Tag Archives: Writing Life

Waiting on Oprah: Never Quit Your Dreams

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Waiting on Oprah

I close my eyes and can almost see the perfect fairytale life I envisioned in my wildest dreams.

Dear Fantasy (Oprah), “I feel that I am a very fortunate person …”

I was fifteen. Fifteen, gawky, wickedly uncomfortable in my so called ‘model frame.’ Somehow fifteen was the perfect age to concoct wild fantasy adventures and the fastest way out of a stifled, small town. There was a kaleidoscope world waiting for me, exclusively.

Strangers, intoxicating places and new faces I ached to see.

I guess Oprah never received the letter or maybe it got shoved to the bottom pile. There were one billion other worthy dreamers, perhaps more worthy than me. Maybe it got filed away, who’s to say?

I barreled ahead out on my own and concocted the fantastical dream anyway.

I had my picture taken, a lot, wearing expensive, sequined designer gowns. I lived in far away lands. Swam naked in cerulean silk seas with infinite sparkling black diamond sandy beaches. I stood atop glaciers touching the clouds where the landscape was breathtaking white, and the earthly humans invisible below. It was lonely and cold, and I felt nothing but numbness. Decades and decades past, I was stuck bone cold.

I could no longer picture my paralyzed, frozen feet on solid ground. Be mindful, careful, and specific before dreaming.

I woke up. No longer a child, no longer a pretty pawn, no longer me, no longer an identity, just a jumble of misfiring neurons.

I had freedom, for a time. Airplanes, buses, pre-packed duffle bags ready, lavender mister, passport, baby pillow became the two ton heavy, overweight baggage. I could not lighten the load no matter how much stuff I discarded. The heavy barred down on my brain, burrowing deep under my skin.

Change is so excruciatingly difficult when you’re living the dream.

Oprah never told me dreams can shift, that there can be more than just the one.

Or maybe, I wasn’t listening too busy running scared. Maybe I had to live through the dream to get to the here and now. Maybe I grew up, a little. Maybe the dream plain wore out.

Shivering, dizzy from submersing my head in the clouds surrounded by foreign tongues I did not understand, the physical me grew bored and misplaced. I dined on spicy and sweet, savoring cuisines that were taste bud delicious yet soured the stomach.

I was grinding, squirming, picking, pinching awkward, drowning inside the fifteen-year-old expired notion of bliss. I think when one is asking for a dream, one must be specific.

I’m sure being kicked to the curb no longer the prettiest, youngest, skinniest ‘photo op’ of the day did nothing for my already damaged low self-esteem and defunct, busted aspirations.

My life has been filled with love. Looking back and forward, my life has been filled with love.

That must be the first thing I cling to while reminiscing. My life has been filled with heart swelling, shattering, terrifying, emotional, easy breezy, destructive, goose-bump alive love.

The heart is a muscle it cannot possibly feel yet it does. Bizarre but so blazing sun, crescent moon, silly stars, perpetual movement sea elements comforting.

I am loved; even on the days I forget how to love myself.

It has not been easy, my middle, it’s been split open, fractured; please God let me end the crucifying. That, and all that mess that is my life are for a different tale. Perhaps when we have a little more time.

I’m back home now. I’m not fifteen anymore. My dreams are simpler, quieter, not half the screaming loud as before. Home, that’s what I’d been missing all along. Not the physical dwelling perhaps, although that helps joggle the mind.

Sensory memory.

The giddy anticipation of my mother’s White Shoulder’s perfume, her lips brushing against my forehead, the charms on her bracelet jingling and dancing on her wrist. Giddy elation alive.

“Go to sleep, sweet child of mine.”

I’d pretend sleep, twisting and squirming awaiting her return. Back from a well deserved evening out way past midnight to stroke my hair in the dark. I was sugary five not smart mouth saccharine EMO fifteen, not biting sarcastic know it all twenty, not disillusioned complacent crazed thirty, not even bitter shattered fragmented forty.

I was five.

