Tag Archives: writing

To Warm the Soul

Connection
When I wrote about how my grandmother had suffered through Alzheimer’s disease and my struggle with losing her both mentally and physically, the response from fellow bloggers warmed my soul almost as if they were sitting right next to me allowing me to rest my head on their shoulders.

"I'll make ya laugh."
“I’ll make ya laugh.”

Passing Through Madness

Blogging, changed my life because the connections I made became even more meaningful than some long-time friendships and brought other people with similar depth and interests closer to me.

When I write, I connect to a place hidden from the me who I think I am or the me who I want to be or the me who everyone wants me to be. I may start with an idea or a purpose, but within a minute or so, I find the me who I really am and sometimes that secret me connects to another hidden being, someone I never knew existed.

I know other bloggers feel the same.

When I first started blogging, it was here at WordPress. I really knew nothing else. I just knew that I wanted to write and connect with other writers. I’d been busy teaching after being a full-time mom and my relationships with the working world and friendships in general felt stunted and, well, disconnected.

So when I read through all different kinds of blogs, I found myself laughing, nodding, and often-enough crying. So I thought about the idea of creating my own blog and just knew that I had to open up as well.

Four years ago, I was Freshly Pressed with a post about my children’s “Refrigerator Art” Refrigerator Art Changed My Life and the connections I made have lasted to this day. Even the talented Cheri Lucas Rowland liked my post, and here I am writing inspired by one of her discover challenges.

The same people who “liked” and “commented” on that post also comforted me when I wrote about struggles with Scoliosis Exercising My Scoliosis Demons and the loss of my grandmother .

At various times over the years, life became so overwhelming at certain points that I considered and reconsidered leaving WordPress behind. Being a teacher and a mother challenges the best of us, let alone being married and attempting to continue writing and educating yourself. Then throw into the mix health concerns and the death of someone who meant the world to you.

But, it was and is the connections I’ve experienced here that have kept and do keep me blogging. They keep me brave, smart, bold, and loved.

 

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DP Challenge, Snapshots: Spears for Eyes

Her eyes bit into hers and, what a shame, since love often resided there. Brown spears sprung from a deep darkness pooled into circular rounds, cushioned only by a sense of humanity. To blink would’ve meant she’d lose her stance, her power.

A black ring outlined the severity of her response to her mother who could only break with sorrow at having realized her daughter stood stronger than she did.

The daughter’s eyelashes frayed her lids, framing the centers with honor and pride. Those eyes waited for no one, bowed to nothing, spoke to all, especially the figure she knew no longer posed a threat.

The mother’s eyes paled in comparison, a light green, tired and worn. They ached and blinked too much. The black spears, once strong, were scattered and bent, blending into the green with no real destination. The black ring blurred and swirled, knowing no boundaries.

So, the mother’s eyelids fell half-mast, cradling the idea that life need not be a fight. She bore no resentment or anger at losing this battle with the daughter she loved more than life. She even offered what little strength she had left to the daughter who suddenly blinked, then bit her bottom lip to punish herself for such weakness.

Her eyes took her mother’s strength with a glorious grin that crinkled the edges of her Egyptian-eyeliner handed to her by the gods who’d traced them at birth. She breathed and her eyes flew open much wider now when she felt the sensitivity of that strength.

The pump of it meant they remained connected so that to hurt one, would hurt the other.

Locked together, mother and daughter.

Spears for eyes.

DP Challenge

The Evolution before the Revolution

Those sinewy blue beings link arms and chant, rocking in unison for love, Avatars who sync into the power of the earth while the “smarter,” more intelligent beings exploit them. I think of this often. I thought of this when I saw the new J.J. Abrams series Revolution. For those of you who don’t know the basics, the premise of the series questions our reliance on technology and asks, what if the lights went out, forever?

Needless to say, there’s a laughable character who once brandished $80 million dollars from his exploits in the Google empire, but now, without lights, he’s just the victim of “schoolyard bullies.”

The Evolving Revolution
The Evolving Revolution

It’s about the loss of power, but more importantly, our loss of true power without electricity, our inability to come to grips with what’s really important to us. Many characters realize at broken moments what that power is, the enduring, everlasting power of love.

