Still Reaching for the Stars

Just the other day I walked around the yard and thought, “What’s it all about, this life? Why are we here? Why am I here?”

Truth be told I’ve asked myself this many, many times. I’m a deep thinker.

At twelve I thought my little family and my little town was the entire world. Looking back, I can see it all like a snow globe scene. Life’s little dramas with friends and siblings, they seemed so big to me then.

At eighteen I was utterly clueless. I fell in love, got married. Not a thought given to doing something with my life, or what I was meant for or supposed to do, who I was meant to be.

Late twenties found me divorced, two kids, then re-married and a new child on the way. I always wanted children. I always thought I was a writer. Those are about the only things I knew.

Except…

I always chased God. I always wanted to know who He was. What it was all about. Again, why are we here? Why am I here? Yada-yada. Deep thinking. Apparently, another thing I’ve always been is a philosopher.

Once as a small child, the family was outside on an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve night and my dad pointed up to the stars and said he thought he saw Santa’s sleigh. I ran to the end of the driveway, (as far as I was allowed to go at the time), so I could get closer and see it better. My entire family thought this was hilarious and busted out laughing. At the time I couldn’t understand, despite all their explanations, why that was funny. I had no concept of how far away the stars were. I must’ve been about three.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have gone to college and studied the stars, took science and biology and oh-so-many classes about everything. I may have been a perpetual life-long student. (But only as long as I still had my beloved kids.)

I’ve learned a lot by this time in my life. In fact, I dare say, I know more about some things than some people who have degrees. Of course, there is still a lot I don’t know, particularly outside of the world of writing. (I have taken a couple college-level courses but never completed a degree, being too busy at raising babies for much of my life.)

I get documents submitted to me through the publishing company by degreed people all the time that are unreadable and unpublishable. But I’ve learned a lot in my chosen field by reading, reading, reading, and writing, writing, writing. This combined with my passion for the written word has brought me to a place where I now help others get published, help others become better, more confident writers. I believe strongly in education, but it is not and will never be a substitute for hard work and passion and die-hard perseverance. God-given talent helps, and I think/hope I have that. (Confidence in yourself and what you do, your mindset, is everything.)

So, all this rambling to say this: I still don’t know, and will not ever, truly understand why we’re here. But part of what I am and I’m supposed to do has been revealed to me. Revealed by a still/small voice that guides me and shows me what is uniquely me, what I do, what I should do while on planet earth. I believe we can all discover this, what makes us uniquely us.

I still look at my garden and wonder at the beauty and variety of plants and flowers. I still read, I still write, I still philosophize. I still look for God everywhere and in everything.

I still look at the stars and look for Santa’s sleigh in December. And in many various ways, I still reach for those stars.

 

Words

Used to wound or heal

Build or destroy

In partnership with tongue and mind

The wish to rewind

Take them back

But that we cannot do

What’s done is done

Once begun

So hard to change.

Let’s rearrange

And put thought first

Before we do damage

They cannot manage

Love first, listen first,

Talk second

Or not at all.

 

On Growing

 

You wake up one day and realize it’s your first day of first grade and everything is new and exciting and you feel so big and bright and cute and special, because your mom told you so.

Next thing you know you’re in the third grade crying in the cloak room because somebody made fun of you. You don’t feel special, not at all.

Then you’re starting the tenth grade and you just know it will all be different this year, you’re coming into your own, you have friends, everything will be okay. And then of course it isn’t, it really isn’t. Your best friend betrays you. Boys tease you. Your body has changed so much you don’t recognize yourself anymore and all you feel is… awkward.

Then comes graduation day, that best day of all days when your whole life truly begins and everything will be great because you’re all grown up and make your own decisions. The world is your oyster.

But there is no pearl.

Living somewhere costs money and you don’t have any, and believe it or not, people don’t really love you coming over to visit and then just moving in. Things are expected of you. Responsibilities. You have to get a job. You have to eat.

So you meet someone and you marry because then, oh boy, then you will really have it all. Someone is going to take care of you and make you happy now.

And they do, until… until they don’t. And then it’s all just too much, you can’t take the fighting, and you finally leave, you get out, because then you’ll be free and happy at long last.

