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Archive for August, 2011

This Summer

August 31st, the last day of the summer

This will be the summer I didn’t work.  This will be the summer I finished my book.  Yep you read that right, I finished about a month ago.  It’s rather strange, I expected I would jump up and down and scream to the world “I finished my book!  My book is done!  I did it!”  I had it all planned.   I was going to post it on facebook, take myself out to dinner to celebrate and call everyone I know.  I didn’t.  We were camping; my husband and I took a walk and as we sat down to watch the sunset I quietly said without even looking at him, “I think I finished my book.”  “hmm,” was his response.  And that was the celebration.

Over the next month I told a few people and with each telling it became more real.  With increasing frequency I took out the thought and rolled it around in my head.  I wrote a book.  I actually wrote a book, a 400 and some odd page book.  I have been writing this book for three years.  At times it has been the most difficult thing I have ever done and other times it has been the most amazing transcendental experience and as the book got larger so did I, in mind and spirit anyway.

I learned self discipline and systematic accomplishment.  I learned that guilt can be a hurtle.  I learned that what appears to be a small thing in our lives can speak volumes to our children.  I learned that writing makes me feel good.  I learned that guilt can be a brick wall.  I learned that there are forces in the universe that are bigger than me and for some reason they wanted this book written. 

I am the ultimate procrastinator, at least I was.  When writing this book, I made time.  Planned my writing time and allowed nothing to interfere.  I really didn’t have any choice; if the book was neglected for too long it called me and pulled at my gut.  Depression seeped in to slow me down just enough so I remembered to stop and write.  Because I was pulled to write my guilt was pulled along with me.  I wasn’t working, my husband worries about money and I struggled with that every day.  That guilt turned into a very long and winding middle piece of the novel I will have to edit out.  This book often mimicked what I was going through.  If I was going through something painful so was Maddie.   If I was failing to get a message so was Maddie and if I was depressed so was Maddie.  I used my pain. I felt it, put it into words and when I named it, it went away.

I struggled with the guilt of sometimes spending my time writing instead of being with my children.  One day two years ago my oldest daughter had an interview at a high school.  The counselor asked her what was one thing she was proud of.  She told him about a story she wrote in history she felt was really good.  “I’m proud of that.” She said.  “My mother is writing a book.  I want to be just like her.”  Wow!  nothing I said encouraged her to be a writer but my actions had a huge impact.  She still writes every day.  The improvement her writing has shown over the years  is amazing.  When I read her work I am blown away.  She now inspires me. 

My seven year old daughter has already written a book based on a dream she had.  She did it all herself (which is probably why the book has to be read backwards) but she was six years old and wrote an original story on her own.  She wrote it, asked me to correct the spelling, stapled paper together, rewrote it and added pictures.  A voluntary rough draft!  I have offered to pay my boys to do a rough draft and a final and they refused!   My little author wouldn’t even let me suggest anthing.  “Mummy the story needs to be that way, just correct my words.”  I think that is a sign of a true artist.  When the creator knows exactly how the final product should be and no outside influence can change the creation then that is art.  Both of my daughters will someday surpass me I’m sure and I will be so proud.

There were times I would write something in the early chapters only to have everything come together four chapters later.  I would sit there and gape at my computer screen because I knew I hadn’t planned it.  The pieces fit together so perfectly I would get goose bumps. It was those times I had the feeling someone else was writing the story;  I was just pressing the letters on the keyboard.  There was another time I looked back on my life and saw I had been in preparation for this pretty much since birth.  I have been writing stories in my head since I was a kid.  I had to relearn how to write when I was in college because apparently I missed it the first time.  I was lucky enough to have a phenomenal teacher who stuck with me and helped me be my best.  My first teaching job was teaching computers where I learned how to type and I then moved to the classroom next door to became an English teacher.  Did not see that coming.  For a birthday gift I began a story for my teenage niece because she complainied there were no teen books out there where the couple stayed together.  I never finished that book but somehow I found myself wanting to write and at the same time wondering ‘when did that happen?’

When I wrote the very first words to this book it was an answer to a calling.  I had no bucket list that I knew of but slowly, fading into reality, came the call to write a book.  It was what I wanted to do before I consciously knew I wanted to do it.  I remember aching to do something for my mother to thank her for creating the person I’d become.  I remember desperately wanting to teach English again and realizing writing a book could help me with that.  I had numerous story ideas.   Which one should I pick?  For some reason this one stepped up.  It hadn’t even been one of the top five.  It was just a scrap of a dream but I sat down at the computer and began to build a story around it.  About a year into it I was driving to work one day remembering a dream I had about ten years before and suddenly I realized the story I had written in my head ten years ago was the sequel to the one I was writing now.  My skin tingled. 

I’m not sure what the future holds.  The powers that be could have wanted me to write this story merely to inspire one of my daughters to write something much more powerful in the future.  Maybe I was meant to finish to learn that I am capable of more than I think.  Maybe this story was only meant for one reader who needs it.  I don’t know, but what I do know is I am held carefully in the hands of the Universe and I am loved.  We are all loved and we are all much more important to the fabric of this world than we realize.  Follow your heart, do God’s work, and allow yourself to become who you are meant to be.  For who we are is exactly what we are being asked to be.

