OCCUPY THANKSGIVING: Thinking Thankfully

This weekend was a challenge.

Between teaching classes for students who, I believe, had already started Thanksgiving break in their minds (despite the fact that they still have 2 1/2 days of school this week); avoiding the course about self-publishing which has me completely intimidated and realizing I have a lot of work left to do, even when it comes to format; listening to my daughter scream, cry, and whine for over an hour as she decided to spend most of yesterday (and part of Saturday) in one of her spoiled-brat stages of existence–rare but still painful; trying to plan a fun Thanksgiving for a very complicated family: and the fact that I allowed myself to be sucked into computer games as I avoided the chaos, I feel like a completely useless waste of space.

That’s not a good feeling.

But, no worries folks, this is not going to be a whining post or even a post asking for sympathy.

Instead I am going to listen to these words of wisdom from the fabulous and talented Christine in her guest post called “Something worth celebrating” over at The Idiot Speaketh (the complicated connections of this blogging world leads to many links)

” It probably comes pretty naturally to most of us to strive for excellence of some sort. But this pursuit of greatness shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing, and celebrating, those of us who are being the best we can be.
Many times we focus on what we lack in ability. I’d like to suggest we make the effort to keep our thoughts turned to what we can do.”

In other words, we should be thankful for and learn to appreciate what we already have, even as we strive to achieve our dreams and goals.

So, in honor of this wisdom and the fact that Thanksgiving is this week, I am determined to focus on the positive and think thankfully. Starting . . .  NOW!

A UNIVERSE OF THANKS

Sunshine reflecting sparkles on the wall
of a home filled with warmth, love and dreams.

Warm chai spiciness sits on my tongue
made by a partner, husband, friend,

Words waiting to be written or read
celebrating a lifetime of learning.

A family filled with laughter and fun
supporting each other in all ways.

Blogging buddies and lifetime friends
filling the gaps of loneliness.

Future adventures looming near
a journey to countries and people unknown.

Past adventures that I hold dear
filling my life with life.

I may not know who I am today
nor what I will become tomorrow
but the gifts of the journey along the way
mean a life filled with joy not sorrow.

Update: Tori’s comment below reminded me that she had written a wonderful thankfulness post the other day. So now I am adding the link to hers and will continue to add any posts that I feel will help us feel thankful:

Thankful Blogger Am Thankful by Tori Nelson

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory

Update to the Update: In honor of this excellent idea to Occupy Thanksgiving by the always brilliant Jamie note the new title of this post

500 Posts, Now What?

I haven’t really been paying attention to how many posts I’ve written until my brother posted his 200th post yesterday. When I glanced at the number I saw 499, and thought, wow I should celebrate 500. This is by no means to diminish Steve’s accomplishment, as I have been at this longer, but it is a nice round number worthy of acknowledging.

Like Steve, I don’t really have any momentous words for this occasion. Actually, a short time ago I said to Nathan, “I have nothing to write about today.” I’m not blocked, I just don’t have any ideas fighting for attention. I don’t have anything I particularly feel like ranting about this morning (as I have basically chosen to ignore all the ills of society for the time being). I don’t have a specific soapbox to climb on. I don’t even have anything silly to reflect on. It is simply a Friday.

But it is the Friday of my 500th post.

In a way, it is truly significant, as I attempt to embark on this Simultaneous Stories project which I believe comes from the desire to understand the role blogging plays in our society and in my life in particular.

I just pointed out the title of this post to Nathan. “Wow! Congratulations,” he said.

My response, “I don’t know if that is something to be proud about.”

“It is,” he answered.

You’ve gotta love a husband who is supportive.

I guess I question the importance of this because, as I wrote about a few days ago, I’m no longer sure why I write. That post sparked some interesting discussion and led me to other posts on the topic, including this one at Tossing It Out called “Is Most of Our Writing Done in Vain?” My response to Lee’s post moved we one step closer to understanding my own purpose as a writer. This is what I said,

Reading this made me realize something about why I write. Yes, I have the dream of achieving fame and glory through writing and always have, but that is not why I write. I write to share my story with a small audience. Right now, I write for a future audience, my daughter and descendants unknown. I know very little about my parents, despite them still being alive and together. If my words now give my daughter a better understanding of who I was, then I will be happy. I can’t share everything with her yet, but as she grows I have begun to share some posts and other writing already. She knows more about me than I ever did about my Mom. So, I may write for joy, or to be heard, or to understand, or to remember . . . but I also write to share.”

