Tag Archives: change

This Writing Life…

Three chapters revised. Twenty-nine to go. Though at this juncture, there are two chapters that I think will be entirely cut as they really do not contribute to this story. The thing that I’m loving about this process is the time that has passed since I wrote the early draft. I’m far enough removed from the material to truly rewrite and revise.

Favorite line in the last week: “She presses Zach to her chest. His heart against her. She slows her own breathing and tries to feel, maybe even hear, the little extra click in his heart.”

For other writers reading this blog, feel free to offer your input. The one aspect that I’m most struggling is the POV. I’ve gone back and forth between first and third person (limited). It is nonfiction, and I know that traditionally, nonfiction work is in first person. But I like the feel of the “hero” being un-named and in third person for numerous reasons and creative ideas.

For the remaining goals in the last week or so:

  1. I’m counting anything fluid that I consume as “water” from here on out.
  2. I’ve done either core strength, stretching or meditation daily.
  3. My weekly family excursion was to Hagerman. This was extremely exciting for my youngest son who wants to be a Paleontologist. He loved the fossils, the teeth of ancient beasts and their eating habits. We ate at the Snake River Cafe and had a picnic along the river on our return home.

The backyard “oasis” is complete! Writing and creative space near a few chimneys and firepits along with my garden and flowers. The chickens are happy. The pugs are happy. The Chiweenie and Bearded Dragon seem to be living a life of bliss.

I need to carve four hours a day to writing. This is my goal. I know, realistically, I cannot write four hours in a row…but the sprinkle of time throughout my day is what I know I need to get the job done.

Wish me luck. Offer help. Keep on writing.


This Writing Life…

Twenty-eight pages. That is a good day of revision. One of my goals with this long narrative is that each chapter can be published as a stand-alone. Today, I feel that this chapter is complete and could carry the weight of story all on its own.

Best writing for today:  “I didn’t know I had so much blood inside of me. Feeling dizzy, I tenderly lowered myself onto the glass, lying on my back as if I were used to a bed such as this. I stared at the ceiling while waiting for Mrs. Heights to come help. The ceiling was the same gray cement color as the floor. There were thick cobwebs in the corners, and the ceiling seemed lower than I remembered. I watched as a spider dropped and trembled on a thread above my face. I was afraid of spiders. I tasted bile and my body began to shake.”

I know every writer has their own system, their method to “warm up” to write. I have a beautiful fountain pen with deep purple ink and I love both the sound of it scratching on paper and the way it feels as I write in my journals. It isn’t writing in a creative manner, I’m actually copying poems from my past journals into one place. This process connects my mind to my heart, my heart to my hand, my hand to pen and finally, pen to page. It is a quiet process. And slow. I have a permanent purple ink stain on my finger where the pen rests that looks like a deep bruise. This is one of those warm ups into writing.

Family Adventure = Bowling at Big Al’s. My gutter ball was so slow that it stalled in the gutter and I had to flag down a staff member to walk onto the lane and retrieve it for me. My youngest son beat us all in the first game. My disabled son won the second. I lost every time. I consider myself the entertainment factor for bowling as I roll it down the lane carefully so I don’t hurt my neck.

Water = forget it.

Core Strength = I held in my stomach most of today.

Guitar = it hurts to play. I can strum, but not pick and am only decent at three cords to date.

New Dish = Chicken Tortellini – Kosher, of course. Coated in salt, cracked pepper, olive oil, rosemary and a titch of lemon juice.

New Discovery = I enjoy my mid-life hot flashes. My feet are always cold and having this new internal heating pad doesn’t seem such a bad deal. At least for me.

Staying Bright.

 

 


This Writing Life…

Yesterday was a nonproductive writing day. I “warmed up” my pen, read for inspiration, rewrote bad poetry and opened the “working copy” of my manuscript four times. Nothing would come through. I worked on one sentence for 30 minutes and still could not get it right. I gardened, played a board game with my son, and then organized my desk. Then re-organized it two more times.

