My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here as well.
I have been known to buy lipstick simply because I'm intrigued by its name--Barely Nude, Just So, Moxie Be Bold, Arm Candy, Persimmon Canyon or Dragon Fruit. Is there such fruit? Yes. And it's as bright as the pink shade of that tube of lipstick I bought at the CVS without knowing what color I was getting. Lipstick is comforting.
Before work the last thing I do is apply lipstick. I select a shade and glide the creamy silkiness across my lips. The vibrancy of color brightens my face and buoys my mood. Sometimes I write a note to my husband and kiss the paper, the lip print an authentic "sealed with a kiss."
Just this week I listened to a Ted Talk. A brave woman spoke of helping other women in war zones. When she asked the women living in those dangerous territories some of the supplies they wanted, she was surprised to hear that one of the requested items was lipstick. "If we're going to get shot, let those who would shoot us or bomb us know they are killing beautiful women."
"God is the author of both love and creativity...it is your creative voice He waits to hear...no one can express the reality of your interior life; you are the only qualified author for this creative work."~Kari Kristina Reeves (from the book, Canyon Road).
I didn't want to write about my feelings of anger. That was the task Julia Cameron asked me to contemplate as I journey my way through her book, Walking In This World, The Practical Art of Creativity. She asked for fifty issues that brought out feelings of anger. Did I have fifty items? This assignment felt counterintuitive. Wouldn't it be more productive to write fifty things that caused joy, brought delight? I hesitated, desiring retreat from the homework. Yet Ms. Cameron coaxed, "When we think of our anger as something that should be excised or denied rather than alchemized, we risk neutering ourselves as artists." I began.
At first I doubted I could name fifty. As I allowed myself to ponder, the list materialized--People who can't say "I don't know"; the insensitive man who told me my eyebrows reminded him of Mr. Spock; suffering children and animals; writers who glamorize depression; selfish people; ungracious, negative, critical people; complainers; worriers; feeling tired of upholding others; not getting paid for writing; judgmental attitudes and over-intellectualizing; porn; magazines that don't even bother to respond to submissions; people who think God is mean; loss of youth and bad TV.
It's an old tree. I'll bet if I could see its rings, they'd go round and round--internal circles of patience and wisdom. I love this tree.
The ancient oak is stationed just down the road from my home. It is huge, but not looming. Welcoming. Its limbs are dark arms. Often I climb up into those boughs, an embrace. I rest there, leaning my back against the tree's sturdy trunk.
The tree has heard my buried secrets, my longings, my praise, my prayers, my supplication.
This oak tree reminds me of God. The listener. It's easy to love someone who listens. You know the feeling--the experience of being in their presence. They look at you, and you perceive they're moored to whatever it is you're saying, telling. They're unrushed. They're not waiting to get a word in--head tilted to one side, an ear cocked. They don't want to miss anything you have to say. They lean forward. You relax. You don't have to hurry up and finish what you're saying, because you can tell that they're not dying to say something--to assail you with their piece, their opinion. And your story spills out, like a spool unwinding, a sail unfurling. Their silent attention brings clarity. Truth surfaces.
We sat around their little white art table. Baby Jonathan held a miniature rubber basketball and gleefully chanted "ball, ball, ball." Lilly drew a picture on pink paper. I marinated in their midst absorbing the innocent presence, embraced by their peace, the warmth of our fellowship. "What are you creating, Lilly?" I asked. On her sheet of pink paper she'd drawn multiple pairs of eyes in black ink--dotted lines spilling from the eyes down the page. "These are Martians. The Martians are crying."
It struck me then that perhaps a four-year-old had unconsciously tapped into the Zeitgeist of our world. Weeping, weeping, weeping for all the tragedies stacked up so high we can barely breathe. If Martians were looking on at our planet they surely would be crying for us.
Earlier in the week, I'd awakened with a prayer in my mind that poured out of my lips. "Teach me how to rejoice, God. Help me learn the art of rejoicing." Where did this prayer come from? This was the polar opposite of what I should be feeling, what I should be expressing. All this racial unrest, all this killing and pain--the confusion and uncertainty--the trauma and blood. Could there be a place for rejoicing?
I was looking for a poem. I kept thinking I'd probably find it in a box buried in the depths of my closet. I had approach avoidance. Part of me wanted to open the box, but another part of me didn't. The box held journals from my adolescence, college term papers I'd written--and my collection of poems I'd composed over the years. The poems were what I really wanted to uncover. I was looking for one in particular; the piece had been published in a literary magazine, Forthcoming, at my university. I'd other poems published before that one, but they were morose. Those were the ones I wanted to avoid. They were written at a time in my life when I thought I'd never recover from grief. I suppose they were published, because other people could relate to the despair of life gone wrong--life gone sad. But I really wanted to find that one poem. I could remember being especially pleased with the imagery in it, but more I wanted to read and capture again that decision I'd made to choose life, to keep going after Giovanni and I had broken apart. That poem seemed to mirror the feeling of hope I was looking for. I wanted to use the piece in the new book.
At four a.m. I awakened, the box still on my mind. "Just open it, Priscilla, for God's sake." I grabbed a footstool and eyed the box on the top shelf. I wrestled with shoe boxes stacked on top of it and finally dragged the box down. The carton was heavy, weighted with paper, weighted with memories. I unfolded the corners on the box top and nostalgia surfaced. I saw again the old college folders, the spiral bound notebooks, my handwriting unchanged. Seeing handwriting often startles; it's so distinct. When you see the curves and loops of the letters, it's instant recognition. I grabbed the blue notebook first. There was doodling on the cover, along with the seventies pricetag--49 cents. I wrote with red ink.