Building a Boat

51DOV1q0DHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My dear friend Paul Marshall is giving a reading at the Freeland branch of Sno-Isle Libraries. I’m going!

Event Type: Books and Authors

Age Group(s): Adults
Date: 2/1/2016
Start Time: 2:00 PM
End Time: 3:00 PM

Description:
How was he to have known a simple question asked by an inquisitive young grandson would rekindle a long postponed dream and start a cascade of ruminations on war, marriage, working class conflicts and boat building? Join author Paul Marshall for a discussion of his book “Building a Boat: Lessons of a 30-Year Project.”


Library:
Freeland Library
Location: Freeland Meeting Room

Please see my “Upcoming Events” Tab for other goings-on.

Meet the Author: Paul Marshall

Event Type: Books and Authors
Age Group(s): Adults
Date: 2/1/2016
Start Time: 2:00 PM
End Time: 3:00 PM

Description:
 How was he to have known a simple question asked by an inquisitive young grandson would rekindle a long postponed dream and start a cascade of ruminations on war, marriage, working class conflicts and boat building? Join author Paul Marshall for a discussion of his book “Building a Boat: Lessons of a 30-Year Project.”

Library: Freeland Library
Location: Freeland Meeting Room

LIVING FROM THE HEART: HEALING THROUGH THE ARTS & THE CHAKRAS

CAM00262My friend Margaret Riordan and I are planning to teach another class on writing, the heart, and connection. Margaret has a lot of information about the chakra system that she is eager to share, and I’m itching to get you writing.

We have a lovely flyer that I can forward to you if you email me. The class will be in Olympia. Even if you can’t make it, I hope you’ll forward this announcement to anyone you know who may be interested.

Dates: Six weeks, meeting three Saturday afternoons, 2-5:00, February 13, 27, and March 12.

Location: Physical Therapy and Pilates in downtown Olympia. (http://fusionolympia.net/directions/)

Cost: $55.00 per session. $150.00 when paid prior to the first class.

Contact: Bethany at bethany.alchemy@gmail.com or Margaret at (425) 373-6118.

Save Twilight

julio_cortazar_07“It would grieve me if despite all the liberties I allow myself, this took on the air of a collection. I never wanted butterflies pinned to a board; I’m looking for a poetic ecology, to observe myself and at times recognize myself in different worlds, in things that only the poems haven’t forgotten and have saved for me like faithful old photographs. To accept no other order than that of affinities, no other chronologist than that of the heart, no other schedule than that of unplanned encounters, the true ones.”

Julio Cortázar

Do We Ever Really Know Where We’re Going?

Yesterday I was sitting in my green chair, trying to work, texting my sister, wishing I had better hair — all the usual distractions, and (of course) not working. I wrote this text:

I think I need a therapist.

Then the phone rang. It was my friend M, who happens to be a therapist.

Maybe universal synchronicity, maybe just a coincidence (though I am claiming it as universal synchronicity). We laughed. I told her a few of my problems. She told me a few of hers. I repeated to M what my sister and I are always saying, about our mother in particular and life in general: “I wish I had a crystal ball.”

Ah, that’s the problem, M said. We all want to know where we’re going. Just remember (she said), that even when we think we know, we don’t really know. We just have to go there.

To paraphrase Ray Bradbury, to write a book all you have to do is figure out what your hero wants, and then follow him while he tries to get it. “Tries” = takes action. Clarity isn’t, in other words, a guarantee, but it is one big step in the right direction.

I am awake rather too early because I’m thinking about my writing projects, which are a little muddled right now. So, Bethany, let’s begin here:

What do you really really want?

 

Quotable

desalvo coverI was thinking of this quote yesterday when I wrote my blogpost. Not sure that it entirely fits, but here it is. (Quoted by Louise DeSalvo)

“In the absence of any record of my illness, I shall write it myself. Invent it out of whole cloth. It is what a writer can do that a doctor cannot.”

                           -Richard Selzer, Raising the Dead

What matters to you?

Loving-ourselves-throughThis week, in an exercise with Brené Brown, I had to narrow down my values — from a pretty big, extremely inclusive list of words such as compassion, justice, love, connection, fun, friendship, exercise — and I had to narrow it down to just two values.

