E. B. White quote on writing

I’ve been away from writing for awhile: four whole noisy, long, life-filled weeks. While I’ve enjoyed every moment of family time and productive work assignments, I ache to get back to my writing project. And yet, I had to look myself squarely in the face — I’ve been procrastinating. So, I blocked off my schedule today to fill my mind with other writer’s wisdom and heart-grabbing storytelling, which I interrupted with good old-fashioned pacing and nail-chewing. Thinking. Thinking. Always thinking.

I fall into this writerly posture, which, to me, is also procrastination. Truth-slayer here, I fall into this because I…


Tale of Despereaux, Rise coffee cup, safer at home, coronavirus, community, we will rise

Sometimes some of us travel to get away. That space-that distance-from our home life offers perspective and breathing room. We get a chance to reflect on what is beautiful and what is broken. Often, we return refreshed, reinvigorated to dig in or embrace or forgive or simply slip back into our normal with a sigh of relief and acceptance. Sometimes leaving home is what protects it.

Safer at home

Now, we are home and unable to find much distance. It is true we are safer at home; this is also where we are most benevolent to other humans and this earth. What do…


I wonder where words fall?

Not the ones that land on ears

or caress hearts

or whack foreheads.

Not the ones that stop people in their tracks
or push them forward
or hold them back.

We see those words land:
sweeten like honey or
grate like sand.
And still, I wonder about the words
that slip from our mouths-
those words no body hears…
After the door closes,
whispered to a flickering fire,
against a sleeping child’s cheek,
tossed to a falling star or shining moon.

Ground into carpet,

slathered onto walls,

slithering up our spines until they treble hook…


“Once you’re wet, there’s no reason to rush…dancing in the rain…”

Late one night I sat on my porch with a few sputtering candles and listened to the wind and rain thinking about how fleeting is time, how fragile, life. It reminded me of a time my car broke down in another state and I had to kill a few hours in an unfamiliar area. So, I just started walking, wandering in and out of shops. Finally, it was time to walk back and a thunder cloud completely unzipped over top me. I was in an industrial area long past the shops and there was absolutely no cover. No umbrella. No…


When is enough enough? I’m talking about travel, by the way. We travel away from the comfort of our homes for a change of scenery, a different pace of life, a new perspective. We explore, discover new places, refresh our minds, or maybe even, return to a familiar place where we feel “at home.” How many days or states or attractions are enough to satisfy the traveler’s soul? How do we get satisfied enough to, once again, long for home? Because, both are pretty wonderful!

Some might say a few days away is enough to spice up the daily routine…


I’d risen early one morning to wander the streets of Siena, Italy, while waiting to take the bus to Florence. Most of the shops were closed, their biorhythms synced more for 12pm-10pm wanders than my 6am one. I was walking through a dream fog, wondering when I might return to this Thin Place. Our group had stayed in Siena for a week, which is much longer than it takes to fall in love with this cobbled, romantic city. The day before, we’d eaten our farewell dinner on the medieval round-not-square, bought leather goods, devoured more gelato. This woman crouched over…


PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK FIRST: IT’S NOT SELFISH TO EMBRACE WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND WHOLE-ER, IT’S “SELF-CARE”

I know what makes me happy and whole. I also know the list of things I need to thrive is not simply filled with selfish wants — and, those things aren’t solely self-focused. Often, even if an act of self-care starts with a form of isolation, it will press outward in some way in want of connecting with another human being or a higher being. I believe we need downtime alone, with our loved ones, and with the world at large…


Black Jack gum at Mast General Store in Knoxville, TN. Photo by Karen Leslie.

His name was Babby. He was the old gardener for the small country house next door to our wonderful, more humble house in rural Pennsylvania. I remember Babby’s baggy khakis, his weathered brown skin, greased, sparse hair combed back from his friendly face, and how he’d call my brother “sauerkraut head” then ruffle his hair. My brother didn’t like sauerkraut, so he didn’t like the nickname. I remember how he’d run home crying. I kept hanging on the fence and wishing Babby would make up a nickname for me. We’d climb onto the bottom rung of their picket fence ogling…


Taking street art to a new level in an alley in Siena, Italy. Photo by Karen Leslie.

Do what you’ve dreamed. You won’t out dream it. Do it. Do it. Do it. I believe there’s a reason you’ve dreamed it. The world needs what only you have deep in your soul. Do it. Do it. Do it. Step forward. There’s a hand at the small of your back. Trust it. Let go of the stuff tangling your path. This big bad old world needs it…that’s why you’ve been given this dream! Do it. Do it. Tell me you’ll do it.


A trail leading to Exmoor National Park, U.K. Photo by Karen Leslie.

You’re alive. You’re breathing. You’ve gathered together the remnants of your life — beautiful fragments meant for a new piece of art. Curiosity is returning. Sure, you still trace the scars with the tip of your heart every now and then. To remember is okay. To sorrow and rejoice in the remembering all at once is okay. And, then you begin to prepare a place for it to reside. After all of the digging around, you find some roots remain. So, you water those along with the new life searching underneath. You’ve just heard yourself laugh and the sound startles you, reminds you of what pieces and parts haven’t changed. It’s called healing. It’s called hope, this life after the ashes. The Thin Places

Karen Leslie

Travel writer, Marketing Specialist, Fiction & Prose writer, Motivational Writing Instructor. B.H. Penn State, M.F.A. in Writing Spalding University.

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