Salix's Shiny Things

A magpie blog.

Goals and Resolutions Check-In #1 January 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 4:44 pm
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It’s been nearly a month since I wrote out some of the goals I want to accomplish this year, and I think that this is a good time to check in with myself to see how I’m doing. 

Confounding Issue #1: My computer went on the fritz about a week ago and I have’t been able to get anyone to work on it yet.  So I’ve been making do with my pocket computer (aka “smart phone”) for the time being.  It’s not the same, and I’m missing out on getting some critical things done (hello, taxes!).  But at the same time, it’s forced me to spend more time reading, sewing, vacuuming, and such, so that’s a good thing. 

Confounding issue #2: Cold, rain, and colds.  We’ve been getting a fair amount of rain, which is great for drought relief, but at the same time I’ve been neglecting my running, because every time I’ve gone out in the cold, I’ve caught a cold.  So I’m just laying low for the time being.  I have been pretty regular about tandem bicyicling with my neighbor at the gym, so at least I’ve been getting some cardio work in this winter. 

What has been going well?
I have been “in the world” more this month.  I went to a writing group last week that I enjoyed immensely.  I was nervous, but I didn’t allow myself to dwell on that.  I simply took a chance and went.  I trusted myself to be able to handle it, and I trusted that the others in the group were going to be kind.  I let myself share – share my joy, my heart, my gratitude, and my silliness. I let myself speak from the heart, I let myself be generous with kindness.  I had learned to keep those kinds of things locked up inside me, for the most part.  But in that space, I could trust that generosity would be met with generosity, kindness with kindness.  It was amazing to be able to express myself without fear of being denigrated or dismissed.

That was definitely a step in the right direction.  I’ve felt so much more confident and calm this whole past week, more like my old college self.  I think a huge part of it was being able to share myself as a writer.  I am a writer because I write, and I can write well and generate joy and beauty with my words.  And I am now able to feel like that part of myself is healing and growing more and more vibrant.  I feel like I’m able to reclaim that identity in ways I wasn’t ready to before. 

In summary: I’ve definitely made some progress towards some of my most important goals, and that´s good.  I think that I should do these self-checks a little more frequently, maybe twice a month or once a week. 


Appreciated and admired. January 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — LP @ 12:08 pm
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I’ve had a really wonderful week.  And the main reason is that I went out of my comfort zone and joined a writing group.  Yeah, that would be way, WAY out of my comfort zone, but I did it, and I am very glad I did.  The writing group main theme is “Healing through Writing”, and what made it work really well for me was the fact that all the comments on each other’s writing had to be positive – what did you like? What stuck with you? What was strong? This was a major departure from the kind of writing and responding to other’s writing that I had experienced in school.  Even with the “sandwich” method, where the idea is to surround the critique with positive comments, you are still as a listener required to pay attention to what was “bad” or “weak” in the piece.  By making the task of commenting just geared towards the positive, you are looking, and finding, the “good”, the “strong”.  Hearing the positive comments and being forced to find the “good” in other’s pieces made for an amazing experience.  It was so encouraging and wonderful to hear people respond in warm, caring ways towards my writing.  It definitely created a safe space to communicate my ideas, and I felt relieved of the burden of rewriting and reworking a piece in response to criticism.  I could simply enjoy the process of fitting words to images in pleasing patterns to tell a story of my own making.  My self confidence increased by orders of magnitude.  I felt, for the first time in a long time (I think since a friend and I would play poetry games in coffee shops right before I went to grad school) like I was really good at this, not just writing, but also in connecting with others in joyful, playful ways.  Like I really did have something positive to contribute to the world. 

But, I still have a ways to go towards healing my broken confidence and sense of self worth.  Which isn’t surprising, as years of being ignored, undervalued, dismissed, gaslighted, etc, don’t go away overnight.  But it was such a huge step in the right direction for me.  It was fun just to have fun doing something I really enjoy with other like-minded folks.  And it was a good reminder that not everyone (in fact, very few people, as it turns out) is an overly critical wet blanket like my ex.  As I continue to accrue these positive experiences with others, I continue to heal.

On Sunday, my son had choir practice.  They were starting a new piece, the Mozart Alelulia canon, which has three parts that are sung in a round.  It’s very pretty, and a little bit complicated.  Z happened to be the only one who could make it, so the director asked if I’d like to help sing the different parts.  And I did, and I didn’t do so badly, and I had fun harmonizing.  After we went through the piece once with all the parts, Z started going off about how I was really good and how I should write a book and other things, and I responded in my normal way when he says stuff like that.  I was very self depricated, I said thanks, but I don´t know if that’s really possible, I´m not really good enough, because you have to be really good… and so forth.  But this time, the choir director was there, and I noticed that she had this look on her face that said “Oh your son is so sweet, it´s breaking my heart!” And I realized that maybe I should just shut up and take the compliment already.  And it was a bit painful to realize that extreme self deprecation was not a good example to show to my son.  My attempts at humility went too far, and were presenting as a lack of joy in life, a lack of joy in my accomplishments, and an inability to connect in a positive way with my own son. 

I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want my son to grow up like that.  I don’t want to be tiny and unnoticable anymore.  I am glad that I’m in a place where I can be myself, somewhat talented, silly, funny, engaging, and be loved for all of those things.  I am glad that I am in a place where I can be appreciated and admired.  I can flower here in ways that I couldn´t before, because I think that, at least in part, my talents and my enjoyment of life were threatening to my previous partners.  It’s not really that I think of myself as Super Cool Amazingly Talented Writer for the Ages, or anything (I know I’m not, and wouldn’t want to be anyways), but I do know that my instructors and friends have responded very positively to my writing and my ideas.  I think that my tendency towards being positive and caring in my writing and in my response to other’s writing was deeply threatening to my ex, which helps explain why she was so dismissive and rude.  Not that I every showed her much of my writing beyond texts and emails, as I knew that she would simply exploit my insecurities and vulnerability. 

So that’s me being all reasonable and rational about dealing with abusive b.s.  But I really want to use words like “talentless hack” and “sad, pathetic, immature asshat”, and “flaming ball of impotent rage” (which I stole from an Onion segment on the Republican loss in the 2012 election).


“To oppose something is to maintain it.” August 2, 2014

Ursula K. LeGuin wrote the above in Left Hand of Darkness (1969), which I am rereading for the first time in about 20 (possibly 30) years.

This is good stuff, so let me quote more of the passage here:

To be an atheist is to maintain God.  His existence or his nonexistence, it amounts to much the same, on the plane of proof.  Thus proof is a word not often used among the Handdarata, who have chosen not to treat God as a fact, subject either to proof or to belief:  and they have broken the circle, and go free.

To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them:  this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.

To break the circle and go free – that’s Nirvana, is it not?

I’m excited to explore these ideas in greater depth as I study Buddhism more.  But as I’m just beginning that journey, I’ll save writing about it for a later date.

Speaking of writing…

I’ve always adored LeGuin’s writing.  Her language sparkles with shiny turns of phrases, and rumbles with deep emotion.  On my re-read, though, I find that I have become, somewhat sadly, a much more efficient reader than I had been in my past.  I blame grad school, where I trained myself to read tons of (frequently poorly crafted/written) articles and extract facts.  The articles and books and chapters held much useful information, but presented in language that was so stripped of beauty, wit, or even conciseness, that I learned to stop bothering about the words and just suck out the facts.  I’m not saying that I was expecting scientific articles and site reports to be literary gems or anything, but good lord, the writing could be so dire that it would impede understanding.  I was utterly surprised at how scientists, professionals in their field, authors of papers and books, (and native English speakers to boot!) could write with so little care for conciseness and control of narrative.

So I have become a very efficient reader, a reader of plot and character.  The structure beneath the words on the page.  This is good in some respects, as my age and experience allow me to touch the depths of books, their connections with other stories, their roots in culture.  But on the other hand, I am prone to missing some beautiful words arranged in beautiful ways.

Time to slow down and enjoy the journey more, I think!