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Driving Backwards

DRIVING BACKWARDS LESSONS LEARNED IN A ‘63 CHEVY
I was sixteen years old and held a long coveted driver’s permit in my wallet. My fingers trembled as they adjusted the rear view and side view mirrors on my father’s 1963 Chevy Impala, it’s turquoise blue paint job sparkling in the sunshine of an autumn Saturday afternoon. “Start the engine,” Daddy said. I twisted the key in the ignition and the car shuddered into life. I pulled away from the curb using the proper hand signals and set off for a practice drive. At the corner I slowed for a stop sign and heard the familiar admonition from Daddy, “It says STOP, not SLOW DOWN.” But he said it good naturedly and with the hint of a chuckle. It amazed me how patient and happy he was, despite the fact that he probably hated teaching his children to drive more than anything else. He was a truck driver, and he much preferred being behind the wheel and having control of the car. Any time we went anywhere with members of the family, he insisted on doin…

Life Book Project 2018

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One month of the year is gone already, but I feel a bit accomplished for a change. Usually by now I have successfully abandoned my goals and dreams before the first of February. One of my goals for 2018 was to sign up for the Life Book Project. This is a year long series of weekly art and self development lessons presented by Tamara LaPorte. You can find information at her website www.willowing.org

Tam is a wonderful teacher and a compassionate supporter of artists and guide in self-compassionate growth. Her lessons are detailed with explanations that make it easy for an immature artist like me to follow. She has also gathered a cadre of art teachers who also present lessons in Life Book 2018. Here is my first wobbly attempt at the first lesson.

It was a challenge but I have given myself the task of pushing my artistic boundaries this year. My drawings are childish and my painting is unpolished, but for me it's about learning about the fun of the process. I know there will be classe…

A Perfect Day for Imperfect Poetry

I’m still trying, and failing, to adapt to this new climate. Still trying to acclimate to eighty degree temperatures in January. Southern California is so unlike Long Island where I made my home for sixty-seven years. But since I tend to be an optimist I see the value of being able to take a pleasant morning walk in the middle of “winter.”
This early in the morning the air is cool on my skin and the sunshine is bright and joyful. I’ve become more committed to my daily walks since I got a Fit Bit that tracks my every step and buzzes my wrist when I don’t hit my goals. But what has made my morning walks more enticing and enjoyable is my new interest in audio books. In the past I would walk silently and though I enjoyed the rustle of dry leaves and the songs of finches somehow those walks seemed boring. I would set out to resolve some life issue, or plot issue, and end up thinking mundane thoughts. Now, instead, I listen to inspirational books and poetry read by David Whyte or Mark Nepo. …

Mama's Rings

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Sometimes a writing prompt can be found right on your own hand and spiced with memories.


MAMA’S RINGS
            Mama and I sat in the VA hospital waiting room waiting for the doctor. The previous night Mama had a bout of high blood pressure with its typical headache and shortness of breath. She had gotten it down with her medication but it was time to get checked out.             Normally the wait to be seen by a medical professional at the VA was long so we had each brought a book to read but the books lay at our sides and we talked instead.             “Is there anything you want before I get rid of it?” Mama asked. She had always been a minimalist but in her late 80s she was even more determined to unload her possessions as she didn’t want to burden my brother and I with having to deal with them when she was gone. It was a sad conversation but she’d been preparing us for our parents’ deaths since I was in high school so I had become a bit inured to the topic.             “Not really,”…

Training Wheels for Writers

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We each remember the day we learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. It was a feeling of triumph not to be believed. Finally we could venture out into the unknown on our trusted steads and see the world. 

The magic thrilled us though in the beginning it was scary to try and balance on only two wheels while steering around corners and speeding down hills. Writing is like that and so is life. 

When you write you may need training wheels in the form of craft books and magazines, a community of writers to hold you while you learn to balance, a list of prompts to get you started and perhaps some rituals and routines to ensure a daily writing habit.

Life requires training wheels as well. Some guidance to help navigate the chaotic world while keeping a balance in your daily life. Training wheels offered me a prompt for writing as I remembered back to the day I first rode my bike without training wheels.


TRAINING WHEELS
            Summer evenings stretch out like magical hours when yo…

Enter Writing

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I wake before dawn, the air cool and charcoal dark. Dreams are a quickly evaporating haze and I am surrounded by stillness. Just the way I like my days to begin. I rise and head to my writing desk with a glass of warm water, lemon juice and honey. A few sips. I light two candles; one coconut vanilla, the other a pink salt candle holder. I set the timer on my iphone for ten minutes, cradle a pink quartz crystal in the palm of my hand and meditate in the stillness of a new day holding new promises like delicate blooms in a reed basket. Soft chimes on the timer signal it is time to get to work.



I enter my writing zone trying not to predetermine what I'm going to write about. Words flow from the pen, seemingly along a direct trail from heart to hand. It might be a poem, or a childhood reminiscence. It could be a list of things I need to do, or a list of writing and art projects I want to start on. Sometimes it's a musing on the present state of affairs in my heart, my life or in th…

A Flash of Fiction

The days have grown shorter and night falls somewhere around 4:30. I've never liked this time of year. The short daylight hours are depressing and like some folks I have experienced that SAD that slows us down in winter. However, as a writer, there is a plus side to all this darkness.

It's early morning and I fill a glass with warm water, lemon juice and honey and head to my writing room. I light a vanilla scented candle, cradle my rose quartz in my palms and close my eyes. The silence and stillness of morning calms me and sends me into a writing mood. After a few minutes of meditation it's time to get to work.

At present I am working on a self-made course under the tutelage of poet and teacher Lorraine (Bird) Mejia. I have the new collection by Mary Oliver titled "Devotions" and I am using that as a guide. Each morning I open the precious book to a random page and read the poem. I copy down a line or two that strikes my heart and then write my own poems from those…