My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is more acute than listening to them. I suppose it's an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.~Eudora Welty, short story writer
Each week I receive an email from StoryCorps. The audio is typically less than five minutes. Individuals from all walks of life share their personal narratives about discovering love, transcending loss, surviviving hardship and finding strength. I never fail to identify with these minute slices of human experience.
This morning I awakened bleary-eyed and coughing. Giovanni said I'd snored most of the night, my nose stuffed up with the indignities of a cold. I peered out my window and looked up to observe shifting stacks of clouds scudding along the winter sky. The dreariness seemed to inspire a kind of panic and anxiety about the future and thoughts of overwhelm. I felt tempted to feel sorry for myself, but resisted. I could choose to remember what was true about my life. I continued to gaze at the sky and whispered to myself, "Jesus is my peace. He offers me calm that the world cannot produce. I will step into that radiant territory. I'd come to Him heavily laden, and He'd taken the burden of panic and anxiety from me, exchanging that darkness for rest and grace, reiterating once again that He has overcome the world. I remembered, too, that He always goes ahead of me and creates provision, over-supply and favor where there is need and longing. I'd written a new narrative for the day.
Soft front. Strong back. Wild heart.~Brené Brown
I'd sit in the wingback chair by the span of windows in the living room of the home I grew up in. I'd stare at the painting on the wall and collect myself after battling through a day in high school. My mother was near, but didn't force me to talk about my day. She sensed I needed time to process the reality that I faced each day--that I truly fit nowhere. Even though I was seemingly "everywhere" an adolescent should aspire to--a talented flute player in the band, a leader in my church youth group, an honor roll student. I felt more "belonging" sitting in that chair processing my life than I felt anywhere else. I did not have the insight then to know that as I sat before the painting and sifted through the day, my mother's comforting presence hovering around me, I was discovering that belonging to myself was perhaps a key to the paradox that I belonged everywhere and nowhere.
Fast forward decades, and I'm driving around town running errands and listening to NPR. Brené Brown, researcher and storyteller who has been studying shame, vulnerability, courage and other social science topics for more than 15 years, is discussing the time she heard Maya Angelou on a Bill Moyers interview in 1973. Ms. Angelou stated during that interview, "You are only free when you realize you belong no place--you belong every place--no place at all.The price is high.The reward is great." Ms. Brown went on to say that she never really understood what this statement meant until one day she was going through her invitations to speak. One group stated they could not hire her for their faith-based event "because I cussed too much." Another group stated she would have to cut out references to her faith if she accepted their offer to speak. "I finally got what Ms. Angelou was talking about--I fit nowhere and I fit everywhere." Ms Brown elaborated, "We confuse belonging with fitting in, but the truth is that belonging is just in our heart, and when we belong to ourselves and believe in ourselves above all else, we belong everywhere and nowhere."
Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.~Jack Gilbert (From Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert)
This morning I opened the window blinds in my study. I could not refrain from allowing the saffron-colored leaves to inhabit my writing space. I stood at the window for several moments pondering the creative journey with writing. I didn't intend to take this route. Didn't really believe I had the courage to write. I realized it merely took saying "Yes. I'll see what may be hidden inside me." In 2005, managing a long-distance relationship with my husband, I decided to write about our love story. The project filled my weekends when we couldn't be together, and I found that writing became a companion. When I showed up at the page, I found an alchemy of healing, joy and company in the process. I wasn't lonely. The first steps down the road led to a book, then another, then another. And soon to be another. I suppose I got so far down the pathway, I could not abandon my curiosity to see what I might discover around the next bend.
At times along the path, I've had the opportunity to share some of my work. I am pleased that I'll have that chance once again next Sunday, December 1, at Main Street Reads Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC from 12-2 pm. If you are local, I'd love to see you there.
I asked the owner, Shari J. Stauch, what motivated her to open the shop in this age of the Amazon monopoly. She replied, "I opened Main Street Reads because it was needed in the community. With five high schools in the area and the nearest bookstore half an hour from here, it seemed a travesty not to have a local bookstore. I work with authors in my other business, Where Writers Win Where Writers Win. I put authors on tour at stores around the country and what I've discovered is that indie bookstores are actually thriving. People want a place of community where they can actually talk about books!"
Modern life can feel dangerous and unstable.~Julia Cameron (From Transitions)
I peered out my window, the sky like gray cashmere. My mind raced with all I needed to do in the week ahead, the patients on my caseload that I had no answers for--my own future that felt shaky and obscure. Inhospitable, if I factored in all the unknowns. I reached for a teabag, Sweet Clementine Stress Support. Maybe the citrus tang would help reduce my anxiety. I recognized where I was once again--anchored in murky, fear-drenched waters. I needed to pull up anchor and head for more lambent shores.
Over the last months, several Psalms emerged that have supported me in replacing layers of fear with layers of peace. I would practice a coping tool I've used in the past--have used here in my posts. Write a "crafted prayer" taken from Scripture that contains personal promises. The idea is taken from Graham Cooke, a teacher I consistently listen to online.
I took out my notebook and opened my Bible to the Psalms. It was as if I'd begun to row toward the light and away from a melancholy territory...
I hadn't realized my unforgiveness toward him--my heart like barbed wire where fragments of resentment still clung.
I'd taken his eight-week writing class more than ten years ago. He was renowned. Published. Skilled. I hung on his words and learned tools from him that I use to this day. Near the end of the course, I hesitantly approached the professor to give him some of my work. I hoped my wet palms wouldn't smudge the print on the pages. My shaking hands made the paper rattle. "Thank you for taking time to teach the course," I said. "It was meaningful to me." He barely glanced at me, then looked down, opened his briefcase and threw the pages inside. He pressed the locks on the satchel, and the double snap sounded the end of our conversation. "Later," he said.
That night I made a vow. "Never would I dismiss another writer artist in this manner. I would find a way to validate their courage to create."