That Awkward Post

Have you ever had to pick up the phone to call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time? Or started that first sentence in an email or a letter to someone who you lost contact with months or years ago?

Yeah. Me too.

Often times, my reconnection attempt starts with something like this – “Hello. It’s been a while. This may sound crazy, but I had a dream about you last night.” I tell them the dream before asking about how they are or what they are up too.

In one freaky case, I reached out to someone to tell them that I had a dream where the two of us were roommates but it wasn’t working out. I told him that in this dream I told him to go but to leave my prized baseball bat. Turns out, he was weighing and measuring leaving a secure job to do something a bit more heart fulfilling.

Weird.

I digress.

This is one of those reconnection letters or awkward phone calls. I stopped blogging about seven months ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or that there wasn’t anything of interest going on. The problem was that there were tons of things I wanted to share — but needed to process.

By the time life shifted and thoughts were put through the analytic filter, opening the line of communication seemed daunting. Where does one start again? Do you pretend like the prolonged absence never occurred? Offer excuses for the radio silence?

Or do you simply open up the blogging app and type something, anything.

Hello. It’s been a while. This may sound crazy, but I had a dream about restarting my blog to reconnect with you. Weird. So, how have you been?

How the Divine Wants Me to Shine


I have not been one to seek guidance in life, create a vision board, check the stars or consult a coach. However, I recently felt adrift from what I was meant to do in life and figured I would toss my to fate to the Divine and see what happens. At 2:17am, my life path was illuminated using a song lyric from The Killers. (Read: My Divine is pretty awesome . . . well, other than the 2:17am thing!)

The other night my cat woke me up at 2:17 in the morning, seeking attention. I tried to roll over and ignore the persistent and possibly concussion-inducing headbutts from my 12-pound feline friend, but he had knocked a song lyric into my head.

It was almost as if his furry head had bumped into a CD player with one song lyric stuck on repeat:

“I don’t shine if you don’t shine.”

I tried to tune out the lyric from The Killers’ “Can You Read My Mind.” I reminded myself that it is me who controls my thoughts. I can push the stop button on the insistent loop.

But I couldn’t.

I was even aware of my own thoughts as the phrase repeated itself over and over. It was like this battle between two parts of my brain for thought dominance.

“I don’t shine if you don’t shine.”

The day before I had invoked the “Divine” or spirit or communal stardust I call my reality for a little bit of guidance.

Have you ever felt a drift? Perhaps a bit unsure of your role in the world? The good you were created to contribute? Well, if so, you are not alone.

I have been feeling disconnected from my path. I know there has been something right on the edges of my vision, lurking for its chance to come out. I feel its power but I’m not sure how to summon it.

And, in this book club I currently belong to, I was inspired by the strength of the women who knew in their heart, their gut, what their what in life was. How do you find that? How do you find the passion? How do you stop drifting from one thing to another seeking fulfillment?

Since the book, called “Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead” by Tosha Silver, encourages us to not focus on the how (or the path) but the what, I figured I would let the Divine take the lead. I wouldn’t try to figure it out but wait for the time when that powerful feeling that has been building manifests its presence.

Have at it, Divine.

“I don’t shine if you don’t shine.”

I got up the next morning and, like anyone would do, I Googled the song lyrics. I read about how it is the lead singer’s favourite song and I learned how to say it in Latin.

But what does it mean?

And then I found a post about Shine Theory from Ann Friedman, which states:

When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.

Ann Friedman

There’s been a blog theme or idea I’ve been kicking around for a bit regarding the kick-ass women in my life. “With a little help from my friends” is about the life lessons I have learned from friends, co-workers and even family members that have made a huge impact in my life.

But maybe its time to light a fire under that project.

For I think the Divine is telling me it’s time for all of us to shine.

My 52 Week Creative Adventure Inspired By Bradbury

While reading Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity,” I was struck by two ideas at once: his zest for short stories and the concept of investing dimes.

Bradbury said that he would start a short story at the begining of the week and work on refining, editing and polishing for the rest of the week. It was the short, condense method of bringing an idea into the world, flushing it out and putting it out there for the world to see.

My current MO is to store up ideas, fragments of conversations and unique locations for a massive purge during November (NaNoWriMo.org) to which I spend three months in creative recovery only to do it again. This has been going on for six years.

Am I do a change? Probably.

The second concept highlighted in Bradbury’s book was “investing dimes.” There was a time when Bradbury, to get his story out and typed on paper, would have to rent a typewriter for ten cents a half hour. He would have to have a solid idea, know where he is headed and purposefully start pounding at the first tick of his 30 minutes.

The time I blocked out for my creative time can be hijacked by pictures of cats on my Instagram feed, reorganizing my journaling pens, or searching for just the right song to unlock my inner muse.

What if I was to treat my creative time as if I was investing dimes into my novel?

Or better yet, what if I was to combine this two Bradbury gems into one creative endeavour?

I will write a short story a week – germ of an idea to polished diamond. To do this, my clock starts ticking after I get up. I have an hour “rental” in my morning to work on a piece of work.

It may just work. Since I’m not overly fond of jargon such as “goals” I may just label this as — an investment. A 52-week investment in my writer side. Which, between you and me, was ready to come out of recovery from November with vengence.

One side note, what does “pubished” look like? What will happen at the end of this week to my story? Good question.

