poetry

Tuesday

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We landed on Tuesday, again.
How do we keep the days new and fresh
in a changed world?

Seeking outside ourselves the answer
to what lies within,
we close our eyes to memory and dreams.

Imagine if things were different. Where would
we be and doing?
Going slowly toward sanity or madness.

Generations before have seen better and worse
and yet we survive another day.
We landed on Tuesday, again.

Writing

Writing Routine

 

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Creativity is not something I associate with the word routine although I do love a good routine. Each morning I wake, say the rosary, meditate, write affirmations and then sit down to write. But first coffee. I don’t have a particular routine around my writing, though, but I’m starting to build one. First, the morning pages. I was writing them by hand for a long time, filling up notebook upon notebook but a couple of things happen when writing at length with a pen. I grip it hard and the nail of my ring finger digs into the palm of my hand leaving a throbbing indent. Also my hand goes a bit numb after a while. And then I discovered 750words.com and I moved my morning pages online, which is cheating, I know, but better than nothing. It also makes my writing searchable which is great.

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Life

Writing is hard

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When WordPress did away with their daily writing prompts in May of 2018, I was very sad as were many of my fellow bloggers. I started writing in 2016 as a way to process my days of early recovery from alcoholism and without it, I might still be drinking today. Pouring out my experience here, helped get me through a very hard time. But after a few months when I was starting to feel better and wanted to write about other things, the daily prompt was great inspiration. It helped me think about things I hadn’t thought of in years whether it was happy, sad, weird or just a string of a memory. It enabled me to discover other writers too, as the the post for the prompt catalogued all those who participated.

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Life

A vision for 2020

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Hello and Happy New Year! I have been thinking about writing every day and missing this space and I realized that with every passing day it was getting harder to return. I haven’t been writing. Again. But it’s all good. I haven’t been without routine these past few weeks but I’ve been at a loss on where to fit the writing in. You have to just get started somewhere, so here I am.

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Life

Building daily habits

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Back in September, I started a daily journaling exercise called the 6-Minute Diary. The basic outline is that for three minutes in the morning you answer three items:

  • Three things to be grateful for
  • A couple of sentences on how to make the day great
  • A positive affirmation

At the end of the day you complete three more exercises:

  • Your good deed for the day
  • How you’ll improve
  • Three great things you experienced that day

I just passed the critical juncture (66 days according to research cited by the author of this book) for establishing a solid habit. This is 66 days of positive thinking first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. I have to say it works for me and makes my days a little more meaningful. I have to put thought into my daily good deed. I have to think about how I can do better tomorrow. Even on a bad day, there have to be three good things.

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Writing

A Writer’s Beginning

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One thing I learned many years ago in my very first college writing class: do not begin every sentence with the word I. In fact, try to start as many sentences as possible without starting with I. This is something that despite everything else I must have learned in college, always stays with me when I am writing. The essays and stories I wrote in that class in 1987 are still boarders in the basement of my home. They have lived in a Rubbermaid bin for over 25 years and have moved with me from apartment to apartment. And there were a lot of apartments.

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Writing

Liz Gilbert Writing Inspiration

Perusing through Instagram I was stopped short by the photo above. Sometimes I berate myself for scrolling through social media when I could be doing other, more useful things. But how would I stumble upon gems like this? I was instantly intrigued. Elizabeth Gilbert has the secret knowledge of how to be a successful writer (and in ten easy steps!). Success and ease are not guaranteed but she does share some ideas that work.

  1. Tell your story to 1 person using your own voice.
  2. Start at the beginng and tell the whole story.
  3. Use simple sentences.
  4. Don’t worry if it’s good, just finish.
  5. Don’t write to change anyone’s life.
  6. Tell stories instead of explaining stuff.
  7. It doesn’t have to be a particular length or geared to a specific audience.
  8. You have been doing research your whole life just by existing- use it.
  9. Day after day, keep going.
  10. Be willing to let it be easy.

I’ve chopped her advice into tiny nuggets here so if you want to read it in her own words, take a meander over to Instagram. She’s a voice I find inspirational to follow.

MC

Writing

Just keep writing

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For a moment I got sucked into the vortex of blog stats. How many people are reading this? How many visitors did I have last month? This year? Look at how many more I had last year. Gosh. Why did I even look at these stats? Why do I care? How can people read what I’m not writing? Write for yourself whispers my soul.

