A friend of mine has been reading one poem a day as her practice for 2015. It’s November now, and there are not that many days left in this year. This practice is interesting to me, not so much as the act itself but of the time commitment. The weather in my corner of the world has turned autumnal with all the glory this time of year offers. Plants in the garden are dying. Birds are building thicker nests. The leaves are turning as the winds swirl and rain falls. Pours. It makes me want to brood, read, write, and listen to sad music.
I was reminded of this one-poem-a-day practice as The Pen and The Bell writers sent out a new blog post. I have not read the book (yet) but I read this blog–which is interesting when you think about it. How very meta–I read a blog about a book’s teaching that I have not yet read. This is a practice.
It’s truly a blessing to have very little on my calendar aside from trying to pack up my life to move to a new city. Going through pictures, files, books, papers, and gear has me a bit reflective about the time that went by so quickly while I’ve been living in Bellingham. It’s a different kind of cycle. Of housekeeping.
Holly Hughes writes
We need only to look out the window to be reminded that this cycle of life is all part of the natural order. Today, take a few minutes to reflect on the transitions fall brings. Even better, take a walk outside and mindfully kick a few leaves to fully get in the spirit. Then write down what that felt like, letting the description of fall carry you into your inner landscape and the changes you’re sensing may be ahead. Whatever you encounter in the months ahead, know that mindfulness and writing will be good companions if you, too, are navigating the waters of uncertainty.
And this is what I like about their blog. They give you stuff to think about as a writer along with sources you can explore on your own. They don’t write very often, but when they do, I spend some time reflecting and I usually follow their prompts. Through this blog post today I discovered Life, Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad and her words got me thinking about the changing seasons Hughes had asked me think about in her post. A link to another link to come full circle in my thoughts.
Jaouad describes her journal practice, and here are my favorite quotes:
It was a way of organizing my days around one small, simple act of happiness. It helped me to reconnect to myself when the person staring back at me in the mirror had become unrecognizable. Keeping that journal showed me how to write my way out of my private hell. It gave me a voice when I felt I had none and a job to do beyond simply trying to survive. To set a 100-day plan was to will myself into the future, no matter how uncertain it seemed.
It has been a little over a year since I finished my cancer treatment and left the kingdom of the sick.
I joke that I am stuck in the Michael Jackson phase of healing. I’m moonwalking: simultaneously gliding forward and backward but not really going anywhere.
Jaouad charmed me, and I plan to follow her journey. She appears both in photo and on the page like a happy young woman exploring life. She made me smile. Discovering her work made think about how it’s been a long time since I’ve committed to any consistent practice–like my friend who is on her 11th month of reading a poem every single day before she goes to bed. Or first thing in the morning.
One hundred days does not seem like that long, but I can’t imagine what my life will be like since so much is unknown. Uncertain yet certain. Yet this young woman did it in a terrible time of illness. A cycle of illness.
This all takes me back to mindfulness, practice, teaching, learning, and writing.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take up writing for the Federated Library Project at least one post a day. I began a new blog a few days ago and in one hundred days since I started it will be February 9, 2016. One post a day. Until then.
Like the post I mentioned above from The Pen and The Bell, I’m drawn into invitations to write. One of the guidelines, so to speak, for this style of writing is to think about how others will use your words. This type of writing is hard for me, and that will take practice. I already see this improvement in what I’ve produced in the federated wiki.
I want to get better with this style of writing because I think it will help me both personally and professionally. This style is hard for me because I want to tell you a story. Argue a point. To journal. To digress. To dream. To blather about what’s in my brain. To you. Not for you.
There’s a difference.
So I’ll do that blathering here on this blog, and I’ll chronicle my 100 days with the Federated Library Project here.
Write for reuse in this space. What you post should be easy for others to reuse on their site with modifications. So no posts trying to prove a personal point or narratives that wouldn’t make sense out of someone else’s mouth. You are contributing words to your wiki that someone else can use with minimal modification.
In M Train, Patti Smith starts her latest memoir with a moment of truth, and I’ll leave you with this thought:
It’s not so easy writing about nothing.