Hi All!  In another post I introduced “400 Words” – a practice I’ve used to free up creativity and get the juices flowing.  It’s simple.

  1. Think of an everyday word or concept and type it in bold font, centered at the top.
  2. Start writing about the word and the experiences and feelings that come to mind.  For example, “Ice Cream” might lead to an essay about a favorite childhood birthday or the creeper in the ice cream truck.  Who knows!
  3. Don’t worry too much and keep the words and ideas flowing.
  4. Use the “word count” feature to make sure it’s exactly 400 words.
  5. Make a few edits if you want.
  6. Stop.


When I lived in London, I traveled lightly.  I walked out the door of my apartment with three things in my pocket:  a front door key, my travel card, and a debit card.  Even though I was mother to three children, with many responsibilities, I didn’t need a large bag crammed with band-aids, tissues, snacks, remote controls, or phones.  With two cards and a key I could travel the city by bus or tube, I could purchase anything I needed, and could enter my only door.  My mother-in-law worried that we only had two locks and used one, but we lived five years in the building without incident or fear.

Now I’m back in the U.S. and things have changed.  I’m a homeowner for the first time.  I have three doors, a garage door, two cars and a security system.  On my key ring dangles a mess of keys and remote controls to open gates, boxes, doors.  But rather than representing open gates and promising possibilities, each feels like a weight on my mind as well as in my pocket.  When I leave the house, I no longer pat my pocket reassuringly, feeling the small wallet with the two important cards, and lock my door without another care.  Instead, I check front, back and garage entrances, set the alarm, hop in the car, close the garage door.  I test each door, consciously watch the garage door slide down, wonder if intruders will try to invade my property.

I remember visiting my grandparents who lived in a small town.  The front door was always unlocked, just like all the others in town.  Relatives and neighbors would drop by and call out a cheery “hello” as they walked freely through the screen door.  The only security system necessary was my great-great-aunt who lived alone next door or the neighbors across the street sitting on the front porch swing, talking, laughing and drinking iced tea.   I wonder if things have changed in that town.  Do people pass each other without greetings?  Do locked doors change guests into possible intruders?

I’m grateful for my house, for the things I own and use.  But I hope those things don’t own me.  I won’t build brick walls around myself, install a security system that triggers alarm with life’s little invasions.  I want a mind with an open door, and a heart with a big porch swing.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jacquerose
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 09:49:16

    Beautifully written…I think the world has changed, and I imagine more people in MC lock their doors now. I live in a small town and I sure keep mine locked. You are right, it is a burden, all of that worry and concern.
    I love your last sentence.<3


  2. puravida
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 14:08:31

    Thank you! I say lock your doors but not your heart…


  3. Leslie
    Aug 05, 2012 @ 00:26:14

    This is a great post! Can’t wait till I get home and can read all of your posts on my own computer 🙂


  4. Art
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 16:28:23

    Very nice! I am a “Door” fan myself


  5. pearlinocean
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 20:27:33

    Even when things have complicated, there is a solution.
    To keep the inside, that is heart , simple and right as always for it is what peace is about.


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