Final Days of 59

“… Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with the feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is” (Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening).

This past February, I wrote a post about some unexpected milestones at age 59 ½. At the time, I was struck by the synchronicity. Still am. As this is my final week at age 59, I decided to revisit those milestones before I step into my sixth decade, one that promises even more transformation.

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I have continued to lose weight beyond the 59 ½ pounds of February; I am down 69 pounds with another fifteen-twenty to lose but no more than that. My eating habits have not changed in the past six months but my taste buds have adjusted to other options, and I enjoy eating again. I found millet-buckwheat bread made with chicory root and without refined starch, absolutely critical for me.  Almond butter sandwiches are now a staple. While my future remains gluten, yeast, sugar, dairy and soy free, my grocery list items are crisp and fresh.

In my last week as a fifty-nine-year-old, I am in better health than I was at 58, sans an arsenal of allopathic medicine. I remain convinced that Eastern medicine– Ayurveda and Chinese–has a better understanding of autoimmune disease. Ted J. Kaptchuk’s The Web That Has No Weaver is an excellent overview of traditional Chinese medicine, and I am searching for a similar Ayurveda text. Until I find it, I am enjoying Deepak Chopra’s Perfect Health, an informative volume regarding Ayurveda traditions.  This Tuesday, I have my first meeting with a practitioner of Eastern medicine.

KM Huber Image

But in these final days of my 59th year, it is my writing that is undergoing the greatest transformation. My numbers alone are major personal milestones.  I no longer publish blog posts twice a week as I did in February but on June 2, I began writing the initial draft of a nonfiction manuscript. Currently, I am producing over 9200 words per week on this manuscript alone. At my 59 ½ milestone, my word count was 9800 words for the entire month of February.

While I do not write for a specific word or page count, numbers gauge a manuscript’s size so I knew the end of the nonfiction manuscript was close: currently, it is 330 pages or just over 91,000 words. But even before I tallied the numbers, synchronicity had come to call; what Deepak Chopra calls “a quantum leap of creativity…a relinquishing of the known for the unknown.” And like milestones, coincidence comes wrapped in the ordinary.

In February, I included my participation in ROW 80 as part of my regular blog posts.  Frequently, I discussed the initial draft of a novel that I wrote seventeen years ago; in some blog posts I’d opt for rewriting the novel and in other posts I’d refer to the novel as a life once lived. Rather than letting go, I was very like the speaker in Linda Pastan’s poem, “Ethics,” unable to decide whether to save the old woman or the painting.

So, I signed up for an online workshop, Conflict and Idea with Bob Mayer, and learned about “kernel idea.” I have not been the same since so I consider it my toehold in the unknown, a piece of a milestone.

Bob says that the kernel idea is what initially inspires the writing of a novel–it is the Alpha and Omega of a book–it starts and completes the creative process but here is the key point: the story that you write may and probably does change but the kernel idea of a book does not, ever.

KM Huber Image

During the course of the workshop, I came to understand that the “kernel idea” for my novel was not the story I had written. The kernel idea had not changed but the story I wrote moved away from the idea within the first 100 pages. Finally, I realized what I was hanging onto for seventeen years—my kernel idea and 100 pages—yet, it took me a while to understand just what that might mean but when I did, it felt like a “quantum leap of creativity.” Still does.

Thus, as I started writing a new nonfiction book—my current manuscript–I discovered the way to tell the story of my original kernel idea. Maybe the years sorted themselves, maybe I was letting go of what no longer serves but with transformation there is also revelation. In letting  go of a seventeen-year-old-story that no longer served, I discovered the kernel idea for a new nonfiction book.

“When faced with great change—in self, in relationship, in our sense of calling–we somehow must take in all that has enclosed, nurtured and incubated us so when the new life is upon us, the old is within us” (Nepo).

The Night Circus: A Review

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In The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern spins a tale that is magical in its prose and practical in its illusions. To me, it is as fine a debut novel as can be found.