I just read a WordPress post about bringing more traffic to your blog. It was an informative and helpful post. I’ve read others like it and learned a lot including some of the posts written by Michelle W. and Cheri Lucas. I even explored these ideas over summer when I had time to write more often and when I even used StumbleUpon for one day. It was bizarre, Twilight Zonish.

But, as I read this WordPress post about traffic, I thought, well, what happens when the lights go out? What happens when there’s no electricity, no money, no this, when it’s just stories and survival and hopefully love?

I thought about this because I’m sick and grappling with the idea of staying home from work and just lying here, trying to get well. These are the times when I’m in highspeed mode but get shut down as if all the lights just go out one day. It’s similar to the opening scene in Revolution when the cars are driving, the TV’s talking, the phone’s ringing and then it all just goes dark.

I had decided that when I started using WordPress that I’d put more energy into writing, like many of you I assume. But, I’ve found once again that loving to write doesn’t mean losing your love of everything else. I’ve spent years in the field although right now my main occupation is teaching.

I’ve seen and read about so many writers and journalists who give up their lives, meaning everything else they love, in order to write. This sounds exciting and even noble at times, but is it, really? Do we have to give up everything else for that one thing we’ve categorized ourselves as being or pursuing?

When I was Freshly Pressed, I wrote about my love of writing. And I slipped quite neatly into this category. I wrote:  I write to breathe to sleep to wake to sing to love.

I do, but only when I can. I actually miss feeling that way, but there are other parts of my life I’ve decided to love more. That is my own personal evolution before any other revolution within any other large-scale change that I or you will ever encounter.

For starters, I love my children a whole lot more than writing. They remind me that writing was something I started doing on a regular basis because I was so lonely and had no one to talk to. Second, my students need me more than they know. I always choose them over anything, even my own sanity sometimes. Third, my sister may be 3,000 miles away but when she needs me, I drop everything and stay up all night with her or even worrying about her. Fourth, my husband, my mom, my grandmother, my in-laws, my friends, even my fellow bloggers and writers, your insightful stories and photographs, your art, come before my writing.

I’ve evolved because before there’s a necessary revolution to this tendency to obsess and ultimately to destroy the beauty around us, I saw who I was, who I can become, and I changed.

Exercising My Scoliosis Demons

Pain pulses through the left side of my body charging across the point where my spine twists around then curves to the left shooting a sharp pinch into my shoulder blade muscles and pulling on my neck muscles where the dull pulse pounds.

Looking and listening to water or a steady breeze calms the ache and so does lying down on hot cement.

My medicine lately… Juicing apples, spinach, beets, and ginger. They help heal the daily episodes.

IMG_0959

Tea, chamomile, deceives the pain.

Chiropractors and massages keep it under control.

And exercise laughs at my pain. I sometimes exercise for hours because the heat that generates through my body wipes out the signal somehow.

The next day my muscles ache but my body celebrates with stretched grins and power. It’s always worth it though.

But, if I miss a day, the pain taunts me. Pulsing.

I’ve done everything I can to run from it, especially to hide it. I know how to wear clothes specifically so that it’s hard to see the curve. A purse placed just right helps shield me from people.

But, doctors never fail to wince when they check my spine. It’s clearly painful to them and they sympathize with clenched teeth.

Diagnosis Scoliosis

Finding out that you have scoliosis right when you’re beginning middle school tries your soul. It buries you under a billion painful emotions pointing you to a closet to hide in. You fold up inside yourself and learn to never let anyone touch you again.

IMG_0960

When I was eleven years old, I had to bend over as if touching my toes while a woman ran something that felt like metal down my spine. About a week or two later, my mother told me I had scoliosis.

About a month later, I was being covered in wet bandages, plastered. At a time when I was already insecure about my changing body, doctors inspected me and told me I had to wear a brace or undergo spinal surgery because the curvature was 20 degrees and getting worse.

Then, I was told to quit all my sports, even running.

No more gymnastics and no running.

I could walk, not run.

I just stood there, feeling like a spineless creature wrapped in a shell. I felt spineless because my spine had taken me over and was controlling everything I was and everything that mattered to me.

