This Morning’s Rhythm

This morning I awoke about 4 am or so.  Stayed in bed until 4:45, doing my lazy woman’s I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed meditation (“thanks for my life, thanks for this breathe, thanks for these moments, thanks for another day  . . .  [ a drift into silence] . . . thanks for this silence”), giving myself another 45 minutes under the covers.

Pulled myself out of bed, remembering Rumi: “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep.”  Okay, I’m up.  Barely.

Open the front door.  Smell the lilac.  Listen to the birds and bugs.  Watch the trees play in the morning light.  Put the herb garden on the patio.  Water and talk to them.

Chug a pot of yerba maté, made the night before so that I don’t have to think.

Check email.  The Universe, that is ‘Notes From The Universe,’ tells me in today’s note that “There was a time in the life of every hero, champion, master, and tycoon, when they said to themselves,’I will not wait any longer.'”   Yes, that’s it.  Just do it.  The note’s better than the yerba maté, I’m feeling awake now.  Believe.

Meditate.

Write in my journal.  Ask about having my self-imposed limitations dissolve, quickly and permanently.  “Maya Angelou inspired confidence, in my way and my time,” I write.

Make another pot of yerba maté, for when I come home.

Wash my face.  Brush my teeth.  Throw on my sweats and sneakers for today’s excursion.  New route the past two weeks.  The hills are more arduous than the ones I conquered in April, and I am loving this route more.  The first 15 minutes are a fierce, unforgiving incline.  I’ve nicknamed it “Everest.”  The views at the top are breathtaking, and my reward: a vista overlooking a valley of flourishing woodlands, and a panoramic view of The White Mountains’ outer edges.  Only 4.2 miles today, 2.1 to the main road and back.  The 5.4 loop tomorrow.  Listen to Gould on the iPod.  Listen to affirmations.  Listen to the trees and the birds and the brooks and nature.  Listen.

Back into the village.  See my little friend, who waves and says my name with a sparkling smile.

Home.  Check phone messages.  Check email.

Make a large salad: one fresh avocado processed with fresh lemon juice and salt, a package of baby arugula, a few raisins, a couple of chopped dates, a chopped gala apple.  Slowly devour in gratitude, while the stream and birds supply the meal’s background music.

Log into Facebook.  Stumble on an NPR article about 91-year-young Harriette Thompson who is a cancer survivor and just set a world record for a woman’s marathon time in her age group.  Remember this morning’s journal entry on dissolving limitations.  Synchronicity abounds.  Keep showing up.

Sit down.  Listen to the birds.  Smell the lilac.  Watch the light dance off the tree tops.  Write a brief blog post.  Think of the things on today’s list, some of which I see as challenging and unpleasant.

Not so much.  Attitude is everything.  Just ask Harriette Thompson.

Live life vividly.  V-I-V-I-D-L-Y, the word keeps making its way into my journal pages, highlighted, decoratively boxed, boldly scripted in greens, purples, pinks, reds.  Live vividly, or it’s just existing.  “Let everything else go,” I remind myself.  Harriette Thompson would no doubt smile if I told her about my problems, and I do so with her when I see them from a 91-year-old’s record-breaking finish line.  Vividly.  She seems to know about that topic.

This morning was like many mornings, but I wanted to chronicle today’s unique and beautiful rhythm, and I wanted to remind myself that “when I get over that finish line, that’s the best part.”

 

[http://youtu.be/5vlGKyxl22M]

[This entry was originally sent to subscribers with Ms. Thompson’s first name misspelled.  The above reflects the correct spelling.]

 

 

 

 

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Thoreau admonished “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

Emerson responded, “Don’t you think one simplify would have sufficed.”

As I go back and scan these entries, I cringe at their tediousness.

Simplicity isn’t making its way on the page.

