Rock Candy Reverie on the Ride Home

The last time I hit the road with my family, we traveled halfway across the U.S. on winding, mountain roadways to the country’s edge. I’ll admit I’m not great in a car. I’m a terrible passenger and even more anxious driver prone to motion sickness and random interjections of swear words that send my children into fits of laughter. Okay, maybe I’m a fun road companion for them, but I also tend to dominate the airways. In a car, music is my coping mechanism.

When I was the ages of my children, my family took frequent road trips in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. We sawed a neat triangle across the plains and up into the edge of mountains stopping at artist galleries and historic monuments. My favorite was a run down pre-Civil War site, the walls and dirt floors of buildings past where soldiers had bunked. The site, Fort Washita, boasted a gift shop with rock candy that made the day trip in the hot sun worth it despite the inevitable and overwhelming sense of sadness I felt when I climbed a stone wall and surveyed a location meant to protect indigenous peoples from the disharmony American colonialism created through displacement and systemic disenfranchisement.

While the trip to Fort Washita was always one of bright-eyed excitement, the trip home was subdued. Rock candy in hand, I often cried as the road passed beneath us. My mother would play a cassette tape and invite us all to sing along. She directed us on when to breathe in to support our voices, how to control the breath as we rolled, windows down, back across the plains in our yellow Ford Lynx.

The breath I found in music is why I still dominate the airways on road trips. Singing allows for self-regulation even in the tensest environments. Such as driving cross country with three children who are fighting because they are hot, tired and done with being trapped in a car listening to music not of their choice.My family is young and growing. We are still learning how to best support each other and ourselves. The process has been nowhere near as smooth as even the bumpiest Oklahoma dirt roads, but it is our journey. The kids sing along. We all do. We create our own harmony for the sake of each other. It took us a long time to learn, but we’ve managed.

September is here and we are moving from our August road trip theme to one of lessons learned on Heart and Humanity. We have a profound lineup of stories, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as poetry. We hope you will tune in, comment and share your own lessons learned as the month progresses beginning with tomorrow’s publication. Selections were made from our largest pool of submissions ever. We are humbled by and grateful to the artists whose we were able to accept as well as those declined.¬†We believe this lineup with satisfy and inspire, that it will support your breath and sit as sweet in your mouth as rock candy.

Happy reading!

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Shawna Ayoub Ainslie

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a mental wellness advocate and writing coach in Bloomington, IN. She teaches writing through trauma for release and recovery to survivors and veterans through the Center for Creative Writing, Ivy Tech Community College, and Survive Your Story. Shawna is also The Relationship Blogger's Editor-in-Chief.

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