Happy New Year All,
Sorry for being out of circulation so long. My life has moved faster than the speed of light and I’ve neglected the creative side of my spirit at my own peril. Creativity keeps me balanced and zen, for lack of a better word, so I’ve felt a sense of loss at losing my benchmark and anchor in the world.
I started working at a local newspaper helping out in the Classified Department. This soon morphed into managing and training other people in Classifieds. My daily inner struggle is to remind myself to not take on more work than I can handle given the rest of the my life’s expectations and obligations. As you can see, to some degree I have failed but hope springs eternal.
I rarely make New Year’s Resolutions but this year I will make an exception. I vow to work harder at working less. Tell me working mothers, is that even possible? I have always admired working mothers, as my mother was a single working mother, but my appreciation for their infinite juggling skills is limitless! Not even just the self adjustment necessary for switching multiple hats in a single bound but doing it with grace, kindness, and patience. A lot of patience. I doff my cap to the working mothers in this world for you’ve given a whole new meaning to the grossly overused word of Multitasking!
This year, I resolve to carve out more guilt-free time for myself, my writing and photography. I declare here and now to do frivolous, nonsensical, and whimsical things to enrich and expand my life’s view, like take Italian or take up fencing. Who knows? Just finding the time and space to revel in my imagination, hopes, and dreams for the future has to be equally as important as succeeding at work.
Happy 2016 and may all our dreams come true!
Sometimes I think we are losing our wonder about life. You know, the moments when you are sitting and wondering about how far we are from the stars and the moon? Why huge, murky gray waves arrive in a bluster of wind and churning sea only to return gliding to the sandy shore in a whipped froth of white foam. Pausing breathlessly as it surges once again swirling, ebbing and building into a another magnificent wave in all its thrashing, crashing, splashing glory.
We don’t wonder about these things anymore because, as my ten-year old son put it, “I don’t have to wonder about stuff, Mom. I can Goggle it.” Right… we can Goggle it, instant gratification, no wonder or imagination necessary. No pondering or mulling it around in your mind like the lyrics to a song you are trying to remember. Just go to your computer and Voila!
Life is a mystery filled with wonder, and magic. A mystifying journey, the discovery of life. Googling information about our perplexing planet and the deeper questions that emerge as we grow, is more about reading the brief synopsis or “facts” about a subject without ever having really experienced the subject first hand. Even worse, recitation of facts becomes the norm and actually having the experience or knowing someone who had a life changing experience, well that’s Passe. We can just read someone else’s words, opinions or facts about any given topic and, BAM!!! Now we too have knowledge about any subject, but not the feeling, not the experience.
Is the recitation of knowledge, the hearsay of information better than wonder, adventure or imagination? Aren’t there some things that are unknowable and that adds to the mystery of our existence? Some experiences that you simply must have rather than reading Wikipedia’s definition of joy, happiness, miracles, or love.? Aren’t there just some things in life that simply must be lived in your heart and imagination?
Like walking in the woods on a fall day with the leaves sprinkling the forest in a blaze of golden hues. Maybe stopping for a moment to listen to the stream sweeping the leaves blissfully downwards to the end. Where do the leaves go? What happens when the earth sleeps and hibernates for the winter? What happens when we float down the stream to the end?
All questions that take a life time to experience, share and live. The unknowable is what makes our mystical, perplexing, frustrating, mercurial, and extraordinary Universe so magical. It’s what makes us continue to stare up at the sky and wonder about the moon, the planets, the stars, and the people who have gone and left us behind. It’s what keeps us seeking, searching and asking the age-old question? Why am we here? An existential quest for answers you just won’t find on Google or Wikipedia just in the magic and wonder of our own lives.
I have to admit that I lost my creativity.. Yup, it’s true. It just up and left me and at first, I didn’t even notice. I just thought I was doing the usual procrastination thing that I do when I don’t want to write. The one where I stall and decide that I need to reorganize the kitchen cabinets, do laundry, or (and this truly reveals the depth of my decline), clean the bathroom, rather than write or take a another photograph.
I stopped carrying my camera and that might have been a moment for reflection or pause, but I missed the warning signs, once again. Soon guilt tripped into the drama and I realized something was, indeed, off kilter. What could it be? Um, right, I haven’t had the urge, the passion, or the slightest interest in indulging in the one aspect of my life, that has saved my life, my art. Instead I invited the shadow dwellers of negativity to stop by and visit and I guess they never left and I never really noticed they’d taken up permanent residence.
Still, a small part of me kept encouraging myself to take a picture, sit at my computer and find my curiosity, wonder, and inspiration. It had to be out there, right? I used to know just where to look for it. I didn’t ever have to look so far to find it. I didn’t recognize the signs of depletion and exhaustion that ate systematically through my joy and replaced it with a grainy, facsimile of my life. My priorities were all screwed up. It’s no wonder that I had lost my way. I was looking and walking down a totally different path than I had intended. It was time to get back to my world, my life, my spirit and let go of the things that are weighing my soul down. How?
I invited the shadow dwellers of fear and worry to leave and welcomed the bright light of restoration, reaffirmation, and reflection home in their stead. The veil of worry seems to linger longer than the rest, I guess that’s an improvement over my insolent indifference. I found myself walking along the road looking at life passing by and suddenly I stopped and looked back to see what had drawn my eye. It was nothing spectacular, a bumble bee, but the fact was, I saw it. I stopped to observe it and found myself enjoying the wonders of pollination and I realized, I found my creative muse right where I left it, outside, in this very moment. Turns out it wasn’t as far away as I had imagined.