That’s okay, for now.  This entry is an apology, and an acknowledgement that fiction and nonfiction are entirely different animals from expository writing, no matter how lyric and luminous an expository essay may be.  For too many years, I earned kudos for my writing, because I mastered the formula and stuck to it.  I was like James Patterson, I knew exactly what my audience wanted, and invariably used it: introduce the topic, ask a question, form a hypothesis, succinctly state the thesis, develop an argument paragraph by paragraph, nod to the alternatives, summarize the argument, then give the conclusion, usually in a clever or nearly poetic summary.  Wow them.

I did well at that formula.  Really well.  So well that I created a comfort zone that was impenetrable, as I knew how to work the formula without failing.  Much of my adult life was spent hacking out sentences in the wildly exciting craft of revision.  Revision, revision, revision.  There’s no simple way to an elegant essay, other than revision.

I succeeded in my academic studies, not because I was brilliant, but because I was willing to put in inordinate hours revising.  Sentence by sentence, I was a workhorse of wordsmithing.  I was also good at close reading, good at synthesizing the seemingly disparate, and good at interpreting metaphors, which when served by the excessive labors of revision, earned me my coveted rewards.  I aimed to please, and I knew how to impress my audience of one, my professor, if I could hide behind the work of others, use my handy dandy formula for success, and spend sleepless nights and days revising.

I’ve abandoned that model, to draw from a deeper creative well.  Those years gave me extraordinary writing practice, but now I’m dealing with my own voice, my own stories, my own narrative construction.  The consequent prose often flounders, struggles to find its way in this new landscape, isn’t always certain of itself, and the excesses of that exploration are repetitive and strained.

A criticism of the blogosphere is that there’s little editing done.  I agree.  We rarely see our work’s shortcomings without distance, and social media’s immediacy fails to recognize the space needed for writing’s refinement.  No matter how much I edit these entries, they aren’t what they should be.  They are blog entries.  They are cumbersome.  They are redundant.  They are poorly proofread, that is, with the eyes that wrote them.  They are me thinking out loud much of the time, trying to tie big disparate life elements together in a little package, and I have yet to master that creative bent without the expository essay formula.

However, I am doing what my “About” page states I will be doing here, flushing out ideas, honing my voice, and discovering more about this new territory.  In this regard, I’ve been successful.  More than successful, for these forays have richly informed my evolving narrative choices.

Simplicity is work until it becomes habit, in life and in art.  In life, it’s both discipline and awareness, daily choosing what works over what doesn’t, until habits are lived without thinking about them.  In writing, simplicity and elegance mean making every word matter.  That’s the practice of writing, and the craft of revision.  Sometimes, it’s better to throw down as many words as possible, muck around in the ideas, polish the prose as much as time allows, and then move on, having gained experience in what works and what doesn’t.

In an Ira Glass interview that I posted earlier this year, he exhorted writers beginning their career to produce as much as possible.  Just produce.  Throw it all down.  Make the mistakes.  Learn.  Move on.

In artistic terms, I think that means that the burgeoning writer will be Thoreau like, saying the same thing over and again, when one word would have sufficed.

Thanks for subscribing to these updates and following my journey.

On Truth

I’m not a big fan of the word “truth” — the people I know who cling to it most tightly tend to be dogmatists, and not much engaged with reality’s malleable and imaginative aspects.  Truth becomes a function of certainty, the belief that the world exists in a real way, and there are usually prescriptions for how we are to interpret this reality.  That seems to me counterproductive at best, functionally delusional at worst.

My assertions may sound strange, especially as I spent a huge chunk of my life studying philosophy, and pursued an equally strange creature called “God,” or enlightenment.

Love, the practice of compassion, the art of forgiving ourselves and the world, is really the only principle — I deliberately write principle and not truth — that exists, and the best we can do is approximate what that principle looks like in the moment.  For myself, the best response is usually intuitive, not something that can be predetermined.  The other stuff seems to me just the mind doing its thing, and should be regarded as such, the mind doing its thing.

These days, I’m not too enamored of the mind.  I am more or less bemused by its convolutions.

As I set down my story, and a series of other stories, I’m pretty appalled at who I’ve been, and at times gobsmacked by who I’ve become.  Not because I was such a horrible person, or that I am so demonstrably awesome now.  I’m appalled at the self-destructive behaviors and the self-loathing, the amount of unnecessary angst that I carried as a personal truth written in an unalterable understanding of my story, and my self.  It was all so warped, a singularly stellar production of my mind.  Who I was is now deeply disconcerting and very uncomfortable, the self-love and self-awareness being more constant with time.

Which got me thinking about all the melodrama and shock value that have been emerging from the pages.  I find myself wanting to edit who I was, because that person’s perceptions were so unbelievably skewed.  I know why she ended up that way, but seeing her play out the things she played out, makes me more than a little nervous.

Not in the specifics, but in the emotional lenses that got her there.  My inclination is to give her an eye roll and hit her upside the head, which was precisely the problem, because all she ever wanted from me was a gentle hug and some understanding.

So I have been questioning the issue of transparency, and if all this “truth” is really necessary in my writing.

The issue, of course, is one of courage, not the narrator’s story.  I knew when I began seriously thinking about this memoir that I would use a nom de plume, not because of shame, but because I wanted to create a safety zone.  I am crafting from memory a character, and though her story’s emotional contours and extensive experiences are framed from my history, I barely recognize her as “me.”

Two anecdotes come to mind while I buckle up and address my reservations about self-revelation, as the girl that I once was emerges from the pages.  During my recent writer’s conference, a poet who has recently published a brutally honest memoir stated, “the more specific, the more universal.”  That bit of advice sticks to my skin like something resembling “truth,” a principle irrevocable and inalienable.  Be specific, don’t elide the details to make the story palpable.  Yes, I will be choosing which details to include, to craft a cohesive story, but I must not omit details simply because I don’t like what I see.  Or worse, try to capture her in a way that makes sense, because my choices were chaotic.  At times, there’s no making sense of that person, because there’s no making sense of a soul driven but lost.  Or creative.   Or both.   That’s part of the story.  The good stuff is the stuff that makes me wince, because that’s where something like beauty or transformation or redemption emerge.   And that’s the universal, the material that binds us together.

In Buddhism, “the lotus of enlightenment blooms from the substance of the world.”  The pond in which the lotus blooms is usually the nastiest mire of gunk.  It’s not the fresh water pool of crystalline blue water in which the lotus takes root.  No, it’s all mucky, stagnant, and repugnant.  The lotus takes root in the mire, and that’s why its a symbol for the awakened soul, the one whose roots have gone down into the world, while blooming above it’s waters.

In Christian theology, it’s called “grace,” and understood in more stark terms: the more sin increases, the more grace increases.  I prefer to side with Jesus (“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”) and the Buddhists on sin, rather than Paul.  I think of sin as ignorance, not an abstruse theological truth requiring violence for atonement.  At-one-ment: a recycled label of belief won’t get you there, a shift in consciousness gets you close.

Which brings me to my second anecdote.  I once knew a man who wrote a memoir.  Because he was married and had children, he omitted the experiences that would have created a compelling and powerful story.  He left out all the extra-curricular sex, the buying of it, the affairs, the phone sex, the experiences that men and women need to hear, from a man’s perspective.  He omitted much of what made him human, much of his-story.  I understand why he left these details out, in deference to his family.  But while his sentences were clean and elegant, the story felt disingenuous.  Something was missing.  Actually, a lot was missing.  “The more specific, the more universal.”  The specifics didn’t just fall to the ground, they were ignored.  Yet it was all there, waiting to be told, the roots of his craft begging to take root in his life experiences.

As memoirists, we certainly have no truth telling us how to write, or what we must include.  Life may at times constrain many narrative decisions.  I choose  to write a memoir that doesn’t ignore the muddy waters, to shape my story as it comes to me, no matter how much I dislike looking at who that girl was, because I am a writer.  As memoirists, we don’t just shape stories, we shape ourselves, and our history.  I’m writing my story, and in so doing, owning my life, while creating something that I’d like to call art.  In a story’s specificity, we raise ourselves beyond our personal history, and touch those who may choose to pick up our book, read our blog entry, while we go deeper into our own personal truth, which is the only truth that life gives us.

Dani Shapiro once wrote:  “I think it may be time for a literary education about what memoir is, and what it isn’t. Memoir is not autobiography. You did not pick up my 1998 memoir ‘Slow Motion’ because I’m an important, influential or even controversial person. You did not pick it up because I am, say, running for office, or just won an Academy Award, or am on Death Row. No. You picked up my book because –– whether you know it or not –– you wanted to read a good story shaped out of a lived life. You wanted to sink into a narrative that redeems chaos and heartache and pain by crafting it into something that makes sense. You wanted to read a memoir.”

Another friend — a man who taught creative writing, and is a published memoirist — exhorted me at length several years ago about art for art’s sake, when I mentioned the word “redemption” in relation to the craft of memoir writing.  While I value his opinion, I agree with Dani Shapiro.  Life is art, and writing is both life and art.  To arbitrarily create boundaries and insist on something like art only for art’s sake seems to me to smack of another “truth,” as though we’ve got Venn Diagram aesthetics.  “Art and art therefore art” is a valid syllogism; “art and redemption therefore life” is invalid.  Embracing life, art, writing, redemption, and letting go of the labels isn’t just easier, it seems to me closer to the art that humans have enjoyed and shared since we first sat in circles to be entertained: our storytelling ancestors didn’t tell stories in an aesthetic vacuum, they connected us to each other, and the world.  My friend’s position seems to me too dogmatic, too much a construction of the mind, although I admit that I’m probably stretching his meaning a bit to make a point.

In the craft of life, I see no reason not to be artful; in being artful, I see no reason not to redeem my life from its ignorance, while putting metaphorical pen to paper, one day at a time.

I choose to write a narrative that isn’t always pretty, but in owning its muddy waters, I may come closer to a life and craft that serenely float on the world’s waters, while fully rooted in its muck and heartache.

That’s my truth.

 

More Creative Confluence

Last month, after some intense meditation on where next to take the book project, I discovered a conference taking place in Florida.  According to its promoters, the conference not only focuses on refining one’s submission, getting the agent, and getting the contract, but on writing from a personal and meaningful space.  In other words, the conference’s creative premise is that the quality of content is just as important as understanding the work as a product which must be presented and marketed to get an audience.

Several New York Times best selling authors will be there to help us understand the mechanics of both processes, writing and successfully submitting materials — and offering the best they have to give for those of us hammering out a dream.

When I stumbled on this conference, I felt like this was something I should do — a knowing.  I never heard back from the coordinator when I requested information on a scholarship application, and I thought, “well, I guess your gut was wrong.”  Then, two weeks ago, out of the proverbial blue, I received an application for the scholarship — tuition reduced by fifty percent.  It was the last space, and I didn’t have a dime in the bank.  I pressed for the space to be held, and it was reluctantly saved for me.

Through some very fortuitous circumstances — and I do mean, fortuitous, because I lost the scholarship twice, and got it back twice — I procured the scholarship.  “We rarely do this, we’re making an exception for you,” the coordinator wrote me last week.  Welcome to my world, I thought.  Yes, I’m the exception, and the better for it.  I’m the one who shouldn’t be here, but here I am.

I also quickly found cheap digs for staying, not easy in the heart of a Florida convention center city, and a generous friend has used his frequent flyer miles to get me there.

Here’s what’s inspired this entry.  My dear friend called me yesterday to book the reservation, and I was trying to micromanage flight times, squeezing in this and that, insisting that I could only afford to stay three nights, even though I have this feeling that I should stay the day after the conference.  I don’t know why, I just do.  Micromanaging the money and then trying to figure out how I could squeeze in an extra day wasn’t working at all: the bus trip from New Hampshire to Boston, then the flight to Florida leaves small windows for transfers and check-ins.  I got  all wound up in my predictable indecision, frustrated and not really certain how or what to do.  When pushed against the wall, I like to let circumstances dictate, pretending that I am going with the flow, when in reality I just don’t know what I am doing.  It wasn’t happening, circumstances weren’t dictating anything, I needed to make decisions.  My friend gently said to me, “here’s what I recommend,” and he convinced me to stay 5 nights in Florida.  It felt right.  Logically  insane, but it felt right.  “You will make it work,” he confidently said, without any doubt that I will do I need to do to stay for five nights in Florida.  I realized then that doing this trip right meant honoring the investment of myself that I have already made, and the conference deserves a full investment of my courage and wits.  My friend graciously swept away my insecurities, and my limited ideas.

I breathed deep.  It was beautiful and it felt right.

Some gifts are priceless, extending beyond a frequent flyer plane ticket.

With this gesture, his confidence broke new ground for me.  I majorly upped my life game during the course of one conversation.  If this is something that I know I am to do, then why would I worry about the extra bucks and set myself up for unnecessary stress because I thought I had to cram everything into a short time.  I’ve already given away most of what I own, hunkered down in the middle of nowhere without a car, and I’m going to worry about two extra nights in Florida?  His insight was part of the big picture, the thing that’s unfolding.

Yes, I will make it work. It’s not in the budget, although that assumes that I have a budget.  But I will make it work, and it will work.  Because it will.

I can also cross one thing off of my new yearly list:  “Every year, go one place that you have never gone before.”  I can’t say that Florida is a place that I would have wished to go, but I’ve never been.  So I’ve got one goal met, and since it’s early in the year, maybe I can squeeze in a visit to somewhere else that I’ve never been before 2015.

Five nights in the land of hanging chads, following my bliss into yet another leap into the unknown.

Couldn’t be happier knowing that my inner GPS and I are working it out just fine.

Not coincidently, I discovered a mesmerizing TEDTalk this past week, and it was part of the game changer mentality.

“Fake it until you become it” is a holy mantra these days.

Amy Cuddy On TEDTalks.  Twenty minutes worth investing in, if you’ve not seen it.

 

 

Where’s The Sex?

A recent mandala.  It's created with gold, metals, and lots of iridescence.  Peacock inspired.

A recent mandala. It’s created created with gold, metallics, and lots of iridescence, which didn’t translate in the scan. Peacock inspired.

 

This above all, to refuse to be a victim. —  Margaret Atwood

Last week, a client I’ve been speaking with for most of my professional life called.

A scientist in a prestigious institute, Tracy is transgender, in the closet most of the time.  During our first conversation over 15 years ago, my role was cast: I was the go-to girlfriend to help her explore her true self, a person in whom to confide.  Our talks explored ways for Terrance to be Tracy, while married to a heterosexual woman, and working as a successful male in the scientific community.  Tracy’s come into her own these past years, and I think she has embraced her identity as much as one can without surgery.  What I believe Tracy values is that I give her the freedom to be herself, and that I talk with her as a girl  —  which is to say, I talk to her without assuming that she’s playing gender pretend.

I am proud of this aspect of my career as a sex-worker.   I’ve been listening to and encouraging many closeted folks long before this kind of dialogue was in the mainstream.  I’ve dealt with many who didn’t fit into normative boxes.  All I’ve done is listen, and sometimes dole out too much unsolicited advice in the hope that I may be helping.

After Tracy and I spoke this past week, it bothered me to think of Tracy as transgender — a label that would have her live in a limiting psychological prison, as though she is in between one thing and another, a label that obscures her personhood.  It may be true that externally, Tracy’s life has been an evolution from one way of being into another, but in her soul,  Tracy has always been just Tracy.  She’s a devoted father, a husband, a scientist, a writer, a woman with great taste in clothes and shoes, a compassionate and caring human.  She navigates life’s complexities well, and I don’t see her as being “trans” anything.  Tracy is Tracy, a woman experiencing life deeply, as she owns her story and herself more fully.

