Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Really AM Writing!

I have re-joined Writers Village, and the free class began on January 5. I'd completed this class years ago, but thought it would be a good warm-up to get back in the swing of things. I'm really enjoying it, although a bit stressed squeezing that in between show rehearsals, work, family and the Rhet II class I'll be starting this week What's one more thing, right?

On a positive note, we're almost through registration hell at work. I did three 12-hour days last week, and one more this coming Tuesday, then things at work should slow down considerably. Time to catch my breath!

Today's post is simply a sharing of the first writing assignment for the WVU/F2K class. If anyone reads this and is interested in more info about WVU, the website is


The first assignment instructions: Have a character you have created tell us a little about you. Have them give us a view of you that we wouldn't normally see (why they think you created them, how they feel about you, what you put them through in your writing, etc.) If you haven't already created a character, then go ahead and create one for this assignment. Word count limit 500.



The lady is fat. It is a simple fact. She is fat. She has wild dark hair. Last season, her hair was orange. (I do not know why humans insist on calling that color red. It is so clearly not red.) I think she has a nice smile. Her eyes, though, are her best feature. The color moves from a ring of gray to blue to almost green in the center. They are pretty.

I am Botune, Elder and High Scribe of the Te’vari, a people dwelling on land and, as we mature, in the oceans. As High Scribe, I am compelled to be honest in all things. That is why I write that she is fat. It is the first thing one sees, though, oddly, with familiarity, this first impression fades. It becomes the smile. That wild hair. The eyes. She hears this from many of her human acquaintances. She tells me she is abundant, and that all souls are perfectly shaped.

Her name is Jeanne, and years ago she created me, a central character, as part of a group writing project. The foundation of the project was an earth-like world. Each writer was to build a civilization existing on this world. From there, they would begin writing how their peoples interacted. Creation. Building. Passion. Trade. Spirituality. War. Power. Relationships. Devastation. Triumph.

It was a grand plan. It did not come to fruition. So, on a perpetual evening, I sit in my small cottage on an island in a northern sea, savoring the warmth of a crackling fire, poised to journal, a gull feather quill, tip wet with purple-black ink, ready in my cool webbed hand.

My maker has difficulty with discipline and follow-through. (She was not the only one in that group of writers to suffer from these particular weaknesses. To her credit, I exist yet in a bubble of hope that one day she will resurrect my story and see it through.)

The lady loves words. She reads voraciously. She favors fiction. Any type, as long as it is gripping and written well. A brilliant turn of phrase causes Jeanne to catch her breath. She savors it, turns it over and over in her head and on her tongue. Ultimately, she forces it upon anyone nearby, believing that everyone really must share her admiration of words placed so perfectly upon the page.

Here is a dark secret. She thinks less of those who do not embrace the beauty of language or respect the written word. She despises the current trend of shortcuts and abbreviations. If it is worth writing, write it correctly and well, be it a poem, a book, a letter or a text message. She is a dreadful snob in this regard.

My fingernails have gone a bit blue as I wait for Jeanne to set my hand free to its task. I am patient. I have faith. Now she must find faith in herself. And discipline. Stoke the fire.

We believe.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


There is a new kind of friendship that was birthed by the advent of internet socializing. It is, in some instances, stronger, more powerful and intense than friendships grown in the usual way, as a matter of the course of life, in school, in church, in social groups, through family, chance encounters at bars and nightclubs, meeting someone through someone else... whatever... however... whenever.

I met Tessa during my brief stint as a stay-at-home mom, when I had more time for creativity, including resurrecting my passion for visual art. She was part of a huge art group on eBay, and eventually a small group of us, about ten of us, branched off into the small social circle of an online group.

Tessa's art is just incredible! So full of color and life, it grabs you and makes you smile. Eye candy, but always there is a story there, a message, an invitation to be a part of Tessa's world, to see things as she sees them, to adore them as she adores them.

Her writing is phenomenal! I've always had a "thing" for writers, and she stole my heart the first time I read her blog. She took me on her journeys to her beloved Africa, introduced me to her beloved family, made me laugh and think. Oh, how she made me think!

Tessa was also a photographer, and she captured images of places I will probably never see any other way. Again, Africa. I marveled at her adventures! Her complete LIVING of LIFE!

When we learned we'd been born on the same day of the same year -- Valentine's Day 1960 -- it was such a delight! We referred to ourselves as twins across the miles. She was the tall and graceful twin. I was the short and round. It was such an honor to share the day with this remarkable woman!

On December 27, 2010, Tessa died. She'd battled pulmonary fibrosis for a long time. She was surrounded by her family, who she truly adored, and my heart breaks for them, losing this amazing Light in their lives.

I never had the privilege of meeting Tessa "live and in person", but the impact of this loss has devastated me. I have such a strong faith and an unshakable belief system about death and dying. It is just the next step on the journey. We DO go on. Tessa's soul soars with a billion shooting stars trailing behind, trying to keep up. So why this intense sorrow? The tears that keep coming? I considered that the shared birthday might be making me recognize, truly recognize, my own mortality, but that really isn't it. I think more that it's making me realize that there is so much more I could be doing with my life, and that I really need to find ways in which to do those things. To make a difference in the world, in the lives of my family and my friends and people who need help and...


I will never have another birthday that isn't steeped in thoughts of Tessa, and I will look forward to this for the rest of my life.

Soar, Tessa!

Jeanne, the short and round twin

Friends who would like to get to know Tessa, and you really should!, can read her blog:

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Just Haven't Been in the Mood

I've been writing, sort of. Emails. Proposals. Um. Okay, so nothing I would consider a qualifier for my 15-30 minute a day goal. I have an explanation (illness and holiday madness), but in the end, is there really a good explanation for why I couldn't write? No. I just haven't been in the mood.

And I am completely undisciplined. So, we're back to Day One of the 21 days it will take to make daily writing a habit. If I can make myself do this every day from now through the holidays, I will be very impressed with me.

I've also been a little sad and frustrated over the fact that my throat does not seem to be healing from my recent upper respiratory infection. By the end of the day, I have no voice left. I haven't been able to sing at all for about two weeks. This is not good. I'm in rehearsals for a show. I need to be able to sing. I suspect that the only cure, the only way my throat will heal, is several days mute, but it isn't a realistic possibility. My job makes it impossible. My life makes it impossible. Next week the office is closed for the holiday break, though, so perhaps then, if I'm very, very good and very, very quiet, I will rebound and be singing by January.

I never realized how much I actually sing every day. To the radio. When I'm puttering around the house. In the shower. Sitting in the back office during my lunch hour -- although that singing is pretty quiet. At my desk, I've had to stop myself from humming ditties or singing or humming along to the holiday music that we've been playing. It is difficult! Really, really difficult! Every time I stop myself, I want to kick something!

I honestly believe that if this continues much longer, I will sink into a real depression.

Heh. I may not have been in THE mood, but I'm definitely in A mood! Let's see if I can turn that around.

Tonight there is a significant astronomical/astrological event. There will be a full lunar eclipse just before dawn on the day of the Winter Solstice. It will be an energetic moment worthy of a focused meditation on new beginnings, starting new projects, setting new goals. Before I go to sleep tonight, I will spend time in prayer and meditation. I will send out healing thoughts and energy to friends who need it. I will think and pray about the things I'd like to accomplish in 2011, and in which aspect of my life could I use "new beginning" energy.

If we weren't expecting snow/freezing rain over night, complete with clouds that will block the eclipse, I'd be setting my alarm to go out and gaze at the moon. I may set my alarm anyway and take a peek outdoors. (That's about the time Lily, my Pomeranian, decides she needs to go out for her middle of the night pee anyway.) Then come inside where it's warm and do a little meditation in the wee hours.

I feel as if winter has already been here forever. It's going to be a long one. I better think about getting IN the mood...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time to Formulate Plan B

I am pretty sure that I have become incapable of catching and experiencing a normal common cold.

This is the fourth or fifth time this year that I've started with a head cold that's ended up incapacitating me for the better part of a week. They've all followed the same modus operandi. My nose stuffs up, then I start to feel better, then SLAM! Vicious headache, congestion drops into my chest, bronchial issues that require digging out my inhaler and usually codeine cough syrup after a few nights without sleep, and a sapping of energy that takes weeks to rebuild. (Except that one time this year when I had no cold symptoms, but somehow contracted walking pneumonia. Seriously.)

I am frustrated, grumpy, missed three days of work, have so much I've fallen behind on, and an upcoming week that is busy enough to test what little endurance I have in storage.

The only genuine relief is to stand in the shower as hot as I can stand it and inhale the steam as deeply as I can. The relief lasts an hour or so, but then I'm back to feeling that heaviness in the chest and wanting to return to a state of hibernation on the couch.

I think about becoming an isolationist. No contact with the outside world means no contact with germs, right?

So I think about becoming an isolationist.

And then I realize that continuing along that path is going to turn me into a crazy person.

