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Distracted

Distraction is the word of the decade.

Hundreds of television channels, shows that stream live on our computer screens, everyone over two with a mobile device, and marketing messages screaming at us from every direction. And it is driving us apart. We live alone, despite the fact that our spouses and children are in the house. We live in virtual worlds with hundreds of virtual friends that shoot happy pictures in our direction reminding us that we are anything but happy, but only when we take the time to think about it.

And that’s the point really. Taking the time to think about it.

We don’t. Instead, we react to opposing views on social media with declarations of disgust, but we don’t take the time to call our legislators. We post pretty pictures of our kids and cry ourselves to sleep because we don’t remember how to be human. And we think there is never enough. Never enough time, never enough money, never enough stuff. We forget to be gracious and grateful and to remember that simplicity is one of life’s biggest joys.

An expansive view of the night sky. Fresh pears from the tree in our backyard. The laughter of children. The comfort of uninterrupted sleep on a soft pillow. Fuzzy blankets, hot apple cider, and moonlight. Conversation with a friend over a cup of drip coffee.

These are what we sacrifice for the latest newscast, score update, and Facebook like.

I am tired. Tired of all the distraction. I long for the space in between, where there is no one to poke me, entice me, or leverage my pain point. I want to turn off the phone, and the noise, and the anxiety, and the worry that there is never enough. Because I know there is more than enough if only I take the time to be present.

My wish for you is that you take the time, too. Sit in the moonlight. Breathe. Experience that simple awe that Mother Earth provides.

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Fear of flying

Fear. I’ve never admitted it. People I’ve met over the years have even called me fearless, and I embraced that belief, thinking up all the times that I’d taken a step into the unknown and come out on top. But with the full moon this weekend calling me out on my BS, I had an epiphany. I’m scared of stuff. I’ve always been. While on the outside I look all calm and composed, there’s a shaking bundle of “no way” hiding just under the surface.

I look pretty successful and confident. So right now I’m coming out of the closet to say that it’s all a sham. Every single step I’ve ever taken has been weighed with incredible attention to the details until I had concluded that the risks were minimal. It’s easy to be fearless when there’s nothing to fear. But I want to do more than what’s safe. I want to fly.

flying.jpg

It’s the other stuff that I’m coming clean about.

I’m afraid of being a bad mom. I do my homework and can tell you all the latest research about what works and what doesn’t. I plan playdates, make sure my kid does his homework and brushes his teeth at least once a day. But in the back of my mind I know that I could really screw this up because making sure your kid has playdates doesn’t insure that he’s going to be a good human. And what I think is that it’s up to me to make sure I give him the best chance possible, even when I don’t want to read before bedtime, or make sure he has clean clothes.

I’m afraid of being a bad wife. I love my husband but I know I make him crazy with my OCD. Sometimes we have nothing in common to talk about and I hate the way he still thinks farting is funny. Like many couples the romance often takes a backseat to parenting and that sucks and it’s really scary. And I don’t want to be a bad wife because I have a really good chance to live happily ever after here.

And I’m afraid that I’m never going to do what I was sent to earth to do, because sometimes I don’t even know what that is, except when I do. And when I do, I’m so busy not doing the things that I should to make it all happen. And that is so scary – all caps scary.

And fear keeps me stuck. It made me tell myself that it would be okay if I never wrote another word in my life, which is a huge lie. Because when I’m not writing I’m not breathing and when I’m not creating there’s a hole in my life big enough to swallow me whole. And writing is scary, but not writing is scarier.

And so I am here. And afraid. But I’m writing anyway. Because it’s not the finished product that matters, it’s the writing. I started a new story this weekend. The idea came to me in a dream, which sounds hokey, but is unbelievably true. I know it’s the universe saying, “Okay, now it’s time to get over the fear and do what you were meant to do. Don’t read another book about writing or talk to people about writing or buy a program to help or rent space for a studio – just take off and fly. You have nothing to fear.”

What I know is that fear gets me nowhere. It won’t help me raise a good human, or have a good marriage or put words on a page. So instead of pretending to be fearless, I’ll just stand up to my fear and shine a little light on the darkness. I’ll kiss my kid and my husband more often, and I’ll write. Today, and the day after that.

 

Finding Artemis

Moon-2

Under a moonless sky, hundreds – maybe thousands of years ago – the women gather to celebrate a new lunar cycle. They play music. They dance in the firelight. They make offerings to Mother Earth for her wondrous gifts. And they revel in the power of all creation and plant seeds on intention.

