Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bent Spoons & Writing

I laughed out loud when I was putting the washed dishes away. I came to one of our spoons that we bought at the .99 cents store. These are spoons that are all right to take to work, and if we happen to lose them, no problem. The spoon looked more bent than usual. It made me recall fragments of a dream where I had taken a fork in my hand and I was bending it will all my might. I’m not sure why I was doing it, who would bend a fork in their dream?

And then when I was doing something the other day, I had recalled another dream. As I thought more about it, I realized it very much had the elements of a Ray Bradbury story. Spaceship. Time Travel. Relatives. Visiting. How strange. I couldn’t help myself and started re-reading his essays on creativity because when he talks about his work, I become excited. Is that how I made the connection with my dream, a dream I had forgotten about and then remembered when something made me remember—not reading Bradbury, something else—a conversation. A commercial? I’m not sure. Even though I can’t imagine myself completely writing straight fiction, I think I might be able to write stories of other worlds—fantasy or spiritual worlds.

A few years back when I went for a Tarot reading the reader saw travel in my cards, but not travel by way of air, boat, or train. She saw me creating worlds, traveling through my writing. Interesting. I also had a similar reading later on when I sat with a Tarot reader in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He had a wizardly look about him. He had been around. He saw things. I felt as though I had crossed into another time sitting there at his small table. I was in the French Quarter and I was also in a world larger than I could imagine. Writing was there in those cards. There were other things that I cannot remember specifically, but I remember being misty eyed when I got up to walk away. I wanted to howl and shed tears to allow the droplets to come rushing out. I continued walking in a way lost and also quite found within myself and being there with a purpose of self-affirmation—not affirmation of writing—plain and true affirmation of self.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bits of Books and Life

The sky and this cloud formation washed over me. I almost didn’t take the photo. I went to unzip my bag to get my iPod Touch out to snap a photo, then I stopped. I continued admiring the sunset and the electric clouds framed by the pines and the sky. And then, there I was, I couldn’t resist and I took several photos and this one is “the one.” When I looked at it on the screen I thought of the art of William Blake, the intensity and light that is found in his pieces.

I see a woman and she is dancing and she is rising up through his trunk—through and around this Cloud King. She is in rapture as she spreads into his being, exchanging light for light. This moment she will keep and she will revisit in her dreams and she will dream and dream and dream.


A short story collection that I picked up a few weeks back while searching the science fiction/fantasy shelves of Barnes & Noble is Stories: All-New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I haven’t read a whole lot of science fiction or fantasy and I thought this would be a mellow collection. I’m trying to read the stories in order but I did skip to the shortest story to see what that was like. I didn’t care much for it. It didn’t seem like there was enough there at three pages. I’m going to read it again. Not too soon though. I did skip over one story because I wasn’t in the mood for characters to be going back and forth saying, “shit” and “fuck” in the dialogue. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Just wasn’t in the mood for profanity in short story that day. I’m fine with some cursing. I’ll come back to that one much later, though, when I’m in that kind of a mood.

I have about a handful or maybe two handfuls of various short story anthologies. One is from an English class and the other is from a creative writing course. It’s interesting how many stories don’t get read and discussed in a class. The instructors have to pick and choose and though I did read other stories beyond the instructor’s choices, I hardly read them all. One of my favorites is Junichiro Tanizaki’s “The Tattooer.” That made me go out and buy his other books. I read The Key and a few others sit on my shelves to be read another time. The psychological depth pulled me in and kept me there. One other short story that comes to mind that made me laugh is Woody Allen’s short story The Kugelmass Episode. I’m a fan of his movies and humor and I enjoyed this one very much.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with short stories. Even though they are short, if it doesn’t grab me, I get impatient—more impatient than with a novel. With a novel, I’ll keep going until page 60 or 100 before I give up. But with a short story, as short as they are, I want something to happen fast; I want to like the characters and I want to love the words and I want to feel satisfied when I reach the end. It seems that, as in a game of chess, the ending is often the most challenging part. Opening, playing the middle game, these tasks offer their own challenges but to be able to bring your reader satisfaction and to not feel that you’ve reached a stalemate in an otherwise good game—story—but to create an ending that makes you feel that it was worth reading—that is art. This is something for me to think about if I decide to write short stories of my own. Something needs to happen and we need to come of changed in some way or relived or...

Of the short story collections I have, I’ve dipped in and out of them over the year’s barley making a dent. There are some stories I loved and many that I didn’t connect with. It’s not realistic, but a part of me would like to connect with all the short stories I read. That’s not how it works, though. I know better than that. 

Reading is such a personal experience and no two readers are alike, but I still wonder about this one. It’s also interesting to note all the different ways to tell a story, even though there are certain rules, I never know what it is about a story that will take me in and hold me there. This changes too. I’m looking forward to my upcoming class. We have a large anthology of short stories we will be reading and I think we are expected to read it all. This is good because at times I need motivation for certain things. That must be why I put myself in situations where I will be maintain motivation. Part of writing about these books and short stories brings me back and it always pushes me forward. So I think the anticipation for the class and other events is causing me to think of and pull out these anthologies and collections that I have.

I realize that my reading habits are scattered and I will read five pages from this book, then however many pages from that book, and another and…Do the stories start blending together? Does the fiction and non-fiction become entwined? It does allow me to see what’s calling to me strongest. There’s a book that I want to get back to and it’s going to be due back to the library soon, but something is stopping me. My main book right now is Rebecca (there’s a story and a blog behind this one when I’m done with it), and I’m reading a short novel by Alexis M. Smith called Glaciers. I haven’t gotten back to Aging with Grace, but I keep adding it to the daily rotation shuffle. I just picked up Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors. I saw this one when I went into a small bookstore over the weekend. It saw it there on one of the tables. Current nature writing and reflection combined into one. I had to have it. And then a few weeks back I started reading Muriel Spark’s Reality and Dreams. I’m half way through and as I look at the book and see where I am, I wonder, do I need to start this one over or has enough of the plot stuck with me. The first sentence of the first chapter got me: “He often wondered if we were all characters in one of God’s dreams.” I can repeat this to myself over and over and I feel that any one of us could take that sentence and weave our own tale. I was enjoying this short novel and then I stopped because other books pushed their way through and lately I’ve had a harder time finding longer pockets of time to devote to reading. And I want to read Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders by Mary Pipher, Ph.d.  I came to this one reading another book. I keep finding I have to re-check out The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma. Each time I recheck it out, I get further. Progress. And I may never get back to So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading because I’m trying to get through my own reading. And I started Animal Farm. Attention span is all over the place. The book I mentioned earlier that I seem to not be coming back to but want to is called The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. I must say this one is interesting, different, and witty. And do any of you have a bathroom book? I know that may seem odd, too personal—I don’t know. I have certain books that I take to keep me company and the one that has been that book on and off for years is Inevitable Grace: Breakthroughs in the Lives of Great Men and Women: Guides to Your Self-Realization by Piero Ferrucci. This is a special book and even if I only read a paragraph or a few pages, I come out feeling or learning something and nodding my head yes or thinking and reflecting further. Once I spent a longer period of time in the bathroom than was necessary and my significant other asked, “What were you doing in there all that time?” And I said to him, “I was reading.”

