WYA Challenge: Day 4

WYA

“Good Writing is supposed to evoke sensations in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” ~ E.L. Doctorow

The house is quiet when I walk in from work. But his truck is in the driveway, so he must be here. As I shrug off my coat I see him in the kitchen. Oh, how sweet. He is cooking dinner. Cones of light shine down from the vaulted ceiling, steam swirling upward, quickly dissipating. The rest of the house is dark and I feel like I am watching a play. The gentle clanking of metal against metal and the hiss of hot oil echo in the room.

It’s always in slow motion when I remember this. It felt like slow motion as it played out. Maybe a part of me knew what was coming and tried to fend it off any way I could.

When he sees me, he turns the burners down and walks toward me, telling me that M. called. I remember thinking it was odd that he called instead of H.

But mostly I am focused on his face. I  haven’t seen this face before. We’ve been married for only a few years. I realize there is so much more for us to learn about each other.

When he reaches me, his hands wrap gently, oh so tenderly around my arms. I still have no idea what is going on. No idea what he is about to say.

But when the words leave his mouth, they feel inevitable.

“B. is dead.”

Inevitable.

But not true.

A part of me knows.

A part of me repels the idea. The words.

“No, she’s not.”

He nods, not wanting to say it again.

I shake my head, wrapping my own arms tightly around my body, as if to keep it from imploding, chanting the same words over and over.

No, she’s not.

No she’s not.

Noshesnot. Noshesnot.

Until they no longer even sound like words.

Until they are merely sounds vomiting from this new, deep, raw sad of part of me I didn’t even know existed.

•   •   •   •   •   •

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today?

2 1/2 hours

 

What did I work on?

Morning Pages

Healthy Living Journal

WYA Dig Deeper and Writing Prompt

 

Times of day:

3:30 5:30 in my nook

5:45 – 6:15 at my computer

 

Mood: 

A little tired. Had a lazy day. Too much TV. Left me mentally sluggish. And I waited until too late in the day to work again. Mornings are prime time for me.

 

Greatest Obstacle:

Put off writing until my mental energy was oh so low.

 

Greatest Strength:

I showed up anyway and wrote.

 

Creative affirmation:

Each day that I write is day that I didn’t quit.

 

Write Yourself Alive: A 30 Day Challenge

WYA Challenge: Day 3

Day 3

Image found via Pinterest.

“Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.” ~ Annie Dillard

This is one time when time I don’t agree with Annie Dillard. I need my workspace to be appealing on some level. It is so easy to resist doing the work, why put up another roadblock by making the space where I write unappealing?

I am not precious about where I write. I’ve written at my desk in my writing space, in my writing/reading nook in the living room, at the bookstore, in the car, on a plane, at a picnic table by the lake.

The space around me is not the distracting thing. It’s the space in my head that can be distracting. It’s the lure of the world at my literal fingertips with the click of a mouse that is distracting.

So, I guess it’s less of an unappealing workplace that I need and more of a non-distracting one. I’ve found a fe within stop help with that.

I use earplugs when I am out in the world writing. It mutes the sounds swirling around me. I will even use them at home if others are in the house. It creates an instant cocoon of concentration.

Downloading the Freedom app is an amazing distraction eraser. I set the timer for how long I want to be locked out of internet access and I write without the temptation of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter taunting me.

My biggest distraction can be my own mind. That’s where meditation comes in. I resisted it for so long. Felt like a fraud everytime I tried to meditate. But now it has become the cornerstone of my writing practice. It doesn’t clear my mind of all its clutter. As a writer, that’s not what I want anyway. It’s more like it allows everything to settle just enough so I can focus. It’s easier to let thoughts go, to stay present to what I am doing. As a writer, that is what I need the most. I need to be present to the words, to the characters, to the story—to the next word, sentence, scene that needs to be written.

Meditation also allows me to befriend my mind. To notice with a light curiosity what exactly goes on in there. Seeing how the mind is one of a writer’s greatest tools, anything that bridges the gap is welcome. It also teaches me to become comfortable with being uncomfortable which is also a great asset as a writer.

Meditation is a tool just like my notebook or computer at this point—essential and non-negotiable.

 

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today?

3 hours

 

What did I work on?

WIP for 3o solid minutes. ( I set a timer). It was the firs thing I worked on which helped my concentration.

Morning Pages

Healthy Living Journal

WAY Dig Deeper and Writing Prompt

 

Times of day:

2-4 at the bookstore

9 PM – 10 PM in my writing nook

 

Mood:

A little tired. Mid afternoon is not prime time for me. Also a little frustrated with my WIP. Feeling a little stuck about about the sequence of events and some backstory. Started taking notes on what happens in each chapter and whether it is Current Story or Back story. That is helping.

 

Greatest Obstacle:

Feeling stuck.

 

Greatest Strength:

Instead of needing to produce more words, I used my time to figure out what I have and what the story needs.

 

Creative affirmation:

Any time spent working on the story is well spent even if the word count doesn’t increase.

