The Cashier- By Chuck Murphree…#454

The Cashier

He was a young man, twenty-three or four, married only a short time to a beautiful woman who he knew he didn’t deserve. Though, why would anyone use the word “deserve” to describe love? 
The young man was trying to find his way and he knew it wasn’t the current path he was on. He had to get off it fast. The “way,” the answers to life, were not in a whiskey bottle. His father did that and it left him with a frail, angry body, absorbed by hatred and bitterness. So he searched hard, digging deep within the trenches of his soul, to find some glimpse of a life that would be meaningful. Yes, love has meaning, but if one does not love themself, how can they fully offer love to another? 

On this particular day, the man would be tested. He was being taken back to events that were unfolding rapidly in his mind, as if a stampede of wild horses were running around him, an arm's length away from being trampled, and he felt the warm air from their strength that could produce his death in one moment. Of all the places to have an awakening experience, a gas station, holding a dirty pump handle, filling up a car that he could barely afford. 

The young man was looking inside the store and recognized the cashier, something about the hair and eyes, and a murderous rage overtook him. It was something he felt only once or twice in his life, mostly for his father. Every harmed man thinks of murder, revenge, and destruction at least once in their lifetime. It comes out whether we want it to or not. We want to take back the innocence, the vulnerability, and exact a price on the person who did us wrong. I’m not talking about something simple like being struck by words or a selfish gesture. This murderous rage comes in the form of wanting revenge on someone who changed the trajectory of your life, shaping and molding your thoughts and leaving you with depression and trauma. It’s this type of revenge the young man sought.

The pump clicked, signaling that the tank was full, which also snapped him out of his transfixed glare into the store window, wondering, hoping, but frightened that it was indeed the man who harmed him so long ago. He had to be sure so he went in to pay for his gas. As he approached the counter and looked directly into the man’s eyes, with his red hair, muscular arms, and creepy smile, he knew it was him. Then, as the shirt slightly unraveled at the pocket, the name tag of the man appeared and confirmed it. He handed the cashier money that was drawing sweat from his palms, and did not say a word. He smiled and then walked away knowing what he had to do. 
The young man went to his car, pulled it to the side, out of the lane but still within view of the window to the store. He felt the handle of the fixed blade knife he kept under his seat. It was a familiar feel, one he carried in the woods. He watched the cashier take out the trash and as the sun fell, he watched the cashier have a smoke break on the side of the building. The young man watched patiently and waited. His rage grew and he plotted the cashier’s murder. He was calculating the time that this red-headed man would finish his shift and then he would follow him, approach him so the cashier could look him in the eye, and then he would tell the man who he was and how he had impacted his life, doing things to him that a boy should not have to experience. It was something his father did to him as well, and for a moment the young man thought of killing his father on the same night since he was in the mood for avenging his childhood self. Both would be justified killings. “Yes, justice,” he thought. “There would finally be justice.”

His thoughts left his father and the revenge he wanted to take out on his failing, dirty body, and went back to the cashier. He waited thinking of what he would say as he approached him. Would he tell him who he was and remind him of the boy with the tortured soul? Perhaps he would have the cashier simply take the time to stare at his eyes and figure it out himself because our eyes don’t change. 

He knew the cashier was an ex-con, a great athlete who ruined his own life. He would not be an easy kill, which made the young man even more eager to confront him because no man wants an easy kill. He knew the cashier would try to fight his way out of being taken by the knife, but the young man’s determination for his revenge would be too much for the cashier. He knew this red-headed man would die by his hand on this night. He knew he would feel his knife go deep in the cashier’s belly and neck. It would be a good kill, just like he was taught, for this young man was not a helpless boy anymore. He was trained, skilled, and strong. He had prepared his body so that no one would ever make him a victim again. Yes, this cashier would stop breathing soon. 

The night would conceal him. It would give him an advantage and allow him to close distance quickly. What then? What would he do after his kill? He thought about the country roads and the rock quarry that he grew up within a mile from. It was a place he knew well and went to a hundred times as a kid, walking across a corn field to get to, where it was adjacent to a woods where he onced played war games, built forts, and almost hung himself from a tall tree just two years prior. On this night, the cashier's body would become part of the land. It was just a matter of time now. 

The young man thought for a moment, “Was this what he has been training for, building his body and skills for years, to make it right with this red-headed man? Was his purpose to bring justice to the boy he once was?” When the box that you compartmentalize all of your suffering in order to survive comes undone, it’s either a time to weep or a time to become rage, become vengeance. 

