Writing

A Couple of Diet Cokes and a Convo

Let’s say you and I go pick up a Dirty Diet Coke and a sugar cookie. We’d drive to a nearby park, and we’d sit on a park bench (this is Arizona, remember?) and chat while we munched and sipped.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 3“Mmmm…I like that touch of lime,” you’d say.

“I like the coconut undertones,” I’d reply.

“The cookie’s a bit too chewy for my idea of a sugar cookie,” you’d add. “But still, it’s delish.”

Only, you probably wouldn’t say “delish” because we only really shorthand things like that in texts or on Facebook and other social media zones. Even though it is “totes adorbs,” it sounds pretty silly in real life, doesn’t it?

Our conversation would wander from dinner plans to cloud formations, from recent things we read to the symbolism of some odd dream we had the night before. We might even discuss something religiously contentious, or skirt along the edges of politics. It’s always fun to see where things go when we talk.

Somewhere in there I’d get around to asking a question that’s been on my mind, but it’d be weird to just blurt it out without some context, or without having it relate even vaguely to what we might be discussing.

Since we aren’t having sodas at the park, I can just throw out the thought that I’ve been wondering about off and on for years. (If you want to grab a Coke or Mountain Dew or something non-caffeinated, go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Here’s the question:

Do you think there’s some inspiration or creative source or new ideas or muse somewhere in the atmosphere or something that different people tap into, or ask to access, or that they simply breathe in, that they then turn into art, or song, or a written work?

And a related question:

And if that’s the case, isn’t it likely that several, if not hundreds or thousands, could “come up with” the same or similar ideas all around same time?

And another question:

Is there really any original thought or are thoughts or the seeds of thoughts put into our heads?

Fine, it was three questions…

I see us finishing up our sodas and dusting cooking crumbs off our shirts long before we exhaust the possibilities of these questions.

Surely philosophers and psychologists, Mensa members and religious people all have something to add to the answers to these questions. I’m just wondering what the everyday, soda sipping, cookie crunching public thinks.

Here’s my two cents.

I’ve had many experiences where I’ve thought of an idea, or started writing a blog post, or hummed a made-up tune, and then, within a day, or a week someone else talks about, writes, or sings the same or eerily similar thing. What is that all about?

Seriously!

Cosmic music waves hitting in-tune people? Writerly angels whispering words? Serendipity? Inspiration? What is it?

I don’t think there’s a correct answer, but it’s a discussion I’d sure like to have, with or without a soda and cookie.

On second thought, cookies should stay in the equation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: good ideas, Wondering, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Tapping In to the Cosmic Stream: Or How I Hope to Become a Brilliant, Rich, and Beloved Writer

Let’s be honest here.

I don’t always go walking first thing in the morning. Occasionally I sleep in.

But usually, I try to do just that. Walk. Not sleep in. It clears my heart, opens it up to possibilities, keeps me on this side of sanity.

But, occasionally my body rolls over at four a.m. and tries to trick me into believing that it’s time to wake up. Ha! I’m not fooled. I can see the clock, (yes, I still have a digital alarm clock bedside) red numbers humming in the darkness. I tell my brain and body to slip back into a cozy sleep, “dreams upbeat and entertaining, please,” and snuggle down into the comforter.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes my brain kicks into high gear and THINKS! It’s brilliant at that time of day, oddly enough. If I could simply attach a cable between my head and my laptop I’d be a famous writer, winning big prizes. But alas, something happens in that walk down the hall from pillow to chair.

All that brilliance leaks out the bottom of my feet, I think, soaking into the carpet, squishing between my toes. By the time my fingers reach the keyboard every amazing thought, perfect word and funny joke has leeched from my body.

I always think I will remember.

Yes, yes, yes, I do have a notebook sitting on the nightstand, but I don’t use it. I suppose I will repent of that immediately and start scribbling in it the next time Superbrain makes an appearance in my bed at some ridiculously dark hour.

Confession.

I’ve done that before. The notebook thing. And I usually can’t read what it is I wrote. It’s a jumble of swirls and dots and scratches, with a random word I might vaguely recognize.

Solution.

I could type or record a note to myself on the semi-intelligent phone device I have sitting on the nightstand. That might work. Although I find the artificial light scares away most of my wisdom and all of my semi-wakefulness/semi-sleepiness.

