Like I said yesterday, another speaker couldn’t come at the last minute, so I made another presentation about NaNoWriMo, this time looking at bringing creativity into how you do NaNoWriMo. (It’s the second half of the longer presentation I am doing for another group – more about that tomorrow.) It went well and I was glad to get a chance to present this material for a group that hears me more often before doing it in front of a group where I am less well known. 🙂
One of our other speakers wasn’t able to make it, so I’m doing a bonus session on NaNoWriMo tomorrow at noon, this time talking about bringing creativity to your NaNoWriMo. Find the group here.
Our spiritual practices group has segued into a discussion group now. We’ll each be leading a session of our own topic choosing. We had our first session tonight and it went really well. Here’s the quote we discussed:
“It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good. Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.” Anna Quindlen, b. 1953
The two questions our leader this week proposed were: (1) How are we doing at “crafting our spirits” – what does that even mean? (2) How can we be better friends to one another so that we are not “cardboard cutouts?”
Honestly, I didn’t have a really good answer for that first one when we got started. By the end of the discussion, I realized that all this was part of crafting my spirit – the spiritual practices class, the Vein of Gold class, learning the tarot card stuff for my Preptober with Tarot class, just learning about writing well-rounded characters in general can be enriching to the spirit because it makes you think so much more about your own character and what makes you you.
As for the second part, it was something I was already thinking about. Two of my friends that used to be really close are having a tough time communicating lately, and I have become something of a go between while they each work through it on their own. It is an interesting enterprise. One friend I have known for years, so we communicate on a deeper level than I do with the other friend, who I’ve only known a year. They are both people that are hard-working and dependable. They each strive to help their community so much. I’ve tried to be a listening board for both of them, but that looks and feels different depending on which person I am communicating with. There isn’t a “cookie cutter” quality to these friendships, despite that we are all in the same organization doing volunteer work. Each person I have a different relationship with. It is good.
In any case, those are my thoughts for the subject. What about you? Do you have different answers to those questions?
Today I spoke at Tyler Public Library Writer’s Club Facebook Group about “NaNoWriMo Prep.” Facebook wouldn’t let me do the slideshow while I presented, but I was able to share a link to the slideshow after I made my video. It’s not wasted, either, because I am doing the same presentation for another group next week.
I will be giving a lesson on “NaNoWriMo Prep” at the Tyler Public Library Writing Club Facebook Group on October 21, 2020 at noon. You can find the group here.
Today I spoke at Kathryn McClatchy’s writing group Unleashing the Next Chapter. I spoke to them about prepping for NaNoWriMo and all the things I do to prepare myself and my household for November. I created a handout of all the different worksheets and calendars that I personally use when I do NaNoWriMo. It was a really pleasant experience. I love this group so much! If you are part of the Facebook group, you can find the replay of the Zoom session here.
In our UU Spiritual Practices class this week, we covered worship. Worship is about returning to what’s worthy. Why do UU’s do Sunday worship? To be reminded that we are part of a larger community, something more for us to pay attention to.
Ritual: not just as part of worship
tea or coffee in the morning
studying the bible at a certain time of day.
Here’s something I wrote for my Spiritual Practices class this week:
When my kids were small, we used to have a little altar set up in the front hallway. We put pretty leaves, feathers, flowers, and rocks there that had caught our fancy during walks. As the seasons progressed, so did our altar. Green leaves gave way to yellow, flowers gave way to acorns and whirligig seed pods, but rocks were always a part of the mix.
Once the last child started in all day school, those daily walks came to an end. The altar lay stagnant. Eventually it became a dumping ground for all manner of school related detritus.
This new altar sits in an awkward space between the living room and the back hall. When I was first putting this together, I despaired of finding anything spiritual to put onto this shelf. Everything in my house spoke to fairy tales: dragons, unicorns, fairies, and trolls. But then I started thinking of that other, older tradition we once had. So this altar is a bit of a combination space.
First I covered the four elements: rocks for earth, candles for fire, hummingbird and clarinet for air, and fountain for water. Four of the five senses are also there: perfume bottle and candles for scent, all the pretties for sight, rocks and beaded textures for touch, and clarinet and bird for sound. Plus a little mandarin orange for taste.
Home is the center. Also shown: Some favorite quotes, a cross stitch with our family motto, a painting that makes my mind wander to spiritual thoughts by a friend whose art fills my home, a wooden box from my favorite store in my hometown that is filled with at least a petal from every flower arrangement I received from 1998 til about 2015, a spooky old tree that is reading (and also is an incense burner) the footsteps poem from where my spiritual journey first started, a rock from the lake by my parents’ hometown, other rocks and shells from so many places our travels have taken us, a geode that reminds me that even the hardest rock can be changed by a tiny stream of water, the hummingbird from my best friends “second chance” adventure, a fantasy map where the treasure is in a book (naturally), the clarinet because music has been a part of my life for so long, a green polished stone engraved with the word “Balance” and candles, always candles.
So there I am, me and some of my beliefs all in one little shelf.
On October 14, 2020 at 2pm, I’ll be presenting a writing lesson at Kathryn McClatchy’s Unleashing the Next Chapter Writers’ Group on “NaNoWriMo Prep: Tools We Can All Use!” I’ll have a slideshow explaining what NaNoWriMo is, how to prep both your household and your mind for NaNoWriMo, and also a handout of worksheets that I think help make NaNoWriMo more fun. Hope you can join us! (You do have to be a member of the group to join the Zoom session, but the group is currently free of charge. You just have to answer some questions and agree to help host some coaching sessions if you are a member.)
For our last UU Spiritual Practices class, we talked about Pilgrimages. Pilgrimages are associated with many religions. Christians visit places associated with Christ’s earthly life. Their motives for pilgrimages usually include penance, thanksgiving, and a desire to obtain supernatural help.
Things that are involved in a UU pilgrimage: transformation, devotion, reflection, a deeper understanding of the sacred and of yourself.
Several people talked about the kind of pilgrimages they’ve already taken or would want to take. Places like a UU trip to Boston or to the first UU Church in Transylvania or to the bridge in Selma. They talked about social justice trips, as well.
I personally, don’t have any thoughts on where I’d go on a spiritual pilgrimage. The idea is fairly new to me, as I grew up with a religion that rejected them as a concept. In my head, it’s something you’d read about in medieval literature, not something that is done in modern times. I guess it’s something I need to think more about.
Growing up, we went on several non-spiritual pilgrimages. The first one I remember, and possibly the most meaningful to me in the long run, was when we visited the Bronte Parsonage. I was, at seven, too young to have read the Bronte’s well, but my mother loved their books, so we went to see the Parsonage. She got me some edited versions (for first time English readers) and had me read them and we watched the movies before we went. It started a lifelong love affair for me with classic English literature, which eventually lead me to a degree in English and life as a writer.
Where would you go on a spiritual pilgrimage?