The cashier stepped out for one more smoke break and the young man started to remember how this red-headed man once controlled him, beat him, and made his youthful smile fade away. Then his thoughts went back to his father, who dwindled away in an apartment only a fifteen minute drive away, alone with his miserable self, two years after his mother had left him. He thought of how a couple of hours earlier he sat across from his dad telling him in a calm voice, “If you don’t leave mom alone, I will kill you.” His dad didn’t like being told this but there was not a thing he could do. Then, the young man rubbed his head, weary about how much murderous, violent, thoughts he was having in one night. Was this a test? Was it God laying everything out before him to see if he would act on his revenge? “No,” he thought, “This is the devil’s doing.” The devil leaves bad people alone and goes after the good ones because he has already welcomed the horrible souls to hell. The devil wants to cause chaos on the people that are trying to live a moral life. The young man knew his dad, after the years of abuse that he delivered, would have to at least have a conversation with God about his wrongdoings and at the same time, he would have one foot in hell. He knew for certain that the cashier, with his years in prison, and all of the harm he had caused others, would be delivered to hell in an express package. He also knew that he would help the cashier get there tonight. 

The young man sensed, from the grip of the knife in his hand, the time was drawing near. He would take back his lost innocence. He would have his revenge and bring peace to the child he could now protect. Then, in a moment of clarity, her face entered his mind. If he murdered this man he would be taken from her, either by the steel bars that would confine him if caught, or his own mind because he knew that it was not right to take another man’s life unless it was needed to protect himself or her. He would live knowing that his revenge was not just because he could never make it right for the boy he once was. You cannot recover by wiping out the people who caused you pain, his trauma. The young man knew his only hope of bringing calmness to his mind was working on himself, making small improvements day by day for a lifetime. It was living a good life and helping others that mattered. It would be living a life of suffering and joy and seeing things that would awaken his senses, like mountains and oceans and art. He knew he needed to stay with her, to show her love and make her feel beautiful and secure for her entire life. All he could think about right at that moment was the life he would have with the woman he loved, and knowing that if he killed the cashier, he would not get revenge he sought but be taken from her. That would be the worst pain of all. To not be able to hold and love her would deliver more pain than the cashier or his father ever delivered to him. The young man knew what he had to do and so he dropped the knife in the floorboard of the car and held his head, trying to squeeze out the pain, and wept. 

The cashier was allowed to go on living that night. The young man struggled driving away, knowing that there are bad people in the world causing harm to others, and chances are the cashier will continue to cause trauma to someone else. However, it would not be him that would stop him. He had to go home to her. He needed to see her and confess his pain while staring into her blue eyes. It was her that saved him and it will be her that will save him a thousand times more. 

The young man had aged. He considered himself lucky to have the privilege of aging. He tried to develop his life into what he thought it should be, fumbling, falling down, making mistakes along the way, but trying to live with virtue. He never took revenge on his father either. Instead, his father took revenge on himself, ending his life one year after the cashier almost lost his. 

Years later, when the young man wasn’t so young anymore, crossing the threshold into middle age, he sat across from his wife and told the truth about what had happened to him. He told most of it, what he thought she could handle, and how his suffering was why she would occasionally find him sitting alone in thought with dark eyes and tears that ruthlessly gathered with tainted memories. He needed to give her an explanation for his pain, so he told her about the men who caused it. Mostly those same men, with all of their brutality, assured that he would be resilient and strong because he wasn’t going to let anyone or anything ruin the life he wanted. He would find a way to take his trauma, depression, panic, and anxiety, and help others. He would help children, like the child he once was, who drowned in their suffering but had no idea what to do about it. He would show them the way, a new path to walk on, where they could survive and build resilience to face a world that was often cruel, but mostly to face themselves, giving grace to their own pain, and understand and accept it. Between loving his wife and serving others, it was the only way he knew how to heal. 

What did he want in life? What was the meaning of it all? The man asked himself this often. The answer was to simply love his wife with everything he had, his entire being. He wanted her to feel it. He wanted her to realize that everything he has done and every decision he has made was out of love for her, trying to be the best man, the best husband, he could be. 
The man sometimes sits with strong shoulders and wrinkled eyes and thinks about how he came close to killing the cashier that night, but mostly he is grateful he had the courage to walk away. Love is always stronger than hate.

