Sunset Speeches

At the beginning of March, a friend of mine (who is 86) reached out and asked me if I would help her write a speech for her women’s group. It was to be a 20 minute speech on who she is and, if done well, she believed could be her eulogy.

This was not the first time a friend reached out to me and asked if I would help prepare words for family and friends post mortem. It is one of the most humbling and exciting things to be asked to do. This type of writing, I just love. I just love.

My friend and I made plans the week after to spend a morning at her breakfast table. She had some thoughts already prepared and we talked for hours about World War II train rides, being a teenager in the 50’s and the unfolding of her rich, beautiful life.

I would ask her questions and offer validating sentences and sometimes get an “exactly” and those words would go down as pieces in the puzzle board. Sometimes, she would reply with a wondering and an uncertain smile and I would shoo my question to the side. A tangent.

There were multiple times during the interview when we would both tear up. It felt so important to be listening to her talk about her life. It felt so important to be feeling certain ways and channeling that onto paper as notes and arrows to other words in what would become my first sketch of her life in an alphabetical manner.

I reflect on this experience today on the blog because, as I commit to my Chief Strategist role, I realize stepping into grief and exploring the unfolding is a main aspect of my writing life. Incorporating the way the heart and words work together in reflection and the potency of the art in a meaningful speech is evident in all of the favorite things I have written. Solid reporting + an artful bridge + a full circle nod that brings the whole moment peace and resolution.

Storytelling, for me, feels most right when performing feels as if it could make me cry. I might love crying when I perform as much as I love the poise of breath and steadiness of spirit that I can feel getting me through a performance without a break. Either way, going there is my sweet spot.

In my writing life, I am watching for the marriage between the poetry and fiction, Words that Rhyme & Lullabies, and the non fiction – mental health – “hey this is a way to look at this” writing I am doing in workshop and worksheet form. I believe this courtship is rooted in a willingness to feel.

Sunset Speeches bring together the art of painting a picture with the deep, thoughtful fishing out the right words in respect to one person. It’s lovely. When I write rhymes and poetry, my process very much looks for what is common and for mysterious entry points for a connected yet individual interpretation. What makes these two art forms similar, I feel, is something to really pay attention to: feel feel feel. Emote.

More on my interview with Nancy and how the speech was put together (planes! California sun!) tomorrow…

I hear the house stirring above me and so I must emerge from the cave, kiss goodbyes for the day and get the dogs out for a nice, long walk.

Assuming the Whole

Yesterday was kind of a breakthrough as I brought my project more into form – I knew it was going to be different, just have not been sure how. And, specifically, how to do it simply at first. I ended up working through a few ideas and actually got some recording done.

I think one of the parts of my breakthrough was simply desiring to no longer have breakthroughs and understanding a little bit more about what that looks like. Obviously, I can’t stop the tides of growth, but I do believe a big part of my self development right now is coming out from the analysis and just moving forward. “Assuming the Whole” is how I referred to it on my Instagram yesterday.

I think this is important because most people, I think, want to grow in some ways. I definitely have moments feeling a little jealous of people who don’t seem to have required as much therapy or mental assessment. People who just seem to know what they are meant to do in life. People who set out in a certain way at a young age. Mastered crafts and things like that. Even people who are like “accountants” and knew exactly how they wanted to remodel their kitchen are my heroes. My vision gets so caught up in inaction. Mainly because so much seems to go together. How should it all work? What is the best, right way?

Lately, thinking like this only makes the paralysis worse. Just like worrying about aging or whether or not you messed up your kid only focuses on the wrong thing. Assuming the whole flips the script. It’s different then faking it until you make it – it is more about taking everything you think you should have done, wish you would have known, feel is true about you and having it be the truth, what you know and what you do.

I texted with two gals in my writer’s saloon yesterday. One coming back from a sailing venture and one coming back from a writer’s retreat. I have had COVID (again, sigh, it was horrible) so I am eager to get back around a table with friends once we are all settled in town and safe to do so. Being bold in anchoring community is a big part of me assuming the whole.

I go back to watching my niece today, masked of course. She is about three months old and I am genuinely excited to see my little bud. Run some new material by her and work on getting this book 2 into form. I finally called it yesterday and ditched InDesign for the project. The printer and I kept having issues and I’m hopeful new software will play its part in the formation process.

