Saturday, July 12, 2014
We're supposed to take an example of such a thing in our life to church tomorrow. No clue what the pastor is going to do with this stuff. But for me, I chose a journal I did when I was working through Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way." I started it on 8/12/06 and finished it up on 11/16/06.
It's FULL of all kinds of creative insights into my head and heart. It's the best journal I've ever done. And anyone who even just LOOKS through it would put it down with a clear understanding of who I am. It's full of pictures and poems I've written, insights, etc. It was quite a journey reading back through it this morning. Some of the little poemy things I wrote touched me or made me laugh. Thought I'd paste in a couple. These were in response to questions we had to answer from her book...
(I just post this junk on here because I have nothing else to blog about!!!)
As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches,
the “Don’t Forget” email makes it rounds
for the fifth year begging us not to miss
the chance each day to hug our loved ones
just in case this is the last time you can.
It’s a sad email, made all the more so
by its ring of truth. Just ask me...
This morning, for instance, I sat fiddling around
with a writing exercise that wanted to know
what I liked to do as an 8-year-old.
Well, go to the library of course!
My dad got me my first library card
when I was 6, and was faithful, thereafter,
to share the big wide world with me.
But when he turned 71 he asked me to
take him to the library and teach him
how to use the new computer system
that now allowed entrance to that vast
domain of knowledge instead of the old
index cards. I promised I would...very soon...
I promised again when he turned 72...and 73...
Then suddenly, like a late spring rain, he was gone.
Once upon a time he had opened the door
of the whole world to me, but I had hindered his
journey into the “strange new world” of truncated
subjects by my careless disregard and neglect.
So you see? The email has the ring of truth
because it is the truth! Do it today! Give a hug,
a kiss, a kind word. Believe me, the few seconds
it takes to tell someone you love them costs far less
than the lifetime of regret if you don’t.
Hug someone on 9/11, and let them know
they mean the “world” to you.
I miss you, daddy.
(This was in response to a question
The golden Avon apple candle sits on my desk
giving off its sweet, seductive fragrance,
just waiting for me to symbolically take a bite
that I may slumber in a dumb stupor
while waiting for my Prince Charming.
But even now I am slumbering emotionally,
growing more and more convinced
as the years go by that
there is no Prince Charming for me,
or that, at least, he must have ridden
right past me on that big white steed of his
and didn’t see me lying here.
Either way, I already feel numb and unwanted.
I don’t need a bite of no damn apple for that!
(Yes, his lordship and I have had a few bumps in
our road to Happily Ever After...)
There’s a crazy woman living inside of me
sharing my body, making my life hell.
When I want to lay quiet and drift off to sleep
she sings every song that comes to her mind
running the words and tunes through my head
like the ticker tape across the screen of a newscast.
And if she gets bored with that,
she replays the events of the day
rearranging them like words
on some damn game show board.
“I should have done this.” “I should have said that.”
“I wish I hadn’t,” and “Next time I will...”
To make matters worse, she fancies herself an
expert life manager and ponders deeply how
best to direct my family’s lives, counsel my friends
and fix the world!
And when she runs out of songs, scenarios and
she lays there wide awake and watches the clock,
listening for house noises that might actually be
something far more sinister, her imagination ignited again
by far too many TV murder mysteries.
I don’t want her to go away, not really.
I just want her to get her days and nights turned around
so she’s singing happily through the day and
channeling her vivid imagination and problem solving
into something constructive when I could use it most!
I want her to go to bed at the same time as me,
to close her eyes without a fuss
and give that busy mind of hers a rest.
We’d get along so much better on eight full hours of sleep.
It’s exhausting living with a crazy night owl in your head!
(Yep, I'm an insomniac...)
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Though I haven’t been posting on my WS&DW blog much about Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book “Peace & Plenty”, I’m still working through it in my hand-written journal. I’m a bit disappointed. There’s not nearly so many ideas and inspirations as there were in her other books. But now and then I hit an essay that really resonates with me. Today’s was one of them.
It was a strange one for a book about recovering from money woes. It was about divination, consulting fortune tellers, even using the Bible as a tool to divine your future. But what caught my attention was a quote by Dr. Nathaniel Branden, an expert in the field of self-esteem.
“No one is coming to miraculously change the course of our lives, make us happy, or do all the things we don’t want to do so we don’t have to do them. People can love us, support us, friends can cheer for us and comfort us, but no one else can be the engine of our own destiny.”
So why does that interest me? Because I suffer from that same kind of wishful thinking… Even as an adult.
S.B.B. started this essay by talking about how women during the depression era and the war years seem to have had this insistent need to micro manage their lives – to know what was going to happen to them just around the corner – they were constantly seeking out fortune tellers and tarot readers among other kinds of spiritualists. It became a thriving industry.
