Guest Author Lisa A. Kramer

I’m honored to be featured at the Story Reading Ape today. Visit my post over there.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Claiming my Identity

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 The Storytelling Ape first found me when I wrote about this adventure.

Hello Everyone!

I was honored when the Story Reading Ape asked me to write something about myself for the “New (to me) Authors” Blog.

Then I got nervous. Why? Because, while I have had several non-fiction articles published in various journals, and a poem or two here and there, I’m just now claiming the title of published author as my short story “Voices” joins 14 others in Theme-Thology: Invasion due out on September 28, 2013 and published by HDWP Books.

InvasionRev2

On sale: September 28th, 2013 $2.99 Kindle/Nook/Kobo

I was nervous because, despite the fact that I have hundreds of blog posts under my belt, two finished fiction novels yearning for homes (I am actively sending one out to agents at the moment) and a dissertation gathering dust on my shelves, I still…

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A Friendly Reminder–Arrr!

Hi Everyone!

Long time no chat. I just wanted to remind you that I am no longer blogging here. Please come join me at Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words. In today’s post you can meet Pirate Captain Sarah Lee, the most vicious captain on all the seas (or perhaps just the cutest). Click the picture below to read the post.

Black Kid Bonnie and Captain Sarah Lee

Black Kid Bonnie and Captain Sarah Lee

Please, Follow Me Over There . . .

http://www.lisaakramer.com/2013/05/12/to-follow-or-not-to-follow/

A Quick Reminder

Hi All!

Just a reminder that Woman Wielding Words is moving to Lisa A. Kramer:  Woman Wielding Words. Come on over, sign-up, join the fun. And, please remember, if you have me in your blog roll, I’d appreciate if you could updated it.

Thank you all! I hope to see your there.

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Woman Wielding Words is Moving

First I’d like to welcome those of you who have joined me over the past few days. I always find it thrilling and surprising when someone joins my blog even if I haven’t posted lately.

I’m truly honored.

However, this blog is now moving to a new location. While I will keep the blog up as an archive and a place to pilfer my own words, my main blog is now called Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words. I hope you will all join me over there, and sign up again for my writing journey.

This blog has meant a lot to me, so I have just one last thing to say to all of you wonderful people who have made this special place even richer and more enjoyable.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Off to my new home!

Off to my new home!

Big Announcement!

Hello all my wonderful readers!

First I would like to thank you for following me, reading, and commenting. Don’t worry, this isn’t me saying goodbye . . . I have just finally taken the scary leap into having my own domain name.

So Woman Wielding Words is moving to a new location. Over the next few (many)  days I will be transferring posts over, as well as working on developing a new look. My new blog is called: Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words and is found at  http://www.lisaakramer.com/. Please join me over there.

XO

Lisa

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Changing Life’s Metaphors

“Back to the salt mines,” Nathan said as he prepared to take Sarah to her before school math prep and then head off to work.

“What does that mean?” Sarah asked.

“I’ll explain in the car,” Nathan said.

Off they went.

Later, Nathan posted this article on Facebook. “The Salt Mines. Really??” In this article, Natalie Houston discusses the possible origins of the phrase, which includes the fact that convicted prisoners were often forced to labor in salt mines, with the commensurate risks to life and limb. She writes:

“Through metaphor, the language we use both reflects our perceptions and shapes them in a continual feedback loop. Each time you say something like “back to the salt mines” (which is usually accompanied by a shrug, or slumped shoulders) you reinforce your own attitudes about your workplace as being somehow like a dangerous mine where prisoners labor. “

This made me think about the metaphors that guide and/or  influence my own life. Over the past few days I’ve recognized that it is time to change my metaphors, or at least re-envision them. First, however, I must be able  to identify them.

Life as Journey

Walking a path.

Walking a path.

This is by far my favorite metaphor, as anyone who has been reading my blog for a long time might realize. I often talk about life as a journey. If you search for the term journey within my blog, you will find 143 entries that  somehow refer to journeys and the journey of life. Maybe I need to get some new material.

Anyway, this is a metaphor that I do try to live by, however it has its dangers. It all depends on how one perceives the journey. When I think of this journey as having a specific destination–as one with  a path that I’m meant  to follow that gets me to some mysterious endpoint–then I take less pleasure in the journey itself because I’m too worried about not getting to that point. When I can think about the journey as the destination–a meandering path that takes me to the next part of the journey–then I usually can just let my feet lead me wherever I am going.

I want to focus on the second type of journey.

Life as Speeding Train 

This is perhaps one of my least favorite metaphors for life. Do you ever feel like you somehow got trapped on a train that is heading toward an unknown destination without any stops? It keeps going faster and faster, and someone else is driving it. You have no control. No matter how many times you pull the emergency cord, the train will not stop.

Sometimes, for me, the train is a roller coaster car, speeding up and down at speeds that defy thought.

Have  I mentioned that I hate roller coasters? The last time I was on one with my sister, long ago at Knots Berry Farm I felt too short to be held in safely and was convinced I would fly out on one of the crazy loops. I haven’t been on one since, except for  the roller coaster of life.

When I lived in Japan, I loved the idea of riding the Shinkansen, because it allowed me to visit more places in less time. However, the difference between riding a bullet train and being trapped on a speeding life train is crucial to recognize. It’s possible to get off the Shinkansen once in a while, to enjoy the journey.

English: A Shinkansen awaiting passengers in T...

English: A Shinkansen awaiting passengers in Tokyo. Français : Un Shinkansen attendant ses passagers à Tōkyō. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“Another Day, Another Dollar”

Or in my case a few more pennies.

I thought  of this metaphor this morning after reading Houston’s article.  Too often lately, I’ve focused on the fact that I seem to work hard for very little  financial reward.

I don’t  like thinking like that. If my focus on life is on the journey, and the journey  is the destination, then I want to be working  on projects that fill my life with joy and purpose. I suppose the purpose could be to make money, but I don’t want  the metaphor for my life to be “Life as means to financial gain.”

Of course, I recognize that money does play a role in life, but it doesn’t have to be the focus of life.

It’s time to drop this metaphor from my life.

 

What are  some of the metaphors guiding your life? What are some of the metaphors you want to change? What are some  of the metaphors you would like to embrace?

 

The Search

“Live today fully and you create a lifetime of meaningful memories.” (Sophia Bedford-Pierce THE KEY TO LIFE)

The quote floats at the top of my morning page journal–a message from the universe to combat the sadness which wells inside of me the moment I drag myself out of sleep.

It’s a message I yearn to understand and to fully embrace, but something deep inside myself  questions whether or not I’m even capable of truly enjoying life. What is a full life? This inner voice asks. What is a meaningful life? This inner voice demands.

I have no answers.

I yearn to lose myself into the oblivion of writing about someone else’s life, but the characters are silent. I yearn to find my connection to that creative energy where the characters live . . . where inspiration lives . . . but it seems out of reach.

I yearn to lose myself into the oblivion of exercise without thought, where the mind can then open to other possibilities. For me that place has always been a swimming pool, but I don’t know where to go. So I try to tap dance,  but my feet don’t move correctly and I am reminded that I’m clumsy and awkward.

I take myself to my place of retreat. The botanical gardens that appear here so often. My intent is to walk and walk and walk until I’ve reached that rhythm of not thought where possibility has room to grow. Not possible today, as everywhere there are people cutting branches and trimming trees. A walk through the  gardens becomes an adventure in an obstacle course, with the danger of falling  limbs and the sound of saws disturbing the silence.

I did, however, finally figure out one thing that was wrong with my camera, and managed to get some beautiful shots. Flowers and beauty, but no answers, no peace.

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I treat myself to  lunch there, and try to find my way through words. I end up grading papers and that is all.  I head back out and notice all of the older men wandering through the gardens, taking pictures, enjoying the beauty. They remind me of all the things my Dad didn’t get to do in retirement, before  Alzheimer’s overtook him. They remind me that he is no longer here with me, and can’t walk through the gardens with me. He never did.

Hiking the Robert Frost years ago (when Sarah was around 2)

Hiking the Robert Frost years ago (when Sarah was around 2)

I cry.

I return home. The radio filled with stories that I no longer want to listen to, about the bombers and wars and death and hatred and congress and I can’t take anymore. Just yesterday I learned that the boy who died in the bombing was closely connected to a high school friend. It’s all too close, too much.

I find no peace.

I return to find messages of kindness from friends. One tells me  to “Go out in the sun, and force yourself to write two pages about happiness.” The clouds have rolled in. The sun is gone.  I search for the words about happiness . . .

but all I find are these.

What do you do when you can’t find peace, or words, or that magic place of calm? What do you do when sadness rules?