Now I look back on these 500 posts to see what stories I have really shared. What can my daughter learn about me from this blogging adventure? What legacy do I leave with my words? Here are some of the things I hope she has learned about me (including links to posts that share these aspects of me) I tried to link to older posts that you may have missed:

I could continue this list forever, but now it is time to post this momentous post to the universe and say, it has been a fascinating journey. Should I continue for 500 more?

Life’s Wisdom Learned in Works for Children

Whenever the craziness and insanity of our world gets to be too much, I find myself turning to old favorite things for comfort. Sometimes that means putting in a good romantic comedy (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, or The Holiday are my recent go to picks). But, more often than not, I search for comfort in all things related to children–movies, books, and television shows (even the most obnoxious ones from Disney). Of course, some of my go to comforts aren’t specifically for children, but most of them filter the world through the eyes of childhood and reveal that children are much closer to simple truth than so many adults who think they know everything.

The past few days have been very emotional for me. A combination of good news, bad news, creative energy, fear, too much Halloween candy, insomnia brought upon by the joyous time change, a lot of schlepping and driving, the general ups and downs of being a parent, and a few too many caffeinated  have combined to make me a babbling ball of frazzled energy. So, in typical fashion I found myself looking for comfort in a book. Now the book I chose isn’t exactly one for children, but it is a reminder that learning can come even from the simplest of bears:

Hoff writes,

“but the adult is not the highest stage of development. the end of the cycle is that of the independent, clear-minded, all-seeing Child. That is the level known as wisdom. When the Ta Te Ching and other wise books say things like, “Return to the beginning; become a child again,” that’s what they’re referring to.” (151)

Throughout my posts you can easily find quotes and memories from childhood favorites that still speak to me this day. But rather than have you search for them, and in a hope that gathering some of this wisdom together might make me fill more centered, I thought I would share some of my favorite lessons here, in one place. Feel free to add any that I miss in the comments below.

  • There is no limit to dreams: I very recently wrote the post called “Join Me in a Land of Wonder” so I’m not going to repeat the videos here. But I would like to quote some of the dialogue from Tangled that I love:

Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well,that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.

  • Today’s mistakes mean nothing: Or, to quote “Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it.” 
  • There is no limit to where your imagination can take you:

“If you are a dreamer come in, . . .”

. . (Shel Silverstein, Invitation)

“For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.” (Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends)

  • The simplest things can make us happy:

Actually, Calvin and Hobbes is one of the best sources of wisdom anywhere.

  • Keep on trying:

  • Love, travel, and adventure make life worth living:

My list could go on forever, but I’ll spare you that. What words of wisdom have you learned from your favorites of childhood?

Announcements, Challenges, and a Little Poetry

Announcement

I am an idiot. Yes, I even surpass the idiocy of The Idiot by not recognizing the power of web addresses. (Side note, I linked you to a non-idiotic post for Mark, because we all need to send some positive energy his way tomorrow).

See for a long time I though my blog address was lame. It was lame. I mean, lkramer14.wordpress.com, what is that? So I finally figured out how to change it, and become more consistent, not realizing, of course, that every post I ever posted would no longer link correctly to my blog. My entire web presence destroyed in one minute as a changed my address to lisawieldswords.wordpress.com

Why has nobody read me this morning, I asked myself this morning? The answer is simple, I no longer exist!! So nobody is even going to read this, unless I make an extra effort to get back into the annals of my followers.

Aaaaauuuuuggggh! total idiocy.

Insert temper tantrum here.

OK, so much for that. Hopefully it won’t take too long for people to find me again.

100 Word Challenge Part Two

Nathan read my 100 word challenge from  yesterday and commented that he thought I would write something completely different, related more to the post about my Dad from a few days ago and Alzheimer’s. Aha! I said, because I am currently in a manic mode of creation and my mind immediately leaps on ideas. So, welcome to my second entry for this weeks 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups

The Battle Against Forgetting

 Memories found in repeated phrases
lest we forget.

My Dad and I both think with our tongues out.

Pink tongue peeking through parted lips
a habit passed from father to daughter
lest we forget.

