Well! I got my “shock” for the evening and it should last a while. Halloween is drawing nearer. Enjoy!

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

image from the public domain


The barker at the Carnival was handsome, dark and winning.
One hand signaled passersby, the other hand was spinning
round and round a roulette wheel covered with glassware jars
around them, painted pentagrams of circles around stars.

“Throw a penny in the jar and win your ticket in.
A Mephistophelian experience—a masquerade of sin.
An excruciating onslaught of abominable sights.
Scenes of hair-raising evil and abnormal delights.”

He pitched a hall of horrors with carriages to carry
all the thrill-seekers who might freeze in fear or tarry
too long before each spectacle of blood-curdling fright
set up to fill the need for fear this All Hallows’ night.

One maiden threw her penny and he drew her in with charm,
folding a gentle prodding hand around her virginal arm.
“My adorable mortal darling, please heed well my advice.
The hawks of evil here are set…

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Q&A: A Ray of Sunshine

” People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.” – Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Hey guys! Hope you don’t mind that the tone of my posts have been quite bipolar. Dark and light like a strobe light! Just don’t get dizzy. 😀

Anyway, I’ll never forget the day when my friends and teachers described me as a ray of sunshine on my farewell cards when I moved to another school during the fifth grade. (Mentioned the experience in my post: The Transfer Student)

Just imagine an adorable, bespectacled girl reading “James and the Giant Peach” with a mephistophelian laugh enthusiastically infusing life into these fictional characters where her classmates were her captive audience hanging on to her every word. Did that make her a ray of sunshine?

Even as an adult,  my dance instructor wrote in my Christmas card, “Sa, you’re an epitome of joy!” Hmm! I had my own worries about life like any other normal person and often thought about many people who were suffering in the world. Yet, thinking about those things often impelled me to make a difference and help others out of love.

I would like to congratulate Jenna, The Sunshine Artist, who was recently awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award, “an emblem of spreading light and love into the world”. I’ve enjoyed her prompts for the past few months. She has asked her “rays of sunshine” some questions, and I wanted to reflect on some of  them here.

  1. What’s something in your life that makes you feel truly alive and happy?
    I feel truly alive and happy any time I’m exploring a new culture and experience one of those “shocks”. It sends a jolt of electricity through me tugging at my curiosity which inspires me to share their unique stories.
  2. What’s an event in your life that would you would describe as a defining moment of who you are and what you want to share with the world?
    My parents took me on various road trips in our Toyota 4-Runner for our various escapades. We traveled around the world, I witnessed great beauty and encountered so many people from a variety of backgrounds. Those are some of my favorite, cherished experiences! My current “holy grail” as Jenna aptly puts it is a quest to understand from other’s experiences and help others realize their importance and purpose in life.

  3. What is a skill you’ve never tried, but always wished you could master?
    Ballroom dance (waltz or foxtrot) to an entire sequence of songs at a masquerade ball. Yes, I’m fond of this sort of get up occasionally. It may be highly impractical (I don’t know if I can practice that many hours), but there are days when I want to be whisked away to some fanciful, fairy tale world.

  4. What is special about the place you grew up?
    My hometown has given me wonderful and cool opportunities. I would say it is one of the places that has defined and shaped a huge chunk of my character and my intellectual growth. It’s a place where my neighbors genuinely care about one another and the environment we all lived in.

    We focused heavily on acts of service around the community and those experiences broadened my perspective of the world around me. I also love that it was also an incredibly diverse place that allowed the public to experience a variety of cultures. One such experience is the Chinese Latern Festival.

