This Writing Life…

“This is Not an Exit,” the sign on the door reads. She pushes through and the acidic aroma of sanitation singes her nostrils. With every step, fluid seeps from the bottom of her soles to the tiny crevices between her toes, a distinct squish. The open room is dim, clay in color throughout. The voices maintain a respectful hush. There is space between each isolette like a wide road separating oncoming traffic to prevent a terrible accident.  The babies don’t look like babies. They are small, some only the size of a hand, with a film of fuzz and skin darkened and wrinkled like a bad sunburn. She tries to avert her eyes as she weaves past, more out of horror than respect. Though the ward is full of babies, all is quiet. This is the passage. A substitute for the womb, thinly lined with hope that each baby will finish the journey of growth and miraculously reach full term.

This is the opening paragraph of  a revised chapter somewhere, somehow, in the center of my manuscript. The first day of truly writing was a good day. As I worked my way through this chapter, I realized my writing was less than adequate. What is funny to me is that when I revised this entire project five years ago, I thought I was a solid writer. I’ve learned an incredible amount of detail work and storytelling during my undergrad work and now I’m both exhilarated and terrified to discover how I will feel about my writing in two years from now when I finish my MFA. I guess you should stay tuned.

As for my other goals. I’ve yet to drink a glass of water. Not even a sip. I’m not sure what this psychological resistance is about, perhaps the desire to pretend I’m indeed superhuman? I’ve committed myself to stop analyzing myself and just accept my quirks. So what? I don’t like water. I know I need to consume water. It is on my list of “things”. Core strength consisted mostly of laughter and mostly at myself.

Rest today is a four letter word. Two of my sons graduated from Middle School yesterday and we spent the evening at Wahooz, arriving home after 11 p.m. and up at 5. I’m tired, but joyful. I do believe this counts as a family encounter.

We are only a few hours from Shabbos and I’ve baked 8 loaves of Challah to share with neighbors and friends. In observing Shabbat, I will not write, but instead, I will marinade the remaining 7 pages of this chapter.

I created a neew list in my journal. Throughout my writing academics, I’d jot a “side note to self” in margins as a reminder to write about a specific event or perception or experience in my life. I paged through my 7 binders of writing notes and listed each and every item in which to write. This added up to 7 journal pages.

I’m beginning to think my new lucky number is 7.

I’m off to light beautiful candles to bring more Light into my home tonight and to dream of living the writing life that I’ve longed for most of my existence.


This Writing Life…

Don’t ruminate…just write.

Ruminating will make me fat. Wait. I’ve gotten a bit pudgy these final semesters, finishing my undergrad degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. It’s like I’ve woken to dinner-roll-belly and marshmallow-stuffed thighs and now I’m wondering how long I’ve walked around looking like this.

And then I wonder where the heck my friends are…the ones who would tell me that I’ve got more than a pinch in the middle…NOT the ones who hug me and say that I finally look “healthy” as if my perfect size 4 body wasn’t healthy. But here I am ruminating.

Busy in academics and parenting forced me into a laser-focused life. The kind of life that I spent a ton of time saying “no”. No to phone calls, dates, movie nights and excursions. I needed to say “yes” to my children and rebooting my career path as a writer and the field of poetic therapy. I’m only now resurfacing for a breath of air and I find that many things have changed.

The coffee shop that I once took my favorite pen and notebook every morning closed four years ago and the other one that I set up meetings with my friends moved to a new location two years ago. There are new apps on the phone to accomplish tasks that I learned painstakingly through technical challenges on my computer…uhm…a few years ago.

This is my new chapter. To write. To write things that matter and to gather with my like-minded and creative tribe. To raise children who are kind and responsible citizens. And on some level, to keep saying “no” so that I don’t become busy with all the fantastic opportunities, but not always the best use of my time.

I’m revising a manuscript.

The goal? Two chapters week with a finished, revised manuscript by July 31st. My manuscript is currently 392 pages.

The side goals?

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get better rest
  3. Learn to play guitar
  4. Publish a book for each of my sons by summer’s end
  5. Core strength
  6. Cook a new dish weekly
  7. Wine, Whine and Creative Minds meetings once a month.
  8. Weekly family excursions

Today, I can honestly report that I slept only three hours, have not consumed an ounce of water, ate leftovers for lunch and need to still practice the guitar. I’m not sure which chapters I’ll begin to self-workshop, but I’m certain I will not start at the beginning because the start of my book is now undecided.

Wish me luck…I’m going in deep.


