On the Uniqueness of Life

Writing my friend’s Sunset Speech, a reflection on her life and favorite things, meant preparing her – in a way – for the end of her life.

A lot of the speech came together on a flight to Palm Springs, California. I put the recording of the interview on in my headphones and let it play as I did a download of the main imprints left on my heart and mind from the time together at her breakfast table.

The recording came in handy to fill in dates and catch distinct names of destinations and timelines. Parts of the recording would catch my attention and something would float up – a meaningful piece that, with a thoughtful tie to one of her important notes, would really be a gift for her. As I wrote on the plane, I would feel the rise of potency and know I was on track. Things that felt loose or cheesy, I let be. Good ideas that felt amateur or juvenile, I knew just needed to bake a little bit longer. I have gotten to know my creative process so well at this point in my life. It’s such a blessing to know these types of things.

The next day, I soaked in the hot tub in the morning California sun, before all the sun bathers woke up to grab their chaises. Drinking coffee and reading over my notes, thinking a little and then staring at a palm tree – it felt so good to be somewhere different.

So good to be somewhere different.

Travel helps me write. I have always believed that in terms of self development, travel lets you see yourself against a different back drop. Parts of yourself that are in auto pilot or cycling, are more obvious when you are somewhere different. You can tweak them and change them with new experiences – food and culture, shopping and sitting.

Nancy’s first draft of the speech came together that morning and I called her to read the portion I felt was solid. “Oh, Erin!” I can hear how she speaks, “It’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.”

Later on that day, I would meet a vacation friend: an actual factual little old lady from Pasadena, who was traveling with her daughter. Her daughter would work until noon, then come down with a bloody mary for her mom and they would relax in the sun until dinner; each night with reservations to a thoughtfully picked restaurant. We spent time together in the mornings, sharing on work and life and books. She was so colorful and so charismatic. People would do anything for her. It was fascinating to watch.

One morning, as we soaked in the hot tub, I shared with her why I thought the speech was so wonderful to Nancy – or at least something that I thought went into it: I write with my words, using her words, in her manner of speech. As I wrote her Sunset Speech, an end of life reflection – I would hear her voice. I timed the whole thing using her cadence in my mind.

My vacation friend shared with me how this is actually a skill and a marking of high creativity: to be able to hear in the mind in a different voice. This feels empowering and like a bit of a ninja move. One of my projects on deck is a really sentimentally awesome Christmas book. When I write the manuscript, I hear the story told in my mother’s reading voice. Isn’t that something? Not mine. But my mother’s.

Yesterday, I took the dogs for a nice long walk after writing here on Frozen Spaghetti. The sky had bright sunny clouds with gray clouds interspersed. For the first time in a long time, I put on a podcast episode while I walked as I was curious to hear Liz Gilbert’s guest spot on We Can Do Hard Things.

Totally enjoying her absolute gift of gab, I decided to take a turn and loop through the park despite the early drops of what seemed to be a light rain.

Within 10 minutes, the clouds broke open and I was absolutely caught in a downpour. I was far enough from home that there was no point in running to the house. This was going to be a socks and shoes squelch squirch situation when you are soaked to the bones.

It made me smile. How absolutely hosed I was in this rain.

I have not had this happen since a spring trip to Chicago years and years ago when my daughters and I got absolutely caught in the rain. We didn’t try to escape it and – instead – played at Millennium Park in the puddles, in the never ending rain – because it was fine. It was living.

That day in Palm Springs, when I finished the first draft of Nancy’s speech – I was completely humbled by the uniqueness of her life. Of all her days, a few were so prominent, she remembered them – their quality – their deeper meaning. Nancy is not famous (though incredibly well loved and social social social) but she made her mark. I felt so touched by this gift to me in providing that gift of writing to her. The gift to me?

To know each day I live, getting caught in the rain – making friends while traveling, is my story unfolding. And there is nothing that truly makes one human’s story better than another. Their mark may be different, their audience may vary – who they are in the public may be concentrated or broad – but in allowing this wholeness of each person, without comparison, you get to be fascinated by the unique ways our commonalities play out.

Getting caught in the rain, listening to Liz Gilbert reflect on her partner’s final days brought on this awareness: Liz is so big in the world yet she had such small mornings, cleaning up throw up – she had hard nights, with an addicted partner. See what I mean?

No matter how big the grand scheme is, each day we get is so quite frankly ours. And it’s perfect. In its sun or in its rain.

In this? There is a lot of power.

And in that power? Is peace.

Milestones, Program Meetings and Project Plans.

Every time I allow myself to think how far away I am from my goals, I stop and give special pause to nod and smile… I am also a lot closer.

