Rapt Attention, Gifts and Rain

Every person has the potential to find a community of like-minded people and to create a matrix of safety and encouragement for personal and collective growth and creativity. ~Candy Paull

I was twitching at the weekend, desperate to log on, but I realised it was the addiction, a compulsion to feel connected online, to work hard and keep reaching out. So I relaxed, breathed, drank lots of water and thought of you enjoying your weekend.

I log on for the ability to connect with you in words, to articulate and share, to create that holy triangle of reader, writer and what’s written, but the truth is – and this may sound strange – I already feel connected with you. I spent the weekend trusting.

It’s hard for me, because I’m new to blogging and I’m used to working hard, often obsessively hard if I’m passionate about what I’m doing, but I managed to let go and trust that you wouldn’t suddenly disappear if I spent the weekend with my family, just as I won’t disappear from your life if you take a health break or go off for a few weeks.

And that trust brought blessings. I logged on today after draping a table napkin over my email counter. Don’t laugh – it works!  I have no idea how many emails I’ve had since I logged off on Friday. I’d recommend it. My priorities were: check if there are any comments or views, write a post, respond to comments, stroll around the blog route then give email correspondence my complete attention.

And what comments! Like a breath of fresh air, there you were, silent supporters, chatting friends and new readers, all of you understanding that my absence simply means I’m sleeping in a different time zone or refuelling my soul so that I have something to share with you in our café.

To write well, we must live well, with presence, openess and a yearning to go on  soul safaris, excavating our authentic selves so we have something real to share. If we genuinely believe in the power of letting go, really letting  go and allowing the universe to fill us up to overflowing with inspiration, we have to trust.

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Tidied all my papers. Tore up and ruthlessly destroyed much. This is always such a great satisfaction. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Staycation update…

  • On the 4th of July, I honoured my US friends by reading a Nora Roberts novel set in Maryland during the first week of July, and by cooking burgers; I cheated and had a veggy burger.
  • At the weekend, we had complete freedom to do as we wanted, every member of the family. I used our cheap long distance phone option to phone my son’s godmother in Greece and chatted for 45 minutes; it felt like we were on her wooden front porch, a few metres from the sea, drinking strong, grainy Greek coffee from tiny little cups. We covered everything from kids to computing.
  • Afterwards, I chose to clean windows and let the sun stream through, then shredded old documents. (I get shameful amounts of pleasure when I declutter and shred; I feel like I’ve shed pounds!) My husband and son decided to follow suit and tackled a corner of the attic. They filled the car full of boxes of books, games, toys and household items to be given to charity shops or the library. The next day, they did a car boot sale with the rest and made nearly $100.
  • My daughter created her own accoustic renditions of half a dozen popular songs. Her version of a Coldplay song had me in proud tears. I decided to investigate how I can put music clips, mine and hers, on my blog. A café needs music.
  • The kids watched Forrest Gump and cried at the end. I have good kids.

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Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the Earth; without rain there would be no life. ~ John Updike

It’s raining today and we’re in the middle of a storm. If you’re in the mood for a longer read, here’s a refreshing piece about another rainy day at home. Although I wrote it for my column a few years ago, re-reading it transported me back into the moment. (If you’ve downloaded my free ebook, it’s already in there.) When the Heavens Open

It got me thinking about what gifts I’d send you today from Scotland, if I could. I’d send you some rain – only where and when you wanted it, at night time maybe, to water your plants! I’d send you the lush, damp greenery and oxygen-filled fresh air it blesses my homeland with, and the drinking water, so fresh and crystal clear, we can drink the same stuff straight from the tap that is sold as bottled mineral water.

The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence. ~ Sue Atchley Ebaugh

You already bestow a gift every time you read someone’s writing with rapt attention or share a precious piece of yourself whenever you leave a comment somewhere.

 …but if you had super powers (and here’s the cool thing – you’re a writer; you already have superpowers!) which gifts could you share from your home town, to make us staycationers feel like we’ve had a glimpse of the elemental beauty of the village, town or city you live in ?