I had to take myself to the library yesterday to study and do homework for my accounting class. It was difficult to not look at books. I quickly looked in the new section and found a newer Thich Nhat Hanh book and a new astrology book that discusses signs born on the cusp of another sign. I took those books and set them aside and got down to accounting. Then after about an hour of work, I cracked the books. I decided to leave the astrology book behind. I got what I needed from it. Back to accounting. When it was time to go I took one last look—a sort of reward for sticking to my work—at the fiction on the new shelf. I did find one book that caught my attention. It’s a debut novel called South of Superior by Ellen Airgood. Under her photo, her bio says: “Ellen Airgood runs a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan. This is her first novel.” Well all be darn. Simple. It was nice to not see all the publications and educational accolades for a change. I read the short prologue and like the writing. I think this is going to be a good story. I’m will have to make the time and be assertive with myself and weave it into the reading mix. There are probably books that I forgot about or got buried in piles, but these are the ones that I would really like to finish in the next few months and if I don’t at least I can remember then and come back to them later.

I almost forgot. A few days ago I did finish Don DeLillo’s short novel, The Body Artist. The receipt is still in the book so I know that the first time I tried to read this book was in January of 2002. I bought this one at Orinda Books and thank goodness that small bookstore is still around. I had trouble with this one the first time I began reading it. I put it away, tried from the beginning again years later and then because when I went to see Jonathan Franzen speak and he mentioned DeLillo, it brought me back to this book, which I kept. The opening is beautiful and calls me right in:

“Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web” (page 9).

I’m ready to read this book again. If you haven’t read it, I would say make sure you’re in the mood to suspend whatever you think will follow that captivating opening. The dialogue can feel like walking through thick mud at times, but if you keep going—slowly and taking it in with all your senses, you may just want to start over again too.

Listening to conversations, going to watch authors speak, taking classes, reading blogs—interacting with life in some way—listening, observing—all of these experiences lead to more books, to more worlds—to new found connections.

Pulled into the web of life, if I see the silk lowered to me, I take it gladly—I hang on and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Here is Where I am…

Here is Where I am…

Here is where I’m at: I attended my first ever writer’s group meeting—Me, the quiet one who doesn’t speak up in class. Me, the quiet one that is outgoing on the page, but not so much in person, except the rare occasion. The quiet one, who usually avoids these types of things—has decided that I can’t be too quiet for much longer anymore. It’s time to peel myself from the wall of quiet wild flowers.

As most of you know, since I’ve blogged about it, I have been part of writing classes and we did do a few workshops, but mostly the critiquing occurred online only. This is the first time I’ve gone through the process with a live group.

Out of respect for the group, I will not go into detail about the group itself, except to say it’s a fine bunch of writers of varying writing interests, all with the shared goal of publication. Some have already published and some are still working on it.

What I can say is I learned a lot in my first session and that the critiquing process and feedback is helpful. The group is constructive and encouraging and I’m thankful that they allowed me membership in the group.


Here is where I’m at: For the first time in my life, as a writer, I am in a sort of limbo as to how exactly to label what I write. I don’t like labels, but I know they have their place; there is a necessity to their existence.

What do I write? I am a journal writer, but I realize that in addition to being a journal writer, because I like to process my surroundings and interactions with people, places, and things—I tend to write reflective pieces. I like the freedom of free writing, and when I allow myself, I like the stream of consciousness aspects that sneak into my writing. I write a lot about my grandmother and my own life and observations, so in that regard I write memoir. I also enjoy writing personal essays, but I don’t know how many of my blogs can be called essays.

What I’m running into—the new crossroads that I’ve encountered is what to share in the writing group for critique—with the intent to submit for publication or to build a collection that I self-publish, etc. The first piece of writing that I submitted for sharing was taken from my blog. But when I step back, if I am to take this approach, I need a direction. I need to decide or visualize a finished product because my blogs are a mix of different types of writing. I’ve written vignettes, but what do I do with them if I envision including them as part of a collection? What if I want to create a book that is part memoir, part reflection, part essay, part poetry? How do I include all of these pieces of me into one whole? Or, and it could be an “And” instead of “Or”—do I begin working on small pieces that I’ve scribbled in my notebooks that I haven’t posted to my blog yet—do I submit new pieces and figure out how it all fits together?

Another interesting dynamic that I run into is that since I am new to the group and this is my first meeting, you, my dear readers have a sense of where I’ve been. This is a small note, but it’s an interesting feeling to have written so much and to have in a way “published” it and now trying to make sense of it because when I write, it’s like I’m sitting down to a “job” that I love—one that involves words and sharing. So is this enough? I think it is enough to a certain extent and it feels good to put myself on the page and there’s always more to learn and there are always improvements to be made.

So from now on, from month to month, as I decide what piece of my writing I will submit for the group to critique—and the beauty is that I can select any type of writing, as long as it’s with the intent of publication, since that is the aim of the group—I face the challenge of having a different audience, not just me—not just my blog readers, but other readers. I always write for myself and at the same time I write for others. I write to explore, to examine, to feel, to find out, and many other reasons—and I write as best I can at any given moment in time. Sometimes, the words come right out and other times, they get stuck, but I tell myself, time and time again—to keep going, just keep writing and this part is becoming easier (knock-on-wood). The part that is now new to me and a challenge since I decided to become a part of a writer’s group is that I have to figure out how I take what I already have and some of what I haven’t yet written and figure out if it has any value packaged as a book—a book of reflections and memories by Rebbecca Hill (Rebb).

