Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Friday, September 28, 2012

Letting Go of Fear

Fear is the door getting ready to open for us if we can let go of fear, it will open to something new. Celtic tradition says that fear is the dragon guarding treasure and that we limit our stories by limited beliefs. When we get close to the truth, our course may be altered. On Wednesday nights, I have the choice of a writing group, an Artist's Way group, or a Christian Spirituality group. Which one do I choose? Am I choosing a path that’s outdated and based on a hidden set of needs? This too takes meditative time, God connection, and making sure that Fear is not in control.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Choices About the Journey

I’ve been carrying around some notes from an audio talk by Betsy Muller, who runs workshops and retreats on enery and creativity and will be at Word Lovers in November. The notes begin with “I'm feeling like I’ve been missing the boat again with what I'm focusing on." I then read some encouraging words, "I believe I can find a way. I am willing to let go of who people think I am. I can make a clear path. Energy causes connections and shows how things fit together. Energy grounds us—it is a refining process. Our connection with each other is sacred." My mission is to help others to love themselves more deeply, help them shift into thinking about what they can have from what they can’t. We make choices with careers and family and how we spend our free time. But all the choices we make should help us toward our life's mission. I find that sometimes I just need to close my eyes and wait for the answers to come.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taking Your Reader on a Journey

Writer's Center Stage starts up again this month.  I'm looking forward to Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz in November as I think back to what Anne Lamott had to say when she was here last spring.  Her son says that when she speaks, she starts at A, could go to B, C, D and ends up at R while she's trying to convince the audience she was going there all along.  That's sort of how she writes.  When someone asked how she writes illuminating stuff without affecting the privacy of the people she cares about, she said "you own it. Just change the details." You can't be afraid to write what needs to be said. On plot, she advised, “A confused reader is an antagonistic reader,” which is what her writing coach Mary Moran has always told her. When you write, lay lily pads across pond and invite reader to walk with you. How do you get found when you’re so lost? Take them with you on that journey.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seeking Wisdom

I just finished reading Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge. In the novel, Larry is seeking knowledge, truth, something bigger than himself, and he discovers the Absolute, which is eternal because of its completeness and perfection unrelated to time. It is truth and freedom. God is within or nowhere. He finds a Guru who “taught that we are all greater than we know and that wisdom is the means to freedom. He taught that it is not essential to salvation to retire from the world, but only to renounce the self. He taught that work done with no selfish interest purifies the mind and that duties are opportunities afforded to man to sink his separate self and become one with the universal self.” Although the writer decries worship of God, we hear similar messages in traditional Christianity--we must be selfish and we must serve, and we're part of the One. Larry discovers selflessness, and he finds happiness.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Journaling to Plan My Day

At last Sunday's WOW (Women of Wisdom) meeting, I told everyone how I journaled in the morning about how my day would look--I would work on my novella and memoir, go to yoga, walk in the park with my husband and the dog, pick up Mom and go to WOW, and organize my studio. By the time I'd gotten to WOW, I'd gone through the list and felt good about having a relaxing and productive day. One of the women in the group said that was a bunch of crock--life gets in the way. It does, but it's nice to have some direction, and some days it works out just the way we envision it, sort of a little miracle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time Management

My "to do" list is often impossible to manage, and just thinking about the list can keep me awake at night.  Good thing I have yoga.  It also helps to prioritize.  That starts with goals, as Jim Randel writes in his book The Skinny on Time Management.  He made a number of suggestions to help with time management--have you ever thought about how meditation can be a tool to quiet the noise and clear your head for new ideas? He also suggesting stretching your mind with crossword puzzles because memory is so important to keeping on track. He suggested keeping your goals close at hand and revisiting them frequently; that should help you be on guard for procrastination. The most helpful piece of advice he gave me is to separate tasks on the "To Do" list into Important/Urgent, Important/not Urgent, Urgent/not important, and Not Urgent/Not important.  Do the first two first, and you will have a measure of success towards your goals. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Lost Boys of Sudan

God Grew Tired of Us opens with the author fleeing his Sudanese village which has been attacked by the northern army.  He has no idea where his family is and things he is running away from the fire and killings with his father, but when the air clears, he knows it is a family friend of the Dinka ethnic group to which he belongs. He becomes one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan during the country's second civil war that ended in 2005 and in which over 20,000 boys were displaced or orphaned. The northern forces of the Muslim country sought to subvert the Christian south.  

He walked for days on end without food and in the heat, sometimes with other boys and the men who supervised their safety, sometimes hiding on the tall grasses by the sides of the roads at night. The boys and men who escaped saw much brutality and death, suffered dehydration and exhaustion, and walked thousands of miles over the course of years as they sought asylum. They experienced many physical and emotional setbacks along their way to surrounding African nations where they could stay in refugee camps.

The book was inspirational because of the sheer strength of character it took to survive during that time. The author, John Bul Dau, escaped and eventually ended up in the United States as part of a refugee program for the lost boys whose families were beleived dead.  The heartrending story ends with John becoming reunited with his mother and sister and eventually reconecting with his family in Africa.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gum-Dipped, a Firestone Family

Gum-Dipped, published by University of Akron and written by Joyce Dyer, was a brave book.             The overriding themes were how Firestone , back in the day before Bridgestone, brainwashed people into complete and utter servitude and allegiance to the company.  Where the author lived was a product of the company, built by the company, and she didn’t realize how infectious it was until she started doing research for a book about her father and noticed that the shape of the streets in Firestone Park formed the “F” in Firestone.

Dyer's mother was the daughter of a fierce drunk and one of seven children, and Dyer observes that she tied an apron around her waist when she was ten, and “Maybe she never removed that apron again, as I think about it now.” But her father knew her mother wasn’t a mistake:  “Every day that he looked across our little breakfast table into my mother’s face, I could feel the thing that joined them, as real as the safety bar you pull down on the seat of a carnival ride.” And then Dyer jumps ahead and warns us that there will be betrayals much more extraordinary than a man’s roving eyes.

Harvey Firestone was the family’s hero. Father and daughter sit next to and on his statue. Harbel Manor looked like their house, their house was a much, much smaller version, made from a Sears Roebuck kit, one of the designs approved by Harvey for houses in Firestone Park. Harvey wanted his way of life reflected all around him, that’s how big his ego was. “The light that ushered in my dreams didn’t come from stars but from Firestone.” Firestone eventually closed factories and was bought by Bridgestone. It no longer had the power over its employees that it was had. The company was no longer villified.

Of course her father’s work in the Xylos reclaim factory killed him, all those chemicals gathering in his lungs. I was struck by the scene in which he asked his grandson to clean his genitals, telling him he’d have to do that one day. “My father was showing me what it would take to care for Annabelle Coyne, once he left me alone with her.”  Her father had been taking care of his wife who had Alzheimers.