I am a spiritual user and admitting it is the first step. Through my travels, I have come across so many wonderful people who taught me meditation: nuns, monks, old psychics who reeked of cat pee/cigarettes. All of them told me the same thing, “Do not be afraid, be patient.” I nodded my pretty little head and sat practicing what Buddha did all those centuries ago. Life would become better and I would gradually lose interest in sitting at home to achieve nirvana. Like clockwork, the old issues would return in new forms with me sticking my tongue out at them.
Why this again? I would ask the heavens. I meditated for a month and I got nothing for it, I would angrily say to no one in particular. So I would start and stop multiple times. Always gung-ho is the beginning and then snoozing by the end. I blamed religion and spirituality. I didn’t work, I reasoned because it just doesn’t. I slowly fell into bitterness and spat at the concept of holiness.
I have been meditating now since I knew I had to change jobs. After the dog walk, ten minutes during lunch and then a repeat at night after my reality shows. It didn’t bring peace at first. Nope I had bunny hopped too many times to coast on past efforts. This was starting from scratch. My mind would race thinking about unemployment, living in my car or sharing my dog’s food. It was exhausting and my anxiety would skyrocket, thus defeating the purpose. Then slowly, with some kindness from others, I began to feel better. I sent out resumes and joined a headhunter group. Things started turning around.
Then today I challenged myself, would I give this up again? Would I throw out six weeks of hardwork when life resumes its leisurely place? It took my a moment to realize I had been using spirituality as a means to an end. When I got what I wanted I raced off to join the living. This is a sobering self-truth and one I never considered before. If I didn’t get what I wanted from it, I’d pout. If I did get what I wanted, I left. Simple as that with a very complicated subtext of narcissism. So tonight I have decided to do away with spiritual expectations.
A wise man in Thailand told me that I was impatient and life was a journey and not a destination, sure Pops I thought. Easy for you to say when you have lived your life. However, he was exactly right and I needed that kick in the pants. Now I am giving myself that kick and it is exactly what I needed. Only this time I am wearing a vintage floral dress.
I have decided to stop tutoring and start ghostwriting. Tutoring is great if you can find it, but those offerings have slowed to a trickle for me. However, the area of ghostwriting may be my new calling. Today, in fact, I had my first official client.
Pierre called me hesitantly and said he was embarassed to even ask if I would consider doing the job. I told him I would be willing to write anything within reason. He let it out. A girl would not give him the time of day and he wanted to write a book about why she should give him a chance. It was a sweeping grand gesture and I was intrigued. There isn’t a girl who would not pause for that I reassured him. Girls love the big gesture.
We met at Starbucks this morning and he was visibly nervous. I gave him samples of my work for reassurance. Casually, he flipped through it and launched into his love story. He bought her a dog and thought about her all the time. Some things were cliched, but he really needed someone to hear him. I took notes and listened.
After twenty minutes I told him everyone has a story they want to tell, but may not have the patience to write. Some people have families to leave their mark on the world. I would love to leave a collection of stories and hope that writing will set you free. He signed my contract and I gave him a rough plan for his story. Let me know what you think. My phone has not stopped buzzing from his hourly texts. I reassure him that he is being heard and his words will find a home with me.
If you have a story that needs some support, let me know.
When you do not grow up within a cohesive family unit, you are doomed to search the world for comfort. Almost all of us have either been in a car accident or narrowly avoided one. Unfortunately, my sister was almost killed in a car accident recently. My middle sister was driving belted in with the older one unharnessed in the backseat. In the pre-dawn darkness they swerved to miss someone/something in the road and hit a tree. It gives me some comfort that they were together, but I have purposely distanced myself from the Cuban side so much so that no one informed me of the accident until twelve hours later. My sister- in- law emailed me from across the pond (London) because my father called them and not me. I live ten minutes from the hospital.
Numb and mentally still, I rushed to the hospital bracing for the worst. When I turned the corner to the hospital room, I braced myself. Pre-operative my sister looked banged up yet still recognizable. Her eyes were swollen shut and her legs shattered, one more than the other. Looking into my sibling’s distorted face, I saw echoes of my mother who died four days after 9/11 from liver cancer. I wished, more than usual, for my mother to still be alive to comfort my sister. There is something almost necessary about family members comforting one another during trying times. Instead of refuge within my bloodline, my aunt welcomed me as she cut my sister’s nails with one long purposeful look that I had no emotional urge to decode.
It made a hard situation much more difficult by adding subtext to words and glances. Now was not the time for her to try to exert emotional dominance over me or to be fussing over my sister’s nails when I was thanking Saint Jude for her life. In the surrealistic days that followed there was a twelve hour surgery that involved cadaver bones and metal rods to fix the shattered areas, a head shaving, and other gruesome acts of healing followed by quite a few days in the intensive care unit. My sister’s once wild nest of hair gave way to a Sinead O’Connoresque baldness that suited her. In what may be his first paternal act, my father kept her shorn hair in his pocket; it was the first sentimental moment I had ever witnessed.