I'm just tired of getting stupid colds and being taken down by them. It makes me feel pathetic and weak and old. Yes, right now I'm pathetic for sure, but, Lord, I hate feeling weak and old. Physically weak and old.

I remember my Nana, in one of those rare moments in which she let down her guard, telling me about how much she hated getting old. Although it isn't the word she used, it enraged her. She told me how devastating it was to look in the mirror and not be able to see herself through all the wrinkles. She broke my heart a little that day.

I've always been pretty philosophical about aging, because, after all, it happens to all of us, right? There's no stopping it.

Easy acceptance. Grace. That's how I was going.

I think it's time to formulate Plan B.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Question 2 from Live What You Love: 50 Questions to Ask Yourself

2. What is your fondest childhood memory? Who was there? What was going on?

How telling is it that the childhood memories that come to mind are quiet, solitary moments?
I'm trying not to over-think the questions. In striving for honesty, I feel that going with the first thing that comes to mind is necessary. It was kind of startling to realize how much I enjoyed being alone, particularly engaging in flights of fancy or creative pursuits. 
The first memory to comes to mind was my solitary walking along the beach. I was probably 10, 11 or 12... all those ages and more. My family vacationed each summer for two weeks on Cape Cod, and my personal bliss was to head to the beach at the end of the day, just before sunset, to walk the beach and sit on the dunes, to watch the sky turn incredible colors while the warm, gentle surf rolled over my feet and lapped at my ankles. To sit quietly on a dune on the near-deserted beach, and wiggle my toes into the still warm sand. To seek treasures from the ocean hiding in fresh clumps of seaweed. To think amazing thoughts, dream amazing dreams, ponder what a tiny speck I was (am) in the Universe, yet feeling so connected with all that is in those moments, alone, on the beach, by the sea, as the sun set. I could weep with the yearning I feel now to be near the sea, and here I am in landlocked Illinois. Some day. Some day.
The second memory to surface was the composition of my first poem. I was not actually all alone. I was with my friend David McCann, and we were at his house. I was six years old. I was already a reader, and the teacher had read poems that day in school. I was in first grade. The poems were about spring. And I decided I wanted to write my own poem. I made David listen to me recite each line before I wrote it down. I asked him for help with rhyming words, and ultimately dismissed all of his and came up with my own. (David was such a good sport!) It was good, and I was ecstatic with my creation! Today I still remember every word:
A flower is a pretty thing.
It comes out in the Spring.
And when it comes out,
It always spreads about.
A flower smells so good.
I like to wear it in my hood.
My friend and I both say
A flower spends the day
Spreading away.
Brilliant, right? Frankly, 50-year-old Jeanne is still pretty impressed with 6-year-old Jeanne's poetry!
The other memories that stand out from childhood are making art (I love drawing and painting), writing stories and my imaginary friends. I had the most awesome imaginary friends! I knew they were imaginary, but I also knew that just because they were imaginary, that didn't mean they didn't exist. Somewhere. Somehow. Because I believed in the power of personal creation. I don't know what philosophical and spiritual streams I'd tapped into as a child, but I did a lot of profound thinking and imagining along lines for which I had no label until I was older and more learned. Quantum physics, reincarnation, past life recall, mind over matter, creating our physical universe, karma, you get back what you put out, you make your own reality.
I never had a lot of friends as a kid. I really was a bit of a loner. I remember sometimes feeling a little sad or wishing I was included in some specific activity, but for the most part, I was perfectly happy... sometimes supremely blissed out... being with just me.
Today, I still enjoy my own company. It's a good thing I am married to a man who also enjoys his own company, because he gets it! In many ways, I am personally living what I love. Professionally... that's a whole 'nother story to be explored on another day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Out of Sorts Kind of Day

Last night I stood on the back porch watching the gentle snow fall. A thin blanket had already begun to stick, and as I moved, the porch light reflecting off thousands... millions... of snowflakes made the world twinkle. My two almost-13-year-old dogs, Mollie (a knee-high chow/shepherd/something mix) and Lily (a black Pomeranian) frolicked in the fluff like puppies. Noses down and tossing puffs of the white stuff into the air, snapping at it as it fell back down, chasing each other, slipping and sliding. It was great fun to watch.

This morning there is about 4" on the ground. It's so cold that the snow has remained light and fluffy, but it's made travel challenging. I knew this was coming, and about 10 p.m. last night, I emailed committee members that a meeting we were scheduled to have this morning at 10 a.m. would be postponed until tomorrow due to the weather. I thought that was plenty of notice, but one committee member does not have easy access to a computer, and after sending out the message last night, and honestly believing it was plenty of time, I got a call from her this morning. She was not happy with me, as she'd driven into town for the meeting.