I was living the dream.

Dear Oprah, “it’s okay.”

I think I’d like to give this living thing a shot, keep the next dream nestled close.

Readily accessible in my front not back pocket.

Dreams change.

And me, I am transitioning.

I’m not waiting on Oprah, not this time.

This dream is waiting on me.

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Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls #StolenMoments

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From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

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Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls

Jacqueline Cioffa 1998

Oh little girl

Stop for a minute

Let me enjoy your youth

Your radiance

The sheer innocence of fearlessness

Can I ride with you just one more time?

On your bike with training wheels

Let me float free on your back

As you learn to glide without safety wings

Don’t fret and don’t be afraid

Your youth will never leave you

She’ll grow on with you

As you and I both grow up

“One becomes enamored by the sounds, smells and tastes.”

“The vast landscape was never ours to begin with, we are all tenants of the same good earth. Surrounded by the enchanting tourist attractions, one forgets. One becomes enamored by the sounds, smells and tastes. Time? Time mattered less.” – Jacqueline Cioffa

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True gray with primary colors whirling all around

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I wasn’t going to write a sappy. I wasn’t. But, I jumped. 

My father was and always will be the great love of my life. It’s been seven years, the 5th of May. I know the date I was there beside him. My mom, too. I can’t speak for my brothers, nieces or anyone who had the good fortune to meet him. He taught me everything I know about kindness, loyalty, humor, respect, family and faith. His faith was unnerving, never wavering for one second. I was a hellion, a wild child and my dad never judged. He watched and waited to pick up the pieces. There are too many stories. One I remember vividly. I was 18, spoiled brat, came home drunk, puking my guts out. I don’t even drink anymore. My father cleaned me up, put me to bed and slept on the floor beside me. I can still feel him near, even if I can’t see him.

“Take care of your mother, be a good girl. I love you with my whole heart.”

Okay dad, I’ll try. Although I’m not sure I’m doing a bang up job. Her and I, we fight. Argue. A lot. Rarely agree on anything. I’d like to wring her neck. This woman, the person I call mom I aim to please. She wanted a cordless vacuum for Mother’s Day, not a fancy car, Dior or diamonds. Something useful with a purpose. That’s all. I’d be so lucky and well-adjusted to be more like her. The original, fearless warrior.

I’ve experienced the love of a father like mine, and a mother. Together, they made our family complete. Wherever you are Choff, I hope you’re winning and smirking that devilish grin. The heavens and the orbs are in your favor. It’s your time.

I have to go right on living. It’s rudimentary. Five-year old mathematics, numbers you live a whole life by.

I think they stink. Crap odds. I have to stay anyway, a while longer. I guess. The canvas resets to a stark sterile dove white, a color choice off a paint swatch. The happy, unhappy complicated family colors muted and wiped clean with the stroke of a paint brush. Obliterated by a sixty dollar gallon of paint.

I close my eyes and trust I will see them, the shade memories. I trust they were indeed real, trust they will remain to guide and comfort the remaining journey.

Putrid acid green, Pepto-Bismol pink, sherbet orange and garish gold marble swirls alive in the brain.

Life lived in increments and numbers. The numbers they never lie.

I hang crystal prisms in the bedroom window to capture the sunbeams washing over my face, remembering the weight and light of a kind of pure and selfless love.

It wasn’t perfect, I’m not deluded I know that.

Life was solid, a true gray with primary colors whirling all around.

And that, you can build upon.

Six feet of dock stretches out over a flat, refreshing cool body of water with no threat of jagged rocks, seaweed, or prey absolutely nothing that could hurt you.

With each breath we count, constantly weighing the risks, odds and numbers.

Me, I love to swim. I need to remember that more often.

Inside every jump right before you hit the water lives the dream and infinite possibility.

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Jellybeans and Bed Sheets

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From: Jacqueline Cioffa <choff777@aol.com>
Subject: jelly beans and bed sheets
Date: April 10, 2007 7:39:59 AM EDT
To: Jacqueline Cioffa <choff777@aol.com>

I wrote Jellybeans and Bed Sheets some time ago.