The Forged Tongue…#453

The Forged Tongue…

Standing in a graveyard alone

to mourn, to stare at the mound

of dirt, below was the shell of the

one who loved but a few. The seed

of kindness never sowed, the love

they did not seek. Now silence lies

beneath. Entitlement is all that

remains, no grief, no greeting,

unwanted presence, gestures, tone

and in death, there was a joy of

greedy ploys. Gluttony bloomed

before the setting sun, looking

for more to take; life took on a

forged tongue. Open jeers, false

deeds, and honor lost, the price of

greed can be at great cost. Roars

 the misty breath of strife and

destiny has finally caught up with

your liar’s life.


Cleansing Waters…#452

Cleansing Waters –

Raw, is this fatherless

and motherless flesh

life in troubled times

blues gone to grays.

why do some people

cause others pain

in this all too familiar

love-hate game as

the red around me

spreads, I prayed for

cleansing waters then

suddenly came the rain.


Solace by the Creek…#450

Solace by the Creek...

The pasture is covered with newly fallen rain. 
Walking among the tall grass barefoot, the 
palms of my hands are damp. Everything 
is fresh and new; my fingers move slowly, 
trying to catch the raindrops. The wild 
Johnson Grass growing next to the broken
down fence gives a presence of what was
once; a no man's land before it became 

Soon the colors of the rainbow spread 
across the sky. Mother Nature paints a 
perfect arc of many colors. A fresh 
rainbow appears in the Western sky. 
Her invisible brush created joy for all, 
ribbons of colors that only Mother 
Nature could paint.  

A small branch of water flows out of the 
boulders creating a spring that runs t
hrough the pasture. Wildflowers flourish, 
framing the bubbling waters that flow 
gently between the Oak trees, where small 
pools gather before the trip continues 
toward muddy Flint Creek.

Time has changed the landscape, so I do 
not return where I once took solace. It 
now lives among the sweet memories of 
a time gone by, lost in a time that only God 
could recreate. This is where I once cried, 
prayed, and laughed as I created dandelion 
crowns and danced among the wildflowers.


An Update…#449

Hello Followers: It has been over two weeks since I posted on “The Last Chapter.” This post is not a complaint; it is to update those that may be following my progress. I am also on an MM forum where one can chat about conditions, what works for them, etc.

I have tried to come to terms with Multi-Myeloma, but it is challenging. Myeloma is much like being held in a prisoner-of-war camp and tortured. It is a slow killer! There is always a certain level of pain with the available drugs, always running on a scale of one to ten, the lowest being three or four and at times increasing to nine or ten. Over-the-ten mark happens when you do specific movements. The entire thing is overwhelming and tiring. As I have said, I am on Chemo treatment 22 days a month. The days off Chemo are filled with either too tired to do anything or sick. I take approximately seventeen pills daily, each having something to do with keeping me alive. It is not something you can “get used to”; it can only explain your level, and no two days are alike. I am not alone; many have the same MM, bone cancer, or other illnesses. Thus, the forum is to see what is new, and it is sad when one never returns to the site.

Food no longer has a taste; no amount of seasoning can give it more than something like cardboard to chew on and hopefully stop the weight loss (approximately 80 pounds in the last year). Liquids, my taste buds have acquired the like of lemonade. Water is a must to keep the system working.

I have lost my desire to write, work on a book I began before diagnosed, and my journaling has also taken a back seat. My great love of creating a story, characters, and the well of words has dried up. As has my love of creating poetry.

I do not leave my apartment unless it is for a doctor’s appointment. Most of the time, I order groceries online, and my medication is delivered. Sometimes one or both of my sons comes by, or we plan to go out for a meal. Without them, there would be no reason to live.

I have shut myself off from the outside world; nothing any longer exists for me, no pleasure. I have begun to give away my artwork, things I no longer need. I have told my family to take what they want now; there is less to eliminate afterward. I have everything that needs to be done by me; I have never liked “loose ends.”

My last piece of approval is that I have donated my body to the local University of Medicine. There is no cure for MM, and the medicine holds it back. I must try in some way to help solve the mystery of no cure; there is only the waiting game left to play.

I do not need comments about depression, anxiety, or suicide; these have been a part of this journey and will be until the end. I am well aware of these things and also have pills for that. But I appreciate this being one of your thoughts. If you know someone who may be dealing with an illness that causes these things to erupt in their lives. Reach out. Help others if you can. Mental Health is another killer and needs to be faced without shame. We live in a world where mental health is not being taken care of because of the stigma that is put upon it. Be mindful that life begins with the unknown, but never give up on caring for those in need.

