Nurturing the Writer

 

Writers can nurture themselves. Seriously. They have special writer things that help them put words together to make cool sentences and paragraphs. ThoughtBubble

Yes, they can indulge in other, non-writerly stuff, too, because writers resemble regular people in most ways. But I’m talking about what they can do while they’re actually working.

Stretch, do chair yoga, watch a woodpecker perch on the maple outside, practice pranayama breathing, drink a glass of wine or cup of steaming green tea with honey, switch to a beanbag chair, eat the good chocolate (those sea salt caramels they’ve been keeping out of reach of the kids).

Sometimes, though, the best way to nurture yourself as a writer is to acknowledge that your eyes are dry because you haven’t blinked in three hours, that you have a screen-staring headache, that you’re repeating yourself and saying the same things, using identical words over and over, and none of the amazing ideas that are inside your head are reaching your keyboard.

Sometimes, the best thing a writer can do to nurture herself is to close her laptop and walk away.

And that is what I’m going to do today.

Writers Walk Away

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

“Bloggers from all over the world are coming together to talk about compassion, in one epic event on February 20, 2015.” I took part in this amazing online movement back in February and am pleased to be one of the many voices of #1000speak again. The birth of the project was here at 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion by Yvonne Spence.

For April, the #1000 Speak theme is Nurturing.

 

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The Places You’ll Go

 

I just returned from vacation during which I witnessed a lot of ugliness.

With all the talk about compassion saturating the blogosphere, I’m still wondering what world my children will live in. I don’t know if anything has changed. ThoughtBubble

I hope much has changed. I hope people who are compassionate have discovered they are not alone. I hope people who are not compassionate read something that helps them act with more kindness.

When I think of compassion, I think of all living things. Of all parts of the world. Of my friends and family.

And, yes, especially my own children.

Although my thoughts reach across the globe, I live here. With my children. While they are no more or less deserving of compassion than others, they are closer to me in all ways. (Also, I am a mother. Our lot can be a wildly protective one.)

As we celebrate Read Across America today, I look at my children’s copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. This book describes the world as wonderful and confusing and beautiful and scary. This is all true. But if there is more compassion, I will worry less about what places my children will go.

 

The Places You'll Go

Dr. Seuss Day

 

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Defining Compassion vs. Compassion in Action

 

I am inspired by all the bloggers who posted in support of compassion. It was fascinating to see the different ideas, anecdotes, and topics people wrote about. ThoughtBubble

My #1000speak post, about an experience I had a year ago, reminded me how many times I’ve brought my children to homeless shelters, safehouses, schools, and libraries to donate clothing, toiletries, and books. What, if anything, had they learned from this?

I decided to ask them what compassion meant.

Neither one of them could answer me. They shifted in their seats and looked at the wall and floor with their I-don’t-know-the-answer faces.

Gah! Really? “Think about it.”

My 10-yr-old said, “Uh…love?”

My 8-yr-old said, “Friendship. I think it’s how you feel about a friend.”

Hmm.

I asked them for an example of something compassionate.

My 10-yr-old said, “Helping someone with a math problem if they can’t do it.”

My 8-yr-old answered, “Giving someone a stuffed animal if they’re sick so they feel better.”

They started sharing ideas: donating to homeless shelters, hugging someone if they’re sad, bringing an animal to the vet if it’s hurt…

Both my kids struggled to define the word compassion, but they know how to be compassionate people.

 

Rainbow

You don’t need to be able to define compassion to be compassionate.

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

1000 Voices for Compassion

 

Mike greeted me in the parking lot of the homeless shelter. He shook my hand and thanked me for bringing supplies. “If you don’t mind me asking, who was in our house here?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Who stayed here? Your father? Brother?”

“Um…”

“It’s okay,” he smiled, “I was just curious.”

“No, it’s fine. I don’t know anyone who stayed here.”

“Oh.”

We started walking to my car. I’d been donating to other shelters for years but this was my first time at this house and I was thrown off by Mike’s questions. “Am I supposed to have a connection or contact or something? I didn’t know.”

He stopped. “You don’t know anyone who stayed here?”

“I really don’t.” My mom and 7-yr-old were in the car and I glanced toward the overloaded trunk and backseat. “I called ahead…I’m sorry.”

“We don’t,” Mike cleared his throat. “People usually give to the women and children’s houses. The men’s shelter doesn’t get many donations.”

“Well that’s…terrible. I mean it’s good that the other… We donate to shelters and safehouses, too. My mom made cute blankets for the kids…”

I was looking back and forth between Mike and the car, knowing my mother was going to wonder why I was standing in the freezing cold having a visibly uncomfortable conversation.

“May I?” He motioned toward the car.

“Yes. Sure.”

When we reached the car, Mike knocked on my mother’s window. She rolled it down, staring over his shoulder at me. I shrugged.

He introduced himself to her. He told her that she had done a beautiful job raising her children. He thanked my son for coming and asked if he could shake his hand. My son beamed.

“Okay,” Mike straightened up, “what can I help bring in?”

“Oh, um, everything in the trunk,” I picked up some bags of men’s hats, gloves, and scarves while he grabbed a few bags full of clothing. We continued carrying toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap, leaving them in front of the building, while I wrapped my brain around this exchange.

He unlocked the door and dumped the contents of the bags on a long table then spread everything out. “This way, the guys can take what they need when they come in,” he explained.

He picked up some sweatshirts and fleeces, “These are really nice.” He looked at me. “They’re new?” It wasn’t a question, really. The tags were on them and there were a lot of the same size, same color.

“Yes.”

His eyes filled up. He was quiet for a minute. He told me about how many of the men there were veterans. How many men had diabetes and couldn’t get help for it. Then he told me his story.

One about being here—not as staff director, but as a man who needed this place to survive.

“We get donations from men who used to stay here,” he continued, “or wives and kids of those men.” Then he asked me something that, at the time, I couldn’t answer. “Why are you doing this?”

I responded with a ridiculous, “I don’t know” followed up by “I just wanted to help”.

“Well, thank you. Thank you.”

We walked back out to the parking lot in silence.

As I got into the car, my son said, “He was nice. I’m glad we brought those things here.”

I cried.

 

This is what Google has to say about compassion:

com·pas·sion

noun: compassion

sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

I disagree. I don’t believe pity has a part in compassion. Concern, yes. Sympathy, yes. Not pity.

Compassion is an emotion that gives one the ability to empathize with another’s situation without having actually been there. Wanting to help someone though you might not be able to relate to what they are going through, is compassion. The proverbial putting yourself in someone else’s shoes creates concern, empathy, sympathy—things that help you understand the pain of another person. Put those shoes on. Walk awhile.

 

Path of Compassion

 

“Bloggers from all over the world are coming together to talk about compassion, in one epic event on February 20, 2015.” Read about #1000 Speak for Compassion. The birth of the project was here at 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion by Yvonne Spence. I am honored to be among the thousands of voices blogging for compassion today.

 

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