Tag Archives: Writing Truths

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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Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle.

I’m tired.

Wiped, discouraged, caput, worn down, exhausted.

I am not winning this mammoth battle with the mind. I can no longer distinguish between mania and anxiety, thoughts race ahead anyway without definition. Oxygen depleted and unrelenting physical pain does not let up.

No, no, no, no way. There’s no way I can keep up with this living thing. I am not strong enough.

Am I?

Just when I think I have used and abused every single resource left with no reserve, a timely reminder appears.

It’s not about me, it never was. This life is not mine to begin with. I am circular memories, sand granules stolen backwards in time.

Precious quartz that most assuredly slips through my fingers returning to earth how it began.

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

“Your time stamp is 2:22 which in angel numerology means, “Don’t quit before your miracle occurs!” 

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“Newly planted ideas are beginning to grow into reality. Keep watering and nurturing them, and soon they will push through the soil.”

I believe in angels, pixie dust, numbers, crystals, and dark/ light matters we cannot see or comprehend.

To dream wearing a featherweight light suit of armor while speckles of  gold, violet, teal, fuchsia and indigo angel dust flutters abound.

“To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time.” ‘funny girl’

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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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by Jacqueline Cioffa

Dec. 2006

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I would like to lead a dark, sophisticated life

I dream of a fancy lady in spiked heels, red nails and lips and such

She wears corsets to breakfast

and dines on champagne and caviar

Instead I run away from fame and all it’s trappings

I’m a messy sneaker wearing practical jeans girl

transparent to the touch

I know it’s crazy but I miss you everyday

more not less

I don’t need a prince charming just a soft whisper

A subtle nod, bittersweet embrace

Ask me to cross an ocean and I’d do it for you

Even for just five minutes

I don’t care I’m not proud though I am scared

I’m sophisticated just enough

“I hate the word, “bipolar.” It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word. Call me whatever.‬ #I’mAWhatever if you must. Jackie works too.”

I couldn’t resist responding to the lovely Carol Adriana Estrella‘s post on Facebook this morning.

“Doing a small survey:
What are your first thoughts when you hear the word “bipolar”. Being that is an illness, I see it used around A LOT as an adjective or a subject.”

Visit the very hip and informative blog Is Ok Not To Be Ok to view some of the varied responses (including my abridged one).

Carol explains, “I did a very informal survey today asking people what were the first thoughts that came to their mind when they heard the word: bipolar. I got an incredibly array of answers from the usual (and often not funny) jokes, to what a harsh reality is to live as a bipolar individual.”

Thank you, Carol Adriana Estrella for starting the conversation today.

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I hate the word, “bipolar.” It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word. Call me whatever. I’m a ‪#‎Whatever‬ if you must. Jackie works too.

The forward from GEORGIA PINE explains how strongly I feel about the word(s), “BiPolar Disorder.”

“Perspective

I wrote The Vast Landscape, the prequel to Georgia Pine at a dark, scary time in my life. Harrison, the brash heroine, was someone tangible I could cling to. She gave me reason to get up, to go on, to fight, a much-needed respite from what was happening in my real, everyday life. I made the conscious decision not to write about manic depression, the disease that has disrupted every neuron firing through my beautiful, chaotic mind. Bipolar Disorder, the label I detest, is en Vogue. It appears in trendy bestsellers, Oscar winning films and sensationalized television. It’s glamorized, modernized, made to look cool. Trust me, it is not. Mental Illness is the train wreck, the ugly, cruel, exhaustive, intangible, and solitary battle. It does not discriminate among rich, poor, smart, stupid; it brings grown men to their knees, ripping whole families apart. Writing The Vast Landscape freed me to live my dreams on the page. Harrison is I, I am she, mixed together so deeply the lines disappear. The outlines blur, intentionally. Was The Vast Landscape reality or fantasy? That is for the reader to decide. We are all disabled, broken parts, lost individuals, trying to find our way. Truth is what you know, here and happening now. There is only love and love is the bravest character of all. Harrison is the voice in our heads, asking the important questions. Where do I fit? Why am I here? Will I love, be loved? We are born with a fixed expiration date, yet we carry on, walking this earth the best we can until we’re pixie dust. Cherished, kept alive in memory and yellow parchment, we become precarious, aged photographs in a cardboard box. Lives touch, intersect in the most unpredictable yet meaningful ways. The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
The story continues in… Georgia Pine.”

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Cioffa. “Georgia Pine.” iBooks.

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“I learn love from her everyday.” Jacqueline Cioffa

“All she wants is to be close, eat, cars rides and chase things. I learn love from her everyday.”#Lupita ❤

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My life is a barrage of pills, moods, malaise, emptiness, haze, mania, depression that stagnates my spirit, anxiety ping-ponging against my brain fighting an illness I cannot see. The willful fighter, deep-thinking me and misfiring neurons I cannot comprehend. There is no recovery from a serious mental illness, there is only finding ways to cope, reasons to get-up to battle and exist one more day.

I can’t just ‘pull it together,’ no matter how deep the desire or the will.

It’s generational. The genetic jackpot I won, but did not enter.

I. was. born. this. way.

I. was. born. this. way.

I won’t win, there is no winning, no contests, no rules. There is only luck and time before I am gone away.

I am not misguided, I understand exactly what I am up against. Well, sorta. I understand each day gets a little harder, the thoughts a little louder, the light a little dimmer and the physical discomforts heavier.

My words, while I can still see them and get them out are not to be misunderstood or misconstrued. This life, my life has been beautiful in more ways than I can write.

The memories help me stay.

The spirit animal kissing away my tears, snuggling so close I feel her beating heart against my skin is never too far away. She keeps me present and accountable.

Smiling from the heart is the rarity, and this dog makes me smile. Multiple times a day. She understands my crazy, the sorrow and spectacular. She loves me anyway.

No matter the color or mood.

cool like that

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I love this. Because inside these words says a whole lot about me.

And because I did not make it. Someone I respect and admire did.

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Because she’s cool like that, I’m cool like that.

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.

 

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

vast landscape

“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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