I have been behind, behind and celebrating Mardi Gras with chocolate and poetry.
So it is not Confession Tuesday, but Confession Wednesday, Confession Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
For those who aren't familiar with Lent, Lent is a timing of giving something up, the opposite of Rick Astley:
Over the years, instead of giving something up--like chocolate or sweets or Facebook or ________ (fill in what you love or abuse here)--there's been more of emphasis of being a better person and changing something in yourself.
There's a great article for Catholics and even non-Catholics called Beyond Giving Up Chocolate: Going Deeper in Lent.
Reading it, I thought here are some questions we can answer ourselves as artists and writers (and note, atheists as well as other religions can participate in Lent and read this. Just substitute the word "God" with "universe," "spirit," "my inner voice," "creativity," etc.)
But this year we might reflect and ask the deeper question: What is God inviting me to change this Lent? How do I know what God might be stirring in me? I begin by listening to the movements in my heart. Where am I feeling uncomfortable with the choices I am making? With the things I have done? With the habitual ways I respond?
So today's confession will deal with things I do to help create wellness in my own writer's life as well as what I'm doing for Lent.
To the confessional--
I confess I am NOT giving up chocolate for Lent this year.
I've done this every year (sometimes ALL sweets--those times I eat a lot of strawberry jam) with the exception of the year I turned 40 and this year.
This year, I decided to change something about myself, to do something to make the world a better place (me not eating chocolate *does not* make the world a better place).
So here's what I've come up with--
1) Do a kind (unexpected, random) act for someone every day (a friend or a stranger).
I hope I live my life like this anyway, but in these next 40-something days, I will do these kind acts more mindfully. Take time from my day to consider others, how I can help them, and what they need.
Some acts may be big, some small. Some they may know about, some may be something that helps them behind the scenes. Some will be anonymous, others not.
2) Find the good in everyone. Basically this comes down to criticize/judge less, praise/compliment more. Keep an open mind.
In our world, it's SO easy to look at something or someone and point out the negative-- she's too skinny, he has too many piercings, I don't like the color of car, these city streets are too narrow, etc.
So I am working on seeing the good in all and in everything.
I confess this can be a challenge for me when my mind wants to label someone or something as "annoying." Once someone/something becomes "annoying" in my head, it's hard to reset that switch. So this is my challenge. There aren't many people who annoy me, but when they do, it's hard for me to see anything else but the characteristic that earned that adjective.
I confess as writers I think it's important you don't make a lot of rules for yourself in living, but rules in your writer's life are good.
For example, don't make everything black or white. Don't say, "I hate television and tattoos" because one day you may have one of each. Don't say, "I'd never write a memoir/poems in first person/keep a blog/post on Facebook/share photos/etc, they are too personal" - you're shutting door on your self.
However rules for your writing can be beneficial.
1) Every day I'll write 2 pages or 500 hundred words.
2) Every day I'll write a poem.
3) Every weekend I'll revise a poem and submit work.
4) I write from 5 am - 7 am every morning.
5) I take a six hour block every weekend and work on my novel.
6) I make sure to paint at least once a month (or once a week).
I confess after a year or two absence, I've returned to yoga.
As writers (as much as I hate to say this) we need physical activity.
- Yoga is great for the mind and body.
- Going for a 20 minute walk each day clears the mind and reduces anxiety.
- Mountain biking helps you focus on the NOW, stay out of your head, and just be.
- Gardening connects you with something larger than yourself and allows your creativity to come out in other ways.
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) gives you a view of the earth from a place of water and allows you to interact with nature in a way you don't normally do. Plus, Vitamin D from the summer sun.
- Running-- well, I'm not sure what's that good for, but the people who do it--LOVE it.
I know I am happier in my house, sitting, writing, reading. I am a sedentary person usually from October-May. And I love this lifestyle. But just going to yoga again reminds me that I have a body (and not just a brain) and to take care of it and stretch it out once in awhile.
I confess as writers we need honor what gives our writer's self joy and fulfillment...even if it doesn't make sense to others.
I have a love affair with books. I love old typewriters. I can spend hours in Goodwill. Sometimes I just sit on the beach for hours doing nothing. I like to be a passenger, but not drive. I get cranky when I don't get enough alone time.
I love museums and if they sold apartments in museums, I would buy one. I love art that people do just because--like paint peace signs on rocks and leave them around town.
Sometimes at night, I'll have a glass of red wine and write letters to people.
Sometimes I'll have seasalt chocolate and read a biography in bed.
Sometimes I won't leave the house all day and instead, listen to swing music and pretend I live in the 1940s.
Sometimes when my house is asleep, I'll go out in my writing shed (aka The House of Sea) and just sit and listen to the noises outside.
I confess many years ago I started a checking account that is ONLY for my writing.
Any money I earn from writing, I put in here. And any time I want to splurge on something for my writing, the money is (mostly) there.
This way I never have to feel I'm "taking" from the family account. This is my artistic money. If I want to buy something bizarre-- like a $50 portrait of Frida Kahlo from Habitat for Humanity, or pay for a writing class with a favorite poet, the money is there...
I recommend this for all writers.
And take care of yourself dear writers. For the next 40-some days, see what you can do to make the world and your writing life, a better place.
~ Click here to subscribe to Book of Kells by email or in your favorite reader