January hasn’t gone as planned. Neither has my writing. I’ve come to a pooint of a mental juxtaposition.
Continuing vision loss is hampering goal completion and making my daily expectations a quagmire filled with frustration, adaptation, and heavy learning curve of technology.
But quitters never prosper and clichés exist for a reason.
For the moment, sponge mode allows me to soak up everything that interests me. I’ve gathered a wealth of information to be used later in all sorts of stories, articles, and other written endeavors.
Nevertheless, I’m slogging through speech/dictation programs and relearning how to listen to written text, I can work on my revisions, albeit very slowly. More than that, though, I must look ahead at what I want to do in the next few years. Not just with writing, but with every aspect of my life.
The constant tug-o-war between how I’ve done things for years and how I must shift skill sets and habits quickly creates a prickly juxtaposition each hour of the day. Snipping off those thorns of conflict takes time I don’t want to expend, but must.
Travel takes on new meaning and aggravated issues. Deciding on a permanent living location involves more security issues. For many before me and others in similar situations, trepidation becomes a constant companion.
If we let it, that is. I ran across a quote about writing fiction today, which sort of sums up my situation now–and not just about writing. The same could apply to living in general.
Read it and see if changing one word could apply to everyone. Also, decide if the journey is more important than either the starting point or the destination.
Then tell me what you take away from it in a comment below.
Today, I bring you something I haven’t done in more months than I care to think about. I used to share many of these, but fell out of the habit. I woke this morning with the need to begin the habit again.
Perhaps it is simply time to return to something which evokes peace. Or maybe, I just needed to take a mental trip away from continuing snow and the season’s gloom.
I hope you enjoy my little playtime project.
Have you ever really looked at the masks lined up in your inner closet? You know the ones—they hang on hooks labeled with the roles you play on an average day. Perhaps now is the time to take each of them out into the light and have a good look at them.
Don’t be afraid. We all have them, you know. We began our collections as very young children, watching and listening to the adults around us. Most of the time, we weren’t aware that we’d been enrolled in the school called life.
We had a special mask for special events: religious holidays, church, funerals, and weddings. That mask easily modified itself when visiting those who were ill. We took our cues from adult models. The voice softened. Movements became measured and few. Staring was verboten. Interrupting the flow of conversation wasn’t tolerated. A whole host of unconscious behavior modifications took control, which weren’t alleviated until after leaving the premises.
Held in reserve for weekdays was the mask we pulled out for school. This one allowed us to smile and see the humor in life and living. Our friends and teachers knew us by this image. Our face-covering came with its own set of acceptable behaviors, some of which we still carry as adults.
Our parents saw a mask which they had carved with their genes and their expectations. Siblings saw a competitor, savior, or best friend. Parents’ friends saw the fluid mask based on previous descriptions and expectations.
Each year we added masks and left others behind to gather dust. As full-fledged adults, we carved our own masks, many of which approximated those our parents wore in their various roles. Regardless of their beginnings, our many faces were ever-ready for a masquerade ball and whatever dance happened to be playing.
Sociologies and psychologists have entire theories surrounding our roles and their subsequent facial exhibitions. In fact, there’s an entire science dedicated to decoding every muscle twitch and eye flick for the specific purpose of unmasking the wearer. And since the face works in conjunction with the remaining body, there are decoding methods for the whole of a person.
So, I ask you again. Which mask(s) have you donned today?
Are you the armchair athlete, the domestic goddess, the devil-may-care? Who have you chosen to show the world today? Or do you know?
Few of us take time to give the question conscious thought. We shift so effortlessly from mask to mask throughout the day in our various interactions that thought isn’t necessary. It barely takes a heartbeat to move from smiling and carefree to angry or sad. In a flash, we become another person, sometimes disturbing those around us.
And yet, each time we meet someone new, in whatever capacity, they see us in a completely unique way from all others. We each do this every day. The result becomes a consensus to those around us.
Because we’re not quite the same with each of our contacts, no one really knows our true selves. It takes great effort for us even to know ourselves, for we are dancers at a ball that seldom falls silent for anyone.
As you brush your teeth before bed tonight, look deeply into your own eyes in the mirror. Take five minutes to consider the masks you wore during the day, and ask yourself where you end and the mask begins. Or where the mask falls and your heart takes over.
That’s all for today, folks. I wish you all a joyous New Year.
Years pass. Events happen. And along the way, we either take stock of our position, our goals, and our lives or we chalk off the past months and head toward an envisioned new year.
For those taking part in personal reflection in this season, here are my thoughts on our annual ritual of closure.
Days filled with tasks zip past without celebration. Each day forms a tiny chapter in our lives. Satisfaction arrives on the back of a great turtle named Promise. Each of us walks beside Promise toward our futures.
Reviewing our chapters, we see horror stories, disappointments and regrets. We don’t appreciate small achievements made. Instead, we look for black marks on personal report cards.
Life’s school provides both learning and achievement. We sing praises of those around us, but seldom take pride in personal accomplishments. Such points of pride need only notice.
At year’s end, we single out the best of things; best movies, songs, innovations, etc. We can review our personal year. We can choose our best moments; we learned a new writing tool, produced our first book trailer and created music for that trailer, or we started a new exercise program.
Small achievements, perhaps, but ones that moved us forward and are sometimes overlooked. But with them, we can climb aboard Promise and ride toward the future with pride and self-confidence. If we look back at the end of each month, by year’s end, fireworks displays become our celebrations of achievement.
Take the time to celebrate your growth, whether professional or personal. Pat yourself on the back. Bake yourself a cake. Take yourself out to dinner. But don’t allow these milestones to languish in obscurity. You did it. Embrace the achievement.
And if you feel moved to share your promise, your tiny milestones this past year, feel free to drop them into a comment below. It’s not bragging to acknowledge yourself.
Come midnight, I shall be closing out my 40th year. I will have to say that 2015 was out-of-this-world amazing on all fronts – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I was firing on all cylinders. In fact, I still am.
Some of you may already be familiar with my birthday practice. For those of you who aren’t, here’s the scoop. I started writing letters to my 16 year old self when I turned 20 years old. The Birthday Letter is now the only survivor of that practice. I keep an ever growing list of life lessons – one for each year of life.
I add a new lesson every December 9th and this year marks 40 lessons. I can’t wait to experience the awesomeness that I know 2016 will be.
40 Lessons for 40 Years
- Get to know yourself. No really, start figuring out who you are. Looking at yourself from an outsider’s point of view is always incomplete at best. Mind you, this is not a race and sometimes figuring out who you are not is as crucial as figuring out who you are.
- Be a lover. Embrace love. Preach love. Teach love. There is always room for love – compassion, empathy, friendship, companionship, partnership.
- Be present in all your interactions with others. They are sharing with you a slice of their life. Do your best to make it meaningful. Even the random parking lot encounter.
- Smile. If not for you, do it for others. It lifts them. It breaks the interpersonal ice. Smile with your whole face.
- Learn happiness. It is an acquired skill. The best teachers are the ones around you who put a smile on your face. You might even say that they light up the room or are the sun personified.
- Learn gratitude. I am not just talking about the perfunctory utterance of thank you. Make it go bone deep. Give gratitude its time and space. Etch that sentiment into your DNA. Trust me, these glow-in-the-dark markings will be vital on the inevitably harder days ahead.
- Learn patience. Even though the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, life is not a straight line. It goes without saying that success is non-linear for success is nothing more than the recognition of a milestone reached along the path of life.
- Learn to make mistakes. In gym, they taught you how to fall. No one will teach you how to make a “safe” mistake in life so you can minimize your loss. All these lessons will be taught by the school of hard knocks. Every mistake comes with a lesson. Sometimes a repeat lesson.
- Needs change. Milestones change. Recognize the reason and accept that change. Handle the change – go along with it or do something else but do not stand in its way and deny it.
- Know what you value and be true to the principles that you stand for. This is the real friction point. This where life’s polish comes in. This is where the line of scrimmage is. Always send a consistent message. If the message needs to change, change it so long as you remain consistent after.
- Explore your creative side. Lure it out. If you will it, there will be a safe zone to express it without judgement and criticism. Creativity is felt. It starts in the soul. Blindfold yourself if you have to.
- Explore and travel. Did I say travel? Go learn about the planet, the people, and the vast cultures that add their spice to this life. Spend time abroad while young.
- Become trilingual or bilingual at the very least. The doors of opportunity fling themselves wide open when you do that.
- Never ever apologize for who you are or what you have accomplished. Only you have made it through your particular path in life. Other people’s intimidation is not your concern. It is theirs.
- Recognize that we are all related. Recognize that we are all connected through this web of life. As such, collaboration strives for the benefit of many. Competition, on the other hand, leaves behind a collateral damage that is too high.
- Take risks and challenge yourself. Push. Reach. Stretch. Recognize the extra effort and reward yourself. Share that sense of victory with a friend no matter how insignificant that feat may be.
- Accept that you will never make everyone happy. Figure out what the checklist should say so you know when the day is done if it was truly a good one or not.
- Find your zone. We all have a zone. Learn to summon that zone so that it is not relegated to the 3 am epiphany time slot. Recognize the surge in energy. Recognize how your task that is at hand readily flows. Remove all throttles and fly.
- No one knows the grand scheme even if it exists. Even if you can call all the plays many moves ahead, there are too many variables out there that would sweep you off your feet if you were relying on them to remain put.
