Monty’s Scribbles (Sunday Scribblings)

Peckapalooza over at The Confusing Middle runs a weekly prompt called Sunday Scribblings. This weeks’ theme is storytelling. Check out his post and join in the creativity!

Sunday Scribblings #98 – Scribble

I launched Monty’s Scribbles back in the Spring of 2020. I’d just started creative writing in January when we were stuck at home during the beginning of the Covid epidemic in Shanghai before we ever knew it would turn into a world-wide pandemic.

My first attempts at sharing my writing was on Instagram. I only chose that platform because I knew it from my daughter who had a sizable following and thus I was already on it as an observer. It was a total mess trying to post writing on Instagram and I got barely any engagement. I spent more time trying to configure my writing into square images then actually writing.

My next experiment was to try and live into the purpose of Instagram and I started creating visuals to go along with my writing. I’d never drawn before beyond mandatory art classes growing up in school. So I had absolutely no skill, but I had a new iPad that allowed me to create digital images and a lot of time due to Covid so I started to play with it. It’s funny to think that the only reason I ever became an illustrator was to try and gain traction on Instagram.

My engagement level on Instagram never passed miserable so my next experiment was to set up my own website to host my writing and drive traffic via Twitter. For this, I needed a website name. I’d already identified Monty Vern as my nom de plume. It’s a play on “Vermont”, where I grew up and the subject of a lot of my early writing. I decided on Monty’s Scribbles. I felt “scribbles” had an appropriate level of informality to match my unskilled writing and drawing. I was trying to “keep it casual”, but at the same time I pondered the possibility of future publishing so I set up the site as a prospective author’s site. It was actually a lot of fun to create the site and it’s still up and running. Feel free to check it out. It was only this past January when I moved my blog, “Monty’s Blahg”, over to WordPress to improve engagement further.

At this point, I’ve published five books. One of which, Monty’s Very Short Shorts, actually contains many of the very first “scribbles” as it chronicles my journey of learning how to write and draw with an illustrated “very short story” for everyday of 2020.

“My Child” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts
“366 Days” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

For me it’s very interesting to go back and read through this “messy diary” and see the progress (and sometimes digression) of skill across the year. It was a wonderful journey and perhaps the most transformational of my adult life as I found a passion that I can indulge in long after the kids have left the house and (hopefully) retirement.

Be well,


The Storyteller (Sunday Scribblings)

Peckapalooza over at The Confusing Middle runs a weekly prompt called Sunday Scribblings. This weeks’ theme is storytelling. Check out his post and join in the creativity!

Sunday Scribblings #97 – Storytelling

The Storyteller

Let there be light, the storyteller said.

And then there was light.

Let there be love.

Then there were lovers.

And lovers’ families quarreling.

And then death,

Then sorrow,

And grief.

And an uncertain smile.

And a shy laugh.

Let there be rebirth, the storyteller said.

And then there were zombies, walking dead.

And fear,

And horror,

And excitement,

And laughing out loud.

And harsh shushes

And imperfect silence.

As the storyteller fell silent.

“Tell us more,” they begged of the storyteller.

Tell us the meaning of life, and death.

“Tell us!” “Tell us!”, they said.

“Not now”, the storyteller said,

“It’s time to go to bed.”

Be well,


Daily Droppings: “Title”

Special thanks to Sandra from What Sandra Thinks who created a series of daily prompts for the month of February which are the source of inspiration for this series.

The prompt: “Title”

Can you forgive me for another day of shameless plugs? I mean with a prompt like “title” how can I not?

Currently I have five titles available for your enjoyment (please, pretty pretty pretty please! – no, I’m not above begging…it’s been over six months since my last sale so I’ve no pride left – no, I’m not above playing the pity card either…)

One thing you may notice…I was so excited about my titles and illustrated covers that I actually forgot to include my name on almost all the covers. Now that is putting the art above the artist…hehe (or just poor thinking…or both).

Monty’s Almanac 202x

Monty’s Almanac 202x is an autobiographical collection of short stories, poetic prose, and quirky cartoons.
Monty’s Very Short Shorts an illustrated collection of 366 very short stories, one for each day of the very strange year 2020.
Thirteen Words is an illustrated poetry collection. Each poem is constructed of exactly thirteen words. This is the first volume in a three volume series.
Thirteen Words II is an illustrated poetry collection. Each poem is constructed of exactly thirteen words. This is the second volume in the series.
Thirteen Words III is an illustrated poetry collection. Each poem is constructed of exactly thirteen words. This is the final volume in the series.

If you do decide to pick up a copy, do let me know and I’ll slather you with globs and globs of gratitude (or just a simple thank you, if you prefer).

Be well,


Daily Droppings: “Argue”

Special thanks to Sandra from What Sandra Thinks who created a series of daily prompts for the month of February which are the source of inspiration for this series.

The prompt: “Argue”

“Cold War” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

Be well,


Daily Droppings: “I Killed It”

With #bloganuary out of the way, it’s now time for something fresh as we (hopefully) ease out of winter and into an early spring. Luckily, I’m not the only one that’s been thinking about this and Sandra from What Sandra Thinks has created a series of daily prompts for the month of February. Looking over the prompts, I felt they had a lot of promise so, let’s do this!