Over the past few months, I’ve been writing these entries as a human with a wide variety of experiences.  Broader experiences than many, I suspect, which I think is necessary in order to write with some grace and substance.   Several times recently, while thinking about the handful of entries that I’ve offered, I’ve asked myself, “where’s the sex?”  “Where’s all the stuff about sex workers rights, and economics, and equality.”  The memoir that’s coming together that presumably gives people permission to write their own stories, in order to lovingly embrace every day of their lives, and not be victims of other people’s well intentioned if ignorant narratives  —  where’s all that stuff, in these entries?

Well, the sex worker story is only one story, and because I am more than just a sex worker, there are hundreds of stories that I own and live and breathe.  My problem is too many stories, not enough time (and really poor proofreading skills).

The bigger problem seems to be the label.  Society, the socialization game, deems some labels good, some bad.  Good labels:  doctor, teacher, professor, scientist, married with children, etc.  Bad labels:  transgender, homosexual, sex worker.  Although homosexual and transgender are far less onerous these days then “sex worker.”  But all labels do is keep the status quo cozy in its lethargic security blanket, nursing on inertia’s comforting, delusional milk.  None of these labels have to do with our personal depths, or capture the breadth of experience signified by the label, as well as the complexities beyond the label.  I’d also argue that many of the good labels actually perpetuate bad social norms, but probably best not to start down that road.

When Tracy and I spoke, I talked with her about my own coming out over the past couple of years, and expressed my discomfort at stereotyping sex workers as victims.  The label is sympathetic to the work’s many difficulties, and legally necessary within the context of trafficking.  However, it is psychologically problematic in helping people wrestle their lives from the grips of other people’s judgements and sympathies when we identify a person as a “victim,” especially in the context of sex work.

I’m not at all convinced that coming out as a “victim” makes one stronger — come out as a survivor, always.  That’s where to find the power.

The victim label excludes a wealth of experience, strength, insight, character qualities, and the possibilities that an individual brings to their life, and the lives of others.  It reduces a person’s life to a single experience or series of experiences, and reduces the person to a caricature.  A cartoon is a simple line drawing depicting the basic elements of form — yet most of us prefer living three dimensionally, in the world of color, light, and shade.  By slapping on the victim label we render too many too simply, preventing a more cohesive, developed portrait, a life representation that every human has the right to.

The most profound tragedy may well exist in the label.

****

After I moved to Cambridge several lifetimes ago, I visited an elderly Holocaust survivor through Jewish Family and Children’s Services.  To me, Michael was a great teacher, a simple and quiet man, living on the economic margins, with humility and dignity.  Michael had been imprisoned  in both Dachau and Auschwitz, a Polish Jew who lost everything when the Nazi’s ripped his eleven employee linen business away from him, and separated his wife and only son from him.  He never saw them again, never found them after the liberation, they became invisible under history’s weight.

He could have framed his life in the imagery and metaphors of loss and hate.  He did not.  Instead, he found a more meaningful message in his experiences.  Michael told me over my first Jewish Shabbat, that he prepared for us to share:  “the Germans were just people, too.  Just people,  just people . . .” his crooked arthritic index finger gently wagging, his round brown eyes filled with uncommon understanding.    I still see his eyes as he described to me how his ten year old son and wife were taken away, screaming, ripped from him, while he was violently ushered away by the Gestapo in the opposite direction.  The wisdom that Michael gave to me I have never forgotten:  we’re all very small players in the march of history, most of us are trapped in forces larger than we will ever understand, and we’re all just humans.

Michael understood that labels serve little useful purpose, they divide us instead of bringing us together.