Time didn’t pause for me but the memories I still own.

Jellybeans and Bed Sheets

by Jacqueline Cioffa

Miami, the beach sand sun moon and stars. There is something about being in a tropical place, how the wind blows just right sweeping and swooshing your problems away. They disappear drifting magically out to sea. None of us knew just how special that time and living in that house would be. The house was white stucco, cool to the touch but so very warm inside. There was a fish pond and orchids dripping from the front porch. Crickets lived outside your window lulling you to sleep. Sweet jasmine and magnolia buds filled your senses and eased your worries, heightening your dreams.

We’d meet each morning around the coffee table to chat about our ridiculous mishaps and adventures from the previous night. Me, my bestie and partner in crime and the hipster Madame of this fabulous house. Rehashing the evening’s antics and plain old gossip over cafe con leche. There was usually some man drama, we were single and living it.

Except for the guys sharing the space. They were the older and wiser, they despised our escapades craving for sleep. Especially M, the obstinate French fitness guru who demanded clean living and regimen. Rice and chicken, early to bed.  At 8:00 o’clock not 8:01 he’d start the bitch and moan mantra, “go to bed.”

Nagging relentlessly until we caved or snuck out. For my BFF and I our days were filled responsibly with modeling gigs, lists and appointments but the Miami nights were saved for raucous. We took full advantage. Moe’s our usual hangout served the sweetest margaritas with an outside patio and flickering white lights under the sway of palm trees. Shooting the shit sipping a frozen drink was 100 proof worry free. The rugged, hard-to-look at owner would place the sacred sombrero on the most deserving head. There was little rhyme or reason behind the crowning of the red velour tassel contraption. We had our fair share of drunken nights with a sombrero dancing on our heads. It was stupid fun.

We half-smile now; because life is so drastically different. Back then living was void of anything heavier than ten pounds. Today there are tweens (well one), rescue dogs, blind dogs, aches, illnesses, misplaced dreams, mortgages and the mundane. For a short time, a blip really there was only sun and beach and smoothies and peaceful co-existence in an inviting pretty white house by the beach.

We clumsily made our way back to that house in the wee hours of the night (early morning), the mystic dwelling that knew our names welcoming us back. We swung open the front door and bam. Busted. The door was rigged, it had an alarm that chimed every time it opened and closed. DING DING DING DING DING DING. We whipped off our heels and tippy toed to our room trying not to squeal and fell sloppily into bed.

This night, this one night was different. When we laid down there was immediate screaming and belly roars out of our mouths. No matter how hard we tried; we couldn’t contain it. We howled so loud waking the house. We didn’t care because it was fucking hysterical. It was unforgettable. There were jellybeans under the sheets.  Completely unexpected, it felt like lying on firm and squishy, sloppy drunken pebbles. It was jellybean sweet, familiar. The boys put jellybeans under the goddamn sheets. Payback is, beautiful.

When I’m down, having a particularly crap day I call my BFF to reminisce about the pure bliss moments, precious blips.

We moved out and on, time didn’t stop. M died. Cancer. Fucking cancer ravaged his glorious sun-kissed, twelve pack body and mind greedily snatching him up. Time didn’t stop, how cruel. We left that house and our Miami by the shore and the sand under the stars, sun and smiling moon.

Revisiting the past only briefly, I see his face and hear his gruff voice.

“Go to bed, connasse.” I learned many things.

In that house by the sea lives my heart happy memories and him. He’s there, healthy, happy, strong, regimented and bronzed getting the last laugh.

Yes in that home we are together, carefree and alive surrounded by orchids, easy breath and a chill breeze.

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Sometimes I paint the walls the same hue trying to recapture the warmth of that house, cool to the touch.

 

Grow Your Garden a love of self

FullSizeRenderLoving yourself takes time.

I didn’t know not exactly, not until this moment.

I never believed brushing aside the possibility of happy.

Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow I’ll embrace the quirks and eccentrities.

Tomorrow.

Funny time wasted. Not funny.

This end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.

Middle-aged.

The compost pile is toppling from all the shit dumped over the years.

I don’t know about you, maybe you were born over-confident.

A chest puffer.

Never had to overthink it, actually liked spending time in your own company.

Didn’t fret about how you looked in a full length mirror, crap you never even owned one.

Happy, no worries. Happy, never mind the worries. Happy, because it feels better.

And maybe you weren’t born with a twelve pack but a Buddha belly and when you laughed it was honest from the gut, and your smile was fuchsia electric.

I’ve known people like that, really I have.

Infuriating sorta.

Well one that I can think of.

I wonder if Angelina Jolie is a brooder like me?

Angelina was the first perfect human that came to mind.

Let’s see, Buddha belly person is happy for realz, never asking, wanting or needing much of anything.

Seriously, just the jubilee of living and giving are enough.

I can’t speak for Angie but I wonder if she wears Crocs, doesn’t bother to shower or sits in the grass simply because she likes the way it feels against her unshaven, hairy-for-days legs.

Grounding.

I wonder.

I do.

I can’t help but wonder, curiosity careens through the wrinkles I now possess,

and the dirt under my fingernails from digging the earth.

I like how my back aches, moss green hands throb and sweat trickles down my neck.

I like that Jeff Buckley is blasting haunting, melodic melodies directly into my brain.

I like that this moment I am absolutely present just him and me, in fifty degrees that is neither scorching nor too cold uncomfortable but smack dab in the middle.

I like to use clichés, that make me happy no matter how incorrect or passe.

I like the physical task of creating something, something real.

Something beautiful.

That is the closest I’ve come to happy.

To loving myself.

Today.

On this end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.

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Grow your garden.

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“ Charting life by the ebb and flow of the tides, sunrise, sunset and the earth’s rotation. ” GEORGIA PINE by Jacqueline Cioffa #earthday2015

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“ Charting life by the ebb and flow of the tides, sunrise, sunset and the earth’s rotation. ”

-GEORGIA PINE by Jacqueline Cioffa

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Tomorrow is #earthday2015.

I plan on hugging a tree, digging in the dirt, planting perennials, going for a walk in the woods, drinking fresh water from the tap, dreaming of a tiny home with a wall of glass on a beach and a lush, edible green garden.

And, to continue to write sagas filled with finite pink quartz, sand granules, crunchy gravel, sustainable gardens built on friendship, second chance love, bougainvillea, magnolia and jasmine sweet scents, acrid rain, coral reefs and the vast hues of nature providing a fresh palette to paint words with the earth’s rich, mystic elements.

The earth plays an inspiring pivotal role and central theme in my life and the make-believe worlds the characters in “The Vast Landscape” and “Georgia Pine” inhabit.

I’m grateful for the dirt, sea, and stable ground I walk upon.

What would you like to do tomorrow? Here on this earth.

http://www.earthday.org/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T270L88

green-twitter-hashtagshttp://www.earthday.org/2015

http://greeneconomypost.com/green-twitter-hashtag-17290.htm

The Ultimate Green Twitter Hashtag List: Build Your Online Green Twitter Following

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Every Little Thing Matters

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For those of you that don’t know me and most don’t, I led a privileged life for many, many years. Traveled to exotic locales on somebody else’s dime lived in Paris, Milan, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Cape Town, Miami, Hollywood, NYC… I was a fashion model who earned a living with her looks.

The bizarre, crazy existence was the difficult lifestyle to explain. It was a job with bonanza benefits. I never took myself too seriously.

When my fashion career was over I had to reinvent myself. Makeup artist, why not? Started at ten bucks an hour and worked my way up counting Mariah Carey, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bernhard, Connie Britton as clients. I had connections, and lots of help. Again, I didn’t take myself seriously. I knew how to coddle the celebs, after all I’d been on the their side for years.

