Friday’s Focus—Again

It’s been some time since I’ve been here last. Did you miss me? I did! Literally. Things have been so hectic with the selling and moving from our home to not only a new house but a new state,  I feel as though I lost myself in the process. Everything was put on hold that didn’t have to do with the day job, lawyers, bankers, or real estate agents. The only writing I was doing were checks and emails. Subjects of blogs and short stories swirled in my head borne out of people we met and circumstances but there they stayed, behind the wall of my mind and never making it beyond the thought, “Oh, I should write about that.” It’s time to breathe life into those stories and writings again.

Last night, I decided enough was enough and sat down to the keyboard to let my fingers do the walking so my mind can do the talking, and well, here we are. Again. Still feeling my sea legs in the new place, I look for corners and spaces as new homes for my yoga mat and books. Settling into a daily routine of day job mixed in with the new neighborhood sounds will take awhile, but in the meantime, I’m growing accustomed to the sounds of hammers and saws sprinkled with a few swear words from my husband, which has actually been helpful to use as a gauge on how well (?) repairs have been going!

This move is the cap of what has been a fierce 8 months (actually the last 3 years) of continuous major life events. Feeling tense and uptight had become very familiar feelings for me. Sitting within these new four walls, with the dust settling and the boxes slowly being unpacked, I can still feel the anxiety continue to surround me, which is exactly what I had wanted to change. “Maybe it’s too soon,” I tell myself. “I need to give myself time to slow the twitching and unwind from the hectic pace,” I add.

Almost as a ready response, I hear the words “no matter where you go, there you are” echo through my head and immediately recognize the truth in it. No matter where you go—house, hut, country, or planet you move or travel to, if the changes you seek aren’t made within, it won’t matter what zip code you land in.

I knew better than to expect a complete whoosh of having all my problems disappear as I watched the tail lights of the moving truck leave, but I guess to be honest, on some deep level, I must have expected it to happen all the same.

How we experience things all comes from our perspective, and if our perspective, our basic way of seeing something, doesn’t change, our experiences and our views will continue to be more of the same. This week, as I get myself back into my writing, and once again set my sight on the changes I want to make within (and without), I’m consciously refining my perspective of what each day can bring. This is not about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses but rather taking off those glasses to get a clearer and more honest view. One of the simplest and most profound ways of doing this is by intention, which is something we can all do.

Even if you don’t have any plans of moving or traveling any time soon, you can still set your intention and perspective anew each day and welcome yourself home.

IMG_1904#takingitdeeper

 

Friday’s Focus—A Page Is Worth a Thousand Memories

Still deep in the process of cleaning up and boxing for our move, I came across a stack of journals I wrote many years ago while in my late teens, through college, and into the end of my first marriage. The notebooks were squirreled away in a corner of the garage interspersed with high school and college yearbooks. A cardboard box of memories now wrapped in spiderwebs and reeking of mold.

I knew I couldn’t keep them smelling the way they did but I couldn’t bring myself to just toss them either. So I blew off the dust, found myself a seat and flipped through them one last time before they were forever history. I was feeling an odd mixture of curiosity and trepidation—heck, I remember those years. Did I really want to go back there? But instead I found reading the entries again to be revelatory. It’s amazing how our memories gloss over seemingly innocuous details that feel as big as the sun when they first happen. And yes, there were some of those dreams in there that I haven’t achieved but it was okay because I can still say not achieved yet.

There were names and events that I barely remembered, if at all, but the key players were there still as sharply in focus as yesterday. It was fascinating to look back and see how my experiences and feelings shaped me into who I am today. But the most surprising reveal was seeing patters of thinking and beliefs from back then and (deep breath here), seeing and admitting I still have them today.

The patterns of thinking and believing wouldn’t have been so obvious had I not read these journals. Admittedly, it was a little disconcerting to discover how feelings of insecurity, shame, and fear had their seeds in those pages and how they’ve remained as unconscious patterns now. But I also saw patterns of strength, fight, resolve, and determination that also had its seeds back then, and which have also remained to this day, far outweighing the insecurities and fears thanks to experiences and time.

There were some hurtful events that came back in vivid detail, and as they did, I almost felt like a mother to myself, sending the younger me love and understanding back through time. It provided an unexpected opportunity for the healing of my younger self, which in turn, heals my current self.

There were good memories of sun, friends, going down the shore, and countdowns to last days of classrooms and some not so good memories. These were snapshots of daily life and growing up in the typical highs and lows of a Jersey girl moving from her adolescence through her first marriage.

