Monday, December 31, 2007

Rabbit Rabbit

This day, New Year's Eve, is frought with stress for me.

The beginning of the year signifies a big ass work load that requires careful proceeding. One mistake and I have really got a mess on my hands. Now that I am doing the books for two companies, I feel doubly stressed. Setting up new files, taxes (quarterly and annual), 1099's and W-2's, insurance audits...god I feel sick just thinking about it.

Then we have tonight, the heaviest drinking night in the year. Every year for the past few we have gone to a party where there is lots of drinking and dancing; and when I quit drinking, I quit dancing so you can see how I worry about having a good time at this gathering. On my way home from work today, I said to myself, "Well, self, so what if you have a little glass of champagne? What'll it matter? You'll get a little high, and tomorrow you can resume your boring sobriety." {Sigh} if only it were that simple. But it's not.

Here are the good things about the party: the food is always excellent, conversation stimulating, music out of this world, setting is the most beautiful house we ever built. I get to kiss alot of good-looking guys after I kiss Durham and say "Rabbit rabbit" (family tradition from I have no idea where). And I'll remember everything tomorrow. And feel good.

There, I feel better already. But about that damn work load...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New York billboard

Saying goodbye to everybody has made me kind of blue. Thought some humor would help....

Monday, December 24, 2007

tick tick tick

Remember the tick tick tick? It blew tonight at my house. Everybody feeling kind of edgy about all the togetherness and scheduled events when we're used to living our own lives on our own schedules. Too much sugar and for some a bit of a big head this morning. One daughter accuses me of saying something a few months ago she didn't like and another gets pissed at Christmas Eve dinner; all three bicker over singing (or not singing) Christmas carols in the car. And that does it--I'm crying. And you know how it is once you start crying over the holidays: you're sad about every person who has died, every Christmas that you were disappointed, every slight that has been doled out over the past few all gets dredged up and just spills over. When we get home I stalk to my room and slam the door.

Then one of the girls slips a cup of chamomile tea beside the bed while I'm crying and showering. The other two come in to say they're sorry. And I feel like we can start the timer over. Tick tick tick...

Good night and Merry Christmas. It's time to fill the stockings...and no lumps of coal because they apologized.

Countdown to Christmas

Today I felt like the holidays finally began in earnest.  All three girls home.  And tonight we had a few friends over.  At one point things were really cooking.  My middle daughter walked in after a four hour drive home and felt overwhelmed by the commotion, but I felt awesome--friends and family all together eating and drinking.  Some of our old neighbors stopped by. One of them had his son with him who now has a deep voice and looks eye to eye with me.  The food was great and the Whole Foods eggnog was a hit (why don't they carry that stuff all year round - it is so good!)

I absolutely love to entertain.  My style is to put it all out and tell people to help themselves to whatever they want.  Then I proceed to soak up the conversation and hugs and reminiscing. I especially like it when a few people stay after the others have gone and we can talk about how much fun it was before it's really over!

My youngest daughter had a few friends of her own here and they partied in the back long after the last dish was dry in the kitchen.

I love Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oriental photograph

I would like your ideas about this photo. I have posted mine in the comments section.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Brian Andreas has a Story People drawing with the following words: "Rules for a successful holiday: 1. Get together with the family 2. Relive old times (tick tick tick) 3. Get out before it blows."

It is very difficult for groups of people, no matter how much they really love each other, to be together for long periods of time when they're not used to it. We tend to revert to our childish behaviors around those who witnessed them and this adds to the drama. I was always labelled bossy by my sibs, and I am bossy at its best when they're around. And they too assume the familiar roles of our past. We expect it of each other no matter how much therapy we've had or time has passed since we were young and part of a group of people who lived in the same house.

One thing that I (as a bossy person preparing to revert when the family gets here) would like to caution: If you get mad at someone in your family, don't go home mad. Do whatever it takes to make things right before you go.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, my mom called me to come and change sheets in preparation for a visit from one of my sisters. My mom didn't feel well. I, however, was irritated that she wanted me--pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old--to come over. After changing the sheets I stood at the bottom of the steps leading upstairs in her house, looking up at her. She said she wanted to hug us but didn't want us to get sick. I was still mad.

The next morning my brother called to say that my mother had died in the night. I have never gotten over the fact that I was angry with her the last time I saw her. It's been almost 25 years since she died, and I feel weepy right now writing this.

