Saturday, June 16, 2007

Discipline and Joy


There are two things that I strive to do almost everyday: write and exercise. The inclusion or exclusion of these two activities completely affects my mood and mindset for that day.

The writing spectrum is broad. Anything from writing in my journal, collaging images and words, starting a first draft, or snipping an older piece into a finished draft is considered to be a valid attempt at working with words for that day. My newest journal is a large book-bound sketchbook that holds both journal entries and collages. I absolutely love it because the pages are made of thick acid free paper, and I no longer have to cross reference collage work with my journal entries. Yes, I used to do this to clarify some meaning in case it was not understood in one medium without the other.

Writing is such a lonely thing. Writers know this, and we can choose to embrace it or stop writing. But there are ways to gather forces in this loneliness in between the solitude required for this practice. Recently, my writer’s group extended our lovely fingers and imagination into meeting once a week for sit down writing sessions. We meet at random cafes, talk for about 5-10 minutes then we shut up and write. Sometimes the sound of the pen scratching out plays, and keyboards clicking away at new stories and essays makes me feel like I am going to jump up and start whooping. It is the sound of creation, of honoring what we promised to give ourselves in that moment.

We get so much done that each time we walk away in a daze of wonder and confusion. I ask myself, “How did this happen?” I have a wicked case of ADD and often have a hard time working on one thing for more than half an hour. I think the magic comes from the synergy of being able to sit in the same space to do what we know will sustain us for that day. The sit down sessions are a container, a witness for this type of creative action. It is pure joy.

Starting this blog has helped me not only honor my writing and share it, but it has made me pay attention to my experience and interactions. I listen carefully and see where threads of images, ideas, or sparks will take me.

Erich Fromm wrote in the book, The Art of Loving:

“First of all, the practice of an art requires discipline. I shall never be good at anything if I do not do it in a disciplined way; anything I do only if ‘I am in the mood’ may be nice or an amusing hobby, but I shall never becomes a master in that art… one’s whole life must be devoted to it, or at least related to it.”

“It is essential, however, that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.”

I am trying to do this: to find joy in the practice and discipline instead of getting in my own way or obsessing about the finished product. With this said, I also want to be a master of writing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What a weird world

I was stressed out all morning because I dropped my cell into my dog's water bowl. I had signed up for phone insurance and found out after calling the claims department that Verizon had forgotten to bill me for the insurance. This meant no replacement phone and no access to all my beloved numbers. At least I received a beautiful text message before my phone died from my friend, Jeremy, out in San Francisco. It went something like this "sunshine, biking, friendship, laughter ...everything I did today reminded me of you." This message reminded me that when we feel connected to someone, it is not a one way street. The night before, I was talking about my friend Jeremy and recounting my lovely adventure with him.

After being on the phone with Verizon for one hour, my jaw hurt from all the tension I was holding. But taking my son and his best friend, Ronnie, to Tandoori Grill's lunch buffet made me it all better. They make up songs all the time and love to repeat them loudly. But their newest song involved using the melody to the song, "What a Wonderful World," and creating a song based on what they saw in three stanzas and finishing with the line "what a weird world." So my son was looking at a pedestrian sign and he sang, " I see a sign with people ahead. I don't know what that means. Does it mean hit the people ahead. And I think to myself, what a weird world." This had me laughing and slapping the steering wheel while I drove them to lunch and back home.

My son shows me that every moment is changeable. You can take in the scenery around you and find wonder and laughter in every situation. Tristan and Ronnie play it up in this picture during their graduation ceremony.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Triggering points

I am not sure how I would have survived without my journals. I started journaling to save my life, my sanity at the age of 7. In my assortment of Hello Kitty, Barbie, and Holly Hobby notebooks, I scribbled endless details about my imaginary love life with stars such as Olivia Newton John, Matt Dillon, and Peter Chris ( drummer for Kiss). These same pages held all the vehement words that I was not allowed to speak to my older brother, parents, and teachers. To keep my thoughts private, I would bind my notebooks with five different colored rubber bands and arrange them just so. If the color arrangement was not as I left it after my last entry, it was clear that someone had violated my privacy and heart. This seemed safer than using a stupid little lock that anyone could pry open.

So this blog is named rubberband free because I will be sharing snippets of my reflections and private life with a small but important audience.

This morning I realized the importance of photographs and recorded memories. This seems to be the weekend of loss... my close friend took off to Africa for an indefinite amount of time, my friend Shelly is slowly losing her beautiful dog to old age, and another friend discovered some painful truths that ended a relationship with finality. My parents are obsessed with taking photographs of every moment as if they will be forgotten if not recorded. This would annoy me because I felt that it took away from experiencing the moment itself. But as Shelly shared pictures of her dog throught her 13 some years with her, I realized that these pictures were triggers of many memories that might have been lost without them.

As I biked pass my old hang out spots with my friend Brittany, I started fully accepting how much I will miss her. I have so many wonderful memories with her, but it is the little aspects that will be missed the most like having tea with her at Bookends Cafe, her notes to me at work, after dinner drinks at the Upstairs Kitchen. I am so excited for her journey and know that I will continue to be a part of her life. But I wish I had more pictures to record all those times with her that I had taken for granted as something that would always be there.