Thursday, November 29, 2007

Excavating Some Rules

This post is in response to Shawn's list of "rules you live by" writing project. I had a few of them sorted out (see previous post), but the rest didn't come easy. Mostly because I don’t feel like I’ve learned enough about life yet to have established any hard and fast rules that I’m living by. I'm always still looking to others, still searching--other people, other belief systems--trying to figure out what’s working for who without really trusting anyone. But, as I thought about what core rules I live by right now I was surprised by the things propping up my life. Here they are in no particular order:

1) Pay attention to the reoccurring themes in your life. These are quiet lessons being whispered to us every day in the form of an overheard conversation, a book flipped open to the right page, a photo on a passing bus. Tiny messages that accumulate like snow flakes until they are big enough to get our attention.

2) Accept change. It is part of the natural cycle, the ebb and flow of life. Sorrow will follow joy, but joy will also follow sorrow. The only thing we can control is our reaction to change.

3) Don’t lose your inner child. Allow yourself to be silly, ride roller coasters, make snow angels, chase fireflies and invisible dragons, build sandcastles, play dress-up, spin until you fall to the ground and watch the clouds whirl above you. Of course, it helps if you have an actual child doing these things with you. Do everything you can to not take life or yourself quite so seriously.

4)Widen your view of the world. It is much more expansive, far- reaching and deeper than the space we occupy. There are so many cultures, philosophies and places to explore, experience and love and--so little time.

5)Remember how to breathe. As children we breathe deeply into our bellies. As adults we breath shallow into our chest. Be conscious of your breath, use it to fill your belly, calm your emotions, quiet your mind.

6) Live well. This is not as easy as it sounds. Letting yourself rest when needed, saying no when you are overwhelmed, exercising, fueling your body's furnace with healthy foods, creating, meditating, worshiping, laughing, learning, connecting. There is so much to taking care of your mind, body and spirit but it's worth the investment. Give yourself a chance to reach your full potential in life.

7) If you’re going to bother doing something don’t do it half way. Delve into it, immerse yourself in the whole experience. Don't just taste the wine-- learn how to swirl, close your eyes and separate the fruit from the oak from the earth. Life will be richer and full of color.

8) Friendships are vital. It's the space in between people where things happen. Pay attention to this space, this is love.

9) Hold on to hope. Hope is our greatest weapon against cause and effect, against knowing what the future can and will bring, and against ourselves when we feel like giving up and giving in.

10) Live free. Not free of responsibility or relationships, but free of fear, guilt, judgment and boundaries. Let yourself off the hook and off the leash.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Words of Love


Words fail us when we need them the most, but they are also our salvation. We pass ideas, stories, and memories from one soul to another. We connect. We communicate. We fight. We solve. All is possible with words. We say I love you and even though we don't really understand the concept of love ourselves, we use the word "love" and it is understood.

We love our children most fiercely. Those innocent, new beings we guard and protect. Those that we cherish, feeling their pain as our own. We love them with an infinite, uncondional fire.

I bought a journal to fill with words for my daughter. I wanted to give her something special for her eighteenth birthday/graduation/moving on to live separate from me in college gift. It is the highest gift I could think of--words.

I have always wanted to fill a journal for her with bits of advice, poems, glimpses of what she means to me, but I have never been able to do it, until now--eight weeks before I will place it in her hands. I sat down this weekend and filled twenty pages of things I want her to remember, to read, to take--or not take--but at have.

In my twenties and thirties, life was spent mostly trying to hold my head above water, above the chaos that I can look back on now and see what could have been avoided, where I could have swam to shore. I don't often look back, only when I wonder things like "why haven't I started this journal sooner?" I now finally find myself shrugging off the struggle, catching glimpses of peace and truths that have calmed the ocean around me and within me.

I finally found the words.

To my dearest daughter:

This journal is my gift to you in hopes that it will be there when I cannot, in hopes it will bring you greater understanding of what it means to be a mother, to be your mother, to be a woman, to discover yourself and to discover most of all that you are never lost. You are right where you are supposed to be. I'm not sure what this will become. Advice when you are ready to hear it, inspiration when you find your wings, laughter and tears, unconditional love when you wonder if you are worthy of it. It will not be so you avoid mistakes, but so you know that nothing is a mistake. Everything is just a teacher and love is the greatest teacher of all.