Watching in wonder as the world fades for him
living in fear of following his footsteps
into a land of lost memories
lest we forget.

Yet a journey through memory, while tinged with sadness
can also be a journey of joy
of silly poems, and sillier smiles,
of a grandfather watching his new baby girl
sometimes a journey down memory lane
is worth its weight in smiles
lest we forget.

Life is About Learning: Celebrating Fabulous Friends III

I know a lot of intelligent people. Since I’ve spent most of my life connected in some way with academia, I have often been surrounded by people who blow me away with the way their minds work.

But this morning I had a little revelation, life is not about what you know but about continuing to learn.

While I’ve met a lot of intelligent people who can wax poetic about everything under the sun, many of them don’t interest me. I find myself zoning out when it becomes obvious that the person I am talking to is more concerned with showing off his/her knowledge and sounding intelligent than contributing to a conversation and being open to learning something new.

In the end, the people who remain part of life, the people who I count as friends are the ones who see the world as a place to learn something new every day, and then share that knowledge with others as they seek more learning. So today, as the third part of my (hopefully ongoing) series that I call “Celebrating Fabulous Friends” I would like to celebrate some of the learner/teachers I’ve met in my life.  (For the first two installments read Celebrating Fabulous Friends and Night Marchers in the Bathroom.)

Nancy Lum, World Adventurer

Nancy is in the middle, with myself, my sister Deb, and her friend Karen celebrating my wedding.

Nancy and I met in Japan. She was there teaching for the JET program, and I was teaching for a private Language School. While I’m sure we met when she first got there, we didn’t become close until my last year in Japan, when I discovered an amazing person who had a passion for learning all she could about the world. Our friendship has lasted, with Nancy visiting me whenever she can in all of my various locations. She came to my wedding in Hawaii, while friends who I had known longer were unwilling to make the trip. While she wasn’t part of the wedding party, officially, she stepped up and helped in ways that made her truly the maid of honor.

Nancy returned from Japan to her home in Canada for a short time to get a masters in ESL. She then went back to our home in Okayama and has been there ever since. She takes every opportunity to travel and see the world, learning as much as she can about the places she visits and sharing her knowledge through the eyes of her camera. She and I keep fantasizing about traveling together on some wonderful adventure, but it hasn’t happened (yet). Maybe I should see if she wants to come to Slovakia. ;)

Anyway, I include Nancy in my list of Fabulous Friends because she cares and shares and is always learning more. When she visits, she wants to go out and explore the world. The last time I saw her, when she visited me in Durango, CO, she was distracted by news that her sister was in the hospital, but even then she carried her camera and shared adventures with me and my family. I am so honored to count this wonderful, intelligent, creative, learner among my friends.

Jackie Haltom, Inspirational Artist

Figuring out the hands for a piece of art.

I’ve known Jackie for only a year. We met when Sarah started taking art lessons in Independence.  We probably socialized for the first time last Halloween as we took Sarah out trick-or-treating with Jackie’s girls and other kids in the neighborhood.  However, a relationship that started slowly blossomed into a friendship of mutual support and encouragement. Jackie helped me discover the courage to express myself in a new artistic way, and the results are in the header of this blog. Jackie also took on the challenge with me of learning how to share our love of art and creativity with a different population, as you can read about in “Appropriate Age Appropriateness.” Without Jackie, I would not have had the courage to try to self-publish (although that project is still slowly moving forward). Jackie inspires me because she is continually learning, admitting what she doesn’t know, searching for more knowledge, and challenging the status quo. She lives and breathes art and recognizes how important the arts are to our culture–so she strives to share that passion with others by encouraging them to find their inner artists. Jackie helped me through a complex transition in my life, and I am grateful she has become my friend.

Jackie inspired another fabulous friend, Heather of Little Red Henry (link in my blog roll) to paint this wonderful creation.

There you have it, a couple of other examples of the incredible people you can meet throughout your life if you are simply open to learning about the world around you.

What have you learned today? Who have you met that you would like to celebrate?

Here's a beautiful piece by Jackie.


Night Marchers in the Bathroom Help Me Discover Another Fabulous Friend

When New Friends Meet

“Oh my God, Lisa! You have to get in here!”

