I wrote this book over the last few years, and published it in November 2020. There are so many thoughts and feelings in it that resonate with the world I am living in today with the impact of the pandemic and the systemic racism. I am including the description and a short excerpt. It is a world in the future with challenges but also with hope.
Living Red is about eighteen-year old Peyton as she searches for meaning and truth in life. When she wanders into a local Art Gallery, she is drawn to Dallas and to the sunsets he paints in ways that she can’t explain. Although the world is making major advances in communicating with one another and even traveling through thought, she is struggling with the secrets her Grandma Ava is sharing with her. As she grows closer to Dallas, she discovers more about the past that surprises her, and she begins to realize that everything is not as simple as it seems. Will she learn to follow her intuition to discover the truth?
Except from Living Red
My life has been a journey of discovery, a quest to understand how life works and why I am here. I don’t have all of the answers; however, I believe that I have been given some guidance and insight. I want to share with you what I have come to understand as my path of learning to listen to my intuition, to that little voice inside of me encouraging me to be my best self. The steps I have learned are simple in explanation, yet complex in living. If you want to see if you too can learn to follow your intuition like the main character in Living Red, here is a simple acronym to help.
L= Listen to your feelings
I= Identify the thought behind what you are feeling
F= Follow your heart
E= Expect change to occur
“Listen to your feelings”
Friday, September 2
As I turn the corner, I glance at the next section of paintings. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice something, like a word or an image in one of them.
“Hey, can you show me that one again?” I ask the guy covering it up, unsure of what exactly I saw.
After he does, he turns to face me, and I look into the darkest eyes that I have ever seen. I try to turn back to the painting, but I am momentarily struck because the pupil seems to blend right into the iris. I know they are probably dark brown, but I see something in them just like I did with the painting.
“Hi. My name is Dallas. Why did you want me to uncover it?” he asks as he tucks a loose strand of his dark brown hair behind his ear.
“I am not exactly sure,” I stumble, not wanting to sound foolish and explain that I saw something in it that isn’t there, ”It is an accurate depiction of a sunset though.”
Dallas chuckles as he goes back to covering the paintings.
“Okay,” I mumble as I start to walk away.
“You never told me your name,” he turns back and smiles as Reese walks up to us.
“Oh, my name is Peyton. This is my friend Reese. Do you work here?”
“Nice to meet you, Peyton and Reese. This weekend I do, or at least until I sell all of my paintings,” he answers.
“Oh, I thought that you were just covering them up for the night. You’re the artist?”
“Yes. I painted all six of these accurate depictions of sunsets,” he chuckles, “Although I do paint things other than sunsets too.”
“Sorry. I didn’t realize you painted them. You look so young.”
“I will be eighteen soon,” he laughs again.
As I tell him that I just turned eighteen also, I ask, “Where did you go to contemplative school? Did you just graduate, or are you still attending?”
“Actually I went to art school,” he says as an announcement stating that the Art Gallery is closing in five minutes comes on.
“I guess they are closing now. Are you ready to go, Peyton?” Reese asks me as she turns to Dallas and says, “Nice meeting you, Dallas.”
“Yes, nice meeting you, uh Dallas,” I stammer as Reese pulls me toward the door.
“You both, too,” he says as he turns back to covering his paintings.
The woman that let us in hands us a flyer as we walk out the door. I crumple it up and stuff it into my pocket with one backward glance.
“That was interesting, wasn’t it?” asks Reese as we walk out into the cool evening breeze.
“It was,” I respond, lost in my thoughts about Dallas and his painting.
“Some of those paintings were so beautiful, weren’t they? I never could draw or paint well when we learned it in school,” Reese continues, without mentioning Dallas’ name or how I was acting.
Neither of us says any more as we get on the tram and head for home even though it is much earlier than when we usually call it a night. We walk silently after the tram until we get to my front door, and then she whispers, “Could you hear my thoughts, Peyton? You are acting so weird since we left the gallery. When I was talking to you, I could tell you weren’t really listening to me. Then I was trying to thought-speak with you the whole way home. I don’t know if you missed a pill today or what is going on, but you better just go to your room and take one.”
“Okay,” I say since I don’t know how else to respond, “Goodnight.”
My mom doesn’t even ask why I am home so early on a Friday night, so I just say goodnight and head upstairs. We live in a four-bedroom house even though it is only my brother and I. Perhaps my parents wanted more children, or they just liked this house; I am not sure. We have lived here since I was born. My parents are both accountants, but my mother quit working after having my brother. We have the other bedroom set up as an office, but it is rarely used. Reese lives next door, so I know she would be home now. I should try to thought speak with her, but I am not sure how to explain my behavior. I just kept seeing Dallas’ eyes and his painting on the tram ride home. I was so distracted by him that I guess I just could not hear Reese in my thoughts. Instead of taking an extra pill as Reese told me to, I change my clothes, climb into bed, and turn off the lights. I try to focus on my immediate surroundings and relax, but my heart feels like it is racing. I am not sure why but my thoughts keep floating back to that painting and to Dallas as I close my eyes. He was polite, and his face was pleasing. The combination of his eyes, hair, and dark skin tone made him appear to be attractive, but there are many people that I have known who could also be defined that way. None of them elicited the same response that he did. I don’t think that I forgot to take my pills today since I always take one at breakfast and one at dinner, and I know that Reese and I both took one at the restaurant. I suppose that I should get up and take an extra one like Reese said because I have seen first hand what can happen if a person doesn’t stay consistent with taking their red pills.
I remember that it was at lunchtime in the cafeteria during my last year of fundamental school when a girl named Marti showed her uncontrolled emotions. She was sitting at a table with her friends when a girl said something that set her off. I never heard what was said, or maybe no one really knows precisely what words provoked this response, but she yelled the word, “No.” She stood up, and with the sweep of her arm, she threw all of the food and drinks that were on the table to the floor. I personally have never seen anything like that in my lifetime. I know that my parents have because they had told us many stories of the time before the pills became mandatory. As we got older and questioned why we needed to take these pills every day, they told us of a society that almost destroyed itself because people could not control their feelings and emotions. Then even after the war, as societies were being rebuilt, many people fell into despair from the losses they experienced as well as from the challenges of a civilization that had to restore and renew the way they lived.
Even though the World Guideline Organization was started a year after the destruction, they had a long road to rebuilding and setting the guidelines to really live again. I learned that the pills began shortly after the war, but they were not mandatory until sixty years ago. Thoughts fill my head as I imagine a world where everyone is out of control with people expressing their emotions instead of using logic to make decisions and live their lives. There is anger and even fighting. Would people cry and throw things? These thoughts alarm me, but I also wonder if I could then feel the joy that my Great Great-Grandma Sarah refers to in her story, A Simple Joy. Once again, my thoughts drift back to Dallas, and I think about him painting? What else does he paint other than sunsets? What did I see in his painting, and why did I see it, but not in anyone else’s paintings? Why could I only see it briefly? The conversation with Dallas replays over and over as I finally drift into a deep sleep.
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All through my day, no matter where I go, or what I do, I am always looking for the good in people, in the world, in my life or even just in my day.
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