Except you aren’t.

And on and on it goes until one day you awake and look in the mirror and there you are, that little girl—eyes and heart all full of hope now gone—and in her place is an old person, staring back at you.

Your kids, they’re brilliant diamonds but they grew up.

They left.
You’re alone.
Again.
Unhappy.
Again.

And then one morning as you look into the mirror searching for the little girl inside, you see a spark. “There you are, you stupid girl. Why did you always expect so much of everyone and everything? And all along you were right there.”

“I just wanted love. I just wanted acceptance. I just wanted happy,” the little girl says.

And you say back to her, “The capacity for all of those things was right there inside of you the whole time.”

And you smile.
And you laugh.
And you find that you can choose it all for yourself.

So simple, yet not so easy.

Come at me, Canvas.

So today was stinky in the art studio. A day of utter frustration and dissatisfaction. Nothing looks the way I want it to. I’ve come to the conclusion that painting pretty pictures doesn’t come easy for me, not like it does for others, and that both annoys me and challenges me. In fact, it’s probably why I started doing it in the first place. The challenge.

Writing comes much easier for me, it always has. Put me in a room with a pad and pen or a laptop and tell me to write for ten or twelve hours straight and I could do it. Not a problem. Give me a subject and I can write a story about it, maybe three or four stories, given enough time.

But a blank canvas…. (shudder). That still intimidates me. It mocks, me, challenges me, dares me to create something worthy, something that ANYone could find value or beauty in.

I suppose that’s just the sort of thing I need in my life right now. These things tend to come to you when you need them. Something that baffles me, puzzles me, makes me try harder.  Persevere. I don’t want those “muscles” to go soft on me, after all. I don’t want to just be spoiled to doing only that which comes easy.

So. Tomorrow I will face the canvas again with new resolve. It won’t get the better of me, it won’t beat me down or scare me away. Gonna put on my Big Girl Panties and my painting clothes and get after it.

Bring it.

Breathless

Breathless we lay, sweat upon our skin

Reckless we played, caring not for sin

Love was a living, tactile thing

Poems written and read

Songs we’d sing.

 

Days melted into night

So quickly our heads would spin.

Time was but a construct

We ignored with all our might

Never giving in.

 

Then, as life goes, we moved into

Another place, another state

Of mind and of being

Feeling something’s lost

Not understanding.

 

As he walked away I found my cheeks

Wet with the tears of regret

And neither speaks

But the silence spoke volumes

As he left my life.

 

I remember that day

The first time we were breathless

Two as one, as they say

And way too reckless

We lost the magic .

 

Like sand it slipped through our fingers

And we knew not how to grab

A chalice in which to hold

The glory, lest it escape

And escape it did.

 

Looking back I wonder

What would’ve, could’ve happened

If we’d been stronger, wiser,

Knew better, held on longer

Would it have lasted?

 

Or were we destined to move on

And away to other lovers

To love others, and feel

Again, what it’s like to be

Breathless.

 

 

 

On Wonder Woman and Being a Wonderful Woman (Spoiler Alert!!)

Went to see Wonder Woman tonight and just wanted to jot down some thoughts, rambles, perspectives… so spoiler alert, get outta here right now if you haven’t seen it yet (and plan to do so).

Several things struck me, so I’ll just dive right in. Visually, they did an amazing job, comparable in my mind to any other modern-day super-hero flick, so no issues there.

I thought they cast the role well, the wide-eyed innocent look was there (though I was surprised, honestly, that she wasn’t more “buff” because of the role Gal Gadot was playing, –this isn’t an insult, complaint or criticism, just an observation) as Robin Wright and the others all seemed to have a lot more muscle tone.

The only oddity in my mind was that the god of war, Aries, was played by an average-Joe-looking middle-aged British man complete with mustache. An unexpected choice.

So all this aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, loved getting to see the backstory of Diana Prince.

I have a lot of emotions I am trying to nail down in regards to how the movie makes one feel as a woman.

Of course, we are not all Amazons from Paradise Island, but still… it has a way of making a woman feel proud to be one. It struck me that this movie couldn’t and wouldn’t have been made even twenty years ago, not done this well, anyway.

