I am Strong

Sometimes we only see a hint of light... "Death and Life are in the tongue..." Proverbs 18:21

Words are important. Proverbs says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Last week I let loose a small firestorm of sorts in my own life with a blog post written in a weary moment. I had so much to do and I found so many people asking me to do more. My words elicited a variety of advice from well-meaning, kind-hearted people telling me I needed to learn how to say “no” and to take the phone off the hook to others who feared I was co-dependent or being taken advantage of by my family. I understand their reasons. I shared with readers the list of requests that had been made of me, my list of to-dos, and expressed my anger and frustration at my inability to fulfill it all. I was tired and as one insightful friend realized was really in need of a virtual hug. What I didn’t convey with my words and what was equally important as my momentary feelings of tiredness and frustration, was the fact that I had it under control. Well, to be more accurate, as overwhelmed as I might have felt, I was not drowning. I knew how to see the shore. It is, as I wrote, too heavy a burden to eat everyone else’s cake and thus, it was not my intention. As I tried to convey in my two accompanying posts, The Paths Your Feet Take and Golden Thread, I have been pretty good throughout the years in remaining steadfast in my goals, in keeping my own path straight. I know how to say “no,” sometimes I just wish I didn’t need to so often. Many people see that I am single and perceive that without the responsibilities of husband and family I have more freedom and flexibility than I do. I don’t like to be put in the position of having to explain that, but I do so when necessary. We each have our burdens to bear. So here I am a week later and here is where I stand.

I had to turn my Grammy’s invitation to stay with her down, but I met her for a wonderful lunch today and perhaps some day soon we’ll get to that movie. I did take my friend Joan to the doctors and she rode along with me so I could take my nephew to his church meeting, actually a men’s only retreat. But, since the guest speaker is the evangelist I go to Hawaii with each summer, I was fortunate to be awarded for my taxing by being invited to sit in on the evening session, a nice relaxing end to that day. I spoke to a close friend and had to turn her down for a really important favor – something we both realized I could not do. This one was hard, because if anyone needs help she does. But we talked about faith and where it comes from and how it sees you through and she noted how our friendship and the influence of my family on her as a little girl had helped build her faith for what she is facing now.

This week I start scheduling interviews for my new assignments. Last week I made steps in a really important direction. I went looking for office space – a place to work and call my own – something a little bit better than a table at the local bookstore. And, I think I found something. I’m working out the details now. I finished the syllabus for my new poetry class which I start teaching tomorrow and put my private class on hold for a month to give us all time to catch up. I still have plans to sit in on my friend’s writing class – it is devoted to e-publishing and in addition to perhaps leading to new job opportunities I hope it will help me in learning material I can apply in publishing my own writing. If it all works out, it will also help her. I attended the local poetry reading and we recording some of our poems for VPR. I dropped off my pictures at Norris Cotton Cancer Center and will be attending the reception this Tuesday. I am excited to see the work of the other artists. I am thrilled to have my photography recognized.

...until we round the corner

I sought some free business counseling that may help me in launching my pet magazine. I bought some paintbrushes to work on a picture with my brother. I read my blog post to my father and we discussed my feelings. He wants to help me find a source for giclee printing as well. I still struggle to find ways to make money as an artist – it always seems like I am taking on one too many jobs just to make ends meet – but I look forward to starting a new short story this week and finding new creative ways to grow my income. I went to church this morning and this evening and even managed to drive over the mountain to meet Joan and Jane for tea and coffee. The pugs came with me and now we all sit on the sofa – they are snoring away as I write. Life has its challenges and sometimes we all get overwhelmed, but it is just a moment in time. Like the tide, troubles ebb and flow. If the power of death and life is in our words than I want to share this – I may briefly feel as if I am underwater, but I know how to swim. I am more than okay. I am strong.

Golden Thread

SONY DSC "There's a thread that you follow..."

After trying to work through some of my emotions in my blog posts and turning my attention back to my poetry syllabus when I stumbled upon this poem called the Way it Is by William Stafford:

“There’s a thread that you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it’s hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

Or die: and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

I realized this poem hit on the sentiments I was trying to get to in my last two blog posts. While in part my last post had to do with finding a way to focus on my goal amidst the pull of other responsibilities it also confirmed something about my personality. I sometimes feel like the tortoise slowly, steadily running the race. I might be slow, but I’ve been steadfast. I haven’t gotten to where I wanted to be, but I haven’t stopped moving forward and while it may not always look to the outside world like I’m getting there I am. It also reminded me that the thread that carries us through can be hard for others to see and that life does happen even while we cling to what matters to us most. I have been carving a creative meaningful life for myself and as challenging as it is, as invisible as I might sometimes feel, I never let go of my thread.

The Paths Your Feet Take

path “Give careful thought to the paths of your feet…”

I’ve been thinking of adding a new section to the blog for the new year – a Words to Live By section. As a writer words are important and sometimes they are what help gets me through.

I was working on my poetry syllabus when the texts started flying in from my brother about his art and the calls started coming in from my father about the giclee prints. I wanted  to be able to chat with my brother, I needed to work on the syllabus. I was going to get up early and finish it today, but heard my grandmother was coming down and might want to go out to lunch. She didn’t, but she did want to stop by and open Christmas presents. It took awhile. Then I had to eat, which took longer. I didn’t get around to the syllabus until evening. Then the texts and phone calls started rolling in. I felt overwhelmed enough to write the last post, so many people in my life want so many things and it seems like I’ve spent decades letting my own things get pushed aside.

Suddenly, the words do not look to the left or the right came to me. I wasn’t sure where they were from but pretty sure I’d read them in the Bible somewhere and understood their meaning. Life throws a lot your way, but only you are responsible for the path you take and you need to keep your eyes on the goal. I needed to hold my path. I googled the phrase and found this scripture in Proverbs 4:25-27:

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet

And be steadfast in all your ways

Do not turn to the right or the left;

Keep your foot from evil.”

I think I may need to find a way to live by these words.