Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Power of Prioritizing Passion & Pleasure

This week I had a remarkable AHA! It was after a magical evening among local booksellers, and Harper Collins representatives and their authors showcasing new books. Wine flowed and conversations about writing and stories and inspiration charged the atmosphere. The night encapsulated this phase of my life which is focused primarily on creative writing.

For more than six months now, I've been finishing my novel, gardening, and cooking with abandon--all things I love. Though I've been a writer since my teens, it's the first time ever that creative writing is my only job. For more than a decade, I wrote grants for education agencies and underserved communities; that was rewarding, but it didn't satisfy my creativity itch.

As for my AHA...

My friends know me as an epic journaler. Over the years, my journey has been peppered heavily with all manner of turmoil. Since I was a child, I've regularly (nearly daily) scribed multiple pages to unpack and analyze the angst--all captured in a literal trunk full of journals that have seen me through stuff. 

But recent seasons have generated a single journal with few entries that rarely fill a page.

I now realize that the major cure for what has generally "ailed" me for decades, is to write much and write consistently. It's my passion. It's what my soul craves.

Full-time writing is a luxury, I know, and people's lives are busy and chaotic. But I want to whisper humbly in your ears (because it's hard to hear such advice when the demands are endless.) If there's something burning in your heart, find a space to do that thing. It will soothe you in ways that nothing else will. Whether cooking, sewing, drawing, singing, reading, running, building, crafting, cycling, nurturing, volunteering, workshopping, or whatever it is the makes your body smile, do it.

To paraphrase author Louise Erdrich, let the dust bunnies gather and the plants go unwatered. Author Zelda Lockhart said when her child was young, she wrote in 15 minute clips, in the car between errands. Poet Lenard Moore, mentor to many of us, is relentless about writing everyday despite a loooooong daily drive to his teaching job.

So heal what ails you by making your passion your priority. Your passion is ultimately what will sustain you as your best self. We often say there's no time. But it can be found. Start by borrowing some from tasks that won't matter to your happiness & well-being.

Try some of these:
  • Chat less. Let voicemail pick up.
  • Time social media engagement so it doesn't gobble up hours.
  • Skip shopping trips & useless meetings.
  • Be more efficient at work, so you can get out earlier. (I was a HUGE procrastinator while teaching--which meant extra hours at the end of the day. Which meant, of course, that I had to journal about overcoming procrastination.)

Trust me. Pursuing pleasure by engaging in your areas of passion--for even minutes everyday, will do you unimaginable good. 

Most recent basket of journals...


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Reflecting on Lucille Clifton's "why people be mad at me sometimes"

Image result for lucille clifton

Lucille Clifton

why people be mad at me sometimes

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember 
their memories
and i keep remembering mine

Staying grounded requires remembering your own voice. For many many seasons of my life, I felt as if more legitimate "others" stood whispering in my ears. Telling me their stories about why I should do things a certain way, see circumstances from a particular point of view. I knew they were just opinions borne of their experiences in the world--their values, biases, tastes, fears. 

I wasn't strong enough to drown them out and consistently trust my own truths. 

Clifton’s poem reminded me of those times in my life when I contorted myself to fit into someone else's good graces, or earn a nod, or avoid raised brows or critical responses. Times when I turned against what I preferred, what comforted me, what made me feel whole, what I knew in my soul. 

Now it helps me to envision my soul as a strong and powerful warrior buried in my belly going absolutely ballistic when ignored. A warrior who doesn't care if people get mad at me.

Sometimes it's a challenge, but if I don't listen to me, who else will?