You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2014.

My 10-year-old nephew visited this week, always a joyful treat.  One day we hung out at Chelsea Piers, and after playing some sports, we walked along the Hudson River.  I, as I’m prone to do, started taking photographs.  He reached out to my phone and said, “Can I take a picture?”

Pointing straight at the sun, he hit the shutter.  One snap and he was done.

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I love that somehow we all instinctively gravitate towards the light, even at an early age.  I love to be among light chasers.

Ideas can be revolutionary.

I was reminded of this when my friend Sandy emailed me yesterday.  She’d been waiting in a doctor’s office and saw this note on the seat next to her:

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The note made her think of me, which brings me such joy.  I’ve been seeing signs of love for almost a year now—today my walk through Central Park was basically a parade of love—and have been so moved by it that I’m always giddy to show a sampling of it to you.  The fact that she thought of me affirms the idea that love is contagious.  Love can spread like a wildfire, illuminating everything in its path.

What if all of us committed ourselves to love this week?  What if we affirmed that commitment with random acts of love?  Kindness doesn’t have to be grand—it can be as simple as a smile.

How will you spread love this week?  I’d love for you to share below.

xo, with goodness and grace.

My name is Dena, and I’m a writer.

There, I said it.

While I’ve always written, I haven’t always had the courage to come right out and say that I’m a writer. I mean, that’s for people who have been published, who’ve been on the New York Times best-seller list, who can visit their work in a bookstore. Right?

When my friend Katie Devine of the fabulous blog Confessions of An Imperfect Life invited me to join a blog hop, which entailed answering questions on my writing life, I started to think about myself a little differently. And as I began to craft answers to those questions, I realized that I actually take my writing very seriously.

As I’ve read the posts of other writers participating in the blog hop, I’ve seen a familiar theme—there’s a deep wariness to own up to our literary personalities. There’s an unworthiness in claiming what we’ve known for most of our lives. There is embarrassment in declaring the words to the world.

Maybe doubt is part of the writer’s journey.  Maybe it exists to prove what you are made of—and to affirm you actually have something to say.

I’ve heard it said that the words “I am” are your calling cards in the world, and the words that you choose to put after them are how you show up in the world. Too often we say things like, I am tired or I am stupid or I am broke. So, that’s who we become. I’ve written before that I selected the words “I am love” with deliberation as my mantra of sorts, because there is no other noble thing than to be the spreader of love. Now, I can claim a new “I am” mantra. I can say the thing that I’ve always known but have been hesitant to say.

I am a writer.

An insight into my writing life are in my answers to the questions Katie asked of me.  I’ve posted them below.

And, since this blog hop is also about discovering new writers, check out Katie’s work, as well as a blog from my brother Marc—who is a budding writer himself. Learn about them both at the end of this post.

 

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1) What am I working on/writing?

This year on the blog I’m writing a “Goodness of the Week” post every Sunday. The idea was to get myself in the habit of posting every week, as well as not to lose sight of what moved me each day, no matter how small. It forces me to keep my eyes open in search of my favorite moments of the day.

Outside of the blog I’m working on a couple of projects. One is a series of essays; the other, a work of fiction. Those characters have been with me for the better part of 10 years. Sometimes they move in with me and chat me up all day—a constant, chatty dialogue. And sometimes they go silent, as if they’re away on a long vacation. My goal is to maintain a steady enough conversation every morning to get their stories down on paper.

I find that once I start talking about the actual content, I stop writing, so I try to keep it all in my head and my heart so the words keep simmering like a good soup. And, hopefully the actual work will get better the longer I let the ideas have a chance to blend together.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

There are so many amazing writers out in the world, and the thing that makes everyone different is their own personal experience. Put two writers in a room with the same set of circumstances and they will come up with very different tales of what happened based on how they view the world. I’m a girl who moved around a lot when I was younger and had the good fortune to live on both coasts, so my understanding of the world is uniquely me—and very different than someone who lived in the same town her entire life. Spending a good part of my teenage years in California gifted me with a sunny outlook that is a welcome contrast to the sometimes cranky New Yorker side of me. Whatever I’m writing, I’m always bringing those dueling points of view to the page.

3) Why do I write what I do?

My intention when I started the blog was to focus on the good things in life, which I know sounds lofty and trite. But I had been in a funk and I simply wanted to figure out how to snap myself out of it. It didn’t really work like that, but what did begin to happen was I started to look for something good in each day, even if it was the teensiest glimmer of happiness. I discovered there really is something worthy of my attention before each sunset and after every moonrise.

Now I write not just to search for the good, but also to find my way through life. Now I write because I must. Ideas wrap themselves in my head and I have to figure out what they mean. My best way to find the meaning is to write them down. If I don’t, I go a little bit mad. The words want to see the daylight and breathe in the fresh air. And if they don’t, something feels a little unsettled in my soul. So, I need to let the words out to play when they are scratching at the screen door.

4) How does my writing process work?

