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Right now, I am tired.  Between the anticipation of a hurricane, days off from school in anticipation of the hurricane, preparing for Halloween, celebrating Halloween, and then two more days off from school due to parent conferences and election day, I’ve missed my quiet-times.  My routines.  My spiritual rhythms.  Yes, I know this is life and I need to be flexible, but, as I said, I am tired and distracted by the many things going-on around me and even inside me.  And it seems that the busyness is not going to let-up now that the next round of holidays is staring me right in the eyes.

Apart from these outside distractions, I’ve struggled a bit with the question of where I want to go with these passions that I have unearthed over the past year.  While writing seems to be my primary way of figuring things out, creating art feels the most natural way for me to express myself to the outside world.  And so, the struggle lies therein.  How do I allot my time for these two things when I am not fulfilling my other roles of Mom, Wife, and Domestic Engineer?  When I am working-on an art project, I am constantly aware of the fact that I am neglecting my blog.  And, when I am blogging, I miss the thrill of creating with my hands.  I know there are many women who seem to be able to juggle all these tasks and still have time leftover, but I am not one of them.

Where do I go from here?  Where do I need to focus my energies? For the past year or so, I have basked in the joy of just realizing my passions.  Now, I am finding that it’s probably time to set some new intentions around these passions.  Otherwise, things start to feel stale.  So, for now, I may be doing a little less writing and a little more creating, as I figure-out what direction I need to be moving.   I will continue to post some of my latest creations.  And, as I ponder the direction in which I am being led, I’ll be sure to include you in the process.

(Bookmark:  fashioned from scraps of vintage grain sacks once covering my Great-Grandmother’s ironing board.)

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I stepped into today just like pulling-on my favorite fleece sweatpants.  For various reasons, I have not been taking my morning walks this week until today, Friday.  The cool air brushes against my skin and with each step, I think to myself, “It is well.”  Fall’s vibrant reds and yellows delight my eyes and the sounds of birds chirping against the background of chainsaws buzzing through a neighbor’s tree fill my ears.  An early morning thunderstorm washed away any tracks left behind from the day before, making the wooded path feel all the more luscious.  A once dry creek bed gurgles gently.  I stand still in the middle of the path.  In the middle of God’s most beautiful painting.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve felt at the mercy of both planned and unplanned schedules.  Life and obligations coming together all at the same time.  Packages to be mailed, meals to be delivered, prescriptions filled, pills counted and dropped-off at school, all amidst the unplanned – a broken dryer and a stone blocking a saliva gland on one side of my neck.  So, I’ve been moving through the days with one side of my neck swollen-up like a chipmunk storing nuts and hauling laundry back and forth to a most gracious neighbor’s house.  Yes.  My body has been a bit more tired and fragile than usual.  At the same time, though, I am noticing the absence of a most familiar friend – anxiety.

I started noticing the calming of my heart after pushing through the first few weeks of my challenge to write for six-weeks in the raw while taking a writing class at the local Visual Arts center.  You may remember those first few posts written with sweaty hands and a pounding heart.  Fear of just letting go and putting myself out there.  Well, I finished my last class for this course earlier this week which also marks my last totally “raw” post.  With each week and each reading of my work, I noticed my body relaxing and my thoughts less focused on how things sound and more focused on just putting my thoughts down on paper.  I have done this before, in my journal, but never in a context where I have to share what I have written with others.  I’m not really sure whether I am a better writer because of taking this course, but I do believe that I am a more peaceful writer.  I am at peace with where I am in the world.  At my core, I know that I am supposed to create with words, paint and glue.  I don’t know where this need will lead me and for the first time, it is okay just to walk the path without knowing where I will end-up.  It is well with my soul.

I come to the screen this evening feeling like I am writing more of a journal entry than a blog post.  I guess that’s a good thing, but it is so very hard for me.  You see, up until recently when I began this 6-weeks of raw writing, I still had the option to “pretty-up” things when I didn’t like the way they sounded, but now I can no longer hide behind my words.

I came home from my writing class this afternoon just a big bundle of nerves.  This class is actually very layed-back.  It’s not a college course or anything too demanding, but somehow, by the end of each 2 1/2 hours, I leave with my heart pounding in my ears and my chest as tight as a vice grip.  I want to be there.  I need to be there.  And at the same time, it’s driving me crazy listening to the beautiful writing of my classmates!  I swear there are some budding novelists in my midst – mixtures of Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle), Ann Lamotte, and Maya Angelou all wrapped-up into one.  It’s not that I even feel jealous of their gifts.  I just feel confused.  We are all writing for the same 10-minutes and the images that come from their pens so effortlessly astound me.  Perhaps, with lots of effort and editing, I might be able to come-up with something similar; however, I truly don’t think my mind works in the same manner.  I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings rumbling around in my head demanding to be expressed.  But images and poetry?  They just aren’t there for easy retrieval.

Lest you think I’m having a pity party for myself, really I’m not.  I’m just trying to figure-out why I feel so uptight about this process.  When my husband came home from work, we had a rare few moments by ourselves in which I muttered something about being laced with anxiety over my writing class.  He didn’t say much at first, but came downstairs after changing out of his work clothes and made a comment that totally changed my thinking.  Sometimes, I have to ask myself what it is that I am wanting to get out of my work/my career or I drive myself crazy knowing that I am surrounded by a bunch of geniuses.  I try to focus on what it is that I can offer.  What makes me unique.

