A Pointless Poet Writes While the World Waits

I am the explosion of color before the setting sun disappears.

I am the final display of magnificence before twilight descends.

My color-splashed canvas is brief – a transitory existence.

One of a kind golden photos that are easily missed.

I am an ever changing portrait that continues to unfold –

beautiful and breathtaking, I am a sight to behold.

I am both a moment in time and every story ever told.

A twisted tapestry of light and elements refined.

Everything that we wish to be, exquisitely defined.

As the invisible brush and palette blend,

an awareness washes over me –

not one of melancholy, but guided urgency.

Before the brush and palette are put away a final time

I too will live vibrantly and outwardly –

living a life that is uniquely mine.

Stop. Wait a minute. Is this really what I should be doing

on a Friday, late afternoon?

Are these meandering lines a frivolous waste of fleeting time?

Surely, they are, and this pointless poet should just walk away –

to find a greater purpose, a greater plan for her day.

Many things left undone and many thoughts left unsaid

while my fingers and metaphoric mind continue their dance.

I should quiet the lyrical melody that keeps my Dell humming and

puts me in a temporary trance.

What is the point of blending words, rhythm, and rhyme?

After all, it’s music that only I can hear, a song that is only mine.

Instead of clicking the black keys and making words appear

I should slip on gloves and to my garden, start tending.

When I am done with that chore,

I should grab the mop and start scrubbing my floor.

If I start now, I will still have time to fold socks

before preparing dinner, with fresh veggies I must chop.

Those tasks, and more, like saving the world,

have a greater purpose, a greater plan for my day.

Much greater than the frivolous lines filling up this page.

Before I save the world,

I will grab those gloves, and that mop,

but first, just a few more lines I must type.

Because, I can’t stop the words from spilling out.

So, for now I will let the melody play and the words escape.

Words that have learned how to dance

over and around the shoulds and can’ts.

And that is how this pointless poet prefers it to be,

because long after our gardens die,

our floors need replacing,

and our socks need mending,

the world will still need saving.

So poets, let the quiet melodies continue,

the spilling of words.

Because frivolous lines, like a fleeting canvas,

will endure.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my reflective poem with a playful twist. I hope that your week has had a few unexpected (and delightful) moments. Have an inspired weekend! Michele

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to read my words and glance at my photos. For optimal viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post.

50 Life Stories” update: I am writing my way through Story #41. I am so close to my goal! Maybe unrealistic, but I am pushing to finish Story 50 by Valentine’s Day. ❤️

Picture 1: View from a cabin at Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona Picture 2: Lake Havasu State Park, Arizona Picture 3: High Street Shopping Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Live Your Story. Write Your Story. Share Your Story.

Surrounded by my stories – 22 completed, 28 more to go!

Before I launch into this post, I would like to share a preview of what I am working on for next Saturday’s post. Next week I will be sharing the story of an inspiring athlete who recently took a leap of faith and made some changes in her life. I will share how her life changes are going and learn more about her motivational athletic journey.

The subject of today’s post might be a bit premature, but the timing is also perfect. Eight weeks ago, I set out on an ambitious personal writing project, that I titled, 50 Life Stories. At the start of my writing journey, my goal was to write fifty personal stories that represent standout events or memories from my past. I had some idea of the subject of a few stories, but I also wanted the stories to show up organically. I wanted one story to plant the seed for the next story, and so on. I have stayed committed to the organic flow of story ideas and have been surprised by the memories and details that have bubbled up in my brain. My initial writing plan was to write three to four stories a week. I am close to that pace, at about three stories per week. My plan is to finish writing my fiftieth story before the week of Thanksgiving, so that I can press pause that week, before I begin the next phase of my writing process. Meeting my deadline is important to me. Going deep into reflection and the writing process is more important. I am intent on giving each story the attention it deserves. This is not a rush to put words on the page, this is about remembering, revisiting, reliving, and relinquishing. With some hesitation as to whether I could sit still long enough to craft fifty thoughtful, authentic, and honest stories, I began my journey. I had no idea just how transforming the experience would be for me – I just felt it was something I needed to do.

