Friday, January 29, 2010

Introducing Beth Chapman: A Southern Hi Yall from Minnesota!

Hello! Or, as they would say in my native tongue, Hi Yall! This southern belle, now living in the Minnesota tundra, is quite honored to be among such fine company. Thank you Kathryn and thank you all for the inspiration, smiles, laughter and “so true” moments you have already gifted me.

Blogging is a new experience to me but it has brought me full circle. My passion for and release through writing began at the age of nine on a large very worn and clunky Royal typewriter and a picture in the World Book Encyclopedia showing you how to type. You know those old typewriters that could amputate a finger if it fell between the keys. The tapping rhythm of the keys hitting the platen, the ribbon spools turning, and the paper inching upward with each return physically embraced the emotions of watching thoughts appear on paper. You could not hide the smudges if you made a mistake. Everything was exposed on the typewriter. Then came computers and everything could be deleted, cut, pasted or copied with a single keystroke. Convenient, but it felt like something was lost. Blogging and writing in an environment like Writer’s Rising has brought back the opportunity for the honesty and nakedness of that old Royal typewriter … with the added convenience.

I am a fifty-six year old southern woman who chose a non southern woman’s role and pursued education and working. My degrees are in accounting and anthropology. In a predominately male manufacturing world, my job is to tell the guys whether they are performing to standards. People ask me how I deal with numbers all day. It always makes me smile. I tell stories and I teach. I am a translator or bridge maker between the plant, finance and executives. I speak their languages. My job is to help the plant workers see how their actions have a financial impact. I then tell the plant’s story to the guys in the suits with clean fingernails. They see only ratios, balance sheets and P&L statements with little or no understanding of what happened to create the numbers. My work gives me a chance to do something not many people do - give a voice to people who are usually just an employee ID. That's pretty cool and that’s what I do with numbers – I tell stories and I write. I share this because I think many of us who have the desire to write see it as a double life separate from our “real lives.” My epiphany that the two can be joined is perhaps not only my introduction to this group but also to myself. The two types of writing are very different but they share one author-the passion to write and give voice.

Life, to me, is like a Rubik’s Cube. I am constantly looking and twisting the cube to create new patterns. I am an observer of life and people determined to find that spark and spirit of hope and awakening. My blog, Hope's Breath represents my journey into the magic of life’s Rubik’s Cube, of waking up, seeing and breathing the joy and wonder of life. Along the way, my breath of hope is that I may leave bread crumbs of hope for my fellow travelers. Thank you to all the contributors of Writer’s Rising for the loaves of bread you have shared with me. Oh, the little one in the picture is my great niece,Zoey, a real breath of hope.

Say whaaat??!!??

Okay, immediately after I posted that last piece, I realized I was possibly pitching the right article to the wrong demographic. I am slowly growing to understand that I have different audiences in different places. Generally, most of my writing online has been rock and roll oriented, but I realize that the world is larger than that. So, let me tell you a little bit about another topic I enjoy thinking about: My lazy man's quest to become a "Spiritual Leader" - I'm not driven or ambitious enough to try and get rich doing it, but it does service my ego fairly well.

I have a creative process as a writer that is neither particularly unusual nor original. A lot of my work comes out as "automatic" or "stream of consciousness" writing - which is not to say that there is no intellectual process involved, simply that any intellectual or analytic component comes later on in the editing phase, when I realize (hopefully) what the heck I was talking about.

On some rare and very special occasions, I am visited by words the source of which I cannot trace. They quite literally come from a location within myself that is unmapped. The poem I wrote to read at my wedding falls under this category (which, if enough people express interest in reading it, I may post here as well). Yeats, among many others, claimed to have accessed some other intelligence or state of being in some of his writing. I do not purport to take a stand for or against the verity of such claims. All I know is that occasionally I have the experience of writing something, then looking at it and going "Where the heck did THAT come from?"

At this point I would like to "out" myself and confess that I am the author of this blog [link] which has heretofore been anonymous. I invite you to partake of this exercise in mostly or somewhat automatic writing as you have leisure to do so. Here is a small excerpt of that writing, to give you a taste of the sort of subject matter it deals with.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

to be loved

possibly every fear, every worry, every sorrow can be traced back to the desire to be loved, or perhaps more succinctly, the desire to feel as if we are loved. feelings are only a partial source of information, and using feelings to map reality is like trying to sew a wedding dress with one's teeth.

love is not a feeling, but an action - this is a cliche that you may already have heard many times. we do not truly understand the implications of what being truly loved is - if we did, not only would we lose completely and permanently all illusion that it is possible to not be loved, we would be consumed by the fire of love that is more ubiquitous than air.

the desire to be loved causes sorrow. it is an unquenchable desire.

the only liberation from that pain is to realize that it arises from an illusion - that we are not loved. still, it's easy enough to talk about abandoning illusion, but every human being who has ever lived has struggled a mighty struggle against their own illusion, as a hunter with a broken spear might struggle hand-t0-tusk with a wild beast.

the only proven way to liberate oneself from the illusory, addictive desire to fee loved is to love completely and totally without seeking to be loved in return.

some confuse not seeking to be loved, with rejecting love. but the rejection of love is also an illusion, like a fish rejecting water. does the fish welcome water? the fish does no such thing. the fish abides in the water. so do we abide in love, whether we see it or not. to love selflessly opens the heart to receive love more completely than any other pursuit.

to fully see reality as it is, may possibly be a great burden. but those who dare great things may dare to see beyond their fears to an underlying reality.

the reality is not simply that we are loved, although we are. the reality is not simply that to love the other is the only way to open the heart to receive love, although that also is true. the reality is not simply that we are surrounded by love everywhere and in everything, although that also is true.

the reality that holds all of these things is that everything is love, and that there is nothing that is not love. the only reality is love. everything else is illusion.

