Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
“Cheers!” I say as I lift my weekend Margarita to my lips. The weekend tradition of brunch, cocktails, nap, and some TV watching has become a dull and repetitive routine. There is a festive feeling to getting dressed up, wearing make-up and a little sparkle. I do like the idea of enjoying dining on food I will not cook for myself. I especially like the idea that I will not be washing the dishes or otherwise cleaning up after the repast.
It is time, however, to try some kind of new shift in the activity and/or venue. I need to expand the places I visit, the cuisines I taste, and the company I keep. It is not that I no longer wish to toast, sip, and linger over cocktails. It is that I want it all to be exciting new and different. This urge hits me as I am forced to take some time off to heal a broken bone. This might be a good time to quit cocktails altogether in order to have more of a thrill when I can return to normal outings to restaurants and bars.
Although my injury is a drag, I believe the extra time I will have to myself in the near future will be useful. I have not been writing as much as I would like, or paying attention to my family tree research. I can make use of this time at home to organize and clear clutter as well as study, read, and write. It is a sabbatical I will dedicate to renewing all good cheer by eliminating the unnecessary burdens of all that which no longer serves me. This turns out to be a great opportunity to fine tune my space at home.
I have just jammed my way through this #SoCS, Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt from Linda Hill’s Life in Progress blog. Join the group on Saturday to add your own take on this prompt.
If we were having coffee this weekend I would invite you to sip a long glass of iced tea or coffee. The weather is muggy and the ground is muddy. My ambition is active in starts and fits. Last weekend was extremely successful in the possession purge department. I unloaded a big car, loads of fabric, twofold funky floor cleaning machines, and about 300 pounds of glassware. We went to the used book store with our DVD’s, but only a small portion were accepted for trade. The initial phase was exciting because as items left the house, more was revealed that needs to go. I did uncover space in the garage and in some cabinets in the house, but I am not even 10% into the work that I need to do. It is exhilarating to see the empty space appear. It will be even more exciting to clear out the barn and sell the lot across the street. The financial reward will be more than worth the effort. I will perceiver.
With all the extra emphasis on physical things, my muse decided to be lazy and fickle. I wrote very little this week while I settle into my work and commute schedule. I made some excuses about all the “work” I have to do. I admit that this is pure malarkey. My commute is an easy 20 minute straight shot, and my work is fun. Plenty of people go to school full-time and work full-time and get graduate degrees. Surely I can work a tiny part-time job while purging my possessions and still find time to write. I am putting this muse’s nose to the grindstone in the coming weeks. It is better to write something, even if it is not my best work, than to skip too many days. How do you handle your productivity issues? Does your muse just lounge around and refuse to work? Today I am working a shift on Sunday so I can take a full day off for my facial tomorrow. Ms Muse should realize she is living in a very privileged and pampered being, and be more grateful. If I discipline her she just leaves. I can usually squeeze a poem out of her as she exits, but there is no telling when she plans to return. She is a lot like me.
While I fill your iced tea glass, tell me how your life and writing are going. I hope you are feeling more productive than I am now. Are you looking forward to the next season (back to school for some) or treading water? I love summer because I spend so much time in the pool. I don’t really mind the heat because I have a pool at my condo village I can use 24 hours a day. I am very fond of moonlight dips. The water cools off in the middle of September, ending the nighttime enjoyment. Until then I can be found in the deep end, thinking deep thoughts, teaching the muse to swim.
Please join us each week for #WeekendCoffeeShare, hosted by Diana at Parttimemonsterblog.com. Share your news and catch up with the gang on the weekends here. The feast is moveable and the drinks are all digital and calorie free.
Today is the last day of #InCoWriMo, International Correspondence Writing Month. I just achieved one of my goals, which was to use all the 37 cent stamps I inherited form my mother in 2008. I had 18 left, and used them on an international package. Now I will be able to use forever stamps forever. I found out about this month by associating with some bullet journal people on social media. They write down and draw in their journals to be more creative and archive ideas for writing. I started the BuJu-ing, but am not very prolific with the journalling. I might get into it, because it is a very valid way to stimulate creativity.
I do make some iPad art, digital style, but have thought for a while the manual side of my skill set has been left to atrophy. Indeed, my cursive writing has become a thing of the past. I will never be able to compete with the pen pals with beautiful handwriting, but pen pals don’t compete. I have found that waiting to see what is in the mailbox as well as composing an artful response has become a real joy. I have just barely made a dent in the card collection with which I started the month. Inspired by my BuJu and calligraphy pals, I have bought some finger color ink and some sealing wax to make my mail more exciting and individual. Some new designer stamps will arrive in the mail soon, and today I purchased some international stamps to keep in touch with my new friends in Canada and England. The handwritten mail reveals more about the sender than digital communication. I have instantly become fond of my letter writing friends. I plan to write to them until all the cards are gone.
