Why I Turned To Writing

 

I lie in bed, turning over again and again, sleep no where in sight. With each physical turn of my body I was breathing new life and energy into the thoughts and questions plaguing my mind, peace and sleep stood no chance. One nagging question was the impetus for this mental storm, refusing to subside until I stare at it in the face, see it and address it. So I rolled out of bed, leaving warmth and comfort, at 1:00am determined to do just that, face my question.

Why? How does a three letter word carry so much power? Despite it’s simplicity in structure, that word has the power to bring even the sturdiest of minds to its’ figurative knees. So here I sit, blinking curser daring me to get it down lest I forget. For yes, I do believe I have the answer.

Bare with me as I take you on a bit of a detour as I eventually answer, why?

I can blame a friend for this latest bout of insomnia. He posed the question while sharing a cup of tea and mulling over my latest writing project. He reminded me that without knowing the “why”, my writing journey would be longer and more arduous than necessary. Why writing?  For years I have enjoyed words. I would play with them for hours. I love learning new ways to string them together, to tell a story, to convey emotion, and using them to capture the thoughts that would keep me awake for hours.  I can still remember toying with rhymes, barely able to write, I would rehearse them for hours until I either fell asleep or give up and succumbed to writing them down. To this day I have a special blue folder filled with random sheets of paper with my scribbles.  Now, not being naturally gifted with words, this is something I have to work at. Yet, loving it as I do, I do just that.

My latest writing project began three years ago,  writing as a means for answering questions that would arise from my profession as a social worker and early childhood educator. My staff loved it and found it helpful, so I kept at it.  I fell into blogging, rather haphazardly, more as a means to an end; a format for meeting a professional need. Yet, I found the process more than moderately satisfying. The challenge lie in answering a question, and doing it in such a way that had my reader nodding their heads and feeling satisfied that they had in fact learned something of value. Even then, I found myself not wholly satisfied after awhile. It was definitely not the writing aspect, though after some tossing and turning and late night writing, I discovered it was the theme of my writing that had me yearning for something more.

As someone who gets an idea and isn’t afraid to literally run with it, I began to write about things that I love. I began mentally writing on my daily walks through my neighborhood.  Thoughts I would have during my walks would turn into ideas for a new writing project.  I began to write about the things dearest to my heart: travel, human connection, urban living and love. Yet, the question still remained, why? Why write about these things in a blog format? I even grappled with scrapping the idea of a blog and just keeping a journal. Yet, it seemed the purpose in my writing was not just for me. I have learned that the greatest gift we can offer the world is to share what we love. Delving deeper into the “why”, I began to wonder why this writing would be important. And in that “wonder” lie the final answer.

One more detour as I round the corner to “the answer”, bare with me just a bit longer.

I was in Paris on Friday the 13th, 2015. I was within close proximity to the horrific acts of that night and I was traveling alone. Yet, before that evening, I had spent three lovely days in” the city of love”, and I wrote about it, in real time. What a gift that turned out to be. For the events of that Friday have since changed me and changed me in a way that just wouldn’t make it possible for  me to capture the flavor of those first three days. For that I am grateful. I am grateful for no amount of fear or chaos can steal from me what those days meant, they are forever captured in my own words for me to relive at anytime, untainted.

In the days following, after cutting my trip short, I struggled emotionally. I struggled like so many impacted directly from the events of that night. I wanted to make sense of something that we can only conjure about. Though in the end we will all have to make sense of it for ourselves. For me it was just another part of this journey. As I wrote about the events of that evening I experienced emotional release, a plethora of emotions that I just did not know what to do with. Though, I discovered it was no different than the emotions I carry around about poverty and homelessness, in short human pain and suffering.  We all, ultimately, want to do something about the things in our world that we find unjust. Yet, so many turn to apathy as coping a mechanism. It seems easier to say “fuck it”, avert our eyes and walk away hands up in the air in resignation. It seems easier than to admit our feelings of helplessness and ultimately inadequacy.

