Monthly Archives: November 2011

(nablopomo #30) noticing the mist

Good morning good morning — I’m beginning this morning’s write from the BART station. I got to have this morning in Berkeley’s thick mist. Do I have to call it fog? When the sun shine through, I could see the individual drops of atmosphere I was walking into, and I just felt glad, grateful. Grateful for these legs, eyes, the possibility of ambulation — grateful for the thin green moss on all the trees, making them look like paintings of themselves.

I’m thinking more about hands this morning, as I feel the sharp pain now and again as I type this with my thumbs into a tiny machine. I pass communal gardens, feel the dirt, humus, leaf mould, wiggling nightcrawlers around my fingers, imagine the smell, want that possibility, capacity again. I’ve been remembering a time, from Before, when my hands were always active–we played sports, instruments, our parents signed us up for crafts classes; it was important for our hands to know how to do things. In the After, I had silicone, plastic–the computer–and of course, his body. That’s what my hands were good for then.

My therapist asks me how I get my hands back. This, I think, is a good question. How do we get our hands back, get back the parts of our bodies made not ours during extensive trauma or torture? I indicate my notebook, when he asks: this, I say this is how I’ve done it. Writing.

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There’s no service at this BARt station, so I can’t go look and tell you today’s nablopomo prompt. Today’s the last day of November, the last day of NaNoWriMo, the last day of NaWriWhoMo. ūüôā How has the month of all-writing-all-the-time treated you? Do you feel more connected to writing practice? Have you found rhythms or routines that you can bring forward into the rest of the year, clearing ongoing space for your writing, your necessary creative work?

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My hand doesn’t hurt when I’m free writing in the notebook; I’m paying attention to these things. This morning I did the most amazing thing–can I tell you? After writing in the notebook for awhile, I made my breakfast (oatmeal, chopped almonds, chopped apple & plain Greek yogurt, all jumbled together in a hand thrown pottery bowl) and then –wait, this is the amazing part. Are you listening?

I sat down at the table and ate it.

Even though I had to go to the day job today. Even though there’s no time. I ate breakfast at a table, in home-space, rather that in front of a computer screen after I get to work.

It was a little bit of a revelation–and the only reason it happened is that I couldn’t fund the tupperware drawer at the place I’m staying for a couple of days. So my option–revelation–was just to eat the breakfast, right there. And look: everything’s ok. I’m still going to get to work on time. And I didn’t wait for 4 or 5 hours after getting up before I got some food into my belly.

This may seem like a very little thing. It is a very little thing. And consequential, nonetheless.

What small small thing are you or your character about to do to take care of your/themselves a little bit better? That could be a short wrote for today. Or, look, now there’s some service: the nablopomo prompt is What did you learn from doing NaBloPoMo? (or any of the Nov writing challenges)

Gonna go ahead and post this now. Thanks for your gentle ferocity, and always, for your words.

(nablopomo #29) the soul’s wise expression

Sometimes this is what it looks like: night-walks through fogged streets, dinner alone at a quiet Thai restaurant, the hospitality of silence.

I was invited today to return to “The Handless Maiden,” to read again, to find my own meaning or points of connection in the story. So I pulled my copy of Women Who Run With The Wolves from the shelf, and am revisiting. Let me share a piece of Pinkola-Estes with you:

There are times in a woman’s life when she cries and cries and cries, and even though she has the succor and support of her lived ones, still and yet she cries. Something in this crying keeps the predator away, keeps away unhealthy desire or gain that will ruin her. Tears are part of the mending of rips in the psyche where energy has leaked and leaked away. The matter is serious, but the worst does not occur–our light is not stolen–for tears make us conscious. There is no chance to go back to sleep when one is weeping. Whatever sleep comes then is only rest for the physical body.

Sometimes a woman says, “I am sick of crying, I am tired of it, I want it to stop.” But it is her soul that is making tears, and they are her protection. So she must keep on until the time of need is over. Some women marvel at all the water their bodies can produce when they weep. It will not last forever, only till the soul is done with its wise expression.

Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., p 404.

Keep on with your wise work, whatever it is just now.

(nablopomo #28) from the fog

Good morning from the land of fog. I’m writing to you from the ferry, this boat I take to get from home to San Francisco. We’re preparing to push away from the dock (I say we like I have anything to do with it), to shove into the thick fog. The pelicans are a quiet party on the sea wall bodies grey, heads a tufts white, gorgeous orange beaks tucked into their bodies almost like they’re amused or disapproving, but don’t quite want to let you know it.