I have met artists of various kinds, gardeners, crochet and knitting crafters, a book binder, and many who are into botany and botanical gardens. I mentioned my botanical interests when I publicly listed my mailing address, so I attracted many like minded plant lovers. Now a group has been formed on Facebook for a combination of correspondence and poetry for the month of April. I think I can get behind that challenge also, since I already write 30 poems in 30 days for #NaPoWriMo in April. I might be really cool to write them out and decorate them ..and send them away in the mail. It is really kind of mysterious. I like many retro trends, but am surprised by how much I delight in this one. Do you write snail mail, gentle reader? I am still collecting addresses, so if you want a card..or possibly a poem, in the snail mail, give me your mailing address here. I would never share it with anyone else.
If we were having coffee this weekend I would tell you my life is healthy and happy with few exceptions. I had a quiet week experimenting with historical fiction and multi camera live streaming on Facebook. I produced nothing of great artistic import, but have challenged myself to develop these skills in order to do so. I wrote one very undeveloped story in which I mixed some outrageous truths about my paternal great-grandfather with some embellishment I created. It was short and kind of silly, but I feel happy to have started down this path. I published it. I have studied my genealogy for a long time, and have many factual stories on which to base my future efforts. I believe in time I will write longer and more involved stories, but also have been reading and studying flash fiction. This burning hot brief format insists on an outstanding title, a perfect last line, and usually the events presented out of chronological order. I want to work up to that too. I started a bullet journal and joined a Facebook group on the subject. This calendar system is a brilliant way for me to incorporate my new writing styles into my regular blogging. I have much to learn from the Bu-Jo peeps, as they call themselves. They are inspiring and highly educational, much like the food preppers.
If you are here in Tucson at my home today I will invite you to drink a hot cup of coffee or tea of your choice. I had a big fire in the stove last night so the house is staying warm this morning. We have not had our first real freeze, so the flowers are still in bloom. Help yourself to fresh grapefruit juice from the giant crop I am harvesting in the garden this year. I am serving a large fruit salad with berries and watermelon. Enjoy our sunny day and some fresh fruit flavors while you tell me how your week has been. I so appreciate sharing this time will all of you on the weekends. In fact, many of my new efforts as a writer have been inspired by all of you. I love to learn about your writing studios, the writing challenges you accept, and the way you make it work with daily life. I admire the fiction writers and poets who tell stories from imagination. I also love to see the photography from your own environments. I get to travel without leaving my office. I look forward to your visits. You have encouraged and inspired me to transform and expand my writing skills. It reminds me of being in beginners’ ski school, where you see that everyone falls down, but with practice they get better. You fiction writers are like the intermediate skiers who make me want to be that good someday. Starting is key.
If you want to share some digital coffee and some relaxation with a group of writers go to Diana’s weekend party link. She holds this regular gathering of inspiring individuals from her home in New Orleans. Please join us to read, write, or comment on your week. Thank you all for stopping by today.
The journey on this train takes place in the dark, starlit cabins full of images
Rush through the night collecting emotions, memories, deeper instincts
Collecting these soul-shaper consciousness experiences into words takes place
In the dining car over tea and coffee in the morning, and in the lounge all day
Poets sit in silence to straighten out the prose that spills onto the pages
Comparison is healthy, normal, and confusing as each work grows into itself
The train is full of poets yet each one of us has a different destination and fate
In prompts, styles, discussions and reverie we join in a common mission
To bring forth the poetry that only we as poets can bring up from the mine
History holds poets and potters in high regard, finding all the meaning
Of civilization in broken ceramic chards and discarded recorded words
The poetry train departed the station 1 April and will travel non stop until 1 May. Join the fun at #NaPoWriMo by submitting your own work or finding new poets to enjoy.
On this last check in to #ROW80 I am taking stock of the bountiful benefits I harvested from this program. I tried it on a lark in order to revive my dead tumblr blog and work on poetry. Results have surpassed my wildest imagination even though I did not fully complete every goal I set at the start. There is the goal, and then there is the spirit of the goal. I am pleased to have established:
For me this means I am primed and ready for #NaPoWriMo in April. Taking the plunge into poetry during National Poetry Month is a pleasure. There are poems everywhere, tweeting across the universe at lightening speed, during the month of April. You don’t need to write them to enjoy reading the participants’ creations. If you follow the hashtag #NaPoWriMo you may be inspired to contribute. Last year PBS wrote a group poem on twitter which turned out to be very good. I can’t wait to see what creative events might be in store this year. I find the energy and the generosity of #ROW80 to be similar to the poetry month program. Maybe some of my colleagues from here will migrate, or just pop in to enjoy. It is a non judgmental, creative canvass with major potential for fun.