- Life is analog no matter how digital we are trying to make it. There will always be an exception. There is always going to be the “I can’t believe anything can be worse than this” moment that is proved otherwise.
- Explore all your dimensions. There is always more to anyone than meets the eye. Become label-proof. Become a unique hash tag instead.
- Learn a trades craft or two. The future may well be one of two things: a utopia or a dystopia. In the case of the latter, it might prove to be crucial.
- Never play victim. Oh well, you can if you must but very briefly. The human race comes with an amazing survivor legacy. Tap into that ancestral DNA. Psyche yourself out if you must. Never wallow for any length of time. Life will move on even if you do not.
- While some profess “work hard, play hard”, I would say “live fully, love deeply.” Passion is the fuel of life. Detail is its accelerant.
- Section off a slot for “ME time” and mark it sacrosanct. We all need to withdraw from all social interactions from time to time. I equate the loss of this time to the loss of REM sleep time. Our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves grow dim otherwise.
- Invest in your education but never neglect your emotional intelligence.
- The world is a whirling sphere of positive and negative. Some of it may be directly targeted at you. Take a step back. Control your reaction. Dissect the message. Assess whether it is an external issue or an internal one and act accordingly.
- As you get older and begin to find the well-worn paths of your parents not that far from yours, stop and recognize that moment. Acknowledge the association and all the related emotions.
- A life of service may be your calling but a life of unending self-sacrifice was never the intention. Sacrifice by definition is a gift. When it shifts into a burden, it is high time for change.
- Figure out what your learning mode is: visual, auditory, tactile. Tap into that over and over as you figure out the ropes of life.
- Not all peer pressure is bad. Know the people who surround you.
- Reflect. Reflect at day’s end, at week’s end, at month’s end, at quarter’s end, at year’s end.
- Always understand your motivations. This is the only way for you to get any insight for why you become successful at certain things and others not.
- Laugh. A real hearty laugh. You know, one of those belly shaking ones that lets your tears flow. Do it often. At least once a day. Preferably with an audience.
- Some will talk about life and its silver linings. Some will talk about life and its Hallmark moments. Life is in the end what you make of it. You can blame yourself for your success. You can congratulate yourself for failure. You’re the play-maker despite all the contrary evidence that appears in front of you.
- Talk is cheap. Action is real. Recognize that action may be to create influence. In that case, talk is not cheap at all.
- Let your light shine. Let it emanate. Share if it freely. It will always be replenished.
- Always. Always, pay it forward however you can whenever you can.
- You are not alone. You are empowered and supported each and every moment. If you feel alone, then you’re not looking in the right places. Take a deep breath, get some fresh air, and shift your perspective.
- Watch what you’re doing with that rope that you’re carrying in your hands. If you find yourself pushing it with no impact then try pulling it instead. If that doesn’t work out, grab another rope and give it a tug for a while. If it feels right like that rope was meant to be in your hands then just run with it. Don’t hold yourself back.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
~ Albert Einstein
How is life treating you all this fine December evening? If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, then the answer is probably wet and very wet at that. Tonight, I am preparing for my last day as a 40 year old. By Thursday, my birthday will arrive again. Funny how that bit works, it is always on schedule while at times it feels like the rest of my life is either caught up in traffic or flying down an HOV lane.
Earlier this year, I’d challenged myself to write a poem a day for the calendar year 2015. I’d hit the ground running and engaged in the practice through January and February. Come March, a life event at home sapped most of my will and energy and placed what was remaining over home and hearth. I said goodbye to that poem a day challenge and by April, I developed a daily journaling habit. I must admit, it was extremely therapeutic. Again, that habit persisted until I seemed to outgrow it in about 3 months. This was replaced by a meditation practice which lasted another 3 months until it shifted in nature.
What 2015 has taught me is that 3 months or 90 days is my attention span to commit to any practice and then I would need a break, albeit brief, before launching into my next endeavor. So to that end, I am following the 90 Day Novel process which breaks down the writing actions day by day. I have read the book from cover to cover a couple of times and now I have decided to commence my own attempt at it. So Day 1 of 90 begins today. I am most definitely excited about where this challenge will lead. The omens are definitely in my favor.
As far as poetry goes, I find that I respond more to writing for a specific cause or event than general open ended poetry. I will look into incorporating a weekly poetry contribution again and resume my practice of that particular craft. There are days where I definitely feel like I MUST write something and on others where I am going through a myriad of distractions to pull anything off. But we shall see. It would be interesting to see if any of my poetry would intersect with the world I am creating for my novel. Time will indeed tell.
See you soon!
Most of my closer friends know that I deal each day with vision problems. I’m used to it. Very poor vision has been a fact of life for me since early childhood.
