Search Results for: label/one word 2011

wind and words and things: a loose collection of thoughts on my one word at the halfway point

Image via weheartit

I’m training for a distant half-marathon, and the place where I run most often is a trail that runs straight along a riverbed to the ocean. It’s usually breezy, often downright windy, the kind of wind that makes a roaring noise over the music from my headphones. And so I often find myself pushing against invisible resistance, running into the wind. 

Some days I feel it as a challenge and I smile a little, grit my teeth, and push a little harder. Some days it’s almost too much and the dread rises and I cry out, Oh, God, will I always be running into the wind? Some days it is too damn much and I just cry. I cry because the way I have to claw against this unrelenting force on the trail feels like a physical manifestation of the near-constant feeling that I’m struggling mightily just to inch forward, or even to hold ground, in so many other areas in my life.  So many times I’ve sat hunched over on my couch without even the strength to ask, Oh, God, will I always be running into the wind?

* * *

My life is full of gaping wounds. I can see them now where I couldn’t before. I go from pain to pain, some days. My heart is raw, and the pain far closer to the surface than it used to be. I feel haunted, by bad decisions and hurt I’ve caused and the hurts of the world and my own seemingly permanent ineptitude. I feel stalked by secrets, so that the thought of sharing them begins to seem less painful than the prospect of keeping them. 
I knew this was going to happen when I chose feeling as my One Word for 2011. Back in January, I wrote

I know that feeling is the key to all the things I want to do.  Even the terrifying feelings with huge horned claws, they’re the first steps to the joyful ones with balloons and confetti and cream-cheese-frosted cupcakes.  The first steps to the real, open life I want.

I’m dwelling with the huge horned claws, looking at them every day, because I want that real, open life. I’m letting myself be sad, angry, frustrated, grief-stricken, accepting that those are ok places to be, when before I would have glanced at them and then humped on with my pack. I am still afraid, but I’m walking through the dark valleys without closing my eyes, peering into the shadows, even, to bring their contents to light. And I’m learning to let go of secrets. Learning to find the balance between protecting the privateness that is my nature and dissolving the outer hardness I’ve let grow for too long.  You’ve seen some of that here, and you’ll see more in the weeks to come. 
My progress is slow. It may take a long time, much longer than a year. Sometimes I have to learn things all over again. Sometimes I’m still paralyzed by fear. Sometimes I feel like I’m just stepping in place. Such is this life.

* * *

Earlier this year I started keeping a gratitude journal, inspired by Ann Voskamp and the many friends who are part of her 1000 Gifts community. I’ve kept the journal off and on, a too-little list of the things in my life, big and small, that I have to be grateful for. 
Recently, I came back to it after a long time away because I read on a blog somewhere (which I can no longer find–maybe one of you saw it too?) that it is impossible to hold onto anger or fear and gratitude at the same time.  That moments of true gratitude have a way of revealing those other things as mostly irrelevant, and that looking for things to be grateful for can ease the hardness of life.  And so I began again in the journal, adding to my list a few things one day, a handful the next, as they came to me. The third day, I woke up with a song in my heart, all joy.  It wasn’t my circumstances that had changed; it was me. Life was delicious.
Yesterday when I went running, it was windy, but I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t worry about how it would affect my time, or how I’d never hit my target distances. Instead, I remembered: that sometimes the wind is at my back, and sometimes it works to diffuse the heat the sun would pour down on me, and sometimes the victory is in the keeping moving or even holding ground, no matter how the wind blows. So I put my head down, and I imagined the brim of my hat slicing into the wind, and I ran.

- – -
This post is my OneWord halfway mile marker. Read more on my One Word.  Meet Alece and learn about the OneWord2011 project. Catch up with the community.

wind and words and things: a loose collection of thoughts on my one word at the halfway point

Image via weheartit

I’m training for a distant half-marathon, and the place where I run most often is a trail that runs straight along a riverbed to the ocean. It’s usually breezy, often downright windy, the kind of wind that makes a roaring noise over the music from my headphones. And so I often find myself pushing against invisible resistance, running into the wind. 

Some days I feel it as a challenge and I smile a little, grit my teeth, and push a little harder. Some days it’s almost too much and the dread rises and I cry out, Oh, God, will I always be running into the wind? Some days it is too damn much and I just cry. I cry because the way I have to claw against this unrelenting force on the trail feels like a physical manifestation of the near-constant feeling that I’m struggling mightily just to inch forward, or even to hold ground, in so many other areas in my life.  So many times I’ve sat hunched over on my couch without even the strength to ask, Oh, God, will I always be running into the wind?

* * *

My life is full of gaping wounds. I can see them now where I couldn’t before. I go from pain to pain, some days. My heart is raw, and the pain far closer to the surface than it used to be. I feel haunted, by bad decisions and hurt I’ve caused and the hurts of the world and my own seemingly permanent ineptitude. I feel stalked by secrets, so that the thought of sharing them begins to seem less painful than the prospect of keeping them. 
I knew this was going to happen when I chose feeling as my One Word for 2011. Back in January, I wrote

I know that feeling is the key to all the things I want to do.  Even the terrifying feelings with huge horned claws, they’re the first steps to the joyful ones with balloons and confetti and cream-cheese-frosted cupcakes.  The first steps to the real, open life I want.

I’m dwelling with the huge horned claws, looking at them every day, because I want that real, open life. I’m letting myself be sad, angry, frustrated, grief-stricken, accepting that those are ok places to be, when before I would have glanced at them and then humped on with my pack. I am still afraid, but I’m walking through the dark valleys without closing my eyes, peering into the shadows, even, to bring their contents to light. And I’m learning to let go of secrets. Learning to find the balance between protecting the privateness that is my nature and dissolving the outer hardness I’ve let grow for too long.  You’ve seen some of that here, and you’ll see more in the weeks to come. 
My progress is slow. It may take a long time, much longer than a year. Sometimes I have to learn things all over again. Sometimes I’m still paralyzed by fear. Sometimes I feel like I’m just stepping in place. Such is this life.

* * *

Earlier this year I started keeping a gratitude journal, inspired by Ann Voskamp and the many friends who are part of her 1000 Gifts community. I’ve kept the journal off and on, a too-little list of the things in my life, big and small, that I have to be grateful for. 
Recently, I came back to it after a long time away because I read on a blog somewhere (which I can no longer find–maybe one of you saw it too?) that it is impossible to hold onto anger or fear and gratitude at the same time.  That moments of true gratitude have a way of revealing those other things as mostly irrelevant, and that looking for things to be grateful for can ease the hardness of life.  And so I began again in the journal, adding to my list a few things one day, a handful the next, as they came to me. The third day, I woke up with a song in my heart, all joy.  It wasn’t my circumstances that had changed; it was me. Life was delicious.
Yesterday when I went running, it was windy, but I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t worry about how it would affect my time, or how I’d never hit my target distances. Instead, I remembered: that sometimes the wind is at my back, and sometimes it works to diffuse the heat the sun would pour down on me, and sometimes the victory is in the keeping moving or even holding ground, no matter how the wind blows. So I put my head down, and I imagined the brim of my hat slicing into the wind, and I ran.

- – -
This post is my OneWord halfway mile marker. Read more on my One Word.  Meet Alece and learn about the OneWord2011 project. Catch up with the community.

alis volat propriis

Image via Pinterest

My word for 2011 was feeling, and boy did I ever go through it on that one. I think I chose it because I could sense that feeling would run through 2011 like a rushing wind whether I wanted it to or not.

That’s kind of the sense I have about this year’s word too. I’ve chosen the word release, not just because it’s something that I want, but because it’s something I can feel happening, a movement in my spirit that I don’t think I can stop. Huge, monumental change is in store for me in the next eighteen months. Divorce, dissertation, graduation. Maybe relocation, career change. I don’t know. I don’t know any of it, but I know that these things will take time and energy, maybe all I have. So I don’t want to waste any on unnecessary things.

I’m feeling the need to be unencumbered. That this will be a year of shedding, a year of letting go. Of my marriage, obviously. That may be the most visible thing. Of possessions, yes. I have too much stuff, and I need to carefully consider what it’s for. But also of dreams, plans, expectations. I need to reevaluate, reconfigure. I need to open my hands so I can see whether the things I’ve been clutching are worth holding on to. Instead of agitating, I might need to stand very, very still in order to see what moves around me.  It might be a year of slowing down, freeing myself of the deadlines I’ve imposed, taking time to exhale, so that when the right moment comes I can run fast.

But it will also be a year of stepping out, naked maybe. Of doing the things my heart says to do, even if I’m terrified. Running a half-marathon, as a tangible thing. Fighting for what I believe in. Learning where to say yes and where to say no. Having the courage to listen to and be very, very patient with myself.  Letting go of fear, of the shoulds of other people and that I put on myself.

In all of this, there will be opportunities to let go of maybe the hardest things. Of disappointment, bitterness, anger, and offense. Guilt and shame, too. Of things that keep me moving in circles or craning my neck backwards or just pinned to the ground with their weight.

In 2012, I want to release all the things that keep me in any way from moving forward–because forward I am going.

I can feel it.

* * *
The OneWord movement is growing! Learn more about it, meet the founder, Alece, and other community members, or join in, on the website or in the comments here.

oh, feeling

Did I know what I was in for when I chose feeling as my one word in January? Part of me thinks I did. Not knew in a seeing the future sense, but knew that it was going to be a difficult year, and that I needed to embrace it instead of fighting it or trying to wish it away. If I couldn’t embrace it, I at least needed to be able to acknowledge it, live with it.

I’ve cried a king’s ransom of tears. In public, in private. Outside a movie theater in San Jose. At my house, probably at yours. In front of people, which is big, but by myself too, which is almost bigger because it turns out this year has been about learning to face myself. In the past, I have been my own biggest rejecter, my own biggest denier. I have held myself to ridiculous standards and punished myself when I didn’t meet them. I have refused to take myself for what I am, refused to acknowledge pain and sorrow, written myself and my feelings off. What this comes down to, this way I’ve treated myself, is that I have hated and despised who I am–and if this year has taught me anything, it’s that I deserve better. And so do the people around me. If I can’t accept my own messes and failures, how can I love others and meet them in their places of need? In order to be better to others, I must be better to myself first.

I look back at where I started, and where I was six months in, and I can marvel at the change in me, how much I’ve learned from giving myself the space and freedom to feel. I’m learning how to recognize my feelings and deal with them without dismissing them–that gratefulness is the key to heart-peace, that sometimes it takes a good long run or a long drive or a hot bath to sort things out. I’m learning that being open about what I’m feeling creates space for genuine relationships to grow, allows people to respond to me in love and teaches me to respond in kind.  Maybe all of this sounds obvious to you, but these have been hard-taught lessons for me.  And they’re lessons I’ll keep learning for a long time.

The year was more eventful than I would have liked. (Understatement champion: me.) I walked–am walking–a hard road.  But I feel more at peace with myself than I ever thought I would, more at home with myself.  At home with both joy and pain, sometimes at the same time. The struggles are loud, and want to be louder than the victories. But sometimes I think the quiet victories are the best ones.

* * *
This post is my OneWord 2011 wrap-up. Read more on my One Word.  Meet Alece and learn about the OneWord2011 project. Catch up with the community.

well, looky here

You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing much here, even though when I am here I tend to have writing on the brain.  Yeah, sorry about that. But y’all? I am writing, a lot of other places. In fact, I have so much writing to do that I had to turn down a really exciting book project. (Um, did you know that I’m a writer? Because I think I only just realized that. No, really.)

Besides twitter, here’s where I’ve been piling words lately:


I’ve been asked to write a short column for the student newsletter at my school. You guys, no one ever salivated so much over 200 words in her life–mostly because I’m excited to tack on the word “columnist” to my resume and start acting like a big shot at the library. This week, I’m polishing up my first column about the local farmer’s market. I get to be part-helpful and part-tongue-in-cheek-pain-in-the-ass, which you know is my favorite combination.  (Are you still thinking about how I said “ass”?) Mostly, it reminds me that I like writing, and thinking about writing. And I really like deadlines.

I also turned in a book chapter this month, part of that book on Louis Armstrong I’ve been working on for hundreds and thousands of years. You know, every time I procrastinate on this project it’s because I forget about the deep joy that comes from writing about something I love, something I have soul passion for. Louis Armstrong is like that for me. So next time I crab about how much work I have to do, remind me, will you?

Finally, Nish at Deeper Story invited me to be in the Reader Spotlight this week! I get to share about storytelling and tell a little bit of my story, and it’s great fun. (Louis and Henry may make appearances. Ahem.) I’ve been beyond excited about it, and I realized that it’s not just because I believe in what Deeper Story does (though I do); it’s also because I’m so happy to be part of a community, to have conversations that matter, to both give and take. So come over and check it out!

Do you notice a theme here? Happiness. (And italicized words.) Writing gives me a special kind of satisfaction. I’m adding that to my list of Things I Need to Remember, because I’m inclined to forget. I get too caught up in being scared of all the things I don’t know or might not do right, and it turns out I’m missing out. But this is the year of not missing out. So.

The lesson is this: if you want to make me happy, ask me to write something. If you want to send me over the moon, ask me to write something on a deadline. You’ll see my smile from the space station.

The Enterprise reads you loud and clear. Smile away.
* * *
I didn’t even know it when I wrote it, but this post has my One Word written all over it. 
More on my One Word, and Alece and the OneWord2011 project.