I appreciate everyone who commented on my site; every word is welcomed, as I know others in “Blog Land” have been through hard times. I will try to leave a bit of poetry that has already been created now and again. I will try to return with updates if I can do so.

Thank you to those who have purchased my books at Amazon; I hope they will give insight into who I am, as the poetry was created from my mind and heart, out of a life of depression and anxiety.

My love goes out to all of you; I wish you well and hope to touch base with you again.


2023 is slowly passing me by…#447

Charlotte J Murphree


Flying with Broken Wings is my daughter’s story, who passed on July 13,2010. There is not a day I do not mourn her, the space she occupied continues to be as big as life itself, but a void filled it. Flying with Broken Wings is about the life of Charlotte Jean Murphree. Charlotte was not a famous person; in fact, not many people knew her, but those who did know there were many facets to her life. The book tells of fifty-two years of daily testing of her will to carry on and the misfortune she faced. As a baby and young girl, she was made fun of by schoolchildren, her progress was slow, but she never gave up the fight to overcome her disabilities. As an adult, she fought Cerebral Palsy, Living with Bipolar, Depression, and Schizophrenia disorders. Charlotte lived not only with herself, but she endured the “”Voice”” that lived within her for over thirty years. This book is about her life’s beginning, middle, and end.

The Mental Health Facilities in Alabama were such that there are horrifying movies made of the people and the horror they endured at the hands of short staffing, some never in contact other than for electrical shock treatments. When Charlotte was born, the doctors suggested that I put her in a mental facility, That she would never walk or talk. My hope was to write a book on her life to show those who have children with these disabilities can live a life, a life that is normal as can be for them.

I was nineteen years old, and although my husband wanted to commit her, I refused (a book of my life with a monster is in the works). I took her home. The years were long and hard. At first, she could only crawl; I had her walking by sixteen months. I provided speech lessons for several years, but no one could understand her to accept my daughter sixteen months older. Years of speech lessons.

I contacted all of the Senators and Congressmen in Wisconsin, where we lived. The town I live in, Baraboo, Wisconsin, had a building made for children with her disabilities. Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin was the one who finally answered one of my many letters and/or phone calls. Charlotte went through life with the education level of a twelve-year-old. When God called her home, she was self-sufficient, living in her own apartment for adults with her problems. She lives her life with only the help of a Social counselor, who helps her pay her rent and utilities. She worked daily at Madison’s Yahara House.

Finally, her health problems won the battle, and she died with both physical and mental disabilities. I believe that you will find this book interesting, the challenges she faced from learning to live with three other people living within her mental space for over thirty years.



Post entry by Chuck Murphree – YA Author – Speaker for Mental Health – Special Education in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin.

Chuck is the son of Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

Website below:

Books can be found on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Books can also be found in most book stores throughout USA and Europe.

I have heard it so many times over the years. A friend calls in need, telling me they are at the brink, their depression and anxiety is overwhelming them, and suicidal ideation often follows.

These are men, strong, some fierce in their abilities, and certainly not fitting into any of society’s stigmas. They just can’t find a way to dig out of the dirty muck of life. Perhaps an event happened that pummeled them to the ground, leaving them bloody at the knees, barely hanging on. Whatever the case, they are at their breaking point. We all have one. Some of us are just fortunate to never reach it or even come close.

I talk to these men, telling them I am here for them, at least I try to be, but I have experience with this. I have lost men dear to me because they too reached the edge and decided to jump. I therefore know I can offer support. I can be a non-judgmental listener. I can share my stories to show them they are not alone, but most of them know that. It’s why they call in the first place. They know I have been to that dark place several times. The entryway to a personal hell where it seems like a rope, a leap, a trigger, a bottle of pills, will take away the pain.

When I recently received a message from an old friend, I became angry. Not at him. No! He is hanging on in a society that often is set up to test and cripple you. My anger was towards the silence. The never ending stigmas. I’m tired. Enraged. I’m saddened by it all because we keep losing people to suicide.

I believe we are making a mistake because talking about suicide makes people uncomfortable and there are many stigmas or guilt surrounding it. My favorite (insert sarcasm) is when people make the person feel guilty that contemplates taking their life by saying, “How could you do that to the people you love?” They like to think that they can guilt someone out of an illness. It’s harmful. Silence is harmful. Don’t you think the person that wants to die would take another approach if they were able?

