let High Tide give them a go.

So off to Point Robinson, north of the lighthouse.

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Out of the basket, landing in the sand with happy chirps.

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Ah, what a beautiful crew. I’m going to miss them.

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They jumped onto the just-right-size driftwood to take in the view, get their bearings.

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Then we sang songs. I wish you could have heard them harmonizing.

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When it was time for me to say farewell, one little green stone asked to go back in my pocket. I said yes, of course, yes.

I must admit, the basket wasn’t empty when I left the beach. New stones had invited themselves for summer vacation. But that’s another story.

     Enjoy the whole movie story with music:  

Dancing With the New Year

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Before I could welcome the New Year
I had goodbyes to say
and thank yous to pray,
and rare sunshine showed up to take notice.

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Goodbye was due to my old friend Doug Fir,
whose last wish was I dance on his growth rings.
His rings tallied up drought and the raining disasters
that helped him grow tall and yet taller.

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Before my goodbyes my knees buckled and bent.
Long skinny shadows suggested forgiveness I seek
for too many days through too many years
tucked under a desk, life ignoring.

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As penance and promise when I welcome the New Year,
I will measure the width of your growth rings, Doug Fir.
I will witness your years with the breadth of a hug
that tugs my heart wide, wide, wide open.

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Take a deep breath now, I said to myself,
and I shifted my sorrow to solace.
Will you dance with me now, Mr. New Year? I asked.
Will you honor my friend
who is gone?

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Yes I will.
Who will lead?

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We’ll take turns.
You go first.
Spring leads.
Summer follows.

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But it’s winter.

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As I welcome the New Year
I will dance in the darkness
deep down in my heart
I will welcome the shade
and the cold.

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Then let’s dance in the sunlight
that shines on us now
even though the air
is still frosty.

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Bring me lightDSC_0901

Bring me joy
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Bring friendship
DSC_0899Bring blue sky

Help me ring in the New Year with gladness.

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Make me silly
Make me strong
Make me giddy

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Make me wrong
to sit too long at my desk without playing.

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Help me laugh

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Help me sing
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Help me flap my strong wingsDSC_0979

Help me land on my feet DSC_0950

Please stand with me each day,
Mr. New Year.

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May I count my own growth rings
this year as I change.

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May I remember to bow
and say thank you.

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May I take time to dance
and play with my friends.

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And sing wondrous songs with my soul.*

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Thanks for dancing with me, Mr. New Year!
~ You’re welcome! ~

*Big thanks to my friend Alan Claassen for permission to put his wondrous song in this video:

Mixing Things Up

Time to mix things up

Some days do you get the feeling that it’s time to mix things up? Make a new cake? Challenge the status quo?

Today was one of those days.

I took my sturdiest, shiniest tool to the shore.

My sturdiest tool

I started at the south cove where the wind wasn’t so strong, thinking I’d have the best chance to stir something up without tipping over.

Tried the south cove

I gave it a go. I watched the fisherman casting his line, as if that might inform the sweep of my arm.

Watched the fisherman

It didn’t have quite the right energy. I wanted more of a ripple.

I sat down, perplexed, and pulled some seaweed out of the blades.

Perplexed

This was going to take more courage, and the right kind of wind.

So I tromped ‘round the bend and a gust of promise said Yes!

The wind said YES!

I dug in my heels and set the wheel to be ready.

Set for the ready.

And I waited for just the right moment.

It’s hard to stir up an ocean

It’s hard to stir up an ocean, but if you start at just the right moment, you have a good chance. It’s that pause between breaths . . . as if high tide needs to sneeze.

A bird friend give me a nod, without making me feel he was watching or judging.

A bird friend gave me a nod

He just showed me how he likes to fly, using the wind as a tool.

he showed me howhe likes to flyhow he likes to fly

Encouraged, I mixed.

I mixed and I mixed.

And I mixed. And I mixed.

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I don’t know if the ocean noticed my efforts. But something shifted inside me.

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Energized.
Effervescent.

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Yet peaceful. Satisfaction.

Satisfaction.

Because I took action.

See the video version below:

Friday Night UnFrazzling Frolic

Went to the beach Friday night

My buddy Blue Duck and I went to the beach Friday night after work.

He and the other two ducks, Yellow and Pink, had spent a long week trying hard to stay in a row. When the clock hit 5:30 pm I suggested a jaunt.  Yellow and Pink, workaholics they are, said no thank you. So Blue Duck and I went to the beach by ourselves.

Man, it felt good to walk on the sand and float in the waves. (Blue didn’t mind being tethered because you never know what rogue waves have planned at high tide.)

Found a bottle

Blue spied a bottle coming in toward the shore. At first we expected a message inside.

Was there a message inside?

What we saw was a whole ‘nother world, sloshing high tide inside under blue sky.

Had to play pirate

Blue just had to play Pirate, jumping on top, yelling “Ahoy!” to the boat passing by. He looked a bit silly but happy and isn’t that what Friday nights are for at the beach … for unfrazzling frolics?

Blue has amazing balance. He had fun pretending to swashbuckle with the bugs jumping nearby.

Better balance than me, who fell over laughing. My ankles got wet, so I said, “Let’s go sit down.”

Let's sit awhile

We just sat there, we two, on the driftwood. We sat there inviting the sun to soak into my soles. It was nearing six-thirty. One hour til the September sundown.

It's good to unfrazzle.

It’s good for friends to unfrazzle on Fridays. We should do it more often.