Clickage: When it all comes together

I’ve been a tad hard-of-seeing, for probably, oh, let’s see. Ever.

I don’t mean with my physical eyes (although when I finally got glasses for long-distance in college I was amazed to find that objects in my surroundings actually have edges). No, what I am referring to a general lack of focus when it came to What I Do.

That question: So, what do you do? Ack. That one’s been hard to explain ever since I started down this road of teaching others to journal. Hmmm, what? Yeah, I help others start journaling. I facilitate workshops to explain and demonstrate the benefits of introspective writing.

The response is usually one of three: 1. Oh. Hmmm… How ’bout ’em Yankees (at which point I say, Oh. Hmmm). 2. I tried journaling once. I don’t have time for it. 3. Why would I need to be taught how to journal?

For those who get it, the response is usually, Wow, that’s really cool. And then: Who do you work with (meaning what at-risk population)? Yes, journaling/expressive writing is excellent for many groups of people who are otherwise voiceless, disenfranished, hurting, and/or direction-less. But my path has led me to help those one wouldn’t generally think of as voiceless: anyone who has ever had the urge to put pen to paper and/or is looking for that something deeper which – intutively – they know they have inside.

However, one of my struggles, with this population, and with the journaling-thing, in general, is the multi-facted nature. “Seekers” are, by definition, seeking that ineffable Something which will be different than their neighbor’s, their husband’s, their best friend’s, because they are individuals with different experiences, different complexes, different longings.

And journaling cannot be pigeon-holed. Its benefits and uses are so diverse that if I’d have to choose in which category it belonged, I’d have to check off Wellness, Creativity, Spirituality, Self-Development, Therapy, and even Business Tools.

This has been the cause of my lack of focus. I can facilitate workshops, give presentations, and coach private clients in any of these areas, so coming up with a title for myself — and my branding — was so hard. In general, I’ve gone with “Writing for Well-being,” but that is vague and doesn’t touch on the other aspects. I needed a niche and a way of marketing myself which wouldn’t scare people off with the touchy-feely, woo-woo, spirituality aspects with are inherent in any kind of deeply creative work.

But moreover, I needed to understand my personal mission — where the heart, the root of my passion, lies. I knew that being able to visualize and name what one envisions is how it becomes real and do-able.

I have been saying for a long time that I believe the reason we are here on earth is to work towards our potential. I LOVE watching a student/client have an a-ha! moment which clarifies in their own mind what it is they WANT/NEED to do. The tag-line on this blog is “Reflection + Re(dis)covery = Self-Confidence,” and I have seen workshop members grew in confidence before my eyes.

I was told last week by an interviewer that he reads between the lines of each of my weekly columns and blog posts the message to not be afraid, to be brave, and to do the things you yearn to. That was so good to hear, because, Yes! I want everyone to do that!

At the conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, it was reinforced/clarified that what I do, and what I love to do, is tell stories in order to teach and inspire, and that this is such an important job, because, as one presenter said, “the brain is wired for story.” I started to brainstorm around the idea of “the power of story” as a focus for my work.

I have an eleven-year old daughter in whom I am trying to instill the confidence and umph (the “fuck you,” Mary Karr calls it in her memoir, Cherry) that it was taught (implied) to me that girls shouldn’t have. I want to empower my daughter. I want to empower every little girl (and boy) who lives inside a frightened adult today. And I know writing/creativity – story – has the power to do this.

Having a voice is having a sense of self. Voicing our stories is what gives us validation and clarity. And connection. We hear our story, the one unique to us, on the page, and then when we are given a chance to share it, and someone exhales and says, “me too!” we learn we are not as alone (or weird, or awful, or wrong…) as we thought we were.

Today, all these thoughts, ideas, and knowings clicked together — I experienced that great gut feeling of what I call Clickage. And so, I can now name What I Do is:

Empower others through the power of story. I help give Voice through Writing.

Yup, I can see clearly now.

 

Advertisements

W.O.R.D.S.: Hell (or Unpeeling the Onion of your Psyche)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): An alphabetical search for questions.*

Hell? There is no fire, no devil, no death that holds me in its hot grasp of fear,
Even heaven holds no charm to trick me when it is so clear, that, yes,
Life can be hell if it is fueled by fears of shoulds and musts, but this
Life is my heaven, a pearl ground by the rough sands of creativity and trust.

