Joy Cometh in the Writing


Notes On Wood 4  This is a long post. I hope you’ll stick with me, even if  my writing is kind of all over the place. It comes back full circle.

I struggle with finding Joy in my life. Lately, it has become an even bigger challenge. Ocassionally, I will encounter Joy in a fleeting moment, and then she’s gone, leaving me to feel like I will never find her again. 

Today I read one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton from Momastery.  Much of what she writes is positive, and uplifting, and difficult and challenging. It’s what she calls, Brutiful. (Brutal and beautiful.) Today she wrote how we often forget what brings us Joy.  She said that we need to be still to listen and remember what brings us Joy.  One way to do that is to think back to when we were 12 and remember what made us joyful. 

I totally get this idea. I  have been blogging consisitently for 22 days. I am remembering  what brings me Joy.  I keep forgetting.  Well, maybe I don’t forget, as much as I don’t make important the practice of encountering Joy.

What follows is a blog post I wrote over a year ago. At the time I wrote it Joy was not even a visitor to my life. I remember feeling so uplifted that day, after writing this post . Then, I got sidetracked with my life, and I didn’t finish writing it.  I forgot about the Joy I found.  Today, after reading Glennon’s post, it reminded me that I had the same thought a year ago.  I remembered what brought me Joy when I was 12. It still brings me Joy at 50. . . .


I started writing when I was just a girl. I used to write and (badly) illustrate children’s stories.  I won a poetry writing contest in 5th grade. I was inspired to write more, and throughout my grade school days I continued writing. I wrote poetry, short stories and essays, plays. I wrote whenever I felt inspired and I didn’t think too much about grammar, punctuation, syntax or even spelling. By the time I graduated 8th grade I established that I was a writer, and I won another writing award.  Then I entered high school—a bigger pond with a lot more fish.

There were a lot of kids who liked to write.  All of a sudden I realized there was a lot more to learn about the craft of writing and my confidence waned. Being the competitive self that I am I started to compare my writing to others’ around me. When my poetry didn’t make it into the high school’s poetry journal and I started getting B’s in English, I began to doubt myself.

Once, in a high school literature course, I wrote an inspired essay about Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream. The words just flowed out of me. When I was done writing, I knew it was a well-written essay. I eagerly awaited the teacher’s comments.  The teacher agreed it was a  well-written essay.  In fact, it was so well-written that he questioned me about its authenticity. Did I even write it?  Perhaps I was “inspired” from another source?  Ouch.

 I put away my notebooks and decided to turn my attention to other interests.  No more writing for me, but then, it would call to me. During those moments in my life of sadness, confusion or Joy, I would be inspired to write it all down. In an assortment of notebooks I jotted poetry, prose, whatever came to me. One day, and I don’t know when or why, I stashed it all away so that I couldn’t even remember where to find it. 

 About three years ago, I became a blogger, and in that way I became a writer. I write. It’s not always good, it’s not always inspired, but I do it because I enJOY it.  Sometimes I remember the sting of my high school teacher’s comment. I wonder, is my writing any good? Is anyone out there reading?  I write mainly for myself, but it’s so affirming when I get a comment or a word of encouragement.  Recently, I received this comment from a reader named Jill.

” Hi, I happened upon your page because i was google-ing for an image of things tapped to the inside of kitchen cabinets for my
facebook page (memories of the 70s 80s 90s)
As I was raised by my grandparents after both my parents passed away when i was 7 yrs old, and my grandmother had Dear Abby clippings, tv guide covers, recipes etc. tapped inside our cabinets…..
I could NOT leave your LWB page without saying that I was moved to tears! I don’t know you, your grandmother, your family or friends….However i feel blessed and honored that by this story! Your story and memories have given me some “healing” from my youth….”

I wrote the post she’s referring to in an inspired moment. I started writing it in the car, as we left my grandmother’s house.  Somehow, in the random world of  Google Searches this reader found me, and found my grandmother’s story.  Jill’s words let me know that, somehow, my words have given her some healing for her own loss.  Her comment comforted me and motivated me.

It’s comforting to know that my own Grandmother’s life is touching others even after her death, and its due in part to my writing about her.  So I will continue to blog. I will continue to write.

And with that, I will continue to find Joy.

What brings you Joy? What brought you Joy when you were 12?