A writer's rising

I was 16 when the writing bug bit me hard. Getting my poems and reflective essays published in local magazines was encouraging. But as much as I found myself attracted to the idea of making this form of self-expression a full-time endeavor, the thought of letting down my parents held me back.

I halfheartedly prepared for management courses, studied computer networking for a year, and even tried my hand at teaching. Anything but writing.

Ok. Time to ‘fess up. I was still writing on the side. Small freelance op-eds for the local daily; a couple of reports for another national magazine; my journal. Just pursuing my “hobby” as I’d tell mom.

Sneakily, I had applied for a writing position with a publishing house in Mumbai. Within three days of my application, the hiring manager called. A 45-minute phone interview ensued. I was shaking with nervousness. If I got this job it would be a resounding validation of my skills. I could convince mom and dad that I was good at this – that someone thought my writing was worth a paycheck.

48 hours of suspense. I checked my e-mail every hour on the painfully slow dial-up connection; made sure the telephone receiver was kept properly. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or drink. And then it came. The offer letter. They wanted me to start in a week.

Surprise. A tinge of disappointment. Anxiousness. Those were the three emotions my parents exhibited when I broke the news. Two days later, these would be replaced by excitement – a mild sense of achievement. Happiness that their only child was taking flight.

I had found my wings.

I learned many new skills on the job, but within nine months I was keenly aware of my shortcomings. I had no real grounding in journalism. “You’re supposed to get married at this age, not go back to school,” said dad when I told him I wanted to get a master’s degree.

In the U.S.

I quit my first job, flew back home, and started preparing for the GRE and TOEFL. “It isn’t the writing bug that’s bitten her,” mom would say. “It’s the love bug.” She was partly right.

An unexpected e-mail from halfway across the world had made its way into my inbox in the wee hours of a winter night. He had read my poem on sexual exploitation of girls and wanted to know what kind of a nut-job I was. What business did I have thinking and writing about such serious topics at my age when my peers were out shopping for bangles or discussing the latest Bollywood heartthrob? He was moved (and curious enough) to write me. I responded. Within a week of exchanging 50-odd e-mails and four-long IM conversations per day, we knew we were meant to be.

He loved my writing style. Encouraged me to speak my heart. Inspired me. Challenged me. Supported me. Was my worst critic. My best friend. Still is.

After a year of drama, intense preparation, and lots of rewrites I got into all the six colleges I’d applied to. I chose to go to the University of Iowa. It was hard – more for my parents than me. I was looking forward to a new life. They were pining for their baby girl.

We made it through.

2004 was a milestone year: I graduated with a master’s degree in journalism, got my first full-time job in the U.S., moved from the mid-west to California to be with my husband (we’d gotten married the year before), and got a driver’s license.

Six years later, I continue to enjoy writing as a profession. I write about students, professors, philosophers. Through their stories, I inspire interest in education.

My parents say I had the brains to become a lawyer, an IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officer, an engineer, a banker, or anything I wanted, but I chose to be a writer. (And truth be told, they’re proud to see my byline now and again.)

It doesn’t pay as much as all the other “choices” I had, but it’s satisfying.

And with my blog, I can take a break from PR communication, and write about things I’m passionate about. My ponderings. My observations. My two-cents on the goings on of this crazy world. It’s where I find my solace.

It’s where I hope you can find some inspiration, too.

Post Deleted

I'm going to delete this post for now and possibly present it in another venue. Thanks for your patience.

I See You

     Yes I was one of the millions. I saw Avatar; twice, in glorious IMAX 3D! It was a stunning, and brilliant movie! Now I will spare mentioning much more on the movie itself here. Recently I have written a review for Movie Planet, and invite you to look there should the movie review be of interest to you. That is not where this bus is going today.

     This morning as I was sleepily trying to find something on TV to gently cradle my attention while I injected coffee into my system, my attention was briefly snagged by the beautiful blue creatures featured in Avatar. Why? I don’t know as it is now borderline overkill even with my applause for the film, and the definite fact that it will adorn my DVD shelf someday. What I think caught my focus was the ethereal and soothing sounds emanating from singer Leona Lewis as she sang, "I See You". It is a nice song, and I went to You Tube to find many available renditions of the video I saw this morning. By the end of this post, you may be so inspired to watch it. For those who have not seen the movie, this will have little relevance, so this is where the bus now leaves.