 

You know what is my own personal hell, my own personal devil? Me.

Me, with the rules I learned as a child; rules that aren’t real, that are meaningless, but yet still hold sway over my unconscious like a tightly corseted and hair-bunned school marm with a ruler slapping in her palm.

And most of these rules weren’t even specifically given, they were implied, and many, in my still squooshy and muddy child-brain, were misunderstood. But the connections I made, incorrectly fused as they may have been, were built into, and sheetrocked over in, the foundation of my being.

And so now, as an adult who is beginning to understand that not all my actions, thoughts, feelings make sense, and that sometimes I respond/react in a certain way despite any logical explanation, I am attempting to peer deeper into the depths of my unconscious for reasons. I have to be curious. Ask questions. “Why did I just feel a stab of pain when she said that?” “What was that discomfort I felt talking to him?” “Why did I just get SO angry about that tiny thing?” “Why am I feeling so sad right now?”

Or not even questions, just noticing. Without judgment. “Huh, I felt that in my chest.” ” Interesting, I just got really upset about that…”

Dismantling the walls and floors, or — to switch metaphors — unpeeling the onion of our psyche is not easy nor particularly fun. It takes time and courage and a lot of trust — trust that if you are willing to look into “hell” you will eventually find the “heaven” of a life less hindered by old messages and rules and fears which no longer apply.

And creativity is vital. To write, draw, paint, dance, sing, cook… anything that brings you deeper than Monkey Mind, which tends to gibber-gabber a bunch of bull-hickey most of the time. It’s all old tapes stuck on a loop. Turn it off. Write a new story.

——
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

The Path to Publication, part 5: Writing from “home”

image

(Number 2 of 3 posts on the Creative Nonfiction conference in Pittsburgh, PA, May 23-25, 2014)

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in needing time to recoup and process after downloading a bunch of information. After a conference, for example, I need time to transition back to regular life, as well as time to assimilate all that I’ve heard and learned. For me, this process of assimilating usually includes writing. I write in my journal and/or blog post. As was Anais Nin’s reason for writing, I write in order to “taste life twice,” and for me, the second time is when I truly savor all the juices and unique flavors.

I took copious notes on day two of the Creative Nonfiction conference, but I have yet to re-read and properly digest them (and I will share some things in an upcoming post). So, this post is my attempt at crystallizing how I feel, not what I learned.

How do I feel? One word: Validated.

I’ve made some decisions over the past couple of months that are both scary and freakin’ exciting. And as I have mentioned in previous posts, as soon as I made these decisions, the Universe opened up and seemed to say, “OK!” Learning about this conference and then actually being able to attend it were major components of this opening. New stones were laid down on my path towards this new life to which I appear to be headed. Then what I heard at the conference seemed to further stabilize the path.

As I listened, and spoke personally, to the various editors and author presenters over Friday and Saturday, these were my points of validation:

1.  Creative Nonfiction, and specifically Memoir, is a genre that is “hot” and growing all the time. While at one time personal essays/narratives were practically unknown, and memoir was hidden in works of fiction, the personal narrative is now everywhere. Writers in every field are “teaching”  — informing — through story.

2. The new wave of memoir — a genre that took off in the mid-90s — now has this added dimension: Research. Memoirs and personal stories are not just about telling a good story anymore, they need to have substance. They need to be about something. As I just said, they now teach and inform on a subject.

When I began writing, I had no name for the style I was producing. But I was just writing the only thing I knew: my experience.I was writing where I most felt at home — comfortable and most myself. Authentic.

Journaling didn’t seem like “real” writing at that time, but I have since come to recognize that day to day observations of life and feelings are the bedrock to understanding the world around me. How I feel about a subject, whether it is political, social, or intensely personal, has to be worked out in the journal first so I can then write to, and resonate with, a larger audience.

Now the style in which I write has a name and an audience. I write local interest and history stories for my town paper, writing-for-well-being posts for the Transformative Language Arts Network, and my own memoir pieces, all of which need my personal insight, feelings, and (human) experience in order for others to relate,  to learn, and to be informed by them — rather than them just being narcissistic pieces of “feel good” for me. What truly makes me feel good is when I hear that my writing has inspired someone else. Then I know it has fully served its purpose: helped me — as the act of putting words to experience and emotion does — and helped others.

