The Write Reasons

Yesterday, when Black Fried Day was over, I went to go take a bath after mostly sitting on my butt all day with the family, watching football, basketball and movies while eating leftovers. When I looked in the mirror I saw there was a giant booger in my left nostril. I was kind of shocked that no one had said anything to me, because it was HUGE. Your family is supposed to tell you when you have boogers in your nose. But upon further inspection I realized it was part of a chewed up potato chip. Grant says he swears he didn’t see it but wanted to know how I knew it was a piece of potato chip? 

“I didn’t EAT it! Gross! I knew because it still had ridges.” 

How does something like this HAPPEN? Did I snort it out from my partially filled potato chip throat when I was laughing? Did I cough into my hand and then itch my nose? WAS IT FROM SOMEONE ELSE’S MOUTH? 

There are so many questions that go unanswered for me on a daily basis. 

So there. I have made myself giggle about something silly that happened to me. It seems just that on day 30 of my quest to post on my website every day for 30 days that I should be entertained by myself. Otherwise, why do this right? 

Writing a post every day has not been easy. On day fifteen I whined to my bestie about being sick of myself already at only half way through. But I don’t think it’s me I was really sick of. I’m easily entertained by me. I think more so I was feeling bad about adding to the noise on social media.

There is SO MUCH NOISE. 

It’s a tricky thing, writing. Writers write to write but we also write to be read. And to be read in the vortex (aka the internet) without becoming an overbearing social media hound is nearly impossible. (It’s this new thing called algorithms that I am currently unwilling to figure out.)

I have been thinking a lot about what it may have been like to be a writer before any kind of advanced technology was created and there was just pen on paper and this burning desire to SAY for the sake of saying. If you wanted “likes” you wrote letters to people about your ideas and if you were compelling enough, they wrote back. Though it was and still is considered rude to not acknowledge hand written letters. 

Pen on paper is my preferred means of writing, especially when I’m working on poetry. That nobody seems to like except me. Though I’m mostly okay with that. I understand it’s probably confusing to read about potato chip boogers in my nose one day and a restless poem about ghost words the next. Who IS this person on Peaceof8? Is she even stable? 

But that brings me to the point of this “Closing Post”. I have been exploring in my mind these 30 days what it is I want out of the writing on this blog site. 

Healing? Maybe so. I know that every time I write something and then release it into the vortex, I feel lighter and freed from the nattering in my head. Things are worked out on the page and then let go. That seems like healing to me. Several years ago a friend and I were talking about my blog site. I said I was thinking about shutting it down because no one was really reading it. He reminded me that if one person reads a post and is made to feel better in some way either from laughing or crying or just a little truth sharing, then it’s worth it to keep going. So there is maybe the idea of healing another person while I heal myself. 

Immortality? Oh yes. Maybe a little bit of that. When you leave a trail of words people can still find you even when you’ve gone out of their physical sight. I bet when I’m dead my kids will actually read my posts to see what I wrote about them. Though they may be grossed out by the potato chip booger. 

Money? I used to tell myself that when I was making money writing I would then  be a successful writer. But I look at some of the blog sites where writers write for money, and I am bombarded by ads or asks. This noise to me distracts from the words. I make plenty of money with my noisy enough day job.

Fame? If I write regularly am I hoping that fame will come? I guess there will always be a bit of desire for fame. It’s hard to overcome the need to be read by as many people as possible. But if I’m truthful, I know I’m not ready for fame yet. It’s possible it will come someday but right now I’m still trying to find my voice, which is still going through the highs and lows of puberty writing. Fame would mess up the search and I’d be forced to abandon my bad poetry and short story attempts for the pressure of finding funny in everything. And some days things just aren’t funny and I want to write about that too. So I’m grateful for my small but loyal group of readers who put up with my inconsistent voice. They are my fuel and have reminded me about the importance of commenting and sharing when I have read marvelous words from other writers. This is the ultimate compliment a writer can receive and right for the write reasons. 

