The First Time

By April Brown

(No, not that first time ya perverts)

Looking back on your life and choices, you realize that there were tiny, insignificant moments that determined the course of your entire life.  Call it the Sliding Door Effect.  What happens if a person misses an elevator or a train by just one moment?  Those sliding doors aren’t just closing on the opportunity to get somewhere a little bit faster, but on an alternate universe.

You realize that one of those moments happened the night before the first day of your junior year of high school, when you either forgot to set your alarm clock, or stupidly set it to 6:30PM instead of AM.  And you awaken to the sound of your ride honking furiously, throw on clothes (thanking your lucky stars that you showered the night before at least) and apologize for the entire ride about your stupidity.

So you arrive to your first hour class a bit late, and there is one chair left, and it’s right in front of the new girl.  She is tall and beautiful in that way that runway models are beautiful, meaning that a lot of boys just don’t get it.  But she is fascinating and tells you that you look like an artist, and your old friends are kind of being bitches anyway so you say what the hell, let’s just go with this new thing.

And you do.  And she has a car.  It’s a piece of shit, but this is high school and a car is a car.  Automobile and autonomy have the same prefix and may as well be synonyms.  It gets you from point A to point B and one day point B is Perkins on a rainy day after school.   Okay so it’s technically not after school yet, because you ditched seventh our, but learning to balance those Chemistry equations can wait.  Because now Chelsye is teaching you how to milk the cow, simply meaning poking holes in your creamer seal with a fork and squeezing it into the coffee instead of pouring it.  And you’re fascinated even though it’s honestly really juvenile.  And it’s a habit you pick up that lasts longer than your soon to be picked up smoking habit.  You’re in non-smoking because you weren’t raised by a smoker and the idea of it still makes you a little sick, but it’s okay because the restaurant is dead so you’re not missing anything.

And you drink your coffee and talk about maybe going to this party and also about going to the Fair, and the whole school year stretches out ahead of you and you think it’s going to be like one big episode of My So Called Life because you’ve found your Rayanne and you’ve already kind of forgotten what that really means.  So for now, you just say “Yes, please, tell me more. Show me more.  Help me be more.”

By Guest Writer April Brown

By Guest Writer April Brown

APRIL BROWN is a director and stage manager who makes most of her money folding sweaters at a mid range retail chain.  A native southerner, she now lives in Wisconsin, a move that she pats herself smugly on the back for April through November but wonders what the hell she was thinking December through March, or whenever she goes out for breakfast and there is no hot sauce on the table.  She does a little tour managing and songwriting on the side and her biggest dream is to direct Benedict Cumberbatch in something, anything. Even a Neil Simon play.

Read her blog here:
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Current Event Haikus

still-born baby in
“off-site laundry,” oh god, how’d
that even happen?
even “beliebing”
could not save anne frank
from the nazi wrath
margaret thatcher
dies, after “years of frailty”
and everyone cares
sorry, i do not
wish i were informed enough
to give any shits
Poetry by Rachel Pattycake Bell

Poetry by Rachel Pattycake Bell

What’s True #7 – A Poem


What’s true is that home
is wherever you choose to be you
and you carry the potential of home
in your cells

What’s true is that cells
are expressions of you
or vice versa, taking in, clearing out
to maintain the balance of love

What’s true is that love
is a choice to stand in the force
of embracing of all that is
on this earth

What’s true is that earth
is a rhythm that moves through our feet
and into our minds, carrying the thrum of the ocean
through our hearts

What’s true is that sound
is the force of creation
and that in breathing with words you will
become life

What’s true is that all of life is truth –
but where do you dive in
and claim home

By Amanda Schuster

By Amanda Schuster

NOTE: What’s True will continue as a weekly post on Amanda Schuster’s website. Please  check in there, or follow her blog, to continue viewing this column. Thanks!

Amanda Schuster lives, breathes, eats and drinks energy, and loves to explore how to see it and use it with anyone who’s interested. She enjoys hosting individual and group sessions and workshops throughout the Denver area on the topics of writing, energy healing and nutrition. Visit Amanda Schuster’s website or view her poetry at Words for the Journey for more!


Apartment Number 42

apt #42

Our apartment,
Wedged right in the centre of 8 x 5
Smack bang in the middle of 3 buildings in a row
With a mustard entryway
Lime green elevator carpet
Pink candy coloured hallway
All the way to our front door
Where you would cook noodles on our gas stove
And I liked to watch with my feet up,
Balcony door wide open,
And the entertainment display
Of the people in the square world
Residing in the apartment block next door

Carol King’s Tapestry was on repeat some nights
Somewhere, on someone else’s stereo
Carrying notes of tear stained lovers to my door.
It was laying down a soundtrack
For my viewing pleasure.

