Elizabeth Berg, a man named Andre, and writing true

Thank you, Dani, for this post – a reminder of where we were a year ago – meeting favorite author, Elizabeth Berg. What a pivotal weekend! xoxo

bloomingspiders

On August 16, 2013, I kissed my husband curbside and anxiously entered the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. I was wearing my favorite jeans, a polka-dot blouse and my black pumps, the ones with the large leather bow near the toe. But the space felt wrong, like the cafeteria on the first day of school: a virtual minefield of social suicide and no map to guide.

I looked around, knowing full well I would find no familiar faces, but hoping I could spot aspiring writers, that perhaps our hearts would seem familiar to one another. And after a few trips up and down the stairs, I spotted them. Comrades in pen. Soldiers of prose.

We were all nervous. Sizing up the space and each other, then scanning the large area for a face we’d seen only briefly, if at all: that of Ms. Elizabeth Berg.

I had met Elizabeth…

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“Shared Thoughts”

Prompt: “shared thoughts” 10 minutes. Go!

Shared Thoughts

Sometimes I just can’t help but share my thoughts, words exploding from my mouth like hot lava before I even realize what I’ve said. Can’t exactly stuff that lava back inside the volcano. No. Thoughts are out now. And so the argument begins.

Sometimes I just can’t get the words out and thoughts stay stuck inside my head, as if held inside while centrifugal force dizzies me, and the other person looks quizzically, like “What? What?” I just shake my head, not knowing how to begin, knowing that IF I begin, there will be no end, or a bad ending, or I’ll wish it would end. Or have never happened. The thoughts inside my head too scrambled for even me to make sense of them yet, so why blurt it out. No, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s what my mother taught me. And it’s pretty good advice, it turns out.

That’s why I love my journals. And I mean LOVE my journals. Free therapy. A form of prayer. Reaching up to God through tears of pain or ecstatic joy or messy confusion. A way to get those thoughts out of my doggone head, sharing them somewhere, but not where they can do any damage. Or invoke some false message I’m not even sure I mean until I sit with if for a while, let it roll around for a bit like a snowball gathering substance until it’s big enough to make part of a snowman. Until it feels complete enough to stop, plant it on the lawn, a solid base from which to proceed constructing something of tangible substance.

 I breathe. I sigh in relief. I breathe a breath of gratitude, relieved to have come to a place where a thought feels complete. True. True for me. Thank you, God.

And so from there I can begin to see how I might, one day, be sure enough to share this thought. But in a constructive, snowman-making kind of way, not blurted out, a knee-jerk response in the heat of a moment. No, there’s wisdom in biting one’s tongue sometimes, letting thoughts swirl around inside a mouth clamped shut on purpose, as if swishing before you decide to either swallow it or spit it out.