Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘creative writing’ Category

 

It was once a fantasy. Then a dream. A puzzle, perhaps. How would I tell the story? A story of silences and secrets encased in a contemporary contemplative silence of support from which the story grew and took on a voice of it’s own.

It is a story that lived in my heart and needed many years to grow to tell me how it wanted to be told and how it was lived. My book is no longer a wish or an untold tale. I have written this book that tells of a mother lost and mothers found. Blessings and guidance along the way and the determination to speak it in my own voice, not hindered by judgment.

Along the way I have met teachers and mentors….all along the way over many years. I have been feature writer, photographer, columnist and founding editor writing stories of so many others. But one time just two short years ago, when I entered a room I was asked my name and the second question was, “Are you an author?”

The woman’s name was Angela and she and her daughter headed up the meeting and their intention was to inspire those of us “wanna-be-authors” to go ahead and BE ONE. When I left that meeting, where I briefly described the story I wanted to write, I knew the intention was deeply set within me that I would do everything possible to become an author.

It was not a false start this time. I reached back into the many inroads to my story that I had formed and then stalled out on and brought what was meaningful forward. I enrolled once again in Janet Conner’s Intersection for Writers on-line course. I indeed worked toward achieving her AIC award — ass in chair — because that is the way you become an author.

I carved out a writing schedule around which other things were second on the list. This was a mainstay of the day, every weekday. I had to settle for best-effort on other things like cleaning our living space, planning and preparing meals, scheduling medical appointments, and physical exercise at the Y. Writing no longer happened “when I had time.” It now happened all the time. I got in a groove and it felt right.

I’ve had two very important editing and publishing professionals with me from early on in the writing of this book. Both were invaluable and we are still connecting our work together because now that the book is written, the very tedious task of getting it published and to market lie ahead. It has taken 18 solid months to write. I now begin the second rung of the journey. I am in brand new territory now but as I navigate through these open waters, I set my new intention to doing well in this phase and seeing the successful publication of my book, at which time I will be able to answer that second question, “Why, yes, I am an author.”

Read Full Post »

Living the Days of Resurrection

 

Guest Blog from Christine Valters Paintner
Galway, Ireland

 

A love note from your online Abbess

Take My Hand

Please don’t plant me
neat rows of rosebushes
and tulips at attention,
no manicured gardens
or crystal vases of cut stems.

Instead, take my hand,
lead me onto
rain-softened grass
which undulates like a boat
on a summer lake,

lie down with me
in a quilt of sunlight and shadows
among yellow petals, violet trumpets,
a feast for hares and bees,
let’s linger and forget ourselves

until even the tiled sky above
is cracked open by stars
and all that is restless and wild
within us can roam the heavens
howling the moon aloft.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

After the six weeks of Lent and our disciplines of letting go of distractions and listening more deeply to the sacred call in our daily lives we arrive to the Feast of Easter which initiates a 50-day season of practicing resurrection. I love this sense of invitation into what it means to live resurrection in the midst of the ordinary routines of life.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago while up in Donegal on a writing weekend. It was being held at this lovely manor house with a large grassy area out front leading down to a lake. During one of the writing sessions, the instructor invited us to go outside for fifteen minutes and see what was inspired. I wandered out hungrily, so glad for time to move outside into the summer sun, sit under a broad tree offering shade.

For me it is a poem about the longing for wildness in my life. I am aware how having everything in order and well planned can be so seductive, but the divine presence is not a God of neat rows and lining everything up just so. Certainly the Easter story many of us celebrate today reveals a divine wildness which erupts into the world beyond our expectations. Practicing resurrection in part means opening to what happens when we release our ideas of how things should unfold.

There have been times in my life when I have embraced this sense of wildness with more vigor than others. Certainly selling everything we owned and leaving Seattle for an adventure living in Europe was one of those seasons. Now living in Galway for the last almost seven years, I have a lovely and sweet life that I adore and am grateful for each day. It involves certain sacred rhythms and times of silence to listen deeply. What is most nourishing to me is a wander down by the sea, to feel the roughness of wind, taste the salt on my skin, to shake loose all the things that have become too determined, too set in expectation.

I invite you to enter this poem as a form of lectio divina. Read it through slowly and notice what words or phrases are shimmering for you. Let those unfold in your heart and listen for the sense of invitation arising. Then watch the video below and see what new layers the visuals offer to you. It is a poem of direct address to someone – a loved one perhaps or a prayer to the sacred source. What is your prayer of resurrection as we enter into this season ahead?

……to shake loose all the things that have become too determined…

 

Art by Shh

Read Full Post »


 

Life to Art. Art to Life. She slips through the Advent Portal in the Wildwood, her Divine Child is not adverse to the theme of the season — Waiting— Waiting when all the world seems in a rush, waiting when extra duty and even desires stack up upon her day, waiting for the smile and peace to adorn her body as she slips and slides the labyrinthian paths that lead to family and friends. Waiting to settle into her own breath, breathe into her own bones, ever watchful, faithfully waiting to hear again the familiar and sacred messages that come with this season. This is her favorite sacred season, that special time BEFORE Christmas, just as her second favorite season comes right AFTER the Resurrection, when the women find the grave empty. I have reason to pause…to wait…to accept darkness in the world, but know…always know that the light, the light within me, does not cave to the darkness. I do not have to wait for the light. It is within me. I only have to be awake and know.

Read Full Post »


“They can be like a sun, words.
they can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.”
Saint John of the Cross

Words did that for me yesterday as the weather outside shifted between grey skies and breakouts of a gentle, blue sky with the sun shining down upon me.

Editing, revising, and reconstructing awkwardly worded sentences is the same kind of mixture of sun and cloudy murkiness. And that was what I was doing. But when the feeling of “just right” begins to appear, so does the light in the field that Saint John of the Cross speaks of in this quote.

Then later, in a welcome period of rest, came the kind, gentle and inspiring words of a friend, responding to me in email. She had read and appreciated the words I had sent her in a few chapters of the book I am working on. Enough energy and blessing in her own words to bring me to the next pages of creation.

This is a time where our news media seem fixated on the next annoying, obnoxious, and inflammatory TWEET issued by anyone who has an axe to grind, or just feels a streak of mean-ness coming on. Where is the sunshine here? How much better could the world be served by the worldwide net if it blanketed  the globe with words meant to heal; to build up; to enlighten; to build up hope in the existence of goodness.

These words do exist. I have found “my creative, educational, and spiritual tribes” who bring them forth in poetry, song, prose, and good will. With freedom of choice, I relish this sunshine and share some of the sunshine I found in the Alps five years ago with a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

Have you overworked your facial muscles today by smiling too much? There is an axiom that it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I’m going to error on the safe side and find as many reasons today to smile as I can.

I just finished cleaning one bathroom floor. That’s a reason to smile. I only have one left. Smile again.

I had some writing adventures this week where I started at 6:30 am in the morning and by 5:30 that evening, I had one sentence written. That might be even more than a smile. I might have to laugh to survive. What I did in between all counts as writing…it just doesn’t look like writing.

Today, several days later and many further attempts to put on paper what I was seeing and feeling in my creativity center, I am smiling that I have that section completed to my satisfaction. And I am smiling for all the co-creative creatures, thoughts, and inspirations that got me there.

I smile for the blessing of my family and friends and for the loving companionship and partnership with Tom. We smile and laugh about a lot of things special to us. It’s great to share a smile.

And I miss my friend, Lois, who always had a joke, a twinkle in her eye, and a tale of mischief to tell.

I smile when I think of her.

My face muscles get a pretty good workout on most days.

 

Read Full Post »

Simple and Sleek

I’ve been practicing drawing simple lines for cats with my granddaughter, Amy. Simple can be deceiving. Simple can look easy. But there is a discipline applied in simple, and one must be precise.

