Just a little something to pass the time…

Coronavirus Social Distancing Log- Day 3…

Our world has gone a bit crazy, people are in the aisles hoarding toilet paper and paper towels, every kid is a homeschooler now and the pace of life is beginning to slow to a crawl. In an effort to stay sane and maybe to seize upon the beautiful opportunity we’ve been given to reflect and create and love our families and well, just be. My friend, Kati and I were chatting about how we were muddling through this experience and she brought up writing prompts. I told her I was trying my hand at them again and would share them with her, and she encouraged me to return to this space and share them here. So that I’ll do….for how long- I won’t make any false promises, but for today at least.

This prompt comes from my favorite place to explore memory and memoir- Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg. It’s simple….just write….for ten minutes…no editing. The prompt is Storage.

Tell me about a storage unit or someplace you stored things. Write for 10 minutes. Go.

Storage

There’s a box that sits on my bedside table that holds the oddest collection of things. I can’t remember where I got it, but the metal hinges are rusted and complain a bit when you swing them open. The dry wood is carved with intricate symbols of a religion that no longer whispers meaning to me. It’s full of interesting odds and ends from a life that seems eons ago. A St Christopher’s medallion blessed by the Pope, dog tags that proudly proclaim my blood type and social security number. There’s a tie tack in there that I was awarded when I left the Army and the silver dollar my great uncle gave me along with my first salute. My 11th BDE belt buckle and challenge coin that used to travel every where with me, even overseas….even into war…lest I be caught without it and challenged by a brother in arms. It smells of sandalwood and patchouli and way too many other kinds of incense and it reminds me of a girl who doesn’t live here anymore. It’s an odd feeling to look back over items of a past life and realize you’re no longer connected to them. But still they sit, in that carved wooden box, on my bedside table.

Inspiration from an “Old Friend from Far Away” (aka an effort to return to writing)

Hello my friends in the blogosphere! Have you missed me? I have missed you all so much…or maybe I haven’t missed these nights here at the computer nearly enough to return to them…or maybe, as I told a friend the other day, I am speaking so much now and I just only have a finite amount of words in me and it leaves me with nothing to write.  (She reminded me that I was created in the image of an infinite God and thus there was nothing ‘finite’ about me…including my words, but perhaps I was releasing them through the outlet of speaking rather than writing and simply didn’t need the writing as much these days.) Or perhaps I have simply become a slave to my busy schedule and make no place for this platform.  Whatever the reason, I am limping back this way complete with shiny good intentions to be here on a regular basis.  

My plan is to post regularly again in the “Ministry Resources” category (once every other week) and to hopefully share some words from you that I have been working on in my free writing exercises.  This second experiment terrifies me as these are some of the truest, rawest words I have written.  I have been hiding them in a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” notebook for over a year now and I think I am ready to share some.  But cause I am all scared and stuff and hate to do this authenticity thing alone- wanna play along?showyourheart

Here’s what I’ll do:  

I will post a prompt from my memoir writing book by Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, and other books every now and again.  I will commit to writing on this prompt for ten minutes and share my writing with you…and you share with me?  Post a response to the prompt and share your link in the comments?  What do you say?  If yes…super cool! Let’s do this thang! If no, well…then…I will share what I write anyway…So to start, just a quick story about how I came by this treasure of a book by Natalie Goldberg.

I was undone by her gift.  When I unwrapped it, it seemed…well…typical….of my sister- of her habits, of her life and loves…that she would gift me with a book for Christmas.  It is what she always gives- a tradition begun in her grad school days when money was tight and knowledge premium.

A sweet gift for a bibliophile like myself, but…well…expected.  I almost didn’t even flip through the pages….but I am so glad I did.

The book itself was one chosen specifically for me- Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg- a treasure for a storyteller and writer like myself.  It was a book I had longed for for several months and I was excited she’d chosen it for me.

“I just bought this for my Kindle!” I said and watched her face fall a bit.

“You can take it back if you want,” she offered, “but you should check inside first.”

I opened to the introduction and began skimming when out slipped a slip of cut looseleaf notebook paper.  Scrawled in blue magic marker in my sister’s handwriting was a quote:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…You must do the thing you cannot do.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Her letters formed straight up and down, started neatly and ran off the lines at the end of the quote. The slip of paper was torn cleanly from it’s sheet. I stared in wonder at this gift.

She’d stolen moments to write these words and tuck them in this book for me to run across at just the perfect time.  She’d searched and saved and thought of me when she saw them…and then she’d pulled the cap off of a blue Cars magic marker and written them down for me late at night or during nap time or when she could have been showering in peace.  Moments her busy-mom-of-two-with-a-newly-adopted-special-needs-chld-life just could not afford….but she spent them anyway.

As I flipped through, I found other slips of paper and had to fight the urge to read them all. I knew her intent was for me to unwrap these tiny gifts all year long- to dole out bits of encouragement over time…so I waited….and sat in awe at her gift.

I have loved working through this book over the last year….so now I am ready to share SOME of this writing with you…maybe these prompts will be as beautiful a gift to you as they have been to me.  Stay tuned…I’ll be back soon!