Writing, blocks and the woods

I went to the woods today, and I didn’t come out overwhelmed with inspiration.

Normally, I go in with a million thoughts swirling around in my grey matter, and come out with dirt stained pages of ideas, snippets, new directions for existing projects, lines that may fit places and just an overall clarity about life.

Today I went in without much of importance on my mind, and came out feeling kind of bleh.

It’s just been that kind of week, honestly.

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It’s still so beautiful, even if it didn’t clear my block.

I’m coming down off a crazy creative high. I rode the wave, got all of the things in my head out on paper, and now the wave has deposited me back on the shore with a lot of stuff to work through and not a lot of motivation to work through it.

I have pieces of poems stashed in random notebooks, some poems that right now are two, but are likely different drafts of the same piece. I have some I’ve literally cried over because I can’t get right. Some I’ve spilled beer on because I’m frustrated (and also clumsy).

This is the time when writing feels like work. When the words don’t come smoothly sailing out of my pen and on to paper. When I don’t feel like a creative genius. When I feel like everything that comes out sucks and is worthless.

I hate times like this.

It’s not even writer’s block, it’s…editor’s block? It’s a lack of motivation? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what it is. All I know is that it’s testing me.

Testing my resolve to make this work and make something of myself.

That’s why I went to the woods. It’s my happy place. The place I can usually find clarity and direction and all of the things I need to be successful.

Today I just discovered I’m really dehydrated, and that hiking three miles in direct sunlight with no shade was not my brightest idea. I miss my mountains terribly.

The trees in the woods I hiked in today valued their personal space too greatly. I didn’t feel enclosed in a comforting blanket of branches and leaves and Spanish moss. Today I felt exposed. I felt like anything I stopped on the trail to write down would be instantly out there in the universe not simply scrawled on a dirt-stained page of my notebook.

I have a strict no music rule when I go into the woods. I like to connect with myself, connect with nature, and let’s be honest….listen to know if any snakes/gators/bears/cougars might be trying to plan a sneak attack.

Anyways, today I didn’t even have thoughts swirling around in my head. I didn’t have anything I was overthinking about or anything to even get out. So I turned on the music to simply have something to occupy my brain other than when this steaming hot, seemingly never-ending hike would be over.

It was that kind of hike.

It sucked.

I’ve word vomited everything. I’ve said all that needs to be said so now it’s just working with it.

I don’t know how to do that. I’m good at the initial dump, and I love the catharsis that comes from that. Once it’s all out there? I’m not good at that. I’m not good at doing something about things, or in this context, polishing poems and other pieces.

It’s an interesting space to be in creatively. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work it still takes after I have everything down on paper. The projects I’m working on still have so far to go. It’s terrifying and exhausting.

The woods didn’t work for me today, but maybe that isn’t their job. Maybe I need to stop looking to so many outside things for motivation and validation in writing and probably a lot of other parts of my life, too.

But that’s a different story for a different time.

If anyone has any motivating tips, playlists, suggestions, etc., send them my way. I’m always open to suggestions!

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Finding happiness in the dark

Yesterday was a magical day.

It was one of those days I never wanted to end, where you just soak up every moment. I played in the woods and enjoyed some time away from the craziness of Orlando and drank good beer with a pretty fantastic person.

You ever meet someone who just…gets you? Where it immediately feels like you’ve known them forever? It doesn’t happen often, but it’s pretty incredible when it does.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining and we walked and walked and talked and talked, and it was amazing. It was one of those days that proved this was the right move for me. I’m appreciating where I am and who is in my life and all the good things so much more now.

I’m happier than I’ve been in aΒ veryΒ long time. Remember when a few months ago I said there were good things coming, I could feel it? I was right.

But those are different stories for different times. They’re not ready to be committed to paper, I’m still enjoying having them in my brain toΒ day dream about.

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Forests of ferns

Waking up this morning was awful.

I woke up to news of the attacks on Syria. I woke up to news of the attacks on Stockholm. I woke up to news of the shooting and murders that occurred outside of one of my favorite pubs in my hometown.

I woke up with a smile still on my face, but it quickly fell.

How can things be going so wonderful for me, yet so terribly for so many others? Why am I so lucky to be stressed about paying for summer camp for my daughter when there are people literally fleeing for their lives?

How can people be so downright shitty? There may be a more eloquent way to word that, but at this point I don’t care. Yesterday’s events are just plain shitty.

Emma put it best, I think. I hope she doesn’t mind my stealing her words, “How am I supposed to explain to my child someday that I’m scared to let her stay out late because she might get shot? How do I explain to her that people fucking bomb each other in the name of defense and loyalty to countries?”

I wanted to have all the answers. I wanted to pretend I knew exactly what to tell her, what to tell our daughters, and what to tell everyone else who is as confused as I am about why the world is the way it is.

I don’t, though.

Why am I writing this, then?

Mostly because it’s the only way I know to attempt to make sense of it. Maybe if I write enough about it, I’ll understand. Or at least come to a place where I accept that I’ll never understand.

Sophie was so excited when I came home from work today. Her face lit up, “mommy! mommy!” she yelled. “How day?”

How am I supposed to tell her anything but good? One day her questions when I come home will be much more complicated then how my day was.

One day I’ll have to tell her that people suck.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those parents who can just brush stuff under the rug. I’ll always want to answer her questions.

