Saturday, April 17, 2010

Who Am I and What On Earth Do I Have To Say?

The decision to start my own blog was not one I made lightly. Like most everything I persue, it began as a fleeting (yet persistent) image. It popped into my head, uninvited, then refused to go away. I dismissed it, of course, (several times) over the next year or so, only to have it return again and again. Finally, it took up residence there and simply refused to leave.

"Why on earth would I want to do such a thing?" I asked myself. "Especially when I already have more on my proverbial plate than I can handle?"

It wasn't as if I didn't recognize that the many hats I wear were beginning to fray at the edges and, more often than not, sat slightly askew atop my head. To take on yet another task (one that I knew absolutely nothing about) was a prospect that was both exhilirating and neasuating. But there it was. Like a tiny, winged creature it had perched itself on my back, dug in its heels, and settled in for the long haul. "Drat!," I said aloud, "She's back.

"What will you write about?" she asked. She shifted about, settling herself comfortably into the imaginary throne she had positioned on my shoulder.

"I don't have a clue," I replied, hoping she would, by some small stroke of luck, just shut up and go to sleep. I knew, of course, that this was merely wishful thinking on my part. She was in this for its entire life cycle, however long that might be. It had begun. And on it would go:

"You could write about your pets."

"Naaah. That's not really what I had in mind"

"What did you have in mind?"

"I don't know. Not pets."

"What about your art?"

"Which phase?"



"Colored pencils then!"

"How about rubber stamping? Lord knows you own enough of those things."
"Uh Uh."

"Stained glass?" She was obviously beginning to lose her patience with me.

"I haven't done stained glass since Ellie was born," I said. "What could I possibly have to say about stained glass?"
"Oh, I don't know," she responded. "I guess you could tell them about how you saw a display of glass, fell in love with it, took a class, invested thousands of dollars in supplies, made two windows and a couple dozen stepping stones then abandoned the whole thing!"

"I don't want to tell them that," I retorted. "And besides, I'm gonna get back to that."

"When?" she said (in her most sarcastic tone), when you get the shed cleaned out enough to get to your supplies?

I refused to answer, determined to ignore her.
She sat there, pouting, digging the base of her throne into my skin.
"Stop it!," I yelled.


She arose, slid down my arm, and leapt onto the rim of my coffee cup. She sat there, arms crossed, and stared at me.

"Don't start again," I said. "I mean it!"

Silence. For all of 30 seconds. Then her face softened. "You know? Personally, I always liked those handmade books you made. Especially the ones with the stories and poems you wrote."
"Thank you."

"You're welcome."
Silence. For almost 30 seconds. Then, "I always thought you would write one about me; one of your stories, I mean. Or at least a short poem."

I stared at her, dumbfounded. "Well, ..........." I began. It was no use.
"Well, what?!" she snapped. "It's not like you haven't written one for everyone else."

I was speechless.
Now - lest you should think I'm deranged and actually do hear voices, I must take a moment to explain "her" presence. Her name is Constance. She came to me in the Springtime of my life and has been with me since. She is that voice we all have inside us that reinforces whatever measure of confidence we have in ourselves at any given time. Depending on how we feel about ourselves at the moment, she offers either criticism or support.

Throughout the seasons of my life I have experienced periods of what I can only describe as the disease of selfism. It's symptoms include self-doubt, self-criticism, self-consciousness, self-condemnation and an array of other feelings that tend to block creativity and set ones self up for failure. I'm not exactly sure when or how this disease manifested itself but, at some point, it took on a life of its own. The disease became something I referred to as "It." Eventually "It" became "She." I began to see her as a tiny, fairy-like being who would appear without warning and for no apparent reason that I could discern. Realizing that she was going to be one of the few constants in my life, I began to address her as "Constance."
Over the years she has been my nemesis, my teacher, my confidante, my worst critic, my most loyal supporter and, finally, she became my friend - Connie. She is the part of me that wants to learn; to grow; to do. She is also the part of me that sometimes wakes up in a world of vulnerability and asks, "What in the world were you thinking?")! And so our conversation continued:

"Why don't you write about your family?"
"Or Al-Anon - that twelve-step thing that changed the entire way you look at life?

"That's certainly worth sharing," I mused. "But I don't want to write about just that."
"Your childhood," she asked, hesitantly. "Not the bad parts," she rushed on, "just the good things."

"Hmmmm. I don't know."

"Well, Fiddledee!" (An expression she uses frequently to alert me to the fact that she is quickly losing patience with my refusal to make a decision without first weighing the pros and cons of said decision). "Why don't you just write about ALL of it - your childhood, your family, all the phases of your art, your career, food, things that happened when you were a teenager, a young mother, a grandmother, fun, pain, heartache, starting over, love, laughter, movies, holidays, writing, books, friendship, life, death, , hope, surrender, teaching, learning, dogs, cats, vacations, and (of course) Ellie Grace!!!" She let out a deep, exasperated sigh.

"That's a wonderful idea," I said. "That's exactly what I'm going to do. And I think I'll call it 'The Seasons of My Life."

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