It’s different with each piece. Sometimes the words just need to come out, and they fall onto the page with such a force it surprises me. Other times it’s a struggle to find the words to express what I want to say, if I even have an idea of what it is I want to write. These are the times when I find my way just by writing fragments of thoughts. And I keep at it. Eventually the thoughts string together into one coherent theme. Somehow, the words lead me where I need to go, and sometimes it’s a place I didn’t know I needed to visit. But I guess that’s a good metaphor for life, isn’t it?

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To see Katie’s answers, check out her blog here.

And, to pay it forward, I’ve invited my brother Marc to shed some light into why he started his blog – check it out next week here.

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Katie Devine is a writer who is leaving the corporate world behind to feed her wanderlust and travel the world. She anticipates many humbling life lessons along the way, which she will chronicle on her blog, Confessions of An Imperfect Life. Her work has appeared on sites including Thought Catalog, XOJane, The Manifest-Station, MindBodyGreen, Medium and Rebelle Society. Her first novel will be available at some point after she begins writing it.

When she’s not on a plane, you can find Katie taking endless Instagram pictures of sunsets at home in Santa Monica, CA. Connect with her on FB or Twitter.

WEBSITE LINK:  http://confessionsofanimperfectlife.com/

TWITTER LINK: https://twitter.com/katiejdevine

FB LINK: https://www.facebook.com/katiedevinewriter

INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/katiejdevine

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Marc Young is a native New Yorker who has lived the last twelve years in Columbia, MD with his wife and son. Marc has been a Human Resources professional for the last twenty years but has recently discovered his talent for blogging about his struggles with Parkinson’s disease.

Marc’s greatest passion is baseball, a love that he has had since discovering Reggie Jackson and the Yankees in 1977. He is also a loyal New York Giants fan, and has a love for fine cigars.

Connect with him on Twitter.

WEBSITE LINK: http://marcayoung.blogspot.com

TWITTER LINK: https://twitter.com/ReginaldBDogg

 

Every now and then there are moments so sweet no words can rightly capture the experience.

But I’ll try to find them.

On Monday, my pregnant friend Judy and I sat on a park bench, two women just hanging out.  We’d planned to meet, in search of food, our usual mission. Hoping to score one of the special burgers created in celebration of the Shake Shack’s 10 year anniversary, we had been disappointed to hear earlier in the day that they were going to sell out long before we would arrive.

After declaring she really just wanted dessert for dinner—even with pregnancy food restrictions, she’s still a fun eating partner—we caught up over Nutella and hazelnut gelato.  (Is there any other perfect dinner?)  Sitting in Madison Square Park, we squealed over squirrels that got a little too close, laughed about silly things, and gossiped about the people we know.

Then, she took my hand in hers and draped it over her belly, swollen with the growing baby.

I’m going to keep your hand here until you feel the baby kick, she said.

I’d never held onto a pregnant belly before.  It’s so personal, so intimate an act. Though we’ve known each other for 10 years and I easily show up for her as my full self—rarer and more challenging than I’d like to admit—this was an unexpected indication of the depth of our friendship.  It was an affirmation that said, You know this life that is growing inside me?  I want you to experience it, too.  

We stayed like that, her hand over mine, for at least 10 minutes.  I felt a fast heartbeat—we didn’t know if that was hers or the baby’s—and a flutter here and tiny movement there.

And then came the kick.  It wasn’t a dramatic force as I’d always imagined, but it filled me with awe.  It startled me.  It made me giddy.  It made me shriek, That was awesome!!  There it was, moving, growing, thriving, this new vibrant being we’ll get to meet in a few months.

And then we went about our evening as if that was the most normal thing in the world.

That is life.

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Goodness this week was very simple.  Blessed with a weekend of beautiful summer-like weather for a three-day stretch, it felt good to be outdoors.

I found myself in my neighborhood park, book in hand and stretched out on a bench.  Squirrels munching on acorns stopped and stared, then scurried away in search of food.  Children pushed shopping carts, running and stopping, chasing pigeons while squealing with delight.

These are the weekend days I long for when weekdays get crammed with too many things.

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Sometimes a simple carefree day is exactly what is needed—to lean back, close my eyes and say “ahhhh” as the wind blows softly on my face.

New Yorkers are romantics.  Underneath the hurried and sometimes gruff demeanor lies a deep appreciation for beauty and grace.

A perfect example is how so many New Yorkers flocked to see the sun setting on the west side of the city this week.  It shouldn’t be funny to me, but year after year it is, how at this time every year people take to the streets for Manhattanhenge, a phenomenon where the sun sets exactly on the grid of the city’s crosstown streets. People literally fling themselves into the middle of the roads, dodging traffic, so they can capture a photo of the centered sun.

Many of us live these insular lives in New York, ones where we sit in tiny apartments, not knowing our neighbors, far removed from the movement of life down on the streets below our windows. We can live these lives where the only people we see are the delivery men who bring us takeout meals because we are often too busy and frazzled to make our own food.

So it’s beautiful that so many left their apartments to sit and wait for an hour or two in anticipation of the most beautiful sunset of the year.

It makes me smile that a mass hysteria of sorts ensues because people want to see beauty.  It’s humbling to see such openness to receiving the light.

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It’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?  May your week be filled with beauty and light.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

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