That’s it.  I am becoming more aware of the talent around me and wondering what it is that I want to get out of writing.  Do I want pats on the back on what a good writer I am, or do I just want to make a difference?  While I admit, it is nice to receive compliments and to feel stellar, what I really want is to help other women through the sharing of my experiences both in writing and art.  I feel like I have God-sized dreams with mediocre gifts to carry them out.  I suppose there comes a point when we realize where our power runs-out and God steps-in and this is where I am right now.  God doesn’t put desires in our hearts and then just leave us on our own.  I think of Moses and how he tried to argue with God about his less than stellar speaking abilities.  I think of David, the small little guy, who knocked Goliath off his feet with a sling-shot.  These fellows didn’t carry-out God’s will on their own power.  They simply allowed God to work through them.

So, I am accepting that I am where I am right now for a certain reason.  What a comfort it is to know that God uses the weak to do mighty things.

My writing teacher, Valley, said that someone once told her that unless you feel like you are going to throw-up at least one time every day, you are not challenging yourself.  Well, I don’t relish the feeling of being nauseous for the next 6 weeks during this Six Weeks of Raw Writing project, but I do want to face the challenge.  Right now, I can feel the tension building in my head as my heart quickens at the thought of what I have committed to do.  This is a feeling all too familiar to me – anxiety!

I keep thinking, lately, that my daughter is just me turned inside-out.  My family sometimes asks how we ended-up with a child so outspoken and loud.  My girl is quite the little personality, at least when she is at home.  Like me, she struggles with anxiety on a daily basis and yet, she doesn’t let it get in the way of her sassiness.  I say that with much endearment.  Just like me, my girl seems quiet and angelic when she is in a group situation, especially at school or at church, but when she is really at home with herself, she lets it all hang-out.  If she is unsure of something and wants reassurance, she will ask for reassurance over and over again.  My equivalent of that is to check my e-mail for comments, obsessively, after writing a post.  It’s as if until someone validates my thoughts, my writing, my thoughts don’t exist.  This need for approval is something I want to get past.  I want to just enjoy writing without needing the feedback.  I so admire one of my favorite writers, Anne Voskamp, for actually turning the comment section off on her blog.  Seeing how she has now written a book, One Thousand Gifts, that has been on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year now, I suspect she has received plenty of feedback, but I know that she is not writing to receive pats on the back.  She writes what is on her heart, what God puts on her heart, and by golly, she is changing the world with her words!

My girl is obsessed with picking the scabs from all the bug-bites on her legs – another way that she lets her anxiety hang-out for everyone to see.  Her legs look like battle fields right now and complete strangers will stop and ask what happened to them.  We just sigh and say, “She likes to pick her scabs!”  What else can you say?  It doesn’t seem to bother my girl though.  She just keeps on picking.  Or I guess her need to pick outweighs the need to have scarless legs.  Do I do this on the inside?  Pick at my wounded places over and over?  Revisiting the things that cause me to feel anxious?  Maybe my girl has the right idea.  If you are going to be nervous, just let everyone see.  Then there is nothing to hide.  The worst is already out there.

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

-Anais Nin

I just finished a post that said exactly what I wanted to say, hit preview, and most of it disappeared.  So timely for this post!  My heart dropped for a second there and then I had to smile at the irony.  That said, I am not going to try to rewrite everything just as I had it written and just go with the flow because that is what this post is all about.

The quote at the beginning of this post pretty much sums-up where I am with my writing right now.  I found this quote in a cute little art stall at a beach art festival (I love those!) this summer and it spoke to me.  Some of you might remember my journey last year with my creative coach Amy.  With her help, I spent most of the Spring months trying to uncover the artist within me, peeling away layers that I had built-up over the years and doing things that were both fun and scary all at the same time.  It was glorious chaos and that is just how I feel right now about my new journey in writing.  I am committing myself to writing without editing my thoughts for the next six-weeks.

I know you must be wondering how this decision came to be, so I will tell you.  Yesterday, I started taking a writing class called, “Finding Your Voice” and came away truly humbled.  While I consider myself to be a decent writer, I listened to my classmates reading their own work and, as one man said, “I [felt] like I needed to take my shoes off because I [was] standing on holy ground.”  These writers wowed me with beautiful imagery, made me laugh with their candidness, and just made me want to hear more.  At the same time, I kept thinking to myself, “Man!  My work is as bland as oatmeal…Pollyanna, here I come!”  I walked away from class yesterday wanting what they had   just like that famous line in When Harry Met Sally, the one in the restaurant, where one customer is watching Sally fake an orgasm right there at the table and she tells the waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having!”

Now, the things I have been writing here over the past year have been truthful and I certainly have revealed bits of myself that you might not have known.  I really am the quiet-natured, kind Kristin that you have come to know.  At the same time, I know that there is a color and texture to my life that I don’t feel has been coming through in my writing.  Somehow, in an effort to look spiritual (and, I really am spiritual), I feel like I’ve edited out parts of the real me.  What I really mean to say is that I am more comfortable showing you my spiritual side, my good girl side, than my imperfect side, the side that can be kind of funny and quirky – dorky!

All that said, for the next six-weeks I plan to write from my heart without editing my thoughts.  The only time I might edit is for grammar or spelling or if I have written something that is just too sensitive to share.  I apologize, in advance, for digressions, repetition, fragments, and anything other than “pretty” writing.  In exchange, I hope to share a little bit more of the real me, behind the scenes, just like we’re sitting across the table sharing over coffee.  I will  write about whatever is going on in my life or I might use a prompt.  If there is something, in particular, that you would like me to write about, throw-it out there in the comment section, and I just might bite!

 

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