My Seven Daily Sanes

I’m so different than I was ten years ago. I am reminded of this daily when I look at the top shelf in my office where the shadow box sits that Grant made me for Christmas ten years ago. It contains  pictures of me finishing my first marathon complete with my hard earned and nearly died trying to acquire necklace medal. Honestly it was all I could do not to put that thing around my neck and saunter around every day ALL day for people to see. I’m not a jewelry person but THAT bling? It has stories to tell! Like when I thought my friend Bill was a medic on a bicycle at the top of the hill nearing mile 13. There he was practically shimmering like an angel and I thought “Thank GOD because things are not going how I planned.” It turned out he was Bill instead, which was even better, offering flat Coca-Cola and inspiration. “Meet you at the next mile marker and you can have another drink of this.” My friend, without a doubt is responsible for helping me cross the finish line, one mile at a time with sugar nectar and pep talks for incentive, so that I could experience Grant and our cheering kids waving and clapping  at the end like I was some kind of princess warrior. My eyes still water over that feeling. 

I think it would be funny for Grant to make me another shadow box at the end of this year to show how hard I have worked to reshape my marathon mentality and physicality. There would for sure be a picture of me first thing in the morning showing off my Fitbitch that says I already burned 636 calories and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF BED YET! I mean, how great is THAT? I’m awesome without even trying!

I’m currently not running due to a very long battle with bad ankles. Right now I have frozen peas strapped to both sides of my ‘good’ ankle that I sprained when I fell down the bleachers when I was trying to take a picture of my son David at the end of his last home JV Football game. It was below 30 degrees that night and I forgot I had a blanket wrapped around me. I went down with a very large and painful crash. I’m pretty sure Grant was trying to pretend like he didn’t know me because he just kept walking. Two lovely older-than-me people tried to help me up but I was literally frozen solid and would have taken them down with me. “No. I’m good. I’m pretty sure I sprained my ankle but my husband will eventually notice I have fallen and literally can not get up, and come back for me. He promised until death parts us.”

Some days it’s easier said than done to not comparison shame myself to the me of ten years ago. Sometimes I dream about it, the running.  Long distance running is a powerful thing and the experiences of my marathons have taught me so much about myself and continue to give me insights and new perspectives in my daily life. The other day I had an ‘aha’ moment that I will share before I get to the point of this post, which I’m pretty sure is not about marathons. 

I was reading this beautiful novel that was just…mmmm…so yummy….see? I was deeply absorbed in the words and the story and the magic it takes to write a novel when I felt my left brain say to my right brain something really nasty “You will never write a novel. Blogs are easier. Short.  Simple. Not a lot of effort. You’re just not smart enough or disciplined enough to write a whole book, especially a novel. You should give up on that idea.”

WTF left brain? First of all, you are an overly analytical naysayer. Second, I  can remember when blog posts were super hard to write. Mainly because it was YESTERDAY that I was struggling to get one finished before the WSU Cougar Football game started. But here’s the thing:  I can also remember how hard it was the first time I ran three miles without stopping: huge accomplishment! A marathon is simply a series of short runs, that when gradually and methodically put together, becomes a marathon. Perhaps novels are of similar nature. So fuck you left brain.  

Which brings me to the point of this post, though without much logic (because I just pissed off the non-dominant side of my brain):  my seven daily sanes. 

At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself to try and adhere to seven simple daily actions to at least keep me PAR with my current state of being a content and mostly at peace, inappropriately tight size fourteen, moderately energetic, non-running,  successful business owner, hippy chick goddess. I call them ‘My Seven Daily Sanes’.   

