Tag Archives: writing

the writer who doesn’t write

A line stuck out at me from Jenn Shapland’s recent (and excellent) work on the life of Carson McCullers

[He was] a writer who never wrote.

(In regards to Carson’s husband Reeves McCullers)

A writer who never wrote. A writer who never wrote. I would not want to be remembered that way, but I very well could be. I find refuge in language during certain rocky junctures but when the waters are calm I get lulled, I get lazy- as I recall- It’s a little difficult to remember, because recent years have been so challenging. My writing shelved not because of sloth but because I’m trying to keep the goddamn ship afloat.

Notebook scribbles. She was a writer of notebook scribbles.

My son is medically complex. My daughter is dynamic and active. My kids need me but I need this. So I will keep finding ways to arrive to the page, to express and explore and fumble and reach and keep doing whatever it is that we writers do.

the harvest of now

It is a special time of year. The nights lengthen, and the earth gives up her bounty in a brilliant harvest.  Even the moon seems more generous, hanging close to the horizon like low hanging fruit.

Blessings are running thick for me these days. Last week, my writing was featured on FreshlyPressed and since then I have had hundreds of new visitors to my blog.  I am honored and I am humbled by the kind words from so many people around the world.  With a simple click from an editor at wordpress.com, these precious and unsolicited gifts came my way.  Thank you all, for visiting and sharing and encouraging and most of all for reading.  I hope you will continue to do so for many years to come.

A few days after my post went live on FreshlyPressed, a stray cat strolled into my living room, rubbed against my legs and claimed me as her own.  In a breath my household expanded from one cat to two, and I smiled, knowing the world can be full of tremendous, spontaneous joy.  And the following afternoon my father and stepmother arrived at their new home in the desert to stay.  I have family living nearby for the first time in nearly a decade. It is wonderful.  It feels like a wrong has been corrected.

There is a lot in pop culture about happiness- how to seek it, and how to keep it.  To me, it seems to be a blend of luck, suffering, patience and courageous truth-seeking. I had to suffer and lose in order to open my arms wider to all the joys in life. Today, things are simple. My days are quiet and calm and full of beauty in a million small ways, and in some larger ways too.   But to get here I had to speak my truth to my lovers and my friends and my husbands and my parents. I had to disappoint, I had to dismantle, I had to be brave. And I had to be patient, for everything circles around eventually. 

I can say with sincerity that things are good, life is good, and I am happy.


Soupbone, my new baby

books that changed me: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


I have been a voracious reader since the young age where, in a flash of insight, markings on the page suddenly aligned to form words and meaning. I don’t know how old I was- four, five? But it seemed as though overnight a reader was born. One day I couldn’t read, the next day I could. It didn’t feel like a process of learning to read so much as a discovery of a latent ability. Like a baby swimming after being thrown into a pool, it felt natural, reflexive. Once I could read the basics, I graduated almost immediately to my parents books and magazines. I was insatiable; no stack of unread material would hold me for long. Still today I read fast, frantically,  and with an enthusiasm akin to how one devours pizza and beer at a Super Bowl party. But of the thousands of books I have gobbled in my lifetime, there are only a handful that have permanently changed me.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was on a long list of possible choices for my summer reading list prior to the start of my senior year of high school. I don’t recall why I picked this particular book, perhaps pulled in by a terse description as a “treatise on nature.” Or by a chance selection, an adequate supply at the local bookstore. Or maybe the hand of God pushed the paperback into my hands. No matter which scenario holds the best version of the truth, read it I did.

I was a 17-year-old city-dweller. I had no experience with most of the creatures Annie Dillard described with loving poetry – the muskrats, the birds, the plankton. But she illumined the mystery, the struggle to find meaning, and the sacred natural rhythms that surrounded me. She explored the land in her backyard and found traces of a divine I wasn’t sure existed, but it made sense to me without giving me specific answers. She voiced what I had felt intuitively, subconsciously, but hadn’t had the words to speak– that the closest thing to a power I’ll call God, for me, can only be found in growing, green things, and in the mountains and the birds and in blazing sunsets and sparkling stars and peeling birch bark and howling winds and the downbeat of a song. She was hungry to see it all, to understand the mystery. I read her words and found in my heart I was hungry too; I wanted to take everything in as she did: the shimmering lights and the looming shadows. Her words enlightened me to myself while simultaneously pushing me forward, cracking open my worldview and reminding me how little I knew, how much of the world I could discover if I dared.

