Lightness of Being, Simplified

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It’s so easy to over-complicate, well, everything.  See something you like, and buy it.  Hate to say “no” to good causes or good friends or, well, just about anyone or anything?  Easier to say “yes” and figure out later how to deal with it.  Want those around you to be happy?  Go along with what they would like rather than disappoint them.  Step by step, day by day, each purchase, each “yes,” each twisting yourself every which way so that you can please those around you creates a maze of complications, of stuff, of weight on your shoulders that presses you down, that depresses you.  Resentment builds and you snap over the simplest of things, when all you were trying was to do was to be good, to do good.  And what you end up with is complications, stresses, stuff cluttering your days and your life.

It feels so good to clean out your closets, to leave some white space on your calendar, to simplify.  It leaves space to take a breath, to take a nap, to soak up the beauty of this moment before you, without worrying about what’s behind or ahead.  I constantly strive toward a goal of creating more light, both in the sense of brightness and in the sense of weightlessness.  One path of achieving that goal is to remember that it’s the simple things in life that are often the tastiest, the most nourishing, the most satisfying.

My intention for the day – to Simplify.  Check in tomorrow to see how I do!

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Escaping into Dreams

Why is it that my dreams are so vivid, so imaginative, but during the day when I sit down to write I too often struggle with attempting to create the right character arc, or enough drama and tension, or an interesting dialogue.  Why does my mind have no problem telling an intriguing story when left to its own devices?  In my dreams I discover all these rooms I had no idea existed in the very house in which I’d lived for years.  I fly.  I seem to frequent elevators that fail to stop at the appointed floor and instead zoom up into space, sailing over the city until I land, somehow uninjured, in a field.  The ordinary humdrum of life is filtered out, leaving more excitement that I can conjure up when my eyes are open and my body upright.

Speaking of dreams, I had dinner in Bali last month with a man who told me he writes down his dreams every morning, and he has more than 1,500 dreams recorded, which he assured me was “more than any other man on earth.”  I myself haven’t had the discipline to write my dreams each night for 1,500 nights in a row, but I’m not so sure that my dining companion is the only man on earth who has done so.  And he takes his dreams to heart.  God told him in his dreams that he was the King that will bring back an ancient Kingdom for the Indonesian people.  And that he is from the moon.  And all sorts of other quite unusual things that made for a most interesting dinner.

Dreams are a mystery, a way to connect to ourselves at a deeper level, thought-provoking, so scary at times that they haunt us even after we awake.  Dreams are our imagination soaring large, uninhibited by the constraints society and family and responsibility and fear have placed on our consciousness, free to be who we are or who we want to be.

All this writing of dreaming has me thinking of bed, so I think I’ll sign off and snuggle under the covers and await what movie my mind has in store for me tonight!

 


Sing — It Helps the Medicine Go Down

Not literally, of course.  If you sing while swallowing medicine it might be impossible and certainly be messy.  But when you’re going through a hard time, or you are attempting to forget about something causing you pain, or you are bored to tears on a long drive and need something to occupy yourself with and reading makes you carsick, singing helps.

When I was giving birth the first time, not wanting to rely on medicine I turned to hot water and Lamaze breathing and singing to take my mind of my baby’s journey to the new world.  When the lab technician is drawing blood, which makes me faint if I think too much about it, I sing.  And I don’t have a decent voice, can’t even hold a tune much less hit the high notes.

When I want to feel connected to my Mother, I sing “The Old Rugged Cross” — a hymn she sang on every road trip through the south that was our annual vacation.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to tour the Vicksburg cemetery every single year of their life?)  As soon as I start, or hear someone else sing that hymn, I find myself back in the backseat of that Pontiac, fighting over space with my little brother and wondering “how much longer”? and if Dad will ever really stop for a bathroom break or continue saying “darn, I just missed it” past every exit.

And when I visit a new church to check it out, the preaching may be important but it’s the songs they sing that let me know if it’s a place where I will feel at home.  Growing up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and, often, Wednesday night service plus Choir practice every week embedded Southern Baptist hymns not only in my brain but in my very bones, and hearing those hymns brings me home.

I’m not a music person.  I rarely listen to music at home or in the car, preferring books on tape or podcasts.  I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on my hands and I’ve been attending them for 40 years.  But I do love to sing.

 

 

 


The best part of my hometown? Brick

There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler.  For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul.  Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story).  No.  What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick.  Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful.  Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile.  There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.

The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character.  The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud.  Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.

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A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans.  If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place.  But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.


Pensive

Contemplating Life

Peace in the Pacific

Where am I going in my life?  After 25 years of thinking about it, I finally took the leap of leaving the comfort and more-than-comfortable salary of Big Law and started my own, little-ole-me firm — the goal being to free up my life while still maintaining an income and taking advantage of the relationships and experience built up over all these years.

But I have no more time than I had before.  My “to do” list still includes a host of action items that come before the one I know my soul wants to do — work on my book.  That elusive book that exists in my head, in my imagination, in my soul but not on paper.

Am I just treading water?  Am I constitutionally unable to end my procrastination and step into my fear and just force myself to give myself time to write?  I find myself contemplating this quandary often, pensively.  I have no answer.  It’s easy as I lay down at night to plan a different day tomorrow.  Scarlett O’Hara still alive and well, living through me.  Tomorrow, it IS another day.  But every day so far it ends up as just another day that the way I spent my time conflicts with the way I say I want to spend it.

One foot in front of another, blog by blog, I will create a writing habit of butt in seat, writing even when I have no thoughts in my head.  I will be pensive no longer.  Contemplative, yes.  But putting the thoughts into curious, excited, motivated, positive action.

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Stuck Inside

Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon

want to feel uninhibited enough to howl at the moonlight and now worry that folks within hearing distance will think I’ve lost my mind.  I know that if I could get in touch with that wild woman inside me, my writing would be more authentic, more interesting, more raw.  Knowing and doing are, of course, two very different things.  And what could seem simpler, on its face, than letting what’s inside you out?

I signed up for Judy Reeve’s Wild Women writing class and went with eager expectation and no small degree of fear to my first class with the hope that being in the class would allow the part of me that had built up so many walls over the years to relax, and let the “howling at the moon” part of me flow out.  But I couldn’t do it.  Judy light a candle, and we talked, and the mood was right … but the words coming out weren’t from the wild woman, they were just the same old staid expressions of the surface level and I could dig below.

The frightening part was thinking maybe there wasn’t any “wild” inside me to come out.  Maybe I’d never had it.  Maybe it had slowing starved to death.  So I never went back to class.  I had excuses — a busy schedule — but the truth is that I could have made it work.  But to sit there week after week and hear the other women so freely expressing themselves while I was constipated and seemingly unable to get in touch with that part of myself was too daunting a challenge, too depressing for words.

But I live to fight another day.  To fight to dig out under the surface layer and reach the juicy parts inside, to free myself to howl.


Fact or Fiction?

You’ll see on my Goodread’s sidebar that I have several books on my “reading” shelf and they are a mix of Fact (London: A Biography) and Fiction (The Fiery Cross).  Of course those two aren’t that different — one reason I enjoy historic fiction is that I’m learning about history at the same time as I’m enjoying the story about people living during that historic time.  I enjoy mixing it up — and that’s one reason I joined Ann Patchett’s Parnassus bookstore’s First Edition club.  (I’m in Warwick’s First Edition Club as well, but it almost always features fiction, whereas Parnassus mixes it up.

The Parnassus First Edition monthly selection a few month’s ago was In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand And Terrible Polar Voyage.  I have exactly no interest in ice or the North Pole or voyages thereto, or even the 1880s time period.  So never would I have picked up that book to read.  But dutifully, and trusting Ann’s judgment, I opened to page one and started reading and soon was enthralled by the courage and preparation and adventurous spirit and attitude of those brave men who went forth to find a sea passage to the North Pole and wound up in a place where Northern Siberia — 1,000 miles away — looked like heaven on earth.  In fact I sometimes pick up non-fiction books more often just to try to up our average, after reading that in general after graduation adults read only two non-fiction books for the rest of their lives!!!  Seriously?  Two?  There is so much to learn, and it’s so much fun doing it, I can’t imagine missing out on all the wonderful non-fiction that’s right at our fingertips, thoroughly researched and beautifully written words of wisdom and insight and knowledge.

But after a non-fiction I’m always ready to just have fun with or be scared by someone’s imagination by digging into a good novel.  I’m glad I can move between the two without having to read just one and not the other.  The answer to the Daily Prompt for me, then, is Fact AND Fiction … one right after the other, learning and imagining and enjoying them all!