So, I decided to make friends with it even though I hated it. Besides therapy exercises, the doctors told me I could dance.

I was allowed to dance.

Fine.

Dance it would be.

I danced for an hour a day and adhered to my therapeutic exercise plan in between. It was the only time of day I was free of my brace so I pushed right over the limit. I forced my spine toward its opposite, yelling and screaming at it with each move.

But, it never disappeared. It just hung around. Bullying me.

Pleading with the Pain

Now that I’m older, I don’t fight it as much as plead with it.

Now, I still hate my spine, not with the same bitterness, but with a tired feeling of self worth, talking to it, telling it I really deserve to live like a normal person, I’ve earned this.

It doesn’t listen. It laughs a scornful laugh.

But, exercise laughs back. It turns up the heat and beats it. Exercise sometimes even soothes it, pretending to be my spine’s friend.

I jog, sometimes sprint, then walk, teasing my spine, putting pressure on it to release the pain. It does. It goes. It leaves.

Yet, I know I can’t do what I used to so I ease away.

I have an exercise ball that I lie on, bobbing, releasing tension. If that doesn’t work, there’s the zero gravity chair.

IMG_0956

Afterward, an arsenal of tea helps center me.

And, I know, it will be back so I cat stretch.

I swim. I ice it.

IMG_0962

I start all over again.

I exercise my scoliosis demons.

Written by Lisa Chesser for the DP Challenge

We are All Clowns.

SadClownThere we were. Our stage lit up. Our eyes blackened, mouths drawn in the shape of a distorted smile, giant red noses, oversized coats, huge feet. We fought for attention.

And, we got it.

We were the clowns in Slava’s Snow Show.

It all began with a noose hanging around his neck, which he only feigned to tighten. He was the single clown who wore a bright-yellow jumpsuit making him look like he had the body of a frumpy muppet.

Slava's Globe
Slava’s Globe

As he glanced to his right, another clown walked onto the stage dragging his own noose around his neck.

When they saw each other, the performance began.

Isn’t that me? And, you?

On the verge….

Then we connect and lose ourselves in a quiet dance.

I watched the foolishness, the silly adventures, the dramas, and finally understood who I am, who we all are in the blogging world. For the last few months, I’ve pondered my blog. What’s the purpose of it really?

Am I inspiring you to be brave, smart, and bold? How can I do this better, differently? Why don’t you stop by more often? Why don’t you like me more? What would other bloggers want to read? What would anyone want to read? And, why?

So, I wrote a bit, but mostly I read your blogs, hoping to gain insight into what you want, to find a secret trick to gaining your interest. I wanted to draw you in and connect with you. But, I still didn’t “get” it.

Then, there I was last night, watching Slava’s Snow Show and everything emerged in a wild clown drama on a paper snow-filled stage.

We blog to write to read to love to remember to show to dazzle to cry to rage to surrender to melt to rebound to bounce.

We are clowns so sad, awkward, funny, ridiculous, and proud.

We conjure up a makeshift ship in the middle of a stage and one of us pretends to be a shark while the others sail on. We step into the imaginary ocean and reveal each other for who we really are:  clowns.

We sweep up our messes only to get our hand caught in a spider web that suddenly sticks to all of our fingertips scattering to an obscure audience that pulls it apart and tosses it to the floor.

Webs
Webs

We need intermission to rest.

Then we regenerate and find that someone shot arrows through our heart. We struggle and find it was our best friend, again. We hurt each other.

We freak out. A crazy clown sitting next to a tilted table, we scream then fall. Everything goes black.

Repeat.

Then one of us is knitting and rocking in a chair in the corner. Madness.

Darkness.

We pack our bags and travel.

And, we weather storm after storm.

All with big fat smiles painted on our faces.

We are foolish.

We fall.

We bounce back.
We bounce.

We bounce.

And, we are so magnificent.

We are Magnificent.
We are Magnificent.

Written By Lisa Chesser

Chapters in a blog: InSethspiration

That writer I wrote about, Nayia Moysidis, sent me inspiration through her heroism and unencumbered writing.

Author Seth Godin at PDF 2007
Author Seth Godin at PDF 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia

She also sent me in other directions, one of them being Seth Godin’s blog.

