a time when I lost trust in someone — OK, so the moment that is the most egregious, I think, was when an advisor in grad school slept with my boyfriend. Sounds so melodramatic and soap-opera-ish, but it happened. Rather than talk about that event — and it happened a long time ago — I want to talk about the effect. Only recently did I understand better why that event hit me so hard.
My editing on Major General Boles’ book, 4-3-2-1 Leadership, taught me a lot about leadership. And General Boles says that the one critical component for leadership is trust. Those who are led must be able to trust their leader, and the leader has to build that trust and maintain it. General Boles lists reasons that teams don’t trust leaders, and one reason is if someone has been burned early on in his or her career, that person is scarred significantly by that breech of trust.
That describes my experience. New to grad school, find a mentor I trusted, and kapowie — huge knock to my gut. So how does one heal from that kind of experience?
OK, so I’m doing exactly what I asked writers NOT to do, which is to do two writing practices in one day. I asked that writers do writing practices each day, but I’m behind, and I leave tomorrow morning at 7 for classes, and I know I won’t do a writing practice tomorrow morning before that.
I’m going to choose “solitude” for my last prompt of the week.
Solitude feeds my soul. I need time every day to be still, to meditate, to slow everything down. I don’t always take that time. Since I moved to Tucson two months ago, I’ve had less solitude. I now live next door to my youngest sister, and we share a lot of time together — coffee in the morning, dinner. I’m glad that I can do this now. But I also notice that I need to be sure to take alone time, so I can use solitude to keep my heart, head, and soul on straight.
Solitude in nature — when things were tough growing up, I used to take off and find an empty field, plop myself down in the grass, and watch the birds. Seemed to put all the family drama in perspective. At least for a little while.
leaving — I’ve written on this prompt before, and I’ve written recently about my mom’s leaving — hard to write about this because I’m not sure who or what is leaving. That is — my mom has dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, although we’ve never gotten a firm diagnosis because my mom refused to finish the testing. She doesn’t believe anything is wrong. Huge denial.
So my mom is leaving. We’re all leaving life as soon as we’re born, eh? But dementia is a particular kind of leaving — is the person leaving his or her brain or is that person’s brain leaving him or her?
I’m not even sure that’s a helpful question. All I know is that my mom’s brain does not process information the way it used to. So how does that have anything to do with leaving? I guess because my mom has left the familiar — so much in her world is no longer recognizable. And so much language has left her.
She no longer likes rain, clouds, or lizards — all things she used to like.
How else does my mom’s illness relate to leaving?
best and worst writing experience — One of my best writing experiences is a recent one. I started working with someone last fall — a person who was writing a book and was maybe one-third done. This person hired me to edit the book. I’ve done a good bit of editing over the years, but I’ve been working the last year to build an editing business. From last October until this June, I worked with this writer so that he could finish his book, and it was published this past June. I am really proud of the work we did together, and I like the book — I like the ideas this person presents, I like his voice and his humor. I worked hard on this project, and I learned a lot. Working with a writer to the finish line has been an immensely satisfying experience.
Worst experience — The one that sticks in my memory is when I showed an early draft of a short story to someone who then ripped the story to shreds. Ouch. Another experience that just popped into my head was from graduate school. I wrote a paper for a theory course and was creative with the paper. The professor told me that using that kind of creativity was really not the kind of graduate work needed. OK — I’m not explaining this really well. Academic writing requires a certain style, and unfortunately, I’ve found a lot of academic writing that isn’t all that clear — or that interesting. Hmmm. I think that’s five minutes.
Stars. Stars. Stars. Maybe the coolest thing I learned about stars was at the Smithsonian Museum, the Air and Space Museum. I remember being in Washington D.C. by myself, and I visited the Air and Space Museum and watched an IMAX movie back when the technology was new. I remember feeling vertigo during a good bit of the film. But what stuck with me was this: we are all made of stars.
Sounds poetic. And there’s science behind it. I was struck by the poetry. Reminds me of a quote by Ada Byron Lovelace, who helped birth the first computer. A lover of math, Ada complained to her exacting mom, “”You will not concede me philosophical poetry. Invert the order! Will you give me poetical philosophy, poetical science?” I love how science and art combine.
I’ve strayed from the stars. I admit it — I googled this question: “Are we made of stars?” Lots of hits. Here’s a cool one from Physics Central.
I’ve cheated on this writing practice because I keep wandering over to the web and checking things out. Also, I’m very conscious that writers in my classes might read my writing practice. Hmmmm. And now I haven’t even written about stars.
OK, so I don’t really want to do this writing this morning. I’ve only had one cup of coffee. And now I realize I can spend this five minutes complaining and making excuses or I can write. I choose the latter. Which prompt? The one about reading.
My earliest memory about reading — or at least about wanting to read — is sitting on my mom’s lap as she reads a book to me. I am focused on the page. I’m probably about four years old. I remember looking at a letter — maybe an “R” — and tracing my finger around each part of the letter and saying a word for each movement. I was trying to figure out how my mom made those shapes say words that told me a story.
I wanted so badly to unlock that mystery. My mom had the key to a super power: reading. I wanted that key.
Probably the next clearest memory is from third grade, when we used the SRA reading program. I don’t remember the stories. I remember the different colors — magenta, brown, turquoise — that signified different reading levels. The readings were on laminated cards with the bright color on top. We read at our own pace, at our own level — took out the cards from the boxes, returned the cards. I remember the sights and the touch more than the stories. Also, I was extremely competitive academically, so I remember racing through those readings.
OK. That’s time. This practice doesn’t really talk about the joy I find in reading. Maybe another time…