This morning I spent my writing time with the notebook. It was me, a candle, the strong tea, hand moving fast, trying to push beyond the editor back into those first thoughts.

At the talk I gave at Davis a couple weeks ago, I waxed pretty rhapsodic about this process, about the erotics of letting thoughts flow onto the page, no editing, no crossing out, being all the way in my body, all of a piece: hand, thought, pen, breath. And as I spoke, I realized how infrequently I let myself have this sort of writing time these days–and how much I miss it. As much as I work here on the blog to offer first thoughts, the fact is that I edit myself much more often when I’m writing here, writing for immediate public consumption. That’s ok, in and of itself–what’s not ok is not having any spaces for messy, sticky, surprising freewriting. So this morning got to be that time.

We’re going somewhat faster than I might imagine would be prudent with a visibility of 50 feet.

I’m still thinking about silence today, about the quiet that stuffs itself over and around all the things we taught ourselves how not to say. And I have more poetry for today. Use this as a prompt. Give yourself 10 minutes to write something that doesn’t make sense while you’re writing it.

by Ed Roberson

There is nothing concrete to grasp in
looking into the morning sky

The evidence of red-eye
flights east a plane drawn line presents

is not a wheelbarrow solid enough
dependency as day and night

carry in coming and going
You don’t see the poem

saying anything you can’t see in it
White dashes of contrails’

seemingly unmoving streak towards sunrise
disquiet the pale otherwise

unpunctuated blue of dawn
breaks it off Here is that silence

(nablopomo #27) poem for a Sunday: Equinox

several images of geese, graffitiThis is what I can tell you — it’s been a difficult weekend, full of quiet, a thick kind of quiet. The kind of quiet that shows up around that which has been unspeakable. I don’t, still, know how to get into the words for the story underneath. I don’t even know how to put into words the execution and nuances of the quiet.

I got a massage on Saturday, and I think I’m still moving into and through what she moved around. I’m filled, still, with gratitude for and towards anyone who chooses to do that sort of body work — what a generosity you offer with your hands.

There’ve been good conversations, too, time with friends, good&ridiculous movies, and a little bit of writing time. I’m finding my way back into my notebooks. This is what the process looks like.

I will say I’ve started the xmas cookie list for this year, and that brings some joy.

This is a poem for today, for this time, for this weekend. Find lines in there to act as prompts, as you are so called:


Joy Harjo

I must keep from breaking into the story by force

for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand

and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,

your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity

and from each drop of blood

springs up sons and daughters, trees,

a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north

not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.

Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have

broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand

before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter

of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war

and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.


Joy Harjo

I must keep from breaking into the story by force

for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand

and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,

your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity

and from each drop of blood

springs up sons and daughters, trees,

a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north

not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.

Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have

broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand

before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter

of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war

and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.

(nablopomo #26) just a cauterized wound

A short blog today — I’m still taking some time away from the computer. These are some quiet days that we’re in the middle of, and the writing is happening differently.

This is an old write, from 2005:

The young woman with the ripped jeans at Ashby Station spitting out blood and consternation. F! asks if she need us to call help, a doctor, and she doesn’t speak — just shakes her head. Long vine streams of saliva dripping from her mouth, her legs spread wide¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† feet flat on the ground¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† good angle for a grand pli√©, if she were on her feet and moving and maybe one of the things she’s lost in moving into adolescence is her fine facility with dancing¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† now that the thighs and belly have bulbed out with womanhood. Her hair is a straight flaxen tail at the back of her head and her face is a lovely blotch, so fresh, those cheeks, with a redness that promises acne that hasn’t yet appeared. And between her feet a pool of spit that slowly reddened from blood or food coloring, we don’t know which — it doesn’t really matter, ’cause all she needs is attention, gone so long she can’t even make eye contact. It’d be a long haul back to keeping her spit in her mouth. She’s slapped at home for speaking or someone is or she’s encouraged to do altogether too much with her mouth and for too long. She sits alone, waiting for somebody to give her a chance at waiting for her dreams, too. She’s not even anxious on the outside. Just a cauterized wound.

Keep writing. Take the space you need. Be easy with your hearts — and I’ll practice doing the same.

(nablopomo #24) old fragments

Happy Friday evening — how is this early dark treating you? I’ve been mostly offline today, which is a delight, and makes my hands and neck and back and eyes so happy.

