“A pen in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
AS OF CHRISTMAS DAY 2018 the following is being added near the beginning of this page so any readers won’t have to spend so much time rolling down to the end, where I think most additions are supposed to be posted: 1960 TRIP ABROAD–In the spring of 1960, less than a year after we married, we both caught the hepatitis that was going around the UF campus. The doctors recommended rest, and that was the impetus for the European trip that had only been fantasized.
We traveled both ways on a slow freighter, the S.S. Marengo, which made stops in Nova Scotia and New- foundland. We were on a very rough North Atlantic from March 4-19, and predictably seasick most of the journey.
We had accepted the offer of tea and biscuits in our cabin first thing in the morning. It was not very long before the sight of the tea made us nauseated and we took to pouring it out. It was almost the last day of the journey that the server shared her surprise that we could stomach it, because most people can’t tolerate it due to seasickness. One of my memories of the seasickness which I kept to some degree the entire trip over was watching the gravity keep the chains hanging down from the portholes steady, while the room swung to and fro.
We had not really been prepared for the great change in tides at St. Johns, New Brunswick. We had temporarily disembarked at St. Johns, climbing down a steep gangplank to reach shore. When we returned the tide had changed, and we had to climb down again to board the ship. We also stopped in Nova Scotia, and saw whales frolicking in the Bay of Fundy. One of the advantages of a small freighter is that every night one eats at the captain’s table. We had departed from Baltimore on March 4 and landed in Newcastle, England on March 19th. The night of our arrival we stayed in a London hotel. The next six nights were spent in a local youth hostel, prior to purchasing two bicycles and heading south.
The Surrey countryside was beautiful. We stopped in a hotel in Dorking, then in a hostel in Alfriston. We reached the English channel on March 28 and spent two nights in a hostel in Brighton. We hugged the coast, spending the next night in a Frog Firle hostel and the next two in a hostel in Dover.
The cliffs of Dover are really white–we found several fossils in the chalky cliffsides, prior to embarking on a ferry across the English channel for “the continent,” the next morning. When we arrived in Calais we discovered that our college French had not prepared us very well.
For instance, we were in immediate need of the word for “bathroom.” We finally went into a library in Calais, and in the library headed for the section that said something like “Interdit.” Having captured the attention of staff, we were able to make our needs known via sign language (don’t ask me what the signs were), and followed the pointing finger to something that I would never have guessed was a toilet. To the best of my memory, it was a cement hole in the ground with a shoulder-high wall around it.
That night we camped at Wissant, on the coast, and put the old World War II pill boxes to good use. When we reached the hostel at Boulogne, France on April 3 I thought I had it all figured out. I entered the bathroom in the youth hostel, assessed the situation, and used the cement hole in the floor. Subsequently I realized that I had used the shower! Subsequently also, I learned that if you see a trucker parked along the road, never look to see what he’s doing. Trust me.
We spent the next night in a hotel in Paris, then found a less expensive Left Bank hotel for the next fifteen days. There I encountered the famous French bidet.
In Paris we ate a lot of (French) bread, cheese and wine. We visited the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, the artists’ stalls along the Seine. One day while munching our lunch across the Seine from Notre Dame cathedral, a large dog came over and nonchalantly lifted his leg against the mister’s trouser leg. I nearly fell off the bench laughing. He couldn’t believe I would laugh at such an unfortunate circumstance.
We took a train from Paris to Geneva, where we spent one night and then camped on Lake Geneva. When we rode into the campsite we were disappointed because we had anticipated the campsite would have a view of the alps. Shortly, however, we saw a bite being taken out of the setting sun, high up on the horizon, as it dropped behind mountains that we had thought were part of the sky!
We set out on our bicycles five days later for Lyon. In Charix we stopped in a hotel, and the next night we spent in a campsite at Nantua. You might imagine the difficult bicycling which this trip entailed. The mister would ride to the top of a hill and wait for me. When I reached the crest I would make up for lost time by coasting downhill. He was horrified by the speed at which I coasted down.
After the rough trip we rolled into Lyon, where punishing cobblestones gave us a thorough drubbing. We got off our bikes and pushed them through the town, to the youth hostel where we stayed for two nights.
We headed down the Rhone, camping two nights at Vienne and then on May 1st at a hostel in Valence. We were on our way to southern France, a marvelous place. After a hostel at Avignon, we arrived at St. Remy. I was prepared to remain at St. Remy for the duration. It was colorful and lively and friendly. Colorful beads hung in doorways of the houses. We camped in St. Remy and made side trips to Gallum, an old Roman city, and Les Baux, a rocky elevated prehistoric site. It was easy to envision the landscape in
Van Gogh’s paintings.
We sold our bicycles to the manager of the campsite, who was a one-legged communist.
