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Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Books in My Life

I recently finished reading The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele. I can't remember another book I wrote in as much as I wrote in this book. I felt like the ideas were reaching out and grabbing me by the collar, telling me, "Hey, we're talking to you." I now carry the book with me wherever I go. I specifically bought a bag big enough to put the book and a notebook in, so I can pull the book out and read it again, or pull the notebook out and write something that strikes me. This book came along in my yoga journey at the just-right time. It will go with me on my long cycling rides. I will use it to guide me as I move through my days.

A part of my yoga journey has included meditation. I took a meditation class at the studio I attend, and I loved each week we met, learned more about meditation. I'm now reading Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana, and this evening, as I mused over something about myself that I am unhappy about, my thoughts turned to what Gunaratana addresses in this book about ego. I stopped my musing about being unhappy and instead looked at the issue from a more detached perspective. When I did that, I found being unhappy about this particular aspect of myself is silly. In the big scheme of things, this aspect doesn't matter one bit. It doesn't affect my ability to do anything whatsoever. It doesn't interfere with any part of my life in any way. It simply is what it is. 

No one else cares.

Why should I?

I shouldn't. 

I sat in meditation this morning and constantly found myself having to pull my thoughts back, put them in little balloons and let them go, float up to the sky and disappear. I struggle with what Natalie Goldberg refers to as monkey mind in her book Writing Down the Bones, that voice inside that tries to disrupt, that tries to steer a person away from finding her true self. Sometimes I can corral the voice, but most often the voice finds a way out and begins its little tirade. Gunaratana advises persistence is the only way to move beyond monkey mind. Though I had to constantly pull the monkey mind back today, my time spent meditating carried over to other parts of my day and the rewards made me smile, made me feel quite content. This book, too, will go on my cycling trip with me. 

The last book I have decided to take with me on the trip is the first in the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. I've watched all three seasons of Bosch; I usually give up on TV series after the first or second season, but Bosch is a character I truly enjoy. I decided to give the books the series is based on a try, so I found a list of the order of Harry Bosch books and bought the first one. It's all I can do to not start the book now. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Keeping Good My Promise

Just a week remains before I head off to Seattle to begin the sabbatical adventure. The whole project is becoming real, not that it wasn't after being told I was granted sabbatical, but now that the bike is boxed up and shipped off, now that all my gear is boxed up and shipped off, the idea I wrote down in my proposal is beginning to take shape.

Actually, the idea began taking shape at the start of summer, right after the kids and I settled into the house we now call home. A friend suggested he and I ride and write together this summer. So we did. We committed to writing new pieces to share then discuss. Because of him, his support, his encouragement, his knowledge of poetry/writing/creating, I've been able to get a jump-start on my sabbatical project. I currently have 13 poems, and I have several more poem ideas percolating.

Each time I have a draft of a poem in place I'm emotionally exhausted. Immersing myself into the years of Mom's failing health brings out sadness, guilt, longing, pain. So many emotions flowing through me as I write. I hope those emotions are felt by the reader. My friend tells me they are, and I trust his responses to what I've written.

My friend has encouraged me to send a few of the poems off to literary magazines. And to keep my promise to myself that this year I would be persistent in writing and seeking publication, I have been sending my poems off. Each time I hit the submit button a twinge of fear bursts in my heart space. But I have to try. I have to keep good my promise.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

This Summer Sunday

Summer is steadily creeping by. Thankfully, the last three weeks have been quiet after several months of lots going on.

Now that the kids, Ado, and I are settled into the house, we've all found time to relax and just breathe. We have evenings of cooking together, watching movies together, and sitting on the deck to talk about our days. We have days where we each go our own way, but we find time to catch up sooner or later.

I've been cycling with a friend a couple mornings each week, and this same friend and I have been writing then sharing our writing with each other once a week. He's holding me accountable for producing new work, and while it's been a challenge, I'm so happy to have someone push me to create. Most of what I've written has been poetry that will be a part of my sabbatical project, giving me several pieces of the puzzle before I leave for the Pacific Coast ride. I feel like I have a head start, and I actually like what I'm seeing coming out of my own writing.

When I was in college, I took a poetry writing class during one of my last semesters. I needed some elective courses, so I decided to take writing poetry since I love to write. I'd never really tried my hand at poetry, mostly opting for short fiction, so I had no idea how it was going to go. I loved the class, and one of my poems was considered a standout by the professor as well as my classmates. It was just a short, simple poem, but everyone remarked about the imagery and the rhythm. Through the years, I've not written much poetry, just dabbled here and there. Now, though, my entire focus is poetry, which surprises me since I've always said I am a short fiction writer.

One of the more difficult aspects of writing the poetry is the subject matter. Since my sabbatical project will be pieces that somehow address MS, much of my time has been spent thinking back over the years of Mom living with MS. I've had some sad days lately. I didn't really think about how delving into memories might affect me when I wrote up my sabbatical proposal. During the past three or four days especially, as I've been working on the newest poem, I could tell when I needed to take a break and do something happier, like take Ado for a walk or go get a burrito with the boys. One afternoon, as I was getting up from the couch after taking a short break, I thought I need to call Mom. A second later I realized what I had just thought and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off from writing.

Lately, lots of thoughts about family, estrangement, and healing have been swirling in my head. I feel so incredibly fortunate that my kids like each other and enjoy being with one another. At the same time, I feel incredibly sad that my siblings and I are not all that close. We're civil to each other, but we don't go out of our way to stay in touch. My kids have their own group chat and call each other a lot. I have heard them vow to always keep tabs on one another, even as they grow old and gray. I tell myself to call my siblings, or at least email them, but I hesitate then don't do so. I don't know why I hesitate.

So I just keep living my life. Maybe one day I'll find the courage to begin calling my siblings just to say hi. Does there need to be any other reason to call?