Image by  By Mark J Sebastian (Abstract (#41272)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Very cool Image by  By Mark J Sebastian (Abstract (#41272)) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe the truth of it all, since we’re in confession mode, is that I’m not really all that brilliant, awake or sleeping. Maybe I tap in to some cosmic stream of thought that we all somehow connect to while we sleep. I capture little wisps of it in my partial wakefulness and think it’s all me. Probably not me at all.

Call it the muse. Call it inspiration. Call it divine intervention. Call it crazy. I just think I’m part of something much bigger than myself. That thought gives me comfort and makes me feel more connected to the rest of humanity. Or at least to the better parts of humanity.

One of these mornings I’ll manage to capture some wispy cosmic light and brilliance and transfer it to a written bit of something. We’ll all be amazed. I’m sure of it.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

A List to Remind Me That the Sun Shines

Aspens. My favorites.

Aspens. My favorites.

MSH reminds me when I start ranting about something and threaten to write about it on my blog, that I always intended for this project to lean toward the positive and optimistic.

Then I remind him that I’m also “keeping it real” which might not always come across as roses and sunshine.

Keeping It Real

How real do I feel comfortable with here on the blog? How real am I comfy with in person? All last month I’ve debated this with myself. And I didn’t write much during that debate. Lost my groove, I guess.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

I felt braver a couple of years ago. Bolder. Speaking my mind came easier. Opening up about my life happened naturally and with less reserve.

This past year, in many ways, I’ve caved in on myself. I’ve tucked in the frayed edges. I keep the strained or raveled seams covered. I’ve inched toward a more hermit-like life. I used to do that during the month of January every year. I saw it as a naturally occurring regrouping and recovery from the two or three-month holiday season.

My January recovery session during the past year stretched into eleven other months. Maybe longer.

An online friend of mine wrote a (somewhat annoying) glowing top ten account of his past year for the following reason:

“Things can get difficult, and you never know when I might need to remind myself that these things happened, and how and what I felt like when they did.” ~ Brad McBride

Good reason to write up a top ten, you gotta admit. Even if it annoys semi-irritable people like me.

I’ve just survived a year (2014) where I needed to remind myself of happier times to get myself through the day or the week.

I’ve also just been through a year (2014, yes, same year) with some amazingly wondrous good things happening. I mean A-MAZ-ING! Happiness like nothing I’ve ever known.

Talk about a paradox.

I’ve felt lost and found, abandoned and loved, forlorn and supported, ready to give up and anticipating greatness, numb and electrified. At times hope eluded me and then there it shone like a stunning sunrise nearly blinding me.

So what would be my top ten good things for 2014?

  1. My oldest daughter’s new baby girl
  2. The volunteer work I get to do
  3. Hanging out with my favorite teenager while driving her to and from tutoring
  4. Spending time with a certain three-year old
  5. Snuggling from a fun-loving one year old
  6. Almost the entire family together for a weekend in November
  7. A Christmas concert extraordinaire
  8. Summer sunrise walks
  9. My family reunion – time with Mom and Dad
  10. Sitting in a high mountain meadow for hours with MSH

See, my life’s filled with wonder and joy. I just forget sometimes. The difficulties can cast such deep long shadows that block out the sunlight in such a way it almost feels like night. I just need to step out of the shade and let the sun warm me from time to time.

Am I Right? Or am I Write?

This blog has been a source of light for me as well. It’s like a conversation I have with myself to sort through things and make sense of the world. So I add a number eleven to my list.

11. This writing thing.

So I’ll keep things real. The good, the ugly, the stunning, the what-the-heck. Life as I see it written down right here just for me.

If you want to follow along, you’re welcome to join me. Just don’t make too much noise. It is morning, after all.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Hope, Mental Health, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Words Everywhere

Being a fan of words I look for and read them everywhere. I think it all started ages ago while reading the backs of cereal boxes. Now I read everything: signs, plaques, memorials, directions, chalkboards, menus, whiteboards, magnets, carvings, raised metal, blocks, imprints, impressions, sidewalk chalk, train graffiti, book spines, air fresheners, notices, refrigerators, headlines. Even the occasional book.

Words hang out everywhere and in some surprising places. Some even smell good.

Here’s a few words I’ve run into lately:

The good and the bad.

The good and the bad.

“There are places I remember all my life, Though some have changed, Some forever, not for better, Some have gone and some remain.” ~ From the Beatles”In My Life.” 

 

Such a tiny word...