The cry came from the bathroom of my apartment in Hawaii. It was a strange cry coming from a relatively new friend, also named Lisa, who was taking a shower at my place when a day of getting to know each other better became one long string of adventures.

The next thing I know, she bursts out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, gorgeous red hair streaming water. “I’m serious Lisa, you’ve got to hear this.”

I hesitantly follow her back into the bathroom where the shower is still running.  ”What is it?’ I ask. Everything seemed the same as when I had taken my shower just a short time earlier.

“Shh! Listen, can you hear that drumming?” I listened carefully, and suddenly tuned in on what sounded like distant rhythmic drumming. It wasn’t water in the pipes. It wasn’t a drummer practicing a set. It was the very distant drums of ritual.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s the Night Marchers.”

“The what?”

“The Night Marchers. And I think we are lucky that we were taking showers, because it probably saved our lives.”

“What?”

A true friendship formed as she explained the legend; a friendship that started when Nathan introduced me to one of his best high school friends and has lasted through the years as she became a truly fabulous woman, mother, and citizen of this earth.

 

This story reveals how my fascination with the supernatural opened the door to another amazing person in my life who I wish to celebrate.

The Legend of the Night Marchers

The Night Marchers are

ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors en route to or from battle, toting archaic weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. (http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php)

In Hawaiian legend, to look upon the Night Marchers and meet them in the eye means death, as the Marchers take them with you on their lonely march. However, you can save yourself from this fate by averting your eyes and crouching down. Or, according to Lisa on that particular day, “they won’t take you if you are naked.”

Good thing, isn’t it, since they seemed to be moving through my shower?

Lasting Friendship Formed

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think our meeting with the Night Marcher’s came on, perhaps, the second day of our friendship. Nathan and Lisa had been best friends in high school. When she came back to the island for a visit after Nathan and I started dating, he introduced us, and within minutes it was like we had known each other forever.   Nathan was not with us on the day of the Night Marchers, I believe we had decided we just needed to get to know each other better and have a girls’ day. It became one of those days where you plan on doing one thing, and then you add on another, and another, until all of a sudden you’ve had a complete day full of adventures. I don’t remember all the details of that day (although I do recall a cop trying to pull us over for an out-of-date sticker or something, and Lisa managing to talk us out of it because her dad was a policeman and the cop recognized her–I was impressed).

I don’t know if the spooky beginnings cemented our relationship or what, but I have been honored to know Lisa these many years, and to count her among my closest (although long-distant) friends. Lisa is one of those amazing women that fights for what she believes in, and especially for justice, equality, and the rights of children. She used to work for Teach for America, then went on to pursue journalism, where she eloquently wrote about education. She then moved onto working for the public education system. Throughout it all, she has provided a passionate pursuit for change and the importance of an educational system that truly succeeds. She hasn’t always had it easy, as she became the victim of politics (as often happens to good people). But, despite the struggles, she always keeps a positive attitude and a caring heart. When I last spent time with her (she’s the one who took me for my first pedicure) she was trying to alleviate tensions between an offended rabbi and some people who unintentionally insulted him through naiveté. (I’m not sure the end result, I’ll have to find out).

Her husband, Matt, is also an incredible person, advocating for and supporting first-generation college students to help them succeed. Together they represent a truly caring, intelligent couple that wants nothing more than to live a life full of love, and share that love with others.

Lisa and Matt

Lisa and I are more than just friends. In many ways we are sisters, and I am so lucky for that. I was there when her now husband Matt proposed to her. While I wasn’t there when she gave birth to her first child a few months before I gave birth to mine, those two girls have since met and immediately became fast friends. In many ways, I think the spirit world has intervened to make souls come together who were destined to meet.

Instant friends, sisters at heart.

It just goes to show you that eerie things might happen, but perhaps messages from beyond are messages intended to help, not to harm. I’m sure Lisa and I would have been friends anyway, but it didn’t hurt to get a little nudge from the Night Marchers. (By the way, I only heard them one more time in that bathroom, and I listened for them all the time).

Monsters in the Closet and Other Scary Stuff

“I can’t sleep with the closet door open.”

I made this statement on one of the rare occasions when the entire Kramer family was gathered together. My mother looked at me as if I was completely insane and said, “Really? You’re kidding!”

“No, I’m not. I’m afraid of monsters in the closet. I know they aren’t really there, but I can’t help being afraid.”