My artist daughter (the one I was pregnant with at the time) having heard this story, made me a tapestry. It shows the legs of someone standing at the top of a set of stairs. On each of the steps, there are things we say to people when we leave: Be sweet, be careful, call me when you get there, I love you. She sewed it with my grandmother's thread that she got when my grandmother died.

Things are not going to always go smoothly during the holidays. We're stressed, the people we deal with are stressed. We come home hoping for a little peace. This Christmas my hope for you is that you and your family spend some quality time together. And if you don't get out before it blows, put out the fire before you go home.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Amazing Grace

I believe if everyone in the world would watch this, we'd all be just fine. Amazing Grace

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Portfolio and the rest of life too

Last night after delaying as long as I could, I drank two cups of regular coffee and put my mind on the portfolio for my writing class. And guess what? When I looked over the list of what needed to be in it, I realized that I already had everything I needed! EVERYTHING! I had done all that worrying about it for NOTHING!

After two cups of coffee, though, I still had a lot of hours left in the night. And I spent them thinking about several things. I thought about my artist daughter who told me that she knows she has everything she needs to create. I thought about the presents I've bought for friends and family and how it feels like just the right amount of giving. I thought about how people and money appeared for my other two daughters, just when they needed them. And I know in my heart that we already have everything we need and we can stop worrying about it and just put it all together so it makes some sense.

As I listened to Christmas music this morning, Pachelbel's Canon in D came on. This is the song I've told my family that I want played at my funeral - George Winston's version in fact - it begins so quietly and crescendos to fullness in the middle and then slows down to quiet again, just like a life does. And I said out loud thank you thank you thank you for the bounty in my life. I kept saying that over and over and I felt that "sad and happy at the same time" feeling I've written about before. It's the season of giving but I got a gift with this realization that the thing I say - "There will always be more than enough" - is really true.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Losing a loved one

This is an excerpt from an interview with Adyashanti by Sy Safransky in the December issue of The Sun.

Safransky: One of your talks on your website is titled “Gift for a Dying Friend.” You make a distinction between expressing our love for someone who’s dying and showing our attachment to them. Is there anything else you would say to someone facing the loss of a loved one?

Adyashanti: Usually, when I meet someone who’s in that situation, they’re trying not to grieve. Maybe they’re trying to transcend grief, or maybe they’re afraid of the enormity of it. So I often encourage them to open to the grief, and I let them know that grief is not unenlightened. It’s a natural way for our systems to cleanse themselves of painful emotions. It’s true we can get stuck in grief. We can become fixated in grief. But more often I find that people don’t open fully to it. When they finally do, what comes up is a tremendous sense of well-being. I don’t mean the grief goes away, but there’s grief and a smile at the same time. It’s just like true love. True love is not all bliss. As my teacher said, true love is bittersweet, like dark chocolate. It almost hurts a little bit. Ultimately all emotions contain their opposite.

When people are in the midst of grief, sometimes, if I think they’re ready for it, I’ll encourage them to think about what’s happened to their loved one: They’re gone. Everything you know about them is gone. Their appearance is gone. Their body is gone. Their mind is gone. Their persona is gone. There is nothing to relate to anymore. It’s all gone. Now, is there anything left? That’s the actual truth of them: what’s still there after a person is gone.

Years ago a woman wrote to me and said her mother was dying of Alzheimer’s, and it was tearing her up. The mother she knew wasn’t there anymore. I wrote her back and said, “Why don’t you sit down next to the bed where your mother is and just reflect on the fact that the person you knew is gone. Her mothering function is gone. The way she used to interact with you is gone. Her personality is gone. It’s all gone. Just sit there for a moment and allow all that to be gone, and see if there’s not anything else. Maybe that wasn’t all there was to your mother.” The woman wrote me back about a week later and said she’d sat next to her mother and let her disappear and thought, Is there anything left? All of a sudden, she knew there was an amazing presence that only took the form of her mother. And she knew that’s what her mother was; that’s what she’d always been. It brought this woman great relief. Then she took it to the next level and thought, If that’s what my mom is, I wonder about me. And she found she wasn’t the person she’d been pretending to be. She was the same presence.

Death is like that: it takes away appearances. It’s OK to grieve the loss of appearances, but it helps to recognize the presence that’s beyond those appearances.

No Class of 2007 at Oriental Christmas Parade

In Step

The past week and a half has been really crazy. Every minute filled with at least two things that needed doing simultaneously, both requiring all my attention. Work and school. Family and friends. Travel and decorating my house for the holiday. I needed to choose from one minute to the next the most demanding thing.

