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.
You'll resume your singing, grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.~Jeremiah 31:4 (The Message)
Disheartening statements came at me like bullets. The words were not aimed directly at me. The dark reports came from people I love and admire. "I am constantly filled with self-doubt," he said. "The workplace has become a jungle. I feel left behind inside the competition. Some of my colleagues take Adderall to stay energetic enough to keep up. I've seriously thought about trying to get a prescription from my doctor." Another person told me that she had made the brave decision to pursue a graduate degree. In the process she said that a professor from the esteemed university advised her to abandon her entire portfolio and begin again. The collection of her writing contained years of artistic efforts. I became filled with anger at the censors that appear in peoples' lives--the criticism and expectation of perfectionism searing, burning. How do we cope? What brings relief?
My eyes flew open. At once I could see a soft, bluish light beginning to fill the hotel room through the sliding glass window. My husband and I had gotten away for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. We'd forgotten to pull the curtain before going to bed, and now our room was bathed in a mesmerizing azure light. I rose, curious to go out on our balcony that faced the ocean. The sky appeared to shimmer, golden shards of light streaming through the clouds. A fresh wind blew my hair back from my face. I could see the waves foaming and frothing at the shoreline, hear their whispers. I'd read about "the blue hour" that occurs just before sunrise and after sunset, when the sun is below the horizon, when the sky is deep cobalt and the landscape is suffused with bluish light. I basked in that tranquil hour and wished I could stop time, the magical light like something otherworldly.
The balcony seemed to beckon me all weekend. Each time I stood by the railing and looked out over the horizon, I felt as if I'd been touched by the poetry of sky and sea, my heart made serene by the ocean's companionable presence. I would have lingered there for days.
"I just want peace," he said. "My life is full of anxiety that I can't shake." Behind the silver-framed glasses his eyes glistened with tears, youth reflected in the smooth brown cheeks. Dark tendrils of hair hung around his face, loosened from the man bun he sported. He talked to me in a quiet fury of words. He was in my office for an appointment to test for HIV. I often hear words from people that have been compressed for long periods of time--feelings and issues that are seemingly unrelated to having their finger pricked for the blood sample and assessing vulnerabilities for exposure to the HIV virus. He went on. "This world is too chaotic--climate change, the crazy politics, pressure to work long hours. I want to be like you. You seem so calm." All of this in one brief encounter. A man I'd never met. A man I'd likely not meet again.
Little did this individual realize how well I could relate with his emotions. If I appeared calm, my demeanor was a result of God's grace in my life. The day this lovely man came to my office, I'd had an internal meltdown of sorts--bemoaning many of the same feelings of anxiety--pressure at work to perform, the polarized political environment; global agony with tsunamis and tornadoes, floods and fires. "God," I prayed. "How do I manage these feelings of helplessness and panic?"
A few nights ago I dreamed I'd taken a bus to an Italian city. I didn't recognize the location, but I noted an array of orange tiled roofs atop ochre-colored houses, persons greeting each other in Italian. "Buongiorno." Vespas purred down narrow streets. I heard the occasional startling honks of cars as they wound through traffic. I smelled faint traces of car exhaust. I stood on a bridge overlooking the town, the hustle and bustle at once thrilling me, as I had a hunger and curiosity to explore, yet simultaneously felt panic that I did not know where I was. I didn't know which way to go. Before I took another step, an exceptionally tall man emerged by my side and said, "I am here to guide you to all the best parts of this city." He offered me his hand. I briefly hesitated, yet had a hunch that he would be an authentic helper. I placed my hand in his and immediately felt the comfort of his warm grasp.
When I awakened, the concept of "emerging" entered my thoughts. In the dream, a "guide" arrived at precisely the moment I needed clarity to find my way. Before even a prayer for help had formed on my lips, support emerged.
In April of this year, Z Publishing House discovered some of my writing online. They approached me about making a submission. I was in Italy with Giovanni at the time I received the request. I dashed off a quick message thanking them for their interest. When we returned, only a week remained for me to submit before I missed the deadline. When I hit the "send" key, I thought about how rare it is for a publishing company to approach a writer. How extraordinary it is for an author's writing to emerge on the internet sea. (A book is submitted to Amazon every five minutes.) I thought about the myriad rejection emails I'd received over my years of writing. Even though the publisher had contacted me, I had no expectation of hearing from them again.
My study is fragrant with the heady scent of a candle burning brighter than my computer screen. The name attached to the candle is "Fearless." That's the reason I bought the candle in the first place. Its title inspired bravery, dissuading me from allowing fear to reign. I remember one of the first times in my life when I decided against fear. I'd just turned eight. My mother had purchased a skateboard for me. The wooden board had miniature purple feet painted on its shellacked surface. Initially, I didn't believe I'd be able to learn the skill of skateboarding. I'd seen boys in the neighborhood performing tricks on their boards, and these stunts looked too difficult for me. I decided to try. I fell again and again. However, there were brief times when I glided down sidewalks and felt the thrill of moving faster than I could run, when I experienced the exuberance of improving my skill. By summer's end in 1963, I'd accomplished my goal--I skated down the tallest hill on my street without falling, the neighborhood boys watching and gasping in surprise that I'd done it.
When I thought of this memory, I asked myself what helped me transcend the feelings of fear. I believe it was first a confident expectation that I'd eventually learn the skill. This positive mindset then provided the ability to transcend the fear of failure and and increased my confidence to practice each day, tolerating the messiness and uncertainty of learning a new skill.
Fast forward fifty-five years and very little has changed regarding the need for me to embrace fearlessness.