This fall I took a writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard with the legendary, Nancy Aronie, who I have deemed a “Literary Guru”. As a writing teacher she moves fluidly, dancing gracefully through her life, sorrows, pain, and joy in such a way that it invites and inspires her writers to do the same. Nancy has the uncanny ability to create the space that allows each writer to submerge themselves in their memories, dreams, disillusionment, and prayers to evoke words, prose, and stories that made me weep, laugh, and applaud with astonishment and joy. Nancy creates a safe place for each writer to slowly shed their cocoon and emerge into the brightly beautiful butterflies we are constantly struggling to become. She allows us to become the writers we have each longed to become. Every day each person was required to write from one of Nancy’s daily prompts and no one disappointed, although collectively we bemoaned, “what would we say? Could we even write about ‘that’?” “Am I even doing this right?”.
These amazing writers showed up with their humor, their heartbreak, their tragedies and they wove a web of stories that enthralled and entranced everyone within earshot. As the rain steadily pounded the studio’s windows, these unique voices, shared their eloquent prose, poetry and purpose. They told stories that made me feel honored to have sat among the last vestiges of fall’s, leaf-colored, canopy, in the in bleak ending of November and weep with unabashed abandonment. Tissues were quietly passed from person to person as we heard stories of suffering, and so much sadness that people have endured in their lives and have lived to tell about it. Each testimonial and written word was as individual as the writer but the collective experience of being human beings trying to navigate the morass of our own childhoods, teenage angst, and adult lives made me long to comfort them in some way. The best thing I could do was to sit silently, breathe deeply and bear witness to their incredible stories and then applaud like I was at a rock concert when they were finished.
You could hear a pin drop as each one of us were preparing to read our words, tell our stories and share our hopes and dreams and often revisit the very pain that had brought us there. Each voice was as distinctive as the writer. There was a richness, a catch in their throat honesty and the willingness to endure, that allowed us to be swept away into their worlds and into their shared moments of dreams, triumphs, successes and sorrow. At the beginning of each class I was sure that we had heard the best writing and then I would be lulled, lead, and laden anew with fresh tears as even deeper stories emerged and these brave souls bared their spirits and shared their lives with such courage, writers who were strangers to me no more.
All writers were funny, raw, theatrical, heartsick, loving, imaginative, vulnerable and unflinchingly truth tellers who sat in a sacred circle and bared their underbellies for the rest of us to see. What I heard was a cacophony of vibrant voices, experiences, and writing styles, but these were WRITERS, true artists. No one else could have told their stories and shared them with 23 strangers with such rawness, profound honesty, honor and grace. Each voice, each piece was an expression of what that writer brought to the group and it could not be duplicated by anyone else. That is what being a writer is about, I suppose. Telling a story that only you know the intimate details of and making us see, feel, and step back into the piece with the same clarity and tangible, tactile feelings that the writer sees in their mind’s eye. It is the ability to draw other people along, to envision your steps, your views and your emotions that makes someone a talented writer and an artist.
As I sat listening, laughing, and languishing in empathy, sympathy, and pain, I realized, this is writing. Each person is responsible for telling their story, their way, with no apologies. Each writer’s words and voice lent itself to the story being told and on some days I wondered how it is that we have all survived. If you’re a writer, you put the pain, sorrow, and longing on the page and you tell your story because invariably the other people reading or listening are sharing in the triumphs and losses, just as your exquisitely chosen words intended to convey. It’s like writing music, the tempo, the melody and the visionary, inextricable placement of each word delivers the listener to another world, another layer, where you are the star and we are the audience, there unseen, unknowing, and unaware of where this beautiful song will lead.
I have been changed by this class and as my favorite quote reminds me, “When I move, Providence moves with me.” Stay tuned as I write about the other revelations that have emerged from this one simple act of stepping out on faith. It turns out, getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself, and standing in the presence of greatness allowed me to find a bit of my own greatness amidst the crowd of writers that I now call friends.
#writers, #gratitude #inspiring
It was a lovely Monday morning that suddenly, and with much expected, pomp and circumstance, the day had morphed into “The Blizzard of 2015!” Panic arrived at the grocery store, the Packie, (New England for liquor store), and tempers mounted at the gas stations, as hearty New Englanders jocked and braced for 2-3 feet of snow, depending on where you live. It is no surprise, I live where 3 feet of expected snow raged and fell heartily and steadily for two days and two nights.
If you live in New England, as they old saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” It did change with the fury of 1000 winds, as snowflakes danced determinedly, gracefully, purposefully, and endlessly to the startlingly white covered ground. Even knowing the snow was coming, it arrived at an alarmingly fast pace; relentlessly, dramatically and unceasingly, until bedtime last night.
My sons declared it the “best snowfall, ever,” well at least for now. They suited up and as surely as New Englanders know the weather will change, we also know that we must also buckle up and get about the cleaning up after surviving the storm. Be it, hurricanes, wind gale seas, flooding, or snowing, we must get our outer gear on and start to shoveling, period. My sons made me proud and we tackled the Blizzard of 2015, with zeal, delight, and vigor, shoveling our way out of the storm, sort of , mostly just to the street where the plows pushed it back on the driveway. But hey, that’s still progress. We can know see the street.
What could be the reward for working so hard, you ask? Well if your 9 and 12-year-old boys; white and milk chocolate chip pancakes. Yum, and they did shovel for two hours, well what is a mother to do? I sat back, ate an omelette (just looking at the pancakes hurt my teeth). Indeed eggs and coffee may just pull me through the next few days, as school was canceled for another day. Can’t say as I blame them, it’s a blizzard out there, haven’t you heard?
Yup, the Blizzard of 2015, (so far), has come and gone. I’d say we should just continue to count our blessings for being warm, safe, fed, shoveled out, and loved.