Yes, I actually did think to call her last night, but it was 10 p.m., and I didn't think it appropriate to call at that late hour, as it is a family telephone, land line, and I didn't want to disturb anyone. If I'd been thinking this morning, which I wasn't, I would've called, but I didn't. I deserved the lambasting I got on the phone, I guess. I apologized and fully intend to reimburse the gas money out of my own pocket as a further apology. I called another friend to talk about the situation, and she kindly noted that if it had been her, she would've looked at the snow and made a phone call herself to determine if plans had changed before she got in the car to drive any distance. God bless her, and she's got a point, but I'm the committee chair, and it was my dropped ball.

So, I feel like an ass.

It happens, right? I can't even count the number of times in my life that I've driven in the snow only to find my destination closed or an event cancelled. And, yes, that royally ticks one off. Being a contained New Englander, I just suck it up and get on with life. The situation this morning led me to think about how good it might've felt if I'd just once picked up the phone and ripped someone a new one for neglecting to inform me of a closing or cancellation or postponement when I'd showed up as originally planned... whether weather related or otherwise.

Maybe in the moment it would've felt good, but I know myself well enough that the aftermath of chagrin and guilt wouldn't be worth it. The key would be the ability to shut off the chagrin and guilt, but who I am and the way I was raised lends itself more easily to containment, assimilation and release without ruffling anyone else's feathers.

I work hard at it.

I work equally hard at beating myself up when I've effed up. So instead of enjoying the pretty snow and looking forward to the work holiday party tonight, I'm feeling very out of sorts and anti-social and done.

In fact, I'm going to slip into bed and watch some TV instead of putting up the Christmas tree this afternoon.

I would've been a really awesome turtle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stumble Upon

For those who have not yet discovered, I encourage you to check it out. You create an account and check off your interests. Based on those interests, when you hit the Stumble button, a random website will open. Oddly enough, though I recognize the "time waster" aspect of StumbleUpon, I've also found this method of web surfing to be extremely valuable. It's not "surfing" as much as it is "mining", and when you least expect it, you will unearth a real gem.


So this evening as I stumbled, I came across a wonderful blog post by a woman named Tia Peterson called  (and please click to read this!) Live What You Love: 50 Questions to Ask Yourself. What wonderful fodder for my journaling! And because I am desperate to find myself earning a living doing something I love, it is even more timely.

I'm going to have a go at this! Not only does it look productive and fun, it will also provide impetus for my journaling. At least 50 days worth, right? Actually more, because as I've reviewed these questions, what I've discovered is that there are often sub-questions for the main question.

Let's consider the first question:

1. How do you really feel about what you are doing right now at this exact moment?

Is this question literal? This exact moment? When I'm sitting in my room at my computer writing? Or is the question broader, embracing my life in general at this exact moment?

Well, let's have a go at it and see.

I am feeling guilty that I haven't gotten the bills paid and ready to mail yet. I am feeling great that I'm journaling and fulfilling my goal to write a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day. I am happy to have a warm home and furkids, and to hear my beloved husband watching TV in the living room. I'm missing my son so much it hurts. I'm wondering how soon my stepson will be leaving us for the next phase of his life journey. I'm thinking I really need to change out the cat litter and be sure my tote bag is packed for tomorrow. I'm dreading... seriously dreading... my return to work after a week off. (I traditionally take Thanksgiving week off, because, in my current job, it's necessary to my mental health and my ability to get anything done for Christmas.)

I hate my job. That's about as honest as I can get on that subject. I've never had a job that I flat out hated before, but I hate this one. I hate the stress, the chaotic atmosphere, and the fact that working at this location with this customer pool has tarnished my idealism and caused me to experience negative reactions I've never felt in any situation before this. I like the people with whom I work. They are pretty terrific. But the job itself... not so much. I am constantly on the look out for new opportunities, but my timing has been all off. I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason and the right job will come at the right time for me and for my family. I'm starting to have trouble keeping that faith intact.

But the fact that I'm writing right now, and that I've managed to keep it up for almost a week now, every single day... I'm excited about that. Happy about that. Hopeful about that. I've not yet given up my dream of writing something of lasting impact before I depart this Earth for other realms.

And now another moment as passed, and I'm feeling the need to go open the back door and let my barking dogs in out of the cold!

On to the next moment...