Friends

There are good people in this world. I’m lucky to know some good ones. They challenge me. They encourage me. One told me I was like a poster her daughter had that said something like, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.”

I thought I knew what she meant, but years later I’m just starting to understand about the song and what it means.

Writing Time

Being a writer means a lot of alone time. Being alone, I have a lot to give. Except I don’t really, because I fill my time with two jobs. Neither is full time, not even together, but somehow they own seven days each week. Still I write. Weave words in and around other things.

I fill my time with volunteering; in mental health, a good idea. I fill it with music, singing and occasionally guitar when I bother to practice. Weaving around these, I wrote a few songs and edited some old ones this year. I’m good at editing. It’s kind of like real life, a lot of adding too much in then cutting things out. Yeah. I know that place.

One odd thing about writing that hits my particular funny bone is that it’s possible to enjoy writing about being sad. I’m not sure how I feel about that fact. It reminds me too much of times I was accused of taking that truth a little too literally.

You enjoy being miserable.

No. I don’t. I enjoy the things and people that make me happy. I have many of those in my life lately and I appreciate them. Friends are there when I need them. There’s much to enjoy in life.

Yes, I feel the extremes deeply. I write about them, talk about it and share them. It doesn’t mean I enjoy feeling bad. I am willing to own my feelings, and let them exist inside the places I love writing. I expect doing that has saved me a time or two when grief, fear or depression raise their heads and turn their hungry eyes my way.

Being alone, being a writer, knowing how to use my words and editing skills well in dark moments … that has its finer points.

There is value in writing time.

Identity

Identity finds us, sometimes slowly, sometimes soon. I am one who waited ’till it almost passed me by, yet lingered, so I’ll linger still, beneath its quiet ministry, its tender forming of my will. Aah, gentle breathes extend, reach to find a momentary peace, and stretch to fill the empty void, awaiting words not yet employed, who in the wings anticipate their leap at fate, their turn to lift a heart to cry, a smile to form, ideas to fly. As words release, extended, shared, my spirit laughs to form this prayer. Hope is found in who I am.

See the Story

I completed several pieces of writing in May. One went to an online magazine, the other to a poetry contest. A number more poems were written, I began organizing some poetry for a book I’d like to do this year, and I began editing a short story from last year’s NANOWRIMO.

Illogically, I felt bad that I did ‘nothing’ as I’m very conscious of neglecting this blog. That reasoning is more typical than I like, but I’m growing into a place where I see myself more clearly. When I write it out I can see how much I got done.

The truly hard work of writing has to do with the story I tell myself about myself rather than any I write for publication. Slowly, I’m fighting myself less, listening better, understanding story; I may get the hang of this after all.

Discomfort part 2

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Far more important are the laughter lines ….

Names and identity were a topic of conversation today on a walk with a good friend.  She is very wise and patient.  Why I have been blessed with such good friends is a mystery that i’m learning to embrace.  Another word of the day was ‘wonder’.  Said by second friend in a simple context, it hit me in a similar way to the word ‘mystery’.  Too long, I’ve loved wonder and mystery but demanded I be in a place of knowledge and understanding.  I know the reasons; at least some of them.  Honestly, on the journey through discomfort to joy, they’re irrelevant.

Far more important are the laughter lines I’m forming, the people who help me live fully while I put them there, and the daily opportunities to do so.

This year has some intentional and unintentional places of discomfort. I don’t need to pretend that I enjoy them. Acknowledge them, lean in, let balance re-establish itself. Be honest. Be kind. Be willing to find myself in the moment and not back away.  It’s the only way I’ll truly know and be who I am.  Breathe. It’s enough.

 

Language and Place.

Learning Guitar

Learning to Play

Learning to Breathe – long, slow, deep breaths of joy

Life Inhaled

Life Unfurled

Life reaching out – laying the possibilities before me

Dec 9, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaning into Discomfort

All discomfort comes from suppressing your true identity. Bryant H. McGillIn

In the past few years, I’ve allowed my identity to shift, to reorient; better yet recalibrate. Long after the fact, I’m learning to live, to remember to breath, and to support myself alone. Part of the shift involved going back to work. Finding space to write is a also a big part of it.

When I was looking for work, people spoke about imposter syndrome, learning to wait through its discomfort, to know everyone goes through it. It’s a struggle but it gets better.

Counselors have encouraged me to become more aware of my identity in the past few years. My current counselor suggested learning to lean into discomfort as a good goal, and that is one reason I found the above quote. Apropos. There’s lot’s of opportunity to practice!

I agree that learning to lean into discomfort will benefit me, but that doesn’t make it pleasant. I feel awkward saying so, but I find it very distressing. At times, I feel this stretching may break me. Just doing normal things may break me.

I felt it coming into Easter. The expectations, questions around how I would spend the time, they had my blood pressure up. And at its peak, I spent a few hours in emerg waiting to hear what I already knew; I was not having a heart attack. Every once in a while the pain that just never quite goes away, from old neck and shoulder damage, takes a journey down my left side rather than staying in its usual lodging on the right. Uhuh. Lots of fun.

Relax

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Been working on this more than a few days. Been a journey. Learning to relax.

I’ve heard this advice more than a few times lately, even though I’m also told I seem happier than a year ago. Relax. Who knew it was so hard? I’ve been working on this more than a few days. Been a journey. Learning to relax.

Last week I pulled out my watercolours and took some quiet moments to work on a few unfinished pieces. They were started ages ago then left in my art bag while I did other things. I have travel paints from a new brand and pulled these out to try. Thicker than I expected as I loaded the brush, they felt lovely and smooth going onto the paper.