    Chinese Latern Festival in Fair Park Dallas, TX – Jodi Catherine Photography


  5. Do you consider yourself more of a morning person or a night owl?
    I’m a morning person, through and through. I’m so chipper that I wish I could transfer my overflow to others! I love to watch the sun rise as I’m drinking tea and having quiet time writing in a journal. I like to watch the trees and flowers sparkle and shine after I shower them with water.
  6. What’s one thing in your life that you hope never changes?
    My ability to adapt to changes and keep learning from life’s greatest lessons. 
  7. What are 3 small things that make each day a little brighter?
    Counting my blessings with gratitude, spending time in nature, homemade spa treatments

  8. What’s your favorite activity to do on a rainy day?
    I have a couple of activities I enjoy: I love to play Settlers of Catan board game with my siblings.
    I also like to try out a new recipe: cook/bake. (OH! I just got the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication with Dorie Greenspan‘s recipes!!!! Her recipes look absolutely divine!)

    I like to play the piano. I whip out my non-toxic paint and start creating abstract works of art. I also crochet/knit, sew, snuggle with a great book, or draw a map from a work of literature. Last one I did was “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
    to kill a mockingbird

  9. What’s a small gesture from a stranger that’s had a memorable impact on you?
    The first one that came to mind was a woman who was dining at a location where I was a waitress. I’ve always been one to want to deliver 5-star service to my customers. I took her order, but since it was a slow day I sat down and talked to her a bit and listened to some of her problems. We joked about a few things and I can feel the tension melting from her face. She left, but then returned with a month supply of groceries for me and took me out to eat. I was surprised to say the least!
  10. What is a soothing smell for you that fills you with a sense of warmth, like a sunshine balm for your soul?
    I love the scent of a cranberry mandarin candle. I sometimes light a scented candle when I take a shower and have it travel in the mist. It infuses me with a indescribable sense of joy throughout the day.

“Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Thoreau


In response to:

River of Possibilities


Hiding in a boat
Huddled together with my family
Floating along this river
where the children used to play
What am I supposed to do
with a childhood tragedy

How will I know
Will I survive this deadly trek
I get so scared inside
as the soldiers are shooting at us
If I close my eyes forever
Will it all remain the same
Would this trip be in vain

So hard to hold on to my dreams
Will you ever take me
How will I know
if I’m going to be tossed aside
Would you shelter me

How will I know
if surviving this hellish night
will be transformed
into a blessing in disguise

And when we sleep
This boat feels like a
warm and darkened grave
It isn’t always what it seems
but it feels as if
when I’m lying on the deck
I’m waiting to die
I close my eyes

If I could have
just one more wish
My dream
Is in the palm of my hand
and it’s waiting here for you
in the river of possibilities


In response to:

  • VJ Knutson’s Weekly Challenge #20 : River
  • Laura Bailey’s Maniac Monday’s 3- way prompt : Deadly
  • OctPoWriMo2018: Day 21 – How Will I Know
  • Note: This was written in dedication to my mom who is one of the Vietnamese boat refugees of the 70’s. It was a perilous trip and many people died. Americans sponsored both of my parents to come to the U.S. Fortunately, it was a blessing in disguise.

#Double Etheree – Payback Time


Payback Time

failed potion
outside her tree
Crazed incantation
Setting fire ablaze
About to taste sweet revenge
on the fling who betrayed her trust
He unlocked her chest and stole her things
Freely broke her heart into smithereens
Her pet owl’s eyes are gaping in concern
Tree spirits are materializing
Raven hair dancing in delight
Caged monster stares at the pot
Gripping tightly, he gulps
The goblet of blood
is within reach
Magic books

In response to:

#Contrapunctual Poem – What Do You Want?

Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A Penny
Mementos of Honest Abe
Show me what it is like to live with
Loyalty to your ideals
To earn the respect and esteem

Your Thoughts
Remind me that honesty is the best policy
Stability in the midst of instability
Helps gain the confidence
Of those you are in close relations with

A Penny for Your Thoughts
Mementos of Honest Abe
remind me that honesty is the best policy
Show me what it is like to live
with stability in the midst of instability
Loyalty to your ideals
helps gain the confidence
to earn the respect and esteem
of those you are in close relations with


In response to:

