Sunday, August 28, 2011

out of practice

Very little time this week was "given" to my writing life. I am doing my morning pages so that is a good stretch, but after that, I have had to pay attention to the other part of my life: big task this week was helping my husband move his dad into a retirement community with assisted living. Now there are just "odds and ends" to attend to on that task and move on to other of life's events and work.

I am still grieving for yet another dying oleander in our backyard. I guess we will have to have a soil sample ($) tell us if we have blight before we plant anything to replace it and fill up the gaping hole that I can now plainly see out my kitchen window. I was thinking about planting bamboo instead of oldeander. At the Tucson Botanical Gardens they have a really thick setting of bamboo in the children's garden. It makes a crinkling sound when the trees rustle in the wind. Bamboo has a nice sound to it: soft (bam) and funny (boo). The word itself bends in two without breaking, like the tree.

There, that's a nice image to carry with me as we go to the hot (105 degree) afteroon to buy a microwave for my father-in-law. Maybe we will go to Home Depot first and look at bamboo trees and I will call out to them in their buckets: "bamboo, bamboo, where are you?" And now a poem comes...

silliness on a sunday afternoon
is imagining bamboo trees
bending in the fall breeze
and a cockatoo in their branches
dancing and bobbing
like a boxer
in the ring.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 by 10 poem

While I was at the car repair last week, I composed this poem from a Writer's Digest poetry prompt. It has 10 lines with 10 syllables. To get started (writing a poem while sitting in a waiting room with CNN on the screen and popcorn fumes curling from bags on customers laps was a challenge, but going outside to 100 plus degrees wasn't a good second option), I used the first phrase from a sample 10 x 10 poem by Brett E. Jenkins: "August summer lived me out..."

August summer lived me out. The rains
finally came enough to raise up toads
from beneath brown desert sand. Snakes slithr'd
out of holes, shiny skins wet with storm's surge
of water. Weary from waiting for the
thunder to roll, with the first drops I ran
to fetch the umbrella and go dancing
in the streets, pointing my toes into deep
puddles, feeling the coolness drip into
my skin, into my heart, into my soul.

Friday, August 19, 2011

without wheels

Literally, I am without wheels this morning, having spent all day yesterday waiting for a complete new brake job to be done on my car. But, yadda, yadda, yadda, it didn't happen and so I hope to get picked up later today by the "courtesy car" and get back on the road for my day.

But, metaphorically, I feel like I am without wheels, also. External, slow moving continues on foot, but the "rollin' rhythm" that is the essence of a wheel-driven life is absent. I spent most of my time in a chair yesterday--first at the dealership, then at a cafe and I put it to some good use by working on business elements of my two enterprises. I left my "morning pages" journal in the car, not anticipating that I would be without the journal this morning and I do feel the difference of not doing the Julia Cameron-inspired writing exercise, by hand, that she encourages creatives to do. When I started writing the pages last week, it was with a commitment to see if the timing was right for that practice and I think I found that it is helping me clean out the mental clutter as I start the day.

It's amazing how much clutter is in my mind as I just start my day. All the unresolved issues of the day before, maybe even dusty remnants of dreams, come to the surface and need to be aired "in the light of day" (a literal,and over-used phrase but it is apt in this case).

Just from one day, bits of work issues, the reality of my father-in-law's health decline (his sprained knee is still the size of a melon and the color of a plum) and he has gone from a pig-headed (his description of himself last night) 88 year old, insisting he can drive 15 miles for a Sonoran hot dog, to bedridden, waiting for his new caregiver to give him a bath. Then there is my own dad, pretty sharp at 92 and adjusted to using a walker to get up and down his hall, around the complex once a day--huffing and puffing a bit to get to the phone--ten steps from his chair.

I couldn't lose myself in "Star Trek" before bed because, for the last two nights, the opening scenes have characters that scare me: one night, it is Counselor Troi, waking up in the body and face of a Romulan and then, last night, at some kind of Deep Space Nine Convention, Whorf is approached by a creature whose face looks like a pucker-mouthed hairless and skinless human. Yikes! And, so I woke several times in uncomfortable bed positions, stirred by my husband's fitful twisting and snoring.

