Create an Escape in Your Home with Decor by Laura Pursley

Escape…. We all need to be able to escape, to relax and recharge from our busy lives. Actually doing it can be very challenging, especially in this day and age where everyone is connected 24/7. Information is at your fingertips at all times, and there are more and more demands put on us, or we put them on ourselves.

Summer is often a time when people slow down, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the sometime short lived beautiful weather (depending on where you live). Some are able to take vacations to escape for a short time. The trick though, is finding that feeling of escape in your daily life so it’s not just a one-time thing.

One of my favorite artists/photographers that epitomizes the feeling of Escape is Gray Malin. So much so that his latest book is named “Escape” and is full of beautiful beach pictures. Even if you can’t go to all of these beaches, just looking at these beautiful beach pictures immediately gives you the feeling of escape.

Gray Malin Book Cover

Not everyone is able to take a beach vacation, and even if you do, it can be short lived. The secret is finding a way to escape on a regular basis to really be able to recharge.

If you can’t take a beach vacation, but still want that feeling of escape, here are a few ways you can do this.

One way is to create this same feeling of escape in your own home, in your daily life with your home décor. Adding décor to your home that reminds you of your travels with pictures or mementos, or decorating rooms in your home that evoke the feeling of your favorite places can create the escape that you need.

Here are some examples of what I’ve done to create an escape for myself in my own home.

The first way is to use pictures from vacation to create décor/art. You can either enlarge special pictures and frame them, or use some easy apps to create a unique piece of art. Here are a couple examples that I added to a gallery wall.

Gallery Wall with Family Memories Laura Pursley

Here is an up-close view of this dear moment captured with our son and his Papa on the beach, watching the Northern Michigan sunset, pondering life. It is now part of a gallery wall in my office, that I see every day.

Gallery Wall with Family Memories Photo Laura Pursley

Another example is a sweet moment between my two kids captured on the same vacation in Northern Michigan, and I turned into a watercolor (using an App called Waterlogue).

Family Moment Captured Laura Pursley

Here are a few more examples of how you can turn your family memories into artwork using an easy free app.

Turning Family Memories into Artwork

Turning Family Memories into Artwork Escape

Just looking at these images brings me right back to that specific vacation.

Another way to create an escape is to think about your ultimate vacation destination and what this might look like. For me, I love the beach, and my ultimate beach house (if I had one) would consist of a lot of white, some blues, some natural elements and have clean, wide open spaces. So, I have incorporated some of these elements into my home.

Here’s an example of our wet bar in our basement.

Home Décor: Create an Escape in Your Own Home Laura Pursley

Here, in our wet bar in the basement, I used a lot of white, clean simple lines, and natural elements in the beams to create a calm setting. Being in this area just makes me happy. You can also see that one of the items on the shelf is the framed picture from our beach trip this year.

Family Beach Trip Framed

Being in this room makes me feel relaxed and clam. If I choose to, I can escape from my responsibilities or I can do work in a calming atmosphere.

One of my favorite things that Oprah once said was “your home should rise up and meet you, it should be your sanctuary”. (I may be paraphrasing a bit). But, I couldn’t agree more. You should create spaces in your home that you love, that can be used as an escape and incorporating special things from your travels or just things that remind you of what you love is a great way to do this. Even if they are small, subtle things, they all add up to create a calm, relaxing space that you love.

We can all get caught up in our crazy busy lives, but if you can find your escape, it will do a lot for your happiness, and your sanity! Décor can be a powerful thing, and can create a feeling of escape, without even taking a vacation!

About the Author: Laura Pursley

Laura is a home decor blogger, marketing professional, mother of 2, living in Michigan. Laura has a passion for design that she uses to transform her home into a comfortable, livable, beautiful space for her family. Her design motto is that you don’t have to be a designer to have good design in your home. She believes that everyone deserves to be in a space that they love, whatever that means to you.

Laura likes to mix a little bit of modern with a little bit of farmhouse, and she likes textures, patterns, and in some instances, is not afraid of color. It is her hope with her design blog to inspire others to transform their own spaces into something they love.

Visit her blog at to get inspired, or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

Sunday Sanctuary: on Books and Authors I Have Known

If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my life, there is nothing like a great book to escape. I learned this at an early age, that books took me to other worlds: Narnia, Sleepyside, and Victorian London.

