22 January 2015

#TBT: Finding Peace - One Year Later

Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.
~ Cormac McCarthy

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t's Throwback Thursday ~ a day when people usually post pictures of themselves in diapers.  And those are just the college photos!

ENFPs aren’t known for following the rules ~ we like structure, we just like to bend it.  So I usually post videos or links to classic songs (rock and otherwise).  

And today, Kimberly over at Being A Wordsmith reminded me that #TBT can be used to share old posts.

Find Peace Amoung the Pieces was written in August 2013.  It was real.  It was raw.  And it was heartbreaking to re-read.  I remember well the feelings I talked about.  The need to escape.  Standing at the edge of despair.  And then ~ I noticed the date.

August 30. 

One year later to the day, I sat in the bow of a fishing boat, headed toward the adventure of a lifetime.  An adventure I couldn't have dreamed of when I wrote that post a year ago.  An adventure that changed my heart.
Image: © bogdanwanko (123rf.com)
Change isn't always a bright, showy spectacle.  It seeps gently, quietly into the blood.  Or burrows deep in the soil of thought and reflection.  Sometimes, you don't see the flowers or the fruit until much, much later.

And in August 2013, I couldn’t know it, but I planted the seeds.  For months, nothing happened.  Or rather, it seemed like nothing happened.  But those seeds were trying hard to germinate.  It’s just that they needed the salt spray of Kodiak, Alaska to finally take root.  And five months later, they're still growing.

I can't wait to see what blooms next.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
What seeds are you cultivating for a later harvest?

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16 January 2015

Writing Isn't Work Because It Isn't Difficult

Writing is a relationship that you choose to have. Commit to being loyal, devoted, and faithful to it. Give it your attention.
~ The Write Life

Posts on La Belle are written with Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, and Edwardian.  For best viewing, download these fonts.

h! You’re a writer?  That’s not hard work ~ I could do that!  It’s not like you’re working in a mine on a 12 hour shift.”

I often hear some variation of this statement.  So often, that a little piece of the typewriter inside me breaks each time.  So often, I wonder why I write at all.  So often, that I begin to believe the lie.

And for a writer, that spells doom.

Yes, there are moments ~ sometimes whole days of them ~ when writing feels effortless.  As if I can just speak a Potteresque “I solemnly swear I am a writer” and the words magically appear on the page. When ideas flow over me like rapids in a river.  And affirmations and comments pop up like dandelions on my blog.

But if I believe that writing (or any of the arts, really) is always effortless, the moment it ceases to be and becomes arduous and monotonous and boring, I quit.  I feel sad, discouraged.  Or restless and uneasy.  Like an addict, I rush to fill that gnawing ache in my gut with minutes on Twitter, hours on Facebook, and days on Pinterest.

Yet no matter how many times I tweet, update my status, or pin images of wise sayings ~ that gaping hole inside never gets filled.

This cycle of starts and stops, excitement and discouragement has been my life for as long as I can remember.  I felt powerless to change it, sometimes not even aware the cycle was repeating until my pens and paper had long collected dust.  

No matter how many times my friends would tell me I needed to write. No matter how many writing courses I took.  No matter how many articles on writing and being a better writer I read.  Nothing pierced the thick walls of doubt and discouragement.  Nothing convinced me that I had a gift, much less one worth sharing.

Until Harvester Island.

At the Wilderness Writing Workshop, I was surrounded by loving, accepting, talented writers.  Writers who read my work, showed me where it needed improvement, and declared it a gift worth sharing.  A gift worth honing. 

A gift worth the hard work and commitment.

In the ensuing weeks after my return home, I rode a high, cocooned in a writerly honeymoon stage.  The writing was copious, effortless, easy.  Not hard work at all.  But as time wore on, and outside influences ~ negative influences ~ pressed in, I forgot.  Forgot that love ~ of any kind ~ demands commitment, patience, and work.

It wasn’t long before the ink dried up, the words disappeared, and my heart shut down.

I tried to ignore it, that ache.  Filled my time with social media and throwaway books.  Sometimes, this would backfire.  I would read something and think, That position is outrageous!  I need to write an article about that.  Or a thought would come to me, I’d talk it out in my head and think,  When I get to my desk, I need to write this down.

But it never happened.  I never wrote those articles or jotted down my thoughts and reflections.  Because who was I kidding?  No one wants to hear what I have to say.  And even if they did, nothing I write comes out perfect.  My first drafts are terrible ~ rambling, emotional, boring.

Despite this inner angsty whirlpool, I managed to write pieces here and there.  Usually completed a couple of days before my monthly writers’ group at Water Street Studio.  Except I went to the last meeting empty handed.  I had a piece at home, a first draft so bad even I was bored and disgusted with it.  So I didn’t share it.  And that night, warmth and love broke through the negativity.  Again.

But that’s what this group is for!  To share our works in progress, to bounce ideas off each other, and work on our writing, no matter how crappy our first drafts. You're in a safe place.

I almost cried with gratitude and relief.  It was as if I needed permission to write crap.  Permission to work hard, to write and rewrite and rewrite again.  To have first and second and third drafts that even a gossip rag wouldn’t print.  Because that’s what a writer does: she sits in a chair even when she doesn’t want to and wrestles with words and ideas.

You could even say, she mines for them.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Are you committed to your art?

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05 January 2015

2015: The Adventure Begins

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
~ Rudyard Kipling

Posts on La Belle are written with Georgia, Times New Roman, Vivaldi, and Edwardian.  For best viewing, download these fonts.

ne Word to rule them all,
One Word to find them,
One Word to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them….

Or, something like that.

For several years now, I’ve begun the new year with one word ~ a word that I hope will influence, change, and inform the year it’s given to. 

A word that I hope will influence, change, and inform  me as well. 

Some years have been better than others.  Usually, however, I get caught up in the daily nothings of life and forget to mediate on the word and reflect on whether I’m living it.  Or forget to do a monthly check-in and reflection.

But whether I follow through or not, I chose a new word every January 1.

This year, I was a little late thinking about which word I would choose.  Late as in I-just-picked-it-last-week late.  I looked through hundreds of words.  Bright words.  Strong words.  Inspiring words.  Startling words.

But none of them claimed my heart.

All I could think of was Kodiak and how pivotal that week was. (Sick of hearing about it yet?)  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a Word for the Year shouldn’t be randomly chosen.  It shouldn’t be completely disengaged from either your life or the word from the last year.

In the past, I’ve chosen a word based on something ~ some virtue I wanted to attain, some flaw I wanted to overcome, some habit I wanted to kick (or begin.)  But although the words weren’t necessarily opposed to the others, they didn’t support each other either. 

And that week in Kodiak was an adventure that is carved into the marrow of my bones. 

I had never done anything like it. Had never let go enough to consider it.  Yet, in the end, I went and was forever changed.  And I wanted to build on that experience. Draw it out.  Savor it.  Repeat it ~ if in smaller ways.  So when I thought about what word I wanted to inform 2015, a word that spoke to my newly opened and slightly less fearful heart, it became as clear as the sky on a winter sky.

Iceland Waterfall (Seljalandsfoss)
Image: © Tomas1111

Not just travel (although I plan on doing that.)  Not just attempt something new (although I plan on doing that as well.)  Adventure also applies to life.

Actively living it.
Devouring it.
Draining it.
Embracing it.

Adventure means exploring ~ new places, new things, new activities.  Exploring also means  going deeper into my heart ~ excavating past hurts, learning more about why I do the things I do.  It means rooting out fears and taking risks and letting go and reaching out.

It means living life with abandon.

So for the next twelve months, I’m going to live the “Adventure” and let it inform the year.  And here at La Belle, when I talk about Art or Writing or Hospitality or Mental Health ~ I’m going to keep “Adventure” in mind.  I'm confident it’ll be epic.

May your new year be one big adventure.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
What is your word for 2015?

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01 January 2015

Happy New Year!

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy New Year! 

Oremus pro invicem,

~ Mikaela

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