A friend writes…

“…if you weren’t racing around doing stuff with everyone and their little sister…”

I had an interesting response to this criticism. First, I felt as though my stomach dropped, that familiar clenching and sense of dread. O my God, I thought, I’m sabotaging myself by doing all this running around and filling up of my time! I have to stop!

Which meant–of course–that I scheduled EVEN MORE stuff. I decided that I had to go to Bellingham immediately (!) to see my daughter Annie and I had to take my fourteen-year-old and one of her friends with me (guaranteeing that there would be no time for quiet reflection on this trip).

Home again by 10 p.m., I let myself get swept up in another daughter’s enthusiasm for Lady Gaga and stayed up until 1 o’clock watching Saturday Night Live.

The next morning, even though I overslept and had no time to write, I HAD to go to church. I had to have lunch out…well, it goes on and on.

At Ravenna Third Place Books yesterday afternoon, I listened to Esther Helfgott read from Dear Alzheimer’sI lost track of time and sat in awe of how one can take the every day busy-ness of a life and make it into a song. Her meditation on listening to Mozart with her husband, one of my favorite pieces, made me reflect on my own resolve to do less this year, and to write more.  I sat listening to Esther and I was swept away by how she had in the midst of all the things she must have had to see to in those years found a space in which to write. I felt lucky that she had done so.

Several years ago, while teaching full-time and trying to be fully engaged in parenting three youngsters, I made a decision to always say “yes” to writing. This year, I need to learn to say “no” to some other things. I want to continue to be engaged with my daughters, naturally, but I think I need to distinguish what among my other activities really counts as writing, and what detracts.  I am not sure what this means, not yet, but I am willing to be conscious and to explore what it means.

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