Category Archives: Writing 101 June 2014

Attempting Honesty

Standard

Ok, I’ll start with the truth–
I am so tired I’m almost falling asleep
even as my fingers dance across the keyboard.

If I’m going to be honest with myself,
I would first have to admit how lack of sleep
has nearly rendered me incapable of real thought.

I want to be honest with myself,
and compassionate,
and understanding.

I want to give myself permission to slow down and let go.

Let me continue practicing some kind of awareness
–any kind-
So that I have the strength for honesty tempered with kindness

But right now, let me just be honest–
I can barely stay awake to type another word,
much less embody the visionary, the artist, the successful person,
all the qualities I think I need to possess to be truly successful.

Let me be honest with myself, so that I may be present.

Time to mediate for a few minutes and then off to bed.

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Standard

Today is the last day of Writing 101?  Really?  Only twenty assignments?  I could keep going.  Like maybe 60 more…I don’t mean to sound like a sadistic overachiever or anything, but I’ve come to look forward to my daily assignment; there are so many facets of writing that I have overlooked because I’ve been stuck to my journal for so long, just me and my journal…which means I haven’t explored point of view, or voice, or style, or much of anything else besides my own thoughts.

It’s obvious to me now that I could branch out more with my writing, and I’m grateful to the organizers of Writing 101 for providing me with the opportunity to play around with word crafting that is far outside of my comfort zone.  I discovered that I’m terrified of writing fiction although I think I have some really great ideas.  If I hadn’t been given the assignment to play around with some fictional characters, I most likely would never have entertained the idea of allowing some made up beings to take life in my mind, in my words, out in this world.  Maybe one day I will write that book that is floating in the vast, unexplored ocean of consciousness, floating in the center of my being.

For today, we are asked to discuss our most treasured  possession.  Here’s an excerpt of the prompt:

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.

A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

Hmmmmm.  I guess I’ll dive in before my brain gets too involved and shoots down every blessed thought and idea that might arise.  But before I do, let me just say that I feel perfectly comfortable writing a longer piece.  Most of my posts are longer.  In fact I’ve been trying to write shorter pieces because I imagine most people don’t have the time to read anything past a hundred words or so, and I do appreciate when people take the time to read, so shortening my pieces seems like an obvious solution to make reading my stuff more feasible for the busy folks who kindly take the time to stop by my blog.  It’s funny though, I’ve pretty much failed miserably at my attempts to incorporate brevity into my writing practice.  I guess I’m just long-winded (long-worded?) by nature.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

If I Could Be Said to Possess Anything

At first I couldn’t think of any one prized possession that could be used as the subject of today’s post.  Imagining the objects in my life, mentally going through them room by room in my house, I discover that I don’t have much in my life that couldn’t be easily replaced.  I won’t write about my husband or my children, because I don’t possess them.  In fact could I be said to possess anything?  The path of yoga has helped me to see that in the end nothing lasts forever, possession is an illusion, and ultimately we can take nothing with us when we exit this world of form.  Knowing this, I have begun an earnest effort to practice non-attachment, and so it becomes harder for me to call into my awareness any one thing that I really treasure.

But if I could be said to possess anything, and if I were asked which of my possessions I treasure most, it would have to be the collection of journals I have amassed over the years, beginning with my fifth grade diary.  I know that there is a Poochie diary somewhere on my parents’ scary property, but I won’t go searching for it, not just yet.  The property is trashed by my father’s hoarding sickness, and looking for a diary in a hoarder’s stash is like well, looking for a needle in a haystack.  But I do remember the thing–I started the Poochie diary in second grade.  I remember writing about the three boys in my class on whom I had a crush.  Yep.  Second grade crushes.  I even remember their names: Michael Q., David C., and Travis M.

The fifth grade diary was begun with much excitement. There was an inspirational invitation at the very beginning of the book, an invitation to write about anything and everything, and to write as often or as little as I liked.  I remember writing the first page and explaining that I bought the diary for myself to hold my words.  I also wrote about the little presents I bought for my family members at the same time that I ordered my diary–it was almost Christmastime when the order arrived.

