What I Know About Writing

What I know about writing is that it’s a complex simplicity of time and effort.

Sometimes the words flow easily and sometimes they are impossible to find.

What I know about writing is that it is soothing and frustrating all at the same time. It is healing and thought-provoking and time-consuming.

What I know about writing is it is isolating and connecting. It is a solitary activity but once shared it becomes part of someone else’s awareness; someone else’s story.

What I know about writing is that it is intangible, and yet printed words hold a magical power. You can not see words, or hear them, or touch them, but when placed together in an article or a book or a story they come to life.

What I know about writing is it is too heavy and too light and sometimes just right. My silly inconsequential posts seem so insignificant when I go read an article written so beautifully that it moves my thoughts; changes my perspective.

What I know about writing is it is powerful, necessary, and, to me, the very essence of all-encompassing simple complexity.

Finding My Voice

Last night, I was stuck in a downward spiral.

I was trying to coordinate holiday plans with family that lives far away, and heard news of a trip to Paris and some pregnancies. I started to go down the path one should never go down; a path of self-depreciation.

We have no trips to Paris on our schedule. Whenever we have free vacation time we use it to go visit relatives. There is no exciting baby news here. Our lives are inundated with work, running a household, and taking care of a toddler.  There are no major accomplishments or life changes to celebrate here. Basically, it is just plain boring.

As I spiraled into a negative thinking pattern that involved questioning my worth and my path in life and wondering what I would ever amount to, I packed my son’s bag. I was getting ready to take him to childcare so I could attend a rehearsal for my lead role in a Christmas production.

After getting my son settled, I walked into the rehearsal area and busied myself with rehearsing lines.

After a few minutes, one of the older men in the production approached me and asked my name, and followed up by saying, “I didn’t realize that was your real voice.”

So here’s the thing if you haven’t met me in real life…I have kind of a unique voice. One that has been made fun of, drives comments from cashiers at check out lanes, and sometimes even receives a compliment. But it is noticeably a different thing. And it lands me lead roles on the stage.

So sometime towards the beginning of rehearsals in October, this older gentleman had complimented me on my theatrical voice. Last night when he approached me, he said he didn’t realize that was actually my voice. I responded by saying, “This character isn’t me, but, yes, it is my natural voice.”

And then the most amazing thing happened.

This man stood there and inspired me. He asked if I had ever considered performing professionally.

“Well, yes, that’s what I always wanted to do. I was even a voice major in college and I used to perform a lot in community theater. But then, you know, I got married and had a baby, so now I’m just a mom. This Christmas show is just for fun.”

He stopped me from my spiraling as he said, “I’m not saying this to be nice, I’m saying this to be true; you are very talented. You have a gift. God gave you that. Is this something you want to do?”

“Well, yes, it’s always something I’ve loved doing, but you know, now I’m just a mom and…”

“No, it doesn’t matter what anyone says. If this is something you want to do, you need to do it. If your husband loves you, he will support you. This show isn’t just for fun. This show is your starting point.”

He continued to tell me about how much he enjoys watching me perform. How unique my voice is.  How he loves this character I’m bringing to life. He quoted scripture to me. He made me cry.

And then he said, “This is my mission. Because I was meant to talk to you tonight. And you are meant to do something great.”

As I wiped tears away from my eyes, I said, “Thank you. That is something I really needed to hear tonight.”

He left with a smile and a “See you on stage.”

*****

 It’s a prayer I say often, “Dear God, You gave me a voice. Please show me how to use it.”

And then it was answered with a speech from a man at rehearsal and an email about a new writing opportunity…both on the same day. (I’m telling you, fives are significant!) (And I can’t wait to tell you about the new writing opportunity..more news on that soon.)

 *****

Late last night, after my son and I returned home safely from rehearsal and my husband got home from his 12 hour shift, I began to recount my encounter to my husband as we stood in the kitchen, him eating leftovers and me sipping a cup of hot tea. Our toddler was eating a late night snack near by and we were all winding down to head to long-awaited bed.

“I guess I just thought that part of my life was over, you know? I mean I made a choice between pursuing performance or getting married and having a family. And now I’m just a wife and a mom and this show was just something to do. But tonight, this man inspired me. He reminded me that maybe I could be more than that. People used to say things like that to me all the time, but no one has said anything like that to me in a long time. I don’t know, it just really meant a lot for him to say that. And then there’s this writing opportunity  That’s one of the reasons I started blogging  right?  To become open to possibilities.  Maybe I could still be somebody.”

At this point, somehow my husband and I had wandered over to the refrigerator (I tend to pace when I talk.) My husband hugged me and gave me a kiss as he said “Of course you’re somebody.”

And then, on perfect cue, the cereal boxes on top of the fridge fell down and hit me on the head, spewing a few Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes around.

My husband, toddler and I all erupted into hysterical laughter that was just as much from the humor of falling cereal as it was from exhaustion before finally heading upstairs to bed.

Maybe there’s a greater purpose for me somewhere out there. Maybe I can use my voice for writing and performing in some capacity. But at the end of the day I will always be a Mommy, finding humor in spilled cereal and beauty in slobbery kisses.

**************************************************************************************************************

Speaking of using your voice, today is election day! I was thrilled to take my son to vote today and loved how proud he was to participate. Did you use your voice and vote?

We voted! Presidential Election 2012

 

 

Inspired

I tentatively placed my hands on the keyboard and willed myself to let go of the story that had been hiding in the recluse of my mind for months.

I watched as the letters under my fingers transformed into words on my screen, pouring out thoughts and telling a story I had never before shared.

I dared, much like I am now, to let the story unfold on its own, and present itself in its own way. Even I was not fully aware what direction it was taking.

I edited slightly, because when my mind speaks is doesn’t always remember to spell.

I published. I linked. I waited.

I held expectations no higher than a hope that this would be a prequel to my whole story and that it might allow me to connect with more readers in this wonderful blogging world.

And then it came. The brave. The transparent. The inspiring. The different perspectives. The outpouring of responses on a story I thought was my own.

I was amazed and humbled to discover that this story is not just my story. Parts of this reality had been experienced and felt and endured and coped with by many. People shared pieces of their own times of loss, their own times of difficulty, their own perspectives. People came here, to this small little corner of the internet, and shared their hearts.

To say I am honored is an understatement. I never knew that a simple post with a picture of a pumpkin would open the amazing dialogue created on that page. I cherish these bits of your lives you so generously intertwined with mine and savor them as though they are a decadent dessert. (Of chocolate, of course.)

This blogging world is still new to me. I am not even aware of all the things I do not know, as I have just started to climb this ladder and do not have the vision to see more than the next step in front of me. I am in awe of this community.

I have been lucky enough to find bloggers whose words float over the screen like a melody, whose descriptions entrance me, whose honesty both surprises and compels me. I have been lucky enough to read stories of people who break down the barriers of convention and instead allow the private of their lives to dance freely into the public. I have been lucky enough to find bloggers whose kindness surpasses many of those I know in “real life.”

Everyone has a story. It is what makes life so tragically beautiful. There is such artistry here in the intertwining of these hearts and voices. I see slivers and pieces of diverse stories slowly thread over each other as they weave their way into a part of the tapestry of shared experiences.

One of the reasons I started a blog was to finally share the birth story that I have never told, in full, to anyone in the past two and a half years since it happened. I have carried it, mostly alone, as I have walked this path of new motherhood. I started a blog to find you. To hear these stories. To know that I am not alone.

And to tell you that you are not alone either.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share a brief overview and summary of my story. Thank you for not making me feel like I am crazy to have these musings. Thank you for giving me the courage to begin to share my birth story. I will tell you all of it one day.

Thank you for making me feel inspired.

Lost Pieces

It’s funny how it’s two and a half years later and I’m still trying to pick up pieces of myself.

I lost so many of the pieces of who I thought I was over these years. So many pieces that I thought completed the puzzle of who I am. But life is nothing if not a constant exercise in change. And so I change. I adapt. I loose pieces. I find others. I try to string together a complete image of this woman who stares at me in the mirror.

Today I found some old pieces. Pieces I thought were lost long ago like old toys hidden under the couch or receded into cracks in floor boards. Pieces that brought tears to my eyes because I remember them. It was like reuniting with an old friend.

Today I dropped my little boy off at school. When he first started school this fall, I didn’t know how to be apart from him. I waited in the parking lot for him to come home.

Since then, I have progressed. I have used my time to run errands, and tackle the grocery store and mopping. I have sat and people watched while sipping a latte. I have talked on the phone to my best friend. I have worked out. I have blogged.

But this morning, I found some parts of what used to make me. I listened to the soundtrack of Wicked The Broadway Musical. And I sang along and smiled and remembered why that used to be such a big passion of mine. I felt inspired. I found myself at the mall. I entered a grown up store with grown up clothes that would fit my now grown up figure and did not have a trace of children’s paraphernalia. I tried on shirt from the clearance rack and let my hands drape over the luxurious fabric of items that have no place in my daily life of dirt and ketchup. I tried on two shirts that actually flattered me and I smiled because I remembered that I used to look beautiful and turn heads. My now go-to outfit of yoga pants and t-shirts doesn’t do that. I splurged on a shirt that made me feel beautiful. And I cringed at the register, because I don’t remember the last time I spent so much money on myself.

And as I blared the Wicked soundtrack again on my way home, I let tears fall and thoughts form and rushed inside to find a home for them here.

My life is so different than it used to be. My reflection always surprises me when a mirror suddenly appears in my view. But there are pieces of me that are still the same. It was so nice to find some of them this morning and reawaken beauty and inspiration and indulgence within my world that has become devoted to my child’s innocence.

It was nice to find some lost pieces.

Unexpected Gifts

Sometimes the thoughts in my mind are so intense and feverish and many that they threaten to trample over each other until they erupt from my fingertips onto the page.

Sometimes the darkness in my mind contrasts so sharply with the bright white of the screen that I can not organize a thought.

Sometimes the blank canvas in my mind so is so accurately reflected in the blank canvas of the screen that I hate to dirty it with the stain of intimate thoughts.

But always, I find this space to be calming. Always waiting for me to come back and fill it. Always there to let me explore the collage of thoughts floating in my mind, tearing through to the surface, gasping for the first breath of life, when I type them here and give them a voice.

Always, here, I find myself at peace. In the solitude of writing, in the solitude of self exploration, where I allow my world to be quiet and listen to myself. Always, here, I find a new piece of me. Always, here, I discover inspiration.

I listen to myself most often at night, when the house is dark except for the faint light coming in through the window. When the world is quiet except for the sounds of my husband and my son breathing next to me in bed. Where my cat curls up at my feet and my breath falls in tune with the people I cherish. It is then that I can stop, and listen, and learn things that I already knew, but never took the time to process. In these moments I am at peace. And in these moments I can reflect here.

This blog is my place of peace for my thoughts and my inner stillness. Listening to the words that so desperately accumulate in my mind and then pour onto this page has inspired me. Giving myself this place of solitude to write and reflect and grow has turned into an unexpected gift.

Have you given yourself an unexpected gift?