     In the movie, the planet Pandora is the setting for a group of sentient natives called the Na'Vi who are to say the least, very in-tune with their planet and one another. They have this indescribable connection with all things. Part of the movie is based upon this special connection as the beauty of their people is their deep and profound recognition of how one and all are spiritually and ecologically connected. It is a brilliant symbiotic relationship I envy.

     In recognizing and acknowledging this in one another, they use a salutation, an affirmation mind you---"I see you!" Embrace this!

     This salutation emulates the premise of many of our earthly cultures and the wisdom many of us humans aspire to connect to. It parallels the meaning of Namaste': “The light (God, Source, Spirit, etc.) in me, recognizes the light (God, Source, Spirit, etc.) in you. “ (There is some flexibility to that definition.) Also as in the Mayan greeting of In Lak'Ech ala K'in, meaning: “I am you, you are me.” We again see another parallel from yet another culture.

     What I believe the sages of Earth, the wisdom of the universe, and the Na’Vi are trying to express and admire is the intrinsic interconnectivity in all of us. What separates us--- poisons us, and eventually causes our demise. This mantra addresses the need for insight; an insight that assists us in foiling some of the six components of our personal degradation from the EGO.

I am what I have.

I am what I do.

I am what others think of me.

I am separate from my desires.

I am separate from others.

I am separate from God.

     I think once we see the brilliance and beauty of how truly connected we are, a shift will occur. It has in me. Deep down our makeup, nature, and biological needs are the same. It is when we see others differently, or different from us is when the venom starts to take effect. Often we are unaware of the toxicity coursing through us. We pass it on to our kids and our environment in a contagious effort to ostracize that which we fear or do not understand. We separate.

     I find that true seeing is least done with the eyes. It is the seeing I do in my core being that allows me to connect inward as well as outward. We can see with all of our senses. One of the many definitions of the word “sense” is “an appreciation or understanding.”

     What I find helps me when I feel confronted, misunderstood, different, disconnected, is I try to see things from a collective view. I am part of a greater whole. The circumstances that affect me were perhaps not aimed at me, but maybe my path put me temporarily in the way. If I see that I am a “cell in a collective body”,” a note in a song”, I will see my part with more depth and importance. We must connect for life to be strong. We must harmonize to create the symphony.

     I still work on my “blindness” to some things, but now I look for the light switch. I work on seeking the sometimes less-than-visible connections in one another rather than address how “different” others may appear and how wide that gap is. If it takes scantily clad blue humanoids to help you get the message, please do so. You won’t be disappointed in the visual presentation. We are so very connected and I see that.

    It is nice to see you all! Namaste’! In Lak’ech ala K’in! Thanks for hopping on the bus!

Tony Anders

This post is also available on my blog Artisan of the Human Spirit.
My day left me with time for only one post, so I had to split this time!

Introduction: Hello from Jacqui at Uplift Antidote


Well the first thing I have to say is that I'm in great company here. I've just read the recent introduction posts by Sai, Aine, Pam and Marcime. They do say birds of a feather flock together. I can relate to all the reasons why you like to write (and all the reasons why you haven't before).

Blogging can make you feel very naked sometimes. I remember last year when I first started blogging, I felt very naked and vulnerable putting my words out there. But then I came to the conclusion, that I've been given a 'voice' for a reason and I should therefore use it. As a friend said to me recently: "I'm just putting dishes on the collective table - and it's up to everyone whether they dip in or pass".

Right. Now to the bit that I never like doing. The bit when you join a class or a new group and they ask you to stand up and introduce yourself.

I'm the blogger behind Uplift Antidote. I write posts that aim to be uplifting, inspiring or thought provoking. I try to do a post a day but don't always manage it. It's less of a personal blog and more of a mission! I think it's important to keep upbeat and optimistic and writing my blog helps me do that - and hopefully helps readers too.

I live in London, am a life-long dog, animal and nature lover and a creative, sensitive soul. London is on one hand not ideal for me - because it's crowded and often grey and people's faces tend to be quite miserable. It is a stressed city that's for sure. But on the other hand, I've come to love it too. There are so many creative people here and I've had the opportunities to meet and become friends with people from all over the world and all shades and colours.

One of the things that's important to me is promoting racial harmony (whatever 'race' is). I have known so many wonderful people of all skin colours and I know we all share a common humanity and spirituality and it saddens me to see negative stereotypes and labels still in operation. I hope to challenge that by promoting a positive message through my blog. These are the posts that I'm wanting to write but haven't yet found the right words.

As for me personally, I'm female, have a grown-up beautiful loving daughter who is on the road to being signed as a singer. I love her very much and we are best friends. I have a partner who I also love dearly and whose smile always lifts my heart. I have a Mother who has not spoken to me for well over a year and a Father who lives in Australia and who is also currently not talking to me! My 'true' parents were my Grandparents and they are now in that special place that we all go to at the end of our journey here on Earth. So I've had a few 'bumps' in the family department. But I'm okay! :)

My mission in life? To shine my light, to inspire and help others along their path and to continually strive to live to be my fullest and 'bestest' version of me. Gandhi's saying, "Be the change you want to see in the world" is wisdom I live by.