5 Things I've Learned About Myself Recently

I was going to post this on Friday for a Friday five but then it started getting really long. Then I was going to post it on Saturday and didn’t. By Sunday I convinced myself to wait until Monday. That’s the way my thought process has been going these days.

I haven’t been around the blogosphere lately because I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about myself and my writing and my online life and art and a whole bunch of stuff. Not sure that many folks even read this any more because I haven’t been good about interacting and I know that’s what makes you fall off of other people’s radar. Anyway, here are some thoughts around some of the things I’ve been thinking.

1. It’s important to think about the whys behind your doing of things.

I have become (mostly unintentionally) greatly disconnected from the online world. Some of this is a carryover from all the house stuff last year but some of it is me dog-paddling for so long that I just don’t have the energy to keep it up anymore. Hard to keep swimming when you don’t see any land in sight. So lately I’m not Tweeting. I’m not blogging or responding to blogs. I’m trying to keep up on Facebook status updates but that’s about it. In some ways this has been good. Online is noisy and even if the noise is virtual, for me it’s like being at a rock concert 24/7. And I don’t do concerts.

Taking in all that info, trying to remember who to check in with, making the rounds and making the rounds and then, one more time, making the rounds it can drain me. It can also fill me, when there’s the give and take with people but because of my unintentional disconnect, there hasn’t been that give and take. I’ve taken from everyone for too long without giving back so people move on. I understand. It’s the way things work. The trouble is figuring out where to jump back in again because it’s not just the jumping in…it’s the convincing myself to keep going beyond those quiet times while things build back up again. So this has been the subject of much pondering on my part.

I recently bought and watched a CD from Brene Brown called The Hustle For Worthniess which was an extension from one of her books (sorry, I can’t remember which one) but the idea of hustling around, doing things we think will make us worthy of someone’s attention rang a little bit too true for me. So I’ve been wondering, why do I Tweet? Why do I use Facebook? And most importantly, why do I blog? Am I trying to help other people or am I seeking attention for myself? And if I want the attention, is that a bad thing, a hustling for worthiness sort of thing? I’m still trying to figure that one out. What confuses me is that a friend told me recently that I am at my best when I put myself out there with honesty and transparency. That rings true for me but then it is all about me, me, me and I don’t know that I am offering anything else to the world.

2. Not everything you try is going to work, and that’s okay.

I am probably going to retire The Poetry Push I started on Tuesdays. It hasn’t taken off and I know that a big reason for that is because of my own lack of participation in the event and in other online things. I think the result might have been different if I had started it during a peak rather than a valley. I might use the list poem prompts as my project for National Poetry month since that’s coming up next month and I have no idea what I am going to do for that. Two years ago when I participated for the first time I wrote haiku about my native garden. Last year I wrote poems about the father I never knew.This year I have no idea. I thought about trying to write poems about Cassie but I don’t know if I could come up with 30 of them. I thought about doing a different poetry prompt each day, doing the exercise myself and hoping more people would participate. I thought about trying to write about art and what it is adding/doing to my life. But so far nothing seems both right and achievable. Because I really hate failing.

3. Play time is an important gift to give yourself, especially guilt-free play time.

I gave myself the gift of March as an entire month of play. It came about as a result of taking with a friend about working and not working and she said you know, there’s a big difference between not working and beating yourself up about it and feeling guilty and then, instead, giving yourself permission to take time off and then not feeling guilty about not working. She was right so when I went to my Asilomar conference at the end of March I let myself think about which one I was doing and finally decided to give myself a month of guilt-free play. I’ve been taking painting lessons online and doing a lot of art. I’ve been sitting in the garden and doing nothing. I’ve been reading non-fiction. And I’ve been waiting for stories to tell me they want me to pay attention to them. The stories, well they’ve surprised me. I’ve been reading more poetry and feeling, at times, less like writing it. I am being drawn back to some middle grade prose ideas I’ve played with. Then of course I start to second-guess myself about why I feel less like writing poetry when I go back and read what I’ve written and mostly like it. I think some of it has to do with the labels and pressures that are placed on verse novelists. (Not that labels and pressures aren’t places on all writers.) Which goes back to my first point and wondering if it is about chasing worthiness again? I’ll continue to let myself see-saw on story thoughts for the next couple of weeks and see how I feel at the end of March.

4. Doing something with a friend makes it more fun. Plus there’s that accountability factor.

Some of you might have read  posting about an upcoming poetry adventure she and I are undertaking together. So many times we get poetry books (or writing craft books) and we really MEAN to do the exercises but we don’t. So Laura and I are starting a weekly feature called Write After Reading where we actually, gasp, plan to DO the exercises in a book as we read it and then discuss it in alternating weeks on our blogs. The first book we are starting with is Writing the Life Poetic and we’d love for you to join us. I’ll write more about it all in a separate post later but for now you can pop over and read about it on Laura’s blog. She’s started us off on Wednesday.

5. Learning something new makes you look at everything else in life differently.

I’ve been mostly focused on art this month and really stretching myself to learn a lot of new things about art in a short amount of time. I love the excitement that comes with learning something new. I love the lack of pressure that comes from being a newbie. I love making “mistakes” and just letting go of the mistake as learning experience and not beating myself up.