Here I am then, looking at the birds, gaily fluttering with bread I put out last night after the three hour rain. I want some of what they have this morning: gaity. And if not gaity, then some measure of Buddha-like acceptance that this is my day and I can make it joyful or gloomy, if I first accept that this is where I am right now.

And writing helps me do that: say, hello Anita, just be with yourself and then move--by foot or by wheels.

How are you moving today?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I am reading the book, Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell and one of the a-ha moments for me in the book is his explanation of what makes improv comedy work.

There is one key rule in improv and it is to "accept everything." To accept the situation presented, to accept each line of improv dialogue and move forward with it takes the comedians and the audience into the absurd but also into a reality of truth that resonates at the level of instant cognition/blink.

That amazes me. And when I think of the (albeit few) times I have seen improv (I fondly recall my ventures to see "Second City" as an undergrad in NIU and the HBO Robin Williams specials and Larry David's "Curb your Enthusiasm), I realize the truth of this rule. And I have been trying this week to apply it more to my life: accept everything. It takes forebearance to do that for me because I want to pivot to fixing and not go into the sense of free fall which is where acceptance often takes me. But, in setting up my new website (, that is what I did and I was able to see truth in what I created.

This is a short post this week with big questions for you: 1) How much acceptance do you practice in your daily life? 2) When you do, what happens?

Monday, August 8, 2011

in memory of mom

Two years ago, my mom died and so I write in memory of her. In memory of her, I restarted my morning pages practice and today I will visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens. In memory of her, I will go out with my dad for lunch and be willing, should he request it, to savor the greasy goodness of Lucky Wishbone chicken which she relished, onion rings and all, on her last birthday of 91. In memory of her, I will reopen the book, Heidi, which I would read to her during the weeks of our final visits. Here is the passage where we left off:

(p. 98) "There's a boy here who wants to speak to Miss Clara personnally", he announced. Clara's eyes lit up at this highly unusual occurrence.
"Bring him in at once," she said....

My mom loved "unusuall occurrences". She went to Pike's Peak by bus in her early twenties and married my dad in Cheyenne, Wyoming before returning to her job at Woolworth's in Elgin, Illinois where she sunbathed and smoked cigarettes on the roof.
She remained a young girl in an old woman's body until her death, made the best spaghetti sauce that her Italian mother-in-law taught her and baked cookies and cakes with measured kitchen skills that have been passed to her sous chef grandson.

I suspect each of us have memories of our moms that we would rather not remember, but even those now, I can embrace with humility and love. So, if you have the inclination to do so today, remember your mom and find a way to keep her legacy alive, just for today.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

saturday slump

With a quick trip to San Diego mid-week for work and then returning to support my husband in dealing with his dad's knee injury, I think I am running low on fuel for writing. But I have been doing a lot of reading and talking in cafes.

Since my return flight to Tucson was delayed several hours, I bought a new book, The Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and now a movie with Kristen Scott Thomas. It's very good and compelling about the July 16, 1942, French police's "round up" of over 10,000 Jewish children and their families which led to death camps for all but a few survivors. I can't read it right before I go to sleep because I am afraid I will have disturbing dreams but I recommend it for a solid stretch in the afternoons or for those of you who are less visually suggestive than I am.

I also bought the book, Blink, by Malcom Gladwell, recommended to me by a colleague I met with last week in Phoenix. It is about how we make "snap" or intuitive decisions. Since much of my formal work is in the field of dialogue and deliberative thinking, this resources is encouraging me to consider how the natural tendency we have for intuitive decision-making could (and could not) be included in my process design. Since I just started it yesterday, I don't have any answers yet.

And the time in cafes over iced coffee or tea is about staying connected now that I am flying alone again with my enterprises. It is easy to stay isolated inside an air-conditioned house when it's 105 degrees outside, so I have to get moving in the morning while it is only in the low 90s to meet folks and network. Fortunately, Tucson has plenty of Starbucks and local coffee shops so I have a choice of locations to go to and choose my scheduling (and menus) accordingly.

One of my a-has yesterday while waiting for a colleague was that I do need to restart some form of "morning pages" (see Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way" for more on this). She does have an actual workbook to stimulate the practice and, as I write this, I think I shall head that way today to make a purchase of it and push myself into that commitment. From that, more creative fuel may flow so check in later this week to see if that possiblity becomes a reality.