I stayed with her the nights after her major surgery in the intensive care unit when I was no longer afraid of her breathing tubes, blood grenades, and vaguely familiar face. She would call out every three hours and I translated her needs to the nurses. When crept in, I would drive home and prepare for another day of teaching. I was cut off financially and psychologically by my father (with no support from any family member) at age twenty so it is ingrained in me to never miss work or I might not be able to eat. I returned to her bedside as soon I could. Sometimes I had company. My father made promises I did not trust him to keep when I could no longer avoid his presence.
One night he called me to confess that he realized how selfish he has always been and how he had only cared about his own convenience. I know it would have been great to believe he was evolving, but from experience I knew not to indulge my hopes. A crisis helps you accept broken bodies, lives, and families. I craved family comfort, but that was never going to happen within Miami city limits. A disaster can blind us into thinking people will change and fences can be mended. This is not always possible, especially not in my case. We sometimes have to accept situations keeping in mind while people can change, most do not want to and your needs will never outweigh their wants.
Dorothy Parker wrote a single draft for all her pieces. Think about that. The level of focus and precision needed to pull that off is not human. For my first book, Mermaid, I wrote without an outline. It was a rambling mess and I hired a grad school editor to help me organize after a year. She suggested an outline and I scoffed. Outlines hindered creativity. Words need to pour out onto the page without a rigid structure. Writing is very tangent oriented, no need to stop a good idea. I argued with her and was actually a bit offended in the process. I knew my process the best. Then something occurred to me the other day walking my dog. Maybe an outline allows you to be more creative precisely because you have boundaries to push against.
If it had not been for Catholic school, I would not have thought it scandalous to listen to Pearl Jam, stand up for myself, or forget to say my prayers. The structure is there to focus and preserve intentions. I began drafting an outline that night. The outline is six pages so far. Each day I work on it hoping to start actually writing soon. It is an experiment for me to see which is better suited to my process. Gone are the days though, when I would just vomit on the page and clean it up later on. Until then, I will continue to write in the sand and hope something of mine will finally be published.
Do you outline?
I am a big believer in signs, recovering Catholic, and today I received a big one. My blog is my baby and sometimes I feel like maybe I am doing it all wrong. Today, http://theartofpsychology.wordpress.com/, nominated me for inspiring blogger of the year. Humbled and reinvigorated by the nomination, I urge you visit TAOP as she sees art as a message to and from humanity.So in honored state, I am required to share seven things about myself.
- My parents were from Ireland and Cuba, but I consider myself an American.
- I interned for Senator Bob Graham, which fueled my love of politics.
3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my favorite movie, but after viewing it on the big screen last year, I vow to never watch it again.
4. I have lost track of how many times I have been blessed by Thai Buddhist monks.
5. I had a pet pig named Doris Jones and will not eat any pig products in her memory.
6. For five years, I had a psychic addiction.
7. I am fiercely independent and have proudly been self-sufficient for the past 15 years.
I reviewed TAOP’s list and also find her list quite inspiring.
I have spent my holidays editing essays and applications for clients. Editing is a crucial skill in the workplace and classroom that must be developed. So, I thought this would make an interesting small practice for the cyberworld. It is a paragraph of a new piece I am working on called The Disappointment. If you would like to giive your input, I would appreciate it. 90% of writing is revision and it can seem dauting to the inexperienced. Go ahead and give it a try, you might be surprised about your eye.
Victor held his newborn daughter in his arms after delivering her. She was healthy and had long enough lashes for the nurses to comment. When he knew he would be a father for the fourth time, he prayed for a boy like his first-born. Boys outnumbered girls on his side and he already had two. This girl, Catherine, was a disappointment. He did not want to look at her, but had to pretend to be a proud father as his co-workers congratulated him. Frowning would not be acceptable. He squeezed her sides under the blanket. As if accepting the challenge, Catherine did not cry.
I created a list for my fictional Caribbean island.
1. Do not watch a fire, put it out.
2. Better to talk with your hands than your mouth.
3. A girl cannot stay seventeen forever.
4. Hardships may break your back, but let it not your spirit.
5. A bloodberry a day keeps the sickness under the waves.
6. Hunger in the mind is better than in the stomach.
7. Church is not just for looking at hats.
8. Think of at least two ways to say the same things before parting your lips.
9. A dog does not even belong in the street.
10. The best rings are not kept on the hand.
11. Danger lies in the hands of those who don’t need it.
12. May each day bring you closer to eternity.
13. Be in the room, but above the shoulders.
14. Blink before you decree love at first sight.
15. A woman’s opinion of herself means nothing when the world disagrees.
16. Every head contains a separate world.
17. Respect is earned through superiors not equals.
18. A drunkard and a wise man drinking are the same until morning.
19. A single woman should not be allowed to meet your husband unless she is toad.
20. There are performers and criticizers; one cannot be both.