I believe we are hurting our children by tiptoeing around the subject of suicide. I have been told in schools, sitting at student services meetings or with administration, “We don’t want to trigger anyone.” Well, I’ve got news for everyone, what we are doing is not working. In my community alone, there have been three young people who have killed themselves in the past year. I repeat, what we are doing, our silence, our not wanting to “trigger” anyone, is not working. It’s obvious. Suicide is on the rise. Anxiety and depression is on the rise. It’s time for frank, upfront conversations. People can handle it. Young people yearn for it. They want us to be real. They don’t want a bunch of adults trying to sugarcoat thoughts, ideas, and talk. Young people read into our bullshit. It’s harmful, not helpful. Real talk is needed.

I have written about mental illness. I have shared my stories so people feel less alone. I have been vulnerable for the sake of helping others. I have helped young people by being real, talking about things that would make some school social workers tell me that I was triggering them. Well, it doesn’t. Instead, I hear from them that they needed to hear what was said. They needed me to be real and upfront. They wanted the connection. Boys need to see men being honest and vulnerable.

Most of the time, I feel like my posts, blogs, writings, novels, are not reaching anyone. I feel like I am beating my head against the fucking wall, making myself dizzy, screaming out for anyone to hear in hopes of saving life. I’m exhausted! My first book was criticized for being too upfront about the subject of suicide. My second novel was criticized by some readers because they didn’t like the subject of trauma and sexual assault. What the hell do you think is happening in our world, especially to teenagers.

We are losing the battle when it comes to helping people survive mental illness. We do not have enough therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists to help. Doctors’ only solution is to put people on more meds, hoping to dope them up, masking the real issues. I am not anti-meds. In fact, I take anxiety medication. However, it is not the only solution. We must teach people how to build resilience so that they can live the lives they want and accept the pain with curiosity instead of terror. We need to teach them to work on the problem, build resilience, and not ignore the pain.

My head is sore from the imaginative wall that I am beating it up against. My fingers are bleeding from typing thousands of words, trying to get people to listen, understand, act, and raise their voice to stop what is happening to our society. I am fatigued because it seems like we just keep repeating the idiotic responses that are not working. It’s exhausting. Talking about suicide is not easy, fluffy talk. It’s tough, bare bones, hard talk that should make anyone feel uncomfortable. With that discomfort we will learn to speak the truth and actually take meaningful action.

I cannot stop being an advocate for people that are struggling. I cannot stop until my friends stop wanting to kill themselves. I cannot stop until my students look for a different way to display their fears and darkness besides taking their lives. I cannot stop because I have to speak up for all of those that are battling their minds, and all of those that someday will. No one, I mean no one, is immune to getting depression and anxiety, and no one is immune to one day waking up and questioning if life is worth living.

For now, know that you are not alone. Work on building resilience so that you can weather the storm. And, for all of you that think silence or censoring the truth because it may trigger people, realize that we have been spinning our wheels for years to no avail. Wake the hell up and take a different approach. Lives depend on it!


Contemplating By Chuck Murphree

It is a risky exploration when you start asking yourself if your life has had meaning. Through this contemplation, you may start to wonder if others find any meaning in you?

You will look your demons in the eye and ask them for an explanation for your suffering, but then you will realize your question goes on deaf ears.

There will come a time when you will think of leaving everything behind, sparing others of your inner pain that found its way out.

Perhaps, you will gently whisper to the world, “You will not hear from me for a while, yet, I will remain present.”

You will sit and think about the last conversations that you had and did not even know it at the time. The words of those that have died haunt you. However, the ones who remain are the real ghosts because they are still here, somewhere, and the words linger just above your shoulders. You scratch at an itchy brain trying not to forget what they said, what you said.

There will be moments when you will sit with yourself and wonder if being moral and ethical was worth it? It seems like the world doesn’t like a good man. There’s nothing for them to talk about and hate.

Will there be a moment in your life when you see your worth? Will it stand before you and welcome you, or run away scared?

How would you ever have known that the external pain would be worse than what comes from within?

Why does it feel like you are choking every day but the words still come out and the food goes down?

