Here’s to more inspiration, friendship, unconditional kindness, and laughter than seems reasonable this season. Also, a healthy dose of wanderlust. And while you’re doling out the holiday cheer– don’t forget a health dose of gentle-loving-tenderness for yourself, okay?
At the end of September, I retreated. I spent four magical days in Albuquerque, New Mexico surrounded by other authors, learning and editing and talking and listening and laughing and writing and just being… still. Which is something I’ve talked a lot about here lately– this idea of rest and stillness, and the fact that it seems simultaneously necessary and a bit out of reach.
Leading up to the trip, I was very aware of what hadn’t happened since I attended last year. Most specifically that I hadn’t finished a book. I felt a little queasy about admitting I was still working on it. That it had been a slow year. That I still wasn’t quite sure where the whole thing was going. And then suddenly I was in the Atlanta airport and there were familiar faces. People that I had become accustomed to seeing only as tiny square profile pictures were right there, in person. Giving hugs. And I knew instantly that this was going to be everything I needed.
Post retreat, Jessica Topper, wrote a lovely reflection in which she described the experience as “the care and feeding of writers.” I keep coming back to that phrase. About how really when I talk about rest and stillness, I think I’m talking about being kind to myself and seeking experiences that nourish instead of tearing down. I didn’t sleep all that much more than usual in Albuquerque, but I was heard, understood and encouraged. And I have rested. Now to finish that book …
Huge thanks to Women’s Fiction Writers Association for creating this fabulous tribe (and especially to Orly Konig and the conference committee) and to Barbara Claypole White, Jessica Topper, and Mindy Miller for the photos in this post (because we all know I’m terrible at documenting my travels, or mostly anything except food & beer).
This past week I’ve been thinking about my hands a little more than I usually do. It all started on a morning run last Friday. It was a familiar stretch of sidewalk, one I usually run over at least twice a week. It’s well-lit and not strewn with fall leaves like so many parts of the city are right now. There are some funky, out-of-place bricks – but I know that. I had never so much as stumbled on them. Until Friday when I fell. Continue reading
I talk a lot about my writing job here, and not as much about my other job as an academic advisor at a large research university. Sometimes (often, actually) really inspiring things happen there too, so I thought I’d share a bit of that this week. Continue reading
I still have some things stored in my old bedroom at my parent’s house. You know, those things that there wasn’t room for in your college room or subsequent apartments, but that you just couldn’t possibly part with. This past year I have begun working on going through these things. Most of it is easy since, obviously, if I haven’t used it in the last *gulp* 13 years, I probably don’t need it.
But I’m stuck on the journals. There are a lot of my words in there. A lot of my time. A lot of me. So I have brought a stack of them home and am slowly skimming my way through them, hoping that perhaps I will have a more clear feeling about what exactly to do with them when I’m done. In the interim, I thought perhaps I would share some of my younger pre-existence of blog thoughts here.
First up: a journal I had to keep for a class during my sophomore year in college. It was an educational theatre class in which we practiced and performed a play about sexual assault and dating violence for other area colleges, high schools and community groups. We also learned a great deal about the topic and conducted a question and answer session after each show. The class was co-taught by a theatre professor and the campus wellness coordinator.
The journal entry I ran across was pages and pages of me trying to make sense of my sophomore year. I was reflecting on the fact that my character in the play had a line about life being great and how hard it was for me to say that in a believable manner, since I felt exactly the opposite. As I wrapped up my ramblings I stated that I had been trying to write about my semester to get some closure, but that it really hadn’t seemed to help. In the margins, the wellness coordinator commented that “life doesn’t have closure.”
At 19, I’m guessing this comment just made me feel more normal, like it was okay that I didn’t have it all figured out. At 35, reading it gave me chills. Because it is true. And because learning to live in the moment and enjoy the unpredictable, often unfinished business of life has become really core to who I am as an adult. That sophomore year of messy, undone, best laid plans was formative in this. And every time someone said it was okay or that I was normal got me closer to where I am today.
Both the educational theatre class, and (especially) the wellness coordinator are probably largely what sparked my interest in working in higher education (though I’m stubborn and it took me a while to come around to it). What an amazing reminder that old journal was of the important role we can play in the lives of others, just by taking the time to really listen.
While I’m no closer to figuring out what to do with the old journals, I am excited to see what other treasures lie within. More to come . . .