The River of Stones: post your 23rd Jan small stones here

This is the 23rd day of our January mindful writing challenge: The River of Stones. Each day in January we’ll create a post, like this one, where you can leave your small stone for that day as a comment. This is today’s small stone thread.

Also look out for blog posts by our guest writers this month, on topics such as creativity, writing and mindfulness. Click here to view the guest posts.

Do leave your 23rd small stone of the challenge in the comments below.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around
you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
~ Roald Dahl

Comments & replies

78 thoughts on “The River of Stones: post your 23rd Jan small stones here

  1. Sue

    I have begun doing morning pages again. Three freehand pages of stream-of-consciousness with the first cup of tea. Which then get thrown away.

    Questioned the point of this exercise. Questioned them as if they are the point. I forgot ~ they are the path I walk on which reveals hidden doors in the trunks of the trees that line the way. Everywhere I turn.

  2. Anne Weizel

    As Beethovan’s Moonlight Sonata, played its dreamy song,
    I lay in darkness, waiting for sleep to come.
    Breathing slowing down,
    Releasing my frantic thoughts,

    My mind began soaring over rolling hills, and valley’s,
    Rivers, winding and flowing.
    Flying up to puffy, white clouds
    Finally feeling peaceful.

    Suddenly, like the scratch of a sharp needle
    Being dragged over a vinyl record,
    I was catapulted awake.

    House cats had turned into jungle cats in my living room.
    Their angry, high pitched wails,
    Spoke words of hatred, that only they understood.
    The shrill shrieks grew louder, and more expressive
    Until finally, the sound of lightning-fast clawed feet
    Screamed across the hard-wood floor.
    Ending in silence.
    For the sound, of Beethovan’s piano sonata’s still playing on.
    Oblivious to the violent interruption,
    Of his gentle melodies

  3. Mish

    In the mirror, my face has (had)
    a rash of very small, very fine red dots.
(Greg’s face is/has been red with tiny bumps
    on the sides of his forehead – near his eyes.


His breathing is shallow. My chest 
    swollen with liquid – it’s difficult 
to swallow.
    My throat is itchy, painful.


Last week, and the week before that,
and last night…
    I had a red streak
across the whites of my eye: it was

    (I worry that there is mold
in this house and we are
breathing in it,

    breathing it in….)

  4. J Cosmo Newbery

    The evening is hot, the mercury yet to fall
    Relief in rain, we are told, is on the way.
    The Bureau is 60% confident in it’s call
    But, disbelieving, I water the garden anyway.

  5. pattisj

    Saturday, the rain came, and stayed. Though it rendered the day dark and dreary, a visit to the fabric store added a bolt of color that brightened my day.

  6. Sandra Davies

    Low sun through the kitchen window
    across the white worktop
    where I wiped with a too wet cloth:
    casts shadows, makes lace.

  7. Helen Lewis

    Sunset on the verandah

    magpie screeching from a nearby cabbage tree
    bellbird ringing from across the valley
    cat purring on my lap

  8. Fi


    It’s surprising what you see when you’re walking that you miss speeding by in your car. There’s the garage that looks like a Swiss chalet with it’s added timber front, decorative ceramic plates and clock. The elderly lady with the big dog that engulfs her and the tiny dog that leads them both passes on the other side of the street. My feet hurt in my high heeled boots but my intent drives me forward, walking.

  9. Elisa Choi

    Jan 23: A delicacy of the Chinese tradition. A circle shaped sticky lump made with flour and sugar with added coat of flavorings. Mom cuts them into fraction of several pieces. Dipping into beaten egg yolk before placing them into the frying pan. I bite into the soft warm sticky Tikoy as it is so called. Its taste brings a hint of sweet molasses and the color is almost jet black. I had two while Mom is irked by her burp of the sickly sweet Tikoy.

  10. vivinfrance

    Rich brown wormy crumbly soil lifted, turned easily under the fork wielded
    steadily by a stick-thin, bent old man wearing two anoraks against the damp winter cold,
    the hood of the inner pulled up, to conceal his grim grey features.

  11. PoetColette

    Seeing her today,
    under her hood,
    still struggling
    after her accident months ago,
    takes the hood off my eyes
    and makes me appreciate things
    more than I would otherwise.
    And that is no accident.

  12. Lesley

    Man Outside the British Library

    He sits outside the crowded café eating a ham panini. The brushed steel of the chair sends icy shivers through the thin worsted of his suit trousers. He glances through the steamy windows and wishes he had bought a coffee, but when he ordered the white wine he had not known there were no seats left. His hand brushes his chin. He should have shaved. Instead, he chose ten more minutes in bed. Better that than face the frosty dawn. A finger of breeze flicks through his small pile of papers, threatening to lift them from the table. He places a large, leather bound volume on top of the errant heap. The red book is itself overflowing. Stuffed between its leaves are loose letters and clippings from newspapers. His documents are a metaphor for his life – a messy affair, cluttered, disorganised and inconstant danger of flying out of control.