You don’t do it for recognition, but you do have thoughts if people appreciate the time you take to help them with their mental health? Is that selfish for thinking that? You wonder if they realize each time you give to them, it takes away from you and leaves you depleted? Yes, it is selfish. It is why you had to learn to pace yourself and tell some “No” because you need to recharge your empathy. Yet, saying “No” to those that also seek your offering, depletes you even more sometimes. Yes, you are selfish.

Will you run out of reserves? Then what?

Going back to thoughts of worth. It is something you wish you could feel, being worthy of love. The person you love most may sit across from you and tell you they love you, but you struggle to believe them because you struggle to believe yourself.

You are an imposter. That’s what it feels like when you walk into your life each morning.

There are times when you force yourself out the door and into reality, pretending with a smile that you are proficient at what you do, so you smile with confidence. There are moments where you wonder if they see through you, and then you want to be invisible, shrinking into the corners.

Why did anxiety come to you? Perhaps, it was the two-thousand souls that surrounded you in the hallways and you felt responsible for them all and when they had a bad experience. At least, you think that’s when it started. Or maybe, the happenings in your life decided to deplete you all at once? That’s what happens when the box where you compartmentalized everything comes undone. Mental duct tape doesn’t hold forever.

You offered some words to the world, and even though the positive messages came filtering in and should have been enough, it never was. You then wonder if what you have given matters? Is it good enough? You try to hang onto the good reviews, the statements of love and hope, and you grasp with your short fingernails and crooked teeth everything you can to hold onto the moments of enlightenment when a young reader told you that your story had saved them.

Why do you never feel enough? You have an idea where it comes from because it has been with you since you were young, never scoring enough touchdowns or running the race fast enough. The bad marks in red pen. The blowing leaves you left in the yard. The two hours you spent mindfully talking and you were made to feel that it should have been four. The notes you wrote that were temporarily received, but to you they were permanent. The times you told her she was beautiful but it seemed like the words fell to the floor along with the scattered mess you left there. The giving of your soul, even when you placed yourself in the danger of critics with more power than you, but you knew it was the right thing to do. Was anyone else there to pick up the broken pieces or was it taken for granted? The time you created something for those with different skin than you, and everyone came for your blood, on all sides, and you stood and took it all because it was what was good for the youthful smiles that stood with you. When you kept the kids interests first but everyone else kept their own. For all the greetings that weren’t received. For the times you gave and gave and gave but it never felt enough.

Why is it the place you feel most at peace is among the trees, sitting with a good book, contemplating life? Where the sunset between the pines and leaves you whole. “Stay there,” you tell yourself. “Stay and be alone.”

Thank you for reading Chuck’s latest post from:

Please check his site for other interesting post. E. Murphree


Beware …

The mind is in a caged sleep, tears shed, and the thoughts of false caring that others portray as a lie.  Their spitefulness in thought held captive the sleeping mind, not allowing it to wake.  There are those who cannot be trusted; they show concern for themselves and their greed.  They are always on the prowl to take, take, and take.  They cause pain to the minds of the blameless and find in it joy; their tongue of fire knows not the truth.  Yet, they will ask you for your prayers to engorge their needs.  If they touch your life, it will never be the same.

Run, Run, Run…




Elizabeth Ann Johnson Murphree | Barnes & Noble® (

Authors Books at and Barns&

Author Bio

Born in Alabama to a Native American (Chickasaw) father and an emotionally absent mother since birth, raised by a father, a Native American great-grandmother, and an African American woman who were all grand storytellers.

Summers she lived with her fathers’ sister in Birmingham, Alabama; her aunt Vina would help her discover a library and mingle with a circle of friends that included local writers, artists, and politicians. As early as four years old, she was roaming the countryside alone or with her father; in the evenings, she sat at the feet of these strong-minded individuals listening to the stories of their lives. Her aunt encouraged my imagination by introducing me to journaling, which I filled Big Chief Tablets with reports over the summer. Planted was the desire to write, a seedling waiting to spurt from the warm southern heart of a child. A cabin deep within the Black Warrior Forest was on weekends was also my playground. Summer was also spent going on vacations to Florida, where they had a small cabin on the Gulf Coast.

Nonetheless, the desire to write buried itself deep within; the dream wilted but did not die. It laid dormant, gaining experiences. These experiences became short stories and poetry, began painting as a child and later as an adult, and then lay dormant for years. She writes of life experiences in her poetry, questioning everything from Mother Nature to God…the poetry is raw, sometimes dark, and may not be understood by all. Yet, it comes from deep within and reads of truth within her soul. The harshness that shrouded her life would cause her to withdraw from most of the world accept immediate family; it fills the pages with heartache, abuse, and the denial of a mother, all frankly portrayed.