Thanks to Giggling Fattie at No Love for Fatties for her post that introduced the opportunity. And, of course, special thanks to Sandra for all of the inspiration.

The prompt: “I Killed It”

Excerpt from “Monty’s Dark Side” (a #vssmurder mini-series)

Be well,


2022 Intentions – January Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up January it’s time to reflect. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested). In January, I awoke at or before 5 a.m. every day and my average time asleep was just over 7 hours. So I’ve been living into this intention quite well.

How do I feel? GREAT! My energy and motivation is way up. I get done with my morning routine by 6am and am ready to face the day without any rush. If I feel tired during the day, I take a nap (naps are great too!).

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move. In January, I made significant improvement in my movement. I exercised every day at least once and sometimes twice. Yoga was part of my morning routine so I did it everyday (I increased from 10 minutes to 15 minutes over the course of the month and did several 30 minute sessions as well). I also started walking. When working from home and the weather was favorable I took a ~6km walk when I had a free block in between meetings. When at work I took a shorter lunch time walk. I got major blisters the first time as I walked in my work shoes so I bought an extra pair of sneakers to keep at the office just so I could walk. I walked 16 times this month. On average I worked out for an average of 1 hour a day since I started tracking mid-month.

How do I feel? GREAT! I’m feeling much better about myself. I’m still well below average in cardio fitness level (I invested in an Apple Watch to help me better understand and track my heart health), but I’m slowly improving and most importantly I feel highly motivated to continue.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day. In January, I meditated every morning for about 10 minutes depending on the length of my preferred guided meditation length. I did my meditation after my yoga practice so I was awake enough not to fall asleep. I got myself a meditation cushion with back support which has been good support and I’ve been able to really get into the flow this month. I also sprinkled in some additional meditations during the month when I needed to give my mind a break.

How do I feel? GREAT! I know. I know. It’s getting repetitive, but it’s the truth. I’ve had a number of stressful situations this month at work and they sometimes got me a bit off kilter, but I was able to use meditation to recalibrate myself and my priorities each time.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day. In January, I wrote every day at least once and often created an illustration as well. I participated in a blogging event called #bloganuary that provided a writing prompt every day. Here’s a recap. In total, I posted 48 times in January on my blog. I also started to try to learn how to sketch this month and spent a lot of time working on basic skills.

How do I feel? Inspired! (Thought I was going to say great, didn’t you?). There is nothing like creating something from nothing. I love it. I also moved my blog onto WordPress this month which allowed for much more interaction via comments, which I found very rewarding and motivating.

Well there they are. My 2022 January reflections. I’m feeling very positive about my intentions and I don’t have any adjustments to make at this time. I do want to get a smart exercise bike so I can do some more cardio besides walking (especially when the weather is not cooperative). I’m waiting for my annual bonus to come in then will make the splurge.

With #bloganuary over, I’m not sure how I will approach February yet for the blog. I’m open to posting daily again if I’m inspired (if you’re aware of any February daily prompts, please let me know). But I can always write and draw for myself without feeling the need to post. Posting and getting some feedback and interaction is a bonus, but the true value is in the creating.

How about you?

Be well,


Words Matter

29th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: How are you changing the world?

One word at a time.

“Polaris” – originally published in Thirteen Words

Be well,


Sun, Happiness, Coffee, Writing & Gratitude

10th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: What are five things you’re grateful for today?

1) The morning sun. While it’s not a sunny morning per se, the sun is doing it’s job and lighting up the morning sky. Reminding me to appreciate the improbable wonder of life.

“Life” – originally published in Thirteen Words (Vol. I)

2. Happiness. I chose to feel happy this morning. I’ve been making this choice more and more in life. I think this is what they call wisdom.

“Happiness” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts.

3. Coffee (and a sense of humor). Hehe. I make myself chuckle.

“Coffee” – originally published in Thirteen Words (Vol. III)

4. Writing. Writing saved my life once…and every day since.

“Wild Writing” – originally published in Thirteen Words (Vol. III)

5. Gratitude.

“Rebirth” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

Be well,


Discovering Hope

8th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: What do you like most about your writing?

Ok, this time I’m going to have to twist the prompt a bit. I’m not so inclined to write about what I like about my writing. For me the act of writing is much more important and interesting to me then the resulting work itself (that is not to say I don’t enjoy my finished works, but by comparison the writing itself is much more the point). So I’m going to change the prompt to: What do you like most about writing?

I’m glad you asked! The short answer is writing has saved my life. It’s hard not to like (appreciate) something that has saved your life, right? I’m not exaggerating. This isn’t hyperbole (I think…maybe I should recheck the definition). To explain, I think it would be helpful to first provide some background and context. Let’s look back at a personal essay I wrote last summer, ‘A Monster Named Me’.

A Monster Named Me

Originally published July 15, 2021 on Monty’s Scribbles.