Books saved me, too. I was a inquisitive and talkative child. By encouraging my love of books, my mother found a key to a few moments of blessed quiet: I didn’t talk (as much) when I was reading.  Besides adventures, I found answers to the ways the world worked in books. And recall one summer when I decided to read the encyclopedia. That was back in the days when the way to find answers was found in beautiful hardback books, not with the click of a mouse.

Some of my fondest memories are climbing into a tree in my grandmother’s front yard on a hot summer day. Armed with a pillow, a Dr. Pepper, and a book,for long moments I escaped the oppressive heat of a 70’s era summer. She didn’t have air conditioning, but there was shade from the oak leaves and if I was lucky, a breeze to stir the thick air.

Books have been a constant companion all these years. I’m fifty now, and though I’ve had periods of time when I didn’t read as much, I don’t recall a time when I didn’t have a book close at hand. I still find great pleasure in taking a good book and myself to lunch. I can’t imagine traveling without a book (or two) (or now a loaded Kindle in my purse. When I traveled a lot for work, the airport bookstore became my BFF.

And I am one of those rare people that can read in the car without getting sick to my stomach. So a long car trip with John at the wheel is an opportunity for diving into a great story.

In all the years of reading – and later writing – I haven’t had much opportunity to attend book signings. It seemed such an exotic opportunity, designed for the fancy folks living in New York City. Oh, how I envied the idea of those literary salons and easy access to famous authors at Barnes and Noble. I was from a small town in Texas, and authors didn’t really come to little old Mansfield. And if they came to the big cities of Fort Worth or Dallas? I don’t know how in those pre-internet days we would have found out about the events.

All those years of loving the written word and I was almost 21 before I met my first real author. Well, I felt like I knew Sandra Brown because she was a weather girl on Channel 4 when her first book came out. But that isn’t the same. No, the first author I met was Larry McMurtry.   I was a junior in college and he was to be a guest lecturer. I took a literature class composed entirely of his works.

He was quieter in person than he seemed on the page.

With All Things Girl, I began interviewing authors. Meeting them online and sending emails back and forth, often with a PR agent as our go-between. I know a lot of authors that way. Always game to help them promote their latest book. My love of books and their work makes me want to see them succeed.

That’s how I met George Pelecanos in 2008. Because we were both in DC at the time, we did a telephone interview rather than email.  And then, as luck would have it, I was in DC and got to attend a lecture and book signing of his.

George Pelecanos - August 2008 - Poetry & Prose in DC

Talk about mesmerizing! That man has charisma. The sheer power of his presence invited me into another world and I saw clearly how he was not just a successful author, but a screenwriter that invited me into another beloved escape: television.

In the last few years, I’ve met many authors online and I am grateful. I have dear friends that have written books. Somehow, knowing a writer as a friend before you read their book puts them in the friends I love, so of course I love their books.

Settled in Ohio, I have now met three authors in the last four years that I didn’t know as friends first. Can you imagine? In forty-five years of reading, I met two authors between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-six.  And now, in my middle age years, I’ve met Tess Gerritsen and Jill Santopolo. Both thanks to my local library and the Jewish League of Dayton. Each was delightful and talked about their writing process and answered questions. And though I knew Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles characters thanks to TNT, I didn’t read either of their books until after meeting them.

Then this past week, I met Fiona Davis.  Fiona is a former Broadway actress and she has such charisma!

Fiona Davis - August 2018 - Bexley, OH

I have devoured Davis’ previous books: The Dollhouse and The Address. And have recommended them to friends. So, when I found out that she was going to do a luncheon and book signing in Columbus, I reached out to a girlfriend and we attended together.

I loved hearing about how she approaches a book. She’s the most logical writer I’ve ever heard speak.

She begins first with a location. All her books are set in a specific building as the backdrop – and almost character. Her new book, The Masterpiece, is set in Grand Central Station. Since her book are historical fiction, she must do extensive research. She allows herself two months to do research. Enough time to dig in without going down the rabbit hole too deeply. Also a way to ensure she doesn’t use research as an excuse to not write.

As historical fiction, she has two timelines in each book. One in the past, one more modern. Both set in the same location, that becomes a character of its own.

She outlines. Extensively. Before she gets to the page, she knows the general trajectory of each character, the two plots, and when the timelines of the main characters will collide and merge. On some rare occasion, a character goes off the outline and demands to do something earlier than she planned.  But that has only happened once so far.

