Category Archives: writing

Fertile Soil

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Black and White Garden 2015

Black and White Garden 2015

It’s hard to believe that I have to go back to school in less than a month. This summer has been filled with storms (literal and metaphysical), rest, reflection and growth. I planted an epic patio garden that has flourished from all the rain, I suspect. I have been reorganizing my house all summer. It has been waiting for me for quite some time. It feels wonderful to get things in order.

I know why it’s taken me so long to actually tackle this project. Most of this “stuff” has a great deal of emotional weight and shame attached to it. It also helped that I could shove all of it up in the loft of my apartment, and conveniently forget it was there. I have planned to deal with it for the past two summers, and couldn’t. My procrastination reached rock star level.

I think the possibility of moving in the fall shook me into action. I will not take all this with me somewhere else. I think enough time has passed and I have changed enough, that it is finally possible for me to edit and organize with more distance, less sentimentality and actually move on.

It hasn’t been much fun, but growth rarely is. I will say that I feel lighter when I complete a task and that feeling is leading me to continue and finish – finally. It reminds me of a WIP I have been avoiding as well. I discovered recently that most of what I’ve already written needs to be thrown out. I haven’t been able to get momentum and start back up again with it, but I think that getting my physical world in order is helping my creative world as well. I’ve been brainstorming and plotting. Mulling over changes and character motivation. My imagination is free to roam, now that there isn’t so much clutter.

It seems ridiculous to be sad that I only have 27 more days left of freedom this summer, but I plan to get this organization done and then spend some time among my plants, blossoming.

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Coming Back

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Hello again…

I can’t believe my last post was in October. For some reason, I thought I had blogged, but apparently, this was an illusion. I made it through the holidays, fairly unscathed. I didn’t make resolutions, but I have been thinking a lot about habits and the stories we constantly tell ourselves about our lives that feel like truth. I picked this grainy, out of focus photograph for a reason. I have felt very out of focus these last couple of months.

My fog, in hindsight, was necessary. I needed to learn some important lessons these last couple of months. I have been processing and growing, digesting what to keep and what to leave behind. Just in the last week, I am feeling my focus returning. I am continuing to hold opposition and acceptance, love and hate, balance and excess.

Last week I had a very difficult conversation with a trusted adviser about my attachment to outcomes. I am still not sure how to move forward with this new perspective, but I am holding it anyway, letting it weave its way into my life.

I am shifting again and even though it is always uncomfortable, I know that it will resolve and I will feel at home again.

Every day, tasks push me to run, they attempt to keep me on this mouse wheel forever…but I am trying to find some time, even a couple of minutes, to step away and clear my head, come to the page and focus.

We will see, won’t we?

Into the Woods…Again

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This has been another quiet weekend, after a stressful week. I had a couple of opportunities to go out last night, but I was feeling reflective and still not breathing great, so I ended up staying in. I slept well and wrote. Baked and organized. I also found some scenes from my story that I have been interested in reworking. It was interesting to read them back after so long. The writing is fine, but with this distance, I am able to see that all of these pages add up to back story and not much real story I can use.

In the past, this would have frustrated me, but it didn’t feel like a waste today. These scenes gave me insight into the character and I can still use that insight as I move ahead. I am basically having to start from scratch with this story, but I think I finally understand what the story really is and how to write the moment in time. All the pages I’ve already written won’t go to waste. There are some scenes I can use, but much of it is a wash.

I have been nervous to attempt this story again, but I am itching to head into the woods again.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

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Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

The first official day of fall isn’t for a couple of weeks, but I can feel it coming in this weekend. Fall is my favorite time of year in so many ways. It is the most beautiful to me – the leaves, the light, the perfect temperature. It also has always felt more like the new year than January does. Fall is one big last burst of beauty and harvest, before winter comes and things go dormant again, burrowing under ground and building beauty anew for the coming year. I reflect in the autumn, review the year and let go of my own dead leaves, after they have revealed their true colors.

