Her Days.

Photo: Patty via Flickr

Photo: Patty via Flickr

Day 2 of the Write Yourself Alive Challenge.

Narrate a day in your life as the main character of an autobiographical novel.

She is getting used to the silent days. So much silence, it is like another presence, sharing space with her. What she wouldn’t have given for that peace and quiet when her kids were little and the only quiet time she had was in the shower or while she slept. But even then, even in those moments, the quiet was punctured by this underlying waiting, this awareness of others in the house, others who could need her at any moment.

She lived her life on guard.

Now, for the most part of most days, she is in the house alone. When her husband travels, the only time she hears her own voice is when she talks to her dog. She lavishes her with language, as much for the dog and for herself.

She tells herself that all that silence feeds her writing. And it does, When she lets it. Some days though she hides from it. Dodging the silence all day long by calling people, mindless meandering across the internet, binge watching a show on Hulu, pouring the glass of wine a little earlier than normal. Those days, the silence feels like a call to a duel, a duel she has no energy to engage in.

Other days, she embraces the silence, the solitude. She starts the day with meditation, that thing she has resisted for so many years but now feels familiar. Not always comfortable but definitely familiar. A candle glows on her altar, the sweet sugary scent reminding her of a bakery first thing in the morning. Then she goes to her desk and opens a notebook to fill three pages with the ramblings of her mind, no product in mind, just pure process of connecting pen to paper, heart to mind. Then it’s over to the computer where she dismantles the internet through Freedom for 45 minutes and manages to eek out at least 500 words on her novel.

Those days are good days. Those days she gives her writing and silence the attention and priority they deserve.

She’s learning to have compassion for all of her days. Trying not to label them as good or bad. Trying not to label herself as good or bad. Learning there are days when she is present and days when she is not.

And they are just days.

Her precious days.

Then she remembers the Annie Dillard quote:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Her life has been made up and is made up of days, some loud and crowded and pulsing with other’s needs and some quiet and subdued and just aching for her to look at her own needs. But they are all her days making up her life, a life that she tries to rise up and meet every single morning the best she can, honoring the ebb and flow of moods, energy, attention, awareness.

Honoring her self.

Honoring her wild and precious days.

Honoring her one wild and precious life.

Eulogy from my Inner Critic

Photo: Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr

Photo: Patrick Nouhailler via Flickr

I just started the 30 Day Write Yourself Alive Challenge with Tyler Knott GregsonAndréa Balt. It’s only Day 1 but I can tell it’s going to be all kinds of amazing.

Today I’m sharing the answer to the 17th question from an interview with my creative self.

Say I have died and my Inner Critic stays behind to write a goodbye note in the third person that commemorates my work. What would make me Rest In Peace?

She followed the hungry beating heart of language and stories and words sewn together with blood and tears and joy, never giving up. Always showing up. She spilled both her light and dark onto the page regardless of what anyone thought. For her it was all about the process—the process of showing up, diving deep, swimming out to the deep end not knowing what came next and not caring. She believed in the alchemy of writing—that seemingly magical process of finding, discovering, unearthing the right words at the right moment that could crack her world open, allowing a little more space around the thump thump thumping of her own little heart, connecting her with the awesome heart of the Universe. 

Books Read in December

December 2014 books

“Drink- The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” by Ann Dowsett Johnston

For me, it happened this way: I took a geographic cure to fix what I thought was wrong with my life, and the cure failed.

Part memoir, part research, this book really hit home for me. I have often joked that I am so grateful that it never occurred to me to keep alcohol in our house when my kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom. I’d probably have a serious drinking problem by now.

For some reason, we only had alcohol in our house if it was leftover from a party. I would drink when we went out to dinner or at a party. If we had kept bottles in the house I think it would’ve been just too easy to have a glass or two or three of wine each night after a long day of giving giving giving to my kids. Just a glass to take the edge off. To smooth out my rough emotional edges.

According to Dowsett, that’s exactly what booze companies banked on when they started marketing to women, specifically wine to moms with names like “Mommy’s Time Out.” She also explains how alcohol is much more dangerous for women: we are more easily dependent, we get drunk faster, it affects our health more aversely.

She also delves into the culture of alcohol, especially on college campuses and with one daughter of legal drinking age already at school and my youngest leaving in six months, it really shook me up. When I was their age I wouldn’t have stopped drinking because of any potential health risks. It just wasn’t on my radar and I am sure it is not on theirs either.

With all the research and statistics, Dowsett also shares her own dark journey with alcohol, revealing how insidious it can be as it seeps into all the crevices of your life.

“Drink” is a the perfect balance of personal and universal and it gave me a lot to think about. Alcohol can truly become an intimate and intricate relationship. I find myself thinking twice about why I am pouring or want to pour that first, second or third glass of merlot.

What I learned: Women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men and twice as likely to experience anxiety.

“Going Om- Real-Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat” edited by Melissa Carroll

We unroll a mat and, unexpectedly, we fall in love.

That’s how it was for me!

