What Writing Education?

There are always blogs to be found on writing here and once again I’ve just been reading some and am reminded that I’ve never been taught to write. That I recall. I was taught spelling in school, about nouns and verbs and such–punctuation but I don’t recall ever being taught to write. Which is odd because I like to write and I want to and I guess I’ll need to teach myself. Which I’m willing to do.
I grew up in a small mid-western town of about 750. There were 43 of us in my high school graduating class and it was a very poor school. Half of the young women were pregnant or had children, the Viet Nam war was still going and only a handful of us would go on to college or leave the area. A surprising number of us are deceased. If anyone wanted to be a writer, they were keeping it a big, big secret. Good idea.
My family lived way out in the country. I spent an unusual amount of time being isolated there. My mother had an eighth grade education and English was her second language. Often in school, I would be reprimanded by teachers or ridiculed by the other kids for pronouncing words incorrectly or just talking weird. Everyone had a kind of hillbilly accent which I wouldn’t learn until I left the area.
I read a lot of books, as many as I could get my hands on. There were very few books in our home and I made good use of the library. I recall a big deal about being allowed to check out Michener’s Hawaii because of a sex scene in it.
Having remarkably few conversations, my thinking voice and also some verbal exchanges became a mixture of the language in books, my mother’s style of speaking and what I picked up around me.
When I was working in the blue collar jobs I had, it didn’t go over well when I used big words. But often they were the only words that would come to mind when I was trying to express myself. Wanting to please, I would often attempt to tailor my speech and expression to whomever I was speaking to.
But it was often awkward and expressing myself still is. There’s often a feeling of not being clear or understood. And I don’t care as much but I am intending to learn some basic writing skills because I know things that I don’t have words for.
It’s almost a duty that people share what they know because we all need to teach and inspire each other.
More and more I realize how important it is for everyone to take responsibility for their own education. I made better than average grades because I wanted to be a good girl and I was a good memorizer. (What ever happened to that?) I didn’t really understand much though.

Three Realizations

fabric art

fabric art

Dare I call them epiphanies? I’m still feeling like things are going to be all right even with needing to take two naps today. Simply couldn’t keep my eyes open and had a fever. In a healing way, not a getting sick kind of way.

First I became very much aware that I’ve been pressuring myself and limiting my enjoyment of life because I need to make changes in how I do things, faster and more often than I used to. Well, so does every one else. Faster and more often. And I’m doing it. I know what and why I need to change and day by day I know the “how”, most of the time, in the moment. I just don’t have a plan for the long-term “how”. But whenever I’ve done that before, I’ve always had to change the plan. It doesn’t mean that I have to postpone enjoyment of life until I figure everything out.

This usually happens more often after I speak with a healthy, employed, successful acquaintance who has family and friends and who is envious that I have more free time. Maybe I should feel guilty? Uptight? They’d never change places with me.

The second realization is that there’s nothing wrong with me for not liking the selfish, abusive, greedy, lazy, mean, snarky, manipulative, lying, ill-mannered, ignorant people in my past. Of course, I wouldn’t like them. As a caring person who understands that we’re all one and that there is a beautiful soul underneath icky personalities, I tended to make it mostly my responsibility to ensure that every relationship went smoothly. Well, it’s a two way street and there’s no need to relate to disagreeable people if I don’t have any real business with them.

The third realization is that as challenging as my life is, it’s better than it was a year ago. Five years ago. Ten years ago. Twenty. And so on. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I have regrets. It does me no good to condemn myself now that I have hindsight. I’d do a lot of things differently. But really, my life is better. I’m generally optimistic about the future even though I have dark moments and sometimes feel that at age 56, it’s too late for me. There’s no evidence why I should feel optimistic, but I do.

Some Opinions

The temperature was in the mid fifties today and it wasn’t windy out. Considering that I physically overdid it yesterday, I was reasonably functional. In fact my spirit was doing way better than my body and mind which weren’t keeping up very well, so I plodded along.

I’m optimistic enough that I’m going to write about some things I don’t like today.

One is the dvd series “A Touch Of Evil” that I got from the library yesterday. I really enjoy BBC mysteries and I think Robson Green is interesting. This seems to have been filmed in the late 90″s. Now I’m again realizing that I don’t care about the stories much in these shows. It’s the manners, houses, gardens and such that I like. The pace. But this show doesn’t have that. It’s all metal, glass and plastic, all in the city and filmed in grays and smoky blues. Stark. No music. Bleak.

I also watched the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice. I like the Colin Firth one better. Hmmm…..didn’t like the new art I looked at yesterday. Am I middle-aged in outlook now? Heh.

Today I went to Winco and got a few groceries. Almond milk instead of rice milk since I’ll be cutting out even more grain based foods from my diet. Walking back, two women approached me. One had a sign about getting signatures for a petition having to do with Norml.

That’s fine—they can do that. But I don’t really care. I’m burned out with people who don’t care about me going on about their agendas. I was polite, listened and told them I didn’t think pot should be criminalized. But when I wanted to share my opinion that in all the research I’ve done, I now believe weed is really bad for physical, mental and energetic health–doing nasty things to people’s auras, I could sense the mind of the one I was speaking to, close shut. So I was done. Then I noticed that the other one had a small camera pointed at me. I went on my way but am wondering if they were recording me. Without notifying me and getting permission. So now, no way am I going to care at all about their cause.

And that’s the way I feel about it and if it makes me seem like a grumpy old lady, oh well.

Celebrating On A New Hill

Those of you who easily have clarity, finding words to describe your inner process and insights, I very much want to be able to do that too.

Something that helps me in the meantime is to picture a landscape and describe what’s happening that way. While the last few days I’ve been a bit morose in the shadows, I’ve now moved on to a new and higher hill, taking deep breaths. And enjoying the view.

The celebrating part was a choice I impulsively made this afternoon to indulge in food that isn’t on my strict health diet. I got some orange chicken from the deli at a store that doesn’t have organic meat. The list of ingredients was very long and I didn’t read it. I also had a small pot of real coffee and some cheap chocolate. I don’t expect to feel ill tomorrow but I do expect to have some food cravings because I believe that kind of crap is addictive, what with the chemicals and all.

Emotionally, my mood is lighter. Not doing so well with my goals this week on the surface, I still feel that I’ve accomplished something by finding another missing piece of a puzzle. Don’t you love when that happens?

One of the keys came in a newsletter I get from something called the Yin Project. I get interested in lots of things, sign up and then delete most of them as they show up because there is simply too much information coming at me.

The Yin Project is intended for professional women, of which I am not one and so I’ve been ignoring it as yet another thing not relevant to where I’m at. A video drew me in recently. Rachel Jane Groover, the creator, has found that the women she coaches, do better when they have a wide practice instead of a high and deep one. O.K. She lists six areas of growth that are important and if a woman is weak in one or two, it will be the Achilles heel that holds her back. (I doubt if this would just apply to women, though.) Anyway, I actually do a lot of work on the psychological, energetic, ethical and spiritual areas of my life. Not necessarily sticking with one practice, I follow what lights up for me.

The area where I’m currently working hard, with a ways to go, is physical and if you’ve been reading this blog you may have noticed that I do a lot of research and practice in that area.

My weakest area is interpersonal. Damn! And I’m very, very weak in that. I keep postponing doing anything about it too because it seems like wasted effort, I can think of lots of reasons to give up and I’m just so burned out with people.

But good information to know. It’s awareness I didn’t really have even a week ago. So, like writer’s block, something was cloudy and holding me back from striding towards my goals–more information trying to get through. Now it’s like the sun is shining a bit again, there’s a gentle breeze and I can make some changes while carrying on with some of my goals. In my own way, since I doubt I have much in common with the women who take courses and workshops such as The Yin Project. (Fine for them, though.)

That has to do with my background and history. It’s really odd that I would be interested in growth considering where I came from.

Male or female, which of the six areas–psychological, energetic, physical, interpersonal, spiritual or ethical is your most neglected?

Showing Up Again

I still want to post every day this year, be positive and authentic, but am sorely disappointed in human nature and wondering if I can ever, ever fix all the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m tempted to write about the bok choy salad I’ve made instead. Rice noodles have made it onto my radar (gluten free) and I broke them into bits and sauteed them in butter and added chopped green onions and slivered almonds, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Or I could write about some of the production notes I’ve read about Midsomer Murders, a BBC series I have on dvd and love to watch. It costs two million dollars per episode! And takes five or six weeks to shoot. And in England there is a challenge with aircraft noise when shooting films.

Some things have currently made me jump back into survival mode. That’s what growth is, excavating, understanding, releasing and moving on and then doing it again and again. There’s nothing linear about it. It’s more like a dance.

There are basic developmental things I’ve missed out on and it causes problems. Our society encourages us to be in denial about a lot of things, soldier on, don’t act like a victim, be positive blah, blah, blah and a lot of time that’s all about the person dishing out that advice. They don’t want to feel uncomfortable, they don’t want us to drag down the vibrations, not pitch in to contribute to society enough or whatever it is that they’re perceiving that makes them so lacking in compassion and so abundant with poor advice.

So, I’ve wasted a lot of resources reaching for things without a proper foundation because no one would believe my history. This is the road I’m taking to learn to trust myself, not the people who have no clue what it’s like to be me.

Well, I guess that is obscure and the details don’t really matter. It’s simply been another rough day and I’ll get through to the sunny days again. I feel like a fool for trusting my fellow humans and that is sad.

Sunday Morning Odds and Ends

Actually it’s mid-day here and warm out (relatively), I’m able to walk without too much pain and my hair is clean. So, I’m wanting to get out and get some more food before it rains–30% chance.

Writing my morning pages went well today–it unearthed something that may seem a little shadier than the bright tone I attempt to take here. It’s about nuances–as usual–regarding human nature–discernibility to the degree of acceptance in the now moment and the degree to which one wants to grow and move on to better circumstances, how sometimes it’s better to learn from someone closer to us in proximity than someone who would sell us a bulldozer for the task of digging a small flower bed for the first time ever. About how good people can be highway robbers, because we are traveling in a strange land where that’s the way it goes.

Whew! I’ll maybe get back to you on that–there is a wide gap between my consciousness and my ability to find terms and words and organize them with clarity, but this is important for me because it fine tunes the way I can handle obstacles on my journey. The audience I’m writing for, persevering people with huge challenges, willing to take responsibility, have self-authority and who are about a mile behind me–well, they are not on the internet reading WordPress blogs. And that’s O.K. I will carry on.

Reading a book about novel writing, I ran into the brick wall of not having an idea that I think I can manage somewhat for my first endeavor. For the time being anyway. And the little basil plant I’m growing from a seed (another post waiting) has survived the watering can washout from yesterday where it appeared to have vanished for a day. Win some, lose some. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which is which.

Giselle Bundchen, a super-mode,l has said that sunscreen is bad–causes cancer, I think. I only read the headline, but I guess some big company is not liking her saying that. From all the research I’ve done, I agree with her. Except now I’ve modified it to putting sunscreen on the face for graceful aging purposes.

And and obscure source I check out has found that for many people there is a generation of our ancestors that got too much sun which altered DNA and that the current “craze” for vitamin D3 is not necessarily good. They work with miasms and vibrational remedies. We really need to pay attention and do due diligence when it comes to choices we make. Pay attention.

Then there are those who are in survival mode and the question of sunscreen and vitamin D3 supplements is not at all a priority.

Which brings me to another personal insight. Take my word, I’ve not had many good people in my life. On the hierarchy of needs, (Maslow?), I get frustrated with the belonging and be loved need and attempt to jump to self-actualization. Who wants to be stuck when the world doesn’t cooperate? It seems I’ve been in survival mode longer than I thought or want to be. Yet, I carry on.

Lastly, my blog got a lot of hits. From a spammer with an acne med. site. At least this one wasn’t about porn. Now, somewhat cheerfully I’m off to brave possibly eventual inclement weather to score some healthy food.

Oh Really?

One of the most important things for me to remember as I navigate my life is not to compare myself with others.

I just read an an online piece about a survey that showed how Facebook made the grass seem greener in other people’s lives. All the photos of fabulous times friends are having and their numerous successes can make one feel like a loser. I know it does me and anything I might have to post on Facebook seems lame. So I don’t. It’s understandable that people would want to present themselves in the best light possible and most of us don’t really want to share our dark nights of the soul in our blogs. But it’s easy to forget that our glamorous, confident friends have doubts and awkward moments.

In this age of rampant self-promotion, how can we be sure what’s presented is true? I remember in the 80’s when I worked at a job with mostly men. In that workplace during that time, they were allowed to say almost anything no matter how uncomfortable it made me. I tuned them out but was aware that there was a lot of sexual bragging going on, which I didn’t believe to be true at all. Then in other circles I was in, people would share the glorious tales of their spiritual experiences, which made my subtle moments of divine connection seem pale in comparison.

