I wrote my Small Stone meditative writing piece after driving through the Canyon at dusk feeling the early end of sunlight, shortening my beloved Saturday, drawing a line cutting my “to do” list in half. I woke up with list items floating around in my head and finding the balance between to do’s and want to’s a challenge.
The secret I realized is that a visualization is only as powerful as the clarity of your visualization. I have fragments of dreams for my future bumping around in my mind. I began reading The Secrets of Six-Figure Women and realized that while I possess some of the necessary ingredients for the future of my dreams, I lack others. I want to create a map and put into practice the same skills I teach to the students I help: using backward planning as a tool for getting where I want to go, creating strong visualizations of future goals but also breaking down the steps into manageable pieces that can realistically happen. I am starting with my passion, my desire to help parents and children find balance, but what is the best way to take that passion and harness it? Not to contain it, but to use it to form the stepping-stones on my path.
Creating a destiny can be a full-time job, but I don’t want to think of it as a full-time job, I want to believe that my destiny exists already because I’ve created it so well in my mind, through my own thoughts, that it is bound to happen.
For so many years I have been learning, growing, reading, and absorbing the teaching of those who really know how to trust. Trust, the foundation of a future determined by my thoughts, my aspirations and my visions for my future. Leaving it up to chance is no longer an option.
I am going to summer camp! Well, virtual summer camp in the form of a writer’s camp called Teachers Write! The camp started today with quick writes, lessons and an assignment entitled “How do you find time to write?” That is perfect for me because other than deliberating about what to write, I am constantly fighting time to set up a writing practice. This first assignment is filled with good ideas about finding the time to start a writing practice even starting with as few as 15 minutes. I read the post with more intent this time having found a place to write-my new living room perched in the tree house of a house I am currently living in. The light, the view and the different seating options make this the perfect writing room. The assignment is to create a summer writing schedule and a school year writing schedule. This is the first time that I’ve been in a writing group that was completely made up of teachers and I am excited to get the ideas to keep a writing practice going throughout the year. The first task is to cut something out of my day to create the needed time. That is a easy for me, cutting out 1 hour of TV per night will give me plenty of get started with my writing. The next part of the assignment, telling my family, won’t be too hard since all are aware of my desire to write. In the summer I can write during the morning, but when I am teaching, it will have to be when I get home in the afternoon or evening. So, with this new found time, I am hoping my muse will arrive and inspire me.
Welcome to my new blog theme! It has been ages since I have written and I am jumping back into the saddle, keyboard in hand. The past months have been filled with letting go and moving on and now that things are settling in, I am finally ready to start thinking and feeling again instead of just going through the motions of making things happen and keeping things going.
I was ready for a change here too so I explored the WordPress themes and am trying this one out. Please let me know what you think! Comments are encouraged. I am sitting here in my new writing space, a room with a view. Right now I just see night-time shadows and lights twinkling in the distance but the comforting sounds of the occasional owl or airplane interrupting the otherwise silence of the night is a welcome change from the previous more populated location of our former home. The newness is everywhere and the settling in work is constant, but I am at peace here and the hills are great to come back to. I am just getting my feet wet tonight and I hope you are all still out there to read what I write and give me your opinions and feedback.
Another task in my recent writing class was to imagine a character who had lost everything in a fire. All people and animals are fine, but the belongings, the “stuff” of their life is gone. I did not need a moment. My hand flew across the page and by the end of the short assignment, I came to a startling realization about my mother. My sister and I have spent the past two years creating time together to look through all of my mother’s memories beginning with clothing and continuing with personal letters and important papers. Over and over again we exclaim, “Why did she save everything?” I have come to a happy conclusion and am once again in awe of my mother’s ability to transcend time and space to visit us and remain an active part of our lives.
Lost in the Fire
She slowly sat down on the curb, letting the officers words sink in, “There is nothing left,” what did that mean? She mentally walked through the small house, one room at a time, (there were only three) and now somehow, what had seemed so small, suddenly seemed filled with so much. Each closet had held years worth of memories organized on shelves; those that no one knew of, others she didn’t even remember, and now, without the visual reminders and tactile images, those memories would be lost forever.
There had been boxes of family photos dating back to the 1870’s sealed with ancient tape, and too many albums, the oldest photos pasted on black paper with curly script descriptions and names of unfamiliar people who had immigrated, leaving all of their belongings behind, she was not so different from them now. All of the lovely cards from her father’s train travels as a salesman for women blouses written in flowery prose to her sister, her mother and to the child she once was, were lost along with the Western Union Telegrams with short messages stating safe arrivals in other states. There had been collections of timeless watches, cuff links now obsolete, tiepins from her father and embroidered handkerchiefs from her mother. Memories no longer relevant in today’s disposable world, yet cherished objects that had been held in the hands of her loved ones. She had everything. She was the last in line and as loved ones departed, their precious mementos became hers. Three sets of china and crystal wine glasses that had toasted happier times could not withstand the intense heat and flames and the silver whose patterns had been carefully selected and listed on wedding registries were molten globs of useless metal.
The books, there had been hundreds carefully organized by genre, favorite short story collections, architecture, poetry and the history of the city she loved. There were picture books, the most special and those signed by authors reflecting a second career managing a children’s bookstore. The books were gone too, and in a sense, part of her that was irreplaceable. She was older now and her memory lapsed when trying to conjure up titles and authors. Files of papers she wanted to save, to refer to and relive another day were ashes now. The years she had spent teaching had been housed in one file box including letters of admiration from former students and the most precious, the certificates, accommodations and articles about her innovative teaching style in the educational journals.