Such a tiny word…

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.” ~Khalil Gibran

Life began here.

Life began here.

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” ~Bill Mollison

 

Don't ask me to choose just one kind.

Don’t ask me to choose just one kind.

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ~ David Mamet

 

A concrete idea.

A concrete idea.

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” ~ Michelangelo

 

I believe I can fly, somedays.

Wings, roots, reasons.

“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.” ~ Dalai Lama 

 

Such a big word.

Such a big word.

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

~*~~*~~*~

Categories: Communication, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thirty Days to More Sanity

As if life isn’t already busy enough.

You too?

Yeah. I know. I’m surely crazy!

I’ve decided to accept the challenge this November.

No, I am not going to grow a mustache or beard, as easy as that would be now that I’m over a certain age. Not sure a female can really man up the same way. And I’m certain I don’t want to grow facial hair.

No, no. I am not attempting to write a novel in one month like participants in NaNoWriMo commit to.

Photo by joergens.mi

Pomegranates! Photo by joergens.mi

No, no, no. Neither am I celebrating or becoming more aware of pomegranates, veganism, pancreatic cancer, sweet potatoes, pet diabetes, sponges, manatees, gluten-freeness, inspirational role models, banana pudding, impotency, peanut butter lovers, entrepreneurship, healthy skin or thirty-plus other possible November commemorations.

I don’t even want to get my Christmas shopping done in the month of November. — Gasp! Get this woman some oxygen, STAT! — (Questioning my sanity at this point, aren’t you?)  In fact, I don’t want to purchase a single Christmas related item at all during this singular lunar phase of the year 2014.

My only goal for November?

Survive with my sanity intact through the end of the month.

You think I jest.

I jest not.

Juggling complete with theme music in the background!

Juggling complete with theme music in the background!

In case you haven’t noticed there’s this trend, obsession, thing monstrous idea that involves packing the months of October, November and December so full with causes, goals, events and busyness that a person can hardly breathe.

I refuse to participate in such nonsense. I just want to enjoy life, and be with people I love or at least like a lot. I don’t want to recreate some Pinterest-worthy scene to photograph and share on various social media platforms.

Of course, along with the added busyness, life throws its usual and not-so-usual curve balls and flaming batons and razor-sharp knives and expects you to juggle them while it sets you down on a cliff edge when it darn well knows you’re deathly afraid of heights.

And yet.

And yet, I have decided to jump in on NaBloPoMo.

Sounds almost obscene, I know. But in reality I think it’s a link to my sanity. Let me explain.

NaBloPoMo otherwise known as National Blog Post Month encourages, nay, offers prizes and incentives to, bloggers to post every single day during the month of November.

Why would I do such a thing? Most months of the year I barely post three times a week to my blog.

writing photoWhy indeed.

Because Writing (capital W) keeps me sane. Because Writing lets me download the contents of my swirling mass of thoughts and chaos to a manageable medium. Writing softens life’s blows. Writing helps me make sense of so much senseless nonsense. Writing helps me breathe better. Writing acts like nasal strips for the soul. (too much?)

Taking on the daily blog post challenge increases my writing time and hence, (yes, hence) my sanity.

If no one else reads what I write, that’s okay. It’s all for me all the time anyway. I’m just being selfish. I’m claiming the month of November for myself, come what may. Well, I’m claiming at least five hundred words a day for myself.

It’s a big step, but I feel empowered and excited and overly sleepy already.

Have I taken on more than I should? Will I feel saner in thirty-one days? Will the universe conspire against me?

No. Maybe. Yes, most certainly.

I’m standing on the cliff edge and taking the leap toward sanity.  I sure hope my parachute opens when it’s supposed to.

Wish me luck!

NaBloPoMo_November_0

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~Ray Bradbury

Categories: good ideas, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Long and Winding Road to Here

My parents invested in an encyclopedia set not long after they married. As a bonus to that purchase they also received “The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls,” a set of nine red volumes of stories, folk and fairy tales, poems, nursery rhymes, songs, history, crafts, and science.

Mom read to us often from those books. I recall sitting on her lap or beside her as the words that accompanied simple line drawings came to life. Occasionally an illustration filled an entire page with bright colors and the words faded into the background as I imagined myself into the story.

photo 1-2Even on days when my mother didn’t have time to read, I still looked through the books, drinking in the drawings, remembering stories and poems, planning which ones I wanted her to read next. We wore those books ragged, until the bindings broke down and pages tore and went missing. To this day I love Aesop’s tales and the simple rhymes of early childhood.