  13. Ina

    The words that linger in my mind, are those
    I should have long forgotten, but I chose
    to keep them living where they hurt me most,
    reminders of the cruelties. I host,
    until I find it possible to part
    with all distress that makes a bleeding heart,
    the words that told me I was not worth love.

  14. Claudine G.

    Reflecting on the blustery day. I’d forgotten to stay mindful of what I felt. Instead I’d given way to how I’d wanted people to see me. These people are family, a huge family, yet somehow they are the very people I wish to avoid. I want to avoid feeling like a loser in front of them. I know I’m not one, but I feel like one whenever there’s a huge gathering. No matter, I was there solely for my grandmother. Because she likes having everyone together. I was there for her. I’ll clutch on to this.

    Stream-of-conscious writing.

  15. Connie L. Peters

    The storm blew in last night
    violently ringing the porch bell.
    My son went out in his bare feet
    and took the noisy thing down.
    The next morning, my husband
    swept the snow off the porch,
    except for what was packed down
    by my son’s size fourteen feet.
    It looked like Big Foot had visited.

  16. Jill

    While sitting in group meditation, Sunday morning at the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center, a train goes past. When it blows its horn, it’s so loud I can feel it echo in my chest, vibrate in my heart. I feel awake and in my body, aware of my tender open heart, and mindful of all the bodies and hearts of those around me, in the room and beyond. With pictures.

  17. R.S. Bohn

    concrete steps crumble onto
    winter-damp grass and base of an old
    rose canes fall away from the house
    a single hip dark green hanging
    over the chipped face of a dutch boy

  18. Lightverse

    enjoying the show
    watching dancers and singers
    sensing stage envy

    My family and I went to see a production of Leader of the Pack at the local community theater. It was a show with great music (50s/60s) and the performance was ‘packed’ with talented singers and dancers.

    Some years ago, I used to do community theater (both on stage and behind the curtain) but nowadays I view it as strictly a spectator sport.

    Nevertheless, if I really had the vocal ability I wish I did, I’d still be up there on the boards…but alas, I don’t (if I’m to be honest with myself) and so I’m content to sit in the audience and just enjoy the show.

  19. Marian Veverka

    A wake-up look out the window
    shows bare ground. The snow has gone away, vanished with the storms of last night. Thunder that woke me up and brilliant streaks of lightning that lit up the whole room – a shocking silver like a highly polished sword thrust through the window.

  20. Robin

    Lately writing has felt like hitting a brick wall.

    I sit at the table staring out at the darkness waiting for the pond to appear and listening to the rhythmic patter of the rain on the roof, avoiding today’s writing topic of “Shapes like stars,” and wondering how anyone can come up with such prompts. What does that mean? A car whizzes by and the house heat kicks on with the usual drone and hum, warm air swirls around my feet. I put the pen to paper, to the brick wall, seeing the worn rusty color of each brick, the mortar that holds them together, the nooks and crannies and dings. I think about the brick wall we built last summer. Mortar, made with cement. I write: ”Marilyn Monroe was shaped like a star and has a star on a sidewalk to show for it.” The bricks begin to crumble and fade as I write about those posing as the shapes of stars, and somehow journey in writing towards the miniature suns that appear on the waves of the water on a sunny day, and find my words in the shapes of stars.

  21. Lindsay

    Ahead of me, the road narrows. On a distant hill, a line of trees trudges to the summit, bent like bony old men weary of their burden.

  22. Shamanic Winds

    “The Eye-In-the-Sky is Looking Down Upon Each Of Us Today…”

    ~Indigenous Shamanic Winds

  23. Roz Cawley

    All afternoon in the garage – clearing, shifting, sorting
    Games, old clothes, china for the Blue Cross.
    A scratching inside one storage bag,
    and lifting three old tennis balls…
    A Peacock butterfly, slowly, opening and closing its wings.
    Stretching, wondering…‘is Springtime here?’
    Gently, I lift it onto crumpled newspaper
    to find safety in the rustling folds once more,
    To wait until the proper wakening time is come.

  24. francesca perry

    We sit in the sun at our favourite bar. We order aperitivi. With ice. For the first time ever we eat the entire bowl of potato crisps – another thing that not smoking does for us. I feel slightly reckless as if even being here is not wholly appropriate for a Monday lunchtime in January.

