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Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 30: Keeping Hope Alive

On this last day of the ROOT 30 Day Journal Challenge, the originator of the challenge, Lisa Sonora offers a Chinese proverb as inspiration:

Thank you, Lisa, for making me focus on inspiration, per se.  Though I tend to catch the moments of inspiration as they fly, it's good to have 'swept out' that part of the creative mind, to consider sources and be reminded to remember, access, celebrate, and honor my sources of inspiration by intentional as well as spontaneous writing practice.

In Lisa's daily handful of prompts today, the one that calls to me is:

The answer comes swiftly: my grandchildren.  Whether stopped by a song during a tantrum,  eyes twinkling when we meet, narrating a delightful experience or anxiety, or a rush and a hug in the midst of a crowd of relatives, their love is unconditional.  And so is mine.

Deo gratias.

As other thinkers, writers, and musicians have so often written, I honor the ultimate source of joy and inspiration with the words, soli deo gloria, my humble, pooh-like praise.

(Alas, my inability, thus far, to control the background color and relative size of cut-and-paste quotes.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 29: Chrysallises Count

Today's inspirational quote was: "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you its going to turn into a butterfly." by Buckminster Fuller

What a great reminder that wonderful and creative  things--books, works of art, children, even,
start or go through unattractive, apparently inactive periods, but all the while growth and transformation are taking place.  To disturb or look to closely during that time would be to spoil the result before it even happens.

That is sufficient metaphor for my so-called 'fears' of the writing life, and hope for what my work might become.

Question is, will I exercise the patience, and the inner work, to allow the work to show me its own completion?  Now I'm getting into the enigmatic sort of statement that I really do not appreciate...but I think I know what I mean, and the implication is that I should fuss less, stay on task, and trust things
will be complete in due time.

So let me do. (And let this be my mantra for remembering to claim positives, to look for miracles and transformations every day, and to believe that they will come.)

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 28: Pooh-Poohing perfection and its downside, discouragement

"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never each it," attributed to Salvador Dali, opens up a window on possible sources of my procrastination...fear of closure, lest the product or producer be found wanting, fear of failing so why try, fear of criticism which, considered thoughtfully, could actually help refine a person, or his or her work. Fear of not having the right stuff, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing a train of thought, fear of falling, fear of going on too long or its opposite, of not being able to fill up the time or space.  Fear of interruptions, of misunderstanding and/or being misunderstood. Fear of being too early or too late or on the wrong date, and more, for the most part illegitimate fears.  Nobody probably fears the things I fear that fit in those categories except I.

Curious, though, that I began the list as a dispassionate narrator, but ended up claiming absolute ownership of the 'fears' listed, which case is obviously not possibly true.  The fears themselves are not even realistic, One thing that's true is that these are shadowy, imagined fears, nearby but rarely acknowledged, or acknowledged as 'excuses.'

"If I didn't fear perfection, then I..." (= the prompt) would probably be further ahead, more confident and poised than I am about my writing and writing life now. All of which I desire. So then why not   re-write fears and shortfalls as positive goals!

I have a plethora of resources in fact, in friends, in classes and in writer support groups available to me.

I have electronic spell checkers and writer peers who would (and even my husband could) look over my work for errors.  I say I can take critiques, so should be able to relax and attend to criticism, right or wrong, warranted or unwarranted, for what it's worth.

I can decide at a certain point that I just have to say this is enough, and let the work stand and deliver on its own.

I acknowledge having made more mistakes than I am aware of, that everybody makes mistakes, and that the best way is to deal with them in the moment and move on, not to dwell (or recite) on them.

I can trust God to keep in mind any thoughts and words that I need for the time and place that I need them...I can also make, save, and file notes in an organized writing environment.

I can be faithful to exercises and routines that strengthen both mind and body, and be careful how and where I step.

I can speak or write what I am given to say, and recognize whether and when it's time to go on, to revise, and/or stop.

I can recognize, not fear, audience as an ally, a necessary component for my work to be able to convey meaning.

I can look back over this list as a confidence boosting exercise.  Hooray for exercise!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 27: To think or not to think?

Today I find myself looking forward to the end of this challenge, of letting the spirit speak and soar in its own way...I think that, to a great extent, I have been working on the same tasks for a number of years.  It's good, however, to be reminded (prompted) to attend to the spirit, to keeping it (To the extent possible) on track, nourished, tuned in.  And I haven't always exercised the discipline to allow that to happen. Yes, discipline/common sense, can be freeing....  You can probably tell that the spirit flagged somewhere in them middle of the month.  Why was that?  Pain, lack of sleep, lack of 'productivity,' failure to recognize and honor the process of being on the back burner..perhaps all of the above.

Today's inspiration:

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” -- Pablo Picasso

Prosaic, perhaps, but 'seems to me we need a healthy dose of each.  Our thoughts and spirits may soar, but we still need to walk on the earth with others, and that requires some disciplines of its own, which may or more likely may not mean having anything to do with writing.

