Hello Dear Reader,
Day 5 of the new year. So far, so good. I have to tell you that one of my "goals" for the new year has already been met!
I have been writing this blog since my birthday in 2009. So it is just a smidge over a year old. I am pretty happy that I have maintained it for a year. I get positive feedback from the friends and family who follow it and who read it when I send out updates. I am truly grateful for that and it gives me both pleasure and momentum whenever someone leaves a comment or sends me an email in response to a post.
This year, in 2011, my goal is to have at least one comment from someone who I am not related to nor do I know personally. I would also like to increase my number of followers and have that increased number include folks I do not know personally.
The first half of that goal was met on January 2! I got a comment from a stranger! Although, truly, any other woman around my age who writes poetry, blogs about it and reads other poet's blogs is not all that "strange" to me, is she?
I was SOOOOOO stoked to see her comment!!! (Thank you S!)
I had a similar feeling when I reviewed the past year. For many reasons 2010 was extremely difficult. Key, of course, was the death of my mother at the age of 61. That was a challenging time for me for many reasons in addition to my mom's passing. But I got through it - as I am wont to do in most situations - or I wouldn't be sitting here writing, would I?
After my mom passed in August the year continued to be challenging in ways both good and bad (from a new job I love but that gives me a ton of work to too many deaths of people I knew - the deaths of the young, the unexpected, quick deaths being the most difficult to process.) But from the range of experiences over the last 6 months or so I have learned so much.
I have learned the importance of breathing...no, really. You may laugh - "Yes, of course, we know it is important to breathe..." but I mean it. We take it for granted, we don't pay attention to it, we do it without thinking about it. Breathe mindfully. If things are tough, breathe. If things make you feel sad, or stressed, or depressed it is OK. Just feel what you are feeling and pay attention to your breath and you will get through it. Anger, sadness, fear, joy, envy, confusion...breathe through it all.
Being able to breathe and "be in the moment" (however cheesy that may sound to some of you) I was able to be fully present with my mom when she took her last breath. I was able to move on to a new job - and manage the stress of essentially being a first year teacher again now that I am teaching a new subject. When the workload gets to be too much I literally stop, breathe, and think about what the important things are in my life - what I have identified as my top 5 priorities:
1. Having fun with family and friends
3. Practicing Yoga
Then, after pausing, breathing, and thinking about what is important to me I move on, usually with a clearer view of how much time I want to spend worrying about something (an unhappy student/parent, the stacks of papers to grade, the loads of laundry piling up or the annoying little dust bunnies who taunt me from every corner) that is not on my list of truly, madly, deeply important things.
The week after my mom died I submitted some poems for a local event - In Celebration of the Muse. This is a major event for women poets in Santa Cruz (which, honestly, is a hot bed of poetic talent). It has been going on annually for 30 years and I have been going, as an audience member and admirer, for over 5 years. One year I wrote in my journal how I wanted to read at the Muse someday. Well, 2011 is my year! I got in! And the beautiful thing is that the organizers have asked me, specifically, to read the poems I have written about my mom.
I also had work accepted this year by two other lit reviews (Shemom and the Porter Gulch Review) and had a piece selected as a finalist (top 5 out of over 250) in another contest. Considering I only submitted work to 7 places getting in to 3 and being a finalist in the 4th is not too bad!
So, as I look back over the year, I am altogether happy. I had some successes with my poetry and made progress on the novel (25,000 words worth thanks to NaNoWriMo), I have a new job that I am thoroughly enjoying, I got to be with my mom when she passed away, I have learned a lot, I have established a steady yoga and mediation practice, my children continue to grow and flourish, I have supportive, loving, amazing friends and family who totally showed up in a time of great need, my father (my mom's ex-husband) was spellbindingly present and amazing during my mom's death, I had a most remarkable time on retreat for my 43rd (!!!) birthday and I am feeling juicy and ripe as I head into 2011.
This year I will continue to write, share my work, apply and submit to publications and events that I think I will never get in to, to write to you and hope you spread the word about Vinegar and Vanilla, to breathe, to learn, to love, to dream, to have fun, to stretch, to walk and ride instead of drive, to smile at everyone, to laugh every chance I get, to dance and sing to the music and to have fresh flowers on my table - because I promised my mom I would.