“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Lesson of The Day

The more you gripe, the worse it gets.

A simple lunch, right? A peanut butter and cucumber sandwich with a dill pickle. Except it was a new jar of pickles, and as I pulled the plastic strip--with pliers--to open the jar, I complained that it would be nice to fix something that wasn’t plasticized shut. Okay, the plastic is off, then I couldn’t open the lid, so I pounded on it with the handle of a knife, and the lid spun off and spilled pickle juice on the counter, so I had to wipe that up.

A simple daytime task but a profound lesson.

Did your mom make jelly and seal the glass jar with paraffin? Sometimes that got pushed down in the jelly, so I guess times aren’t that much different, except whose mom makes jelly?

Not this mom; I thank my lucky stars I don t have to.

I spoke before that I was writing a memoir. I have to keep saying that so I get over being embarrassed to say I’m writing a memoir. Yes, a memoir, you know, those moments that take our breath away? Anyway, I wrote my goal of 50,000 words while racing the pink dogwood flowers, trying to meet the word count the writing gurus say is essential. I did it by cheating a little and using the tree in the backyard that I could see out my window and the one in the front yard that held tight to its flowers until I reached my goal. Now who says there aren’t miracles?

Now I am facing all those words I thought essential to get onto a page. I wanted to see if I could do it, even if it stinks; I have the illustrious accomplishment of winning a race with a flower.

Except I know it threw the race.

How’s your day been?


Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Oracle


 Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen—I got my computer back, it's been in the hospital. Now it works great. And it even appears that my keyboard works better. 

 Did you miss me?

 No? Oh well. You had other things on your mind. I do try to publish a blog on Tuesdays, though. And did write one on an old slow unreliable computer, but it wasn't hooked to WiFi, so I let it go. Now it is Thursday. (Think of it this way, if this is this week's blog, it must be Tuesday.)

 On Tuesday I used my oracle technique, where I randomly opened a book to see if it had a message.

 I opened Jen Sincero's' book, You Are a BadA** How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life.

Page 20, "Fear is For Suckers."

 Well, Crap!

 Okay, I agreed to read whatever came up. I read Sincero's story of how she and a friend drove through the endless New Mexico landscape and hiked a beautiful red dirt path until they came to a cave, the place her friend wanted her to see. 

 It was really only a hole in the ground. Her friend threw some knee pads to her and a flashlight, then crawled into the hole. Jen had no interest in caves or holes in the ground, but she followed her friend into a space where she had to hold the flashlight in her teeth, and the walls were that was so tight they had to tuck their head to their neck. 

Rattlesnakes, monsters? How would they escape them?

 Jen followed until the friend finally sat but still had to tuck her neck and told her to turn off her flashlight.

 Black. Black, black, black. Blacker than she had ever seen.

 I was waiting for some luminescence or something, but it was only the black, and FEAR.

 Sincero was about to have a total scratching screaming, claustrophobic crazy screaming fit, or not…

 She crawled out of that cave with a profound understanding that fear was a choice. 

I would have crawled out, pounding my friend for taking me there.  

 And then I thought of a time when I felt panic. I've have had moments of fear that I was locked into a bathroom. But nothing like the day I felt stuck in a tube. 

 I was doing a process where blindfolded, we entered a structure, a labyrinth, called "The Tank." 

 It was a humongous tent labyrinth. Our goal was to find the center and the openings between rooms that were sometimes just holes in the walls. I never found the center. But made a profound discovery on how to trust something besides my eyes to maneuver a space. I learned something about crowds. They have enough padding on their bodies that you can push through. I learned how to find holes and crawl through them while trusting there was something on the other side. 

 But that wasn't enough; on the next go at the tank, they had added tubes.

 TUBES! You had to crawl through tubes with a person in front of you and one behind. I felt trapped. In that tight space, I found air holes in the tubes, so I sucked in a goodly amount of air to try to calm myself, for I felt panic as I had never felt. I knew I had a degree of claustrophobia but never anything like that. I wondered if that claustrophobia had been instilled in me when the little neighbor boy and I got trapped in a closet, and mom rescued us. But Mom wasn't there to rescue me that day. My eldest daughter said she was also caught in the tubes but thought she would just nap. I couldn't imagine.  

 Later I found a tube outside, and since no one was there, I attempted to crawl inside, but only the length of my body. I kept my toe on the outside edge. Again the panic came, so I scooted back out.  

 Joseph McCllendon III, a neuropsychologist, said, "If you are afraid of a Rottweiler, you can bet there will be one in my office when you come in." 

 Be reasonable. 

 The answer is to face our fears in a safe environment--desensitize. I would trust Mc Clendon not to throw me in with a Rottweiler that would tear me limb from limb.

 But I didn't trust a rescue the day of the tank and the tubes. The people who monitor the tank would eventually go through it, I suppose, to see if there were any leftovers and pull my limp, sweaty body out. I didn't feel that I was dying there; I feared the feelings of panic. So, it's FEELINGS we are afraid of. When is fear a friend? When is it a foe? It always means to keep us safe, that is its purpose, yet sometimes it gets overzealous when is no need, like when the media uses fear tactics to sell a product. Baby foals sometimes get crushed when run into a trailer with adult frightened horses. They had good reason to be afraid and to try to escape, but they were little and are forced. Maybe that's what we fear. 

There is a time to trust that fear is there to protect you, and when it is blown out of proportion. Don't stay in a sweat lodge until you can no longer breathe. Get the hell out of there. 

 I trust you to care for yourself the best you can using your brain, heart, and intuition.


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Oh Goodie


“It is nearly impossible to be error-free.” Spoken by a publisher who still finds errors in New York Times best sellers.

You know how it is. We can see errors someone else makes but not our own. That is not entirely egotistic. We know our material, and so our brain fills in the blanks.

Have you ever read a page where every word is misspelled, and you can still read it?

If the first and last letters are correct and the middle letters resemble the word you are writing, it is readable. Our brains are amazing.

However, our little picky brain is annoyed by that error, like a fly on the wall is irritating for it destroys the pristine palate of the wall.

Have you ever noticed that you see the slightest movement in a field of grass on that hillside over there? We are geared to see anything out of place.

I’m in the second phase of my memoir. I hesitate to call it that, for that seems egotistical, but I am fascinated by Natalie Goldberg, who says a memoir can begin at any time in your life, and it doesn’t have to begin with I was born in…” Neither does it have to be your entire life. I love it. Just pick a moment that took your breath away and go for it.

And everyone has a story to tell.

Oh yeah, but is it a good story?

I was impressed by Oprah Winfrey, who said that although she walks into a room as one, she carries 10,000 with her. Think of all those ancestors who contributed to you. Think of what you have behind you. Who came over on a boat? Who was a slave? Who was a horse thief? How about that Grandma who gave birth to twelve children and, by sweat and tears, raised them to adults? Why worked their butts off to put food on the table?

What did you get from them? I know little about those who came before me, but I owe it to them to write what little I know. We don’t know about their inner thoughts; some were working so hard they didn’t have time to ask the big questions or the inclination to ask. Some things were rigid then. Some words weren’t spoken.  But those people still had their thoughts and questions and doubts. I felt that by writing what little I know, I honor their lives. Even if those lives weren’t perfect.

Like a perfect manuscript, perfect life is impossible, but we try.

I reached my goal of 50,000 words while the pink blossoms remained on the tree from May 1 to May 31. That’s the fun part. Now comes the work, the corrections, the rewrites, the “What in the world am I doing?” stage. And what was I afraid to place on paper?

I didn’t have anything to say today, so I said this.

Hee hee,

Carry on, do good work,