At the writing of this post, I am three stories shy of my halfway point (hence the “premature” comment). I have written twenty-two stories (53 Pages, and 29,379 words) and I have learned more about myself than I ever could have imagined possible at the beginning of this journey. I have many more stories to write, however, almost reaching the halfway mark is a monumental (personal) accomplishment and once I reach Story #25, I know I will be fired up to finish. The next “story” update will be two weeks from now and I expect to be well into my 35th story by then.   

Writing Process

I am not able to work on my 50 Life Stories every day, but when I do have time to write, I have found a few pre-writing steps and environment preferences that are helpful to the writing process.

Before writing:

I quiet the chatter in my mind by:

While writing:

I prefer:

  • having at least one hour, preferably two, before I commit to working on a story, because once I begin writing, I can quickly get lost in the story and lose track of time (ideally).
  • having a quiet writing environment, so that I can allow my mind to fully revisit and relive memories without the distraction of my phone or music (birds chirping outside is OK).
  • to mentally put myself in that moment of time and write the details as quickly as they unfold, paying close attention to recording sensory memories.
  • to spend more time allowing and creating rather than editing and revising (stopping too often to edit interrupts the creative process).
  • to highlight points of uncertainty, such as specific dates, that can be researched later.
  • to write a working title for each story.

After finishing a story:

  • I read through the story and spend time revising, with more to come after completing my 50th story.
  • I print that story and read it aloud, marking or adding as I go (I’ve also read several stories to my husband).
  • I then staple it and put it in a folder.
  • I write the first few lines of the next story, to preserve that constant stream of one-story-idea-leading-to-the-next-story-idea.
  • Then, I prepare for the next story, repeating the process again (usually the following day, or soon after).

Insights Gained

  • I recognize how much I have starved my self-expression year after year, and how freeing it has been to release creative thoughts.
  • I feel empowered by giving myself permission to put my creative goals first, rather than last, which usually means not at all
  • Working past the burden of “I don’t want to go there,” with several life experiences, I now have new perspectives and insights about life events, that would not have happened if I had not given myself the time to fully revisit those moments.
  • Writing toward the challenges, instead of running from them, has also allowed me to release limiting beliefs and baggage (some I wasn’t even aware, before starting a story).
  • Connecting story after story, I have discovered themes, patterns, and habits; some of those have been helpful and others have not. With a new awareness, I can work on those that do not serve me.
  • Taking the time to quiet my mind and write my stories has given my mind the opportunity to deliver cherished moments – moments I have not thought about, in some cases, for over forty-five years.
  • In writing my stories, I will have given my daughter the gift of “my stories,” which are also her stories (whether she was there or not). I wish I had the same from my deceased father.
  • My husband, as my only audience at this time, has learned more about me than he (or I) knew two months ago (and we’ve been together since January of 1990!).
  • Every story is a new opportunity to gain more insight about myself. I have twenty-eight more stories to go. I am excited and open to the possibilities.  

Write Your Story!  

My 50 Life Stories project has changed me in ways I could not have imagined two months ago, and I know I have more discoveries to make. At this time, I am not sure what will happen after my fiftieth story is written and my revisions are complete. That is OK. I am more concerned about fully embracing the process of reliving and writing, rather than the what will happen next question. Sometimes that reliving and writing brings me laughter and joy and sometimes it brings me tears and sadness. I welcome it all, because I know through each emotion I am learning, growing, and discovering more about myself and that is life changing.

I encourage you to take the time to relive and write your stories. Maybe you join me in writing in fifty stories, or maybe you write five stories. The number of stories you write is less important than the personal transformation you might go through between writing the first word of your first story and the last word of your last word story. I suppose the “last word” doesn’t happen until we take our final breath, because as long as we are living, we have stories to tell. Tell yours!