I value a simple life. It is the life I am living now. Yet I find it hard to apply the discipline required to keep it simple! Someone planted “more is better” deeply into my DNA. Simple can so quickly become complicated and messy for me.

I follow a simple call to prayer. A simple prayer life. I am a prayer that expresses gratitude and love and requests upon occasion a benevolent prayer of care and protection for my family and friends.  I like the simple one word prayer of Centering Prayer and I like to find His Word alive in me through the discourse of Lectio Divina, a conversation with God.

Weekly food menus are ones where I do very little cooking; a crockpot entry, a braised porkchop, a meat, veggie, and salad entrée. Yet, even putting that together, when I follow weight loss and management goals requires time and effort in list making and shopping. Getting the right combinations down, and leaving very little to chance.

I plan simple exercise routines for Tom and me to keep the body moving, and the joints oiled; a senior membership at the Y, a benefit of our health plan, gives us the opportunity to continue to practice our Poolates in the pool, minus an instructor here; and some swimming, walking laps twice a week, marked down as an appointment to keep. There are many more offerings we could take part in, but to keep it simple, this is our best effort for now.

Apartment living with a fair size patio gives us the simple pleasures of outdoor living with a view and the breezes of the South, with the songs of the birds. Simple sitting, simple reading, simple enjoyment of the gifts of the day.

It’s best not to complicate these things. I like to take one day at a time. Today is a bit of a sleepy, rainy Sunday. And after a few takes at some simple writing, I believe I will assume the simple lines of the cat above.

Read Full Post »

Image by Abbess Christine Vaulters Paintner

 

Today is Ash Wednesday. I will honor this day with much reflection. I am blessed. I am mortal. I am dust and unto dust, I shall return. I am getting older. My bones have a sense of dust. But my spirit burns bright within me.

There is much I still want to do. Sometimes I want to do it in a hurry. Today is one of those days. Last night, I made a list of all the things I want to do today, a day of release from a focused pace of writing. Yet here I sit writing.

There are way to many things on this list; apartment cleaning that has been put off, calligraphy practice I want to do, watercolor play I haven’t taken time for, doing some low carb meal casseroles and snacks to have on hand, reading, praying; tend Tom’s surgery healing and my own sore body from a fall;  sending valentines to my beloveds; there is more. I just think of them right now because I didn’t write them down. They are in my head.

But the thing is, there are too many and I am too slow. I cant’ whisk through them. I must go slow; I must embrace slow. And I received my lesson from Abbess Christine when I opened my email. I have joined her tribe of contemplatives and journey-makers and art lovers many years ago. She lives in Galway, Ireland and it would be a great blessing if I could fulfill a burning desire to visit her there one day. We are bonded together by membership in the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.

Another tribe I belong to is Cat Carecelo’s Wisdom Gatherers through Collage and Process Art. We journeyed to find the Divine Spark within us. And that spark has led to the writing of a book, I have long yearned to write, with an image guide found within my 2017 art process.

 

Tom and I will spend this rainy day inside today. I will cross each of us on our foreheads with soothing moisture cream and essential oil…meant for the living…and we will live this day, in slowness, reflection and gratitude for the life and partnership given each of us on what has been a grace-filled long road of love and family, and tasks and missions well-done.

To Do List things will get done. This Lent, I will be mindful of embracing a spirituality of slowness and being ok with that.

Guest blog and photo below from Christine Valters Paintner.

 

Dearest monks and artists,
Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative.

There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a retreat to ponder new possibilities may be beyond our reach. But there are opportunities for breathing spaces within our days. The monastic tradition invites us into the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgment that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.

What might it be like to allow just a ten-minute window to sit in silence between appointments? Or after finishing a phone call or checking your email to take just five long, slow, deep breaths before pushing on to the next thing?

 

Chi

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »