Another Layer of Living Spherically.

I had my final writing class last night- Intermediate Memoir: Forming (or  maybe it is Shaping) the Longer Work. We ended with appetizers, snacks, wine and 10-minute readings from our manuscripts.

A couple of weeks ago, I put together 64 pages of a manuscript. This class helped me to finally, after 10 years of gathering material for my memoir, see a form that resembles a book. But, before I could keep adding to those 64 pages, I decided to take advice from a classmate and sign up for another writing class this past weekend.

By the middle of the first class, everything I thought I knew and was ready to implement into my book was breaking down and shelving my book, yet again, seemed like a good idea. But, I stuck with it. The instructor ensured us the first day was about demolition and the following day would be about building.

Demolition-the breaking down of ideas and beliefs is not easy. If we allow for it, we will move out of a space we are familiar and comfortable with and enter a new space. However, often before a new space appears, we sit in the rubble of what we thought we knew or was enough.

Joseph Campbell said, “The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form- all symbolizations, all divinities; a realization of the ineluctable void.”

I’m not quite ready for that void, but remain committed to the ever-expanding realization. I thought my writing, those 64 pages were good, that I was off to a good start. I was. I am- it’s further than I have been. But, before I could  fully relish in this and get too comfortable, I took myself to a class, allowing for new knowledge. It causes me to question what I thought I was just coming to understand.

Even now, I see this post as being all inner monologue (a term I learned this weekend, which I do a lot of). The instructor says it’s not that interesting. I remember when writer Melody Beattie told me I can’t use my journals as my books. I was devastated. It was all I had. Hearing inner monologue isn’t interesting devastated me again.

So before I bore you any longer with my inner process, my take away (another term I learned) I want to give you, which is not something I am supposed to tell, but show- is we must live spherically, or go crazy, we shall.

I heard this in Under the Tuscan Sun, and it sticks. I don’t know what they meant by it, but I  know what I take from it. We must keep expanding and opening to new thought inside and outside of ourselves. We do this for growth, to align with evolution.  We do this so we don’t become crazy loopers w hen we are old.

What the hell are crazy loopers? Its something I am observing in some people lately-mostly people in their 50’s, 60’s and 7o’s.  It would seem they have attached themselves to a certain story or aspect for themselves, and they loop within it over and over again. Read this piece from Elephant Journal I wrote where I go into this further.

For now, I think the link above (that is, if you click and read) will give you the rest of the message I want to share.

Here’s to living spherically,

Nikki

Dear Writing,

Source: poetrygrrrl.com via Stefanie on Pinterest

I have held you hostage long enough.

Used you as pawn to earn me a living and give me a following. This is not your purpose. It is not how our relationship began, and it will not be how it continues.

All these years, trying to make you mean something beyond what you naturally do, has finally allowed me to see you are too sacred for such highjacking.

I could blame it on the interenet, I suppose. Everyone here trying to get fans, likes, comments. Manipulating posts and tags and pictures to be the “hot” article of the day. But, what does it really mean?

There was a time I thought 20 views was a lot. Then, almost 600 was like—and…? Now, I’ve reached over 1200 on one, and I’m wondering, again, what does it mean—and when does it stop? Nothing. Never. 

It’s a circus out there. One I play with finally leaving behind. Do I want to write? Of course I do. And its time to go back to the basics. To make the work sacred again. Not to prosititue it for numbers and gains.

Do I want readers? Of course I do. But they will come or they will not without my using you. That is not why you are here. And honestly, I feel like keeping you hidden again—away from eyes. Maybe in this way, I can create something new. Reconnect with you again in the way I know is true.

You are like breath. Always have been. When I want to tell someone how I feel, I don’t knock on their door or call on the phone, I take out a pen and I open to a blank page. I write. It’s what I do.

You are whispering to me, reminding me of who and what you are. I’m listening—to you only. Not to the numbers. Or the web. Or voices out there or inside who manipulate for more views. I will listen, and I will write. Just simply write.

