In December I visited with the students in the Hunterdon Central High School Workplace Readiness Program. The students’ sense of humor and honesty about the obstacles they face and their hopefulness about their own futures filled me with joy and renewed purpose—and reminded me we should never, ever let anyone tell us our dreams and goals are nonsense.

December 2015 Hunterdon Central Workplace Readiness Visit 2

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A Very Good Fortune

a very good fortune

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Taking Heart: How a Oven Fire Reminded Me How to Say No—and Yes

roses 2016roses 2016 neonIt’s been so long since I’ve posted there’s no point explaining my absence. What’s been taking place? LIFE—and lots of it—from family events to book signings, from workaday duties to freelance gigs to flights of fancy. I’d intended to begin posting anew the beginning of the year, but these plans were interrupted in part by an oven fire that required a fair share of time, money, and kitchen attention.

Our homeowner’s insurance helped to get things back in order. We also took a financial leap and replaced, along with the oven, a slowly expiring dishwasher, an impractical refrigerator, and—joy of joys—a new coffee pot! But the biggest impact this fire had was to scare me out of a kind of post-book promotion, post-holiday doldrums. The fire was truly frightening; it also sparked something inside that was being smothered.
roses 2016 poltergeistroses 2016 atomicI think people need different things to be creative. For some, it could be a deadline. Others need to work without time limits. I need a curious combination of freedom, to work on my own terms, and fellowship with those who have similar interests and goals. This became terribly out of balance and my creativity, and therefore my writing, suffered.

Because my writing was suffering, I suffered, too.

And because I wasn’t brave enough to make the hard decisions that would bring me back into direct contact with my creativity I guess it took a good scare to wake me up to the fact that if I want to keep writing I have to remove the elements from my schedule and my life that hold me back or drain my time and energy, and that’s there’s no way around making those hard choices, because life can change on a dime and if we don’t choose for ourselves (out of fear, lack of knowledge, or inertia) life will choose for us.

So for me that means, in part, acknowledging that I can’t do everything, saying no to all the people, place, and things I haven’t had the guts to say no to, and to begin saying yes again to the person I really am, was meant to be, and want to be.

petals

Part pilgrim, part hermit, I need to follow my own path. This sounds silly, but one of the first steps I’ve taken is to cancel my Twitter account. I’ve never been comfortable with that method of communication and book promotion and, for me, it has consumed time and effort better (and much more enjoyable) spent elsewhere.

I’m still a little scared, but I’m ready to continue taking my own council, taking action, and getting back to where I belong—writing books and poems.

petals blowing

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