Musings on my First Fifty Years

Birthdays are a great time to reflect, and after celebrating number fifty over the weekend, I have a few thoughts, for what they are worth. After fifty years on this planet, this is what I know:
If this isn’t the life you want, the life you think you are destined for, it’s your job to create that life. Listen to what God/the Universe is telling you to do, and then do it. Keep your eyes open for the path that is being created for you, and follow it, and be willing to do some foraging through the overgrown and tricky parts. Remove those barriers around your heart and feel that pain that you are afraid will kill you. It won’t; it will strengthen you for the all the love that awaits. You have to believe that the wounds serve a purpose. You have to believe that from those dark places, your light can shine brightest. The world needs your light. You must be willing to let go of people and things that threaten to stifle or distort that inner voice that says, “You are enough.” And you have to know that no experience, whether it be one of joy or sorrow, or triumph or trauma, is a waste. It is in your power, and it is in fact your responsibility, to give it a shape, to make it matter.

In Truth and Love,

Alinda

Connecting the Dots

 

“I’m not creative at all.” How many times have I heard friends say that? Most recently it was at a fun and engaging youth event in which one of the volunteers, a friend of mind, had put together a program for a group of young people. It was a weekend of activities, all of which were interconnected by the theme of looking to others for our identity. No, I’m not kidding. This clearly talented woman could not see that she had created an experience of diverse and meaningful opportunities for expression and had literally made something big and powerful where there had previously been nothing. With only a general theme and a handful of guidelines offered her, she birthed something purposeful, something that evolved over three days into a narrative of self for a hundred young people. If only I were that creative, I thought.

The jury is still out (sort of) on exactly what creativity is. There are plenty of ideas about it, and some are more sinuous, while others are more restrained. In a completely subjective way, I do believe we all are creative. We all have the ability to create something where there was once nothing, and we do it every day. You can’t make a sandwich without it. Some of us are gifted at it, while others have to work a bit harder. Some of us like to color in the lines, and some of us need to be messy. Some of us are impassioned with these activities, while some feel frustrated by the effort, and others are completely indifferent. But I argue that most of those distinctions do not matter much, in terms of defining creativity, and the real issue for me is that those who are invigorated by the act of creating—ought to be doing it. And doing it often.

One of my favorite notions of creativity is expressed in the now famous statements made by the late Steve Jobs, who mused that “creativity is just connecting things.” I don’t know about that “just” part, which implies a simplicity too basic in my opinion, but I think for me and those I have mentored, the connections are a key foundation of creating. It is also in part about rejecting the traditional in lieu of the unusual. We all have it inside us to see the unusual. It has just been stifled by our routines and dulled by our habitual ways of living. But to see with new eyes is to be creative. To connect those nebulous dots and give them form—that is how we make things new. And isn’t that what my friend did? She took an idea: identity-self-other, and she connected the dots in a way that was new and meaningful for a bunch of 16-year-olds. Pretty impressive.

I know some of you are doing impressive things, too, and probably not giving yourself enough credit. I encourage you to spend some time exploring what creativity means to you: the definition, but also how it manifests for you. I hope you’ll share those insights with me here or email them to me at alinda@scribewoman.net.

In truth and love…

Renewing Me

My New Year’s request to the Universal Spirit:

Open my ears to the voice of the Divine, who creates and nurtures. Let me hear Her whisper love above all the noise of hate and anger.

Fill my heart with so much joy and tolerance that there’s no room for doubt, fear, or judgment.

Silence my tongue of all things unkind or harsh, and instead teach me to speak only words that promote life and offer encouragement.

Pour peace into my soul that I might drink it until I overflow and I may share it with others whose souls are in torment.

Use my hands to wipe tears and my arms to embrace those who feel broken, so they may know the healing power of your grace.

Guide my path toward mercy and forgiveness, and walk with me, first toward myself, and then allow me to be a light to guide others there.

Touch my spirit with the fresh balm of gratitude, that I may always reflect who You created me to be.

Let me a blessing to all those who need one today and always.

The High Cost of Authenticity

I was chatting with a friend today about how scary it is to be  putting myself out there like I am with my writing. All my secrets are exposed. No more mystery or wonder for new people meeting me. They can just come here and learn about my fears and mistakes, and visit all my skeletons. Men who might want to date me can find my weaknesses, employers can decide if I am worthy for their upstanding company, and so on.

Her response? You must keep being honest. Your posts are engaging exactly BECAUSE you are naked. People need you, and you need to know that you can do this.

I knew when God whispered in my ear a few years ago that I had to start coaching others to live more creatively and to tell their stories, that He also meant I was going to have to tell my stories. Not just the ones with the happy endings, either. I knew it would cost me. But I know better than to say no to the big guy.

So I started thinking that really, everything has a cost. Every choice we make, is, in essence, a letting-go-of all the other options. Every time we get out of bed in the morning, we let go of the safety of staying curled up in our warm blanket. Every time we get in our cars, we let go of the option of staying home, or of taking the train. Every time we make love to someone new, we let go of the security of hiding our bodies and our souls from that person just a little while longer. It’s that small, and it’s that big.

*inhales*

Telling you my stories means I have to let go of the desire for you to only know my pretty parts. You know, the parts where I am educated, published, happily single and the mother of three beautiful and successful children who adore me? You might discover that I have, in fact, said unspeakably cruel things to each of my children at one time or another–things I can never take back, things they can never unhear. You might discover that I am up to my eyeballs in student loan debt and barely make a living wage and wonder why in the hell I took out all those loans just to be a teacher and starving writer. You might learn that my first book, non-fiction, barely sold enough copies for me to buy groceries for a few months. And…you might discover that as much as I love my independence and my alone time, there are nights when I cry myself to sleep wondering if I will die alone and turn into Alinda soup before anyone finds me.

*exhales*

There you have it. Now you can officially be unimpressed with me. And that has to be okay. Because I can’t preach to you to live your truth if I can’t live mine.

The bottom line for me is always this: I can choose to shut it down, to never risk myself. I can choose to build walls to keep out the hurt, the disappointment, the judgment. But that shutdown means I don’t get to experience joy, wonder, curiosity, love, or sexual pleasure, and those walls also keep out the people and things I so desperately seek to hold close to me. Nothing is free in this life. My dad was right about that.  We just have to decide what we want more than safety, and then go get that thing, even if we must do it completely naked.

In truth and love,

Alinda