The journey will be interesting for sure. The group has members with clear goals. I, on the other hand, am still in limbo trying to figure out exactly what my goal is besides a Children’s book, but I’m not ready to present that yet because I still have work to do on it and I want to work on the other parts first and from month to month I can change it up.

That’s where I am today—or right now. We’ll see how the plot develops. I know fiction is not my container. Even though I will be taking the short story writing class in the fall, I am taking it knowing that my goals are enjoyment, but also learning more in depth about what makes a successful short story. I know the class will be a challenge and I look forward to learning more about the art of the short story. I would like to continue learning how to incorporate creative elements to my own writing. But, I know in my heart of hearts that I can possibly be imaginative with children’s stories, but when it comes to my other writing, I do best when I write about the truth—about what I see and maybe sometimes I can tell it slant—I’m not sure yet. I’m not good at making things up for my characters. What I gravitate towards is holding life up with the tips of my fingers and examining it—life’s beauties and the nooks and crannies in between—and also how I process life. Is this enough? If any of it touches just one person in some way, that’s enough.

I don’t think I could imagine myself not blogging. I’d like to imagine myself blogging into eternity.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Computer Glitches & An Evening with Jonathan Franzen

Breathe… In and out. Computer problems are a good way to practice breathing to keep from becoming too frustrated and that is what I am finding myself doing this morning. As I began reading and commenting on blogs, the internet connection was lost. First a yellow shading across the bars and now a big red X. I turned off the wireless router, turned it back on, and was patient, did my morning pages, stopped when I saw a sign of life and then it died again. It’s been at least 20 minutes now. I’m almost done with my decaf coffee and don’t feel quite satisfied because usually my coffee goes hand in hand with my blog reading. I could shout at the computer, yell profanities into the air, but that wouldn’t do any good. So I calmly breathe, take a big deep breathe and move on to other things, this being one of them. I’ve been running into this internet problem intermittently now for it seems days, even weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the hardware or the service provider.

Breathe. Computers and technology have a way of presenting opportunities to slow down, to step back, be patient, cool off. I don’t feel too annoyed, but I’m aware of wanting to do one thing and then I can’t and I feel like a child whose candy has been taken away. And in my morning page, nothing much was happening and I was thinking about that in general about how writing and to want something to always happen and to be able to convey it without allowing the editor or critic any space. It’s a constant up and down battle in a way, a battle with the self or wanting, to let loose and to know and be familiar with that feeling, of the wild feeling, but of not fully allowing the self to express. And it’s something that Jonathan Franzen said last night in his talk—about loyalty to the writer—that each writer comes to a point where they question who will be affected by what they write and of course when it concerns published work in the form of fiction and non-fiction by a best-selling author your talking about a much wider audience and of course your family or friends will see it and they may be hurt or angry or upset by it, but the writer has to be loyal to self. I needed to hear this advice as a way of breaking open the tight bud that sometimes wont allow its own self to flourish because it hasn’t learned yet to trust itself entirely and it knows there are thorns but the thorns are part of the process—the necessary element; and the bud—tightly wrapped—knows this intuitively and she watches herself and she opens and closes; opens and closes. It’s a long beautiful, ever growing process—a constant death and rebirth of self.

And when he consulted with an old friend on how to handle what he was writing about one day, his friend told him to write around it. Jonathan Franzen tells us we can write through it or write around it.

Franzen is a funny man. He came onto the stage, carrying a black backpack slung over his shoulder and he looked out to us, as with a nod to say hello. It seemed to me that he had this backpack as a way of holding on to something and I like that it was so causal. A backpack. He put the backpack on the table and commented on how he liked the table and everyone laughed. He took a folder from his backpack and opened on the podium, gather his pages. He unscrewed the cap from his water, took a swig. His movements were tentative and deliberate at the same time.

I’ve never read anything by Franzen and I only knew he would be here because I saw the mini-flyers in the library. Of course I wanted to see what this famous author had to say to us about memoir and fiction. In the interim I had checked out a few of his essay collections to get a sense of the man I would see speak. I read the introduction of one and was not immediately pulled into the essays of the first book, but I recognized most of the introduction in the notes that he was reading to us. I was certain of it, though I don’t think he directly mentioned that he would be reading from his book, but I recognized those words and no wonder he would choose to open his talk with the four questions that are usually asked of any published author and so he read through them as though he had prepared the speech for this talk. But then when I did a Wikipedia search, you can find the questions there, I thought, did I imagine reading the words he was speaking? Did I google him and forget? Why did I feel like I’ve heard these words? I don’t know the real answer, but the audience laughed at his delivery. It was informatively funny.

I laughed a lot because he’s funny and his voice reminded me of Steve Martin and also the narrator that also sounds like Steve Martin, narrating Steve Martin’s book An Object of Beauty. He has a punctuated way of speaking, and the way he read his work was how I believe I read it. The way I would read his work, matched his own voice reading his work. I was drawn into his thick black rimmed glasses, that reminded me of Buddy Holly. Physically, his face reminded me of the actor, Tim Robbins. Odd that Franzen made me think of these three people.

By the way, I loved An Object of Beauty. I like Martin’s writing style. His writing is confident and flows. He is in command. I read his novella, Shopgirl, a long time ago and he seems to have a fascination with exploring the relationships of younger woman falling for older men. I can relate to that in my past relationships. He has an acute sense of observation and the way he delves beneath the surface is interesting and seemingly accurate. As An Object of Beauty progressed I found that it was predictable, but for me, that didn’t take away from Martin’s commentary on the art world. I fell for the characters and I learned about what goes on behind the scenes of the art world. If you love art, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

But back to Franzen. I thought it also funny that he said he doesn’t ever google himself, nor does he read reviews of his work. I can imagine that would be a very difficult part of being in the public eye. You put yourself out there and then as will always happen, there is someone that your work doesn’t quite sit with and they let you know and maybe sometimes they aren’t nice about it. That must be a horrible feeling, but as an old friend once said to me about her acceptance of the writer’s life, “You have to learn to eat rejection for breakfast.” Or something along those lines.

Overall, I’m glad to have heard Franzen speak about his work, especially the personal details beneath the writing of Corrections and also of how his first two book ideas were taken from movie plots. Go figure.

I think the event would have been more special for me if I were seeing a fellow Red Room member or author for whose work I’ve followed all these years and new member’s whose work I follow or any Red Room member that I’ve had contact with. And of course any author whose books I’ve read and admired. To me, even though this was a wonderful presentation by a famous author, it didn’t mean as much to me simply because I had no connection to the author. It could have meant more. He was a perfect stranger. He had wise words, yes. He shared, yes. But, and maybe this had something to do with it. I’m not sure. In the very beginning—we started a bit late—he seemed to suggest that he could take as long as he wanted to get those first words out and that he would do his job because, “I’m getting paid to be here.” And someone from the audience quietly said, “Yeah, we paid too.” But, I thought to myself, why would he even mention money at all. Why begin that way. Even though, much later he talked about where part of the proceeds go, it didn’t matter. The way he first presented it left a funny feeling in my being. This was one small moment, possibly overblown by my mind. It’s how I felt, but it didn’t take away from the whole.

Jonathan Franzen seems a funny, intelligent, quirky man. I enjoyed listening to him speak, when he spoke away from his own written words, when he stepped away from the podium, even if mere inches, and I liked when he would take a long pause before answering audience questions.

One person from the audience asked if he saw value in writing groups and he said they could be good, but that it depended on the relationship of the people in the group because that would determine reinforced responsibility or lack of. This made sense. Naturally if there is some connection, some caring, the group tries to adhere to creating a useful and encouraging environment. He also said, “after enough practice, you can see your own work.” I appreciated this advice.

I still have my library copy of Jonathan Franzen’s essays, How to be Alone and I’m looking forward to reading some of his essays. I would like to think I will finish the book, but I don’t think it will be possible with my reading already being pulled in several other directions, as I peck away at the books I’m currently reading.

I appreciate most of all how Franzen holds the physical book up high—that he holds the physical book with such high respect. He mentioned that he does not write his books with the idea that they could be made into a movie. He wants to write a book that does not translate into cinema. He wants the book to be such that it stands on its own and is enjoyed for the contents within its covers and that this experience can only be found in his book, not outside in a movie, but right there, just you and his story.

There is much to admire in Franzen. I’m glad to have been pulled in his direction by way of good marketing on the part of the library that had planned this event for two years I think they said. I am eager to read his essays and eventually his fiction and his new collection of essays, Farther Away.

I’ve tried to ignore the status internet connectivity symbol in the bottom corner of the screen and I seem to have written through it. I’ve been breathing and typing, letting it come out. Finally, after what seems an hour or more and I felt done, I went and turned off the power for the router and waited. I turned on the main computer, as I call it—the one directly connected—and the internet turned on. I went and looked at the wireless router, on hands and knees and noticed the little antenna was pointing toward down. I lifted it up and went to the laptop and iPad, the X at the bottom of my screen disappeared and was replaced by four strong bars of connectivity. Who knew the solution was so simple. It must have gradually been limping downward.

I wasn’t going to write about this experience, but apparently it wanted to come out and mingle with the page, to see what I thought about it and to take the time to  appreciate meeting Jonathan Franzen, if only from in my seat, because I didn’t stay longer than when the audience applauded as he sort of skipped off the stage waving to us like a school boy that was going to miss his bus. There he goes…Thank you, Mr. Franzen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Visit with Uncle and Ponchito

When I visited my uncle two days ago, before I left I asked him if it was alright if I went to the back room—to my grandmother’s old room— to say hello to her cockatiel, Ponchito. The room now belongs to her beloved bird. My uncle has the large cage propped up high, so that I have to walk up to the top of the stepladder to peer into the cage. The whole house is different. It’s my uncle’s house now.

My grandmother used to speak with Ponchito, whistle to him and blow kisses. Ponchito was shy with me at first, since it had been a while since I went back to visit him. I said, “Hello Ponchito bonito, mi Ponchito bonito.”—Hello pretty Ponchito, my pretty Ponchito.—And I would say it over and over and whistle and kiss. My uncle said if I put my face right up to his cage so that I was practically touching my nose to it, Ponchito would come down; and he did. We were talking back and forth and he was dancing on his stick, side to side. I would turn my head and he would turn his, as though he was looking in a mirror.

Ponchito has outlived his two canary friends and his cockatiel friend. He is now a solo man. All of his body feathers are in tact. His head feathers are missing, so you can see his baldhead and his cheeks. I told my uncle he reminds me of my grandfather because of his bare head, his tough spirit.

Ponchito came into my grandmother’s life by accident. She was merely taking care of him for her niece while she was on vacation. It turned out that when the niece got back from vacation, she didn’t want the bird back because of her busy schedule so my grandmother adopted him.

My uncle and I were trying to figure out how old Ponchito is. We had to base it on how long my grandmother has not been with us, and also how long the niece has no longer been a part of the family. We had to do some family math of what has transpired in between and when we stopped becoming a family. I think that makes Ponchito at least 25 years old, maybe a few years younger. I turned my head from speaking and whistling with Ponchito and said to my uncle, “Ponchito is going to outlive all of us.” We laughed. “Probably so,” he said. There aren’t many of us left and we are split up anyway. It’s difficult when the foundational pieces of a family die—when the only hope of glue to hold them together is gone. I’m all right with it. It has been a reality for many years—too many years. I’ve seen the pillars fall down one by one.

And then I remember when my grandfather was alone and I’d catch him teasing the bird, poking a butter knife through the cage, riling the bird up, making him run back and forth, flapping his wings—running for his life. My grandfather had some peculiar ways about him and looking back, I love him all the more for it. I miss his whiskers scraping against my cheek when I would kiss him hello or goodbye and the smell of Aqua Velva after-shave when he’d shave those whiskers.

Ponchito is quite a bird—quite a cockatiel. He is very much an extension of my grandmother, as he says her words and whistles her whistles, blowing us her kisses. He also has a bit of my grandfather in him too. For all that Ponchito has been through, he is still very much alive and it’s a somewhat surreal feeling to stare into his cage, into his eyes—in my grandmother’s room—hearing her words.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tarot Card

4 Cups ~Luxury

Moon in Cancer.  Emotional Luxury and Fulfillment.


Lotus blossom rains a steady stream of light into two golden cups, a continuous flow upward from the cups back to the lotus blossom. A total of four golden cups, two on one half and two on the other half, held above the top cups hovering above the light, just above the bottom cups, but not touching.

The background is split in half horizontally, while the golden cups form a vertical divide. The top half of the background is charcoal black with gray white space smudged in. The bottom half is water, small blue waves flowing out to a loving white light of infinity. The golden cup arrangement is like a candelabra, a Celtic knot holding the entire piece together as one, a solid foundation below, shooting upward to the moon above, the symbol of cancer below. The light spilling from the lotus to the cups—inward and outward—a curtain to be parted, entered into—divine energy.


“True emotional luxury is the experience of feeling internally satisfied and fulfilled as well as feeling emotionally fulfilled externally also.”

—From The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien.

The card represents the love we’ve received from others creating an inner fullness to be shared—with acceptance and humility—and with moderation to maintain our internal/external balance.

—Summarized from Tarot: Mirror of the Soul: Handbook for the Aleister Crowley Tarot by Gerd Zieger.


When I chose this card today, I closed my eyes and focused on the quality of the day and an overall reading of the feeling in the air. I also thought about who might happen upon this page today, tonight, or whichever day—whom this card might also speak to. I had you in mind, so if you land here, this card is for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An Intuitive Exercise in Decision Making

I wrote a good deal in my personal morning pages. I didn't realize I had so much to get out. My penciled words started out small and controlled, and when I was two pages through, my handwriting had grown considerably larger and sloppier and I was having trouble keeping up with the words and I was fully aware of the state of flow; at the same time, I followed the words without tripping over thought. This was a good morning page in that I cleared my slate of what may have been cluttering up my thoughts.

Recently, at the change of certain events, I had a decision to make and I felt certain that I knew the answer, yet I needed to send it through another decision making process and called back an exercise I first did in a class called "Creativity and Intuition." I reached for my sketch pad, drew a line down the middle, and wrote the two decisions that were competing for my attention on the top of the page. One would have to be given up for now and I also had to see how I felt about it, in general, from my intuitive, subconscious self. Under each decision, I began doodling without thinking, I jotted a few random words, more doodles, squiggles. I started with one decision, then moved to the other; the answer was forming and it was clear which had to be let go. I also had the choice of maintaining both, but I needed to examine if this would be the best decision or would it be best to carry on with only the one without first knowing the outcome of the other. It was interesting to see the difference between each doodle--hatch marks and X's for one, while the other had fluid, calming shapes and designs. I realized that even if decision A did not work out, by the symbols I saw before me, my intuition was communicating to me what was below the surface and I knew why there had previously been hesitation for decision B. I hadn't done this exercise in quite some time and it felt good to see my decision confirmed in a different language.


Temperatures are supposed to reach the hundreds today. It already feels hot. I haven't gone outside, yet I can feel the heat trickling in through the open window.

I took this photo over the weekend. When I sat looking up at the tree with the sun beaming through the leaves, it felt like a slice of heaven; calling me to slip through the opening, to glide on the leaves burning with the fire of the sun--lighting them, as they lighted my soul.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Morning Page ~ Looking for one thing

Looking for one thing,
I find another.
What I find—
exactly what I’m looking for
but I didn’t know it.
Not looking, I was found.

Talking or thinking about a concept,
suddenly I see it everywhere.
Is it this simple?
Is it black and white?
Like day and night?


Last week I read two picture books. I told myself: No more books. I can’t stop. My side of the fold out couch barely has room for me. I’m making slow progress on various books. I went to Barnes & Noble to search what they had on ageing and dying. The section was small but had some interesting titles. One caught my attention and I bought it, along with a copy of a writing magazine. I remember a long time ago I subscribed to a writing magazine and I ended up piling them up, not truly getting into the material. I gave the stack away to a friend that I thought would have better luck. She gladly took the pile off my hands.

I’ve bought writing magazines from time to time over the years. This was the first time I bought one in several years. It seemed time. I’m embarking on a new mind shift toward my writing and where I’d like to go from here. I have a rough plan in my head and I can visualize small milestones along the way. I can actually see it and it’s a bit scary and I’ll be happy just going through the process and receiving my first rejection. I’ll celebrate a rejection if I get even that. I don’t have many items on my bucket list because I’m content with my life—not content in a stale way, but truly happy that I made it this far. There was time I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to 18. Much of that was mental, but it felt good to surpass. So really, on my bucket list is one simple thing: To write and submit a piece to a magazine that seems to fit the market that I’m best suited for. That’s it. Of course receiving an acceptance letter would be phenomenal, but I’d be happy with a good ol’ rejection slip. Just to know that I did it—this thing that I’ve wanted to do for so long and had the Writer’s Market books in front of me, circling the possibilities, deciding what, when, where, how. Dismissing the notion and continuing to blog and write in my personal journals, scraps of paper. So that’s it. I said it.

One day I would like to write and publish a children’s book. It’s been a dream of mine for some time—one of my adult dreams. I can’t say why exactly, except that I love picture books and other children’s books, I like the idea of seeing my story come to life by an artist’s touch. I think it would also be a way to seal a few childhood memories into a real living object and if possible bring joy to others. I may only write and publish one children’s book in my lifetime and that would be enough. The story I have in mind is one that I’ve visualized for a long time, but had forgotten about it until recently. I don’t even know if it has potential or if I can bring it alive and have it mean something more than just to me—to broaden it—to include a wider audience of young readers and their parents. I will explore and see.

The two children’s picture books that I read recently were Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Words and pictures by Mo Willems and More by I.C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies.

Pigeon was a silly book and a bit odd in that Pigeon looked at us out of one eye the whole time from his one dimensional body. That’s the way he was drawn. The bus driver of the story says hello to us and says he’s got to leave for a little while and leaves the bus in our charge with the one favor of not letting the Pigeon behind the wheel. Of course, through out the story Pigeon tries to convince us to let him drive. A silly story that made me chuckle.

More  on the other hand is visually appealing. There are about 44 words in this 32-page picture book. It’s the story of a magpie that collects and he keeps collecting more and more objects bringing them back to his nest. It’s never enough until…

Magpie’s little mouse friend is a sweet addition to the story. Mostly told in illustrations, I can see how this would be a good one for little ones learning to know when enough is enough.

I also related to this story as I have the tendency to do this with books and I can’t stop, shifting piles, and losing track of what is where.

Both of these books were checked out from the library, so they will be going back, not taking up space that I do not have!

On the other side of the age spectrum, the book I bought at Barnes & Noble was Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives by David Snowdon, Ph.D. I am enjoying this book immensely. I’m about halfway through and the next half will focus more so on the continued findings of the study. I am enjoying learning about the different nuns, their experiences, and especially eager to reach the end. There is so much more that my mind is still processing about this lovely book.


p.s. I’m sure I’ll add more to my bucket list, but for now it’s simple and that suits me fine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Art & Inspiration


Water is as steady as thoughts
as unstable as a child’s first steps
as old as time as fresh as life
as mysterious as dreams

—Amanda Ditmore, age 9
   Berkeley, California

Every year River of Words sponsors a free international art and poetry contest for young artists between the ages of 5 and 19. There is still time for your young artists to submit through December. You can read all about the contest rules at the link below.

I visited St. Mary’s College for the last day of the River of Words exhibit. When I learned of it through the library, I went to the college website and was drawn into the watercolor image of the fish displayed on the museum web page.

Looking at the artwork on the walls and reading the poems that were interspersed between the artwork was invigorating. No two artworks were alike, each representing the young human's view, each a profound statement.

I walked slowly through the exhibit, taking in each piece. I have always been inspired by children’s art and poetry because there is a fresh, spontaneous element, and also in many cases a refined quality beyond my beliefs.

You can click on the first link below to the view the 2012 winners and finalists. From this page, you can also view the poetry. I hope you enjoy the images.

River of Words 2012 Art Gallery

Read more about River of Words here

River of Words Website

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Evening Page: A New View of Monday’s

This Monday I tried a different approach to the beginning of the week. I feel as though I had a break through after I had my mini-blow up after the honking experience. I feel as though it was a blessing in disguise because I don’t like blowing up; I don’t like losing my balance, and I took this as an opportunity to do some thinking and continued to evaluate my reactions in general when something bothers me.

Although my emotional loss of control wasn’t about work, it made me think of work for some reason. It made me think of the moments I do get frustrated or co-workers get frustrated and, for some reason, at that moment I wanted to get to the library to check out Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others by Richard Carlson.

The excerpt that has really made a difference is: 13. Join my New Club, “TGIT.” Some people are of the TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) club, counting the days before the end of the week arrives, while others are of the TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) for those that look forward to Monday’s. People of the TGIT (Thank God It’s Today) club are “…happy seven days a week because they understand that every day is unique, and each brings with it different gifts. Members of this club are grateful to be alive; they rejoice in their many blessings and expect each day to be full of wonder, surprise, and opportunity” (pg. 40). Reading this provided me a refreshing way to approach all the days of the week. I felt a bounce to my step on Monday as I walked to work and an uncontrollable smile formed on my face as I passed the sun-drenched flowers and heard the birds chirping. I took this with me to the office, carried it through the day, and back home again.

Today in particular when I took a walking break, this one section of shrubs and plants looked especially green today. I felt almost as though I was seeing for the first time and my eyes were overjoyed with green.

Approaching the days with a TGIT framework doesn’t mean that I won’t still have moments of anger or sadness. It means that I don’t have to dread Monday’s because it’s the beginning of a workweek. It doesn’t even mean I have to focus on Friday because the weekend follows. It means each day can be special; each day an opportunity for learning, growth—fill in the blank.

Carlson closes this excerpt by saying, “Just think: If you wake up every day of the week with an attitude of, ‘I’m glad today is today. I’m going to make this day as positive and wonderful as I possibly can,’ you may be surprised at how much less stressed you’ll be. This simple shift of attitude goes a long way toward a more positive experience of life and work.”

I now have a post-it note at work taped to my computer screen with TGIT. I wrote the letters in block style with a blue felt pen and then for each letter I doodled a circle, star, and zigzag lines. I definitely feel a shift in my attitude toward work. It’s ebbed and flowed over the years and that’s why I appreciate coming back to simple reminders that don’t cost any money. Attitude is a large part of life, and I’m glad that Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… reminded me of that.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What happened to the rhythm?

What happened to the rhythm? It seems to have skipped a beat. Feels like being right back at square one. What happened to the flow? Going back after a long time, you still recognize it, but when it’s still too near, you don’t see it. Has something changed? Something’s always changing. At times it feels like a writing vacuum, dust and particles spinning around. You want something more, is that what it is?

What is the purpose? What is your purpose and how do you bring your purpose to life? How do you know if anyone cares? Does it matter if they care?

Stop and go. Stop and go. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Kaboom!

What’s that? You said you had something going the other day and you intend to come back to it.

Oh! Where is this going!?

It’s the feeling as if after a performance—the curtains have closed, the audience has left, and it’s just you in the dark, in the quiet—just you—left with the rhythm of your own thoughts, your own words.

Only it’s not a performance; it’s real life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hermann Hesse, Kindred Spirit ~ The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse and Wandering: Notes and Sketches

This week’s blog topic didn’t immediately trigger any books. I had given up, untill I looked up into the closet in the section where I keep my collection of books by Hermann Hesse, that’s when I thought about the book, The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse Translated and with an Introduction by Jack Zipes. It wasn’t in its usual spot. I knew right where to find it though. This is a collection of most of Hesse’s fairy tales that were originally printed in journals or newspapers during his lifetime.

My love of reading started late by most standards. If I look back to where it began, I believe it was upon reading Hermann Hesse’s Demian. I was in my twenties. Ever since then, not only did I begin to devour books, I also sensed deeply from within my soul, a kindred spirit and connection in Hermann Hesse, a connection to a man from another time, yet what he wrote and how he wrote resonated in a profound way.

His most well known books are Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, The Glass Bead Game, and Demian. Anyone that is already a fan of his works will appreciate his fairy tales, which don’t feel like ordinary fairy tales. I would cherish being able to read and understand Hesse in his original German language.

Hesse has a way of transporting the reader through his imagination, his gentle and introspective writing, living and writing through his internal struggles, and seeming to find peace at times. He was a tortured soul. Did this internal pain fuel his work? Did it make his work feel more alive and organic? I only know that I’ve never felt as much as I do with another author as I do when I read his words, whether the popular fiction of his time, his poems, or his fairy tales. We each have a person or perhaps several that we can find some part of ourselves within, whether our past, present, or future selves. I find myself in him. I still haven’t allowed myself to read The Glass Bead Game. I want to feel perfectly ready and deserving of it. Does that make sense? Sometimes, I don’t know if it does. I anticipate the time will come soon.

Even though I’m late in responding to this week’s blog topic, I wanted to mention his book of fairy tales in case anyone may have missed this book and think they might enjoy it.

On another of his books, I wrote a reaction back on January 1, 2002 in one of my journals to one of his pieces called “Farmhouse” from another lesser-known book of his called Wandering: Notes and Sketches Translated by James Wright. It includes his prose, poetry, and black and white copies of his water color sketches. It is said that this is one of Hesse’s favorite books. I never thought that I would have a reason to share what I had written way back then. It seems, though, that it fits here and speaks to how I still feel about him and how he has stayed with me. And this is what I wrote (unedited, except adding a few missing question marks):

“The way to salvation leads neither to the left or to the right: it leads into your own heart, and there alone is God, and there alone is peace.” This is very beautiful. One of the reasons I like Hesse so much is that he is gentle, caring, observant, careful, full of love. If I try to communicate to him through a poem, here is what comes to the page:

Dear friend, I have known you in
another life.
You are like a kindred spirit
on a level different than what is
true, I feel your pain
I too love nature, but have not
fully immersed myself in her as you
have done.
Why am I so drawn to you my
Did we dance in the rain in another life perhaps? I can’t
explain it, but I have this feeling
when I think of you.
You excite me in a way that makes me want to actualize my full potential.
You make me feel like it’s too late.
You started so young—

You experienced so much: Your mind is beautiful. If I met with you
I feel we wouldn’t need words
We would only need each other’s
presence and nature, the pen,
tea, meditation.
We would need no words, my friend,
because our spirits are one.


One observation I can make of myself today from the self of 2002 is that I most definitely have immersed myself in nature to the extent that I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. Thank you, in spirit, Dear Hesse, for having touched my soul deeply.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I walk the mountain with my mind

I walk the mountain with my mind,
observe the daily changes.
He looks hot today:
Sun beating down on his
peaks and valleys, green face,
turned dusty.
Each day
I see you dear Mountain;
I bow down to your beauty,
your strength, and massiveness.
You remind me how small I am
in comparison to you, yet you
love me just the same. I watch you
change color when there is an opportunity
to steal a glance. I watch you change hues
to match the time of day. And when you are
paired with the moon, a few wispy clouds,
I climb on the ladder that hangs low; I climb to reach you both.
You hold out your hand, while the moon shines the light I need to navigate the darkness.
I disappear into the night.

Tamale Making – Re-found Ritual

Once a year for New Year’s Day, my grandmother would make tamales. I remember the smell of meats and spices cooking, the large steamers, the corn husks soaking in water. My mother used to help her. They would sit at the kitchen table with all the prepared ingredients spread out. My grandmother would usually make three types of tamales: Pork, beef, and sweet. To the meats, she would add little bits of vegetables and after spreading the masa and meat, she would add a few olives. They would go through the process until there was no more masa: Spreading the masa dough, adding meat, olives, and folding the tamales. I would come in from playing outside, watch for a bit, looking over my mother’s shoulder, sneaking a few olives to plop in my mouth.

I’ve ordered tamales in various Mexican restaurants and I haven’t found one that I really like. There is one place that I can get tamales that are everything I want a tamale to be: Flavorful and moist, and that is the Farmer’s Market. I used to go every Sunday and the sauce they provide is out of this world. It is a green sauce made with tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, onion, and cilantro. There was a time when I couldn’t stand the flavor of cilantro. I don’t know when that changed, but it could have been the tamales at the Farmer’s Market that converted me into a lover of cilantro.

Pork tamales are my favorite and when the seasoned pork meat, the cooked masa, and green sauce all come into contact, my taste buds are in absolute heaven. I stopped going every Sunday and now it’s a treat when I do go.  I tried to replicate the salsa about two years ago and I wasn’t able to tame the pungency of the tomatillos, nor was I able to achieve the same consistency. It seems there is an art to making sauces and salsas and it is one that I haven’t even begun to master. One day I hope to make a Chili sauce I can be proud of. Recent attempts send me back to the drawing board. I have a feeling my next attempt is going to be a good one.

Chili was always a staple on my grandmother’s table, but my young taste buds always passed on the fiery heat of her chili sauces. I have distant memories of her blending the roasted Chili’s in her kitchen. They are only fuzzy memories, no recipes, no secrets passed down.

My significant other and I were looking through a booklet of cooking classes a few months ago. We had signed up for two: One was tamale making. The first class was filled, so we had to wait until June. We had our class over the weekend. It was a short class, 2.5 hours. It’s true that his mother could have shown us how to make tamales. She also makes them once a year and sometimes twice a year on special occasions. And she chided him for it when he told her we took the class.

The instructor was a nice woman whose father was from Guatemala and her mother from Mexico, so she grew up learning how to make two different types of tamales. I thought it was interesting when she described how precise her father was in contrast to her mother’s methods. He was meticulous down to tying of the banana leaves just so.

I’m glad that we took the class because now if we do help my significant other’s mother down the road, we’ll be able to build on what we learned. Tamale making takes a lot of preparation, but once you have everything set up, time and patience is all you’ll need. This was my first time making tamales, and now I feel that I would be able to prepare them at home. The only issue for us would be having enough space to spread everything out.

We broke out into groups and we were in different groups for our tamale assembly. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to hold the corn husk in my hand while spreading the masa into a square, being sure to come close to the edge on one side, leaving room on the other side for proper folding and not spreading too far to the upper edge to avoid leakage. I could visualize being in my grandmother’s kitchen and watching her and my mother make tamales with ease. My tamales were small until I started getting more comfortable and adding more masa, then they became a larger small. 

The instructor guided us after showing us: She said to make a square shape on the cornhusk with the masa and then with the meat a rectangle over the square. When we fold the tamale, we should not see the meat. Folding would seem simple enough, but if the masa wasn’t positioned right, it would ooze out the sides. I felt good about my tamales. We brought plastic bags to take them home for cooking. The group that my significant other was in made tamales that looked much too large. They were like bricks compared to my dainty tamales. We also made one sweet tamale.

I was more interested in eating my tamales than my significant other. For him, it wasn’t as big a deal. For me, I steamed them the moment we walked in the door. When they were done, I was so proud of myself! The dough was firm, yet moist and they tasted good for a first tamale.

