Lost in a New Adventure of Writing

I am sitting here this morning in the local coffee shop, enjoying a nice Italian soda and questioning my lack of direction for my latest adventure.

I’ve always been a writer. Going back through the treasures in my house you could find old poems, essays, stories, journal entries, going back for four decades, ever since I learned my ABCs. Most of my entries are simply stream of thought. Many aren’t that great, but a few are good. In this world of words with so many outlets calling for writers, I find myself wondering if I might find success somewhere sharing stories.

For years I spent so much of my time at rallies and organizing people, working behind the scenes to push legislation and putting together trainings to teach others how to organize or just about issues. Now, I find myself wanting to both move on and keep sharing and supporting the good work. I wonder if freelance writing might be a way to keep telling the stories, keep helping grow the movement.

My life has changed so much in recent years too. My epilepsy diagnosis six years ago started me down a path that has changed me. I eat differently. I work differently. I know myself differently. I wonder too if I might use my words to help others find health.

There are so many stories to share. I share some here. That is good. Broadening my reach would be a gift. That’s why I wonder about trying freelancing. That and I will admit that extra little paychecks here and there are always welcome.

Now I find myself sitting with a list of possible outlets and so little direction. I wish I knew how to do this. I keep thinking this morning of JK Rowling. I admit I am a Harry Potter fan. I’ve always heard that she just started with a dream and not much in the way of experience, support, or direction. Still, she found her way and changed the world.

Advertisements

The New Year Update– Spring Edition

In some ways January 1st seems so long ago. But, here in west central Minnesota I can just look out the window and it seems like only yesterday. We’re still knee deep in snow with the promise of a really exciting blizzard in the upcoming day or so. Right now, it’s in the upper 30’s so the snow is melting and rain is coming down. The streets are running with rivers and many Morris residents are busy moving everything in their basements to higher ground and making sure their sump pumps work. I, meanwhile, am being thankful at being a renter without a basement.

So, where things from that list of lofty goals I made back in January. Well, here’s the update.

  1. Writing at least 50 blog posts– I think I better get to work on this one, but I’m not horribly far off. This is number 6 with just 41 more weeks in the year.
  2. Reading/ listening to 50 books — I’m a little behind on this one too, actually about the same amount as I am with writing my blog. I am six books in right now and working on number seven. I must highly recommend “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. What an incredibly inspiring person. I’d also say read “Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying Yes to Living.” It’s a beautiful tale of life in its final moments. “The Education of Will” was quite good too.
  3. Getting back on track with my healthy eating habits– I’m doing ok here now. I did have a really rough time for a few weeks when the majority of my diet was pizza and burgers. I don’t know how much I got depressed because of what I was eating or how much I was eating so poorly because I was depressed. But, I am doing a lot better now and feeling better too.
  4. Running a 10k or 1/2 marathon (I haven’t decided yet, but I know more than 5k and probably not a full)– I’m not starting running until I don’t have to plow through snow drifts to do it.
  5. learn to play guitar– I found someone who teaches guitar, that’s a start. Right?
  6. finish at least 3 or 4 knitting projects– I’ve got 1 done. I actually switched to crochet, but I’m going to count it.
  7. Get Buddy started with his therapy dog training– We started with dog training. Then it got snowed out so many times that I decided to start again in the next class series. He is learning tricks pretty well. Now, if I could just get him to learn not to chew on his human.
  8. Cutting my screen time significantly, especially facebook time– Not perfect, but doing well here. It helps to have my book reading goal. I can’t read and do Facebook at the same time. Spring will help too. I have a commitment to not looking at social media when I am out walking and I love to get out when the weather is nice.

So, that’s where it’s at. While I’m not quite where I aimed to be at this time, I’m feeling pretty good about what I’ve been able to do and am glad that I set goals this year. What about you? Who else set New Year’s goals and where are you at?

Every week I have my students write down two goals for themselves. One is a project goal to remind themselves about what they want to accomplish on the effort that they are working on with their community partner for the semester. The other, and this is maybe the more radical one for college students, is a self care goal. Most of my students are pretty generic in their self care goals. They want to sleep, to eat vegetables, or to study. But, that’s o.k. It’s makes no difference to me if they have some simple goals or even if those goals stay the same all semester. I just want them to write that self care goal every week for 15 weeks. I want them to leave the program thinking that it’s important to take care of themselves as well as to have a direction in the work they choose.

That’s why I put together my New Year’s goals this year and why I am coming back to them now in March to check in and see how I am doing, because I am important enough to take care of. We all are. I hope that you’re finding a good way to care for yourself today.

The New Year

It’s probably been more than 30 years now since my father and I made that trip to Canada. I remember sitting in passenger seat asking Dad about the old days. I wanted to know about his life, about where he’d come from and how he’d become the man he was. He told me stories of my grandfather who I’d never had the good fortune to meet. Grandpa died in 1935 following an appendicitis attack. My father was seven years old and emulated grandpa who was a well respected dairy farmer in the area.

It was in that conversation so many years ago that I asked my dad about what he wanted to do with his life. He told me about wanting to be a dairy farmer like his father had been. He told me about how life had gotten in the way of following his dream. He made choices, choices that were difficult but that he felt were right. He set his dream aside for marriage and children. He chose a full time job off the farm to keep his growing family fed and clothed. He put his family first and though he did crop farming he never got cows.

When I looked into his eyes and saw the sadness of a dream never realized I made a decision that defined my life. I decided in that moment that I would never look back on my life to see I hadn’t fully lived.

That decision has led me to living in eight different towns in three different states, leading community organizing efforts and fighting multinational corporations, traveling on three continents, hiking hundreds of miles, and now working at a university.

It’s been good so far, but recently watching my now aged father and a much younger family member who’s been dealing with major health issues, I’ve been thinking. My life has become rather routine and there is much to do, to see, to learn. It seems a year to write down some of those things that I’d like to have happen as a reminder to myself and a public commitment. So, here it goes. Presuming that I succeed with my efforts, there will undoubtedly be updates throughout the year. I hope you’ll read on and share the experience with me. I wish you the best in the new year! Here’s what I’ll be doing to grow.

  1. Writing at least 50 blog posts (here’s the 1st one!)
  2. Reading/ listening to 50 books ( I’m starting with “The Education of Will” by Patricia McConnell and “38 Nooses” by Scott W. Berg)
  3. Getting back on track with my healthy eating habits
  4. Running a 10k or 1/2 marathon (I haven’t decided yet, but I know more than 5k and probably not a full)
  5. learn to play guitar
  6. finish at least 3 or 4 knitting projects
  7. Get Buddy started with his therapy dog training
  8. Cutting my screen time significantly, especially facebook time

Those are my big goals for the year. My hope is that these will bring me more happiness along with some new skills, improved physical health, knowledge, and some cool projects. I hope you’ll find positive growth in the new year as well. Take good care!

I Used to Know a Writer

What is it that makes someone a writer? That’s the question that I’ve been asking myself today.  Two days ago I felt the need to start a new blog.  I acknowledged all the times that people have encouraged me to put my life stories to paper and decided to do it.  Then, today, I sat down at the computer and nothing.  That’s right, nothing came out.

I grew up out in the country, on a farm in southeastern Wisconsin.  My high school graduating class had less than 100 kids.  We were pretty lucky kids though.  We really were the center of the town’s attention.  Whether it was the high school musical, a parade, or a football game we were the ones everyone came to watch.  We were the stars.  I acted, played music, edited the school paper.

Then I went to college.  The campus had about six times as many people as the town that I’d gone to high school it.  It was the big time for this farm girl.

Thursday nights my freshman year began to define me.  Thursday nights led me to the basement of the library, a gathering of the minds, probably the most creative group of out of this world artists I’ve ever had the good fortune to know.  It was University Writers and I became a writer.  I’d written for years, but it was then that I began to share my work, began to look at myself differently, see my thoughts as valuable, creative, and something special.

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat and laughed and shared with those friends in the basement of the library.  Yet, they carry with me.  Here’s a piece that I had published in Barney Street our campus literary magazine my sophomore year.

Little Boy

Little Boy
hiding in the shadows
laughing in the light
colouring a crayola world
running from shades of gray and black
dressing up in soldier clothes
carrying at his side
a gun
and a tear stained knife
Little Boy rides his unicorn
slides down rainbows
in the day
in the evening
puts in his mask
a grown-up masquerade
evil black knight
fearful, dangerous,
angry wolf
and at night
in the midnight darkness
the mask away
Little Boy cries
and prays for day

It’s nearly 30 years later now.  It’s been a long while since I’ve written poetry.  But, the stories continue.  I keep writing, journaling, grants, reports, mostly.  Does it mean that I am still a writer?  I hope so.  It seems time to start work on another chapter.