S is for Secret Alphabet

Hello Friends,

This A to Z challenge has been fun for many reasons, but one in particular. As a teenage girl I lived in San Francisco and hung out with punk rock bands. I actually lived in the air shaft of a beer vat in a large old brewery for a while, though that is a story for another day. Anyway, I had dreadlocks, gave myself a tattoo, wore vintage aprons over all my dresses, and, read poetry by Exene Cervenka and Lydia Lunch. Exene Cervenka is the lead vocalist of the punk rock band, X. They were freaking amazing. I loved them as did all my girlfriends at that time. We all wanted to be like her. People thought I was trying to emulate her in how I dressed, wore my hair, etc, but I wasn’t really interested in being like her. I just wanted to write like her. I wanted to be a poet. I was not, but lord bless my little heart, I did try.

There is this one song. A cover actually. It is an old Doors song, Soul Kitchen. In the song the lyrics refer to speaking in secret alphabets. We (all my girlfriends at the time. Note: We all had matching martini tattoos on our ankles which we gave each other. We thought we were so hardcore. Ha!) Anyway, we took this idea of the secret alphabet and wrote out our own secret alphabets. These secret alphabets were like little poems. Each line featured a letter of the alphabet and then a themed response. So, it could be a secret alphabet consisted of things I like, loved, wanted, hated, feared, or loathed. It was a way to feel like a poet, but without all the heavy lifting. This A to Z challenge feels a bit like a secret alphabet. When I first thought about participating in this challenge, I immediately thought back to those secret alphabets. We all can write secret alphabets if we want. Share yours if you feel inclined.
You can listen to the song here if you would like. Nothing to look at except the cover of that album, but I still love the song. Now, I clean house to their albums. . .

Love,

S

I is for Idleness

Hello Friends,

I have always worked. I am the oldest of four children and I started changing diapers and feeding my little brother when I was about three. I babysat for years. I had a paper route at twelve. I lied and got my Food Handler’s permit at the age of 13 so that I could go to work in a deli/ice cream shop. I worked two jobs while going to school full time and raising my daughter on my own. I have always worked.

Two years ago when we moved here to Northern California for my husband’s position, I resigned from my instructional coaching position to concentrate on supporting my kids and husband with the move. I worked on our home. I made new friends. A year went by. I looked for work, but there aren’t many coaching positions available these days, in this area. So, I planted more vegetables. I filled out flower beds with new roses and other perennials. Another year went by. I added more raised garden beds to our vegetable garden. I painted my laundry room. I sorted my clothes. I wrote.

But all along I felt idle. I still feel idle. As if I am waiting for some great thing to happen. For something to break up the monotony of my days. As if idleness is truly a bad thing. I feel guilty and ill at ease in my idleness. Sure I volunteer. I am on a foundation board. I work on this blog. I knit and crochet. I make delicious meals for my family.

But I am uncomfortable in this new idleness.

My thoughts ramble. I struggle to gain momentum. I need a way to manage idleness. A way to be alright with it.

I have never enjoyed watching television and if I do watch it, I have to be sorting socks, folding laundry, dusting (not that I do that much), knitting or returning emails. I can’t just sit and do nothing. I don’t know how to be idle.

I am sure there are others who struggle with this too. This balance between militant efficiency and sloth-ish negligence. I want a rich and full life of grand discovery and love. I just think it might help me to be still and at peace with the idleness. What might happen if I allowed my mind and body to rest at the same time? Sit outside and just enjoy the new leaves on our oak trees. Look to the bird bath and just enjoy the finches playfully bathing. Close my eyes and lean back in my chair. Take a deep breath and just be.

I bet amazing things would happen.

Love,
S

Effort is its Own Reward

Hello Friends,

Here is something to ponder:

Jonathan Litchfield

via Mystic Mamma

“Effort is its own reward.

We are here to do.