  25. Larry Piper

    Two occupy protesters are back,
    swimming idly around the southwest opening
    of the sometimes solid, sunken soccer field of summer.
    Occupiers have yet to reappear to the northeast.
    Instead, a retired telephone pole,
    since repurposed for seating,
    has broken free of its pedestals
    and is now testing the ice.

  26. Inger-M

    I sit in this chair, concentrating, breathing in and out to the iPod music in my ears. The prick of a syringe leaves a numbing sensation, and the trauma starts. There is no pain, but my fear of potential pain is overwhelming. Even with the tranquilizers and the anesthesia, my back arches, my feet tremble, my shoulders are up to my ears. I have to really concentrate and remind myself to relax, to breathe and to listen to the music. I hate going to the dentist, but it is truly a moment of total awareness.

    Go here to view the full post:

  27. Mark Sargeant

    Your tattoos have faded with time,
    Becoming an algae tide on your pale skin,
    Thick smudges blooming from your strong forearms,
    Burnt pistachio letters where your fingers join.

    And like your tattoos have marked you,
    Anxiety has been stained within you,
    A spilt drink leaking into your dark corners,
    Welling up in the whites of your eyes.

  28. Jean Mishra

    Convened in gentle morning sunlight, the committee’s called to order. Each participant is at its post and eager to begin. Poised and alert. Focused. Third-floor clothes line, second floor balcony, fifth-floor brick jutting from the façade. The straggler waits on the rock wall across the lot. A shrill “pee-deep!” rings out; seconded. A third barks to disagree. Heated squeaking debate rings out. Bushy tails flailing; throes of squirrely conviction, argued. The loudest will prevail; until tomorrow.

    As it appears on my blog:

  29. Lorelei

    Welcoming dragon year to a world with darkened moon and dripping sky, circles widening and disappearing in shiny puddles.

    ~Laura Hoopes

  30. Kate

    Doorways. Go through. Don’t look back –that door is closed. All things are new here. Moon-day, bless the mothers and the earth, rock the children gently with those tides, sing us lullabies in the night and wake the world with words of encouragement when morning calls.

    Doorways. Here there be dragons as the rabbit returns to her burrow. Go through into a new day. Learn what you will. Do what you can. Be who you are.

  31. IsobelandCat

    I drop a kiss on Mother’s head to say goodbye. Today she has not recognised me. I arrived early and walked up the hill from the station. We spent time together. I cleaned, trimmed and filed her nails. She recited The Lord’s My Shepherd with me as I worked. Afterwards, she worked the handcream into her skin, and as the smell of lavender filled the room, lifted her fingers to her nose, inhaling and smiling. After lunch I read to her; the old favourites – Wordsworth’s Daffodils, Masefield’s Sea Fever, Smart’s My Cat Jeoffrey.
    I was there for a meeting about her care. At the last minute I called the Alzheimer’s Society, who also help with people like Mother who have vascular dementia. I was lucky; the woman who has been emailing me and speaking to me on the ‘phone since summer was free and happy to attend. I was so glad of her presence and support.

  32. shaunag

    Repaying: There with its red letters sitting like tempting sweets on the white sheen was a collection box. At the till, no less. I stared at it, first counting the red letters, then adding them together. A total of 20 red letters. Red letters with a message, an instruction for me. But I take it with a difference: to return to my pages and my pens, my keyboard and my mouse. And write. Repay with thoughts and words. Write.

  33. searching serendipity

    Jan 23 Stone(s)

    Tidying and downsizing

    Too much kept from the past
    Can be clutter in the present
    Will I need in the future?
    Time may take away memories
    So what are these triggers worth
    And should I really care?


    Early morning meeting

    Slugs surface at night
    Sliding into damp tiled outhouses
    Silvering floors with their slime.

  34. Zin Walker

    Straw hat on top of my bookshelf.
    no,not straw. That’s what donkeys wear in Spain
    ears stuck through. It’s plaited Panama, though not, I think
    superfino. It kept the sun off his head, until September
    when he no longer needed it.

  35. Hildred and Charles

    How to assemble as croquernbouche

    first, with great care, snugly,
    and with a bowl of ice water handy
    for hot caramel coated fingertips

    Posted by Hildred and Charles at 3:44 PM

  36. Noodle Notes

    “Record Keeping Day”

    (Stone #23 by Rhonda L. Johnson)

    The halls are abandoned today;
    no dull shuffle of tennis shoes
    against well-worn marble floors,
    no rustle of paper and textbooks
    in lockers, no cloak-and-dagger teen
    dramas unfolding softly in the shadows.

