Welcome to the BIG BRAVE BLOG HULLABALOO, a celebration of gutsy women from all over the world, connecting and claiming our power! It’s not too late to join our circle… if you’d like to share your story on my blog over the course of the summer, please read what this is all about HERE, and connect with me!
We have so much to learn from one another!
Today’s guest is none other than my dear mother! I am super proud of her for sharing her story here on allowing her ideas to breathe and grow by saying them outloud….
Please welcome the INSIGHTFUL Joan Rough! And of course, please leave a little love note for her in the comments below and share how her words land in you….
I’m writing a memoir. The first time I mentioned it on my blog was my way of making a promise to myself. Saying it out loud in public means I’m making a commitment. And once I tell the world that I’m going to do something, it’s gotta get done.
Sounds like a great way to get myself stuck, submerged in overwhelm, and unable to get going, doesn’t it? But it’s worked in the past and I’ve come to count on that part of my process.
Rational or not, it’s the way I do things. Writing about something I’m considering in my private daily journals gets me into my innermost musings. I take my time gathering seeds, thinking things through carefully, finding purpose. If I’m feeling comfortable with my ideas, I plant those seeds and fertilize them with a little bit of love. When they finally sprout and rise above the soil line, standing tall, straight, and very visible, it’s time to start mentioning that I would like these little plants to grow into beautiful shrubs with a rainbow of petal-perfect flowers. I’ll tell my husband and a trusted friend or two. They’ll probably say encouraging things and I’ll let my seedlings stew in loving intention for a while longer as they get taller and bushier.
One day, I’ll slip and say what I’m planning to do to an acquaintance. If there is no evidence of shock, I’ll put my idea out into the universe a little bit at a time, allowing it to gather momentum. Once I mention it on my blog it becomes a given: I have a project that I want to get out into the world.
But I’m also grown up enough, at the age of almost seventy, to know that there are times in one’s life when it’s not so easy. By letting too much information circulate in the open air I can bring on big problems as well. I’ve been struggling on and off with that all summer long. Writing about my painful past has not been easy.
Some days I’ve gotten out of bed and have had to force myself to go to my studio to write. Sometimes it goes well and words just show up on the screen without too much effort. At other times, I can easily get caught up in the pain that I used to know and the words to describe it are very slow to emerge. When the pain of my recollections gets too intense, I back off, let it go for a day or two. And I may find myself asking if writing a memoir is really what I want to do. To avoid answering that question I’ll fritter away my time checking Emails and Facebook as if those things will ease my discomfort. Motivation shrinks and hides behind those inane activities and absolutely nothing gets written. Over the days, stacks things that need filing and/or need to go into the trash, grow rapidly into ignored piles that take up every surface available, including the floor. I get stressed and anxious and my memoir wants to fade into the distance.
But I’m working on getting a handle on that. With the help of Debra Marrs and her Summer Writing Camp, I’m getting organized and feeling better about myself and my memoir. Decluttering my writing space, my car, my home, and my mind provides me with so much more energy. I’ve been writing almost every day, and have even been able to use twenty minutes here and there to put a few words down on paper. I’ve never been able to do that before. Twenty minutes was just enough time to munch on something that I’d regret eating later.
But it doesn’t work to push myself too hard either or the rebel part of me will take offense and start pushing back. She wants her share of good times, movies, theatre, and spending hours with good friends as we toast each other with a special bottle of wine and tasty food. She’s not about to let me cloister myself away, so that I can get my memoir done in the wink of an eye. So I look for a bit of balance.
Since I am also a visual artist and don’t have the time or the interest in getting involved in huge projects at the moment, but still find it necessary to create art, I’ve found a way to mitigate a civil war by starting a new “Artist’s Journal.” I’ve kept them in the past and always found them helpful. For now, I’m working on this one once a week, building collages from scraps of this and that, paint and whatever else I have sitting around. Each collage becomes a storyboard about how I’m feeling at that particular moment in time. Viola, when I’m done it’s easy to sit down and write through whatever nightmare I’m trying to work my way through.
The photo attached is the first collage that I did and speaks to me of Seeing. Not only the solid things that I’m surrounded by, but all of the things happening inside of me, the inner workings of my brain. It’s about awareness. By noticing how I am feeling, I catch myself before I go off on a rant, revisit the past with anger, or imagine the future with fear. It allows my spirit to soar above my mind trivia and then I sit down at my desk and pour myself out on to the page.
What do you do when you’re struggling with something you are not sure you want to do? Do you meditate? What kinds of things work best for you?
Joan Rough is a mom, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, and a friend to all, especially four legged furry creatures big and small. She is also a visual artist currently working in encaustics. Her photography has been shown in group and solo exhibitions across the country. She also writes poetry and is currently working on a memoir. http://jzrart.wordpress.com