Wasp Paper

Writing from the Writers Group this week. We’ve been doing this, but I can’t find the piece I used as inspiration.

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What would a wasp say if it could write its little heart out on that huge scroll?polistes_may_2013-2

I’ve never liked bees. Honey bees are ok—almost cute—but the rest of the beekingdom have always terrified me. Maybe not bumble bees. They are miniature winged golden retrievers, following too close and bumping accidentally; curious and furry. Hornets, wasps, yellow jackets; they are all evil.

The girl scouts had a giant hornet’s nest in the corner of the room where we met. It was something to do with North Carolina or Mecklenburg County. I never paid attention to that part. I had nightmares about it; swarms of these evil creatures would pour out of the bottom of their paper castle and come for me, vengefully pricking me to death for daring to cast my eyes in their direction, their fury unstoppable, their wings like a machine of war propelling them towards my vulnerable face.

But they…make paper! They have probably been making paper since well before humans ever did. What if a little wasp took her stinger, dipped in my fresh blood, and wrote on her paper. What would she say?

“Keep out! No trespassing,” big jagged letters around the belly of the nest. “Private Property!”

“You wouldn’t believe what I saw this morning! The sun made tiny round jewels on the ivy leaves round the old tree stump,” careful, precise holes poked, needle stitches for each letter. “You should pay more attention to the great world.”

“Yay for circles!” Big, punched out letters. “Circles are best!”

“My life is so brief and fast,” tiny bloody cursive, her ink from the well of my arm. “I must be fierce and powerful before I die, for it flies to meet me quickly. Then, I am no more.”

To read the nest book, one layer at a time, peeling pages from an enemy’s soul.

 

Note: that is NOT my photograph. I would never, ever get that close. The photographer is excellent and can be found here. 

Word and Works

Today I got to write with the writer’s group I used to spend time with and it was just delightful! Schedules change and things happen to make it impossible to go… but then schedules change again and make it possible once more!

The writing prompt for today was Word and Works. The group had been writing using a work of art as a prompt, but I kinda missed that bit, so I did it a little differently. However, they were, as they were in the past, kind and supportive. Looking forward to doing this again and hopefully on a regular basis.

 

Word and Works

The line between didn’t really exist. The line between the word and the action wasn’t really a line at all. It was the breath; that is all there was. A breath between the word and the work. The breath made word into work. Word made flesh and blood and bone, working together. Breath made static word into kinetic work of body.

But first
Breath and word became the perpetual motion of light; working, pressing back the dark. Always birthing, bringing the new.

Then
Breath and word became the work of flow. Flowing water and air. The work of ebbing life, the work of growing green, the work of shinning blue. The in and out of breath was the flow of word into work.

At last
Came the flesh and blood and bone. Finally, came the vessel to carry the breath. Word and work joined in breath became the beat of blood and heart, the soar of the mind, the lift of the hands.

Breath wove through words and became the fabric of work, wrapping up the vessel in life. Filled up the vessel to the brim, seeped into every moment, filled and stretched and pushed outward to overflowing; till overflow was inevitable.

The word rode the breath through the vessel, up and up and out of the mouth and the work was love. And the vessel was love.

But all of this
This was before. Before we drew a line between word and work; before we held our breath and separated the doing from the being; the bold, wide line that cuts us in two.

End Of Summer Canning

Well, I want to be canning but it seems that I can’t get there from here because my schedule is overflowing with work things to do. However, it appears there may be canning opportunities next week!

What to can? Well, I’m not completely sure what will be on the menu, though apples are likely. Barber’s Orchard is just down the road and they’ve got some delicious apples! I found this article about what kinds of foods are in season in North Carolina throughout the year and it seems, logically, that what’s in season is what’s eligible for preserving. I’d like to freeze some things but I have extremely limited freezer space so I couldn’t really do much with that.

Although I’d be happy to not deal with apple sauce for a while (due to the relatively recent apple sauce extravaganza at the church with over 21 gallon bags to freeze), I’m still quite likely to do something or another with apples. I’d like to make stewed (not sauced) apples or something like I usually put into apple pies so that I could have canned apple pie filling. I’ve still got some of these spiced apples that I canned a couple of years ago and they’re pretty yummy but not exactly what I wanted to do.

Hopefully more posts and photos of fruity veggie goodness will follow soon!

Creative Impulse

Often, we seem to think that creativity is an uncontrollable impulse. It seems that all kinds of creative endeavors, from photography to painting or fabric arts to sculpture or writing to metalwork, are dependent upon the fickle and capricious appearance of this impulse. It comes and goes as it will and we are at this muse’s whim.

However, this may not be exactly as full an understanding of creativity as we might think. I’m not convinced that we are utterly at the mercy of creativity’s impulsive nature. Ray Bradbury’s book, Zen In the Art of Writing,  gives many good ideas on how to tame the muse or, put another way, find ways to stimulate creativity and not be continually at the mercy of its appearance (or absence).

A recent post on a chainmailing blog I follow has some fantastic ideas as well. Actually, they are ideas that come from some seasoned artists. The post summarizes the various suggestions and recommends some good books to read. It’s an excellent post and well worth the read! And these are good ideas and suggestions whether your vocation includes a creative component or if you need creative sparks in any area of your life.

For me, the very best things that have helped me remain creative personally and professional are simple: write every day even if it is a seemingly uninspiring journal entry, read both fiction and non fiction as much as I can, put intentional focus on the details, patterns, colors, people, animals and natural elements of the world around me, and when I realize I am stuck with a project(which usually occurs about 3 hours into stuck-ness) I get up and do something completely different for a while.

