Knowing one truth–
Knowing one truth–
It’s easy to look back and make my life seem so worth it. At the same time it’s just as easy to claim all of my dreams to come true in the new year. In fact it is expected of me.
Is it better to look back or look forward?
A few people in my life struggle to see me in the present because they are stuck seeing me as I was in the past. My dad, for example, will forever see me as a twelve year old and as much as I’d like to change this, I respond to him ninety percent of the time as a teen instead of a thirty something. Annoying, but true.
What is it about the past that is so hard to let go off? Why I do look back in such celebratory ways? Just last week I forced my poor, tired friends to walk six avenues in New York just to have a look at my old apartment building which I didn’t even recognize right away once I got there. The thing about this time of the year is I always remember all the good and so easily erase the bad. And really it’s what I do with all experiences. Maybe like childbirth you are meant to forget the bad so that each year you can restart with the same amount of energy as last year.
Today I was forced to evaluate my writing here and this past year. It got me wondering about my boundaries online and in social media. How much of what I share is too much? What is really important? Is anything important at all? Why do I continue to post pictures on Facebook even after I acknowledge the filtered view they show of my life? Why is my account active? Why do I write here? Does anyone even care? Have I become so dependent on social media that sharing about my life has taken president over living it?
One thing I know for sure is why I started writing here as Dream2write on Color My Palate. One night, inspired by a friend’s courage, I started writing about my past. More specifically, my grandma who was the best cook I’ve ever known. I wrote about how her cooking is the reason for my foodie self today. Food is vital to my family’s livelihood. That night after finishing the post, I had this feeling of accomplishment for the first time as a writer. You see all my life I lived in the shadow of a greater writer one who wrote easily and intelligently. I never thought I would feel pride in my writing. I was so insecure. So this Friday night when I wrote my first post and had the feeling of pride, I wanted more of it–greedily. Thus it began–my blog, my story.
Is it important?
Maybe, sometimes, mostly to me.
Does it define me?
No, but it sure does help me understand my life and the decisions I make.
I learned to embrace my cheesy nature and let go of pretension. It happened first in rebellion, but here I learned to value my true nature. One that others may misinterpret as self-pitying or lengthy navel gazing. Well actually I guess I do both and am comfortable with it.
Eight years ago, I claimed my core value as an educator in my final essay: Reflection is the key to growing as a learner. Without looking back and evaluating where one comes from, she can’t become better. No fancy vocabulary, just simple truth.
So there, it’s my core value: navel gazing.
Do I let it over take my present life?
No, but I do let it inform the present. The good, bad, and ugly.
At the end of it, this blog has helped me to be less angry, less confused, less hurt, and more forgiving. Doing this in a public way may be controversial because not everything I write will be interpreted in the way it was intended. However, at the end of the day, that can happen with all writing. So I’m okay with that.
On social media, I declare my end of year ritual:
I close this year with gratitude, love, and forgiveness.
I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made–big and small. I hope to not repeat them next year, but if I do, I hope that my family and friends will forgive me again.
I’m grateful for the full life I live. One in which I have the freedom to do whatever I want and be exactly who I want.
Love– I love sometimes in ways that suffocate others; other times from afar; always with all my heart.
Yesterday, I went for my first swim in three months. It was in a shi-shi heated small pool. I slid in and found my rhythm faster than I have in the past. On my second lap watching the blue line under me, I began to feel the ease of moving through water. When did it get this easy? When did I become a swimmer who could swim and think at the same time? I remember a swimmer friend’s words: “It’s meditative,” she said last year, when I was just starting out. I laughed and said, “I haven’t found that yet.” And then, suddenly it was. Without warning, I have become a swimmer. The next thought caught me off guard: In my thirties, I have found my way to so many hobbies that I used to dream about as a kid. I always wanted to be a swimmer; a real swimmer and here I was just that. All through my teen years, every Sunday I watched figure skating, pining over when I’d get to learn how to skate. Then, for my thirtieth year of life, I got to take figure skating lessons at the same rink as Nancy Kerrigan! High school, college, and even grad school, I lived in an inferior world of writing. I really wanted to be good, but never felt confidence as a writer. Today, my life is full, if I only opened my eyes I could see it.
