Last April when my friend Donna Hopkins and I decided to try a poetry/photography project, I was excited. But I didn’t know we would still be working on it these months later.
Yet, I’ve found this project has given me focus. I’ve also changed the way I see the world, much like when children view events through their own fresh eyes. And I couldn’t be more grateful for this in my life right now.
This was Donna’s idea: to make a photo and send it to me where I would react to it in writing. “Let’s see where it goes,” she said, with a smile that drew me in.
First, I love her photographs. They capture moments in her life, moments that show what it means to be human. Also, she knows I use the photos as inspiration, so my writing is not literally about the photo but what comes to me as I study it. We found we were much aligned as we moved forward. The other discovery came when she titled the project Natural Histories, a nod to this time in our lives. What a perfect way to document what we are both going through as we transition into what I think of as the last third of our lives.
An example above shows what she sent- a photo, stark in its dark green and white sign contrast, but also empty with a sign that says nothing. At first I focused on the blank sign, but then my mind moved to what happens at the moment of death. I found my feelings stirred up around the idea of after life and my mother.
We are mid-way through the project, aiming to finish up next April, a year from when we started. The beauty for me is I can create a poem but return to it before we finalize. I’ve already added and deleted lines from earlier poems, and I plan to do a once over before we publish our book.
Sebene Selassie said, “each of us can cultivate our capacity to live in ways that honor our inherent interconnection. Through intimacy and imagination we can consciously create the world we live in together.” This feels like I am creating the world in which I want to live. We will all grow old. We will all die. How do we honor the time we are here on this earth?
I’ve finally established a fairly good morning routine. Gentle, peaceful, quiet.
But what I’ve realized it this: I really like it because I am alone.
I wake slowly and drink my coffee. The I do my pilates exercises on the reformer while listening to a podcast. Next, I move to my chair where I journal or work on poetry, and finally I meditate. I do this in the room I transformed from my letterpress studio to a “room of my own.”
introverts are more sensitive than extroverts to dopamine. As a result, introverts simply need less of it to feel its pleasant effects. Too much dopamine, and introverts get overstimulated, according to Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, in her 2002 book, The Introvert Advantage. ….. Interestingly, Laney writes, introverts may prefer to use a slightly different brain pathway, one that is activated by acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter tied to long-term memory, perceptual learning, and the ability to stay calm and alert, among other things. Introverts may enjoy spending time alone in part because of acetylcholine; according to Laney, this chemical may produce a happy feeling for introverts when they’re quietly reflecting, concentrating, or turned inward.
When I’ve spent too many nights waking to dark thoughts, tossing and turning in the wee hours, I know it’s time to write.
Often getting the words on paper is all I need. I suppose that’s why I love printing so much. Whether it’s a powerful quote or an affirmation for a friend, the cards and prints make me feel more at peace with the world.
Today I received a love card in the mail from a friend from Turks and Caicos. It told me she was thinking of me– and of our time together. That’s also why I’m excited about our Write On evening, a chance to celebrate Letter Writing Month. On the 17th, we’ll gather at Kickshaws Market in Fredericksburg to write letters– to friends, senior citizens, or even women going through breast cancer treatment. Doing this as a group allows connections that we need so much these days. And knowing that someone will get a card in the mail just as I did today makes me happy.
All you have is now, this moment to make someone feel good. And I know you’ll feel better about yourself and the world, too.
I love New Year’s Day. I love thinking of change, options, ways to be healthy, and ways to grow. Yes, I’m one of those resolution makers.
I have to admit I don’t keep many of them. Or some, I’ve made and dropped and made again. So, in the long run, I’m keeping up.
This year I am considering my eating habits and working on eliminating sugar. I think I’ve tried this every year since I first read Sugar Blues about 100 years ago.
I am also considering adding more reading (fiction) and cutting my screen time. Oh I say I’m reading when I’m staring at my laptop, but glancing at headlines and flitting from page to page really doesn’t count.
Writing– I’m considering designating a time every day to write. See I’ve already started.
And see what I did there? These are all considerations. When I don’t happen to keep them up each day, I will bang my head against the table a little less. I haven’t failed since they weren’t absolute rules.
Speaking of failure. I turn 65 in June. I have a lot to consider before then. So this reading and writing will be a good thing.
I’ll let you know if cutting sugar from my diet was a good thing, too.
I keep shaking it, trying to move myself out of the gloom. I think it’s the cold. Tomorrow, though it will rain buckets, and it’s going to be 80. Sweet.
But printing goes on. I delivered cards to Heather’s today and restocked the shelves at Water Street. I’m getting ready for my show at Skin Touch Therapy on May 3. Excited!! And I’m having as much fun learning Adobe Illustrator as I am with my presses. A geek at heart.
By the way, those are new journals with letterpress printed covers in Etsy and at Great.ly. I’m going to go write my gray day away. (Wish I could do the same for my hair.)