But there are some I just can’t because I don’t have the answers myself.

My heart is heavy. I feel everything too deeply, and I know that. I’m not one of those people who can separate myself from the terrors of this world. Especially when terrible things happen right in my own back yard.

I just want to always feel the way I did yesterday.

Happy. Free. Beautiful. Excited. Relaxed.

But those feelings become replaced with such anxiety, sadness, anger, hurt and confusion when things like this happen.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel to other people? How do people feel like it is their right to just take away someone else’s life?

How is there so much anger and hatred in this world? It breaks my heart.

Maybe I’m far too idealistic in my wish for people to just get along and be happy. I always strive to see the good in people no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been. I look for the best in everyone I meet and have a hard time accepting that some people do shitty things just because they can.

I’m naive, and there are some people who try to make me see the darker sides of things, who try to make me be “realistic.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a realist.

I can see the slight pity in people’s faces when I start going off on a tangent filled with child-like excitement about something going on in my life. Things don’t always work out the way I want them to, but I haven’t let any of it break me yet.

I’ve been to hell and back so many times they should give me a VIP parking spot, or at least pay my tolls. My point is that, I’ve seen some shit. I’ve been some dark and twisty places, to quote Meredith Grey. I’ve crashed, burned, fallen flat on my face and failed more times than I can count, especially over this past year or two, but none of it has broken me the way some people must be to do the horrific things they do.

None of it has made me lose hope in the world. It’s fading, sure. I’m afraid for the future. I’m afraid for my daughter. I’m afraid for the battles that are coming. I’m afraid to lose the light in my eyes because this world is just so dark.

I don’t know what to do with all of this. I have such a small place in this world, but I want to make my place count. I guess I also just have this terrible need to save everyone and take care of everyone.

I can’t, but sometimes I wish people could see things the way I do. I wish they could see that the shitty stuff isn’t forever. That yes, it’s shitty, it hurts, it sucks. I fully believe in people wallowing in their hurt and dealing with it and even letting consume them for a little while.

But don’t let your hurt cause you to treat others like they don’t matter. They do.

The consequences of your actions might not go away, but the hurt goes away.

It always goes away.

Then you have beautiful days where the sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky and you walk through the woods and admire the ferns and hope the rustling sound behind you wasn’t a snake with someone who makes you feel alive and beautiful and happy.

Somehow, some way, we will all be okay. All we can really do is keep trying to find happiness in even the darkest of times. What’s that Dumbledore said? We just have to remember to turn on the light.

And sometimes we have to be the light.

Love can change the world in a moment, but what do I know?

The search for clarity

Today I went to the woods, and I walked. I got chastised by my dear friend for embarking on such an expedition alone, but I made it out alive (obviously). While I’m ultra sensitive about people feeling like they have to take care of me lately, I’m happy to have people who care if I get eaten by a bear or taken out by an axe murderer.

It was a cold morning, but I wrapped my flannel tightly around myself, and I walked.

The cold air chapped my lips and blushed my cheeks, but I walked. The sky was grey, and the December air sent chills through my body, but I kept moving –willing myself forward as though whatever it is I am looking for lies buried within that forest.

In some ways, maybe it does. What is it I’m searching for? Clarity? Understanding? Love? Belonging? A cure to the existential dread that hits me harder and more often than I care to admit? A treasure map? Some actual treasure?

I might have better luck finding it if I could name it, but I walk anyways.

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I walk until my head is spinning with thoughts and memories.

It’s like I’m in one of those movie montages where a character goes back to an old place and memories and voices and scenes from earlier in the film are artistically faded in. Those scenes always have me in tears.

Today I was in my own version of that, except there is no screen, no fancy transitions. This is all happening in my head –behind my closed, tear-filled eyes as I breathe in breath after breath of cold air hoping to stop my head from spinning.

I remember one of the last times I was in these particular woods. I wasn’t alone, I was with someone who was once very dear to me.

I was then, much like now, searching for some form of clarity.

I stood in the middle of the path, and I couldn’t hear the whisper of the wind or the chirping of the birds or the babbling of the creek.

All I could hear was us. My voice,Β asking why over and over and over again. Why to me? Why lie? Why do this to me, of all people? What did I do to deserve a betrayal that lasted so long and cut so deep?

I hear her, giving me an explanation. It wasn’t good enough, but I don’t think any explanation given for this particular situation would have been good enough.

There are some wounds that can only be healed with time. Some choices you can’t explain away.

She isn’t there, we don’t speak anymore, but before I know it the words are escaping my mouth again.

Why?

Seasons have passed, my life is completely different than it was back on that cold, February day when we were there together. Still, I am wondering the same things. Maybe it all came back to me because it was the same place, and the weather was the same, and I, ironically enough, happened to be wearing the same T-shirt. Funny how things come full circle like that.

I still don’t understand how someone could hurt their best friend like that, but I’m learning to accept that I may never understand. I simply have to keep moving forward and realize that some people, no matter how much we love them, aren’t meant to be in our lives.

What hurts more than anything, I think, is watching your best friend become a stranger and realizing that maybe you never really knew them at all.

So today I walked through the woods as if my life depended on it.

I walked until the cold didn’t bother me and I stripped off my flannel and rolled up my sleeves.

I walked until my head spun, and until it stopped spinning.

I walked until I had the unwavering feeling that everything was going to be okay.

It already is.