I have always put pen to paper. For as long as I can remember I have loved words, stories, and the connection and meaning they have on our lives. In elementary school, writing stories came naturally to me. Maybe it was because the crazy amount of books I read. The books inspired me to write and create my own version of reality. Writing for me came in a variety of forms. I often wrote in a journal and recapped my world, my questions, my painful moments, and sometimes the happy times. Although often I found I was lead to write when things were not good, as it was a way to process and formulate my thoughts and feelings.
For a few years in elementary school, I was the class representative to go to a Young Author’s Conference in my town, where you would bring your handmade book and had to read it in front of a group. If I remember correctly there were even finalists from the conference that went to a state version. In fourth and fifth grade, there was the “Little Hoosiers” writing contest, where we were to write about someone in our life that had grown up in Indiana. One year I wrote about my Great Aunt E’Beth, someone I had interacted with only a few times. She was related to us on my grandmother’s side of the family and had an interesting life. I researched her and her husband’s impact on my hometown in the early 1920’s. It was interesting to learn how integral and active they were in the community, and I found out later that I had won second place in Indiana for my essay on Aunt E’Beth.
Short stories, research/historical writing, and journal writing… there were so many ways that words inspired me. Then something happened. Life got crazy taking care of my mom, college, and then taking care of my grandma. Other things consumed me. I stopped writing and processing a world that sometimes did not always make much sense. Eventually I began to write in a journal almost daily. I made notes of quotes that inspired me. I made sure to spend time every day writing. But nothing like I did as a child. I wrote for me, but never really went back and explored the short fiction writing that I did as a kid. I think about it often and even dream about what it would be like to have a book pour out of my fingertips.
If you write, are a writer, or have that urge to let the words flow, I encourage you to write just a little bit everyday. There is something inside me that wants to go back to being that little girl and write all the crazy ideas that came into my head. I know one day my mind will quiet enough to let the words inside come out. For now, and over the last 3 years my writing has morphed into this blog, and I hope the ideas that have escaped my mind have inspired and uplifted those of you that read random olio.
Happy 2015! It is a new year, a new day, a new perspective. I have started this year off in a mellow way. For some reason (maybe having the flu) I have a very laid back view on this year, and maybe my engine just has not revved up yet.
I have been reading and just finished a book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer. An interesting book for me, as I hate asking for help from others. Yes. I am more of the do-it-myself variety. Asking for help means I have to trust others, and from past experience “others” can let you down, and not be there with what they said they would do. So I rarely ask. I am a product of my childhood where individuals often did not come through for me. Alas, I do not often ask. So I thought this book would be a good one for me to read.
I had an aha moment. Asking and being seen. One of my life pet peeves is not being seen. Somehow feeling invisible for much of my life (remember my dad felt that children should be seen and not heard) has been a pain point for me. I want to be seen and heard. Thus this ideas from Palmer especially resonated with me:
“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen. When you are looked at, your eyes can stay blissfully closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, as you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light. One is exhibitionism, the other is connection. Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.” Page 201
I crave connection. To me there is no point in a relationship if there is no connection. While I have not told you much about Palmer’s book, I highly recommend her story. It is a long read, but she takes you through her triumphs and setbacks as a street performer, musician, wife, and friend. She easily is able to ask total strangers to crash at their home, but has a hard time asking her husband for money. I am the complete opposite. I can ask Chris for almost anything, and have a hard time asking friends, colleagues, and strangers for help. I know that 9 times out of 10, Chris will be there for me (no one is perfect). Yet, I do not know if I have those odds with everyone else in my life. Sad I know, but it is how I feel after being burned.
What do you want most? I do not want to be looked at, I want to be seen.
Do you ask others for help? It is extremely hard for me. I have always struggled with it. Part of it I believe has to do with my issues with trusting others, and whether they will actually come through for me, but the rest I think results from having to do so much on my own at such an early age. I lost my parents when I was young, but most specifically my mom. I was just two months past 16 when she died. My sister was a strong force in my life, but at the end of the day she had her own life to live, and I was without a mom. My mom was sick for many years before she passed on, so I became resourceful early on. I learned that if I wanted something I would have to figure out how to attain it on my own.
Many years later I have wondered if my attempts to attain goals has been rooted in that early life dilemma to ruthlessly figure it out on my own. I rarely ask for help and, often, when I do, if I do not like what I hear, I pave my own way, steamroller and all. That does not mean that I steamroll others, more that I am going to do what I have set my mind to do.
Recently I read the book: “The Dance of Connection” by Harriet Lerner, and she shares an experience with a woman I think I would relate to:
“But this very same woman has enormous difficulty sharing her feelings of vulnerability with anyone close to her. A real do-it-yourself, she rarely acknowledges her own need for help and support. While she intellectually believes in the healing power of confiding in others, she herself is no good at it. As the eldest child of alcoholic parents, she had no experience of voicing her emotional needs and having them met. As an adult, she gains deep satisfaction from her capacity to give generously and to take care of others, but she is profoundly guarded against letting anyone return the favor. When she does share a serious problem, it’s as if she’s fiercely sweeping the ground in front of her to keep the other person from getting near her or emotionally connecting with her pain.” Page 42
There are countless times when I would go out and help anyone and everyone, but if asked if they can return the favor, I am at a loss for words. Partly, it is that the offer is freaky to me. I am not used to others asking if they can be of help. It is also that I am as the author says, “sweeping the ground” to keep others at a distance. I have often wondered if there is a way to put down the broom, and let others in. It is not easy, but I try to leave the broom in the garage, and invite others in, it just does not happen every time.
Any tips to keeping the dirt on the porch, and the offers open?
A few months ago, I finished reading the book: “The Longest Way Home” by Andrew McCarthy. For those of you that do not know who McCarthy is, he first became known as an actor in “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “Pretty in Pink.” I also recently remember watching him in “Lipstick Jungle” until it was cancelled. He is now a travel writer, and his book shares many travel experiences in addition to the lead up to his second marriage. He calls his new wife: “D.” The following quote resonated with me because it is often how I operate:
“D’s willingness to emotionally invest in others and make herself vulnerable allows her to inhabit her humanity to a degree that still baffles me. Why would anyone who is so strong-willed, so self-sufficient, want to make herself vulnerable to someone else? D would say that what is most important in life is family, connection, and community. Loving someone, she will say, is the only thing that matters and is worth the price of relinquishing control.” page 63
I agree. Almost. While I might make myself vulnerable in many situations, I have a hard time relinquishing control. Emotionally investing in others and being vulnerable is how I believe you get close to others. Often I think I open up about myself, however, only in the way of sharing experiences. What is harder for me is being vulnerable in a way where I actually ask for help. Rarely do I put myself out there in that way.
My vulnerability happens by sharing what I have learned, am learning, and how the road of life intersects with someone else’s experience. True connection I believe is found by intersections. Being transparent and open about your life and your beliefs can start the march towards intimacy. As long as the other individual is willing and open to be present with that emotional vulnerability. If they are not, it can be a waste of time. Or is it?
All of this comes to me after reading his book. Vulnerability allows us to intersect our humanity. I have a hunch that we all could tap into our vulnerability, slide off that iPhone, walk away from our computer, go down the hall and connect with someone new. What would that feel like? To try to be vulnerable and intersect the life of one person each day. Share from your life experience, be vulnerable, and intersect lives. All for the vein of love, humanity, and connection.