Let me start by saying that Jena Strong is a fantastic writer. She is a mother of two daughters, a life coach, a wife, and a fabulous writer - among many other things. I often read her blog posts and then print them and glue them into my journal. Tonight is going to be another one of those nights I think.
In her last few posts, Jena wrote about an upcoming (and now past) trip from Vermont to San Francisco to spend time under the teaching of another fantastic writer and teacher, Karen Maezen Miller.
In Jena's latest post, this is the section that caught my eye and my heart.
"I feel like every time you sit down to write a poem, you're practicing," she said.
She is right. Writing - poetry particularly, but all writing really - is one of the ways I practice. It's at the very heart of how this blog came into being. And at the same time, I forget. I forget that it counts. I see what I don't do, where I fall short. My brain is dense with self-judgment, criticism, and doubt. I want to say I don't believe a word of it.
I can forget that what I do do counts.
What you do counts, too.
Come to think of it, what we do is all that counts.
So very well said, Jena.
I too forget that it counts. Everything counts.
I forget every single day. Every hour. Every time I turn around, I have forgotten.
Often I allow myself to think that being at home with my children, reading to and with them, and going on short day trips with them doesn't count as much as...
I think that sitting poolside and watching them play in the pool doesn't count as much as ...
I think that cooking for them, even though I hate to cook, doesn't count as much as...
Then again, I think that going out to eat with them doesn't count as much as cooking for them, even though I hate to cook.
I think I don't count as much as... because I'm not earning a salary.
I think that I don't count as a good example of the real women, the strong women, the women who are good role models because those women don't earn master's degrees and then stay home with their kids for the next 15+ years.
I forget that reading and journaling and taking photos and telling our stories and welcoming friends to share our lives and praying and writing all count.
I forget that lighting candles and incense and remembering those that I love in prayer and kind thoughts and moments of simple soul-deep connectedness, even when separated from them by hundreds or thousands of miles - I forget that it counts.
I forget that smiles and waves and "please" and "thank you" count.
I forget that responding to emails and phone calls and text messages counts.
I forget that me being me, failing and falling apart, strong and weak, loving and laughing out loud, weeping, growing, being defiant, being compliant, reaching out, reaching in, being silent, grateful, discontented, writing, not writing, cooking, not cooking, cleaning, not cleaning, teaching and not teaching - I forget that me living my life to the fullest, it counts. Big time.
Letting go of what is not kind or generous or thoughtful counts too.
Choosing not to retaliate, not to criticize, not to engage in needless debate counts.
Apologizing, forgiving, releasing old grudges count.
Breathing, simply inhaling and exhaling, taking many long, slow breaths before responding, sometimes choosing silence, always seeking to foster calmness and welcome gentleness - it all counts.
I forget far too often that it all counts. Every single minute of it.
Thanks, Jena, for yet another fantastic blog post.