She says she doesn’t suffer from writer’s block. Sure, she said, she has better days than not. But her years as a journalist taught her that if she wanted to get paid, she had to get the work done. And knowing that she has a contract to do a book with a deadline propels her forward.

After lunch, her reading, and her answering questions, she lovingly signed books and chatted with the attendees.

Fiona Davis - with Debra Smouse & Blaze Lazarony

Her obvious love for the craft, for writing and creating stories, reminded me once again why I love books. Why their companionship has comforted me over the years. Why reading is still one of my greatest pleasures.

I waited until Friday night to begin The Masterpiece. I devoured the story of art and women and the fight for what is right. I finished it last evening. Discovering once again that between the pages of books, I could escape to another world. That the curious and inquisitive child I was at five still lives inside me. Always there waiting  to see what a turn of the page brings next.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire and Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Truth by John Hulme

Copyright: <a href=''>nejron / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

It was so hard in the early days,

scanning pollen grains through beams of curdled magnetospheric plasma,

examining their intricate combinations under the microscope for evidence of a release mechanism.


So arduous, painstaking and dispiriting was the work, I was often driven to riding Ergannine across the moors


(Ergannine was my pet sauropod dinosaur, thawed out and reanimated from the secret ice caves of East Cheam, and the quiet majesty of her company would do much to soothe my tortured soul in those days).


Many times I considered giving up the struggle – but Truth, as elusive and omnipresent as it was, would not let me go.


There was a secret coded into these pollen grains, and I knew it.


Once I had liberated it, I would know how to open up these giant alien flowers that now dominated the skies over London, Liverpool and Glasgow.  I would be able to decipher the intricate petal work and reveal what our cousins from across the stars were saying to us.


Eventually, a pattern revealed itself.


Using the algorithms gained from studying the pollen, I was able to trace a core pathway through the petals of one of these enormous blooms, using a giant steam-powered laser and a set of felt tip pens.


It worked.  The petal sculpture unpeeled itself, and the aliens’ message was revealed.


“Truth,” it said, “is about who has the best video on Facebook.”





What could it all mean?

Image copyright: nejron / 123RF Stock Photo

About the author, John Hulme

John HulmeJohn Hulme is a British writer from the Wirral, a small peninsula near Liverpool in the North of England. Trained in journalism (in which he has a masters degree), John’s first love was storytelling, trying to make sense of the world around him using his offbeat imagination. Since the death of his mother in 2010, John’s work has grown increasingly personal, and has become heavily influenced by Christian mysticism. This has led to the publication of two poetry books, Fragments of the Awesome (2013) and The Wings of Reborn Eagles (2015). A mix of open mike performances, speaking engagements and local community radio appearances has opened up new avenues which John is now eager to pursue. He is hoping to go on a kind of busking road trip fairly soon, provisionally titled Writer seeks gig, being John.  Find out more about John on Facebook.

My Horoscope Said I Would Travel by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Surgery loomed, escape was needed
before the body shut down for weeks.
I smuggled myself on a friend’s
casual invite to San Francisco.
She didn’t think I’d go.

Top of my list of wanna-sees,
Coit Tower, symbol of that magic city
standing proudly over the bay.
We parked blocks away, strolled by an alley
with almost hidden door.

I was drawn to the wood surface
carved with names: Flaco, 3D, T+M, Scott, AlexT.
Some were freshly dug with a sharp knife,
some with ballpoint pen,
many engrained from years of exposure.

I wondered what connected these guys,
if they were winners – or losers –
in ancient gang battles
or someone just passing by, as we were.

Breathless at the top of the hill
I gazed at Coit Tower, enjoyed
the murals on its walls, its iconic form.

More than the landmark, what dazzled
was the view of sparkling water,
sailboats tacking in a fresh breeze,
smells of salt and diesel and distant air.

I sighed, replete. Escape complete.
My back to the famous icon
I savored the sea.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Alchemy by Fran Hutchinson

Photo by Baher Khairy on Unsplash


Your past knows where to find you.

I’m fond of using that phrase, because it’s true.  It may sound a bit sinister, and perhaps at times it is.  But at times it’s more of a reunion than an unwelcome surprise.  My past recently paid me a visit, via a collection of old-school cassette tapes, Scottish music, and what happens when musician joins instrument creating music, when music joins technology creating memory, and memory creates… the place where your past can find you.

