Addicted to Creativity?

This morning, as I washed my breakfast dishes, I was flooded with a desire. It was more of a whispered voice driving me to something wonderful.  Wonderful and frightening.  I couldn’t tell if it came from inside me, but the message was clear.

If I don’t play the piano, I’ll die.

The directive was simple, yet bizarre.  There is no scientific basis for such a claim.  I’m not even afraid to test it out; try not playing the piano for 24-hours and see if I die.  I don’t like the way that sounds but I am clear, not playing the piano will not kill me.  Billions of people disprove that hypothesis every day.  The message is bizarre, and also very familiar.  It’s the same message I heard when I tried to stop eating addictively.

If I don’t eat Doritos right NOW, I’ll die. 

That too was bizarre and also dead wrong.  The truth, if I kept eating that way, I would die.   But the belief that it was true and the flood of terror that accompanied the ghoulish message, ensured that I would give in and zombie-comply.

So why am I getting the same message about playing the piano, that drove me to wolf down enough food for a small village 10 years ago?

I wondered about it briefly, but I didn’t really want the answer.  What if I have to stop playing the piano? I’ve gotten those messages for singing and writing too.  God, is that you telling me I have to cease and desist all things creative?

I will surly die.

I’m a creative.  I can’t stop doing the very things that bring beauty and meaning into my life.  I needed to know.

***

Creativity is a gift to me from God.  Most days, it is the closest I come to experiencing how He might feel.  It is me being His channel for beauty and love, hope and tears.

I love the clarity of the Bible.  Whether you believe it to be the God-breathed source of truth, or simply a collection of fables, there are glorious stories and lessons to be had.  It says it is a memoir of a son written by a loving father, written to all his other children.

In the Bible, there are very few places where God makes things appear that were never there to begin with.  He usually transforms things.  Sticks into serpents, water into wine, dead people into living people.  Even the creation of the world was forming blobs into order meaning.  To the point of breathing Himself into the first man, causing his awakening.  He melded, molded and then breathed his very essence into his creation.  And it remains a miracle.  People walk around untethered to any visible power source, and we are all free to decide what we will do with our existence.  It’s all mind blowing.

***

One definition of addiction is when you want to stop doing something so badly, but you can’t.  No matter how it affects your health, relationships, bank account, or your self esteem, you can’t stop.  Even if you want to, you can’t stay stopped.

And with that came the chink in the armor of this battle with my freedom to create.  You see, I’m not experiencing negative consequences from creating.  I experience them when I don’t.

It is a bit deceptive.  No doubt, creating is a high.  For some, it is a god.  Fortunately, for me, I see the gift and my need to use it thoughtfully.  But, I have never lost a job over my creativity, or a friend.  I’ve never spent my mortgage money on piano lessons.  Never had friends conduct an intervention to get me to stop writing.  Actually, it’s the opposite.

Pam, when are you going to finish the book?

When are you performing again?

If writing is important, I have to make it my priority.

But before I consider the comments and reflections of friends, I should examine them.  Are my friends people-pleasing codependents.  Are they co-addicts looking for a using buddy like crabs in a barrel?  Are they self-centered psychopaths with lethal motivations.  No, my friends love me.  They know my goals, and support me in achieving them.

So, no.  I’m not addicted to creativity. It’s my passion.  It is where I feel most connected to God.  A gift from Him.  I long to use it, and I think it is time to make it a priority.

Hi.  I’m Pam, and I’m a creative.

Rip Away

A month before my thirteenth birthday, I discovered that Scotch tape is removable.  While she was at work, I crept into my mother’s room.  I’d seen her carry in shopping bags the prior evening. She handed me a box of party invitations to fill out and rushed upstairs with the bags.

Curious George fan that I was, the next day, I investigated.  I kneeled beside her bed and lifted the comforter, nothing.  I opened her closet and stood on my tippy toes searching behind her shoe boxes.  Nothing.  I reached between her dresses and felt behind her shoe rack.  Nothing. I sat, defeated, head cradled in my hands.  Then I spotted it.  On the far right, below my father’s trousers.  A large white bag with strip of orange ribbon hanging from the top.  I crawled to the bag and hoisted it over my father’s collection of cowboy boots.