Artemis, the huntress and moon goddess  is among them. She is both protector and destroyer, containing both feminine and masculine energies. Artemis is complete, whole in and of herself. And it is to herself that she must be true.

The spirit of Artemis burns in my soul. In as much as I have accepted, even embraced my traditional role as wife and mother, of nurturer and protector, I long for the solitude of the Earth’s quiet places, and to be responsible to and for no one.

What an ironic dichotomy.

I seek the company of like-minded women on the nights when the moon is new. I seek the moments when I am not wife, nor mother. Only then can I fully embrace my true self. The artist, the poet, the creator, the thinker, the healer and the crone. And my sisters, they will understand. They will celebrate me – as I will them. And they will share my sorrow and nurse my wounds as only sisters can.

I cannot find these women in my world – though I’m sure they are there. But I will not stop searching. For Artemis lives in me.

 

I’m all about sharing the love, so I chose three writers I would love to hear more from.

First may I introduce you to Sarah Rhea Werner and her alter ego who also lives here in paradise. (Actually today it almost was, but I digress.) She’s young, energetic and a believer in the words, especially when they’re put together in a way that makes them greater than their sum. I know that she’s going to bring it big. In the meantime, enjoy taking a look at what she writes – see link above – or follow her on Twitter at @sarahrheawerner.

My second nominee is Valerie Suydam who pens The Writer’s Code and can often be found tweeting @valeriesudyam. She writes a lot about writers, and she writes a lot about her perception of what they had to say. Visit, say hello and stay awhile.

My third nominee graciously declined to participate. Love her anyway. Visit her blog, The Freedom Experiment. You’ll find your self feeling better about life.

I’ve had fun blog hopping and have meandered in and out of lots of great blogs. Thanks again to Mrs Inger Anna Jones for the nomination.

 

 

the writing life

source: morguefile

Feeling honored tonight to be invited to blog hop with friends who happen to write. Are there any other kind? Kidding of course, but I do treasure the people I meet who share my passion. Kinship is essential to my writing life. Since moving from Houston, Texas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota I’ve struggled to find a circle of writers that  understand this life and will have me. Thank you to all of you who make an attempt to “get me.”

This is how it works (I think). If you’re nominated, you answer four questions about writing (see below) and link back to the person that nominated you. You may meet a kindred spirit or two while you share your thoughts.

Thank you for the invite Inger. Your blog  inspires and I heartily recommend a visit to anyone interested in exploring the life. I can’t wait to check out the other bloggers you invited at The Kelswitch and Sally Ember Ed.D.  Let the blog hopping begin.

Why do I write what I write?

There is no good answer. I am a copywriter with a creative group by day. This pays my bills and gets my adrenaline pumping when deadlines loom and I deliver just the write headline. Given different life circumstances, I would give up the rush for solitude and a blank page. I have been working on a memoir which seems unfinishable, but that must somehow be finished because that is the only way I can make sense of all the things life has thrown my way. I write what I write because my business on the planet seems incomplete if I don’t hash it out, give it form and make it beautiful – or whatever it wants to be. I also have a tumblr because it allows room for small life observations that I find curious and want to share.

What am I working on? 

I’m working on the memoir mentioned above and a book of affirmations for kids. I started a chapter book for children that stalled when I had a baby at age 45. My son, who is now 6, indulges my imagination and sends me off in lots of different directions. This project remains on my list. I don’t consider myself a children’s author, but have had some success. Weird.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think this book is different because, although it addresses spirituality, my growing sense of the divine feminine and a shift away from traditional beliefs, it has little to do with God and lots to do with discovering the inner guidance that has led me through all of life’s challenges – quietly, softly, but without my understanding that it even existed. More than anything, I believe that EVERY book is different, because every voice is different. We all have stories that only we can tell.

How does your writing process work?

With observation. I keep a journal and I’m committed to daily writing practice wherever it fits in my day. I scribble down the inspiration and when an hour opens up in my day, I sit with that observation, develop it, and let it take shape. When I give it the space to grow, it’s quick. The words know where to place themselves. When my creative spirit is drained, it waits for me to catch up. The most difficult part of my writing life is finding the juice after meeting writing deadlines all day at the office.