Many of you may know him already. After all, he is a creative writer, blogger, entrepreneur, and internet marketing master. Once I’d read one then two then ten of his posts, I subscribed to his blog and even bought a couple of his books.

So, when I read his post about Paracosms, I smiled, frowned, and sipped his words with my morning cappuccino.

Here’s the link to what he wrote:

Now, normally, I’d laugh, nod knowingly, or even brush it off as an agreeing to disagree moment, but this one kept me sipping.

I love books. They are my Bibles. If everything is wrong with my life, books will pull me away from it and bring me back better, renewed, ready to take on my own problems as if I had just taken a vacation.

No NetFlix series or award-winning film does that. No hour-long browsing session offers that. Those are just teasers, bites of chocolate for me. Books make my time worthwhile. Not every book, but the majority I’ve read have done their job.

So when he makes the comment, “Paper is magical.” It is, to me. I don’t have to take a pill or drown my sorrows in glasses of wine. I found this out a long time ago as a child who needed to escape reality. I opened my books and realized something that today’s generation doesn’t quite understand.

Those writers carried me into other realms, knocking down barriers, opening doors. I treasure their words.

Books are my “sacred cows” as Seth puts it.

So, incidentally, I’m exactly the person he’s speaking to in this post. That’s why I couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d written.

When I stopped frowning, I realized I just wanted to hold onto those desperate childhood moments. But, I’m not that child anymore. And, this world isn’t that one anymore.

He’s right. As much as I hate it, I know he’s right because I’m here with you and the rest of the blogging world.

I read your posts and draw inspiration, new knowledge, insights, and laughter. It breaks this world down and builds strength for another day. It’s a new way to read chapters of a book, in a blog.

Here are just some of them:

http://freepennypress.wordpress.com/

http://abreakfastserial.com/

L’écriture

http://imdbwords.wordpress.com/

http://nettrobbens.com/

http://littlemisswordy.wordpress.com/

http://teacher-preneur.com/

http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/

http://jessicavealitzek.com/

http://somestolenmoments.wordpress.com/

http://momopolize.com/

http://scotterb.wordpress.com/

http://malcolmscorner.wordpress.com/

Daily Prompt: Through the Window

A peach-colored cat prowled the outskirts of her venue.

This woman picked garbage from the ground with a stick then dropped it into her rolling container. Quietly they moved among the dewy trees, the tent, the benches….

The children’s playground reminded them that noise would follow their morning ritual.

The woman then moved on, continuing to spear garbage, for us.

Mission Accomplished

In the last post about Writer’s Bloq, I had announced I’d deliver snippets about the Kickstarter campaign all week long. But, by the next day, Writer’s Bloq met the goal of raising $15,000.

Their Bloqparty Tour begins in Massachusetts then winds through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., and right on over to New York. You can find out more information at http://www.writersbloq.eventbrite.com/

There’s this piece of me that aches at the thought of missing out on these events.

Mission Accomplished

If I weren’t shackled to my husband and kids in Miami, I’d be making plans to journey to at least one. So, to all of you who enjoy the freedom that I don’t, take a moment for yourself and click your way into a writer’s haven.

There will be plenty of art, drinks, literary mingling, and more.

Writers Rejecting Rejection

Writers everywhere feel as if they’ve taken a shot to the heart when rejection hits. These particular bullets miss by an inch leaving a wound so deep that it never really heals. This week I’m going to post bits and pieces of a campaign worth discovering. Check out the video below.

Nayia Moysidis, the founder and CEO of Writer’s Bloq, not only helped me figure out how to patch up my wounds but how to fight back. For more information link on to my post titled https://bravesmartbold.com/2012/09/15/a-tribute-to-the-katniss-of-the-writers-revolution/ or click on Writer’s Bloq and  the Kickstarter campaign.

A Tribute to the Katniss of the Writer’s Revolution

The mission:  Helping great writers get discovered.

If you have a story to tell, a blog, a short story, a novel, a fierce desire to write, then you need to find Writer’s Bloq and  the Kickstarter campaign. Because it’s only the beginning of the journey, this is an incredible opportunity for writers everywhere to join and find a place for their talent to be seen and heard.