A decade ago, while perusing shelves at a small local used bookstore, I ran across a complete and unsullied set of these books. You can only imagine my stunned and delighted response. If they had cost ten times as much as I paid I would have still bought them. As it was, they were a steal. I consider those volumes some of my dearest friends and most cherished possessions. They serve as a link to my tender childhood years and a witness to my love of all things written.

A love of reading and anything to do with words settled securely as the foundation of who I would become because of the time my mother spent reading to me. Her willingness to let me rifle through those pages without worry over how gentle I was or how pristine they might look on the shelf, also planted a seed of familiarity and comfort with the written word.

photo by  Richard Benson

photo by Richard Benson

Occasionally as a young’un I’d see a child’s printing set for sale somewhere and my coveting genes kicked in. I craved the opportunity to hand print a book, letter by letter, word by word with a black stamp pad and alphabet stamps. Obviously I had no concept of what such an ominous task would require. Coming up with the money for this desired prize never happened, so a self-stamped, self-published book stayed a distant, unreachable dream.

I adored attending school, learning new things, from early kindergarten, “we walk on the right side of the hallway,” and onward from there. I also adored my teachers as they held the keys to knowledge whose doors I so very much wanted to pass through.

In first grade our teacher gave an assignment that I ran with. “Write about other things you can do with a pencil beside writing.” I filled my page rapidly with idea after idea of uses for a simple pencil. I felt as if I’d invented some clever, never before conjured ideas. The next day our teacher read my little essay to the class. Such pride never before filled a child’s heart as mine did that day. Then the teacher told me I had “a very creative mind” and that she “expected great things” from me.

In response I threw my all into writing assignments and anything requiring even a modicum of creativity. This lasted well beyond first grade.

Writing became so ingrained in me that when I hit those confusing years between twelve and eighteen I turned to the written word to make sense of it all. I filled notebook after notebook with whatever was cruising through my head. And at that age, one’s head spins at incredible speeds. My journals became my best friend, my confidant, my therapist, and my outlet for stress of all kinds. I’m not sure how other kids survive their teen years, but I got through mine using a number two pencil and reams and reams of paper.

I spend what seems like too much time right here.

I spend what seems like too much time right here.

Then in college one professor in particular praised my writing with abandon and kindness. This professor encouraged me to put a few more years behind me and then write like mad. I’m afraid I put a few too many decades behind me before I let myself go crazy with my writing. Those decades can fill volumes though, if I’m only brave enough and creative enough to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Five years ago I sat next to a young woman at a volunteer day. She struck up a conversation with me that led us to learn that we both loved writing. She suggested we form a writer’s group. I thought it sounded like a glorious plan. She had the chutzpah to follow through and find a couple of other women to join us. We four started writing five years ago last month, and haven’t stopped.

All these experiences have taught me something about myself that I hardly dare think out loud and yet I’m about to say it here, in public.

I am a writer.

I owe thanks to a mother who read to me, a set of wonder filled books, a teacher’s praise, a strange but effective coping mechanism, a professor’s encouragement and my writer’s group. Thanks to such a convergence I proudly refer to myself as a writer.

I write so that I know what I’m really thinking. I write so that others can see things through a slightly different lens. I write so that someone can say, “ah, that is exactly how I have felt.”

Mostly, I write because I simply can’t help myself.

**********

 

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” ~Erica Jong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Relationships, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Challenge Followed by a Challenge

The oddest thing just happened to me here.

I responded to this writing challenge from WordPress by writing about how and why I’m a writer.

I wrote for an hour, then two hours, a beautiful essay that summed up so many disparate but connected parts of my life. The timing of this challenge synced perfectly with a need I had to remind myself why writing tops my daily list of things to do.

I felt energized and excited about writing again.

I saved the draft, then left the room to take a couple of photos to include in the post. (See the above photos? Aren’t they nice?)

When I returned to my computer what I had written had disappeared. Poof. Into thin air. Not on some computer cloud on the ethernet, or internet or web or wherever. Just gone.

Alakazam.

This magical thing I’d created didn’t exist any more.

Sure I could attempt to recreate it. But all creativity and originality aside, the wind had been taken from my sails. (Yes, it’s a cliche’, deal with it.)

But the words, I just can’t summon them again today.

