Tag Archives: Women’s Issues

This Writing Life…

Writing is water.

I need it to survive. I find myself at the page, lost in the words. I cry and laugh aloud when I write. I put things on paper that I would never say out loud. This is my safe place, my best friend, my therapy.

I don’t feel worthy to keep a writing blog. It’s hard to arrive and feel like a writer. My hope was that in blogging about writing, especially revision, I would stay the course and finish my bigger project, my manuscript and hopefully inspire others to write as well.

But I don’t need the blog to write. I need only to write. Life water to live.

Instead, this blog has become a sort of process for anyone that needs encouragement in writing through a busy life. This year, I’ve irked quite a few people with my unavailability to preserve my treasured time, my gold nugget, my writing time. This is new to me. This is new to them too. They don’t get it. To sit, with peace, coffee, a candle and a pen is ecstasy. It is all that is needed.

I’ve spent the last two months reorganizing my files. To date, I have 52 short stories, 20 horrific poems, two screenplays, one manuscript and 12 flash fiction pieces. These are in a constant state of revision. But this organization process has given me clarity – a sense of how I can now combine these pieces–thread them, weave them–through theme and emotional arc. Part of this awareness was the realization that my manuscript, which I had hoped to revise over the summer, would be completed.

It doesn’t really work that way.

I’ve only revised half the manuscript. With that, I began to pummel “unproductive” self.

But then, half is good. These are hard revisions and I’m still in grad school and producing new material along with revising other shorts. I’m a writing-manic.

I know writers who can focus on one thing. One story. One book.

I’m not THAT writer.

My life is full of interruptions. I embrace the breaks because it is usually my children, pausing my work for a need. I love that I’m still needed by my sons.

Besides, I have to marinade ideas.

My brain soak is done in the kitchen and garden. This is the space I sort out dialogue, character development and problems with my work. I make sun-dried tomatoes with garlic from my garden or create new recipes, like smashed sweet potatoes with a hint of Wasabi. This is part of my writing process. The “think time”.

For me, this works; the interruptions and the time away from the page.

I’m learning to encourage the writer-me more, cheer her on and tell her, at the day’s end, this was a life worth living and she indeed has been “productive” enough.

Favorite passage is an excerpt from my short narrative, “Garden”:

“A new routine would begin each morning before the children woke. I’d rise, and with coffee, tend this garden. This morning was no different. I was finally here. My garden. This would become the place I could return when there were in-between moments needing filled. A place to grow a habit, something grounded, something I could count on. It offered both a sense of release and control.”

 

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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.

 

 


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!


What Others Think

The following is inspired from a writing exercise from a David Whyte workshop. My Writing Muse, Ron in Indiana, added a twist to the exercise with the ending to the prompt. Enjoy.

It doesn’t matter what others think because they do not hold the desires of my heart in their minds. They only hold their old blueprints, judgments, opinions and value systems.

It doesn’t matter what others think because their ideas are based solely on their exposure. They have not endured my journey through my eyes, so they cannot truly understand the place I am emerging from.

It doesn’t matter what others think because they can only respond to life out of their own history, from their limited experiences. Though compassionate, not one of us can truly step into anothers’ footprint.

It doesn’t matter what others think because I must hold true to what I believe first. If I operate out of the need to please others or avoid conflict, I will lose sight of my path and surely let go of my purpose.

It doesn’t matter what others thhink because man’s thoughts are often not in alignment with God’s thoughts. We are frail humans, broken, undiscerning and off course. I must keep my focus on doing that which honors God. I must call into my movie only the situations and people who guide and help me do this.

Yet, in a sense, how others think can matter, but how they behave when they walk along side you matters even more.


Getting Back to Self Care After Baby

(published in Hedra News)

I delivered Julian just two months ago and like many new moms, these first few weeks were more of an adjustment for me than they were for him.  After all, he only needed to leave a safe, warm, uninterrupted and secure environment where life was a warm bubble bath and all was content.  I had to re-learn how to live a life already full of many passionate things and re-introduce, very slowly, only those things that are most precious to me.

