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Catching Up

Day 5, 6, 7

Before the first week of the new year is finished, I’m behind with my project. But I have a good excuse. It took three day to understand it. It is about the energy I get writing with friends.

It goes like this. Thursday, Day 5, was spent writing alone, working at the college preparing for this semester, and writing group. The day went well. I felt comfortable as myself (this is not always true) and I got much accomplished. Before the writing group came to my house at seven I worried that maybe it went too smoothly. I had no “serendipitous awareness.” Maybe something would unfold in the group.

We meet, check in and exchange information about our week, do two timed writings, and read them to the group. The first was a bit more abstract than the second and some chose to pass on the reading, which is always acceptable. Then we set intentions for the week.

After the group left, I went to bed rather than conjuring up a serendipity. Maybe something profound will come to me in the night. Ah, here I go trying to catch the elusive.

In the morning I  realize I have a warm feeling about this little group that has met weekly for several years now, but nothing concrete to put in a post. Then at 10 on Friday, Day 6, I meet with a writing buddy from years ago that I’ve recently reconnected with. After initial conversation, she gives a topic, we write for ten minutes, then share. I give a topic we write for another ten minutes and share again. Ah, there’s that warm feeling.

Writing with others. The intimacy. The vulnerability. Something I don’t always feel with groups I’m in. It’s that equal sharing. That engagement. That speaking and listening deeply.

So here it is Saturday, Day 7, and I realize as I write morning pages that this awareness is preparing me for the writing workshop I’m offering at the library tomorrow. I’ve been a bit concerned about it. Who do I think I am to offer such an opportunity?  That old doubt creeps in. But these two experiences help me understand why I want to do this.

Maybe expecting a happy surprise or awareness everyday isn’t always the way it works. Even when I think I’m paying attention. Maybe it takes a bit more time to recognize and understand what it can mean.

That “God’s time” thing.

Bargains

Day 4

Today I spent the afternoon preparing for this semester. Updating my course pages, filing papers, and organizing for tomorrow’s meeting with my co-teacher. I came home feeling accomplished and wondered what the serendipity was for today. This feeling of being ready for next week? Eh, maybe.

But once at home with my shoes off, I get a text. Melissa tells me there’s a 3 for $1 book sale at Goodwill today. Melissa and I both own Little Free Libraries, the take one leave one book dispenser for the neighborhood in our front yards. I am in need of children’s books. The kids are my best customers. She tells me there are children’s books.

I put my coat back on and head over to the nearest Goodwill store. There are three shelves of jumbled up children’s books. Sigh. I begin reading titles, turning books around so I can read titles, and holding back the books I’ve looked through so I can turn more books around to read more titles.

Click, Clack, Moo and Captain Underpants. Magic School Bus and Amelia Bedelia. A counting book, an animal book, a joke book and Clifford. I sit on the floor to reach the bottom shelf. (The worst part of that is the getting up.) My pile is growing.

15 great books for $5. Yep, that’s serendipity.

Book Magic

Day 3

A day of reassessing. My eating habits have gotten lax. The holidays were a good excuse, but just an excuse. I still really like sugar, chocolate, caffeine, and acidy foods. However, yesterday’s illness was a reminder; I need one more new year’s resolution.

So I looked up some healthy recipes, went to the grocery store, came home and began cooking. Not so bad. I really like good-for-me food too.

That should be a “good enough” happy surprise. But I picked up the book I checked out at the library a while back. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I’d seen it on several lists and was curious about the author. It’s terrific. There’s just one little problem…I’ve gotta read it fast. It’s due back in two days and it’s not renewable.

A book is a device to ignite the imagination.–Alan Bennett

Here Comes the Sun

Day 2

With a blustery wind and hard rain, we were under a tornado watch at noon when I entered the ER. Three hours later I emerged from the hospital, my anxieties relieved, to sunny 70 degree weather. I took a walk as soon as I got home.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. Unknown

 

Serendipity 2017

Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.  Elizabeth Berg

My New Year’s Resolution…

Less words, more awareness. I’m not sure where this will go, but I’m watching and listening. It is my intention to be open to serendipity daily for 365 days. And in true serendipitous form, I’m not even sure what that means.

Day 1…On this winter day, two blooms on my Stella D’Oro day lily.

 

Writing in the New Year

Have you considered developing a writing practice as a New Year’s resolution? Have you ever tried it before? Would you like a group to practice with?