Morgenstern’s prose is poetry mostly and not without wit. Her novel’s structure is a marvel, perhaps a study in magic itself for Le Cirque des Reves—the Circus of Dreams—arrives and departs without notice, opening only at midnight and closing at dawn.

The dream circus is a world of black and white with wafts of caramel weaving in and out of striped tents that offer moments of awe and acts unknown, swirling round an extraordinary love story, truly a circus for any rêveur.

There is the Wishing Tree where every wish is a light always lit; there is the illusionist who appears and disappears as if she were born to it;  there is the Labyrinth that will take you up and down, sideways, or to the top of your world.

If you are fortunate, perhaps chosen is a better word, you may receive a silver pass to the Circus of Dreams for the rest of your life. It is a tempting way to live for every tent tells a story within a story as “there are many kinds of magic,” seemingly unending.

The Night Circus opens in 1885, near the midnight of the 19th century and closes in 1903, just after the dawn of the 20th century. Anything and everything seems possible, as the planet is still more dream than reality so there are stories yet to tell, and what is more magical than a story in which so much seems to happen all on its own.

If you read The Night Circus, do pay attention to time and its relationship to permanence or endurance but if you lose track of time— and you probably will but you won’t mind—remember this:

“The whole of Le Cirque des Reves is formed by series of circles. Perhaps it is a tribute to the origin of the word “circus,” deriving from the Greek kirkos meaning circle, or ring. There are many such nods to the phenomenon of the circus in a historical sense, though it is hardly a traditional circus. Rather than a single tent with rings enclosed within, this circus contains clusters of tents like pyramids, some large and others quite small. They are set within circular paths, contained within a circular fence. Looping and continuous.”

As I have mentioned previously, Stephanie Carmichael, a fine writer, wrote a review of The Night Circus that captures its essence completely, and I hope you take a moment to read Stephanie’s review found here.

(All excerpts are from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Thorndike ME: Center Point Large Print edition by arrangement with Doubleday, 2011.)

 

 

ROW80 Wednesday Words

This ROW80 round is one of continuous goal revision for me yet challenge is growth, even if my vision is a bit cloudy at the moment. However, I am considering not writing fiction for I suspect I am a better reader and editor than a storyteller when it comes to fiction.

As for nonfiction, I do have a lifelong love affair with the essay and seem to pursue that form more than storytelling. It is not the first time I have met this issue but I do believe it is the first time I may have to choose. Yet, I write, which is what is important to me. My revised goals are:

Write 500 words per day, write a regular blog at least once a week, and complete the ROW80 check-ins on Sunday and Wednesday.

So far, the revision feels comfortable.

What Abundance Knows

How do we live with our hearts open? How do we use what is within us to bring together all that divides us? How do we, like the fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching suggests, “…offer our treasures to everyone”?

And the Tao means everyone, not just those we love/like, for living with an open heart is all-encompassing. It is difficult to open ourselves to what a person feels when that person’s beliefs are so separate from ours yet abundance knows no separateness only wholeness.

Unconditional Love Experts

It requires a larger vision whose origin may be right in front of us.

Often I offer the thoughts of Mark Nepo and Wayne Dyer but honestly, when it comes to abundance and unconditional love, I turn to beagle Cooper James and EmmaRose, a grey-blue dilute kitty of 5.5 pounds whose one word name was decided by a paw-press on the “Enter” key.

The three of us are an illustration of what was separate that is now whole.

How we lived before does not define us nor does it measure who we are. Those are years separate from us, now. As a feline, EmmaRose is 44, canine Cooper is 57, and as the human, I am sixty; what we measure is what we are together, and in that, our differences are minute.