And he never once used the label victim in the context of his story: he wrote poetry and prose about his experiences, which he shared, but never in his words, no matter how graphic their images of the camps, did Michael carry bitterness.  I never saw Michael carry himself or refer to himself as a Holocaust “victim.”  Rather, he saw himself as someone with a story to share, that might help others, lead them beyond hate and into understanding a reality beyond all our moral labels: we’re all just people.  Pretty simple.  No Elie Wiesel Nobel accolades, just one man’s story, wrestled from more heartache than most of us will ever experience.  One story at a time, one poem at a time, never with much fanfare, Michael put it out there, “just people.”

Whenever some well intentioned ideologue talks about the “evils of Hitler and the Nazis,” usually in the context of some distracting, moralizing  political discussion, in the heat of demonizing party politics, I often remember Michael, and the gift of his wisdom and friendship.  “The Germans were just people.”  He was such a rare and special soul that I have always considered myself unworthy of his gentle humanity, and treasure his simplicity as one of my life’s great spiritual teachings.

At first I found it odd that Michael came to mind while writing this entry — but it makes sense.  He taught me long ago that those whom it would be easy to demonize are “just people,” part of cultural forces much larger than ourselves.  They, too, have their stories, I learned many moons ago.  “Just people” is the standard I’ve tried to maintain throughout my professional career as a “sex worker,” a label that reduces an extraordinarily complicated profession into an easily digestible two word phrase for mass consumption.  A profession flippantly denigrated in the word “whore,” a term that very few have earned the right to appropriate for use.

“Just people.”  Practiced on my end sometimes better than others, because some of the damage that strolls through a sex worker’s life is not for the faint hearted or self-righteous.  That’s been my lesson in these years of work.

Sex workers are just people.  That sounds like a given, but I think it’s much easier and smarter than worrying about if they are social victims or sexual liberators, which is how such discussions frequently split among social activists: sex workers usually cast either as poor victims or heroic vixens.  But they are just people.  And because they are just people, they have a right to carve out lives and stories like everyone else, without a stigmatizing label that has less to do with their humanity than a fairly slow machine called “the wheels of progress,” a mechanism propelled by the ubiqutious fear of our creative impulse.

Pictures of the Backyard

I’m currently painstakingly piecing together 3 essays for posting, have ideas for about a dozen more in the works, am jotting down story ideas, art journaling, making mandalas, getting the book proposal together, eeking out a marginal income, and I’ve started training, again.  Finally.  It took me almost a year to see that I was living in near perfect circumstances for training, but that’s another essay.

I took a few photos yesterday morning, because it’s really easy to quiet any arguments with one’s doubting, lazy self when the skies are perfectly blue, the hills sing, and the trees dance in quiet unison, and I thought to share that beauty, here.  No one around, rarely even a car.  Quite extraordinary.  Also, I wanted to provide proof that I really do live “in the middle of nowhere,” most of these views less than a half-a-mile from my doorstep.

I set out yesterday morning about seven-thirty or so in the morning.  The temperature was about 2 degrees, but it felt colder.  My eyes watered, the tears freezing by the time they hit my lower cheeks, the mucous in my nose started running like a river down my throat, and when I tried to spit it out, it congealed in the cold, hit my sweater and hair, and froze.  By the time I got home, the cotton handkerchief in my pocket subsequently used for spitting was a mangled, frozen, rock hard trophy of besting myself.

I felt like I had what it takes to be a hard core runner.  Moments like that, in solitude with frozen snotty spit on an old sweater, steamy breath, tight thighs that are resisting any stride, hills that challenge then release then challenge again, the early morning sun, and an open road, make believing easy and natural.

This is my backyard, a gift I’ve been given for I don’t know how long.  I hope you enjoy the views.

The river that's about 250 feet from my doorstep.  Photo taken from the bridge.

The river that’s about 250 feet from my doorstep.

 

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I’ve learned firsthand about the magic of talking trees.

 

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Snow and stillness.

 

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Music in silence.

 

Now here.

Now here.

 

“They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf