what’s at our backs?

stencil graffiti: "Et Apres...?"Good morning this good morning. Barack Obama is still our president this morning, isn’t he? They didn’t take that back, did they? Let’s hold him accountable to his commitments once again. We welcome the news this morning, and we move back into our work together.

I’m diving into a ten minute write with this quote:

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday was a day with this body. We stretched and talked to friends about exercises, we let our vulnerability show. Today I’m conscious of how unergonomic my various writing locations are around the apartment, and, too, how much my body is trying to tell me.
I’m not sure I want to listen. But my good body is getting louder with these messages, is getting more tired of being ignored. I noticed, yesterday, how the tension/tightness/pain in my lower back radiates all down my right leg, that stress and tension in response to that pain has filled in my shoulders and tightened my neck.

My friend Lou asked me yesterday if I’d seen Louise Hay’s thoughts about lower back pain — that, depending on where the pain emanates from, it could have to do with fear around money or financial support. (I know, Louise Hay. Bear with me. It’s helping today.)

Fear around money or financial support. That’s relevant right now, isn’t it?

Then he wrote this: “your work is worth believing in, jen. your gifts are valuable.”

and I started to cry. just a little, standing up at the cookbook bookshelf in my living room, typing in a blog post and trying to go on with my day like nothing odd was happening, like it had been hard for me to walk, like I hadn’t literally been stopped in my tracks. I cry again when I look at the words.

Something deep inside is scared. This is about rooting. This is about letting the universe in, letting the universe give me why I deserve; or what; or both.

There is something about how I talk to myself about my work, and I don’t know where those words come from. Who is the one who doesn’t believe? Who is the one crying? Why am I afraid?

The workshops support the writing. The time is now for the writing. Yesterday I did no writing in any of my books, only wrote the blog, because I was breathing into my body. Today I am noticing how I hold my breath, how I hold my body, how I need to pay more attention to this body because she is talking to me. She has information to share with me. She wants me to know all of our truths.

The truth is that I am writing, in my novel, painful scenes right now — I am writing the story of these sisters in the exact instances of their abuse, and in so doing, I’m drawing from my own experience: what I did and didn’t do, did and didn’t say, was forced to do and ostensibly chose to do during my stepfather’s abuse when I was a teenager. I am writing directly out of that history — and history is what lives at my back.

My body wants me to acknowledge what we still hold and carry of those experiences, that history. My body wants me to feel it, breathe into it, move fully into and through it. My head and heart do not want to. I don’t want to hold those experiences in my hands again. I want to channel them right out, onto the page, into the bodies of these other girls. Not me or my sister: these other girls. Some other mother. Some other man. But the psyche doesn’t work that way, or mine doesn’t anymore.

I said, in recent a grant application, that I am dedicated to self-care as a part of sustainable writing/creative practice: I write consistently and hard as a daily practice, and then I take care of my body. But that’s not strictly true yet. I still expect my body to handle it if I ask it to sit with me in my straight backed chair and write at my kitchen table for several hours straight. I don’t take care of my working body when I’m working at home nearly as well as I did when I was working in someone else’s office; there, I understood that they were paying me to do my work in a sustainable manner. Here, I panic — time I take away from the work is money out of my own pocket. How can I take care of my body and still make a living?

Louise Hay encourages affirmations, positive thinking and visualizations. In the blog post I read yesterday, for those of us dealing with lower back pain, she invited us to remind ourselves (however that works best): “Life always supports me.” I write it on a sticky note, which is where everything important lands in my home office, and stick that paper up near my computer where I can see it as I type. I notice where I tighten in response to the words, the rise of denial, the work required to exhale and open into the possibility, the reality, of life not being a trial, but being a place of support and celebration.

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Take that Nietzsche quote as your own prompt today: what comes up for you or your character as you read, “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy”? Begin with any associations or responses that rise for you, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Be easy with your good body, good wisdom, good work today. Thank you for the ways you listen and hold what your body tells you. Thank you for your words.