Sunday, March 27, 2011

SOUL SEEDS



“If you’re still hanging onto a dead dream of yesterday, laying flowers on its grave by the hour, you cannot be planting the seeds for a new dream to grow today” ~ Joyce Chapman

Normally during the week I am inspired by something—a thought, a quote, a remark by someone. But Monday morning came and still nothing came to me.

I took a walk. Nothing.

Therefore, I decided this week there simply wouldn’t be an inspire message to send. I never want my messages forced or false and I never want to waste my reader’s time.

So I went outside, sat on the steps of my deck and stared at the dead morning glory vine entwined on the railing. That is about as lifelike as my thoughts seemed. Then my gaze fell to a tiny seedpod.

That’s when it hit me. Inside that dried up pod was life.

I broke it open and five black seeds fell into my hand. They looked dead too. However, in the right environment—moist soil and warm sun— a green vine would emerge and soon be covered in glorious flowers.

Sometimes we feel dried up, useless, and in a sense, dead. But inside us are seeds of experience, ideas, wisdom, and creativity. We just need to put them in the right environment.

What does the right environment look like? It may involve extra training, an investment of some kind, education, learning a new hobby, writing, taking time for yourself, therapy, a change of some sort.

Of course, for all of us it also means getting in a better frame of mind and realizing that we all have worth.

This week, focus on the seeds in your soul and give them a chance to live. Even if you feel you only have one itsy bitsy seed, plant it! One Morning Glory seed reproduces hundreds of seeds.

And so it will be with you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

WOVEN TOGETHER IN THE FABRIC OF LIFE



~ Native American Proverb

Last Saturday I spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Writers conference on the creative nonfiction writing style. In one part of my PowerPoint presentation I flash a word on the screen and ask for a volunteer to share a memory that word sparked and to use at least one of the 5 senses in describing it. After the first volunteer shares, I ask the group if this person’s story brought to mind something from their past. Then I have a second volunteer share with us.  Time permitting, I continue this chain of memory sharing. I do this to demonstrate how we as writers can embellish our stories in our readers’ minds, which is important when we are constrained by a limited word count.

While listening to my volunteers last Saturday it occurred to me how their experiences connected them. Two strangers finding common ground. In a sense, their stories wove them together.

My daughter-in-love, Bea, is a fantastic knitter. She wore a sweater yesterday she had knitted and it blew my mind. I thought she’d purchased it at Neiman’s or some high-end specialty shop.  Her beautiful design, intricate and complicated, was a work of art. Each thread complimented and enhanced the other.

Why can’t we be like that?

How I wish we could focus on the beauty of our common interests woven together rather than on a snagged thread that will inevitably mar the pattern—if we let it. So what if a person doesn’t have the same political opinion as I do? So what if a person celebrates a different holiday from me? I don’t have to focus on the snags, but on how we are the same—love of family, the need to laugh, sharing our story, learning from each other.

True, there are some extremists who are a tangled mess, but the majority of us want the same thing, to provide a peaceful, nurturing place for our families, friends and those in need. Think about it, anytime tragedy happens here in the USA or in another part of the world, the first thought most of us have is “what can I do to help?”  It doesn’t matter what political party they belong to, the god they worship or what their government espouses. We just want to help our fellow man.

Life has a way of reminding us that we are knit together in the fabric of humanity, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately there will always be those who point out our differences in an effort to sensationalize their issue. But we can choose to focus on the common thread we have with others. I love this anonymous quote: “Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique”.

This week let us appreciate the burlap and gold threads in others.




Monday, March 14, 2011

SAVORING SIMPLICITY



“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”~  Hans Hofmann

Every now and then I have to clean out the clutter in my life. It piles up before I know it! My email is packed with advertisement notices from clothing stores, my “to-do” list is full of unnecessary trips to town, my garden and yard call me when I should be writing, my writing calls me when I’m working in my garden and yard. The 2011 and 2012 huge writers’ conferences are clearing their throats in a polite but irritating way to emphasis the importance of concentrating on them. Of course the house is begging me to clean it, and the refrigerator and stove remind me I should have started supper already.

Do I sound crazy? Well, I should, because sometimes I let life drive me to that point. The answer? Simplify! How? The process of elimination and organization.

First, I clean out the clutter. Well, I get some help from my daughter Olivia. She’s the queen of “just toss it out.” I tend to hang on to things because I may need them in about ten years or so.

Second, I make lists of all the things that demand my time, then ask myself questions like, “do I really need to make that trip to town every day?” No. I could make all my appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Another question, “Is this activity really important? If not I start canceling and bowing out.

Third, for all the things that do matter, I prioritize them in order of importance. Then I dedicate a portion of my week to these things. That way “the voices” are not shaming me for doing one thing and not the other.

Do this every six months or so and you’ll be surprised at what you will accomplish, not to mention enjoying the peace that only simplicity can give

Monday, March 07, 2011

PLANTING DREAMS



“Mighty things from small beginnings grow.”~  John Dryden


Last week I planted my tomato seeds, gave them a good drink of water, and put them to bed on the heated floor in my bathroom. In six days they stuck their thread-like stems above the soil and opened two itsy-bitsy, miniscule, leaves.

From such a tiny beginning, it is hard to believe that plants taller than me bearing fruit larger than my fist will come from these green hairs. But I’ve learned to not despise small beginnings. Not just those in my garden, but also in my life.

I tend to my little veggies with diligence. Connie Gayer, friend and master gardener, taught me to “pet” my plants each day by running my hand gently over them to simulate the wind blowing them because this strengthens their stems.

Sometimes life blows over me, bending my plans, but you know what? I learn to stand up again, stronger than before.

As my plants grow, I move them to larger pots so they can stretch out their roots and drink in more nourishment. However, the transplant sometimes throws them into a brief bit of a shock. But they quickly recover and grow into “teen-veggies.”

There have been times my plans have been uprooted and transplanted. The shock is uncomfortable and disheartening. Heck, it is often downright frightening. But in time, with an optimistic attitude, I stretch my roots in the new soil and after a while I discover I’ve grown.

Then comes the day my veggies must get about the business for their existence—feeding my family and friends. They are planted in the garden, no longer under the protection of the greenhouse, but out in the elements. Sure, I’ll make sure they have water, but they will have to weather the storms and Japanese beetles. And each year—I must say—my veggies have done a great job.

The day comes in all of our lives when we must get about the business of life, weathering the storms and predators. But we can do it, if we do not give up.
Don’t despise small beginnings, or changes. Stay diligent and you will “bear fruit!”