I saw myself from the inside out because it was me but also from the outside in, reading about my feelings and experiences as if they happened to someone else. I didn’t expect this as I started to flip through the earliest book, but before I knew it, I caught myself searching for the girl I knew I was and connecting with her as the woman I grew up to be.

By the time I read my way through to the last journal, I was ready to let them go, but I wanted to do so with some sort of dignity rather then tossing them into the trash, so I let my inner artist come through. I filled the kitchen sink with water and bunch by bunch, tore the pages from the notebooks and soaked them in the water. I watched my handwriting disappear as the ink washed away.

After a few hours, the water now looked like a mini-lake with its blue water and the paper pulped back to its beginnings. I grabbed handfuls of the mush and squeezed them into small balls of paper—no hint or evidence of the words they once contained. As I worked the paper in my hands, I once again took on the role of Mother to the younger me and consciously connected the disconnects. I wasn’t sad about giving up the pages and notebooks now. As a mater of fact, I felt it was a gift to go through them again and cathartic to wash the pages away.

I’m glad I kept them all these years. I don’t think I ever intended to re-read them. Once the last page was filled, up it went on a shelf until I didn’t know when. But now, I do. I’m interested to see what will reveal itself when I read my current writings 30 years from now.

A written page is worth a thousand memories and staying open to what was can only lead to a better way of what will be.

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—Something From Nothing

There are some days, as a writer, it feels like I have nothing to say. The muse is off playing with the dog or helping some other writer slouched over their keyboard. Sometimes all that seems to fill a page are half sentences or phrases that start out hopeful but stop short of being anything more than a glorified bunch of nouns, verbs, and adjectives and the paper is littered with the glitter of wanna-be quips and stories.

For me, the way ideas come and thoughts develop into whatever they want—stories, poems, essays, doodles—changes depending on the medium I use to bring it forward with. It’s been interesting to notice how characters change and the endings shift depending on whether I use a computer or a good old-fashioned pen and paper. Hands down, my favorite way to write, or at least get started, is using pen and paper. I’m an admitted paper-a-holic and just can’t resist blank notebooks; paper that just begs to be written on. The pen also needs to be right and together, in the right combination, it’s as though the story is already there and the ink simply reveals it.

Writing with a pencil gives an entirely different feeling. I find my writing takes on more of the feeling of a doodle and I tend to edit more. The words feel “sketched” and less “committed” than ink. Writing with ink is like changing your Facebook status to “in a relationship.”

Finally, there’s the keyboard. I find that writing on a computer releases a completely different stream of consciousness. This may be the easiest of all to write with but it is also the coldest and least personal way of working to me.

Of course, I can, and have begun writing something with one medium and switched over to another (beginning with pen and then moving to keyboard) and every time I do the story changes—for better or for worse. I’m not talking about editing or revisions but rather that fact that I experience a distinctly different flow with each medium and the words just come out different.

When I began to write today’s post, I couldn’t find the rhythm no matter what I tried to write with. In a last attempt, I opened my laptop and like a Seinfeld episode (which is really about nothing), I began to write about nothing, but it ended up turning into a something (which is still about nothing). So this is my Seinfeld post; one that is really about nothing except to say whether you’re a writer, an artist, a musician, a chef, or you do anything that’s creative, if you’ve found your usual way of doing things isn’t working so well and you feel that your muse has abandoned you, try things from a different angle and see what happens. Don’t stop. You never know what something will come out of your “nothings”!

Have a great weekend!

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—Whispers and Shouts

This is something I wrote and posted two years ago and I was reminded of it again in our house hunting. The original piece is about how everyone and everything has a story, whether it’s vocalized or not and houses carry stories too. Each house, each home carries the energy of its occupants. There’s so much you can tell at a glance, but it’s the empty ones….ah, those are the ones whose stories fire up the imagination of what was…and what could be again.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

We all have them.

Even if you say you don’t have a story, that’s still a story.

So tell me a story. Not just a story. Your story. Not just your story. Your truth.

We tell stories to each other to makes each other feel less alone, to feel less afraid. Some of us tell stories because we are proud and we want to share. We are all storytellers on some level—if not with our words, then with our actions or in our being. We are even storytellers by our silence.

Our stories tell us by the way we hold our head high (or low), and the laugh lines and crows feet that map our joys and sorrows. If there is Botox there instead, then I can still see your story in your eyes. Do you meet mine or would you rather gaze to the distance or to the floor?

There is a story in your hair—the length, the color, and whether it covers your face to further conceal your mask or do you wear it swept back daring the world to gaze at your features as you stare back?