The Soul Reporter

Trying to be Alone

Today’s Soul Report: A Writing/Walking Meditation (written several weeks ago)

I am called forward by the sound of a bird. It is the only sound I want to hear. Soon I hear them all:

traffic noise that I don’t want to hear;

a wind chime;

an old porsche- the driver pushing on the gas to get it to rumble;

a child’s laughter, and the sound of water hitting the car as its being washed by father and son;

a weed whacked.

I see: 

a tiny lizard running deeper into a bush;

groceries being taken out of a car;

two friends talking loud. A young boy paaaes by on his cell phone;

a young mother walking her baby.

There are too many out today. But who am I? No one more special than the next. 

More birds. A place in the shade;

they turned on their front yard fountain. No one home to listen.

All of these beautiful spaces with no one to sit and listen, to the fountain. The birds. 

I feel:

it is hot. Sun exposing me;

I have a great opening line. I’m afraid to go deeper;

I don’t want to see people or have them see me;

like the lizard that runs to the dark everytime a footstep is felt.

I want:

a writing room. The one I see in my imagination. More like a cottage. Moved away from the main house. I walk there with my tea. Smiling. Ready to enter.

I am: 

selfish I’m sure. To want nothing but birds. Wind. Quiet. A cottage to write that only I enter into;

aware I created a life before knowing who I was. This life now makes me feel confined- in moments;

longing for a life that will one day come. But, only after the kids are raised and the money is raised. The career established. Or am I just being dramatic?

wandering the streets to try and find a space that is just mine.

I know the pursuit is selfish. The longing of it makes me unhappy. Soon I will enter my over priced rental. Family of four. No room to write. Only a wall space between the bedroom closet and drawers. My husband will probably be in there sleeping. It’s Saturday. I will feel pressure to join the family.

I hear be grateful being chanted from the positive thinking cult on my left, and on my right I hear some form of my dad and the Buddha tellling me it’s too bad I lost my desire to only be useful- and nothing else.

I find a place. I’ve been here before. It’s on a graffiti filled rock. Above the Rose Bowl. The only space where there’s shade. I see people have been here. But no one is here now.

What’s the rustling in that bush? Probably another lizard.

Reblog: Learning How to Live

Learning How to Live

A month ago, I wrote a blog called True-Spirit Gifts.  In it, I “outed” the part of me that seeks acknowledgment and praise. It resonated with Rhonda, writer at Believe. Dream. Love. I want to share her words as it is a true testimony of brave self-inquiry and finding how to live again by recapturing her true essence. As we do so, we can’t help but to give true-spirit gifts. Thank you, Rhonda.

 

From the blog, Believe. Dream. Love.

 

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.” –      Lyn Yutang

Why do you do what you do?

 

The past couple weeks I’ve been fighting a sinus cold. Despite my best attempts at positive thinking, healthy eating, vitamins, supplements and oil of oregano, I’m still not 100%.   There is a lesson in this for me. I’m the type of person who likes to be busy. I have lots of things I want to do, and I feel guilty if I’m not doing something. I have problems just relaxing. In other words, I haven’t yet learned how to truly live.

 

A few weeks ago I came across a post by one of my favourite bloggers, The Soul Reporter. Nikki Di Virgilio wrote this incredibly honest and enlightening post called True Spirit-Gifts, and I have been reading it almost every day since I first came across it. I printed it. I have underlined certain parts. I have written notes all over it. I put it in my purse so that it’s always with me in case I feel the need to re-read it. It spoke to me so deeply and woke me up to thoughts I didn’t even realize I was thinking…..Continue to read by clicking here.

A Safe Purpose (a rejected essay)

Today’s Soul Report: A Dangerous Purpose

What is your safe purpose? What do I mean by this? Well, actually it came from my very wise daughter. The other day, I found myself smiling, more than I have in awhile, and I remembered days in which I felt full, and realized it is a full life, which brings happiness. At least for me. The day I found myself smiling, I felt full. And what was I doing? Laundry. Yes. Laundry.

I love laundry. I really do. In fact, and this I just realized, I could probably be happy having a job as a laundress. I think it would be extra wonderful if it were at Downton Abbey, and not some dingy place like, say a laundry mat. Yes, I see myself in the lower half of Downton, washing her Ladyship’s attire. In between the cycles of wash, rinse and dry, I read and write in my journal. I don’t have to make a living from writing because I have my living quarters there, and receive pay for doing laundry. A simple task, at least for me, which gives purpose and fulfillment, and is completley satisfying. Clothes are dirty. They are sorted. They are washed, and now clean. Folded, smelling good, and put away- and then more laundry accumulates. Does anyone relate? Or is this just me?

Does not matter- because I love doing laundry, and as I shared my love for this satisfactory task with my daughter, she says, “So laundry is your safe purpose.” Yes. By God, it is. “But,” she continues, “what is your dangerous purpose?”

I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable. ~Viola Davis

That would be writing, something other than a blog post, which is another safe purpose. Over  7 years of writing them, I have learned how to compose a blog post, and in an instant I can publish. Satisfying. But, a book? A screenplay? A children’s story? Then, not only do I have to write it, I have to edit and submit it, and seek publication, and an agent, or e-book it, which I don’t want all my books to be e-books. Arduous. Can I just do some more laundry, please?

You have a talent that none of us have. Just find out what it is and do it. It’s doing nothing that’s the enemy. -Sybil in Downton Abbey

But, I am not a laundress, except every two weeks for my family of four. And unfortunately (and fortunately), something else has been put into my heart to do. An itch, that won’t be satisfied until I do it. When I sit down to do it, it’s often excruciating. I look for exits. Something easier. What I have in me to give, even in an attempt to give, looks weak in comparison to how I feel it inside, therefore I’d rather keep it inside. Hold it. But it itches, and it won’t stop. It wants to be freed. That dangerous purpose, wants to be realized, and because it is in me, I am the only one to free it.

And then, on a walk I realize how to free it. My inspiration? A man with a mop bucket. He’s working, and I envy him. He has work to do. It is work, which gives purpose and makes life full. No matter how long a process, to complete, or short. No  matter how internal the work is, or external. It’s work, and I have lots of it to do. Laundry, and writing and who knows what else. To work satisfies the itch. To not work, as Sybil so suggests, is the enemy. It simply is, just time to move into that dangerous purpose, and work.

To get me started, I have a tip that might work for you too, and it begins with a question- could it be, the impulses I receive in a day, are clues about the work that is to be done for that day? If so, it is time I not just listen and take notes about those impulses- it is time I act upon them, and see them into completion. ***Beyond this, it is time to put the fantasy away- the image I have of me as said writer, writing, happily and consistently as a livelihood. The more I work, the fantasy becomes weak in comparison because it cannot not offer what is truly at the heart of wanting to be that writer- which is to help. To share honestly, and as one commenter said, to do this, and I quote her: “You articulated many thoughts I wasn’t even aware I was thinking.” This is why I dare to move into that dangerous purpose.

***These last few sentences were added after the “rejection” of this piece. Maybe with them, it would have hit that “sweet spot” they look for that combines spirituality and creativity, and it could have been published. The timing of the rejection was ironic, but of course perfect. I was just finishing up yesterday’s post about finding my voice, which I think does hit that spot, when I saw the email come through, and I immediately became anxious, but did not allow myself to read it until I accomplished the post, and shared it. I needed a victory, because somehow I might have known I was getting the old, thanks for your submission, but I am afraid….song and dance. I was not as elegant and strong as I thought I might be. First, my heart races. I am mad. I want to vent. I am angry. Bitter. Want to lash out and defend myself- what do you mean- me not writing spiritually.? I send my husband a text. I cry. This is all in 5 minutes or less of time. I turn off Pandora. My head is down and I ask my question from the last couple days: what can I embrace now?  It turns out I am embracing this post, and the last words, the editor said to me: “That this piece didn’t come together for me is neither here nor there. Keep going.”

He’s right it is neither here nor there. I will keep going. Unfortunately, and fortunately I have to. #theartist’slife.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

 

Where the Magic Happens

Today’s Soul Report: Further Embracing

In times of frustration, creative or otherwise, ask- what can I embrace now?

Yesterday, I wrote an honest post about my creative/work struggle (click here to read). My ending question was: what can I embrace now, until I’ve had enough- enough of the puppy’s paw on the nail- enough of the pain of my frustration?

I had no answer until I walked out of my front door, red umbrella in hand. It was raining and I had to pick up my daughter. Being carless since the accident, it is one of life’s mysteries and blessings, that her school is within walking distance. Now, one could think it was not one of life’s blessings, to have hail fall once I stepped out the door, as it did, but it soon stopped. Rain is not common in Southern California, so really how often do I have the opportunity to walk in the rain? I embraced it, and it was soft, calm, and in a strange way, purposeful and delightful.

There was something else I had embraced after I wrote that post, which was less obvious until it occurred to me this morning. While talking to my father on the phone, I embraced a rather embarrasing, yet persistent impulse, which was to ask him if I was a good writer. You know, those “singers” on American Idol who can’t sing, yet their moms and dads tell them they can, but they really can’t- was I one of those? But more than this, my little girl wanted to know- Daddy, am I good at something? Validate my purpose and talent, daddy.

And he did. “Yes,” he said, “you are a good writer.” In a way, the sad, neglected, little girl needed permission to do her art, and dad gave it. At age 39, his words brought a tear, and liberation to move even deeper toward me.

This is not to say, we need this validation to do our art. I’ve written hundreds, if not thousands of posts, and essays, unpublished, with no validation whatsoever, and in some cases we might not ever get this from our mom or dad or whomever would feed this most for us. But, what I am observing, as I push more and more of myself forward into some sort of artistic and helpful expression is, to bring all of who we are to it. This is where the magic happens. Where we speak deeply to others, where we feel the most alive, and at home.

When we do create something, what makes it move people beyond just the giving of information or our art, is when we put our whole self into it, and not just a part of our self. Especially, the part who thinks she should do it a certain way in order to be liked. To move, and be in the fullness of that creative current, that indestructible life force, is to bring our whole self. I’ve suddenly noticed how people write. I notice a certain generic style and this is fine, but I don’t notice a voice. A person inside the message. The life force vibrating within it. This is not necessary for us to learn or even be inspired, but maybe it is to be moved. Really moved.

We went to a screening last night of a movie that will be out at the end of March. It served the purpose it had- it entertained in the moment. It was funny at times and had interesting images to be taken in by, but once the lights came on, it was over. The movie did not linger. It did not stay with me, and this is fine. But the movies, which do, like Shawshank Redemption for me, lingers, and continues to teach me, and often shows up when I write. Rumi’s poetry lingers, and does more- it awaknes and enlivens. Once, on a cloudy Minnesota day, I sat outside and read an entire book of Rumi poetry. When I was done- my insides were swirling as it is said he did- the whirling dervish. In a way, I felt high. His magic literally moved me. It went somewhere deep. It’s rare, but it happens. And I guess as I write this out, I see this is the instrument I want to be. No small order.

My daughter who is an actor, admires Meryl. Yes, cliche- she is one, if not the greatest actress of our time, but not only does my daughter admire her, she wants to give what she gives. But she, will admit, wanted that yesterday. That’s the perfectionist. That’s the ego. Someone asked my daughter, what Meryl was doing at 19.

“Meryl was going to school,” my daughter said- and so is my daughter.  If we continue to keep that desire within us, and allow that intetnion to move us, it will begin to reveal itself. We will begin to see not a copycat of Meryl or Rumi or whomever, we will begin to see ourselves. Our essence will be within what we give. Not just in our art, but to every person and experience we meet.

This is where the magic happens.

Once we find our voice, which means after some time and probably with lots of practice, a personality or a style emerges out of all the parts of our self. I had no idea the last seven years blogging was not about being followed and getting comments and having my blog turn into a book. What it was really about was turning a journal writer into another kind of writer. To turn my insights and stories outwards, first to practice so the reader understands, and than to find a style, a self- I did not even know was there.

That little girl, who I have often denied, who needed to hear her dad say, she is a good at something, can now be brought into the mix of what is me. The less afraid I am of all the parts in me, the less I resist and deny my parts, wholeness arrives and embraces the fullness of creating, loving and living, and that paw is gently removed from that nail.

Listen to Adele’s words in this video, from AmericanVogue 

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

True Spirit-Gifts

Today’s (Second) Soul Report: True Confessions & True Spirit-Gifts

True Confessions (a-1-in-the-morning-revelation)~

I want people to listen to me. I am mad I think no one does. I need too much acknowledgment, too much recognition. This desire brings me little, to no rest. I’m always after it. Seeking it. It’s partly the internet- did anyone email me? My dumb mobile phone- is my screen lighting up?  Facebook- did someone like my status? Blogs (although I rather love my blog)- how are my stats today? These are mediums in which we can earn instant recognition and validation (or not). Sometimes I do, but it isn’t enough. My hunger for it is far too greedy.

Okay- do you hate me? 

But hold the mobile phone- on a recent Facebook comment thread, I added my truth to an update. I hovered over, and reread my words as if they were laced with silver and gold, and a new commenter posted. Surely, I was the one to admire. But no, it was another. Every comment she had written was “amazing and so true.” I laughed. I honestly laughed, and truly did not care. Not a bit, and no I’m not just saying it. I did not give a shit. Who cares if someone likes what I say or not. Who really cares. Why does it matter? Why should it concern me? Really, and not bitterly, but really, why should it?

It’s not what life is about, at least not for me- anymore (and don’t think this happened in an instant- I’ve been wrestling with this a long while). I don’t want to be that writer who stands in front of a crowd, reading the words I have written as if I’m the greatest creative genius since Mozart. I don’t want to be bounced around by every word of praise and every word of criticism. I don’t want to manipulate and maneuver to get what I want. Or strategize or be like someone else to get what I want. It’s more simple than this. More honest. More real.

Rumi writes, and I opened spontaneously to this passage:

You live in an admiration world, but what do you offer your admirers? If you had true spirit-gifts to give, you would not think of customers? 

At first when I read this, I shuddered. Sure, I hope to be that person who does not think of customers, but really? Is this possible? It is. And for me, right now it has to be. To only seek admiration is petty and sad, and because I don’t truly and honestly believe this was my only motivation, to believe or fear it might be, covers up a more pure intention, and it is with this pure intention, I would like to consciously lead from. It is with this pure intention, that will help me to stop avoiding and fearing the possibility of giving the true spirit-gifts.

So I have confessed to you, and to myself. It’s a risk, this I know. But it is worth the risk. I cannot work for admiration any longer. I just cannot, and now that it is said, perhaps I can get busy with what really matters and leave the fluff and stuff behind, or at the very least be more aware of when it rears its tiny head.

What can you confess to today?  Oh, and wait- there’s more.

A week or so later….

I wrote this post (the one above) early one morning, last week. I was going to read it later that day, and post, but I didn’t. I also didn’t post it the next day, and then I had days of not posting at all. It turns out this 1-in-the-morning-revelation brought me another layer deep (into myself). When I was a little girl, an only child, I spent a lot of time alone- in my room. In my room I created. I made up classroom curriculums, which I taught in an imaginary class. I was a conductor of an orchestra atop my cushy toy box. I choreographed dances. Pretended I was Sandy (in Grease of course). I read books. I colored and drew.

In her room

 

This time alone, where I was creating was about creating. And maybe also about coping with loneliness, although I don’t remember if I felt lonely. I was too busy creating. I did not seek recognition or praise, but as I got older, this little girl had some cries. She was in fact lonely. She felt a bit lost. She didn’t feel like kids liked her. Or that anyone paid much attention to what might be her gifts- her true spirit-gifts. These honest cries turned bitter. Turned into disappointment. Rejection. A sore layer where I projected what I thought was real at others.

