I am at Bread Loaf. It is a writers' conference started by the poet Robert Frost who wrote the poem The Road Not Taken. The welcoming in the Little Theater started with a woman telling us how to escape the building in case of an emergency. That is because Frost was bored with someone who was reading and threw his lit cigarette into a trash can. It caught fire and he burned the building down. He was excused on the grounds that his wife had died and grief made his behaviour erratic. I am very proud to say that I have never burned down a building, accidentally or on purpose. Have you? See how well we are doing? (If you have - well then - how full of fire are you?)
I was watching a woman knitting with turquoise and startling pink yarn. That simple repetitive motion answered all of my questions. That is how you do things. Stitch by stitch, word by word, breath by breath. Sometimes you follow a pattern. Sometimes a totally different pattern than the one you started with starts to emerge. It doesn't happen all at once. People may not recognize what you are doing or what your plan is. You may not know it yourself. You only have to do one stitch at a time. If you drop a stitch, or do a wrong one - I believe the term is unpick what you have done - and start over. Every time you start over you may feel that you are starting at the beginning but you have a skill set you didn't have before. You are wise. You have to remember to access your wisdom.
I know that because I have been swimming in the self pity river. I have been wondering how my life would have been different if I had buckled down and was here as a successful writer instead of a searcher. I have been missing Artie and feeling like a ghost. It is very social here but there are others like me that are solitary wanderers. I had forgotten what I know. It is the showing up that is important. Three years ago I was accepted here and I had to cancel because it was my husband's dying time. It's okay that it seems strange without him. Of course I feel a little sad and a little lonely. However, I am here. I am learning. I am working - finally - on a book proposal for a workbook on grief. I have a meeting with someone on the 22nds to discuss it.
I had an e-mail from a special friend telling me how amazing I am. She told me that it didn't matter if I wrote a book or not. It mattered that I took the risk and that I am here. She reminded me of all the wonderful things I have done. I had an e-mail from daughter Erin. My 8 month old granddaughter Gwendy blue eyes pulled herself up using Erin's legs and then sucked on her toe and grinned. Erin said that wasn't going to happen again. Gwendy would have to find another way to get her attention. My daughter said she was proud of me. Whew. I need to remind myself that sometimes I can see more clearly through the eyes of others. I miss my husband's loving eyes. I need to change - this isn't my word - but I love it - perspectacles. Focus on my accomplishments while trying to use my talents as best I can.
I always tell people to be gentle with themselves and then I carry my own whip. Put it down, woman! So...if you are swimming in the self pity river today...I will pass on what I have been given. Grab my hand and come on out to sit on the riverbank and feel the sun warming your beautiful faces. Don't let grief win. Find your laughter and your peace. Have a good cry if you need to - and then like golden retriever - shake the water off and wag your tale. Purposefully mispelled. You have a tale to tell. You have to live or you will have no stories. Tell the stories of those who have died - and create new ones so that when you die you will have something to brag about on the other side (or is this the other side?).
I'm coming back into the land of living I was about to say...but the truth is I am always here. There are signs and wonders everywhere. I only have to open my senses to be aware of them. In my own time. In my own way. xo
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