Monthly Archives: January 2012


I’m back listening again to The Writer’s Almanac. It’s fun and heartening for anyone writing, whether that’s in a journal or something larger. In addition to reading a poem every day, the host, Garrison Keillor, always includes anecdotes about writers, how we fumble and fail, stumble on success or don’t. If you write to be published, there is an enormous amount of work that is completely unseen, that which is dropped, changed, rewritten dozens of times. Anyway, this quote was up on the site, and it touched a nerve.

Writers end up writing stories or rather stories’ shadows, and they’re grateful if they can, but is is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.

I think it’s speaking of the gap between the vision and the finished project…….do you know what I mean? Is it always impossible to grasp the vision? An artist I know says she has learned she can’t control creativity. What do you think?


let it spill

Thoughts from the week…………………………

First, a poem leaps out at me as I resume the habit of reading poetry daily:

My Cup by Robert Friend

They tell me I am going to die.

Why don’t I seem to care?

My cup is full. Let it spill.

Brave, bold words which strike hard at the me who has no idea how to navigate these older decades, which seem to suck so many into bitterness and despair. What was it Odysseus had to navigate? The whirlpool Charybdis….some days I row too close to the whirlpool, too far away from the sun.

I am also feeling as if I have nothing new left to say in this blog, so I look back to old blogs to recycle and come across this (slightly reworked this version) from July of 2009. It seems a hint toward finding the blessing implied in Robert Friend’s poem, and so I share it…..

Neil Young sings:

I want to live

I want to give

I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold……

and I’m getting old.

I thought about my searches for a heart of gold. What that meant to me was finding someone who would love me without ever hurting me. It was about me being loved, not so much about my loving.

And then I was reading Byron Katie, and very stark sentences leaped off the page: ultimately there is only you; you are your own suffering; you are your own happiness. And I thought about what had flitted through my mind as I hummed along with Neil Young: I’m the heart of gold.

It is the quality of my loving, which includes loving myself. And I’m growing old.”


The other day, when my writing group had to settle on its next meeting date, I, too, whipped out my calendar. Everyone else was tapping on a phone, but I still use a paper calendar; some kind of day planner thing; in fact selecting it each fall is one of my more important decisions. This year I’ve gone to 8 by 10 size, when I had been at 5 by 7, because this year I decided to stop trying to hide my paper state of mind. I feel a little awkward, true, and I always feel out of fashion, as folks in another group I’m a part of pull out phones instantly for any future planning. But today the newspaper included a story about using paper planners, and I gave a sign of relief. It isn’t only me.

There are others who like being able to spread out a page, who like penning something in, who get monumentally impatient with the tiny keyboards of a phone for noting anything complicated (that reason may belong only to me). I can still remember when having a handsome daytimer was as big a fashion statement as carrying the latest hot purse. I remember being in New York, and every women I saw had a filofax. Remember those? I thought they were so glamorous. Anyway, the nerd among my groups (being me) is still using paper for her calendaring needs. I just like it. I like being able to look at a month at a glance and see what’s ahead with detail in all those little daily squares. And I like going to day entries and entering in my activities. As a writer, as someone who works at home and alone, entering what I’ve accomplished, even if that is only answering emails, make me feel less frail. Yes, I, too, have a work life, my psyche can announce in triumphful tones to my inner critic. Just look here what I did on Wednesday.

So the story in the newspaper made me smile. I’m not alone, not quite yet………How do you keep up with yourself? Paper or phone? Why? Do you feel like you’ve given up anything to go digital? Or am I just a dinosaur braying in the paper tar pits?


The new year can be a time of fresh starts, and one way is journaling. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way recommends writing three pages long-hand before you’re fully awake in the morning.

Why? Because you dump irritation, bad feelings, complaints onto the pages usually, and then you begin your day, and a lot of what would have muddied the hours is on those pages, rather than carried outward with you. It’s as if you’ve been heard. And writing three pages every morning creates discipline. (And more, but you’ll have to find out about that by going to her website.)

A lot of people are doing gratitude journals. A blog I read recently spoke to this topic with words from Nicoletta Baumeister:  “Gratefulness thoughts in the morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take in, what will we seek and what is today’s sense of self? Feeling grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step; whereas, asking what I don’t have sets my day on a frantic course.” She ends her day in an interesting way, too: “A poem, haiku or a small drawing at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction, job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!”

Another way to journal is from wonderful Dr. Rachel Naomi Ramen, who counseled a successful but burned-out doctor in one of my favorite books, Kitchen Table Wisdom, to find again these three things in his days: what inspired him, what surprised him, what touched him. I’ve done this one for a long time, and it has transformed journal entries from junior high whining to memory rushes with sweetness.

And that, my dears, is what I want to take forward into this long day’s journey into night, into this particular new year in the journey, into aging, the only way forward in the journey: sweetness. What do you want?

new year

Keep walking though there’s no place to get to….

Don’t try to see through

the distances….

That’s not for

human beings….



But don’t

move the way

fear makes

you move……

Poetry from the 13th century mystic poet Rumi….advice for a new year. I like it that there is some place in our calendar where we may stop, take note, take a deep breath, and try again. At living, I mean. The older I am, the less whirlwind there is in day to day life, the more I am left with myself. With the internal of myself. When I was a young woman, I fled that internal because the words it spoke, words I wasn’t conscious of, cut so deeply. I carried knives whose blades I never saw but from which I was always running.

What does your internal say? If it hurts, is it true? If it isn’t true, how wonderful. If it is, then begin the change so the words are false. Be the beauty you really are…. a goal for 2012………….