I grasped the box with both hands and shook away the bag.  There on the yellow gift tag: Happy Birthday Pam!

I shook.  It was heavy and rattled.

Scissors!  No, mom would surely see that.

I turned the box on its side and slid my finger under the folded wrapping paper, but it started to tear.  I had to know.  I noticed a corner of the tape wasn’t pressed down.  I pinched the edges with my fingernails, and carefully peel it back.  It came right off.  I opened the paper revealing the contents of the box.

There, pictured on the box were the most beautiful snazzy, blue, suede roller skates with bright yellow wheels. This was decades before Heelys, and no other kid in my neighborhood had sneaker skates.

From that day forward, when mom set my presents before me, I knew what to expect.  But I couldn’t let on.  So, I kept my secret.  When mom placed the wrapped box on the table in front of me, I tore off the bow and paper, tossing them on the floor.  I took a deep breath, looked down and cheered.

Yaay!

I jumped up and gave my mother a big hug.  Even when I didn’t get the thing I hoped for, my mom, nor my friends, knew.  I prepared myself for what was coming, so they didn’t see my disappointment.

I wonder why my actual birthday reveals were never anti-climactic.  Perhaps my knowing about the gift is one thing, but the anticipation of one day actually using the item kept me excited and able to plaster on a giddy expression as I ripped away the paper.

It would be nice if life was like that.  Always knowing what to expect.  No matter who’s watching, I’d be prepared for whatever comes my way; brace myself for the bad and anticipate the terrific.  But it doesn’t work that way.

I love birthdays, and I love life’s excitements and joys.  There’s so much wonder and beauty out there; experiences to be had.  But, reaching for the box when I don’t know what to expect is often terrifying.

If I move to a rural town, will I be lonely?  

If I stand in the middle of a stage and sing a song I wrote, will people think I’m crazy?

Can I really write a book?

The last ten years have been full of big-paper-rips.  Some of the beautiful boxes turned out to be full of useless, eco-unfriendly foam padding. Some contained damaged items.  Returned.  But most of them were overflowing with glorious items pulled from my bucket list of magical life goals.

I’m not thirteen anymore, and I can’t sneak into my mother’s closet to examine my presents.  I have to wait until opportunities come, or create them, and then be willing to rip.  These days, I never have to pretend I’m excited.  Sometimes I am so disappointed I weep, and it is worth every tear.  I know that there are a million more boxes out there.  So, I’ll take my gifts as they come and rip away.

Christianity is Like Acupuncture

My former-husband frequently amused himself with descriptions of acupuncturists.  

“How do they all fit in their tiny car?” he began.  “And those big red floppy shoes.   Twenty to thirty of them piling into a Volkswagen Beetle driving around town with their orange wigs and bright yellow costumes.  How do they keep from smearing makeup on each other?”

It never grew old.

I don’t believe acupuncturists are clowns.  Clown school is a little different than acupuncture college.  Sure, acupuncturists can go to clown school, and clowns become acupuncturists, but they still go to different schools.  

Clown school graduates are granted a license to be spontaneous, playful, and very wacky, while acupuncturists stab you with five-inch needles and are rarely spontaneous or playful.  

I’m not one of those lunatics; lounging on a filthy sofa in my parent’s basement hashing out a sinister plan to shatter the window of some acupuncturist’s office and hurl rubbing alcohol on the naked pin-cushioned body of an innocent patient.

According to NIH research, acupuncture appears to be a reasonable option for chronic pain. However, in the very next paragraph, they highlight the role of expectation and belief as a significant factor in the effectiveness of the treatment.  In short, if people think it will work, it is more likely to work. That is the crux of faith, and that is also where Christianity begins. Faith.