Blanket Mountains

Our one-bedroom apartment is all we need and in some ways, more than we ever had. EmmaRose moves about the apartment most, rearranging throw rugs, curling up in what have become known as the Blanket Mountains of the living room, playing pine cone shuffle with cones Cooper and I brought her from one of our fall outings. EmmaRose is not a traveler outside the apartment–she enjoys her solitude–Cooper and I provide her her time on a daily basis.

"Why now?"

We all share the bedroom—the adjustable, queen-sized bed supports canine and human arthritic joints—EmmaRose’s preferred spot is on the computer modem that rests on the round, wicker bedside table, darkening with age. The table provides EmmaRose the perfect distance to meow in my ear—at least a couple of hours before dawn–if she has seen her reflection in the bottom of her food dish in the dark.

"Yes, Dr. Mac?"

Like many canines, Cooper is food-motivated and as a beagle, he is indiscriminate in what he eats, resulting in a daily antacid prescribed by Dr. Mac.

When the three of us could still eat tacos without major digestive upset for the human and the canine, we each had our favorite ingredient: Cooper scarfed cheddar cheese shavings; EmmaRose preferred powdered corn tortilla bits; meat and lettuce were for the human.

EmmaRose has never noted the absence of our taco dinners but it has been hard on Cooper and me. About a month ago, we gave into our cravings and purchased one taco; Cooper wanted more, as always; EmmaRose was not in the mood for tacos that night; as for me, I cannot imagine a time I will want another taco ever.

Having food and shelter is something we have always shared amicably, perhaps because all three of us have been as close to homelessness as we ever want to be. For Cooper and EmmaRose, euthanasia was near; for me, life was a series of question marks for some time.

What if

We learned to re-frame our lives, not looking back at what we no longer have nor looking to what we fear but rather through it, moment by moment—together. Cooper and EmmaRose seem better at facing fear than I but in watching what they give to one another as well as to me, reciprocating is effortless.

Every vision starts somewhere.

I suspect the force that is all life, whether the form is matter or antimatter, sees wholeness not separateness, offers treasure without condition—imagine.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking

 I am re-framing my writing goals. This round, I am concentrating on revising the original draft of my novel, based on the kernel idea I developed in a writing workshop. You can view what I have to say about that here.

I did manage to write a little more than a thousand words (1,068) on how the new version of the novel will read, in particular what it will mean for many of the characters. It is a fascinating process, for me.

Straw Dogs: Not the Movie

The fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching focuses on the temporal but equitable nature of existence in which we are but straw dogs.

“Heaven and earth are impartial; they see the 10,000 things as straw dogs. The sage is not sentimental; he treats all his people as straw dogs.”

It is a rather provocative statement of our role in the physical universe of the 21st century. It is not a comfortable image as straw dogs are too temporal, too much a reminder of  our brevity. Within the Tao Te Ching of the 6th century B.C., straw dogs have a role to play for a brief, shining moment, and then, they are gone, only to be followed by more straw dogs.

Impartial existence does not seem all that special.

Stephen Mitchell, a translator of the Tao, has written that “’straw dogs were ritual objects, venerated before the ceremony but afterward abandoned and trampled underfoot’” (as quoted in Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life).

In the Urban Dictionary, a delightful resource, I found seven different meanings of straw dog including one who is “faithful” to snorting cocaine. To me, the Urban Dictionary definition most resembling Mitchell’s translation is “something that is made only to be destroyed”; the sample sentence uses a doll as an example of a straw dog.

My favorite Urban Dictionary straw dog definition is “a word that you interject anytime that you don’t know what word to use but want to make it sound like you’re smart.”  The sample sentence illustrates the definition completely in that a nuclear physics speech “seemed like a straw dog compared to other theorys (sic),” definition and example perfect for my pearl book.

Regardless of how many definitions I may find online and elsewhere, any and all of them underscore the temporal nature of the physical universe from a cocaine high to a venerated sacrifice to easing out of an uncomfortable situation by saying something silly. They all pass from existence, as the Tao, the Source of all things, knows:

“To him none are especially dear, nor is there anyone he disfavors.”

In appreciating the straw dogs of the  6th century B.C. within the experience of the 21st century A.D., it is possible to feel the forever of existence, the comfort in knowing that straw dogs follow straw dogs. “With impartial awareness, the sage genuinely sees the sacredness within all the straw dogs in this ceremony we call life” (Dyer). 

We are not special unless we all are special.

Imagine a world where all know and accept that existence is a gift for all to be opened, to be lived, and to be left for others.  What is special in each of us is our life force. Imagine if we stopped celebrating our separateness and revered our one moment of existence, straw dogs all.

ROW80 Sunday Summary

A brief, mid-week lupus flare limited my reading and writing but it was a brief flare, and I am grateful. I credit its brevity to my better diet (now a weight loss of 66 pounds), to my work with the Tao, to meditating, and to participating in ROW80. Anyone with chronic illness  or who is confined for any length of time, can appreciate how important it is to connect with life whenever possible. As a bit of a distraction, I concentrated on re-learning Twitter; fellow ROW80er Morgan Dragonwillow helped me with TweetDeck and when my brain fog cleared a bit, I re-read the Twitter segment of Kristen Lamb’s book We Are Not AloneWho knew a lupus flare could be so productive?

Am halfway into The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. For the first time since seeing the movie Toby Tyler (late 1950’s), I want to run away with a circus, especially one as magical as the Circus of Dreams. I enjoy Morgenstern’s wit and although the time structure is a bit wobbly–I had the same concern in The Time Traveler’s Wife–Morgenstern’s writing keeps me turning the pages.

If you want to read more about my ROW80 progress, please click here.

Go for the Metaphor

Eleven days ago, I stopped blogging regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays and my mind shutdown, leaving me alone with my ego.  It had been years since that had happened, and I did not want to go there, again.

And so I begin my second Round of Words in 80 days, the writing challenge that knows I have a life and probably has similar suspicions about my ego. Wayne Dyer refers to ego as “Edging God Out,” and when it comes to God, I’m with Joseph Campbell:

Joseph Campbell
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 “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that” (PBS Power of Myth Series with Bill Moyers).

It is always advantageous to define one’s terms succinctly, if possible, and if not, find others who can and do.

Our fearless ROW80 leader, Kait Nolan, provided an initial inspirational post for her ROW80 ranks of writers.  In particular, Kait dispelled a popular fallacy for many writers: if writing were their full-time job, writers would write as many as three or four novels a year, at the very least.

Once again,  ego spins falsely into fantasy.

Before I retired to writing, I, had that fantasy, which faded–frankly, on my first day– with full-time watching of Turner Classic Movies, then PBS, then British television, simply seductive. While some movie/television gazing can be considered studying the craft of scene and dialogue, reading and actual writing are closer to the grindstone.

As a writer and a human being—at times, known to be one and the same—my ego chatters constantly but I want the metaphor, aware  that I cannot know what transcends all intellectual thought but I can contemplate.

Frankly, ROW80 is what got me pursuing metaphor, in a most practical way. When I began round one in January, I was determined to publish a Sunday and Wednesday blog post for the entire round.

I did.

However, success has consequences, often overlooked in the glow of self-satisfaction, but for every action, there is a reaction.

The amount of time I spent writing blog posts, thinking about blog posts, and trying to have a week’s worth of posts written so I would not be always writing to deadline took on a life of its own, admittedly, a life bigger than screen gazing but it was not the metaphor.

So, here I am writing this post on the afternoon of April 2, the deadline for my first post of the second round of ROW80, battling my ego that says, “Post a couple goals. By Wednesday, you’ll be organized.”

No, I’m following fearless leader Kait Nolan:

“I want to help you develop that discipline and establish those good habits in your everyday life.  I want to help you take YOURSELF seriously as a writer, treat YOURSELF as a professional, so that bracket of time you can devote to writing, be it an hour or a day, becomes set in your mind as Writing Time–something you protect with the fierceness of a honey badger.”