Some unknown pattern in that square across the way
Pulled down the shutters,
Blinking them off at different times
To lend an end to a day by retreat from the night.
Others preferred the world to watch
As the cutlery was laid at the table
And the evening news turned up loud
To combat street talk and sirens.
Later, as the world was winding its coil back in tighter
They would allow the evening breeze to touch their naked bodies.
My entertainment would change its ratings then
And I would sit, peering through my crossed feet
Lazing upon our white paint-peeled balcony
To admire their exposure.
Sometimes it was just a raised leg
Sometimes someone’s laughing face
But it was there
An imprint upon the night
I saw it,
It existed
And so did I
To someone else
As they watched me
Argue with you about broccoli in cream sauce
And you would say I was wrong
And kiss me
And I would say you were wrong and hit you with a towel
And then someone with their evening cigarette
Hidden from loved ones indoors
Would watch our display
The same way I watched them.
You and I would sit down
With a few different pairs of eyes and ears on us
And a soundtrack of Carol King
While I talked about my day
At our small table
On mismatched seats
As we ate our noodles together.
Later, my bare leg and your laughing face
Would remind them of their own open shutters
And that we are all each other’s entertainment.

Poem by Lisa Inger

Poem by Lisa Inger


Read Between the Lines

By Misty Layne

Photo by Cat Miller

Photo by Cat Miller

love, beloved
you don’t understand
it’s so beautiful when you smile
how someone can love you without asking anything in return
and when we spend time together
(it’s rare, I know)
lost together in the same dream
trust doesn’t come easy
and time passes us by
but one day you must
in whispered secrets
unspoken words finally formed
otherwise you’ll break
i can’t explain
and you don’t yet understand
my love.

Poem by Misty Layne

Poem by Misty Layne

Photo by Cat Miller

Photo by Cat Miller




What’s True #6: Life’s a Bitch… So Party With It


What’s true today is that your life will never be any better than it is right now, in this exact moment.

This sounds terrible at first (unless you happen to be having a really, really good day). But consider for a moment: if you knew for certain that your life would never get any “better”, how would you respond?

At first, you’d probably be thrown for a loop. You might cry in despair, or kick a box, or lay in bed and eat ice cream, or numb the fear with fifty episodes of the X-Files. And then, after awhile … you’d probably just get bored. You’d start to think, “Ok, life’s not going to get any better? Fine. Fuck it. I’ll just do what I want.”

And then magically, oh so magically, you might actually start to enjoy it more.

It’s freedom.


Now, you may be thinking something like: “Don’t you tell me that my life can’t get better! Isn’t that negative thinking? Are you saying I’m stuck here and it’s hopeless? Why would you doooooo that?! It’s not true!” No no no. Absolutely not.

Friend, think of a time when you experienced your life getting better. Did something magical happen outside of you that suddenly made daisies grow and people stop cutting you off in traffic? Or did something shift inside of you? Did you start making different choices – find new friendships, eat different foods, think crazy thoughts, spend your time differently, create something you’d always wanted to, or make a move? My bet is on the latter, because no matter what kind of awesome powers or fairy godmothers we have, there will always be something in life that throws big thorny balls at us. But sometimes we care, and sometimes we don’t. What’s up with that?

You see, it’s not the outside of our lives that determines whether or not they are good. It’s how we feel about them. And when we decide, as we all do, that where we are is wrong, it hurts. We may not be where we want to be – ok, that’s fair enough, we all have goals and dreams, and it’s glorious to want to move toward them – but know this: where we are is never, ever wrong. When you can really wrap your head – and your heart – around that one, you will be way ahead in life. Level 78, at least.

Most of us feel that something is “wrong” when we have a problem in a relationship, or don’t enjoy our jobs, or have lost someone we love. It’s true that these events can trigger all kinds of legitimate feelings: anger, despair, sadness, frustration, terror, loathing, cynicism, ire. And that’s fine. But what makes it “wrong”?

This may be hard to hear for many, but the answer is: you do.

Consider an commonplace occurrence in your life, and then remember how you react to it differently depending on the state of mind you are in at the time.