Next time we make tamales on our own, I’ll be thinking of my grandmother and mother, and feel like I’m part of the ritual that I can now fully participate in.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mom’s Birthday in Late May and A Young Man’s Confirmation

As I sit soaking in the interior of the church structure, the stained glass windows that open to the outside air take my mind to magic places—the majestic mountain in sight; on the inside, high ceilings, pews, and people. The windows pull away from the church and float in space, grow wings and soar—In flight, winged windows of experience.

And then yes, this day also my mother’s birthday—it almost slipped my mind even though I had been anticipating it the days before. She would have been 83. Song fills the church, and fans hum, circulating air. I close my eyes, wish my mother a happy birthday and I feel love in this house of God with the mountain bursting through the window kissed by the red sun; I close my eyes, think of my mother, feel her presence.

There are many young men and women that are being confirmed on this day. The group walks by toward the front to be seated. The cousin has a serious look on his face. Red robes streak by. Time passes as each one is confirmed. Nearly everyone else in church goes up to receive the offering, row by row. I stay seated. I have a personal relationship with God and I saw him in the mountain peeking through the window.

When the service concludes, the crowd moves outside, the cousin has a beaming smile on his face; he receives hugs, kisses and handshakes from family and friends. I walk up, smile, shake his hand and ask, “How does it feel?”  He says, “It feels good.” The smile does not leave his side. It was nice to see such a glow on this young man’s face, to see how important this moment was to him—a right of passage—a milestone amongst many to come as he treads along through young adulthood, toward adulthood, many experiences awaiting him and a moral guide to follow—a guide that makes sense to him and his family. All the best to him in his endeavors.

Movement, crossing paths, and the Flavor in my Mouth is: Today

I have been swishing the word complacent around, trying to see if it was the taste in my mouth or something else. Do stagnation and complacency go hand in hand? In some areas of our lives, it seems easy enough to shake things up—to introduce a change in the form of a class; writing in a different genre, perhaps; going to a different store; taking a vacation. The list is endless.

Complacency seems to lurk most easily in the job sphere where we spend most of our days, and depending on how large or small the company we work for is, how then do we fight against complacency settling in? Or if it already has settled in, how do we go about snapping ourselves out of it? I’m more interested in the small office setting, since the resources may be fewer and the tasks possibly more noticeably mundane.

1. Contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned.
2. Eager to please; complaisant.

1. Not moving or flowing; motionless.
3a. Showing little or not sign of activity or advancement; not developing or progressing.

I don’t think it’s the taste of complacency that I was experiencing, but possibly stagnation. And it feels as though I skirted this feeling a few blogs ago and that is why I decided to take an accounting class to brush up on my skills, as well as signing up for a short story writing class, which I almost dropped before it started because another direction came to mind. I had to stop myself, recognizing the pattern. If I try to take on too much at one time, I think I’ll eventually throw my hands up and quit. Remember: One step at a time.

I feel pretty good about things, and even if I eventually change my course, I think it will take time to find the right one. And who knows, maybe I’m already right where I’m supposed to be; or maybe I’m just telling myself that. Time will tell. But I’m plugging along in my own way and that’s what matters: I’m moving, flowing—throwing pebbles in the pond.


One of my pet peeves is people that honk their horns too quickly or unnecessarily. Most of the time, I let it go, but yesterday I blew up. I was driving out of the parking garage after work. There are three lanes to turn out to and I wanted the middle or far left lane. I had to wait for all the cars to pass before I could cross over. The lady behind me honked. I looked in my rearview mirror and she had an ugly look on her face and threw her arms up to say, what are you waiting for. Since I can’t very well tell her I’m waiting for the second or third lane, not the first, I point to the road and say the words to myself. I wait. There still isn’t a safe entry for me and I’m not turning on the first lane because it only goes to the right and I want to go straight. I finally have clear pass and I edge out slowly because there are also a couple of people possibly crossing in front of me. She honks again. I’ve had it. I turn around, flip her the bird and yell two explicatives wrapped around YOU. I was heated.

I was also annoyed that I let such a trifle get to me and in those moments I could easily see how road rage happens. I was livid. I’m driving along, breathing, trying to calm my nerves. I thought of how my uncle says, “It’s not your problem, unless you make it your problem,” something along those lines. I should have just waved and smiled. I also thought of a parable about a monk and an empty boat. I can’t remember it precisely, so I laughed to myself and then I turned the situation inside and asked why did you get so upset? Why does this bother you so much? I think it has to do with the fact that people—some people—maybe even many people—are in such a rush and they feel that they need to honk on their damn horns the moment a light turns or in this case when they feel you need to drive. I was upset that she didn’t use her common sense to figure out that I was waiting for, what to me was a good, logical reason. As a rule, I try to limit my horn use to times that I feel that I’m in danger or if someone is taking long due to putting on makeup, talking on the cell phone, or some other non-driving activity. I wait for at least five seconds before I honk. About my blow up: What can I say…It’s one of my pet peeves and it got to me yesterday. I’m human, and I do get upset at certain times.

After I cooled off more completely and laughed some more, I said to myself, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” The thought entered my mind because I saw in an email that day, which I was copied on, that the boss told someone those very words. The seed was planted. And then I remembered there’s a book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Brining Out the Best in Yourself and Others. I had time before class to head over to the library and it so happens the library branch I went to had the book in stock. I checked it out, headed to class, and began thumbing through it. There were two excerpts that spoke to me in particular on this day: #79 Make the Best of a “Noncreative” position and #13 Join my Club, “TGIT.” TGIT stands for Thank God it’s Today. I smiled when I read through these and other bits of wisdom as I try to ignite my frame of mind toward work. I also found another book when I scanned the nearby books called The Comfort Trap or What if You’re Riding a Dead Horse by Judith Sills, Ph.D. I was curious enough to check it out.

I feel good about right now. Today when I get to work I’ll place a note near my desk with TGIT. I’ll try to remember this and apply it to life in general.

A multitude of roadways lead to similar principles and outcomes: One of the many things I love about life is how many different expressions there are; how many different expressions there have been; and how many different expressions there continue to be—expressions about the same wonderful and not so wonderful things. Each expression our own and at the same time not our own—an ever changing potpourri of all that has crossed our paths and continues to cross our paths.


Definitions from The Free Dictionary