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.
The dream came as inspiration. The dream came as comfort.
I sat with a six-year-old girl on a park bench. We turned toward each other and made eye contact. Light glinted from brown eyes. I read at once vulnerability and intelligence. She asked, "Did you read my book?" I shook my head, "No, I said, I want to, though. I understand that you are here today to receive an award for the book." "Yes, but that's not so important." She hopped from the bench and extended her hand to me. "You want to go for a walk? It's so pretty here; there's a lot to explore." Her enthusiasm magnetized me. I noticed, though, that this child appeared neglected, her hair tangled and uncombed. She wore a faded dress and her shoes showed scuff marks and worn out soles. Yet she exuded joyful expectation as children do, despite circumstances. I placed my hand in hers. What might I discover with this adorable child? Might I help her? Might she help me?
As I've pondered and prayed about the meaning of this dream, I concluded that the child is an aspect of myself. This child is a creative muse. She is the writer. She is the one who says, "Don't you just love how the sunlight falls on that grove of trees?" "Why look at that rose bush. It's erupting in pink!" she exclaims. She's the one who begs, "Let's stay at the library just a little bit longer. You only want to run and pick up your books on hold. But let's browse. A book might find us...won't that be fun?" Her eyes light up when we plan a walk down by the ocean. "We might see some dolphins leaping out of the water today. Yay!" She's the one who suggests, "Let's stop on our trail walk at the swing by the marsh. That back and forth motion on the swing feels so free. I love it. And then we'll see the sunset too."
The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you.~Robert Louis Stevenson
I bent to tie my shoelaces, fingers stiff with cold. I had forced myself to go outside on the blustery, winter afternoon. I didn't hold out much hope that this walk in the frigid air would restore my motivation. For the past few weeks, I'd felt dulled regarding continuing to write, my love for the practice diluted. "Why bother?" I asked. I knew the answer already. "Because you love words. Because you love beauty. Because you enjoy encouraging others not to give up on their artistic pursuits. Because you know that the process of creating things brings healing and joy." I had grown fatigued and lonely, though. When I get lonely and tired along the artist's trail, I go back to nourishing locations where I know I'll find encouragement. I went back to Julia Cameron. All her works have inspired me, but I return again and again to her Artist's Way trilogy. This time I opened up the third book in the series: Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.
The first page I turned to, I read a sentence I'd previously underlined. It took courage to allow myself to pursue something that I loved. Tears leaked from the corners of my eyes. The validation of that sentence felt like God's kiss on my cheek. It can feel easy to quit. I kept reading.
To win one's joy through struggle is better than to yield to melancholy.~André Gide
We held our lanterns against the foggy morning, arms linked, our feet articulate along the pathway of our friendship. We hadn't seen each other for a few years--her irises still two perfect cerulean circles. Her smile a glowing center of affection.
Time pressed together as we spoke of the last years--grazing, grinding, rasping events and losses that could have devoured us, but didn't. We described each other as "bad ass" women and laughed. As we meandered down our historical trail, there was no doubt in my mind that we both had earned the title, and as I listened to the struggles my friend had transcended, a thousand rays of hope coursed through me with each heartbeat. Neither she nor I had yielded to melancholy.
When it's over, I want to say: All my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.~Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, died this week. Her voice resonates with me as often her poetry reflects a deep connection with nature and love's resilience as we travel this side of eternity.
This week, too, I watched a BBC Masterpiece Theater production about the Brontë sisters, To Walk Invisible. The film reminded me that art is not magically produced inside a perfect environment. Art is created alongside the messiness of life and feeding the dog. Amid heartache and dreary weather, self-doubt and loneliness. Charlotte, Emily and Anne often stole out to the lavender-tinged moor next to their home for walks and to work out their insecurities and longings regarding submitting their novels and poems for publication. When their works were eventually published, each wrote under a male pseudonym. For years, no one knew that their work was created by a trifecta of female genius. The sisters were hidden. Invisible. Yet they kept writing, and this gorgeous literature manifested inside a life of poverty and the disconsolation of a brother who could not transcend the demise and disease of alcoholism. I wondered what the Brontë sisters could teach me about not giving up on creating art.
Light rays streamed into the living room like a golden river. I stood amidst the beams, astonished. Delighted. Then I felt it. The pain brought me out of my reverie. All week my back hurt from an injury I sustained attempting to practice good exercise habits. The promise on the DVD cover stated, "Aging Backwards." The promise shattered on the first workout. Now aging forward, my best laid plans foiled.
The beauty of that light seemed to penetrate the architecture of my mind as I considered my response to this unexpected event. What if I received the pain as an opportunity to slow my pace. What would that look like?
I could walk without much discomfort. As I moved down the street, I was tempted to bemoan my decelerated steps. I prayed, "God, what does this slowdown mean?" In the chilled air, I heard leaves rustling, the intermittent cries of seagulls. When I reached the amber-colored waters of the tidal creek, I placed my hand on the trunk of the ancient oak, a friend. I could feel the ridges of its bark, even through my woolen gloves. As I looked out over the landscape, I noticed a hawk gazing, too, in the top branches of a pine tree. We two creatures shared a certain kinship in our musings.