I’m not going to lie. It isn’t easy to stick to writing, especially when the inspiration isn’t there. I see how much I wrote last year, particularly February when I committed to blogging every day for that month. I had stats! I had likes and follows. I’m not going to lie. It felt easy and good. This year I’ve been adrift and honestly (why do I think I have to keep prefacing myself about honesty!) when I lost my job, I lost my mojo, even though it had been steadily seeping away for some time.

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Life

A Yellow Notepad

This morning as I was doing my own kind of meditation where I lie in bed and send prayers and good thoughts for the day, I asked God to help me see what I should be in the world. On Sunday night we went to mass at a local Catholic college and it was amazing. For me, amazing doesn’t happen at mass all the time, but that night I felt so in tune with what the priest was enthusiastically asserting in his homily and it was all about being who and what we are supposed to be.

It didn’t come to me in a thunderbolt as I mulled this over in bed today but my thoughts drifted to a letter I need to write to a family member to set my side of the relationship right. It’s something I let go too long but it’s never too late, right? The letter needs to be hand written, something I haven’t done in many, many years.

Into my mind popped a vision of a yellow notepad, a notepad I used abundantly during the summer of 1988 to write letters to my brother, Jeff, who had taken his life 17 months prior. I was in the anger stage of my grieving process. It was the summer after my sophomore year of college and I was unable to find employment where my parents lived and so my uncle generously found me a well paying flag person job and I went to live with him, my aunt and young cousins 100 miles from home.

Standing in a u-turn on a major highway, alone for 12 hours a day gives a person quite a bit of time to think. I did a lot of that, headphones in my ears as I listened to the soundtrack of that summer: Walking in Memphis, Simply Irresistible, Hands to Heaven and everything by Phil Collins. When I hear these songs I can be transported back to that summer like it was last week.

Back to the yellow notepad. I would be exhausted at the end of the day and even though I had a boyfriend living nearby, I mostly spent the evenings in my room, scrawling out these lengthy messages to my dead brother. I was trying to come to grips with the why, a nearly fruitless endeavor for suicide survivors. This was long before I heard of the concept of a suicide survivors group. I also eschewed therapy, preferring to go it alone (a common theme in my life).

I wrote on those notepad pages until my hand hurt and then would carefully pull the pages from the pad, fold it in thirds as though I were about to tuck it into a number 10 envelope and then deposit it in the top drawer of the dresser. By the end of the summer the drawer was full but I was no closer to the answers I sought. If I packed them up as I left for my dorm that fall, I don’t remember.

Writing on that yellow pad was an integral part of my very long recovery process. Like the songs of the summer of 1988, I can’t see a yellow pad without remembering the angst of my nocturnal writing during those summer months. If I could write a letter to my 20 year old self, I’d tell her it was going to get better. Time heals all wounds is a trope no grieving person ever wants to hear even if it is true.

Somehow, over time (lots and lots of time), my heart patched over and I was able to work through my grieving process. I was able to go on and work with other survivors, listen on a hotline as people called in with the things that weighed heavily on their mind. Is remembering the notepad part of God’s mission for me? I think it is, at least for today because it was the first image I saw when I looked at Twitter this morning. I will keep seeking the clues He sends me.

MC

Writing

A New Routine

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Today is day one of my new, unemployed life. What came before, these last two weeks was just the trial run. A period similar (but certainly not as devastating) to the events experienced after the death of a loved one. The period that is suspended in time where your tribe gathers around. Makes daily inquiries as to your well being. There is much to do in those first few days. Organize and prepare for what lies ahead. A pre-planned getaway to Florida followed my first week away from the job and there was a flurry of activity awaiting me there. But now I am home and everyone is back to work and school and I’m here to let the dust settle around me and find a new routine.

This is exactly what I have wanted for months on end. Time to write. Time to see if I have what it takes to birth a book. I’m hopeful because it is early days and I see nothing but time stretching ahead of me. I have a bit of money saved and with unemployment kicking in soon, I’ll have enough to get me through the next few months. I know how lucky I am. If I can’t make it work now, I don’t see how it’s going to happen for me. I know I have to sit my butt in front of my computer and let the words out, even if they are gibberish and nonsensical.

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