A Holiday Address From Her Royal Highness – 2017 Edition

A Holiday Address from her Royal Highness - www.alliepottswrites.com

Her Royal Highness fell asleep while posing for this year’s royal portrait.

It gives us great joy to address you on this, the shortest day of the year. Though this means the longest night is upon us once more, We say joy, because from this point on, darkness will only grow shorter.

While winter has begun, blanketing half the world in cold and gray, We take comfort in the knowledge that the season, for all its cruelty, is in a state of retreat at its very beginning, and that summer is present, if only on the other side of the world. While winter may yet show its bite, the growing days are the constant reminder that winter’s worst is never more than temporary.

Is it any wonder then, the word following the beginning of winter, the world solstice, is so close in form and sound to solace?

And so we fight back against the approaching cold with blankets, cookies, and candles, confident in the knowledge we have the upper hand. We refuse to give into the darkness and instead, celebrate the joy that is this season by opening our hearts and homes to strangers as well as those held most dear.

Winter may represent the end of the year, but with it also, a beginning. It is a chance to start over, to forgive, to change, to add more pillows, or address past mistakes.

So go forth, and do not be afraid of the darkness that surrounds, for it has already lost. Cherish the traditions that brought you this far, but dare to do something different from time to time. Make this coming year everything you wished the previous year could be. For our time in the summer’s sun is all to short and winter will return again.

Therefore always remember to look for the joy in the everyday, whether that day be winter, spring, summer or fall. Know that all days have within them the potential to be shiny and bright. The only difference is the season.

Warmest Regards,

HRH, The Princess Royal V.C. Potts, the first of her name


Although this is my last regularly scheduled post for the year, I do have one more post planned – the conclusion to the short story mysteries series I’ve been running on Saturdays since November. If you’ve missed them, you can read the first in the series here. Fair warning – they have absolutely nothing to do with the holidays, so do not expect warm fuzzy feelings.

I’ll still be checking in from time to time, but will be spending most of the next few days deep into mugs of hot chocolate (with the occasional eggnog) while I plot and plan for 2018.

I hope each of you also gets some time for rest and relaxation as well however you choose to celebrate the changing of the year.

-Allie

Never doubt a dog in the snow

Never #doubt a dog in the snow - www.alliepottswrites.com

“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.” – Kin Hubbard

The white death dropped over the weekend, covering my home and the surrounding area in a blanket of ice and snow, which melted and only to become more ice. Lamont and I debated how or dog would take the change in weather. I maintained that having spent the first few years of her life as a stray, she would turn a nose up at the stuff now as there are reasons I refer to her as Her Royal Highness.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time - aka before

It seemed like such a good idea at the time – aka before

Opening the door, it was my intent to take a photograph of her reaction to the wintery mix and quickly return inside. I stepped out on our porch wearing only a set of pajamas. Her Royal Highness followed. She took one dignified step forward. Then another. Her nose touched white stuff on the ground. There was no bounding around. No rolling around, digging, or otherwise acting mystified. I knew it! Snap went my camera. “Okay, let’s go back inside,” I called and turned expecting her to pass me, only too happy to return to the warmth indoors.

Her Royal Highness had other ideas.

The frozen ground crunched as she trotted down the street as if it was a beautiful 80 degrees F rather than 20. “Where are you going?” I called. “Get back here now.” I should have saved my frozen breath.

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” – Mark Twain

With no other choice in front of me, I took off after her, bare feet and all.

Her Royal Highness looked up and wagged her tail misinterpreting my presence to mean this stroll around the grounds was now sanctioned trotted further. I shouted her name a few more times. She sniffed a bush. My feet burnt with the cold as I closed the distance between us and could only imagine what I must look like to my neighbors – my hair, still wild from sleep, was now covered in ice crystals and bit of snow. My toes leaving tiny naked prints where I ran. I called some more, repeating the command to return while infusing my voice with my best mom tone. Her Royal Highness, still the embodiment of confidence, sniffed another bush as if she hadn’t a care in the world.

