When one hasn’t written in a long time, like I haven’t, one tends to rely on prompts to get the writing going again. So that’s what I’m doing today.
I’m actually combining the “Flourish” prompt from Daily Post with the first prompt in the book “642 Things to Write About Me” that I picked up from the bookstore several months back but never got around to filling out. The prompt reads,
Write a letter to the teacher (or coach) who made a difference in your life, asking him or her for help. What are you asking for? Why?
With respect to time, I’m just going to put down what comes to my mind first. I could literally spend hours thinking about all the teachers and coaches that have made a difference in my life, and for that I’m thankful. In fact, I may just take a journal day one of these days and write them all down and see exactly which one I want to focus on.
But for right now, I’m going to focus on an English professor I had at university. I had him for several classes–at least four, I think. He always had innovative writing exercises and projects for us. It wasn’t really until I took his classes that I realized how much I loved writing nonfiction pieces about my life.
What struck me the most was at an end-of-quarter review at his office. He was curious to know if I ever considered getting my writing published. I told him that I never have, because–and this is still the case today–I’m terrified of putting my opinions and mind musings out there for everyone to read or judge. I feel like my writing is such a personal, private thing (yes, I see the irony in keeping a blog here). I told him that as much as I loved writing, my personal goal when it came to writing was to encourage someone else to write and possibly get published (okay; in hindsight, I also see the irony in THAT).
He told me I should strongly reconsider my stance, because he thought I had really interesting and intelligent things to say (since he had read at least 4 quarters’ worth of my writing, it was safe to say that he had a good collection to go by). I was flattered and honestly a bit emotional with him saying that. I never thought of the things I had to say or thought was ever worthwhile, let alone interesting. I didn’t think anybody cared or paid attention to what was on my mind. The whole thing felt overwhelming, to say the least.
I told him I didn’t think I’d reconsider anytime soon, and that’s when he asked if I’d ever consider teaching at the college level. He told me that a lot of the English faculty respected me (again, news to me!) and that I’d make a wonderful colleague. (Don’t worry; it wasn’t flirting or anything like that–get your minds out of the gutter, people.) I said it was funny that he mentioned that, because he wasn’t the first person in my academic career that said I’d make an outstanding educator. I took this information, tucked it away for later, and left that meeting/review with him insisting that I keep in touch should I ever need a reference.
Stupid me, I never took him up on it. Flash forward more than a decade later, and I’m still determined to help someone else get their voice out for the world to hear. I got attached to poetry therapy, made steps to becoming a Registered Poetry Therapist, went to a few National Association of Poetry Therapy conferences, and did a few after-school programs where I’d help to foster the love of writing in youth, most of the time at-risk ones.
But where has that taken me? I’m still not a Registered Poetry Therapist, and I still haven’t really helped anyone get published. I’ve started the path many times, but I have yet to reach the end. So that’s where I need this professor’s help. For the sake of semi-anonymity, I’ll call him Dr. P.
Dear Dr. P:
What seems like a lifetime ago, you helped to convince me that what I wrote was something that mattered. You gave me confidence that I could achieve great things, which I think all teachers should do. You gently pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and while I didn’t do it, it’s nice to know that someone believed that I would not only succeed, but thrive outside of that comfort zone.
I took off running after graduating, but it seems I have run out of gas. I’ve stopped thinking that what I say matters, and I’ve become unsure that I’ll be able to achieve my dream of helping others find their voice.
So what I’m asking of you is to help me flourish once more. To point me in the direction of the environment that will be best for me. I’m a little lost, and I guess I’m asking you to be my compass, as you have been in the past.
With Sincere Thanks,
To Finding a Way to Flourish in Life,
Begin to believe in myself again.
Do you ever get into a cycle of thinking you’re not good at anything? I know that’s where I’ve been for the last several months. Today, though, came a success that may look minuscule to most, but to me it worked to restore my faith that maybe I CAN do something right. So for me, this success is immense. Here’s a preview of my awesomeness returning:
Money has been tight lately. Over the holidays I was able to find part-time seasonal work to help offset some bills. I allowed myself a little bit of spending money, and even though hubby reassured me that I’d earned a treat for myself, when I went to spend it, I still felt extremely guilty.
Anyway. I guess that’s neither here nor there.
In the last weeks of winter, I decided to purchase a lovely candle that I’d been eyeing for myself, in the scent of my very favorite flower (daffodils) to welcome the coming spring.
Once March 20th rolled around, I excitedly started burning the candle as I usually do: without any rhyme or reason. Just light and enjoy.
About 4 or 5 burns later, I looked at my candle, a bit dismayed. The candle didn’t burn all the way to the edges. While I’ve had many candles in the past that had the same problem, this time the concave center seemed especially pronounced. My “treat myself” candle wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t want most of the wax to go to waste.