It has now been nearly 17 years since I first read this book, a second lifetime repeated upon itself. I’m reading Pilgrim again, same copy I had in high school. My fingers trace the yellowed pages, the quotes that I underlined with a neon green pen. I don’t know if I see more clearly now than I did back then.  I don’t know if I fulfilled the dreams that were in my heart, the potential I believed was coursing in my youthful veins.  But here I am, again kneeling at her sacred words with my hand on my heart after carrying this book with me for at least 15 moves, thousands of miles, both literally and figuratively. It has sat on every bookshelf I have owned for 17 years. So while to reread something might pull me away from a new discovery, I believe there is a reason I have carried it with me all this time.  I believe it is time to start again.

six word memoir

Aesthetic Unfolding: Lucky Loss Connection Release

I was recently inspired by posts here and here.  Can you write your memoir using only six words?

Give it a try~ leave your six words in the comment section, and we can get to know each other better.

Aesthetic:in childhood I devoured stacks of books, smiled though harp lessons and filled and notebooks with poetry. These days I don’t have as much time for reading, music or writing, but my soul is stirred by the birds flying through the air, the flowers blooming in the garden.  I move my hips to a great song on the radio, and the perfect written word makes my toes curl. My relationship with beauty and art is lifelong and the source of much joy.

Unfolding: I believe life is a journey, a discovery.  Through the aging process we can come to know our true selves and realize who we are meant to be.

Lucky: I am lucky. In being born where, and when, and to whom, I have known love and respect from my first days on Earth.  Wealthy by global standards, I live in a country of abundance and have never known hunger or serious illness. I was blessed with characteristics that have made success relatively easy for me, and I had parents that supported my education and my dreams. My professional calling happened to coincide with national nursing shortages and, lucky me, I landed my dream job before the age of 30. Really, the list goes on and on, but there is no question that I am unbelievably blessed.

Loss: Despite being lucky, I also have experienced tremendous loss.  Life is about saying goodbye to those that you love the most and what you hold the most dear.  If yours isn’t, just wait, it probably will be someday, if you live long enough.

Connection: I am a nurse, and both in my professional and in my personal life I find great joy in  connecting with other human beings. I love hearing your stories.  It has been a lifelong challenge for me to find and maintain boundaries so I can keep myself healthy and sustain myself in relating with others.I also feel connection and meaning in the natural world, and spending time with nature re-energizes me in a way that is difficult to put into words.

Release: it’s all about letting go, baby.  This one is difficult for me too.

the 100th post

This is my 100th post.  A landmark worth noting, don’t you think?  I started this blog 17 months ago, in the trenches of my mother’s illness.  I barely knew which end was up, but I knew that writing felt good.  So I wrote.

Things have changed a lot in 17 months, which is how long my mom survived after she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Early writings reflected the struggle to find balance during the stresses of caregiving, and the fears of a daughter who also was an oncology nurse.  Who knew too much.  Now, I write to help me navigate through grief.  To help me understand the new world that I inhabit.  The world without my mother.

I’m only now beginning to unravel just how my life is different since her death.  Its a little bit like returning home after many months away in a foreign land.  Nothing has changed: the coffee cup is where it was left in the sink, the shoes lined up just so in the closet. But somehow, everything is new, while simultaneously familiar.  Changed, yet the same.  I’m a different person having gone through my loss, and yet in some ways, I am more me than ever.

This blog has connected me with family that I lost touch with, and old friends of my mom that I have never met. Those that understand what it is to say goodbye, to walk away, to let go.  To smile through the tears.  To see beauty in everything, even heartbreak.  I thank my inspiring and faithful readers, who don’t squeeze their eyes shut when I spill my guts about my dead mother and my bottomless grief.  Who say not “get over it!” but “I understand.”  You have made a difference in my life, and thank you for walking through this with me. I don’t always respond to every thoughtful comment as I should, but know I appreciate your time, your feedback, and your willingness to read my words and take them to heart.

Tomorrow is Mom’s  birthday.  I felt two breaths away from crazy last week, but now I am calm.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  No matter what, I know I can write about it.

Thank you.