Faith is crucial to Christianity.  It is believing that Jesus walked the earth, died, and came back to life as a selfless act of love, to spare those seeking a way to escape an impending harsh fate.  To be Christian is to believe that the Bible is the actual word of God; a loving memoir about God’s son, Jesus. It is faith that God is real when your skin can’t touch His, and you can’t see Him.  

Historically, even the suggestion of God’s existence has led to people being burned alive.  Jesus himself was flogged and sentenced to death for saying he was who he was. The fever is real.  There are psychiatric hospitals with entire wings devoted to patients claiming to be Jesus. It’s all very illogical, irrational and downright silly.  But, for some, including me, very real.

Until March, I identified as an Evangelical Christian.  Its premise, share the good news so everyone can benefit.  It was my 51st birthday, and I celebrated with my father. We chatted on the sofa after dinner.  Like most of our family gatherings, all roads led to Trump.

“Why do they support him?” my father asked.

“Who?”

“The Evangelical Christians support Trump.”

I’m a bit of a media hermit.  Ten years cable-free, commercial-free radio, and no magazine subscriptions.  In addition, I’d been on a 6-month Facebook hiatus. I knew nothing of a unified group of Evangelical Christians.  I thought I was one, but I had never been invited to a meeting.

“I don’t support him, and Evangelical Christians don’t have a consensus on that.”

I was wrong.  There is a group, with a spokesperson.  However, their group is not my group. The messages I hear from that group have nothing to do with my faith.  For the first time, I understood why people think Christians hate them, and why people hate Christians.

This struggle isn’t new, like any group, there has always been division within Christianity.  But, this particular division disturbed me. How did this group catapult so far from what I know to be the foundational message of Christianity?

What could I do to make a difference?  Probably nothing, but I needed to try something.

As a writer, I have a platform in my connections and in what I create and share: blogs, songs, speeches, scripts, books.  I have a hope, though the Bible confirms it will never happen; I pray Christians will help each other remember (or realize) that Christianity is about a personal relationship with God through Jesus, not about rules or judgments passed on others who don’t know Jesus personally.

With acupuncture, people who are not patients of an acupuncturist never need to avoid wearing deodorant on the day of an appointment.  Non-patients are not belittled for missed appointments, nor need concern themselves with antiseptic. The rules inside the office do not apply outside.  I haven’t heard any mass effort to guilt acupuncture patients into pain management clinics or onto raw diets. Acupuncture works for them; it’s what they want.

Christianity was never intended to be a list of rules clamped on people like handcuffs. It was always intended to be a choice to follow Christ, a choice to believe, a choice to love.  Christianity was never meant to be followed by those who do not believe in it. Why in the heck would they? Acupuncturists swear by acupuncture, vegans beans and tofu and so on. A carnivore won’t suddenly go meat-free without an internal shift.  

The success of acupuncture is in the positive marketing.  The ancient tradition that promises healing, potential clients are invited to receive relief and healing.  

And yet, I laughed with my then husband.  Together we painted the picture of orange yarn-haired acupuncturist emerging from VW Bugs.  It was easy to laugh. Easy to look down at lots of groups. To think I’m so different. Am I?

I recall my repulsive attempts to share my faith. In my zeal to persuade, I have lost sight of my miraculous experience with intimately knowing Christ.  I’ve resorted to insisting that the other person’s beliefs are wrong. I point to their behaviors, the things that God is best suited to point out.

I’m right.  You’re wrong.

Who would want a faith that is shared without patience, kindness, and love?  I have never been told I was going to die, by an acupuncturist standing outside my doctor’s office. But I did have a childhood friend invite me to her church’s vacation Bible school. 

I do believe that the world needs Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Not just me.  

So, as a Christian, I take notes from the marketing strategies of acupuncturists.  They are the same strategies taught by Jesus.