The founder and CEO of Writer’s Bloq, Nayia Moysidis, embodies a spirit of blemished ferocity in the form of love. She refuses to buckle under the pressure of defeat—a very real, crushing reality for all writers at some point in their lives.

She started Writer’s Bloq after being rejected or, in more accurate terms, ignored 89 times.

Her hair pulled back into a long braid, her intensity alive, she speaks with the skill of a confident leader. Her power lies in her compassion. She understands and identifies with those who follow her. They follow her because they trust her. They follow her because she’s one of them:  A writer.

Writer’s Bloq launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 22, 2012. Writer’s Bloq has seven days left to meet its goal in order to raise $15,000 so its team of writers can begin their Bloqparty Tour and promote their quarterly and their novels. They have raised $13,353. You can learn more about it by clicking on their Kickstarter campaign.

A writer reads her work at a BloqParty.
Photo courtesy Nayia Moysidis.

Writer’s Bloq isn’t just a writer’s showcase. It’s a home for writers to connect and draw attention their work in a way only a true hero can deliver. At the Bloqparty gatherings, writers meet up with industry professionals who have the opportunity to greet them in person, to give a voice to their words that might otherwise go unheard.

Nayia leads as Katniss does. Nayia braves the sorrows of talented writers being threatened with extinction.  She’s the leader of a writing revolution because she embraces the fear inching through the publishing industry. A fear, if ignored, could become a reality.

She found a solution to a problem that’s grown into an epidemic, the kind that kills a writer’s basic instinct, to write and be published. Her solution means that writers don’t have to do what I did many years ago.

A place for your work.

Inspiration Remembered

One of the main reasons I began this blog stems from this young, fiery soul. I had met Nayia Moysidis through friends and had gotten an email about her blog http://www.nayiaisms.com/.

When I read her blog, I chuckled. I read another post and cried. I read another and thought, “I used to share her passion for writing.”

So, right before bed when I was supposed to be too tired to think, the thoughts rushed around blocking my desire to sleep, so much so that I started writing again. And, I haven’t stopped since.

Yet, what I discovered was startling and sickening. I found that I’d become a good writer, not much different than I was 20 years ago, but I had nothing much to show for it. Okay, I had a resume with Publications Specialist on it and I could announce Award-Winning teacher with confidence. That was nice. But, I couldn’t proudly say, “I’m a seasoned writer because I’ve written this, this, and this.” I had worked in the publishing industry but I had created work for other people, most of whom either openly or insidiously claimed the work as their own.

I had been rejected as much or more than Nayia, so I packed away my dreams and slipped them under the bed. I became a very practical, very acceptable person, my true power sedated.

The worst part was that I had sold myself short. I had accepted my rejection as a truth instead of a reality.

To write this, as a writer, is even more painful than saying it out loud because when I say it, I usually contort my face and alter it or I say it as a source of twisted inspiration to those preparing for the beginning of their journey. It’s never truthful because it hurts too much.

I started out writing passionately and with a desire to change the world like so many artists. I did write. I have written. I have created, but I didn’t do it with the bravery I know I should have, the bravery I could have.

The Good Fight

So now, I support, love, and cheer for those who do what I didn’t. And, I do what I didn’t with trepidation. I say trepidation because after so many years of telling myself that I can’t do something, it’s hard to break that pattern.

If you don’t talk, if you don’t write, if you don’t take those chances that feel as if you’re stepping out onto a tightrope, you’ll just coast or even worse, you’ll just wander and wonder (yes, the spelling was intentional).

If the Katniss of this writing revolution existed then, I would’ve wanted to follow her. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. She refuses to accept the stinging reality that only a handful of writers becomes published authors and that the majority of those who self-publish find little success.

Nayia fights the good fight, uniting writer with agent, writer with publisher, writer with an industry that itself wanders around lost and confused about where to look and how to construct a new path.

Her success ensures victory for all writers and for all those who honor the written word because she embraces the bitter, the wounded, and the lost then gathers the ripe and the ready to fight.

So, find her, read her, then support her and the writers of Writer’s Bloq and the Kickstarter campaign. Join them. Become one of them. It’s only the beginning of the journey.

Written by Lisa Chesser

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