Truth of the matter: I have a studio collab in my hometown. So local, it hurts, actually – as I could walk to the studio where I will teach three summer nap sessions (complete with a story!) and have my first 90 minute workshop slated for this fall. For those readers waiting on their devotional: these dates and milestones proved crucial to the launch of the book. Order here if you haven’t.

I am constantly thinking about the marketing and the offer and the sales goal, getting stressed out about the executive decisions and strategic timing, then remembering: operations, first. This thinking takes me back to all the times in my previous corporate life, I wanted the group to focus: WHAT are we doing not HOW are we going to describe it… sell it… etc.

I miss corporate life. I get asked that probably once a month. Do I miss Enterprise? Do I miss working? Do I miss corporate? Will I go back.

Yes No Eh Probably.

When I thought of this blog post, I was vacuuming barefoot in my home and thinking a little bit about some of the comments people have made to me about my upcoming work to be self-published in December 2022. How Kristen Bell and Oprah will love it…

I think about Elizabeth Gilbert, and the box I am going to send her when this whole bit is done… a box full of goodies and a huge thank you for being the rock that loosened my soil. For the way she tells stories and the way it has brought me into mine.

Flash forward three minutes and I am getting ready to wipe down, do a quick run through, adjust plants and I realize YEAH! …the kids will be home at 3 and it will be their turn to run mop over floor, do dishes… that’s nice. Actually. Really nice.

It’s the weekend and there is so much to do and not do. Accent plants as much of a priority as a Saturday Matinee as much as a party as much as my writing.

Writing.

… it’s what I am here to do, guys. Write. Capture. Screenshot my heart into words in a blog. Gosh.

Writer’s Reflection: this independent act, needs people – so much. Crazy how the solitude of your keyboard and screen involves so many.

So many stories. So many people. So many pictures. And, there we are: back in paragraph three and wondering about platforms, committees and staff. Flash forward again… yes, the kids will be home. They shall make money running my social media.

Then there is Marketia… customer service…. There is Sonya “So So” and a dinner date… there is the owner of the studio and the runner of things and the fellow writers and the spiritual seekers and the yoga mamas and dates and the calendars and the zooms and the peace.

The peace in knowing yes, my circles run many, my friends – oh my, I cherish. This busyness, this puzzle: is a gift meant for me. And, THIS all – teaches me a reminder:

We are here to love each other. We are here to reflect each other.

We are the mirrors on the boxes we carry our hearts in and it is US that show back to the world what we would like to see.

If you want things to look different, you must be different. If you want things to change, you must change.

If you want worry to stop praying for the future you don’t want, you must – must – absolutely MUST – be a lily in the field.

For that lily? That bad ass little lily?

She is steady with the wind, opening as she does and beautiful in her exact role in this world.

Here I am, a writer.

I AM THE GOOSE (original)

AUGUST 3, 2019BY ERIN

Context:

goose

 

Allow me to build on my sentiment,

“I legit expect my kids to follow me following the goose”…

In my earliest year as a mother (age: 23), I remember turning my infant’s life over to the greater connected protection of the universe, The Big Love.

I sat, uneasy in the rocking chair, playing back the previous night’s episode of Law and Order, special victims unit in a post 9/11, post Columbine afternoon.

The curtains hung in the dusk-dusted nursery where a summer nap was being kept at bay. I was restless, contemplating these evils in humanity.

I did not want to “mother afraid”.

I did not want to “worry all the time”.

I did not want the pressure of “best” or the perceived stain of “worst”.

I did not want the responsibility of her story or her decisions. I did not want her carrying the weight of my own, personal regret.

In between that afternoon, where I “turned her over” to good, and the first time I watched her crawl away from me in accordance with her own curiosity, my motherhood journey became a continual invitation to Ellen (and eventually her sister, Lucy) to follow me.

Rhianna enforced afternoons in the Jeep, combing back the long way towards home from the zoo. Pizza adorned fingernails washed up in the historic tub of an ABQ lavender farm, watching sharks in Denver… trying Turkish delight in Park City…

I took on my life; them incorporated.

Our stories are plentiful, meaningful and thick. The meaning of being their leader, their goose, is never lost on me. In and out of the car, into museums and onto the plane: they have followed me.

Unlike the goose (though their personal notice is at least consistent in advertising inconsistency and temperament), I offer, give and set expectations to and of my daughters. Always gauging the fine, traumatic line of projecting one’s own experience; taking care to avoid infusing too much of the state of the world into the future. 

Indeed. This is the paradox of being more than a “goose goose” or a Mother Goose; pecking rhyme-based rhythm and order.

Aha! See, I am *the goose*, living both into her future and ushering her goslings on in their own.