Archive for » December, 2010 «

opening up a new year

every year about this time, i become paralyzed. people share their plans and rituals for mapping out the new year, and they all sound so elegant, so elevated, so evolved that i just shut right down and limp through new year’s day, relying on my blackeyed peas and pork and turnipgreens to do their job so all will be well. last year, i vowed to craft my plan for 2011 in september, admonishing myself to let the satisfaction of early completion outweigh – in fact, shut down – any dreaded (and perhaps inevitable) second-guessing.

though it wasn’t in september, i did start earlier this year. and i spent a goodly part of last week talking about my plans with my chicklets, alison and kipp, and my friends angela kelsey, julie daley, and sally gentle. spent even more time making notes – one item per index card to allow for shuffling and flexibility and all that jazz. and yes, i inevitably read about the invitations and visualizations and resolutions, goals, dreams, plans, strategies, stepping stones, big rocks, quadrants, etc. other people use. i even allowed myself 20 minutes to look at (okay, drool over) paper planners cause though i haven’t added to my vast collection in the past three years, i am not too proud to admit my lingering addiction to time management systems (complete with pages of teensy little ole’ lines that i can hardly see, let alone write anything on) encased in colorful, conveniently pocketed-on-the-inside binders. though i’ve tried enough products to know otherwise, i’m here to tell you: when i hold a binder in my hands, i have no trouble imagining my life playing out smoothly, efficiently, and According To Plan. i can taste it, i tell you, and it is powerful.

2011 will be fueled by my participation (and ultimate win, i’m tickled to say) in NaNoWriMo. after 3-4 years of tire kicking, i signed on the digital dotted line and publicly professed (to more than a few non-writers, admittedly, to provide a safe escape hatch should i not finish) my intention to write not the generally prescribed 1667 words a day but 2000 words a day. and though i’m not ashamed to tell you that i upped the ante on account of the fact that the over-achiever (aka teacher’s pet syndrome) in me runs deep, i am proud to say that i wrote more than 2k words every single day. which turned out to be a good thing because i lost the week of thanksgiving and still managed to finish a day early with more than 50k words. and the thing is, it felt so good – the structure, the repetition, the end-in-sight of it all – that i use that i bank on that satisfaction to lay down my tracks for 2011.

so with complete disregard for the the rightness or consideration for whether it’s noble and lofty enough, in 2011 i will:

1. move more. (not anything that involves large trucks complaining about getting in and out of our driveway, mind you. i’m talking about walking and dancing.)
2. become fluent in yoga. (one pose at a time. okay, maybe two to keep it interesting.)
3. read alice in wonderland. aloud. to myself. (starting in january)
4. finish the primary source interviews for the bank robbery book. (by 4/31/11)
5. complete (or at least cease) contextual research for the bank robbery book. (fourth quarter)
6. write 3 children’s books with my daughter. (first quarter)
7. edit the fictional book penned during nanowrimo. (second quarter)
8. attend blogher. (august)
9. meditate a minute at a time (cause let’s face it: i’ve had that beautiful silk zafu – black with golden dragons – for months now, and i just took the plastic off. which means that 20 minutes every day is highly unlikely.)
10. finish volume 1 of the book i’m compiling with my daughter. (third quarter)
11. get that new blog up. (check back tomorrow for details and a viewing!) change of plan
12. further investigate that idea i have for a digital community.
13. quit handing over my personal power.
14. get that broken tooth fixed.
15. uncover (recover?) my muchiness. (warning: this will likely involve unleashing my non-malicious irreverent self more often.)
16. look into completing certification in death education and counseling.
17. remodel our bedroom and create a guest space in nc.
18. learn more about the electronic gizmos i have (iphone 4, ipad, powerbook pro, flip camera, sony camera, livescribe echo pen) (remember apple’s newton? i had one.) and software i own so i can make my life easier through better use of technology.
19. cross-pollinate my creativity by enjoying bouts of making collages, slow cloth, and even playing the piano.
20. attend the storytelling festival in jonesborough, tn. (october)
21. trek to merion, pa to see the barnes collection in its natural and rightful habitat. (april)
22. finish papering the nc laundry room in photos (scanning each one before tacking it to the wall).
23. spend a day (or 3) in milledgeville, ga doing book research and visiting flannery o’conner’s place. (september)
24. be fiercely feminist and fiercely feminine. (there. i’ve said it out loud.) (no ned to quirm cause i’m just the And to Thelma and Louise.)
25. enjoy a monthly massage without feeling i have to earn it.
26. stop spending so many words just for the sake of saying something. (obviously, that starts tomorrow.)
27. write every. single. day. (format subject to change on a monthly basis to keep it interesting.)
28. conjure six impossible things daily before bedtime.
29. create full moon collages with jamie ridler. (jamie calls them dreamboards, but i’ll be doing them in my special collage journal cause i have authority issues, you know.)
30. pen a thank you note a day.
31. reorganize my studio in ga.
32. create walls i can write on.
33. conjure and share more stories (pronounced STO rees) of my altar girls.
34. finish up that production team handbook and the director’s checklist. (january)
35. call many of you sugar to your face.
36. sing out loud without clearing the room. (alison, this one has your name written all over it.)
37. create new e-digs for alison. (january)
38. develop a rhythm of 1 day a week or 1 week a month tending to the inevitable and necessary deskwork. (january, then maintenance throughout the year)
39. book and enjoy creative retreats with selected gal pals. (if interested, let me know.)
40. let go of those stories that just don’t fit me any more. (note: the old paper-tied-to-a-balloon trick just doesn’t work for me, so, shoot, how ’bout i invite you to my (digital) campfire and tell ‘em to ya?)

conceptually speaking, in 2011 there will be:
less mass, more movement.
less accommodating, more truth telling.
less talking, more doing.
less squirming, more smiling.
less explanation, more full, deep, satisfyingly content experiencing.
less justification, more justbecause.

and because i’m such a sucker, here are my collages for 2011:

2011collage1.jpg

2011collage2.jpg

2011collage3.jpg
(note at the bottom of the page: “If we’re not supposed to dance, why all this music?” from Gregory Orr’s poem “To Be Alive“)

and my color (pay no attention to the part that says 2010). (and hey, thanks, bridget.)

and my tangible totem:

2011TangibleTotem.jpg

and last, but definitely not least, my word: ship. (thanks, kipp.)

aspiring for more

wonderland.jpg

i was in line at the pharmacy when they opened to fetch his prescriptions. he told me he didn’t need them, but i called him anyway to ask if he was sure he didn’t want me to just bring the bag with me. “no,” he said, “i’ve got enough.”

then the snow came.

and came.

and came.

and came some more.

and first thing you know, he’s at the bottom of his pillbox. it’s okay now. they left this afternoon, headed home . . . and to the bag with another month’s worth of meds inside.*

it’s my nature to think about things like this. i was, after all, the only fourth grader to build and stock the family bomb shelter. so when did i start second-guessing myself? when did i begin to think that planning ahead – thinking about things like having extra supplies of food and medicines on hand – is a fine display of negativity? when did i become embarrassed enough about the way i am to grow silent and default to others?

when i listen to my self and act as one with my intuition without reservation, without explanation, without apology, those are my moments of pure, unadulterated, ordinary joy.

* (i stayed behind cause let’s face it: when they slide off down the side of the mountain, somebody’s got to be here to inherit everything.)

~~~
this post is my response to today’s reverb10 prompt by brene brown: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

my soul food

glamoramatree.jpg

mary talks to her bookkeeper from under the dryer, hammering out an appropriate memo to explain to her employees that there will be no holiday bonuses this year – not because of the economy (well, not directly anyway), but because her store manager (for reasons she can’t fathom) approved 33 hours’ worth of overtime for one full-time employee and 24 hours’ worth of overtime for another. after those two checks are written, there simply isn’t any more money.

suzie sits on the gold sofa with a leopardskin throw over her legs as she patiently explains how to cook a turkey to her daughter who is preparing the holiday dinner for the first time ever.

janie’s grandmother drops by to beam her pride at her teenage granddaughter who is now working as the salon’s receptionist and girl friday.

as i sit waiting for kristi (the owner and my stylist) to mix my color, an adorable little 10 year old girl appears at my chair and introduces herself. “are you alison’s mother?” she asks. “i sure am,” i told her.

“i’m ansley. miss alison is my voice teacher.”

that’s when her 5 year old sister, lily appears. in her flannel nightgown. we chat a bit, and just before her mother appears back on the scene, lily tells me “you’re funky” – which i take as a compliment and put my glasses on to punctuate and prove her right. “lily, child, you go put your clothes back on. go on right now. shoo,” her mother says, sending the girls to what was a bedroom when mrs. geiss owned the house decades ago. ansley and lily will spend the day playing with brandie’s (the other stylist) daughter while their mothers spend the day making other women like me feel special and beautiful.

in answer to the simple question as to her readiness for the rapidly-approaching holiday, beth pours out her grief, frustration, and exhaustion. as she tells us about her mother who’s in the depths of a deep depression, currently in ICU where the medical staff treats her body and refuses to treat her troubled mind, as she tells us about her teenage daughter who’s recovering from injuries received in an automobile accident, injuries requiring her mother’s assistance with everything – and i do mean everything, phone calls are quietly ended and cell phones tucked away. it’s two days before christmas, yet all thoughts of shopping and parties and cooking completely disappear as we bear witness to beth. in that moment, nothing is more important to us. nothing.

this is my soul food. this gathering of women in an old victorian house tastefully transformed (with the help of mid-century accoutrements and the tasteful style of the owner) into a veritable pink tent where women come together regularly in the name of beauty, always remembering that there’s beauty . . . and there’s beauty.

glamorama.jpg

~~~
today’s post is my response to today’s #reverb10 prompt by mysticflavor: What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

and no needles

our first christmas tree followed us from the room
so we started anchoring them
to the ceiling.

then there were the times
when we tromped out as a family
in search of
the perfect tree.
even though the trees
were always resplended,
their branches fully laden
with handmade ornaments
crafted from glue
and popsicle sticks
and fuzzy red pom-pom balls,
the actual shopping
excursion was never
our finest moment.

the shortest tree-shopping trip ever
was the year we found the coveted
two-headed tree.
but because it started to rain on our way home
didn’t stop raining till mid-january,
that famous tree never made it inside.

four full-to-the-brim calendars
ushered in the
color-coded tree-in-a-box.

the december daddy died,
hubby went out by himself
and fetched a $5 tree.
we leaned it up in the courtyard.
and for the first time ever,
we were totally unconcerned about
turning its bad side to the corner.
foregoing the ornaments and even the
dreaded tree stand,
we threw some lights at it
and enjoyed looking at it
through the glass
where it became a metaphor
for my life.

there was the year
we wanted to buy
a tree from the
local filling station.
they had two left,
and while the girls
were prepared and willing
(eager, even)
to take both home,
the guys said an emphatic and convincing “no”
so we drove on,
unwilling to separate
the two trees one from the other.
(we didn’t go treeless, though,
eventually paying somebody $25
when they agreed to let us chop down
a tree from their front yard.)

there were the christmas cruises
when we left the decorating
(and the consequent clean-up)
to them.

a friend’s accidental death
this week
caused my son to get home
just yesterday,
on christmas eve afternoon,
which effectively eliminated
any time for the annual
tree-shopping excursion.

scanning the roadside
on the way home from the
asheville airport,
and finding absolutely nothing
suitable,
i’d just begun to mourn
when the idea fairy screeched in to visit
just as we entered the
last curve before home.

