There are exercises we can do to practice and improve our writing skills. And I think that the writing process itself can be a mental exercise. Occasionally it is physical exercise: when we pace the room, walk our dogs to help ideas ferment, or we frustratingly throw our ideas at the wall.
In 2016 my resolution was to work on my writing or photography for 10 minutes a day. Those structured minutes often blossomed into 50, 60 minutes as I got engrossed in my daily project. I updated both my personal and work blogs frequently, explored other blogs, conversed online with fellow writers, read works by a variety of authors, and started to head into unexpected areas.
This year, without a specific plan, I recently realized that I am filling that allotted time with additional work tasks. I miss my creative outlet. Ideas remain spinning in my brain, wisps of characters evolving then vanishing, months without poetry.
I am going to mentally slot that time back into my day. It is a gift to myself—just 10 minutes a day.
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway said:
You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
Thank you, Donald Trump. Yes, thank you. Since that video of you surfaced talking about “grabbing her pussy” and the myriad of similar follow-up accusations, the conversation of how women are treated, taunted, poked, and prodded with bodies and eyes has become an open conversation.
Women are angry. Women are vocal. Girls and women like myself are talking about acts that happened to us years or a recent month past. We are admitting to ourselves things we might have buried or denied happened (TOO MANY TIMES) to us.
Trump’s misogynistic behavior has brought to front of my mind harmful words and hurtful ongoing occurrences that have impacted my body image, my eating habits, my relationships with others, my thoughts on sex, fashion, and the world around me since I was a child.
I planned to include some of these events in this post. However, after I wrote them all out, I am so furious and disgusted—and even a little ashamed though I did NOTHING to deserve these slivers of my history—at things that were done and said to me growing up that I have chosen to not include any specifics. Taken singly, they may not seem overwhelming. But collectively they have been staggering to my psyche.
They simmer in my brain, clog my throat with bile, frustrate my soul, and cannot heal that wounded child who stays hidden in my heart. Until now, when viewed all together on paper, they boil over and transform me. Stronger. Purified, like the jack pine tree pine cones that only burst during wildfires. Birth.
I am buoyed up by the women who surround me. Also, by those who have shared their revelations on TV and in the papers this week. I hope that we can gather those memories, pile them high only to light afire, then stomp over them in a dance of fury. These occurrences are part of our histories, our being, but they cannot control us. We will then kick them aside and embrace a new reality of acceptance of ourselves. And other women, with the knowledge that many we know have been forced upon and exposed to, verbally and physically.
I hope that this dialogue continues. I hope that this language of rape, of overpowering, of taking what IS NOT WANTED continues. I hope it whispers breaths of anger and NO into our daughters, our friends, our silent neighbors, our families. And those tentacles of anger and hope reach into other countries, where women have far less freedom to say NO than here.
True events–in the space of a few months my dad died, my car was totaled, my husband’s company was purchased, my middle daughter got an extremely bad concussion, then broke her foot, then same said daughter left for college, and just got 6 stitches 24 hours after we dropped her off. Now I have two girls 6 hours away at school as summer fades.
Besides, my dad passing away, I know that many of these ebbs in life are normal—for us they happen to be squished together in a few short weeks . I also know that we all need some ughh and desperate times like these to appreciate the “normal”, the joy, and re-engage with what is important.
To boost spirits through these many tumultuous events, I have started thinking of them as transitions and not endings. Then I hope that the inevitable learning will then have positive energy on the other side. I try to start each day with the proverbial clean slate, hoping we are back on the upswing. We slog through, knowing the days will eventually brighten.
I am aware that many people have worse situations than mine. But, please don’t belittle my life transitions. They are mine; I own them: the tears, the adjustments, the sleepless nights, and the complicated feelings that arise from them.
Daily, I continue to find happiness in the simple, the unexpected, my friends, a bike ride, a movie, making dinner with home-grown vegetables, taking some photographs, reaching out to connect with new people and opportunities, and then receding for a quiet moment.
I don’t talk about it too much. A mantra I say to myself often is that “Everyone has got their shit.” And it’s true. But sometimes a gal has to vent. Or explode. So I say it, then move on. And laugh when I can.
I am obsessed. With the Olympics that is. Our family has been cheering on our US athletes in Brazil in many sports as they earn a medal, my quiet heart dropping when they don’t earn a trip to the podium.
And I am a little depressed. Watching these Olympic athletes, the incredible work and dedication they put into their lives, striving for the Gold. It makes me wistful that I don’t have that concentrated talent in anything I know of, that even younger I don’t think I could have shared “the Olympic dream”.
I listen to the athletes talk about their focus, the life events they have skipped for their dreams, the goals they set for themselves. Then re-set after they win or lose an event. Gymnast Aly Raisman came in 4th place in the all-around in the London Olympics four years ago, due to some crazy tie-breaking loss. Then she fought back to compete this year in Brazil, better than ever. The overwhelming emotions she expressed when she won the silver medal, a private moment gone global, showed how hard she worked to earn that medal.
I get so wrapped up in everyday work and life my daily goal is often so simple, like feed this family. Or get the dogs walked or go to the gym. Or get my son’s haircut before school starts. Or in a few free minutes to clean off a dresser, write a thank you note. Not all in one day, of course.