38 thoughts on “Rapt Attention, Gifts and Rain

  1. Hi Janice,

    The one line that really resonated with me today was the line that in order to write well, we have to live well too. I totally agree and I think that is something that so many people overlook.

    When someone creates, they are giving a part of themselves and the only way to do that well is to be in alignment and at peace. I always think of an image of a glass with water and sediment. If the water is all cloudy due to the sediment of thoughts and worry, it is hard to be clear. But when the sediment is at the bottom and there is clarity, then wonders and miracles can truly take place.

    As for what I could give you from the area that I live, I would say the beauty and power of the ocean. Nothing makes me feel closer to myself and to the Universe, than the sea. (They also sell delicious chocolate fudge by the ocean too and I would include that as well.)

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..How Being Conscious Can Change the World: Conscious Capitalism Update

    • That’s spooky! I have draft posts cooking about alignment and water! What a beautiful image you painted of the clear water with the sediment. Thank you for sharing it with us all. That’s exactly how I’ve felt this week.

      I didn’t know you lived near the ocean – my US geography’s really dodgy if there was no TV series or movie filmed there. 😉 But wherever you are, I suspect we’ll be eating chocolate and talking books by the ocean some day!

  2. “trust that you wouldn’t suddenly disappear if I spent the weekend with my family”

    Well before Chris and I temporarily relocated to the boonies, I never got online during the weekend. I didn’t check email, or blog, or comments, or anything. And all is still well in my universe, I think. 😉

    Hayden Tompkins´s last blog post..We will not go quietly into the night…

    • That’s how I started off too, logging off for ‘holy Friday’/family nights and logging back on on Mondays. Then I started feeling guilty when I logged on on Mondays and saw comments that had been sitting in moderation all weekend or left unanswered. I’ll just log on to answer emails, I thought, or I’ll log off just before pizza’s ready on a Friday, or I’ll read a few spiritual blogs on a Sunday. I had to give myself a hard slap when I heard those sneaky addictive excuses. I do occasionally work for a few hours on weekend mornings, when I’m in a car park waiting for the kids, but other than that, I’m happy to go back to the ‘old weekend-less ways’.

  3. I also loved “to write well, we must live well.” I can’t seem to come up with any thoughts when I’ve been cooped up in the house for a couple of days. I actually have to get out and experience life in order to come back to my desk and write about it.

    What gifts would I share from my hometown? My hometown is in Iowa, so if we met there I would show you the miles and miles of lush green cornfields and let you smell the wet dirt. Then I would take you to a beautiful park on the Missouri River, where grown men fly very expensive but extremely beautiful kites; where little children roll on the grassy hills, play on the swings, and get sand in their hair; where blushing brides have their outdoor weddings under a dance pavilion canopy; where bike riders, roller bladers and skateboarders zoom back and forth on the ten mile riverfront trail; and where couples in love sit on the grass holding hands while watching water skiers send up a spray of water behind them.

    Randi´s last blog post..Sunday Serenity 7-5-09

    • Beautiful! I am so happy when I come to these boxes; everyone here makes my life better and makes me feel like I’m reading blogs within a blog. I was in this park, Randi, standing right next to you, eating ice cream and watching the whole glorious spectacle unfold. Wet dirt and cornfields. Hot fudge and ‘boonies’. (I’ll have to look that one up!) The internet is a precious invention, used well. I feel like I’ve travelled today. The line that you and Nadia liked was my favourite, too. Writing helps me clarify my life; that line came from nowhere as I was ‘chatting’ to you all.

  4. So much to love here. I think I love the Staycation update best. When you have a family that stays and works together as yours does, it doesn’t matter where you live, does it? I moved to South Texas for a teaching job twenty years ago and have stayed here out of complacency. The petrochemical industry fuels the economy here so there is a very industrial feel to the area. I’ve spent my time raising two wonderful children and making a home I love out of a hundred-year-old cottage. Hurricanes have wrought havoc on the landscape, but memories of the husband and children sustain me. The four of us together doing things like you described were the best times of my life.