Once upon a time, my life was music. Lively, gentle, joyous, heartbreaking. Straight from the source… from Scotland, Ireland, Britain and Brittany, Australia and beyond, spun by artists who shone in their realms. And I was lucky enough to be surrounded by it, and them. Paths too complex to trace here dropped me into the company of the kind of people who made the purest kind of sounds.  They joined with their wire and wood, their reeds and bellows and bows and gut and voices, and together they made the air ring with magic.

That was some years ago.  Paths diverged, as they often do, and connections were lost. Some of the finest people and musicians I have known are no longer with us.  But where music meets technology, memory is created.

“Back in the day” (the 70’s) I was a denizen of a New Bedford, MA coffeehouse called Tryworks.  Some of the greatest music makers anywhere, both known and un,  played on its stage.  The director of Tryworks was a formidable woman named Maggie Peirce.  Maggi had a daughter named Cora.  Forty years on, our paths converged again when Cora began working in social services at the senior housing where I live. When we’d recovered from the shock of reunion, we fell headlong into our shared history of bearing witness to alchemy.

The alchemy of music can only be witnessed as it happens (unless you’re lucky enough to create it yourself).  No matter how many roaring choruses or stamping of feet you take part in, in all music the highest magic happens only in that place where the musician and the instrument are joined as one. There music results.  There is no space between them for anyone else.  You can only bear witness.

Which brings me to the cassettes.  Cora had, by a series of circumstances, come into possession of studio-quality recordings of some of the very people and events that once were such a part of my life. Knowing their significance, she passed them on to me.

Thus on a recent Sunday morning, as the tape spun out, I recognized a concert I had attended at the Old Cambridge Baptist Church in the early 80’s featuring two exceptionally gifted Scottish musicians.  I smiled as I recognized singer/guitarist Dick Gaughan’s rough ad libs with the audience, and positively wallowed in the guitar tunes and songs.

And then… the fiddle.

There was no name on the tape’s case except “Dick Gaughan”, but the sound was unmistakable to me.  Nobody spun fiddlesong like that except Johnny Cunningham, the unparalleled master. After that set of tunes, when the wild acclamation had died down, Dick acknowledged Johnny by name. For another thirty minutes Johnny and his fiddle swooped and soared through raucous reels, lively jigs, and finally a set of weeping airs.

There, right there, is where my past found me. And once more, I bore witness.

Your past does know where to find you.  It can and it will, often when you least expect it.  And if you’re very lucky, the result will be alchemy.

Author’s note: Dedicated to the late Johnny Cunningham… master of the Scottish fiddle, occasional whisky buddy, and my “ghost” writer for this piece.

About the author: Fran Hutchinson

Fran HutchinsonCurrently a resident of New Bedford, MA, Fran Hutchinson experienced a “poetic incarnation” while embedded in the 80’s folk scene in Boston.  Occupied variously as live calendar producer for WGBH’s Folk Heritage, contributing editor at the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston’s monthly Folk Letter, artist manager and booking agent, and occasional concert producer, she was surrounded by exceptional music and musicians, including those she had long listened to and admired.  The result was a rich source of inspiration for verse, of which she took full advantage. No longer writing poetry, Fran has recently been the recipient of a surgically altered back and two new knees, and spends her time reading and listening to music (natch), texting and emailing long-distance friends,  and hanging with her posse at the Community center.

Myopia by Nancy Richardson

Who could live with a person who sells
vacuum cleaners to old ladies, sweeps
the dead skin from their mattresses
promising them a cleaner life?
All I felt was the heat on his skin.
Later in the dark, when the baby’s cries
were like spikes in the mattress
and he wouldn’t get up, I wanted to throw
his body off the bed. Words float away
like dust motes leaving nothing
but quiet air, the way the small silences
around a conversation alter the direction
of a thought and are seen, like dams
in a river, by the way the talk flows up,
over and around. I sat in front of the TV
serving the baby chunky food from jars,
the day Robert Kennedy was shot.
Sobbed for his lifted head, his empty eyes,
my silent life, and left then, along
with the unused words, drove down
the two lane road in my rusty Volkswagon
with the kids, headed for words
like insight, foresight, some other life.

About the Author: Nancy Richardson

Nancy Richardson’s poems have appeared in journals anthologies. She has written two chapbooks. The first, Unwelcomed Guest (2013) by Main Street Rag Publishing Company and the second, the Fire’s Edge (2017) by Finishing Line Press concerned her formative youth in the rust-belt of Ohio and the dislocation, including the Kent State shootings that affected her young adulthood. In An Everyday Thing, she has included those poems and extended the narrative to memories of persons and events and the make a life.