Mostly…

I feel blessed to know that writing makes sense in my world. If I am the only person that ever benefits from my words, it will be worth every second. I have made peace with knowing that some things I write are just for me.

Now, for the nominations…

They’ll have to wait. I must give it a little thought. Until tomorrow. In the meantime, I will be hopping blogs.

I’m notorious for not listening. Every single day I am nudged by that tiny voice inside that says, “Hey, listen up.” So being the self-aware person that I am, I will admit that there are lots of times I turn down the volume. I’m too busy to listen. The dirty dishes are calling or the dog’s toys need picking up. I can think of lots of reasons not to listen. It’s a habit. Worse yet, I don’t even get that I’m not listening until the moment where the tiny voice get smug and says, “I told you so.”

The funniest part of all is that I generally trust my gut, but I let my head make the decisions.

Lately that little voice has been getting louder and it’s saying, “Perfectionism is overrated. Knock it off.” So being the self-aware person that I am I have to take a look at my life and respond with a “You must be kidding.”

If there is one thing that has always defined me it’s my perfectionism. And I’m not sure where it began, unless it was winning that statue of St. Jude when I was in first grade for perfect attendance and the approving smile of Sister Jude Thaddeus who I loved with all my heart. Despite her obvious disdain for astrology, I have embraced the Virgo in me and knit that little bit of craziness into my very cells.

Image

Unable to cope with mediocrity, I played only sports in which I excelled and indulged in The Arts. I was good at The Arts. I could write a decent poem, handle a calligraphy pen with grace and sketch a better-than-average still life.

In the midst of a failing marriage I didn’t fall apart. If I couldn’t have a perfect marriage I would have a perfect divorce. I handled my depression with grace and was a textbook example illustrating with perfection the stages of grief. Then I came out the other side with another chance at perfect.

Eight years and one second husband later, I have a great six year old who has embraced – to my absolute horror – perfectionism.

I feel his pain when he slips up. A crayon that misbehaves is cause for starting over. A spot of chocolate that landed on a white shirt on a Saturday afternoon is not acceptable. And a pair of boots forgotten at school the night before a snowstorm – a crisis. I know this pain.

He has become the tiny voice that shouts at me every single day and this time I’m listening.

I don’t quite know how to get there, but I have a plan and it starts with accepting that my view of perfection is imperfect. Perfect isn’t being the best, being right, knowing the answers, cleaning up all the dog toys before bedtime. Perfect is the attitude that life, with all its incomplete projects and dirty dishes and temper tantrums and cold weather in April, is perfect just as it is. There is beauty and goodness in laughing at our imperfect wonderful lives and knowing that we wouldn’t have them any other way.

 

The snow fell again today. I wasn’t prepared. Though it’s only March in the Dakotas, the sweet taste of temperatures higher than 60 on Wednesday had me feeling hopeful. I had hoped that the winter weather had run its course. I had hoped that I would wake up to another sunny, warm day. I had hoped to have my coffee on the deck.

Hope is a curious thing. It has a reputation for being something positive. People say, “have hope.” I think it’s overrated.

Hope is just another word for not being present to what is. It means, “I wish things were different.” It pushes us away from looking at the moment that we’re actually experiencing. And while every moment isn’t filled with awesomeness, there is something to be relished if we look close enough.

hopeless

Winter’s last icy breath © Egidijus Mika | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I am giving up hope – and that’s not a bad thing. Instead of being hopeful, I will be present. When the snow falls I will watch the flakes fall to the ground and allow myself to be thankful for another day to enjoy my people. I will stand at the window and know that things happen with perfect timing, and when the trees are ready to push out their buds, the sun will shine on them and send them the light and warmth that they need to flourish. I will be watchful for the first crocus and feel the joy of anticipation. I will watch the robins hop from barren branch to barren branch, not hidden by the leaves that are so dense in the summertime.

At the very moment that my son pushes my patience to the edge I will not hope for life to be different, but will think about my own reaction to this small and curious person who is learning where his boundaries begin and end. I will not grow tired of watching him jump from one spot to another, chasing an imagined dragon or fighting life’s small challenges – like brushing his teeth. He is learning, and with him, I am learning.

Each day is a blessing. I realize with so much clarity now, that life is indeed short, and the moments we have shouldn’t be hoped away for a day that may not come or a wish in the distance. Today is precious in its imperfection.

So I suppose I am hopeless, and glad for it.

 

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