Who would remember now? How would her family know who she was, who she had been, after she was gone? The mementos were really not for her, after all, but for her daughters, so they would know who she really was, for she was far too shy to boast and thought they would be bored hearing about those long deceased relatives-people they had never known. She had always meant to write things down, to create a family history, a journal but life had been busy and the later years consisted of medical appointments, senior classes at the Community College and occasional lunches with the ladies (her posse of four). Suddenly she noticed that reading with fading eyes was strained and writing with stiff hands became a challenge she was too tired to tackle. The memories were the links to the past and now that past was gone. She sat wondering, imagining a journey, slowly fading, becoming lighter, paler, quieter, ceasing to move and even a drop of water on the tongue became too much to bear.
I started day one of a two-day writer’s workshop today, entitled Discovering Our Muse. What a treat! I got to spend the entire day at UCLA, with 12 other devoted writers and a wonderful teacher to guide us through writing exercises designed to get the creative juices flowing. If I had any doubts about the timing of starting a writing program, today confirmed that now is the time. Today I felt like me and I felt connected to the DNA that apparently established this deep desire to write. I am still not quite sure about my eventual writing genre, but the desire to write is so overpowering that I am sure this is my path. Today I discovered that I am more fearful of not writing, than I am about making the commitment to write. Here is my answer to the writing prompt: “Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone…”
Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone who never really learns from her mistakes. My life has been a series of roller coaster rides up and down a journey of life in L.A. The highs consisting of fantastic travel experiences, meals out at various restaurants, homes filled with “things” I thought I had to have, and weekends chilling on the California Riviera and the lows directly below with everything magically disappearing as if it never was.
Usually when one repeatedly rides a roller coaster, or drives through a winding canyon, the curves and bumps become predictable and one builds up immunity to the queasy feeling, the butterflies in the stomach and the wretched nausea implied in the words, “I told you so,” or “here we go again.” That hasn’t been the case for me because the temporary view from the top is so engaging that my blinders go up and I have a hard time anticipating the inevitable fall.
Lately, my fear of repeating patterns is becoming stronger than my desire to bask in that heavenly glow. My mid-life is bringing certain things into focus, such as the rapid approach of qualifying for an AARP membership, senior discounts at the movies and those early bird specials. In my foolish youth, I was immortal and invincible. My life’s tools consisted of a giant eraser and a bottle of whiteout, that accompanied me on my travels down my life-path conveniently wiping out major blunders. In my young adulthood, I became the expert role player; able to emulate those I aspired to be by simply accumulating the trappings of their seemingly perfect life. That didn’t work. Now, I have come to an understanding that who I really am, is who I am meant to be and that the only way to alleviate the fear of failure is to accept the possibility that my path might venture around a corner and I will have to muster up that blind faith that will allow me to take the necessary chances and make the changes needed to reach my goal.
Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming someone who never really learns from her mistakes, so with that in mind, I am developing a plan, a learning curve, to teach myself how to become a learner. I am organizing a real-life class to teach myself how to move forward without taking two steps back each time. I am reinventing, reflecting and rediscovering the important elements in my life and working out a way to invite myself to partake in these real moments and make them my future.
The Path Unknown courtesy of Virgil Poetry
I was wondering today, if we ever really know the people in our lives. Sometimes we feel like we know each other and that everything is out in the open, but suddenly we are privy to something that opens a door we didn’t know existed. How do you ever really get to know someone? The only way to know each other is to be totally honest and open, without fear of repercussions or retaliations. This is harder than it first appears because while we know what we are thinking and feeling, we cannot predict what others will feel or think. We have to take chances. We have to believe that honesty is the best path and that those we love will understand us. We don’t always know what we are doing, or what the consequences of our actions will be, however, by acting with honesty and with the best intentions, we can be assured that we are on the right path.
There are times when I long for a chance to go back and to re-live parts of my life, like pressing the rewind button on the TV remote control, if only life could be recorded, watched and then revised. I wish for opportunities to jump into the past and see the reality that existed then, gaining understanding of the actions of my parents and family members. I want answers that I cannot have, understanding that eludes me and knowledge held at bay. The mysteries of the past created me, shaped who I am today and impact my life, giving me a shrouded path leading to the unknown. The choice I have is to give others a clearer picture and light in which to make their choices.
They are other people’s children, yet they feel so much like my own for I spend the better part of each day with these little ones, caring for them and about them, dedicated to their growth and development, in fact, we spend so much time together that we think of each other when, bringing each other small gifts of appreciation; pictures, pencils, books and cards upon return. They are “my kids,” our days with lessons in the academics, life, world of arts and an education in manners and behavior top the list. They are learning to say, “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “may I please”, to earn the prize of a fancy tea party, parents invited. These children care about each other and are in this for a team win, everyone succeeding together because help is given freely and no one falls through the cracks in this room because there is always someone there to catch you. We are all practiced catchers and we all take turns falling.
These children are wise beyond their years and their ears are fine-tuned to the nuances of the adult conversations they silently hear, taking everything in, not always know how to process it so it emerges during group discussions, at unexpected times, during a vocabulary lesson, example definitions. I find out more than I sometimes want to know, about their worries, their fears, and their strong feelings.
Some of these little ones have power at home, demanding attention, voices loud, tantrums forthcoming, while others slink into the crevices of family, observing, while waiting for their turn. Some are parents to their siblings while others live alone in adult worlds, taking on the responsibility of carrying part of the burdens housed in their family
Most of the children are happy, regardless of circumstances, because in this place, the place they live for six hours a day, five days a week, they are members of a bigger family and the communal aspect provides enough for all. There are enough toys, enough crayons, enough pencils, enough friends and enough time, their pride growing daily as they become more accomplished and learn to take pride in their own work, their own creations and their own ideas. “Our job is to come to school,” they say.
“Yes, so is mine.”