Reflections

Once June hits around here, we have a birthday/anniversary/special occasion at least monthly for several months, which is pretty cool. 🙂 My birthday is coming up next month, and I have been thinking about the emotional growth spurt that I experienced recently. One morning this week, before I got out of bed, I had a phrase from one of the birthday songs the children of our church sing to one another by Barbara McConochie: “one year older and wiser, too.”

Though wisdom might have evaded me as a child, I have considered moments from this summer which have brought me insight and strength. I have been taught in ways that I would not have imagined possible on subjects as diverse as faith or screenwriting, as connected as family is to friends. I have experienced moments of ease as well as moments of pain, moments of heartache and moments of triumph. Each day, I have been sustained by those around me and a power beyond my own.

What have I learned?

  • I am stronger, more capable, more powerful than I knew before this moment.
  • My family has the capacity to strengthen, bless, and uplift.
  • I have a voice to sing.
  • Life is filled with blessings, even as we struggle.
  • Struggling helps us (if we let it).
  • Life is good.
  • Gratitude each day is crucial.
  • I can be happy, no matter what goes on around me.
  • Prayer changes situations, hearts, minds.
  • As we work together to support each other, we’ve got this.

Till next time. xoxo

I Found It

I only had to write 200 posts…and travel this journey of self-reflection and facing fear and coming to know and like myself to do it.

If I’d known the process would be so simple and so freeing, I would’ve started years ago.

In the midst of a world clamoring for attention, with everyone shouting here and there, I lived in more of a state of absorption, uncomfortable putting myself out there.

I used to be okay with who I was. Now and then, I get a glimpse of that girl–poised and powerful. She existed in a world all her own, able to make up the stories as she went, experiencing every dewdrop of life.

She-existed-in-a-world

Then, something happened. Several things, actually.

Instead of letting them go, I internalized the trauma. I let the words of others drown me. I gave up my power. I became a mirror of the words and actions of others. My words became silent, poured only into volumes and volumes of journals and diaries–my personal sanity. Some days, I couldn’t even share myself within the confines of those pages for the fear that someone may someday discover me.

But, at some point, I decided to follow Kelly Clarkson’s advice belting through my earbuds when I ran around mountains and hills for the second time in my adult life. “Out of the darkness and into the sun….

I began a blog. It wasn’t my first, but it was my own. I participated in NaNoWriMo for two years. I did hard things. I faced my fears. I climbed higher and sailed longer and swam deeper and prayed harder than I ever have. And I started singing again.

The need for silence was so heavy at times, pressing upon me. Other times, I wanted to scream from the rooftops (& I tend to have height issues). People around me fought against changes. I even yelled for about a week, needing to get words out of my body and into the warming air. (I have since stopped yelling, thankfully.)

But, I found it. I hope it’s here to stay.

I’m writing consistently.

I’m singing daily. I even auditioned for a solo (& got it)!

I’m happy.

I have found my voice.
Out-of-the-darkness-and

The Piano Lesson

A small house adjacent to the campus music building housed a baby-grand piano and a salt-and-pepper-greying, bright and cheerful piano teacher.  I knocked timidly on the door, waiting for someone to open, holler, or invite.  (Maybe what I was really looking for was a sign.)   A few moments passed, and I repeated the knock, a little harder, mimicking the pounding of a nervous heart in my chest.

I had grown up around instruments.  I received my first 3/4 size violin at the tender age of eight, with accompanying private lessons.  I knew how to tell a half-rest from a quarter, a whole note from a sixteenth, and how to count in time with the measure.  But the only person who taught me piano–ever–was my father (in what little “spare” time he had between building a demanding business and community, family, and religious activities).  I had even taken a half-hour or hour voice lesson during each semester in college.  But no piano.

Still, I promised my mother I would take at least one semester of piano.  And, graduation was right around the corner.

My heart took another leap as a daisy-yellow VW Bug (vintage) pulled into the small driveway and under the carport adjacent to the little house.

The piano teacher bounced out, pulled reading glasses from a chain off her chest, and asked, “Are you my 3:30?”

“Yes.”  The word squeaked out like a babbling child.

“Well, let’s have in, then.”  She chuckled at her self-made rhyme, and I followed her to the front step where she unlocked the studio and ushered me inside the brick-red door and toward the piano bench.

“Did you bring something to play for me?”

I only nodded and pulled an old, green hymn book, the one I pulled off its usual place atop my piano earlier that morning.  I turned to a familiar hymn, one I had practiced many an hour just to say I could play a hymn.  I rested my fingers (and untrimmed fingernails) atop the black and white pallet, ready to paint some music for a woman I barely knew.

Painting–now that’s something I knew how to do.  I was even getting a minor in art.  But I didn’t have a brush or smock or canvas to speak of here.

I got through one verse, only making minor mistakes.  As I lifted my hands from the keys, she pulled her reading glasses to the end of her nose so she could look me in the eye over the lenses.  She paused and then offered, “Good.  But you’re making this really difficult on yourself.  You don’t have to shift your fingers so much.  Just find a fingering that works, and shift less.”

Okay.  But how?

She pulled the hymn book toward her and thumbed through until she found, “Be Still, My Soul.”

“Let’s try this,” she offered.

“I can’t play this.”

“Sure you can.  Try.”

I placed my fingers on the opening notes with my best, brave-girl effort.  It was still a sad attempt.

“Okay, try this way,” she said as she offered new fingerings and let me know when to lift and press on the pedal.

She continued to coach me through the notes until our half-hour lesson finished, with her committing me to cut my nails and practice, practice, practice.

I promised.

I leaned into the door to exit, waved a goodbye, and saw what must have been her 4:00 approaching.


photo credit

I felt the exuberance of accomplishment, of learning something new, of honing skills that had been lying deep inside myself for years, untapped, untouched.

And, I was excited for next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Same studio, new lesson.

The Product of NaNoWriMo 2012

As promised, I am recording for posterity (and my lovely blog readers) the lessons I have learned over the past weeks since I made a spontaneous decision to enter NaNoWriMo 2012.  (I was serious blogging about whether or not to do it…having done no outlining or anything…and just did it on a whim thanks to the encouragement of a few lovely voices!…& I thank you sincerely Marissa and Darcy!)  Here we go, in no particular order…:

  • Prayer works.  (Not that I didn’t know this prior to Nov. 1, 2012; it was just reaffirmed to me….)
  • Productivity produces energy.
  • Support from those you love is vital for success!
  • Goals can be accomplished…(and a lot more, too!).
  • I CAN WRITE!!!!!
  • Being purely creative is energizing.
  • My family, friends (& I) love me!
  • Even with road blocks (scheduling, sickness, holidays, etc.)~keep moving forward….! (See Meet the Robinsons for more info on this topic.)
  • God is aware of me and loves me!
  • I HAVE A VOICE (and an important one, at that)!
  • I can cultivate creativity…and a writing mood.
  • Breaks are important.  (I took every Sunday off…and a few other Thursdays sprinkled in the month, as well.)
  • When all else fails, have a dance party with the kiddos (…or with friends…or by yourself…)!
  • Have munchies around always.  (I had a Swiss Cake Roll emergency…luckily for me, I did have some left-over Double Stuf Oreos which satisfied the chocolate/creamy craving.)  🙂
  • Buy back your kids’ Halloween candy and use it for NaNoWriMo snacks…and to last until NaNoWriMo is over and you start making Christmas candy.
  • Spotify created great mood music when I needed it…and was a great resource for the karaoke scene I wrote.
  • You can always edit later.

In the past few days, I have listened to some of the songs on Alicia Keys’ new album–and the chorus and several lines of this song resonate with me.  I do feel like a “Brand New Me.”

The only time I recently felt this kind of growth and accomplishment is when I worked and trained for (& completed) a half-marathon with a dear friend of mine…something about measurable success.  Hopefully, though, I will write more novels than the number of races I’ve run…! 🙂

Hugs!

Do You NaNoWriMo?

As November’s end is fast approaching, I am behind a bit on my word count (last week brought to our home some illness as well as the holiday that many of you also celebrated).  As of this moment, word count weighs in at 42,644, which, on my word processing program, equates to 153 pages.  Over dinner a week or so ago with some friends, he joked, “Why don’t you just go back to school and use it as a dissertation?”  Some day….

By the end of yesterday, the magic number according to 1,667 words per day would be 43,342…and at the close of today, the goal is 45,009.  Since I had several 800 (maybe) word days during the holidays, and I know I can pull a 4,000 word day (I have already once this month), I’m feeling the energy (even though I’m still below goal) of the magnitude of finishing this amazing feat.  I’m compiling a list of lessons learned this month, which I hope to post at the conclusion of November.

And, I’m wondering how I am going to celebrate….

And I want to give you a shout-out to keep writing!  Your words have a powerful effect on your soul and the lives of others…even if you think you are writing in a private journal or blogging in your own little corner of cyberspace or publishing books–YOUR WORDS ARE IMPORTANT.  Continue to develop your voice and use it–and share it with the world.  You have value beyond measure.  Feel that power and write with it!

Here is one of my favorite “raise your voice” songs:

Strip Me – Natasha Bedingfield