Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Music

I was working through some writing exercises the other day and one of the prompts asked, "what music makes you happy?"  Now oftentimes rapid fire prompt activities cause my brain to freeze and I need to let it sit and simmer within my head before I put pen to paper.  But such was not the case with this question.  The answer came to me immediately ... and took me by surprise.

My Workout Playlist.

For someone who has always loathed the word "exercise" and has never adopted any kind of regular workout routine (most likely stemming from the fact that I am athletically challenged and somewhat uncoordinated, rather than I do not see the value in keeping fit)... I almost wondered if my brain had misunderstood the question... or perhaps blurted out the wrong answer.  But as I considered the possibility, I realized how blessed I am to have found a reason to want to walk each day, rather than dread it.

At this point I have maintained a regular walking schedule since April 8 -- striving for a minimum of two miles a day five days out of seven.  I have not achieved "perfect attendance" but I have not allowed that failure to keep me from starting over again the following week.  I even treated myself to the first pair of running shoes I have ever owned --- purple of course --- and I am anxious to start logging the miles.

So in honor of "happy music" I thought I would share this eclectic play list... although I feel I need to offer a disclaimer of sorts for some who may be reading this blog.  I first and foremost choose music based on rhythm and beat.  I like fast-paced, spirited songs ("foot stomping" music my kinfolk might have said).  Secondly, I listen for melody.  I enjoy music that has a memorable tune - one that I can humm along.  And lastly, I listen for lyrics.  In fact, sometimes lyrics are incidental to me (except for those of Mumford and Sons which are always supreme)... and thus will explain why perhaps a couple of these songs are not exactly rated PG.  But it is the rhythm and melody that keep me moving... and that is what makes me happy.

  1. Send Me on my Way by Rusted Root
  2. Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons
  3. Don't Stop Believin' by the Glee Cast
  4. My Hallelujah Song by Julianne Huff
  5. I Gotta Feeling by The Black-eyed Peas (video = adaptation for the literary lovers)
  6. Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
  7. Roll Away Your Stone by Mumford and Sons
  8. Viva La Vida by Coldplay
  9. Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
  10. Beautiful Day by U2
  11. Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons
  12. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quotes I am pondering this day...

This is a summer of reflection and (hopefully) reconnection.  Using an assortment of methods, including online journaling classes, summer writing courses, and a myriad of spiritual writing books, I am slowly rediscovering life.

And while I have no earth-shattering experiences to share today, I thought it might be beneficial to record some thought-provoking quotes I have read while working my way through The Artist's Way.  Perhaps you might enjoy them as well.

We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other peoples' models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open up.   --- Shakti Gawain

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.  --- Albert Camus

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.  --- Martha Graham

Look and you will find it --- what is unsought will go undetected.  --- Sophocles

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:  they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.  --- Margaret Young

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Writing: A Gift to Myself

I was in the bookstore the other day (my favorite relaxing spot...) and found the most exquisite leather journal.... with a price tag to match.  I typically use the Moleskine ruled Volant notebooks, and even then I try to purchase with a coupon.  But this journal continued to beckon me.  I am sure I picked it up and put it down half a dozen times, but I could not bring myself to make the purchase.

And then.... I looked through my wallet and happened across an unused gift card from a kind student.  It was the perfect gift to celebrate the end of an academic year... and the beginning of a literary summer.

The rich brown leather is soft and supple;
It is the perfect size to carry and feels at home in the palm of my hand;
The embossed letter on the front (dated 1896) is the perfect adornment.

The leather tie not only keeps the book tightly closed,
but it provides the perfect place to store my journaling pen.

Handcrafted in Florence, Italy.... bellisimo

The pages lie relatively flat for easy journaling,
and the lines are the perfect narrow width for me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Travel Writing ... Final Post

I am on my way home from Iowa City.  It is approximately six hours door to door and I am sure that Geoff and I will talk, listen to tunes, and observe the flat green landscape as we contemplate separate thoughts.  It was a great weekend get away, but I am ready to return to the familiarity of home, and spend some time unpacking all I have learned this weekend.

In the meantime, I thought I would share one last writing prompt (we did more... but some are not worthy of public display...)

