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.
Life barrels by in all its ordinariness and uncanny beauty.~Journal entry, March 10, 2007
I am fortunate to have a life filled with rich correspondence. On a regular basis I hear from readers sharing their lives with me. I am humbled to be allowed into these spheres--persons from diverse age groups and ethnicities. I am often amazed at peoples' resiliency and creativity as they forge their way through life's arcs and curves; how people patch up their hearts when they've reached a dead end. I'm gladdened by the courage I witness when a reader tells me they've taken a step out of a comfort zone to perform at an open mic or submit a piece they've written. Post their art on twitter. Write a poem. Get out their paints. I'm overwhelmed with joy to see career doors open when there's been little hope, perseverance the norm for years. I weep with those who are caring for elderly parents with little margin in their days, weary from the exhausting investment of love and caring. I rejoice with those parenting young children, tackling such a huge task in this culture. I champion those coming to the close of work lives, envisioning retirement, feeling young. My readers are gracious with their feedback. They enlarge my heart with their kindness. "I resonated with what you wrote." "I feel encouraged today just knowing I'm not alone." It is comforting to know that we have connection, that we don't walk the pathway by ourselves. Just this week, I received a text from a young woman who is helping me with my latest manuscript. I'm honored that she has taken the time from her life to provide input for me. She writes, "It's a joy to partner with you." How we need each other, this life a collaboration.
Often, for me, it is important to gain encouragment from those that have gone before me. They are enduring voices that illuminate the darkness. Here are a few voices I thought you might like...
Truly we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads. ~Mary Oliver
What will I pack this time? My ninth trip across the ocean to my husband's homeland. Italy. In the past, I've packed too much. Too many pairs of shoes. Clothes I never wore. Freighted. Weighted down. "This time will be different," I say to myself. I look at my new suitcase, the color of eggplant. I place a few garments and some tolietries inside. A hat. My journal. I lift the small bag. If I had to, I could carry the luggage for miles, it's so lightweight. The "mystery" of "less is more."
I'm sometimes asked how long it takes for me to write a book. In my mind I'm thinking, "Years." My standard answer is, "Usually longer than I think it will." It can be tempting to "skip to the end." In other words, only appreciating the end product. A beautiful cover, engaging back-cover copy and an endorsement from a talented writer. The final outcome is hours and hours and hours and hours invested over an unknown timeframe. It isn't healthy to dwell on outcomes. They are best released. Far better to concentrate on consistency as one pursues any creative endeavor. When can I grab a few minutes to write a paragraph or a few measures of music? It is difficult to find large swaths of time to create for most of us. We are working full-time, taking care of children or elderly parents. We are commuting an hour to work, then over an hour to get back home. NIghtmare traffic. We have birthdays to attend, bills to pay. We must get to the gym. Where do we find any time to pursue art? Is it even possible? "I won't think about playing my violin until I retire." "I'll pull the Julia Child cookbook out when the kids are in school." "It's too much trouble to get to that theatre production. I'll have to find parking." I know. I say those things too. "I'll just watch one more re-run of The Big Bang Theory instead of writing a few sentences about the sunset I witnessed on my walk. I'm tired. Who really cares anyway?" Perhaps no one will care. But eventually I will feel worse that I didn't shut the television off and pull out my journal. Just writing a few lines can rejuvenate my tired mind and body. Art does that.
Oz never gave nothin' to the tin man that he didn't already have.~Lyrics from Tin Man by America
"This is my last day at work," he said. "Really? What's going on for you? Do you have another job?" I asked. Andrew swiped the bangs from his forehead and looked at me directly. His blue eyes glittered with excitement. "Well, Priscilla, I guess you could say I'm going to another job. I'm moving to Houston to play with my band full-time. I leave tomorrow. We've got quite a few gigs. We're going on tour, and I'm totally psyched about it--a little scared too." "Wow," I answered. "Congratulations. I'll miss you. All best, Andrew. I've enjoyed working with you. I had no idea you were part of a band." "I know," he said. "I had to take a 'real job' to pay bills. I'm taking a risk, but it's now or never."
I couldn't stop thinking about my encounter with Andrew. Part of me was envious--jealous of his bold decision to follow his heart. I wanted to get up and leave my frantic pace behind as well--find a more relaxed rhythm for my life. "Oh, Priscilla. Stop it. That's something you can't do. That's not realistic." That statement didn't ring quite true. The more accurate statement: "Your heart already tells you many of the things you want. Simple things that you only allow yourself in measure. What could you do each day to increase delight? You don't need to move anywhere to begin doing this."
That very afternoon, on my way to the bank, I rolled down all my windows in the car and cranked up seventies music. That's my decade. I love the music of Carole King, The Bee Gees, The Carpenters. America. The cool air washed over my face, the freedom of singing in the car seemed to release the tension of the day. I was back in my brown 1977 Camaro again belting out Tin Man, my heart revived. Something as simple as a fresh breeze and a song conjured the beauty of youth. I wasn't young anymore, but that carefree girl was still a part of me. What else, I wondered. What else could I do to increase my delight in life withough picking up and moving to Houston?
The conference room was too small--all of us sitting just slightly too close together. My introverted self rebelled at not having enough personal space. I gripped my coffee cup, thankful for its comforting warmth. I attended a development day with my colleagues to determine how we would handle changes coming our way with the expansion of our program. I looked down at the day's agenda outlined on the handout devised by the program manager. Small print. Thin margins. My anxiety increased. How would we ever get through all the details? How would I ever be able to cope with the work set before me? These changes appeared to imply longer work hours. Increased stress. I was a tight rope walker looking down at a yawning canyon with no net in sight.
The day ended, and I breathed a sigh relief, grateful to be released from the small enclosure, and left wondering how I would ever be able to accomplish the tasks expected of me. I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit. I wanted to explore how I might retire earlier than planned. The work load seemed too much. It was too much. Impossible.