Oddly enough, I understand that obsessive drive. I’m the same way. I feel if I’m to have any peace in my life about next week, next month, next year, I need to know what’s going to happen so I can be prepared. I live with that pull 24/7 about every unknown in my life. And it’s not just the immediate world around me that distresses me, but the global world as well worries the hell out of me.
And while I’m frantically focusing on trying to discern my future, my actual life passes me by day in, day out and I’m missing most of it. Seems I rarely ever dwell in the present moment for very long at a time. At least it feels like that. (Though I think little league games and band concerts were the exception.) That’s probably an exaggeration. Still, that hope that “someone is coming” Branden talks about is the theme song always playing in the background of my mind as I carry on with my obsessive, chaotic search for control, fears piling up around me like ripe compost. Hell! I’ve spent my whole life waiting for my fairy godmother to show up and sprinkle me with fairy dust to make everything bright and shiny and perfect.
Now, lest you misunderstand, my life is pretty damn good. Wonderful husband, two great kids, three beautiful grandsons, one cantankerous cat, a little house admittedly in need of repairs, and a looming retirement for his lordship that’s causing us a bit of anxiety. That being said, however, how’d I manage to become so paranoid about the need to control my life? I had a 9 centimeter stomach ulcer by the time I was 20. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I can remember. Must be in my jeans. I mean genes.
Whatever the actual reason, for years I’ve blamed my obsessive behavior on Walt Disney and his damnable “and they lived happily ever afters.” But if what S.B.B. reports in her essay about how much time and effort women invested in divining their future is true, then maybe this wishful thinking is something women are born with and I’m not such a wingnut after all. Is this some trait built in from the caveman years for the hard times, for the preservation of the race so the matriarch that holds the family together won’t give up? (OMG! I never pictured myself as a matriarch… I don’t WANT that responsibility. I’m stressed enough as it is!)
Well, whatever it is that’s going on, I guess I owe Walt an apology. Apparently my particular brand of weirdness may not be his fault after all. I just need to shimmy into my “big girl britches” and deal with my life head on, trusting that what ever happens I’ll get through it. Maybe not with a lot of bibbity bobbity booity, but I will get through it. Don’t really have much choice, do I?
By the way, has anyone seen my fairy godmother anywhere around today? I think she's falling asleep on the job!
Saturday, June 07, 2014
On Pinterest this morning, someone posted a quote about heroes by author Jodi Picoult. I thought it was pertinent given that yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the WWII landing at Normandy, the battle that turned the tide of the war. Had that allied maneuver been a failure, our world might be a very different place today. And the men who fought in that action — all of them from America, Britain, Canada, France — they were true heroes because they knew going in the odds of survival were stacked against them.
Watching Brian Williams’ TV special last night covering four of the vets who survived Normandy and were able to attend the anniversary celebration in France was very poignant. Having gotten somewhat addicted to WWII history the past few years since seeing the scene of the evacuation of allied soldiers from the beaches at Dunkirk in the movie Atonement, I had a new appreciation for what happened in Normandy. It was inspiring to listen to these four men and know that despite everything they clamored out onto that beach and never looked back.
I always fancied I’d be a hero if the circumstances ever demanded it. After all, having raised two kids through all kinds of mishaps, the sight of blood didn’t seem to phase me. AND I could hold it together in the heat of “battle!” But when finally put to the test one day, I found myself sorely disillusioned.
I was the secretary at our church for 22 years. An old church building from the turn of the century, it was still heated by the original boiler. One cold, autumn Saturday morning nearly 20 years ago now, I was working when Dan, a church member, came in and went down the basement to light the boiler. Something was going on that night, and though the little space heaters were good for the office, the rest of the old building was like being in cold storage. I was standing in the second-floor office filing when all of a sudden there was a big WHOOSH and all the doors slammed shut then slammed back open. I stood rooted to the spot. Then it happened again. It took me a few seconds to realize the basement boiler must have blown up — and Dan was downstairs with it.
I couldn’t move. For a good five minutes or better I stood stock still and waited to see what would happen. Nothing. Another few minutes passed and, not hearing anything from Dan, I realized I needed to go downstairs. I was terrified. I didn’t think the building was on fire or the alarm would have come on. But what of Dan? What if he was injured and needed help? What if he was dead? It took every ounce of courage I had to hurry down the long flight of stairs to the main floor. By the time I reached the basement door, there was Dan crawling his way up the stairs, smoke rolling off his back, his shirt in tatters, the side of his face covered in blood. Fortunately his back had been to the boiler when it blew up.
My heart sank into my shoes as I ran to call 911. I was sick with the thought that I very nearly hadn’t been able to make myself go downstairs to see what had happened. What the hell was I thinking? I KNEW Dan was down there. There was a knot in the pit of my stomach that is like a scar to this day when I let myself think about it. It wasn’t just that I failed to help Dan as I should, it was that I let MYSELF down as well. I couldn’t help feeling I was NOT the person I always thought I was.
Dan’s injuries turned out to be minor, though there were some burns on his back and the side of his face. I was unimaginably grateful he was alive. The first time I saw him at church after that, I thought I’d throw up. In the end I think I must have apologized to him a dozen times for my tardiness in coming to help. He was so gracious. Now, all these years later, when I run in to him the first thing he does is hold up a finger as if to say, “Don’t apologize to me one more time!” Then he’ll laugh. I think he understands that the incident left as much of a scar on my psyche as it did on his body.
I think that’s why these men who were at Normandy were all such heroes. Unlike me, they didn’t violate their own consciences. All they knew was this was the right thing to do and they did it.
There are still opportunities in our country for people to be heroes in the sense these veterans were. But I’m older now, and I realize that not every opportunity to be a hero is about life-threatening situations. That’s probably why Picoult’s quote from her book Second Glance caught my eye this morning. She said:
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, genders, even all ages… I guess we just never know when we might end up being a hero in someone else’s story. For myself I’m thankful for these WWII veterans and the example they set. It makes my own real-life opportunities seem hardly intimidating by comparison. Heroes are always needed. Have you been a hero to someone lately?
(I keep thinking what a hero I could be to my family if I could defeat my old nemesis "bad-eating-habits" so I'd be around with them a whole lot longer...)
Friday, June 06, 2014
Posting the piece I did yesterday turned out to be kind of interesting. I’ve had feedback from several folks about it, some whom I don’t know, and I’ve come to a few conclusions about why writing — though I come back to it again and again — doesn’t seem to be the “IT” for me that I’m looking for.
It was suggested that I need to just relax (thanks Kim and _A_Rare_Bean) and enjoy the process of writing itself. I know I haven’t been able to do that. I guess I’ve always felt that there needs to be a POINT to things you write so they’re valid. But after reading the comments yesterday, maybe I need to learn to let it be okay that I simply enjoy putting words on the page (or talking to myself — LOL). And that would be just fine.
So then I asked myself (in answer to a comment by _Bean) what makes me the happiest when I’m writing? I could honestly say it’s when I have a sense of direction. Is that the same thing as having a point? Not sure. But I’m guessing that’s why I enjoy so much just “journaling through a book” as I’ve come to think of it. Reading a chapter or an essay and then commenting on it in my journal.
And the big question that goes along WITH THAT is do I need that structure because I feel a lack of imagination and creativity? Where I am in my life right now I would have to scream a resounding YES! I feel as if I’m living life with gloves on, if that makes any sense. Nothing really connects.
I realized yesterday that my journal is my bff. It listens to me whenever I want to talk about anything no matter how dumb or insignificant or what time of the day or night it is. It’s kind of like talking to a pet! No one in my family cares to sit down and chit chat with me whenever the mood hits. It’s no reflection on them. They have their own lives. Same goes for my good friends (though I know Kim would sit and listen till the cows come home no matter what — she has a LOT of staying power!).
So I should feel perfectly happy with keeping my journal and posting to my blog occasionally, right? There’s only one problem, something that Kim has pointed out to me a few times in the past. I worry that anyone reading what I wrote will think I am “too much,” for lack of a better way to put it. I’ve never been sure what that means. Too intense? Too deeply thoughtful? Too honest and open? ???
She was quoting to me from the Tim Burton production of Alice in Wonderland where the Mad Hatter tells Alice that she’s lost her “muchness.” I accidentally found a blog about it on line this morning while I was looking for the word “muchness.” It’s by Wende Sanders, M.S., CC called Phenomenal Lifestyles: Stop Pretending to Have It All Together. www.wendesanders.com/you%E2%80%99ve-
lost-your-muchness-alice-in-wonderland I found it quite interesting and REASSURING! Muchness, it seems, can be a very good thing. So why should I be afraid of it?
And to my surprise, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary actually has a definition for it:
noun \tüˈməchnə̇sFull Definition of TOO-MUCHNESS
: the quality or state of being excessive
Well, at least I now know what muchness is. Which still leaves the question of whether or not I have it. So those are a few thoughts that have been wandering around in my constantly buzzing head this morning. But as Winnie the Pooh might say, I’m glad I sat down and had a good thunk about it all. I found it very enlightening. And maybe now I can settle my addled brain and just be happy that I can sit down and let the words dribble out on the page. We’ll see…
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