She has spent a good deal of her professional life working in government and education at the local, state, and federal levels and as a policy liaison in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Education and for the Governor of Massachusetts. She received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2005 and has served on the Board of the Frost Place in Franconia, NH. Visit her website.

Grace and Frankie and Mom and Me by Nuchtchas

GraceandFrankiePhoto-author's personal collection


After watching season one of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, I knew I wanted my mom to watch this show. What I didn’t initially realize was how much I needed her to watch it with me.

If you’re not familiar with the show, Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) as wives whose husbands each ask the women for divorces, so they can marry each other. (The husbands, by the way, are played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston). While it’s absolutely a contemporary situational comedy, the show handles topics that are perfectly relevant to my 70-something mother who got divorced after 30 years of marriage. While her divorce was for different reasons than those of the characters on the show, and while many details are different, it’s the emotions, and the conflicts that resonate.

My parents divorced after thirty years of marriage, yet I was still a kid, a teen at the time. Some of the things happening, I couldn’t see anything but my side of, because I was a kid. I couldn’t talk to my mom about what was happening to her because at that time she was working on making things as safe and healthy for me as possible. Talking with my mom about the divorce as an adult is always like unwrapping an onion; we find new layers and new perspective, and at some point, we will both cry.

While Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are both playing characters a bit younger than they are in reality, the age they are playing is what my mother is experiencing right now. I watch the episodes before watching with my mother, so I can watch her and listen to her reactions when we watch together. So many times, we hit pause and talk about how what we are seeing on screen is just how things happened in life.

For example, in the first season there is an episode with a funeral, and Grace must see all of her old mutual friends. She had to face the way she was viewed, how it seemed her ex-husband was seen, how she was no longer in people’s lives, and even that she wasn’t invited to her niece and goddaughter’s shower.

When you get divorced you don’t just lose a spouse, but so much family, and sometimes that is on both sides. People who were family begin to ignore or reject you. Even your friends – they have other plans, they are suddenly too busy.

I saw tastes of that when I was younger, but I didn’t understand it till Grace and Frankie. Until I watched these two fictional people go through similar things to my mother.  This show gave me some context to talk about it after the fact. I know that watching this show has helped me deal with a lot of held-over issues I have from my parents’ divorce, but that is nothing in comparison to what my mother has been able to process.

As we’ve continued to watch the show, I’ve found that each season helps more and more, and I believe that’s true for my mother, also.

Season one, or course, is the divorce, what it is like during that.

Season two was more about what happens after, and what it’s like when dating resumes. Not only that but dating at a ‘certain age.’ This, particularly, was really close to when my mother started dating, and it opened up new lines of conversation for us. It made her feel that she could talk to me about her dates and the men she had been seeing. It’s not easy for a mother to talk to their children about dating, no matter how old those children are, but Grace and Frankie laid the ground work for us. The show built the vocabulary and language, so when we weren’t watching it, we would still have that touchstone.


Season three was about companionship and how you need more than your children at that stage of life. So many people devote their focus – their lives – to their children; then they reach an age where their children don’t need them every day, and they find they need other people. I know now that I can’t be a friend-replacement for my mom. We have a lot of things we can connect about, but I can’t do all of the things she needs. Again, Grace and Frankie gave us the building blocks for this understanding. It made it clear that just because I can’t be the companion she needs, that doesn’t mean I have failed her in any way, or that she doesn’t love me enough. My empathy for her situation is much more nuanced, thanks to these fictional characters.

Season four focuses a lot on age, getting older, your children under-estimating what you can do, making choices for you, and how sometimes you need to be able to identify your own limitations and that things have changed. This was so topical for us. My mother is still working full time, she’s an executive so she works anywhere from forty to seventy hours a week. She watches her grandkids and helps out a lot with the family, and she is still very physically active, walking almost every day and participating in 5Ks. Yet, some of my siblings treat her like she can’t care for herself, and feel the need to micromanage her health and mobility. Of course, it’s right to be concerned for your parents as they age, but you still need to find the balance so concern doesn’t turn into taking away their autonomy.

So, how did my mother and I form our mutual Grace and Frankie habit? It all started when she was visiting me: I had her cornered, and so she had to finally watch the show. Much like me, she was hooked just a few episodes in. We binged the entire first season in that week and it was excellent.