Maybe I need to set my goals a little higher. Think a little more into the future, set some personal and family goals. It hit me that just going through the routine without any goals is also without the reward of accomplishment. I think I will have more pride in my week (month? year?) if I try to lay out some concrete goals bigger than the weekend to-do list and actually accomplish them.
Life is not remembered
by one stupendous event
defined by horror or humor or elation.
Rather, it is
a compilation of moments lived daily,
sometimes highlighted by a singular chance occurrence.
Embrace each sunrise
with an open mind
a heart willing
to accept the mundane
with stupendous times
Near the end,
those individual days and moments
of journeys local and far travelled,
into waves of memories.
It is your choice to have
a life lived every.single.day
or one that is waiting,
for something beyond reach,
the next that may not happen.
So avoid the temptation to
always looking forward
and appreciate the Now
on most days.
There are some we all suffer through,
but hopefully the color-filled, rainbow days
even the forgotten ones
surpass those filled with storm.
by Cindy Cardinal Kennedy
In honor of my dad, Richard Cardinal
I loved college. My daughter Tara is now a junior at my alma mater, University of Dayton; my other daughter Devon is going to attend UD in the fall. I feel lucky to often visit this school that offered me so many opportunities, helped shape my adult life, and introduced me to some still-amazing friends.
UD has expanded, is way classier looking, has more fields of study, new restaurants to enjoy, but the heart of the school is the same . The upperclassmen housing area, the UD Ghetto*, is overflowing with students on porches and yards enjoying the first gorgeous summer-like weekend this year. The university still seems the happiest place on Earth. Sorry, Disney.
When I was a student, I never once had a thought that one –let alone two–of my kids could be living and studying here, drinking at the same bars, hanging out in the same houses did. Kinda crazy, in retrospect. Every time I am on campus, I remember so much of my time as a UD Flyer. But as I walk through the Ghetto today, I feel like a …. mom.
It is this generation’s turn to experience college, make friends, find love, join new clubs, travel to new cities or countries, stay up too late, change loves and friends, sleep until noon then study until 2 am.
They will stress about class projects and exams, life after college, money, health, jobs, fitting in, discovering who they are, and suddenly–what they thought they wanted to study, they don’t. That’s OK. Hopefully your advisors can help you change majors or classes. The emotional turmoil is part of the college experience. Know that these are some of the first adult decisions that you will make—and even after you leave school, many of you will change careers, change friends, move to new cities, have kids.
So, as I walk through the Ghetto with my daughter and a few other moms, I look with envy at these joyous, welcoming, sassy, smart, silly students and hope that you find your way. Experience all you can during these years—you won’t regret it.
This weekend I will enjoy real conversation with Tara, the school sponsored 70’s themed block party, a few Ghetto gatherings, the infamous Timothy’s, running through the campus, the book store, then head home back to my daily life.
Until next time, when I will enjoy this campus again. Feeling like a … proud mom and UD alumni.
*term is UD politically incorrect, but student –and-alumni- correct. I know the school wants to eliminate that name but it’s been there since the 1960’s. Sorry admin.
Of the many people you meet in life, some are with you for a moment, a day, a week, a year, a lifetime. Some barely touch your boundaries, others learn your heart, guess your secrets, know your emotions even when they are hiding. And there are many in-between layers, which will fluctuate over time.
Hold onto those girlfriends—you learn who they are as your foundation grows and life circumstances change—with all you can. They are the ones who
Make you laugh out loud. Most important.
Tell you when you look amazing (always, of course) and when asked, tell you not to buy that outfit.
Whether you speak daily or once a year, the conversation flows with no sense of separation.
Hand you Kleenex when you cry, hold your hair on nights you are unwell.
Know your history and dreams, your crushes, your dashed hopes.
Feel like an extension of you. Your family.
Know that sometimes silence is what you crave, a quiet touch.
Listen intently, sometimes offer opinions even when opposite yours,
but don’t force you to think their viewpoint is the only correct one.
They will be there when your romantic relationships fail—so don’t shut them out when you are flying,
Tell you unwanted truths about you, your partner, your children
If you are willing to hear them,
Reach out when you are in need, sometimes unexpectedly,
Share new hobbies, books, card games, films, or restaurants with you,
Explore your neighborhood or travel across the world with you,
stand up for you when you others gossip,
hold onto your secrets forever,
accept when you do not want to share,
let you vanish inside your world–for a little while
wish you joy.
Invest your time and truths with girls you can learn from, laugh with, cry with, yell at, eat and drink with, share with, listen to, forgive, accept. Just Be. Yourself.
On a truly lousy day, I often don’t want to bother anyone with the myriad of stresses crowding my brain. I know I have these girlfriends that I CAN call them if I want to talk; that alone can give me some peace.
Reach out to them. Help them. Thank them. Love them. Laugh with them and sometimes at them. Agree with them. Challenge them. Respect them. Nurture them.Trust them.
Know that some of those friendships will wane, some surprising ones will last decades. But hold onto those winners. You won’t regret it.