When I first moved into my house, boxes weren’t labelled well, so my belongings were strewn about and placed haphazardly throughout the place. I had new rooms, new space, and I got to occupy them. There’s something about empty space that leaves me slightly anxious — I feel the need to fill it. Before I unpacked, I needed to decide the role each room would serve. Some were natural: the kitchen, the bathroom, the pantry. But where would my dining room table go: in the kitchen, or the great room in the front of the house? Which of the four…

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

When I was a child, I wanted to be everything from a teacher to a doctor to an entomologist. My imagination was big when I was a child, but even then, I realized dreams can only go so far and I emulated what I saw. I imagined myself in roles that I saw around me. I grew up and so did my dreams.

I’ve had many jobs in my working years. Whether that’s from my mental illness, my natural propensity towards flitting about like a butterfly, the…

She made no introduction of herself. She had creamy brown skin and black eyeliner drawn on dramatically to bring out her gold flecked eyes and black spiked hair. Long black boots with fishnet hose and a black leather jacket.

“In this heat?” I asked her.

“I like things that make me sweat,” she laughed.

“What do I call you?”

“People call me lots of things. It’s what I’m here to do for you, if you’ll let me. You see me as you need to. I have many forms. You call me what you want. But listen to what I have…

The walls you’ve built are strong. They are wide, insurmountable. You have built them around you for so long. They are there for reasons. Reasons you remember.

Six years ago, they left. You sat in an empty house, your children gone. You didn’t know when you would see them again, if he would hold up his end of the bargain. A bargain you have only told part of the story to some people. You remember that summer. The paper he held out to you, written by his lawyer, banning you from the children and the house and everything you had…

There is a certain amount of forgiving that goes into a garden.

Gardening isn’t just sticking things into the ground and then, weeks later, something comes out of it. You put certain amounts of qualities of yourself into that garden — into that small plot of earth that develops into what you hope will be a fruitful bounty edible enough for your kitchen table.

There is a certain amount of forgiving that goes into a garden. The day after a good rain or if you’ve just watered the soil, it is the best time to pull weeds. Forgive them. Forgive…

There are many things that make a difference in our lives, whether it be a huge life event or a small daily struggle. If a big boulder or a small pebble is dropped into the waters of our lives, it has a ripple effect that reaches into many areas that affect our daily living. Even if it is a whole shovel full or one small pebble, those pebbles ripple out to areas we don’t expect.

I find that what I concentrate on becomes the undercurrent of my day. My attitude can become my pebble, and I can make that pebble…

As I walked the fields, I would see you

in every cloud I passed over,

every blue sky that stretched overhead,

every sunbeam that arched toward me.

As I walked the fields, you were in

each bend of leaf,

each new plantlet breaking forth,

each field bursting full of life

and green and promise.

Now that I labor behind a desk

and my brain and my body tire

more easily,

it is becoming more of a challenge

to find you.

I walk along the blacktop road

at lunch in the sun,

but only gravel greets me.

I water my slow…

I am standing on a chair at my kitchen sink, all five foot four inches of me, reaching up to the top of the cabinet to the left of it. I can barely reach the plant that sits at the top, even when standing on the tips of my toes, and of course I can’t wait until my six foot six inch tall son is available to help me because my errand is urgent. I have already waited much too long to do this; my beloved purple striped zebrina plant needs to be repotted. …

— for my twin sister —

Do you remember when

we thought you were allergic

to the crab apple trees

at the top of the hill

at our grade school?

I was so mad at those trees

for being so beautiful.

Those delicate petals

falling so dramatically yet

so serenely to the grass below,

the flowers hugging their

branches tightly in hues

of magenta, burgundy, and lilac

between creased pointed oval leaves

and smelling so sweetly.

I did not want the desire to

walk up that hill and

take each future fruit into my hands,

to talk to it gently,

I have manic depression. There are times when I start seeing those red flags that show me I’m starting down the road to depression and I know I’ve got to do something. Maybe I sleep in both days on the weekend. Maybe not enough things on my to do list are getting crossed off. Maybe the alarm has to wake me up too many days in a row and each time I have that feeling of “oh no, Lord, not today”. …

Julie S. Paschold

From Nebraska, two degrees in Agronomy/Soil Science, poet and artist, gender fluid queer, mother, twin, manic depressive, sensory sensitivity, PTSD, resilient.

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