Some days, the line is meant to marinade while you live your life. I used to tell myself that my full life, single-handedly raising three boys (one who is disabled) offered me rich perspective and material in which I could draw from as a writer.

But yesterday did not feel much like a writing life. Instead, it felt like an avoid-the-writing life.

Today, I woke starving to write.

Best lines: “Even the original pediatrician, the one she painstakingly reviewed and researched for months, has a substitute because he is now unreachable, on vacation. Realistically, Zach wasn’t due for another seven weeks. Yet here the two of them are, her and Zach, mostly alone.”

These lines were almost two paragraphs, mostly nonsense detail that added nothing to the story. Cutting sucks.

Water intake = zero.

Rest = three hours in a row. Miraculous for me.

Core strength = 30 minutes with my disabled son yesterday.

Guitar = painful 15 minutes yesterday and today.

New dishes = zero. I’m on motherly strike this week in an effort to help my sons appreciate all that is done on a daily (and hourly) basis for them, so they are “cooking” meals this week.

My progress through two chapters a week = I’m only halfway through one chapter at this juncture. The progress to rework old prose is daunting. My hope is to complete this chapter by tomorrow and begin on the second (randomly selected) chapter by Friday.

Submissions = submitted two short stories yesterday to a few more literary journals.

Cheer me on please.


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


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!


Expectations

(published in Hedra News)

           “Expectations lead to disappointment, so expect nothing and you will never be disappointed!”  An officer in the Air Force shared this wisdom with me in my early years of service.  This seemed good advice at the time and I tried to apply it.  The difficulty was that I did have high standards of the world around me. I felt that leaving expectations at the back of the stove would be lowering my own standards.

        For example, I expected to be treated with equality and respect.  I expected to be compensated for my effort and work.  I expected to have a right to my own feelings, voice and body.  So I decided that I would rather be disappointed in life than disrespected.  Which was fine–until recently.

        I read an article about Gandhi.  A mother went in search of Gandhi’s wisdom for her son, who was diabetic and had a difficult time giving up sugar.  They sought advice from this spiritual leader who her son admired.  When they arrived, they waited for several hours before they were invited to see the great leader.  After the mother shared their dilemma, Gandhi looked at her and said softly, “Please come back in 30 days.”

        When 30 days passed, they returned to Gandhi’s home.  This time Gandhi addressed the young boy, “My son, you must stop eating sugar.”  The mother was furious.  She asked Gandhi, after all this time, why this was his only advice. 

        He replied, “Madam, I could not ask your son to do something that I myself could not do.  Only yesterday was I able to completely cut sugar out of my diet.”

        We cannot expect others to do things that we are unable to commit to for ourselves.  With this thought, I reflected on my list from my Air Force days.   Here is my short list that contains the expectations that I had held for others, but had not quite mastered for myself…

        Treating Myself with Equality and Respect:  I spent years battling an eating disorder, regrouping from a torn childhood and trying to learn to take care of myself instead of self-destructing.  I could not expect others to treat me kindly when I treated myself with unkindness.

        Compensation for Effort and Work:  Abundance Theory is that there is enough wealth for all of us.  In my early 20’s I embraced poverty mentality.  I have learned over the last decade, the art of giving and receiving with grace.  This is a continuing lesson. 

        Rights to Feelings, Voice and Body:  It wasn’t until after the birth of my disabled son when I began to listening to my inner voice, acknowledging my feelings.  In other words, I was in my mid-thirties when I started to tune in with myself.  I could not expect others to allow me to be authentic, when I was afraid to be me.  I could not ask others to listen to my voice, when I did not know the sound of it.

        After reading Gandhi’s story, I realized that the challenge for many of us is not in the expectations we have of others, but instead it is with the expectations we have of ourselves.  We often do not meet our own criteria and then we spend our lives beating ourselves to bits because we do not meet our own standards. 

        Switch your self-expectations to self-empowerment and treat yourself how you want others to treat you.  Take time this month to explore your own limiting beliefs when it comes to what you really expect from you!


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