Posted by: susanideus | January 6, 2007


Much of my reading of late has been somewhat on the heavy side, what with both of my reading groups and some books that I’ve chosen as well. My group reads include Naomi Wolf’s The Treehouse and Pinkola-Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves, as well as one not quite as serious but also introspective in Bender’s Plain and Simple. Independent from the groups I’ve read Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter and Holy Hunger by Margaret Bullitt-Jones.

This serious stack is a bit unusual for me, especially all at one time. In looking it over, I began to wonder what drew me to this selection. I could argue that at least the first three were because of the reading groups. True, but they’re still done voluntarily – I’m not facilitating any of the three, and I’ve skipped books before — but not these.

Dance is really a re-read — I wanted to delve into it more deeply for two reasons. First, it’s been a while since I read it and in the meantime, I’ve read two of Kidd’s wonderful fiction offerings. She (Kidd) and I go back a long way. As a younger wife and mother, I read her devotional writings monthly in a magazine I subscribed to; she was also a younger wife and mother then and her writing really spoke to me. When I read Dance the first time, I had trouble reconciling the two very different aspects of the same woman. And, while I loved her novels, they did not fit with the Kidd I had known either. I needed to re-acquaint myself. Second, I learned that this book was important to my daughter Rebecca and I wanted to be able to discuss it with her. Haven’t had that discussion yet but hope to soon.

The Treehouse, Plain and Simple, and WWRWTW I did read for my groups, but also because I wanted to — something in them struck a chord within me as well. Wanted to read them — yes — but the truth comes closer to needing to read them.  Some thought, some idea, something to be discovered — it’s as though I’m being beckoned.
I acquired Holy Hunger after hearing the author speak on a great TV show “New Morning”, recommended to me by a friend. I didn’t need to read the book to know that the author and I had much in common — issues with parents, weight issues, food addiction… Since I’m currently going to Weight Watchers and trying to succeed, I hoped her book would shed some light on the whys of my compulsive eating. I know how to lose weight but I think I won’t be completely and finally successful unless I do a little more work on the reasons I got to this point.

So, that’s what I’m reading and some of the reasons for choosing to do so.

As I reflected on these books, I began to recognize a common thread. Though they all come at it from differing perspectives, all speak of a need to know one’s true self, to find the core of one’s being, to be comfortable with finding it, and to be able to express it in a creative, healthy, self-affirming way.

I’m struggling with my creative self. I want to express myself. I love to write. Yet, as oft as not lately, I am tongue-tied. It’s not that the words aren’t there. They are — whirling around at a dizzying rate inside my head. I tell myself I haven’t had time to work. I convince myself that other tasks need to be completed first, that my fulltime job leaves me too exhausted. Why the excuses? I’m working on finding the answer to that.

It’s not time, or the lack of it. I could find the time. It’s not that I don’t have the physical tools — I collect pens and papers — I love them! I have a desktop computer and a laptop computer. I have grammar books, dictionaries, several thesauri, shelves of reference books, blank and partly filled journals, and a score of books about writing. I even have this blog! For the first time in my adult life, I actually have a room set aside that I can call my own — not even a spare bed for guests. It’s my treehouse, going back to Wolf’s book. The space is mine. And I rarely use it…

Am I worried I don’t have the talent? For what it’s worth, that’s not the problem. I do know I can write — others have told me and it’s a knowing I have within me. I’m not looking for an audience or commercial success — I’m content to write for me and mine. It’s not that I’m not creative. Besides writing, I have a flair and passion for various needle arts and for cooking.

For now, I see several factors. One is giving myself the license to write — to overcome and/or ignore the voice that tells me I have other tasks to complete first, that I’m not pulling my load around the house. I don’t know why that pesky little voice bugs me about that — Harold certainly doesn’t and he’s the one who shares my space. He loves to see me writing. Of course, another insidious whispering sometimes mentions that I might not have anything worthwhile to say. I’m at the point of vanquishing that voice for good. If I write it, it’s worthwhile — even if no one else ever reads it. Of course, there’s the one that tells me not to dig too deeply into my past — that wants to scare me by implying I might not be able to handle what I find. So what, I say — if I find that I need to vent, even to spew venom on paper, I can do that, and I’ll be intact when I finish, because I am stronger than anything in my past. I’ve come to be not so afraid of true feelings, even though I know much exploration is still ahead. I’m learning, and healing and growing, from all I read and all I share with the wonderful wise women in my reading and writing circles. I’m on my way to finding the true authentic me. So far, I like what I’ve found.

I’ve come around to the one thing that stops me, and it is, I believe, closely related to my last post. I am not intentional, not resolute about taking the time and the space and the place to create. Do I need to find out WHY I don’t do that — or do I just need to write?

For now, I think I just need to do it. Naomi Wolf writes that her father Leonard believes that every one of us is an artist, whatever our creative medium might be. I find myself thinking back to these words from The Treehouse: “He wants to know you have put your emotion into it, driven your artist’s discipline into it, seen it through to completion and signed your name to it, if only in your own mind. If you do, he believes, your work comes alive, and gives life to those around you. And, it gives life, he is sure, to you.” And a bit farther on, “He (Leonard) believes that no amount of money or recognition can compensate you if you are not doing your life’s passionate creative work; and if you are not doing it, you had better draw everything to a complete stop until you can listen deeply to your soul, identify your true heart’s desire, and change direction. It’s that important.”

Yep, that sounds to me like just do it! I suspect the answers will follow. Off to my treehouse I go!


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