Archive | Imagination

how to celebrate August by Maya Stein

Make your own popsicles. Watch a Little League game.

August_DeathToStockPhotoTake time to sew a button on something rendered unbuttonable.

Write a letter by hand. Contemplate a road trip.

Stop reading about famous actresses who will never know

your name or meet your family. Instead,

fall in love with the blank page, its solid, burgeoning potential.

Stay awake for crickets. Crawl through whole

midnights silent as wood, waiting for that bright

and throaty chorus. Eat fresh tomatoes. Return a compliment.

Lift your gaze. Call your mother. Commit to any available happiness.

About the Author – Maya Stein

Maya Stein is a Ninja poet, writing guide, and creative adventuress currently living in Northern New Jersey, in her maya_bioright brain, and online at

Maya is the co-founder of Food for the Soul Train with her partner, Any Tingle. Food for the Soul Train is a mobile creativity company based in Nutley, NJ. Their mission? To bring creativity to communities everywhere via their vintage caravan, nicknamed MAUDE (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone).

She is a writer who believes that creativity doesn’t need to happen in isolation. A bike-riding enthusiast who doesn’t know very much about bicycles. A dabbler of photography and lip-synch videos. A middle child. A Taurus. A decent juggler. A lover of nuance and small gestures. A creature of both habit and spontaneity. An INFP. A perennial 12-year-old. A seeker of hidden places and mystery. A reluctant housekeeper.

us 'n Maude 2

Maya has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 15 years. She began a weekly poetry practice in 2005 (“10-line Tuesdays”) and my poems now reach more than 1,000 people each week. Maya has self-published four books and have just completed her fifth, selected poems from my her, “One Paragraph at a Time.”

“At the heart of it all, I remain curious, engaged, and hopeful about the world around me, and continue to discover new ways to be a part of it and to share my experiences through writing, photography, and other outlets. I love leading a life of creative investigation – even with all the uncertainties it comes with – because it helps me connect with and support others who are driven by similar instincts. And I never stop forgetting how lucky I am.”

Connect with Maya online, at  Food for the Soul Train and on social media.

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The Tunnel by Christa Gallopoulous

image by Christa

She wandered through the immaculately manicured gardens that day, late in the afternoon when the summer sun had heated the pathways and burnt away the morning fog. With the broad stone walls of the old castle beginning to throw their shadows on the roses, the lavender and the blown open poppies, the light reflecting off the stones crunching under her feet was almost otherworldly.

As she went, staying on the paths to avoid interrupting the business of the honeybees, she wondered. About who had placed their feet, one after another, on these carefully laid out corridors over the hundreds of years they had been maintained. About the weddings and the funerals held in the grand building – and who had found their way to the gardens with a cigarette, or perhaps a lover. About who had decided to harness nature in this way, so fastidiously grooming what the true spirit of the natural world would have thrown about far more loosely. There was no place for willy nilly here, no matter how many loose, illicit affairs -business and personal – may have begun within the ivy covered walls.

She wondered too, about how she would go about incorporating the gifts these summer days had given her so generously into her own life, back in the city. How could she take the freedom she’d found, the release from all she’d believed about herself, the extraordinary knowledge that she was revered rather than reviled? How could she become herself, once and for all, truly and well? These endlessly glorious days of summer had taught her lessons she’d never be able to forget, had changed her in inexplicable ways. She was changed, or perhaps a changeling still.

The light continued to dim, and as the sun sank in the sky, the answer became clear. The vivid green of the tunnel called to her, the transition to the brick tunnel illuminated at it’s end. There is was, lit up just for her.

The only way out was through.

About the Author & Artist – Christa Gallopoulous

Christa_G_bioChrista Gallopoulos is usually found with a camera, paintbrush or pen in hand, taking in the beauty of this world and transmitting it back out through words and images- on Facebook and Instagram among other places!

The author of “All Better Bye and Bye“, to be published in 2016, she is an inspirational writer, artist, speaker and mentor, encouraging people to dive into the sacred act of transforming their lives and celebrating the joy of living fully and well. You can find more of her work at

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Summer Camp by Amy Tingle

CampI never went to summer camp as a kid. So I created the summer camp of my dreams when I grew up.

I dreamed of a huge light-filled studio bursting at the seams with art supplies. I dreamed of cartwheels and hula hoops and swinging until my feet no longer touched the ground. I dreamed of color – crayons, paint, markers, felt, bins of beads and googly eyes and tiny embellishments, paper in all shades of the rainbow.

I dreamed of a secret nook where I could hide out and read a good book. I dreamed of scribbling my thoughts on paper. And I dreamed of looking in the mirror and Camp3loving who I saw.

In 2010, I created what I had only seen in my dreams for girls ages six to twelve in my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey.

I “borrowed” a studio in a friend’s home with wooden floors and windows fifteen feet high and a screen door that looks like it was built for giants. I filled it with art supplies and I flung open the door and began the creativity and self-empowerment camp I had always dreamed of attending.

Camp2In 2013, my partner, the poet, Maya Rachel Stein and I refurbished a vintage caravan and filled it with typewriters for writing secret thoughts or stories or poetry and a bunk for curling up on with a good book. Every summer girls fill the lawn turning cartwheels and spraying liquid watercolors on brilliant white sheets of paper and they hang their wishes from trees.

We roll out our yoga mats and learn how to hold poses without trembling. We meet artists who share how they get to do what they love. We laugh. We experience frustration and anger and disappointment and we learn how to deal with it all. We are independent and creative and brave. It’s exactly like I pictured it. It’s exactly what summer should be.

About the Author – Amy Tingle

amytingle_bioAmy Tingle, is the co-founder of Food for the Soul Train with her partner, Maya Stein. Food for the Soul Train is a mobile creativity company based in Nutley, NJ. Their mission? To bring creativity to communities everywhere via their vintage caravan, nicknamed MAUDE (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone).

Amy and Maya design creative and collaborative environments, online and in person, which help children and adults to build self-confidence, harness their imaginations, practice problem-solving, and bridge differences through the joy of self-discovery.

us 'n Maude 2They are passionate about playful investigation; summer camp for girls is just one of their many offerings. A spring cycling and creativity retreat for adults is another. They dream up – and try to carry out – as many creative projects as they can fit into a year!

Amy is also, among many things, a human being, the mother of two teenage boys, a visual artist (her most recent work includes a series of collages born during The 2015 100-Day Project), and a lover of words, magic, kindness, and a ninja poetess.

Connect with Food for the Soul Train and Amy online as well as on social media.

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Chance Encounters by Dianna Woolley

Chance Encounters

“Connection and intertwining of one’s human relationships…..the
“scratch” that those connections make upon one’s personal being albeit their
having come from or delivered to artist, spouse, mother, friend, human being.”

Thought and photograph from a new body of work currently developing in the studio of Dianna Woolley, Artist

About the Artist – Dianna Woolley – dianna_woolley_bio(Walla Walla, WA)

Husband Extraordinaire: Steve
Studio Assistant:Riley, West Highland Terrier

Studio time goal: daily practice

Dianna: After four successful one woman shows in the Walla Walla area is seeking national representation for exhibiting and/or ongoing gallery relationship

Work produced prior to the weekend in Whidbey Island may be viewed at DiannaWoolley.Com




2015 – “Best in Show Award” – Pendleton Arts Center, Pendleton, OR, annual regional event.

Woodward Canyon Winery has chosen one of her pieces as the label for a spring 2016 wine

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In Every Dream – by Bill Hughlett

Summer Love Bill H 2

“There is a waterfall in every dream. Cool and crystal clear, it falls gently on the sleeper, cleansing the mind and soothing the soul.”
― Virginia Alison

About the Artist – Bill Hughlett

bill_hughlett_bioBill Hughlett is a CFO by profession and photographer by passion.

His award-winning work has been featured in Alaska Airlines Magazine, shown in Washington galleries, and graces many homes and offices around the country.

Together, Bill and his wife, Kayce Stevens Hughlett, create unique workshops that incorporate photography and writing with deep listening and personal awareness.

Their dream is to travel the world offering their gifts to others.

Witness more of Bill’s Work at

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Love Poems to Summer by Blaze Lazarony

Ah Summertime, where everything around me turns into beautiful inspiration: basking in the sunshine, riding my bicycle, holding hands, s’mores roasted over a campfire, chasing lightning bugs, reading chic-lit, frolicking in the warm waves, getting my nails dirty in damp earth, wearing sandals, eating fresh fruits, singing songs, long sloppy kisses, and watching fireworks.

I can’t go an hour without scratching a few phrases into my journal, words that give me pause, remind me of my youth and easier living, or help me embrace my life…all over again.

It is my honor to share with you two such “scratches” that turned into poems of intimate love, joyous celebration, and a brilliant life well lived. Enjoy!

In a Blue Dress

by Blaze Lazarony

Oh, sea, kind sea, upon your likeness I gaze.

rough colored ocean wave falling down at sunset timeAre you aware of your unexplainable beauty?
Turning heads and receiving admiration just for being,
Allowing many creatures to make their home in your layers of crinoline skirts,
Some with teeth larger than mine, and others just small celled organisms, not even in possession of a heart,
And you, spinning and twirling effortlessly,
In an endless rhythm, and yet a uniqueness to your every movement.

You are perfectly attired for every occasion; your wish to reflect your partner seems paramount,
But it is you, through no desire of your own, who take center stage.

All become enraptured—a momentary sigh.

Your frock not any blue dress,
But woven of aquamarine,
and maybe a Crayola color or two.

That invoke a feeling of:
Vastness without weight;
Stature without airs,
Emotion without tears.

slice watermelon with a hole in the shape of heart on a wooden tableYank the curly-queue pigs’ tail free
Smash green waves across your hip
Gaze down at the watery pink fruit

Bite letting the air escape
Swallow the sugar dripping down your throat
Wonder upon the mystery of its creation

Spit black seeds into the ground
Mixing your salvia with its hope
Sowing a new life



About the Author – Blaze Lazarony

blazelazaronybioBlaze Lazarony is a Transformational Business Strategist, Founder of Blaze A Brilliant Path, Best-Selling Author & Speaker. For 20 years, Blaze held high-level positions in Fortune 500 companies, including Macy’s, Inc. She thought she was her job title until she was diagnosed with cancer, she chose to leave that world behind.
Today her passion is leading the charge for conscious women entrepreneurs to stand in their brilliant value by helping them design custom-fit businesses and live soul-based lives that light them up!

She is also a sought after speaker, and a co-author of four books, including 25 Brilliant Business Mentors and Their Top Tips to Catapult You to Success.

To learn more about Blaze & her work in the world, visit her website: – and connect with Blaze on Social Media (links below)

Are you a conscious women entrepreneur who is ready to transform your challenges into golden light, tap into a heat source that empowers you (not scares you), and take inspired action to stand in your value, then you’re ready for… Lightning: A Stroke of Brilliance, a new offering for Summer 2015.

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Forever Changed

From the moment I learned that words created sentences which led to paragraphs which led to stories, I was hooked reading_little_womenon books. Thanks to my mother’s love of books as well, new books always made their way into my hands.

The tales of Dick and Jane soon led to Little Golden Books and it wasn’t long before I graduated from I Can Read to the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the adventures of Cherry Ames.

My reading world shifted when my thirst for more propelled me back in time to four young ladies coming of age during the Civil War. For the first time, a book made me shed tears upon the typewritten pages.

Yes, I’m talking about the unfolding of the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and Louisa May Alcott’s classic story Little Women.

Before I explored the world of the March sisters, books told me stories. Little Women transported me to another place and time. I wanted to be friends with Laurie and find a way to make Beth healthy. I understood Meg’s desires to be seen as a real lady. Though I knew I should have disliked Amy, I really wanted to sit beside her and comfort her when other girls made fun of her.

louisamayalcottAnd, of course, I wanted to create like Jo March.

Little Women opened my eyes to bigger stories and complex characters that longed for – and created – different ways of existence. Upon reading Little Women, I learned the books didn’t just entertain me; they moved me emotionally and allowed me to see the world through the eyes of the characters.

From that point forward, when I opened a book I wasn’t a little girl in her room in Mansfield, Texas; I was transported to other places and times. I wasn’t limited to being an unsophisticated girl in a small Southern town, I could be anything…anywhere.

I had forgotten about the world of the March sisters until I began researching places to visit in and around Boston.

As I looked at the details for visiting Minute Man National Park and seeing the place where the Revolutionary War began, I discovered that I could visit the place where Louisa May Alcott wrote the book that shifted how I saw the written word.

Visiting Orchard House became my top priority for exploration for my solo explorations.

Standing in the bedroom of Louisa May Alcott and looking out the window next to her desk, again I am forever changed.

orchardhouse_arrivalI fall in love with May Alcott for her desire to bring beauty to her family and believe that Amy is a mere shadow of her namesake.

And I understand Louisa in a way I never could as a girl. Her love of words and the desire to bring her family out of poverty by using her innate talent is incredibly admirable. Could it allow me to see the work I did during my gypsy years to keep my family afloat in a different way?

I am reminded that the words we read have impact upon us now, thirty years from now and a hundred years from now. And that the pursuit of our desires is beyond what the moment gives us; it clings to us for all the days of our life.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
–Louisa May Alcott

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Mermaid Child by Melissa Bartell

“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again, until the day we don’t come back, leaving only that which was touched along the way.”
– from the movie Chasing Mavericks

My first memories are of sea and sand and salt.

lighthouse_james_butler_flckrcreativecommonsWhen I was a baby, foghorns sang me lullabies and my nightlight was provided by a 60,000 candlepower fixed-white light beamed from a tower, and visible 15 miles out to sea.

I could swim before I could walk, and before I was seven I was an expert in swimming out just far enough to find the warm current, sweeping my arm to make jellyfish float away, and body surfing into shore without ending up rolling in white water.

I flew in the water.

I believed in mermaids.

(I’m pretty sure I was one.)

When I was five, I was ripped away from seagulls and sand castles, and relocated to the middle of the country, where I traded my tail for feet and learned to walk on land.

I learned that I could almost fly on a sled or bicycle, and I fell in love with ice skating on frozen ponds, and watching Dracula-style lightning send its electric fingers to tickle the mountain tops.

But every summer, I would go back to the beach, to the lunches that included chilled paper napkins wrapped around tuna sandwiches. To the old merfolk who had helped to raise me. To sweet corn and luscious tomatoes and ‘put a hat on so your scalp doesn’t burn.’ To sun and sand and salt water.

My moisturizer was Sea & Ski.

The scent of Noxzema was my perfume.

I would spend my days going from the beach to the pool to the cooling arc of the sprinklers keeping the lawn green, to the beige bathtub in the pink-tiled bathroom that always smelled like Nina Ricci bath powder, and the water that was always deep enough to cover my toes.

I’m an August baby, born in the heat of summer. A fire sign who gravitates to water.

(Well, they do say that opposites attract)

I am most creative, most musical, most interesting, most free, most open, most me, when I’m immersed.

Eventually, I began to shed my childhood.

My mermaid tail disappeared, not all at once, but in bits and bobs. A scale here, a seashell there.

I grew older. I started developing. I stopped arguing with gravity and flirting with surface tension.

I lost the knack of riding waves.

I stayed on solid ground.

I was happy, but pieces of my heart and soul were…parched.

Fast forward a couple – few – decades.

I’m still landlocked, but I’ve reclaimed my fins and shiny fish-scales.

lake_mermaid_flckrcreativecommons_by_soozwhiteI spend summer afternoons in the pool, and winter evenings in a soaking tub full of aquatic-scented bubbles.

I leave my hair in braids for days on end, and unwrap them to find a riot of curls – no perm required.

I visit Mexico, and learn to shuffle my feet beneath the water.

(I step on a ray, even so. Both of us are startled. Neither of us is injured.)

I take a boat out to see grey whales, and when I touch their suede-wrapped gelatin bodies, they blink their heavy-lashed eyes at me, and we recognize each other as kin.

The foghorns sing their lullabies only in my imagination, now.

I walk on land, I sing in the shower, and I buy Noxzema just so I can open the blue glass jar and breathe in the scent of menthol and camphor.

I still believe in mermaids.

(I’m pretty sure I am one.)

My tail is only visible when I’m in the bathtub.

But my mermaid child-self swims on.

Images Via Flckr Creative Commons: Lighthouse by James Butler | Mermaid of the Lake by Sooz White

About the Author – Melissa Bartellmelissabatellbiophoto


Writer, book reviewer, voice actor, dog-lover, and bathtub mermaid, Melissa can be found at her her website ( or her book blog (Bibliotica).

You can also listen to her podcast, “Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub” at Bathtub Mermaid or on iTunes.


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Because My First Love Was Travel

If I were to think about love in how it relates to boys, I’d have to say my first crush was on the little dark haired boy travel_mapsnamed Donald that I wanted to sit next to in Vacation Bible School.

But that wasn’t my first love. No, my first love was travel. I discovered that deep within me, I had a Gypsy Soul.

Summer vacations ignited my imagination, piqued my curiosity and stoked my passion for experiencing new places. Though we took two vacations that began at DFW airport, the typical mode of transportation was my mother’s Oldsmobile.

My parents would begin to talk about “where to go” and before you knew it, they’d have the big road atlas out on the kitchen table plotting the journey and estimating where we’d stop each night. Then, my mother would pull out the hotel catalogs and begin looking for either a Best Western or Holiday Inn along the way to our final destination.

Then her phone calls would begin: calling the desired motels to see if there was a room for four and making neat notations in a spiral notebook of our reservation confirmation along with the pertinent details, like Exit Number and the like.

Vintage Holiday InnAs she chose our place for the night or week, I always asked: “Is there a pool?”

Back in the 70’s, we didn’t have GPS or Google Maps. We didn’t have cell phones or the internet to assist us. It was up to my folks to figure it all out and then create handwritten itinerary.

Vacations always began the same, too. We’d be told to pack and gather our car games and, in my case, books. My father would come home from work on a Friday and at dinner we’d talk about getting up super early so that we could beat the traffic. We’d get in our pajamas and get ready for bed.

Then, as it began to get dark, my father would invariably say: “Okay, everybody, let’s load the car and get some miles behind us!”

We’d grab our suitcases and our pillows, load the trunk and soon would be making our way to the interstate. I was always too excited to sleep much, but within a half hour both my mother and sister would be asleep. I would lean up in that space between my parent’s seat and quietly talk to my father or watch the road ahead.

I know he wanted to get started, and if we were driving at night, my mother wouldn’t scold him for speeding. And, for anyone that’s driven across West Texas, you know there isn’t really much to see between Fort Worth and Amarillo.

By the time the sun was rising, we’d be pulling into an IHop or Roadside Diner either at our first planned point of interest on the trip. If we were lucky, we’d be able to check into the motel, where my father would catch a nap and mother would take us out to explore.

I spent most of 2006 to 2010 traveling for my business. I call those my Gypsy  years, but they go back to those first memories of loving travel, even when being on the road for twenty straight days became tiring.

DrivingMiss DaisyThese days, when JB has a business trip, I often tag along. I love my home and daily life, but the lure and love of experiencing new places is still deeply entrenched in my heart.


The way I plan travel now in all honesty isn’t too terribly different from my folks.

We pick a destination and after a little research, I look for hotels. Gone are the catalogs and they’ve been replaced with searchable websites, but the concept is really much the same. If we’re staying in multiple hotels, I create an itinerary in Word and include all of the hotels vital information and our reservation number.

And sometimes, the night before a trip, I wish we could get in the car and get some miles behind us.Instead, I impatiently wait our agreed upon time to leave, which is usually governed by flight time.

Yes, most of the travel these days is via airplane, but sometimes, we take a little road trip. We’ve gotten quite creative when a trip collides with deadlines.

No matter how we get there or where we go, though, I still have deep affection for that first true love: travel. My gypsy soul still thrives on the experiences of different places and the promise of adventure.

About the Author – Debra Smouse

debrasmouse200x300 I’m Debra Smouse, a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle. I can help you detangle all your clutter, fall in love with yourself and your life, and unleash your inner sex kitten.

My truth? In order to live life the way you were meant to, you must fall in love with the day-to-day activity of living.

I spend my days writing and working with people who want to change the world, beginning with themselves.

Want to bring your dreams into your reality? Snag my FREE EBook You Can Achieve Your Dreams: There’s Still Time in 2015

A life coach and writer, me and my Gypsy Soul have stopped their constant roaming and have settled down in Dayton, OH where I share life’s adventures with the Man of My Dreams.

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Livingston by Christa Gallopoulous

Summer Love Christa G 1

Livingston looked out at the ocean for hours at a time, every morning and often again in the afternoon.

Some might think he was looking for signs of food, surveying the skies for larger birds or perhaps checking out flying conditions. Practical things, for a water bird.

But no. He looked out at the waves, at the deepest blues and greens and the foamy white, watching the shallows and the depths move back and forth – and he wondered at the magic and majesty of it all.

And he hoped that he would continue to see this beauty for many days to come.

He just loved being part of it all.

About the Author & Artist – Christa Gallopoulous

Christa_G_bioChrista Gallopoulos is usually found with a camera, paintbrush or pen in hand, taking in the beauty of this world and transmitting it back out through words and images- on Facebook and Instagram among other places!

The author of “All Better Bye and Bye“, to be published in 2016, she is an inspirational writer, artist, speaker and mentor, encouraging people to dive into the sacred act of transforming their lives and celebrating the joy of living fully and well. You can find more of her work at

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