Silly, I know.

I’ll write again. That is what I do.

Why?

Because.

I am a writer.

 

Categories: Books, self-image, Writing | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

Symbols and Cymbals and Cymbalta

I apologize for the weird title of this post.

Sort of.

The Red Wheelbarrow

The Red Wheelbarrow (Photo credit: Abbeh)

I got thinking today about how everything, and I do mean nearly EVERY THING is symbolic for me. I blame it on High School English classes. “But, what does it meannnnnn,” they were always asking about every piece of literature we read. It couldn’t just be about the white chicken and red wheel barrow and the rain, it had to mean something significant. It couldn’t just be that the writer was lazy and didn’t want to bother with capitalization, even how every word appeared somehow had to “meannnnnnn” something.

It wasn’t until later, after learning the barest minimum about Freud, that I understood how important his statement really was:

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Everything doesn’t have to be a symbol for something else.

But try to convince my once young and formerly pliable mind of that now.

No, my life seems to work just like an English class. Not only in what I read, but all the stuff I surround my life with. The things on the wall, the colors I choose for a pillow, even the seemingly random soda bottle on the mantle all has meaning for me. And not just the “Oh, great-aunt Matilda gave that to me” kind of meaning. I’m talking symbolism.

sym·bol·ism

noun
the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character.
Imagine a life literallly, not just figuratively, filled with symbols and symbolism. That’s tricky, I know, but stay with me.

Now, if you were listening to this post you might actually hear the word symbol and think this word: cymbal. These are not the same. Obviously to me, now, they aren’t. I can take the context of a word, it’s surroundings and topic and make sense of the difference between symbol and cymbal.

But as a kid there were so many words that sounded almost the same or exactly the same that some of the things I thought were lyrics to songs made no sense whatsoever.

photo-18 copy 28

Holidays are particularly heavy with symbolic meanings as well as confusing sounding words.

For example, as a kid I often sang this Christmas tune: “Up on the housetop reindeer pause, out jumps good old Santa Clause…” But what I heard was more like this: “Ug, on the how stop, rain dear paws, out jumps good, O Santa Claws.”

When you’re four or five years old and that’s what you think you’re hearing Christmas becomes a confusing mess.

Or there’s this familiar first verse of Jingle Bells.

“Dash he threw the snow, on a one ore soaping slay, ore the fields we go, laughing all the way.” What the heck is a soaping slay?

How does that make any sense to anyone? But a little kid, with very little contextual understanding, words are so wierd!! But I didn’t even know enough to ask what it all meant. I figured, maybe, that it wasn’t supposed to make sense. I mean, the whole red suited guy squishing down a chimney seemed pretty nonsensical.

But I digress.

I was talking about symbols and cymbals.

Couldn’t cymbals be symbolic? Sure they could. But could cymbal playing really be cymbalic playing? I don’t know probably not.

The point is I was pushed quite naturally by such nonsense in the direction of figuring out words, and meanings in, under, around and beyond words.

Old House

Old House (Photo credit: WaywardShinobi)

Words drip with meaning. Words bend under the weight of history, like an old house with a wing added in one decade and a room tacked on in another, and then another room or two, here and there over the years, and finally a garage cobbled together a little bit after that. Add in all that attic space and crawl space. Until what you have is this word with hundreds and hundreds of years of meaning in every pore of its few letters.

So much so, that when I hear an advertisement for some drug called Cymbalta my brain pictures a percussion player with flat brass discs waiting for the director to signal for the crashing loud bash of metal on metal.

Cymbals, Chinese New Year in front of House of...

Cymbals, Chinese New Year in front of House of Hong, International District, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that makes no sense for an antidepressant, except in a mean-spirited I’m gonna shove you outta your bed of depression by sheer loudness kind of way.

I’ve tried a few antidepressants in my day, so don’t go thinking I’m being insensitive here. I wish one of the meds I tried over the years had that effect on me. “Alright, already, Ma, I’m awake, I’m up, I’m good to go! Stop with the Cymbalta playing!”

So then I think symbolism and I worry about what’s realllllllly in that medication, what does it meannnnnnn? And I feel a little nervous.

Words very seldom serve as just words.

And that’s scary.

“You say tomato, I say tom-AH-to.”

You know Amelia Bedelia? Yeah. Her. That book.

That one children’s book says so much better anything I’ve just spent nearly seven hundred words trying to explain. And it has pictures. Funny pictures.