If only I could carry back the confidence and experience that I have gained today, I could rule the world–a friend of mine reminded me today.
Fear ruled my life for so long that I let go of so many of my dreams. I danced in a company–something I thought I wasn’t capable of and then allowed other people’s opinion of me to doubt my abilities. As an actress, I used many excuses to quit, but the main one was that I convinced myself that I didn’t have the talent for it. No one told little Dream2write that rejection is part of being an artist that your confidence and security in yourself must come from you first, not others. I placed so much value in others’ opinion of me that it crippled me. I wrote so many poems, but never saw any value them. I can count on one hand the number of essays liked by my college professors.
What changed? How did this insecure little girl finally become the fearless adult she is now; well semi-fearless?
Step One: I moved out of my parent’s home.
Step Two: I sought emotional support from multiple counselors.
Step Three: I joined a support group to heal.
Step Four: I dove off the cliff into a field of dreams.
Step Five: I posted my first blog entry.
I often question whether, this blog is of value to me as a writer or not. I wonder if it gets in the way of me working on the novel or my poetry. Then, I receive a notice in my email that I have a comment waiting to be read and am reminded that my writing is read by other writers. The writing here gives me the confidence, the energy, the drive to keep going as a writer. The stats remind me that I am part of a community of writers. It’s comforting to not this alone.
Participating in NaBloPoMo is one way to maintain my place here in the writing world. My writing teacher this past summer told us to take our time with our writing and asked us: “don’t you want to write the best novel ever?” She would call this blog total shit and maybe it is, but this shit allows me to heal regularly. It allows me to grow. It allows me be a part of something. It allows practice.
Ten years ago, had I heard my writing teacher’s opinion of my writing I would have quit like dancing and acting and piano and voice lessons. Now, I finally see myself as good, not good enough, but good as I am. Imperfect, swimmer, dancer, reader, artist, cook. Last year, right before I started NaBloPoMo, I wrote a post titled I am a writer, Am I a writer? It turns out, without warning, I have become a writer. It’s easy and lovely and meditative at times.
Student 1: “Ms. C, can I stay after with you; I failed a test and need to bring my grade up.”
Me: It’s Monday. I stay after on Wednesdays. I ain’t got time for that.
Student 2: “Ms. C When will we get our grades for our essays.” (That were turned in yesterday!)
Me: I ain’t got time for that.
Student 3: “Ms. C why can’t Photography Club meet every Monday?”
Me: I ain’t got time for that.
Student 4: “Ms. C, Can I turn in my assignment that was due three weeks ago?”
Me: Uh, No; I ain’t got time to grade that.
Student 5: “Ms. C, what can I do to bring my B to an A?”
Me: Nothing. That’s a mastery level grade. I ain’t got time for that.
Student 6: “Uh Ms. C, did you get the emails that I sent you over the weekend about why my work will be late again?”
Me: I ain’t got time to read your emails of the weekend. I have a life, a family, a home!
Student 7: “Dear Ms. C, I noticed I got a D on my first draft. Could you please send me the notes on that draft? Also can I meet with you before and after school three days this week to improve my grade?” (Truth: The draft was incomplete and ignored all expectations set forth in class for revisions and notes on revisions.)
Me: I ain’t got time for that. Complete your draft.
Student 8: “Dear Ms. C, I noticed you put in a Not Handed In on my Independent Reading Assignment 1. I know I did it and turned it in. Maybe you lost my work?”
Me: Dear student, Glad to hear from you! Check your binder for this assignment. I ain’t got time for that.
Student 9: ” Ms. C do you have a pencil and paper I can borrow?”
Me: Borrow? Are you going to give me back the paper that you took notes on so that I can keep it as a keepsake?
