Sweeping Strokes

With heartfelt gratitude for Anne O’Brien and her artwork that prompted this prose; for Mark O’Brien, who encouraged us to write after looking at Anne’s art piece. Mark O’Brien is facilitating an amazing class, “Finding Your Voice.” What a joy! And very grateful for my fellow participants: Tom Dietzler, Maribel Cardez, Yvonne A. Jones, and Helen Qiu.

Sweeping Strokes

Here in the dark inky dot places, she can begin to notice lighter hues of blue—like the skies she could see outside of gloomy buildings filled with grumpy people. Out of the inkblots whooshed the uplift of space, a breathing room of clouds, white puffy lighthearted swirling, shapeshifting, dancing in the atmosphere where birds soar free. Wild geese, ducks, herons know when to open their wings.

She lies down to sleep-inhaling, exhaling one, two, three, four hold breath. One, two, three, four, inhale, hold breath repeating this pattern drifting into a dream-filled sleep with both ghosts, goddesses guiding her back to the murky, dark depths of past mud puddle days that seemed to last forever as her heart fell beneath the shallow waters of leaves, autumn leaves of reds, rust and gold flowing on the surface. Underneath the shallows remained nuggets of discovery, of truths unexpressed, yearning to be spoken, of the whys, when, how dare you-s, and what’s wrong with me hurts, haunted wounds, unwilling to dislodge themselves from the sides of a cavernous cave.

Holding to the breath, the depth of soul-wrenching loss of what others claim can be a carefree childhood chasing butterflies, digging in the dirt, getting black soil caught under fingernails from plunging two tiny hands into the layers of crumbled, caked-on dirt where seeds go, where bugs go, where more flat rocks reveal themselves. How deep can she swim in the dark depths searching for a tiny girl body soiled at the evil doings of a tortured being? Take long, sweeping strokes back up to the surface—pull forward the truth of light—that no action done to a tiny body can ever spoil her spirit, her soul of light, the woman, goddess of radiance she becomes in the creamy, delicious places of divine safety, faithful generosity.

Featured image courtesy of Anne O’Brien


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. What a beautifully painted story Laura.

    When recovering from my PTSD sleeplessness, I, too used to count in order to fall to sleep. That part of your story gave me chills. But the good kids. They held a memory, but one that was no longer a presence in my life.

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it. <3

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and reflections, JoAnna. I still sometimes use the counting method as needed during the nights that another piece of something has gotten stirred up to the surface to be seen and released. I appreciate you very much…our over-lapping journeys to freedom! Distinct-yet with much common ground shared. 🙂

    • I’ve moved onto guided meditations for those nights. I think the counting in and of itself gives me some implicit memory related anxiety.

      And the appreciation is mutual. I love reading your journey and talking points out with you. Freedom tastes so good when you have known chaos. I’m glad we can enjoy it together!

    • “Freedom tastes so good when you have known chaos.” YES!! YES!! YES!! Incredibly grateful for you. I celebrate Us and our earned freedom and greater peace of mind/stability after all the chaos. And if chaos shows up again we’ll know how to navigate it with grace and dignity-like pros!! Hugs to you, JoAnna!

  2. Dear Laura,

    I am speechless. The words, emotion, beautiful flow of intimate descriptions. I just love your writing style. It took me on a journey. Just amazing. It will not be the first time I shall read it. Inspirational, pure delight.
    Thank you my friend do much.

  3. Thank you so much, Tom. I appreciate your meaningful feedback, Your support, encouragement mean the world to me. When I can’t remember what poured forth from “that place” I trust that I must have surrendered to something beyond my inner critic or this ego personality. Grateful for you and the safe space we’ve created together with Mark’s sage and kind guidance.