After a night in a hotel in Marseille, we caught a train down the coast to Nice. France seemed to me both civilized and uncivilized: it was apparently necessary for the management to post a sign on the public water fountain in the train station that it was “Interdit de Uriner,” in the fountain.
We camped five days at Nice, and while we were there we were embarrassed to learn that Gary Powers and his U-2 had been shot down on a spying mission.
We traveled by train to Genoa, where we stayed three days in a pensione and were introduced to pasta. We also purchased a Vespa motor scooter in Genoa. I never learned to drive it but clung onto the mister from the rear seat.
From here on the record will become a little sketchy, since I quit journaling our itinerary. (Of course we had no real intinerary–just what moved us.) The downside of not planning a trip is that one misses a lot.
In Florence we camped in an olive grove overlooking the city. Florence was, of course, a treasure trove. While in Florence we made a side trip to Fiesole. I took a photo of the mister orating in front of the Roman theater in Fiesole.
While still in Florence we crossed the Arno river (which runs through the city) on a foot bridge, and some men stopped us and demanded we pay a fee for the use of the footbridge. I have no idea whether the demand was legit or not, but we paid, and for some reason I not infrequently flash on that memory when I am in the kitchen preparing dinner. Perhaps it’s because I never got closure on whether it was a legitimate request or not.
Our faithful Vespa then took us further south, to Rome, where we camped on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea for the several nights that we visited Rome. We were camping at Lido di Roma, near Ostia. Our Vespa made it possible to travel in a little more style with many more options. In Rome we visited the Roman forum, the famous steps and fountains, the catacombs, the Sistine Chapel with its wonders, St. Peters basilica and even the Colosseum, where we were astounded at the number of stray cats that haunt the place. Decades later my son and his family would temporarily occupy an apartment immediately adjacent to the Colosseum.
Then on south to Pompeii, and a full tour of the lava-preserved old town at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius. We camped nearby and were startled during the night by the loud sound of firecrackers (was it another eruption?)
While there, we stopped to eat in a small restaurant and were surprised at the high prices. When the manager realized we were campers, he pulled out a more reasonably priced “camper’s menu”. As with earlier sites we visited, the ruins of Pompeii could have taken us the rest of our trip to adequately appreciate, but we pushed on inland to the seaport of Brindisi. In Brindisi we spent a night in a dreadful, dirty room prior to embarking on a ship which took us across the Adriatic Sea to Greece. When I say dreadful I mean bedbugs.
We had booked deck passage on the ship, and were awakened the next morning by the sound of a faint high-pitched tooting. We opened our eyes and found high cliffs either side of us, and a railroad trestle high above us. We were quietly passing through the Corinth canal on our way to the port of Piraeus and Athens.
Someday I will post the photo of the mister and me at the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. The next day we rode our Vespa along the Sacred Way to Eleusis, home of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
We next crossed the Aegean Sea in another ship, journeying to Istanbul. I remember spending a great deal of time in Istanbul’s sprawling covered bazaar. I bought a bucket of of plums at the bazaar, and ate them. We stayed in a hotel in Istanbul, and planned to resume our journey the following day. Our plans changed, however, due to the development of a severe and misery-inducing case of hives from excessive plum eating. I was in real misery and prevailed upon the mister to summon the hotel staff and attempt (as it proved, successfully) to communicate the need for spirits. I drank a glass of gin and mercifully numbness overtook the pain and I slept. However, the incident added an additional day to our sojourn in Istanbul, with me remaining in bed.
We never did find out what political unrest was fomenting in Turkey while we were there. We shot a photo of a mass demonstration or parade from the window of our hotel room in Instanbul. As Americn citizens and students in those days we felt absolutely protected as we traveled abroad. I shudder to think of our faith that we would not be harmed, as we continued our journey along the back “roads” of Turkey. I recall being stopped at one bend in the road by a soldier with a gun over his shoulder, who wanted to see our passports. He looked at the passport as though reading it until he came to our upside down photo, then righted it.
Further along the back road we came upon what appeared to be a small band of gypsies with their dancing bear. How incredibly easy it would have been for them to better themselves financially by robbing the two young Americans! Luck was with us, however, and we were unharmed. I remember the bear as being huge.
We had to go to one town for permission to visit the ruins of Schliemann’s Troy, which is what brought us to Turkey in the first place. After obtaining permission, we set out for Troy, which if my memory serves me, is at or near Canakkale, on the Dardanelles. At that time the ruins of Troy were not especially impressive, but standing on the same ground as the Trojan Horse did send shivers up my spine.
Leaving Turkey was a little trickier than getting there. If you look at a map you will see how preferable it would be to cross the little body of water at the Sea of Marmara than to retrace our route–often on sandy roads–through Istanbul. We tried to explain that to the local authorities but were told we could not go through their military zone, which blocked our route. I said, “But we’re on the same side,” without effect.
What did eventually work was sitting down and staying put. Finally they relented, but not without providing a military escort from Gallipoli on to the end of their military zone, the location of which escapes me. The mister reminds me that we were let go with a sigh of relief at the Turkish border. We passed through Bulgaria and at one stop our presence was requested by the local police. After studying and looking at our passport they let us go. (They did not speak English).
In Bulgaria–we stopped in Sofia–we saw a huge billboard with a picture of a capitalistic American pig grabbing up fistfuls of dollars, in the main square. We attempted a low profile there.
It was while camping in Yugoslavia that a native of that country introduced us to the warming effects of hot tea with a little run added to it. Then we jogged over to Venice, in Italy, and spent a couple of miserable nights in that fairytale of a place being eaten by mosquitos in our tent. I remember playing chess on our portable chess board, and scratching.
We bypassed Hungary, and Vespaed through beautiful Austria, spending one night in Salzburg. (Wow.) Is it my imagination or did we pass the sign commemorating Hannibal’s crossing?
Then on through Germany (I remember unimpressive Stuttgart) and into Belgium. Looking at the map now I see how close we were to Munich, which we bypassed, little knowing of the magic that city possesses. Brussels had many beautiful buildings, but at one point the mister got off the Vespa to check on something, leaving me balancing the Vespa from the back seat. He didn’t return and didn’t return and I got tired of waiting, so I attempted to gingerly climb off. The Vespa gently tipped on its side, and onto my foot, where a trip to the local Brussels emergency room revealed a broken bone in my foot. We were glad there was socialized medicine in place–there was no charge for the visit or the x-rays.
We departed European soil from Ostend, in Belgium, and returned to England, this time with the Vespa. After several nights camping at the Crystal Palace in London, we took advantage of our new freedom afforded by the Vespa, and heading southwest, visited Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon-Avon and attended a Shakespearean drama. (Was it All’s Well That Ends Well? I’m not sure. My journaling was lacking.)
Next stop was Cornwall, with visits to the Lizard Lighthouse, Penzance, Stonehenge (wow), Lands End and St. Ives. Lizard Head is the southernmost point in England. We were told that you can stand on the shore at that point and know that there’s no land between you and the South Pole. After looking at the map now, I think we were being tested, and at least I flunked at the time. The cliffs were marvelously craggy there, however, and almost desolate.
When we checked which freighter was available to return us to the United States, we found it was once again the Marengo, and we returned to Hull via Bristol, Birmingham and Whitby. We stayed in Hull a few days awaiting our freighter, and then headed north to Newcastle, where a strike delayed our departure for almost two weeks. In effect, we enjoyed free floating room and board for those two weeks. Once the strike was over, we journeyed north to Newcastle and had time to visit the Roman wall and a famous pottery museum.
The return trip on the North Atlantic was much calmer, and we were grateful not to get seasick. We once again stopped by Halifax and St. John, then landed in Newark and scootered on south to Gainesville. The only incident which I failed to report was probably in Bulgaria. We were riding our Vespa along a fairly deserted highway when a motorcycle drew up alongside of us, in a friendly manner. Out of the blue a policeman zoomed up and wouldn’t allow us to converse with the presumably Bulgarian citizen.
I loved Europe, and I know it sounds sappy, but I was elated to set foot on American soil again, and to experience the feeling of being home. The sight of greasy hamburgers after all the foreign (literally) food we had been served was magnificent. I know I sound plebeian, but there you have it. Someone said we must have been awfully wealthy to have spent so much time abroad. What happened is that the mister had owned a run-down boarding house next to the University of Florida and someone–either a church or the UF itself–wanted it for a parking lot. After the trip we sure weren’t wealthy–au contraire–and never again!
What this blog is and is not: It’s not for sharing secrets but for sharing methods, experiences and insights about journaling, or contents journal contents. At the present time I’m experimenting with metaphors. I liked the book “Strangers to Ourselves,” by Timothy D. Wilson.
Excerpted from Ira Progoff’s Journal Writing Workshop:
The contents of your journal need not be limited to handwritten or typed words. Some people with a flair for art (or just a penchant for doodling) like to include drawings. No art critic is present, and you don’t have to compare yourself with Leonardo da Vinci or Remb randt…
You can play it safe in your journal and stay a the level of outward events, restricting yourself to the facts of what happened. However, you get more benefit fro journal writing if you include your feelings about what happened.
….If you find yourself feeling fearful or anxious or depressed, explore that feeling in your journal. Express it in words. Write how you feel.
VISIT http://www.gerrystarnes.com/journal/ and see what you think.
EARLY JOURNAL ENTRY April 9, 2005
…Before this I had started feeling like I should quit fighting faith and give in to what we’ve been genetically profiled for–a belief in God/benevolent universe. Why fight it when I need it? My intellect does not have to support it.
THE GIFT OF A FINE PEN by Walter J. Wojtanik https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/200180
The ink that flows is the milk of a million ideas,
released with every scratch across the page.