I dug into my stash of “beautiful blank books” and just started throwing paint on the blank pages. (oh yes, artists suffer from blank page syndrome just like writers do.) I wanted to overcome the idea that the book was too beautiful for me to use and anything I put into it had to be beautiful too. I had a stash of craft paints that have (to me) a horrible chalky texture that I can’t stand to touch, especially after becoming addicting to Golden Fluid Acrylics. So I decided to use them as a first layer in a new art journal. Every time Cassie rang the bell to go outside I’d sit down at the art desk and slap a coat of paint on a couple of pages. After about a week the journal is mostly filled up with color. Some color I like. Some I don’t. It doesn’t matter. It just the first layer and it’s only paint. I can paint over it. I can collage over it. I can even rip the pages out if I really don’t like it. But I no longer have a blank page staring at me. Now I have something to edit. Just like writing. You can’t revise a blank page.

As usual this went on a lot longer than most people want to read but hey, I’m consistent with my gabbiness. Here’s hoping to be around the blogosphere more in the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011|Categories: Family|Tags: , , |24 Comments

Inside a writer's life

I would love to say I’ve been absent from blogging because I’ve been hunkered down in front of the computer writing my little heart out. Alas, that has not been the case. Some yes, but not a lot. But I’ve finally realized that I can’t keep my writing self separate from any other part of me. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. I am a writer with a dayjob in tech that has nothing to do with writing. I am an animal lover, a gardener, and a constant work-in-progress. I shouldn’t try to separate them. So I won’t.

Life is hard lately. I’m broken in a few places. Some of the breaks will heal with time when I have a chance to rest and some of them never will. I need to grieve the changes that make me sad and celebrate those that bring me joy. But some days it’s hard to find the joy as much as I would like to. I stopped posting for a while first because I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even put sentences together and second because, well, I was trying to figure out how to post about writing when I wasn’t writing and how not be depressing when I did it.

Since Christmas, life has been doing the out-of-control roller coaster sort of thing. Not the fun kind. There was some tough loving that needed doing and I did it but the process broke my heart into tiny pieces. I’m doing a lot of health battles of my own – some I can work on (years of not taking care of myself as well as I should catching up with me as I approach 50) and some are just the toss of the dice that I have to accept and adapt to. That’s tough for me. And the hardest of them all (because it is never going to go away,) is that my son’s muscular dystrophy has accelerated and he has been dealing with some additional serious health problems which may or may not be related to his disease. He’s struggling to cope with the overwhelmingness of his life and I’m struggling as I was him try to cope.

And yet.

And yet, there are words. There ARE words that swirl around in the fog of my brain. There are characters waiting patiently (and some not so patiently) in the corners, waiting for me to call to them once more. There are stories waiting to be told. Stories only I can tell. 

And I will.

Thursday, February 21, 2008|Categories: Random|Tags: |53 Comments

Sometimes we write

After thinking about it overnight I decided to post a longer version of this. Some of you might find some comfort in knowing more of the story and in knowing you are not alone in your own various struggles.

Sometimes we write to try and explain the unexplainable, like why bad things happen to good people. We tell stories about imaginary kids living imaginary lives that no would really want to live. And when someone asks us why, we have no answers except that was a story that kept talking to us until we shared it with the world. Sometimes we make things up because if we told people they really happened no one would believe us. And sometimes we DO make them up. But sometimes they are real, too real to admit they are true, so we write them down and pretend they happened to someone else, to imaginary characters.

As a parent, from the day they were each born, I tried my best to keep my two children from harm. Sometimes it even worked. For years, every Labor Day, I donated money to the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. I started in 1979, the year my son was born. My husband would go off on a hunting trip and I would snuggle with my son on the couch and watch the show. I held my healthy baby in my arms, so grateful, and gladly gave my credit card number to the lady on the phone to help Jerry’s kids. 24 years later, when that same son was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, I felt numb. But I went to work doing my mommy job, guiding him when he wanted guidance and listening to him rant when he wanted to rant. I had wanted to keep him from harm but I couldn’t. And when (for safety issues) he had to leave a job he loved and go back to college for retraining, I wanted to rant and rave at anyone who would listen (and a few who wouldn’t) about the unfairness of it all. Genetics aside, I felt like I had failed as a mom. I hadn’t keep my son safe.

My daughter was born three years later and as different from her brother as two siblings could be. He was the introvert, content in his small circle of friends. She was the extrovert who had to go everywhere with everyone. She never met a stranger and whenever anyone new moved into the neighborhood she was the first one to know all about them. When she was mad, everyone around her knew it because she wore her heart on her sleeve for the world to see. Her emotions went miles high and miles deep. Keeping her safe was a full time job and over the years we have ranted and raved with and at one another. But even when she makes me crazy, I’ve never stopping believing in her ability to do whatever she wanted to do, even when, as she has many times, she stopped believing in herself.

But she’s all grown up and a mommy of her own now and I can’t keep her safe anymore. That’s a hard one for me. Genetics, sometimes a twist or lack of something in your DNA can give you a battle with something like MD. And sometimes it gives you other demons to fight. The kind you can’t see.

So sometimes, we write. We tell stories to help heal a nameless hurting child because we cannot heal our own children.

Thursday, November 9, 2006|Categories: Random|Tags: , , |22 Comments