Having a new baby gives me one great new opportunity.  The opportunity to say “No, I’m REALLY too busy right now,” and have others actually believe this.  As I’m saying NO to the extra committees, board positions, creative ideas, get-togethers, parties and side-bar commitments – and by saying NO, I’m also saying YES – utilizing this time to be my very best and offer my very best.

The most important step for me (and I’d love to hear from ALL women out there, not just those who have new babies) is to affirm my need for self-care.  I cannot be my best if I’m feeling my worst.  I cannot achieve inner contentment if I hate how I look and feel.  My plan has been simple and today I’ll share my first step with you:

GETTING BACK TO SELF CARE AFTER BABY – Step One:

Rest.  Decent sleep is probably the most overlooked fitness plan in America.  But good sleep helps our bodies (and minds) handle stress, burn fat, repair damaged cells (and after delivering a baby – there’s some repair that needs to take place) and think clear.  If you’re not getting adequate rest, look at ways you can begin to get better sleep.

My coaching question to you is HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?  And how will you know when you are?  Please share your ideas here and with friends – and as sisters, we can help one another begin to operate at our best!


The Discomfort of Miracles

    (published in Hedra News)

How Uncomfortable are You with Miracles?

How Uncomfortable are You with Miracles?

     My belly button popped out last week.  No need to panic, at least not yet, it hasn’t detached itself.  But just over six months ago I was an “innie”.  Now I’m an “outie”.  See, I’m six and half months pregnant with our fourth boy.  Oh boy!

  My belly button did not protrude like this during my previous pregnancies.  This is a completely new condition and, to be honest, I’m curious, wondering exactly what could be going on inside of me that would cause this phenomenon. 

     Maybe this little guy is far more active in uterus than my previous children at this stage of development.

      Maybe…because I’m craving spicy, exotic foods, my belly button reacted as if feeling attached to a foreign entity.

      The thing is, though I’m comfortable with most of the changes going on during this phase in my life, this belly-button-thing threw me for a loop.

      For example, I was fine at the start of the pregnancy, when my booty grew faster than my waistline.

      Four months into this journey, I was OK while teaching a Yoga class though I could no longer balance in poses requiring just one leg.

       At five months pregnant, it was fine with me when attempting the Chattaranga (better known as a push up in Yoga), I no longer needed to bend my elbows because my belly already touched the ground.

      Last month I was stuck “in” the couch and my husband needed to push on the center of my back, helping me stand from the now-too-soft-cushions.  I simply laughed at myself.

      But when I awoke with my sweatshirt rubbing a part of my skin that has never been touched, I almost jumped out of bed.  It wasn’t just that this inside skin of my belly button was extra sensitive or that the friction from a shirt felt rough.  The sensation was new, different.  And because it was different, it felt frightening.

      This is often how we feel with the miraculous changes occurring in our lives.  These changes may be wonderful, like someone who typically allows you to do all the work suddenly offering a helping hand. 

     Frightening!

      Even the good, helpful changes alarm us as if they are touching some untouched area inside.

      In coaching, I see this quite often.  A client may have challenges receiving.  Receiving compliments, gifts or help.  I’ll work with someone who has finally carved out creative space for their dreams and then they panic.  These gifts feel like a new and awkward sensation, and that sensation, though a good thing, can scare us.

      We can even sabotage these wonderful changes, out of fear, pushing ourselves and our journey ten steps back. 

     How can we handle this from an EMPOWERING PERSEPCTIVE?

     Look for the miracles when changes occur in your life.  That miracle moment could show up in the shape of a new opportunity to learn patience, tolerance, or acceptance.  That miracle moment could be the door opening just a crack for your deepest desires, you know the ones, you have buried them and have almost forgotten they once existed.  So instead of sitting in discomfort of a new “sensation” in your life, slow down, breathe in, breathe out and seek the miracle unfolding before you.


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