Thursday, September 29, 2011

“…I’m going to speak out and be energetic and articulate and have something important to say.  I’m going to pay attention to what’s going on in the world as if the fate of the earth depends on me paying attention.  I’m going to have a point of view and an opinion without waiting for other people to tell me what it is.  I’m going to do the work that I know I need to do, that I must do, that I’ve been waiting my whole life to do, without waiting for an audience.  I’m going to sit up straighter and I’m going to ask make people hear me.  I’m going to ask a lot more questions, and I’m going to pay attention to the answers as if they really matter.  I’m going to really, really listen to people when they tell me their stories.  I’m going to raise my voice when it needs to be raised.  I’m going to lend my voice to people who have none.  I’m going to figure out how to be an effective advocate for others.  I’m not going to care anymore whether people like me when I speak my truth.  I’m never going to ask for permission again.  As [Eve] Ensler said, ‘I am going to hold who I am in the face of anything.’”

Who the hell is Patti Digh?  Seriously, who is the woman (whose last name is pronounced die by the way) who pulled all the jumbled mess of thoughts about writing, about living (which to me are one and the same) out of my head and put them in her book?  

I first learned about Patti ~ I drop her name as though we are long time friends when I’ve never met her ~  through a “New Meet Ups In Your Area” posting quite a while back.  I was looking for a writing group and found a woman who was getting a group together to read Patti’s first book, “Life is a Verb,” and do the writing exercises together.  The book sounded intriguing as the premise was a simple one: if you only had 37 days left to live, how would you live those days?  The meet up sounded intriguing as we would be doing writing exercises based on (I assumed) what we’d do if we only had 37 days left.  I remember thinking how unfortunate it was that the meeting nights didn’t fit my schedule.  I put the whole incident out of my mind.    

However, this started something percolating just under my conscious awareness.  Thirty seven days….thirty seven days left to live….how would I live them?  I found myself pondering this imponderable at the oddest times: one morning this week I ‘came to’ in the shower, my Pears Sensitive Skin soap loosely resting in my hand which was halfway raised to my shoulder.  The water had turned chilly and that’s what roused me from my reverie. Thirty seven days…I think about it in the car during my long commute to work.  I think about it as I’m subjected to listening to the overly loud, overly bleached, overweight security guard at the office telling everybody everything about her personal business in a projecting voice that makes Ethel Merman appear timid.

I had to know more about this whole “Life is a Verb” thing.  I couldn’t quite wrap my psyche around it.  Oh, on an emotional level I sensed a flickering of something I’ve always known but didn’t know I knew.  I’ve always been interested in woo-woo things but this was more like  – like when you sense movement out of the corner of your eye and when you turn to look directly at it, it’s gone.  However, you know it, whatever it it was, had been there, that that it was real and true.

So I checked the book out from the library.  

And read the whole thing through in one sitting.  

And laughed.  And marveled. And thought. 

And woke up. And cried my eyes out.  

And I let my belly muscles relax so I could really breathe.  And I tasted the sweet dusk air wafting through my windows. 

And I accepted that I have too much to say to ever be a shadow me again.  I have more to say than can be contained in a two short paragraph blog so I gave myself permission to write as long as I needed to.   

And I knew that what I have to say is important.  To me.  And that that’s reason enough to say it.     

And I embraced that I write because I have zillions of somethings to say and only I can say them in this particular way, with this nuance, at this time in my life. 

And I will “Be a writer, not just a typer.”

And I mourned friendships broken and opportunities lost and the cold ashes of hurtful love.

And I treasured the beauty of my life as it is now – how it shimmers with soul happiness because of those people who are in it.  

And I’m really looking forward to breaking The Toast Rules (nope,not telling you - you have to read the book to find out what this means).

And I’m refusing my excuses.

And I realized I had finally stripped away the ‘I’m invisible’ cowl I had draped over my soul for the protection of my childhood psyche. 

And, for the first time in my life, I am enamored with the woman I am.

What did Patti go through, I wonder, as she wrote her book?  What were her ups and downs, her discoveries, her joys and sorrows that led her to the conclusion of this wonderful book? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Wednesday Night Thing

It seems like ages since I've blogged.  Hmmm, I suppose it has been a long time.  May 18th was my last post.

Much has happened in these past months: illness,  surgery, recovery, debt from long hospital stay LOL, debt from paycheck cut while in the hospital for such a long time.  My adult, living-away-from-home daughter finally got the Corgi she has been wanting for the last 15 years and couldn't be happier.  She wants to train him as a therapy dog.  I take great joy in how happy she is in her life.  I dated a guy for a bit but no love match. 

I turned 55 a few days ago.  My daughter, mother and sister called me to wish me a happy birthday and I had a wonderful party with all my gal pals.  I've made some new friends and increased the scope of my professional work to give my job more meaning.

I started going to Journeys - a spiritual community - in late May.  Besides the Sunday Celebration Service, I am attending a series of eight week classes.  We meet on Wednesday nights and discuss ways to deepen our spiritual practice through working with the body, mind, soul and shadow.

This is my new Wednesday night thing.  It is wonderful to go to a place where you and all the other 42 members of your class are in harmony in belief.  The energy flowing in the room is palpable.  I almost feel high when I leave because I'm so spiritually happy.   

It's kind of ironic? coincidental? that one of the precepts discussed this evening was on living as a victim - having bad things happen to you.  The first time I attended services at Journeys, Bill Turner - the minister - gave a talk on being a victim.  I remember one line so clearly because it literally changed my life on the spot.  Bill asked the rhetorical question, "Do you want to stop being a victim?  Change your story." 

Wow - change my story.  First I had to really think about how I told my story: the tale I told people when they wanted to know about me.  For that matter, even when they didn't I usually somehow managed to get my story in.  Holy cow!  I truly embraced the  victim role.  From my childhood traumas to the breakup of my marriages, from the heartbreak of betrayal to the pain of bankruptcy....I cringe when I recall how I kept telling the same story over and over and over of how bad things were for me and how all the sources of love that were supposed to be there for me as a child and wife simply weren't.  And every time I told it, I felt worse and worse and worse.  Yes, I had bad things happen to me through childhood and my teenage years. Yes, I had husbands (that's right, plural) who cheated on me and left the marriage.  Was it my fault that these things happened?  No, of course not.  But what was my fault was lingering in the malaise of victimhood.  Playing 'poor me' was spiritually, emotionally and intellectually easy.  Being a victim felt familiar - all warm and cozy, like pulling the blanket over your head when it's thundering and lightening outside.  Releasing the power that living the role of the victim had over me was freeing.  It was a joyous, liberating experience to say "I  forgive you" and truly mean it about those who had intentionally hurt you.  It robbed them of all the power over my thoughts I had given them.  My soul took flight as I announced "I release you" to those thought patterns that kept me victim.

Suddenly - and it really was suddenly - the old hurtful memories that I used to play over and over in my mind and heart and soul like favorite songs on a jukebox lost their appeal.  I found myself smiling a lot.  I was much more open and receptive to new people and new ideas.  I heard music where there was none, I rejoiced in the beauty of each new day (and still do).  I found that money started showing up just when I needed it. 

So tonight, I am very grateful for my Wednesday night thing.  I'm really looking forward to my daily coursework and will blog from time to time on what we're working on.

With Light and Laughter,

I am

Your Raleigh Writer