More than a few times during this chaos, I have had to say to myself that people have to come first. My daughters with emotional crises, my sister rejoicing over the "A" on her paper, another sister chiding me for sharing something that should have been kept confidential, friends who needed checking on, my dad and my mother-in-law. I have had to keep my attention on what they are saying and ignore the niggling voices that remind me of my portfolio due, bills to be paid, laundry and dishes. This type of fully executed attention is something I work on. It is something that I think I have been able to improve upon through my spotty practice of meditation--making myself stop what I'm doing and be in the moment.

I have not by any means perfected this. But I'm really really working on being present for those whom I love when they need me, not when it's convenient or when all the chores are done. Now. When they need me. My full attention.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Back to Eat Pray Love:

Gilbert says, "I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. It's the history of mankind's search for holiness. If humanity never evolved in its exploration of the divine, a lot of us would still be worshipping golden Egyptian statues of cats. And this evolution of religious thinking does involve a fair bit of cherry-picking. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light."

Not everyone's religious cup of tea, but I rejoice every time I read this.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas shopping

Tonight I went to the mall. I bought new pajamas for our trip to Oriental (nothing's too good for my gurfrins), a scarf, boots, and tights. I went to the Aveda store and bought a few things because it was double points weekend. If you saw me carrying all those bags you might think, "Whoa--that girl has made a dent in some Christmas shopping." But this is the truth: The bags that come home from the mall during Christmas shopping season are mostly for me. I make donations or give gift cards and money to just about everyone on my list. It's just that it's so easy to bring all those bags into the house, walk past my husband openly carrying them, and hide them in the closet (theoretically until I can get them wrapped). I love Christmas!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Offering for Healing

How I act at church

Each Sunday I swear I'm going to church and come home without saying something that I worry about for the rest of the week. Really - this is a huge problem for me. I say, "Silence is golden" and "Listening is a gift" and other cliched things over and over in the car to the parking lot. Then from the parking lot to the church, I greet each person I see with a bright and cheery good morning, asking how their week went, commenting on the weather--the sort of thing that cannot be misunderstood. But once I'm inside the church something goes kerflooey in my brain and I am like someone with Tourette Syndrome - the damndest things come out of my mouth and I have no control over them whatsoever.

Case in point: This week we had a guest speaker. The speaker is a member of the church and an ordained Methodist minister (recovering). During his sermon, he said something about how our minister has such a wealth of choice for people to take his place when he's gone and how honored he was to be chosen this week. Sooooo, what do I do? After his very awesome sermon, I proceed to the front to say, "No wonder Mr. Minister doesn't want you to take his're awesome!!"

Well, this was not how he put it at all and the regular minister has never said that he doesn't want this guy to sub for him, and I did get a very puzzled look when I said it. But it takes me until I get home to start thinking about what I said. And honest to God I can always come up with some statement I made that might have been taken the wrong way!! Geez.

Okay, so most people go to church and spend the week thinking about raising themselves to a higher calling for their God (lofty, hmmm?) but I just think of going one week without saying something stupid so I don't obsess about it until the next week when I say something stupid to replace it. Is there anywhere in the holy books that addresses this dilemma? Calling all spiritual advisors....Jesus? Buddha? Mohammed? Please heal my foot-in-mouth disease!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Blue Pearl

In the book Eat Pray Love, Gilbert tells of a group of neurologists who wired up a Tibetan monk for a brain scan to see what happens when one enters a transcendent state. She explains that our brain activity shows up normally as yellow and red flashes - more red and more yellow during periods of stress or anger or passion. During the monk's meditation, he was able to quiet his mind so completely that all the red and yellow completely disappeared, and the neurological activity of his brain collected in the center into a small, cool, blue light.

Gilbert says that mystics throughout the ages, without the benefit of brain scans, have described the stillness of one's mind during meditation, the complete union with God, as a blue light. Some say they feel this light radiating from the center of their skulls. In Yogic meditation, she continues, this is called the "blue pearl" and it is the aim of real seekers to find it.

It is amazing to me that in this instance the spiritual interpretation of meditation coincides with the scientific evidence.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Eat Pray Love

About twenty or so people have asked me in the last few months if I've read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat Pray Love. I have it, but had not read it. After reviewing books for my old church's newsletter for umpteen years, I vowed to not read a religious book for a while, and the book did have "pray" in the title. But I kept thinking maybe I ought to read it, if only because I hate the idea of a lot of others having read a book I haven't read!

