Category Archives: The Sun Magazine

The Truth

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The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. ~Brenda Ueland

My creative process isn’t tidy, and parts of it are quite painful. I have a longing, followed by an intention, but then there’s resistance to work with, obstacles to work through, a lot of moodling and outright avoidance happens before I even start, as I must eventually.

In the same way I feel stiff some mornings at the beginning of a walk or a yoga class, but eventually warm up, I start to write. At first I move to be moving even though there’s no grace in it and it might be messy and awful and not feel good. I show up and move because I must, there simply is no other option. It is just this way with writing, with making anything with my heart and my hands.

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But eventually there is a shift, a spark, a warming, and I move into a flow, I’m connected and creating. It makes sense, feels good, and there are moments of beauty and grace and truth.

This happened the other day, when I sat down to work on a submission for The Sun Magazine’s Reader’s Write feature. Each month, there is a single word, and reader’s submit a short piece of nonfiction in response, “subjects on which they’re the only authorities.” It’s on my Mondo Beyondo list to be selected for publication in this section someday, so I’m going to start submitting something every month. The word I was working with was “honesty.”

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Nothing came at first. Then I started scribbling, just to be writing something, anything, but it was all total crap, like a freshman composition essay that starts with “Webster’s Dictionary defines honesty as…” or “Since the beginning of mankind, the dawn of time, the birth of civilization, humans have struggled with the concept of honesty.” I let myself go like that, then got a little closer to something real, an acceptable collection of words but nothing special.

Another run, a fresh start using one moment from that collection, extended and connected to something else, something bigger, and it all starts to work, there is a subtle magic there which I hadn’t expected, couldn’t have planned. I had to show up when I didn’t really want to, start without a plan, keep going even though it wasn’t working, stay with it until I had moved towards the light.

There is a lot of trust involved in that. You have to remember every time starts slow and seems hopeless, trust that if you maintain your effort, stay open and in your seat, something will arise, will arrive to meet you there. You have to be willing to practice, to show up for the process with an open heart and allow it to happen, invite and accept whatever wants to come.

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Here’s what I’ll be submitting, Honesty, which ended up being a mix of something old and something new:

The way we were taught to write academic essays in grade school was so painful—consult an encyclopedia or textbook for the facts, make an outline, retell the story using your own words but don’t use “I.” I resisted writing one particular history essay in the 6th grade so completely that I didn’t even start it, which forced me into a lie.

The 6th grade is a particularly awkward and confusing time for girls everywhere. I’d started my period before any of my friends and was hiding it from them through elaborate measures, including an especially desperate shower routine after gym class. I was fairly popular, which isn’t so hard in a small town, a small school where there were less than 10 girls in your class. But I wore long sleeves to hide the tiny warts that had developed on my elbows, and a pair of Sticky Fingers painter style jeans that I put on every day because they were the most fashionable thing I had ever owned. Other kids teased me, called it my “uniform,” said my pants must be so dirty from wearing them so much that they could probably stand up on their own.

The day the history essay was due, I panicked, couldn’t admit I hadn’t done my homework—upset my parents, disappoint my teacher, shame and embarass myself. One of the things I was popular for, praised for was being smart, a good student. So I lied, said I’d finished it but lost it, tried but couldn’t find it. I claimed to have lost it in the classroom somewhere, and my teacher had the whole class help look for it. When we couldn’t find it, he gave me an extension, extra time to finish another essay.

This is the same teacher that told me later in the year, after a few creative writing assignments, “You could be a writer if you wanted to. You could be anything you want to be.” He was sitting in a bright red, child-sized chair, knees pushed up into his chest, leaning towards me with his eyes wide, gesturing his hands wildly at the future he wanted me to be able to see. He believed in my potential and encouraged me to believe also. I was desperate to believe him, to believe such a thing about myself—the girl who sweat too much, cried herself to sleep sometimes, and loved books more than anything. I had trouble internalizing his faith as my own, but I held tight to the memory, turning it over and around in my mind, watching the way the light would catch it. It seemed like the truth.

Something Good

First, I have to share my good news, a big announcement: I am a teaching assistant in the current session of Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen’s Mondo Beyondo ecourse!!! What the what?! Oh yeah, me. It is every kind of awesome and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

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Yep, that’s me, my class bio…holy wow.

As a special gift to you, kind and gentle reader, Andrea is offering a $20 off coupon for A Thousand Shades of Gray readers, just enter the code “newdreams20” when you register. I’d love to see you there, and can’t say enough good things about the class. I was thinking about it yesterday, and realized that it is the place it all started for me: my session of Mondo Beyondo started on 9/12/11 and I published my first blog post 9/16/11.

P.S. This is zero week for the course, but there’s still time and room to register.

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled list of goodness:

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1. Downton Abbey, Season Three, Episode One. You can watch it online at PBS.org, (guess what I’ll be doing later?)

2. Danielle LaPorte TruthBomb: You are the answer to your own question.

3. Also from Danielle Laporte, What’s Holding You Back? and Curatives for judgement. (Please read before you interact with other humans.) And this morning on Facebook, she shared this:

Wisdom from Anita Moorjani: Many of us who have spent years trying to work on improving ourselves often end up being our own worst critics. We judge ourselves harshly if we feel fear or a sense of loss or depression. We feel that “with everything we have read and learned, we should know better by now” and feel as though we have gone backwards in our learning, and can’t figure out where we went wrong. It leaves us wondering what we have missed, or what we have yet to learn to get out of this space. This feeling keeps us in constant search for more information. This is a fallout of the “self-help movement”.

If this is you, I’d like to say that first of all, don’t judge yourself for feeling the way you are feeling. Embrace yourself and who you are and where you are at, right now. Remember, you are the sum total of every moment of your life up to this point in time. Embrace it. Accept it. And when we are able to fully embrace and accept it, including accepting the fear, depression, or sadness we are feeling, it is usually followed by a feeling of relief. There is nothing we need to do. Embrace where you are. If you are still feeling heavy with what you are left with even after accepting it, then surrender who you are to the universe. Realize that there is no “new information” or “understanding” out there that you need to pursue. Just surrender. Empty yourself to the universe, or to the god of your understanding, or whatever, and say “here, take me. This is me now. This is who and how I am right now.” And then there should be this deep feeling of relief.

4. It Doesn’t Matter Why. Resolving to Change Your Eating Before the New Year. from Drop It and Eat.

5. In an interview in The Sun Magazine, Parker J. Palmer says: “When individuals don’t know what to do with their suffering, they do violence to others or themselves — through substance abuse and extreme overwork, for example.”

6. 50 Most WTF Animal Pics Of The Year from BuzzFeed, “Animals are Weird. Real Weird.”

7. There was a Time, from Jennifer Louden.

8. Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? by Robert Wright from The Atlantic.

9. Note from the Universe:

In all things, Jill, always and forever, simply wish the best for all
involved, without stating what you think that is. And then, whatever does happen, no matter what happens, know that it was.

10. Your Daily Rock: Simple Wisdom on Patti Digh’s 37 Days.

11. Begin from Life After Tampons.

12. The Sacred Quiet from Jen Lee.

13. It’s 2013 and Time to LEAP!! from Kute Blackson.

14. Little Things Add Up from Slow Love Life, (by way of Lindsey Mead of A Design So Vast and her More Things I Love Lately list). Lindsey also shared an amazing quote in her post All There Will Ever Be.

15. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, the book trailer:

16. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday:

Your life, with its immensity and fear
…now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
~from Evening, by Rainer Maria Rilke

17. Recipes I want to try (the first two were shared by Patti Digh):

18. The Creativity Interviews: Writer-teacher-entrepreneur Alexandra Franzen on Judy Clement Wall’s website. Two of my favorite women talking about one of my favorite things.

19. This quote from Charlotte Joko Beck:

Every moment in life is absolutely itself. That’s all we have. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don’t pay attention to every little this, we miss the whole thing.

And the contents of this can be anything. This can be straightening our sitting mats, chopping an onion, talking to one we don’t want to talk to. It doesn’t matter what the contents of the moment are; each moment is absolute. That’s all there is, and all there ever will be.

20. An igloo made out of colored ice blocks.

21. Out On a Limb by Seth Godin, in which he says, “It turns out that I don’t just write for you. I also write to remind myself of what I’m hoping to become as well.”

22. This quote from Tara Brach: “You can’t wake up the heart if you’re not in your body.”

23. One Little Word 2013 | The Words from Ali Edwards.