My mother continued to scoff.

Much to my surprise my older sister (Deb) who you haven’t met often, and my older brother (Steve) who you have, jumped to my defense.

“I know exactly why she’s afraid,” Deb said. “It was because of Grandma’s house.”

“Yeah,” Steve agreed. “The door with the glass doorknob.”

My mom looked at us all strangely. “What are you talking about?”

So we explained.

When my grandparents were alive we would go visit them in Belmar, New Jersey. My grandparents passed away within a few months of each other when I was about 6 years old, so my memories of them are limited. My sister is 5 years older than me, so she probably has clearer memories, but we rarely talk about them. Perhaps we should.

When we visited my grandparents the kids all stayed in one room. A small double bed filled one side of the room, and a cot lay opposite for the third little body. We alternated who would sleep in the double and who would sleep in the cot. You might think we all wanted the cot, but you would be wrong. Why?

Because the cot was right next to the scariest door in the world. The one with the glittery, diamond-shaped door knob.

 

I’m not sure where the door led. I always thought it led to the attic (shudder) but someone told me it was just a closet. When it was my turn, I would lie in that cot, the door knob inches from my non-sleeping eyes convinced that at any moment the door knob would turn from unseen hands and open to suck me into a terrifying nightmare.

We were all afraid of the door knob.

“Why didn’t you say something?” Mom asked. “Grandma would have done something.”

“We were kids, Mom,” My sister answered.

But I think it was deeper than that, I think we didn’t say anything because nobody would have believed us anyway. We would have received the same reaction then as we did on this day, nearly 40 years later.

I am convinced that my grandparent’s house had its ghosts, even if they were simply the ghosts of our imagination. I am also convinced that, if I have ever really been visited by ghosts, the visitations have come from my grandparents, my nana (Dad’s mother) and possibly a man we called Cousin Lou who may or may not actually be my relative. All I remember about him is the giant red teddy bear with the flowered belly that he gave me after winning it from the fair.

When did they visit? I will try to remember some of the occasions that add to my belief in the power of spirit, as I discussed yesterday.

  • When Nana passed away, a bird got into my brother’s tiny bedroom somehow. My mom claims the window was open, but I remember it being closed. Even if it was open, this had never happened before. Birds, in Jewish folklore, can represent a “winged soul.” This particular bird was extremely important as it got into the room a few minutes before we got the phone call saying Nana had just passed away. I will always believe Nana came to say good-bye.
  • I used to have a recurring dream that took place at my grandparents house. Sometimes we would go down into the basement of the house (a basement that I really don’t have a memory of). Usually my grandparents aren’t there, at least not visibly, but I hear their voices talking to me and telling me something. I might just pass these off as dreams except for something I learned much later in life, Deb and Steve both used to have similar dreams.
  • In a similar way, Cousin Lou often visited me in dreams of my Nana’s house, although not as often.
  • There is one day that I know all my ancestors were with me in spirit; the day I became a Bat Mitzvah. I remember the day starting out cloudy, threatening rain. This upset me, as I wanted a beautiful day. But, by the time the Friday evening ceremony rolled around, the sun shone in glorious April beauty. A gift from my loved ones. When I stood on the Bima to read my haftorah, my stomach jiggled with a million butterflies. There was a certain part of the complex Hebrew text that always sounded like something else to me. I can’t remember exactly what, but it was something like “we love you” or another comforting phrase like that. It was early on in my chanting, and as soon as I hit the phrase my heart filled with warmth and I knew that the people who would have most celebrated that day (my grandparents were Orthodox Jews) were there with me, with glowing golden smiles on their faces. My Mom said she saw me smile then. I continued with a strong voice, and was even invited back to repeat the haftorah the following year.

Of course, this could all have been the workings of a very imaginative child, but who knows? Most bumps and creaks in the night can be easily explained away, but once in a while you experience a mystery that adds to the awesome complexities of life.

So forgive me if I close my closet door before I go to sleep. You never know when something unexpected might come out.

Don’t Wait . . . Create

I had an epiphany in the middle of the night last week.

It was not a religious epiphany or something that can save the world. I awoke from a dream with a feeling of peace and a moment of clarity.

A clear view of the bend in the river from a bridge in Vermont.

