Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vinegar: Fragile as a Balloon

Dear Reader,

One of my favorite quotes comes from Erykah Badu - on one of her cds she introduces a new song (The Fantagalistic Tyrone, I believe)and she says, "Now keep in mind, I'm an artist and I am sensitive about my shit."

Did you catch that?

"Now keep in mind, I'm an artist and I am sensitive about my shit."

So true, so true.

Us artists (you guys who know me best know I am making a face as I refer to myself as an "artist", but hey, progress, not perfection, right? Not long ago I would NEVER have been able to call myself an artist at all!) are sensitive folks.

I appreciated a moment at the Poetry Slam I went to last month when the MC was encouraging the audience to snap or clap or express their appreciation somehow because poets shrivel up and die if they don't get positive feedback.

Sure, all of us, artists or not, are like that - in need of positivity. But poets and other artists are more desperate for it. We shrivel at a much faster rate.

And then we are no fun to be around.

So, the point of this post, Dear, Dear Sympathetic Reader, is that I am shriveled today.

It doesn't take much. One ill-advised rejection from a poetry submission and my entire poetic path of good intentions is washed away like chalk on the sidewalk. I struggle to keep my chin up - to believe that the rest of my grand poetic plan will happen. To know that there are other markets out there, that I will be able to make the time to submit to them, to know in my bones that this is not a bad omen - that other poems that are hanging out there in submission limbo waiting to be loved will be just that...loved. To have faith that my path is well-tended and worthwhile and that I will continue to thrive as an artist and poet.

In need of loud snaps,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vanilla Shot: Quote of the Day

Each of us possesses a creative self. Claiming that is a transformational art. When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world. The ultimate creative act is to express what is most authentic & individual about you.

— Eileen M. Clegg

(This quote was sent to me from Kind Over Matter, a most fantastical blog that focuses on the amazing all around, and within, us. I highly recommend you check it out and sign up for her newsletter!)

Part of the work we have been doing in my writing workshop is around understanding ourselves more fully. Giving voice to what has been our story (whether an act of creative non-fiction or all out myth), defining our purpose in life and understanding our destination.

That last piece is so important.

I really believe that our destination is right here, right now. I am supposed to be here, at my desk, on my prep, writing a blog post on a dark, rainy morning. I am present when I write. I can't write if I am not. Even if I am living in my head, or recalling a time past or a time in another reality, I remain present.

However, I do have another, grander destination. More and more I understand that destination requires my creativity.

My destination requires me to be fully present with - and goddamnit! - in AWE of my creative self. She rocks!

Guess what? Your creative self ROCKS too. And you do have one. Think how nice it would feel to get back in touch with that long lost love. Mmmmmm! Makes you shiver just to think about it, even if you have to think all the way back to stubby scissors, paste and coloring outside of the lines with fat crayons. She is there. She misses you.

Reach out. I'll help you.

Lovingly, creatively,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Separate the Vinegar from the Vanilla

Dear Reader

What is it all about? I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, well, forever, really, 'cause this is the kind of thing that keeps me moving forward. Always exploring, trying new things, looking for new solutions. Some of you know this about me. Some of you even know that as much as I embrace this part of my personality I am equally frustrated by it.

Am I really the only one this dissatisfied? Or, am I the only one dissatisfied with being this dissatisfied?

I am talking about work, here, today. "Career" "Life's work" "Job"

Given the state of the world, the pain, the unrest, the uncertainty that appears to be continuing, unabated, for as far as the eye can see...I wonder - "What is truly important?" "What I am working for?"

I think many of us share this concern. For some the answer is that you work to give your family stability. But is money they only means to that end? If we work to pay the mortgage - can we buy a less expensive house? If we work to pay off bills - OK, I see the virtue in that - but we must strive to crave less STUFF.

To consciously simplify is essential to our freedom. To our RIGHT LIVELIHOOD.