  • Focus on positive stuff, like better quality of life.  
  • Hold off on discussing billing, no-show penalties and payment methods until someone is interested.
  • When someone says, “no thanks,” don’t take it personally, move on, or go take a nap.
  • I want them to come back.  I should be nice.
  • Tell the truth and present the evidence.
  • Allow questions and be prepared to answer or find someone who can.
  • And finally, live in a way that attracts others to my wonderful remedy to life’s pain.

 

 

 

 

Writer

Today, eyes closed, in the black silence of my morning meditation, my destiny was established.  I am officially a writer. But it was something I could have known twenty-nine years earlier.  The day my then-boyfriend, now an award-winning author, ticked-off Nikki Giovanni. In response, she then uttered eight words that ticked him off, and probably catapulted him into creative prolificacy.  

Cigarette smoke wafting through her tiny afro, Professor Giovani announced it.

“Your girlfriend is a better writer than you.”  

Professor Giovanni was talking about me.  My one regret is that, when my then boyfriend shared the story, I didn’t understand what it all meant.  Had I understood, I would have asked her more questions, written more, taken more writing classes. According to her, I was a better writer than a future bestselling author who spent his formative years determined to make his fortune writing books.  But I did nothing about it.

As a child, Ramona Quimby and Encyclopedia Brown were my besties.  There were also the forbidden books of Judy Blume. But all of that faded once high school mandated the reading of thick hardback text.  There was no more pleasure to be had in the typed pages. I bored of books and knew little of writing, beyond an occasional poem or improvised Broadway belted tune.  But my then boyfriend had books in his DNA. His father was a writer and book publisher, so he grew up loving books. When he had no money for food, he still bought books.  They were his treasure. For me, books were things you turned in for cash at the end of the semester to buy Doritos and licorice after leaving the dining hall.  

Then it happened.  I sat in bed, waiting for the 30-minute timer to signal the end of my morning meditation.  A mockingbird announced breakfast, the faint churn of morning traffic wafted over the sound wall, and the air conditioner thumped on.  Eyes closed, I waited for something. Or nothing. Then, right before the timer chimed, I heard it.

You are a writer.

That was it.  The words came as if spoken into my heart by God Almighty Himself.  I opened my eyes to make sure no one was in the room.

Just me.

I crawled out of bed and sat at my computer, staring at the screen.  

Now what?  Then it came.  

This moment demands a poster.

I placed a sheet of the only cardstock available, watermelon pink.  Hands on keyboard, I opened a blank PowerPoint slide. In jay-bird blue, 183-point Cinzel font letters, I printed one word.

WRITER

Then I taped the sign to my door.

 

Your Turn:

What have you not given yourself permission to do?

What can you do this week to take a step toward going ALL-IN?

Theatrophobia

My dear friend Chichi and I share a devastating ailment.

Theatrophobia: Fear of theatre that leads to significant anxiety and consequently, avoidance of the theatre.

As a therapist and licensed clinical social worker of 30 years, I assure you, it’s real.

Not cinema theatre.  That doesn’t scare us. Chichi’s a sci-fi buff, and I love settling into big-screen recliner seating.  I fist pumped the ceiling during Black Panther, adored Incredibles 2, and wept at the end of Fences.  I also share my father’s love of shoot-em-up-bang-bang productions, along with my mother’s affinity for happily-ever-afters.  Movies are wonderful.  However, the red velvet curtains of the stage…horrifying.

Chichi Enu, Nigerian-born opera singer, finds it impossible to watch other opera singers on stage.  It makes her doubt her singing ability.  Though her soprano trills can mimic the playful flutter of butterfly wings,  and fill the void of the largest opera house, still,  she crumbles in the presence of Renee’ Flemming.  And don’t even mention Audra Mcdonald.

We are kindred spirits.  Me, I cherish Broadway musicals.  However, when the curtain closes, I feel my chest tighten, shoulders scrunch to my ears, and my chin sinks to my chest.

I will never be able to write something that amazing.

Following each performance, weeks pass before I can resume my own writing.  In ten years, no amount of friend-chats or self-talk has ever cured me.  However, this week, something changed.  I had an urge to buy tickets.  Fearlessly, I pushed the envelope. Hamilton?

