Fulfilling a Vision

Something  occurred to me again, because I already knew it, but you know how it is when you ‘really’ get something. My thought is about how important it is to take action steps when developing a creative life. That may seem like a no-brainer but it’s  not always so evident or easy. There was a time in my life that I thought, while lying on the sofa watching television, that ‘someday’ and ‘somehow’ I was going to create something successful. What I can say about that is that at least I had a vision.

I still sometimes struggle with taking action. I often sit in front of the television and watch other people’s creativity at work. I usually get up after a couple of minutes and say to myself, “let me go and do my creative work; thanks for the inspiration.” My excuse that I worked all day is just an excuse. Afterward, I go to bed feeling a lot better about myself than if I had used ‘having a long day’ as a reason for not writing or doing something else I love, like picking up my beloved accordion.

Another thing I find important in fulfilling my vision is sharing it with someone else. When I went to school as a child I got in the habit of covering my work. There was always another kid who resembled a crane as they tried to sneak peeks at the answers on my pages. Even as an adult there have been people that were unscrupulous with how they treated the work I shared with them. But still, there’s a certain power to sharing one’s vision. I believe that by putting my vision out into the Universe that it clarifies my plans, strengthens my commitment, and leaves my vision open to a blessing that can only be received if I’ve shared it aloud. So often, others’ feedback have helped me to view my work in an expanded manner. Will someone steal my idea? Maybe. But I think that each person’s vision is different and will be effected in a unique way. There’s enough to go around. By giving voice to my vision I am exhaling a prayer into the Universe that is abundant in its gifts.

Inspired

I’ve heard that it’s important to learn to say ‘no’ in a world of constant interaction, negotiation, and of being asked to participate in just one too many activities. I understand this and have learned to say ‘no’ to people and situations that are draining, harmful to my well-being, or just plain disagreeable. Saying ‘no’ has given me the time and heartspace to say ‘yes’ to new people and events as never before.

This weekend has been a whirlwind of connecting with friends and meeting new ones. Saturday, I had the privilege of listening to a group of talented and creative women at Maria Aponte’s Latina 50+ event held at the Bronx Museum. As a member of the Advisory Board, I’m enjoying my opportunity to experience others in a different sort of way. The conference participants’ boundless energy and endless desire to share knowledge, wisdom, and hope is almost unimaginable. A wonderful thing is that I am a part of this amazing group because I said ‘yes.’

Today, my spouse and I went to a midtown restaurant called, Don’t Tell Mama, to hear a dear friend, Ann McCormack, sing accompanied by musicians. I loved watching her as a performer and seeing her differently than ‘just’ a friend. The other performers wove a wonderfully enjoyable venue for us. During one particular composition I felt inspired. I was inspired to write a piece for my adolescent self, the one who had a terrible time still grieving the death of my sister, moving to a different neighborhood, and saying ‘yes’ to things that I should have said ‘no’ to at the time. At that point in my life I had no idea about the amazing things that were to come my way. I don’t think I would have believed how joyous my life would be. I wouldn’t have listened to me. Today, that adolescent part of me is listening and is encouraged to do things I would never think were possible. I am inspired to write for the adolescent me who is still inside of me and who now has the courage to hear my message- better late than never.

Writing: “a Puerto Rican author”

Preparing a novel for the actual “publish” entails details that I don’t think about in my daily life but some issues hover like a helicopter about to descend. There may be danger if I getting caught in the blades or I may clear them easily with the right positioning. So, I questioned myself, about my position when I prepared my author’s bio.

In the author bio for Covering the Sun with My Hand I described myself as Nuyorican. That’s a description- isn’t it? Except that to my knowledge I was born Puerto Rican from Puerto Rican parents. I happened to be birthed on Brooklyn soil. This may make me BrookloRican. Not.

I was actually Puerto Rican until I was about fifteen and my cousins declared I was Nuyorican. They were born in Brooklyn too and moved to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico for a period of time that was long enough for them to determine that there was a difference between us. I wasn’t ‘real’ enough. That type of accusation against one’s authenticity can stick to some of us lesser thick skinned people especially during adolescence when we are trying to ‘identify’ or at least develop a genuine sense of self.

I recently attended an author’s’ event where one of the self proclaimed ‘first identified’ as a ‘Nuyorican’ began waxing about the concept and then began on a variance of ‘Neo-Ricans.’ His verbalized expertise on the topic sounded complicated. I felt like I was fifteen again when I was told by ‘other’ what I was and what I wasn’t. ‘Other’ in this particular case means anyone or everyone who isn’t me. I’ve had decades to self explore and decide who I am and what I am whatever the outside opinion may be. What happens when one is a matured self -identified person is that when they hear this type of self-selection is that they say ‘Talk to the hand’ in a perfectly fifteen year old manner.

I’m not sure if I’m at peace with the self aggrandizement or grandiosity that often comes along with branding oneself as a type of writer or product. I’m also not of the mind where I want to try being  a particular entity that is loved or accepted by all. Fat chance with that anyway. Interestingly enough, most of the author descriptions I read are simple. Some authors live on a farm with their husbands, two kids, and a dog named Sam. Others live in Connecticut and that’s all I know about them. Will selling myself as a particular entity attract or repel readers? Or will they just like the stories? The jury is out.

What a freedom this all is. I was at my desk at my fairly new job the other day and a Security person passing my office called out, “You Puerto Rican?” I called back, “Yes.” Is it important? In some ways it is and in others it’s not. He didn’t ask me if I called myself Latina or whatever in the author bio of my novel. In fact, he didn’t know that I have a published book out and that my next novel is due to be released this year. He’s trying to get to know me while we keep up with the fast pace of our lives. That’s probably the most important, who I am as a person- not as a particular identified thing. There are some things about me that will never change and some things that will as I grow and develop on planet Earth.

I hope you read my bio in Nights of Indigo Blue: A Daisy Muñiz Mystery  when it is released later this year. I wonder how I’ll feel about it then.

-Peace

Spirituality: ‘That gift!’

The other day I heard an acquaintance talk about how terrible God is at gift wrapping. Just as on a birthday or at Christmas we may receive a gift, begin to unwrap it, and exclaim, “What the heck is this?” Our faces turn red, our words are stammered as we feel compelled to give thanks, all the while thinking, “What did I do to deserve this and how quickly can I get rid of it?”

Some of the situations I am ‘gifted’ with may be the same as that white elephant that turns up at my door. I’ve known plenty of people who have the knack of hiding presents that are received and they remain out of sight and, presumably, out of mind. Giving presents to my now deceased mother was often a trial. She didn’t use so many of the things I gave her. These were things that were sometimes frivolous- like the book pocket that she could hang from her mattress. She read herself to sleep at night and I thought she’d love it rather than have to step over the book in the morning. The book pocket remained in its box and I don’t how she got rid of it. I never saw it again, even when I rummaged through her belongings after she crossed over.

Underlying all of this, I am thinking about gifts and how God may give us what we certainly don’t want and don’t know what to do with. These gifts usually come in the form of misfortune and sometimes loss. An old friend of mine use to say “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and sometimes we get what we get.” It’s up to us to decide how we will handle the cross we’ve come to bear. It’s up to us to be decisive in how we will respond to an uncomfortable interaction, event, or long term relationship.

During this past year there have been many changes for me. I’m happy to report that these changes came from a place of no longer allowing myself to tolerate hurtful situations. Did God give me these demeaning episodes that I had a hard time letting go of? I don’t think so. I think that, as my friend said, “I got what I got,” and it was up to me to decide what was enough and what no longer served me in the best light. I believe, not that God gave me a terribly wrapped gift, but that my Higher Power was close by, supported me, and gave me a big old hug when HP saw what I decided to do with it. The wind up, my acquaintance explained, is that depending on how we view and handle the awfully wrapped gift, we may find it is actually something of beauty in the long run that adds to our life experience in a beneficial way.

For today, I will try to be mindful of what no longer serves me and how to manage that in the beautiful light of my existence that my God has blessed me with, for I am thankful of the gifts of life and choice.

Writing: Responsibility

‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’ is something that I learned a while back. I’m not one of those people that talk just to talk and to hear themselves speak as their chests swell with pride at the sound of their voice. That bores me, annoys me, and, sometimes, almost antagonizes me. That is when I stop listening or reading in the case of the written word.

We are blessed, in this country, with the right to say what we feel and what we believe. It’s important to me to use this right, this responsibility, in a learned way. My voice may be silent or my pen not flow across the pad until I am pretty certain of facts and what my motives are in speaking or writing things out.