The instructions were to follow the format of a published essay by David Franzen, where he gives specific facts about place in the first paragraph, introduces the character of the narrator in the second paragraph, and finally develops the main idea/theme in the third paragraph.  Here is my attempt:

Manhattan Island

The Big Apple:  a rather interesting nickname for a city that houses more skyscrapers than trees and more asphalt than grass.  No, The city that never sleeps is a more apt description for this sprawling metropolis, covering three hundred square miles and incorporating five distinct boroughs.  But when you hear New York City the first image that typically pops into mind is the lights, sounds, and smells of Times Square located in the center of Manhattan, an island that only measures 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide, but houses about 1.6 million people.  With limited surface area, the only way to accommodate this growth is to build up… and up they did.  Multi-storied buildings of brick, granite, and glass surround you; sidewalks are crowded with rushing commuters and tourists weaving in and out and around one another; streets are congested with cars, buses and bright yellow taxis.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you witness the city from this bird’s eye view.  But move in closer, take a side street, and you will discover the individual neighborhoods, each with its own distinct cultural flavor and population, that make this impersonal city a welcoming home.

The year was 1984 and we had been married for two years living in Connecticut.  Geoff had been making the one-hour commute into the city that entire time, and I had been doing the same for about nine months.  The fourteen-hour days and frequent train delays were taking their toll, not to mention the $250 monthly commuting expense.  We decided that it was time for a change, and three months later we were moving into our one-bedroom coop apartment at 160 Bleecker Street.   Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, home to NYU, Washington Square Park, and numerous jazz and comedy clubs, the area was always buzzing with people, especially on the weekends.  But during the week, the village was surprisingly suburban:  commuters walking to the subway, mothers strolling their infants, children in uniform making their way to school.  Greenwich Village has a distinct Italian flare, and we took full advantage of the freshly baked bread at the local bakery, the homemade mozzarella and salamis at the corner butcher, and the hand cut pasta at Raffettos around the corner.  Each summer the Feast of St. Joseph would take place on Sullivan Street, just one block to the west and two blocks south of our apartment.  For several days the vendors would line both sides of the street, selling authentic sausage and peppers, stuffed calzones, or my favorite, zeppoles… little fried pieces of pizza dough doused in powder sugar and served in a brown paper bag.  I am fairly certain that an over-indulgence of this craving caused me to go into labor with my first child.  We were a part of this community for four years, and looking back, I can say with assurance that it was the best four years of my life.

I have a dream to return to New York.  Not in an effort to relive those glory days, but rather with a desire to rediscover new ones.  I will sublet an apartment, but not in the village - perhaps on the upper west side, walking distance to Central Park, or Murray Hill, where good friends currently reside.  I want to experience a new neighborhood with a different flare.  Revisiting a few of the old haunts, or at least those that are still around after three decades, will certainly be on the list, but I also want to take time to become intimately familiar with new ones that speak to my current passions and desires.  Walking will once again become my primary mode of transportation; I plan to leave my car in Kansas.  The local market will play an integral role in my daily menu planning.. I will explore the park and find a bench that has been waiting for me to return after all these years, and just sit, observe, and write.  One true highlight will be to take advantage of the rich artistic culture of the city, something I took for granted before, and therefore never made time to visit.  I will become a member of the MET and visit any time I have just a couple of hours to spare, and I will frequently visit the other museums in the area as well.  I may even take a photography class at the New School like I did so long ago when I was indulging my new-found interest in cooking.  With so much to see and do and experience, I hope that I have enough time.

New York City is known as the great melting pot of America.  It represents the pilgrimage that so many immigrants took to find a better life.  This is the nickname that resonates best with me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Travel Writing ... A bit of sharing

So... the class ended today.  Rather abruptly I might add, but I think that might be a good thing.  We were in the midst of sharing and all of a sudden the instructor announced that it was 4:00PM and we had to conclude the session.

It was a wonderful first-time writing conference experience and I am blessed to have had a dedicated teacher and a welcoming group of class participants.  I will definitely plan to return next year.

In the meantime, I thought I might share a couple of writing pieces from the weekend.  Please understand that these were written in a fairly short amount of time (one in five minutes, the other in less than an hour)... but the comments from the class let me know that I was on the right track... for me.

How did I get here?

I am on a scavenger hunt:  a search for me that was lost somewhere between high school graduation and becoming a grandmother.  A search for a person and not just a role to fulfill.  So in order to move forward, I must look back - rediscover the passions of long ago.  Music - French - Travel have all been a part of me for as long as I can remember.... but have lain dormant while I have tried to raise a family and entertain a part-time career.

When I read about the Travel Writing course it seemed to be a necessary item to add to the scavenger's list.  Writing is a way I process life... travel is a way I desire to see how I connect with others and have a place in this world... And Gettysburg College** brings me full circle to a time when I knew who I once was.
** of special note... the instructor for this course is currently a professor from Gettysburg... the college from which I graduated in 1982.