I had a cold this week and slept terribly. This weekend has been quiet, but in a way, it was exactly what I needed. I have slept, written, read, eaten comforting healthy food and sat outside in the breeze. I’ve done some cleaning too and later today, I’ll do some cooking for the week, but I needed to rejuvenate and regroup this weekend.

I’ve been very emotional these last two weeks too. I have been vulnerable and spoken to friends and a counselor. I am processing. Mainly, I want things in my life, that I don’t have. I am a glass half full person and most of the time I am content and at peace with most areas of my life. I do still struggle with releasing my urge to control life and letting go of the reins and having faith can be difficult more times than not.

It is the 25th Anniversary of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have written about this book before, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately and needed to write about it some more. It is my all time favorite book. It speaks to me and moves me every time I read it and I assume that it always will. It is a simple story with complexity that unfolds more with every reading. I have a beat up dog-eared copy that is highlighted and underlined. I also have a twentieth anniversary copy that is in good shape as a keepsake.

The story holds so much truth and I seem to reread it in the fall, which upon reflection doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. In the fall, I take stock of where I am and what I am grateful for. I also reflect on the things that I hope to change or see flourish in the coming year. The Alchemist reminds me that the Universe conspires to meet me and help me achieve what I was put here to do, just like Santiago in the story. I also go through hard times on my journey and am continually trying to interpret the omens and follow my path.

I splurged on Friday and bought an elegant new lined notebook. It is bound with soft leather and the cover features autumn leaves that seem to be floating. I am hoping to use it as inspiration to get back into an old work in progress, The Lost. I still really believe in the story and want to tell it, however, I got confused about the direction the story was going and instead of following my characters into the woods – I left them.

I was able to build up some momentum over the summer and I am writing, in some form, almost every day. I’ve asked a colleague to read my drafts in an effort to keep me accountable to the story and I am wooing my muse with a new notebook. I’ll let you know if any of it works.

Nothing gold can stay… it is true in so many ways. I am trying to make the most of the gold while it lasts and continue to reflect, change and grow in the coming year as a person and a writer.

Spend Your Whole Life Waiting…

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I went to an event at Lakeside Amusement Park last week and had more fun than I’d had in a while. It was a rainy afternoon, but in the evening it was just pleasant and cool. It was a special event for the Denver Film Society called Summer Scream and the park was closed to the general public. The ticket entitled you to unlimited rides and cocktails. I hadn’t been to Lakeside in a long time. I have always loved amusement rides. This park especially has a great deal of sentimental value because I have many great memories of riding with my father.

We got there near the start of the event and only had to wait about fifteen minutes to ride the two big deal rides. The Cyclone and the Wild Chipmunk. The Cyclone is a wooden coaster built in 1940. The Wild Chipmunk opened in 1955 and is a wild mouse coaster. I loved every second but am quite bruised up from being knocked around.

Soon the line for both rides was over an hour long. We got some drinks and spent time on some other great rides. The Tilt-O-Whirl and Satellite Planes were as fun as ever. After a couple of hours, we were joined by some more acquaintances. They wanted to ride the Wild Chipmunk and while they waited, we all took turns riding other rides as the line inched along.

It occurred to me that many of the “big ticket” items in life are this way. It seems you have to wait for the really good stuff, but when it’s right, everything can fall into place so quickly. I wrote The Christmas Child for almost a dozen years, but the actual publishing process and getting it out in the world happened over a matter of months. One of my best friends has been trying to grow her family for four years and it would seem they will be gaining a new member by the end of the month. You date for years, but when the right person steps into your life, everything aligns.

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It helps remind me to keep moving forward, even if I don’t have any idea when it’s all going to line up. Every day is a chance to take steps toward the good that is headed my way. I make minimal progress most days, but it all adds up to a giant leap in the right direction in the grand scheme of things. I look forward to soaring in the clouds when it all falls into place. Then I’ll start inching toward my next big thrill.

Say It Aint So

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Today was my first day back to school and it was extremely difficult to get going. I will be happier  when we get kids back next week, but this week is all the boring stuff. I have tried to dial back my night owl ways lately, but it really was hard to wake up to an alarm again today. I didn’t get to relax this summer in the way I had planned and I am sad to see this break go. It is truly amazing how fast time flies.

For all intents and purposes, my last week of summer was the best. There was one terrible hiccup on Tuesday, but for the most part I was able to relax, release, connect and have fun. I had a sleepover with one of my favorite kiddos and I had some deep connecting experiences with great people in my life that I really care about.

I also participated in a flash fiction contest. I registered a couple of months ago and didn’t realize that I would need to do it in the last 48 hours before I went back to work. It was a little tricky, to say the least, but I got it done. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, yet it was good to see that I can still pull something out in a crunch.

I wrote more this summer than I have written in a long time and I am going to do my best to continue a regular writing practice as I am teaching full-time again. I am also intending to move more and spend time doing yoga and meditation as often as possible. They are grounding for me and it is good for me to fill my time with good things.

Last year was one of the most stressful I have ever had in my professional life. I don’t want another year like that. Some things have already changed to help this be the case, but I have to do my part too. It’s easy to come home and just turn into a vegetable, but I can try to establish time after school to write, exercise and mediate.

I am not setting up any rules or rituals, but loose guidelines to ease me into more productive experiences during the school year. It might not always been smooth waters like I saw at the lake last Monday, but grounding practice can make things feel more smooth. I’m willing to try.

Tend Your Garden

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I have thoroughly enjoyed my patio garden this summer. It is much bigger than the garden I tried last year and I have loved every aspect of it. The actual planting was magical. I had dirt under my nails for days, but being in the dirt felt so grounding. I loved shaking the plant free of it small pot and securing it with new soil, hoping that it would thrive in its new home.

I cherished watching the small plants grow and flower. Carrot tops shooting out of the soil. Lettuce leaves and basil. Delicate yellow flowers that would soon be green tomatoes. Crisp bell peppers and sherbet colored zucchini blossoms. Every day, I enjoy sitting on the patio, drinking coffee or tea, taking in the beauty of growing, living things.

A garden, no matter how big or small takes daily maintenance and thought. I have to adjust my watering based on how much rain we got the day before. I pull off dead bits and leaves, making room for new blossoms and growth. I also discovered recently that one of my tomato plants is lacking calcium so it has blossom end rot. I had to research emergency fixes and try to remedy the problem. There is work to be done everyday, but the work also leaves me grounded and in awe of the creative process at work in front of me, in these pots.

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It occurs to me that writing is like gardening. Writing daily is a grounding creative practice. Once in the habit of tending a writing practice on a daily basis, you can weed out the dead bits and things that are starting to rot. You can research new methods to try or use a new point of view to bring new life to something. A daily writing practice has been difficult for me to maintain the last couple of years. I finished a novel I’d been working on for almost ten years and got it out into the world. I was excited to start new projects, but I missed the familiarity of my last piece and the world I knew how to tend. New life felt untrustworthy, but I never gave it a shot and my daily practice withered and died.

Because I tend to the garden a little bit everyday, it is flourishing. There is definitely difference in opinion about what a daily writing practice should entail. I’ve learned that setting up lots of rules and routines boxes me in and I rebel by not working at all. I do better with loose rules and it might change per work in progress or change every couple of days. That said, even five minutes of writing a day – blogging, journaling or fiction writing helps me to be more grounded and flourish.

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I sometimes want my daily practice to be more. I’ve tried NANOWRIMO multiple times, but inevitably the large daily word count gets the best of me and I can’t keep up. In reality, a smaller dose is easier for me to handle and as I am learning with my garden, still produces great results. I might have to wait longer for my wip’s to mature and produce, but the harvest will be potent and memorable just like my basil.