Relationship Status

(Published Idaho Family Magazine 2015)

hat-pic-2014

Just like that.  You can change your “status”.  Instantly you can become single, in a relationship or remain vague and announce to the world “it’s complicated”.  Yes, I’m referring to the social media site, Facebook, the place that has become the definer for our existence.  Our status has become an extension of whether or not we are indeed alive, or if we have “arrived”.

It is easy to get shuffled in the jumble.  Easy to be part of the hype of looking like we have it “together” or are funny, upbeat or even, heaven forbid, normal.  Personally, I’m weary from the upkeep and am pushing against the urge of proving who I am because I clicked the “save” button on my profile.  Instead, I long for a relationship status that doesn’t seem to fit in, but meets me in the space I’m residing right now, midway through my life.

“In a relationship with….ME!”

That status isn’t an option.  At least not on Facebook.  Yet it should be.  Especially for a few folks like me.  I’ve spent the last almost-five years announcing to the world that I am single.  This means different things to different people, pending on the angle.  To some it might mean that I am completely unattached.  To another it might be defined that I’m in a relationship, just not married.  And still to another, it could come across that I’m so broken I’m not relationship material.

For me, single status once meant that I was in transition.

Our cultural pulse convinces me that I’m defined by my status.  In other words, WHO I am with (in relationship) defines me.  So not being with anyone, well, that becomes a statement of lack and abandonment.  Instead, “who am I when I am with another” should be a more accurate definition.  Who do I become?  Am I enhanced in this relationship?  And with those types of questions, if I’m fabulous when I am single…I’m fabulous regardless.

Back then, my singleness, at least to me, was a state of numb-limbo – someplace between relationships and marriages.  Until a couple of years ago when I began believing I was just too busy, too quirky, too analytical, and too….well, you can insert your own adjective here…..  I was simply “too much me” to really deserve being embraced and loved by another.  I arrived at acceptance.  Single status would simply be my life.   I convinced myself that being single forever would be just fine.

Deep down, I never bought my own sales pitch.  I just became busier to avoid becoming lonelier.  Busy insured that I would have no room in my life or my schedule to be unsingle.  I did take a brave step here and there – an attempt to dip my toe into the vast waters of the dating pool only to feel the icy chill and hurriedly seek the safety of shore.  Dating to me was a cluttered, risky business.  Unsingle seemed to suit me.

In my youth, I remember jotting a Dream Guy List.  You know this checklist even if you’ve not written it on the page – you most likely created a mental one at some point.   This is the list that kept track of the traits you thought mattered in a potential partner.  Someone spiritual.  A good provider.  A sense of humor.  Loves to read.

In the middle of my life, that checklist dramatically changed.  It is shorter.  Much shorter.  What remains when I filtered through the surface and short-term satisfaction are about three items:

  1. Character/integrity
  2. Honors G-d
  3. Loves me and my kids

The rest of the stuff was really fluff, but you’ll have to make your own new list.

So here we are, with my new status, my self-relationship, partner-to-one.  Now I need a new approach to this checklist.  I need to ask, does my new partner, me, measure up to my own checklist?  In other words, am I datable to me?

Almost.

The part that trips me is the “loves me”.  Attention is required here on the first part of item three.

The first step to change is the awareness that something needs to change.  The second step is action.  I’ve made a plan for this Valentine’s Day.  I’m taking myself on the town.  I’m making me breakfast in bed and writing myself a love letter.  In fact, I’m going to spend 2015 falling in love with me.  The head over heels kind.  All of me.  My quirks.  My edginess.  My analytics and my flaws.  I’m planning to send myself flowers too.  And in the evening, I’ll light a few candles and play the perfect song, just for me.  I’ve even written myself a poem.

Later, I’ll design a pillowcase with all the things I love about me written in brilliant fabric markers so I can “sleep” on my own acceptance.

What I’m only beginning to realize is I’ve not really been single at all.  I’ve been rejecting me, beating me down and neglecting me.  I’ve never really been alone.  I’ve been with the one person who loves me unconditionally all along – I’ve just lost sight of her along my journey as I tried to measure up.  I’ve had the one person who will never abandon me right here.

I’m inviting myself back.  Rebecca – meet Rebecca – the new love of your own life.  Status complete!


When All Else Fails

bigstockphoto_Give_A_Hand_12227 - June - Rebecca's Story

When all else fails
Turn within.