we were just too tired
to deal with it last night,
and it would’ve been easy
to skip on past it this morning.
in fact, the kids voted nay,
but my adorable husband
sensing how much it meant to me,
spent the
12 minutes required
(and that’s from fetch to finish, folks)
decorating this year’s tree.

well, it’s not actually a TREE,
mind you.
you see, this year
we strung lights around
the green TRUNK
that’s been in my daddy’s family
for forever
and a day.

looking at that festive trunk,
i see roots that run deep.
i see dints and dings that bear witness to storms weathered successfully.
i see gifts being tenderly cradled on the inside,
till they’re ready to be
shared and laughed and sung right out loud.
i see locks and latches that are easily undone,
but effectively protective when needbe.
i see where the lights are plugged into the nearby outlet
because let’s face it: everybody needs help generating energy every now ‘n then.

what else do i see?
i see stories
and smiles
and laughter.
i see hugs
and tears
and togetherness.
i see resolve
and grief
and love.
long-standing, deep-running love.
and perhaps best of all,
i see a brand new tradition
conjured from the oldest of old traditions: resourcefulness,
or as we might call it just this once: inJeanneuity.

o christmas trunk, o christmas trunk . . .

thechristmastrunk.jpg

~~~
this post is my response to today’s reverb10 prompt from tracey clark: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

reacquainted

isn’t it always the way?

this morning
with no makeup on
hair that needed a hat
and in my sloppiest old sweatsuit
and rattiest running shoes
i bumped into an old friend.
a wizened old friend
from my childhood
who was by my side on so many adventures
and who, without uttering a single word,
ever
taught me so much
(even though i didn’t realize it
until just now) . . .

my still-sharp old friend
always knew
that sometimes i need to
make my mark
even if only by
carving my initials
in a tree
in the middle
of the woods.

my still-sharp old friend
always knew
that quite often
you have to
whittle away the unnecessary parts
to reveal the essential, unique, irreplaceable
art.

my wizened old friend
always knew
that you can’t receive the nourishment
if you never open the can
and
it’s just not healthy
to keep things
bottled up
for too long.

my wizened old friend
always knew
that encountering a
rough, uncomfortable
whetting stone
keeps you sharp
and
that you have to
take good care of yourself
if you want to enjoy
a long, useful, active
life.

my wizened old friend
always knew
that sometimes
things need to be cut
to clear the path
or
build the fire
or
open up the view.
and
that sometimes
pruning is necessary
to promote new
growth.

my still-sharp
wizened
trusty old friend
knew these things all along
even if i didn’t.

until now.

girlscoutknife.jpg

(allow me to introduce my wizened, still-sharp old friend)

~~~~~~~~~
this post is my response to today’s reverb10 prompt:
Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

today’s tip: “make new friends and keep the old/some are silver and the other gold” were the words we sang at every girl scout meeting, and they’re just as apt now as they were then. with over 3000 people involved (which means so many windows open and twitter running in the background and all this on top of your already busy, busy life), it’s easy to lose your way back to new reverb10 friends. if you haven’t already, set aside some time and create an A List of the friends you don’t ever want to lose track of – be they new friends or old, familiar friends. and hey, if you already have your A List, be sure to add your new reverb10 friends to it as you go along.

i offer this tip as a suggestion you might find useful in juicing every single succulent drop out of this month-long experience. tomorrow (or the next day) i’ll fold into the marrow. and hey, if this tip sparks an idea, i’d sure appreciate it if you’d drop me a note in the comments section so i can sprinkle it out to others. and do some sprinkling of your own: point others to the marrow in case there’s something they can use.

a note

fairygodmother.png

Dear #reverb10 nation,

Please excuse the Fairy Godmother today. She misses you terribly but needed to be elsewhere. If all goes according to plan, she’ll be back by late tomorrow with a full pouch of her special brew fairy dust.