So I Googled “candle won’t burn to the edges” and came upon the actual phrase for it: tunneling. Yay for learning!
The top picture I tried crinkling it just around the edges like one of the videos, but it still didn’t burn all the way to the edges, even after about 3 hours, so I felt a bit discouraged.
Full disclosure: my success took about 4 or 5 tries, but I was determined.
I played around with different foil techniques: bunching, tenting, pinching. Doming it low, doming it high. Double-insulating, single-insulating. All tries turned out to be the close-but-no-cigar variety.
Until today. Today I did just a bit more research, looking up images of the foil trick. I came upon one where the foil didn’t cover the entire base of the candle; rather, it only covered the top part. Eureka! I adjusted the foil, and after only half an hour, I felt the (covered, therefore unseen) sides of the candle and realized it was much hotter to the touch than it had been in previous tries. I had a good feeling about this. Tentatively, I lifted its foil cover to find this beautiful sight:
So this is what has had me so excited that I had to go and bring this blog out of hibernation. I’ve been looking for some life motivation lately–as cheesy as it sounds, a sign of sorts–that I will get through this rough patch of feeling wholly inadequate. There may be no better sign than a flame being kindled.
So watch out, world! Today, an even burn has been accomplished. Tomorrow, I plan to actually contribute some writing to Written Word Wednesday. After that? Greatness, dear readers. Greatness.
Or at least one can hope. Because I need it, and I’m tired of feeling less than great.
To Bright Signs That This, Too, Shall Pass,
*taps microphone* Ahem…ahem. Is this thing on???
I’m afraid I’m a bit rusty with this whole writing a blog post thing, so this may be a bit sloppy. BUT, I am writing, and that is something. How have you all been? I know for me it has been almost a full year and a half since I’ve written anything, and boy, has my life been a whirlwind since I last wrote!
I have to say that I’ve been out of sorts for awhile. Those who know me know how much I love reading and writing. I don’t think I’ve written anything significant since at least September of last year (it’s most likely longer). It is almost March–three months into 2016–and I have yet to finish my first book of the new year (I’m about halfway through). Not good enough, I say. Not. Good. Enough.
I’ve been trying to get the willpower up to do a new blog post for at least the last several months. A couple days ago, inspiration struck. I saw a link on The Daily Post, and I immediately thought, “Okay. I’m ready to start blogging again”:
Probably since around October or November, I’ve hit what some might call a quarter-life crisis. Problem is, I’m 8 years past the quarter-life crisis age. I was basically given an ultimatum to figure out the ONE SPECIFIC THING I wanted to do with my life. No Plan B-Z. No different paths to choose from. No “umbrella” goal where I can branch out into different possibilities. “It’s too many options,” my ultimatum-giver (who shall remain nameless) said. “Nothing else has worked so far, so it’s time to put all your eggs in one basket and just go for it.”
So I’ve gone on a sometimes-painful, sometimes-exhausting, always-terrifying soul search these last several months.
Truth? I’ve come up pretty empty. I started a Pinterest board entitled “Who I Want to Be”, and I have to admit I almost broke down in tears because I couldn’t come up with one single pin for at least a month. (That’s saying a lot, considering that I have a total of over 8,000 pins for all my other boards. So yeah, obviously no problems there.) I’m nearly done with the newest edition of “What Color is Your Parachute?” (this is the third time I’ve attempted to finish this book over the years, and this time is the closest I’ve gotten to actually finishing it), and that’s helping a bit. We’ll see where that goes.
Loooooooooong story short, after nearly 34 years of life, I’ve come back to the horrifying question of “Who Am I?”.
I thought I knew. I came out of college, a bit overconfident in my success of figuring out what I wanted to do, while others my age had no freaking clue what they wanted to do or who they wanted to be.
Now I’m struggling with that.
What I do know–the one, universal thing; the compass that has remained true for what I feel has been my entire life–is that I love words. I have always loved words, and I will always love words. So that’s a start. Let’s start with that, and go from there, shall we?
Here are some of my favorite quotes. My “trumpet blasts”, if you will:
Another Emerson quote:
What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
This one is my very favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. Confession: I first came upon it while reading Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl’s “Beautiful Creatures”. But I loved it so much that I’ve been strongly considering getting it as a tattoo. I even went so far as to take some Sharpies and writing it on my thigh to see if I liked the look of it on my body. I did.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
I have so many favorite quotes, but these have been the ones I’ve gone to over and over again throughout the years; the ones that give me strength; the ones I share with others time and time again. So yes, I suppose you could say these are my “Bible verses” of sorts.
