Writing session after TwD – Part 2

I told the following story about grocery rescue, my TwD friend captured it and emailed me a first draft. It is one way to write together. We will write together again June 5, from 2:45 to 3:45, and other TwD participants are welcome to participate. Tomorrow I may be giving editorial feedback on a collection of my friend’s writing. It is inspiring to be in the company of writers.  Join us by the fireplace at Friends, Philosophy, and Tea for a second cup of tea; draft your next blog post, be part of the conversation a bit as we all improve our writing practice. We will discover how to move our writing along.  Here is what my friend and I made possible in less than an hour last week:

I wish there were more “grocery rescue” volunteer drivers.  That way, it would be easier to find a substitute driver when I go on vacation. Being a grocery rescue volunteer is a very important part of my life.  In less than three years I have personally carried more than 15 tons of donated food to the local food bank, and the only cost to my family has been 2 hours per week of my time plus the gasoline to drive 2 miles per week.

How much money would I have to earn to feel as though I could donate 5 tons of food per year?  That’s 10,000 pounds!  For reporting purposes, a food bank might value donated food at a dollar a pound. So food bank arithmetic would tell me that a dollar value of the food that I carry each year is about $10,000. I do not feel as though I have $10,000 every year to give the food bank, but I do feel as though I have 2 hours every week to give the food bank. And my 2 hours a week makes it possible for the food bank to obtain the fresh food that my local supermarket is eager to donate – extra that they do not wish to throw away.

I wish more people would donate time to their local food banks, so that there could be more grocery rescue drivers and more substitutes for us.   The Food Lifeline Network is the umbrella organization through which my local grocery rescue operation takes place; Hopelink is the social service agency that operates my local food bank. The experience enhances my life, values, and community connections.  It has formed me and benefited my family and me, every bit as much as any food bank client has benefited from the food obtained by my participation.

“Life is an onion and one peels it crying.” French Proverb

“Live est un oignon et un peeling en pleurant.” Proverbe français

“Life is an onion and one peels it crying.” French Proverb

This proverb jumped out at me again today. My onion is definitely peeling! When I am sad, I cry. When I am mad, I cry. When I am lonely, I sometimes cry. When I sense someone else’s dis-ease, I cry. When I am really happy about something, I cry. When I find something really funny, I laugh til I am crying. And sometimes…I don’t know why…but I just cry. It is a good thing that I am living by myself these days, because my onion is definitely peeling.

I used to be so stoic. Iiti did not want to waste time crying. I just did something to get over the sensation and moved away from it. I kept myself busy. I believed that it made me strong! It took a lot to get me to cry…and heaven forbid if someone happened to see me cry! I realize now that I was stuffing a lot inside of me. My onion was growing, and the outer peels got pretty tough.

It took a long time and a lot of self-study to feel OK with shedding a tear or two…or two thousand. I decided that if three-quarters of the world is water, and two-thirds of the human body is water, it is just fine to let go of a bit of mine. A total release occurs: physical, emotional, spiritual. It might not change a situation, but something about my perception of the situation changes. It just makes me feel different. Sometimes that different may only be exhausted and re-eyed, but that’s OK. It leads to a good sleep, and things always seem brighter after a good sleep.

Of course, I still prefer to do my crying alone (or as the old song says “in the rain”) so no one can see. Most of the time I choose an appropriate time and place for it. But I have stopped stuffing it down and keeping it deep and tight inside. Crying is a necessity: a natural part of our development in this life.

I am sure that this time of crying a lot will pass, as I move forward on my path. I also am sure that there will be more times of tears. I am OK with that, and accept it in others. And if the urge to cry is there and the tears just don’t come…I will just peel some onions.

© Linda Zeppa www.intuwriting.com
This blog is a version of a post from August 2011. Venus, retrograde and transiting in all of its glory, is working its magic on me. I am sure that I am not alone, as we are guided to use our emotions, creativity and intuition to release and gently move forward, setting up for a peaceful revolution.

Dogs a digging, writers a writing

It occurred to me this morning that I can no more stop expressing myself in writing than Schnitzel, my canine companion, can stop digging in the sand.

When we go to the shore I watch him dig, dig, digging away (see illustration) and wonder, “Why is he dogging there, Does he sense something beneath the sand I cannot? Is there a hidden treasure? Why is he so devotedly digging, apparently for no apparent reason?”