  • OctPoWriMo2018: Day 19- What do you want?
  • Daily Word Prompt: Bizarre, Enchanted
  • FOWC with Fandango: Public
  • YouTube: “A Few Good Men” – Jack Nicholson – You can’t handle the truth!
  • YouTube: J.S. Bach: Invention No.8
  • Note: “Contrapuntal music is composed of multiple melodies that are relatively independent that are sounded together. Contrapuntal poems are poems that intertwine two (or more) separate poems into a single composition–often by offering one line of poem A and before a corresponding line in poem B from start to finish.” – Writer’s Digest
  • Reflection: I first learned about contrapunctual music when I had to memorize Bach’s Invention No.8 for a piano lesson. I was enchanted by the concept of taking two separate independent melodies and combining them into one song. It was very fun to practice. So when I learned that there is contrapunctual poetry, I wanted to take a stab at it!My boyfriend frequently asks me, “A penny for your thoughts?” when he realizes I haven’t spoken up yet whether he’s chatting about some new, bizarre animated series I haven’t seen yet or a cool invention Elon Musk created. I quietly listen taking in account of everything that’s being said, and sometimes I forget to share my thoughts on the matter. There are days when I think he can read my mind, but alas, that is not the case!

    I’ll be honest… it’s rough for me to be honest at times! I get worried about hurting feelings and how it might affect someone especially if they are sensitive. However, I find that when I do, I may feel uncomfortable at first, but I later feel better for airing out how I truly feel. Those close to me will appreciate and respect my thoughts even if it initially stings a bit. Makes me wonder how “the truth will set you free” even if it’s painful. The truth can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes and it can be overwhelming.

    I think Lincoln’s honesty played a significant part in “binding up the nation’s wounds” even though the public didn’t always like what he had to say at times. The things he said and did radically shifted the tide for future generations. So, in response to Jack Nicholson’s famous line, “You can’t handle the truth!”, Lincoln did say that “Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.” in a letter to the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton July 18, 1864 and “If [people] were given the truth, they can be depended on to meet any national crisis”

    Touché Abe!

Flower of the Day – 10.23.18

Enjoyed Cee’s maple leaf photo! Went for a walk at the San Jose Missions today to clear my head before class. There is a famous window called the Rose Window that was sculpted around 1775. A craftsman created the Rose Window in dedication to losing his wife, Rosa. There is a legend that in the evenings, you could see the spectre of Rosa staring out of the window up at the stars in the night sky.


rose window
Kasey Photography

In response to:

  • Word of the Day Challenge: Spectre

#Tanka Poem – Lady in Red

Taken in downtown San Antonio, TX

Mysterious church
Lady dressed translucent red
Haunts the vacant floors
Giggles when complimented
Stylish spirit seems flattered


In response to:

  • Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge: No.106, #Tanka, #Ghost & Hollow, #Synonyms Only
  • Song of the Day: Chris DeBurgh – Lady in Red
  • Note: I took this snapshot from the fourth floor of a parking garage as I headed home for the day. I imagined that a lonely ghost lived there who just wanted her spirits to be taken care of and nurtured. Yes… it’s a little different than what usually happens in horror films! Producers will probably let me down easy and tell themselves they dodged a bullet. LOL! 🙂

    Wrote my first tanka poem during my lunch break! It has a 5/7/5/7/7 syllable format, and also uses similes, metaphors, or personification. In my interpretation 😉 , I thought of women in general and their presence and status in churches and society as a whole around the world. In some places, they are like a ghost: ignored, forgotten, fading away, or haunting people out of anger and pain. Here’s my hope that women will give themselves the chance to feel like a “Lady in Red”: gorgeous, amazing, fearless.

    Oh, and thank you for all the wonderful “Gentlemen in Red” fighting to treat women well out there!

