Friday, August 28, 2015

Alone

    I can feel very alone. It comes on after I have hustled for worthiness. The hustle is always danced for someone besides my Savior. I hustle to be perceived as a good grandmother, mother, church member, teacher and this dancing in a light that is manufactured for others is not fulfilling. It is a soul sucker. I think I know why I get tempted into dancing. It comes when I have too much much distance from Him. He requires wholeheartedness and so hustling for him is impossible. He sees me dancing and beckons me to stop and listen.
 
                Come follow me and I will make you whole.


   Grace will take you where hustling won't.

I forget.


I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Notice

    I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration.

"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative."

                                          Bruce Feiler

 This requires you to notice and record the details of your life.

 
   My Aunt Hanni was hugely interesting. She joined an American church in her twenties with her aunt without approval of her family, she survived World War II with her mother, traveled across the border more than once to help her sister get out of Eastern Germany, wrote letters to a German American who she later married, emigrated to the US alone, married an older man in her later thirties and together they joined a polygamist sect. She was the skeleton in my family's closet bur we loved her openheartedly because she loved us passionately.

   She wore her waist length dark hair up in a bun, secured by combs and pins. A tendril frequently escaped and waved in the breeze. To hug her meant you were enveloped in her ample bosom which brought the lovely smell of soap and perspiration to your face. I liked that. She was real, with rock hard opinions yet soft responses.


   On my summer trips to her farm as a child I often stayed for an entire week. Jumping out of my father's car I approached her front door with excitement. A screened in porch preceded the front door. There on the porch table she always had a puzzle, at least a thousand pieces. Off to the right of the doorway was a little couch where we sat to watch the trains go by. We played a game called Guess What Color The Caboose Is. We would give our guesses, red, black, yellow and shout with glee if we were right. Through the front door was a dining room with a beautiful table laid with a handcrafted tablecloth. I made a beeline to the closet under the stairs. There she stashed the toys. Lincoln logs seemed such a new and exotic toy to me. I was raised alone and did not have building toys.
Through a doorway we entered living room which had the comfortable couch and recliner and right above the couch, a painting.


   As a child I looked at this painting often, especially when I was supped to be taking a nap. I yearned to know what was behind the trees along the path. I believe my aunt purchased this painting because it reminded her of her homeland and the Riesengebirge, (Huge mountain range).


  Some weeks ago, while visiting with my aunt's friends they offered me this painting. Luckily, my daughter and I had taken a car on this road trip instead of a plane. We carefully managed to fit the painting in the backseat.


    At home I started noticing how muted and faded the painting appeared. I decide to take a huge risk. I re-colorized the entire image with acrylic paint. It did change the style of art but I like what I did.


    It made me fall in love with the details again. The red roofed huts, reflections in the lake, changing seasons of the trees, and especially the pathway around the lake. As I was painting I decided the pathway went around the whole lake, just like the pathway around my brother's cabin in Colorado.


      This painting now hangs above my mantle where I look at it everyday. I feel close to Aunt Hanni in an intimate, connected way. She would be pleased. Her deepest desire was to see her family happy and connected. Her story is an important family narrative and this painting makes it easier for me to share it with my grandchildren.

  "The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come."
Bruce Fieler

Monday, August 24, 2015

Surround


   I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration. 

  Today, I will not go to the bakery. I say that almost every week on Thursdays. I don't need the calories and my grandchildren who benefit from my visit later, with their favorite twice baked croissants, don't need to feel they deserve this treat every week. But then I turn off to the left at the crossroad and find myself, again, at the bakery. They make the best chocolate croissant anywhere. I know, because I've sampled many other bakeries. 


       Today I bring my computer inside to write. The line at 7:30am is long as customers peer into the display cases at the works of culinary seduction. The lights above create a warm glow over the delicate baked goods.  Little frosted cupcakes swirl in poofy skirts with an occasional slice of citrus across the top. I go for the deep brown of, yes, my favorite, chocolate. No one ordering asks for just one thing. We all hope that our greedy order will give the impression that we are supplying an office full of workers. For those of us "traditionally built" we hope that just thinking we will have half of a Danish will get us off the "you should go on a diet" hot seat.

   The owner most definitely has been to France. His buttery pastries are light and filled with air. A short history of the establishment confirms my belief that he has skills attained across the Atlantic. I slide back into the wooden bench trying to find the right fit for my back. Looking around I see the manager knows many customers, maybe not by name but by the familiar face. This is a place you come back to, again and again. It is an artist date for me. A place I visit once a week, far from my own neighborhood, where I can observe humanity yet be a familiar stranger. 
  I often stop at a Little Free Library before crossing the street to the bakery. It is simply a decorative box filled with books. The owner leaves little messages in the box like, "The selection is a little sparse, please bring in some new books." A stuffed animal hides in the middle of the books now and then which adds an element of surprise. Last week I left two paperbacks and the week before I napped a Susan Witting Albert mystery which I'm still reading.
     

