Empowerment through Language...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sometimes It Is So Simple...

On most Saturdays, just before noon, I am in my office at the YMCA's Downtown Writers Center anticipating the stream of middle- and high school writers who will burst in the door for their weekly 2-hour workshop at our Young Authors Academy. Some of these young talents have been attending since our inception in February 2012, some of them are new to the program this fall. All of them have the need to write in common. Just as their instructors have answered the call during our lives, these are true writers who surrender fully, sometimes obsessively. They are diverse and vibrant, eager and pensive. All have a flair for language and are good listeners. They are generous in their responses to each other's work and keen in their observations of the writing pieces shared at the table. They are supportive and generally really good to each other. It is a joy to witness, much less facilitate.

One thing they seem to have in common is a fascination for writing with blood, gore, and guts ... mysteries, alien adventures with gruesome hand-to-hand conflict, vampire encounters full of foreboding, zombie massacres, fairy tale characters facing certain dangers. They are fully engaged in each other's tales of mutilation and shock. Oddly, I find it humorous, as do they. They love it! They laugh! And they tell each other what they think should happen next, riffing off each other and the myriad television shows and YA novels that fuel their plots and characters.

One of our younger writers declared that her parents are growing concerned that she writes so much murder. But this is common for the age group and does not reflect that either the young ones are particularly depressed beyond typical pre-teen/teenage angst or poised to harm themselves or anyone else. Still, yesterday, as the subject came up again, and after a series of responses to the daily writing prompt reflected either depression or death, I asked why their work was so focused. It was a great conversation that started with acknowledging themselves that they are formulating a new, maturing awareness of death as an inevitable in life as well as a continual backdrop in both literature and media.

One pointed out that Shakespeare dwelled in the depths of loss and murder, as have most other "greats" in literature, with a simple postscript, I mean ... Romeo and Juliet ... HELLOOOO!"

Another declared herself an atheist and that death is a necessary knowledge and that she took solace in the thought that there is nothing after this. Another stated he did not really know what it all meant or if there was a heaven. He wasn't sure what he believed and was not certain there was a definitive answer.

The girl who stated earlier that her parents are growing concerned stated that she writes about death so much probably because she is afraid of it. This was a remarkable self-reflection for any of us but for someone of such youth to be pondering the big blank slate of loss and afterlife, it was very astute.

The conversation also gave this young woman a chance to honor the memory of someone very close to her but no longer living. She was able to move into sharing details of the person she loved deeply who was now a memory and a hole in the heart. She was fully open and honest and every other person around the table gave her all the time she needed to speak her truth. One of her colleagues suggested that we all do meditative breathing to clear the room before we all left, leading us, Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth ... again, in through the nose, out through the mouth as the room filled with our warm air mingling with the soft etude of tears as everyone consoled their friend with the respect of simply hearing her.

The clock indicated we were at the end of our session. Everyone sprang to the door, returned to their exuberant chatter, met their families in the library to head back out into the world. There were some reassuring hugs. It was real. It was honest. It was an honor to witness. Next week, they have the day off to crash from Halloween mayhem and sugar highs. In 2 weeks, they will stream in again with stories to share and blood to let on blank pages that are ready for their words.       

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Georgia Made It Around the Sun Another Time

Dear Ones:

"Perhaps you've been impatiently waiting for the moment to jump into new adventures after your meditation during the last few months. Know that the moment has almost arrived! You now have the strategy, objective, and means at your disposal to succeed. Just a bit more work remains to be done. Gather your strength and get ready to take action with renewed vigor."

This was my daily horoscope as I logged on this morning. It is my practice to start my birthday with a message of my reflection on the year past, to reach out to those whom I love and all who influence the quality of my life, making it the marvel that it is.

I have been around the sun another lap (61 thus far), this year taking time on a regular basis to run out on clear nights and wave at the International Space Shuttle. There are people in that light. We are small in the universe but mighty as we walk the earth. I am constantly amazed by this.

It has been a year with challenge, is true. But why bemoan that. I survive and learn from every moment. I think I am more clear about and with myself than I have ever been, most aware of the truth of my being on this planet, alive in this consciousness. I care deeply for our world and it would be so easy, even tempting to dwell in the fear of what we see around us. I try to refrain daily from indulging in fear but strive to keep my heart open to the reality. I am keenly aware of water, as I fret about my friends and family living in the arid portion of our nation. I want to travel but I see a world in strife and yet, there is a spot of blue revealing itself above after the lullaby of rain through the night. Now the sun pours on the last of the yellow in the garden.

This past year, I have been honored by so many. On my 60th birthday, so many of you supported my choice to complete my degree and now, after 40+ years, I am a college student once again but, as you would expect, in a non-traditional setting. I am on track to graduate with my BA, my concentration in creative writing in community and public education. I was one of four recognized this year as the recipients of the Unsung Heroes awards, where I stood on the stage at Carrier Dome before nearly 2,000 members of my community, humbled and grateful, holding back tears. How could I possibly be in the same breath as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The film clips alone as we all congregated for the annual Syracuse University event were tear-inducing. And here I was, being lauded for my efforts on behalf of others.

It is my nature. This is what my parents taught me and life has brought me. I will always look a human in the eye. I will do my best to listen. And I will encourage. That is my role as a being in this consciousness and it is my charge to uphold. It really is not that much to be asked. I have so much respect for all of you, my friends, my cherished ones, my community, for all the ways that you grace the planet and each other. I may not have seen you in years, I may have texted you yesterday. All that matters is that you have accented my life and, for that, I am grateful.

I am eager and open for opportunities. I am ready for structure and focus. I await the next collection of poetry, which is scheduled to enter the world in April 2015. I am immersed in another book project that will follow. I am a writer and that is the guiding energy behind everything I do in my life. Now to maximize it and stabilize my income and all will be wondrous. But I cannot complain. I am privileged to be alive and to share this remarkable experience with all of you. I love my two part time jobs, I love teaching in all the ways I do it, I love my home, I love my dog. I love my vast community of friends.

I am eager for what will come in the next year. I am ready for opportunity. My mantra is: I am willing and open to opportunities and I will gracefully, graciously, and gratefully accept the highest good for all involved. I pair that with the old standard, a gift from a friend a number of years back. I share it with you all now: Proceed and be bold. Go forth in grace and gratitude boldly yourselves. Thank you for all you give to me in the countless ways. Know that you are valued and cherished. You are a unique expression of the undefinable universe and I recognize you, I love you, and I am grateful that you honor me by doing the same. Be well in all ways.