I finally understood what has been holding me down from truly pursuing my dream to reinvent myself and create my ideal career. After several days of deepening depression and frustration, I broke through to an understanding of what is wrong and how to begin fixing it.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody when I say that the thing holding me back the most is

I am not talking about fear of the unknown, because my life has really been a series of unknowns. What I seem to fear is following a non-traditional path.

To put it more simply, while I keep saying I want to create my own career that doesn’t fit the mold, I still am using traditional methods to find work, praying each day that I will discover a job description that matches my dream job. I am still looking for a position that someone else creates and I fill.

But, in my moment of epiphany, a phrase sang out loudly in my head:

Don’t Wait . . . Create! I think this will be my motto for my new company, a company of one that I am giving birth to as I type each word.  I know what I have to do now, and I am beginning to plan. I am still scared, because I am wandering into a completely unknown world, where I have a lot to learn. I don’t really know how to start my own business. But, if there is one thing I do know, I always learn what I need to know to achieve what needs to be done. So I cannot let my fear stop me.

What are the next steps? I’m slowly trying to figure that out, and I even wrote a Hub about it (not a brilliant Hub, but at least I wrote something).

I know that one of the first steps I need to take is to really clarify what services I want to offer. I plan to market myself as a Teaching Artist, Theater Artist, Creative Thinker and Writing Consultant who offers individualized programming to meet the needs of my clients. I’m going to provide examples of things that I can do, such as:

  • Work with students of all ages to create a performance on specific themes
  • Use drama techniques in non-theater classrooms to enhance learning of specific subjects.
  • Work with adults with special needs to encourage creativity and enhance interpersonal relations, as well as build confidence.
  • Work with individual groups to find new ways of approaching problems such as bullying or effective ways of communicating.
  • Use creative techniques to enhance writing and encourage students of different skill levels to find their individual voices.

Whew! Those are off the top of my head. Do they work? Do they sound good? Would you hire me?

Here’s where you, my blogging friends come in. I need help! In so many different ways. I think I’m losing my mind. ;)

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money, I just want advice and input. So, if you have any suggestions about how to achieve this momentous goal, please speak up, or even e-mail me.

I also have a fun challenge. I want to make myself an LLC but I don’t want it to be Lisa Kramer, LLC. I want a name for this company, and a logo. Right now the name I am playing with is “Eclectic Approaches” but I am open to any suggestions from this fabulous blogging community that has such a way with words.

Epiphanies come when you least expect them. Last week I was struggling through the dark wood, unable to see past my depression and my fears.That evening, I had hit rock bottom, hiding from my family in my bedroom and curling up in a defeated ball of emotions, followed later by a complete outburst of tears, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear. But the explosion opened the way for messages I needed to hear. I cannot describe the dream or the image that spoke with such clarity. I couldn’t even remember it when it happened. All I now is that right now I feel like I am on a good path.

I wonder where the path leads?

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

The Art of Being Lost

My Morning Pages reveal that right now I feel lost.

Morning Pages, if you don’t know, are a creation of Julie Cameron from The Artist’s Way that asks you to write three-pages every morning.

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Occasionally colorful, more often than not Morning Pages are negative, fragmented, repetitive or bland. Good!  Worrying about your job, the laundry, the weird look your friend gave you – all that stuff distracts you from your creativity. It eddies through your subconsciousness and muddies your day. Get it on the page first thing in the morning and move on with your day with a freer spirit. (Julia Cameron)

I have several journals full of morning pages, but I had stopped the practice for many years. This move, and the resulting reevaluation of my life emanating from it, made me think that perhaps Morning Pages might help me figure it all out. In typical fashion, mine of run from the mundane to the bizarre, often hovering in a zone of negativity and frustration. I repeat myself endlessly, and sometimes whine in such a nauseating way that I don’t even want to listen to myself. My morning pages are filled with bizarre dreams and my feeble attempts at interpreting them. Occasionally I write a positive entry, and I always try to end on a positive note, but mostly I just try to allow my subconscious to vomit its garbage onto the page, in the hopes that it might lead me to a creative act or better understanding of myself.

It worked this morning, as I realized that I AM LOST!

My feeble attempt at trying to express this visually. The green represents the woods all around, aka more opportunities to get lost.

I literally get lost almost every time I leave the house, but that’s not what I mean exactly.