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned and the People Who Teach Them

This week has been a challenge. I’m not just talking about writer’s block (which is there) but a darker struggle inside myself, as I question whether or not anything I do has value in this world. I’ve been dealing with:

  • students who seem to think attendance during the last weeks of school is optional
  • students who think that my assignments and the deadlines associated are optional
  • administrators who think that my opinions do not have weight or are not worthy of consideration
  • young students whose lives are so difficult outside of school that its hard to see if anything I am doing is reaching them
  • at least one class where the women in the class refuse to speak up and participate, they defer to the male voices a large percentage of the time. It drives me insane as someone who truly values mentoring young women.
  • a complete lack of faith in myself as director, writer, artist, teacher

But then, Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm, posted this prompt as part of her Writing on Learning Exchange Series: she asks this provocative question “Who Taught You?”

That message made me think about what we learn when we least expect it, and who teaches us those important lessons. Sure, hopefully we have teachers throughout our educations that actually teach us something, but I am beginning to think that perhaps true learning comes to us in a different way. This isn’t to say that we have nothing to learn in a classroom environment . . . there’s plenty to learn through those formal methods, but sometimes we learn in unexpected ways, and sometimes we teach without knowing we are  teaching.

In my own life, lessons have come from so many unexpected places and people:

  • the fellow teacher from Australia who didn’t graduate from high school, used less than legal means to get hired to teach English in Japan (you were supposed to have a college degree) and showed me that a love of life and a passion for following your heart is in some ways more important than what you learn  from books. Too bad I didn’t fully absorb that lesson until very recently, despite the fact that she taught me it about 20 years ago.
  • the lessons I learned about prejudice, hate, and racism while working with a group of Roma children in Slovakia.
  • the lessons I’ve learned from the leaders of that Slovakia trip, about caring, sharing, traveling and living life with the understanding that there is more to the world than our small section of it.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

  • There’s my current student who faces all kinds of challenges including incessant and debilitating migraines, being struck by lightning, and numerous friends dying from suicide or car accidents and things. She’s taken all this sadness, all these challenges, and given herself a goal to help others by becoming a school counselor and learning as much as she can about psychology. She is an inspiration.
  • The lesson I learned this morning from a woman I don’t know. Mia McKenzie’s blog post starts with the words “Hey White Liberals!” and challenges me to reflect on ingrained aspects of racism and injustice that we all need to think about, and somehow change.

This list could go on forever, and my blog is peppered with posts about people of all ages, races, cultures, levels of education who have taught me lessons. The point is that we never know when we will learn something that changes our lives. Nor we will ever truly know when we have taught something that has made a difference.

With that perspective, perhaps my life isn’t as empty as it feels at the moment, because there’s always something new to learn and the possibility that someone actually learns from you.

This is my greatest teacher.

This is my greatest teacher.

 

Deep Thoughts by Lisa Kramer

No, my deep thoughts will be nothing like Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy. There’s an entire website dedicated to his deep (dark, disturbing, and sometimes downright hilarious) thoughts which originated on Saturday Night Live.

Do you remember those?

No, my deep thoughts are the thoughts of a brain that has been working overtime during the past week, but can’t seem to work its way out of the mire of thinking.

To put it simply, I think too much. I cannot move forward into some other kinds of writing or into planning if I can’t empty my brain off all the thoughts competing for attention. If I had a pensieve like Dumbledore in Harry Potter I would be pulling strand out of strand of thoughts out of my head just to give my mind a rest. But I don’t have one, so I must resort to a more mundane way of doing things (or is that a more muggley way of doing things?). I don’t have a magic wand . . . I just have the magic of words.

I want to use that magic except that I’m afraid, because the truth is that some of my thoughts could piss people off. Does that mean I shouldn’t write them? Or is it finally time to get all of this off my chest?

What exactly am I afraid of?

I guess my fear is not being liked. I still struggle with  wanting to belong somewhere, and here on the blog I’ve found a group of friends even if they are only virtual ones. I’m also aware that anyone who has dreams of writing and selling a book, needs to build a fan base. But what if my deep thoughts are too radical? Too opinionated? Or simply too difficult  to follow?

Yup, my thoughts are that deep.

Then I look at one of my writing idols, Andra Watkins aka The Accidental Cootchie Mama, who does not run away from the dark words and thoughts that sometimes haunt her. She lets her characters have a voice through her words, even when those characters and thoughts come from a scary place. Her fiction never fails to chill, thrill, and make you think a little about the meaning of  life. Perhaps I need to allow my deep thoughts to come  out  in the form of fiction, or at least I need to give voice to them somehow.

Even if they make me afraid.

Does anyone want to hear the deep thoughts of Lisa Kramer or should my voice remain silent?

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

 

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