Vulnerable

Vulnerable

Do you remember the moment when you knew that Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy weren’t real? Some of you may still believe in them, but I’m talking about that edge of childhood. That place where you no longer feel fully invincible (yes teenagers go back to that place for a while but bear with me). Where sadness or meanness enters your life, a world where children are shot and killed in their own school. In a schoolroom where a mean kid leaves someone out, and won’t let them play the game with the other kids. Or the kid on the climbing wall with the harness on and ropes secured who freezes, can’t go any further, ‘cause they now fear the ropes might not hold?

That’s the edge I’m talking about. That is the place where you leave the complacency of childhood behind. The ability to play full heartedly not thinking about any consequences or things that could go wrong. An unawareness of evil and planes that fly into buildings, killing the passengers, and taking the buildings with them, do you remember that place? It’s one thing to comfort your child from the nightmare that there’s a monster under the bed. How do you tell them it will be OK, as you watch the horror struck faces of runners & spectators as severed limbs are attended, after two young brothers’ casually deposited gym bags of bombs at their victim’s feet?

I remember receiving a phone call from my son, hysterical as he listened to the reports of students gunned down on the Virginia Tech campus. What do I tell him, other than come home; maybe I can keep him safe? Or the call full of tears as my daughter melts down, stressed by life and things she can’t control. Or the way my stomach feels sucker punched, after learning that a mother in my son’s class called all the parents accusing him of being a bully, when it turns out it’s her son.

Helpless.

Yes, as a parent, as human being, as a woman, as a member of society, there is such a short period of time that I can protect my offspring from reality. And I didn’t believe in hovering and I did let them fall, having their share of skinned knees and bruised foreheads. Skin heals pretty fast in the scheme of things. Bruised egos and hurt souls, those are boo-boos that aren’t so easy to cure with a kiss and hug. Sometimes it hurts more to see them suffering than anything else.

But all of these things are part of the human story. Giving them the tools to cope with the harsh realities of this world that we live in, is the only thing I can do. I just hope they can protect their gentle egos and tender souls without closing off to the beauty. My worst fear is that they become bitter and ugly too. Because despite all the ugliness and hatred in the world, there’s still something sublime about the sound of a child’s laugh, the giggling cause by a dog’s lick, a high five when a good play is made, or an “I’m sorry I made a mistake” accompanied by a hug after harsh words.

There is a moment when they cross the line out of childhood innocence. There is also a moment when regardless of all the rest, they rise above and join those creating not destroying. I choose to be part of the 20 percent minority, I hope when they realize that there’s no fairy godmother, they choose to be aware, thoughtful and responsible for themselves. To join those of us who make choices, who do things, build things, and take their lives in their own hands, rather than depending on someone else to re-create the fairy tale of a world that we all once inhabited as small children.

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“You’ve got to get up every morning
With a smile on your face
And show the world
All the love in your heart

Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel”
Lyrics by Carole King, Tapestry

Some mornings I wake up feeling really ugly, I’ve lost my center and my peace.  I have quotes on my wall, “Peace amidst chaos”, “Because of your smile…more beautiful”, and photos galore.  Normally they make my heart expand, but there are some days that are tougher.  The worst part is there is nothing in particular that you can put your finger on that was the trigger.  Then the crazy stories start playing in my head.  STOP.  The only way I know to shake it is to turn off my brain, stop the stories dead, and relax into something mindless.  This morning I created a collage, a gift for my daughter.  I put some of my house back together.  And I’m going to listen to this song, sip some hot red rooibus tea and write for a bit, before I have to get back to reality.  Carole King knew what she was talking about!

“You’ve got to…

Why Write?

It’s easy to write in a journal, you just put down any and all of your thoughts.  Sometimes, I write to dump ideas that are running around my brain, so I can go to sleep.  Sometimes, I write to remember special moments that happened that I don’t want to forget.  Sometimes, I’m noodling about an issue or problem and trying to solve it.  But I write, and most of the time it comes easily.

National Novel Writing Month set the bar higher, 50K words in 30 days.  Many would consider this a large task, and just say there is no way I can fit that in with my busy life.  Several years ago my kids had been listening to me talk about my dream to write a novel and had encouraged me to jump in.  I actually bartered for my first laptop back in 2006 or 2007 and started to write, got about 150 pages, but haven’t finished, yet. Image

NaNoWriMo challenge was just what I needed.  Especially because it was a joint activity, my boyfriend Bill and I were going to write our own books, together.  In the weeks and days before November 1st, I brainstormed, jotted ideas in a notebook, looked around and came up empty.  It wasn’t as easy as just downloading your thoughts into a journal.  Then it came to me, I had written a short story for Bill, a gift during the first few months we dated (some make playlists, we wrote short stories), I could build off of that idea.