Today, she enjoys her children, grand and great-grandchildren, four-legged companion Dixie, lives in Southern Wisconsin, far from her southern roots, and continues to write and paint.

Below are the books that have been published in paperbacks at and Barnes&, under the name of Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree:

Echoing Images from the Soul

Beyond the Voices

Reflections of Poetry

Honeysuckle Memories

Sachets of Poetry on Adoration, Anger, Asylums, and Aspirations

My Journey into Art

Fragments of Time

Rutted Roads

Asterial Thoughts

Flying with Broken Wings

Cherished Memories

Rhythm Rhyme and Thoughts

Cherished Memories

Lessons: Obstacles…#439

Todays post by Chuck Murphree

Chuck Murphree – YA Author – Educator – Mental Health Speaker

Lessons: Obstacles

He raises his hand and says, “I hate it that life has to be so hard.” I look around the classroom and see heads nodding in agreement. He continues, “Like, why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we always be happy?” His question is valid and he and the others wait for my reply. I will do my best to answer it.

“You will set yourself up for a lot of disappointment if you think that you should always be happy,” I say. I get looks that tell me that is not what they wanted to hear. We are in a society where we see “happy” people on social media, acting like their lives are perfect. It’s a set-up, a one act play, and the actors are posing the best they can trying to get more likes and followers.

I have had this talk many times as an educator. You will have much joy in life, it is true, but you will also have a lot of suffering. Things will not always go your way. You will experience break-ups, friendships that end in anger or without reason, and you will experience loss. People that you love will die. You may have a tragedy in your life that will leave you different, hanging onto life and your sanity, and it can happen within a moment. Life is like that, one minute it feels like everything is going well, and a split second later, your world is turned upside down.

Please do not wait for something to happen. Don’t let life happen to you. Do not become one of those people that become so scarred by life that they anticipate bad things will always happen to them. That will produce anxiety, and worse yet, it may make you bitter. Don’t let that become your existence. I like to say, “Be prepared, not paranoid.” When we prepare ourselves for the bad things that might happen, it simply means we have built our armor to withstand the storm. This happens by gaining resilience, which is formed in many ways. Perhaps, you exercise and eat healthy so your body is ready to take the physical and emotional pain that comes your way. You build your coping skills by practicing daily meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. Maybe you get a therapist or a good acupuncturist that is always on standby, a tool in your box to help when needed. Being prepared could mean saving money for when the time comes that you need it quickly so that the impact of the cost is not as dramatic on your pocketbook. It could also mean being ready in case someone decides to harm you or your family. It could be someone that decides to attack you emotionally, or it’s an unknown attempt to dominate you physically. There are bad people in this world. Will you be ready for them? Prepared, not paranoid!

Hopefully you will age. I hope that you get old enough where you will experience creaks in your knees and pains that were not there in your youth. I wish for you to have painful memories and memories that were so joyful that it breaks you down in tears every time they enter your thoughts. This means that you are living a full life. It means that you have experienced happiness and you have had your share of obstacles and suffered. I believe that is how we truly appreciate life. It is how we become mindful of our days on this earth and accept it all, the good and bad. If you deny the bad, you deny yourself and your life.

Always remember, you cannot have joy without sadness. It is not possible to live an entire life without suffering, and you will go through your life having a great deal of joy. Happiness is there. The problem is when you do not recognize the joy and always focus on the suffering. The people who do that are the negative, rude people, who are resentful of everything and everyone. They are the ones that find problems and not solutions. The people who live their lives spreading their misery to others because if they cannot be happy, why should anyone else? Use caution with these people. Try to help them if you are able but know when to leave them behind. Cutting ties with someone can be extremely difficult, but allowing them in your life can be harmful to you.

There are many things that will happen in your life that will bring a smile to your face. You will have love and friendship, and you will read a good book that may change your life. Perhaps you will help someone on your journey, and their joy will become yours. You may find yourself in a small cafe, drinking the finest wine and eating a meal that the taste will never leave you, or you will find yourself walking in the woods and the trees bring a calmness to your mind that makes you revisit them often. Life has many wonders, absorb them all. Drink life in and let it soothe your throat, and when that drink turns sour, approach it with curiosity, realizing that it will eventually pass, and the pain you are feeling, the obstacle before you, will make you stronger.