The first diary was kept intermittently.  I would turn to it especially in times of trial, but I do remember sharing a perfect day I had, all the little things I did in one sweet day of my innocent life as a girl child.  I remember eating potato chips and climbing trees and watching birds; it was probably summer time, because I spent the entire day outside.  I also remember writing about my grandmother’s suicide, about my twin sister winning the affection of a young man with whom both of us were enamored, and the secret heartbreak, the unshed tears, the overwhelming devastation I felt when he chose her over me.  That was in sixth grade.  They were together three years, as together as you can call a middle school aged couple.

My tenth grade English teacher had us keep a journal over three weeks’ time and write in it daily.  It was the first time I had a regular writing practice, and although at moments it felt like a burden, by the end of the three weeks I was hooked.  I actually felt kind of sorry for my teacher when I saw him collect all of our marbled composition books; how was that man going to find the time to read three weeks’ worth of journal entries from twenty students?  But read them he did, and he even left comments in the margins.  What a guy. I didn’t maintain a regular practice when the assignment was over, but I did write more frequently than I had been writing previously, and by the time I got to college, there was no question that I would have a journal in my life at all times.

My best friend in college also kept a journal; we were kindred spirits from the beginning and spent hours talking about our dreams, sharing music, creating art together, going on long walks through the forests of the Blue Ridge mountains in southwestern Virginia.  This friend helped me to see journal writing as a sacred art, and she lit a fire in me to take more seriously the time I spent with my words, because it was also time I was spending with my heart, my soul–my deepest, most precious self.  I can recall writing about a young man whose brother was in my choir, which is how we met.  I still remember the fruit salad I brought to the cookout my choir friend hosted for those of us who were staying in town after the school year was over.  I can still see him sitting there at the long table, so unbelievably good looking it took my breath away.  And I wrote about him.  And I wrote about him.  And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote…starting with the love at first sight stage and wondering how I could arrange meeting up with him again, managing to get him to go on a hike with me,  our clandestine coupling outside of the watchful eye of his very Catholic mother, to the heartbreak of his stony silence when I took my junior year abroad in France, when he didn’t have the decency to just break up with me–my journal was my solace when no one else could offer the comfort I needed to mitigate the deep sense of mourning, of loss.  A part of me still carries a torch for that one; I thought he was my destiny.  He certainly was handsome and funny and smart and creative, and there was something about being his first lover that made me want to keep him.  But he didn’t want to be kept.

And then my journal held the stories of each young man in whom I sought the love I couldn’t give myself. I could have opened a league of nations in my dorm room.  A Bosnian, a Spaniard, an Australian, three Frenchmen–one from the island of La Reunion–and then to finish off the year, a good old down home sweet faced American boy who ended up being relationship worthy, if only he didn’t live clear across the country in Washington state.  That one made me laugh, made me relax, helped me to feel safe and sexy and fun.  I’m still grateful for the time I spent with him.

And those are the journals from the first twenty-one years of my life…I could talk about the stories the journals from the subsequent sixteen years now hold within their pages, but I won’t, not today.  I’m overwhelmed thinking about all of those words I’ve written, all of those stories, all of those people, those places, those experiences.  Lonely times, times of courage, times of triumph, of deep dark depression, of communion with nature, of being lost in the urban jungle, lost in my own mind, lost in the search for love, always looking outside of myself for love, realizing the folly of that even at a young age–somehow never heeding my own advice–needing to rewrite that story over and over with many different characters, in different countries, yet always the same story.

My journal work has been of immeasurable value as I have come to many insights as I watched my words taking form on the page, fountain pen in hand, ink flowing.  Surprising realizations have burst forth, and tears also, because my journal is also a safe space to let go and emote when I feel confined by my ideas of propriety out in the world I share with others.  My journal has been my friend and ally, a constant companion, a past time, a comfort, proof of my joys and sorrows, a record keeper.  It has been very valuable indeed on my life path, revealing cycles of my thoughts and feelings and behaviors, helping me to get clear with myself about what I want to give to this life, and what I want to receive from it.

Decades of life stories, held in many volumes–I have never counted–and the bulk of them are stored in paper boxes down in the basement.  What will I do with them?  They are so heavy, and there are so many of them that they could really slow us down whenever we decide to move.  I have considered burning them in a symbolic act of release, letting go of the past that I might be fully open to this moment–but every time I pull one of my journals out at random, and open the book to any page, I’m startled by what I knew, before I knew how much I knew.  It’s like the soul of me could understand the whole truth of it all before my brain and body could grasp even a shred of it.

I think I may keep them, these old friends.  If nothing else, they’ll make great fuel for a huge bonfire one day. That would be a gutsy act of non-attacment, would it not?  Volumes of my life just thrown away, because those stories are in the past, because I don’t truly possess these books, these stories–at some point we will be separated from one another in this finite world of form.

But possession or not, I think I may keep them.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Thank You, Dear Friend

Dear Friend,
Thank you.
Thank you for being there when no one else wanted to
When no one else could be there
When I wouldn’t let anyone in
When I didn’t know who I was
When I wanted so much that the pain of wanting burned me
When I didn’t feel any sense of belonging
When I was completely lost

Thank you friend for being there.
Thank you for being there when I was sick
When I was happy
When I was too shy to share a dream
but wanted someone to know about it
wanted to feel the joy of making the dream that much more real
Thank you for not laughing at my doodles, my attempts at art
Thank you for listening without judgment, without interruption
Thank you for showing me the proof of my goodness
When everyone else told me otherwise

Thank you dear friend.
Thank you dear friend.

Writing 101, Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

Standard

Today’s writing 101 prompt gets a big HOORAY from me–it’s free writing, and this I can handle. Oh yeah!

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

SWEET.  How free I feel right now.  Kids down for nap, husband busy in the garden, and I am actually awake enough to really enjoy having a moment to myself to write.  Look out universe, here I come!  Are there any ideas that my rational mind says are too silly to write about? Hmmmmmmm.  Maybe I”ll find one while I’m writing.  Here goes.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

They keep telling me to be cautious.  Don’t rock the boat, they tell me.  But I want to know.  I want to know why I have been passed up for promotion after all of the hard work I have given to them.  But in any organization, someone needs to be the scapegoat, someone needs to be the underdog so that those at the top can shine more brightly.  I’m too afraid to give details, but I can certainly share the disappointment I feel at being passed over.  I was wanting recognition for all that I do, but I suppose the only place I can get it is deep within.  And isn’t that where we all should be looking?  To be authentic as a yoga teacher, I must look inwards as I ask my students to do.  I must let go of the external world, as I ask my students to do, let go of the body, let go of my job, my relationships, my possessions, my name, my hopes, my fears, my breath even–as I ask my students to do.  If I can walk my talk, then my talk might actually mean something.

Don’t stop writing, they say.  Okay, I won’t stop, but there is a fear that anything pouring from my unconscious will come across as drivel.  God forbid I appear mindless to anyone.  God forbid I don’t appear important, and knowledgeable, and beautiful, and witty, and competent, and successful, and…wait.  Am I really admitting all of this?  Am I really admitting that I still care very much what other people think about me? And what does this say about me?  Some external locus of control this is, looking to others for a sense of worthiness.  And when the locus of control is on the outside, it means that there is anxiety on the inside.  I don’t want to be anxious.  I want to be at peace.

So I will sit, right after I write this blurb from my self-conscious crazy grasping mind.  This little girl still wants love, still wants to be held, to be told that she is good.  She wants to be given gifts, told that she is worthy, that she is well-liked, adored even.  Maybe when I sit I’ll remember that the true point of power is inside.  Maybe in my stillness I will find the peace and the joy I am seeking.  Maybe I will sense the infinite ocean of awareness within me, as I ask my students to do.

And now I’m tired.  My eyes are heavy, there is a drowsy warmth; I’m ready to let go and sleep for a little bit.  A nap is such a gift.  Meditation can wait.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

yoga is:

the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind
conscious breathing
union
balancing steadiness and sweetness
exploring effort and ease
discovering non-dualistic awareness
in the midst of full-blown duality

yoga is:

who I am
and who you are
when we stop and realize
there is no me and you
there is only this moment,
is-ness, being–
and from a soft place of surrender,
of open courageous heart singing the will to
awaken for the benefit of all,

we know
we really know what yoga is.

Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

Standard

The agony.  I can’t wait for this to be over.  Dear God, today’s Writing 101 assignment.  First of all, I read the prompt when I had already been awake for six hours, having slept poorly for not even four hours the night before.  I wanted to get the idea of the prompt in my head right when it was posted at 10 am so that I could mull over it throughout the day, hoping that when I finally had a chance to sit down and write, I wouldn’t come to the table empty-handed (empty-minded?).  Even after having turned some ideas over (and over and over) in my mind in the course of the day, I arrive in this moment, this writing moment, feeling overwhelmed as I survey the task before me.

One thing that keeps coming back to me is this:  I’m scared of writing fiction.  I always thought I had a good book in me, some magical thing that I would give birth to and be proud of and everyone would love.  This book has yet to appear. After decades of believing myself capable of writing a fantastic book, I have yet to produce anything.  After giving it some thought, I can see that I’m mostly afraid of revealing myself through my writing.  Fiction doesn’t arise in a void.  It might be somewhat removed from one’s mundane existence, it might be couched in some kind of fantastical plot, with complex terminology and well-developed characters–but one’s voice will always end up on the page, one’s heart and soul will be right there in black and white for the whole world to see and potentially love and celebrate, perhaps misunderstand, perhaps criticize mercilessly.  I’m not sure I’m up to such a risk.  And yet I know that somehow I must try.

There’s the thought that I might be on my deathbed one day mourning what could have been, if I only could’ve freed up the creative self that wanted to shine for the whole world to see.  There’s the thought that I might be suppressing something truly good and beautiful because I’m too afraid to be seen and heard and known–shouldn’t such a fear be examined and then released?  I mean, come on now–I haven’t been keeping a journal since second grade only to use fear as an excuse for not stepping up and being who I really am.

There’s also the memory of being in love with my own words, excited to see them appear, excited to bring characters forth in my mind, to let them take life and interact with one another.  Of course that was back in third grade, and since then I received a whole lot of programming surrounding proper use of time, what constitutes a worthy pursuit, what I should be addressing in my writing… How about the fear of falling in love with my characters and then having horrible things happen to them, watching them die, or go crazy, or get sick, or be heartbroken? Too much of my own life will show up in my writing, it will be too personal, I will feel too exposed…and I’ll never get it just right.  Nothing will ever be just right enough for me to feel comfortable publishing it.  The agony.

But enough of this.  I can at least attempt to fulfill the assignment, even if it isn’t some piece polished to an expert shine, even if it isn’t concise…edited to my satisfaction.  Maybe I can relax about what I produce tonight, so that I can allow myself the process of creativity without the burden of attempted perfection.  And what in this human life can be called perfect, honestly? Here’s the blurb from the writing 101 prompt:

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

Repeat after me, “We don’t need to be perfect.  We don’t need to be perfect.  We don’t need to be perfect.”  Take a deep breath, and go!

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

I don’t know what I’ll do without her.  She was always there for me when mom and dad were going through the separation, and now she’s leaving.  Oh god she looks so sad.  Where is she going to go?  Does she have family?  Who is going to help me with my knitting now?  Who is going to make me tea and give me cookies when I need to escape from my little brothers and sisters?  Who will move in to her house after she leaves? Mrs Pauley was always so kind to me.  She must’ve known what my parents were going through and how lost I felt, the way she showed up at our door that day and asked if I wanted to learn how to knit.  I looked to Mama who nodded, her face pinched from crying.  I needed to escape the noise, the torment from my younger siblings, the fact that my parents were no longer together.  Mrs. Pauley taught me how to knit and purl, how to read a pattern, how to fix mistakes.  I always had many of those, and she would patiently, wordlessly fix them for me. And now she’s going. They’re putting her stuff down on the street.  This is just horrible.  How could they do this to her?

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

That’s about all I can stay awake for tonight.  A poem, then a brief meditation.  I don’t have much left in me tonight.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Falling asleep at the keyboard,
child, it is time.
Let yourself rest.
It is time to slip into the great beyond.
Don’t try so hard,
invite the undoing
Discover who you are when the world falls apart.
Achieve dissolution, the non-self–
and see the universal soul revealed in every single blessed breath.
Your enoughness is not in question.
Know this.
It is time.

Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Serial Killer III

Standard

For today’s Writing 101 post, as a continuation of our earlier serial posts, we were asked to reflect on the ideas of “lost” and “found.”  I approach my writing practice much the same way I approach my meditation practice:  using this time to come back home to the present moment, to teach myself how to abide in awareness of who I really am, to put some space between my thoughts and the witnessing presence in me that has the capacity to hold all of this moment–all of it–with compassion, with equanimity, with lovingkindness.  From this perspective, tonight, with this intention to be present, I write.  I write to fulfill this assignment, to have that satisfaction, but I also write to awaken.  I dedicate the merit of this session of writing to all beings, that they may realize and abide in their own true nature.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

She was lost to me early on, and her death was the final physical demonstration of that loss.  That act brought me home to myself and my commitment to life, and I realized that this life is an endless cycle of death and rebirth, of gain and loss,  of pain and pleasure, of awareness and unconsciousness.  Her loss meant that I could eventually be found.  Her death made space for the realizations I needed to arrive here in this moment, and now here I am–poised and ready to be free.

In truth there never is a real loss, although the mind would think otherwise.  What we think we lose comes back to us in a different form, in this constant energy exchange that is daily living.  Summoning the courage to look through the illusion of loss into the reality of supreme interconnectedness, I now have the strength to turn my attention inward and locate the true source of peace–and here I find myself.

When  I hold onto the story She should have stayed alive, I might feel bitter, resentful, hopeless, helpless, desperate.  Anything taken from me, whether an object, a person, or an experience, now becomes a teacher as I work to identify who I am beyond those things that are no longer mine, who I am beyond the pain of losing something precious. If I ground my awareness in the center, this is what I see:

Nothing can be lost, ever–
We are all part of the whole.
We might experience the illusion of loss,
the illusion of being broken, incomplete–
But seeing just once the magnitude of this existence,
how could we feel alone?
How could we feel diminished?
When we awaken to reality,
when we see clearly, we remember–
There is no such thing as sadness or darkness
when you’re standing in the presence of infinite light.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

And now, can someone please tell me:

Why is marriage so goddamned hard?

Thank you,

Lorien

Weekend Wrap-Up: Thank You Life!

Standard

Home.
Home after a busy weekend of 500 hour yoga teacher training.
Tired, yet peaceful, blissed out even.
I have so many things to say,
but not the words to say them.
How can I convey this feeling of fullness, of lightness?

The connections I’m making with my fellow teacher trainees are amazing.
For the first time in a long time, I have a real tribe, a community.
How can I describe how precious these moments are?
No words.

Simply noticing what is,
and seeing that I like what is,
true freedom.

Letting go of the stories that were used to keep me separate,
I see how inextricably connected we are,
holding each other up with love and support,
Laughing, embracing, sharing.

Kindred spirits.
As my perception has shifted,
I am no longer threatened by my colleagues’ successes–
I celebrate them.
Their successes cannot detract from mine,
rather they enhance it…
With beauty.

Need I go on?

Clear sight.
Gratitude.
Playfulness.
Fulfillment.
Balance.

So many things to say,
no words to say them.

Let my “Thank you life!” be enough!

 

A Little Fun to Change Things Up

Standard
Sometimes yogatta have fun

Sometimes yogatta have fun

Moving right along…today was day two of our fourth weekend of 500 hour yoga teacher training.  It’s nearly midnight and I have to get up early to make some raw walnut pate to share at our gathering tomorrow.  It’s obvious to me that these days, short and sweet is better than long and involved.  So here’s a short and sweet post…just me and my fellow trainee Marissa goofing off in between segments of our training.  I’m the one flipping over.  Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Student Again

After being a teacher for so long,
it’s so refreshing to be a student.
To absorb knowledge, to soak in wisdom
to relax and enjoy, to learn, to share–

It’s so nice to be a student again.