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This is not my actual cork board.

This is not my actual cork board.

You:  You don’t write much anymore, Tabitha.

Me:  No, I don’t.

You:  I miss it.

Me:  So do I.


 

That this blog space has sat dormant since August 2014 breaks my heart.  I have sat here at my desk, arms limp at my sides, staring at the blinking cursor on the screen, with my mind totally paralyzed.  I need to write about this, this and this, I say to myself.  I mentally tag these things on invisible scraps of paper and peg them to my mind’s cork board for safe keeping.  This, I think, will keep my mind organized and clear, the idea out of my mental space and on the cork board.  Except I never actually transfer them tophysical cork board, so the thoughts keep rolling around inside my skull.

Thinking + not doing = paralysis

This morning I thought I would jot down all of the things that have happened since August 28, 2014, the last post on this blog.  The list looked like this:  my grandmother died; the indignities of dying in hospital; quitting the office job; dying friendships; divorcing my father; the impact of being the adult child of a parent with mental illness; supporting a partner whose mother is dying; “Let’s talk about what happens when she dies, honey.  Where will you need me to be?  How can I best support you through that time?”; the guilt-laden phone call “Your father is in hospital.  You need to go see him.”;  Fuck You – the chapter that comes after being told I need to go see my father; I’m a Horrible Person – the chapter that comes after Fuck You…

There are a lot of magical things thrown in there as well but these things listed above are the heavy, loaded things that are begging for my attention.  Who in their right mind would want to go near these things?  Really.  I imagine doing what writers do best – I take these topics, scribble them on paper, and tack them to a real cork board.  Then, every day, I touch one of them by writing about it, freeing up the energy in my heart and mind.  I check them off one by one.  I keep going.

When I consider the above topics scribbled on paper and tacked to a board, I see nothing but The Ugly Cork Board.  It is a chaotic, jumbled heap of shit staring me down.  It’s too easy for my wee mind to look at the ugly mess and say, “Why would you write about this heap?  Who in the hell wants to read about that ugly shit?”  Who indeed?

At the end of the day, at the very core of my being rests the Wise Self who knows it doesn’t matter if not one single person reads one single word that I put out there; it’s about me freeing myself from the cripplingly painful grip of so many things.  I would love to write about puppy dogs and bubble gum and I know that, to get there, I must wade through the muck.

*sigh*  How does one choose which hideous topic to touch first?  Perhaps I will conjure up a dart and chuck it at the board. Whatever topic the dart hits wins.  Come what may.

For now I think I shall sit here and stare blankly, unfeelingly, at The Ugly Cork Board.  What comes next?  We shall see.

 

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poetry

 

For me there is no greater honour than being recognized by one’s own writing teacher.  I have had the great honour and privilege of having two of my poems posted on my writing teacher’s website.  If you’re ever looking for fun and inspiring writing classes in various cities across Ontario, I recommend a class with Brian Henry.  If you enjoy poetry at all, you can find my two, “Life Cycles” and “In the End”, posted here on Quick Brown Fox (November 2, 2013).

May you also be recognized and brought forward into this world.

Blessings,

Tabitha

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It was a year ago, April 1, that I made the difficult decision to drop one day of work at the office and to, instead, devote that day to my writing.  The plan was very clear:  create pieces, enter them into contests and work to get them published.  I can say with pride that, but for a few days here and there, Wednesdays have become my writing days.  My loved ones have made the transition with me (Thank you so much!) and now support the time I spend locked away in my room.  While I may have “lost” a day’s pay at the office, I gained an extra teaching day and have managed to essentially fill my weekday classes; therefore, nothing, really, was lost.  After a relatively short time, I got to spend more time in my life getting paid to do what I love.  Amen.

Today another one of my pieces was rejected.  That makes for a 100% rejection rate.  One year later, not one single piece that I consciously put out into the world has been accepted by an outside source.  And still I write on.  I remember sitting with my teacher in a private session as I began the process. She was questioning how I thought I would manage any rejection of my work.  I recall saying, with absolute calm and certainty, that I would be okay.  I knew that, just because some judge in a contest did not choose my work, did not mean my work was crap.  There are all sorts of reasons for a rejection and, so long as no one was nasty to me, I would be just fine.  One year later I can honestly say that all really is well.

The whole experience has been very interesting and has provided me with a number of learning experiences.  I was approached by an online publication to submit poetry on a regular basis.  In questioning one of their policies, I discovered I was not particularly fond of their philosophy nor their style of communication.  That experience allowed me the wonderful opportunity to tell a publication that their product was not a good match for my work–I got to reject them…and it was fun.  I have also learned that the whole process of submission destroys a bit of something for me.  Adding an element of competition to my creative life gets me feeling like a crab in a bucket filled with other crabs dragging each other down as they try to reach the top. That’s not why I started doing this.  I started because I needed to, because, without feeding my relationship with the written word, I go a bit nuts and nobody likes that much.  I do it for the sheer joy of creating word-pictures, and for the challenge of taking the complex mess that’s in my head and straightening it out with words.  I do it because I love it, but the competition was killing that so, I’m glad it’s gone.  I feel no further need to compete.  I have my glorious little blog-home and, for now, that’s perfectly good enough.

If I could say something to the writers out there it would be this:  Don’t let anything get in the way of your love affair with words.  Don’t let the rejections stop you. Don’t let silence stop you. Don’t let others’ opinions stop you.  If you need to write, write.  If you love it, commit to it as you would a loving relationship.  Fight for it. Nurture it.  Romance it.  Just don’t let it go.  If you need to write, write, no matter what.  And if you need to share your voice with the world, start a blog, leave notes on public benches, slip a poem inside a book in the library, just do something.  You don’t need the outside sources to make your voice be heard.  The establishment writers once relied upon is gone.  If you need to share, self-publish, baby.  Go all the way!  😉

In honour of my one year anniversary, and of all the things I’ve learned thus far, I offer the very first poem I created back in April, 2012.

Many blessings, much love, and all the support in the world for your creative ventures,

Tabitha

Emergent “I”

 

Silent listening

            to water to wind.

Sun

stamp –presses down

on

my

skin.  I

soften outwards

— a tender pool of waves.

Wind-whisked water, warmed by sun,

nourishes the earth.

That

is my soul.

At the depths,

wind finds a crack and enters,  filling me

with pulse.

Dropping to open, I

ripple out

— liquid gold.

Liquid Gold by Deevona

Liquid Gold by Deevona

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grief

 

 

In the End

 

1.

Shattered woman,

leaking soul from your lips,

What does it take to get to this place?

Leaning against neglected walls

clutching your string of pearls

The ghost of your child

            is your rope of death.

2.

Hollow woman,

bleeding

            slit open

 by the searing blade of loss,

love-guts long washed away by your pressure-hose tears,

you speak to me in cold whispers about your dream—

            that a bullet in your head

            stops your heart.

Instead,

the machine deep inside your chest

keeps that heart beating.

Your life

forced

moves along.

3.

Shadow woman,

stroking the porcelain back

of your headless child-replacement

seated beside you on the couch.

Searching through a box of eyes

so that what is sightless can see,

you are blind to the ones who still breathe.

Lifeless creations you cradle in your bosom,

precious,

while the ones still in warm flesh

stand bleeding for your love.

4.

Husk,

that once was Woman,

swinging by the vapours of

a child long gone.

What is vital,

sacrificed to memory.

Here there will be

no peace.

~ Tabitha Kot 2012

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Ibelieveinyou

Ever since my friend put me on to the video I posted last week entitled “Never Ever Give Up” (you can find it here) I can’t stop thinking about the power of belief to change a life, and about the impact teachers can have on their students.  Going back to the video, I think that man’s yoga teacher could have given him an exercise as simple as “jump on one foot” and it would have made all the difference in the world.  Why?  Because the belief in the student’s ability to transform was there long before the set of exercises was given out.  The teacher believed when the student could not, and isn’t that a remarkable thing?  Isn’t that what it’s all about, not just between teacher and student, but between us all as believing mirrors for one another?

I love when students begin to practice yoga with me.  I hear all kinds of fanciful stories about how out of shape they are, how they lack flexibility, and how they can’t do this, that and the other thing, especially because they’re so old.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  While I smile and nod graciously, truly understanding the importance of being heard and validated, I don’t buy any of it.  In my mind, I think, “Let’s just see about that.”  And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.  I just wonder how much of the belief system we each hold on to is based on fact and how much is adopted story.  I work exclusively with women and, in this world, we are told constantly how it’s over for us once we move past the age of 25 (or is it younger now?  It seems younger to me.) We’re done.  We have nothing to offer.  We’re sliding downhill into frailty and dementia.  And I say:  BULLSHIT!  Again, let’s just see about that.

And, my word, I have seen.  I have seen a 70 year old woman who, after 2 years of practice, flipped ass-over-tea-kettle and hopped up into a wall-supported handstand.  I have seen a 66 year old woman commit to a regular yoga practice for 2 years, when she has struggled to commit to any kind of physical exercise her whole life.  I have seen a woman who, in the beginning, could not sit still and close her eyes in meditation, become one of the most still and focused students in class.  I have seen.  On the first day, I have looked into your eyes and while you speak to me of what you lack, I see all the potential that exists.  And the day that you begin to see it for yourself  is the day that you begin to hold yourself up.  What a glorious day!

This isn’t about how I’m some kind of grand yoga teacher.  I’m not.  I’m just some average chick running classes from her home.  This is about the life-changing effects of believing in one another.  It’s about having the courage to dive with one another beneath the skin and into the soul of the matter, and once you reach the soul, there’s nothing that can’t happen.  In the place of the soul, “can’t” doesn’t exist.

For me, it happened with the written word.  Words are magic for me and capturing what is in my head and getting it just right down on the paper is a bliss unimaginable.  But my storytelling capacity wasn’t exactly nurtured by the nuns in nursery school.  Nope.  I had to do and redo and redo again my paragraphs so my letters fit perfectly inside the lines.  Forget about the quality of the story, it was the pretty handwriting that counted.  Silliness.  When I was 10 years old, I met the man who would change my writing life forever.

Mr. LaPlume was fresh out of teacher’s college, with glasses and a shock of flaming orange hair.  He was young, vibrant and full of life, and he did that one thing that would turn everything “writing” on its head:  He told my parents that I had something when it came to words; I had a gift for writing. I had never heard that before.  For years I had only heard about what was “wrong”, never about what was right or what could be.  Mr. LaPlume believed in my talent and I believed in Mr. LaPlume.  If he thought my writing was good, maybe, just maybe, it was. To this day, when the scary writer’s thoughts enter my mind and I worry that I will run out of things to say, Mr. LaPlume’s shiny face enters my mind and I think, “Mr. LaPlume believed in me.  I can do this.”  Some things never leave…thank god!

So, who believes in you?  Who is the shining star who said that one perfect thing at just the right time to help you take that leap of faith?  Who is the person who has stood by you time and again, and encouraged you and celebrated with you, with pom poms, whenever you overcame yourself and DID IT, whatever “it” is?  Who holds the faith in you when you’re feeling too fragile to hold it for yourself?  If, for some reason, no one comes to mind, I’ll tell you this:

i believe in you

I believe in who you are and in what you can do, and there’s a whole army of good people standing behind me who believe in you too.  Just reach out into the ether and you’ll know we’re there.  Then…do it, whatever “it” is.  We’ll be there, pom poms in hand, smiling right along with you.  Some angels aren’t meant to be seen, but they’re still there.

Have a blessed day!

Tabitha

ps.  Mr. LaPlume, if you’re out there…THANK YOU.  You helped to change my life.

