Tag Archives: satisfaction

Writing Contests…

Standard

The very first slot machine I ever played did not win anything. Even in that disappointing moment I felt the universal sagacity in this.   As everyone knows, if you win the first time you’re hooked.

This is why I see all writing contests through a filter of rosy glass, because I won second place in the first one I ever entered. In all fairness the contest was made for me.  The Young Adult category only asked for the first chapter to be submitted.  And I am excellent at first chapters.  I’ve been writing stellar first chapters since middle school.  I have more first chapters than stains on my white couch, and I have three kids.

I won a cash prize, one hundred dollars, and a letter that offered congratulations. The letter, which I still have somewhere, says something like, “This contest was formed to encourage unpublished writers to continue in their efforts.”  And, holey-moley did it!  It came at a pivotal moment when I was deciding how far I wanted to take this whole writing thing.

I have since learned that most writing contests aren’t something that experienced writers pursue. And some of the worst ones are little more than money-making scams.

Still, there is something about hitting that slot machine the first time. So, I enter when I have something that fits.  And when it’s put on by an organization I know with a reasonable entry fee.

So today I submitted three entries to a Kindergarten Story Contest. For someone who has no deadlines, no agent, and no editor I find it helpful to write to a word count and a deadline.  Like any good exercise I can feel the healthy working stretch.

So now I am on a high and I will use this wave of adrenaline and ambition to drive my writing until the end of nap time. I also might congratulate myself with another cookie.  Yes, I said “another”.  This makes it sound like it could be cookie number two, but it would really be cookie number four.

(Winky emoticons to all you mothers, you know you eat a congratulatory nap snack, don’t pretend you don’t.)

Things…

Standard

Here I am!

It was the blog’s turn for a bit to be sacrificed on the altar of “Things-to-Do”.

The baby has been sick since last Friday. I haven’t had much chance to learn what his particular personality requires in illness until now. And evidently he requires me. It was back to newborn hours for a few days. There was lots of sleeping on the Mommy-mattress. I’m glad to say I handled it much more gracefully than ever before, the boon of the third and last baby. Today he’s himself again and I’m Dr. Jekyll-ing myself back to normal with every sip from my coffee cup.

I made the kids wait to carve their pumpkins until last Sunday. I was sure the pumpkins would last a week. But the jack-o-lanterns began gathering fuzz of white and green and were subsequently moved to the balcony on Wednesday. This morning I discovered the scary pumpkin collapsed into itself, a testament to the self-destruction that comes from a short life filled with nothing but evil intent. Ugh. So, it was disposed of in two plastic bags and I was knocking on my downstairs neighbor’s door at eight am. She was making her kids’ school lunches and I explained the slimy puddle on her balcony.

Last night the two elder kids were allowed to stay up late to watch game seven of the World Series. I was elected to run to the store during the fifth inning. I didn’t feel quite so much a “thing apart” as I usually do walking through the city at night as every open window I passed was tuned to the game and every cheer or clap found its chorus on the streets. We plan on taking my son out of school on Friday and going down to Market Street for our first ticker tape parade.

I’ve been lost in a world of Anne. I don’t recall exactly if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but my favorite authoress is Lucy Maud Montgomery, the writer of Anne of Green Gables. She is also the writer of Emily, Pat, Jane, and my favorite heroine of hers, Valancy. I’ve been lost in the blue hazes wrapped like scarves across the shoulders of distant hills and the elflike shadows cast by fir boughs playing on moonlit paths. One day I would very much like to follow a winding red path down to the rocky coast of Prince Edward Island or maybe hear the snow against the windows as I sit in front of a fire with a plate of russets.

I once read that a writer’s refrigerator is always immaculate. This was in reference to the procrastination seemingly inseparable from the creative process. I then read somewhere else a version I like much better. It was something about how it’s easier to give yourself over to the messiness of a creative mind when the world around you is in order. This is very true with me. So, now that my sink is scrubbed, bathroom cleaned, and laundry momentarily managed, perhaps I can, as Anne would say, “dust off my ambitions” a little?

I’ll leave you with a quote gracing the title page of Anne of Avonlea:

“Flowers spring to blossom where she walks
The careful ways of duty,
Our hard, stiff lines of life with her
Are flowing curves of beauty.”
-Whittier

Meaning…

Standard

A friend from Mom’s group gave me this book to read called, “Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning” by Rebekah Lyons.

I don’t normally get sucked into this type of book. But I totally did.

It’s a woman’s story about uprooting her three kids in the suburbs to move with her pastor husband to the city. I felt an immediate kinship. Of course, she moved to New York, which is a significantly higher level of urban than San Francisco.

One page in particular jumped out at me.  The emphasis is hers:

“Even more shocking is the number of women suffering depression. The more I dug into the problem, the more I realized its vastness. I discovered that we as women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression. One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime. From anxiety attacks, as in my case, to mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on, women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely in the twenty-five- to forty-four-year-old age bracket.

We aren’t depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives.

During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck. Caught in a quagmire of confusion, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other. What is going on? And why now?” –Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons p.67

It’s no mystery to me that my best energy is required to foster new life, namely my beautiful babies. But sometimes I feel like I’m undergoing a long slow death of self while I’m busy making sure this mothering life gets done.

I wonder whether this “death of self” is healthy or unhealthy. I do have moments where I feel fully alive. But is it so inconceivable that I feel like that all the time?

Most of my days are spent with a nagging sense in the back of my brain that something is being left undone, something more than the laundry and my to-do list.  Is there more resistance at play than just my full mommy schedule?

I know I am more than a mother.  I know the world needs something from me outside of my useful womb.

But how? And what? And when?

Going Soft…

Standard

2014-09-19 12.07.34

I have a collection of wooden pebbles, bits of driftwood worn down until they’re round and smooth like stones. Due to some mystery of ebb and tide China Beach is where I find most of them.

I was searching them out the other day and began thinking about the mystery of being worn smooth, how more and more my edges become softer. I judge less, know less surely. More and more I shrug and empathize, yet have no counsel. More and more I cling to the person of God as judge because that means I don’t have to. Because I don’t know and I’m glad I don’t have to know. With all its exceptions and experiences, life has made me softer.

Mommyhood has made me softer, too. I have a soft Mommy belly where three kids’ growing bodies have stretched and pulled, kneading it soft, perhaps past redemption. I don’t know; I haven’t tried. I like being soft right now. I like when the baby lifts my shirt and lays his ear on my belly button as if he remembers, as if you can feel nostalgic at fourteen months.

Stretched and pulled like the sand between my toes, rocks kneaded soft by the waves. And then I saw the particles for what they were, bits and pointy edges worn off so many younger, surer stones. A beautiful long beach of opinions and viewpoints once held so firmly and discovered to be not quite as central as we thought. Not as central to what we believe, not as central to who we are, every one of them a moment of surprise when we discover it no longer attached and us still standing.

I’m enjoying being soft. I’m more comfortable and people are more comfortable with me.

In testimony I rub my fingers over my wooden pebbles without fear of splinters.

Benediction…

Standard

I’m not doing the dishes right now or wiping down the table. I’m not going to start the second load of kid laundry. I’m going to sit down amidst all this chaos and try to pull straight this tangled image that’s been amassing in my tired brain.

When Baby wakes up he screams for me. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in my bed, very close and very still. Maybe I fall back asleep, but at some point the milk runs out.

When Baby is satisfied he maneuvers however he must so that his head is on my head, his breath is in my breath. And he takes my wrist in the firm grip of both his hands and lays my palm over his face. He leans into it, from where the hollow under his bottom lip touches the heel of my hand to the tips of my fingers spread along his soft hairline. I can feel his breath on my palm, the wetness of his lips. He does this every day.

And I am reminded of a young boy in church growing up that was developmentally delayed, handicapped in many things except a jolly spirit. At the end of service every Sunday the pastor would step aside the pulpit and raise his hand in benediction. And this boy would raise his hand, too, hovering inches above his forehead, his open palm doubling his blessing.

And then, there’s Jacob who deceived for the blessing, who wrestled all night to earn that blessing.

Why does tangibly wrestling an angel seem simpler than … what, God? What does my wrestling look like? How do I fight for your face in mine, your breath in mine? What does it look like if the first thing I do every morning is pull your heavy hand with both fists to lay it across my face?

You blessed Jacob, the one who went to such great lengths. Let me go to such lengths. Bless me.