    Technically, this is only my pretend neighborhood, but I come to share and take what is offered. It is part of a my writer's ritual. This ritual includes stopping at the bakery, checking on the books available at The Little Free Library, and gawking in the art store window. The displays of art journals, paints, and brushes can make my little head swirl with imaginings. I really could be in Paris, or London. or anywhere exotic where writers hang out to get story lines. Pictures from these little weekly adventures grace my computer. They are story starters.  Rituals like these surround me with possibilities. Possibilities to see, hear and taste things out of my "normal".

          "Writing requires a flow both inward and outward of ideas, thoughts, and stories."
               On Being A Writer, Kroeker and Craig

Friday, August 21, 2015

Find

   Thinking about writing this week brought to mind my daughter-in-law's compost pile. She made it herself out of discarded pallets. I peered up and over to see what was happening inside. Watermelon rinds, onion skins, celery stalks and pepper tops were marinating together to eventually break down into useable soil. That is how I see my ideas. They are seemingly unrelated scraps of words perculating in a brew that I hope one day will be a paragraph or even a whole blogpost.

       What I find to write about it most assuredly been waiting to rise up. Unconsciously I imagine I have been composing. I heard Ann Patchett, the novelist say this morning,

   "Sometimes it takes a long time for your life to filter down into music." 

   And from Natalie Goldberg,
  "Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil."

  These are worth finding and I hope sharing.
   

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Writing Space

I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online discussion group.We are using On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits For A Writing Life That Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I am personally reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg as inspiration. 

.

      I come through the door, perspiration crawling down my neck and face. Changing clothes happens after I grab my laptop. My hair is wonky, gym clothes clingy but I start by setting up my desktop to write. Images scroll up first as I look through in I-Photo. For reasons I have not entirely scoured out, I can't write if I don't have a good image to precede my words. The image holds colors, textures, and white space that lets me breathe out word images.

   Once I have an image I make breakfast. Yogurt, blueberries with granola often sit by the little table next to my comfy chair. Ah, the writing chair is the best chair in the house. Facing away from the front window it floods me with light but it does not steal my gaze.

  Now I start pecking away at the keys on my laptop. Often I stop and put my hand under my chin and think. Ideas float around me like steam from my herb tea. I don't do caffeine but I do love a warm drink.
 What am I sitting with today?
 What brings me joy and makes me ribbistrate or what is gnawing on my conscience.

  There are themes in my life. I see them because the labels for my blogposts tell me what I write about most. Some are my artful life, my children and grandchildren, books that change my perspectives, and writing. Deeper themes weave through these blogpost labels, needing forgiveness, my reliance on Jesus Christ, not feeling good enough, and holding space for change. I may not have conquered these themes but they do not hold me hostage. Their grasp on my heart is manageable because I write about them. Processing the feelings by writing has made them understandable.

   My writing time is in the morning. Soon it will still be dark. My warm lights will have to be on and I will wear more layers to stay warm. But, there are less layers insulating my heart because I write.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Write

   I am joining fellow writers on Kate Motaung's blog who are doing a bi-weekly online writing discussion group. We are using  On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig as our syllabus. I am also reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg to inspire my thinking.


  Do I think I am a writer? Nah… Attaching that title to my persona is a bit daunting. Writer carries too much weight. I'm sensitive about how much weight I carry. I have critics who demand authenticity. But I do write this blog and have for three, almost four years. I write because it feels healthy. I can sort through ideas to unpack their contents. It is amazing what tidbits get lodged in the tiny pockets of my mind. Tidbits can chain together to form awesome patterns and reveal themes. Themes give meaning. When I see a theme interweaving through weeks and months I feel I'm on the right path. Really, God shows himself in my writing. I can not leave him out. I am grateful to read the past and see his influence and love in my life. I write.

"Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate. It can give you confidence, can train you to wake up."
                                                                Nathalie Goldberg

Friday, August 14, 2015

Learn

   My daughter asked me if I thought I had a fixed ability to learn or if I thought my abilities were open to change and advancement. She was reading a book. A book that explored a fixed mindset and an open mindset. I did not hesitate. I know my capacity has no limits. My desire sets the limits. 


      There is a learning that takes place with the act of faith. It is different from book learning or teacher learning. It involves the Holy Ghost. The wisdom and intelligence that comes from that source is infinite. Faith activates the process and precedes the light. There are three words that accompany the experience. Assurance, Action, and Evidence are words that act like a circle to start the whole thing rolling. Perhaps we act on an inspiration, even though the way is dark. As we step out assurance comes to us through the Holy Ghost. It whispers, go on, and then we act with more confidence. As the light increases and our pathway becomes illuminated we see the evidence that we are making correct action. That brings with it more assurances and in consequence we act again. This is called learning by faith. It works better than learning by teacher or learning by book, although it helps to accelerate the process by having much learning as context to what the spirit reveals.


     I am a novice at learning by faith. But I can testify that it works and because I believe in that source with my whole heart, I feel my learning is not limited to what I can acquire from others.