There is evidence that one becomes more productive, able to stay more focused and have a better awareness of their reality by daily writing. This feels true for me. For twenty years I have been continuously coming to the notebook, putting my thoughts and feelings and experiences on paper. This writing practice also helps improve my communication with others, my decision-making skills, and my emotional strength.

So, about that group…I have reserved the Study Room B at the Broadmoor Library for Sunday January 8, 22, and 29 and February 5 from 2 to 3:30. I will share what I’ve learned from Natalie Goldberg’s timed writings, Julia Cameron’s morning pages, and my own experience. We will then do several timed writings, and set our intentions for the week. It’ll be fun.

Because this is a small room, I’d like to encourage those who can commit to all four weeks to let me know early, so I can save you a seat. This is not to discourage those who may be curious, but not sure of the commitment. Hopefully there will be room for you too.

Bring a notebook and fast writing pen and come join us.

It Started with a Quote

I know words have power.  But the power they can have running through me and my experiences continues to amaze.

I like the timeless words of quotes. Words from people I admire: statesmen, writers, philosophers, educators.

A few years ago I maintained a blog, http://www.itstartedwithaquote.wordpress.com. The idea was to focus on a thought that came up while writing morning pages, then look for a quote that connected. This became the basis of a short entry post, my first thoughts, before  carrying that quote with me throughout the day. Later in the evening or next morning, writing about the activities of the day, I saw how those words played through my actions. How does this all come together, assimilating in me and out into the world? This is when I discovered how my first thoughts had shifted and morphed through the day. Is this what i think these words means now? Why did I never see it that way before?

I invited blog readers to take the quote themselves, or another, and see how it worked for them.

The other day I thought of trying a variation on this activity. What if I deliberately chose a quote that doesn’t connect? Or more than that…words that I feel real discomfort with. I googled brainyquotes.com and chose Hitler quotes. My heart pounded and my skin was crawling, as I read the first page of quotes. I jumped from one challenging quote to another trying to choose.

Don’t think Laura, I told myself. Just take one. So I claimed the first entry.

The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category. Adolf Hitler

Breathe, Laura.

I wrote the quote down on a scrap of paper, folded it up and put in my right jean’s pocket pulled it out and looked at it again, like the words didn’t want to stick. So I said it aloud slowly, several times. Ok, I think I get it now.

Next I put on my puffy blue coat, stuffed a ten dollar bill in the left pocket and began walking to the grocery store for eggs and spinach with the Hitler quote rattling around in my head.

My first thoughts were literal. What was irritating about it? I didn’t like the term opponents, as if life was a sporting event. As if we could easily be lumped into opposing teams, like Christians versus Muslims, men versus women, blacks versus whites. And that’s where I fixated.

But it wasn’t long before my mind went elsewhere. The weather was a breezy 70 degrees on the  17th of December, with an overnight freeze warning coming. I’ll need to cover some plants. Hitler had left the building.

When I returned from the store I made a spinach quiche with the new ingredients and waited on my brother to go with me to Lowe’s for lumber and cinder blocks. I wanted to build a “hippie” bookcase in my sun room for my accumulating little free library books. I’m cleaning and decluttering this room for yoga and, like several other rooms in this house, it’s become a dumping ground for stuff that seems to have no other place to go.

Later, even after purchasing the materials, putting together the shelves and filling them with books,  I was ready to do more, not less. A friend sent out a request for a gift wrapper at a local store collecting donations for the non profit she supports. When I saw the request earlier in the day I dismissed it, already having plans. But with the quiche and bookshelf projects having gone so smoothly, why not try this.

For 2 and 1/2 hours I sat with an acquaintance, with whom we share friends, at the gift wrapping table of the bookstore. I’ve taught this woman’s three children in after school classes for several years. While wrapping books and games, I watched her chit chatting with people and gently push for donations. It seemed so easy for her. She’s a military wife. Is this where she has learned these skills?

At the beginning of the day the plan was to work with Hitler’s words, watching how their meaning connected (or not) with me, but instead I was considering the activities I participated in. A refreshing walk, a new recipe, a satisfying project with my brother, decluttering the sunroom, and wrapping (and rapping) with a lady who was once  an acquaintance. Interesting. There were no opposing sides. We were all connected in one category. Humankind. Genius.

I included the second entry from that Hitler quote page when I chose the first one, in case the first one hadn’t worked out.

How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.

The teacher in me wonders, past my first thoughts, how I might respond to these words.

Writing topic: Choose a favorite quote and write continuously for ten minutes. What did that quote  evoke?