On the way home I found myself (once again, it’s happened a few times in the life of my marriage) trying to describe something of what it feels like to be a woman to my husband. He’s a great guy, not at all a misogynist, but still, it’s hard to describe what being a woman is like to a man. Kind of like trying to describe a rose to a blind person. Not easy.

I told him how–at 16–I learned that I had to make myself smaller, dim my light, in order that men wouldn’t think I was flirting with them. Even at that age I’d already had the experience of being my bubbly, best, most joyful version of myself, only to be accused of wanting to sleep with some guy that I had just thought I was having a friendly conversation with.

What is that?? I’ve had other such experiences where–myself or other female friends were  just being a normal friendly person but it was misconstrued as coming on to men. Smile too much? Oh you must want to sleep with them. Dare to be happy around a man? Must be trying to take them to bed. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about being a woman. We have to make ourselves smaller, literally and figuratively, because of men.

Literally because, let’s face it, all of us women have a sacred duty to be tiny and have perfect hair/skin/nails/everything so as not to offend the eyes of men. And figuratively because heaven forbid we should be beautiful, bubbly, joy-filled people with our lights shining on full wattage because, you know, the men won’t understand. And while you’re at it, know your place and don’t be smarter or make more money or have more talent because men’s egos can’t handle it. (If you think I’m coming on too strong you’re probably a man.)

I’m not a man, I don’t want to be a man and I surely do not want to be treated like one. I am not the same as a man, I only want equal respect and dignity. That’s all. I wouldn’t think it’s that much to ask. There are women who really do want to be treated like men, or at least they seem to think so, but not me. Just treat me with respect, treat me like an individual, give me my dignity. See, I’m easy to please.

I tried to make my husband understand circumstances where you are in a room full of people and the men are talking and you try to get a word in edge-wise and are looked at like window dressing or like they’re surprised and startled to hear you actually speak. There are all sorts of circumstances where I’ve felt smaller, less than, unappreciated, under-estimated, judged, inappropriately lusted after (I know, right?) and in general, taken for granted. It’s not something that’s easy to explain to someone who hasn’t felt it.

Anyway, all of that to say, there is a scene sort of towards the end of the movie, where WW is walking towards the evil god of war, and it’s kind of “after the struggle”, after she has come to some realizations and she’s now very calm and I connected with this scene, so much. She’s no longer raging and angry, she has found big love, she’s awakened, you might say, and she is at peace and more powerful than ever before. And I’m just shaking my head, like, “Yeah, that’s right.” She’s been through the fire, she’s facing her demons and she is so strong in that moment, not because of her strength changing, but because her heart changed. She found her love.

That hit me between the eyes. It’s so true to life. It’s not about the raging and the revenge and the struggle, it’s about finding big love, finding peace, about how truly powerful and centered we can become. We have the capacity.

For me it is all about being on a spiritual path, looking for more truth, more light, more love, more God. I believe when you seek, you find. The universe has so much for us but God doesn’t force more into us, it comes when we’re open and ready, when we haven’t shut ourselves down. We choose not to grow sometimes, because we think we have it all figured out already. We close down our minds and hearts.

So the long and short of it is, I really loved the movie. And also, even though it’s tough sometimes, I love being a woman.

🙂

 

 

 

On the Way Down

When you know that you must make a change

It’s inevitable, nothing stays static

Yet you’re hanging on to the edge of the cliff, hanging on for dear life

And your fear keeps you from letting go and moving on

 

When you see the future laid out at the end of the drop

And you know that once you start down the path, you’ll feel better

And you know that it absolutely must happen

And should

But you don’t let go

 

You don’t because it feels like a death.

You don’t because it feels like giving up or giving in.

It feels like a loss of control.

Like a loss of yourself.

 

Until the pain becomes unbearable.

 

So, when you let go, know that the journey

Is just beginning

And don’t forget to laugh

On the way down.

 

 

 

She Sings (A Vignette)

Aged and aging, sitting on the porch, reminiscing about her life, she rocks. She sings.

She’s given birth seven times, two died and five thrived, grew to be parents themselves. Hard times have come and gone and with each she learned, she grew. Now she waits for the kids and grandkids to come and visit and at times the waiting seems like an eternity, so she waits, she rocks, and she sings.

She remembers a time when her oldest son wouldn’t let her out of his sight and she chuckles at the memory. She thought he’d never learn to be apart from her and now all these years later, he’s learned the lesson all too well. Busy with his own life, conquering industry and the world, raising his own little ones, and doing an admirable job of it. A tear slides down her cheek, a tear of pride and pain at the same time.

The second son is in prison, twenty years or more yet to go and she knows she likely will never lay eyes on him again. He was the sensitive child, always unhappy, always in the midst of storms, almost always made by himself. Troubled, that’s what they called him. A troubled child. Not strong enough for taking the high roads in life, but more comfortable on the low roads amongst the crooks and druggies. Made him feel superior maybe, or maybe just accepted. He wanted to fit in somewhere, and now he does. Another tear escapes.

The only daughter comes to mind, now on her third marriage, a child that lives with her father. She was the little princess. Tried to protect her, to show her the way, and in the end, she just wanted love and looked for it in all the wrong places. But a good woman, just the same, has a good heart. Works at the diner in town sixty plus hours a week and wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe works herself into exhaustion so she doesn’t have to think about the mistakes she’s made in her life, doesn’t have to think about the days when she drank heavily and lost custody of her only child. Such a sad life, yet, she’s trying. She’s pressing on and there’s something to that. No matter what, there’s something to that.

The two youngest boys are living outside of town, sharing a rental house together, going to school and working, carving out lives for themselves. Only a year apart, they are the tightest of the siblings and genuinely seem to look out for each other, and that makes the old lady happy, truly warms her heart.

She muses, she remembers, she rocks, she sings.

As her heart fills with love and gratitude, she grows tired. Soon the chair stills as the sun goes down. The creaking of the chair stops, her head falls forward.

In heaven she appears on a white rocking chair, she jerks awake. Lifts her head, opens her eyes. Tears flow down, and she rocks and she sings.

 

The Mechanics of Writing

As a child I often wondered what my life would be like at eighteen, twenty-five, forty, fifty. I’d picture myself as a take-charge adult, someone who has had things happen, good things. Marriage, kids, successful career, I think I imagined it all.

As a teen I began to write fiction novels, mostly keeping them to myself, for a long time not daring to let anyone read anything I’d written. Over the years I finally began to allow a friend or two to read something and invariably they’d say a little something good, maybe voice a criticism or two, and I tried to take it in my stride, not be offended, but when you love books and read a lot and then dare to write something and then ask other people who, by and large, did not read or write anymore than they had to, for their opinions, well, it didn’t always go well.

It took a lot of time for me to learn that I did need to take criticism but only from someone who knew what they were talking about. Someone who never cracks a book open doesn’t get to criticize my writing, any more than I would go into a mechanic’s shop and tell someone how to change a carburetor.

The biggest piece of advice I give aspiring writers is to read, read, and read some more. There is no better way to prepare to be a writer than reading and writing. Once you’ve conquered the basics of grammar and spelling and sentence structure, it then becomes about figuring out just how to put words together in such a way as to engage the reader. Like a lot of things creative, I find that people either know how to do it and just need tons of practice, or they don’t have it and there will be no teaching it. You can teach grammar, you can teach spelling, but putting words together is a different skill altogether.

When I wrote my first poem in my twenties, I let my parents read it and I’ll never forget the look on their faces. It was as if some new facet of myself had just been revealed to them. I’d surprised them, and this time in a good way. They saw something they hadn’t seen before.

I continued to write throughout my life, in between marriage, kids, and other things, and from time to time, I’ve surprised other people. Other family members, friends… they’re the ones you have to impress after all. The strangers who read your writing have absolutely no preconceived idea of whether or not you have any talent at all, they just read and enjoy it or don’t.

But the thing to remember is that I became more confident in my own abilities and talents, and didn’t have to be blown apart by some non-reader telling me that I should’ve started my book with the words “It was a dark and stormy night.” As if all books can begin that way.

Now I’ve got several books in print and spend a lot of time and energy writing, editing, and helping others be better writers, and I’ve learned a ton about who to listen to in regards to writing.

