Be the change you wish to see in the world — be the change you fear.

Serve it up in bite-size pieces and make peace with it because resistance is futile.

Change comes and change comes and change comes
and you change and you change and you change.

Extra change in your pocket
is just reserve for the next detour.


Better to live in fluidic space, liquid and organic,
bending time, not biding,
moving from here to there effortlessly.


Because an object at rest stays at rest
but an object in motion stays in motion

and we all know it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.

©Jen Payne. This poem appears in the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology, Our Changing Environment. To purchase your copy, click here.

Second Nature to Me Now

As if she is brand new,

I touch the soft folds,

remark at the marks,

notice the skin and

its propensity to

count time with lines.

There is no preparation

for this reflection,

this time spent


the countenance.

They call it pause

for good reason,

as these mirrored moments

will attest,

for it is here I pause

— and pause again —

as if she is brand new.

©Jen Payne. Image: Standing Odalisque Reflected in a Mirror, Henri Matisse. This poem appears in the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology, Our Changing Environment. To purchase your copy, click here.

Rain Mantra

The rain comes gentle this morning

says: there are things that come and go

says: for all rain, there is also sun

taps out Quiet, Quiet, Quiet

on leaves like a mantra

louder than the train whistle

and steady increase of cars

that say: another day begins

and birds who sing: no matter the rain

in a hopeful tune

that’s hard to ignore.

Poem ©2019, Jen Payne. Image: Rain Shower, Eyvind Earle

To Be Marked


“To love is to be marked. To love is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.”

— Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

The Times They Are A Changin’


It was, really, a rather ordinary house. Small and sufficient. Big enough for him and for her and their children at some point, I imagine. Red with white trim. A small yard out back.

He would sit on the front stoop and wave if you happened to walk by — a neighborly greeting, no matter your relation. You would often pass her on the sidewalk on your way to the Post Office right next door.

Every year, the arrival of spring was broadcast up and down Park Place by the grand display of two magnificent magnolias. Standing guard at the front walk, their canopy enveloped the home in luscious pink blossoms. Their breezes whispered of age and history and time passing…

Today, a dumpster sits in the yard, overflowing. Sections of the linoleum she wore upon at suppertime, the wallpaper from the den where he read the paper, the staircase they walked each night, together. And on either side of the front walk, two lifeless stumps broadcasting for all to see — change.

A dentist’s office I hear. Bright and shiny. Antiseptic. Ordinary.

Poem from the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words ©2009, Jen Payne.

IMAGE: Red House, Jack Bush, 1943

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N ?


“You working?” the woman behind the counter asked me.

“No, vacation,” I replied as we both looked suspiciously at the jug of laundry soap going into my bag.

Laundry Soap? Somehow that doesn’t visually equate to vacation I guess. Flip flops and a beach towel from the Seasonal aisle, maybe.

Except it’s not a flip flops beach towel kind of vacation. It’s the week before my birthday clean house and ressess kind of vacation.

Clean house literally — top to bottom dusted, vacuumed, Swiffer wet-jetted and all! But clean house figuratively, as well. Moving things around, shaking things up, clearing out cobwebs.

I do this twice a year — on New Year’s, when I think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, and on my birthday, when I think about what I want to change.

(It’s the only time of year when I use the word change liberally and with great enthusiasm!)

And you know how it is when you set an intention like that, don’t you? Everything conspires on your behalf!

From my Free Will Astrology horoscope to an angel reading, from the lyrics of a song to a test from the Universe, the message is clear: dig deep and make change.

But it’s not just about change. It’s about being quiet and listening to an inner voice for guidance. It’s about being true to myself, and taking right action, and making movement forward.

Hey! Maybe I am going some place this week after all!

The More Things Change, The More Things Change

I don’t know why I resist change so much.

That’s not true. I do know. But the explanation would take much longer than either of us has time for.

It’s much easier to say: I resist change.

A lot.

I hesitate, procrastinate, avoid, ignore, find work-arounds, pretend, stick my head in the sand, hide under covers, and otherwise kick and scream until…

…until change happens like it was going to in the first place and there I am on the other side.

It’s like my favorite book from when I was a kid, The Monster at the End of the Book. Grover, of Sesame Street fame, notices the title of the book and gets very scared.

“Did that say there’s a monster at the end of the book?” he asks the reader. “Oh, I am so scared of monsters!”

Then he proceeds to tape the pages together, tie them together and put up a brick wall, all the while pleading and kicking and screaming until…

…until he gets to the end of the book and realizes there was nothing to be afraid of afterall.

This is the lesson the Universe has been trying to teach me…well, probably since she put that book in my hands many, many moons ago.

Her recent attempt involved a retired WordPress template and an unintentional keystroke that erased any evidence of said template on this blog. I was going to have to redo the whole thing!

I went to bed last night with my familiar monsters — kicking and screaming about change.

But here we are, on the other side. And do you know what I remember…again?

I always love the other side of change!


Welcome to the new look of Random Acts of Writing, and the first of many changes we’re going to try to welcome in as the year unfolds.

•  •  •

©2013, Jen Payne.

If you are not familiar with The Monster at the End of the Book, please oh please click here:

*A Reflection on Change

“The world is changing all the time, at every moment. Someone is falling in love right now, and someone is being born. A dream is coming true in some city or small town, and right at the same moment, another dream is crashing and crumbling. A marriage is ending somewhere, and it’s somebody’s wedding day, maybe even right in the same town. It’s all happening.”