After a lot of waffling, I chose creativity and family. 

These are the things — okay, the values — that get me up in the morning, and make my life worth living. If I couldn’t write at least in my journal I don’t think I’d want to get out of bed at all. I want to keep being this person with a million ideas and never enough time to work them all out. Somehow, I’m invested in being that person, shooting off in every direction like fireworks.

Same with my family. If it weren’t for these three girls, I really don’t know what I would do with myself. Yes, even though I spend way too much time complaining about them, I can’t imagine not being their mom and having exactly them, with all their stuff, their delights and human flaws and obsessions.

The act of choosing those two things switched on a light for me. If family is a core value for me, then maybe that helps explain why my mother’s illness has been so debilitating for my emotional life and progress in every other area. Maybe that’s why the loss of our family farm and the farmhouse and the big family dinners is so…devastating. Why the holidays completely wiped me out this year and left me wanting to curl up in a fetal position and stay there.

Recently, in writing group, a friend talked about the loss of her mother and how she feels, on the one hand, that she has never fully processed this death, and, on the other hand, how she doesn’t want to “go there” anymore. I may be misrepresenting her dilemma (I probably am), but it has really stayed with me, affecting my own thoughts and feelings. So much so that, in the light of this values exercise, I see that it is my dilemma, too. Have I processed mom’s illness, or dad’s death, or the loss of my childhood farm? Am I avoiding “going there”?

Here is where the writing comes in. Or, to go into fully-confessional mode, the not-writing that I’ve been busy about lately.barn in snow

What I want to remind myself of, is that my childhood is still there. It’s still mine. It’s my story and I own it, imperfectly remembered, fully remembered, whatever it is.

There’s a danger, I’ve been told, in clinging too much to a story. But I think what that means is that we use certain stories, certain versions of them to keep ourselves from having to make forward progress. I know some would-be writers, for instance, who cling to an idea of themselves as blocked. “I just can’t write it.” If it’s so blinking sad not to write it, then why cling to that? It’s like a tattered blankie: “I just can’t.” He hurt me. I’ll never forgive her. I wanted to ____ but I wasn’t allowed to. 

A value like family feels more like a big umbrella value with connection, parenting, personal fulfillment, well-being, stewardship, vulnerability…and so forth…beneath it. I feel as though I cheated in choosing it. But there I am, today at least. And now I’ve written something about it.

I know I’m giving myself a pep talk, but if you’ve waded in this far, maybe it’s your pep talk, too. We all have something we haven’t let go of, but stop telling yourself that you can’t let go of it. Use your writing to go there. 

 

Meandery

horse2

Is meandery a word? Well, meandering. That’s my mind lately. I’ve been on a no-holds-barred quest since about mid-December to figure out how to work. And, like Tolkien’s wanderers, I’m not lost.

Not all who wander are lost.

So, what do I mean by figuring out how to work? I know how to work, of course. My first paying job came at age ten when I went with my brother to the strawberry fields where my aunt Rayma was a field boss. (In truth, I ate more berries than I picked, but after a few summers, I could make $5 a day!) I started babysitting at age twelve, usually for my younger cousins. ($5 a night!)

And, unpaid work. I mucked barns and helped with hay. I weeded gardens and dusted furniture, folded clothes and made beds. Caring for a horse is work.

Homework.

And of course adult life was (was?) all about work — restaurants for me, to start with, then other jobs — typing class notes for $1 a page, tutoring, working as a bank teller. Eventually, teaching, which I was involved with for twenty-five years, and still am involved with, to one extent or another.

Rearing children is work. Keeping laundry caught up and a house clean is work. (I admit to being rather inept in all of these.)

And then…writing.

I have been fitting writing into the interstices for years, for decades! I’ve written in the very early morning, in spiral bound notebooks; I’ve written in my car (only when the car is stopped!); I’ve written during soccer practice and in between classes and beside hospital beds. I have written in many, many coffeeshops.

cropped-cam00264.jpgWhat I’m grappling with now, where my meandering is leading me now — is how to put writing on the front burner and really work at writing.

I think I can credit Author Magazine for introducing me to this quote:

“Have the courage to become who you are.”

                    -Nietzsche

That is what my meandering mind is working on now.