Of course, sometimes creativity simply won’t flow. There’s a reason why people sometimes equate a time when they cannot get moving creatively as dry and desert like. It seems that these times are a little like the times when people come to see me for pastoral care. In a crisis, even a mild one, our vision becomes narrowed. We see fewer options, see less support, help, and connections to our world around us. It is as if we are seeing, thinking and feeling with blinders on.  We remove those, or at least shift them out a bit, when we move out of ourselves and broaden our vision. The same is true for creativity.

Got ways you spark your creativity? I’d love to hear about it!

New Blog and New Mini Obsession

Oh Instagram (and associated apps) where have you been all my life???

Well, I think it and they have been on all the i technology which I have avoided like the slimy plague. Recently, however, I got an Android phone and have been inducted into the world of Instagram and Pixlr-o-mat and I LOVE it!

I would have seriously turned up my snobbish photographer’s nose a few years ago at the idea of using a camera in a cell phone much less using digital manipulation software to distort images making them appear, in some cases, of lesser quality than they actually are and, occasionally, in some state of decay. Yet, here I am! And I’ve even added another blog to my blogset: The Mental Instagram Scrapbook.

For some time, I’ve had The Mental Scrapbook, a location for my photography. Even with my new found love of the gram/mat style, it didn’t seem to be quite right to add these new images to that blog. A bit like eating salt and vinegar potato chips alongside a piece of chocolate cheesecake. Both yummy in their own way, but somehow inappropriate on the same plate.

So, visit if you wish and here’s a little set of some snaps:

I Know Her Not

This is part of a series of posts on body image.

“Right. I look fine. Except I don’t,’ said Zora, tugging sadly at her man’s nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman’s magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki’s knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies– it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it home on their shoes, they breathed it in off their newspapers. There was no way to control it.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty

While I never thought self-disgust was in any way how human beings were meant to experience themselves or the place from which we are intended to experience the world around us, it has, simultaneously, almost always been how I assumed everyone functioned to some degree or another. At some point I realized that the majority of men do not experience themselves and the world around them through the dark, welder’s goggle lenses of self-loathing and that most women do. I am quite aware that this is a broad generalization and make no particular apologies for it except to say yeah, I know but I’m saying it anyway. I could cite many studies that relate to my experience and most all would support it but I am not bothering to do so because that’s not the point. This isn’t a sociological essay with any scientific value. It is my experience and my reflection.

I grew up in a home that affirmed me as beautiful, smart, pretty (which isn’t the same thing as beautiful) and valuable not just as an individual but also as a loved and wanted member of the family. I was never once—not one single time—made to feel inadequate or “less than” by either of my parents because I was a girl.

That was, of course, only true within my family and only until I came into contact with the outside world, at which time my father’s near paranoid fear of the world’s evils, which were certain to be lurking around every corner waiting to snatch his precious child off to a Neverland Hell, and my mother’s certainty that some characteristic or habit would prevent others from taking me seriously, began to cloud that sense of self. Their desire to protect, love and prepare their daughter for the world collided with the world’s desire to transform every human into a base, consumable item and, just as it has been true for many a woman, a perfect storm of self-disgust was born.

I learned to dislike myself, that is to say specifically my physical body, early in elementary school because I was big, both in height and weight, and different from everyone else and could not hide from the cruelty of other children. My body was the ideal target for dodge ball, played both with the big half-inflated gym class balls and with words flung carelessly, and I hated it for its inability to cooperate, to shrink and be less obvious, to be normal. I also began to think of my body as an “it” and not “me”. That began a lifelong denial that rivaled Peter himself. I know her not. A daily practiced betrayal of the body.

I developed a woman’s curves very early, hips and breasts rounding and shaping a classic female shape out of my little girl body. By the sixth grade I was the tallest girl in the class and while other girls were reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, praying for their periods to start and begging their moms to buy them training bras they could then stuff with Kleenex, I was already in B cups, perpetually folding my arms across my chest and begging my mother for something other than Tylenol for cramps.

The pediatrician told my parents that this 5’1” eleven year old was destined to be a very tall woman. A big woman, much like today’s WNBA athletes. They searched desperately for role models as the doctor suggested. Every tall woman we came into contact with would be held as an example of beauty. “Look at that beautiful, tall woman! Her long arms and legs… someday you’ll be tall like that. She’s so beautiful and graceful and tall.” Linda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman, was a favorite example held up for me in the most love-filled and misguided attempt to root my body image in something powerful, feminine and good: Wonder Woman.

I never grew another inch taller and remained a 5’1”, chubby, uncoordinated girl with short blonde hair. Not Wonder Woman. Not powerful. Not good. Not beautiful. Though decidedly feminine and because I only got one out of the whole list, I hated that one. I hated my fat, my increasing comparative shortness, my ever-enlarging breasts and ever-widening hips, my thick legs and tiny feet and hands that, by their diminutiveness, even further accentuated my self-perceived enormous physical landscape.

The other girls hated me for my rapid development and I hated my body for it as well. But I could not seem to hate them because somehow I knew they hated their own bodies, too. We taught one another, long before the boys came along to teach us, how to hate our own flesh.

Both in love for another and hatred of ourselves do we hurt each other.

Much time has passed in my life since those days. I have come to see Wonder Women in every size, shape, color, age…. even my own. I’ve come to believe that hating the body to the point of denying one’s own personhood is hating oneself in both a deeply personal, whole identity way and in a broad, far-reaching way that spreads beyond the boundaries of our own skin and into the lives of others. We do not hate in a vacuum; it is contagious and poisonous. To heal our body image is to see ourselves as whole people and, therefore, to begin to heal the world.

This is the first post in a series on body image. If you have a story or wish to write an essay about your own experience with body image to post on this blog, please contact me. I would love to read it!