March happens to be National Nutrition Month, which has made me think about the metaphor of feeding the body and feeding the soul. We need to ingest calories to stay alive, but there are other qualities to nourishment. A home-grown lovingly prepared meal has extra positive energy and support that cannot be found at a drive through window. Joyful play and movement bring circulation to the blood as well as to the senses. We do not live by bread alone. The similarities I see between delicious healthy food and a carefully crafted poem may not be obvious. They are both nourishing to the spirit, and necessary to life. I plan to write some cooking and eating poems in April as I expand my repertoire. Thank you all very much for sharing these 80 days with me.
I will end with a nourishing metaphor by William Shakespeare in his Sonnet 75:
So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometimes all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.
I still publish short quickly composed poems with art. This practice that I set up here has been a good platform for discovery of my strengths and weaknesses. I need to keep the mojo going by posting a poem almost daily. This is the first step to being constant and nourishing to my poet persona. First of all I need to convince myself that creative writing is within my ability. In order to move up from my current level of unpolished, slightly redundant writing I need to follow more steps and enjoy deleting at least as much as I enjoy first drafting. I improvise well in many modes. In real life this leads to using creativity to approach many things that I do. I like to play chef and meet the creative challenge of using all the left-overs to make something delicious. I like to eat the result and start on something new. My preference for finishing fast is an impediment to becoming a better writer. I don’t need to count words as much as I need to spend more time editing and improving the initial writing. I have learned that from both my own critique of my situation as a poet, and from reading the works and works in progress presented by my fellow ROW80 writers.
The time we have spent has gone by quickly, with only a couple of weeks left in our 80 day challenge. Each writer has a different style of check in. Some are describing works in progress and sometimes sharing excerpts. There are novelists, poets and fantasy writers here, each with a different point of view, environment, and level of experience. As one of the least experienced participants I am lucky to hear from those of you who have wisdom to share. You give me confidence as well as tools for the job before me. After the challenge has ended your inspiration will still be with me forever. I believe I can go right into NaPoWriMo, the poetry challenge for April, with better preparation than ever before. This challenge is simply to write a poem daily during National Poetry Month (April). I started as a fluke two years ago, but last year I thought I needed to do it again. Now I am looking forward to it this time with happy anticipation. It will not be a chore, but part of this regular practice I have established.
Thank you all for inspiring and challenging me to discover more about the crafty and powerful world of words!! The fun has just begun. As a tribute to the importance of editing I am going on a big clean/clear/organize binge in my office. I did this to my bedroom in December with spectacular results. I expect cleaning out the office can only bring joy and space to operate. This is a spring cleaning of both a physical and mental kind. This edit is a metaphor for the editing I will do in my process in the future. Less really is more.
My week has been graced by the presence of a real writer. I went to hear the poet Simon Ortiz who was in Tucson for a reading of his work. I was deeply moved and highly impressed with his writing, which he delivered with lavish explanations about his process. He is now writing an epic poem, an idea he joked about by saying there is no real rule about exactly how long an epic has to be. He will include within the epic some of his older works, which he shared with the group who had come to the U of A Poetry Center to listen to him. I purchased his book, Sand Creek, which he signed for me after the reading. I told him how much I loved hearing him and he responded that he really loved reading to us. His genuine joy in sharing his work was evident. We were all truly blessed to be there. Some of his poems are funny, and some carry tragic stories from history, like Sand Creek.
The Poetics and Politics of Water series has evolved. Dr. Ofelia Zepeda is a poet and professor who collaborates to put together this very special program of Native American writers. She and her colleague Larry Evers introduced Politics and Poetics in 1992. I look forward to the next reading which will be given by Dr. Zepeda herself. She uses her native language from this region, Tohono O’odham, to welcome the visitors to her land and bless the participants. It is beautiful. She translates the traditional greeting in to English when she is done.
I have written and read some this week with mixed results. I believe the most profound thing that happened to set my poetic self on the path was my chance to hear Mr Ortiz. He said prose and poetry are all the same, and in the end, all language is poetry. He certainly was all poetic in every part of his being. He talked about his own recovery from alcoholism, and his father’s inability to recover from it. His identity as Acoma with deep religious and cultural heritage is important to him. His father exposed Simon to sorrow through addiction, but he also taught him his traditional language and mystical history. The last poem he read to us was about his father’s death. It was sung as a song, a chant, a rhythmic tribute to the spirit of his father and all he had inherited. It was a wonderful way to show his talent and end on a solemn, serious, meaningful note.