My project for December, which I’ve begun already, is to spend the time needed to go through old notebooks. Right now I’m tackling 2005 and 2006. I took a stack of 12 with me to the cafe this morning. I thought, Well, I’ve got a couple of hours, and, sure, I won’t get through all of these, but I can at least get through a bunch of them. After those two hours, I was just barely through one notebook — these are mostly single-subject, spiral-bound notebooks, of 70 or 100 pages. Oh right — it takes time to read that much.

These notebooks are mostly journaling, not workshop notebooks. It’s like revisiting myself, 6 years ago, re-meeting my obsessions from then, my fears and panics, and what I was doing or attempting in my writing. I took a hilighter with me, sticky notes, and a manila folder.

I’m making some changes after talking with my friend Chris¬† DeLorenzo, of Laguna Writers, about what he does with the writing from his notebooks — he tears out the stuff he wants to work with, and puts the pages in separate folders for each topic or project. Historically, I just mark up the pages, highlight or underline, label a sticky note with general topics or themes, and then I re-pile the now-gone-through notebook with all the rest of my hundreds of notebooks — and never get back to it. Today I tore out the stuff I want to work with, and that felt good — look, they’re not sacred tomes! You can mark up and answer back and even rip out for later use.

I can write later about what the notebooks have meant for me, how they’ve been history and an external memory, how this writing has helped me learn and remember how to remember. But for now, I’m just living into this change, that it’s ok for the sacred space of the notebooks to be different.

Here are a few fragments from the two notebooks I’ve managed to get through — these are lines I might use for new writing, places to begin, prompts:

I make every gate a pantry

How we have to be home in order to make something new

when I wake up late I feel like I’ve missed myself

How you wanted me to be is so much tar paper charisma

We’re more beautiful and then less and the truth is that I don’t know who I am if I’m not sexually engaged

When do you add anything to your life that you’re afraid of losing?

How we unhook from our pasts like we are so many trains, like it was nothing more than some external bolt that held us together

it’s time to fill up with new stories and in the meantime I keep on coming home like I’ll never be different

Something is crowing in me — something is open. I need to shower, decide on clothes, ease into the ache of today

This is the long stepping off of troubles, the star-spangled banner of my lips and thighs

The dusk is gaining old winds up for slaughter

Take back your body from the faces of time

Can you see the faggot dances of your glassine desire?

What we hope for and how long we go without it

A shoulder rub in the time of the rubble

We all have the things we’re willing to whore for

Dont’ you see? It’s a constant flux of semblance and self

The hard body of wrong knowledge

Write an erotic ‘I believe’

It is true that very often I am in love with my own body

I walk around on the flat side of crazy every day

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So, the prompt I’d like to offer today has nothing to do with any of these. Do you have a stack of old notebooks, or a file on your computer filled with journal entries? Give yourself an hour during this coming weekend, and go through that old work. Meet that old you. If you have paper notebooks, or a laptop, consider taking yourself to a cafe, getting a good cup of tea, settling in for a read. Underline the phrases or lines or paragraphs that especially call to you; mark them somehow for later reference. Let yourself meet the unexpected beauty, let yourself discover your obsessions, your curiosities, the questions that keep coming back up. Pull out the stuff you want to work with later.

(However, if you want to write, feel welcome to pull one of those fragments above, or one that you find in your own notebook, as a place to begin!)

Thanks for the space you make for your creativity, for all that you desire and deserve. Thanks, every day, for your words.

(nablopomo #24) the gratitude one

It’s 5:30, and we’re in the midst of preparing a last-minute big meal to take over to a friend’s place — she and her daughter have roast beef and a bunch of sides; we’re bringing chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. Of course we’re running late. So there’s just a bit of time for a blog.

I’ve been reluctant, all day, to get here and be faced with the prospect of the obligatory gratitude post. I have nothing against gratitude posts, per se — it’s the ones on Thanksgiving that leave me a little curdled, sometimes: the way and the why we’re meant to be so grateful on this day, to be public in our gratitude. A national day of thanks for or draped over this history of genocide — this now of genocide.

I shared this poem at the Writing the Flood workshop over the weekend, and again on facebook today. I can’t get enough of it. This is the truth of our complication:

by W. S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

On this day I sit with the cognitive dissonance of horror and desire: I am grateful, and I am despondent. Today we went to the ocean, and I was grateful. I miss my family, and don’t see a way through to them. I mourn the devastation our country has wrought, and continues to impose on other people, on our own people. And I walk into the night grateful for you, for your words, for these words, for our possibility, and how we reach for it, over and over, anyway.

(nablopomo #23) “at the end of it all, she will understand me”

at the base of a large concrete slab, the words: RTS Depeche ModeGood morning. There’s a candle here, casting a small circle of bright onto the dark wood of my desk. Even though it’s late, there are no birds awake yet. I’m not dealing very well with the fact that it’s already the end of the year. But in the dark time, there are lights everywhere — and even though I find it infuriating that there’s already Xmasness all over the place, I do like the lights that folks set up, in their windows and along front porch railings. The practice of casting light into the heavy, long winter nights, that part is old, older than xmas, and so I take a particular joy this time of year in setting this small flame alight.

Here’s the nablopomo prompt for today from BlogHer: Write about a piece of music that changed your life forever. What do you feel when you hear it now? (Guest Post by Alex George, author of A Good American)

I’ve had Depeche Mode running through my head for the better part of this week (and better holds all the possible meanings there) — on Monday, I was listening to 101 again, crashing through the history that that particular cd holds for me, my freshman year in college, the beginning of the worst part of my life, the beginning of my escape.

It was a friend I dated for a little bit in high school who’d first introduced me to Depeche Mode — back in high school, I didn’t know about any band unless it was on the top 40 radio station or my stepfather liked them. How do I get into this story? Just shove in. This was back then, this was in high school, did he bring over a cd or a tape? But we played Violator on my enormous boom box stereo in my bedroom while we fooled around on the squeaky brass bed. This was maybe just after graduation, or near. We were 18, we were leaving Omaha, we were going to get out. He was one of the few male friends I hadn’t dated — my stepfather had run me through all the rest of them. I wasn’t allowed long-term relationships, wasn’t allowed emotional connection. My face gets hot as I type this, my skin goes fuzzy, numbish, with missing, with apology.

What were the songs on Violator? Maybe my friend lent me the cd, and my stepfather heard it and liked it, so we were allowed to get the album for the home library. My stepfather was especially fond of¬† “Enjoy the Silence” — words are very / unnecessary / they can only do harm — and “Policy of Truth,” with these lyrics:

You better learn your lesson well
Hide what you have to hide
And tell what you have to tell

Uh-huh. I actually had him quote to me, during one of our endless psycho-processing ‘talks’ about my choices and unmanageable behavior, “never again / is what you swore / the time before.” I had to work hard to keep from laughing at him.

He wasn’t as fond of the earlier Depeche Mode, though, and so those were mine. During a trip to Kansas City — which was, if I’m remembering right, supposed to be a graduation gift for me but that my sister got to bring her boyfriend to and so my mom and stepfather spent the whole time sort of cooing and worrying over him and my sister — I listened, over and over and over, to a tape I’d made of a couple of cds, probably People are People and Black Celebration. I was plugged in and gone. I can’t hear “Everything Counts” without thinking about that terrible trip: the endless drive through cornfields and wide open night, the new construction of the Kansas City downtown area where we stayed, everything polished and wiped clean, looking like we weren’t a monstrosity come to occupy and desecrate those neat rooms. “The grabbing hands grab all they can / All for themselves – after all — Everything counts in large amounts.” Over and over:

That was exactly who he was, and beneath the press of headphones, I could indict him, right there in his own car, in this room at the Ritz that my mother had to work extra hours to pay for, that they went into more debt for, in front of the young boy he was working so hard to impress.

Later came the rest of the DM discography, all of which brings back, in a flood, my first year in college and my first boyfriend there. Who doesn’t fall in heartbroken love every time they hear “Somebody,” after all?

I’ve got to go get ready for work now. Want to take 15 minutes for a write today? What band or song was a life- or game-changer for you, or for your character?

Always, I’ve got this big gratitude for all the ways you saved yourself. Thanks for the way you hold others in your heart. Thanks for your history, your sentience, your words.

(nablopomo #22) a complicated lucky

chalk graffiti on metal, "good luck" in script(There’s some explicit talk of sexual trauma in this morning’s post ‚ÄĒ just be easy with yourselves as you read, ok? xox, -Jen)

Good morning on this Tuesday– what’s lit for you already at this early hour?

There’s something in my body that’s coming alive, enflamed–I felt like I was glowing as I walked the dark hallway to the kitchen to put the kettle on, like the office was already lit before I put the lighter to the candle.

Today’s nablopomo prompt is this: What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you, and why?

I have a shirt I used to wear to readings, sleeveless and too tight, a thin green, with a fifties-type glamour girl’s face on the front, just above the word lucky. I especially liked to wear it when I was going to be reading about trauma. I thought it interestingly ironic. How could she be lucky? I wanted folks to ask themselves. Isn’t that kind of weird? But I did feel lucky.

Is it any surprise that my first thought was, upon reading today’s prompt, the luckiest thing may have been my mother meeting and marrying my stepfather? Part of my writing practice is to follow first thoughts, especially when they’re confusing or don’t make any sense. So here we go.

Today I want to get into the paradox. How can that be the luckiest thing? This man spent a decade building a small cult out of this little family of one woman and two daughters. He controlled my thoughts, or at least I believed he could. Get honest here. This was a man who took over my adolescence, who came into my life at 10 when I was a girl whose parents had divorced, when I was still devastated about what had happened to my life, when I was just beginning to be regularly sexually harassed at school, when I was beginning to learn new things about my body, when my body was becoming something other than just that steady conveyance — ten years old is small, bright, open, wanting, confused, self-assured, self-doubting. He was meant to be a mentor, a friend, even maybe a father-figure, someone who could be steady when my mother was crumbling, when my father was far away. He was meant to be another adult who could help me figure out the world. He was not meant to be a rapist (or lover, was the word that he liked to use) 0r abuser or analyst.¬† I broke away from him, finally, when I was 21, when I was prepared to die rather than move any further into the life that he was constructing for me, which, I’d come to understand, would include never being free of him, never being free of his assumed access to my body.

This is the luckiest thing that happened to me, this man? But isn’t there that voice inside that says, look at what rose up in you in response to the worst kind of violence? Look at what you know you can survive, surmount. More: look at what you have done with it, with the life you have left, with the life you had demanded of you — I mean, the life and body that he expected to feed on until he died. Look at this force you are, look at how you have done so much more than survive.

There’s nothing in me that is grateful that he lived, that his parents lived, that he was made to exist and that he breathes air in this world, still. I haven’t reached that place of forgiveness yet, and don’t have any especial desire to (except at the moments when I reach for the possibility of forgiving myself, and I can’t see how to do that without also acknowledging the possibility of forgiving him, and then I get stuck in the thick tar of that impossibility, and have to turn away from the whole notion of forgiveness and go take a shower — that’ll have to be another post) — and still, what to do with the sense of gratitude for who I am, who I get to be in this lifetime? A whoness entirely shaped by his actions — and, yes, by my capacity to react and respond and grow through and around and away from them.

Last night’s Write Whole workshop was one of those that left me flattened, devastated by what humans will do to each other, devastated, too, by what we have the capacity to endure and survive. These horrors aren’t the luckiest things that happen to us. (That’s something more than understatement.) But something in us that met those horrors and grew and lived anyway is the luckiest thing. Something in my sister that allows her to entertain the possibility now of marriage. Something in my mother that gives her the capacity still to go out into the garden and plant seeds, trusting that growth will occur, even after the hard winter, even after every unendurable loss. Something in my partner that puts on a tie and walks out into a world that can’t truly hold all his contradictions and beauty. Something in you that is still generous–even toward the thieves–when you have had every important thing stolen. Something in you that gets up, anyway, even when the world is insurmountably broken, that makes coffee or tea, that calls a good friend, that puts the pen to the page, that goes out into the work of your life. That something is our luckiest thing.

Is it lucky to be faced with the worst horror one can imagine, to be faced, actually, with unimaginable, unendurable trauma? Is it lucky to be left alive in the aftermath? What’s lucky is to have one another to reach out for (and to continue to imagine the possibility of that reaching), to have people with the capacity to witness, to listen, to hold your loss with you.

I don’t believe in coincidence or luck. I do believe in serendipity and perseverance. I believe in getting up and opening the notebook and writing anyway, even when there’s no hope in it, even when nothing can get fixed, or when that’s the only overriding feeling. Here’s what I’ve found over these (almost) twenty years of writing practice — things change without my working to make them change.¬† I just sit down and write it, which means I’m getting out of the way of life’s ministrations. So maybe the luckiest thing was having parents who read to me when I was a baby, having parents and then teachers who taught me to hold a pencil and make marks with it on a page.

The luckiest thing is inarticulable — the way that I would give anything to change what happened to me, and more to change what was done to my sister, and how, too, I wouldn’t change anything about who I am today. How do we hold that contradiction? What gives us the capacity to hold mess and cognitive dissonance, to be present with many different storylines and listen to them all? We’re lucky that way, I guess.

Want to write about luck today? You can take it in a completely different direction than I have — please do, in fact, if you’re so drawn.¬† Give yourself 10 minutes. What’s the luckiest thing?

Thank you for all the ways, all the ways, you still breathe — and offer breath, by choice, to others. Thank you for the layers and longings of your words.

(nablopomo #21) listening to the hungers

graffiti by miss tic: a slender woman standing, one hand behind head, head a bit bowed, next to the words: "Nous qui désirons sans faims"

Nous qui désirons sans faims: we who want without hungers

Good morning good morning — just enough time for a blog freewrite before getting ready for work.

This morning’s nablopomo prompt comes again from Ricki Lake: The Business of Being Born is a passion project that has been fulfilling on many levels. Are you pursuing a passion project?

A passion project. This time right here, this half hour at the computer, this getting up before the dawn breaks over the dark horizon, this is a passion project, isn’t it? Isn’t it necessary to have a deep desire in order to bring the bring the body with you into early morning, into the long call of words?

I would say that just these moments of writing are the places of much of my life’s passion right now. Then, of course, there’s the writing workshops. Those have been a labor of love for the last nine years, the opportunity to be with folks writing gorgeous and difficult story.

Every bit of writing is a passion play, work we do because we adore the moment when words hit the page, when the idea floats through the brain and we can press it down through our fingers into some semblance of living — no one tells us that this is what we have to do. We feel it in our bones, and so we sit down here and find room in our too-busy lives for this practice.

I’m thinking, though, about passion and hunger. What are you passionate about? What are you hungry for?

During the last several months, I’ve been exceptionally good at eating t00 much, too often, so that I’m overly full, so that my throat feels clogged, so that I can’t feel the places in me that are hungry for something entirely other than food (especially other than the terrible food I use for binges — I happen to be prone to safeway white cake and big bags of popcorn): hungry for writing time, hungry to publish, hungry to grow the work that I’m doing with writing ourselves whole, hungry for connection and intimacy (the scariest one), hungry for body work, hungry for embodiment. So much easier to eat than to truly feed my deepest hungers, than to sit with the vulnerability that they require of me, than to open my mouth and armor and let in the change that feeding these longings would bring about.

Well, easier in the sense of familiar and comfortable. Not easier in the sense of ongoing psychic pain. I’ve found, over the course of this life, that it’s possible to stuff and drink down and tv these hungers — the ones that press primarily at the inside of my throat, just below my collar bone, the one that live inside my chest between throat and heartbeat — for only so long. The stuffing (the eating bad food, watching bad tv, reading a book I’ve read a million times, drinking too much red wine) doesn’t make these longings go away — and goodness, don’t I imagine, every time, that my life will be easier if I can make them go away? I don’t know how many times I’ll have to learn this lesson: the hungers remain.¬† Old coping mechanisms won’t feed them. Listening and offering time and space, that’s what feeds these passions, that’s what eases up the lump in my throat, that’s what allows me to breathe again, to bring my life back to a (new) kind of balance.

Why so much fear? Of course, living into dreams means allowing change to come into my life, means moving out of my comfort zone — means living fully with discomfort, actually: all those voices that want to stop my growth go crazy when I’m stepping toward something I’ve longed for: the who do you think you are voices, the how are you going to make a living voices, the old ones that smell like my stepfather, the newer ones that smell like my dad, the ones that sound like teachers who just want you to make a rational decision.¬† But these places of longing and hunger aren’t rational. Embodiment, even, isn’t rational — it’s a completely different process, engaged to and with mind but beyond it, as well, beyond logic and 1+1=2.

I’m talking about 1+1=bird: that’s passion.

What’s so scary about following our dreams? What if we reach and can’t get there? What if we try and fail? Yes, that’s part of the terror. What if we reach and make it? Then what? What happens if we have to go on reaching for our dreams, have to go on being accountable for our lives? Whew. Talk about a sea change.

A prompt for today (I’m going to do this one on my commute in to the day job) might involve making a list of the experiences/dreams/goals you (or your character) are hungry for — what are the passions you’re living with, especially the ones you’re ignoring or running from. This list is just for you. Draw it in sand, if you’re afraid of someone else finding it. Type it up on the screen and then erase the words — but let yourself see that list. Then choose one of those items and write — what would it be like if you fed that desire, if you let yourself live into that dream? As much as possible, try not to focus on what you’re afraid of, but what’s possible — still, follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go. 10 minutes today — give yourself 10 minutes for your dreams.

Thanks for the joy and passion that you nurture within others, and that you allow to flourish within yourself. Thanks for your exquisite creativity, in all its manifestations, and thanks for your words.