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Joy is a Gift

Joy is a gift not a given. This little statement came to me about 15 years ago. I spent weeks trying to understand the meaning. Now, years later, it seems to make perfect sense. Joy is a gift from the Energy. It is not something that simply sits within you or leaves when you’re bad and it can’t be earned. It is not happiness. Happiness is earned. We do good things, work hard, get the things we desire and we are happy or not. Joy is that feeling when you breathe in the air and think for one split second, life is good, not perfect, but satisfyingly good. Joy, pure joy, exists and is waiting expectantly for us to invite it in.

Over the last few days I have encountered numerous people who appear lost in an emotional darkness. They are depressed, lost, angry, or just plain mean. Everyone’s spiritual energy is all out of whack. Maybe it’s the energy from the hurricane causing everyone to go wonky. Maybe it’s the buildup of all our negative thoughts and emotions. Let’s face it there is a lot of negative energy out there. The thing is I recognize those negative emotions. When you live with depression you know it when you see it. When you live with emotional abuse it is an old roommate you have no desire to let back in and when you see your friends and loved ones suffering you feel it with them because you were once right where they stand now.

I can’t take away their pain but I can tell them to ask for joy. Thick like the pre-hurricane air, joy flows all around ready for the taking all we have to do is ask, let it in and let it live. Too often we are so hard on ourselves that we don’t allow good feelings to live within us because we feel we don’t deserve it. That is the beauty of joy. It doesn’t have to be earned, only asked for and accepted. Isn’t it strange that the things we can do to make ourselves spiritually balanced are so simple and yet we don’t do them even after we know about them. We need to be present in our lives, ask for joy and count our blessings. Hard times will always come; they make us stronger but being able to see the good through the bad and carrying those good things through a storm of difficulty, well isn’t that the magic of living?   That is the stuff people look at and think “wow, he/she went through all that and she still has a positive attitude.”  That is the power of joy, what a gift.

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Just This Side of Crazy

It’s August 19th and I haven’t written one post yet.  So much for my goal of three posts a month.  There are a number of reasons for the deficiency.  First of all its summer and the kids and I are off doing summer things.  Then there are the vacations, planning for September, school shopping and more of the like.  Another significant reason is that I still seem to be in the same lesson I was weeks ago, remembering to be present.  There have been no epiphanies and little excitement.  I either remember to be present and have an amazing day or I slip back into the fog of everyday survival and the day disappears from my mind like a scarcely remembered dream.  Where do you think I have been?  Right the fog.

But the biggest reason and probably the most shameful is that I put this address on my resume. 

It is easy to stand before an audience of strangers and tell them who I am but the moment one of them knows my name my insecurities return and I am frozen in fear. 

What if I write something wrong?  What if they think I am just plain crazy?  It’s like I’m straddling the line of who I am inside with who I think I should be outside in the real world and the two don’t appear to work together.

Example: Yesterday I woke up and there was no coffee.  It’s not like I need caffeine it’s just that every morning I begin my day with a cup of coffee out on my deck and I take ten to twenty minutes to be absolutely present, I listen to the birds, feel the wind, smell the air and watch leaves fall gently from the trees, it is my time to reconnect with the universe and with myself and it is a habit that, providing my mind doesn’t wander back to my worries or to do list, is good for my soul.  If you notice how I use all five senses to experience the moment above, my morning coffee has unwittingly become the taste part of my restorative ritual.

Back to my goofy story, later that day I run to the store for a few things and as I walk up the coffee aisle I see the coffee.  In my mind I sing coffee happily and see myself picking up the container hugging it and doing a little jig as I put it into my cart.  I smile at the silly thought.  Nobody knows what is in my head as I calmly and respectfully place the coffee in between the kitty litter and Golden Grahams cereal and move to the next aisle.  What if I had acted that way?  Undoubtedly, people around me would have thought I was crazy and let me tell you, Uxbridge is a pretty small town.  But was it crazy?  Or simply a quick moment of joy? 

As I straddle the line between being spiritually balanced and economically responsible does that bring me just a bit to the crazy side, at least according society’s view.  I have moments of being complete with who I am and sure that writing will someday bridge that gap for me but then there are the times I worry I will never have a classroom again, I will never make a living doing what I love and at some point I will have to find some other type of employment to pay the bills.  It seems so sad to say goodbye to work that I not only love but am amazingly good at to bring in a few bucks for a car payment. 

But People do this every day, work at a job that doesn’t fulfill them because we have to live in this society and in this society money is a necessity.  Some of us straddle the line of spirituality but most of the time we embrace the expectations of our society without consideration and do what we must often sacrificing our spiritual selves.  I can see how that can make us just a little crazy.  Could be a valid explanation for road rage don’t you think?

I started this blog to determine why I often say the wrong thing but more importantly my goal was to explore who I am through my writing.  If I can’t be honest then what good will this serve?  So I’m going to keep straddling.  I’m going to be honest and true in my blog and continue to nurture the gifts I have been given.  I will continue to work on appreciating the glory this life has to offer.  That doesn’t mean there won’t come a time where I will have to work a job that doesn’t fulfill me but I will always strive to keep my spiritual balance even if it means, at least according to society’s view, I am just this side of crazy.

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