Your chin tells me a story. Is it jutted out in defiance and pride or does it tremble in fear or sadness?

Your shoulders tell me a story. Are they rounded as if you try to hide your existence or are they rolled back, your chest and heart open and wide?

The jewelry you wear tells me stories. Do you shine and glitter like a thousand lights in a chandelier, or do you carry bells on your fingers and toes to dance to as you walk into a room?

I’m interested in the stories of your hands and the babies and lovers they held in sickness, health, passion, and love.

Your scars and tattoos even share. They tell me one story while your piercings scream another.

I’m interested in the stories in between your stories; the pauses and the sighs in between your words because they speak just as loudly and sometimes louder. Come closer and whisper to me your secret, whisper to me your story and I’ll tell you mine and then we’ll whisper them into the wind. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl or a man or a woman.

The young have stories called dreams and the old have stories they call memories. Let’s use our imaginations and listen to the stories of the trees and birds and the lions and monkeys and then we’ll tell them to the stars and the moon and the sun until we are one big story with a thousand different voices, a thousand different names, a thousand different experiences and yet, somehow, some way, all one.

So take off your mask and let your shadow step forward, because I can already see your story whether you tell me or not but I want to hear it come from you.

#takingitdeeper

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Now.

Every single one of us.
Has something to say.
It’s not just a story.
It’s their story.
It’s your story.
It’s your time to tell it.
It’s your time to write it.
To draw it.
To sing it.
To be it.
Will you?
Or.
Will you let it remain.
In your mind.
In your soul.
As a thought.
As a desire.
As a dream.
Let’s make it so.
And be.
Who we have been.
Dreaming ourselves to be.

#taingitdeeper

Friday’s Focus—Being Mindful of Your Words

Language is one of the most powerful forces humans posses and words can bring people together or tear them apart. They are equal in their power whether they are spoken or written or just thoughts.

Through our words, we each have the power to make or break a situation or even a person, and that can include ourselves by being critical and judgmental of the way we look or feel.

Being mindful of right speech is something we can practice by being aware of our spoken and unspoken words. It only takes a small amount of effort for something that can have such a huge impact.

What we don’t say can sometimes be more important than what we do say, so keep that in mind today dear reader, not just for Friday’s Focus but for a focus every day!

Have a great weekend Have a great weekend!
Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way…

 

Why I Do What I Do

Someone asked me the other day why I write. What was it about writing that attracted me and wasn’t I scared or nervous to put myself “out there”?

I write because I want to. I write because there is something inside of me that wants its own voice heard whether it’s a piece of fiction, a personal cry of injustice, or simply an homage to a sunrise. Do I get nervous making my writing public? Sure, but I do it anyway. I wouldn’t say I’m fearless or brave and yes, there’s an edge of trepidation that accompanies every piece I push out into the world, but it’s not enough to stop me anymore.

It’s only natural to feel scared. People can be downright petty, cruel, judgmental, and jealous but they can also be loving, supportive, inspiring, and forgiving. To the haters and their fears: I’m sorry you feel the way you do and that you have that much energy to waste being negative. I’m not going to let you stop me from sharing how I feel or what I want to say.

As I’ve gotten older and collected more stories, I care less about being judged and more about being heard, and that’s where I want my energy to go. What I write about is how I feel and about my observations and no one can say that my feelings are wrong.

Writing is the breath to my creativity. It’s the voice of my loves, likes, curiosities, and trepidations, and maybe most importantly, it’s the voice of my heart. I write because it feels good. It’s the kind of feel-good feeling I used to get with the first inhale of a cigarette or the first glass of wine after a long day and with it came that blissful sweet spot of release as I felt myself soften and relax.

Where do I want to go with my writing? I’ll let my stories take me where they decide. I’m proud to have already published a non-fiction book, but now as I work on my first fictional novel, other fiction stories are pouring out of me for the first time. Spontaneous mental scenarios and conversations between characters are now a normal part of my day that just begged to be noticed and written.

I would love to publish my fiction either as a self-published work or through more traditional ways, but these days, to be a published author also means having to be a lawyer, designer, editor, proofreader, and marketer, and if that’s not enough, you have to know how to tweet, pin, share, post, upload, and download to reach the maximum potential audience. To have all this control over one’s work is great, but I also see how it can be time-consuming and daunting. I get overwhelmed sometimes just thinking about it.

I’ve decided to stop worrying about all the things I’m going to have to do once my stories are ready and focus instead, on what got me here on a blog in the first place, and that is simply my desire to write and to create.

