"Write hard and clear about what hurts."
- Ernest Hemingway
The last time I did this, it took me two years, 39 drafts and about 82,000 words until I was finally able to let it go and be free. "How to be a Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond" was published December 2014. I just learned this past week that Chapters Regina is going to stock my book on their shelves. It will be in the local writer section, which is cool. Maybe someday it will be bigger and important. I don't know. Maybe by serendipity . . .
I didn't write Pink Flamingo to make money. I wrote it to write about what hurt. In fact that I would make money never occurred to me. The point was to write hard and clear about what hurt, so that I could let it go. And I did, to some degree, although not completely. I still look back sometimes at the chain of events that precipitated that book and ask myself how I could not have seen that coming.
The hardest part about what hurt was that it was a secret. Nobody besides those closest to me and living through it with me knew about what was hurting me. That secret made me afraid and it kept me inside of myself. That secret to a large degree is still a secret, because I decided to protect it, and not tell the full story, just my story, because that's all that I can really own.
Now some two years later, I have had more time to think and reflect on that story - that chain of events that ultimately led to the writing of the book. The more time that I have to think about it, the more of the picture I can see. And really, it all comes down to me.
And so I have recently come to the realization that sometimes we need to learn a lesson multiple times before actually learning it. It would be good to know how many times I will get to learn this lesson, and when the universe has decreed me enlightened in this particular regard.
This lesson that I thought I had learned all those years ago has recently repeated itself. And I can only say I should have seen it coming. I am talking about the lesson that it's never, ever, ok, to move over in life to make room for someone else's life and needs.
That sounds selfish, but in an airplane, the oxygen mask drops and we are told to put it on ourselves first, before we can be of assistance to another. The oxygen mask dropped nine years ago for me.
Nine years ago, just after turning 45, I wrote the poem 45. The speaker tells of a realization that time has passed, and that with the passing of that time, she has lost a connection with herself and her destiny. In the final stanza, she declares her freedom.
Stretch marks and scars / I have paid my dues / Tracks of my life etched in my skin / I have earned the right to be beautiful / To feel free / To have a voice / To be desired /To be loved /To dance / To live/ I am 45.Nine years later now, at 54, I have taken some steps to the other side of my 45 year old self, but there is a long way to go in every respect. My writing process reveals that.
I write in journals, blogs, in text messages to myself . . . whatever is available to me at the time. I write to get it out of my mind. I do not go back and edit and reflect and perfect. I just write.
About a year ago, I began this journey called "Soul Strategy" with Tina Hnatiuk, yogi and coach. Recently I went back and read my journal and it was humbling, because there were things that I foresaw at the time that have come to pass. I won't say what they are, because they are not my stories to tell. But what I can tell you is that my soul was right.
On that day I fell from the sky and began to fade to white.Somebody recently said to me that we own two things - our soul and our reputation. We also own our happiness, and that's a difficult one to own, because sometimes our happiness is not in the interest of another person's happiness. Sometimes we trade happiness for reputation. Sometimes we trade reputation for soul. I did that, and that was ultimately what led to my fall in 2011 when my life changed, which precipitated the writing of the book.
And I am still writing, still finding my way through the answers to this question of soul, reputation and happiness, and is it possible to have all three, or is that just wishful thinking.