Two of the stars of the mind/body and new age community have admitted to their burn out and exhaustion while they were accomplishing amazing things in the public eye. Joan Borysenko, a stress expert has written about her own burn-out in her latest book, Fried. It’s very informative about the stages and signs that are about so much more than just depression. Debbie Ford of “Shadow” fame has had to choose priorities after her serious bout with pneumonia and shares that she was exhausted most of the years she was out there as a leading voice. She’s now had to disconnect from many of the obligations and often accessible communications with everyone she was available to before.

I’ve learned the hard way that it calls for sense and awareness of reality when determining just what I can reasonably do and whether or not it’s worth the cost. Sure, I have goals but at age 56 I very much want to enjoy my remaining years, not hyperventilate myself to the same success it looks like other people are achieving. And when I tune in to someone, I want to pay attention to their authentic self, not an image they’re promoting. It’s so refreshing to have someone connect with me for just a moment or so—and they’re not selling some thing or some agenda.


I’ve been avoiding being online partly because the weather has been so lovely for this time of year and partly because the headlines are getting to be too much again. In addition to ongoing unrest in the world, the information about all the changes in technology makes it seem as though the world is spinning out of control again.

Anyone reading my posts might wonder if I ever think about anyone else. The answer to that is yes and actually for many years I thought of everyone else before I did myself. I’m actually a great listener and rather perceptive and attentive and repeatedly am made aware that I really experience the world way differently than everyone I know. Also that I don’t have the energy to have arguments and discussions about the differences.

This morning I woke up really early and feeling out of sorts while it was still dark, I logged on and read some of Christine Kane’s old blog posts from 2006, which I find inspiring and very helpful. Christine is a singer/songwriter who has overcome a major personal struggle and now does mentoring/life coaching and conducts retreats.

She has become too big of a super-powered superstar for me to learn much from lately. And that’s great for her and the people she’s mentoring. It’s her earlier accounts of what she’s learned that are more meaningful to me because it’s a little closer to my level and I can relate to many of her humorous stories and insights. Often when there’s someone I consider a teacher for me, their rate of growth is a lot faster than mine and I notice the time when they take off. It’s like they morph into a whole new person and become unrecognizable. That’s why I had quit subscribing to her blog because I’m just poking along as fast as I’m able and willing. But the 2006 posts were very inspiring on a day when I’m feeling really out of it as far as the world is concerned.

When Other People Grow

Relationships are constantly changing, people grow and it isn’t all in Grace, all the time.
When people are behaving dysfunctionally and we call them out, they aren’t going to change simply because we know what they’re up to. First they must have an awareness and then they must want to change and this is all a process.
We all know what it’s like when the dynamics of a relationship change–adjustments have to be made.
What surprises me is when someone I’ve looked up to and consider an expert, one who handles everything in an awesome and cool way, ups their game and the usual prickly, uncomfortable, awkward energy is broadcast just as it is from us lesser mortals. Especially when they don’t achieve instant mastery of the new growth they are incorporating.
People striving really hard and striding forward at a brisk pace–well, I try to stay out of their way. People becoming more assertive and empowered can be quite unpleasant to be around and while supporting them in theory, I like to back away and give them space and dodge whatever might be flying around. I tend to walk on eggshells around them and watch to see if it takes.
When I make these kinds of evolving changes, I am somewhat sneaky about it, rather apologetic and hope I don’t make too many waves. The amusing thing is that it often isn’t noticed in the outside world very much. I also need to be careful that I don’t judge myself for not having the awareness sooner and feel embarrassed that others were aware of my previous shortcomings. Of course, these other people aren’t paying that much attention–they have their own stuff to pay attention to.
I’m not totally clear about what my point is here. I am an empath and can feel how it feels when other people make these changes (when I’m not careful) and I’m noticing it more lately. It’s distracting and it takes work on my part to come up with an appropriate response.
One thing I’m not, is fast on my feet when it comes to verbal communication. Not being on the same wavelength as many folks, it often takes longer for me to process what they’re saying and how it jives with what they’re energetically broadcasting. As a conflict-avoider I certainly don’t want to push any buttons.
So back to the recent encounter with a professional who apparently has made a great leap as far as goals go–the person who prompted this reflection–I am reminding myself that it’s all about them and not so much about me.
It’s confusing, almost like dealing with someone who’s possessed, to have new territory and rules when you haven’t gotten the memo, to find oneself in a new landscape when you don’t have a map. When a business stays open during remodeling, there are usually “pardon our progress” signs. Heck, I often (as an over-explainer) verbally tell people “please excuse my mess”. Not so with many folks.
This person is someone I’m paying and it seems to be like “figure it out yourself– hop to it!”
One of the major breakdowns for me when hiring professionals to assist me with managing my life (and yes, I mean Doctors and anyone–I give all due respect, but I am in charge of my life and they work for me) besides running out of money, is when it becomes about their timetable and pacing and reputation regarding my progression or lack thereof.
It isn’t about them. It’s about me.
The clarity about this latest instance isn’t here yet. I want to move my focus to what is within my own power to do and change instead of having this hangover my day.
Not being a mind-reader, I’ll live with the mystery and unknown of how this is going to turn out and just take care of my part in it. Which now seems to be the above-mentioned giving space and using care with my response.
It could be that people are way more resilient than I give them credit for. I just prefer civility and kindness and patience in a real and not surface, phony way.