So here I am again, sharing my thoughts. A writer writing about writing, and maybe just maybe, giving someone out there reading this the courage to start writing and posting and a reminder to let the future take care of itself. Don’t stop dreaming of writing that best-seller or having thousands of blog followers. As Jim Morrison sang, “This is the best part of the trip, …this is the trip…the best part.”

Blogging From A to Z: Zippy

Z

I knew from the beginning of this A to Z challenge that I would end it with the word zippy. I tried other Z words—zelig, zaftig, zoo, Zelda (Fitzgerald, not Nintendo’s Legends of), Zippo, even my older brother Zoltan was a potential candidate, but nothing quite stuck.

So I decided to be true to the word that apparently won’t let me go and wants its place in the alphabetic line of this challenge, and thus I offer up the word zippy. It’s a pretty versatile word actually: the classical definition is to be very quick and speedy or fresh and stylish. It can also be used to sarcastically describe someone who moves molasses-slow and for those of us who remember or who are comic book fans, Zippy was an iconic comic strip from the early 1970s created by Bill Griffith. Personally, I have no particular associations with this word except that it makes me smile and it’s fun to say.

I love the peppy and lively energy of the word. Taking this deeper, I think I wanted to end this month-long blogging event on a high note and a smile. After today, I will return to my regularly scheduled programming of posts so I want to thank all of you who have stopped by, visited, and those of you following me since this challenge began. I met some truly wonderful, incredible, inspiring people—writers, artists, photographers, and just plain folks with an outlet and something to say.

So to my fellow bloggers, artists, and soul travelers, I want to wish all of you a very zippy day.

Just took it deeper. 🙂

Blogging From A to Z: You

Y

Sometimes we feel as though there is no one we can talk to; no one to turn to share our fears and hopes and whatever it is we are feeling. How often have you wished that someone would just grab you by the shoulders and say, “yes, you….”?

So, I am dedicating this next to last post in the A to Z blogging of the letter “Y”, to you:

Yes, you are going to make it through this hour, this morning, this afternoon, this evening, today.

Yes, you are going to impress them with your interviewing skills.

Yes, you are strong enough to handle this.

Yes, you can commit to this relationship.

Yes, you are going to be a good mom/dad.

Yes, you can finish that marathon.

Yes, you can go back to school.

Yes, you can stop drinking/smoking.

Yes, you will survive this and get through it.

Yes, you can write it/compose it/draw it.

Yes, you can / will _______________________[fill in the blank], and no, you’re not alone.

Taking it deeper…..

Blogging From A to Z: Stories

S

We all have them. Even if you say you don’t have a story, that’s still a story. So tell me a story. Not just a story. Your story. Not just your story. Your truth.

We tell stories to each other to makes each other feel less alone, to feel less afraid. Some of us tell stories because we are proud and we want to share. We are all storytellers on some level—if not with our words, then with our actions or in our being. We are even storytellers by our silence.

Our stories tell us by the way we hold our head high (or low), and the laugh lines and crows feet that map our joys and sorrows. If there is Botox there instead, then I can still see your story in your eyes. Do you meet mine or would you rather gaze to the distance or to the floor?

There is a story in your hair—the length, the color, and whether it covers your face to further conceal your mask or do you wear it swept back daring the world to gaze at your features as you stare back?

Your chin tells me a story. Is it jutted out in defiance and pride or does it tremble in fear or sadness?

Your shoulders tell me a story. Are they rounded as if you try to hide your existence or are they rolled back, your chest and heart open and wide?

The jewelry you wear tells me stories. Do you shine and glitter like a thousand lights in a chandelier, or do you carry bells on your fingers and toes to dance to as you walk into a room?

I’m interested in the stories of your hands and the babies and lovers that they held in sickness, health, passion, and love.

Your scars and tattoos even share. They tell me one story while your piercings scream another.

I’m interested in the stories in between your stories; the pauses and the sighs in between your words because they speak just as loudly and sometimes louder.

Come closer and whisper to me your secret, whisper to me your story and I’ll tell you mine and then we’ll whisper them into the wind. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl or a man or a woman. The young have stories called dreams and the old have stories they call memories. Let’s use our imaginations and listen to the stories of the trees and birds and the lions and monkeys and then we’ll tell them to the stars and the moon and the sun until we are one big story with a thousand different voices, a thousand different names, a thousand different experiences and yet, somehow, some way, all one.

So take off your mask and let your shadow step forward, because I can already see your story whether you tell me or not but I want to hear it come from you. I can see your story already as your lips part slightly and your gaze rises to meet mine. I smile in encouragement and nod my head yes, so we can take it a little deeper.