And Then I’ll Write

It’s very late. I almost didn’t make it to post on my blog today. I thought I would get up early and write but my morning was cut short because I had to get my son to a 7:30 dental appointment. I meant to get to it during my lunch hour but the weather was so beautiful I opted to have lunch outside with Juan instead of at my desk. I decided that I would make some time to write when I got home from work but Juan didn’t come home directly after work, so I ended up making dinner and then cleaning up by myself.

I was starting to feel like I had too many distractions and obligations which were taking me away from my goal of blogging every day. I had committed to spend some time with girlfriends this evening and have a glass of wine.  I realized that if I decided to go out I probably wouldn’t get a chance to work on my blog post that I had started, so I thought that I should cancel my plans and stay home to write. Bleh. I really wanted to see these friends.  Then, I remembered some words of encouragement I read yesterday about making time to write.

The article said that if you ask yourself, “how do I make time to write” you are already giving yourself an excuse not to write. The writer suggested that after you list all that you need to do during your day, you finish your list with, “and then I’ll write.” I decided I didn’t need to sacrifice my much needed time out with friends. Now here I am, blogging at 11:30 pm.  And that’s okay because I had a full day and I still made time to write.  Here’s my list:

1. Take Nico to Dentist

2. Go to work

3. Eat lunch outside and enjoy a beautiful Fall day.

4. Make dinner

5. Clean kitchen

6. Enjoy a night out with friends


The Ever-Shortening Days of Summer

It’s been a long time since my last post. In fact, it’s been almost two months! When I last blogged summer had not even officially begun. School had just ended. Nico and Erica had just graduated from 8th grade and said good-bye to the school and classmates they’d known since kindergarten. Olivia finished her finals and was sleeping away the first days of her summer vacation. I was on a weekend getaway with Juan and Diego to a quaint seaside town in Central California. Best of all I looked forward to the promise of Summer. The possibilities of long, lazy days, free from kids’ homework, sporting activities, and obligations. I looked ahead to warm evenings on my front porch sharing margaritas with my neighbors during impromptu happy hours, family dinners al fresco, and roasting marshmallows on our backyard fire pit. Most of all I looked forward to slowing down and being able to spend some of my evenings writing and savoring the ever lengthening daylight.

My last blog post was just before the summer solistice and the longest day of the year. As I enjoy the lengthening days, I tend to overlook the fact that what immediately follows the longest day of the year, is that the sun sets just a bit earlier, every day. Summer, known for it’s long light-filled days creeps its way to Fall with the light-filled days getting shorter and shorter. Summer days pick up speed as I soak in the warmth of July, and I am surprised by the arrival of August and its accompanying swealtering heat. I was as sad as Diego the other morning, as I drove him to summer day camp in the foothills of the Angeles forest, and he asked me how many more days did he left of summer vacation. When I did the calculations and told him just a little over 20, he replied wistfully, and almost tearfully, “Summer is going by just too fast.” I know Diego. Perhaps, that’s why I haven’t blogged a lot lately. I have been spending my evenings trying to capture summer, trying to stop it and realizing another day is closing before I have even powered up my laptop, I go to bed without writing, resenting the fact that the days are getting shorter, and I am unable to memorialize the season with my words. My blog and I are at a stalemate. Until this morning, when I woke up early, read one of my favorite blogs and felt inspired by these images of summer. I knew I just had to break this stalemate. I knew I had to concede that even though this summer hasn’t been exactly what I idealized, I don’t need to be resentful and I can enjoy what’s left of the season. While I can’t slow the ever shortening days of August, I can look back fondly on the memories we created these past couple of months.

Did you slow down during your summer? Did it go by too quickly?


My plan was to leave work, come home and make a second trip to the grocery store to pick up the remaining items I needed for my Thanksgiving feast. Then, I would come home and prepare the cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and cornbread. I also needed to help Diego put away his toys which had migrated from his bedroom to the family room. It sounded like a good plan. I’d finish getting this done by 10:00 and then get started writing. I wanted to  finish writing and editing a blog post I had started but not completed.

Olivia came back from her whirlwind weekend in Chicago at a speech and debate tournament. She had a good time and learned a lot. She also came back and was facing a mountain of homework.  Olivia’s plan was to come home, eat dinner, and get started on her homework. One of her assignments was to write an opening paragraph for her paper discussing Hamlet.  Her thesis explored the paradox of love and the love within the dysfunctional relationships between the lead characters. Olivia explained to me that her teacher helped her to understand that a paradox is a set of contradictory ideas or concepts which may, nonetheless, be true.