So learn, take classes, and read, read, and read some more, and for heaven’s sake, if you want someone’s opinion on your work, ask someone you can trust, someone you know full well is a reader if not also a writer. Nobody else gets to have a say. If someone gives you good advice, take it. If they give you bad advice or just plain criticism that is not founded in reality, learn to shake it off and keep plugging away. After all, you’re not trying to re-build a carburetor.

Pharisees Fall

Your labels are for you only because you dare not remove your filter glasses.

You must place people where they go in your waffle mind or leave them all behind,

Each one has a box and in it they go, one by one, or you come undone.

As you sit sipping your religious tea, watching people as they stroll by the window of your life

You sum them up, good enough, or not, based on your criteria, you check off that list

With a crimson pen stained with the sin of judgment and hubris.

Compassion packed its bags long ago and headed East. Love is a word on a cutesy card

But as a sentiment you have no use for it. As long as your little protected world is safe

You care not for real love or real truth or enlightenment, only that the status quo is held.

Your position in the world is secure, so you believe, so behind closed doors your heart grows hard.

Different is as different does, you laugh as you dismiss them utterly from your mind

When deep inside your shriveled heart, you’d know if you looked for the tiniest shard

 

Of care or concern, it isn’t there and you can no longer manufacture it. Your heart has quit,

Though it keeps its beat in rhythm with your fetid breaths. Your mask secure and held in place

Sits ever so securely on your face

And only heaven sees your truest form, dried and twisted as a prune

And all weep for you, for as you rejoice in your own righteousness,

The truth someday will out, and the mask will fall, and all will know all, and you will fall.

 

 

Back Into the Light

Sometimes we confuse emotional or spiritual need with material or physical. How many times have we tried to fill up our insides by buying something, or eating something, that, while it may bring us a temporal feeling of comfort, leaves us once again empty in the end?

Eating disorders, out-of-control spending and debt to acquire more faster, filling an inner ache with drugs or alcohol, there are as many coping mechanisms as there are people in the world, I suspect.

I’ve learned to identify and get in touch with what’s really underneath it all. It’s still a process, we’re all works in progress.  But often when we peel off layers and find that scared little kid underneath it all and we have to actually feel our pain, well, it ain’t easy.

Whether it’s some trauma from your past or not being cared for or nurtured in some way, if your greatest expectations have gone unmet, if your heart has been shattered into tiny shards, whatever lies beneath, know that you can and will survive and in one of the great ironies in this life, once you press through, grieve, and move one, you may find yourself in such a better place.

It’s tough trying to get from A to Z or back to a new A for a new beginning, you must do the hard work. This life doesn’t come with shortcuts.

When you know yourself fully and heal yourself (allow yourself to be healed) there is a new life awaiting.

Chase God/goodness/light/life while finding yourself, the combination of the two is immensely powerful.

Come out of the depths of your despair and back into the light. It’s a lot of fun up here.

There is very little I need

 

Life is made up of many little epiphanies throughout it. I had a mini one today. There is very little I need.

I have a good roof over my head and more than enough food within reach when I’m hungry. I have a soft bed to sleep in. I have a man who loves me freely and without condition, and a handful of friends that do the same.

I realized that–if someone wanted to get me a gift today–I’d be hard-pressed to name anything.

When I was younger (and still on occasion) I loved to shop. There was always a list of things somewhere that I wanted, some purse or pair of shoes that I thought I might die if I didn’t get. With age comes wisdom in many areas. I don’t ever remember being this content or having such a lack of need to shop, purchase or acquire.

The needs I feel in my life now tend more towards those things less tangible that I can’t grasp in my hands. I’d like to have more influence, to expand my boundaries so that I might reach someone or teach someone something that I came by the hard way, that I might make a difference in someone’s life.

I’d like to share my art with the world.

I’d like to pave pathways for those that come behind me, to point the way and show them how NOT to stumble.

It was kind of shocking to see and know the difference in my desires from then and now. I’m so much happier now, so much more content. I seek for soul-affirming, spirit-reaching, life-affirming things and people.

Music, art, poetry, the thrill of finding a new fiction novel that will transport me to a new world, a new poet that will encourage and inspire me, these are where it’s at for me, and still, as I enjoy these things I realize more fully every moment

There is very little I need.