Now comes the hard part: my own truth. The message I’d like to share and have others put in their inspirational journals. Well, I think that would take a lot of searching through my old journals and poems. For now, I’ll leave these quotes from a poem I wrote during my whirlwind last year, when a lot of my writing came from when I was a mentor for kiddos (more specifics later):
I’ll be a warrior of confidence,
turn the careful stippling on of my face paint
into a definitive slap so forceful
that wet specks splatter onto my eyelashes,
and I don’t blink.
an arrogant sword is made stronger
by tempering it with humility
I think at this point in my life, those two speak to my truth more than anything right now. I’m striving to be confident. In so many aspects of my life: myself, my future, my goals, my opinions. I’m not there yet, but I hope to work on getting to that “definitive slap” level.
As far as the arrogance, I’d like to think I’m far from that. But I’ve run into a lot of arrogant people, and I hope to bring them the humility to temper their arrogant sword.
And there it is! Whoa! A completed blog post! My first in almost a year and a half. I’m going to click publish now, before I lose the nerve.
But before I do that, some questions to answer in the comments: what is YOUR own truth? What are your favorite quotes that get you through life? What are you struggling with right now? Are you going through a crisis of some sort? Do you know what you want to do with your life? What inspires you? Or if anything, just give me a big ol’ hello and let me know how it’s going. I’ve missed you all.❤
To Finding Your Own Truth,
A friend of mine, both in real life and in the blogging world (check out her blog, The Glittered Pterodactyl. It’s pretty spiffy!), is an inspiration to me because she practices her craft on a regular basis. I love her artwork, even though it’s “just” the ones in her art journal. For reals, guys, if she made them into prints and/or notecards? I would easily run out of money.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, for one, I really do think her artwork is awesome. Secondly, I’ve been a bad writer lately. I’ve fallen out of the habit of practicing my craft. I used to make it a point to write in my journal at least ten minutes a day, and if it wasn’t that, then at least do a blog post. Obviously I haven’t been doing well on the latter, but I’m just so disappointed in myself that I’ve (in my mind) turned my back and ignored one of the things I love the most.
Today I hope to break that cycle. I’m not feeling inspired, but I did make a goal for myself to post every day this week, and I also miss writing. So I’m going to respond to one of the daily prompts from The Daily Post (just fyi it’s not the current one–it’s a few days back). I’m going to warn you right now: it’s not my best, by any means, and I’m not putting much effort into it. That’s why I’m not going to do a pingback, because I would be ashamed to put my rushed work amongst those who have put a lot more into it.
But I wrote something. And for that I’m damn proud. Here it is!
You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?
I felt like a glutton, double-fisting a sour cream lemon bar and tuxedo mocha. It had been a long time since I’d treated myself to something that actually involved spending any money. While placing my order, I told myself that I’d savor the mini luxuries, making both last for as long as I could.
I failed at the first bite and sip, trying to figure out how much and how quickly I could fit into my maw without choking. I must’ve looked like the beginnings of a soft core porn, coffee dribbling down my neck and forming a muted caramel-colored circular stain on the white-and-lavender polka dot scarf I threw on in an attempt to look equal parts sophisticated and artsy, streusel crumbs sticking to my lip glossed smirk.
With as much decorum as I could muster, I grabbed the balled-up napkin I used as a coaster and dabbed at the corners of my lips before I responded.
“Have you, now? And who sent for me?”
He takes his right hand out of his pocket and extends it towards mine to shake, his left hand displaying a text conversation.
“You said Violet, right? Is this you?”
I glance quickly at his phone, skimming the important pieces and careful not to linger too much on what was obviously a private affair. My eyes focus on the last two lines:
NMAllen: 7PM at Central Perk sound good?
ViVaVoom: Perfect. See you there.
I think about this, look at my watch–6:55. Wow. Punctual.
“Hate to tell you this, dude, but one, I’m married, and two, I don’t even have a Tinder account. For obvious reasons. Good luck, though.”
Before he had the chance to look embarrassed, an obviously-extroverted woman burst through the door, red hair seeming to glow with the intensity of neon, bangles making a metallic clanking song with her movement.
“Nope. Neil Matthew. My last name is Allen.”
“Either way, I’m pretty sure you’re who I’m looking for. I’m Vivian Vanessa? ViVaVoom?”
The stranger looks relieved, and gives Vivian a warm hug. “Ha! Isn’t it crazy how we never even double-checked each others’ names? Oh well. We’re both here now. Shall we?” He opens up his elbow in a window for Vivian to insert her arm. “Sorry about the mix up,” he says, tilting his head my way.
“Understandable. Have fun!”
As I watch them sit down to a table of their own, I giggle behind my cup, and resolve to try to make the last drops count. Who knew what other potential amusement could happen in the next few minutes?
To Pushing Through It!