March 15, 2008

Fierce--Yeah, I Like That Word--and Eckhart Tolle, You Rock Posted by Leann Sweeney Hello, people. Hello, hello, hello! I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to be writing this blog again. The months of February and March are a little fuzzy and I do not want to dwell on the doors I have passed through to get here--here being this comfy spot on my sofa pecking out my thoughts. To summarize, I got sick (gall bladder), had surgery, had heart complications, and then severe dehydration. The recovery has been a challenge, but like Christian from Project Runway, I have learned just what "fierce" means. I am a fighter--creative types have to be fierce. Tough fight, this sickness? You betcha. And my daughter at some point even asked me if I was afraid of dying. I told her I was much more afraid of not living. Can you spell epiphany? While I was in the hospital, I watched plenty of TV to distract me. Believe me, I needed this. See, I was having hallucinations. My medical background helped because I knew those creatures I was seeing and feeling were a result of a very screwed up metabolism, that I wasn't going crazy. Really amusing in a way, because most of the hallucinations involved cats. Guess I needed reminding that I still have a book to finish--the first book in my new cats series. If you're going to have hallucinations, I highly recommend cats. They do funny stuff! Anyway, while glued to the TV, I saw that Oprah was pushing her new audience read, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. I decided this might be something worth checking out, that I could gain some insights. And I did. Not in an "ah-ha" way. Much of what he says about ego, I understood and already believed to an extent. Reminded me very much of what the early philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates had to say. But his words on illness really helped. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have Lyme disease. But I realized during those sleepless nights in the hospital that I had come to define myself as a walking illness. The other things I am--writer, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, sister and creative spirit--came after "Lyme" on my list.Yes, Tolle's definition of ego (which to him is pathological) was taking me over. Not a good thing. Letting go of this self-hating label felt wonderful. As Tolle says, "When you are ill, your energy level is quite low, and the intelligence of the organism may take over ...for the healing of the body...." I let this happen. I put aside my obsession with working despite feeling immensely fatigued. I rested, am resting, will rest. Even grammar offers me insights these days! I also have a renewed and fierce interest in food. I've always loved to cook and bake, but have not done much of this in the last several years, not unless my kids come or we visit them. I think this was because I was still mourning the loss of the best job I ever had--being a mom. But I learned after my GI tract calmed and I began eating again, that everything tasted amazing. Even hospital food. Honest. I am so fortunate that I can buy fresh produce, organic meats, whole grains. And pizza, my all time favorite food! I appreciate my place in the world in a brand new way. Simple joys, big rewards. And I am still a mom, just with a different role. I no longer see myself as "sick." This whole experience is passing through me, changing me because I allow this and welcome it. I used to have daily migraines. They are gone. I was on a strong anti-depressant. Don't need it. A few tears are welcome, not a sign that the day is lost. I let sadness or fear pass through me. Then I move on. I feel calm and happy. I am no longer afraid of not living. I have a life to-do list now. It's all good and I am fierce about pursuing my dreams again. Like when I sent out that first gawd-awful short story sixteen years hoping to get published and began this writer's journey. Fierce. That's me. I do love that word.
I'M SO PROUD! Posted by Sheila Connolly Well, now I'm a Published Author, with glowing reviews, adoring fans, and wealth rolling in...not. (More like, two nice reviews, a couple of fan emails, and I ain't gonna see any money for a while.) But at least Through a Glass, Deadly is on the shelves in most of the bookstores which I've visited and even face out, and the book has clawed its way up to the low five digits on Amazon's rankings (whoopee!). Anyway, that's not what I wanted to post about this week. I want to talk about my daughter. The writer. (Who shall remain nameless herein, because whatever I say will no doubt embarrass her.) Since my husband and I are both readers and collect books compulsively, we've been reading to her since before she was born, or at least talking to her, in utero. Of course we both read to her from Day One, for quite a few years, moving from Good Night, Moon through Shel Silverstein to the Chronicles of Narnia before the tradition finally dwindled away (probably when she started staying up later than we did). So it was somewhat surprising to me that she wasn't much of a reader. Most of the writers I know have been devouring books since they learned to read, hiding out from mothers who wanted them to go out and get some fresh air and exercise, or reading under the covers by flashlight after lights-out. Most of us read anything–cereal boxes, instruction manuals (I once went through the entire Boy Scout Manual for 1933 because someone had left it in a bathroom–fascinating section on how to make bandages), fluffy magazines at the gym. Anything with the printed word on it. But not my daughter. The gene for becoming completely absorbed in a book wasn't included in her DNA. Therefore I was quite surprised when she went to college and somehow ended up a comparative literature major. Say what? You have to read for that, you know. And she did. One thing we do seem to share is the ability to spin out coherent and intelligent-sounding prose based on a small core of actual information. It might be less surprising that she also became a poet: she prefers to utilize a bare minimum of words, but to make each one count. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, "Poetry: the best words in the best order." (If you want to impress people, quote other people, who probably said what you want to say but a lot better. Got me through college and graduate school.) All this is leading up to the fact that this week my daughter was notified that she had won second place in a prestigious writing competition held by a Big Name Magazine, for a non-fiction essay she wrote in college–about attending a romance writers conference. They may even publish it, and they're definitely sending her a check. My first response? "That's my baby!" (In case you're wondering, she let me read the essay after she wrote it, but I didn't have any part in shaping or editing it–this is all hers.) Was I jealous? No, not at all. I felt validated. Because I like to think that my daughter and I share a particular (dare I say hereditary?) sensibility about words, turns of phrase, apt metaphors and the ilk. We "get" the same jokes, although we don't always agree on the "best" writers. So of course observing her ability with words, now confirmed by a highly competitive external source, makes me think about what shapes a writer. Maybe the written word is only a part of it, and we need to give more credit to hearing the flow of words around us. My daughter grew up surrounded by words, and it looks like she was listening after all. I'm so proud!

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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