My memoir is the story of a girl who lost her voice/self as a result of religious indoctrination and leaving her home country, and the woman who found it again. It’s a pretty good story in itself, but I had recently decided to incorporate my research into a feminine-centered spirituality and women’s psychological development. This decision has been validated. A new genre of which I knew nothing other than through reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” and Candace Pert’s “Molecules of Emotion,” is apparently ready and waiting for the book I am writing.

To read snippets of my memoir, “Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search of Voice,” click here.

W.O.R.D.S: God, Goddess, Godde (or Cleaning up Pee)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): An alphabetical search for questions.*

Granted, it’s easy to live connected to the Source when the sky is

Open and the sun is shining, and the flowers bright. But when life

Dumps reality on your head a hundred times a day…

Damn it!

Every day is a lesson in remembering what we so easily forget.

I’m a mother. I’m more familiar with bodily fluids, especially little boy pee, than I ever could have imagined. This past week as I was down on my knees once again wiping up my son’s attempt at aim, I thought:

I’m more than this!

There’s a question that has been nagging at me for a while: How can one be spiritually-minded — in the moment, at one with The All … however you personally choose to define it — when there is all this life?

Oh, I’ve heard it before: Make folding laundry a meditation, pick up those little stinky socks like its a service of love for the greater good, pay the bills with non-existent money as an invitation for more “wealth” to come your way.

When you’ve bent down for the 9th time in 5 minutes to pick up another red, plastic foot-lancet, when the bug hits when the deadline is looming, when the officer is at the meter at precisely the moment the time expires, you’re not exactly ready to come over all Rumi.

In Christian circles, such as the one in which I was raised, any sadness, overwhelm, despair, frustration, anger… any “negative” emotion, was a clear indication of one’s lack of faith. “Pray harder,” “Take it to God,” “Ye of little faith…” In non-Christian, new(old)-age circles, this attitude tends to manifest in language such as not living in the moment enough, not mindful enough. “Just pray!” becomes “Just meditate!”

I rebel against this attitude. I don’t find it helpful because it feels like just another reason to feel bad about one’s “imperfect” self; that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not enough. But I am human after all, and I am going to get frustrated at life’s little annoyances.

And to those who will say, meditation/praying does work: I know this. Journaling, creating mandalas, walking are my forms of meditation and they do calm me. But I do not want to feel I am not doing it enough or right, or that if I was doing it better I wouldn’t feel the way I do. That demeans my feelings, my emotions. I refuse to judge my emotions.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to feel calmer, less anxious, less angry, and less grossed out by yellow-stained bathroom floors. And that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to live knowing I’m part of a bigger purpose; part of a bigger Something, a pulse in an energy with which we are all vibrating.

If I could know, really know, in my deepest depths that I am connected to everyone and everything on and around this planet, both living and beyond, would that late payment charge bother me? I really can’t say.

Source, spirit, god, goddess, godde, nirvana, transcendence, love… these, in my opinion, are all one-in-the same: something one can experience. That opening of the heart when one realizes we are all connected. It can happen, it does happen, to some more than others. It is what makes us part of the divine.

But what makes us human is the constant forgetfulness that keeps us asking questions, keeps us on our toes… and in the end makes even cleaning up pee an opportunity to laugh at our human inability to aim correctly all the time.

Prompt: “I always forget…”

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: Enough (or Be a snake!)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Expectations hurt us most

Never reaching that standard

Of perfection, which is smoke on the horizon.

Under every self-bashing thought

Glides a snake of venomous fear. Instead,

Hold it tight until it can molt into the newness of Enough.

~

I once heard someone say, if a snake tried to shrug its skin before its time, it would die. Wherever you are along your journey, whatever you are doing right now – as long as it is authentic to your true nature – it is right. Eventually you will be able to shrug off the “skin” which is keeping you alive right now allowing transformation to your next stage in life.

Almost three years ago, I assisted the author of Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore and his wife, Hari Kirin Khalsa at their weekend workshop at Kripalu Yoga and Education Center in Lenox, MA, From Religion to Spirituality.

At one point during an arduous meditation where my outstretched and circling arms were screaming, Khalsa said something that I needed to hear.

Do what you can, whatever it is, it is perfect. Even if you just imagine yourself doing it, it is exactly right.

Release Expectation!

Whatever you have is enough to give.

Whatever happens is enough.

For a perfectionist like me, trained as Marlene Winell in Leaving the Fold said fundamentalist Christians often are, these were true words of potential healing that I continue to struggle with every day.