Why wasn’t I terrified?  Then it hit me.

Recently, I was invited to direct the annual Christmas musical at my church.  A grand production attended by thousands.  In researching all things musical (staging, choreography, lighting), I spent a weekend watching bootleg YouTubes of Wicked, Frozen, Carrie, Legally Blond, and an entire season of Legally Blond: The Search for Ellie Woods.

As I watched the final YouTube show on my list, I swelled with ideas.  For two days, I hunched over my Chromebook tapping out blocking, staging, and choreography until 3 am.  I was eager to capture every detail.

My shoulders relaxed, no butterflies, chest fine.  Something was happening.  Different.  I wasn’t feeling battered by Broadway.  Those fantastic performances were now my allies.

In therapist-speak: I flooded my weekend with Broadway and unknowingly forced myself to experience the very thing that petrified me.

My Broadway-binge didn’t destroy me; it helped me.  It never really had the power to hurt me.  It’s Broadway; it ain’t that serious, and it was never really about Broadway anyway.  It was about closing the final curtain on my self-doubt.

Hi.  I’m, Pam.  I’m a recovered Theatrophobic.

 

Your turn:

What thoughts keep you stagnant?

What petrifies you?

What can you do this week to face your fear?

Call to Action

Every hero’s journey is launched by a call to action.  During today’s 30-minute morning meditation, it came.  Go to France.

When?

Next month.

Life and my writing halted during my father’s recent health crisis.  I abandoned my dream of auditioning for the church musical, I shelved my book revisions, back-burnered my writing aspirations, and lamented the viability of my therapy practice.

I understand aging and death.  I have no living grandparents or mother. But I hadn’t considered I might one day become an orphan.  With that thought, I ushered in my 51st year of life.  I pictured other fifty-oners blogging about things unique to our clan.  I ceased creating and focused on being 51.  I focused on dad.

I canceled all plans for travel, writer’s conferences, and visits to family and friends. I didn’t want to be more than an hour away from my father.  I avoided commitments I couldn’t back out of at a moments notice.  I stopped leisure spending, anticipating I may need to shut down my therapy practice to care-give, and every day, I told my father I loved him.

Then he left the hospital and went home.  His speech cleared up.  His walking got better.  He laughed and told jokes again.  His jokes were as corny as ever, and I  guffawed like never before.

The previous year, Chalabra, France had been my creative fountain of youth. It’s the home of my songwriting mentor, Vinx and he was getting married.  I loved my time in his tiny village, and fantasized about buying a villa of my own.  But my father’s illness rendered such thoughts, ridiculous.

I was sure I needed to put everything on hold to be there for him.  I was absolutely sure, until today.  Maybe it was my father’s trip out of town last week that showed me, we all need to keep living until God decides we stop.

There is a difference between waiting for the end, and living each day like it’s my last.  My father says live, see the world, write the book, take center stage, and drop by to see your Dear Ol’ Dad every now and then…If he’s home.

I booked my flight.

Your turn:

Do you have plans that are unnecessarily on hold?  What would you do if this was your last year on the planet?

~ Pam

Don’t Be Afraid to Tick People Off!

The life of a creative is not easy.  We are sensitive, constantly doubting our amazing abilities.  We struggle to prioritize the time to grow our talents or we devote hours to songs, poems, and stories we never put out into the world.  But mostly, we are afraid. We think there is no room for our creations; they are not good enough.  How do we know?

To be fulfilled as a creative, we need to share our creations to find our voice.  Rejection is a part of creativity.  A wonderful part.

I first learned I was a creative while studying poetry in Nikki Giovanni’s first class at Virginia Tech.  I learned simple basics like “show it, don’t tell it.”  I learned how to find my voice by imitating the literary greats.  And I learned I could write about anything I wanted, but it would serve me well to try to have it make some sort of sense to others.

