Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. She has published 18 memoirs and her book, Bird by Bird, is an iconic book on writing. It was one of the first books I read when I decided to start writing. She is passionate, funny and thoughtful.
Her view of writing is right on the money. To quote Anne Lamott, “Books are as important as almost anything else on earth…unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
I have come to writing later in life. I am the same age as Anne Lamott. She has been a writer her whole life. She also has moments of writer’s block when faced with that empty page. She tells a story of her younger brother having to write a paper on birds and he waited until the last minute. He was close to tears overwhelmed with the huge task ahead of him. Her father, a writer, sat down next to him and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
I recently applied for a scholarship for an online writing course. Not knowing what to expect I figured I would write the reason why I want to take the course. I wrote as I do in my blogs, from the heart. Needless to say all of my doubts where right on the surface. I figured it was now or never. Out of 1900 entries from around the world they chose sixteen people and I was one of them. Yep, at 64 I am on my way. Who knows where it will take me. But as Anne Lamott’s father once said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
Jasmine. The smell is intoxicating. Coming up my stairs on a warm spring night and smelling the beautiful perfume of this delicate flower makes me very happy. It’s not the same if you pick it or if it’s bottled as a perfume. You must smell it as it is on the vine. That is its strength. It has the control to act exactly as it wants. No one tells it when it can bloom and when it dies. It is on its own schedule. The blooms don’t last forever but the sheer knowledge knowing that it will return is enough. Now that is freedom.
I’m trying to look at my life like jasmine. I have the power in myself to control how I feel and how I act. I also have to take responsibility for when I screw up and when I am true to myself. When to walk away and when to know it’s better to stick it out. I’m still trying to learn that lesson and it’s not very easy. The demons and voices in my head still trying to win out. We are surrounded right now by a lot of crazy stuff. I can find myself going down that rabbit hole. Getting caught up in all of the fear and uncertainty of what another day is going to bring. Age does that. It makes you face things you use to put aside when you were younger. There was always time before to work things out (you told younger self) but now I can feel time. Trying to drown out the clock ticking by a fountain in my office. Sometimes it works and sometimes I find myself looking at the clock more than I should.
This year there is a massive amount of butterflies out especially now that we are getting a bit of warmer weather. There are so many of them I can hear their wings flutter. They are so beautiful and so precious. As is the jasmine. So I am stopping to smell the jasmine. I suggest you also my friends, take time to smell the jasmine.
It’s been one whole year. 365 days. I can’t believe a year has gone by since I wrote a blog for Styled Inside Out. I’m not sure whether I should be very grateful I have been so busy working or if I should realize that time moves so fast and I feel like it’s been a blur. I have had the gift of having some down time where I have continued to fix up my house (never ending!), started painting, caught up on a lot of reading, joined up again at my beloved gym and organized my much neglected personal life. I have caught up with friends I haven’t seen in years and discovered I’m going to be a grandma. Wow, who says life isn’t busy? And that’s just since January!
However in my mind I feel like I’m not doing enough. I feel at the end of the day I have been slacking. I feel like I am slacking. I feel like the garage should finally be completely organized and every drawer almost empty. I have the time but I just can’t bring myself to fold my clothes like Marie Kondo. I don’t care how much time I have. I could only do that if I have a bottle of wine next to me. That is a full time job.
You know what else is full time without getting paid? Eating healthy. I went away for a week to learn how to cook more “vegan” and realized that is also an unpaid full time job. I know it’s better for you and I do feel better (and eight pounds lighter) but it doesn’t replace a hunk of brie, a baguette, butter, a pile of red grapes (seedless), and a beautiful glass of red wine. Do I feel great after eating that? Not so much. But it is magnificent while in the process. So I cheat every so often and tell myself life is short and time flies by.
One of the best things about going into 2019 is that I have had the luxury of being in my own home in my own bed. Watching the sunsets from my deck and even enjoying the rain we have desperately needed. The jasmine on my arboretum is about ready to bloom and I haven’t experienced that joy in a number of years because of being out of town. So here’s to you Marie Kondo. Spark joy!