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.
Out a few hours early from work, I drove to a beach near my home. As I walked the length of the pier, the ocean seemed to cradle me with its sunlight-dappled waves--its hushed tones. But as I sat on the wooden bench overlooking all that spangling blue, I did not feel peaceful. The emotions that surfaced were snarled with briers--took me aback--anger, anxiety, fear, burnout and hopelessness. I said to myself, "Where is this coming from? I work hard to stay positive; to stay focused on the good." The idea of going to the ocean was supposed to help me feel better. I almost left after being at the pier for only a few minutes, but I'd paid for parking. I thought I'd at least better stay an hour to get my money's worth. I walked to another bench. No matter how I felt, the view seemed strong enough to hold the weight of my emotions.
As I sat there, I imagined that I was in that ocean treading water, my nose just above the surface. Struggling. I thought, "What if I just leaned back? What if I allowed myself to float and let the ocean hold me? What if I allowed the currents to take me to a different place?
Years vanish. Months collapse. Time is like a tall building made of playing cards. It seems orderly until a strong gust of wind comes along and blows the whole thing skyward. Imagine it: an entire deck of cards soaring like a flock of birds.~Dani Shapiro
A long time ago, I stood in the home goods section at Walmart. The in-laws were coming to visit and stay with my family. The girls would give up their bedroom, and the grandparents would brave the trundle bed. New sheets were in order. I didn't have much money to spend, but settled on the nicest sheets that Walmart sold, the pattern in the fabric a subtle, lavender Swiss dot. Yesterday I took that same cloth, now splattered with green paint, and covered my current husband's Vespa. The sheet had outlasted a marriage, and survived longer than the lives of those grandparents who had once lain on that Swiss-dotted cotton. And their son, the father of those little girls, gone now too.
Life is fragile. We don't talk about that much in our culture. We think we'll live forever. Yet when the gusts of loss interrupt our denial, our structure, we are faced with reality. Grief is exhausting, even when it co-exists with promise. My first husband and I had not been together for over twenty years when he died, yet I've been pummeled with memories of him. The way we'd savor breakfast dates, sitting in a Wisconsin diner, drinking cup after cup of coffee. Our bright yellow car that we drove way too long. Our rental house on the Oregon coast.
I contnue to read It's Never Too Late To Begin Again by Julia Cameron. The book contains 12 weeks of material with tasks to complete. One of the assignments is to break up one's life in five-year segments and answer questions that evoke thoughts and emotions and memories. This week I answered questions spanning ages 16-20. Those were hard, lonely years, perhaps hard and lonely for anyone emerging into adulthood. One of the questions Ms. Cameron asked this week: "What were callings you tried and then abandoned?"
I'm unsure if writing poetry would be considered a calling, but for a time during those years I wrote poems, and some were published in the university's literary magazine. I'm not sure when I stopped writing poetry. Or why. After about a year, I abandoned the art form. I've written three or four poems over the last decades, but nothing as prolific as that one year in college. As I remembered myself at that age, I felt great love for that young woman. She did not know her strength. She did not understand the breadth and width of God's grace. I wrote her a poem. I went back to that time in history to honor her courage, her perseverance. She serves me now. I draw on her vulnerability and brave heart. Perhaps she has led me back to poetry and whispers, "It's not too late."
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers--of persistence, concentration, insight and sensitivity--to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.~Susan Cain From Quiet
I spied the crescent moon as I backed my car out of the driveway on the way to work. I shifted into park and sat gazing awhile at that comma shape smoldering in the early morning sky. Was the moon speaking to me in its silent, glowing punctuation? It seemed to be enticing me to pause. I yearned for a slower life pace. For weeks, I'd been saying to myself, "Let me off. Let me off this ride. It's too fast. I can't keep up."
The culture is often too noisy for me. Requires too much talking and promoting that leaves me exhausted. I was blocked from Instagram and know not why. I filed a report, attempting to discover my error, but still no word. I cannot post or comment. At first I fretted, but then realized it doesn't matter that much--just another expectation to "get oneself out there and be noticed." What if one does not really enjoy "getting out there?" The very pressure to promote one's writing these days is a job in and of itself. I calmed down. Let it go. Maybe I'd get unblocked at some point, but if not, that's okay.
If we address stories as archaeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care we find at some level there is always a doorway.~From The Ten Thousand Doors of Januray by Alex E. Harrow
I learned a new word this week: omnium-gatherum. The word is defined as a miscellaneous collection. Often I've felt my life could be described by such a phrase, yet more negative than positive--a mismatched plethora of scraps, faded photographs and dog-eared books. Mistakes and riddles unanswered, and a sprinkling of gold dust that sometimes reflected a life more shiny than it truly was.
Sometimes, maybe a lot, if I'm honest, I've identified or wanted to identify with other peoples' stories instead of my own. Individuals who are more physically attractive, richer, smarter. Better writers. Over the years I've strayed from my narrative. Discounted it. "Oh, anyone could have done that, or survived that." "I could have done more, most likely--I could have done a better job." "That accomplishment was merely a fluke. I probably could never do it again." My life downplayed. Minimized.
Then I saw the photo of the door. I could not let its symbolism drift away. How was this image speaking? And why?