Letter to My Cat

Dear Sweet Thor,
I know I said that I love the sound of your happy chirpy morning purr, and I do. Thing is, “morning” is the operative word in that sentence. It resonates a little differently at 3:30.

I love the way you pat my face so sweetly with your paw, but again, what is sweet at 5:30 only startles and annoys me at 4:00. The same is true of whiskers in my face, of walking up and down my body with your needle-fingers, of licking my hands. Please know that, no matter how much you lick my hands, I will not be petting you before the alarm goes off.

So far in my life, I have a 100% record of waking up in the morning–not always on time, I grant you, but usually–so you do not need to check on me every fifteen minutes from 3:30 onward to make sure whether I am still alive. Further, rolling over, stretching out my legs, yawning–these are not signals of my imminent awakening. They usually help me get back to sleep, unless, of course, someone is trying to wake me up.

One more thing, small dude: While I work hard at being culturally competent, I am never going to sniff your butt. You can stop offering. Especially in the night when I am trying to sleep.

See you in the morning, Sweetie.

Gratitude List:
1. Boy has been writing poems. “Who assigned you that prompt?” I ask.
“Oh, I just decided to write a poem for fun.”
Heart is melting.
2. Stretching and breathing. In-spir-ation.
3. Last night, I looked back through my New Orleans 2003 journal. I need to get back into doing watercolor sketches.
4. Carving spaces for myownself
5. All the little signs of spring.

May we walk in Beauty!

Always We Begin Again

Over the years, I have developed a rather harsh and untenable internal critic, which has paralyzed my writing process. I’ve worked myself into a claustrophobic little writer’s strait-jacket, and writing has become anxious rather than fulfilling.

Recently, I have become aware that, on Facebook, I am writing something–obsessively–every day, and occasional little bits and bobs that satisfy me. I had a sudden revelation: I could use the energy of my Facebook addiction like the moon shot. The gravitational pull of the social medium can draw me into the discipline of writing every day.

I have been a sporadic journal-writer for years. I’ll start writing regularly and abandon the project after days or weeks or months. I wrote Morning Pages, a la The Artist’s Way, for a year or so, but couldn’t wade back through all the material to make it meaningful to me. I write poems and abandon the scraps of paper and the half-edited doodles.

We’ll just have to see how I do with this blog. I’m not making huge promises to myself, but I will begin with a set of ground rules. I am going to try to post something every day or two, whether it’s a long prose ramble, a scratched-together poem, or a gratitude list. I’ll give myself grace for occasional hiccups in that rhythm. I’m using Writer’s Digest’s 2012 November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge to push myself to get the rhythm going. I have to put something down every day, even if I feel squirmy and uncomfortable with what I write. So be it.

My parents talk about incorporating rhythms into their life like the Benedictine monks–daily, hourly moments of spiritual focus and contemplative attention. One of the books they have studied is a little booklet that fits in the palm of the hand called Always We Begin Again. This is my mantra for the coming Writing Time in my life–no shame for past laziness, paralysis, purple writing. Just pick up again, write the next word, the next sentence, the next poem.

And that internal critic?  The one who eats me up from the inside?  I’m replacing her with the Mockingbird.  Rather a harsh name for a critic, I know.  But Mockingbird sits in the treeline and listens to me mutter while I harvest cauliflower or feed and water the chickens.  He tells me just to say whatever comes to mind.  If it doesn’t come out right the first time, repeat it endlessly until it does, say it in Swahili, Hindi, Chinese, Pig-Latin.  I’m going to start listening to him.