All it took was the slightest sharpening of the sword in my eyeballs or the tiniest cinching of the vice upon my temples and I knew the Monster was arriving. There was no guessing involved. If the Monster peaked out from the closet then it was guaranteed to come out to terrorize me. The monster, a.k.a. my migraine, was a constant presence in my life. It was always there. Sometimes a low level threat hanging out in the closet. Other times, more so than not, a dangerous and angry force out for destruction.

My ability to predict the onslaught of pain was uncanny. It was like I had perfect clairvoyance, but only in this one aspect of my life. How could this be? The answer was simple. The monster was me. I wasn’t predicting its arrival. I was conjuring the monster from within me.

A Monster Named Me

What I had thought was a wild and uncontrollable force was in fact a well-trained and obedient pet doing my bidding. This was non-obvious to me though. I spent years, decades, feeling like I was at its mercy. I could try to placate it. Manage the intensity of its anger by avoiding certain triggers or curling up in a dark room, but these measures were of minimal effect. In fact, it seemed as if there were more and more triggers. More and more of life that I had to avoid if I wanted some peace. Instead of living life I was avoiding it. I felt hopeless.

There is a name for what I was doing. This “reading of the tea leaves” and predicting (i.e. calling) the onslaught of pain. It’s called “catastrophizing”, which is the mental process of constant negative thinking and emotional responses to pain that can lead to pain becoming worse in intensity and duration, i.e. chronic pain. Essentially, I was programming my brain that when I did something ”dangerous” (e.g. a trigger) the pain was inevitable. I was programming my brain that, if the pain started, it was unstoppable. That the pain would escalate in intensity until I needed to escape with sleep and medication.

Some people confuse this concept with meaning that the pain is somehow ”less real” or ”made-up”; “all-in-the-head”. Well, the reality is that all pain, whether it be from a broken bone or a mysterious migraine, is a mental process. Signals in the pain being interpreted as pain. So it makes sense that negative thinking and emotions can influence how we experience pain. And because our brain is amazing at learning, it starts to program itself. To learn that a specific cause (e.g. trigger) will lead to a certain result. That a specific experience (e.g. eye-pressure) will lead to a full-blown migraine. We essentially train our brain to experience chronic pain. But this pain is very real. No less real than the pain from a broken bone.

When I learned this, I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I also thought that it was an absolute tragedy. The brilliance came in the form of realizing that if I’d programmed my brain for chronic pain then I could also, possibly, reprogram it to something more pleasant (like “not pain). Suddenly, I realized I had the potential to control this wild monster that had ravaged me for so many years. That’s where the tragedy came in. How did it take me 35 years of suffering to become aware of this? I’d taken hundreds of different medications and procedures to “manage my pain”, some to address emotional distress associated with the pain (e.g. anti-depressants), but none of my doctors ever let me know that the power was within my own hands (or brain, I guess I should say). The answer, of course, is that they didn’t know about it themselves. It’s not part of the main curriculum for pain management (at least in western medicine). Oh well, better late than never, right? But this is why I’m sharing my story. Perhaps there is someone out there suffering as I was that will read this and discover hope like me.

There are many mind-body tools and techniques for reprograming our brains for pain. Catastrophizing is just one of the many aspects that need to be addressed and everybody will have their own personal journey. And of course there is every possibility that there is an underlying physical/physiological cause for the pain that needs to be addressed medically. But there is hope. There are tools that can help us.

Today, after over three decades of suffering migraines, I’m pretty much pain-free. I have pressure in my head sometimes, actually quite often, but that pressure remains just pressure. In the old days I would have viewed that pressure as a bad omen and boom the pain would come. These days, if the pressure starts to intensify, I pause, acknowledge whats going on, perhaps do a breathing exercise, and get back to life. In essence, I’m cured of my chronic pain.

I’m currently writing my full length recovery story which I will be sharing as soon as it’s ready. It’s called “Discovering Hope”. I’m pretty excited about sharing my story and sharing my hope.

Work-In-Progress (estimated arrival in December 2021)Work-In-Progress (estimated arrival in December 2022)

Briefly, I used self-help techniques including cognitive-behavior, mindfulness, and expressive writing exercises. The specific program I used is called CURABLE(R) ( It’s an online, digital health program and available as an app on your smart phone. If you experience chronic pain then I encourage you to check it out [this is not an advertisement, I’m just sharing what worked for me]. Your also more then welcome to reach out to me with any questions about my personal recovery journey. There is hope, and I’m happy to share it.

Well, that was a quite a long write-up on background, but I think it was important. Now let’s get back to the question at hand. What do you like most about writing?

As mentioned in The Monster Is Me, part of my recovery journey was expressive writing. It’s a mind-body technique that helps with working through unresolved emotional issues. Although most of those expressive writing sessions resulted in torn up scraps, they planted a creative seed within me to explore my life-experiences through the written word. Making sense of my life through writing, and later drawing, has been a running theme throughout my work. Sometimes seriously. Sometimes with a much-needed sense of humor. Writing has continued to be a self-care practice for me and the main driver for me even writing this piece.

Along the journey I’ve found my words and my people. Check out my About Me page for more explanation including links to all my major (self) published works.

Be well,