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, by Shauna Niequist

• • •

Photo ©2011 Jen Payne

In the Analogy Where Bull = Change

Take the bull by the horns. We’ve all heard that before — meaning to deal with something in a direct manner or to confront a difficulty rather than avoid it.

While it may sound like a modern, American-esque idiom, it traces its roots as far back at the 18th and 19th centuries. Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott used it in The Journal of Sir Walter Scott in 1828: “Wordsworth has a system which disposes him to take the bull by the horns and offend public taste.”

Perhaps no one represents the meaning of this famous idiom — both literally and metaphorically — better than bullfighter Conchita Cintrón.

Just two years after the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States, Conchita Cintrón was born in Chile. Raised in Peru by her Puerto Rican father and Connecticut-born mother, she would grow up to become a world-famous torera, or female bullfighter.

She rode her first horse at the age of three, and took formal riding lessons when she was only 11. She trained as a rejoneadora, a bullfighter who rides horseback, and made her professional debut as such when she was only a teenager.

Cintrón famously fought as both a rejoneadora and a traditional matadora (on foot) in Peru, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, France, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, and the United States. But as a female, she often met with resistance and laws designed to keep women from bullfighting.

“Her skills were not always welcome. This was, and is, a man’s world. She had been trained as a rejoneadora, in the Portuguese version of bullfighting, and was supposed to stay on her horse. Men went on foot to do their dueling with the bull, and to kill it; this was not women’s work. But Ms. Cintrón found her horse got in the way. “Twos always work better than threes,” she liked to say. In her rejoneadora gear—no flashy suit of lights, but a silk jacket, leather chapped trousers and a wide-brimmed hat—she would slide from her steed and right into the close, bloody dance.”

“One late fight, in Jaen in 1950, was especially famous. Women were forbidden to fight on foot in Franco’s Spain, in case they were gored in unseemly ways. (Ms. Cintrón was often injured and twice gored, once in each thigh, but managed to finish off the bull after fainting briefly.) On this occasion, having slipped illegally from her horse, she snatched a muleta and sword from the waiting novillero, raised the sword as the bull charged, and then dropped it, instead caressing the huge black neck as it hurtled past. For this “burst of glorious criminality,” as Orson Welles described it, she was instantly arrested and as instantly pardoned, as the crowd rained down hats and carnations. That final caress, with her delicate fingers, was a gesture only a woman might have thought of making.”

— Conchita Cintrón obituary, The Economist, March 5, 2009

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way wanting to glamorize bullfighting. But, there is no denying the strength and resilience of this woman claiming her life on her own terms, with such intention and passion.

In Conchita Cintrón they called it tener duende, loosely translated from the poetic Spanish meaning to have soul, a heightened state of emotion, expressions and authenticity.

Who wouldn’t want to strive for that as we make our way in this world? Life brings us challenges every day — small decisions, big decisions, moments of change and transition, charging bulls. We can cower and ride safely above it. Or, we can get down off our horse and take the bull by the horns!

“I have never had any qualms about it….A qualm or a cringe before 1,200 pounds of enraged bull would be sure death.”

— Conchita Cintrón, The New York Sun, September 1940

• • •

Photo courtesy of Cultoro. References from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, The Economist, and The New York Times.

Epilogue: Cutting Strings

In the movie The Sound of Music, Maria says “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” It’s the moment when Captain Von Trapp says he is not marrying the Baroness because he is in love with Maria.

While I understand what she is trying to say, I don’t think there is an exact if-then/that-this effect. If I end this relationship, I get a new one? If I total this car, I get a Mercedes? Somehow, I don’t think the Universe works that way.

I do think there is a cause and effect, but it has more to do with your intentions. We don’t step into a new relationship simply because we ended another one. But we do open up the possibility for movement and change.

Shutting a door, like ending a relationship, is just you saying “I’m ready for change. I’m open to what’s next. Bring it on, baby!”

And it’s that intention—that willingness to shake things up a little—that is the driving force for what comes next.

The tricky part is the first step, though, right? Closing that door?

It’s where I was last week, when the Universe presented a bit of a puzzle to me. As you may recall, I had asked her for something and she gave it to me. But there were strings attached. I manifested something I needed, but the consequence of accepting it meant compromising things I believe.

Turns out the hard part was not the compromising itself, or the challenge to my beliefs. The hard part was saying—out loud—No thank you. I don’t want to do that. That’s just not who I am.

And the strings were a tangle of needing to please everyone, and being a “good person,” and play-acting who I think I’m supposed to be in the world.

But that’s just not who I am…anymore.

(Did you hear the door shut?)

It took a while for me to get there. “I have to sit with this for a few days,” I told the person extending the offer I had manifested.

The truth is, I didn’t have to sit with anything. Or think about much at all. I knew my decision half-way through the initial conversation. I just needed time to get up the courage to say it out loud.

“I’m sorry,” I said in a very professional tone. “This is not a good fit for me.”

Now, here’s the cause and effect.

As is usually the case with the Universe, there have been several parallel experiences the past few weeks. Opportunities to learn that same lesson—in the friendship that has run its course, in the relationship that needs to change, in the offer with strings.

But, suddenly the “I’m sorry, this is not a good fit for me” comes easier and easier.

Snip! Snip! Snip!

I’m practicing and cutting strings everywhere I can find them, because you know what? That’s just not who I am anymore.

(Can you feel the breeze coming through that window?)

• • •

Scissors papercut art (and patient, loving sounding board) courtesy of Martha Link Walsh.