Hoping publishing will alway make my heart sing!

I just had a new work accepted in an anthology. My heart skipped a beat when I found out. This is my second piece that will be published.

I am a long way from being jaded or bored with people reading my work. I can barely contain my eagerness when I ask family, friends and other writers to give me their feedback.

“Have you read it yet?” I text with the persistence of a child on a long ride who wants to know are we there yet.

I hope two things: that I keep publishing and that I feel a thrill every time. I will write more about the new piece as more information on the anthology becomes available but this has me thinking about the first story I ever published.

In April of 2018, my short story, The Closing, was published by The Esthetic Apostle. It’s a lovely publication featuring poetry, prose, artwork and photography. They were a new publication when I sent them my work.

Cover photo of esthetic apostle magazine.

Last night, I spent some quiet hours surfing around past issue reading poetry and prose and loving the artwork and photographs.

Their archive is worth exploring.

Getting un-lost

The world is reminding me of my life in San Francisco in the 1990s. Along with that has come a longing for the creative life I once led. A time of writing, painting, and drawing.


So I am sprinkling seeds for the future all over the place. I don’t know what will take root or when.


Today I was walking and ran into an acquaintance. She shared that she was a writer and editor. And boom. It hit me. When coincidence presents itself, reach out with vulnerability and gratitude. Life if too short not to welcome the gifts.


So in a very San Francisco-like drizzle, I shared my love of writing and my desire to get back to it, to make connections in the writing world and, most importantly, craft compelling stories that make my heart soar.


If this was a Hollywood film, that little encounter would have kicked off a series of events that ended in a book deal.


Turns out my wonderful neighbor was a retired science and non fiction writer. The gift wasn’t a professional contact, it was the feeling of joy I experienced talking about the process of writing. How I take an issue and create a person who lives in different circumstances and watch them interact with the issue. The way I listen to character the for days while they tell me their story and find their meaning. The passion I have for writing.

It’s good to find my way back home.

A Deeper Gratitude

This morning, I stumbled upon an NPR interview with Brother David Steindl-Rast. I wonder how in all my years, I just found him today. Like many I admire, he has a religious practice but also a spiritual practice. He is a mystic, a philosopher, a psychologist, a scholar and a teacher. He studies, connects and see the value in other religious and spiritual traditions. He practices mindfulness. He had published many books and articles. I read and listen to other teachers in his circle. He has a ted talk! And yet, I just found his teachings today.

Many of his talks focus on gratefulness. Like many, I have been keeping a gratitude journal for years. I have paper journals, notebooks and several apps for my iphone. Sometimes I am dedicated and do daily journaling, sometimes months will go by with nothing. During easy times, gratitude is a brilliant sun warming myself and those around me. During rough times, gratitude has helped me find stars of hopefulness in the wide expanse of challenges.

But what if the stars of hope seem to be light years away? There are times when expressing gratitude at those moments feel false.

I have discovered that those are the moments when I have practiced gratitude in a superficial way. In our most challenging times, a quick look for gratitude may leave us feeling empty because we are looking for a happy moment outside of the pain, disappointment or grief.

But what if we seek to discover gratitude within the challenge? In that case we are looking for something different. We can find authentic gratitude through deep silence. Out of the silence will arise our insight to the opportunities inherent in challenging times.

Mindfulness is one process that will help you clear a contemplative space for deep exploration. In the interview, Steindl-Rast suggested visualizing the problems floating down one by one to the bottom of a lake. Once you gain some distance from the concerns, you clear a space to contemplate. This visualization makes me remember the peace of floating while holding your breath, your eyes and ears in a different world.

Now you wait.

Look for opportunities. Look for surprises. You will be able to touch the pain and still find the gratitude in the opportunities that will arise. This gratitude will feel authentic.

Sometimes the real gratitude will come quickly. Sometimes slowly.

Today we are faced with a devastating pandemic. Some have resources to weather the social isolation well; others do not. Some people have contracted the disease. Some have lost loved ones. Others are experiencing hunger and financial ruin. The pause of our economic engine hurts many. The earth is taking a deep breath.

Everything has been churned up.

The future is uncertain, but we know that we will be changed by the experience. We will have much to mourn from the impact of coronavirus. We can and should reach out to help each other.

We can look for the surprising outcomes and we can be grateful for the opportunities that will surely arise.

Be well.

Click to find more about Brother David Steindal-Rast.

Gratitude and inequality in corona times

Everyday my family talks about the coronavirus.

We are fortunate. We have food and my job is the kind of job that lets me easily work from home. Some people are working in hospitals treating people who are sick. Some people are losing their jobs.

We are fortunate. We have a yard with baseball rebounders and hockey nets. We can walk to fields and play in the sun and stay safe and separate, greeting neighbors from distances more than six feet. Some people are stuck inside more than we are.

We are fortunate. We have the resources to weather this challenge and find little joys every day. A few Instagram worthy meals. A yard needing the satisfying work of spring cleanup. Snowdrops and crocuses pushing their way up reminding us of renewal.

The pain of this crisis falls disproportionately on our most vulnerable citizens. Nationwide hourly workers are losing their jobs and they likely have no cushion.

Single parents have an unimaginable workload as they try to balance parenting, educating their children, paying bills when the outlook is uncertain.