See what happens when you go for the metaphor?

ROW80 Goal Posting

I have a separate blog page for the precise accounting of my R0W80 goals and updates, although I will probably  include a summary on main blog posts. Frankly, I can decide that later but for now, here we go:

Writing and Reading

Writing: Beginning April 4, 2012, write 500 words five days a week on my current manuscript. Word counts will be updated every Wednesday starting April 11, 2012.

Reading: Beginning April 4, 2012, read at least 50 pages every night to re-establish my reading routine. Am currently reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Beginning Sunday, April 8, 2012, I will comment on my reading progress each Sunday.

Blog Posts

By Sunday, April 15, 2012, I will have at least one week’s posts written and scheduled so I am not writing to deadline. 

Honey badger, honey badger….

Comment Choice

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It seems last Sunday’s blog on silence coincided with the implementation of some “comment updates” from WordPress, the hosting company for this blog. I chose WordPress for its theme diversity and low cost but mainly for its ease in connecting with other social networks.

A blog that deals with Oneness and being is about connecting so hosting my blog with WordPress did and does make sense. It also makes sense that there will be missed connections, from time to time. On Monday, some readers wanting to leave a comment received this message:

That email address is associated with an existing WordPress.com (or Gravatar.com) account. Please click the back button in your browser and then log in to use it.

No one has to register with or log in to my actual blog to comment;  however, my blog has always required an email address (never revealed) and a name to accompany all comments. If I didn’t, anonymous responses could conceivably rival spam contributions so on my blog, one must create an identity to comment.

Identity seems to be at the core of the recent comment update issue, although I do not pretend to understand the technology of it so I may be completely wrong.  However, it does appear that in order to leave a comment on my blog now, readers must sign in with an existing social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc.) or create an account with WordPress.

Image from playthink.wordpress.com

This is the ether so remember that  updates/changes to what I just wrote are always just a breath away, if that far.

As this blog is also about one boomer being–I have an appreciation for and history of questioning authority so I do “get” why some readers are upset—I support every reader who does not want to sign in with any of their existing accounts or create an account with WordPress in order to comment.

For me, blogging is all about community and finding ways to support each other. Yes, I am nauseatingly optimistic almost all of the time but just the fact that we can have a global conversation about commenting or not commenting is a positive for all of us. Here’s an alternative way to comment on my blog:

Under Contact in the right hand column on my home page (Oneness),  please click on Email me!  to send  your comments.

As I do with all comments, I will review, respond (if appropriate), and I will post your comment just as if you had submitted it in the comment section. Please provide a name that you like as your identity. It may even be your own.

“So rather than giving energy to…perceived misfortunes, [I look to] the Tao…inexhaustible…the ancestor of it all…living infinitely” (Wayne Dyer).

“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing,
love is knowing I am everything,
and between the two my life moves.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj


Round One of Round of Words Final Tally
 

The first round of Round of Words in 80 days ends tomorrow, and round two begins April 2. ROW80 helps writers bring their writing into their real lives, no more goal-gazing or sighing. ROW80 helps writers establish realistic goals that may be revised as many times as any manuscript. All one needs is a blog and a love of writing.

I was skeptical about ROW80 but if nothing else, I launched a blog, the writing of which requires way more than I anticipated. Furthermore, I saw my writing as it really is, which is not exactly how it was playing in my head or through my heart.  Now, I know what is possible so thank you  to the ROW80 community of writers who post their progress on Sundays and Wednesdays.

My beginning goals were modest—write at least 250 words per day, write a blog post twice a week, do something with a 17-year-old manuscript. I made it hard for me to fail, for once.