Prompt: In this moment, I am enough.

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project: Calling (Or, how do I know my bliss?)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Can you hear the calling of your soul?

And are you really listening?

Listen, listen with your heart,

Listen with your breathing

In, and your breathing out.

Notice how your body feels when

Guiding words vibrate within.

“It was his calling to be a doctor.” “Midwifery is my calling.” “I was called to be a writer.”

Our calling. What does this really mean? And who’s calling?

Some would say it is God who is calling us to our destined path. Well, maybe so – if you believe God is happy to let you do whatever it is that sets your soul free and your spirit soaring. Unfortunately, some believe that those things that make a person happy and fulfilled are contrary to God’s will and so they stunt their own potential in pursuit of unclear message of what it is to be acceptable to God.

That’s not my idea of a divine, higher source of wisdom. For me, divinity IS the journey towards, the search for,  as well as that itself which brings us FLOW (when we lose time doing something we love and have a talent for – our gift). It is the quest for, and the experiences of, transcending the monkey-mind of ego; that place where we are challenged, yet loving it (even during the difficult spots).

We know what these experiences are, what activities can bring us to that place, but we don’t always know it. Contradiction? Not really. Deep, deep inside, in that place that resonates when we hear and recognize some innate truth — when we catch our breath, or our eyes suddenly smart with tears — that is the place of true, gnosis: Knowing

But, as humans in a head-mind “body,” we’re not very good at accessing that spot on a regular basis. It’s deep down there in the body. In our cells, not our thinking mind. We have to listen very carefully to connect to that place. And many times we’re doing everything except that which resonates, that which causes us to flow  beyond, below, and above our critical, fearful, rational ego that tells us we SHOULD be doing this, that, and anything else that will make us respectful, scripted members of society – perfectly.

But that place is calling. That place which knows what your Purpose — our Bliss — here on earth is calling out. And if you listen carefully, very carefully — and it might take some practice, a lot of “walking” around down there — you will hear your Higher Wisdom speaking to you, reminding you what you probably knew intuitively as a child: Your Calling.

So, who’s calling? You. Divine You.

I write this as a reminder to myself because my “calling” has become a little hoarse lately. I thought I knew — and I know I’m on the right path — but the exact destination (or journey, because life is a journey, not a destination) seems to have shifted. But that’s how this thing works: Listen, take a step, listen again, take another, sometimes in the opposite direction than you thought. And that is exactly perfect. Whatever step you take it is enough and right for today for tomorrow you can take another.

~~~

*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

Authentic Voice Project: Y is for Yes!

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

maa-saraswati

Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of arts, music, knowledge, and wisdom.

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 26 (Full Moon)

Y is for Yes!

This is the last post of the year-long Authentic Voice Project. I didn’t always stay on schedule but I did make it through the whole alphabet (excluding that confounded x and z). I was considering making this post Y is for Yahweh or Yoni (talk about different ends of the spectrum!), but as this is this project’s finale I thought I’d go out on a highly positive note. YES!

This was actually inspired by this post on Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Facebook page where she shares a poem called “How To Silence a Woman, Retrieving Her Voice.” As Voice has been the whole point of this project it seemed appropriate to share my own “Retrieving Her Voice” poem.

Yes! I Shall Speak

Yes, I shall speak my truth although you tell me it’s not true

Yes, I shall cry even though it forces you to touch your own frozen tears

Yes, I shall yell when my chest hurts from holding on too tight

Yes, I shall breathe into my belly and find my own creation there

Yes, I shall tell you how I feel even when it doesn’t fit the shape you have molded for me

Yes, I shall decide what I need even if sometimes it is not best for those I love

Yes, I shall allow my body to speak to me not just to yours

Yes, I shall move with rhythms of the earth not your man-made march

Yes, I shall find resonance with my own inner pulse

Yes, I shall love with my presence as well as my body

Yes, I shall be fierce when I, or others, are wronged

Yes, I shall sing when I am sad, full of joy, and searching for peace

Yes, I shall not be silent just to ease your dis-ease

Yes, I shall release the wisdom caught in the web of your lies, told to centuries of my mothers

Yes, I shall shout the words lodged in my throat

Yes, I shall speak

Yes, and you shall hear

 

Prompt: “Yes! I shall…”

image and caption: http://www.brainpetals.com/haulmaxsecure/SaraswatiPuja.aspx