You will find a hand,
Outstretched,
Open palm

It is worn with wisdom,
Cracked from pain

It holds knowledge
Of the journey you must travel

Now that you have opened your eyes
Accept this hand,
Offering warmth,
Inviting you to open your heart.

Dear Pilgrim,
The answer existed before the question surfaced.
The cure prevailed before the disease.
Healing breathed life prior to suffering
And your destination was decided before your arrival.

Trust.
Seize this hand,
For it has been holding you all along.

 


Reflection of a Poet-in-the-Process

Reflection of a Poet-in-the-process. I reignited something within – something that I thought I lost. It isn’t about developing great writing habit. It isn’t about the perfect sentence. It isn’t about beating myself up when I do not show up to write….

What I’ve learned is to love me…nurture me…and with that my DESIRE to write returns.

When I arrive to the page with love and not dread of self, everything changes. I’m not writing for approval nor understanding. I’m not writing for resolving every childhood mishap. I’m writing because I love myself and a part of me aches to simply write – for no particular purpose but that in which I yearn to create on the page.

When I do this – this simple scribble or scrabble – I find a piece of me that somehow was lost in the crossfires of life’s wars. I find my own answers and a place of centeredness and peace. I find that though nothing is well – all is well.

When I attended a poetry reading I thought, “this is where I belong – amongst these thinkers who say things aloud that I can relate to,” and I scolded myself, “why have I been away from this creative company my whole life?” I know that I have found my way back and there is now a part of me that was dead and is alive again. I have vowed to guard this part of me fiercely now – never to let another steal this again!

I know now that I had to spend some time–cocooning myself–rebuilding myself–discovering what matters to me. This very simple manner of interacting over cyber space with other poetic spirits – I feel like we guided one another – urged each other along. I have discovered my own secret, sacred garden.


Seeing with My Heart

My oldest son was virtually blind his first year. He had bilateral, centralized cataracts in both eyes, so his world was, at best, a gray, hazy landscape of unfamiliar shapes. I walked him through his world with sensory input in mind. We would pause beneath a tree along our path and I would rub his hand against the bark.

“Bark,” I would say. “Tree, I mean.” No, no, no. “Rough.” There that was a better description.

The same would happen at bath time as I would splay his fingers across a towel.

“Soft,” I whispered. He would smile. “Towel,” I spoke. He shook his head.

By the time he was 18 months, he had his first of many surgeries on his eyes. This one in particular made an impact. The doctor placed in his eye an innocular lens, a fake camera to the world so his brain could understand these messages I had been trying to offer him. After two weeks with a steel patch, he was able to open the one eye and see color. See me.

I always thought he understood my presence. Even without vision. While “blind”, he smiled and wildly waved his hands when I entered a room. I thought he always knew when I was there. More important, I thought he knew when I was not.

That first night with his new vision was traumatic. For me and for him. I placed him in his crib at 7 p.m. as usual, after stories and songs and rocking. I turned out his lights and started to exit and he screamed. I patted his back to calm him. He kept screaming.

He did not know darkness.

He did not know my absence.

This was a new journey of security and trust.

Six weeks later, his vision was restored in his other eye. It took a year for him to adapt to darkness, to sight, to distance and space.   Thirteen years later and I doubt that he has ever adapted to absence from me. OK, that is most likely the ego-need of a mom speaking.

The amazing thing that I have found about my son is his intuitive nature. He knows things. I can’t explain it. I think part of this is because he developed his other senses far beyond the scope most of us utilize. He had to do this in an effort to navigate his world. In his limited/disabled youth, he is wise. I always tell people that I am far more disabled than he.

I think that vision is a gift. I also think that the lack of it can be a gift as well. As long as we can “see”, whether that is with our ears or our eyes, it matters not.

We mostly need to learn to read this world and “see” it with our hearts. This is the journey that I am on, nearing my half century of life.Zach


Welcome Letter to My Inner Critic

Dear Critic,

In my youth, I was told by the outside world that I was far too sensitive. I paid no mind. Instead, I chose to embrace my sensitivity because it helped me feel for others and with others.

When you came along, you nearly strangled me. In fact, for a time, I lost me.

Unperfect.
Unworthy.
Unvalued.
Unloved.

Now we are friends. Finally. I understand your purpose. You keep me aligned. You keep me on track, on path and in step.

You have only been of service and the part of you that became far too enthusiastic for the both of us was really the part of me that needed to grow up and embrace myself and honor my lessons.

I can’t say you’ve been a teacher—but instead a grand guide to keep me honest and in reflection so I could transform. Transform—maybe someday—from a lump to a diamond.


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