Our holidays were lovely, beautiful and full of love. And then for the New Year, January, we were thrust into a hectic and demanding schedule, heavier than usual, which has required a lot from all of us. Add to that the global sadness after the tragic crash of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter, the fears of a deadly epidemic with the coronavirus, and concerns over the upcoming Presidential election, and I think these are just strange and exhausting times. That’s really the only way for me to describe this feeling -- strange and tiring.
I continue to, as always, find some comfort in reflective writing. But the exhaustion I feel is both physical and mental. Writing has been more laborious than usual. Not impossible because there’s still plenty to write about, but what would usually have taken me 30 minutes to write takes an hour, an hour that I don’t seem to often have these days. So, I keep finding myself with unfinished pages and incomplete thoughts.
It happens. We can’t always find our rhythm or groove. Sometimes life is messy and busy. And sometimes it is just strange and exhausting.
Yet, I am bound to pen and paper, as if they are extensions of my entire psyche. Writing for me is nearly like breathing and not writing makes me feel like I am holding my breath. And so, I let others come to my aid, like a kind of mental CPR because, thankfully, my words are not the only words. There is a collective psyche, threads of thought that connect all of us. And so the words of others give me air so that I can breathe. Food for thought, laughter contemplation, tucked in the pages of my notebook, allowing me time to find my stride again.
Here are some of my favorites from January:
Maya Angelou has been my “auntie in my head” since I was a young teenager and read her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I felt so connected to her after reading that, it was as though we’d met. I came across these words from her: “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.” There was a time when I struggled with victimhood, but when that no longer worked as my identity, I discovered who I really was.
I love The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). He is handsome, muscular, and really introspective. What more can one ask for in a man? Successful, wealthy, and in touch with his mental health? He’s all of those things too! “Let your actions do the talking for you...unless you’re telling a good, dirty joke.” This made me laugh out loud, as one should any chance one gets.
Both of these are on the front cover of my current refill.
Flipping through my notebook, I find a piece of paper from a notepad that I love. It is clipped to a page with a pretty spiral paper clip. I love paper clips more than most people do. Most people don’t even think about paper clips. I have a special filebox for mine. The notepaper is square and white with a golden arrow embossed on top. Arrows are a motif that I repeat in my notebooks a lot. They remind me to keep moving forward, to keep pushing. Auntie Maya again. This time she reminds me, “You may not control all the events that happen, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” -- Maya Angelou
I have this sticky pad of translucent notes by Stalogy that I discovered in a SoHo stationery store and use sparingly. I used one precious sheet to write these wise words from Michelle Obama, “Find people who will make you better.” I think we should also live in ways that make other people better too, so they can say the same of us.
I can’t recall where I found the beige and orange plaid sticky notes. They are gorgeous, so I use them sparingly as well, never for notes that are going to be discarded, but for keepers like George Carlin’s “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.” I don’t know if I agree with this sentiment, but it certainly makes me think. I have always found him to be both comedic and profound.
Another arrow note is stuck between my pages, on it are the words of Oscar Wilde, “Indeed I have always been of the opinion that hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing to do.” This reminds me not to work so hard, so I have time to live.
Yet another translucent sticky note. This pad was from Muji and the paper is not quite as yummy as the pad from Stalogy. It’s firmer and not as smooth to write on. The Rock speaks to me again. “When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock on it. Kick that b*tch in, smile, and introduce yourself.” Excuse the language, but you get the point. I can be so soft-spoken, but I can also be so much the kind of person that finds this statement absolutely relatable.
The words of Nelson Mandela are adhered to a quadrant of a Mind Mosaic. The heading is “gratitude,” which has nothing to do with the quote, but everything to do with how grateful I am that a man like Mandela walked the face of this Earth. “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.” I think about that a lot. Are we afraid of our own power, even more than we are afraid of our inadequacies?
All of these words, the words of others, tucked in my notebook, are profound reminders and examples of the power of language. It connects us, all of humanity, over time and space, races and cultures, genders and belief systems. It is evidence of the threads that bind us all, all of us together, as one people. I love that.
I just LOVE your writing… ever since you wrote the piece on grief, so poetic, simple but profound. I watch for your inclusions in my baum-kuchen newsletter. Thank you. — Mary