Moving Through the Sadness

A dream swallows me
images with no meaning
but the sense of being trapped
in a home that is not my own
without any dreams to move me forward . . .A rainy day

into tomorrow. I pull myself awake
yearning to remain in
the oblivion of sleep
but terrified by the images that
haunt me . . .

into my waking hours.
I blink awake
and hug my daughter
in desperation and love
looking for answers she does not have.
She doesn’t even understand the questions . . .

I write in my Morning Pages
filled with words I’ll never share
some of hope
some of fear
some of the sadness I carry with me . . .

out into the living room
to be greeted by a flowerDad's flower.
that represents Dad
the man I miss
the man I mourn
the man who was . . .

the man who I never really knew.
I wonder what my daughter knows of me.
What mark will I leave behind
for future generations unknown?
Will my life pass as a blink
with nothing to show but the memories . . .

found in a flower?
I move through the day,
searching through the hope
and find a dream
written by two idiots
that reminds me that all that  really matters . . .

is the journey, not the destination.

Moving Toward Possibility

 

 

Dark Reality and My Writing Journey

The young girl lay in her bed under a dusty rose comforter with delicate white flowers. Stuffed animals graced the sides of her bed, while extra blankets folded over her feet made her feel safe and  secure whenever she fell asleep. The early morning sun began to sneak in through the window over her bed, despite the curtains pulled across to block out the light. 

The girl clutched her covers around her. She had been awake for  a while now, before the golden light seeped into the room. Despite the beauty of the morning, she didn’t want to turn her head toward the empty bed across the room–deserted by her older sister when she left for college a few weeks before. She wasn’t afraid of the empty bed, but of what she had seen on and  around that bed upon waking up. 

I can’t look. What if they’re still there? She knew she had to look. It must have been a dream. I imagined it.

She turned her head.

It wasn’t a dream. She saw the bodies piled on her sister’s bed–emaciated bodies with dark circles underneath dead eyes and bald heads. Next to them was an even bigger pile of skulls and other bones  in a jumble. 

She wanted to scream but couldn’t find the breath.

She stared in shock for several long minutes, rubbing her eyes and blinking in the hopes that the nightmare would end. She couldn’t find her voice to call out for help.  After what felt like a long fifteen minutes the image shifted. The piles turned into the reality of her bedroom. The bodies turned into pillows and clothes she had put on her sister’s bed. The bones turned into knickknacks and collectibles on her sister’s bedside table.

She was back into reality, but she knew it wasn’t a dream.Dusty rose bedspread

***

A few days ago I mentioned how the mini-series The Holocaust helped me recognize the power of words. In a comment on that post the fabulous Kathy mentioned how the Holocaust influenced her desire to become a writer. Kathy’s words and images on Lake Superior Spirit never fail to inspire me and give me moments of peace, so we are all blessed by the fact that she found inspiration in the horror.

As did I, but I’ve also found challenges because of it. For you see, that little girl under the rose-pink bedspread was me. That vision or hallucination or glimpse at memory was mine, and I was wide awake.

The miniseries sparked a sort of fascination within me, where I wanted to learn more and understand more about how such horror could happen, how mankind could be so cruel based on things so invisible and meaningless–differences in culture, in belief, in race. I became a voracious reader of Holocaust literature, starting with The Diary of Anne Frank and moving up to more mature and adult fare. (I was a very advanced reader). I talked with Mrs. Sekler, my Hebrew School teacher and the  only person I knew who had the blue numbers etched into her arm.

Until the day I saw the bodies and the bones.

I told my parents what happened,  and they said I had to stop reading Holocaust literature. They said it was probably a dream, fueled by the books. So I stopped until I was an adult and could handle it again.

What does this have to do with my writing journey?

I know my biggest flaw as a writer, if I want to make it as a successful author of fiction, especially YA/NA, I need to be willing to write darker material. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of eerie or creepy pieces, and my characters often have a dark side. They aren’t always flitting with fairies and riding on rainbows. However, I could never have written The Hunger Games because I can’t get myself to write about young people killing young people. I can’t write the descriptive and violent darkness found  in so many successful books these days.

I’m blocked when it comes to that stuff.