I have been thinking about what my story is - what is the history I carry with me, that colors all I think and do and say. What is my purpose? How is it affected by this story I have been told and led to believe all these years. What is my destination? Where do I want to go, end up? And how do I want to get there? On accident? On purpose? In time? Too late?

What do I want to pass on to my children? There is a family legacy here - but is it worth passing on? Should I be more conscious of what it means and how it may affect them? Do I edit it for them?

What am I working for?

I believe my purpose is to be present. to experience life - through my own actions and through witnessing the lives of others. to honor and share those experiences honestly through my writing.

I believe my purpose is to put pen to paper, finger to keypad, thought to ink. To imagine, to dream, to represent, to stand up, to speak with my voice and my words, to be and be honest.

Where will this take me? How can I reconcile my desire to write and share and behold experience with a very real need to take care of my family? to contribute?

Where am I going with this? I am not sure.

But I am on my way...and that is all I got right now. Join me.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vanilla Amongst The Vinegar: Quote of the Day

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and sing it to them when they have forgotten.

- Arne Garborg

I cribbed this from one of my favorite blogs, Kind Over Matter. Amanda's blog is one of sweet relief from the day to day negativity we are exposed to. She shares her own positivity and that of many, many other wonderfully talented artists of every flavor. Check her out and let her know I sent you!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Very Vanilla: Recap of Reading at The Muse

Dear Reader

If you weren't there you missed out! What a great night! Not just because I was there reading my work, but because there were 19 other phenomenal poets there too!

Last Saturday was a magical night for me. I felt really good beforehand - a little nervous, yes, but mostly confident. I was afraid that reading poems about my mom would be really difficult. In fact, my goal was to make it without sobbing uncontrollably. I decided silently weeping would be OK.

I was a little worried about it a few weeks ago because when I started to read my work out loud, alone in my bedroom, I couldn't make it through Breathless without crying. Eventually I got to the point where I could make it nearly to the end before breaking down, but I thought that being in front of an audience might make me so nervous I would break down.

But I DID IT! I made it through all three, even Breathless, without tears. My voice did crack a couple of times, but all in all I nailed it. It felt great! It was a wonderful tribute to my mom, six months after her death. I felt like a debutante into the world of poetry readings, even though I had read before for the Porter Gulch Review. In Celebration of the Muse is definitely a bigger deal and I felt exhilarated afterwards.

Many folks came up to me after the reading and told me my poems moved them to tears, or that they could relate to my experience. They told me I touched them. That I read with passion. One woman contacted the director of the program asking for a copy of my poems to pass on to a friend, she was so touched.

I shared the stage with poets I admire, that I have made an effort to go hear read their work because they inspire me - and I was up there with them!

Wow. When can I do that again?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Love me like the hummingbird loves the cherry blossom...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A sunny day, a burger basket and Mary Oliver poems - some kind of poetic bliss...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shot of Vanilla: Poem of the Day

From today's Writer's Almanac:

by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

"Antilamentation" by Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men. © W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vanilla: The Muse is Coming, the Muse is Coming!!!

Well actually dear reader, as you know, the Muse is already here. In fact, she has been hanging out with me quite a bit lately -- which I am really enjoying!

So technically I am referring to the celebration of her, which is happening THIS Saturday.

But you knew that already because I have been brow beating you with this information since September when I found out I was selected to read!

Needless to say I am very nervous excited and can't wait to stand on that stage and read in front of one of the most poetry loving audiences on Earth!

With my heart racing,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Super Vanilla: Hear Me Reading!

Hello Dear Reader,

As you can perhaps tell by my last post (the photo) I am on some sort of cosmic experience... AKA ex t e n d e d jury duty.

Never fear, I am using the time wisely. Organizing, or at least trying to organize my writing, reading inspiring stuff, practicing reading for In Celebration of the Muse this Saturday, and generally practicing being present.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this link with you. I was invited to participate, along with 3 other fantastic poets, on a local radio station's The Poetry Show.

It was awesome! and fun! and I hope you enjoy listening to us read.

Writing, reading and listening,