Saturday, November 20, 2010

Things I Love

“A mind too active is no mind at all.” Theodore Roethke

In my life I have often found the necessity to disengage. There were times I was driven by a force that wasn’t healthy. Maybe even fear. My goal: to make decisions not out of fear, but from a sound and comfortable mind. How can you enjoy life any other way? I made a list of 20 things that I love, in no particular order.

1-Read or listen to a really good book

2-Watch a movie at home with my family

3-Go out with my husband and no one else

4-Sit at home on a Saturday afternoon with nothing scheduled

5-Write a story about whatever I want—however weird and silly I want it to be

6-Imagine scary things

7-Go out with friends

8-!!!Disneyland!!! with my family—particularly Pirates of the Caribbean

9-Driving in the rain

10-Driving at night, especially if it’s raining

11-Cooking a new meal, having all afternoon to do it

12-Go somewhere I can relax and explore by myself

13-Look at the moon and imagine scary things

14-Look at the lake at night; imagine scary things living in it (is there a recurring theme here?)

15-Dance with my kids (it’s been way too long)

16-Play summer games outside at night with family, like croquet and badminton

17-Browse the library or bookstore. Browse people here too

18-Go out on family dates, zoo, movies, etc.

19-Read with my kids. We especially like “Goosebumps”. They like to get blankets and pillows and snuggle under them while I read as scarily as possible

20-Take a long, unhurried shower

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Power to Dazzle

I saw a dance once that changed my perspective.

Old perspective: I used to think that some people could be successful and some people could not. Perhaps, even, some people were simply more important than others. Who knew why? I mean, maybe it was a matter of luck. Maybe there were golden balls thrown into God’s bingo roller. Maybe some were just “special”—chosen ones, so to speak. As for everyone else, if you don’t have the “chosen” gene—sorry, you’re out of luck.

It’s true—it was a dance that showed me these thoughts were wrong.

There was nothing special about the televised dance, other than the fact I was struck with the impression that everyone seemed to be completely in their element. It was as if no one was pretending. No one was trying to be someone else; and even better, no one was feeling self-conscious. Everyone's inner light shone through without restraint. I was mesmerized. And the thought struck me: Are we, as a human race, magnetically drawn to those who are, perhaps, closest to self-actualization?

I realized we all have an inner light. We don’t have to force it into existence—if anything, the opposite is true. We should relax and stop blocking it. So what I realized was this: the power we all have to be special, chosen, successful, lucky, etc. is in our ability to learn how to unblock ourselves. We all have the potential to spell-bind another. It’s in there; you find it through a process of hard work and discovery. Like you find a buried treasure. We go through a process of searching, giving, sometimes being rejected, and trying again. The latter requires believing in ourselves to no small degree—which can be hard in the face of rejection.

I always loved the children’s story You Are Special, the one with the stars and dots. I believe we are all God’s children. He’s the one who can let us know who we are. Since He created us, we are all sublime. He is filled with all power and all things right, all things with force. I get excited when I think about the power we can tap into.

It’s not a race, I realized after watching that dance. It’s not even a contest. If we could all simply be our true selves, it would take competition out of the equation—because we all have the power to dazzle.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Object Lessons on Writing, and Follow Your Instinct

Object lesson #1: Writing is not like following a recipe. When I follow a recipe, reviewing instruction and measuring is a good thing. And I never substitute ingredients. It saves me from making something that would cause my family to raise their eyebrows yet again and ask if I have tried another experiment at their expense.

Really, it’s too bad you can’t just follow a recipe for writing. Heaven knows, I want to. I’ve searched dozens of books on writing looking for them. The problem is, I’m a follower. I’ve never been one to trust myself. Back in high school, when I worked out a problem, even if I was sure I was right, I often changed it if someone else disagreed. And it was more often than not a mistake. The message has always been there, it seems. Trust your instincts.

Using the recipe analogy, I find another thing to be true. The way you assemble the ingredients is not nearly as important as the ingredients. When self-editing, I often focused too much of my revision on the cutting and dicing, so to speak, rather than the ingredients themselves. Yet, if the ingredients are good, and fresh, and you enjoy that particular combination, the way you cut and dice is secondary. In other words, I wasted SO much time in perfecting form rather than really looking at what I was working with. Ironically, the latter takes far less time and effort. The work of perfectionism is set aside for the time being to make room for play.

Object lesson #2: Writing is a lot like golf. I saw an article about putting entitled, “How to See the Line”. I knew instinctively that if I read that, I would putt worse than ever. I’ve never been a measurer of spatial things. If I try to measure, for instance, to put pictures on my wall, things go horribly wrong. Similarly, while golfing, if people tell me to stand a certain way, to look a certain direction, blah blah blah, I freeze up. So I’ve learned to listen to the inner voice that tells me “that feels right.” I tried it one time, while miniature golfing, just hitting what felt right. Sometimes I felt better about hitting the ball slightly to the right or the left of the hole, even though I couldn’t see a break. When I followed that little voice and did it, I was surprised more often that not to see it turn and go into the hole. Instinct, I tell you. I think it’s a force we can all tap into. And, can I brag, just a little? Out of 18 holes, 6 were holes-in-one.