I created a temporary blog to post my short stories weekly (Saturday morning). Feel free to follow me there or check in once in awhile to keep me honest! http://www.weegeesachtjenshorts.wordpress.com

I will let you know that the first one explores what appears to be a dark side of human nature but is really just my view of anxiety.

Thank you and have a creative week!

50,132 Words: What I Learned Doing NaNoWriMo

At 5:21am on Tuesday, November 28, I hit 50,000 words on a new book.

“You, wonderful author, spent this past November unleashing your creative powers, fighting back inner editors, and teaming up with thousands of writers around the world. We’re incredibly proud to welcome you to the NaNoWriMo winner’s hall.

Congratulations on your superheroic achievement!” — NaNoWriMo Congrats Email

This November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Writers around the world step up to the challenge of writing a short novel (50,000 words) in 30 days. It isn’t about grammar, punctuation or even coherency. It is about getting the words out.

I like to think of it as a purge. All year, I gather information on characters from my casual run-ins with friends or customers at the grocery store. I hear tales or research items of interest. I’m mentally mulling over ideas, crimes scenes and investigative tactics.

November first is the gunshot that starts the writing frenzy to output the ideas, conversations and plot lines into a document on my computer.

But there were a few additional benefits from participating in NaNoWriMo this time around:

My Voice
As writers hone their craft, there is a progression. The first attempts mimic favourite writers. They write in the same style and look to copy the ones they admire. As they grow, writers start to find their own voice. The stories transition to “in the style of” to one’s own writing style.

This NaNoWriMo was a different exercise for me because I felt like I had started to find my own voice. I felt like it was coming from a place in me that perhaps wasn’t tapped in earlier versions or works. I’m looking forward to what my future writings will resemble.

The Discipline
To reach the 50,000 word goal, I had to type at least 1,667 words a day. This occurs while juggling work, volunteer hours, holiday planning and celebrating American Thanksgiving. 1,667 words a day was on average one and a half hours a day.

I would wake up two hours before my husband to write in my journal and then type out 1,667 words on my novel. Every day. Even weekends. Even holidays.

There were days when my muse refused to clock in. There were days when I wanted to push snooze and ignore the taunts of the word count.

But for 28 days, I got up at 4am to get my words out.

A habit that will continue long after I received the winner email from NaNoWriMo.

Here’s to another successful NaNoWriMo November — and the start of a new writing habit.

Guess What I Can Do? – When I Discovered Storytelling

What were you going to be when you grew up? A nurse? Firefighter? Doctor? Policeman?

When I was eight, I knew what I wanted to be — a travel agent. At that age, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure a travel agent did. However, it had the word travel in it. Couldn’t be that bad, right?

I remember using my Rainbow Bright faux phone to call the head office to ask about travel packages for my client to meet Jessica Fletcher in Cabot Cove for a book signing.

My knowledge of far away places outside of my small mountain town may have been limited to what TV stations we got during the 1980s.

I was going to be a travel agent. I just knew it. Or at least that was the plan until one fateful day right before Christmas break.

The Friday before the two-week holiday break was a throw away day. The teachers would sign-out the TV and VCR cart and let us children spend the afternoon watching movies while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.

My favourite film was “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Who wasn’t excited when Clarence got his wings at the end?

But on this particular holiday countdown afternoon, the teacher gathered us on the carpeted floor. However, there was no TV. No VCR. In their place at the front of the classroom was a wooden stool.

What is this? I thought. I figured our teach dropped the ball and there wasn’t a TV left for our classroom.

“Children, I would like to introduce you to Patrick, a storyteller.”

Patrick* was a man who looked better suited to be driving a semi-truck and not talking to a classroom of third graders. He was wearing a baseball hat, jeans and a flannel shirt. He had a full beard and piercing green eyes.

“Have you ever stayed a bit too late at a friend’s house and had to go home in the dark?” He started one tale. “Well, I have a cautionary tale for you.”

Patrick started weaving a tale of an encounter in the forest with a strange man who said “guess what I can do with my long bony finger and red ruby lips.” Patrick talked in detail about the noises in the forest, the illuminating moon beam and the fear in his heart.

As he spoke, the entire classroom was hanging on his every word. Our mouths were open, our eyes big and we were barely breathing. He had us enraptured with his spoken words.

I have a feeling the teachers were jealous of the trance he put each of us kids into — it was the first time all week we were quiet.

“I was banging on the door, yelling for my mom to unlock it and let me in, when the man with the dark hat and long coat stepped out from the shadows.”

All of us held our breath.

“‘Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and red ruby lips’ and I didn’t want to know. But he brought his long, bony finger up to his red ruby lips and then he –”

There was a long pause before Patrick strummed his lips with his forefinger, cracking up a room full of third-graders.

I went home that Christmas break and told my family the tale.

But I listened to their tales with a new perspective. I heard my mother telling my father tales about her day at work. I heard my sisters tales about why she wasn’t talking to her best friend for the third time that week. I heard my aunt tell the tales of what my cousin did to be grounded the whole holiday break.

Guess what I can do? I can tell stories. There’s a storyteller in all of us and a desire to hear stories. What is your story? There’s a world out there waiting to be enchanted.

 

*Patrick is the name I give the storyteller for it is one part of my memory that has been forgotten.