Friday, March 29, 2019

An invitation to write some poetry this April

April is national poetry month and I'm taking an online class from poet and writing coach Sage Cohen. I took a version of this class five or six years ago in a bleak January when my own writing was stalled. I wasn't a poet then but taking that class made me want to be one.

I think there is a poet in most of us, for poets are more than just people good with words and phrases. They are people sensitive to what's around them: beauty, misery, love, hate, anger, joy, tenderness. They notice the little things and fit them into the big picture. Most of us do this at least some of the time, and with a little more attention to it, we can do it often.

Maybe your poetry comes out in your cooking or your gardening or your knitting or your painting. Maybe it comes out in how you read to your kids or grandkids. But maybe it can also come out on the page in your own words. April would be a great month to try this.

And if you want to join me in Sage's class, here's the link:

Friday, March 22, 2019

One of the most important books I've read in a decade

I don't usually do book reviews here. There are so many Internet forums and lists and recommendations out there, but reading Lacy Johnson's book of essays, called Reckonings, on being a woman in our culture at this time, was such a profound experience and has stayed with me in haunting ways that I want to suggest it.

Johnson writes about all the things we don't want to think about much: inequalities of income and privilege, racism, sexual violence, climate change at the human level. Her essays are deeply narrative and personal and highly political and universal. They are an expression of profound bravery and the power of telling the truth. I couldn't put them down.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Remembering who we are

I recently read a couple of diaries my mother kept during my first 10 years and I was not surprised to see that after learning to saw Mama and Dada, I started saying "why?" Curiosity has always been a high value for me and since I got sober, I've been turning that curiosity toward self-knowledge, learning and understanding who I am and how I am.

In January I took a great online class from Mary Ann Radmacher about remember who we are and keeping that knowledge front and center in our lives so that we are aligned with ourselves. Every day she would send us an exercise to help us remember. Her course starts on the first of every month and has been very useful to me.

Here's a sample from Day 9 and some of my answers:

·       Four of the finest compliments I’ve ever received:
o   “Your memoir helped my sister and me understand why our mother couldn’t stop drinking.”
·       Four things I love doing more than anything else:
o   Painting or creating in the company of others
·       Four things I feel I was BORN to do:
o   Encourage the creativity in others
·       Four stories I tell most often are:
o    How I came to painting in late middle age
·       Four activities that immediately give me a sense of ease and flow are:
o   Cleaning and clearing the studio

Friday, March 8, 2019

Examining where I fit

In the last post, I wrote about finding a car that fit me. I think evaluating from time to time where I fit is a good practice.

For the last year, I've served on the Board of Directors of a local nonprofit. I had never done that before and it was interesting and a good learning experience. But after a few months, I realized it wasn't a great fit for me. The organization was a fit with my values and interests, but being a board member was not the best use of my energies and abilities. So I won't seek re-election to the board but will volunteer in another capacity that fits me better.

I've also had friendships or work relationships that didn't fit me well--where what I could offer and receive was not what I needed or wanted. Sometimes I knew that early on, which is easier. Sometimes, it wasn't until years had gone by that something shifted. It isn't easy to resign from friendships or lucrative work situations but I've found it best to do that a few times.

When we can figure out where we fit (work, friends, service, creative and spiritual practices), there's a flow to life that is so helpful.

Are you struggling with places where you don't fit?

Friday, March 1, 2019

When I got clear, the path opened

In a conversation with a friend recently, we were talking about areas in life where we were dragging our feet and I confessed that I couldn't get motivated to complete my ongoing conversation about getting a different car.

I don't drive a lot. I work at home and live in a wonderfully walkable neighborhood with a movie theater, a dozen restaurants, and a Whole Foods. I drive to the gym (1.5 miles) and a couple of other grocery stores and the post office and the bank but some of those are walkable too in good weather. So I average only about 500 miles a month on my car and that's if I take a trip. And although my car is old (1996 Honda Civic), it's in great shape and gets wonderful gas mileage. But here's the problem: it's small and sporty and low to the ground and I'm no longer any of those things. And on a long trip or in congested traffic, I'm not crazy about the stick shift anymore.

I realized in talking about this that I wanted a new car but I didn't want to find a new car. I wanted someone else to do that. "You sound really clear," my friend said and I was. So I had a conversation with my friend Melanie and asked her if she'd help. She was delighted. She loves doing that stuff. That was on Wednesday. On Friday I bought my new car.

I had described what I wanted and what I could afford and it quickly became apparent that the two things didn't match what was available. So Melanie sent me out to try on cars and I did that Thursday morning. Once I'd knew more exactly what fit me, we found a good possibility and she checked it out and then made us an appointment for that afternoon. I drove the car, and I felt right at home in it. It was in my price range and had all the features I was looking for. I took it to my mechanic on Friday morning, who gave it a thorough once-over and said it was a great deal. I bought it that afternoon.

Some of this experience was magical (a friend saying yes, the right car appearing) and some was my effort but getting clear about not only what I wanted but that I needed help and then asking for it was key. Now I'm looking at other places where I'm dragging my feet to see if I can get clear and get help.

Here's my new 2014 Accord