Parents of children with special needs fine their safety net ripped to shreds as providers are no longer able to support them all the while their children have fear and need more.

Elderly and people with significant health issues must self isolate to avoid serous complications and death. They count on all of us to reduce the exposure and transmission.

Last week, our society was reshaped by coronavirus. Planning and preparing for our new reality was time consuming. Anxiety was high. Gratitude was important first step. My gratitude highlighted inequalities that are important to work to address.

This week, I will work on addressing the inequities. There are representatives and senators to call. There are nonprofits to donate to. There are isolated friends to reach out to.

Be well. We can weather this if we keep our hearts connected while our bodies stay separate

Morning path

The paths are familiar. I remember bike rides and jumping in to rescue my son from a fall into two inches of rich chocolate brown mud. His front side perfectly clean and his back perfectly covered like he had been dipped in mud.

I remember catching frogs in the ponds and our squeals.

I remember an enormous pile of pine cones and an industrious squirrel. My amazement couldn’t not translate to my tween son.

Today I walk alone, my teen son sound asleep. I notice weeping branches against the gray sky. Runic messages in the roots telling me my fate if I care to translate. Today I love the texture and mess of wet spotted leaves. No instagram filters here.

A splash of green has me curious. Why so bright just weeks before the first snow. I feel the joy of those green leaves. Externally hopeful.

Did you see it?

Pop!

I look up to see a bright explosion and a falling line. 

I walk toward the sound and talk to neighbors and strangers.

What if someone had been walking? We say.

When will the firefighters arrive?

How frightened the people in the house must be!

Shouldn’t the power shut off automatically?

Wise looks and nods follow.

The air fills with acrid electric smoke. The line rattles and sizzles and squirms, warning humans to keep their distance.

Fire fighters gather. They watch and wait.

Police divert traffic.

Blue, red and yellow lights flicker from their vehicles.

Us bystanders huddle in the cold rain, take photos and ask questions.

The flames grow larger.

The power company comes and goes.

Somewhere a hand trips a circuit. The life force drains from the line.

The work to repair and restore can begin.

The flame that drew us close releases us. We say goodbye and go about our day.

Just a little bit more connected.

Micro-Retreat

Months of stressful multitasking has left my mind and body depleted. It took extraordinary planning to carve out a few precious hours. Could a short break have a notable effect on my spirit?

After a parent teacher meeting, I take the slow way home, a road that winds through woods and fields.  I let my heart lead me, took the some time off from work, took my last look at emails and social media, and disabled most phone alerts.

Why did I have so many alerts set for things that don’t matter? Isn’t there enough urgency in the world without manufacturing more?

After creating some distance from the demands of my life, I head to the ocean, armed with everything I needed: good coffee, sunglasses, a pad of paper and a pen.

I set out on more winding roads. April foliage looks bare but the start of life is all around. You can smell it in the air.

As I turned a corner, the ocean came into the view. The waves were slate with a soft baby blue skimming the surface. A mist rose blurring the boundary between liquid and gas, softening the rocky edge of a pine topped island. Oh to live on a spot of land surrounded  by the beating ocean.

Each turn of my wheel, I feel more and more giddy. I called to myself to keep this real. Is it possible that the ocean means this much to me?

Perhaps it can. Perhaps the code of the waters are embedded in my DNA.

 

On the edge of the beach, I notice a gray haired woman with a white cane. If I lose my sight, I will still come to the ocean. When I open the car door, a rush of cold sea air greets me. I take a deep breath and taste kelp. The woman’s face turns to the sound of my car door closing. I walk up and greet her. Her face radiates with the love of the ocean. She cannot see that mine does as well. I talk about the sounds, and smells and cold air. I want to share my joy in with her in the ways she knows the shore.

I sit on the sand and close my eyes and the sound of the waves become more complex. The sun is warm on my face. The air cold.

Yes. Even without sight I would love this place.

I open my eyes. The churning of the sea makes me feel stable. Blues and greens mixing with white. The rhythm matches my breath. I catch a glimpse of larger waves through the rocks. I want to get closer. I take my shoes off and walk along the beach.

I climb the steps that take me to the tops of the headlands and walk high above the sea. I am reminded of Mendocino though the scale of the Atlantic cliffs are much smaller.

I see a sign and wonder is this a trail marker or a warning.

The sounds of the waves deepen. I walk to the end of the point and sit cautiously on the edge.

I can feel my hour winding down. Slowly, like one rises from a massage, I prepare to rejoin the busy world.

I walk along the path listening to the birds signing in the barren branches.

In the car, I turn back only the most essential alerts.

And I answer my own question. A well planned hour can have a notable effect on my spirit.

via Daily Prompt: Notable

They looked for angels

They looked for glistening silver wings. They looked for radiance. They listened for voices so beautiful their throats would clench.

They overlooked their frowning neighbor who volunteered in the homeless shelter on the weekends.

They looked for the guardians that would give them their heart’s desire. They looked for signs that their lives were charmed. They listened for a wisdom greater than their own.

They overlooked the kind and gentle support they offered to the tantrumming child that gave his mother a few moments to compose.

They looked for majestic and brilliant beings and overlooked angels in their midst.

—–

This morning thinking of what life would be like if we all explored the angelic within ourselves and others.