This is what I'll be working on for a little while. There are plenty of pages to fill, so any words you are moved to share are welcomed!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tis the Season to be Non-Productive

So, the frost has come, the holidays are bearing down on those who choose to be beared down upon. Last year, I barely looked up from my duty as twin toddler mom to recognize the holidays. This year, I'm in the mood to celebrate my family and friends by paying them some attention. Most of them live out of state so, I thought I'd send each one something special, something thoughtfully created instead of store-bought.

On the first leg of my quest I found this incredibly talented photographer who makes jewelry from her photos. She puts little supportive poetry or messages in each box, too. Very special work. Perfect for my girlie friends.

I've also gone a bit crazy with making personalized photo albums over at Snapfish for family members. I am trying to refrain from forcing pictures of my children upon friends.

So, if my posting seems a bit scarce during these next few weeks, you'll know what I'm busy doing.

Feel free to share any creative gift ideas or links here!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Perfect Writer's Day

Wednesday evening. My day began with an autumn bouquet delivered to my door and it is ending with me wrapped in my favorite blanket sipping a Starbucks chai tea latte. In between, I met two wonderful writers and heard the voice of Ray Bradbury himself. You could say this was a good day.

I had recently rediscovered Ray's magic and so was very excited to be invited by John McNally (a fantastic, humorous storyteller in his own right) to come to Wake Forest to hear Sam Weller talk about his book THE BRADBURY CHRONICLES: the Life of Ray Bradbury. It is an authorized biography which I highly recommend if you want to know the real man behind the tales. As a bonus, they had arranged a live teleconference with Mr. Bradbury himself. As these technology things sometimes go, the teleconferencing equipment wasn't working, so we only got to hear something to the effect of "I can't hear you, call back on another phone."

I wish I could remember Ray Bradbury's exact words. I wish I could remember the particular tone of his voice, but I can't. I can only remember the feeling of having this surreal moment--a moment of reality animating a man that I have never thought of as a regular man...a man who puts on shoes, sleeps or eats breakfast just like the rest of us. Any image of him I have ever had involved typewriters and furrowed brows and mad pounding of keys. But, now I have heard his voice, he is human. Which makes his stories all the more extraordinary.

Sam told stories and answered questions. I am too much of an introvert to ask questions, but I had a good time listening to his experiences and his answers to other's questions about his book and his time with Ray.

One thing that I loved about this book was Sam said he wanted to not just recount details of Ray Bradbury's life, but to give some insight into where such a larger-than-life imagination comes from. Is it nature or nurture? After reading his story, I'd have to stick with nature nurtured by certain environmental influences. Like his wonderfully creative aunt or the magician who touched him with his wand and the words "live forever."

I have no doubt that he will.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sylvia Plath

I rented the movie Sylvia last week. The movie rental place called and wants it back. I was waiting to be in a stronger state of mind, but tonight had to do. Gwyneth Paltrow did an amazing job. I wish Sylvia had created a different world for herself. I'm sure there was much left to be written. It was a heartbreaking movie. A heartbreaking life.

Dear Sylvia,

When do you write?

The need that you can’t answer
weighs on your shoulders, your mind-
Suffocating each thought
under the only
thought that you can muster-
The thought of darkness,
Of silence.
The utter gray of your days
Is this not dark enough?
Or do you write between the rage
the betrayals
the pushing and the pulling that
you do not intend to win?
Do you write while death
whispers in your ear?
Do you write
while the worst you can create-
Instead of bleeding ink on dry paper-
Crackles to life
Surrounds you in a fog
Consumes you from the inside out?
In the hours when you decide to
Put on lipstick?
In the hours when all you can do is sit
And rock
And rock
Alone on the edge
Of your bed?
Unmoored now…

Do you write?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Time to Pay Attention

The middle mouse here is a chimera. It represents the first time a normal, healthy animal has been created from two distantly related species. Two two species being a regular old house mouse and a wood mouse.

No big deal, right? Who really cares what craziness scientists come up with in the lab?

What if this little bit of information is added:

"Their genes (speaking of the two mice) differ by as much as 18 percent, about 12 times the difference between human and chimpanzee."

Say the human is the "house mouse" and the chimpanzee is the "wood mouse"...only closer genetically.

Now do you care what craziness scientists are doing in the lab?