When the second season launched, we did the same during my visit to her, but we didn’t finish, so we started arranging “watching dates.” We would both watch in our homes, but FaceTime while we watched so we could talk about it. This became our thing: watching a show and visiting with each other.

Quickly it made us long for new seasons right away. We used to space them out, but come season four, we watched at least one episode every week, if not two. When we finished the existing episodes of Grace and Frankie, we knew we didn’t want to stop.

Immediately, we looked for another show to watch. Currently, we are going through another Netflix series, Schitt’s Creek, which is great, but missing something Grace and Frankie has. Still, our weekly date is set, it’s in my calendar, my husband knows to expect it, it’s a done deal. A few weeks ago, we didn’t even watch an episode, we just talked, because we needed to talk.

But Grace and Frankie is more than just a television show, and our watching dates have become so much more than mutual commentary on it. This experience brought my mother and me closer together, gave us a way to communicate about things we could never really approach before, and caused us to have weekly dates. My mother and I live in different countries; when I was in the same town we would see each other often, but after a decade of being away our time together has grown limited. Sharing this show – sharing any show – has returned some of that precious time to us.

And there’s more. As much as the show has had a positive effect on my relationship with my mother, its power has reached beyond the screen. I know that Grace and Frankie has had a profound effect on its cast and creators (Jane Fonda went back to therapy after season one) and I am so thankful that they have continued to put out this great series for all of us. But for people of my mom’s generation, it’s become a source of truth and recognition bound with laughter.

My mom is always telling her peers that they have to watch it, which has had varying reactions from, “What channel is Netflix on?” to “I can’t watch that, Jane Fonda is in it, remember that photo?” (Okay, that’s a whole other ball of yarn.) Yet, every person her age who finally watches it, is changed.  We are setting up another screening this summer with a mutual friend; she doesn’t have Netflix but will be coming to my mom’s house and watch it there with her, and me, on FaceTime.

You might think it’s a bit strange that a sit-com can change a relationship, but this show did. Thank you, Grace and Frankie for giving my mother and me the vocabulary and context to improve our relationship, and thank you, Grace and Frankie, Netflix, and FaceTime, for making it possible for me to hang out with my mom from another country every week. For giving us back that close-knit relationship. For improving the relationship we already had. Thank you also for doing all of this with humor. Being able to laugh together makes difficult subjects so much easier to approach, and you have helped us do it with Grace… and Frankie.

About the Author: Nuchtchas

RE - NuchtchasNuchtchas is an artist from NY, now living in Canada. Graphic Artist by day, working in both web and print medium, she finds fulfillment in creating fine art and podcasting. You can find more about her at

Instrumental: Can You Be Free? by Melissa Cynova

In my time doing tarot readings for people, I find that it’s the inner prisons that hold us the tightest.

In the 8 of swords, we see a woman barefoot. She is standing in a muddy field, surrounded by blades. Her arms are lashed against her sides, and she is blindfolded. It’s raining, desolate and dreary.

Can she be free?

If you look more closely at the woman, you’ll see that her legs are not bound, and there is an empty space in front of her. She has been there for so long, I’m afraid, that she is trapped not only by the hardships that brought her there, but by her fear itself.

Sometimes, we are so conditioned to things going wrong in our lives, that we don’t move away from the things that harm us. We stay – in a bad marriage, bad job, bad living situation – much longer than we should because we’ve become conditioned to the bad.

This is not, of course, referring to folks in a dangerous living situation. This is the woman who looks in the mirror 8 years later and sees that she’s living with a roommate, and that they don’t really like each other anymore.

The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation – in the 8 of Swords – the first thing is to look at where you are now. Assess your surroundings and make a plan instead of waiting until it’s unbearable and snapping a little bit. You can’t make good decisions when you’re filled with rage or sorrow. Those emotions color your decision-making skills and often you move too quickly and lose your balance.

Once you know where you are, take some time to make a plan.

For example, you’ve been working in the same office with the same people for 5 years. It’s a good job and you make good money, but the people that you work with are the gossipy, office shark type. You’re not really good with office politics so you keep your head down and are quiet all of the time. Always.

If you’ve decided you’ve had enough swimming with the sharks, move slowly. Update your resume. Find a headhunter in your field. Line up interviews and remember your value. Make slow, deliberate strides out of the beige world you’ve found yourself in, and into something that better suits you.