My spirit was unsatisfied, intuition nagged this wasn’t it. This wasn’t what your supposed to be doing.

I can’t say the precise second, the exact hour my mind blew. It was a rapid, out of nowhere burn.

When something serious happens to your health something so surreal and uncertain you dig, claw, and dig deeper. You fight. There’s a cosmic shift. Something changes in your core on a molecular level.

Nothing is ever trivial again, coasting is not allowed and everything about you feels strange. You’re different.

I found my way back, returned to my old life. It was fine for a time. Mediocre, but fine. The next break would not let me be the drifter, laid back traveler, not this time. Nope, I had to work hard. This time, I was the paradigm shell.

I had to shed the old, and let her go.

Brutal leaving your identity, friends, city, what you know, the familiar, your favorite pizza joint behind. It can be brutal or it can be something different.

It didn’t matter, I learned. I understood other stuff mattered more; family, well-being, sanity, gardening, solitude, writing, walking the dog. Basics became survival tools.

The voices nagged. You better get your shit together. Don’t fuck up. You’ve got one chance to do something good, something beautiful, something true, something with purpose.

I have always been a writer. It’s my DNA, in my marrow, my blood, my heart and my brain.

The words have always been there.

I wasn’t listening. I just wasn’t listening to them.

A book signing at the Landmark Gala during Syracuse Fashion Week is my life come demi-circle.

The irony is not lost on me.

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The Vast Landscape follows the “brash, vulnerable, raw Harrison in pursuit of ‘movie star’ dreams navigating her way through the painful and the beautiful. It is more than just an incredible love-story.”

Most days life kicks you in the ass and you do your best to manage.

Sometimes, indigo sky sunshine and karma throws flecks of silver star-dust your way.

When you lead from the heart, those are the best days.

Every little thing matters.

You can’t know when the stardust might shine.

I’m prettier today, inside out.

Jackie Cioffa's Article

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” Harley Davidson

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‘She was jet-black slick, piercing blue eyes Black Irish’

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“The Vast Landscape” is not a book, it’s my sacred truths. The poignant, gut-wrenching 50,000 word love letter to myself. A birth. The restorative breath, choppy inhale and liberating exhale one only understands from their monumental mistakes, regrets, joys and pains.

GEORGIA PINE

“Georgia Pine” is the excruciating reality of the tedious average that happens somewhere in the middle. The horrible understanding that your parents will die, you will indeed follow and there is more pain in this one life than imagined. It’s the realization that you do not have enough time or too much to fix all the unfixable.

In the works…

EverGreen

“EverGreen” is no longer about you or me, perhaps it never was. Nature belongs to the knots on the tree trunks and the brief cycles we visit. The old woman staring down at swollen, purple veined hands that hold all the love and regret in arthritic, curled fingers. She is me fifty years from now, saying hello and good-bye from a solitary, vacant room gazing out the chipped, cracked windowpane. Whittling away the wee hours.

THE VAST LANDSCAPE is not a Trilogy for me, but a life come full-circle.

If given the choice, how would I choose this life.

If given the choice would I ask God for a small favor?

Go easier on me this time around, just a tiny request.

In utero we map out our time here from the precise moment we breathe in,

and into whose arms we begin.

Choose well, he tells me choose well.

I chose love how could I possibly go wrong?

Love hurts, he says.

Next time I’ll choose smarter, richer, better.

Who am I kidding, next time I’d choose the very same.

And live it again.

So, are we done?

Not quite, he whispers.

Can we get to this thing called living, forever impatient?

You are.

for the love of a dog

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Wouldn’t it be lovely if kindness, loyalty and showers of affection were our biggest faults?

Wouldn’t it though?

It would be awfully, awfully nice.

It is lovely in the company of my shadow.

The spirit animal who teaches me patiently and without judgement

the crazy curious inexplicable mystery that is uncomplicated love.

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For one glorious moment I forget, all the exhausting complicated human parts.

I’m free. On the walk.

I don’t care how I look on the outside,

neither does she.

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