In my own personal journey, the final puzzle piece fell into place when I decided to turn to baking to deal with my crippling feelings of hopelessness. And baking is what I did. My children and I baked over 10 dozen cookies and I packaged them into little baggies to share with strangers and made care packages for the people we cared about. The children shared them with friends and their teachers and I shared them with people I hold dearest to  my heart. I walked the city determined to do what I love, though was having a hard time reconnecting with my gift, smiling and making eye contact with everyone I meet. I found that the events of that Friday had left me disillusioned. So what better way to reconnect with my heart once again than to have in hand something tangible I could share, I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t want to smile, I could just offer folks who asked for money something tangible. And that is what I did. “Do you have some change to spare?”, was answered with “I don’t have any money on me but my children and I just bake some cookies would you like some?” Over 100 cookies later I have yet to be refused. Everyone smiled as I handed them their tiny bundle of homemade love. I smiled and a part of my heart began to heal. A healing made possible through a genuine act of love.

So “why” write? I find value in putting into words and sharing with others my own journey in making a difference. Maybe it is just a smile. Maybe it is just a cookie. Yet connecting with others with a smile and a cookie tells them they are important. It is my way of letting others know that when I look at them in the eye,  I see them and when I see them, in that moment, they belong. Human connection and belonging are the answer, at least to the challenges of world as I see it.  My only hope in writing? Simply to inspire others that they too can find a way to make a difference, for even in the smallest of gestures one can find great love. May you all find the answer to the “why” in your life. For it is in knowing why I write that I feel a deeper connection to my purpose in this life, ever changing, writing allows me to continually understand my evolving sense of purpose.

 Always leave people better than you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.” — Unknown Author

Here’s to spreading love and kindness, may love always win.

Your Delightfully Urban Blogger~

 

 


Hopeful Thoughts Moving Into An Uncertain 2017

I wrote this little gem during my travels abroad in 2015. I wrote this almost exactly 24 hours before the Paris bombing. It is a reminder just how quickly our realities can change, for the better and sometimes not. This event had a profound impact on my life for quite some time. I won’t ever be the same, though different in wonderfully surprising ways. I still don’t live in fear and usually I am all about embracing life. As we move into 2017, we can all stand a little reminder of  just how impetuous and fickle life can be. Welcome 2017 we are ready for all you have to offer us. 

Walking in Paris at the end of a long day, the lights dancing on the canal water, I smile to myself.  Laughter and the soft sounds of French paraded around in my ears. Groups gather at the water’s edge, families, friends and lovers. A smile permanently etched on my face. Oh how this city has surprised me, it just isn’t the same city I experienced 15 years ago. Or is it? Is it I who is not the same?

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Getting carried away by the sights and sounds of Paris at night I suddenly found myself lost. To avoid getting even more lost than I already was I made a stop into a little brasserie, a Parisian brewery, mostly to steal their wifi. While sipping a glass of white wine, soft candle light flickering to the music, downloading my latest photos, I’m gifted a beautiful reminder of home. A reminder that home is always where you are at, never more than a memory away. I began singing along with Van Morrison’s, “Brown Eyed Girl” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfmkgQRmmeE). If I had a glass or two more of wine I might have even danced alone in the middle of this little brasserie. Though, I settle for smiling to myself. Others smile back, likely wondering what secret I might be holding.

Traveling alone has always taught me so much about myself. I have learned that nothing is more scary than the thoughts I have erroneously held as truths; half-truths and downright lies, about being alone. I’ve learned that OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can sit alone in a restaurant and I am ok. I’ve learned that I can walk in a strange city, get lost and suddenly realize I was never lost. For wherever I go I carry home, the memories of family, friends, and of all that is familiar.  I have learned never to be afraid to explore, for in those explorations one finds parts of ourselves that we never knew existed. In those explorations lie opportunities to make new friends, reveal hidden treasures and discover that home is so much larger than we could have ever imagined.  My world has grown, my connections beyond home stretched, and I have my time in Paris to thank and the good people I now call friends. Merci Paris!

Remember this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.

Your Delightfully Urban Blogger~


Finding My Smile Again: Post Friday the Thirteenth 2015

*On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Paris one year ago I publish this blog post today to remind us that so much can happen in one year. In one year we can heal from great tragedy, we can grow, we can move on and learn that things can change and manifest in ways we would never imagine. So as we face the reality of the 2017 election, we can take heed, we can take a collective deep breath, and know that indeed much can happen in a year. 

I am a walker, among many other things. Walking brings my heart and soul peace and joy. As I walk I rarely am without my smile, for it is the one thing I have that I can share with everyone. It is the one way I reflect back to the world the love and peace I hope for all who walk our planet. So no matter what city or country I may be walking, I offer the same, for there is no language barrier in exchanging a smile.