#Fable – Once Upon a Time

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
– Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagarie


Once upon a time,
in the enchanted woodlands
the shades of green are subdued as
orbs of gold catch the sunshine
within the morning dewdrops
that rest upon the blades of grass

Golden autumn leaves burst into confetti as
Thousands of cardinals shoot into the sky
their loose feathers sprinkling harmony
waking up the spirits of the forest

Sharing the prophecy of true wealth in which
authentic happiness begins when one knows oneself
igniting the fire of life that burns within our souls
during the darkest and coldest times

Sun is shining through the stained glass window
of a home within these enchanted woodlands
Fragmented crystalline light heavenly illuminates the room
Dust particles float down and rest on the nose
of a girl named Amaryllis peacefully sleeping
who sneezed from the accumulating dust

Now awakened, Amaryllis groggily rubbed her eyes
and opened the latch of her window now letting in
the rays of sun which delivered a cathartic experience
purging any negative feeling of being fully awake
filling her with warmth and energy as she delighted in
the morning glories that shyly acquiesce
revealing their vibrant blue blossoms
Her senses explored the vast beauty around her

She breathes in the elevating scent of the pine trees
nestled in the depth of the golden forest that stretches for miles.
Two rabbits, black and white, hopped in front of her window.
Black rabbit urgently said, “A stitch in time saves nine!”
White rabbit implored, “You’ve got to pick up every stitch!”
Black rabbit yelled, “It is the season of the witch!”

Amaryllis stared at the pair, “How strange!”
“These rabbits must be dissembling the facts!”
“There is no witch! I have all the time in the world to do all I want.”
Wondering if she was dreaming, she went back to sleep
but the rabbits hopped into her room and crawled on her bed.

White rabbit tickled her nose, “Please wake up! It’s important!”
Black rabbit stamped on her face, “The witch will destroy everything!”
Unable to ignore these annoying creatures any longer,
she grudgingly woke up and looked out the window.
Sure enough, the witch glided down the mountain
from where she lived and began terrorizing the forest.
Golden forests turned to ash the moment the witch touched them
The spirits within the forest shivered from her presence and hid
Cardinals once sending out beacons of hope now burst into flames
Dissonance begins to wreak havoc in harmony’s place
Morning dewdrops evaporated into steam
Creating a heavy fog that obscured vision
Morning glories withered away
Light from the stained glass window
was now mercilessly grey
Amaryllis was now brooding
about this deplorable state
She faced a great challenge
“Why didn’t she listen?”

The black and white rabbits now camouflaging
with the colors of the room tugged at her shirt
simultaneously said, “Amaryllis, you can fix this!”
With the command of military generals,
the rabbits gave clear instructions.

“Go up to the balcony of your home
where your parents were entrusted
with the care of a spinning wheel.
Spin the wheel three times and life will be restored
The witch will go back to the mountains.
This is a magical maca root to help you brave the storm.”
The rabbits handed her a three beige bulbs
as they took shelter underground.

The ceaseless destruction and the rabbits encouragement
prompted her into action as she ran upstairs.
Tornadoes propelled around her at high velocity
making it difficult to reach the wheel.
She stuffed the maca roots down her mouth and chewed
A wave of energy pulsated within her
She sat down and took a deep breath in
She spun the wheel three times.
The storm stopped and the tornadoes dispersed.
The dismayed witch glided
back to the mountains and
Amaryllis sighed
in relief.

Have you ever noticed when time seems to stretch out when you’re walking from one place to another? Other times, it feels as if it’s short? Now, imagine the distance that it takes to get from one state of mind to another. When people say, “Time heals all wounds”, others will like to also add, “It’s what you do with your time that helps heal.”

Moral of the story? Time is fleeting. What you do with your time can determine where you will be. Do not procrastinate for what can be done today. Your dreams can unravel by choosing to do nothing. Don’t wait until things are deplorable before you decide to do something.


In response to:

Snapshots From My Day – 10.13.18

Hello everyone! I’m about to start a study intensive course this fall. Here are some shots of where I’ll be studying and relaxing for the day.  I might not be as active these upcoming months, but occasionally browse through your blogs! I’ve combined a few prompts which are listed below. Take care everyone!

Entrance of School
University Mascot Road Runners Bench
Autumn is looking quite tropical as I’m sitting at the bus stop
Get to enjoy seeing these by the entrance
Really caught this bird off guard when it was taking a bath!
Relaxing at the mall when I walked by this crystal bird in a jewelry shop while passing through!