Olivia was struggling to articulate her thesis. She was becoming frustrated and overwhelmed at all the work she had ahead of her.  I saw her frustration grow and watched, with my own growing frustration, as she kept clicking onto Facebook when she should have been doing her homework.  Finally, she asked me to review her paragraph and we spent the better part of the evening discussing the play, its characters and her thesis. Since I spent the better part of my night discussing Hamlet with Olivia and helping her with her paragraph, I did not get to the cranberry sauce, the pecan pie, or my blog post. But, I did get to understand the meaning of paradox and its application to my evening. Here it is:

The contradictory ideas:

That I can get some writing accomplished this evening.

That Olivia can complete her introductory paragraph on Hamlet this evening.

The truth:

I accomplished some writing this evening helping Olivia with her  paragraph on Hamlet, thus she was able to complete her assignment, and I was able to blog about it.

That is the paradox of my evening.

Happy Birthday to My Blog

Today my blog celebrates its one-year birthday. This has to be some kind of record for me, because while I have started countless journals in my life, I have never written enough to keep them going for more than a couple of months before I abandon them to other pursuits.

But blogging has been different. I have posted something just about every month. Some months more than others, but baby steps, right? I  didn’t know it then, but when I started  this blog shortly before my birthday last year I thought I was checking something off my bucket list, and fulfilling this little writing fantasy of mine. It turns out this blog has been more than that to me. Besides finally being able to say that I “write,” blogging has taught me a few more things about myself:

1) I am creative.

When I was younger I would make doll clothes, do needlework, knit, and craft. I would write short stories, and poetry. Over the years I stopped being creative. Except for the occasional scrap booking party, or kid’s school project I stopped making things, I stopped creating. I also stopped writing. Maybe it was when I realized there was a lot of technical craft to it. As much perspiration as inspiration, perhaps? Maybe it was later when my writing was critiqued for poor grammar, and misplaced commas. Whatever. I stopped enjoying it, so I stopped doing it. Blogging has helped me remember of how much I enjoy being creative. And how a little perspiration isn’t such a bad thing after all.

2) I have something to say.

It may not be profound, or funny or amusing, or even interesting, but in my blog I get to say it. Enough said.

3) If you write it they will come.

Even though I had something to say, would anyone listen? I mean, besides my husband who has to listen to me. Based on some of your comments and my growing number of subscribers, someone out there is listening. Thank you.

3) I am (more) present.

My day flies by with work, kids, family, and chores. I am in a state of constant motion and I rarely stop to appreciate a moment, to capture a thought or preserve a memory.  Blogging has allowed me pause and take it all in. Sometimes my thoughts and ideas are fleeting and they leave my mind before I capture it in a post, but more often now I find myself jotting it down and taking time to preserve these thoughts and construct words and phrases about an experience or event in my life and the life of my family.

4) There is community in the blogosphere.

Sure, virtual contact is not the same as human contact but I have built some relationships with other bloggers just by reading and commenting on their blogs. Blogging also has given me a reason to attend blogger events and meet some of the bloggers whose blogs I’ve read, which leads me to my next point…

6) Its a small world after all.

The world is a lot smaller than we think. A few of the bloggers I’ve met ended up living only a few miles from me!

6) You can teach an old dog, new tricks.

Before I started blogging I was pretty good at navigating my way around MS Word and surfing the net, but launching my own blog? I did not know the first thing about it.  Well, it turns out am not as technologically challenged as I thought I was. I have actually had to learn two blogging platforms. I started out on Posterous and then moved to WordPress. Even though WordPress blogging platform is user friendly, it took me over a month from the time I decided to launch my blog and actually posting something. My husband teased that you would have thought I was launching a major website. In reality, I was working up my confidence and familiarizing myself with WordPress. Now that I have been doing this for a year I have learned just enough to be dangerous and throw out words like, URL, domain name, posts, tags, RSS feed.

So, that’s my year in review. I hope you’ve enjoyed something here at my blog. I know I have enjoyed doing it. I look forward to writing more posts and hearing from you with your comments and subscriptions. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this anniversary with me.

Here are a few of my top posts from the past year:

What’s Good About Good Friday?

Mischief Remembered

Tres Generaciones

Date Night Without my Husband