On my walks I occasionally encounter someone who refuses to smile. Preferring to look down at their feet, avoiding eye contact.  I would think “Avoidance is no way to experience the world.” I would think “Avoidance not only keeps us from experiencing pain, it keeps us from experiencing much of anything.” We all know people who seem to live their lives ruled by fear and avoidance. Well for the first time, I felt I had the experience to help me understand “closed off” and “avoidance”. In the wake of Friday the 13th, 2015 upon returning home from Paris where the whole city was experiencing a kind of pain and violence one can not put to words, I found myself wholly debilitated by sadness and grief. The kind of sadness and grief that left me paralyzed, wishing only to escape and avoid. Feeling a sense of urgency and panic to avoid feeling, escape is what I did.   With my bedroom as my shield from the world and all it’s realities, I wrapped myself in a cocoon of self-pity and there I remained, feeling nothing but a gnawing pit in my stomach.

You wonder what brought me back to reality? Back to my smile? Oh there was no one thing, it was a multitude of experiences, people and love that gave me the courage to return. The breath of my son sleeping next to me, his sweet face reflecting innocence. The memory of the countless people, who like me, just wanted to leave Paris and be home. We pooled our courage and supported one another with our stories of survival. We touched our Parisian friends on the arms and lent them our support as they start on their journey to healing. The knowledge that a familiar face would be waiting for me at the airport. The family and friends who sent their love and support when I needed it most. The words of one of my best friends reminding me time and time again that I would be okay and remained the voice of reason and calm when there was no reason and calm in sight. The knowledge that I am a mom, with two children who desperately need me to be okay. And as I sit here in a place of comfort and familiarity, far from the tragedy of Friday the 13th in Paris, it is here that the whole picture becomes clear. The final puzzle pieces falling into place allowing me to make some sense of my experiences and allow me to begin to understand how one gets to the point of avoidance. It is here, home, where I find myself once again. Though I may not ever be same, though I still experience moments of overwhelming sadness, the events of Friday the 13th forever etched in my heart, I find myself slowly finding my smile once again.

It is here that I remind us that this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.

 

Your Delightfully Urban Blogger~


Confronting What Terrifies Us: Fear Is Only As Real As You Make It

Once I had children a real set of phobias kicked in, aeroacrophobia (heights), claustrophobia (small spaces) and thalassophobia (fear of large bodies of water). Maybe it’s the awesome responsibility of being a parent, perhaps the new understanding of just how fragile life is, I don’t quite know. Yet, the fears became so debilitating that I knew I needed to do something before my fears consumed my life. In my usual fashion I decided the only way to confront my fears would be head on. And that is exactly what I did.

On a recent trip to Honolulu Hawaii, I arranged a two hour surf lesson with the wonderful staff at The Ty Gurney Surf School. Despite a restless night sleep I woke up early and found myself making the short walk to the surf school, Danielle’s directions were impeccable. As  I walked in the front door, the quaint door chimed alerting my arrival. I was greeted by three friendly faces all quite reassuring for this very nervous mama. We made our way down to the beach where Kenui (K-New-E), my surf instructor for the morning, did all the work initially. He carried the boards and eventually paddled us out a quarter mile out where we would catch many a GNARLY wave.

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Easy….easy….steady….

 

You got this Angie!
You got this Angie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenui and I chillin', waiting eagerly for that next wave.
Kenui and I chillin’, waiting eagerly for that next wave.

The moment I caught that first wave my fear dissipated and I couldn’t remember ever being afraid to begin with. What this experience reminded me about fear is that fear is something we create in our brains, usually from some real experience in our life, an experience that our brains build upon. We allow that fear to grow and multiply until it is much larger than the original experience. So what to do? Confront it, look it straight in the eye and give it a big ol’ wink. Wink at it, smile your grandest smile and tell it that it can not reside in you any longer. That is what I did on that wonderful morning. I looked my fear square on and winked at it….and it vanished!

Here is to all of us taking small steps to confront the fears that keep us from those experiences we might never have otherwise. I will never forget the moment I stood up on that board, the force of the wave propelling me forward in one glorious exhilarating motion. One experience that I plan on living and reliving as often as possible. When you find yourself on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Hawaii, take a surf lesson at an amazing surf school with some of the best in the business: http://www.tygurneysurfschool.com

Here is to all of us living the most fulling lives possible.

Remember this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.

Your DelightfullyUrban Blogger~