vulnerability

I have been known to leave my house keys under the door matt so that you could let yourself in and make yourself comfortable.

I have been known to trust too readily, give away too much too easily, offer my shelter to those who might not return the favour.

I have been known to leave myself exposed, to put myself at risk in the hope of gaining more than I might lose. In the hope that by not holding on too tightly to my treasures that they will be multiplied.

And they have been, I’ve gained so much. I stood teetering on the cliff edges and gained the wind, I jumped off and gained flight. I have opened the doors to my heart and watched the people crowd themselves inside and bring me warmth.

But I have hurt too. I have felt the cold, I have hurt and lost and cried and fallen over the edge and watched the treasures within my house fall prey to thieves in the night.

And then returned to place my key under the matt once more.

And those are the times that I have to ask why. Why should I risk so much when I lose so much? Why should I welcome in the ache along with the joy, or court the danger instead of clinging to the safety? It is too easy at those times to forget what it feels like to fly, to forget all that I still have.

But still. . . is it maybe still worth the risk?

Probably. But even if not, it’s just who I am.

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the urge for going

I tried to run away once.

I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going and I didn’t take anything with me, I just ended up under the bridge over the old creek bed behind the school and cried and didn’t know what to do.

I was probably about 10 or 11, and I failed miserably in my attempt to run. In fact, each time, still, I fail in my attempts to run.

But actually, I was certain I had it all worked out a long time ago, sitting there in that dried up creek under that bridge, and my failure to carry it out has not put a stop to it once and for all.

I’ve known the answer of how to live without feeling sad or troubled or sorry or judged or hurt or worried or. . . well, add your favourite negative emotion.

I realised when I was about 9 that my friends could make me feel sad because friends could be mean and disloyal and they could say things behind my back and exclude me from things. I realised when I was about 12 that I was a sponge and I could feel the sadness of others and I started realising that bad things happened to other people too and it made them sad and so I would feel sad because I didn’t want them to be sad and I was helpless to change it. When I was about 16, I thought that I finally “realised” that all of that was probably more likely than not, my fault.

It took me a bit longer to realise that there was probably only one option left.

I was going to become a hermit.

Absolutely, that was the best way to live, I decided, being alone I could do and be whatever and whoever I wanted and no one would make me sad because no one else would be there. I wouldn’t be sad because of something they had done to me nor sad for them becasue of something somebody/something else had done to them. I would choose not to care about anybody, be nothing but a big lump of introspection and no one else had to get involved.

When I ruled out a mountain cave in Tibet, I decided that I would never get married, never have any close friends, never talk to anyone, I would have an apartment full of cats and floor to ceiling books and would earn my living by being an anonymous author with some cryptic but vaguely mysterious and intriguing pseudonym. Me, myself, and I. . . and the cats. Yes, I had always known that running away was the answer.

And all that stays is dying, all that lives is getting out

Well, so much for my grand plan at life. I joined a church and settled down in a community at 20, got married at 21 and now have a daughter at 36. And although I do have two cats and a lot of books, I have never been published under a pseudonym (other than previous blogs) nor have I ever succeeded at locking myself away from other people for long. When it comes down to it, I’m a bit of a people addict.

So I have lots of people in my life and I get it wrong. . . and they get it wrong and other people get it wrong and all the things we can’t control or stop from happening so often make it wrong and I have spent a lot of time sad. Because in this world nothing seems to work the way it should.

My storybooks said that there would be happy endings galore. And there aren’t. There just aren’t.

I don’t like that.

On top of that, people hurt other people and there’s nothing you can do about it. And even when you’re not hurting there is probably someone that you love, or at least care a lot about, hurting which invariably makes you sad because you really don’t want them to hurt and there’s nothing you can do about it. When it comes down to it we all just want to be happy and want everyone else to be happy and for fortune to smile and be fair and for all of our stories to have happy endings.

There’s a part of me that has given up the happy ending, but there’s a bigger part that keeps waiting for the surprise ending where everything is ok.

But it’s that first part of me that every so often still toys with running away. It toys with that mountain cave in Tibet or even better that cat and book filled apartment in another place or a busy buzzing city where no one would ever find me through all the people.

And all that stays is dying, all that lives is getting out

It’s the part of me that rails against the tragedies of life, the part that wakes up in the morning and says “No, No, NO!” to everything that isn’t happy, the part of me that is all too aware that as long as I have friends and family and care for anyone else, that I’m going to be unhappy, regardless. My personal sense of childlike denial is big enough to fantasise about being able to run away and not accept this vision of life, but not big enough to ever actually do it.

So instead I try to keep to myself for awhile. I try to run away. Mentally far away while being bodily present. I try to step out of the bustle and the ties and the responsibilities and don my invisibility cloak, because in my woeful, selfish, vanity and pessimism I know no one will notice.

But every time I try to shut everyone out, I tend to get lonely. It never works, I go looking for where everyone has gone, then realise that it was probably me that shut them out, and I couldn’t really expect anyone to come looking for me, as I’m not 10 anymore. So, I always fail in my attempts to run, just like I did when I was 10.

I’ll ply the fire with kindling now,
I’ll pull the blankets up to my chin
I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in…
When the sun turns traitor cold
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row

I get the urge for going but I never seem to go.
-Joni Mitchell

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Give the Gatekeeper the night off

“There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” — William Stafford

There is tons of advice out there on overcoming “Writer’s Block”. And at first appraisal, the above quote may seem a bit like bad advice.

But on second thought, isn’t the hardest part of writing, starting, losing the inhibitions and the embarrassment that comes from your internal judge who “knows” that your ideas and constructions just aren’t good enough?! But if you were magically relieved of all of your better judgements about what makes something “good”, wouldn’t it be easier to just start? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating being a bad writer, just one who gets something down, then refines it through the editing process after.

Think about it. Generally we don’t bother to edit our internal stream of consciousness word by word until the basic structure of our private internal thoughts is more or less complete and we want to adjust it before we say it, do we? At least I do that before I commit my thoughts to spoken words (or, at least I try to, anyway). So why not just let the thoughts come onto the paper or laptop and worry about the organisation, grammar, aesthetics, etc. etc. after the thoughts are more concrete. If you don’t start, there’s nothing to refine!

The quote is starting to make a little more sense now, isn’t it?

If you can just allow yourself to write something that is probably “bad”, then you are closer to the end product of a shiny, edited piece of writing that may well be fairly good. But if the gatekeepers of your mind and internal dialogues are too strict with the words that they allow to pass, you are going to end up with a backlog of imperfections and “!what if?s” that are unable to get from your head to the paper! Voilà, writer’s block!

The thing is, the imperfections can only start to improve themselves once they’re on the outside. The process they need to undertake (namely, editing, the “finishing school” for sentences) is a much more effective process if they can get some room to move around under the watchful eye of the creator (you),

My guess is that I’m not the only one who approaches the empty page (or blank laptop screen, as the case may be) not with a flurry of words that can be clipped and pruned into a more beautiful creation at a later time, but with the eye of a literary critic and the perfectionism of an military officer!

I know someone who never finished her novel. Not because of a lack of ideas, or a lack of motivation to sit down and write it, but because Monster Perfectionism told her every time she sat down to read what she had just written, that she may as well throw it out, because it just wasn’t Turgenev.

The fact is, no, it wasn’t Turgenev. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t good. It was! But a woman living, writing and experiencing the world in 20th century America is not going to write the same as an 19th century, male member of the Russian intelligentsia!

It’s ok to not be Tergenev!

If one could learn to write words and not perfect them until after the writing is done, then perhaps one could get further. (?) It’s a bit like not seeing the forest through the trees, or not seeing the paragraph through the sentences. All too often the perfection judge stands in our way, unwilling to allow us to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, halting the possibility of any “whole” at all for the sake of a lack in quality of a few starting sentences.

One of my favourite all time books about writing and the process of writing is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

Carlos Portacarrero, on his blog The Writer’s Coin, discusses a chapter from Lamott’s book entitled “Shitty First Drafts”, which I read years ago but still remember having that revelatory “yeah, that’s it!!” reaction. I won’t expand too much on it here as it has already been done, and so I shall send you directly to The Writer’s Coin if you want to think more about the concept of tackling your inner “just don’t even bother!” voices.

And I will quote Carlos Portacarrero when he talks about:

“. . . getting over those internal voices that tell writers that what we’re writing sucks. The essay [in Anne Lamott's book] is all about accepting those voices, realizing that they’re going to be there for as long as you’re doing something creative, and then doing the only thing you can do: press on. This is what I was thinking about yesterday as I wrote a new essay. It doesn’t always happen, but I would say that 80% of the time (and maybe more lately) that I’m writing something new, that feeling sneaks in and starts whispering, “This sucks. Why are you writing this? Stop already, please, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

And I’d be lying if I said that that very thought wasn’t attacking me at this very moment! I can’t in all honesty say that my absence from my new blogging project over the last few weeks since its launch was really about having “writers’ block.” It was more truthfully about having a really loud and annoying critic acting as the gatekeeper of my mind! And more than a little loss of courage to “press on”!

Hopefully, I will manage to try a little harder to remember that my gatekeeper has worked too hard over the years, and needs some time off!

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Sesame Street Amigurumi Patterns

Grover finger puppet

I’m not really into Amigurumi crochet. (basically, Amigurumi is the term used for creations of a 3D and usually stuffed kind, often children’s toys) I’ve just never really liked the look of it.

But when looking for some last minute gifts for a friend’s children, I discovered these cute Sesame Street character patterns. I especially like the finger puppets. I may even give one a go!

There’s even a link for “Cute or Easy” patterns (think “Easy” may be my level where Amigurumi is concerned) where there is an Angry Bird I am sure my daughter would like.

1500 Free Amigurumi Patterns: Sesamestreet.

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String of Birds Pattern | Deramores

free pattern, colourful birdies

Free pattern to download and knit today. Get ready for spring with these colourful little birdies! :-)

String of Birds Pattern | Deramores.

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baby steps

Ok, so it looks like Thursday and Friday are going to end up being my blogging days, and not coincidentally these are also my days off. I had wanted to launch the site in a flurry of writing activity, but I know my limitations. Never mind.

Baby steps, baby steps.

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Magical Reality – Creative Portraits by Katia Romanova

I know, yet another update from me, shocking! I just had to share these brilliant Creative Portraits by Katia Romanova

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