In my writing work, which seems to now be where I create the most, I wanted the work to mean something. I began to need it to have a result. You know because “they” say do what you love and the money, accolades and blah, blah, blah will follow. So because I am a thinker, often thinking way too ahead of myself- if I write, then result should be recognition. Recognition means opportunity. Opportunity means a livelihood that could pay my bills and than some. And all this means fulfillment.

After exposing this need for recognition, to write was no longer appleaing if it meant I had to also carry all of those expectations. Really, what this entire revelation is about is to have me return to that little girl who created. Maybe who did so to cope and escape her circumstances, but I find in a way I need that now anyway, but more so to return to the place where creativity is pure and real, and does not look for results, or customers.

I expect this important learning to continue to unfold.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

Yes

Today’s Soul Report: Saying YES

 

“I imagine that yes is the only living thing.”         ~ee cummings

Every once and awhile I receive a writing prompt in my inbox from Laura Davis, and the Writer’s Journey Roadmap. Today’s prompt is: What do you need to say yes to in your life? I thought I’d share my answer with you, and maybe you’d also like to answer this question for you.

My answer:

In the past years, I have noticed many no’s. These no’s have created disappointment and discouragement in me, but I also see that these “no’s” are bringing me to yes. Yes. Once again I say yes to me. To my essence. To my power. To my light. To my wisdom. To my grace. To my life. To my love. To my heart. To my mind, body & soul. Really, I’ve been saying yes all along- to something larger beyond what I think I want or need- like that yes from an agent. Or that yes for a possible job contract. Or that yes for a friendship, or a yes for life to be easier. That yes, from the world outside that says, I’m okay. I’m wanted. I’m needed. All of these “no’s” bring me to how I fully answer today’s prompt, I say yes to me. All of me. 

To visit, Laura Davis’s site, click here, and maybe you’d like to receive writing prompts.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

Into the Water I Go (again)

Today’s Soul Report: Immersion

 

 

I have lots of work to do. I’m slow to get into it. Reluctant to put my toe in the water yet again, only to be swept away. Yet, I know when I do, I am moved further down the stream. I go deeper into my purpose, and therefore my joy.

Funny, how I procrastinate. How I resist. And hesitate. Yet when I immerse it is everything I  seek and more. It’s the dance I do.

What are you reluctant to do? What is the dance you do?

Ta ta for now. I am off to put my toe in, at the very least.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

Balance Shmalance

Sweatshirt. Sweatpants. Hair gray and uncut for several months. No exercise. Eating carbs. Daughter spending too much time in her room.

Signs my life is completely out of balance. But I’m not concerned. When I wore Missoni and Ralph Lauren, never going beyond 8 weeks for a fresh cut and color, worked out at the Y or with a trainer and every meal was gluten-free- there was one necessary agenda item missing- work.

But now, I’m working. Writing, actually. Looking for agents. Contacting published authors. Writing pitches. Gathering material for an outline and a proposal. All this in preparation for finally putting all my pieces together to form a book. I’ve never taken the time to do this, but I have taken the time for many other things, most of which did not satisfy for long.

It occurred to me today, as I looked at the dishes piling up in the sink that- at this point in my journey to work is paramount. Yes, my children, especially the 11-year old may feel I am not available even though I am two steps away in my bedroom, but for 19 years, I’ve been available full time to them. And if I want to spoil my grandbabies someday, and if I want that life I’ve imagined I must work. If I want to answer the only call calling right now, I must work.

On the surface, my life may look out of balance, and even if it is, I am willing to be off kilter for awhile because I know once I am established in my work, my other great mission here on the planet, these other pieces like new hair and clothes and fun times with the kids will fall into place.

So, here I go.  More, here I am. In a new space. Absorbed. Willing to wear my sweatpants and look like a grub for just a while longer.

I look forward to sharing more of this new journey with you.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter