Category Archives: writing

Ten Things Tuesday

I was talking to my yoga class on Sunday about how, when we turn over a new calendar, people start getting all self-critical and resolution-y (a fact they appreciated as they were jammed in the room with far more people than usual because of all the folks adhering to their New Year’s, go-t0-the-gym resolutions).  While I think that self-improvement is a grand thing – I mean, really; where would we be if we stopped trying to get better? – I think that we, as a culture, take the idea to its extreme.  We’re much more likely to tell you what we don’t like about ourselves – our flaws, our shortcomings – than we are to highlight what we have or what we do well and easily.

This week, then, you get ten things that Chili can do with relative ease, competence, or aplomb:

1.  I can cook.  Seriously; I have some killer recipes that I always – and I mean always – hit out of the park.  I am proud of my ability to feed people with satisfying, and sometimes sublime, dishes.

2.  I am a decent writer.  I haven’t quite worked this into what I want it to be in the grand scheme of my life, but I do have a facility with language and the ability to tell a good and engaging story.

3.  I’m an excellent teacher.  I have always, for as long as I’ve been aware of my own self, been put in positions to teach others.  Regardless of what I did – from figure skating to my work in a bank to fitness to English – I’ve managed to land  in situations where I was called on to teach others.  I love it, I’m good at it, and I’m grateful that I’ve finally found a place where I can do it for a living instead of just a hobby.

4.  I’m generous.  It helps that my life allows me to be generous with money and things, but I am also very free with my time and my energy.  If there’s something I can do to help you – if I can share a lesson plan or give you a ride to the doctor’s office or buy you lunch – I will.

5.  I’m a good listener.  I’ve gotten better at this as I’ve gotten older; I find that good listening often means having more patience than one would expect.  I’m getting very good at really hearing people, too, and I think that a lot of that can be credited to parenting my daughter; I need to do more than just listen to her words, I have to really hear what she’s saying and really think about what that means.

6.  I’m neat and (mostly) organized.  I’m certainly not a type-A personality, but I do like a reasonable amount of order.  I know where things are (that is, if someone in my family hasn’t moved it on me).  My car is not a rolling dumpster and things do not rot in my refrigerator.  My children have regular dental and doctor visits and our cars’ oil gets changed when it’s supposed to.  Our clothes are clean and reasonably wrinkle-free.  I pay my bills on time.

7.  I can solve problems.  Like the listening thing, I find I get better at creative problem-solving as I get older and have the capacity for greater critical and inventive thinking.  Sometimes, I can come up with simple, easy solutions and sometimes my answer to a problem is complex and convoluted and resembles a Rube Goldburg device, but either way, I get shit done.

8.  I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, unable to do something, or confused.  I will ask for help or clarification when I need it, and I’ve gotten much better at acknowledging when I’ve made a mistake or behaved in a way that wasn’t warranted or appropriate.

9.  I’m flexible, and not just in the “well, DUH; you’re a yoga teacher!” way, either.  I’m not upset anymore when plans have to change or when something doesn’t work out exactly as planned.  I’m a lot less tied to outcomes than I was in my youth, and I’m finding that opens a lot of doors for me.

10.  I am kind.  I go into situations assuming the best about everyone involved.  I am polite and gracious in public (and in private, too, come to think about it).  I try very hard to be always aware of the kind of energy I radiate.

So, what do YOU do easily and well?  What gifts do you bring to this party?  What do people go to you seeking?

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Filed under compassion and connection, cooking, ideas and opinions, Little Bits of Nothingness, messages from the Universe, my oh-so-exciting life, Parenting, ruminating, teaching, ten things Tuesday, the jobs, writing, yoga - theory and practice

Wordy Wednesday, Week One

(Say that title out loud!  Don’t you LOVE alliteration?!)

So, I’m still coasting on the energy generated and shared at the week-long writers’ (apostrophe in the right place!) workshop I just recently attended, and I’m doing my best to keep it going as long as I can.  To that end, I’m going to try to devote a little energy every week to working on my imaginative fiction.

Most of my writing is observational; I see things that happen in my life (whether to me or around me) and I relate them in writing.  I engage in what we in the “business” call creative non-fiction; the writing may include embellishments or may focus specifically on one detail to the exclusion of another, but the essence of the story is not the product of the writer’s imagination.  Anyone who’s spent time with me in real life would be able to easily identify the events about which I write.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing; on the contrary, the best compliment I’ve ever received about my writing came from Michael, who told me, about 10 minutes into our first ever face-to-face meeting (after “knowing” one another for a couple of years through our blogs), that I sounded exactly like he expected me to – that my writing was an authentic reflection of my voice.  I’ve also been thinking lately that I’m thrilled that I took up blogging when I did (and attached to it as strongly as I did) if for no other reason than I’m leaving an unbroken chronicle that I (or my daughters) can look back on at some indistinct point in the future and recall this part of my (or our) life.  I’m also more than a little tickled at the idea that this space may remain long after I cease to, and that some far-away great-grandchild may read what I’ve left and come to understand a little bit about where he comes from (or maybe even recognize a quirk I cop to as something he’s inherited; how wonderful would that be?).

For all of that, though, I was intrigued by a couple of experiences I had at the workshop that really surprised me.  I came into the week with a set of assumptions about myself; namely, that I wasn’t a poet and that I don’t really “do” fiction very well.  What I came to learn was that I was wrong.  This, however, was not the surprise; I’m wrong all the time, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  What surprised me was the ease with which I did some of the things I knew I couldn’t do.  With the right set of circumstances – time, inspiration, and belief that I can actually do it – I can write both poetry and fiction to fairly decent effect.

I am not going to make any promises or commitments about what I’ll do here – to put constraints or expectations on myself would, I think, lend more anxiety than is strictly necessary – but I will promise that I’ll share whatever I’ve got, even if it doesn’t amount to much or never really goes anywhere.

Here, then, is something I came up with as an answer to a writing prompt I contributed to our collective prompt-writing effort.  I may do something else with it later – something more short story than poetry – but right now, this is what I have, so I offer it to you.

Before she even asked the question
he knew he was going to lie.
Nothing he could say
would be true
because he couldn’t give voice
to what he knew like breathing.
The need frightened
him, made him feel
like he was less
than he wanted to be for her.
So, thinking that nothing
is better than something
incomplete and broken,
he told her
“no.”

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Filed under ideas and opinions, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, poetry, writing

Reflection

My writing workshop ended today. I’m sorry it’s over; I could easily have gone another week.

I had a fantastic time, but when Punkin’ asked me this afternoon if I had “fun,” I had to answer “no.” That doesn’t mean that I didn’t love every single second of it – I did, and I feel like I am a much better teacher and writer and thinker and observer for having done this – but I can’t really say that it was “fun.”  I worked hard, I stressed and fussed and revised and wrote and rewrote and deleted and wondered if it was good enough to share and can I really write about that and… well, you get the idea.  For all of that, though?  I’m absolutely, no questions asked, going to do it again next year.

I came away with a TON of great stuff, and very little of that is tangible.  I met people and made connections.  I was inspired.  I watched and looked and listened.  I welled up a couple of times.  I was awed by the work other people did and was surprised by the work that I discovered *I* could do, and I’m energized to keep at it.

I’m going to try to put together a creative review (hell, I might even try another poem!) at A Teacher’s Education.  I’ve also opened a blog for our writing community, though no one’s posted there yet; when there’s content, I’ll direct you to it.

Expect a few more words around here for the next little bit; this conference gave me some momentum that I intend to ride as long as possible and, as always, I plan on taking you all along.

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Filed under admiration, celebration, compassion and connection, learning, love notes, my oh-so-exciting life, remembering, writing

Love Thursday

Inspired by this piece, which was inspired by this piece (oh, what a tangled web…).

Listen, child, because I’m going to tell you what real love is, and I know, because I do. Every love starts out like a flutter in your stomach and marbles in your mouth, but real love settles into a warm, sweet, constant weight. Not the kind that weighs you down – no – the kind that keeps you from blowing away; the safe and steady ground beneath you after a day at sea, the warmth that tingles on your face when you come in from the blizzard. It’s the ticking of the clock that, in its own, unhurried time, measures out your years. It’s the creak of the floorboard, the rumbling of the pipes, and the hum of the refrigerator that tell you that you’re in your shared space, and that too many people say “predictable” like it’s a bad thing. Real love gets overlooked, like the battered old book at the yard sale with the story that won’t let you go and the pristine silver certificate marking the end of the last chapter. It is the mundane, the everyday; the driveway that gets shoveled, the dishes that get done, the unremarkable passage of time that just keeps adding up. It is the absolute, I-will-fall-backwards-with-my-eyes-closed-for-the-rest-of-my-life trust that no one but the two of you can understand, marked more by its quiet certainty than by its fanfare. It’s not having to finish each other’s sentences; it’s laughing when you’re the only two who get the joke; it’s knowing that, even when things aren’t okay, it’s going to be all right. You think you know what this love stuff is, child. You’ve seen the movies and read the books and bought the fairy tale – Rhett Butler and Romeo and Juliet and Walt Disney – but I’m here to tell you, it’s not that. The good stuff isn’t the swooning and the excitement; there’s no soundtrack and definitely no swashbuckling. Real love is the accumulation of a million tiny things that add up to a life together, and I know because I do.

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday

My Wednesday is anything BUT wordless, it’s just that most of those words are somewhere else. Go here to see them all…


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Writing, Writing, Writing

If you’re interested, I’ve got a number of my writing workshop pieces (first drafts, people; let’s remember they’re first drafts) up at A Teacher’s Education.

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Ten Things Tuesday

I’m at a writing workshop all week, so today’s list is a compilation of great writing prompts. (And, not for nothing, I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing an awful lot of lists and memes and things here lately. I’m going to see what I can do about making this more about actually writing. I can’t release the TTT theme, though, so I’ll start writing tomorrow…)

1. Write 5 (or 10, or 20) true sentences.

2. Write about someone in your family who is a mystery to you (whether that person is alive or dead doesn’t matter a bit).

3. Write about a thing you’ve inherited (that “thing” could be an actual material object, a trait or characteristic, or any other interpretation of “thing” you wish).

4. List 5 (or 10, or 20) of your favorite words. Notice what kinds of words they are (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc).

5. Close your eyes and think about a sensation – a scent or a sound or a flavor – and write whatever comes to you as a result of that experience.

6. Describe what peace means. What about longing? How about competence or compassion?

7. Type “faces” (or flowers, or “hands”) into Google Images. Choose one and write a story about it.

8. Write about an everyday activity – brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, driving the car. Try to incorporate as much sensory language into the work as you can.

9. Go to a novel, flip to a random page, and choose a sentence. Make that the first line of your story.

10. Choose a secondary (or tertiary) character in your favorite story (or in the novel you’re currently reading). Put that character in a new situation, have him or her meet a character from another of your favorite stories, or imagine a conversation that you might have with that person.

Happy Tuesday (and happy writing!)

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Filed under ten things Tuesday, the jobs, writing