So when I read that first sentence that completely resonated with my own experience on the mat, I knew I had to read it. It’s a lovely collection of essays that explore the experience of yoga both on and off the mat. That has always been key to me—bringing my yoga off the mat. This book is filled with compelling insights that delve into many aspects of yoga from caring for an elderly parent and pets to the sexiness of yoga.

I came away with a deeper appreciation for my own practice as well as nuggets to share with my own yoga classes.

What I learned: There are so many layers to not only doing a yoga practice but living your yoga.

“What We Talk about When We Talk about God” by Rob Bell

I realize that when I use the word God in the title of this book there’s a good chance I’m stepping on all kinds of land mines.

I’m just going to get this out of the way: I have a bit of a soul crush on Rob Bell.

I’m one of those “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” people and he lets me be that. In fact, he embraces it and encourages me to embrace it as well.

He makes God accessible.

He writes about God, Jesus, Einstein, physics and Hooters (yep, the restaurant) and I never once felt like he had lost me.

He challenges old ideas, offers new ideas all while keeping it all so real. So accessible. And so relevant to daily life.

That has always been important to me. I was never interested in a Sunday only kind of God or spiritual practice. I want it/Him/Her to permeate my days and nights. All of them, not just Sundays.

So, yeah, I kinda loved this book.

What I learned: Atoms are 99.9% empty space.

“Signs of Life” a memoir by Natalie Taylor

Matthews walks in the door.

I remember picking this book up when it first came out in 2011 but being afraid it would remind me too much of my sister’s story of being widowed at a young age. I guess I wasn’t up to reliving all of that at that time. Recently, for some reason, I was.

I was right. It did remind a lot of those first days, weeks and months after my brother-in-law died. I was crying within reading the first few pages and thought, “Well, this is gonna be a long read.”

It wasn’t.

It wasn’t easy but as I slipped into Natalie’s story, my sister’s slid into the background. Oh, it was definitely there the whole time, but it didn’t keep center stage.

Natalie’s voice is honest, funny and real. You read it and think, I wanna be this girl’s BFF.

The book is structured month by month after her husband’s death. She is a high school English teacher so there are many literature references as she struggles with her grief which I appreciated.

Throughout, we see her real grief, not the polished up for a memoir version.

What I learned: What the photo at the end of the book is and why it was included. Brought tears to my eyes all over again.

Quotable Tuesday

Image found on Pinterest via www.buzzfeed.com

Image found on Pinterest via http://www.buzzfeed.com

Aaahh, yes…self-doubt. That shadow that often looms over me as I write, that often seeps deep inside me when I am not writing, coloring my vision of myself, distorting my view of the world, of my work, of myself.

The only thing that dissipates that particular shadow is to pick up that pen or tap those keys. Writing anything, of any quality sheds enough light that the shadow of self-doubt slinks away. For the time being anyway.

How about you? How do you deal with self-doubt?

Five on Friday

Image: Screenshot via www.tayarijones.com.

Image: Screenshot via http://www.tayarijones.com.

1. Yummy healthy meals perfect after the holiday over indulgences.

2. 52 ideas for writers.

3. How We Spend Our Days: Josh Weil

4. I had to print this chart out since I almost always get lie vs.lay wrong.

5. May we all have a chocolate parfait year!

Embracing 2015 without Resolutions.

Image found on Pinterest via www.themindfulword.org.

Image found on Pinterest via http://www.themindfulword.org.

I am usually a New Year’s Resolution junkie.

As soon as Halloween rolls around I start anticipating all the ways I am going to improve my self and my life come January 1.

But this year, not so much.

This year, each time I came across another article claiming to make this the year that I stick to my resolutions I felt annoyed rather than inspired.

Annoyed at what?

At the idea that I have that I need to be fixed somehow.

I turn 50 in July and the thought of spending yet another year trying to “improve” myself just leaves me feeling a little nauseous. A little sad. And a lot uninspired.

I love what Pema Chodron says:

“But loving-kindness ~maitri~ towards ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”

Befriending who I already am. Embracing who I already am.

Those are my intentions for this, my fiftieth year.

Befriending and embracing who I already am.

The me with the extra pounds and beautifully flabby belly.

The me who is committed to her writing and some days just wants to veg in front of the TV.

The me who drinks green juices before yoga and has a couple of glasses of wine at dinner.

The me who tries to walk a mindful path and still takes things personally, loses her temper periodically and harbors grudges she knows she needs to let go of.

I didn’t even stay up to watch the ball drop last night. I embraced the fact that I felt a little crappy and just wanted to hunker down in my pajamas and watch “thirtysomething” all night. I was in bed by 11:00.

It was perfect.

I woke up this morning not hungover and with this sweeping sense of freedom. Freedom from demanding so much from myself.

Freedom from constantly trying to fix myself.

Freedom from yet another list of tasks and goals designed to improve my life yet that always left me feeling less than.

Here’s to 2015—a year of embracing all of me.

A year of befriending who I already am.

Of seeing and being my most authentic, luminous self.