Copyright © 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Your Conversation is None of My Business

Embracing the creative energy found in public spaces.

Learning to tune out, go within, and write privately in public spaces

One of the many changes I have made in my life over the last month is joining a writing group. The group of diverse writers share space and energy, more than story ideas or critiques. We meet in a large coffee/sandwich space every Friday midday for two hours. The space has ample tables to spread out our laptops, tablets, and other personal belongings, including our name cards, so that we can greet each other and create a writing community. The walls of the building we meet in are mostly glass, or they have large windows that let plenty of natural light in. The pulse of the shop beats with a constant stream of customers, and there is a pleasant hum of energy and uplifting music playing through the speakers overhead. There seems to be a core group of dedicated attendees, but otherwise the group varies from week to week, as people show up when they can, balancing their writing time with life demands. One writer I met during my first visit had just finished a book and was preparing to write and travel abroad.

Get ready to write …

After a fifteen-minute greet and get settled period, everyone begins working independently on their own project. Several writers are working on book projects, another is writing a script, others journal or blog. Even though we are not collaborating on writing projects, we are creating a group energy that I could not recreate on my own. We write for twenty minutes, rest for five, and repeat, during our two-hour time together. This timed routine of focused attention, followed by a short rest period is helpful and healthy and one I should have been following for years as a teacher, while grading endless papers.

I was a bit reluctant to join the group, because I did not believe that I could be productive in a coffee shop experience, with the distractions of movement and conversation stealing my attention. My hesitation in joining the group was also grounded in my reluctance to share my writing with strangers. Not that I had a writing project to share during my first visit, and I certainly wasn’t prepared to critique or have my work critiqued by another. Not yet, anyway. I had many reasons to not attend my first writing group, but I put my hesitation aside and joined the other writers five weeks ago. I have attended each week, with the exception of my week away in Tucson. I am so glad I did not let my reasons for writing in solitary confinement derail me from the experience of sharing space with other writers. I have learned many things about my writing self in a short time.

I have learned …

  • that I can tune out busy-ness around me and tune into my inner thoughts and actually complete a coherent sentence.
  • how much I enjoy being in the presence of others who share the common goal of putting their thoughts on paper, regardless of what each final writing purpose or project might look like.    
  • how important group accountability is for my growth. Knowing I am connected to a group of writers raises my accountability and the likelihood that I will “show up” and get some work done.

My initial hesitation about being too distracted to write in a coffee shop was unfounded. To my surprise, I was able to type two pages of draft during my first visit and the experience left me energized, not depleted, as I had feared. I thought my only path to inspired ideas and creative writing had to take place in the quiet solitude of my home office. I was wrong. Perhaps my hasty judgments about my ideal writing space were based on my experience of trying to write or grade in a classroom alongside forty restless teenagers. It just did not happen, so I stopped trying. Even if my students were supposed to be quietly writing themselves, there were always a few distractions and I felt it my responsibility to supervise my class and not allow myself to be fully immersed in my own work. Their productivity and safety was my top priority and my writing tasks would have to wait until I had quiet time after school to focus without interruption. The writing tasks I was attempting to complete were related to my teaching responsibilities, but I felt it more important to be fully available and accessible for their needs-which were many and constant.

Of course, these responsibilities included grading, grading, and more grading. Too many times of being interrupted while trying to grade essays, research projects, or tests while my students were also working, caused me to restructure my grading routine. For the most part, it happened only after school, when I could read and comment on one sentence one time, versus having to reread and repeat, due to interruptions. My teaching philosophy and style did add to my workload and hours, but I have no regrets about being fully committed to my students’ progress. Now, it is my time. It is my time to write, express, and share and not worry about the group of teenagers talking over their lunch, or the group of seniors catching up over tea, or the toddler hitting the writer across from me with a Styrofoam sword brought from home (true story). The conversations and movements of others are theirs to share and no longer mine to manage.  

Copyright © 2019 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.