After digging at these questions for some time I uncover that Schnitzel’s reason is well, unreasonable. Schnitzel has no “reason” whatsoever, nor is there is any meaning to be made. There is little to no reasoning to Schnitzel’s capacity for living. Schnitzel chooses to dig because it is simply in his nature to dig.

He does not dig to entertain or inspire me (although he does). He will dig for as long and until he wishes to do something else: fetch a Frisbee, or bound down the beach cheerfully chasing after seagulls in the sand.

I note (perhaps you have as well) I literally and literately like to ponder and play with wisdom and words that alliterate in my writing. For me it is fun, appeals to my sense of whimsy, and it gives me pleasure.

And now I stop and reflect: How very different am I than my faithful playful canine companion? He digs, runs, chases seagulls because it is fun, gives him pleasure, and sheer joie de vivre. A snout full of sand is as much fun for Schnitzel as a peck of puns and plays on words is for me.

We are not so very different after all.

Do you dig it?

The Gratitude List & Embracing Hesitation

I AM in love.

With the journey I do not yet understand
With the upstarts I have not yet met
With the magic that new beginnings are
With the people who surprise me generously
With the smiles freely given and received
With the wonder in the eyes of young ones
With the sound of truth being told

With the simple ability to breathe without having to think about it.

I am of the mindset there is always more to be thankful for. I wasn’t always. There was a time when I felt like a sadder person whose life was colored by more loss than I thought I could handle. And it all started when I was very young. So if it is true that “God/dess” gives us only as much as we can handle, I AM grateful for how I have handled what has been given to me to address.

Abundance and Gratitude is an Attitude that can be cultivated and doing so is a lifelong process. We, humans, have been given both the ability to communicate and remember what  we have said and done and have the capacity to learn from it. What worked for us at four doesn’t work the same for us at fourteen or forty. Nor should it. I AM grateful for how I have evolved and continue to do so.

I feel I AM again the person I was when I was about to embark upon college. Self-reliant. 18. A loaner car of a Dodge Wagon packed to the max with the sum total of my worldly belongings. Few clothes. More books. A box of my life story in journals. Going where I knew but one person. Leaving behind no room to return to. Only a future to embrace. Pure excitement and no hesitation. My body hummed with a knowing that all was as it should be.

Three decades later after many starts and stops and stumbles, I feel as though I AM again in that space of pure possibility and nothing will prevent me from realizing what I have envisioned. I AM committed to believing that what I can dream, I will manifest.

Had even one person introduced me to the idea of intention and my energy being so exquisitely and purposely directed when I was that tender age…what more would have come into being? Oh, here is the surprise behind that curtain: It has all been perfect as it has come to pass. Not that I could see that at 27 or even 34. I see it now though. And that is presence that matters.

Regarding that last moment before we figuratively or literally leap into something new and daring, what is YOUR personal “surefire” way to diffuse any hesitation or procrastination?

May you be blessed with the courage to say yes to your grandest visions, hesitation-free.

Om Shanti.

Writing session after TwD – Part 1

At every TwD session, I make notes for writing I would like to do Right Away. I know I am not alone. Another group member and I have decided to plan on staying at the gracious space of Friends Philosophy and Tea after the TwD session to do some writing….. sometimes in silence…. right after the session.

Here is the emerging idea, and you are invited:

TwD proceeds from 1 until 2:30. We “break” from 2:30 to 2:45 or so to finish conversations, stretch, refill our tea, etc.

At 2:45 we gather near the fire, perhaps, or at the tables set up for teahouse guests, for an hour. We encourage each other by simply being together in that gracious space.

When I depart TwD and I get involved in “other projects,” I experience a delay before writing a draft of the “great idea” inspired by the TwD session. I want to capture the inspirations. I can see that my writing practice could include reserving Tuesday afternoon from 1 until 4 for the double benefit of the Tuesdays with Deborah session, followed immediately by an hour of writing.

Last Tuesday, my friend Sharon who was at TwD for the first time began to say, “I need to write about the day that…..” I said: “Simply tell me the story. I will capture it, and you will have a first draft to work with.”

Sharon and I enjoyed a chuckle, later, about the results, and we will reverse the process the next time that we are both at TwD – perhaps Tuesday May 29.

If you feel inspired by the TwD process and want to stay with other writers for one more cup of tea, please join us.  It will be a challenge to not chat the hour away, but we are Writers developing Writing Practices.  Wonderful things that we cannot even imagine will emerge from writing for an hour after TwD.

On June 4, I added a post called “Writing session after TwD Part 2”

Your life is someone else’s roots!

Consider that today, in your lifetime, between your grandparent’s generation and the generations of your grandchildren, your are the living link between the 19th and 22nd centuries, spanning at least 150 years, maybe more.

History is not written by college professors, it is lived and witnessed by you and I each and every day of our lives.

Consider that you may be the only person left alive today who recalls key history from your family’s past; you may be the only one who has ever known those stories!

What would be like if you were to create a personal living legacy that will help you remember where you come from, who you have been, who you are, all while leaving an enduring posterity, a living legacy to delight generations to come?

How would accomplishing this influence your sense of self? How would it alter the way you think about your current life and living?

Wonders,

Paul

How to flunk perfectionism

I love to write!  I truly do.  So how come I can’t seem to write on a regular basis?

I’m convinced that my perfectionism keeps me from writing. In fact, I think I have received an A+ in my life’s course on perfectionism.  I see now that I need to learn how to flunk this course, because succeeding in it makes me stressed and miserable!

Here are the four steps I have achieved in my quest for perfectionism, as well as my intentions for flunking, or what I like to call becoming “perfectly imperfect”.

Step 1:  Set your expectations so high that you can never achieve them. 

Decide to write for 3 hours a day, then when you fail to write for that long, convince yourself it’s a sign that you are really not a writer.  In fact, you are a horrendous failure, a big time loser, who hasn’t learned self-control.  (Ouch — that hurts to even write!)

Step 2: Create rigid, high standards for yourself that keep you frozen.

Don’t even start writing anything! If you risk writing an article or book, people may not understand it or like it.  They may not be inspired or find any value at all in your writing; so just don’t write anything. That way you won’t have to worry.

Step 3:  Believe that you can operate without any flaws, defects or shortcomings.

Make certain that you have no tolerance for any of your flaws, defects, and shortcomings. If you don’t finish an article in the expected 30 minutes, give yourself a nasty reprimand.

If you can’t finish and post at least one blog article a week, look harshly at all of the reasons you failed. Make sure you use derogatory language like “lazy” or “pathetic”.

Look over what you’ve written so you can perfect it.  Be incredibly critical about your word choice, your phrasing, and your flow. Spend time agonizing over whether it’s just right. It must be perfect!

Step 4: Constantly compare yourself to others and measure your perfection against their success.

As you read other blogger’s work, constantly compare your work to theirs.  Notice how perfect their writing is and how prolific they are. Compare the number of subscribers they have to the number you have.

Notice how many books your favorite authors have written.  You haven’t even finished one?!! You must not be cut out to be a writer. You should just give up now.

As you read these four steps, do you feel what I feel? Reading them (and living them) make me feel depressed, hopeless, stuck, and frustrated.  I realize that these steps to perfectionism just aren’t serving me any more.

So… here is how to flunk perfectionism!

What really works is to be perfectly imperfect.

Being perfectly imperfect means:

… discovering after 2 days (or maybe 2 weeks) that writing for 3 hours a day is just not working for you, so you set a new schedule.  You decide to write for 10 minutes a day and see how that goes.

…understanding that you have to write to please yourself.  If you choose to write from your own heart, your unique experiences and perspective, some people may find inspiration and value.  Others may not.  But, that’s okay!  You will reach the people you are supposed to reach.

… realizing that your so called flaws, defects and shortcomings are really just differences in how you operate and how things work for you.

…not comparing yourself to other writers.  You are a writer because you write, not because you are better or worse than anyone else. Keep writing from that authentic, alive place inside of you. No other writer has the same perspective, life experience, gifts and values that you have.

Flunking perfectionism brings more ease, productivity, passion and fun.   I hope you will join me on my quest to live as a perfectly imperfect writer!

How Mrs. Palsgraf And the Long Island Railroad Started Me On My Path To Study Law

“Fictional characters like Professor Kingsfield of The Paper Chasehave contributed to an image of the quintessential law school professor who puts a student in the “hot seat” and delves into what seems like an intimidating and almost torturous line of inquiry.  This pedagogical technique is commonly known as the Socratic method: one of the defining characteristics of the American legal education system, almost universally used during the first year of law school.” ****

Have you heard of the Socratic method?  Did you ever watch the movie or TV show “Paper Chase”?  Why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of harassment, humiliation and embarrassment?

Ms Quirk, What did you think of the ruling in this case?  Really?  Is that what you think?  Class?  Do you agree with her?  

Terror, sheer  terror.  Fear of humiliation – why am I here?  What makes me think I can do this.  I am going to flunk out.  I don’t belong here.  My classmates are all smarter.  One element of the Socratic Method is to prove your ignorance.  Leaving you open for learning — I guess.

This is the study of law.  I love it.  Notice I said the study of law.  Not the practice of law.  The two have no relationship whatsoever.

When did I become so enamored of this study based upon such arcane principles started by some old dead guy of long ago who got poisoned for his actions?  Socrates!  Many a law student has used his name as a curse.

It started for me many years ago with the case of Helen Palsgraf v Long Island Railroad.  I will give you the details of the case later but first let me tell you how I came to know Mrs. Palsgraf.

In the late 60’s I was a young bride married to a military officer who decided to go to law school  I went from wearing hats and white gloves to meetings of the Officers Wives Club to a little more casual attire of the Law Wives Club.  The law wives club, of course, was a supportive group (there were no “law husbands”) of women mainly to help us be supportive of our poor husbands suffering the grinds of law school.

At one of the meetings we welcomed the torts professor, Professor Peck.   Torts we learned deals with a civil wrong resulting in a lawsuit.  Along with Contracts and Constitutional Law it is a core subject.  Professor Peck wanted to give us a sample of an actual law school tort class – along with a demonstration of the Socratic Method.  So he told us the story of Mrs. Palsgraf and her ride on the Long Island Railroad.  He took us through the torture of the questioning method.  How should the court rule?  Do you agree with Judge Cardozo or Judge Andrews?  Really, Mrs. Quirk?  Is that what you really think?  Ladies, do you agree with Mrs. Quirk?  Etc. etc.   He took us through the torture and humiliation of the Socratic Method.

I loved it!  I was hooked and knew someday I would study law.

And I did – some 25 years later I found myself in first year law school torts class.

“When do we get to Mrs. Palsgraf?”  

“Soon Ms. Quirk, soon.”

Ahh, the day came.  Even after 25 years I remembered the facts and that clock on the platform that injured poor Mrs. Palsgraf.  But now came the terror.

“Do you agree with the majority opinion of Justice Cardozo or the dissent of Justice Andrews?” 

Uh, um.  Let me think.

This is a lot more complicated than I thought.  I found that Palsgraf is a seminal case on how far we draw the line in negligence and proximate cause.

See, I was learning real lawyer words now.

As grades came out, I tied for first place in that first year torts class.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  I continue to learn the STUDY of law.  Perhaps you will become motivated also by hearing about Mrs. Palsgraf and you too will want to STUDY law.

So here we go.

In the 1920’s Helen Palsgraf (little is actually known about her) was on her way to Rockaway, perhaps to take her daughter to the beach.  She was quietly sitting on a bench on the platform waiting for her train.  At the same time, a conductor was hurrying some passengers unto a departing train.  He gave one of them a push to speed things up and the passenger dropped a package he was carrying.  It happens that the package contained fireworks.  (Little is known about the passenger and why he was carrying fireworks.  Anarchist?  Probably some Italians on their way to a celebration)   the fireworks exploded causing a large scale to become dislodged off the wall, injuring Mrs. Palsgraf.

Question:  Is the Long Island Railroad liable to Mrs. Palsgraf and should they pay for her injuries?

Now here is where we separate the engineers and the scientists from the legal scholars.  If you are thinking about how the scales were bolted on the wall or what made the fireworks go off or even who the fireworks carrier was, you are missing the point.  The point is:

Did the Long Island Railroad owe a duty of care to Mrs. P? And did they breach that duty?  I.e.  were they negligent by way of their employee the conductor?

A tort requires three factors:  Duty, negligence, injury.  There is no question that Mrs. P was injured and few would argue that the RR has a duty of care to its passengers.  But should they be responsible for paying for Mrs. P’s injuries?

Here is where we would have the famous Socratic discussion that would last a couple of hours.

Are you bored yet?  Exited?  Curious?

The court split in its decision and the debate continues today.  Speaking for the majority, Justice Cardozo went into a long discussion about foreseeability.  Was it foreseeable that a passenger would be carrying dynamite?  Is it foreseeable that an explosion could cause the scale to land on someone?

After pages and pages of discussion, Justice Cardozo went for a pragmatic answer that was basically “We have to draw a line somewhere”.    In his dissent, Justice Andrews railed against drawing a line and said if there was negligence, then all results of the negligence should be included.  Thus giving way to the argument of proximate cause:  never mind the butterfly effect – which would mean a line was never drawn.

Interested?  Excited?  You too might want to engage in the study of law.

Now you know how Mrs. Palsgraf and the Long Island Railroad started me on the lifetime path of studying law.

But I don’t get into too many Socratic discussions anymore.

 

To Read the case yourself:  http://www.courts.state.ny.us/history/cases/palsgraf_lirr.htm

 

***http://aglr.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/the-reality-of-the-socratic-method-in-law-school-classrooms-a-call-to-preserve-our-longstanding-tradition/

Tween Angst at Forty Seven

Perhaps I’m having sympathy angst?

This morning I am wanting to work but my mind is preoccupied with my 6th grade daughter and all that is going on in her busy young life.

It’s MSP testing week at her school for one thing. Friendships are shifting at school as the third quarter begins and I’m hearing the stories after school and having “flashbacks” of my tumultuous 6th grade year. And this weekend the Bellevue Youth Theater play she’s been practicing for since February starts its two weekend run at the Ivanhoe Theater in Bellevue. Opening night is Friday night and a small tribe of us are going to enjoy Beauty and the Beast. I’ll have my heart in throat at least six times as I watch her say her lines as the young maiden friend of Belle. (Think I may skip wearing mascara, again…so when I start to cry my tears of joy, they won’t run my make up.)

Middle School. As well as I believe my daughter is handling all the pressures, I also sense overwhelm creeping in and in the air. And I can’t help her through it if she doesn’t want the help I offer. Isn’t that how it goes even for us adults? I’m feeling a little helpless this morning, knowing full well that she ultimately will in her own time handle this.

(Even when working with writing clients, I understand COMPLETELY that it will be their process not mine, as they get in touch with their writing style and rhythm and voice.)

So why, then, can’t I accept that “We all get to live with B’s choice to do nothing about her small crisis for the moment?”

THE REALITY IS:

We can’t help people, really, if they don’t want our help. We can’t be helped by others if we won’t allow ourselves to be helped. It’s an unpleasant cycle.

Mediation. It’s been suggested to repair a known rift but one of the parties won’t have it. What to do then? Surrender to what is and imagine a space and field for some positive shift and healing to occur. Practice being less attached to the outcome and let come what may and deal with what comes up when it comes up. Cease with pushing things to happen that would be premature.

Business activities feel like this at times too. Things happen on timelines we wish we could “control” but  can’t. Things going South that looked like they were well on their way to be a sure thing. What then can we do? Something else that prepares the field for good things, even the smallest of activities, feels better than doing nothing.

That feels like me mediating with myself, which in this case is about as good as it gets.

My wish for the tween in all of us: When we have angst and prefer to avoid conflict may we find the will power to address the “gremlin” taunting us. May we take back our personal power to speak what is on our minds and hearts and get things done that need getting done. May we remember we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Achievements.
Acknowledgment.
Acceptance.

At the end of the day, we must first be at peace within if we are to be at peace in the world.

 

 

A Call for Entries

What is your favorite post on this community blog and why? Is it yours or another blogger’s writing?

What brought you to the Weekly Circle in the first place and what keeps you coming back as you can?

What sparks your urge to contribute to this creative canvas?

We’ve discussed pulling together a collection of our best shorts and the time has come!

In the name of inspiring others to launch community blogs that are rich with content and a sense of community worth spending a morning coffee hour with, let’s gather our favorite pennies and daffodils.

Suggest the posts that have made you laugh and think the most.

Let’s collaboratively create a blueprint that inspires and supports others in search of a writing community.

First deadline for nominations is May 15th.

Your Fearless Prolific Founder,

Deborah Drake – Authentic Writing Provokes