“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking tartar sauce with you.” – Zig Ziglar

Great. This is what I get for thinking she wouldn’t be able to handle a bit of cold.

dog in a blanket

After – aka blankets that weren’t offered to me

I was still several feet away when she suddenly turned around and walked, most regally, back to our yard, up the stairs, and inside where she promptly buried herself under a blanket. My boys, celebrating her return, joyously covered her with even more blankets. She burrowed deep and was asleep long before the feeling completely returned to my toes. Clearly, I won’t be making a living wage on the casino floor anytime soon.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” – Marilyn Monroe

There are a few lessons to be learned here. There are the obvious ones: don’t let you pet off leash in an open space, even if cars aren’t driving and only nuts like yourself are out and about, unless you are confident they will respond to voice commands or always wear proper footwear even if you only think you will be in the elements for a split second, but the bigger one here is there is no glamour to be had in publicly doubting another and even less fame in doubting one’s self.

*quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquotes.com. Photography is my own.

A Holiday Message from Her Royal Highness

A #Holiday Message from Her Royal Highness - www.alliepottswrites.comGreetings to all,

It pleases us to no end to be able to address you all at this, most joyous time of year. It is a season made even more joyous thanks to the continuing efforts of you, Our most loyal subjects.

The state of the realm remains strong, with the exception of the great pillow drought which has seemingly continued well beyond what might have otherwise been deemed an acceptable transitional period. No efforts, nor resources shall be spared in the coming year to find a solution to this ongoing problem.

The squirrel menace remains firmly in check, if not in a state of full retreat, which may or may not have anything to do with the cooling temperatures. However, the drastic reduction in squirrel related crimes and other offenses does in no way signify that the war against this scourge is complete. We encourage all citizens to remain ever vigilant, as we shall be, and report any and all activity considered at odds with the values of the realm.

However, while there have been battles fought this year, there have been plenty of other victories too. When faced with the dark waters of lakes and oceans unknown, we as a people, jumped in. We repeatedly fought against currents and secured our goals. Returning to shore, we claimed the land beneath our feet with the confidence that only those who have suffered challenge only to triumph can command.

New alliances have been brokered in Our name. Storms may have blown, knocking down Our most ancient fences and causing damage most distressing. However, now, neighbors are no longer isolated from neighbor.  As a result, new and stronger friendships have been given birth in that storm’s wake.

We have made numerous tours of the surrounding territory as our boundaries continue to expand, unfettered. Indeed, Our noble oversight and justice now even extends well into what previously was considered a place to be feared, a no man’s land, a place which may be more commonly known as The Crawl Space, bringing light and rule to where there once was none.

It feels fitting to end this address to you on the subject of light. To quote her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who reminded us this time last year of an old saying in her address, ‘it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.’

There is much unknown about the coming year. Squirrels could return with fleas. Greater storms may blow. But the sun, with its light most high, can always be counted on to rise, no matter what tomorrow brings. Stay true to the values you hold most dear. Be the candle in the darkness so others may find their way. And do not be afraid, for only in the darkness do we find how brightly we might shine.

An exercise on mindful thinking at the close of the year

An exercise on #mindfulness - www.alliepottswrites.comI decided to go for a jog one morning after feeling a guilty over recent excesses. The air was cool, but not chilly enough to need a jacket or put on gloves. My dog, Her Royal Highness, was happy enough to trot along beside me. The sky was a clear, albeit pale blue and the neighborhood quiet. In short, it was a perfect morning to be outdoors.

Raleigh is home to a greenway system that stretches from one end of the city to another and it is quite easy to forget that you are in the state’s capital when you enter one of the many wooded paths. But that morning, I had a specific destination in mind. If I could jog to a certain point on the trail without stopping, I would consider the run a success.

A slight tension on the leash informed me that Her Royal Highness wouldn’t mind picking up the pace. I ignored her request as I remained focused on my feet. She should understand. A trip or stumble due to a slippery patch of leaves or fallen branch would at a minimum ruin my stride, but could also prevent me from taking her out again for a long, long while. We rounded a corner, passing a walker and another dog on the trail. Her Royal Highness tugged, urging me to stop and say hello. Once again I refused her request.

I am not the fastest on the trail. Nor were there any fans cheering me on from the side of the path. But slow, but steady, I eventually made it to my goal one step at a time. Her Royal Highness wagged her tail and sniffed around as I took in the view.

My muscles in my legs stiffened in the seconds it took me to turn around. That’s when it hit me – the rather large error in my plan. The goal I’d set in mind was the furthest point in my run. I’d forgotten to consider the distance it would take to run back. Dang it.

Her Royal Highness sprung into action, but unfortunately, now that I’d stopped once, keeping up our steady pace was no longer as easy to do. I found myself walking more along the return, but by doing so, I was also able to look around.

The sky had taken on a deeper, richer shade of blue and the sunlight now filtered quite nicely through red and golden leaves. I stopped again at a bridge near the greenway’s exit, only this time instead of focusing on my stiffening muscles, the aching reminder of how far I’d come, or the distance I still had yet to go, I let myself appreciate just being in the place I found myself in now.

I removed my ear buds, and the music that had boomed and pulsed, keeping me inspired to run, was replaced by the sound of a creek flowing over rocks under the bridge. Leaves tumbled down as the trees swayed in the morning’s breeze. I turned and took the scene in more fully.

I might have lingered there longer, but the sound of footfalls on the path of an approaching walker broke the moment and soon we were once again on our way, taking the memory of the moment with us.

At the close of the year, I like to reflect on my accomplishments, and while they aren’t always easy to identify, I know there are always a few. At the same time, I like to plan for the year ahead and set my goals and challenges, just as I suspect many others do too. But moments like this are a good reminder to also be mindful of the present, for there is beauty to be seen in the now if you only take the time to stop and look around.

Autumn creek and #mindfulness - www.alliepottswrites.com

How one mysterious sighting opened my mind to the impossible

mysterysightLeftover debris from summer storms accumulated in a pile in our yard, larger this year than most. Outside temperatures finally cooled to the point one can actually stand to turn the air conditioning off. Both were signs that it is truly Fall once more. My boys, including the biggest kid of them all, eagerly piled as many limbs and dried leaves as they could in our fire pit and soon the evening was lit by its merry blaze.

The activity caught the eye of Her Royal Highness. Leaving the couch she has assumed as her throne, she padded her way to the edge of the fire ring. The boys threw another pine cone or two on the pile, sending ash and embers in the air. Her Royal Highness was not impressed with this display and returned post-haste to a more cushioned viewing distance. It was one of those times I was reminded how very different she is from our late dog.

He was much more possessive of the great back doors than she ever has been. An errant snap of a branch or roar from a car in the distance would have sent him running outside with his hackles at full attention. He’d hold his ground in the middle of the yard and bark at least a half a dozen times before running along the length of the fencing to ensure that the perimeter remained secure. Only then would he return to our side with a huff, puff, and or snort.

Could we not sense the unseen danger? He would ask without words, our fireside evenings anything but relaxing. There could be squirrels out there, cats, or even worse, deer! Eventually, his doggy paranoia would grow too much and with another huff, snort, and ruff, he’d trot off for another inspection of the parameter.

dog watching out window

My dog took our protection seriously. When he wasn’t in the yard, we often found him on guard at the window.

Shortly after he passed, I remember staring into the fire afterward, listening to its pops and crackles, and thinking to myself how quiet the evening was without him. Motion caught my eye, a shadow against our fence. The shadow moved as the fire blazed, and I swear it was dog shaped. As quickly as I noticed it, the shadow shifted across the fence as if my dog running his defense of our perimeter one last time.

I know the light can play tricks on you and eyes can sometimes make something out of nothing, especially if there is something they really want to see, but this time of year I can’t help but wonder if there may be truth to some of the stories about things that go bump in the night. And maybe, just maybe, that’s not a bad thing. I’ve never seen that shadow again, nor heard a bark from a dog that was not there, but it was enough to make me ask what if and think about other impossible things.

I am a huge fan of paranormal stories in general, particularly so, this time of year. The thought that there may yet be mysteries out there for us to discover thrills me.

Two quotes, attributed to Albert Einstein resonate with me:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

As much as I miss my late big sweetie, I am in no hurry to learn the answer to the question of whether or not there is life after death beyond what I take on faith. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other mysteries to ponder or other discoveries out there to make.

Imagine if Einstein or other researchers or scientists had stopped their work just because everyone told them the questions weren’t worth asking, or the task, impossible to perform. This is why it is so important to maintain an open mind, to accept that there are things we do not know, and to challenge the things we think we do. While some ideas may prove to never be anything more than a good fireside tale, there remains plenty out there for humanity to discover if we are only willing to consider the impossible.

Related Reading

If you have a spooky story of your own to share or would like to share a bit of news that no one else thought possible, feel free to either submit it or the link in the comments section.