Learning From My Three Favorite Novels

the ones on the shelf instead of the floor

the ones on the shelf instead of stacked on the floor

The novel writing book I’m reading by Donald Maass asked for the reader to pick their three favorite novels and intuit or look for why they’re favorites. I chose “Silent In The Grave” by Deanna Raybourn, “The Year Of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg” and “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson.
The character in the Raybourn book is very likable and honest with herself. It’s the descriptive quality of her relationship with people and things around her that I enjoy. She’s wealthy and the story takes place in Victorian times. Many Victorian novels seem bleak to me and while this one isn’t fluffy or frivolous, it is lighter. I love the sense of place and descriptions of clothes, furniture, homes and gloriously, food. It felt good to read of Lady Julia Grey’s relationship with some of her servants, which could be humorous but not in an over-the-top way.
The Berg book (which darn it, I loaned out and will have to obtain a new copy for myself) is about a favorite theme of mine–a mature woman whose old life is gone and the steps she takes to find her way into a new one. It’s what I liked about the film “Under The Tuscan Sun”, a favorite of mine. The book isn’t about drama and angst and suffering. It is subtle and the descriptions of the place and things and the interior journey all blend well together in a way that’s soothing and sensual to me.
Bryson’s book is the funniest book I’ve ever read and I laugh out loud until I have tears. Even though he’s a guy I can relate to the process of setting an incredibly unrealistic goal, forging ahead without proper conditioning and preparation and then the ensuing inner conflict of realizing he’s in way over his head. Again, there is a lot of description of the Appalachian Trail and his relationship to it.
As I read a little further in Haass’s Writing The Breakout Novel, he mentions how 19th century novels treated the landscape as a character in the story. Of course! The outdoors and nature are very alive to me. Setting and landscape can feel more important to me than the action part of the story, although I resent being jerked around and manipulated by the action part and for personal reasons I don’t tolerate tragedy and unfortunate endings well. (I avoid Oprah’s book selections.)
I love the Britflick series Midsomer Murders and it isn’t for the story. It’s for the amazingly gorgeous settings and the relationships.
Relationships between people and things and surroundings are interesting to me as well as relationships between people. In at least one of my posts here, I’ve mentioned that I like stuff. When meeting new people as potential friends, not only do I notice how they treat others but also the way the relate to their cars, electronics, clothes and the environment among other things.
I’ve also mentioned I like the show “Burn Notice” and it certainly isn’t for the story, blowing things up, etc. It’s for the character’s integrity and their relationships to each other. I would never read books about those stories, I think, because it’s a visual thing and the actors do a great job. Although I can appreciate the written descriptions in Robert B. Parker’s novels.
Since I tend to over-analyze and think things to death (oh, you’ve noticed?) I usually stay away from books making intellectual points (although I love the novel Ishmael) and go for more sensual stories.
I avoid books about illness and suffering with the exception of Stephen White’s books. He has a character with MS and he does an awesome job of portraying her as a complex, whole, interesting person who is so much more than her illness.
Now there, I’ve learned a little something about myself and what I look for in a book. And one thing I know for sure–as I’m learning to write, this is the approach that will more likely bringing me an enjoyable experience. I’m well aware that the craft part, very little of which I remember from high school (nope, didn’t take any courses in college on that) and grammar and such–well, I have a lot to learn and refresh there. It isn’t the place to begin for me. So much of my introduction to various things in life have been more of a turn-off and discouragement instead of an inspiration. I’m going to approach it from a direction that might work a lot better for me.

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