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orangerose060518

(C) 2018 Trina Lambert

I like my job—and I miss having time to ponder. Don’t get me wrong—I do take time to stop and ponder for a few moments at work, and then I get back to what I’m supposed to do. So far, though, I haven’t figured out how to prioritize writing down those thoughts once I make it home. The few thoughts that have made it onto my blog these past two years remind me that I am approaching blogging just as I approached journaling when I was growing up. If you could read those old journal entries, you’d think I was always upset and angry—and that nothing good ever happened.

That’s because the only time I took to write was times when I was upset. Writing, after all, is a great way to process wild emotions and figure out what to do about what isn’t working. But it’s the little occasions, the boring ones, the ecstatic happenings, and the random thoughts that round out a life well lived.

And those never made it into writing.

When I took up a journaling habit about 20 years ago, I thought I’d learned my lesson. I had missed out on the breadth of my life by only recording my worst moments. I mean, who wants only their worst thoughts to be their legacy?

Not me! Yet here I am, doing it again.

This, despite the fact June has arrived, and with her all the roses that bloomed over a few short nights. Our rose seasons for the last several years have been severely shortened by voracious Japanese Beetles, so much so that these pre-Beetle days of roses and sunshine smell especially sweet to me.

Saturday dawned with blue skies, light breezes, and cool temperatures that would eventually rise to no more than 80. While running with my dog through the much fancier neighborhood next door to mine, I drank in the many hues of late spring flowers, the green-green grass of the golf course, the yellow-green reeds waving along the path, the fluorescent shades worn by the passing cyclists, even the yellow stripe in the center of the road. Colors were exploding on an extraordinary ordinary day.

The day stretched with activities such as taking dogs to vets, watching a team of 6th grade baseballers (and their little sisters) wash my car, and puttering around with my plants, before I finished it up by sharing tasty breakfast tacos and icy margaritas with my husband at a favorite local spot.

Not much of note happened. Perfect, right? Nothing like taking a day off from outrage to appreciate just what you’re fighting for—for you and for all the other ordinary people just wanting to live ordinary lives.

Taking time to smell the roses isn’t trivial—it’s essential.

And for me, maybe it’s just as important that I finally got around to recording some of the little moments that make up my life—and make it worth living.

Animas River, Durango, CO

I’m the kind of person who makes her therapist cry. Not really, but I think I’m driving her nuts—which seems a little backwards, doesn’t it?

I started seeing her because part of her expertise is in helping adults who have ADD and I wanted to figure out how to live better with my ADD. Mind you, I didn’t go in to deal with my emotions about ADD, but to learn how to handle my everyday life in ways that my emotions wouldn’t be so much of an issue.

Maybe I should have told her that upfront!

The bigger part of our work together has been helping me figure out how to handle everyone else in my life who has ADD tendencies and who needs my help without all those needs driving me crazy. Sure, this may just be denial on my part, but that’s what I think we’ve been working on.

Anyway, as I am facing Mom’s final illness, my therapist worries she’s not doing enough for me psychologically. The practical person in me is thinking how much can she do? I’m going to have to let go of my mother and deal with how hard it is to do so. She can’t change that.

See the funny thing about me is that I don’t go to a therapist to mourn my losses or grieve through my problems. I go to figure out what I can do about what I can control. And maybe, just a little bit, to understand how my emotions might get in the way of doing those things that I know would help me—if I could only get myself to do them.

In fact, I finally realized my therapist is worried that I am not facing my emotions because I am mostly level-headed in her office. And, without realizing just how crazy this sounds, I thought, “Well, if she’s not sure I’m facing my emotions, why doesn’t she just read my blogs?”

How’s that for not quite getting the therapist/patient dialogue? I want her to “read” how I feel?

Ah, but writing has been my therapist for much longer than she has. I only went to her after I realized that talking to myself, through writing, wasn’t going to be quite enough. Even if personal writing had gotten me through many dark nights of the soul, maybe it wasn’t going to be enough to move me forward.

But in combination with therapy, I’d say writing’s healing power is why I don’t need even more help. Really. It’s been twelve years since I finally committed to personal journaling after I began working through Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way program. That writing habit, combined with prayer, regular exercise, good company, and a commitment to doing other creative activities, got me through for many years.

Still, I came to realize that ADD was managing me. And that’s when I started treatment for the ADD. Good thing that I did since the lives of many I love blew off course soon after.

I promise I do cry and I do lose control of these emotions that can seem so measured to others. I do get down on my knees and wail over my losses—just not in a therapist’s office. Ask my dogs if you don’t believe me.

This post marks a milestone: my 200th post since I began this public blog of my personal writings. Blogging has been one of the best things—psychologically and otherwise—I’ve done for myself throughout the difficult odyssey that has been the last two years of my life.

Now, would it be considered denial just to print out these words and hand them to my therapist?

That’s right, today, October 20, is National Day on Writing, a day established by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) “(t)o draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we (Americans) engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft . . . .”

Perhaps you forgot to wrap up gifts of pens or journals for all your friends? Didn’t get around to buying that new laptop to celebrate National Day on Writing? Don’t worry—as part of the day’s celebrations, today the NCTE unveiled The National Gallery of Writing to the public.

What is The National Gallery of Writing and why should you care? You supply the why, but here’s the what, according to words from the website:

The National Gallery of Writing is a virtual space—a website—where people who perhaps have never thought of themselves as writers—mothers, bus drivers, fathers, veterans, nurses, firefighters, sanitation workers, stockbrokers—select and post writing that is important to them. The Gallery accommodates any composition format—from word processing to photography, audio/video recording to text messages—and all types of writing—from letters to lists, memoirs to memos.

The ways we share our words continue to evolve through time, but the need for effective communication will never go away.

I write for a living, but hardly notice how often I use my writing for daily life. It’s easy to think only my formal writing counts, sort of like the way I count the miles I run but forget all the miles included in warm-ups and cool-downs, walking to and from the car, around the house, etc. All the informal work is part of honing my abilities.

I’m sure my writing skills improved a lot from doing Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way program and finally being able to stick with a journaling habit. Julia’s admonition to write as a matter of clearing your brain for further creative projects gets you in the habit, whether or not you choose to express your creativity in writing. As much as she said not to worry about what or how I was writing, I have gotten quite a few really good works—some that have been published with minimal edits—from that writing process.

Another benefit of regular journal writing is the ability to have a record of my life in all the ups and downs and in-betweens. Previously I tended to journal only when I was upset. Anyone reviewing those journals would think I led a very unhappy life!

As old school as I am, I am much less revealing in my “public” private writings, such as my blog or the essays I do publish. I don’t use my blog as a way to “out” businesses—I think organizations deserve the respect of a personal complaint before I blab to millions of my “closest” friends. I know, thanks to the digital age, we live in a time of TMI—too much information—but having multiple forums does get people to reach out to others! It’s too soon to tell yet if the lack of concern for personal privacy or treating others with respect will remain at the current level, or if, as we get more used to this type of writing lifestyle, some of the rough edges will smooth out.

If nothing else, all the digital options get people to write who might not have done so otherwise. Christiana’s typing (keyboarding?) skills improved rapidly as she began to do more online social networking. And, as much as people lament the denigration of the written language through chatting and texting, I haven’t seen a lot of that from the young people I know—sure I can’t keep up with the speed of their texts, but I don’t have to know a code to read them. The Word feature for texting actually improves my daughter’s not so natural spelling instincts.

As for myself, I think sometimes it takes me longer to write an objective e-mail than to write a personal essay. Almost always, I write as a professional writer and do not hit “send” until I have proofed the message several times, both for grammatical and/or spelling errors, as well as content errors. I try hard to keep any of my bylines from being besmirched by errors, although sometimes I still miss a few.

However, I’ve learned the hard way that in this age, if you do slip and send out an e-mail in the heat of the moment, it may get passed on before you’ve had time to compose the more measured message you intended to send, kind of like when your note gets intercepted in algebra class. Digital writing can develop a life of its own!

So today, reach out to someone with your writing. Feel free to text or e-mail, but please—talk to me in person if we’re together! Even writers like to talk, something that’s incredibly obvious when you get us out from behind our computer screens and into a room together. On second thought, maybe you will have to text me if you want me to “hear” you at our writing gatherings!

May you write often and prosper!

(c) 2009, CBL

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

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