Yet, in a world where this cruelty exists every day, in blatant and subtle forms, I have to confront my own inability. I live in a country where a loud and powerful minority want to maintain their flimsy and mostly imagined supremacy by limiting the rights of others to things like healthcare, marriage, control of their own bodies, and the right to worship as they please. How is that different from the desire  to have a “Master Race”? I live in a world of rape-culture where the victims get blamed and the rapists get glorified. I live in a world where people are murdered by guns, while others cling to their rights to have weapons built only for the purpose of killing lots of people as quickly as possible. I live in a world where women are tortured and brutalized every day for reasons as meaningless as the desire to become educated. I live in a world where people are still judged by the color of their skin, the way they worship, the language they speak, or the way they dress.

I live in a cruel world.

If I want to become  the writer I dream to be, I need learn how to write about that world, in the  voice of that world. I need to embrace the possibility of seeing the darkness, the violence,  the pain with my own waking eyes, and then combating it with the power of my words.

This is my challenge to myself. This is my writing journey.

True Confessions of a Fearful Artist

Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

I sit in a coffee shop feeling my heart beat as I try to find a sense of calm. In a little over an hour I will be at an interview for a directing job. Just a small college show, but my fears overwhelm me and I feel panic building.

What am I afraid of?

Once upon a time I believed I would be a famous director.  I thought I had the talent and vision to create powerful and meaningful theatrical experiences for even novice theatre-goers. Or, at least that’s what I tricked myself into thinking.

The truth is that my doubts ate away at me. That little inner critic took control and won. I didn’t have the courage to pursue my dream fully and I let the nay-sayers and the cruel manipulators who wanted to keep themselves on top push me down. I lost faith in my ability. I lost faith in my talent and knowledge. I lost faith in myself.

I still got directing jobs, though.  Usually through somebody else’s recommendation. Actually, that’s how I get most of my jobs of any type, through a connection or a recommendation–rarely through an actual interview?

What does that say about me?

Since moving back to Massachusetts, I’ve seen plenty of directing jobs, although most of them were near Boston. I used the hour drive (without traffic) as an excuse not to apply. You know . . . rehearsals would start around 6 or so which means I would have to leave by 4:30 at the latest to be sure I’d get there and wouldn’t have any time to see Sarah, etc. etc. etc.

But really what held me back from applying was fear.

Then this job came up, and the excuse didn’t stand. This University is 15 minutes from my house, without traffic. The play is quirky and interesting, written by a woman and with strong female characters. It relies heavily on movement, music, and, I believe light. In other words, all the things I love.

No excuses. I had to apply. I didn’t even let myself stop and think. I sent in my resume as soon as I saw the ad, even before I’d read the play. If I had procrastinated, the inner critic would have found another excuse for me to run away and hide in fear.

Which brings me to this moment of nervous tension building.

But here’s the interesting thing, since I started writing this post, suddenly my fears are beginning to calm. It’s as if words are my meditation. By allowing myself to blog, to share my words in a public sphere, I have slowly learned to be brave about all my artistic endeavors. The inner critic doesn’t have as much control anymore.

I can, and will, go into this interview knowing that they want me to succeed. They want to find the director who will be the best match for this project.  I believe that could be me, but if for some reason they disagree that isn’t a reflection of myself or my talent.

Sometimes what it really comes down to is personalities.

I no longer have the dream of becoming a famous director. I have other dreams trying to make themselves knows–writing and publishing novels; developing theatre for social change projects; becoming a successful arts advocate in some way; and other dreams that I have yet to put into words. Directing is a part of my life that I’m not willing to give up completely, but it is not the guiding light to my creative soul. Still, I think I need to confront this fear in order to continue to grow into the person I want to be.

Wish me luck.

What are you afraid of as an artist? What do you do to confront those fears?

 

 

 

 

Dreaming as an Adult Child

When I was little it was so easy to dream big. I could say “I want to be a ______” and believe that anything was indeed possible.

What did I want to be? My dreams and aspirations changed on a daily basis, sometimes, but there were definite common themes and connections

  • I wanted to be a famous author.  I wanted to save my family with my words, like Jo in Little Women or be invited to read and speak to others like Anne in Anne of Green Gables.
  • I wanted to be a director of plays and musicals.
  • I wanted to be an actress on Broadway or in the movies.
  • I wanted to be a journalist, traveling the world and helping make it a better place.
  • I wanted to be a doctor or some kind of missionary, saving lives in poverty-stricken countries.
  • I wanted to be a psychologist.
  • I wanted to be a geologist.
  • I wanted to be a marine biologist.
  • I wanted to be President of the United States
  • I wanted to be someone invited to teach in universities and colleges around the world.
  • I wanted to be a Smith College Medal Winner.
  • I wanted to be a world traveler, and to have homes all over the world.
  • I wanted to be a singer, either the leader of a rock band or a soloist.

Now, some of those dreams were totally unrealistic. Some of them may have been real at the time, but I have no desire now. I definitely have NO DESIRE to be the President of the United States anymore. As for the science goals, I’m still fascinated but had ran into a brick wall when it came to some of the upper level math and some of the other courses required.

Some of the dreams I’ve achieved, although perhaps not in the way I imagined.  Some of the dreams shifted and changed as I grew older. Some have simply faded away.

A couple of the dreams still live with me, but I find myself afraid to claim them out loud. I don’t know if I have simply become more fearful, or I am more aware of the challenges and difficulties that face the world of a dreamer.  Or maybe I cannot get past the disappointment of lost dreams, to feel the hopes of future dreams.

I don’t want to do that to myself anymore. I want to dream like a child again, and see the world as full of possibilities.  I am determined to dream big, and let those dreams unfold, in whatever form they take. The child in me still lives. The dreamer in me will never go away.

I am a dreamer, and I intend to dream big!

“Come to the edge, he said. They said:
We are afraid. Come to the edge, he
said. They came. He pushed them,
And they flew…”
– Guillaume Apollinaire 

Sitting and Writing and Thinking and Dreaming

I’m back at the coffee shop.

I have been doing some writing on the next chapter. I can’t say it is very good, but I’m all about the shitty first drafts, so that’s okay.

I really came here because today is the final day of a webinar I’ve been taking  called “Transform Your Career” so I needed to be someplace with reliable internet. Of course, that excuse also justified the iced chai and decadent cookie purchase I made so that I could sit here for hours. 😉

As I sit here, waiting for the webinar to start, my mind whirls around my purpose, my goals, my dreams, and my hopes. How could it not, I am taking a Webinar aimed at people who want to change their careers. I have also been in the middle of an inconclusive change for years. So I sit and think about possibilities, hoping to find the answers in my words.

But really, I am just full of questions:

  • what do I really want to do with my life?
  • what are my strengths and how can I use them to find/create a fulfilling career?
  • how do I overcome my shyness and take advantage of my networking capabilities?
  • who can help me reinvent myself?
  • what makes me feel the most accomplished and fulfilled?
  • where do I begin when I feel overwhelmed?
  • what do I want to be when I grow up?

I feel change in the air. I know that something big is coming my way, I just need to have the courage and belief in myself to reach out and grab it.

Let the dreams begin.

The Monster

It loves to creep in when you are sleeping, oozing into your dreams and manipulating them to promote the utmost confusion and terror. Of course, then those dreams wake you up, and the rest of the night becomes one of tossing, turning, insecurity. “To sleep, perchance to dream” but without sleep the dreams hold you hostage>

The monster has been there.

Next it weighs you down in bed, making you tired and unable or willing to get up. But to stay in bed means to sleep more and to sleep means to dream. A vicious cycle.

You wake up and begin to write. Three pages. Morning pages. Pages intended to get the monster out of your head and enable you to face the day with energy and creativity. But the monster grips your pain, making each stroke painful. The monster whispers in your ear, “It’s futile. This won’t help. You can’t escape.”

Somehow you write the pages anyway. The monster hasn’t completely won.

Perhaps you get up, but the monster has not let you out of its grasp. No, it tricks you into thinking that everything is good. That you have defeated it and sent it back into its dark and stinking lair. You try to greet the day with cheer and a positive attitude, shaking off the grip of the monster.

“I’ll make my own breakfast.”

“These eggs taste funny.”

“Do I have to?”

Harmless words that have nothing to do with you. But, the monster twists them, using its power over language so that you hear this instead:

“You don’t know how to cook.”

“Daddy makes better eggs.”

“You are such a nag.”