When I look back, I can see the milestones in my life, each punctuated by a shift in my vision. Each such benchmark has its story and its meaning for my life beyond that point. Recently, I’ve come to another of those milestones and am working diligently to reduce the daily impact of it.
I’ve not written here for a couple of weeks or so. You all know that. Most of that was simply because I couldn’t revise/proofread anything I’d written and serve it up for anyone to read. It’s a major stumbling block for me right now. But I did want everyone to know I’ve not forgotten you or my pledge to continue writing here.
NaNoWriMo is possible for me because I don’t have to worry about doing any clean-up work on what’s coming from my fingertips. Anyone who does the challenge shouldn’t be doing any revision during the NaNo process. That relieves a lot of expectation for me and a lot of others, I’m sure.
In the coming weeks, my life will get a bit more complicated. More doctor appointments and continuing injections in the eye, learning new software (yeah, I get to have great stuff installed in a week and a half and it’s really cool), new devices to make reading print possible for me again, and a few other little goodies along the way.
So, if I miss a week here or there, and you don’t hear from me, I’ve probably had an injection that week. Doing much work after one of those isn’t just painful physically; it’s generally not possible because the eye won’t focus.
There you have my excuse. A hairy little one, isn’t it? What I know for sure is that it takes a while to shift mindsets and deal with changing conditions. Reality bites sometimes and we all have to adjust to different terrain under our feet.
In case you’re wondering, I tell you all of this, not to elicit sympathy but to explain any occasional absence of mine. Each of us has our own milestones, good and not so good. We each have to deal with them as they occur or be swallowed by them. Me? I’m can float standing up—literally—so I’m not going to drown.
I’ll sign off for now. A bientot, my friends. I hope to be back sometime next week with something far more interesting up my sleeve. Take care and have a great week.
This time last year I was well into the throes of writing a poem a day during the month of November. If I recall, I fizzled out early during the month. At first, I latched onto the sense of failure like it was my best friend. Then distance happened. A distance from thought, from creativity, from attempting to give substance to ethereal thought forms.
This distance, a healthy distance I might add, is often confused with a writer’s block or nascent talent losing steam or lack of commitment. We all hold court over other people’s creative journeys – some claim that this directly tied to our capacity to survive as a human species. Yet, here I am today reaching out to you. My message, probably not original, is an authentic reminder that states: any act of creation or creativity is inherently transformational forever transmuting both the medium and the message.
Back to the distance now. Yes. It is healthy. It is a period of recalibration and integration of all the minuscule changed bits of self into something else. The medium emerges from within her message as her message folds into a new medium. It is rhythmic. It is cyclic. It is the creative breath that sets the evolutionary beat.
Once a medium, always a medium. This is a thought I used to hold on to during the disconnected stretches of distance I would invariably find myself in. Now, I am in no need of such a thought or a mantra. Now, I just know. I will always emerge as long as the cosmos breathes.
One year ago today, I wrote the poem you find below. One year ago today, I recall not even appreciating what I’d written. Today, I’ve come to realize that this is the life I have lived in the span of distance and I sense convergence happened upon me a while back while I was immersed into the midst of my worldly AHA’s.
some would insist
that I’m in denial
while others claim
that I’m naive
I’m their mirror after all
with a ton of bias and
that’s not no one’s fault – just
I have blinded myself to hate
that which I cannot see
I cannot reflect
a sentiment I have released
gaze upon me and I will
show you your humanity
just on the verge
of bursting forth
within each a sun
and a Heaven and Hell
and Middle Earth
gaze upon me and I will
show you that you’re
a Hershey’s kiss
the progenitor of a cosmos
exquisite and sublime
gaze upon me and learn
how to polish your own mirror
in service of mankind
~ Meena Rose (My Choice)
Well, gang, in less than a week, NaNoWriMo will get underway. My goal is to write one flash fiction story (500-1000 words) per day for the entire month. Along with NaNo, I have two articles to write for regular columns, and revisions to work on and my websites.
I know. I just keep piling on the work. But I’m smarter about it now than I once was. At least, I hope so.
This is my question for you readers out there. What do you say—would you like to see a monthly newsletter with articles and information for several sources sent to you for this site?
That’s an easy enough question, don’t you think?
Here’s what I’m thinking. There could be a couple of poetry sources, a few sources for inspirational reporting or news of workshops etc., a recap of blog posts from this site, opportunities for learning new skills or methods of meditation, improving memory or other self-improvement, and similar material.
If you’d like to receive such a newsletter, I can begin investigating alternatives for inclusion as well as work on the development of the newsletter itself, during my spare time in November. I’d really like to hear from as many of you as possible. And I’d like to provide such a newsletter.
Drop a comment below and tell me if you’d like to see other content or more specific content in such a publication and I’ll see what I can do to provide it.
I hope you’ll all enjoy such an addition to the line-up. Until next time, a bientot,