What’s in Between the Dash? /Do it Your Way

Francis Sinatra- “My Way”

Today’s experience was unique! I was very frustrated at having to just see a bright yellow screen with no photo of myself in the Google Hangout. If online is challenging, online without seeing faces is extremely annoying. I was a bit angry at Apple (such a finicky laptop for me). I am following a friend’s crucial advice, breaking down and buying a PC (sorry Mac people, it’s not you, it’s me).

The writing exercises are always so centering. I associate things that calm and center my thoughts with the color blue. I feel that sometimes we beat ourselves up if we have not produced work. Dr. Zamora reminds us that introspection as well as marveling at every-day things are great. You can’t see it today but my bracelets are sky-blue. I saw the depth of the hue in one of the bracelets, which has specks of white in it. An ordinary stretch bracelet, no big deal right? I guess that is the thing that goes hand and hand with this pandemic. Appreciating small things…the taste of a clementine, the texture of a crisp apple, fluttering leaves. I used to be too busy to notice such things. I think many of us were. I think that being more grateful will be stay with me. Imagine, something great coming from something horrific as this pandemic? WOW!

The exercise about tweeting about something that brings us joy was very eye-opening. Dr. Zamora does everything with extreme intention. There are no exercises that she gives us that are superfluous. Many posted or referenced family. In my life, my sister’s children (also my Godchildren) bring me immense joy. There is a bond there that no one can break. They make my heart soar. Let’s not wax poetic about motherhood or caretaking. It is not for everyone. This retreat has made me more willing to share things, like a flower that slowly unfurls. So here it is: I am an anxious person; when the kids were babies and even sometimes (to their embarrassment) in their teens (the oldest is 19, middle is 15, youngest is 11), I was overwhelmed with fear. This is similar to Linda’s experience, which she so candidly shared last week. I choose not to be a parent though. Even now that they are older, I am extremely overprotective. My sister has to give me a cue to be more relaxed. If they are sick, I become rife with worry. My sister takes things in stride; she has been a rock in my life. She knows when a cough is serious and when it is just a passing thing. I panic (even now). I start to ask numerous annoying questions. I immediately make tea with lemon. I ask my sister if she should take them to a doctor.

My sister was like a second mother to me when I was little. Plus, she always knew she wanted to have children. For me, it was a passing thought and not a priority. I used to be very self-conscious about people’s opinions. Many people have told me in the past that all women must feel maternal stirrings for their own children (whether that is their biological children or adopted kids). It is part of being a woman. Men have told me this. Excuse me? We are all different; let us enjoy beauty in diversity! Now, I am very open about it (I just don’t like to be public on it on Social Media).

Being a parent is difficult; I see that. However, it is my Godchildren that give me peace. I think of them and I am instantly calmed, transported to a clear blue sky (It is only in their presence, that I become the helicopter aunt; I am better though, though not cured). They are beautiful, special people. They pride I have in them makes my heart swell.

Ok what does it have to do with today? Well, I noticed many people posted photos of or about family members. This reminds me how much people are vital to our life. I consider those in the M.A. program to be “my people” in an important way. I found my tribe. What a blessing!

Today was about finding groups with common sensibilities and values, groups that share a purpose as Dr. Zamora states. Today was much more of a sharing day rather than a writing day. However, I revised my outline for thesis and received some advice that I need to do some serious thinking about cutting things down. I received some good advice from a professor about condensing ideas for my memoir in 5 sentences. I am going to work on this.

Getting back to talking, out of the clear blue, I forgot to sign out of the hangout. What happens? At approximately 11AM, I hear a voice! It’s female. I look. It is Kefah! We have a lovely conversation about social justice, cancel culture, empathy and listening to people’s stories. WOW, I can’t wait for her work to come out. It is going to be good. I then spoke to a friend about how I was brought up. It is all food for my memoir.

Then, the best thing happened. I spoke to Señor Bruce Zehnle who taught me Spanish at Union Catholic in Scotch Plains, NJ. I had emailed him in the middle of the night. Thank you insomniac theater. You are always open! I had to tell him about my excitement about the program. He was a big part of my M.A. journey, because he was counseling me about my initial ambition of getting an M.A. in English literature. He is a wonderful sounding board and he is so supportive. Dr. Zamora knows this, but let’s just say I sometimes get very effusive in emails in the middle of the night! I had to tell Señor about the work I was doing. I had to get his feedback. I had to share my joy about moving forward through fear and anxiety and just doing something even if you STILL feel trepidatious! You can either fold or Forget Everything and Rise! I choose to do the latter, with all of my anxieties, insecurities and hangups! We aren’t perfect people. Just as my memoir is a work in progress, so is my journey. As I long as I do things with integrity and zeal, I will be fine.

Then Señor said something powerful, it’s all in what’s in between the dash. Que dices Señor? No entiendo. Me puedes explicarlo? Si! We are born in Year X, we die in year Y. On our tombstones it reads born Date X (birth day)- Year Y (year of death). This is not a morbid thought. It is a powerful one. It is amazing. I am carpe dieming it with no more excuses. He meant make the most of your life, do what you love! I am a writer. I will be a published author. I am reminded by Meagan T. Mentor’s affirmations as I say this. Words have power. What is in our minds have power. If we constantly succumb to doubt, we drown. It is ok to be fearful. But take whatever talents you have and run with it!

It has been joyful to share my journey with Señor Zehnle. I am also really happy that he is proud of me! He is an icon. Look him up. He taught Spanish in a way that no one else I have seen taught Spanish. An innovator. A trailblazer. In my time there, he used to use hand puppets to teach. He also used to run up and down the aisles of class and shout MAJORRRR TEST. He also made us engage in creative projects. He took us to NYC to see a Flamenco show and to eat dinner at a Spanish restaurant. One rule, no ordering in English. We rose to excellence, because he held us to that standard. He did not underestimate our abilities. I love teachers who do that. It is an ART. Not all can do this! He also held us accountable.

I will be continuing to work on my chapter and he is excited to see it. Today was a day of technological failures, writing, excitement, some laughter, some sarcasm, zeal, and deep encouragement. That’s life that’s what all the people say…..(Sinatra). Today I choose to be riding high in [June]. Señor Zehnle referenced Sinatra. Do it your way!

Day 5: Taking Time to Retreat

The Paradise Papers and the morality of tax avoidance – Creative Deduction

 

Dear Father Time ( or Father Saturn),

Good afternoon. My name is Meagan but you probably had an idea about that. How are things in your realm? I hope all is well or at least as well as can be. Since this is my first time writing to you,  I’m not entirely sure how to share my thoughts. So I’ll keep it semi-simple.

You are obviously not a person yet I consider you a being with a spirit. Does that make sense to you? For example, your friend, Miss Wind is notably ‘air’. But there are times when she’s so strong that it feels like her hand is moving me along.

There are many qualities I appreciate about you. Your spiritual presence reminds me of a snail and a butterfly. The snail is about slowing down and being more appreciative of the moment (process). The butterfly is essential for change and transformation. You have a subtle way of sharing your messages with us and it’s beautiful. Unfortunately, the world is going through its own version of catharsis. Some people may describe it differently but to me  that’s it. We’re home due to COVID and sure it’s driving us all a little bananas. I found humour in barely remembering the day of the week, month or time of day. You made things go by fast on the outside but slower inside.

I wonder if anyone ever stopped to consider or question it? The news demands us to stay in for safety reasons but you pushed us to take time with ourselves and our loved ones. Although some people weren’t as fortunate as others to be with loved ones, people still found a way to be creative. I’d be lying if I say I was ok with being home with family all the time. After a time, there were moments when it felt like my family was multiplying and surrounding me but I eventually realised I needed to step away and breathe. Now things are ever-so-slowly trying to return to what was once considered normal.

I thank the heavens for presenting me with the opportunity to take this course during this time. You being you, somehow spiritually graced my path with your presence. Today’s prompt asked us about what we learned last week. Soon after I wrote my response, I looked up and read two quotes in my room,

Take time to touch each moment with love.

Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Thank you Father Time. For with you, I am learning to take my time and notice more of my strengths. The goal isn’t to ignore or runaway from my weaknesses but to make life an adventure and approach these weaknesses with careful positivity. Obviously, I know it is easier said than done but I will try and that’s what counts.When I taught Pre-K & K, one of class rules was to “Try your best.” My students thought there was some sort of catch but there wasn’t. In a new school year, making new friends, having a new teacher, we all have our own expectations and we will all make mistakes. If we help to prevent and/or learn from our mistakes and each other then it’s proof we are trying our best. So Father Time, it’s only right that I practice what I preach.

You are guiding me through a slower approach to confront, accept and recognize qualities that I chose to ignore or have not acknowledge yet.

It also brings me joy to listen to my fellow retreaters and their diverse creative souls. It’s amazing how we are all different yet we share a passion for words, feelings, thoughts and releasing it all.

I began this retreat admitting to the difficulty in the process of inhaling to exhale. Dr. Zamora, once again with her wise experiential advice, did shed light on having to slow down and be mindful. Some may need to more than others. The best part is that there isn’t a limit to being mindful. Just by me staring out the window is time that you provided for me to inhale and exhale.

Knowing this, I aim to approach this last week with more openness in my heart to actually focus on project’s message.

Though I am not perfect, time has helped me realise that perfection is not only overrated but it’s not anywhere near my cup of tea. If being unique is my niche that I will stand out simply being me.

It takes time to heal. it takes time to grow. It also takes time to tell a story. Therefore I choose to use you to the full extent, Father Time, to be more in the moment and take my time to enjoy the retreat. Thank you!

 

Your friend and time user,

Meagan

Quote on Time | Time quotes, Words quotes, Meaningful quotes   Best Quotes About Time: Inspiring, Wise and Encouraging

Day 5: Taking Time to Retreat

The Paradise Papers and the morality of tax avoidance – Creative Deduction

 

Dear Father Time ( or Father Saturn),

Good afternoon. My name is Meagan but you probably had an idea about that. How are things in your realm? I hope all is well or at least as well as can be. Since this is my first time writing to you,  I’m not entirely sure how to share my thoughts. So I’ll keep it semi-simple.

You are obviously not a person yet I consider you a being with a spirit. Does that make sense to you? For example, your friend, Miss Wind is notably ‘air’. But there are times when she’s so strong that it feels like her hand is moving me along.

There are many qualities I appreciate about you. Your spiritual presence reminds me of a snail and a butterfly. The snail is about slowing down and being more appreciative of the moment (process). The butterfly is essential for change and transformation. You have a subtle way of sharing your messages with us and it’s beautiful. Unfortunately, the world is going through its own version of catharsis. Some people may describe it differently but to me  that’s it. We’re home due to COVID and sure it’s driving us all a little bananas. I found humour in barely remembering the day of the week, month or time of day. You made things go by fast on the outside but slower inside.

I wonder if anyone ever stopped to consider or question it? The news demands us to stay in for safety reasons but you pushed us to take time with ourselves and our loved ones. Although some people weren’t as fortunate as others to be with loved ones, people still found a way to be creative. I’d be lying if I say I was ok with being home with family all the time. After a time, there were moments when it felt like my family was multiplying and surrounding me but I eventually realised I needed to step away and breathe. Now things are ever-so-slowly trying to return to what was once considered normal.

I thank the heavens for presenting me with the opportunity to take this course during this time. You being you, somehow spiritually graced my path with your presence. Today’s prompt asked us about what we learned last week. Soon after I wrote my response, I looked up and read two quotes in my room,

Take time to touch each moment with love.

Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Thank you Father Time. For with you, I am learning to take my time and notice more of my strengths. The goal isn’t to ignore or runaway from my weaknesses but to make life an adventure and approach these weaknesses with careful positivity. Obviously, I know it is easier said than done but I will try and that’s what counts.When I taught Pre-K & K, one of class rules was to “Try your best.” My students thought there was some sort of catch but there wasn’t. In a new school year, making new friends, having a new teacher, we all have our own expectations and we will all make mistakes. If we help to prevent and/or learn from our mistakes and each other then it’s proof we are trying our best. So Father Time, it’s only right that I practice what I preach.

You are guiding me through a slower approach to confront, accept and recognize qualities that I chose to ignore or have not acknowledge yet.

It also brings me joy to listen to my fellow retreaters and their diverse creative souls. It’s amazing how we are all different yet we share a passion for words, feelings, thoughts and releasing it all.

I began this retreat admitting to the difficulty in the process of inhaling to exhale. Dr. Zamora, once again with her wise experiential advice, did shed light on having to slow down and be mindful. Some may need to more than others. The best part is that there isn’t a limit to being mindful. Just by me staring out the window is time that you provided for me to inhale and exhale.

Knowing this, I aim to approach this last week with more openness in my heart to actually focus on project’s message.

Though I am not perfect, time has helped me realise that perfection is not only overrated but it’s not anywhere near my cup of tea. If being unique is my niche that I will stand out simply being me.

It takes time to heal. it takes time to grow. It also takes time to tell a story. Therefore I choose to use you to the full extent, Father Time, to be more in the moment and take my time to enjoy the retreat. Thank you!

 

Your friend and time user,

Meagan

Quote on Time | Time quotes, Words quotes, Meaningful quotes   Best Quotes About Time: Inspiring, Wise and Encouraging

Writer’s Retreat Day 5

We were talking about structure this morning, and how we need to make more realistic goals for ourselves, and if we meet that goal and then some, that would be a good day. I really needed to hear that. I told myself last Thursday that I would find time to write this weekend, which was super unrealistic because my cousins came over Friday. The weekend consisted of good food, great conversation, and lots of booze, of course, and you know when alcohol is involved, the drama is not far from it. So when the hangovers wore off, and we finally awoke, we reminisced all day Saturday and went to the beach on Sunday. All while, I felt a sense of guilt for my not doing what I should have been doing. But honestly, I had major writer’s block last week, and just going away from the writing and not thinking about it 24/7 was refreshing. Today I feel like I’m on a roll with my project, so I’m going to keep this blog short and sweet to go work on my project!

Writer’s Retreat Day 5

We were talking about structure this morning, and how we need to make more realistic goals for ourselves, and if we meet that goal and then some, that would be a good day. I really needed to hear that. I told myself last Thursday that I would find time to write this weekend, which was super unrealistic because my cousins came over Friday. The weekend consisted of good food, great conversation, and lots of booze, of course, and you know when alcohol is involved, the drama is not far from it. So when the hangovers wore off, and we finally awoke, we reminisced all day Saturday and went to the beach on Sunday. All while, I felt a sense of guilt for my not doing what I should have been doing. But honestly, I had major writer’s block last week, and just going away from the writing and not thinking about it 24/7 was refreshing. Today I feel like I’m on a roll with my project, so I’m going to keep this blog short and sweet to go work on my project!

Day 5 Reflections…

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I love the above quote. It resonates with me because I believe that no matter what we work on or create whether it be through art or through our writing, it’s never fully finished. Is it? I think our projects are always evolving and we have the opportunity to go back and revise it and make it anew. I think this quote above also applies to life itself. Our are life stories ever finished? I would like to think of myself as a great work of art, which most definitely isn’t near anywhere finished. I suppose so when we pass on, but in the midst of our lives we are constantly going through rebirths and reincarnations of ourselves. Different stages in our lives require certain adjustments to be made and new ways of connecting to ourselves and the world around us. If I look back on my 20’s ( total hot mess) I’m a completely different woman than I am today pushing almost 40 (gasp). Well not 100% different, I’m still Nives, a mix of hot mess and almost kinda getting it. I just know a lot more crap then I did back then, although even today I still mess up and make some of the same mistakes but now I’m able to forgive myself more easily. So even in terms of that I realize my life story is never really finished and it will continue on and manifest itself in different ways. One day my life story ultimately will be finished, that’s inevitable, nothing lasts forever. But I hope I leave behind a little bit of myself that reflects kindness, compassion, love and strength.

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I’ll now share some of my write for the day insights like I normally do in each of my blog posts. What is important to me and my writing process as we begin week 2? For me the most important thing is building up enough courage to share excerpts of my deeply personal, and at times troubling memoir: The Seashell. In some ways I wish I wrote a fictional tale it would make this process of sharing less nerve wracking. But it forces me out of my comfort zone and if I learned anything through my battles is that the uncomfortable times, the most harrowing of times, is what gives you real power and what makes you become more resilient and able to handle what life throws at you. I had to learn to sit with my discomfort, not fight it, but to SURRENDER to my anxiety, pain, confusion and to my desperation. I learned this lesson the hard way. Through many challenges, many stumbles, falls and setbacks over the last twenty years. This idea of SURRENDER is one of the hardest but most important lessons I’ve learned in my life so far on my turbulent journey to finding peace, contentment and most of all stability.

I wanted to close by talking about the idea of revision. I will be working on revising and editing my memoir during this second and final week of the retreat. Along with listening to your insights and ideas that can help my story really come to life. Kiese Laymon wrote a touching memoir entitled: Heavy. We read this in our creative non fiction course in the spring. One of the themes throughout the memoir was this idea of revision. He emphasized the importance of it, not just in the literary world but in our own lives. He states: “Just because something is published doesn’t mean it’s finished.” He goes on to articulate how we can learn to revise our lives and in the process learn from our past mistakes. He believes revision is a constant state that we are in throughout our lives. His memoir and in particular the idea of revision spoke to my heart and soul. I may not be there just yet, wherever there is. I haven’t reached the pinnacle, or that allusive thing we are all searching and grasping for in life. But I’m working on it, and working on myself in the process, giving it all I got. Trying to put one foot in front of the other and take it day by day. I pray I ultimately end up somewhere lovely. Somewhere that I can finally look back on my life story and smile, exhale deeply, while patting myself on the back. Xo.

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