    Brenda´s last blog post..Funny Email

  5. Thank you, Brenda. I hope you’ll recreate some of those happy days for us some time, in a guest post or in the boxes here below. Tell us how you made the cottage a home or how your kids drove you to distraction and proud tears, all at once. The death of our loved ones and the days of empty nests are part of the journey for so many people; we can all learn from and be inspired by other people’s journeys.

    I’m intrigued, though, by the conflict between being sustained by the memories and the staying there out of “complacency”. So many of us experience that in some form or another.

  6. Cheating with a veggie burger, you naughty girl, you.

    The thinking about the blog all-the-time will fade. Promise. I remember when I first started blogging being a little obsessed. Pheewww.

  7. Thanks, Molly. Maybe things will quieten down when the ‘bloggling’ stops toddling and goes to school!

    I do feel that things will settle down a bit, though, when I find my rythm and bring my blogging and writing more into alignment.Today, for example, I decided just to post the link to my rain piece, but when I settle down in comments boxes, I get carried away blethering, as we call it in Scotland. The time zone difference also makes some things easier, some harder.

  8. I am once again in the blogging daily phase. However, as you so eloquently point out, Janice, one needs to live in order to have something about which to write. So, I do step away from my laptop periodically throughout the day, and engage with life.

    Marcy Webbb´s last blog post..Black Doll, Like Me

    • Hi Marcy,
      I think that phrase “engage with life” is crucial. For me it’s not about how often you do it or how long you spend doing it; the important thing is the depth and quality of engagement, how present you are. As a teacher, you must have days brimming over with inspiration and life lessons that make you smile! (Have you ‘met’ Randi and Brenda? They teach, too.)

    • Snap! I have a quotebook permanently with me as I get inspired daily by everything I read. My major irritation with myself at the moment is that I’m becoming book messy; I never used to be before I started blogging. I don’t have a study or home office, so little piles of books are appearing all over the place like rabbit droppings, every time I sit down and flick through books looking for something I’ve remembered and want to use. (I have hundreds.)My husband can track the route my laptop and I have taken all over the house! I’m not experienced like other folks in these boxes are; I’m at the ‘finding my rythm’ stage as well as trying to develop boundaries. That’s why I’m I’m enjoying all the good advice people are sharing here. The message seems to be “Don’t worry; become part of a wandering, warm, caring community where the folk stay kind and loyal as long as you stay true and authentic.”

  9. Janice,
    Thank you for your email on your afternoon list…I have learned to focus on family on the weekends and this past weekend was full of family – it creates a balance, though we did have to replace the wireless router and work on cell phone problems…my oldest daughter surprised us by flying in for the 4th, and my youngest met her at the airport and then we too cleaned and washed windows.
    It is cool and raining here now – I hope enough to water plants as I got fairly damp on my morning lake walk…steady mist, sometimes heavy mist…but very cool…I still need to trim roses…

    We all gathered to pack a suitcase for me and get votes on the clothes I should bring to Scotland…my suitcase is too large…so I am bringing the weekender – 20 pounds of stuff should be enough and then a back pack…Maybe I can use a cloth grocery bag as my purse to bring along my Kindle reader, DS player, and passport.

    This is very exciting and relaxing in the rain – lush greenery and lovely smelling wet dirt – small deer did not eat the Margarita daisies – relief

    Lovely post and yes there is a bond…a community here

    Patricia´s last blog post..These Shoes Were Made for Walking

    • I agree. There’s a wandering band of lovely bloggers in the blogs we visit; it always feels like arriving at someone’s back kitchen door and finding someone you know already sitting at their kitchen table!

      And cleaning windows…isn’t there just something symbolically lovely about it!

      I can sense your Scotland excitement and look forward to sharing shortbread with you somewhere! Ah, a Kindle…my dream purchase. I have problems letting go of books but it would take me a fortune to upload all of mine onto one now, I fear. How are you finding yours?

