Ellen K. Williams

Shortcuts to Serenity


I have heard it said that if you're feeling lonely, sad or uptight, you need to lean back, close your eyes and pretend you're in a beautiful place that is peaceful, calm and serene. If you just imagine it, you will begin to feel better. But don't take my word for it. Just read the stories below and perhaps it will work for you. Enjoy your journey.

The Woodland Path

I know of a path that lazily wanders and meanders through a meadowland laced with white and yellow daises slumbering and swaying in the late afternoon sun while awaiting the song of the wood lark that sings on amber beams of light, streaming down from the tree tops to the earth below.

Here's the path I've been looking for. We'll walk slowly, taking in deep breaths of cool air, as we enjoy the many shapes and colors of every kind of flower and plant you could imagine. It seems as though we have been transported to a rain forest, or a jungle filled with vegetation gone wild. The path becomes surrounded by large dark green leaves, plants of purple and orange, gardens of magenta and turquoise flowers and overhead - deep blue/green feathery branches dip down into pools of reflective sunlight. The earth has a scent that reminds us of opening an old cellar door, left forgotten and undisturbed for too many seasons; where wooden cellar shelves are still laden with old canning jars filled with hopes and tears, now outdated and covered with dust, left in a place where dreams will never visit anymore. We quickly leave the thick, dank air for the welcome sight of soft streams of gold filtered light scattering its glittering rays over the exotic foliage.

As we continue to walk, we sense a breeze stirring in the trees, the perfumes of wildflowers, the breathtaking assemblage of yellow roses, white orchids, mixed with gigantic pink and scarlet red peonies beckoning us to enter further, deeper into the woods and learn of its secrets. If we listen carefully, we begin to notice a faint, constant, whispering from alongside the path, resembling the swishing rustle of layer upon layer of old-fashioned satin petticoats stitched with eyelet laces and velvet ribbons. We discover the whispering emanates from a profusion of lush purple violets intermingled with leaves similar to those of the popular tree who always whisper and rustle when the moon is white in the midnight sky.

We begin to hear sweet melodies coming from on high above the tree branches, weaving in and out, coming closer, when we notice flocks of birds; yellow, light blue, some of soft pink and lavender making their way towards us, fluttering all around us, singing a haunting, yet lilting song.

As if on cue, peacocks of every color imaginable begin to slowly emerge from the foliage, strutting, with heads held high, prancing in and about, making small fluted sounds, haughty and arrogant, dancing as if to show off their arc of one-eyed feathers just for our pleasure. The birds and peacocks appear to be captured in an enchanted land of long ago, similar to that fantasy place once called Shangri - La; idyllic and remote: a hideaway only for those who share quiet affections and eternal love.

We decide to rest on a soft cushion of moss, lean back, take in a deep breath and just listen…..to the sound of one drop of dew upon a leaf directly above us, as it splashes down to the leaf below. We watch, fascinated, as it fills with more moisture, then become so heavy it trickles down again and again and to the next leaf and the next. The dew drops become a small rippling pond

Where sleepy woodland creatures come to rest by its side
Snuggling down together in the quiet, green glen:
Goodnight, little ones, I'll sing you a lullaby
While you close your eyes and dream of the dawn,
Fold your little paws and sleep on and on.

We become mesmerized, surrounded, and engulfed, by our surroundings, becoming as one, blending in. We are content to stay where we are, but this part of our tour is over and the imagination door has opened once again and our journey continues.

The Ocean

Come with me and we'll sail the ocean, for the air has changed and become moist and heavy and far overhead we begin to hear a different tune - a music that belongs to the sea. It sounds like rhythmic pounding, thundering and smashing of wave after wave upon an ocean shore, accented by high-pitched screeching of gulls.

We have left the woods to follow the slender shadows of the tall sea grasses, pointing the way towards the sounds of the surf. High flying birds swoop in and out of the water, noisily announcing our arrival and shoreline birds strut straight legged, quickly, with match stick legs, on the hardened sand, and then, it all comes together: the all-encompassing sunlight sweeping under a celestial canopy of blue, streaked with birds diving, cawing, winds stinging and howling, leaving a taste of salt and wetness upon our faces.

A relentless storm grasps hold of the world
Before us and around us and challenges us
To ride with it and not let go, but -

The Sky

The winds and the waters sense our hesitation to join them, so we accept an alternative: the winds tell us to take one of the golden cords that lie on the sand and tie it around our waist. Once secured, each cord will gently lift us into the air, all the while remaining fastened to the depths of the earth. The cords will not let go of us. We will rise higher and higher until we are floating, gracefully overhead, looking down upon our shadows on the sand below us.

There are some of us who choose to ascend further, until

We have left the blue of the heavens behind,
And begin to enter the silent eternal night
that welcomes us with paths of moonbeams and starlight
Diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds in the sky.
If we glance over our shoulder, we see
where all the glorious sunsets are stored
in case of an evening when the sun is too tired
To ignite the sky and must rely on yesterday's glory,-
Still usable, but never as astounding as the first time.

In order to return to the earth, at any time, we just give a gentle tug on the golden rope and we will float down.

End of Tour

End of Tour

We are at the end of our tour. You may return at any time and if you chose, may shorten the tour by taking a less challenging route. You may chose your own tour, just let your imagination be your guide. Three thoughts to keep in mind before and after your tour:

  1. How you think is how you feel.
  2. To change your feelings, change your thinking.
  3. Your body believes every word your mind tells it.

Another journey waits.


Several years ago, Ellen pursued her interest in the creative arts; following her Bachelor degree at Eastman School of Music as well as a Master's in Counseling by resuming an earlier interest in writing. This past year she printed her first book, a collection of short stories, verses and essays and is currently writing and compiling her second. She contributes her daily writing as a major factor in slowing down the progression of Parkinson's which she acquired about seven years ago. Her book, Let's Go Around Again may be seen on Amazon