At the airport waiting for our plane to NYC to see my daughters, I realized that I had already read the book I brought for the trip. In the terminal bookstore, the only paperback I hadn't read was Gilbert's book. Reluctantly I bought it. One hundred pages later I was totally hooked. As soon as we got to New York I told my daughters that we absolutely had to eat Italian food that night. And I don't even like Italian food all that much. Pizza, meatballs, olives! I wanted a table overburdened with red sauce and mozzarella cheese and fat bottles of red wine and bread with olive oil and herbs.

Over the course of the weekend, we had our challenges. We have three beautiful, strong-willed, intelligent daughters, and that's a lot of power in one place. But by this point in the weekend Gilbert was at an ashram in India, meditating and getting all peaceful and communing with spiritual masters. It helped.

On the plane back, I read the third section of the book which is set in Indonesia. Gilbert fell in love which certainly made things more romantic for my husband and me in the mini-airplane booster seats.

I often remember books by the setting in which I read them. This book will forever be associated in my mind with our trip this past weekend. We ate at wonderful restaurants, visited our oldest daughter's school and met her students and co-workers, went with our artist daughter to MOMA where she gained some new inspiration, sensed a new maturity and confidence in our youngest daughter. I realized anew that my children are grown with their own lives, and that I have to trust their instincts and leave their care to my higher power.

Eat, pray, love - it was a very satisfying weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fall Leaves - Paris


In my church, there is a lot of talk about prosperity. Mostly this talk involves the idea that if you think prosperously, you will be prosperous. I want to hear in these discussions that this is a prosperity of the soul, but that isn't what is said at all. The idea that is being put forth involves things - things that we think we have to have to be successful and happy. The idea is this: all you have to do is change your way of thinking and the kingdom of earth will be yours.

I often sit in the pew and think that this must set up the same kind of situation for failing that other churches set up about prayer: If you just pray hard enough and have enough faith, your prayers will be answered. See how this parallels? If you just think about prosperity in the right way, you will be prosperous.

Where does this leave the person whose prayers don't get answered? And where does this prosperity thing leave the person who doesn't get all the things his or her heart desires? Well, it leaves 'em feeling like a gigantic spiritual failure, that's where. And I'm sick of feeling like a spiritual failure. I had enough of that when I thought I would go to hell if I told a lie.

I think it's high time that we started letting people know that faith is all about losing oneself to find oneself. About thinking about other people instead of ourselves all the time. About raising that seratonin level every day by doing something that makes us feel really good, not just sated for the moment. This to me, brothers and sisters, is prosperity. It lines my heart, not my pocket, and it won't wear out, get too small when I gain weight, need fixin' or any of those pesky little chores that things require.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Being Together

It was a cosmic convergence that created a phantom harmonic--all eleven of the Thursday night girls in one place last night. I can't speak to all the things that brought us to my house, but there were a couple of things that stand out. Elizabeth, our Oriental friend, called around 4:30 to say she was coming. This was surprise #1. Then as we sat around eating soup and bread, all the girls who had said they couldn't come started drifting in until we were all there.

A friend from our past died this week and I'm wondering how this might have consciously or unconsciously contributed to our wanting to be together. When one of the girls came in the door and I asked how she was doing, she said, "Well, I'm alive." That may have just said it all - we were all alive and able to be together for food and fellowship.

We did some planning for our trip to Oriental for the Spirit of Christmas event the first weekend in December. And frankly we laughed our asses off while we did it. The theme is the Twelve Days of Christmas and we are eleven plus Elizabeth's mom so we played a little with the ladies dancing...well, you had to be there.

It's the season of being thankful, and I am thankful for this group of women. I'm always trying to get them to do something - projects, speakers, book studies - but they resist for the most part. And last night I heard them say why this is: Sometimes you just need a place to go where there are no expectations except that you show up, get fed, and have a good time. So as long as Whole Foods will keep chopping all the vegetables into pre-packs for my convenience, and keep making those sugar cookies and chocolate cookies and bread, I'll keep cooking and leaving the door open on Thursday nights.