The most important thing to do when you’re in the middle of the 8 of Swords is to assess the situation before you start walking away. Take stock of the ground beneath your feet. Start loosening the ties on your hands and slide that blindfold off. Now that you can see what’s around you, you can walk free.

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa CynovaMelissaC_Bio is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. You can Look for her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, from Llewellyn Publishing.

Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her partner, Joe, and two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

She is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

Death Works Holidays by Selena Taylor

0264 - Death Takes Orders via FlashPrompt

“How big is the order?” Death reached under his cloak to read his clip board. The Deaths looked at each other and grimaced.

“There will be at least 30 souls there for us to collect,” the other Death told him.

The two Deaths started to walk towards the old manor, passing through the cemetery that was on the property. Each carried a plastic jack-o-lantern half filled with candy retrieved when children had dropped it. They both felt ridiculous, but it helped them blend.

And She had been clear: blending with the humans was vital on this day.

“Fitting.” The other snorted at the word.

“It looks like there are bodies all over the house. I have been called to the basement. I really hope there are no spiders. They give me the creeps.”

“Oh god, I know what you mean. I once was called to a forest where a man was bitten by several deadly spiders. I had to stand there holding up my cloak as the man came to terms with his demise. He kept twitching and arguing with me. ‘Maybe there’s anti-venin close by? Maybe you’re mistaken?’ That was a long day. This one is looking to try and beat that day.”

It was Halloween. A day to be happy and celebrate the work they did, and to acknowledge others who helped their kind. It was the one day children were less afraid of the so called “monsters” and embraced the supernatural. But… not this Halloween. This Halloween had them collecting the real monsters of the world. Behind a headstone were a few buckets of candy. Death slowly picked one up.

“There are lots of them back there. Lots.” As they looked at the candy, they heard a sound coming towards them. By the light of a candle that appeared in the Death’s hand, they learned that the sound was a little girl, skipping. Skipping towards them.

Some might wonder why such a young girl would be skipping through a cemetery, but they knew why. They knew it was just a trick. It was not really a little girl, but rather, one of the most dangerous demons ever given life.

She stopped in front of them, her fairy wings and glowing halo lending an air of innocence she didn’t possess. “Hello, boys.” Her voice was nothing like the child she appeared to be. Rather, her words came out in a dark purr. “I wish I could say Happy Halloween, but this is a sad day.” She stopped skipping right in front them. She wriggled her shoulders. “Time-stops make me itch. Hope it’s not bothering you. Did you get my special note?”

“Oh yeah, we got it and we understand it, too.”  Death felt the pull of time come back to where they stood. “How come we stopped time for so long here?”

“That was me, today,” said the not-really-a-little-girl. “One of the souls crossing over really needed his teddy bear. So, I went to go get it.” She paused, her face softening into a wistful expression. “It will help.”

They started to walk towards the manor.

“How old is the one who needs the bear?”

She held the bear close to her heart. “He’s only three. He was with his older brother when they got separated from their parents. They are waiting for me with the others. “

“How many?”

“Thirteen. Just today. I have been dealing with this group for a while, and today I finally won. If you call this winning.”

They all sighed.

“Boys, I know you have seen it all, but I was extra-creative with these people.”

“We promise we will be just as creative. Did you see I actually brought my scythe? I think it looks really nasty. It should work fine – instill fear and obedience. That sort of thing.”

“Oh, that’s great. Thank you. I have been working on this case for so long. Going the extra mile is appreciated.”

Searching the sky, Deaths and the not-a-girl realized that the time barrier had nearly dissipated, and all would soon be back to normal. Pity. They could have used the extra cover from human eyes. Mere mortals should not witness such as they.

“Let’s get to work, boys.”

About the author, Selena Taylor

Selena TaylorSelena Taylor is a wife, a mother, and a woman who strives to tell the many stories that occupy her mind. She is active in the Rhett & Link fandom and appreciates dark humor.  She and her family live in Illinois, where she takes every opportunity to lose herself under the stars and let her imagination run wild. For more from Selena, check her out on Facebook.

Alla Prima by John Grey

My view has been deliberately chosen,
a cozy spot halfway along the beach.
I have an image in my mind.
It’s now up to beauty to render it.

Each vision must have been born of woman,
sired by man, eighteen or more years added
plus a pleasing shape and lovely smile.

They must step out of the water at slow speed,
one after the other, an alia prima of loveliness,
lithesome and graceful.

And let each and every one of them
leave their footprints in the sand,
a fleeting record of consummate ease.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.