A beading workshop on Sunday brought the tangible to the fore again. Working with the beads was a kind of spiritual exercise for me. Choosing the colours and textures, working slowly, giving them time, I felt surprised by my choice of subtle pinks, gentle yet strong. Peace and Joy.

Keyboard moments … who told me sit and hold out hands? … I will myself to relax into it. Wisdom from friends, encouragement to spend time in this spiritual practice; I’m learning to trust myself and the instrument can find something to say.

Guitar lesson, Tuesday, first in decades. Prompted again by desire to become friends with my instrument, to not back away, not shut down so readily. Learn to trust that fingers and frets will find common ground, lean into a conversation and sound joy that brims in smiles.

Guitar Circle. At end of day, tears turn from sorrows to joy in this gathering of friends. In sounds, songs, stories shared, we become more than individuals, our lives interwoven during this time, belonging more to ourselves and each other as we sing.

Reflecting.  Reminiscence colours mood.

Singing and listening draw from me sounds of contentment, deeper breathes. Learning to relax, I rest among these trusted friends.

Laughter

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Begin with laughter. Always … begin with laughter.

Writing gets away from me. At times it feels like I’m not achieving, but I’ve actually written quite a bit the past two weeks.

April is national poetry month. I love writing poems and have finally fallen in with the opinion of friends who have tried, for years, to get me to write a book. Given that I have a number of already-written poems and some short prose pieces with which to work, I began my first week of book creation on my friend’s kitchen table sorting little pieces of paper into ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’ piles. The piles grew quickly while we spent time laughing at some, perhaps more appropriately fitting a ‘what was I thinking!’ pile. Some in that category may yet turn out to be my best, or most fun, pieces; definitely some of the enjoyable in round one picks.

I know there is hard work ahead. It scares me. I may do this and people may read it. Why does that really scare me? I need to hold it lightly.

My advice to those of you considering a writing venture is the same thing I tell myself. Find a friend with a great sense of humour: at least to start. There will be plenty of time for seriousness later.

Begin with laughter. Always … begin with laughter.

Permission

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“Letting yourself do something is not the same thing as giving yourself permission.”  Lesley Boucher-Papp

Do we realize the wonder of our collective wisdom?  The impact it can have spoken into the right moment?

Permission?  I can’t count how many times I sat poised at keyboard, fingers ready to do the thing I love, to splatter words across the page, colour the moment with light. Instead, mind blank, I’d feel the words skitter left, right, anywhere but down in focused impact. I hate this place. Guilt. Doing what I love should not produce guilt. Or given the reasons, maybe it should.  Either way, ‘should’ is not something to beat myself up over anymore. Disorienting and distressing in its own way, the struggle I feel between anxiety and personal strength brings chaos to calm. Healing is letting me see it happen, but not completely prevent it.   I’m learning to work past it.

Permission.  I need to learn it.  I’ve wanted ‘to do something’ with my writing a long time without understanding the need to ‘give myself permission’, and that HURT.  Friends, especially the last two or three years, say to do what I love. Take the risk. Be myself. It’s okay to be afraid; do it anyway.

Permission involves risk. It may cost more if I fail, but has potential for greater gains if it goes well.  I want to risk my life going well.  I held back too long.

When I look at the patterns of my life, the places of struggle, too many illustrate a conversation I had with a counselor who wondered how I did so much working with my older son’s deafness and autism in contrast to things I tried to do for myself.  My answer was simple, “I broke the rules”. For my son, i did break them, for myself it was harder.  Take writing for example; while I let myself write things, they lived mostly in my journal.  I love to write. Writing brought joy, and just enough release to keep me functional, but that wasn’t enough.

In my life, others’ rules were law and limits.  The counselor told me she figured I did all that I did for my son on about 10% of what I have to give to life, and said, “Imagine what you could do with 20%.”  Her homework that week, “figure out who you are, what you love, play big, break all the stupid rules”.  It was challenging, but I loved this homework.  I still love it.  I’m still learning to ‘break the stupid rules.’

My friend’s words happily take a place alongside this assignment. Too often ‘the stupid rules’ kept me from giving myself permission to do what I love.   I wish I’d broken more.

A financial adviser once told me it’s natural to be afraid when things are down.  That’s the time to invest; that those who invest when things are down are brave ones.  Taking that risk, putting yourself out there, may cost more if you fail, but oh the potential for gains if it goes well.  With my son, for my family, I know that place, I understand the danger of risk.  I lived it.  That was my life a long time, giving greatly waiting for return; a definite risk, and yes sometimes losses.

Some losses were financial; too many were emotional challenges, mental distress, and physical danger. Permission wasn’t asked. It was assumed.  For family, I risked.  For others I gave.  I’m not sure how often or well I invested my personal resources into things that gave back to me, that were for myself alone. Now, I want to learn to invest in myself and my life more consciously, with greater intention.  I want to risk my life going well.  I held back too long.

Fear of writing, fear of being seen, is still a pattern for me, but I am posting poems and small pieces more regularly now. I will choose to believe it becomes more natural.  I can do this.  I’ve proven I can do a lot in life that challenges me, frightens me, takes me beyond what I think I have to give.  I’m in a new area of believing in myself, of seeing what I have, what others value, believing I’m allowed to share, and learning to release it to something greater.

Taking my friend’s words to heart, allowing myself to give permission to write and hit ‘publish’, oh yes, I appreciate the addition of this wisdom to my toolbox.