The monsters niggles and pokes until every moment of being awake is almost as torturous as the moments of the dream. The sun refuses to come out, because it too is afraid of the monster.  Words circle around you and suffocate you. You try to escape in the words of others, but that only allows the monster a new form of attack. “That writer is better than you. You have no original ideas. That person is more popular. . . ” The comparisons that hold you down, away from even trying.

You take a shower, hoping to wash the monster’s slime off of you. To cleanse away the tentacles and claws.

For a moment it works, lulling you into a false sense of security. You feel your breath ease. You begin to relax. Your eyes begin to close, falling into the comfort of a new kind of sleep, after the disturbances of the previous night.

But the monster knows how to get in once you sleep.  The cycle begins again.

I want to get out a torch and slay the monster. This is not the beast of Beauty and the Beast, trapped in the form of monsters by his own ego, but basically innocent. This is not the Hunchback of Notre Dame, hated for a deformity and because of people’s ignorance. This monster is invisible and hurtful. This monster is terrifying and powerful. This monster grips many of us in its grasp and will not let go.

I’m ready to fight it. Lisa the Depression Slayer is on duty now, and she intends to win.

 

Now What?

After the adventure is over,
and the dream list has been made.
Reality begins to set in.
The house still needs cleaning
bills need to be paid
a daughter needs attention
dogs beg for food and love.
The dream list hovers on its page
calling out my name
but the question remains
how do I begin?
How do I take what I have learned
the memories of who I am
and merge them with the life I live
to make a stronger, happier reality?

After the adventure is over
and the dream list has been made
the journey has just begun again
and now I am afraid.

When Doubt Creeps In

Devious Doubt
sneaks in the cracks
whispering perilous prose.

“You cannot succeed!
It’s just a dream!
There ‘s no hope, you know.”

Fractious Fear
joins in the fray
after creeping through the door.

“If you try you’ll fail,
they’ll laugh at you
of that I’m very sure.”

Undulating Uncertainty
oozes in,
leaving slime along the floor.

“You’re doomed, my friend
you cannot win.
You’ve never  won before.”

Calm Confidence
speaks up at last
climbing on the bed.

“That’s a lie!
You know it’s true
that she’s been far ahead.”

Hovering Hope
heeds the call
and adds her singing voice.

“Her past supports
her current dream
and she’s made
the perfect choice.”

The monsters loom,
they growl and groan
they try all of their tricks.

But deep inside
Queen Confidence reigns
and she can take their licks.

The path ahead
remains unknown
the future still unclear
but monsters will never
overcome
the dream she holds so dear.

The Journey as Sestina

 I felt like writing poetry today, and decided to challenge myself by writing in a form called Sestina. I’ve only used this form once before, in a poem I wrote years ago for my sister called “A Sestina from the Heart”

MOVING INTO THE UNKNOWN

Box by box, item by item, I pack for our move
to a place both familiar and yet unknown
pursuing a life or perhaps a dream
of days filled with fulfilling work and challenges
met with a smile, a laugh, and joy
and evenings filled with stars, friends, and peace.

What will it take to find that peace?
Does the solution lie with this next move?
Or does the truth lie with inner joy
and acceptance that life is a journey into the unknown
with every day bringing new challenges
as we pursue our ever-changing dream?

What happens when we become unsure and dream-
less, tossing and turning at night in search of elusive peace?
Perhaps the search for a new dream becomes one of the challenges
which keeps a soul vibrant and constantly on the move
always  embracing the unexpected and the unknown
which will sometimes bring sadness but more often joy.

What if you find life is not filled with joy?
Or that everything you hope for is only a dream?
Then the next step becomes another unknown
followed by another, and another, and another until you find the peace-
ful place inside your heart which encourages a move
toward other dreams, other stories, other challenges.

Unless, of course, you wish for a life without challenges,
but for me that seems like a life without joy.
For me a successful challenge is a move
toward the next step of the journey and piece of the dream.
Knowing I can handle what comes gives me a sense of peace
even as I journey into the unknown.

I knowingly take steps toward the unknown
trusting that life will not give me any challenges
I cannot face. Knowing that even days not filled with peace,
can still be filled with joy.
As long as I keep working toward a dream
then nothing bad will happen on this, or any,  move.

While I don’t know what challenges this move
will bring, I believe that the unknown dream
is the one that will bring me peace and joy.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: