Another Vein of Gold post. Sorry, it is eating my brain lately, so it’s what you get to see. Here we were supposed work as fast as we could, grabbing thirty or so images that struck us from magazines, and make a collage without overthinking it. Overthinking it. Hahahaha. Well, I hit a couple walls right away: 1) we don’t keep magazines in the house, really, and 2) I was totally out of scrapbooking tape.
So I gathered up all the Entertainment Weekly’s and Tyler Today’s that my dad had at his house (with permission) and here’s what I came up with. It took way longer than you might think. Enjoy!
This week in Spritual Practices class, we covered Eating Meditation and Walking Meditation.
I was having an awkwardly laid out schedule, so I was starving just before class started and was eating pizza during the chat at the beginning. I’d forgotten it was Eating Meditation day and people were looking at me strangely as I gulped down my food.
For eating meditation, you practice eating slowly and mindfully, savoring each step of eating. First you “eat” with your eyes, taking in the color and shape of the food. Then you “eat” with your sense of smell, savoring the smell of the food you are about to eat (we were eating grapes and guess what? grapes don’t really smell like anything.). If it’s something more solid, you could “eat” with your sense of touch, feeling how the item feels under your fingertips. You could “eat” with your sense of hearing if it was something like fruit that you could thump or tap. Finally, you put it into your mouth and feel it with your tongue and the roof of your mouth. You chew slowly, taking in the texture as it is chewed. Eventually you swallow it and feel it going down.
The whole process makes me giggle a lot. I’m not sure why. 🙂
We were also supposed to do walking mediation, but since this is a pandemic and we were on Zoom, that part was hard to do online. So we just talked about it and our leader shared a visual about how to hold you hands while you walk (think of what the kids did with their hands in the Sound of Music while they were singing, it’s sort of like that.) We talked about where there were local prayer/meditation labyrinths for walking. There’s one quite near my house (that I know about thanks to the Pokemon Go group that I joined one day last year).
Before I knew I was going to be running behind on my BYOB project, I’d already signed up for this writing class/workshop/book discussion group covering Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold. I have done a book by Julia Cameron before, many many years ago, called The Artist’s Way, and then several years ago, I also went through her book Blessings. So I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this when I saw it come up as an option on one of my book groups.
Today’s the first day the group is meeting (and coincidentally also the kids first day back to school). I just discovered that, sadly, I’m already a little bit behind. Apparently a calendar went out over the weekend when I wasn’t paying attention to the group yet, starting daily personal activities last Sunday. Ah well, it looks like it should be pretty easy to catch up, as I actually already have a Morning Pages and Daily Walk habit. I just have to catch up on the very small amount of reading. 🙂 I cannot wait to get started!
In week four of our UU Spiritual Practices class, we covered prayer. From a UU standpoint, prayer is not necessarily to someone or some being, it is a way of being conscious of what is active in your heart. Basically, every day ask “Where is my spirit?” and pray from that answer. If you absolutely cannot think of anything, some things to pray about could be: what you’re thankful for, what help you need, what amazes you.
A book was suggested: “Prayers for people who don’t think they can pray”
We did model prayers together. Some of my prayer started like this: “Thank you for my family and friends who are like family. Thank you for a safe home and enough to share with others. Help my friends to feel like they are enough and that they are not so alone with their burdens.”
Bits of prayers from others that I plan to incorporate into my prayer life:
“Help me listen to the many different sides of everyone’s stories and needs.”
“Help me remain open to the knowledge and wisdom of others, even if I think they’re wrong in some things.”
So this week in Spiritual Practices class we covered “Keeping the Sabbath.” If you know me well, you know the phrase “keeping the Sabbath” weirds me out. I spent a long time trying to shove my big round self into the little square hole of my husband’s religion and “keeping the Sabbath” and “keeping the Feasts” where big phrases in his church community. It really makes me shudder.
With the Unitarian Universalists, keeping the sabbath seems to be an easy affair. It can be done any day or any time. It doesn’t even have to be all day, apparently.
What is a Sabbath practice? The Hebrew root of Sabbath is a word that means “to cease.” So the big question here is: What do we want to turn off in our lives to make a Sabbath? What do we change from our regular lives?
For me, a Sabbath looks like turning off a lot of my responsibilities. I don’t do PTA or volunteer work on a Sabbath, nor do I attempt to get any serious writing done. If a great writing thought comes to me, of course I’ll write it down, but I won’t sit in front of my screen with my mind on my plan and my plan on my mind.
In thinking about it a while, what I realized is that I need more than just not doing things, though. I need things to do. So I thought about it a little more and decided that the things I could do that would make the Sabbath a little cozier were adding in good music, making gratitude lists, reading from my spiritual books, and spending time on self care that I don’t usually get to during the main part of the week (like fun nail polish or teeth whitening or other spa like treatments).
What are some things you do to make your Sabbath a great experience?
I am taking an online writing class called BYOB – Blog Your Own Book. It’s thirty-one days of blogging with a goal to use the posts to make an e-book at the end of the month. I’ve decided to blog my own adoption story from start to finish, with a few meanderings here and there to talk about Adoptee Rights, the psychology behind healing the emotional wounds of adoption, websites that help people search, and other adoption related topics. I plan to send copies of the resulting e-book to my family members when it is complete.
I am telling the story from just my point of view, I am leaving out possibly salacious bits of information that might upset anyone involved, and I am not posting the given names of those who are featured in my story. Everyone named will be given a pseudonym to protect their anonymity.
I’ve chosen to post my pieces on Medium because there is the possibility of getting paid for my posts there. If this series works out, I will write more stories on Medium about other topics.
Over the weekend, my family cleaned out our garage. All four of us at once. Usually it’s just me and one kid or the other, dragging things out and throwing them in the trash. It takes all day, sometimes two. This time I put my foot down and made everyone work together at once. Two hours later we were nearly done. Two dumpsters were filled with trash, the van was filled with donations, and more donate-ables were put out at the curb for people to take. Later that afternoon, I pulled some memory boxes inside, one by one, and dug through them. More papers were added to the recycle bin, old bills were shredded, and folders were made and labeled with dates and kid names. I knocked out 3 of the 7 that were left before the end of the day.
While I was going through all that paper, I found 6 new poems, notes on two novels that I’d never seen before (one which tied up a plot hole I’ve been edging around for months), and a rough draft of a short story I cannot remember writing (but it’s in my handwriting). And all that doesn’t include the four notebooks I found that I hadn’t had a chance to dig through yet.
This afternoon, I typed all that into the computer. Between the random sheafs and the notebooks, I ended up with 14 poems across the last decade. While I was putting those in order, I discovered 22 other poems that had been mis-foldered at some point in the past. Since I was on a roll, I went through all the rest of the notebooks in the bedroom and checked for poetry. Found 5 more pages of one novel, written longhand, and three pages of notes on another one.
After all that nonsense, I opened up my old yWriter files from the current novels and translated a bunch of character/location/item templates into Scrivener, then updated my three current Scrivener novel Outliner Columns/Keywords/Custom Meta-data so they all had matching information to work with.
(I also went to the doctor and shopped at three stores today. I’ve been hyper-productive.)
This is week two of my Spiritual Practice Class. This week we talked about our spiritual practices in terms of what we do when, and where we do it all.
In terms of Daily Practice, we discussed different kinds of mediation, like breathing exercises, journaling, or praying. We talked about going to a place with permission to not be distracted. Safe spaces, basically, which lead to a discussion of places we found safe throughout our lives.
For me, the spaces I found safest were places my mom couldn’t get to me easily. I was that kid that was always off hiding somewhere, usually curled up with a book. In Nebraska, it was usually up in the tree in the front yard. My mother hated that. She and the neighbor across the street would usually meet nearby to have a venting session and she hated to find out that I’d been listening the entire time. Which I really wasn’t, because of the aforementioned book. Once we moved to Texas, I didn’t have a good climbing tree any more. But we got a pool a couple years after the move and I found that I loved to swim. I’d swim in any season. My hair turned green and my mother would have to beg me to get out and come back inside (which cracked me up after her years and years of begging me to go out and play).
Where do you go to find sanctuary? Is it a person or is it a place?
My dad came up to spend the July 4th weekend with us. He arrived Friday and we thought he was going home on Sunday, but he extended it to Monday to make some much needed repair calls for his house up here and now he’s extended it one more day to meet the termite people in person. All of which to say that I haven’t gotten any writing done since last Thursday.
So today, I’ve got some time and my brain says “nope.” I am not letting that deter me. For my birthday in April, I got several of those books in the writing thesaurus series and I have not managed to look at a single one until this morning. So I looked up my notes about the scene I was supposed to be writing – “Edward & Minerva talk in hotel room after meeting Sharon. E’s POV, also show how he is more like Stephen/Walt in tenderness towards wife, but how that is a magically manipulated response.”
I always intend to blog more than I end up doing. I type up my morning pages and then think “I’ll add to these and make a blog post.” And then I end up dumping the info into a post and don’t edit it or hit publish until a couple weeks or month or so later, when I do several at once. I do that with a lot of things. I think “I’m going to do x,y, or z” and then don’t plan well around that thing, so not as much gets accomplished and then I feel bad about it. I decided to get better about planning writing things.
On Sunday I got out my new HP Classic Planner, the Welcome to the Book Club one. It’s super fun and has lots of book themes dividers and pages. I got the accompanying planner stickers, too. What I failed to notice in my buying spree was that this is a horizontal layout, not vertical, and I converted to a vertical process for regular life stuff several years ago. I had no idea how I was going to use this one. I had initially decided I was going to chuck July through December and start it in January. I’d have a plan by then, right? But on Sunday a beautiful plan came into my mind and I had to try it.
So here is my new writing planner for July.
I have only included writing goals, writing related events, and the odd regular-life event that impedes my normal writing time slots. Blue ink is for writing, purple for revision, green for events (like writer’s guild meetings, library writing class, other writing-related classes, conventions, etc.) and pink for impending due dates.
Weekly view looks like this:
I’m using the left side for planned scenes to write and # words needed for that day, the middle for word sprint counts, and the right side for events that might impede the schedule. The bottom right provides a place for overall word count for my main project, things I love this week, and what writing related guidebook I’m reading this week.
I started using it on Monday and it’s working out pretty well so far. (these photos are from Sunday when I first started filling it out) I like being able to just get up andstart on work I already know needs doing. I plan on updating it weekly on Sunday like I do my regular life planner and meal plan. 🙂