And through doing to learn;

and through learning to know;

and through knowing to experience wonder;

and through wonder to attain wisdom;

and through wisdom to find simplicity;

and through simplicity to give attention;

and through attention

to see what needs to be done…”

~Ben Hei Hei Pirke Avot 5:27

I got this from a website called, Mystic Mamma. Please visit if you are so inclined.

Effort is for its own reward, don’t you think? I know that I struggle all the time to make the effort. We all want the pay off. We all want the results, but that isn’t how it works. It isn’t about the destination, it is about the journey. It is about all the stops along the way of our life. It is all about the road and yes, where it takes us. But it is also totally about how we get there.

I have travailed so much glorious territory to get here.

Here.

Now.

It may not always look like effort in hindsight. But honestly, I think it is. I think we all move ourselves in directions we need to go. And sometimes that direction is unclear, in the moment. But then, later, looking back it is crystal clear. Ah yes. That is why I am here.

Here is where I need to be.

Love,

S

 

Writer

Hello Friends,

So the word this week over at Lisa Jo Baker is WRITER. So here goes.

I think it is funny how much power the word writer had for me just a few short months ago. For years I have wanted to be a writer. I have stories floating around in my head that I need to write or they need to be written. I feel like a vehicle or a surrogate mother for these stories. But I struggle with labeling myself a writer. I fought these stories for years. Put them out of my head. Set them aside. Downplayed and dismissed them. For over thirty ears I have wanted to write and I have done everything I can to avoid it thinking that I am not a writer. How could I possibly write when I am not a writer.

Then a few months ago I came across a book I must have bought over two decades ago back when I was earning my bachelor’s degree. It was a book about being a writer. In this book the author explains the difference between a writer and an author. That was my aha! moment. I may not be an author yet, but I can certainly call myself a writer.

So, now I call myself a writer and in just the naming of the thing. Guess what? I write now. I write and write and write and I have never been so clear. The stories are there somehow and they are starting to take shape and form  paragraphs and moments and places and people and dialogue and action.

I am a writer.

Love,

S

Lisa Jo Baker has an interesting task every Friday. She calls it Five Minute Friday and it is a writing exercise posited around a particular prompt. You write to the prompt for a total of five minutes, uninterrupted, unedited, and then you link your writing to her site. As well, you go back and read two entries and comment on them.
She has, in effect, created a writer’s workshop. I love this and find it fun to participate in whether or not I had a blog. It is about the writing after all.

D is for Decay

Hello Friends,

I started this blog as a place to write. A place to start back down the road of creating story again. I wanted to have a place where I could relearn and redevelop my writing habits. I have stories I need to write and I have stories I don’t even know yet that I need to write and a blog seemed like a good place to start.

As I thought about what I wanted this place to look like, feel like, and be like I struggled a bit. Did I want to focus on cooking? I mean I love to cook. Everyone loves what I come up with.

Did I want to focus on fashion? Probably not. I have never felt confident in that area. I have struggled mightily there.

How about gardening? I have a huge garden and I am always experiencing triumphs and tribulations with the natural world that exists outside my study window.

No. None of those felt right. There are so many blogs out there where people are doing such an amazing job! The talent. The creativity. The dedication and the depth of story and view are clearly beyond my talent and scope.

So, I thought more about the core of me. The core of my writing. The place where I am, me. That place is dominated by a sense of impermanence and imperfection. There is a tension in that place.   Maybe it is in the acceptance that one finds grace. I struggle with accepting imperfection and impermanence. I want perfection. I want immortality. But it is in the flaws, the ripped seams, the faded blossoms that we find grace. It is in the mortality that we find value and meaning.  All things are fleeting and there is imperfection in everything we do. We are human and their are frayed edges to each of us. This is the meaning of wabisabi.

I have a garden that is almost a year round garden now with food growing through every season. I love living in an area where I can do that and I am taking full advantage.