For example, if I am in a good place (getting good sleep, eating well, spending time outdoors and exercising, being honest with people about how I feel and what I want), then when my boyfriend asks me to do the dishes, my initial response is, “Oh, cool, he wants support! And I can give it to him! Opportunity for love! Hooray!”

And if I’m in a not so great place – haven’t been sleeping well, have been eating lots of sugar, or – heaven forbid – haven’t been honoring my own feelings – then my initial reaction to being asked to do the dishes is this: “Dammit. He hates me. I’m worthless. This is stupid. Why do I even try? Lame. I fail. I quit. I quit life. Forever.” And on and on my woeful lamenting goes.

Yes. Those two very different reactions to the same exact scenario. Why did I react in either of those ways? Because he asked me to do the dishes? Nope. I react how I react because of how I feel and because of the thoughts I have been thinking.

(Side note: This can be a good thing to remember the next time you think someone you’re close to is being a little wacky – their attitude / action / reaction has nothing to do with you, but rather with how they are feeling about life on this particular day – this is true even when they don’t realize this themselves! So don’t let them tell you they’re mad because of something you did – accept that they’re mad, but know it’s not about you.)

Another example: when people die, we tend to have one (or both) of two reactions: “This is WRONG! Terribly, terribly wrong!” or “This is sad, but it’s also a celebration of life and moving on. [Tiny empathetic] hooray.” The death is the same – so what’s different? The mindset.

We can do this with any event, any experience, any relationship. Events themselves are neutral. It makes no difference to the physical world whether the water runs out of the hose into the garden, or out of the pipe into the basement onto your pile of family photos and old journals. It’s just water on stuff. What makes a difference is the meaning we attach to it.

If you want to like your life more, start to get rid of the idea that it (“it” being the outside events, people and situations that happen to you) will somehow change or get better (this is a BIG cosmic joke, by the way – when you really, truly, authentically let go of caring about what the details of your life look like, they improve drastically. Every. Single. Time. But you have to decide to let go on the realest of real levels, and trust that even if your worst fear happens, it will somehow be a good thing. There is no faking this decision (believe me. because I try all the time), but magic happens when you make it).

If you want to like your life more, slowly but surely begin to detach yourself from the notion that anything about your life can be wrong. Gently allow yourself to come to the realization that, regardless of what is happening around you, how people are treating you, or where you are at, you have the power to choose how to view your circumstances.

Changing this level of thinking is a process. It takes time. You will forget, again and again and again, that life is actually just life, and that it really is your own thinking that colors everything “good” or “bad”.

Don’t give up. Even when you feel terrible, and most of you is lamenting the miserable awful suckiness of life, allow that tiny corner of your mind, or that tiny spark in your belly, to remember: life is neutral. I attach the good or the bad.

And slowly, you will begin to notice: the “bad” never goes away. You will always experience uncomfortable, intense feelings. They’re a part of life. But you will also begin to embrace them, because they’re not “wrong”. Then you will start to let them go more easily. You will regain your equilibrium more quickly. When you start to go down that dark road of “wrong”, you will halt swiftly and gracefully, and begin to see the truth more clearly.

That means allowing yourself to feel your feelings – all of them. Everything’s game. It means not attaching value to the choices you make, but rather to the truth of the moment, whatever it brings.

Refusing to label things “wrong” begins to open doors you have never seen before – how many choices have you made based on what you thought you were supposed to do, or was good to do, or was right to do? However those choices turned out, how did you feel while you were making them?

Ask yourself: what would I do if I knew my life wouldn’t get any better?

And know this: it doesn’t get any worse either. Not a drop. The value is in your head, and in your heart. Might as well learn to cultivate one you’ll enjoy, eh?

Until next week – Namaste, A-ho, Blessed be, Whoop whoop.


P.S. Please check out a  morning chant to Saraswati by my friend and yoga teacher extraordinaire Jennifer Andrews McCarron. Simple, inspiring, uplifting, and full of fuel for creativity. Remember what I wrote in What’s True #4: Shut Up and Sing? Sing along in the morning (or anytime!), and let the chant bring you gently back to a state of neutrality and wonder.

By Amanda Schuster

By Amanda Schuster

Amanda Schuster lives, breathes, eats and drinks energy, and loves to explore how to see it and use it with anyone who’s interested. She enjoys hosting individual and group sessions and workshops throughout the Denver area on the topics of writing, energy healing and nutrition. Visit Amanda Schuster’s website or view her poetry at Words for the Journey for more!