I am amazed to find such a vast network of poets and poetry exchanges on the internet. This #ROW80 has enlightened me, encouraged me, and introduced me to resources I might never have discovered on my own. One of the most interesting sites I have found for writers is Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. This group creates a daily writing challenge of a different nature. Today a short story about an imaginary dinner party in 500 words or less stimulates the imagination, but other days poetry or fairy tales are featured. The regular assignments are all geared toward teaching participants to improve their skills, exactly like this literary soiree in which we find ourselves. I believe the best result for me here is the idea of stepping outside my comfort zone, reporting facts. I sometimes include opinions in my posts, but I see the merit in using creative writing to express both opinions and emotions. Strong impressions can be made by using literary devices. “Just the facts, ma’am” can become kind of flat, especially after a while.
When I was in 9th grade I attended a small school run by an oil company in Venezuela. The teachers came from the US and were all vastly more eccentric that the teachers I had known in Pennsylvania. Our English teacher, the memorable Pina Sue Sturdavant, was also our physical education instructor. She was from the panhandle of Texas and had such a strong and ridiculous accent that it would have been impossible not to make fun of it. She was unpopular with the students because she was just too weird for us. She announced we would study propaganda in our English class for 6 weeks. We thought she was insane because in the 1960’s propaganda was something we thought was for Russians who lied to the public. She proceeded to teach us the principals of advertizing, which have served me well since that time. She explained that certain methods of persuasion could convince us to want things we did not naturally want. This is, of course, rhetorical truth, of which we hear so much around political election time. Not all of it is subliminal. Alliteration is a favorite device because it sticks in the mind and on the tongue. Libby’s, Libby’s Libby’s on the label, label, label was the example Pina Sue used to illustrate successful use of alliteration. Dr Seuss is a liberal user of this device, to great effect.
Marketing logans and jingles are carefully designed to be catchy. In the old days rhyme was used more profusely than it is today: Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. These marketing devices also work in poetry. A poem sells an idea, or a personal glimpse of reality, an interpretation. Tonight I will attend another reading at the Poetry Center on the politics and poetics of water…they have already used alliteration in the title of the seminar. My goal this week is to continue writing poems and work to use alliteration within them. It was always my favorite device. Starting with this one, I may continue to enjoy other structural restraints. It would be fitting if I could write a poem about Pina Sue herself…We shall see. She does have those two S sounds at the end of her name, and I remember her vividly.
My poetic week was full of images of the deep south and history. I studied ancestors from Alabama who moved to Texas after the Civil War, which conjured up all kinds of images. There are descriptive written accounts of the places and events, especially the battles. The river flood plain where my people settled was deadly with cholera and disease. This may be the reason the father of the family died so young, but there is no evidence. I become very wrapped up in the general as well as the specific information I find about my ancestors. I imagine daily life as well as how the big events must have taken place. After their town became a ghost town my mother’s family loaded up ox carts and moved to Texas. There is a lot of water and low land on their route, and roads were not established everywhere. Elizabeth Langley must have been full of stories by the time she died at age 96. I have no pictures of her, but her image is forming in my imagination. She was no stranger to mosquitos, and she must have had a strong constitution. She is one of these people in my family tree who perfectly represents a certain time in history. She has the makings of a very interesting character in a story. I have decided to follow my fellow writers and make a draft of a story. I am not ready to outline, but for once I plan to draft, edit, edit, and add, rather than finish and publish whatever this will be. It may be a short story, or I might be able to make it rhyme…like Evangeline. I thank you all for showing me that I could use some extra steps to create better written works. I have faith that this will work.
Scarlet O’Hara she clearly was not,
Her life was difficult, tragic, and hot
My range of subjects has been narrow but evolving, which is all I expect of my budding poetic voice. I have a new feeling about the poems, which is kind of a documentation of my progress as a writer. The worse they sound now, the more potential there is to see them improve over time. Sometimes I think of truly terrible rhymes, and hope to start using them instead of the trite kind of thing I do at this moment. I play around with bad rhymes in the pool, and later when I am dry they have gone to the place where bad rhymes hide. I need to work on this. I plan to write the daily poetry to keep the practice going while I write scenes or descriptions of Elizabeth Langley’s life. It was so long I may need to pick a short period to cover in the story. I might choose reaction to the end of the Civil War, which was a big deal for all involved.
I believe the best thing I have discovered through this challenge is poetry written by others. I listen and read poetry daily now, and think that alone is a wonderful upgrade to my life. Some work makes me laugh, and some brings out curiosity. I am thrilled to see so many different forms used to express poetic thoughts. It is liberating to find so many free style as well as highly formatted ways to go about painting with words. There is no right or wrong, but some have more impact than others. This week the UA Poetry Center will offer two readings I plan to attend, one in house and another next Saturday at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The Valentine reading at the gardens is on birds. We will receive a packet of poems about birds, and they will be read and discussed. They have designed the perfect valentine for me!!!