Why do I travel?

When I was eight years old two events happened almost simultaneously.  I began French lessons in second grade and I was introduced to the term, “Junior Year  Abroad.”  The passion to travel and relate to others in their native tongue was ignited and while the fire may have subsided throughout the years, it was never fully extinguished.

I do not yearn to travel the world.  It is not because I do not find other cultures worthy of visit or study, but it is because I wish to become intimate with every place I visit, and that is simply not possible on a breadth scale.  I suppose my travels mirror my friendships:  I would prefer to have a few intimate friends than several casual acquaintances.  I wish to travel and live and fully know a few cultures than experience the tourist relationship of several.

I desire to travel to England, and since I am already familiar with the language, I desire to become intimate with the people and the terrain of the British novels that I teach in school.  I want to experience the home where Jane Austen revised her works while looking out the window of the Chawton estate; I want to see the moors that the Bronte sisters immortalized in their novels; I want to walk the streets of Dickens and Shakespeare and Woolfe.  I want to attend Oxford, if only for a day, and imagine meeting CS Lewis and JR Tolkien on their way to class.  I want to breathe in this history because I believe it will make me a better teacher.

I have always had a fondness for French and while I have had the pleasure and opportunity to travel to Paris three times in my life, I still yearn for more.  I want to spend months in Paris, walking the cobblestone streets of yesterday and visiting the birthplace of Impressionism.  I want to see these works of art up close, witnessing each stroke of the brush and each blending of the paint.  I want to visit the street markets of today that mirror the same markets of a century ago.  I want to sit in the Tuilleries Gardens and watch young mothers interact with their toddlers, much the same way I interacted with my daughter in Washington Square Park.  And I want to visit the literary cafes of Hemingway and Hugo and Dumas and sip on espresso while writing my own manuscript.

Italy has such deep meaning to me.  Not only do I love the food and wine, but I married an Italian… 100 percent.  And I would love to find the birthplace of his maternal grandparents in Calabria and of his paternal grandparents in Foggia.  I want to learn the language and speak with these distant relatives the way that I would speak with my own aunts and uncles.  I want to mine the rich genealogy of this family to leave as a legacy for my own children – so they can pass it along to their children.  I want to see the ancient ruins of Rome and the romantic canals of Venice; I want to visit the remains of Pompeii and swim in the Agean Sea.  I want to learn to cook authentic Italian “gravy” and watch the first press of virgin olive oil.  I want to stomp the grapes of chianti and pair a glass with the perfect slice of aged romano and a hearty crust of bread.

I have dreams of traveling in America as well.  I do not believe that the only worthwhile destinations lie across the pond.  I would like the opportunity to live one more time on the island of Manhattan.  I lived there once as a newly married couple and I would like to return again, as a newly retired empty nester.  I want to take advantage of all the cultural opportunities that eluded me the first time… and I want to fully appreciate the vitality of the city that never sleeps.  I will shed my car for a good pair of sneakers and my four bedroom house for one bedroom walk up.  Each day will indeed be a new experience and I will not take for granted any opportunity that comes my way.



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Writing Adventure - Day 1

As I mentioned in the last post... I took a major step outside my comfort zone by signing up for a Travel Writing workshop through the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival.  It sounded like a great idea in March.... I like to write; I love to travel; the University of Iowa has the number one ranked MFA program in the nation so it would only make sense that they would attract top writing instructions for these non-credit classes.  However, this morning I had a much different outlook (the following is an except from my daily journal with my post-class comments highlighted in red):

I thought it might be worthwhile to write down all the things I worry about before going to this travel writing class.  While these are in no particular order....  I am excited to report that nearly every single one of these worries was unfounded (found in the red commentary).

  • my book bag is too big - I am taking too much stuff and will look like a bag lady rather than a literary scholar; my book bag is not a backpack - which is always the going fashion statement
    • no one cared about the bag I carried ... and by the end of class, neither did I
  • I brought the wrong kinds of books - my books are all thematic stories and I should have been interested in books that are travel articles
    • We did not even discuss the books that we read prior to class
  • I am interested in travel writing for stupid reasons - others have vast travel experience and I just go to a few select places
    • tis true... many have traveled to far more exotic places all over the globe; but that did not seem to matter. My few travels were sufficient.
  • I have no travel writing experience - and others will be travel writers from way back - or already be published - or already have several ideas that they are ready to polish
    • While there were many published writers... most had published only free-lance articles in a variety of other genres.  And there were several who had nothing published at all.
  • I will be the oldest one in the class - and appear like a fool
    • Oh contraire.... I was definitely on the younger end of "average" age.  And it was a marvelous feeling not to have to compete with 20-somethings.
  • my writing is not good enough - focusing on the wrong theme - or wrong details - or not enough details
    • I discovered that we all focus on different details and they are neither right nor wrong.  Some focus on humor; others on sensory perceptions; others on prevalent life themes.  There was evidence of terrific writing in each of the eleven participants
  • I will have nothing worth sharing and we will all have to share
    • Indeed... we all had to share.  And it was nerve-racking.  But I learned that in a crowd of ten other participants, I found a sympathetic ear with at least one other person.
  • I will have no commentary worth adding and we will all be expected to add our own constructive criticism
    • Well... this remained true.  I have a difficult time voicing my opinion in a group setting and so I remain quiet and reserved.  But... I don't think others minded; and I was not made to feel inferior because I chose to remain quiet.
  • I won't be able to find the room - or I completely misunderstood the booklet and I am in the wrong building
    • Again... no worries.  The entrance was easy to navigate; the greeting staff was warm and inviting; and all classes were held in the adjacent building.  It was a non-issue
  • I won't be able to find my way around campus
    • Well, since all the activity surrounds just two buildings and both buildings are adjacent to one another... this was also a non-issue
  • I will be alone at lunch - and not know where to go or be too afraid to eat on my own
    • Biggest surprise of the day!  A lady from Des Moines came up to me after class to discuss the sample I had read aloud... and we ended up having lunch together at an Indian food buffet (not my normal fare, but it was an adventure).  It was the second best part of the day.
  • I will be unable to answer any of the writing prompts 
    • Well, nearly true.  There was one writing prompt in the morning which I attempted (it is very difficult to write anything of value in a five minute timespan) ... and then another prompt in the afternoon which fortunately, we did not have to share (as I only wrote notes and not a cohesive paragraph).  I was definitely outside my comfort zone but... I survived.
  • I will feel so out of place
    • Not so much.  As I looked around the auditorium in the morning I felt as though I was among compatriots rather than an outsider looking in.  The classroom consisted of 11 students and I felt as though I belonged, as we were such a diverse group of individuals.  I always feel uncomfortable sharing... but the group and the instructor helped all to feel welcome and appreciated.
  • the class will not be nurturing but very judgmental
    • Totally unfounded.  The instructor is amazingly gifted at listening to our new material and offering nurturing comments that are not empty flattery nor deflating critique.  Fellow classmates were also quite nurturing with nary a single negative comment.
  • the instructor will find me crazy if I mention Ken Mott at Gettysburg
    • Actually I went up to her after class to explain my connection and we spent nearly ten minutes discussing the changes within the Gettysburg College community.  She knew Ken and it offered a nice connection between us.
  • my notebook isn't appropriate - but I would rather use my laptop but no one else has one
    • It truly did not matter.  Some used netbooks; others full size laptops; some used moleskines and others cheap spiral notebooks.  The point was to write ... the method was irrelevant.


The true highlight of the class was after the session was over.  Geoff drove me to the local independent bookstore, Prairie  Lights, and I had a wonderful time perusing the books on travel, writing, and art.  I met a fellow classmate, the one with whom I had lunch, and we started talking about writing in general.  She is a published author... writing articles for various publications and copy editing for several others.  She has been in the business over a decade and I believe she knows the writing craft.  

In our casual discussions she complimented me on the two pieces I had written in class, and then asked if I had considered writing fiction.  When I told her my YA novel idea... the one that I have considered for the past four years, she was intrigued.  In fact, she spent nearly half an hour brainstorming potential conflicts and various plot trails.  In the end, she offered to collaborate with me and even offered her copy editing services.

I was floored!  This woman is "in the business"  She has read extensively in the genre of my possible novel (time travel).  She was an art history major (the time period and focus of the novel) and she reads the writing endeavors of many... making her a credible authority of "good" and "bad" writing.

While I have had several friends and family members encourage me to pursue this writing craft.. and I do not take their support lightly... I also felt as though they were being kind.  They wanted to offer support because they like me.  But this woman was different.  She had no vested interest; we would not have to see or talk with one another again after tomorrow's session.  She has been in the business quite a long time.  And still... she took the time to let me know she thinks I have talent.

I believe that this was the reason I was supposed to be in Iowa City this weekend; not so much to take a travel writing class but to be encouraged to pursue this interest.

I am on top of the moon... and I feel quite blessed.




Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Writing Adventure

Tomorrow I will embark on a writing adventure that is WAY outside my comfort zone.  I will be traveling to the University of Iowa, famous for its MFA program... but also for its annual summer Writing Festival that invites all interested authors and author-wannabees to attend a variety of non-credit week-long and/or weekend classes.  I signed up for the Travel Writing class this weekend.

I don't know why I do this.  I read about a class that sounds exciting and interesting and right up my ally (I do indeed love to travel and harbor this idea of writing a book that is accompanied by photographs).  I sign up for the class in an impetuous moment.  And then... as the date looms closer to reality, I begin to have doubts.  I am too old to entertain the notion of a new career opportunity.  I am unqualified to write about travels when my excursions have been few and far between.  I am not a good enough writer to entice others to read about my travels.... well, you get the idea.

Classes are kept to a maximum of twelve students, which I am sure provides lots of individual attention, but also provides no place to hide.  I will be forced to take part in the sharing and critiquing process... something that I feel far more comfortable doing as the instructor rather than the student.  We will meet on Saturday from 10:00am to noon - break for a two hour lunch (and I think some writing exercises) and then reconvene from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.  Dinner is on our own Saturday night and there is an optional read-around session at 7:00pm. I anticipate some evening writing exercises and then the same schedule holds true for Sunday, with the class concluding around 4:00.  It will be short but sweet, and I am sure intense.

Despite the doubts and valid concerns, I will follow through on this commitment.  We will leave tomorrow around noon and arrive in the college town by dinner time.  One perk about the trip is that Iowa City is known as a literary town.... with the multi-level Prairie Lights bookstore and the famed Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, that celebrates 49 different authors.  I definitely hope to visit these sites in between class time and personal writing endeavors.  I also plan to take my camera and perhaps practice taking pictures to accompany possible travel tales.

Wish me luck as I venture outside this cocoon... and I will give a report when I return on Monday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Personal Reflection: Faulty Tapes

Today was an eye-opening experience for me.

Most of my rediscovery has centered on my inner self:  emotional - mental - intellectual - spiritual health.  But I definitely prescribe to the notion that a balanced life must incorporate the physical as well as the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.  To that end, I am trying to eat close to the earth - that is, locally grown produce with lots of color (and the summertime farmers' markets make this an easy endeavor) and I am trying to include exercise as a daily activity.

I have never considered myself athletic and until recently I considered exercise a painful word that I chose to ignore.  But I finally came face to face with the truth...  I can walk and that is better than nothing.  So on April 8th I began a walking routine.  It was still cool here in Kansas, so I decided to walk two miles in thirty minutes (a 15 minute mile or approximately 4 miles per hour) -- five days a week - on the treadmill (no weather excuses allowed).  And I did indeed accomplish that goal.  In fact, I exceeded the goal.  I found that I was walking 2.25 miles in that same thirty minute time period.  And the notion of an idea came to me:  could I possibly walk a 5K???

Yesterday was the first nice morning in weeks and I decided to walk outside rather than on the treadmill... just to change things up a bit.  Surprisingly, I liked it.  The breeze was nice and helped to cool me off; the scenery was constantly changing; and the uphills and downhills were a welcome variety to the constant slope of the machine.

Today I pushed myself even further.  If a 5K was a goal, then I would try to walk the 3.1 mile distance for a base reading.   My hope was to complete the distance in 45 minutes (four miles per hour) and then perhaps I would attempt to increase my speed to 40 minutes by the end of the summer.  And to my surprise... I did even better than anticipated.  From the graphic you can see that I walked slightly less than the 5K distance, but I did it in record time (for me).  And that is when I realized that I have been listening to some old faulty tapes for decades.

I may not be an athlete... but I do have the ability to do athletic activities.  I was journaling the other day and one of the questions asked was:  what is your happy music?  And my answer was.. my workout playlist.  And I realized that is a GREAT answer.  I actually look forward to walking because I can listen to my happy music.

And when I recall those old high school days I realize that I may not have been a star athlete, but I enjoyed intramural volleyball and I could bat around the tennis ball with the best of them.  I actually enjoyed playing these sports.. why did I allow my perfectionism get in the way?! (I am concluding that I need to eradicate that word from my vocabulary).

Another faulty tape told me that sweating is a sign of being out of shape.  That breathing hard after a work out is being out of shape.  And because I sweat and breath hard, I always felt like a failure.  But my youngest daughter has taught me a valuable lesson.  She is the most "in shape" member of our family, and yet she sweats and pants after each of her daily runs.  And she would be the first to admit that she is not an athlete, and yet she is the only one who can claim to successfully complete a 5K (and she has plans to do more in the very near future).  She has taught me that these outward symptoms are not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of perseverance - a visible affirmation that we are not willing to settle for the comfort zone, but we are willing to push ourselves to greater limits.

And so... I celebrate today.  I am glad that I have stuck with a walking routine for nearly three months.  I am thrilled that my initial base line is ahead of the goal.  And I am tentatively contemplating a revised goal:  38 minute 5K by September 28th when I have been invited to participate in my first ever 5K "race"  There is pressure putting this out in the open... but there is also accountability.  I do believe this a significant piece to reclaiming myself.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Soul-Searching

I have updated the blog just a bit to include a list of the online courses I have taken over the past couple of years.  Obviously there is a theme here.... either the courses have aided me in writing about the past in order to understand my present... and/or the courses have taught me how to use photography as a way of slowing down and appreciating the beauty in the ordinary.  I have provided links to all these courses and I highly recommend each and every one, if you are interested in this kind of soul-searching exercise.

I am currently enrolled in Susannah Conway's Journal Your Life and I love her idea of developing a separate journal for Creative Exploration.  For at least the past decade, I feel as though I have ignored the right side of my brain in favor of working harder, smarter, and more efficiently.  But I have come to realize that all that productivity has come at a price.  I no longer know how to have 'fun' - and I have lost sight of my passions.  My perfectionism has cost me joy in life.  I no longer find the journey of exploration fun; it is only the finished product that counts.  And of course, that final product is never good enough for my high expectations.

It is my hope and fervent desire that I leave these unrealistic expectations behind this summer as I embark on a new way to journal, using not only words but images, collages, colored pens and fancy lettering.  It will not be perfect, but hopefully, it will reconnect me to the joy of artistic self-expression.

In addition to this online class, which includes daily emails and a facebook group... I am also conducting a self-study using Julia Cameron's books, The Artist's Way and The Vein of Gold.  I have skimmed through both of these books in the past, but I am determined to complete all the exercises this summer in an attempt to reconnect to the artist child within.  This intense exploration will be the subject of many more future posts.

In the meantime, here's to fresh new beginnings and a summer of self-exploration.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fresh Start

This new blog has been a long time coming.  And I am quite excited by the prospect of reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

I first started blogging in December, 2008.  I was a full-time English teacher who thrived on reading anything she could get her hands on.  I established myself as a "book blogger" and thoroughly enjoyed reading the reviews of others - and writing a few of my own.

But a lot has happened in the past 4+ years.  I lost my mother (the last living grandparent) and thus  became the "matriarch" of the family.  My youngest graduated from high school and moved into her own apartment, thrusting me into the proverbial "empty nest" phase of life.  My eldest gave birth to a beautiful daughter and I became a grandmother.  My son married his high school sweetheart.  My full-time career transitioned into a very part-time job.  And somewhere along the way... I lost sight of me.

Over the past few months I have been exploring "me" --- the me of the past, present, and future.  I have discovered that for most of these past fifty years, I have defined my life by the roles I play:  mother, wife, sister, daughter, teacher, student, friend.... etc.  I have lived life for others and according to their expectations (or what I imagined their expectations to be).  And of course I have failed miserably for it is true that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

But I am determined to reconnect with the me of the past ... and to become the me that I am destined to be.  I plan to use the devotional messages of Rick Warren and Joyce Meyer to help through this process, as well as the workshops of Julia Cameron through her books, The Artist's Way and The Vein of Gold.  I have read numerous books on spiritual as well as expressive journaling and have tried to maintain a writing routine for the past six weeks or so.

Through these exercises I hope to rediscover my creative side and hopefully find other outlets of self-expression such as music - photography - cooking - travel - paper crafts - and who knows, I may even attempt a canvas painting or two.    This blog will serve to document my journey into the past in order to find a direction for my future. I will certainly post a few book reviews because reading is still an integral part of my life, but my interests are so much more varied now. I want a space where I can feel free to share all of me and not just one small facet of my personality.  I believe this ongoing emergence from the sheltered cocoon into the completed transformation into the liberated butterfly is that perfect space.  I thank you for joining me on this adventurous journey.