 

Write Yourself Alive: A 30 Day Challenge

WYA Challenge: Day 2

WYA

My epitaph:

“Awake and present to it All, she wrote into the stars and into the earth, into her heart and into her gut—eyes open, heart open, mind open, pen poised.”

 

Creativity check-in:

How much did I write today:

3 hours

 

What I worked on:

Morning pages

WYA Challenge: Dig Deeper, Writing prompt and something inspired by the Writing tip

My blog

My YA novel

 

Time(s) of day:

2:30 – 5:30

 

Mood:

Tired (first day of teaching 2 early morning yoga classes)

Excited and distracted by the number of views a blog post has been getting

 

Greatest obstacle:

Settling into to work on my novel. I saved it for last and my energy and focus were spent. Think I need to start with it tomorrow.

 

Greatest strength:

Allowing some painful shit to come up in the writing today.

 

Creative affirmation:

I am strong enough to be present with whatever comes up in my writing.

 

Write Yourself Alive: A 30 Day Challenge

WYA Day 1: Why I Write

Dive deep

Image found via Pinterest.

Why I write.

I write to dive in past the shallow surface of life.

I write to remember who I was, who I am and who it is possible for me to be.

Writing is a thread that ties my experiences together and reveals something deeper.

I write to dislodge rage, to soothe anxiety, to revel in joy, to ease shame, to immerse myself in the beautiful chaos of being human, in this body, as this woman, at this time in history that feels as if it is teetering on some huge precipice.

Writing keeps me sane. Or saner amidst the chaos within and without.

If I couldn’t write, I would paint huge sprawling canvases and petite fragile ones and every size in between using line, shape, color and texture to connect with the world around me. Crescents of paint dried under my nails, smudged on my cheek, scraps of paper glued to the delicate bone on the side of my wrist.

Or perhaps I’d weave notes into the air from a piano or guitar, creating a cocoon of sound to both comfort and liberate.

That, right there, is why I write.

It both comforts and liberates me.

I seek solace on the page and I find liberation when the mask is finally shattered and my raw whole self is there, just as I am.

If I couldn’t write or paint or create music, perhaps my creativity would just be me, fully embracing each messy, painful, blissful moment of my life. Writing is my doorway to living from that space.

Writing keeps me awake and present to all of it.

There’s no place to hide when I write.

I’m present to the light and the dark, to the angst and the bliss, to the lies and the truth, the heavy and light, the calm and chaos, the fear and boldness, the mundane and profound.

Me, awake and present to all of it.

That’s why I write.

 

Creativity Check-in

How much did I write today? (time, words, pages)

2 hours

What did I work on?

3 Morning Pages

3 WYA pages

A blog post

Mood:

Tired, brain foggy

Greatest obstacle:

Taught three yoga classes so my attention was spread thin today.

Greatest strength:

Making the time anyway, no matter how I felt.

Creative Affirmation:

I show up to the page daily to keep the creative momentum going.

 

 

The Art of Being Enough.

huge hole

Image found via Pinterest.

I remember hearing that when you turn 40, you stop caring what people think of you.

Or when you turn 50, you will just say what you think.

Well, both of those birthdays have come and gone and I still care what people think of me and I do not always say what I think.

When will it happen for me?

Will it ever?

But lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps it is a gradual shedding and not one big fell swoop like I am expecting.

I care less than I did what people think of me.

I am aware that what they think of me is not my business. That I have no control over it.

I am aware that we all project our crap onto others.

When I find myself judging somebody, I remember to turn that mirror around and it is almost always, without fail, something in myself that I do not like.

I don’t always say exactly what I think. But I do sometimes. I do more than I used to.

I used to be addicted to self-help books. I would roam the aisles of the bookstore, desperately seeking that book that would finally fix me.

Fix me.

That is what I thought. That I needed to be fixed. That in some essential way I was broken.

Now, I will sometimes casually browse the self-help or personal growth section but it is never with that intention of filling up some gaping hole in me.

I used to take everything personally. And I mean everything.

The cashier didn’t smile at me? I must have annoyed her in some way.

A small group is laughing in the corner. It must’ve been at me.

Now, I do that less. Now, I remember that it’s not all about me.

In fact, it is rarely about me.

Now, I have some distance, a psychic buffer between me and the me that never feels like she is enough.

And that, right there, is what that hole is.

The not-enough hole.

Not thin enough, successful enough, bold enough, generous enough.

Just not enough in some deep and profound way.

That’s a pretty big hole to fill. And all my life I have tried to fill that hole by being what everyone around me needs me to be. Caring too much what they think, not saying what I want. I’ve filled it with wine and sugar and TV and amazon.

Obviously, that hole is not going to vanish just because I turn 40 or 50 or 60 or some other magical milestone age.

That hole is always there. It’s part of being human. It’s how I deal with it that matters. Not filling it up with sugar or wine or shopping or TV .

Instead, learning to sit with the hole. Befriending it. Acknowledging that, yep it’s still there. And navigating around it.