I recently had a talk with a prospective agent and told them about my new project that is a story about intimate partner violence. Afterward I had a wave of share shame and thought, well, maybe, I can lessen the rawness of the scenes, maybe just a little rough, maybe not rape between a couple who stands side by side in the world together as they face the world. Maybe people would think this is too intense. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

My writing is my gift. With that comes responsibility to do the right thing. If I accept the gift of writing stories I must be loyal to the stories. I may sometimes be uncomfortable or embarrassed or feel shame. Wow. It’s just a story! No, it’s not. The back of my business card says, ‘A life is a story told…’ I must honor that.

The world I live in is riddled with violence, fear, anger, and hate. Without a solution, where do we go? I hold out for peace, I pray, I meditate, I am respectful of the person standing next to me. I hope that I am a healing, light force on this planet. Writing or speaking out about the hard things will be how I move forward in the solution of the pain that is etched on the faces I see and the words I hear. Awareness leads me to action and to responsibility in using the gifts I have received.

For today, I will write and pray for those who are in pain.

May you walk in beauty…

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Writing: waiting for the story

There are some authors who believe that writing is therapy or bloodletting; basically turning it into some form of catharsis or other. We’ve all seen the memes that warn not to piss a writer off because you will be in their next novel or that the writer has opened their veins while writing a particular piece. I’ve gone to therapy for that stuff and only let the lab technician draw blood for my annual check-ups. That doesn’t mean that my stories and many others I read don’t capture the essence of life itself, it just means that we are storytellers of maybe a different kind.

This morning, as I washed the breakfast dishes, I had the image of a young girl and her mother talking in that strained way adolescents and moms often have. I saw the rambling house they live in that was the shell that encapsulated said girl’s profound loneliness. A few moments into this reverie, I remembered a story I began writing a couple of years ago that went into my ‘silent file.’ The characters, it seems, are no longer silent but beginning to tell me the rest of their story. I know I have the original piece in one of my handy flash drives on my desk somewhere.

This is how Covering the Sun with My Hand was written. It started out as “The Eviction” and didn’t go anywhere until I put it away awhile and the protagonist, Julia Acevedo, woke me up here in this same house. It was on another morning that I was feeling serene and all right with my world and what I do in it. I’m not angry with my mother, or my children. I’m not proving anything today. I just am, just for today. I may be those other things tomorrow but today I’m not. I think this is why the story and the main characters are reaching out to me again. I think that I’ll temporarily name this one, “Just before the Miracle,” because that is how I’ve experienced the process of storytelling- waiting for something that might all ready be happening. I’ll keep you guys posted. I’m going to dry the dishes now.

Change happens

Change happens whether we want it or not. There are other powers out there that impact our lives. My spouse said “God is a great technologist” as we drove past the Delaware Water Gap. I agreed as I said, as I always do, “Wow, this is like being in 3D!” It’s my private joke since I like to believe that I live in a pan-dimensional way in this vast Universe.

As pan-D as I am, I still get stuck when change bids hello. Last December, Jury duty called. I picked up all and sat in a court room for two weeks. In January, my mouth opened at one of my part time jobs and I heard myself say, “I quit.” After six years, I knew it was time to quickly skidaddle.

Change, change, and more change. After adding more hours at my other other job, I was finally feeling a bit settled then Boom! my hours were cut, due to funding, and I am about to change job sites-again.

For this turtle it’s been tough. I despise change. I’ll write when this is over. I’ll blog when this is over. I’ll start that project when I’m settled. Forget it. I’ll do it now. Change is happening every moment. I am slowly learning to welcome it. Like the turtle, my real work on this planet is about healing. I’ll go where the Goddess sends me. I’ll do as She sees fit. After all, She is my employer. I may be slow like a turtle in getting there but once I get it, I truly get it.

Trudging along on my way to a happy destiny…carry on, fellow turtles.

Guilt in blogging

A friend told me that blogs seem to be guilt inducing. It seems that almost every time she visited a blog the latest posts were apologies for not posting regularly. I took that to heart. I’ve done that myself often enough. So what is the deal around that? It made me think of the phone calls that I haven’t returned yet. I want to. It’s just that I haven’t gotten around to them. I value the people. I value my time. What are my reasons for blogging? I want to blog when I have something to say- just like telephone calling.

Maintaining a relationship with my website is important. I had a web designer look at it.  Her feedback was that it was an “older model.” That it should be sharpened to keep up with the more successful bloggers. After talking around the possibilities she couldn’t come up with ideas and it remains as “older model.” Sometimes I’m psyched to change it around. But the truth is that I like my turtle and colors although I get into a quasi panic every time I read a post warning against light lettering against a dark background. Something about “over forty” eyes. I’ve got those too. Older models.

Every once in a while I check out new templates. They’re okay. I may switch up when I find the right one. I’m far away from being the anti-blogger I used to be. Blogging is like anything else. Other things come up and it gets pushed to the side for a while. I may not be blogging but I may be channeling a poem, revising a chapter, musing about character pathology or cleaning my bathroom.

Some people use their websites to tout their books, announce events, share links, fundraise or do interviews on exciting and creative people. I’ve done all of those at some time or other- except for fundraise. Whatever floats your boat.

I’m not apologizing for infrequent blogging. I’m not feeling guilty. I’m accepting my relationship with it.

Happy blogging!

 

Writing: A dash of humility

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I happened upon author Wally Lamb’s Facebook page. Wow. He has lots of friends and humility. His cover photo shows his novel covers. Wow again. Simple. I’d been browsing through a friend’s face book page and saw she was friends with Wally Lamb. So I went to check his page out.

I didn’t try to find his website. He must have one. Most of us do. That face book page satisfied me. It seems Mr. Lamb is writing another book and is just as excited as everyone else-us, his fans. I decided not to try to friend him. What would be my motive? It’s just nice to know he seems like a regular person and I love his books.

There are other “famous” authors’ pages I’ve tried to check out. They aren’t easily found. I’ve gone to their websites and they aren’t blogging like the rest of us wannabes. One author, who I used to respect, has a line on her website home page that says I’m not blogging because I’m writing. Oof, that one hurt. Another well respected author I’ve loved had a place on her home page where one could contact her. I tried. She never answered. Why? Because she’s probably writing.

Is it a sin to be accessible to your readers? How does one go from being a hopeful author, to one who is grateful for their fans, to I’m too important to connect with my readers? This curious writer would love to know. Hopefully as I grow as an author I can avoid the pitfalls of being too big for my britches. Wally Lamb did it. Maybe so could I.

 

Choosing what to write

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An opening line turned into a paragraph. It was glorious.  The sun, the sea, a boardwalk and a young woman who was looking out into the vast ocean and sky. The seagulls call and land at her feet. Her hair is blowing in the warm breeze. But wait…oh no. I find out she’s standing with some dude that isn’t the kind of man that shares my existence. He’s the kind of guy I avoid. He’s careless. Okay, maybe not careless. He’s violent. With his words and with his hands. Ugh.

This isn’t the type of book I want to write. But I continue to tap onto my laptop keys. The story emerges. Domestic violence. Not my favorite subject. In fact, it’s one that has kept me frustrated in my work life. I’ve sat across too many pretty young things that wouldn’t think of leaving these situations- not even for the children. So, I hesitated but the words kept flowing and I kept putting them down on paper. Because edits were due for my recently released novel Covering the Sun with My Hand I was able to put that manuscript away for a while. That’s over. That book is done and available on store bookshelves and on Amazon.com.  I took the manuscript back out and added more dialogue, more scenes, more details. The story is being to tell itself with all my reluctance.

Then I get another break. I reluctantly agree to work on Fridays, my sacred writing day, for several weeks. I’m not so thrilled about it. Doing psychiatric evaluations in a room the size of a thimble in a women’s shelter in NYC is something I can do even if I’d rather be writing. I do it. Then I find that there’s something poignant about sharing this space with mentally ill women. I begin to realize is that many of these women have fled other states in order to escape their violent husbands and boyfriends. When I begin to write their stories down I realize many of them have been physically assaulted by men in their lives since early childhood.

As I gazed into the swollen and bruised eye of one woman trying to get her to go for medical care it occurred to me that this was probably the 901th time she’s been punched. She’s tired. A scratched cornea doesn’t sound all that terrible. She probably can’t see what she looks like anyway because she’s lost vision in that eye. My heart opens and breaks a little. I can tell she feels that in the way she turns her head and gives me a half-smile. She agrees to go to the eye doctor like they told her to in the emergency room. I think the smallness of the room allowed for the intimacy and helped our energy vibes touch each other. I hope she goes.

As I write another line in the book I’d come to dread about domestic violence, I know now why I’ve been told to write it. It’s a gift from my Higher Power.  I’d wanted to write a story about ‘pretty.’ You know what they say. God laughs when you’re making plans. She must have been rolling on the floor watching me this time.

I carry on…