      Thank you for the wet earth, the roses, the deer (who ate something else apart from daisies while you weren’t looking ;)) and the misty lake. I’m so glad I asked folk to share a wee bit of home. I’ve loved the responses to all of the patchwork pieces of my post and feel like I’m collecting souvenirs on my staycation! Hope to speak to you soon.

  10. Hi Janice. I too appreciated the line, “To write well, we must live well.” It seems to be the same idea as being in a relationship. If you do everything together you suffocate each other. Time spent apart adds more spice to your life. I was obsessed when I first started blogging too. You go through phases of obsession, addiction, obligation… and just fun! Enjoy the ride 🙂

    Davina´s last blog post..On the Edge of Being

    • Thanks, Davina. I’m settling into more of a trusting rythm now. I’ve always known it would be like a journey, but what I didn’t realise was that sometimes I’d feel like I couldn’t find an inn at the end of a day to lay my head down because I was travelling, constantly travelling, looking ahead and missing all the chances to pause and rest along the way. Blogging’s never-ending, but that’s not a bad thing. We don’t want rivers to stop running in the night just because we’re sleeping, or waves to stop crashing because we’re not awake or there to hear them. I’m starting to learn when to go with the flow and when to just sit back and enjoy watching it. Lots of learning still, though, but I’m grateful to you and the others who are reassuring and encouraging me. At the end of the day, I want to write and to connect honestly. I don’t want to lose sight of that.

      The analogy with relationships is a great one. The first quote my husband and I ever exchanged with each other was the St Exupéry one about love not consisting of gazing into each other’s eyes but in looking together in the same direction.

  11. Hi Janice,
    Like Nadia stated, what jumped out at me is that to write well you have to live well. How true! Our writing comes from our experience. I know those feelings of feeling like I “need” to be connected – and it can become a poison if we let it – pulling us away from other things that are important. Family. Friends. Experiences.

    Janice, I’ll be here – whether you take a break, or not. It’s great to be here today and reading your words…

    Lance´s last blog post..There Is Greatness Within

    • Thanks, Lance. I really feel like I’ve been recharging my batteries, slowly but surely, since I was ill a wee while ago. Finding our own individual sense of perspective and balance is so important. If we don’t do that, the experiences that we need to make our writing sparkle can dry up.

      On days when I’m not writing but still want to feel connected, this extended ‘family’ as Barbara called the blog route we often cross paths on, is a great place just to read and catch up on other people’s tales and lives.

  12. Hi Janice,

    Thanks for reminding us to slow down and appreciate the family and surroundings. I needed that reminder. I expect our family will have a staycation this year, too. My husband and I are both graduate students, so money is tight, and any extra is being spent on swim club and judo club for our three daughters.

    Our home town is Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. This whole area has been extremely dry, to the point where the farmers (and there a lot of wheat and canola farmers around here) were getting concerned about not getting a crop this year. But last night and all day today, we got a wonderful, hard, soaking rain. The ground is soaking it up like a sponge, and you can almost hear the trees and grass sighing in relief with the moisture. In another day or so, the clouds will clear off and we’ll have the clear, azure blue skies that I love about living on the Canadian prairies. We often have as much brown as green about our summers, but Oh! the sunshine!

    • Thank you for this lovely unexpected gift of wide open skies and travel. I could smell the grateful breath of wet soil as I read, and the phrase “living on the prairies” made me feel open and expanded inside. (Shameful confession; the warm fuzzy association is partially connected to my passion for Westerns as a kid and to watching Little house on the Prairie. And yes, I wore pigtails!) I’m glad your farmers got rain.

  13. Hi Janice,

    What a beautiful piece. I love how your combined all you’ve been doing into this great post.

    Oh yes, blogging can get very addictive. When I first started, I was posting six days a week, and life sat on the back burner. Since then I’ve learned how to have balance. Although I will get on my computer on the weekends, it’s easy for me to leave posts half written, or not worry about what’s going on on Twitter (I don’t normally tweet on weekends).

