Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April Moon 15, Day 3

The prompt: Giving birth doesn't have to be literal. So far in my life I have birthed...

...A lot of pretty good marketing ideas and advertisements for both non-profit and public sector organizations, and a whole bunch of them for a couple of corporations.
...Various reinventions of my life depending on where I was, where I wanted to go, and/or what was necessary at the time -- like coming to California 18 years ago
...Two daughters, neither of whom came from my womb, but who grew in my heart.
...A nice portfolio of newspaper and magazine clips of stories about people, places, events, and more -- starting many decades ago. I no longer write 500-word ledes, by the way.
...Ideas, advice, friendships, relationships. It's a growth process, never a completed journey.
...Myself. Learning to be who I am, one day at a time, and figuring that out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Moon 15, Day 2

The prompt: Knowing what I know now, I would tell my ten-years-ago self:

Ten years ago I was 57. It was 2005, and we were full-on into our real estate career, busy, active, working hard.

My mother was slipping bit by bit, too many miles away from me. I was on the Arts Council and very busy with that volunteer work. We were about to launch a new photo club which would meet with nine people in our great room on that first meeting, and which, ten years later, has morphed into something a bit different than our original ideas, but is still going strong.

I'd come a long way, however, and really was well-launched on a good path for me. But there are a few things.....

Today I would tell that person who was me then to let it go. The people-pleasing. The fear. The resentment. The anger. The only thing all of that angst will change is ME, and not necessarily for the better. It will not change the people, places, or things at which the fear and anger are directed.

I would gift myself with Mary Oliver's miracle-working poem "The Journey" and memorize it. And I'd read more Mary Oliver poems.

I would remind myself that the most important thing about life are friends and family -- and honestly, I was already very aware of that in 2005, but still too trusting, too ready to accept people as honest and true. People are often not what they seem to be, even dear, close, loved ones. That is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow and process. Lack of trust, deception, lies, and fear are devastating.

I would pull that back in myself, me who had always given too much and carried too many others along, trying to fix it all for them. I wish I had known -- and understood -- then:
You strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do,
determined to save
the only life you could save.
From "The Journey", in Dream Work (1986)

I would give myself permission to have more fun, to be more spontaneous (something I still don't do enough of), to enjoy things.

I would be grateful for each day for my health, although I was already working to keep it good.

I would remind myself that I am strong and capable and that I can weather some terrible disappointments and griefs, and still be loving and kind.

And I would tell myself to be kinder: to myself, to my family and friends, to clerks, to telephone callers, to random people I see on the street. Judgement serves little purpose: kindness does.

April Moon, Day 1

"That's when I knew that this chapter of my life had ended. And now I was free to.."

That's the first writing prompt for the marvelous 2015 April Moon series from wild wonderful writing woman Kat McNally, she of Reverb and August Moon.

It's a little different this year, she explains. It's a story-starter, really. I'm a bit late in beginning this one, but it'll work no matter when I begin or end!

While I can think of several chapter endings, at least a few of them are not appropriate for a public forum such as this (although they're great stories). But let me tell you about the end of my freelance career....

It was January 2010 and we'd been to see one of the traveling Broadway-style shows that Redding regularly featured at their Civic Center -- "The Wedding Singer." Actually, we hadn't subscribed to the series for a few years since Tony was working in Chico at that time, and the plays were always on week nights, which made for a very long day of driving for him. These were gifted to us by friends who couldn't go.

After the performance, we headed, hand-in-hand, back to the truck in the parking lot. It was dark and the lot was dimly lit. As we got to the back of the truck, we parted -- Tony to the driver's side, me to the passenger's. There was not a light near the truck, so I was walking mostly in the dark. I came past the tailgate and headed down the side of the truck.

"AHHHHHHHHH," I yelled as my toe struck the concrete parking curb stop which was partially hidden under the truck bed. There was nothing to grab. I flew sideways and landed on my outstretched right hand, then my hip and body followed.

I crashed onto the blacktop and just lay there for a minute. A couple of people from nearby cars came hurrying up to help; Tony came around the end of the truck, and they tried to help me sit up.

I knew my wrist was broken. It was in an unnatural s-curve, although it didn't hurt. "It's broken," I said, holding it close to my chest. "Maybe not," said Tony, as he helped me stand, along with two other men, and then together they boosted me into the truck since there was no way I could grab onto the strap to pull myself in.

I thanked the others and we headed for the Mercy Hospital ER. I had the presence of mind to take off my rings since my hand hadn't begun to swell yet, and also directed Tony to the hospital.

They took me back immediately and it wasn't long before they shot me up with painkillers and an anti-nausea drug. X-rays showed several pieces of shattered bone. Long story short: It was splinted that night; a week later I had surgery and the wonderful orthopedist put it back together with many screws and a plate.

But even that night I knew I wasn't going to be writing stories anytime soon. It was my right hand. My note-taking hand. And there's no way I'm typing stories with just my left hand.It hurt, and I had no idea how long I'd be in a cast. Certainly I wasn't going to meet deadlines any time soon.

It was over, those freelance gigs. And I wasn't too upset about it, actually. I loved the interviewing, the getting to meet new people and find out their stories and how they got to where they are. But the deadlines? Meh. The stress of trying to tell their story accurately and yet still making it enticing in a mere 500-700 words? Very hard. I would sweat blood over the story and always ended up paring it down, hopefully not losing the essence as I chopped words. I would not miss that part.

The next day I called my editor to tell her I was out, but that I had a replacement in mind, a local friend who had no freelance experience but whose writing was clean, interesting, and sharp. They both agreed -- and my friend Melissa is still writing for them, five years later.

 I was ready to be done, apparently, and the Universe took a rather drastic way of letting me know that. I needed to get out of the way to allow Melissa her opportunity.

While I know I could have resumed freelancing once I'd healed, it never felt right again.