Monday, November 5, 2007

So happy to be here

One of the stories from my childhood involves an overnight at my grandmother's house. I was always conscious of not hurting anyone's feelings, but I was so homesick that night I didn't think I could bear it. As I lay in bed I started crying, softly at first so Granny wouldn't hear me, but hear me she did. When she came upstairs and asked me what was wrong, I suddenly remembered hearing somewhere that people often cried when they were happy, and I blubbered, "Granny, I'm just so happy to be here!"

That's how I felt this weekend. I went to a visitation, a wedding, and then a memorial service. Through it all my tears waited right at the corners of my eyes, and sometimes they just got so impatient they spilled over. They were tears of sadness, sure, but they were also tears of gladness. Sadness at the loss of life, gladness at hearing the impact these people made on others. Sadness at the loss of our children's childhood, gladness at the blush of young love. Sadness at the beautiful music, gladness at the beautiful music. Sadness and gladness are so closely linked as to be inseparable sometimes.

Through all the poignancy of the weekend's activities, I have to say that in the end, I was happy to have been there.

Friday, November 2, 2007


There is a very distinct threat to my personal environment these days. And it doesn't really have anything to do with global warming. In fact, it is totally oblivious to the fact that, well, the Iraq War is partially about our greedy consumption of oil. What I'm worried about is those finely coiffed and made-up women driving around in their Suburbans talking animatedly on their cell phones at 8 am in the morning. These women are downright dangerous!! Between chatting and grabbing for their Starbucks coffee cup, they don't have a hand to put on a turn signal, much less keep on the steering wheel. I can't tell you the number of times the Mazda I'm driving has almost ended up underneath one of those monster gas-guzzlers.

Who are they talking to so excitedly at that time of the morning? Who else but their buddy driving the Expedition two roads over! And what in the hell are they talking about?? The one-thousand thread-count sheets at Tuesday Morning? The woman in her pajamas in the carpool line? The great sex they had with their husbands last night?

You have to give them one thing: they are looking good while they drive and talk and get their caffeine fix. And after they put down the coffee cup so they can hold the phone between their shoulder and ear, turn the rear view mirror so they can see to put on lipstick and fluff their hair, they're looking even bettah!

Gawd, I think I'm going to start going into work around 6 am. At least the men driving those big-ass SUV's aren't all that happy looking in the morning and they don't have to put on makeup while they drive. And I might try to invent a turn signal that is activated by the chipper female voice calling out, "Left, damnit, I said left - Marie, hold on a minute. This car won't do a darn thing I tell it to!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ride 'em cowboy!

I've been on this major roller coaster ride this week--emotions up, down, up, down....Yee ha! Has Mars gotten back on the straight and narrow yet?!?

For the past two days I thought about martinis alot on the way home from work. I used to stop and meet a friend or two and drink those wicked things until, well, until I didn't have to feel anything any more. And I realized that that is exactly why I was thinking about them. The events of the past few days have made me feel, I mean really feel emotional in so many ways that I'm on overload. I just don't want to feel another thing. But this is not to be--the martini marathons--so I have had a few good cries and laughed til I cried and I feel about the same as if I had had the martinis but without the danger of driving home afterwards and feeling like s--t the next morning. This is progress.

I have not allowed myself to listen to NPR in the car lately. Instead I put on some soothing music. Several times since I started doing this my instinct has been to reach over and turn on the talk talk talk. Why do I feel a need to do this? Because in the same way I don't want to feel I don't want to think about all those things that are causing those emotions. I want to be distracted. I want to worry about the war or the elections or Darfur or anything that is not my feeling.

In the midst of all this craziness, some cool things have happened. Today I was at my lowest. On the way home from work I thought to myself that I would love it if there was a personal letter for me in all the bills that waited for me in the mailbox. I actually envisioned such a letter. And sure enough, there was a letter from my dear friend, Elizabeth, and just seeing it--I didn't even need to read it--changed my afternoon. I went to the visitation for my friend whose husband died and darnit if she didn't uplift me!! When I got home the phone rang and it was a friend of my mother-in-law's looking for MIL's telephone number, and she spent about 45 minutes telling about when I first started dating Durham and how much she and MIL had come to love me. As soon as I hung up, my daughter Jean called full of problems she wanted to discuss but by the end of the conversation we were both laughing uproariously at something so silly as to not be repeated here.

Having sighed alot, cried a little, and ended the day laughing at ridiculous things, I'm feeling better already.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

heading home

It's V-E-R-Y scary...

Yep, very scary. Not Halloween, but goodness. Every time my life feels so good, I get nervous. Every time someone else has some rotten luck, I get nervous. When my kids were little and they were all going through a good stage at the same time (um, did this really happen or did I dream it one night?), I got nervous. Why is it that when things are good, we just plain feel anxious that they can't stay that way? And if it keeps on being good for very long we think that our good/evil balance sheet is getting heavy on the good side and then we'll get audited by that great Accountant in the sky and be fined or dealt an extra dose of sorrow or need or fear.

I also wonder if I'm spending my good times wisely. Do I share? Do I appreciate what I've got? Am I too satisfied or complacent or not compassionate enough? I keep thinking about that old saying that love is something if you give it away you end up getting more--but then I always think, "That's w-a-y too easy."

Okay, Universe. I'm going to take the good that you're handing out. I'm going to try not to worry about any trouble that's over the horizon. But if you don't mind, I might save a little goodness just in case.

bigger than you and me

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the spins

My husband cautions me when I relate this story or that not to "spin it out." I'm amazed at how often we make up a story about something that could not be farther from the truth.

I had been sending a weekly card to my friend with cancer. Some of the messages were a little out there, but she's known me since college--I was crazy then and I'm crazy now. I started to worry that I had been over the top. This is where the story starts its spinning. I try to figure out a way to get in touch with her thinking I would get a hint from her voice if she thought I was nuts. Her number was unlisted. I called another Meredith friend. She and her husband work together in a family business, and I left a message for her to call me if she had the number. Then I emailed someone on the Caringbridge site that was a designated contact for people who wanted to get a message to the family. I found my friend's work email address and sent a message there too but got an automated reply that someone was checking her mail for her and would get the message to her if it was important. (whirr whirr) At this point I'm worried that I'm looking like a crazy stalker kind of person. What if all these people are letting her know I'm frantically trying to contact her? And why won't anybody call me or email be back? THEN there was a new post on her Caringbridge site and I didn't get an email notification. (whirr whirr) My sick friend has asked everyone to please not have any contact with that crazy Mamie. "Take her name off the notification list. And no, I don't need her offer of help"....See how it all gets out of control?

The truth of the matter was that the friend at the jewelry store was out of the country visiting her mom and had divorced the husband and was out of the jewelry business. The contact for the family was dealing with organizing food and transportation and the new issue of the husband's death. And the Internet isn't infallible--I just didn't get the notification. Period. When I finally talked to my friend last night she told me she loved my cards and looked forward to getting them each week.

Why do we build on our insecurities? Why can't we have faith in ourselves--faith that the universe is working with us for the best outcomes. Faith that we're good people and are recognized as such. Maybe next time I'll have a little patience to see what is really going on before I spin out. But I doubt it.



For one friend, I can hardly think that she is waking up today feeling that the day is full of promise. She was diagnosed several weeks ago with cancer and has been undergoing some intense treatments which have left her feeling sick and drained. Then yesterday her husband of 30+ years died. What will make her want to get up day after day from now on? Will it be enough that her daughter--an adult--has lost her father and sorely needs her mother by her side? Will it be an attitude of "by damn the universe will not defeat me!" or "I together with my faith and family and friends can overcome any obstacle"? I can't imagine what she feels right now. I'm as sad as I can be for her, but my sadness is only the tip of her iceberg.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bald Head Island

writing our truths

I've been doing a lot of writing lately. I'm facing the question of how to put my work out there without hurting any one's feelings though.

I wanted to send in this piece I wrote to Newsweek's My Turn. When I read it to my writing group they said that I needed to read it to my husband because it was humorously critical of him. They felt I needed his approval to put it in public print. So I asked him if he would listen. As I read, I got a few nervous laughs from him, some criticism at my "poetic liberty" with some of the facts. Finally about two paragraphs from the end he said he'd had enough. If I was going to tell a story tell the truth.

Well, that's the dilemma as I see it. Although I was exaggerating some, the truth was hurtful to him. He looked totally defeated by the piece and deflated too. I felt horrible. It was a joke at his expense. I finally apologized enough that he perked up, but I know the truth of the essay will stick with him and hound him.

It's the same way with most of my non-fiction pieces. Although I may not always see clearly, I report things as I see them. How do you write what's in your head and your heart, make it interesting and engaging and your truth, without stepping on any toes?

I'm going to keep thinking about this. But in the meantime I'm going to keep writing those things that I feel inside that have to be put on paper. I just may not share them as freely.

Sunday, October 28, 2007