 

Love and Pain

I feel it already, the first dew drops of pain and grief that will come

When you cease to exist

Or just cease to exist for me.

It’s as if there’s a lever on a board and I move it back and forth,

Present to future to present again

And I can nearly feel it, the crashing, tearing pain that will befall me

As it does all that love completely.

This being the reason people don’t love completely,

The knowledge that with life and love comes

Ultimate death.

Ultimate pain.

It’s inescapable except for those who know no love at all,

Nothing deep or real,

Those who come to the conclusion early in their life

That it just isn’t worth it, love.

So, I did the deal, I took the plunge, I released it all to you,

I signed the bloody contract with my heart’s blood

Which ensures that I will know, eventually, inevitably

Greater pain than I ever have felt or could imagine.

The Artsy Life-Love It or Leave It

I don’t know why the creative life is such a bi-polar one. Everyone I know that has ever made anything good with their creative gifts has also suffered mood swings from a super-confident high to some very low lows. But there are those of us who are blossoming, blooming, learning that our artistic life is not the beginning or the end of the world, it just… is. We’re learning to express freely, without hesitation, then let it go, stop standing there next to our work, hat in hand, waiting for the crumbs of acceptance or approval. If it lands with someone, it lands. If it misses, it misses. No matter.

If we’re blessed with the ability and the opportunity to make art (music, writing, sculpting, painting, whatever in the world it is that you do) we are blessed indeed. I, personally, am in the very midst of learning to let everything else go. I do it because it is in me and it is me (and in some cases if it doesn’t come out of me I will explode). It’s very freeing to realize that if your spouse or a friend doesn’t love your work, you’re not going to die. You’re going to be okay. If an art critic doesn’t like it, you’ll live.

The absolute most powerful lesson I am learning in my life right now is that there is freedom and joy in the letting go… letting go of expectations, letting go of criticism and opinions, letting go of all the negative voices, and just dancing in the utter joy of simply being.

I told someone the other day (when he brought up expectations) that they are indeed the source of all pain, and the longer I’ve tromped around on this planet the truer I have found this to be. I can pretty much look at every single instance of pain in my life and realize that any emotional pain I have gone through has been because I had some expectation of someone or something that did not pan out like I thought.

This is why I’m always saying (mostly to myself) Let it GO!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a process.

Happy creating!!   🙂

Found

Sometimes you can find good things through pain, like you’ve visited the very pit of hell and, unbeknownst to you, you grabbed something bright and shiny, some light or truth, and it stuck to your clothes and it rode back up with you.

Sometimes you have to see something ugly and wrong about yourself in someone else before you recognize it in the mirror. (Is that what I look like? Is that how I sound?) and then, upon the realization, you carve that bit out and discard it.

Sometimes others don’t understand what’s happening with you, so they write you off as crazy, and sometimes people love you anyway, stay, love you through.

Sometimes your arms reach out and grab onto an angel and you wrestle it to the ground, demanding truth and light, you wrestle it until you’re totally out of breath, spent, lying on the ground, out of strength and you think you’re dying.

Sometimes the sheer brokenness of the world collides with broken parts within yourself and your soul cries out in pain. And it hurts more than anything physical when you realize no-one’s got it together. Nope. Not a soul on this planet.

Sometimes I beat my chest and scream at the top of my lungs without ever opening my mouth. I walk away, away from it all, the frustration and struggle of it all, completely overwhelming me. I hide in my cave and sulk.

Sometimes I find beauty in the world that astounds me and transports me to an altogether different place, an Eden, Nirvana. I glimpse the world as it could be and for a second my soul grabs my spirit and they fly, fly, ever so high, not daring to come down, not daring to look down for fear of falling.

Sometimes reality bursts in and I’m wondering how to pay the light bill with my meanderings, wondering what it’s all for, wondering why I couldn’t stay in that place.

Sometimes reality stinks.

Sometimes I try to shut the mind down, turn it off like flipping a switch and suddenly I understand why people take mind-altering drugs, numb themselves with alcohol.

And sometimes someone or something comes along and pulls me out of my monkey mind and back into the world of living, breathing people, some who love me and want to hug me back into existence.

Sometimes I’m found.