All sage words live within it, it is an extension
of my expression. All painful memories come
in torrents of her indigo flow. I can show you
my pain with each strain of her nib.
Give me a pen, and you’ve given me freedom!
For no soul can be sequestered when a writer
writes. Every sight they have seen is given in return
all in remittance for the gift of a fine pen!
© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2017
My spoken words are rarely of value. Maybe yours are, but I find it difficult to get below
the day-to-day routine interactions and communications. It is only when I stop and think and feel and shape words by hand that they seem to take on any wisdom or even meaningfulness. Perhaps it’s partly due to the listener’s impatience with waiting for the words to flow, but in part is also due to the automaticity of knee-jerk habitual verbalizations. And neither speaker nor listener is mining deeply, except sometimes in a therapy session.
A large portion of my own journal is in my book “FALLOUT: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders.” Possibly journaling helped more than I know. Timothy D. Wilson, author of the book Strangers to Ourselves, writes that writing about emotional experiences tends to promote both mental and physical health. He cites James W. Pennebaker, whose website
contains abundant research findings on the topic. Pennebaker observes that “health gains appear to require translating experiences into language.” (p 164) . Now that I think about it, it does seem to make sense that translating experiences and emotions into words would foster improved internal/cognitive processing, kind of an economics of energy spent, and would facilitate the newly recognized importance of parts of the brain communicating with each other. The brain, we are told, is capable of change most if not all of our lives. .This is a largely unexplored field..
Wilson suggests that “writing seems to work by helping people make sense of a negative event by constructing a meaningful narrative that explains it.” (p 177). He compares psychotherapy to adopting a new narrative about their problem that is more helpful than the story they told before. “There may not be one ‘true’ story that people must adopt to get better, however; there may be a range of healthy narratives.” (p 181).
Pennebaker recommends the following–at least, during his experiments his instructions are:
What to Write About
Something that you are thinking or worrying about too much
Something that you are dreaming about
Something that you feel is affecting your life in an unhealthy way
Something that you have been avoiding for days, weeks, or years
If you’re like me, I always assumed I’d become famous and someone would like to read my journals. Gradually, as I failed to become a child prodigy and even an elder prodigy, the question arose as how (or if) to dispose of the journals.. During graduate school I began copying quotations and adding page numbers to them, to facilitate use in future writings. That was a habit I recommend, since it proved quite useful. I knew my children would not have the time to invest in reading my journals, so whether as a solution or happenstance I chose some of the entries and published them via CreateSpace,
From rantingalong.wordpress.com by floridaborne :
I love writing my way through life. It gave me back my humor, the discovery of thought, feeling, scents and sights I’ll not see again except through the written word. To write is to breathe life into words. To keep the words inside you is as deadly to the soul as constipation is to the body. From my perspective, the dust of life constantly accumulates, which requires constant cleansing of the soul. Maybe I should draw a circle on my computer and write next to it in elegant cursive, “The enema tube goes here?”
I remember years ago when I realized that insights don’t have to become fully conscious and cognitively understood for them to have an effect on us. I’m saying this badly. For example, a dream of ours can be correctly interpreted by ourselves under hypnosis, although the interpretation may not become conscious but still have an effect. I’m saying this badly so I will wait to resume this topic later.
I’m excited by a number of new cognitive frontiers opening up. One book that I found encouraging was Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself. The New York Times wrote that “The discovery that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains–even into old age–is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries.”. In a way we are our own subjects in the growth process, via journaling.
Julia Cameron, AUTHOR OF The Artist’s Way, observed that “There is a recognizable ebb and flow to the process of recovering our creative selves.” (41) These include being harsh and critical of what you have produced (that’s the ebb) and appreciating and valuing what you produce (that’s the flow).
The photo below could be labeled “The Introvert’s Lair.” Differences between introversion and extroversion were recognized and explored by Carl Jung.
On the culture of character vs. the culture of personality
“To some extent, we’ve always had an admiration for extroversion in our culture. But the extrovert ideal really came to play at the turn of the 20th century when we had the rise of big business. Suddenly, people were flocking to the cities, and they were needing to prove themselves in big corporations, at job interviews and on sales calls. …
“We moved from what cultural historians call a culture of character to a culture of personality. During the culture of character, what was important was the good deeds that you performed when nobody was looking. Abraham Lincoln is the embodiment of the culture of character, and people celebrated him back then for being a man who did not offend by superiority. But at the turn of the century, when we moved into this culture of personality, suddenly what was admired was to be magnetic and charismatic.” From Quiet., The Power of Introversion in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,by Sarah Cain.
MY guess is that if you chose to visit this site, you are an introvert. I plan to buy a copy of the book because–obviously–I am an introvert too.
THERE ARE MANY APPROACHES TO JOURNALING, and I might as well tell you upfront that I’m partial to journaling for “growrh.” That’s probably because I’ve been a clinical psychologist most of my life. Although I can’t think why anybody would object to that term or that approach, I can imagine many who seek to use journaling to organize their life, etc. Just so you know
THINK BACK TO CONVERSATIONS YOU HAD TODAY
What things did you not say that you’d like to say? How would those words be received? Are most of the things you don’t say to others positive or negative or neutral feedback? You may have heard of Gestalt therapy. In it, you imagine that you’re yourself sitting in one chair, and then “switch chairs” and become the other person, answering you. It’s surprising that we seem to know how they’d answer, and what questions they’d like to ask you. It’s been helpful to me to imagine that I’m talking to a therapist, or an “Inner Self Helper” (ISH). There’s more than one level of knowing within us. And it’s an interesting and usefui journal page to reflect back upon..
ONE JOURNAL ENTRY
In “trying to get organized,” I came across a page from my journal in April, 2010, which I’ll share here:
What do I truly seek? To be heard, but saying what? To be accepted, but for what? To be understood, but how? As a jigsaw puzzle, a mewling kitten or as a blind woman walking a maze? The words keep rolling ad infinitum, ad nauseum, sometimes glossalalic.
I am tossing, in the throes of an intellectual menopause even as my word-finding ability slips into decline. They say that more people are living today than ever in human history. If true, it is a sobering and somehow horrifying fact. A poster reads, “I am a child of the universe.” (Me and 3 billion other people).
One consoling thought is that my body contains at least one atom from my stone age grandfather, his troglodyte meal, Mary Magdalene, Joan of Arc and Beatrice Potter; even Helen, whose face launched a thousand ships, and the blind Homer. (I notice that I have expunged from my awareness the more problematic forbears, the villains of history whose atoms undoubtedly lurk in the Shadow side of myself and others.)
Has my journaling taken me from one place and deposited me in another? In what direction am I pointed? If being truly born means arriving on the scene as an eccentric, is that better or worse than not showing up at all?
I think I’ll crack my shell, emerge and find out. Oh, you didn’t know I was one of those, eh?
WOW, look what is on cherilucas:
PAGE FOUND when cleaning t my home office:
What I have learned so far:
Not to hurt people when I get angry
To let go of hate
To respect others’ boundaries
To accept as goals to be more open and assertive
Be less ashamed of who I am.
AS AN ATHEIST, WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT life after death, God, purpose, etc.:
My heart believes the universe is benevolent
I am buoyed up by an attitude of love (as the oceanic)
I feel that I have a guardian angel looking out for me–I feel blessed and grateful
I guess I unconsciousy assume that upon death I will experience an old familiar state of being–like coming home.
(NOTE THAT ALL THESE ARE THINGS I FEEL, BUT NOT THINK).
A 1975 Journal Entry
New Year’s Eve 1975 at 40 years of age. How can I keep my head above water? I may not make it. I must get the dissertation behind me but it seems to be crumbling into nothingness….I’m living as though the world of bills is about to descend all around my ears within the month, if the house is not sold. I amaze myself, how I can appear oblivious to the bills,,,My God living is so difficult to experience.
A 1998 Journal Entry
I haven’t a fixed opinion about me or my life yet. I see my desire to “grow” as self-centered. I know that I am not a good mother, nor am I caring mistress to my dog “Gracie.” Basically, in my life I think my compulsiveness has stood me in good stead, over-crowding my life channel energies that might otherwise lead to a more destructive liestyle.
When I get into labeling I vacillate between seeing myself as pitiful versus vain, deluded versus insightful. I sense my blinders but am both fearful and desirous of loosening them.
I don’t fear self-loathing as much as disenchantment–disillusionment–disgust–with life. I am trapped inside a hall of hundreds of mirrors, all warped but one. And I cannot identify the one.
Another DREAM — January 28, 2016 –Toboggan Road
At the end of the dream I am driving along a highway with some friends ahead of me. I am going fast. Suddenly the road turns into a very steep blue toboggan chute and I can’t force my eyes open to steer. I am just swept along at amazing speed and can’t make myself open my eyes to help steer. My body just sort of leans into it. Earlier in the dream I am sitting on the floor of an outside patio with a largish group and a very young child reaches to a man’s crotch. The man–maybe a teacher in a nursery school– tells how that child has acted inappropriately, in her innocence. My father is in the audience and hears his words. I am hoping he is realizing the effects of his actions. Even before that in my dream, a handicapped young man is showing a liking for me, as asking me out with him to take a walk. I go.
In reporting some of my dreams here I am just saving them, not anticipating comments. The night before, I had posted “Were You Affected by Incest?”
I’ve come to realize that I need a place for reflection about life and this seems the natural page for it, so don’t be surprised that I wander from the stated path..
Humanity is always at its best
when two cultures
set aside their differences,
combine their unique individual assets,
& work towards a common goal,
like attacking a third culture
for being different.
Today I Read…
the blogs of two deceased bloggers, and am much moved by my admiration of them. Both died of cancer, and as the blog of Marcy Westerling http://livinglydying.com/ demonstrates, they set a beautiful, strong example of humanity at its best. Not knowing either she or Ruth Rainwater were deceased, I was “following” their blogs. Ruth had three–one was a Gratitude Journal, begun before her diagnosis. I recommend both Ruth’s sites: ruthrainwater.wordpress.com, newbeginningsgratitudejournal.wordpress.com, and a writing blog, sablewings.wordpress.com, in addtion to Marcy’s. I was initially drawn to Ruth’s because of her Gratitude Journal, and then to Marcy’s (Arlene’s?) which was listed as one of the blogs Ruth followed.
Life starts with a beautiful dream. Life starts in somehow believing that one day you’ll get what you wished and prayed for. Life starts with something you believe you can do and dream about. My entries here are mostly about my journey as a cancer patient, a cancer survivor, a mother, a friend, and about the books I read, places I want to visit and have visited, people I want to meet someday and mostly about the daily grind of simple living. Dreams and Escapes is about having enough faith to go on, the will to live no matter how difficult life may seem sometimes and grateful appreciations of all the things one holds dear. It is about the belief that I could share a little of my journey through writing and writing is an escape for me. When things get a little too hard to bear, I put them into perspective by sharing them here.
The Art Inside of Things
In his youth, he’d read a quote attributed to Michelangelo. The artist had answered the question of how he’d sculpted his masterpiece by saying he hadn’t sculpted anything at all. He had only chipped away enough stone to reveal the sculpture inside.
The quote stayed with him. The Grand Canyon, too, was a beautiful thing that had always been there, waiting for the river to uncover it. To remove enough earth to reveal the sculpture within.
The quote might explain why certain pieces of music had such power. They weren’t created. They had always been there, waiting to be played. Music was just mathematics. Frequencies, vibrations, waves. A relationship of numbers described by sound. The relationship isn’t created. It exists. It only needs to be found.
He sat down at his desk with a sheet of paper. It was of the highest quality – a smooth finish, minimal feathering, high opacity. Surely there were beautiful words somewhere, waiting to come out.
Originally posted by Walt Walker on waltbox.wordpress.com via Michelle W. , and Discover
February 20, 2016 at lastwordonnothing.com/…ext/comment-page-212:56 pm
Hello. I was pleased to read this story on NPR online. I lost my husband recently too (pancreatic cancer) and have found that writing about the process–first his cancer, then the trials of widowhood–has helped me negotiate this difficult territory. My blog is http://www.stephaniejoycecole.com/blog (Her blog is powerful. Visit it).;
Kristi shared some wrtings of Randon Billings Noble in Brevitymag.com . Excerpts follow:
There’s a difference between a diary and a journal – that it’s sort of like the difference between an autobiography and a memoir: in a diary you record each day’s events and in a journal you write whatever you want about your day whenever you want to write about it. For (Joan) Didion, though, it’s all about the notebook. I, too, keep a notebook – a writing notebook – and when I mentioned this during a presentation I gave on research in creative nonfiction, a hand in the audience immediately shot up: What did I write in my writing notebook? Some writers are dismissive of these kinds of questions – do you write in a notebook or on a computer, what kind of pen do you use, what kind of paper? But I’m happy to talk about the physical practicalities of craft – I want to know about your Pilot G-2 and your Clairefontaines. And I’m happy to talk about the content, too. When I answered the question many people took notes – perhaps in their writing notebooks. Here’s a version of what I said:
I keep three versions of a writing notebook: a journal, a writing notebook, and a writing planner.In my journal I write down what happens to me, what I’m thinking about, occasional random observations, lists – the usual stuff you’d write in a journal. But I include this under “writing notebooks” because (especially as a writer of creative nonfiction) I often look back on journals to remember a certain time or place or person or line of thought – although I never write in my journal with this in mind. I write here solely as a person – not a writer. For the full blog see Brevitymag.com
Passage grave in the snow by Caspar David Friedrich via brudberg.me
Apparently the first assignment in Photography 101 was “Home”. Here’s my entry:
Miss Apple Abroad
The following is an excerpt from Mindfulness Everywhere, Everyday, In Every Way
It’s time for me to finally find my yoga home in Switzerland. But it’s about more than that. It’s about creating space in my everyday life to meditate, savor the moment and care for myself. No more Manic Miss Apple! I’ll be managing my stress, eating my veggies and striving for balance both on and off the road. I pretty much have two speeds in life, Full Throttle and Under the Duvet so this intention will be the most challenging. But it’s probably the most important one. If anybody has some suggestions on creating more balance in life I’d be happy to hear them. I’ve been to yoga school, meditated in the woods, studied my Yamas and Niyamas, but inner peace is still an illusive little bugger!
May your 2016 be full of laughter, good health and lots of adventure!
The following seems to be a healthy journal entry (also included under incest):
When Anger Surfaces
Ahhh, anger. An emotion I have come to know too well these last few years. This image is striking but it is how I feel inside when the anger hits, bounds up in knots and unsure of myself. But notice the little butterfly – it’s sitting there, calming me, letting her know that the anger must not control me and this too shall pass. It is not all darkness.
I have learned to deal with many of the emotions that my family trauma brought out in me. Anger though, it holds on, hiding in the shadows, just waiting for that spark to ignite internal rage.
I have kept it at bay for a while now, until this last weekend when it reared its ugly head. We are in the process of moving. We are renting the house we currently live in and are moving out of. We have two more weeks before the movers arrive. The owner decided to re-list the rental now instead of waiting until we are out. So we have had to clean up and somewhat stage the house so that it looks all nice and neat, putting away personal everyday items. The real estate agent is pissing me off. We keep a fairly tidy house but I did deep cleaning and took it upon myself to stage the house better in trying to help them out. I didn’t have to do this, was not asked to do this, it’s just how I am. The real estate agent came in to take pictures and didn’t seem happy with anything, asking me to remove more things and do this and do that – well we are NOT the owners and we still have to live here for a couple more weeks! Then she said that our son’s bedroom stinks and can we please light a vanilla candle or something when people come to look at the house. Excuse me? Yes, our son’s room has a scent; he’s in his early 20’s and never leaves his room. I had already lit a warming candle in the kitchen that was filling the house. I just felt she was out of line saying that and the way she said it just really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like I had done all that work and it wasn’t even appreciated.
All of the sudden, my anger began to surge forth in a nasty aura of red. I tried to stop and ask myself – why am I so angry? It was minor issues, so why was the anger surfacing? After some reflection, I realized it took me back to the family trauma and drama. It was taking me back to feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of. It was me doing everything I could to help a situation but it not being good enough. It was about me needing to be perfect and putting myself in a situation where it wasn’t noticed or appreciated. Oh boy – this is the biggest issue I am still working on, and it’s the one I will struggle with greatly when I got to find a new job and begin working in an unknown situation with unknown people.
Then, we were informed that people will be calling to schedule a look at the house, calls which can come at any time, so now we are being put out, our normal routines and lives are being disrupted and it isn’t even our house! It happened last night – we got a call just before we were about to start dinner, so we had to rush to tidy up and put personal items away. For some reason, at that point, I was LIVID! I was far more angry than I should have been; I think it had built up with everything going on. Let’s just say that unfortunately, a couple adult beverages calmed me down.
I know this is something I need to work on. At least I am aware of where the feelings are coming from and that the anger is manifesting from them – old feelings, old emotions, old insecurities. Being aware is half the healing process after all. I will keep working on it – I just need to get through the next couple weeks of strangers coming in and out of our home. I need to calm myself and realize that it will all be over soon enough.
picture from Google images via Breaking Sarah
An excerpt from themacabreauthor.wordpress.com/
Having trouble finding your voice? Keep a journal. Don’t think about what you want to put in there, and don’t think about making it interesting or artistic. Just get in there and start writing. Your voice will come out, and it will be unique.
To get started, grab a notebook and a pen. Sit down and write me a letter. Seriously. Tell me some things you want me to know. Send them to me via Facebook if you want. I promise I’ll read them, and I’ll even answer some of them if I have the time.
From the book Keeping Your Personal Journal, by George F. Simons
Certain devices can be employed over and over again to deepen the exploration of specific journal entries or to inquire into parts of our life and experience with the journal, such as the dialogue.
To dialogue is to engage another in conversation, and this is precisely what we do when we dialogue in the journal. We set down a conversation just as if it were the text of a play for the theater. Two parties speak in turn responding to each other…One may dialogue with virtually anything and everything…To create dialogue one needs only to allow it to take place in the mind and set it on paper as it occurs….Allow the dialogue to come to a natural conclusion. It will usually do this if you simply let it flow out of your mind and copy it down as it goes. (This can be particularly useful in terms of dialogues between your Child, Parent and Adult ego states. See Eric Berne’s work on Transactonal Analysis.)….Be creative! Come up with your own therapeutic way to utilize dialoging in your journal.
Being Your Own Best Friend: Help from Pema Chodron
“I’m sinking under a cloud of doom and gloom,” I wrote in my journal. I squirmed under the weight of grief with no one to listen to my fears, to care if my belly ached, or to notice if I made it home at night.
I longed for my husband Vic and my old life, but he was dead. My old life was dead, too, but my rebuilding project was moving forward. I had finished writing a book and written a book proposal. Swenson Book Development was ready to submit my proposal to publishers which meant waiting for doors to crack open or slam in my face.
I was scared.
I defended against despair like a boxer in the ring but misery dumped itself on my journal pages. As I read what I’d written, I heard my inner commentary. You’re a whiny spoiled brat. Everyone has trouble. Get it together and make a move.
The more I scolded myself, the worse I felt. My heart knotted as I chastised myself for wanting what I couldn’t have and for not being grateful for what I had for so long. Had the years of meditation and psychological work taught me nothing?
I was not only scared. I was ashamed.
Driving home through the dark night, I glanced through a stack of CDs on the passenger seat. At the bottom of the pile was Pema Chodron’s Audio Collection. I randomly chose a CD from the three-box set. “Good Medicine,” the cover said.
In her warm comforting voice, Pema Chodron spoke of maitri or unconditional friendliness with oneself. She reminded me how we accept a friend’s dark moods and struggles with kindness, but attack ourselves without mercy.
“This all has to do with our relationship with pain, our relationship with difficulty…,” Pema said. “A certain amount of pain in life is inevitable…, such as dying…, such as the more you love someone, the more grief there is at the loss of that person.”
Then she suggested we stop struggling against discomfort and have compassion toward ourselves.
I knew she was right. My breath softened as Pema’s gentle voice encouraged me to befriend my pain and so befriend myself.
“Stay. Stay. Stay,” she said about not running away from difficulty. She paused between each word as though training an unruly dog.
“Stay. Stay. Stay,” I said to myself using the kind tone I use with my dog Willow. Stay with longing. Stay with fear. Stay with discomfort.
I let myself feel challenged and exposed, frightened that my writing efforts would become a failure, that my new life was a farce and I wasn’t going anywhere. I stayed. Then I cried. I accepted being unmoored and lost. I forgave myself for being human.
The next morning my gloom lightened. Once again, I saw how exhausting and futile it was to push grief and fear away or run from anxiety. I learned how my darkest feelings showed me the way to compassion and courage.
Excerpt From James Edgar Skye
It started with a journal. You wrote for hours all of your hopes for the future. I remember the after feeling. The weight began to lift. After four years of drifting through life seeing it, all pass you by there was real hope in your eyes.
Was this what it felt like to have hope in this mental illness life?
Excerpted from James Edgar Skye – The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog, Part I – “A Mental Helth Anniversary–11 Years Later.”
6/11/2019 I’ve been re-reading George E. Simons’ book “Keeping Your Personal Journal” and recall that much of it is based on the work of Ira Progoff, whose workshop I participated in years ago. It’s the best book I’ve come across in order to use the personal journal for psychological growth.
CORONA VIRUS JOURNALING
“What better time than now to start writing a journal?” asked Glenn Kramon in The New York Times and quoted in The Week of September 25, 2020. “Besides creating a record of a remarkable historic period, journaling is psychotherapy on the cheap. It helps you deal with stress and even some depression. It lets you vent. It makes you more self-aware. Research shows that it’s especially useful during tough moments, because putting down your feelings helps you move forward. But a journal also helps you capture and remember the happiest events. And there’s another perk: You will be practicing the art of storytelling, leaarning as you go to bring a scene to life with vivid description. You’ll become a more entertaining raconteur, and “if you’re hoping to improve your writing, there is no better way.”
Useful links here. Thanks. Prompted me to go back into therapy.
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You’ve made my day!
You’re busy making mine! To draw more people to your blog, take part in the activities the various blogs offer, as on Dverse. Write a poem, link it and so many people visit your blog and may want to explore more. Besides Dverse, there’s also a site that has a weekly 100-word fiction, hundreds of people by now take part. Imagine all of them hop over to your blog to read your 100-word contribution and stay to explore? Visit this site: http://clairefuller.co.uk/2015/11/25/flash-fiction-counting/ She just published a novel and the blogging helped advertise and market it, and she’s part of the Friday Fictioneers group – have a look: https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/
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What good leads! I’m following uip on all of them. Somehow I earlier missed your comment. Thanks, and I read all of the post on the artist in China who was incarcedrated 80 days.
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Ai Wei Wei is a wonderful artist. Hope you find the links helpful.
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Nan speaking: I felt moved to re-blog Rian’s posting, because it is so exquisite.
She’s at http://truthandcake.com/2015/12/15/howtorebuildalife/
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”also due to the automaticity of knee-jerk habitual verbalizations.” I find this interesting. It is what I’m fighting against, within myself, I do it too, for the acceptance of such an attitude but am beginning to want to break through that too, it’s just another layer of the ‘silent treatment’ one gets when discussing the topic of incest and other forms of child abuse. In my latest post: https://pviljoen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/free-to-be-free-dverse/ I tried breaking through and it seems to have worked. It remains incredible how, in some instances, people just simply do not realise, am so absolutely blind, to the reality of the topic.
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