So I started a compost this year. I have a large bin near my garden and not too far from my back door. Inside while I work out all the kinks of composting, I am using a huge clear glass apothecary jar to hold the bits and bats that come with eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. It is probably a three gallon jar with a clear glass lid that makes that satisfying cookie jar lid clanging noise when you close it. It sits next to my kitchen sink in front of a large bay window. I keep this jar very clean. You can see right through it and out the window to the garden.

As I drop my onion ends and orange peels and red pepper ends in to the jar it creates these layers. Right now there is a layer of lettuces left over from a salad. There are sections of coffee grounds from our morning coffees. There are egg shells from my son’s breakfast. There are all these layers and they represent our days. Our days pass and the layers grow. After about three days the jar is close to full and I can see that things towards the bottom are settling down into their respective places. Things are beginning to marry with each other.

I like the look of this. I like that the passage of time is so clearly laid bare right there in my kitchen. I see it every day. Every time I get a glass of water. Every time I wash a dish or pour myself another cup of coffee, I can see the physical manifestation of the passage of time.

No one else in the house has really embraced the “compost bucket” in quite the sweeping way that I have and that is okay. I know this is a part of me that plays out continually. Noting the passing of time. The shift in the light out the window that signals the days are getting longer. The buds on my lemon trees that promise more tea this fall. And that is okay. I can watch for these things for us. I can note the small changes and bring them here for us to talk about. I will be here whenever you want to join the conversation.

Love,
S

Insecure Writers’ Support Group

Hello Friends,

I am participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Okay, the name is a little misleading.  It is a support group in that it is a group of writers who post on the same day about their struggles with writing and how they handle said struggles. As a writer who has never really openly admitted that I want to write or be a writer, this felt like a good place to start accepting this about myself.

I am a writer.

I love to write.

I am my own worst critic.

I decided a few months ago to start writing again. I have a novel in the works and a screenplay. Gosh that sounds so weird to write (out loud) down, publicly. The novel is what I need to focus on, as in it eats at me every day. So my focus is on completing my collection of stories that make up the novel. This is harder work than I thought it would be.

I started my blog to help me become acquainted with the discipline of writing and to get used to having my writing available in a more public fashion. It has been so fun. I have tons of ideas about posts. I am always thinking about different ideas to explore. But, the writing is very different from the writing one does for a novel . Blog writing feels less, serious. The English major in me thinks I should focus on finishing my novel and the insecure side of me says, “Wait, you aren’t ready yet. Work on your blog some more…”

So, I admit I am a writer. I admit I am pulled in different directions writing-wise. I will also admit that I have never been happier than now, in this new writing world.

If you are an insecure writer, please consider joining the rest of us. You never know who you will meet or what you will discover along the way.

Love,

S

Insecure Writers Support Group

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

Mighty

Hello Friends,

Mighty.

I want to be mighty.

I want to be mighty with my love.

I want love to be my sword, love to be my shield, love to be my strength.

I am not a religious person in the typical sense. I do not currently go to church. I do not pray. But I do believe. I believe in the mighty power of love. When we do anything, with love, we are where we need to be.

When I operate from a place of love, even when negotiating a deal or teaching middle school kids, or making dinner, or paying bills, I am creating greatness and goodness in this place we walk through. To be mighty is to be merciful. To be merciful is to use love. I want to be merciful in all the things I do. I want to be merciful with all I come across. I want to be merciful.

So I choose love as my cape. I choose love as my ammunition and with it I am mighty. For it is in the moments of mercy that I am my strongest. I am my mightiest when I operate with compassion and love and mercy.

Mighty.

Lisa Jo Baker has an interesting task every Friday. She calls it Five Minute Friday and it is a writing exercise posited around a particular prompt. You write to the prompt for a total of five minutes, uninterrupted, unedited, and then you link your writing to her site. As well, you go back and read two entries and comment on them.
She has, in effect, created a writer’s workshop. I love this and find it fun to participate in whether or not I had a blog. It is about the writing after all.

 

Love,

S