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Archive for the ‘Stuff I think about’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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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Dear Mother Nature,

If I say uncle, will you back off? When I wake up tomorrow it will be 14 below 0 and I will drink my coffee and dread going outside. I will dread even more the clothes I am required as a good mother to make sure my son is wearing. This time of year that requires snow pants, boots, a ski mask, regular hat and insulated gloves, all which his little six-year-old brain must keep track of for more than 8 hours. This also means the dogs prefer not to do their business outside. Instead, they stand by the door and bark, waiting until they’re inside the warm sunroom where it’s so much cozier.

Coffee gets cold too fast, my feet are longing for warm green grass and I have a serious case of “I can’t stand this any longer.” If you’ve ever been struck by this seasonal disease you know the symptoms. The most irritating of these symptoms is the uncontrollable urge to complain…about the weather, and your salt-crusted car, and the price of gas, and the dirty floors in the foyer, and the winter gear tossed on the floor, and dripping boots, and dog pee in the middle of the sunroom.

I’ve forgotten what warm feels like, except when I’m awakened at night by hot flashes which have become commonplace for me over the last year.

And so dear Mother N, I would appreciate some consideration here. I will not only lose my mind if the weather doesn’t break soon, but I may also lose my husband, my friends and my ability to mother my child.

Be nice, okay?

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I'd rather have coffee with my soul.I‘m the smart one. I used to love being the smart one. Now I’m not so sure.

I have three beautiful sisters, all younger, with which to compare myself. And on many occasions, to be compared with. People don’t really mean any harm, but they can’t really help themselves when they see you as one of four daughters. One is bound to be the smart one, and one the princess. In my family, there is also a rebel and a loving one.

Throughout my life, I was more or less happy, believing I had drawn the long stick. I favored brains over beauty. I think it was just a way to defend my ego  because I never imagined myself pretty. When I looked in the mirror I saw only the flaws – the bigness of my nose, the sprinkling of freckles, the not-blue eyes.

My sisters were pretty and girly. I read books while they played dress up. This was all okay with me on the surface. I’m not sure I even knew that there was a part of me that wanted to be the pretty one. So I got by on my brains. I figured things out and always had the right answer. I listened and learned and spoke up to prove it. I got good grades and won contests and spoke Spanish all while being less than pretty.

One night I heard my sister’s fiance talking about me to his friends. He compared me to my sister while he thought I was not listening. “She got all the brains,” he said about me, “and her sister got the looks.” Nice. Twenty-five years later I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

My husband tells me that I’m not “just” pretty, but that I’m beautiful. I think this is his way of being honest. He loves me and sees my inner beauty, which is great, but sometimes it might be nice to hear that I am, indeed, pretty, in the feminine superficial sort of way – even if I’m not.

In any case, it has been my brains that got me to where I am in life, and that’s a pretty good place. Or at least it has been. Just recently it’s become obvious to me that having this brain isn’t always a benefit. It keeps me from hearing the little voice within. Since I think that voice is divine, this is a problem.

For someone who has always counted on her brain, conducting a thorough analysis of the situation, and making a decision only after carefully considering all options, turning off the thinking brain is a nightmare. I have come to know through hours of research coupled with hours of meditation that the inner voice always trumps the brain. My brain doesn’t agree. My brain always wants the last word. The small still voice speaks and the brain rudely interrupts and talks over it. Worst of all, my brain is fickle. It chooses one thing and then chooses again, compelling me to think more and figure it out. I am so tired of figuring it all out, only to find there are even more options than I originally considered. And so I constantly run from one truth to another and my brain is happy. This is what she loves. She loves knowing she can control my every action as long as I don’t sit still long enough to listen to my gut.

What I know is that the small still voice is always right. It is the voice of God speaking directly to me, not in words, but gently planting wisdom smack-dab in front of my thoughts. I just have to listen and trust.

There are occasions when my brain and my intuition play nice together, at least for a while. When they get along my life is much simpler. It becomes much stickier for a girl who has always trusted her brain when these two very insistent pieces of me have a girl fight. The brain, with her air of superiority admonishes me for even thinking that my intuition is anything more than my imagination, and she has a mean right hook. And my intuition, who is more of a lady, quietly waits, knowing that eventually, I will sit – quietly and open – until I find the answers I’m looking for.

I’m still not pretty, but like it or not, I’m smart. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that my intuition has a direct line with the Source who always steers me in the right direction. This direction always includes peace, and joy, and contentment and doesn’t have the time or the patience for chaos. I am grateful for my strong-willed brain. I have learned to wrap her gently in a warm embrace until she is still. Then I have a warm cup of coffee with my soul, and we all win.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/javaturtle/133316103/”>javaturtle</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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