March Madness

I have lost my mind this month. There has been more big stuff than should fit in any one month and with all the flurry came an absolute standstill to any other creative expression. This is another way of saying I am in a writer’s slump with nothing to say and no interest in trying. Maybe this happens to people with multiple outlets. For a while I was abuzz with ideas and medium. I was writing songs, recording some of them, starting a children’s book project with an artist friend, cranking out decent poems, doing lots of blog posts and making some actual progress in water-color class. I have now downgraded to coloring in an adult coloring book because it soothes me and writing the occasional witty text. Oy!

I have missed drumming circle the last 2 or 3 times and we don’t ever meet on a schedule anyway. I am about to attend my monthly meeting with my writing buddy (who, not incidentally, is busily at work on a terrific family memoir meant to unlock long unsolved mysteries WHILE holding down a full-time job) with not one single thing to show her–for the second month in a row. I have locked my paints away and stopped going to class and no poems have popped into my head for weeks.

So what have I been doing? I have been reading other people’s writing as a lifeline to my old hopes of one day being them. I have sent a couple pieces in to an on-line magazine (both rejected as not quite their thing), I have cleaned my house from top to bottom (this occurs only annually) because my book club was coming, I have directed a musical revue of Fiddler on the Roof songs with 35 kids, I have held a piano recital with 44 performers and I have sung every moment of Holy Week with my church choir including a solo on Good Friday and a featured role portraying Mary Magdalene at the tomb, walking down the center aisle singing the old Baptist hymn “I come to the garden alone” dressed in all black.

One of my readings was a recent Anne Lamott book that was not even really her best work, but still made me feel like crap because I am not now and never will be Anne Lamott. Amidst it all I have a free-floating anxiety that I cannot for the life of me find a label for. Money is tight but it is always tight, because, like most people I know, when I accumulate a little cushion I go spend it —usually on trips I can’t really afford but feel entitled to and am determined to take. I have been trying to attend bi-weekly meditation class more often and yoga too because they sometimes make things pop into my head that are useful. The most recent was an “intention” but really more a mantra and life goal: BE HERE NOW. STAY CALM. SEND LOVE. The last one alone could be a doctoral thesis or just a really helpful forehead tattoo, but the others are just as necessary for my current state of mind chatter. Stop worrying so god damn much and try to enjoy the moments that are zooming by at lightening speed—-especially with a nearly 16 year-old in the house! And truly All will be well and All will be well and All with be very well so no point getting my knickers in a knot over the minutiae of every day challenges. This life really is a blip.

My minister said on Sunday that Mary Magdalene represents ALL of us–going sobbing to the tomb only to realize Jesus had come back to her in a different form and was with her always. We are never alone and we need not fear death, which is the greatest of all fears–the granddaddy. So seriously it is a little disingenuous to call yourself a believer and then fret every tiny thing that happens every single day.  Do you believe there is more than what and who we are here or not? If you believe–if I believe–then just LIVE, knowing that everything that happens, even the shitty stuff is for the greater good—something you are supposed to learn from or grow through, something that ultimately enriches your soul or at least prepares you in some way for whatever the next chapter holds—the one that comes AFTER earthly life. You can’t really have it both ways and I can’t imagine not believing. How do people even DO that?

I booked myself into a 5 day silent meditation retreat in the wilds of Oregon this June hoping that I might finally learn this universally acclaimed skill. I would love to get more centered and peaceful and kinder but I will gladly settle for just being what Dan Harris of ABC News calls 10% Happier in the title of his book on meditation which came right on the heels of a mortifying on-air meltdown.  We are just all wound too freaking tight–at least I am and it always seems to me that most other people are too (maybe that’s who I attract, like a magnet!) although Tom was not. He worried from time to time, but he really had the calm, let it be, enjoy the moment thing down and he was helping train me before he got sick. A woman at my church just published a book about her faith journey and although much of it is too born again for me to relate to she does talk about the culture of busy–rushing around like crazy people and not slowing down long enough to even notice our loved ones much less others in the world who could use our undivided time and attention. I am that person and I’d like to zip out of her skin like a shedding snake and leave her by the side of the road.

Working on it. That’s all I’ve got.



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