I progressed from 250 words per day to 30-minute stretches and to a daily average of 900 words. In these last few weeks, I am comfortably writing over 1,000 words per day. The type of writing includes technical, nonfiction, fiction, and blog posts but in this first round, I excluded technical and nonfiction writing from my word count. Total fiction and blog post word count is 23,639. Total technical and nonfiction word count is 14,000-18,000.

As a writer who was not writing except for an occasional spurt, I am more than pleased. What ROW80 reveals is that it does not take a great deal of time to generate words. With words come ideas and better words, clearer thought.

My manuscript is in shreds but its core, kernel idea is intact, which is more than I expected. The story is completely different as am I– seventeen years later–but the story’s idea is as fresh as always.

ROW80 Round Two on deck.

Dear Reader

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Today, I came up with a tag line for my blog: A Boomer Being. It’s on the left hand side of the screen, beneath KM Huber’s Blog. My belief in Oneness and my attempts at Being are the basis for this blog but you, Dear Reader, are its heart.

Thank you for visiting my blog—whether it’s your first time and last time or whether you’re a regular—in that moment, we connect in ways we may never realize. That is “spooky action at a distance.”

My blog has been up for less than two months, and your incredible response warms my heart, truly. In fact, you’ve changed my life, and I mean that with all my heart.

If you blog or participate in social media, you know the fear of “pressing” your words into print. Chagrin, terror loom. You really can’t take those words back. Oh, you can delete a published blog page or a comment and never hear about it but here’s a hint: commit the word cache to memory. I promise you at least one pair of eyes found your words, knows what you tried to take back.

Technology just may force us into being thoughtful and patient, qualities we do well when we are them. Magnanimity is a  marvelous  human trait that is not used as frequently as it might be but blogging and writing in the ether give new meaning to being in the moment.

Welcome to the world of the open heart: the 21st century.

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There is a revolution going on across the globe every minute of every day. We are seeing ourselves as we’ve never seen ourselves, and it’s a bit of a shock, which revelation always is. There seems no place to hide but there never was is what we are discovering.

As an aging feminist and boomer, I was born to revolution; as an aging writer, I know I am living in a golden age of words still being arranged and rearranged but language is within the Oneness that connects us all.

Dave R Farmer
WANA Commons

At almost sixty, I am categorized as a boomer by virtue of my age but I really am a hippie, still. Yet being, really being, is new to me after six decades of a lot of doing–and not always well. Now, living moment by moment, I am not rushing anywhere anymore for anyone. Frankly, it is all I can do to be for the rest of my life—it’s that compelling.

Some label life as spirit being human, and it just may be, but life is an experience that we take in and let go, usually unevenly, especially the letting go part.

But maybe now that we reach round the world any time we want to, we will open our hearts to each other completely. Certainly, it seems we can, Dear Reader, although I did not believe it two months ago.

You, Dear Reader, showed me all is possible, and for you, I blog.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking:

From January 2 until February 4, my goal was to write 250 words per day—as blog posts, fiction, or nonfiction–for an approximate total of 8250 words.

Beginning February 4, I started the “30-minute” stretch in which I write for 30 minutes. So far, that has generated just over 9,800 words, almost half of those words will see another format. I generate another 1200 to 2000 words per week as blogs, fiction, and nonfiction.

I achieved my goal of returning to writing regularly.  Now, the 30 minute stretches have found focus as drafts of future blogs, eliminating the time crunch of making the Sunday and Wednesday press deadlines. My goal is to schedule my all my blogs so I am not on “deadline” ever.  For this round of ROW80, I am just over 20, 800 words.  I am so pleased that I am writing regularly.

I signed up for Bob Mayer’s Idea and Conflict Workshop that begins March 3.  With this workshop, I will finally start putting together pieces of  a story I’ve had for sometime–my first write-through of a novel seventeen years ago.  Structurally, I never considered it a novel–it’s always been an exploration of my writing process–I knew there were some strong pieces without a true story. With this workshop, I’ll test my idea, which means I have a novel to write, and I am excited.