We had one student in our class of eleven who thought himself particularly witty and obscure.  He presented a poem in class and was delighted to announce that we could read the lines in any order we wanted.

He read his lines, jumping from one column to another, top to bottom, then to middle of each list.  Poetic ramblings along the lines of:

My heart, tossed like gubbins in a dumpster

Droplets of lackadaisical melted my salt heart

Shut the mouths of yawners

Wanton wants won wonderful rebellion

He’d spent the afternoon flipping through a dictionary, locating interesting words and turning them into sentences.  He then put the sentences into two lists that filled half a page.  Voila!  Poetry.

Three minutes into the discussion of his piece, a classmate, a gentle linebacker with a south Virginia twang, grunted.

“You ain’t brilliant just because you write something that don’t make sense!”

The author of the piece had entered the class triumphantly impressed by his own ingenuity, and left slicing us with his side-eye.

I often wonder what became of the dictionary poet.  I imagine him standing in front of a Berkeley classroom challenging his MFA students to push the envelope by shouting, “Don’t be afraid to tick people off!”

He wasn’t afraid to try something different and share it.

I hope the dictionary poet took the feedback from the group and allowed it to nurture his style of poetry.  He was just a few steps away from those amazing writers who create things like reverse poetry; poems that are discouraging when read from the top line to bottom, but inspiring when read from bottom to top.  It’s shocking that they make complete sense when read either way.  Dictionary Poet was on to something.  He wanted to create a poem that could be read in any order.

Professor Giovanni encouraged his effort and also encouraged him to consider the class’s feedback.

Without feedback and critique, we creatives will race into the Avant-Garde, slashing and splattering to our heart’s content.  But people grew tired of that.  They lost interest in bizarre Spam sculptures sprinkled with Fruit Loops and Pepto-Bismol.  They grew weary of perplexing prose and pointless poetry.

People don’t mind being shocked or forced to consider a new perspective, but nonsense is different. But was Dictionary Poet’s concept nonsense?

As I consider my own creativity, everyone doesn’t get me.  My sense of humor can be delightfully dark and complicated, my view of the world as a Christian, therapist, creative, black woman is off-putting to some and just nonsense to others.  But, I am finding my tribe.  People who care enough about my art to tell me what they think.  I love finding out why my art doesn’t resonate, as much as I enjoy positive feedback.

I want to grow as a creative.  A friend once told me that she was annoyed after reading a story I wrote about my ex.  I soothed my insecurities and opened my heart to her reaction.

“Why?” I asked.

“You’re intelligent and attractive.  Why!?” she said.

I danced with excitement.  That was exactly the emotional charge I sought to evoke in my readers.  I was on the right track; her annoyance was shaping me as a writer.

I have studied and written enough to be confident in my writing ability.  I am a writer.  I will become better by hearing praise in addition to hearing the annoyance.  Or, as the Dictionary Poetry likely called it, the tick-off.  I welcome it.

I hope it’s okay to say tick-off.  Oh, who the H-E-double-hockey-sticks cares.

Your turn:

What creation can you fearlessly release?

Who can you tick off this week?

It Really Is Your Parent’s Fault

I’m fond of reassuring my therapy clients that all of their problems are their parent’s fault.  I’m the guide, they make the discovery.

My mother’s constant criticism made me think I can’t do anything right.
My father’s workaholism taught me that people will abandon me.
My mother’s abusive relationships lead me to see the world as unsafe.
My father never cried so I assumed men shouldn’t have feelings.

It’s what they tell themselves.  The gist of it all:

I’m a failure
I’m unloveable
My needs don’t matter
I’m defective

As children, we learn negative messages that the world reinforces.  But there’s hope.

Everyone has negative tapes or scripts running, but lots of people learn to rewrite them.  Lectures, podcasts, self-help books, the Bible or therapy.  I have seen miraculous recovery from those horrible things we tell ourselves.  As a CBT therapist, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides a wonderful kit of tools to help people spot those destructive messages and do an extensive rewrite.