That, to me, is santosha—being content with what I have, where I am, who I am.

Or as Pema Chodron says—befriending who I already am.

Befriending myself even when I care too much what others think of me.

Befriending myself when I fail to speak up, speak out.

So, no, I haven’t woken up after a milestone birthday suddenly a new person.

Instead, I wake up each day, doing the best I can, gradually shedding those things that feel too heavy to carry, those things that dull my light.

I wake up each day with the intention of befriending who I already am.

I wake up each day fully intending to embrace and experience santosha—a deep and abiding contentment with exactly who I am, right now, in this moment.

And, in this moment, I am enough.

More than enough.

And so are you, my sweet friend.

So are you.

You are so enough

Image found via Pinterest.

Wednesday Writing Prompt.

Darkest before the dawn

Image found via Pinterest.

Words are the lantern I carry deep into the darkness of my psyche. Deep into the wilderness that is my soul. They light my path when the path feels imperceptible. When that path is strewn with the debris of my mind—fear, jealousy, rage, expectations, blame, loneliness. Words shine a flicker of light so I can see where I actually am, not where my mind thinks I am. I can see what actually is rather than what I imagine it is. Words. These tiny black marks on a screen or blue marks scribbled on a page contain all the light of the universe within them. A light that illuminates the universe that churns within me, lighting me up from within in the midst of utter darkness. Breadcrumbs that lead me back to myself. Back to the path. Beacons of light that offer hope, that dispel the despair, that lead me even deeper into the wild, swirling universe of who I was, who I am  and who I am meant to be.

The Practice of Embracing Silence.

Pascal quote

Image found via Pinterest.

I’ve never been good at being alone.

Never been comfortable with silence. Which explains why I resisted meditation for so long. Even when one of my favorite writers/teachers highly recommended it for writers, coming just shy of touting it as the magic key, I still refused to sit with myself in silence.

When I first went away to art school, I arrived before my roommate. I had the apartment to myself for almost a week and I didn’t know a soul. I didn’t have a TV. This was well before personal computers, much less iPhones. I didn’t have a stereo. I think I did have a cassette player with earphones. And books. And myself.

Those few days were excruciating. I remember sitting on the couch in view of the apartment across from me where I saw other students, hoping, praying they would notice me, take pity on me and invite me over.

They didn’t.

When I was a young mother, I craved time alone, even if just in the bathroom. When I was lucky enough to get that time to myself, I almost always squandered much of it in front of the TV. Or I’d call family or friends and talk to them. Anything to fill up the silence. Anything to avoid being alone with myself.

Now, my daughters are both away at college. This week my husband is out of town so it just me and the dog and cat. And the silence.

As I sit in my cozy reading/writing nook in the living room I hear the tapping of these keys, the gurgling hum of the washing, the clock ticking over the mantel and the muted thrum of highway traffic. That’s it. No TV or radio or music to fill the silence.

No barriers between me and myself.

I no longer resist silence or being alone. I embrace it.

What changed? Me.

I don’t know when exactly it happened but it’s been since I started practicing yoga, since I finished my YTT. Yoga has allowed me to dive deep and figure out who I am, how I feel and to, you know, actually feel those feelings.

I think I was afraid of feeling too much so I avoided being alone, avoided creating space where feelings could surface.

Being alone no longer feels lonely. I am not always comfortable with being alone or with silence. Sometimes I still get that feeling of wanting to crawl out of my skin. Of wanting to fill in the gaps of silence that press on me.

The difference now is that I allow myself to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And that is something that has definitely emerged from my yoga practice. I find my edge in poses that aren’t comfortable but I stay there, I breathe, I feel my body, I note my resistance and choose to stay.

Staying there when I want to flee is where the growth happens. It’s like a muscle that I push to its limit and it grows stronger. That space of hanging in past resistance helps in my writing as well. It helps with everything, really.

So, as I find myself sitting in the utter quiet of my home, I note the butterflies in my belly, I note my shallow breath and the urge to turn the TV on. But I don’t. I choose breathe deep. I choose to embrace the silence.

And in embracing the silence I am embracing myself, exactly who I am in this moment.

I wish eighteen-year-old me had known this. But she was young. She didn’t know or appreciate the beauty of all of who she was.

That’s okay. We know now.

 

 

Wednesday Writing Prompt

into the woods

Image found via Pinterest.

 

She strode into the woods without a path to follow. It is the only way to go. The darkness beckoned her rather than repelled her. She used to be afraid of monsters under her bed and in her closet then she learned that there were actual things to fear in the world. Things that were right in front of her, in the light of day so the darkness no longer scared her. The darkness became her companion. She didn’t learn how to use a compass because she had one. Her heart. And once she learned how to follow it, there were no woods too dense, no road too long, no cave too deep, no place within or without that she would avoid. She strode deeply into the center of her life, unafraid of what she would find, unafraid of being  lost. Being lost was only a step on the path to being found. Being lost was merely a state of mind. A state of heart. A state of being exactly where she was. Of being exactly who she was.