Sigh.

“What does it all meannnnnnn?”

Maybe I just need some medication or an orchestra concert or a sign.

Or sleep.

Categories: Books, Humor, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What I Know, A Very Short Treatise

At age eighteen I thought I knew so much. That may have been true if you compared me to other eighteen year olds. I read more than the average teen. I took Advanced Placement classes. I took life pretty seriously, and yet, at the time I enjoyed myself. I had some brainy and quick-witted friends.

Ten years after that I looked back at my oh-so-wise-in-my-own-eyes teen self and shook my head. What a naïve girl! A lifetime of non-book learning seemed to occur in those ten short years. I’d put in some college time, sure, but I didn’t learn much the first time as a freshman. Who does, right? Distracted by trying to pay for the privilege of being there, I missed out on a ton of fun and opportunities. I had the dumbest work hours. Missed all the parties, missed all the camaraderie, missed learning how to get along with people.

Then I got to go back to school as a slightly older student and I soaked it all in like a sandbox and water. I had a couple of writing classes that kickstarted me in the sanity direction that words spilling out on paper became.

photo 2-1

One professor in particular encouraged and praised my writing beyond anything I’m sure I deserved. I reread that stuff and wonder how he ever saw potential there. His last  bit of advice to me hit me like an anvil dropped from an outcropping cliff by a road runner. Mind you, as a twenty-five year old mother of two I thought I had some life under my belt.

He said, and I paraphrase, “You’ve got real talent there. Give yourself ten or twenty years of life experience and then you’ll really be a great writer.”

It was like getting a hug while a wearing a burr covered shirt. Ouch!

No, I didn’t set out to live some amazing life of adventure. Having children and my particular husband served well as adventure fodder and life experience. “Sure it is,” you’re thinking as you shake your head “no.”

Let me just insert here that after that first move which pulled me out of college one year shy of a bachelor’s degree, we moved eleven times and added two more children to the mix. From the Northwest to the Southeast to the West to the Midwest and then back to the West. Include a couple or more bounces in each region. Add in two stints of wearing out various relatives for several months in between homes.

I’ve met a wide variety of people. Granted, most of them are American, but not all of them. I learned to get along with people, make friends quickly, climb out of my shell, ask questions, act independently and confidently and navigate the weirdest roads without a smartphone or GPS.

Throw in life’s natural disasters and dramas add a generous mix of teenage angst and a bit of insanity from several directions. What you have several decades later is one woman with a head filled to overflowing with experience but not necessarily wisdom trying to make sense of what she’s done with and to her life.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

I look at what I thought I knew in my thirties and shake my head in embarrassment. I look at what I thought I’d figured out in my forties and hide my head and shudder. I look at what I think I know now and at least I know that I know very little.

You know who really knows what’s what? People nearly twice my age. People ten years older than me, twenty years, thirty years older. Where is their wisdom? Why aren’t they out there blogging, writing, sharing, spilling, imparting, enlightening?

Oh yeah, because anyone younger thinks they’ve got it all figured out and they don’t pay attention. Including me to an extent.

What a dingbat.

I know some thirteen year olds who swear I know nothing about the real world. Eh, maybe. But I’m pretty sure I’d beat them in almost any game of life put to the both of us.

There’s no convincing anyone. You have to come to that conclusion yourself.

How?

By getting older. By living.

By time you figure it out, it’s too late to profit much from the wisdom of any other person. Unless you’re willing humble yourself and listen. And then follow through.

Is that what the great circle of life really is? Learning that the stove is hot by getting burned? Figuring out the water is too deep and fast by wading in and being swept away?

I suppose to some extent there’s no way to replace experience. But there’s a few thing I would rather not have had to learn.

And I’m certain there’s more on the horizon I still don’t want to learn. I wish I could just read a book on whatever it is and take a test.

I guess I’ll try to relax and breathe deeply, so when the vehicle starts to roll, or the avalanche lets loose, or the tornado hits, or life spins wildly into vertigo I won’t get too banged up.

Anyone want to volunteer for me? Anyone? Anyone at all?

Katniss?

Ah, well. Life isn’t a novel, or a movie.

Age

Age (Photo credit: garryknight)

In the meantime, I’ll write about it all, a little hear, a little there. I’ll try to make sense of it and share what I can along the way.

You’re welcome to take it or leave it.

I don’t really know all that much, after all.