But what about the good stuff?  Surely all the learned messages can’t be bad.

Last week, I stood in the middle of my kitchen singing at the top of my lungs.  The acoustics are terrific.  I saw two scenes that gave me a deeper understanding of my passions.

  1. My father in his Lieutenant Colonel’s uniform; both hands on the steering wheel of his 1978  powder blue Cadillac DeVille.  Dad driving that boat down the highway and mom rolling her eyes, her head collapsing into the white leather headrest.

Dad would start, then I would join, singing as loud as I could.

Life is a Broadway muuuu-si-cal!

Singing about

Things that are

beau-ti-ful

From the top!

Dad got me…he understood me.  In my world, life could be belted and choreographed.  It should be.  I saw rhythms in raindrops and blues in brussel sprouts.  All of life is “one singular sensation.”  My father gave me the freedom to live life as a glorious toe-tapping production.

I’m a steering-wheel belter and it’s my dad’s fault.

  1. Sure, mom rolled her eyes in the powder blue Caddy, but she was first in line for every top-notch production on the DC theatre scene.  I grew up in the Kennedy Center, Warner Theatre, Wolf Trapp, Ford, Lincoln, even the Little Theatre.

My father didn’t like musicals.  He’d sing them, but he would get bored of sitting through them.  So mom, my twin and I jumped in the Caddy and hit the highway.

The Wiz
The Nutcracker
Bubbling Brown Sugar
Guys and Dolls
Fiddler on the Roof
Hello, Dolly
Annie
O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!

Okay.

Mom loved concerts too. RnB, gospel, jazz, blues.  She had the most amazing 8-track compilations.  Though tone-death, mom loved singing along with the legends from center front orchestra seats.

Patti Labelle
Diana Ross
Four Tops
Stephanie Mills
Rod Stewart
Luther Vandross
Prince

Mom’s motivation may have been to reduce the loneliness of being a mother of twins with a husband who traveled 25% the year.  To me, it seemed a win-win.  For a few hours, mom wasn’t lonely, and I had a front seat in the grand university of theatre.

I love theatre and it’s my mother’s fault.

~Pam

 

Your turn:

What are the scripts you can rewrite?  Who nurtured your creativity?  What are your creative journey memories?

Wear the Ruby

I often find myself staring at my hands. I love tracing the faint green veins from my wrist bone down to my fingers. I admire the thin layer of golden brown skin. Decades of strangers commenting that I have the hands of a pianist lead me to teach myself to play.

When I type, I see my mother. She brought Mac computers to T.C. Williams High School in the 80’s. Remember the Titans? She spent hours learning how to set up the components, program, and add memory. The thing took up half the room and she was brilliant, typing over 80 words per minute. As I tap out letters, I think of mom.
Perched on her right index finger, a marble-sized ruby atop a gold band. I loved watching the ruby bob up and down as mom pecked out pages and pages on her keyboard. I had never seen a gem that big and never seen hands so glorious.

When mom died fifteen years ago, I inherited her ring. I admired it through the sealed ziplock baggie, then locked it away in my safe.
Last year, I took it out of the bag and put it on my finger. I admired it for three minutes, then sealed it up again.

Why?

I’ll break it.
It’s too special.
I can’t wear mom’s ring.

Why not?

Why have I locked mom’s ring away for fifteen years? Why don’t I call it my ring?

My thinking about this is wacky but familiar. Don’t I do the same thing with my writing? I have crafted beautiful stories, plucked out glorious songs, and written a draft of a book, a one-woman show and two musicals. I have a shelf stacked with folders of lovely short stories. Despite several fellow writers telling me it’s time to publish, I keep my gems locked away.
I’m protecting them. They’re not quite polished enough. I can’t find the right place for them.

For what?

A ring is a ring and a story is a story. Both are meant to be shown. Showcased.

I’m wearing the ring now. Tomorrow, I’ll submit a story for publication.

 

Your turn:
What creations have you locked away?

What gem are you willing to release to the world?