 

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Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity…–Julia Cameron

I have the tremendous ability to suck the life and joy completely out of creativity.  I’m also the queen of excuses.  I blame my inertia on my partner’s procrastination.  BULLSHIT!  It has nothing to do with her.  I have no quiet time.  This is absolutely true when I cram my days full of meaningless activity.  I have no solitude.  While I may not have the entire house to myself, it is a guarantee that people are not holed up in every single room!  Solitude could easily be found if I simply got off my ass and closed the door to my work space.  We watch too much TV.  Only when I sit and stare at it for hours instead of heading off to that previously-mentioned quiet space to nourish my creative spirit.  Left to my own devices I can easily come up with a lifetime of excuses to keep me from doing what needs to be done–CREATING!

The truth of the matter is that recently I stopped creating out of fear.  Heart-stopping fear.  In the midst of writing a poem that had me feeling like I was holding the hot, putrid guts of a dying woman in my hands, I felt the metal security gates of my defences slam down–HARD.  I heard myself say, “I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  Why me?”

Up from the depths of my memory came the voice of an old writing mentor.  She was ripping me a new one after I shared with her the most raw piece I had ever written about my life. I thought I was safe with her, a woman who knew great suffering herself.  Instead, I was met with venom as she stabbed me with, “What are you trying to do, drag me into your shit?  Change the voice!  Change the story!”  Except it was my story and it was my voice.  I could no more change these things than I could the colour of my eyes.

Instead of understanding my mentor’s reaction for what it was–my story touched a painful, unhealed place in her–I took her words to heart believing there was something intrinsically wrong with my voice and my perceptions.  Afraid to ever again shine the light on raw human suffering I aimed to “clean up” my ways of viewing the world and expressing myself.  I was a dirty girl who saw dirty things and that just wasn’t nice.  I wanted to be nice.  I wanted to be liked.  I wanted acceptance.  My aim served only to create in me great psychological conflict and a vicious case of creative constipation.

20 years later I find myself standing here with this bleeding, unfinished poem in my hands, the true and agonizing story of a woman’s response to loss, and I am sick with fear.  My knees are knocking, my chest is tight, and my entire spirit is cringing, waiting for the scathing voice of Mrs. M. to once again tell me I’m a dirty girl who needs changing.  I can’t proceed with the story. I am stuck but only for as long as I allow myself to be.  Mrs. M. is gone and her voice is simply a memory that resurfaces whenever I feel scared and vulnerable in my creative life.  In some twisted way this punishing voice helps me find comfort and safety by stopping me dead in my tracks.

What to do?

I gently creep up on myself.

Day 1:  Take pen in hand.

Day 2:  Have pen in hand. Place book in front of self.

Day 3:  With pen in hand, open book.

Day 4:  Dare to write one word.

                              Then one sentence.

                                        And a paragraph.

Day 16 (or 24…or 68…I’ve lost track):  I open the file on my computer that contains the poem.

Today:  Looking at the first two sections of this three-part poem, I type “3.” and save the file.

Ernest Hemingway once said:

Today, by softly and lovingly moving in on my creative self, I begin to bleed again.  Just for today, in this very precious moment, there is flow, there is movement, and it is good.

May you find the courage to creep up lovingly on the soft animal that is your creative self.  May you find just the right things to do to engage with it.  May you also begin to bleed into and from those places within you that have stood frozen in time for far too long.

All my love,

Tabitha

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AWAKENING

by Tabitha Kot (2008)

Sitting innocently in my car,

weaving my way through rush hour traffic,

distracted and crunching on a tart Macintosh.

She silently, invisibly, slinks through the

sliver-crack

of my open window.

Gliding across the breadth of my shoulders,

licking Her way up the back of my neck,

She slides seductively across my jawline,

rises up to my ear and whispers, hotly:

Your life

is your sacred space.

 

And She is gone.

I blink once,

slowly,

deliberately.

My eyes open to a

whole

new

world.

She is in everything I see.

She is in everything I hear.

She is in all that I touch,

all that I taste,

all that I smell,

all that I know.

I see the jewel of the Goddess sparkling

in everything I behold.

The world becomes precious to me

in a heartbeat

with Her

in it.

I am home.

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