Contest Reject

I told you earlier this week about the rejection I received.  The positive thing about my poems being rejected is that now I have two more new poems I can share with you here.  This poem is called “Toenail” and yes it was inspired by my toenail.  At some point last fall my toenail quit growing and the skin around it was swollen and red.  It wasn’t terribly disgusting, but it wasn’t right either.  I was put on two rounds of antibiotics and soaked it in epson salt baths for weeks.  Neither solution worked.  The last resort, if it didn’t heal was to have it removed.

Toenail

There’s a part of me that’s infected

The doctor said

come into his office

he’ll numb me up

Take it off

I’m scared

Can I take the pain

Sometimes it seems ok

Like I could live with it

Other times

I notice it rotting

And I want to be rid of it

If I do nothing

Will the infection spread

Take over my whole body

until I’m rotting too

Until the doctor insists on taking my limbs

He says when it’s over it will

grow back

Good as new

So what if it does

And that one gets infected too

Or what if it never grows back

And a part of me is missing

Note:  I put off returning to the podiatrist because I really didn’t want him to take the toenail off.  Miraculously during that “putting off” phase, my toenail healed on its own.  By the time I returned to his office, he couldn’t understand why he’d suggested taking it off in the first place.

Willie Kate

I just ran into my neighbor, Collin.  Seeing him made me think of his mother, Willie Kate.  Willie Kate and Collin moved in to the house across the street about five years ago, just a few months after we moved into ours.  Willie Kate was constantly working in her yard and when she did this she would usually leave the front door standing wide open.  One day I was in my front yard with my daughter and two dogs.  My dog Oscar saw Willie Kate across the street and couldn’t resist introducing himself.  He ran to greet her but didn’t stop there, instead he ran into her house where he discovered her cat.  In the process of retrieving my dachshund from her guest bedroom, Willie Kate offered me an open invitation to bring my daughter by for visits whenever I wanted to.  I took her up on her offer and along with playgroup and storytime, Willie Kate made it onto my weekly calendar.

Bella and I would visit her once a week.  She’d feed Bella homemade cookies and tell me the stories of her life.  They were always the same stories…her first husband who died in the war, her two daughters that had their babies in the same week,  the baby she had that didn’t make it, the lady who made poor little Collin think that he was being replaced by the newest sibling in the family, and her years of working as a nurse.  In between my visits, I would watch her outside planting flowers or raking leaves and marvel at the way she moved that 85-year-old body of hers.

When Callee was born and Bella went to preschool, I found myself with less time for visits to Willie Kate’s house.  Around that time, Collin was diagnosed with cancer.  When we would visit Willie Kate, she would talk often about how concerned she was for his health.  I know she feared the worst…that she would outlive yet another child.  I began to notice a difference in the house at that time.  It seemed to be sick as well.  I visited less frequently, always using the “too busy” excuse, never knowing that Willie Kate was getting sick too.  The last time I sat with her in her living room, she was recovering from a surgery to remove skin cancer.  She was confident the doctors had gotten it all and she would be fine, but not so sure about Collin.

Then one day Collin knocked on my door.  “I just wanted to let you know that my mom has cancer.  She could go anytime.  We’ve called Hospice.”

I thanked him for letting me know and wondered what to do.  I knew he had told everyone that knew her and that they would all be calling and visiting.  I watched the cars come and go from the house, but I didn’t cross the street.  I called her one afternoon and told her that I had wanted to let her have some peace and that’s why I hadn’t visited.  The truth was, I was scared to visit.  I didn’t know what to say, how to act, or even how to be next to someone that was dying.  She asked me to visit.  I went the next day and no one came to the door.  That was it, I’d made the effort.  I think I called her one more time.

About a month after Collin stopped by, birds started flying into my windows, tapping on the glass with their beaks.  They tapped on the bedroom window when I was working on the computer, the living room window when I was watching TV, and the dining room window when I was eating meals.  They tapped and they tapped everyday for a week or two.  Then one day I looked across the street and saw a black ribbon on the mailbox.  I went to the funeral a few days later.  There hasn’t been another bird tapping on my window since then.

I often wish I’d known what those birds were trying to tell me.  I wish I’d gone over and said goodbye.  I wish I’d taken my precious daughters over to make her smile, instead of being afraid to show them sickness.  I think of her often and she will forever be an inspiration to me.  I hope she knows how sorry I am for not visiting one last time.

Rejection

I received an email from The Southeast Review announcing that the winners had been chosen for the 2009 poetry contest.  I scrolled through the names and noticed mine was not there.  Rejection.  I had been so happy with my entries and really thought they had a chance.  No such luck.

Rejection is the hardest part about being a writer.  After I finished my first novel I got so excited and sent it out to nearly 50 literary agents.  I managed to score one partial request (an agent asked to read 5 chapters) which resulted quickly in a rejection, but that was it.  I spent months sending out letters and waiting for responses, only to end up back at the drawing board, writing a new novel, hoping for another chance.

Now I’m at that stage again.  So far, I’ve sent 10 query letters out for “The Circle Home” and all have resulted in rejections.  And I am officially terrified.  This book is very close to my heart.  In so many ways, the main character, Emily, is me and I really want to see her in print.  Other writers keep reminding me about how many rejections Stephen King, John Grisham, and Robert Olen Butler received before they were published, but that doesn’t seem to help.  I just think of Stephenie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks and how they got their agents within two days of querying (or something absurd like that).  The life and future of this novel all come down to a three paragraph letter.  If I can’t summarize 60,000 words in 150 words or less than forget about it.

So with the receipt of this latest rejection, I am trying to figure out just how to perservere.  Writing has always been one of my passions.  I stopped writing for over ten years, but somehow found my way back to it.  I like to think there was a reason for that, that perhaps I found my way back to the path I was meant to travel.

Are You Full?

Yesterday I introduced you to my experience with meditation.  And like I said yesterday, when I go within I often receive guidance.  The guidance usually comes by way of the “still small voice” (calm and quiet instructions) but sometimes it comes in the form of a vision.  I’m in a book group with my friend and meditation teacher, Rob.  We have been reading a book by Joel S. Goldsmith.  Goldsmith was a great healer, spiritual teacher, and mystic who lived from 1892-1964.  His message is as relevant today as it was in the 1950’s when he was speaking to groups all over the world.  Meditation is a huge part of Joel’s teachings and he has written at least one book entirely about the subject. So, in the last meeting of the Goldsmith book group we found ourselves in meditation for over one hour.  It was really an amazing meditation and I wanted to share with you the message I received because I think it is relevant not just for me, but for everyone.

At one point during the meditation I saw myself in an ocean, my arms hanging over a surf board as I floated gently on the waves.  I heard a voice behind me ask “Are you full of life?”  I didn’t answer the question, but looked behind me to see an unbelievably enormous wave forming.  I’m not a surfer, so you can imagine that I didn’t feel too confident about what I saw coming towards me.  At that point the voice said “GET ON!” and a huge hand smacked the board.  The sound of the hand hitting the board was enough to startle me out of the vision, but I knew immediately what the message was.

One of my favorite images (that I first read in Eric Butterworth’s book “Discover the Power Within You”) is that of us being waves in the ocean.  God is the ocean and our lives are the waves.  We are always a part of God but it is up to us to recognize that.  It is also up to us to be present and live life to the fullest.  I believe that huge wave in the vision represents my life and I have two choices.  I can sit here and let it pummel me or I can jump on that board and ride it all the way.

Two Years on Meds

As of Memorial Day weekend, it has officially been two years since I took my friend, Rob’s Mantra Meditation class.  Since then, I have meditated almost everyday, twice a day for 20 minutes.  Meditation has had an enormous affect on my life.