    And the classrooms are eerily empty.
    I sit at my desk uninterrupted, peaceful.
    I glide through each succeeding task
    with an ease that’s almost mechanical.
    Still, part of me longs for the controlled
    chaos that tomorrow will inevitably bring!

  37. Hannah


    Always bare branches
    Against solemn gray sky.
    Only, found this round
    Couple of crows finding
    Time to perch, peering
    Each, at the other.
    Trunk between the two.

    © Hannah Gosselin and Metaphors and Smiles, 2012.and Smiles, 2012.

  38. basho42

    Sitting with this beautiful koan from Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel,…”what would happen if we habituated ourselves to staying open?” It isn’t something I read and say, “Oh, what a lovely idea.” No, I see it as my lifeline to freeing myself and experiencing true joy, not the teeter-totter of the emotions. I believe it wasn’t until just now that I allowed myself that openness all day.

  39. Judith Richards Shubert

    Red pyracantha berries
    On tall leggy bushes
    Hang in grape-like clusters
    End of January cardinals
    Picked and picked and screeched
    Now they’re nearly gone

  40. SharonW

    Why I Can’t Get Rid of Those Cobwebs

    To be a spider, you must not give up.
    You spend the night, unsleeping, drawing out
    your finest patterns, stretched so taut, upheld
    by threads attached securely here and here.
    A lovely sight. Your best work yet. And then
    A giant with no love of art, no heart,
    sweeps it away. Torn threads. A jumble where
    there was design and beauty. So you start again.

    On my blog at

  41. Renee

    Split Asunder

    Trees split asunder by
    the weight of snow and
    ice to great to bear
    even the strongest of
    giants is no match
    for nature’s force

    © January 2012

  42. Michelle

    It’s all sunshine and happiness and all is right in the world….friends and family are hale and hearty. But it can’t last…this is life after all. A suspicious spot and doctor consults and suddenly the shadows are darker and closer.

  43. susan christensen

    The days are getting longer:
    minute by minute
    the paler blue
    lingers and shines
    black clouds bearing
    snow squalls

  44. Gypsy-K

    After all the procrastination and distraction, I finally sit down and start. The words travel, from some place within, out through my finger tips onto the computer screen in an irregular rhythm but constant. Finally exhausted I lay down to sleep, the energy of the words and more words to come buzzing within.

  45. H. Dooley

    The back door has not been opened since you opened it to check if our kung pao tofu was still in the yard where the criminals tossed it. That was over four months ago, after the police brought us home from Kensington with no keys, after you scaled the side of my house and jimmied down my office window, after the officer on watch scolded you for tampering with the crime scene, after the cats questioned us big-eyed, after you said talking about it or not was up to me, after you announced you were starving. When I think of opening the back door, I remember, as if they were warnings, all those childhood dreams of pushing and pushing doors into frames that were marshmallows or waterlogged or splintered or odd-shaped or half an inch or more gapped on all sides or swollen barely too small, without clicks or latches. You opened the door and walked down the steps without looking left, where they came from, or right, or right, or right, and picked up the plastic bag and styrofoam carton and tofu and peanuts and plastic forks and packets of soy sauce that are maybe still in my refrigerator now. The door fit obediently back in its frame and you locked both locks for what will be, for me, the last time. I remember the retrieval, but the food itself, as in a dream, was not thereafter seen.

  46. T

    I have 15 minutes to stop
    And pick up some mascara.
    Fifteen minutes only!
    I never buy these things for myself,
    But I have a coupon.

    I dash in the store.
    She comes outta nowhere…
    Looking 80 years old and homeless,
    with hair that wants washing.
    “Hey!” She says.
    There’s nobody else around.
    She’s talking to me.
    “Help me find Revelon Poppysilk Red lipstick. I can’t see!”
    “Um…okay, sister.”
    I search the rack. There are probably 200 shades.
    The next to the last is Poppysilk Red.
    I give her the lipstick and my coupon.
    Twenty minutes have passed.
    “Now!” she says, “Find one for my sister. She likes pinks!”
    I leave the store 30 minutes late for work,
    And I’ve forgotten my mascara,
    But she and her sister are ready for Vegas.

  47. Lynn Tatro

    I saw on the news that the sun was visible in Barrow today. In the dark of the moon on the frozen horizon a glowing hint of summer’s fervent sentinel mesmerizes.

  48. Laurie Kolp

    Internet’s down
    and I’m up
    the Energizer bunny
    spinning like crazy
    cleaning, cooking
    Internet’s up

  49. Lanita

    High-pitched, forced, and angry, it screeches through its escape from my sister’s bowels, as though they’re too inhospitable to host even a small amount of gas. It sounds the same every time, like a desperate scream to “Get me the hell outta here!” then it fills the room with the odor of a decomposing rodent.

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