Categories: Education, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“How Big Is Your Brave?”

Did you hear what I said?

More importantly, did you hear what I meant?

Watch and listen to this and then we’ll talk:

You know how you can never think of a clever thing to say when you really need it? It’s like the next morning midway between breakfast and lunch when you think of the perfect comeback.

Too late.

And then there’s the text, email, instant message, private message or phone message you put out there that gets NO response whatsoever. What does that mean? Did it go through? Did you say something wrong? Are they avoiding you? It’s like the written equivalent of “do I have something green and gross in my teeth?” but much much worse.

I know, I know, the logical thing to think falls in the category of they’re busy, gone, their device isn’t working, or they missed seeing it among the three thousand others they received yesterday.

But still, I worry and wonder. Okay, fine, I obsess a little, too.

Or you post some witty or smart remark on Facebook and then read it a while later. You wonder who hacked your account and wrote such an abominable sentence that doesn’t even come close to what you meant to say.

Crash!

Laptop Keyboard

Return. Oops! (Photo credit: nist6ss)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve, fortunately, read what I just typed, BEFORE I pressed the return button. Snarky, mean, thoughtless, manipulative, stupid, airheaded, too much information, ridiculous. Whatever. Dodged that one!

But, I’ve also pressed return without really paying attention and then shortly after wanted to crawl under a rock and ban myself from all forms of social media forever.

Sometimes just a regular conversation can leave me wondering what in the scrap-heap went wrong. I thought the conversation was about abc and the person I’ve chatted with  thought we were talking about xyz. Totally different wavelengths. Complete and utter misunderstanding. My brain throws its hands into the air and walks away disgusted with my lack of socializing skills.

Then there’s this other aspect of it all.

Pendulum

Pendulum (Photo credit: MrPlow5)

My communication pendulum swings rather wide. I fluctuate between two extremes.

I’m sometimes fairly quiet, uncertain about talking and keep to myself. Almost like a hermit, I mumble things under my breath, but rarely share out loud. I think way too much and have incredible inner conversations. Talking with others? Not so much.

Or the pendulum swings and I’m a little too talkative. I find myself answering a simple, basic question with Way Too Much Information. Those WTMI’s give me more anxiety than four teenagers combined ever did. (No, that’s not true, nothing could top that.) But anxiety levels rocket to stupid heights because of my over sharing, and again, I want to crawl under a rock and disappear for a month or three.

grizzly bear mind meld with boy

Grizzly bear mind meld with boy (Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

Why weren’t we made with, I don’t know, brain to brain communication? Spock’s mind meld technique could come in handy more often than you’d think. I really need a verbal delete button. More than a shoulder angel or a shoulder devil, I need a shoulder editor.

“Hey, Kami, don’t say that. ”  Or better yet, “Shh… Just keep quiet for a minute. Listen…listen…wait… okay, now you can talk, but don’t empty your entire thought process here.”

Maybe that’s more like a quarterback coach with a headset on running the game mouth to helmet.  Fine, then, that’s what I need.

Or do I just need to stay BRAVE and say what I think and what I mean as best I can and roll with it.

Gaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Whole wars are fought over words that are misunderstood, misinterpreted, misused, missing or mistakes. No pressure!!!!

Do you sense the pendulum swinging here? It’s swinging so wide it may crash through a wall this time.

Why such angst? This is silly! These brave souls in this music video that accompanies these wonderful lyrics make me feel braver, make me smile, make me think I can just say what I think and the worlds walls won’t come crashing down around me.

It’s possible to just be there, move with the music, throw myself into living with abandon and silliness and guts and let things happen. It’s more likely that JOY will happen if I’m dancing. It’s more likely that JOY will happen if I’m at least TRYING to let my voice be heard.

Sure I’m gonna trip over myself. Probably way more than I think I will. (I already do, actually.) But maybe, just maybe I’ll make someone smile as I dance my words across the page or across the room. Maybe because I say what I think, I dance to the music that I’m hearing, someone else will get on their brave and dance with their words, too. It could happen.

Being brave with my words.

It’s surely worth the risk.

At least, I hope so.

I think I’ve found my new personal anthem.

_________________________

“Brave”

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

*****

The title of today’s post is thanks to Sara Berreilles. You can also thank my young with-it daughter. When she heard what I was thinking about writing for today’s post she aimed me Sara’s direction.

Categories: People, Relationships, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

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