Happy 50, Jamie!

IMG_0001Today I turn 50, and while I’m certainly taller now, some things don’t change. I still love kids, dogs, and blankies. I still actually have this afghan that my grandma crocheted about 90 years ago in that awesome 60s color combo.

I recognize that it’s quasi-culturally unacceptable to celebrate your own birth publically in a blog, but it wouldn’t be the first time I turned my head on the norm. That happens more and more the closer I get to 100.

I love birthdays–other people’s and my own–because they mark the day we decided to show up to this amazing adventure. I feel like it’s only right to celebrate each physical moment we have here on earth, be utterly grateful for the day it started…to grow, to stretch, to soak up each sunrise and sunset, to serve others and by so doing, serve ourselves most fully. So between the happy birthday phone calls, I will shamelessly hum the birthday song to myself all day long, not in an egoic kind of way, but in a grateful to have dropped by kind of way.

On the writing front, I had a great conversation with my friend Lois last week. We met at my first SCBWI meeting in a classroom inside Pacific Palisades’ Lutheran church where Lin Oliver did a workshop on humor. I liked her right away, better than anybody in the room, and we’ve been friends ever since– through moves, kids, through writing triumphs and challenges. Lois has many talents, but one I’ve always admired is her allegiance to daily writing schedule during first draft stage on novels. I can drag it out, distracted by life and a myriad of legitimate excuses. My first novel took me a year for a first draft, and 3 for one million (exactly–I counted) revisions.

But with the way the stars are lined up right now, and the shift I feel in my own patterning, we set a goal: I will do something on my current novel every day, even if that’s simply to open the document. It’s just time to establish a good first draft habit. (I will be on blog break next week while my hubby and I celebrate, but I will take my laptop and I will AT LEAST OPEN my document every day!)

The first night I started my new habit I went up to my desk (since it was not my carpool turn) and opened the document. I heard the kids get in the car and take off, knowing I had a solid 2.5 hours before they’d be back and hungry for 10pm after-practice tacos. In what seemed like 5 minutes, I heard something outside the office window. They were back. I seriously thought they’d forgotten something. I looked down at the time. It was 9:40! I’d lost all track of time. I remembered–that’s why I love writing. I lose myself there, like in the garden when I’m playing in the dirt and time stands still.

So far, 100% success for the week! Thank you, Lois, for always being there for me, letting me be there for you, and sharing this writer’s journey which is full of so many twists and turns. It’s friends like you that make it so much more fun to live on this planet and travel this journey.

With this goal, even today–between my Cyntergy class, massage appointment, humming the birthday song, and family dinner–I WILL open Intuition. The end.

Sacred Space

sacredspaceSome people fantasize about exotic trips around the world. Others crave fame, or recognition for their work, money, or admiration for their educational and professional accomplishments. Here’s what I fantasize about, right here to your left: sacred space.

The idea of sacred space is as old as man. It’s a concept I’ve seen played out by the Native American’s in beautiful ways. When I was young, we had a friend who was the matriarch of a Northern California Native tribe. Her daughter was the tribal shaman for a period of time. The daughter would go up to a mountain top (a place no non-tribal person could ever go) and she would stay there overnight while her mother kept guard on the ledge below doing ceremony. They knew this space would help accelerate the healing that needed to take place between tribe members and they gave it great respect and reverence.

The desert is also one of these places. Once in Sedona, we had a trail guide take us to sacred sites and perform Native rituals intended to help us see the world in a more connected way. He wrapped a native blanket around us and took us through a guided visualization commonly performed in Native traditions. Just being on the top of a mesa, looking out at the stunning valley of red rock and indigenous plants, with an eagle soaring through the lavender-blue sky, accelerated the experience in a way that couldn’t happen in a Safeway parking lot. The Sacred Space cemented the journey.

A friend and I were recently discussing this idea. She and her dying son had taken a sojourn to sacred spaces all across the country before his death. Each morning over coffee, they would share their dreams. Not long after their journey started, they started having the same dreams, and attributed that to the sacred spaces they slept in.

Sacred Space is palpable. N. Scott Momaday said when you’re in this space, “you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you.” People sense it. They seek it out. They know when they’re in it. And when I’m in it, my creative flow gushes through me in a way it doesn’t show up in other spaces. Building one writing space, for this very reason, is something I crave. (Now, when I write, it’s often on the couch, or at my childhood home where I can get quiet and see the vast green outside, or in some other nomadic location, including my car while waiting to pick up my kids.)

I dream of a place like the one in this picture. A simple place, where I can see out into nature and crack open to that creatively flow. The same space where I can go every day. A place with a desk and a chair and maybe a small bed. I picture Thoreau’s cabin, which we’ve visited on Walden Pond in Boston. (I’ve only recently learned that he and Emerson were friends and Emerson let Thoreau put the cabin on the land as a place to fully commune with nature.) In this phase of my life, I care less about accumulation and more about the simplicity of space, the space that allows me to hear that quiet voice flow through and feeling its breath on my neck.

“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred – ever brushed against the holy – you retain it more in your bones than in your head; and if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.”

― Daniel TaylorIn Search of Sacred Places: Looking for Wisdom on Celtic Holy Islands