  1. Pages
  2. Grats
  3. Yoga
  4. Medication (whoops I mean MEDITATION)
  5. Veggies
  6. Water
  7. Walks

Now I’m not gonna lie, this list has been much harder to check off each day than last year’s list: 

  1. Grow my hair

I have been doing number one of the seven pretty regularly for over 14 years. Julia Cameron taught me in “The Artist’s Way” how important it is to check in with myself with morning pages (or what I sometimes refer to as morning vomit). Three pages of handwritten words unedited (especially by the asshole left brain) and unfiltered. I notice, on the rare days I skip this ritual, that I feel like I do when have two different colored socks on or a black bra with white panties: off kilter. The first two pages are almost always whining yucky stuff, but usually by page three I have some kind of weird little break through, like “maybe I should stop eating cookies at midnight” or “you really need to quit this job and form your own business and here is the first step toward that”. 

Grats is a newer thing that has helped center my thoughts on positive things in my life (especially after the nasty brain vomit). Every day: ten things I am grateful for. Then I write thank you ten times at the bottom of this list. I think these journals will be a good thing for my kids to read when I’m dead. Unlike the morning pages which really need to be burned. My grats contain things like: “I’m thankful I didn’t kill Grant yesterday because today he is so much nicer.”

Everything feels better when I practice yoga: my brain, my bones, my skin, my muscles, my joints, my soul. That’s all that needs to be said about that, except that it is my running from ten years ago: life saving. 

I have written a few posts about meditation as holistic medication. Some days I have time for a nice long guided mediation. Most days I just try and remind myself to breath in and out: 4 counts in, 6 counts out. Repeat until calm again. As a catholic, I have found the rosary to be a good form of prayerful medication. Keeps a person off the ledge.

OH VEGGIES. I know I need to eat more of you gross fuckers. It’s a quest I’m still working on. When I feel shitty I consult the last few weeks’ checklist and say to myself: “dummy, cheez-its are not veggies. This is why you feel bad.”

Water is often on my daily grats list but it’s usually in the form of being grateful I can wash my hair or take a hot bath/shower whenever I feel like it, something so many people don’t get to do. Those very people would willingly hydrate every day if they could. So this needs to be something I never take for granted. I have rarely known real thirst. But when I don’t drink water my face looks like a dried up old hag. So.

I added walking to the list because my Fitbitch is a total nag. She says I need to move more. Plus I have this new puppy Bella who needs to move or she gets grumpy. Right now I’m a gimp but the walking thing is wonderful. She and I have these amazing conversations about the best places to poop when you are a dog (she prefers the middle of the street with cars coming for a nice adrenaline rush), the scary house that she refuses to walk past (we now go around), and how some day soon she and I will maybe do some running but for now we will just piece the short walks gradually into longer ones. 

See?

As Is

“As is” is a portal to creation, to new life. “As soon as” is a form of delusion and therefore soul death. -Anne Lamott

Anne wrote these words in an essay on her encouragement to writers on the NaNoWriMo website, an acronym for National Novel Writing Month which starts every November 1st. 

Oh Anne, could we meet for coffee? Your words sounded like whispers from heaven and felt like a kick in the ass, which is what good friends do to you when they know something is important: whisper kick. 

I had thought to commit to NaNoWriMo2019 and once again get back to the novel I am still ‘writing’ (it’s going to be good, I promise!) instead of pursuing a blog post every day during the month of November. And quite frankly, that would have been much easier to fail at. I could have at least hidden a little more easily under the premise of writing a novel. No one would know I am actually playing Words with Friends or binge watching Netflix while I am holed up in my office with a sign on the door “MOM IS WRITING. LEAVE HER ALONE: which by the way is a much different sign than “DO NOT DISTURB: DOING YOGA” which apparently means disturb as often as possible. 

Novels are this mysterious thing you can keep to yourself and no one knows except you if you have written five words or a thousand in that little window of time you desperately and adamantly carve out for yourself and keep safe from all of the SHOULDS and HAVE TOs. 

I decided to write 30 Blog Posts so my accountability would be more public and therefore more painful if I fail to write everyday “AS IS” in the middle of my personal and work chaos, without excuse or fear.   

But blog posts are instantly public and can make me feel so exposed if they are written and published before I think I have made my thoughts clear. I can’t tell you how many times I have pushed the PUBLISH button on WordPress and then thought “OMG what have I done?” And to commit to writing a post everyday for 30 days when it sometimes takes me an hour to write twenty words, well, I know there is going to be a lot of that in November. 

But I’m okay with that. Because I looked back to the last time I committed to 30 blog posts in November which was in 2014 and I only wrote sixteen posts, which continues to haunt me. You see, I made a commitment to myself and didn’t keep it, for various reasons that I find to be understandable but also unforgivable. If I can’t keep a promise to myself, how can I be trusted with other people in this world? 

Writers write. They don’t talk about writing. And no Anne, I don’t want to be 70 and look back and think “Dang, why didn’t I pursue the one thing that is more important to me than breathing?” So thank you for reminding me why I committed to thirty days. Because there is only one thing that is more painful than bad writing and that’s not writing at all. 

Is there is something that you are not doing that you will look back and think “I regret not doing that; my life is not complete because I chose ‘as soon as’ instead of ‘as is’? If the answer is yes, oh my dear friend START, right now in the middle of all your life chaos. 

Start. 

Just start.

 

Inkless Pens and Chewed On Pen Caps

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.”

-Thomas Szasz

I have this quote on my motivation wall. It keeps me going when I think that some of the stuff I pursue in my life is a waste of time. Funny, I never knew who Thomas Szasz was until just now when I googled him:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Szasz

It’s so rude of me to have had his words on my wall for well over two years and not actually researched who he was. I’m so sorry Tom.

I feel like I can call him Tom. We’re practically besties now, thanks to the internet.

Doctor Tom was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and a professor.

I had figured he was a poet or a philosopher or an artist of some sort. And this quote from the Wikipedia site confirms my assumptions just a little bit despite his career label:

“Szasz argued throughout his career that mental illness is a metaphor for human problems in living, and that mental illnesses are not “illnesses” in the sense that physical illnesses are.”

How I understood what I read on his ideas about this is that mental illness is not scientifically  measurable because it is based on behavior. And who gets to decide what behavior is normal and what isn’t? There of course is a lot more to this theory that I’m mostly not interested in. I just always kind of knew that crazy is a result of being human and a very subjective term, depending on who one is hanging out with and who happens to be judging one’s behavior. So I’m going to stop there and be mostly satisfied. All you over sensitive crazies or advocates for the crazies: please don’t  be assholes and yell at me. I’m not a damn doctor. OBVIOUSLY if you’re stabbing your eyes out (or someone else’s) you might want to take some fucking medicine.

BUT  if you look at Tommy’s face, he looks like he would have been wonderful to talk to. See? Doesn’t he just look lovely? 

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 10.21.40 AM

I’m sure he had a super cool Hungarian accent. I can see myself sitting on his couch:

Me: Tom. Why do you think I chew on my pen caps?

(When Tom speaks, imagine a Hungarian accent because I don’t know how to type that)

Tom: Why do YOU think you chew on your pen caps? Does it matter what anyone else thinks? Do you worry about THAT, or the pen caps?

Me: Well. It’s interesting to me how I only chew on cheap Bic™ pens with the blue caps. These are the pens I write with. Other pens don’t feel right in my hand, so I only use “other pens” when I’m at work. Doing work. That I often don’t feel right about. But have to keep doing. To pay the bills. I NEVER chew on work pens. I’m not attached to them like I am my cheap blue cap pens. And do you know what I LOVE?

Tom: What do you love Heather?

Me: I LOVE when my cheap chewed on blue cap pens run out of ink BEFORE I chew all the way through the caps and make them kind of bothersome and have to throw them away before the ink is all gone. Which seems wasteful. And sad.

Tom: Why is that Heather?

(I just love when people use my name when they talk to me. Why is it so soothing? Though maybe it’s the couch in this case.)

Me: Well they’re bothersome to look at, all messy and jagged and slobbered on and also at some point harder to chew on because the plastic gets kind of  sharp and pokey and hurts my mouth a little. I also worry a bit about the plasticiser ingestion…

Tom: The ‘why’ was referring to loving when your cheap pens run out of ink. And why it might be sad to throw them away before the ink is gone.

Me: Oh. Well. I think it’s because I know that all that ink is somewhere on pages that I filled up with words that didn’t exist before.  And while it’s likely that no one else will read 99.9% of my ink words, because it’s mostly doodling, it wasn’t a waste of time. Blue ink words on paper are just…serene. The accomplishment makes me feel filled and empty at the same time. And when the ink runs out before the pen cap desecration happens it means I was focussed more on the words than the anxiety of making the words. Chewed pen caps are the bi product of angst. No one wants to see that shit.

Tom: Ahhhh. I see.  Does it make you feel sad that most of your ink words won’t be read?

Me: Oh HELL no. Blue ink  is so much different from black type. There aren’t any rules with blue ink. I fucking hate rules.

Tom: Why do you think you can break rules in blue ink but not in black type?

Me: I’m not saying I can’t break rules in black type. But when I type, I assume that some people will SEE the rule breaking. And judge. So I’m a little more careful with black type. It goes back to why I don’t generally chew on my work pens.  I don’t want people to think I’m gross. Or anxious, which can be perceived as being weak. I can be weak in blue ink but not so much in black type and for SURE not in sales. It’s a sure-fire route to failure. And I gotta pay for my blue cap addiction somehow. And some other stuff.

Tom: What if you tried blue ink at work?

Me: Tell me Tom, do you sometimes wish that you had just skipped med school and dove into philosophical poetry? You’d be so much more understanding about why using blue ink at work is just crossing a damn line.

Tom: Well Heather, I’m pretty much dead. Regrets are for the living. Ones who are afraid to use BLUE FUCKING ink on a regular basis. You freak. That will be $300 please.

Me: Clearly I have hit a nerve Tom. I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. You can just send me a bill. I forgot my checkbook. And my blue PEN. Jerk.

Tom: I’m sorry. I was lashing out. I mostly just wanted to paint in watercolor.

Me: I forgive you Tom. I have to go do some work now. And for what it’s worth, I’ll ponder the idea of bringing a little blue ink into the day job. Here’s a little Marianne Williamson philosophy about WORK from “Return to Love” for you to take with you when you head back to where ever you were before our couch session:

“What you want to do is not the important question. The question to ask is, “When I do anything, how should I do it?” And the answer is, “Kindly.” People don’t normally associate business with kindness, because business has come to be regarded as simply a tool for making money. Miracle-workers are not in business only to make money; they’re in business to inject love into the world.”

Tom: Ahhhh. This is good. Thank you Heather.

Me: Thank Marianne. But I knew you would appreciate this. You seem like a miracle-worker.

Tom: I’m glad we had this visit. And thank you for taking some time to get to know me a little bit. Dead guys sometimes need the kindness of recognition.

Me: Alive gals do too. Ha! And I’m glad I got to know you a little as well. This was for sure a wonderful use of my time and not at ALL boring. But this is getting weird so you should probably go now. This wasn’t at all what I intended to write in this post. Thank you Tom. Have a good… ummm… life?  

Tom: You too Heather.

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Running in Circles

I’m sitting on a bench at the park across the street from my house trying something new with the writing. I just finished a short run and want to capture the words that always come when I am running but never seem to hit paper. This will maybe be an unedited post. But we shall see. No matter how hard I try on my editing there is always improper grammar and at least one or two misspelled words. So really? Why bother.

Except that  when I read someone’s writing and see misspelled words before I fall in love with their beautiful mind I sometimes feel judgy enough to stop reading. Which is terrible and  explains why my blog site is not very well read. Karma. It serves me right. But really this blog site is not about being well read. The muse reminds me of this from time to time when he gifts me with his presence. The words in this blog site are about facing my fears and finding a piece of peace and having empathy for others who also have fear. And desire peace. Which is pretty much EVERYONE. So a misspelled word ain’t but one more means to come together in our imperfections. I just worked that one out. Empathy for poor spelling is now in my heart. More peace. Already! In the second paragraph!

I’m in terrible shape right now. I’m no longer running marathons. Not sure why doing that was so important. But it was. Probably just another way for me to run away from shit I needed to be dealing with.  I write this post right now to avoid putting together a presentation on COLOR and its impacts on the learning and work environment. I teach this in 11 days. I’ve known about it for eight months. I’m not an expert on this, but I’m interested in the subject so I opted to teach it to a group of school facility managers at their convention in October. I’ve read fourteen books and feel no closer to knowing how I will present this very subjective topic. But in my defense I work better under pressure. And the run helps things noodle. I’m at the al dente stage. But I like my noodles more soft and easier to chew.

It feels nice to not push so hard like I did when I felt the need to run long distance. Currently I’m happy doing chubby yoga in the mornings and zombie running for a half hour or so when I feel like it.  Looking across at my house where most of my people are right now I wonder how long I could sit on this bench before they notice I am gone. It’s a different phase now for me.  I can go and it makes little difference. Generally I’m needed for cash and pep talks and occasional hugs. I’m not essential life support anymore. I’m frosting. But OH how I love frosting. It’s almost as important as clean diapers and carpool. And funner. Years ago I ran around this park so that I would be close to the house in case someone needed me. Stealing runs while the baby slept and the oldest watched or the husband. Miles and miles around: one lap is .60 miles. One time I ran 34 times around.  Now I run around it because I’m still recovering from ankle surgery and don’t want to have to limp too far to get home if I re-injure myself. Also I may have to pee.

Plus I just like the familiarity of a single, well known path. With everything else in my life so uncertain and unsteady, a closed, consistent loop is comforting.

Yet. It’s never really the same. Neither outside nor inside my brain. Because nothing is still. Not ever.

Today I saw a frisky three legged lab taking his child for walk. The dog was pure joy, hobbling along with ease, which encouraged me to believe that two legs were enough to keep my round squooshy goddess bod moving.

The sunshine was on my shoulders and I thought of the first record given to me “John Denver’s Greatest Hits”. I must have been ten? Maybe twelve? I can still remember the words to every single song on that album. I loved his music so much. And my record player with headphones that allowed me to mask from my parents the insomnia that’s been with me off and on my whole life: in my room, in the dark, with John and others to help me with through the awake.

Chris Cornell’s song “I Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” came up on my playlist and for the first time since his death I didn’t push the right arrow to get him out of my earsight.  Maybe I’m finally forgiving him for leaving the world. It’s really not my right to be angry at him. I didn’t know his heart. But his words seem to know mine. Especially that particular song. And so maybe I have some right to feel sad and to not be able to face the loss of someone who sang to my heart, merged his sadness with mine making it feel okay to accept that hearts can break and we still go on living. But he didn’t. So what does that say? Except his music lives: energy from beyond the grave. And he is still making music. We just can’t hear it. Yet.  

The fresh cut grass smelled strong today, it always seems to in the fall. Is it because the air is colder? Does smell hang heavier in cold air? Is there science in this? I will probably research this later.

I saw a squirrel carrying something rather large up a tree and though my glasses were not on, I realized it was another squirrel, maybe her baby. I’m not going to have closure on what was going on there because she darted way up out of my blurry vision. But I’m going to assume that the baby was simply in trouble for playing too far away from home. Though the baby seemed big and was not putting up a struggle. Maybe a teenage squirrel party was broken up and he or she was drunk from too many nuts and passed out in the grip of mama’s mouth. It’s upsetting that I will never know if the baby (or teenager) is okay. But no one ever really  knows this: that things will be okay. We just have to perhaps enjoy that we get to experience the things. This maybe needs to be the ‘okay’ that we seek. And so I shake off my semi-autistic need for closure, for a finish, for knowing the full story, for having all the answers, because it’s time for me to get off the bench and go be frosting.  Empathetic, peace seeking frosting who runs in marvelous never ending, eclectic circles.