So, let me tend to the dishes and get to bed, for tonight!

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 26: What keeps the soul aloft.

Lisa quotes Flaubert in another one of those sayings that sounds grand and echoes the emptiness of man's efforts to the the 'end-all' of wisdom and spirit. "The principal thing in this world is to keep one's soul aloft.'  Sounds as though, by dint of one's own efforts, one could free oneself. Try as one may, I believe we are endowed, by the creator, with a spiritual nature that only the creator can enliven, and that only if we can 'stay out of the way.'  Perhaps we/I try too hard.

Be that as it may, let me respond to the prompt, what makes my spirit soar? Oh, so many things:

a pleased, confident, triumphant, joyful, and or meditative song
sunshine on a newly rainwashed world
fresh, growing greenery...from grass to tree
flowers, whether graceful or fanciful in form
their fragrance...this season,  breathing in the short-lived divinity of a profusion of slender and      unexpected acidanthera blossoms, new to my garden and vocabulary
any unexpected pleasure
granchildren's hug, smile, or spontaneous expession of emotion, art, movement , achievement, yes, even creativity, in response to the world
a gentle, kind word, look, or touch
patterns in nature
a unique invention
a good story
a wry joke
eye hugs
joys expressed
unstructured time
reading in peace
fresh air
satisfaction, that CLOSURE which, in my writing, seems to elude me
unhurried, uncritical time with children, family, dear friends, insightful conversants

My second grade teacher did well to instill appreciation for beauty, poetry, well-being. Miss Narvarud rehearsed "The world is so full of a number of things, it's a wonder that all of us shouldn't be kings" until it was ingrained in our hearts as we lined up near the classroom door to go to recess or home.  When I quoted the poem to our almost eight year old granddaughter, she exclaimed, "But we couldn't be kings, we're girls!"  LOL and changing times, attitudes.  She did, however, appreciate the sentiment when I explained it was just a convention, 'we' and 'kings' representing everybody, male and female.  That sort of little clarifying exchange makes my spirit soar. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 25:: What am I afraid of?

Lisa's pep talk today is about resolutely facing and working through, or despite, one's fears.  Her own words are a good prompt:

It’s ok to be scared. Terrified even.  What if this was a sign you were headed in the right direction.  
       Now that's a new thought.  Hmmm.  Given that nothing is really preventing or warning me otherwise, going ahead anyway might just help still my fears.  "You'll never know unless you try." Like jumping into the water at the beach or the pool.  Most of us do eventually learn to swim.
     Our eight year old granddaughter sets a fine example of confronting her fears, assigning herself, step by step, to overcome:...recently, being new at her school this year, going to sleep in a room by herself at grandparents' house.  I admire that purposefulness.  She and her mother, my marathon-running daughter, inspire me anew, to take the leap, to persist, to review, revise, finalize and offer my writing for publication as opposed to just obsessing over it,  inspire me   to follow through.  Which reflects a root of my procrastination, a fear of closure, of being done,  and/or of not being well done, of missing something.  Like that sentence...I really should be able to articulate that ' 
       The question remains: What AM I afraid of in regards to 'taking my writing to the next level'?  Is it as simple as fear of being interrupted, of having another thought intrude on another very good one which is begging to be written down?  Is it fear of criticism or disparagement, esp. by spouse?  Is it worry that I'm spending precious time on work that doesn't seem to be serving any 'useful' purpose when there are household and relationship tasks I 'should' be working on?  Maybe it's just fear of the dark, reluctance to 'put myself out there.'
     At any rate, I am working on the 'resolute' part of it.  Taking at least one small step a day, and chocolate, are good incentives to go farther...Assigning myself this 30 day journal writing challenge at least results in practice, habituating myself to discipline, lack of which I have spent far too much time lamenting and little enough time battling.

Monday, August 25, 2014

30 Day Journal Challenge, Day 24: Surrender in two senses of the word.

Day 24's 'inspiration ' quotes Rilke on the rootedness that would occur should we 'surrender to earth's intelligence.'  Do we allow ourselves to be rooted in/harmonious with, nature, the physical world outside us, attend to the food and chemical balance inside us?  How many of our ills would not even occur, were we so in tune.
Then LIsa suggests thinking of the effects of surrendering, in the sense of giving up, something. and imagining the result.  Not the same story as para. one, but a good thought to think, nonetheless! If I gave up procrastination, that ought to be the key to getting places on time.  No excuse, you will say, but I lack the 'wiring' to plan and participate in periods of transition.  When I think of 'the next thing,' I visualize already being into whatever it is, rather than the simple concrete steps I need, or I need/need to request help with, to get there, almost as if I expect those steps to take care of themselves. If I 'gave up" lateness, (oops, stated as a desired result, though: learned to be prompt ) I would be more grounded in groups and the agenda of whatever was going on with them/it at a given time and place...conversations, movies, church service (where the confession of sins, for instance, a central practice in our worship, comes fairly near the beginning of the order of worship)...
So let me do, by the grace of God!