I am a lost in a sea of words. I try to write, but I am not sure what I should be writing about. Yesterday I tried to create a more substantial post than my announcement about being reconnected to the world of social networking, and my attempt was so nauseating and full of babbling nothingness that I gave it up as a lost cause. I question every word I put on a page lately. Should I be spending time here or focusing on trying to create HubPosts which might miraculously make money? Should I focus on fiction and poetry, where my dreams lie, or should I continue to explore randomness through my blog posts. Why am I writing at all?

See, I’m lost.

I am lost in my search for my bliss. I keep claiming that I want to reinvent myself, and create the career that will make my days sing. Yet, I apply for jobs similar to what I had before, and then when I get them I live in fear that somehow I will make a disaster of it. I know that my feelings today stem from me starting to teach tomorrow, and worrying that I will be good enough and do what the company that has hired me is expecting.

I am LOST.

My only hope lies in the fact that I am on a journey, and that I don’t need to know my destination. Perhaps being lost is part of the steps I need to find myself and my voice. Only time will tell.

Or perhaps my true talent lies in the art of being lost.

What do you do when you feel lost?

Post script: In a blazing example of true idiocy, Mark over at The Idiot Speaketh asked me to make a guest post the other day. I managed to become unlost enough to provide, so please check out my post called “Confessions of a Female Idiot” 

I Am the Best . . . But

Do you ever do that? Do you ever try to list your accomplishments or say something good about yourself, only to qualify it five seconds later? I realized yesterday that I do it all the time and it needs to stop. It is affecting my ability to create the life I want, as I discuss in this post about writing resumes.

What do I mean by qualifying? Well, here are a few examples from my own life and warped brain:

  • I wrote a complete young adult novel . . . but no publisher has picked it up, so of course it can’t be good enough.
  • I finished my doctoral program in three years . . . but I don’t have a tenure track job or a title, so I must be a failure. I am just not good enough.
  • I am a talented writer . . . but there are so many bloggers who get more hits than I do. I have never been Freshly Pressed. I must be doing something wrong. I am not good enough.
  • I am a creative and talented director . . . but I don’t have the right attitude or that mysterious drive to make a huge success in the professional theater world. (This one is more a justification of myself, when in reality I am simply scared). You guessed it . . . I am not good enough.

ENOUGH! I’m driving myself insane. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to be able to embrace my accomplishments and be proud of the person I am, without caring how it looks to the rest of the world. I want to feel and believe that I AM GOOD ENOUGH!!!

Ultimately, my denigration of self really comes down to my concern about how others might judge me. When I went for my doctorate, I had no real intention of entering the academic world and becoming a star professor. As a matter of fact, I really got the doctorate kind of as a fluke (not to diminish the hard work or commitment that it takes, but the choice to pursue the degree had less to do with the degree and more to do with my stubborn pursuit of education and achievement). So why, if that is true, do I care that I don’t have the job or title?  Or, to quote from Fortytude “Why do I . . . allow myself to be undermined by the very values I choose not to ascribe to?” (Brokaw 7)

The answer lies in the assumptions I make about what other people expect of me. I don’t want to disappoint anyone and I want to live up to expectations. Yet, I constantly demean myself and perceive myself as a failure because I cannot claim the exact picture of “success” as dictated by society. I don’t have a title. I don’t have the money. I have a few awards, but nothing “big.” I don’t even have a real job at the moment.

Here is a reality I don’t often admit: I am the only person who has the right to be disappointed in anything I have done. I am the only one who should judge whether or not I have accomplished the goals I have for my life and myself. Have I disappointed myself in some areas? Of course. Who hasn’t? But, I have also surprised myself in others and achieved many things that I never imagined I could. Why can’t I simply say that without any qualifications?

So today, I hereby declare. I am, indeed, GOOD ENOUGH !!!

I want you to believe you are good enough too. I want everybody who reads this to list below something about yourself that you have every right to be proud of . . . no qualifications. Let’s celebrate ourselves for a change, and not diminish ourselves. Are you with me? Well then, share your victories below! I can’t wait to read them.

One more thing, as I was driving to meet with someone who could help me embrace my accomplishments on the page at least, I heard this song and really listened to the lyrics. I am writing the story of my life as we speak, and that life is more than just good enough, it is fantabulous!