Jack, Master of None (Title could change) was born.  I found I wrote best in the early hours before anyone was up.  I didn’t set an alarm, just got up around 6 or 6:30 and started to write.  The words flowed.  The characters and the story took on a life of their own.  I was steady as the little engine that could, cranking out 1500-1800 words per day.  We met once a week for “Write Ins” with other NaNos, encouraged each other, but in the end, it was a singular journey.  I wasn’t perfect and there were days I just couldn’t get my writing done, allergy shots and soccer practices took priority.  I never looked back though, once in a while I would re-read a few pages to get started again but most days I went forward, writing, and writing.  Day 27 I was done.  Didn’t see or hear from Bill for the last three days, he’s a crammer, and he pulled some late nighters.  50,180 words in 30 days or less, my first novel emerged from my imagination.

2012 I repeated the above, also based on a short story dedicated to Bill.  Once you have written a manuscript, it doesn’t instantly become a book.  Editing was harder than writing for me, especially because rules and grammar are not my forte.  Actually, I rebel against following the normal way of doing most things, its sub conscious; blame my parents for raising three anarchists.  We aren’t traditional anarchists, just don’t appreciate authority or traditions, rules are made for breaking, but only in the best of ways, for creative freedom.  Before you start sending materials out for possible publication there are several more steps to the creation of a novel.  I had two “finished” novels that need reading for content with the goal to evaluate if;  an interesting story existed, are the characters multi-dimensional and intriguing, is the dialog realistic, are there plot holes, a myriad of things that needed consideration.  Bill said, I need to fix my grammar before anyone can read my story because it’s distracting, so I’ve tried.  Now the true test is to see what readers think.

My instinct was to ask friends and loved ones for a reading, sharing your writing is very personal.  Bill debated that asking relative strangers, some of our colleagues in our writing group was much easier.    It’s a true dilemma, can someone who knows and loves you, truly give you unbiased feedback?  Would they hurt your feelings and tell you if it stunk?  Could a stranger’s opinion really matter?  Would I value and trust it?  Finally, I decided to stick with what I was comfortable, I shared both stories with four friends, three close ones and one the daughter of, and now I wait for their comments.  I will not badger or bug those I have asked for the favor.  There are days I think, OMG, what was I thinking!  Maybe they will think the stories are juvenile, boring and the sex scenes horrible.  Then there are moments where I am glad to have finally have shared my words and to discover if I have the gift to capture someone’s attention, and draw them into a story that was born from my very own brain.

This leads me to blogging.  My college buddy Gail came up with the idea several years ago, but I was too overwhelmed and at that point couldn’t even (still don’t) get the whole Twitter thing.  I was on Facebook, on LinkedIn (for work!) and texting, but part of me was mystified.  I had read a few blogs here or there, but never really followed one person, I know that’s the whole idea, find someone who you like their ideas, and regularly read them.  The only time I read something regularly, was the newsletters that I have subscribed to that show up in my inbox.  Even those can get annoying and I don’t always read them.  The smaller snippets, “The Big Happy Buddha, quotes I do read each day, they motivate me and make me think.  The “Word of the Day” I read because I love words and definitely need help pronouncing them, plus learning new meanings.  When I read something I like, I pass it onward or save it, but that’s the extent of my experience with blogs.

Two events transpired to move me towards more regular writing and starting my blog.  First, we did a writing prompt in our group and to post it for the contest you needed a blog link, or they could make exceptions for those of us techno-peasants and allow us to cut and paste for sharing our finished pieces.  Second, my son Phillip was heading to Peace Corps and wanted to create a blog to keep in touch with everyone.  He was wandering around the Internet trying to figure it out and I decided to look back and see what I knew.  I didn’t share with him, he figured it out himself, but the day of his departure was very emotional for me and writing always calms me.  My first blog emerged.

The first entry was easy.  Subsequent entries have been started and stopped.  I had more trouble staying consistent and writing a blog entry each week, than I did on a 50k word book.  But my goal is to be a better writer, published or not, but to improve, and that takes practice.  I questioned why I was stuck and identified that I am goal oriented and needed a target.  A critical incident is a method where you select one event and write about the impact it had on you, why it made you think or act differently.  Thus today’s idea came to me and I woke, without alarm at 6:30, figured I might as well get up and write.  Shane’s keeping me company and wants to read my story when I’m done.