Next Day INT ELA Classroom
Me: Okay let’s get ready for our mini lesson today! Writers, today we are going to grow into–
Student 10: (Raises hands)
Student 10: “Can I go to the bathroom?”
Me: I ain’t got time for that!
Five years ago, I ate the best turkey of my life. We had moved to Boston for N’s residency. I was adjusting to the new–job, friends, roads. I was a little jealous of N because he had instant friends from being in school, while I was still trying to find friends at work. Halloween was coming and I had no plans. Just when I was about accept a night at home, N came home with a dinner invitation from his classmate and his wife. I went excited to make new friends.
After a short cocktail hour, we sat down to eat. I had no expectations for dinner. Afterward, I learned that was a mistake because our host was basically a chef on the side. We ate a refreshing arugula salad, then pasta–fresh and light–nothing like I’ve ever had before. Then, the main course: turkey. It arrived almost shredded in it’s own juices in a casserole dish. I hadn’t seen a turkey served like this before, and was so full from the first two courses that I wasn’t sure if I could eat anymore. I was told, well ordered to try it by our host and seriously glad I did.
This turkey was light filled with juice and insanely tender. The polar opposite of my first turkey. The first time I had turkey I thought it was bland, dry, and generally unappetizing. This turkey like I said was the absolute opposite. The layers of flavors built in was a mystery. I didn’t know how it was possible to roast a turkey with this much flavor and moisture.
To say this turkey changed my Thanksgiving dinners forever is a mild understatement. From that day on, I knew every turkey I make would be compared to M & E’s turkey served on Halloween of 2009. I was jealous that someone else had a better turkey recipe than I did and inspired to compete in my head in the best turkey ever contest. M & E were never informed of this competition, but every year, I judge mine based on their 2009 turkey. I get closer each year, but so far haven’t quite surpassed their version.
Today as I prep my brine and butter herb mix to stuff under the skin, I again begin by remembering that night during a time when I was so lonely and got to spend an evening with new friends.
Thanksgiving used to be about everyone else in my teen years. I cooked to bring my family, my parents together. I took responsibility for my brother, my mom, my cousin. Everyone came to me with their dark issues and loneliness and I was there to support them completely. I listened advised and was good at it. Additionally, it made me feel good about myself. I even thought I would end up being a psychologist when I grew up. Although, my profession is not far from psychologist, I am learning how responsible I feel for others’ happiness. I am aware of this trait and intellectually know that I can’t be responsible for other people’s happiness, but struggle to separate emotionally.
I used to joke that my mom’s love is the kind that smothers you to death. Then I realized mine is just like that. I remember going to every show of my brother’s band and support the shit out of them just because I didn’t want him to feel the lack of my parents’ support. As I settle into true adulthood, I navigate this trait with a bit more care. I love my people–friends and family–but do not have to sacrifice my sanity, my life, my health for their well being. It seems so easy and obvious a motto to live by, yet it challenges me daily. Each phone call I make to check on a friend, I wonder am I smothering? Where does that healthy line exist? As usual, I over analyze it to death.
Then, a day like today happens. One that allows me the clarity to make decisions as I please, when I please without one sense of responsibility. I can start whatever I want, when I want and it’s freeing for one day.
Here’s my Turkey Recipe:
Blend together 4 cloves of garlic, a 1/4 inch piece of ginger, 4 sprigs of rosemary and 8 sprigs of thyme (leaves only for the herbs) with a stick of butter until smooth. (Adjust all ingredients to your liking. You can’t go wrong! )
Brine the Turkey overnight in a lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary brine.
Stuff the garlic herb blend under the breast skin. Then, Salt and pepper the bird all over.
Roast in the oven in an Reynolds Oven Bag; stuff turkey with celery, lemon halves, onion, and carrot.
by the sun’s rays
peppermint essential oil
diving in to the new
by late mornings
the little mermaid
by the warm fireplace
glistening shadows on a bright autumn day
for a moment