Other than that, it’s been quiet at the house and is about to get quieter. We isolated with two of the five kids. Those two are going back to their mom’s over the course of tonight and tomorrow. Hoping to spend a little time this weekend recording and getting some things in the mail. We shall see… this creative process is kind of a crazy party girl to follow. Reminds me a lot of me in my twenties. Like. What are you doing, child?

:) Pretty sure she would have said, “figuring it out” <smile>

Promotion to Chief Strategist

I have been a bit trapped in my head lately. With a tight fog wrapped around my thoughts, I have spent hours laying down begging for it to break. I know what I am supposed to do. I know what I want to do. I think…

Part of the fog’s heaviness was due to this weird guilt I have as a parent, pursuing a dream instead of spending all of my time and energy supporting my daughters. I even wonder if I am supposed to be master minding the musicians in my family. Am I supposed to channel all of this fire I have to lifting up others?

There is this weight of expectation and my tendency to get so excited about my projects that I talk about them and talk about them and live them through this talking and then I feel crippled at night, wondering if I will end up late in life, as that person who had all these great ideas and never did anything… but she had so much potential.

I feel challenged by what emboldens me. I hesitate to fully own the fact I feel called to bring attention to Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the intuitive voice, etc… This radical self awareness that changed my life I see absent in the lives of people clinging and stuck. Which helps me realize: if I am stuck, if I am clinging…. perhaps its time for that radical self awareness that has changed my life before…

I realize all of my fears. And the pressure. I recognize the daunting nature of creative thinking and being too much, mis understood, out of scope, beyond budget… I am not in corporate anymore.

Even with having a book complete, I think: “what a failure”, “you did not try hard enough”, “there is so much more to do”. And I realize… Erin, be gentle with yourself. You did a big thing. You made something exist. Now you raise it. Babies are not born Teenagers, Teenagers are not Grown Up.

I feel crazy sometimes with Apple Tree Magic and Yoga Underground and Frozen Spaghetti – and why do I have this ongoing theme in my life with so many names? Even my actual legal name… I was one thing before, and another before that… Four different names, so many instagram handles, am I certifiable nonsense?

But, see, here is the teaching – the practical truth – only the mind can make something a bad thing. Universally bad things are bad because, universally, most people qualify them as such. Yet I get to choose my thinking. I get to choose if I am a disaster or if I am unfolding.

I get stuck creatively when I wonder what to let go of – it halts me in my steps. And, again, the next teaching – the next practical truth – the right step is only one step and it is obvious. If I keep the names, I will know when it is time to let them go because it will be clear. If I hesitate, just wait. They need to be there so I know when they should go… and why…

I am continually balancing self trust with critical thinking. I am continually wondering if I should have continued to play it safe: get a paycheck, have good benefits, take a couple of weeks off a year to write. Then mornings come, mornings like this one – where I remember the math that when things equal hard add “work” and get to it. Get to it. Get to it.

I have an ambitious day today, but – everything I want to do is something I know how to do. I have the full support of my husband, my mother and my self. I know better than to question timing – and this knowing better will ground me today. It especially helps me when I feel like I am doing this all too late in life. As it could only be now that I have what I have to mix in and produce the art… the words.

I have always written rhymes and told stories. I have always sang songs and enjoyed cleaning the bathrooms and the floors. I have always found joy in making others laugh or think, in perfectly wild circles of friends around a table – meeting each other for the first or second time; always open to trying something new with themselves. Because those people are my audience: the ones who like to think differently than yesterday.

The ones who feel a problem in their life and look for the meaning, the silver lining, the option to open a window.

Curious for the abstract in the practical and the practically abstract… that is what I do. It is what made me a good analyst.

Yet this digging into the data and bringing up something wild is also why I believe I never got promoted beyond a certain point in the corporate world because the thinking – it was way out there, it was experimental and I was always thinking way faster than I was talking and I was talking way fast… But the great news is that, in this world? The one I am in now? I am the only one that has to understand myself and I don’t even have to say anything to get there. I don’t need to make myself a deck. I just need to act on impulse, grounding myself in my spiritual practices that will make this all work in the end. As that is the core belief.

So – get pumped: I am promoting myself to Chief Strategist of my life.

It makes good sense to do so…

We have a lot of fun ahead of us, you see.

I just need to keep believing and you – you need to read. :)