Signed,

The Fairy Godmother’s Fairy Godmother

ask

fairygodmother.png

my response to each #reverb10 daily prompt is a tip, a suggestion you might find useful in juicing every single succulent drop out of this month-long experience. some of the tips are things i learned over the past year; some are answers to questions reverbers have asked me privately; some are things i just pull out of thin air.

at the end of each day (or roughly thereabouts), the tip will be folded into the comprehensive list, a.k.a. the marrow. and hey, if a tip sparks another idea, i’d sure appreciate it if you’d drop me a note in the comments section so i can sprinkle it out to others. and do some sprinkling of your own: point others to the marrow in case there’s something here they can use.

now let’s get on with it cause my wand’s a wastin’ . . .

today’s prompt (from author Susannah Conway, creator of Unravelling, the e-course that i’m gonna’ sign up for one day before it sells out): Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

today’s tip: when you’re stumped, (decide to) ask for help. the assistance is a gift you receive, and the opportunity to help is a gift you give. funny how that happens.

and hey, consider saying “thank you” publicly – in a tweet or a mention (complete with a link to them) in your blog post or both.

today’s tip is enkindled by these 2 tweets from this past week: “RT @traceyclark: good idea! RT @pixie658: Having a hard time on today’s #reverb10 prompt? Ask close friends what they find unique about u”

AND

from thesdcowgirl: “can i cheat on #reverb10 and ask someone what it is that makes me beautifully different? lol.”

it’s my party

. . . and i’ll fly if i want to.

fairygodmother.png

change of plans, my #reverb10 friends. after today’s weekly check-in with my writing partner, julie daley (always a party), i was just plain tickled, giddy, bubbling over. so today’s tip (from @shauna: What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.) comes with a story:

i’m still hung over from the times when all my selves show up. which is, coincidentally, usually at the party on the page – you know, the one happening whenever i sit down to write . . .

there’s good girl who makes me dizzy in her constant frothy motion making sure everybody’s glass is at least half full (if not brimming) and that the spotlight shines on Everybody Else (though never so much that they glisten, mind you). she says she doesn’t want to take up too much space, professes the last thing she wants to do is be a bother, and tries to make herself believe that all she really, really, really wants to do is make Everybody Else comfortable. good girl knows – she flat-out knows – that the secret to good writing is to never use i, me, mine or any other personal reference.

there’s down-to-business girl who spends gazoodles of prep time making outlines and clearing the desk and making sure there’s ample ink. before arriving, she passes out treats to the dog and cats, gets a load of laundry on to wash, and cleans every single toilet. again. it’s all she can do to keep from charting the arrival and departure times of the party guests and documenting leftovers for future reference.

trophy girl wants Everybody to love every single word . . . and beg for more.

martyr girl nails herself to the cross at least three times a day. her to do list is so voluminous, she spends her best creativity justifying 15 (measly) minutes of writing time.

reticent girl entertains herself by listening in on conversations and wishing she had something blazingly new and noticeably worthwhile to add to the conversation. she vows right then and there to read more – to smarten herself up before writing another word. (i mean, really. who does she think she is?) fortunately for her, she has an ipad and can stop right then and order a hefty supply of books from knowledgeable authors. it’s a quick, easy, and (actually enjoyable, if expensive) penance.

there’s mischievous girl who fantasizes about, well, i can’t really tell you that. not yet anyway.

obedient girl came because she said she would. and actually, now that it’s feeling more like a party, she’s not showing up as much any more. which makes the other guests just about as happy as it makes her.

then there’s wannabe girl who lives in a lush, colorful, vibrant landscape where it’s Very Much okay to blurt things out without worrying-up a single wrinkle from fretting about how to defend them. wannabe girl chokes on statistics, numbers confuse her, and she stalls out on facts wondering why such silly hand-me-down things matter so much to other people when they just seem to get in her way. she is fluent in JustBecause and speaks it with an accent that’s prone to change three times in a single short sentence. and just so you know, JustBecause isn’t only spoken, it’s the language of action, too. wannabe girl writes books JustBecause. she dances JustBecause. she wears what she wants to – you guessed it – JustBecause. wannabe girl can fill a minute with eggs of laughter AND tears that sparkle so you want to take them to the jeweler and have them mounted. there are even things she does NOT do JustBecause . . . and it all makes perfect sense to wannabe girl.

