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Thursday, August 21, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 20: I'm glad that I am me.

"I'm glad that I am me, that's who I want to be;
though there are changes I must make,
I'm glad that I am me..." So goes verse one of a kindergarten social studies song, which goes on to say that acting like someone else is foolish.

Today's challenge, a greeting card verse by Lisa herself, is to "Enjoy your presence."
One of the prompts is to tell what I enjoy of my 'gifts.'
...
Still fussing over Lisa Sonora's 30-day journal exercise as being excessively self-serving, I remember that that was the point...getting at the root of what is freeing and creative; I suppose it makes sense that, if I am going to be rooted, the root needs to reside in and with me. I recall old Shakespeare's line, "To thine own self be true'  Thence it follows, sure as night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.*  "Physician heal thyself." The airlines' admonition to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.   And the 'gifts' idea, of course, is very Biblical, so I am familiar with that.

OK, Lisa, I'm 'in.' Vis: Health limitations notwithstanding (and I work on renewing that, too) I am:

Music, singing, speaking, reading aloud, reading poetry aloud esp., cooking, washing dishes, laundry, listening to someone who needs/craves an ear, speaking a word of peace, driving for clarification of meaning, writing, reading to/talking with little children, teaching little children to read and /or write/journal..."These are a few of my favorite things."  Oh, and did I say potatoes?  I eschew the 'faves' question, but I really like spuds.
;-).

In terms of freeing the creative spirit, the intention of this month of journal challenges, I do deal with it from time to time, have done for years, sometimes for a dedicated time and space, solo or with others,  most recently a study group of the book EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY, by Peter Scazzero.  A tour de force of spiritual practices, good for anybody, but requiring truth and 'grit' to do that kind of work.

______________
*(LOL; to another man-term maxim I share with my seven year-old granddaughter today, she immediately responds, "But we're not men, we're girls." Gotta love it! How times have changed.  I explain to her about the archaic usage, where 'men' is used to refer to all humans.  She is nonplussed.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Days 18-19 Sorry

Here we are on the 20th, working on the entry for the 19th...a not uncommon delay...but hey, I'm working on it!

A flash storm swept through town, suddenly all the appliances shut down, and writing time got swallowed up in the panic and drama (isn't that what sturm and drang means?) of getting the circuit boxes checked, flipped and flipped again until everything was back on, relieving anxious moments imagining what might have to be done with thawing food in the event that things did not work out.

But the frig was evidently the (or part of the) culprit.  It took more tries, and "Just one more try" by an ever helpful neighbor, to get it going.  So the fix is only temporary..we've been knowing for some time that the frig is singing its swan song (the freezer actually chirps when overloaded, and the light is irreparably defunct). So this is a wake-up call to get busy and look for a new frig again ('went through this last year and abandoned it for other pursuits when the chosen model didn't fit the space), this time concluding with a purchase that works for us...in both senses of the term.

And then there will be bonding time with whoever is willing to accept wilted/wilting food when we empty this one out in anticipation of the new one.  Affirmation of neighborliness, frig re-started, determination to follow through on search for much needed replacement frig, reminder of need for plan B for food have been brought to mind, in all, not a bad record of results for one brief storm. Thank God for all!

Not that I'm a 'pollyanna' (one of my bff's is a real Polly), but I do believe good comes out of difficulty, if we can recognize it, and an attitude of gratitude beats dwelling on the struggle that eventually led to the good.  It may come later and in a way we don't even recognize; may God give us the grace of retrospective recognition.  'Ah, that's why that happened,' or 'If that would not have happened we may never have _____________." You fill in the blank.

All of which in a way addresses yesterday's prompt and 'inspiration' nicely, vis:

Day 18's  Inspiration:
Storms make trees take deeper roots. - Dolly Parton ,,,
The 18th's Journal Prompts: (do one, some, all, or none, as you wish)
The storm that made me stronger was…
     Because…
          I learned that…
               The gift I possess as a result is…

Admittedly, my example is simplistic compared to the nitty gritty introspection Lisa may be prompting.  But it addresses the basic attitude, which is to expect good things.  Examine things for the good.  Adknowledge them when they happen.  And be thankful. As an evangelist named Oral Roberts was fond of saying, "Expect a miracle."  And (was it?) one of the many co-queens in "The King and I" sings, "A Hundred Thousand Miracles are happening every day."  Where will I, where will you, find ours today??



Sunday, August 17, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 17: Changing the Meaning

Today’s Journal Prompts: (do one, some, all, or none, as you wish)
Think about something in your creative life that bugs you.
The thing that is bugging me about my creative life is:
The meaning I am attaching to this issue is:
What is a new meaning you could pick, that feels good? Something to try on, even just for today?
My new, feel good meaning is:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Now this is getting interesting.  Lisa suggests taking something about the creative life that bugs me,
and turning the meaning of it around.  Ok, easy: procrastination.  So much to do, so little time, and I while it away when I could be more productive, even in little snippets of time.  Turning it around:  I recall a verse learned in childhood, in Sunday School?

                                  ...only a little minute,  (actually, it's "...just a tiny, little minute.")
                                  but eternity is in it.

I looked it up on the 'net and found it's part of a longer poem by Dr. Benjamin Mays exhorting one to
make the most of life.  Really, so simple.  Tend to the minutes and the hours, the tasks, will take care
of themselves.  So I must.

And one other thing that bugs me in my so called (intended) creative life is the mound of files, notes, papers that need to be sorted before I can make sense of them, or sorted through to find the one I
need for a specific project.  Nobody else can do this, because nobody else knows all the intentions.
But, by the grace of God, just today I found someone willing to help regularize my word processing document files, another long intended task, which will be a great incentive for me to get in there and sort--one day, one minute at time, and conquer those piles so I can write without the guilty feeling
that it still has to be done 'some day.'

The meaning I seem to be attaching to this pair of issues is, I am using piles-to-be-sorted as an excuse for procrastination in developing (and completing!) old and new writing ideas and projects.

Here's my meaning-makeover for that:  Wow, I have so many wonderful ideas waiting to be used in the wonderful things I have yet to write.  What a  resource! There must be some real gems in there:
Let me at'em! A few pages every time I pass my desk will get the job done, like the tortoise...Mother gave me a Finnish glass snail once, as a joke referring to my habit of procrastination, but I will cast
the snail's lot in with the turtle, with the mantra, and add this new one:  little by little wins the race.  Turtles, snails, here I come.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

30 Day Journal Project, Day 15: "Independence Day," and Day 16, A Fond Memory

Indian Independence Day...you could say I observed it by being independent of the journal project. By the time I get around to addressing Day 16 in the wee hours of the 16th,  a painful bout of bursitis that preoccupied me on the 15th has, lordwilling,had begun to recede.

A typically both-clumsy-and-profound quotation from Rumi is Lisa's 'inspiration for today,' to the effect that, even in winter, when the tree seems 'dead,' the root is still at work.  This sentiment is repeated in a short poem by (I seem to remember it was Eve Merriam) and another one I wrote myself, to this day unsure of whether and how much I was quoting hers (or whosever it was)...but I am unable to find it or anything like it on the 'net.  Could I have written the sentiment all by myself? Now what did I name it...a frequent quandary when looking for the file of a certain poem, remembered from the text but not the title!

Serendipitously, a devotional message that I read next quotes a personal 'root' memory of my own, a golden oldie hymn I haven't heard in years: "God be with you til we meet again."  It  brings up such a palpable response that I want to share  it right away with my family, vis the following email message:

[When I see/hear/sing this song I can almost  feel warm hugs and "'bye"s
after we had all sung it at the conclusion of a get together with  friends and elders 
who made up my childhood church. Not so much reveling as just feeling that 
everything was good, everything was right with the world, for this time and place 
and would be, lord willing, until next time. 
The writer's comment at the end is a reminder not to just enjoy the blessing
(in this case, of a fond memory, the blessing of fellowship), but to pray for others (and, in
opportunities that present themselves, to play it forward...to practice and
share the hospitality and kindness we have experienced.)

Maybe that's stating the obvious.  Maybe not.  It's an affirmation of the lifestyle 
to which  we are committed. 

'Just wanted to share that -- and the love -- with you today!

Hugs, 
Mom (S)]

Roots.  Even on the difficult days, they remain.  Remembered, they give us wings.

Friday, August 15, 2014

30 Day Journal Project, Day 14: The Equivalent of "Just Do It"?

Today LIsa quotes Henry Miller, "Paint as you like and die happy."  (He painted and wrote about painting, in his journals )  Lisa's prompt challenges us/me to make my own parallel statement, i.e. _____________as I like and die happy. That 'die' part makes it look kind of stark...I find myself thinking up a list of some things and their logical results...or consequences...instead.

I'd rather simply focus on things I might do as a lark, spontaneous bit and bursts of happiness, many of which could be enumerated in the previous post about happiness (plus picking up a new and fascinating, page-turner of a book, calling a dear friend or, in contrast, someone who appears to be in need of a cheery call, baking something...which usually defaults to chocolate chip cookies, and playing hymns, children's songs, and simple versions of classical music). And then... my thoughts turn to the practice of art itself.

In high school and college, I would draw or doodle, flowers and simple designs, in the margins of a paper during  lecture.  Even now, I occasionally draw, in a burst of joy or as an intentional self-assignment in the midst of malaise, with pencil, pen, or colored markers, usually in a random journal that may or may not be the regular one...In fact, these days none is 'regular,' I seem to be in the random mode, making journal entries here and there, in whichever asynchronous journal happens to be handy.  (If an entry is put away into a random journal, will it ever surface meaningfully again? In the grand scheme of things, does it matter what I answer?)  For whom do I journal, anyway...years of sporadic or regular recitation of facts, celebrations and complaints, only now and then opening a window into the heart...)

I've been thinking lately about how I tend to skip over the instruction (i.e. study) and preparation of things, but rather tend to jum right into process itself, often with substandard or inconclusive results.  This may be something help me get 'unstuck:' I'll try making more intentional approaches to my writing through art.  Could it be the key to working through to a more thorough and satisfying conclusion? I may have been missing making a habit of what looks (!) like a very sensible practice, but it's never too late to start.

Drawing is fun.  So are a number of other art forms, but drawing is so accessible, easily begun with whatever pencil or paper are at hand.  (Deja vu:  skipping the preparation part, when you have to assemble and prepare materials for other art forms.) And the practice of letting myself go,  unconcerned about the so-called 'quality' of the writing or artistic result, can be freeing.  Lisa (and Henry and Lynn Fisher)'s idea of art to get the creative writing juices going is a good idea. Editing can come later.  ('ve heard it again and again, even believed it.  But do I let myself practice it?!

Lisa's prompt includes making a second statement: "If I gave myself permission to _____________ as I like, then _________________."  Okay, so I"ll say, "If I gave myself permission to practice art just for fun, then maybe I might become more focused, intentional, and well-polished in my writing." The latter of which is, but ever so slowly, already becoming a reality...best on days when I practice my quiet time, Bible study and reading, first thing in the morning.  Hm...let's see about adding art to that!



30 Day Journal Project, Day 13: "Recipe" for Happiness

There's a great deal beiong said, copied, told about happiness these days.  There's even a movie named "Happiness" (that I have yet to see), and the current issue of Minnesota Monthly magazine is dedicated to it.
It's not something to be defined in 25 words or less, or perhaps at all.  But here are some thoughts....
A little child.
It's that moment of satisfaction, the good feeling of knowing you are loved, willingly cared for by family, friends, caregivers, God.
It's accepting those life lessons that may be sad or hard but somehow you see that they are training sessions for helping yourself or another in times yet unseen, yet to come.
It's an ongoing discovery that life is wonder-ful, that God is good, that you are here for a purpose, that you can be the light for another person along the way.
Recipe?  I don't think so.  Recipes, perhaps. Countless.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 12: Returning and Rest


Today’s Inspiration:
"Rest is a weapon. "
— Jason Bourne said that (in A Bourne Ultimatum, by Robert Ludlum)
Today's prompt is the simplest yet, vis: what is my idea of 'rest.'  Although the quotation puts it in a rather abrasive tone, I see it as something softer,  like release, or peace.  in any case, once again, I respond with a list of some things that, for me, could be or signal rest:

The color of ripenng rice fields green
trees outside my study window, refreshing themselves in a pleasant breeze and sunshine
mini-breaks:  washing hands, sighting a butter- or dragonfly, noticing its coloration
watching distinctive flight of a bird
laughing with friend, adult or child
deep breathing
relaxing the jaw
silence
familiar noises
moonlit night
focusing on a melody
the memory of a song
isometrics and a stretch just before I sleep
a smile: mine or another's, esp a smile exchanged
remembering
caring
song
art
remembering loved ones, happy times, being loved
knowing that I am loved, blessed
a task done
a job well done
a problem solved, worry resolved
a comfortable chair
grace before meals
someone else in charge of the kitchen
the company of friends and loved ones
stopping in thought while reading a good book
a rocking chair
sitting on the porch or deck
greetings neighbors as they walk by
long end of a hug
hope
"May I help you..." when my answer is yes
Closure
      ........I could go on
knowing that