Physically, I am healthier than I have ever been.  I have lost twenty pounds since I started and have kept it off.  I credit my weight loss to meditation because I was a stress eater.  Obviously my stress level is down so I have no desire to go to the fridge because I am anxious and worried.  And since I’m not running for snacks because I am stressed, I tend not to eat more than I should anymore.  I feel confident I will not have to struggle with this problem again in the future. I plan to be a lifelong meditator and will always have a solution to any stressful habits I may stumble on.

Emotionally, I am in balance.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I think that memories come to us for a reason.  Over the past two years, I have had a lot of stuff come up during meditation.  I’ve remembered certain things and people from my past that have brought up unresolved emotions.  I’ve been able to let go of guilt and become more accepting of myself.  Meditating also helps me settle down when my “monkey mind” is getting the best of me.

Creatively, I am more receptive to inspiration than I have ever been.  Taking the time to meditate daily keeps the channels open, so that my mind is quiet and calm enough to get ideas for my writing.  Almost every great line I came up with in my two novels came to me during meditation.  And at least half of these blog ideas have sprang forth during my meditation time.

But to me, the most important benefit I have achieved from meditation is becoming spiritually aware.  Through meditation I have opened myself up to the “still small voice” within.  I am learning that the best answers for my own life come from within me.  I call it my connection with God.  It is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  When I go within I get answers.  When I go within I get directions.  When I go within I find my way.  I don’t try to make things happen in my life, instead I surrender and wait to be asked.

With the help of meditation I am becoming the person I was meant to be.  It is the best medicine that I have found.

The F Word

I considered deleting this post.  I wasn’t sure about the offensive nature of this message, so I asked my husband.  “Do you think I should delete the post I wrote last night?”

“Why?”  He asked.

“Well, because it might offend people and they might stop reading.”

“So you’re going to delete the post because you’re afraid it might affect the readership?”

When he said that it clicked.  I was letting my ego get the best of me.  The point of the blog is to present the real me to anyone that’s interested in knowing her.  So, if the following offends you, I am very sorry.  I never said you would like everything that you learn about me, but I hope you’ll keep learning. 🙂

Yesterday I found myself in the middle of a facebook argument with someone about the offensive nature of some song lyrics.  The song and it’s lyrics were hilarious, the only problem was the song was called “Are You F***ing Kidding Me?” and the F word was used several times throughout the three minute track.

I wasn’t offended or bothered by the song because I’m not offended or bothered by that word.  In fact, I have to admit I quite like the word.  I once attended an event where several writers were asked what their favorite swear word was.  I thought about my own answer and it is definitely the F word.

Now before you chastise me, take a moment to hear me out.  To me the F word is a passionate word.  It might be the most passionate word I’ve ever heard.  It has so much power and emotion all locked away in four letters and one syllable.  Anything you say is taken up a few notches by putting the F word in front of it. For example, let’s say a co-worker tells you that they are annoyed.  You might think sorry, too bad about that.  But, if they tell you they are f***ing annoyed you will probably go the other way and avoid them altogether.  It also works in a positive manner.  Let’s imagine someone tells you that you are beautiful.  You might think yeah, yeah, sure..you don’t really mean that do you? But, if they tell you that you’re f***ing beautiful, well you’ll probably head down to the local beauty pageant office and sign up.

The word definitely has power.  It is the only swear word that doesn’t jar me to say.  When I am completely uncorked that is my word of choice and unfortunately I’ve said it in front of and to people I regret.  I get that it is a very offensive word to some (maybe even most) people.  I guess maybe I’m weird.  I mean the F word I’m seriously offended by…the one that rhymes with dart…is a word most people teach their children to say.  But when I hear it, say it, or even write it, it makes me want to crawl under a rock.  So the moral of this story is..words are just words.  It is up to us to decide how we let them affect us.

Note: I won’t dare post the song, but if you’re curious it’s called “R U F***ing Kidding Me?”  by Kate Miller-Heidke and you can look for it yourself on youtube.