if you want to know the truth, wannabe girl has a standing invitation, and when she shows up, she is always – and i mean always – the ravishing guest of honor.

~~~::~~~::~~~::~~~::~~~::~~~::~~~

today’s tip: make every prompt a party and delight in who (or what) shows up on the page. if you’re delighted, we’ll be delighted, too.

you know how it goes: every day i post a tip, a suggestion you might find useful in juicing every single succulent drop out of this month-long experience. some of the tips are things i learned over the past year; some are answers to questions reverbers have asked me privately; some are things i just pull out of thin air.

at the end of each day (or roughly thereabouts), the tip will be folded into the comprehensive list, a.k.a. the marrow. and hey, if a tip sparks another idea, i’d sure appreciate it if you’d drop me a note in the comments section so i can sprinkle it out to others. and do some sprinkling of your own: point others to the marrow in case there’s something there they can use.

different

fairygodmother.png
my response to each #reverb10 daily prompt is a tip, a suggestion you might find useful in juicing every single succulent drop out of this month-long experience. some of the tips are things i learned over the past year; some are answers to questions reverbers have asked me privately; some are things i just pull out of thin air.

at the end of each day (or roughly thereabouts), the tip will be folded into the comprehensive list, a.k.a. the marrow. and hey, if a tip sparks another idea, i’d sure appreciate it if you’d drop me a note in the comments section so i can sprinkle it out to others. and do some sprinkling of your own: point others to the marrow in case there’s something here they can use.

now let’s get on with it cause my wand’s a wastin’ . . .

today’s prompt: Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

today’s tip: reach out to at least 3 people every day and smack ‘em with a smile, sprinkle a compliment, dabble out a spot of encouragement. twitter brings out the nice in people, and let’s face it: nice breeds nice.

—:::—

something new: recap i don’t know about you, but cali‘s prompt on community really revved up my circuits and lit up my board. i didn’t make it around to everybody, but here, in no particular order, are some of the blogs that i especially enjoyed on yesterday’s blog crawl:

any last word
julie unplugged
this space intentionally left blank
sally g: lighting up the heart of ordinary
first pages
amy oscar
mrsmediocrity

community

fairygodmother.png

my response to each #reverb10 daily prompt is a tip, a suggestion you might find useful in juicing every single succulent drop out of this month-long experience. some of the tips are things i learned over the past year; some are answers to questions reverbers have asked me privately; some are things i just pull out of thin air.

at the end of each day (or roughly thereabouts), the tip will be folded into the comprehensive list, a.k.a. the marrow. and hey, if a tip sparks another idea, i’d sure appreciate it if you’d drop me a note in the comments section so i can sprinkle it out to others. and do some sprinkling of your own: point others to the marrow in case there’s something here they can use.

now let’s get on with it cause my wand’s a wastin’ . . .

today’s prompt: community. where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? what community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (author: cali harris, @caligater)

today’s tip comes from the effervescent @tiasparkles, solopreneur coach that you’ll definitely want to get to know. and hey, before we go any further, let me take a moment to offer another red-faced apology to tia and to give you the correct link to a post that just lit up my night a coupla nights ago. i meant for it to light up yours, too, but i had so many windows open, what with so many reverberations and all, i guess i inhaled some of my fairy dust cause something went wonkers and i tweeted out the link to another spectacular #reverb10 post. anyway, here you go: the right way to get to tia’s post you do not want to miss.

and tia’s tip: Pick 10 different peeps daily. Say hi & read & comment on their posts. You’ll be AMAZED at the community you create via #reverb10.

now get on out there and reverberate. and don’t forget to bear witness to others doing the same.