    Our blogging friends will be there when we return, whether its for a day or two, or even for an extended sabbatical. That’s just the way they are – loyal, caring and loving. Just like family. 🙂

    Barbara Swafford´s last blog post..Embracing The Distractions In Life

    • Thanks Barbara. I love that we’ve a mixture here of new and experienced bloggers and your comparison to family really resonates with me. I’ve never had a huge, morphing extended family and this is part of the thrill I’m getting from blogging at the moment. I’m learning so much from our experienced bloggers who are happy to share and support, and also from newish bloggers who are happy to share their challenges and vulnerabilities as well as the joys of discovering this whole new landscape. That exchange of help and support, information and inspiration feels like a very healthy source of energy.

  14. The stages we bloggers go through, re-visit, and move on from are intriguing. Even though I promised myself to learn from my first blog and apply it all to my new self defense blog, I still get caught up in the digital high and its addictions. At least now I know when I’m in it, how draining it can be in the long run, and how to pull up before crashing into blogging bog of burnout (say that three times fast!)

    Lori Hoeck´s last blog post..Getting to know your intuition

    • Hi Lori,
      I love the word “intriguing”. It represents that place where we’re curious and interested but detached, not so sucked in that we’re at the mercy of whatever we’re experiencing. What I’m learning from experienced bloggers is that we have to pace ourselves so we can stay healthy “in the long run”. (And I did say “blogging bog of burnout” three times fast and you made me sound rude!)

  15. gifts could you share from your home town, to make us staycationers feel like we’ve had a glimpse of the elemental beauty of the village, town or city you live in ? — oh, this is a good one.

    I am blessed to live right on the Quebec/Ontario border in the National Capital Region. Which gives me instant access to French Canadian and English Canadian culture. And trust me, they are different! The French have a true joie de vivre attitude that I find refreshing, but when I need that English formality and structure, I can get that too.

    As for scenary? Stunning. I live on the Quebec side at the foot of the Gatineau hills. The Ottawa River is 1 block south of me, and we follow it in on the way to work.

    Ottawa, our nation’s capital, has the canal system, and the Rideau River. The architecture is beautiful old granite buildings.

    And on both sides of the border, along the rivers and canal are fantastic restaurants, pubs and bistros to sit and enjoy the scenary and people watching.

    Hey, that was fun!

    Eliza´s last blog post..Book review: Menopause For Dummies

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! I certainly enjoyed a glimpse of where you are; it sounds beautiful, and reading it was like ticketless tourism! I love the sound of those waterfront bistros…

  16. “I’m used to working hard, often obsessively hard if I’m passionate about what I’m doing.”

    I’m the same. I’m better now, because I’ve been blogging for 1.5 years so I acquired some perspective. But when I first started blogging, it definitely became an addiction.

    Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post..Retouching As An Act Of Kindness

    • Hi Vered,
      It’s so comforting to hear advice from folk who’ve ridden out the turbulent first year. I definitely think finding – and holding onto – a sense of perspective is crucial.

  17. Janice, How could we forget you? You’re writing is unforgettable. Don’t take it personally when someone drops from your comments. It just means another will pop in.

    What can I share. The mountains, the sun and the cacti. It doesn’t get much better than that in the dessert. All breathtaking.

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..The Power of Focus

    • Thank you! I do sometimes wonder what I’ve done ‘wrong’ when regular commenters disappear, but at my age, you’d think I’d know better than to take it personally! The desert sounds glorious. My nephew brought me back a disc of the Grand Canyon which is awe inspiring and certainly puts all my blogging trivia into perspective. My Arizona friend gets scorpions, though. Scary…

    • Thanks, Brenda. The trick is to keep reminding ourselves that the daily details of our lives are worth learning from. There are so many cynical, snide bloggers out there, I’m even more determined to make this a safe space where folk aren’t ashamed to love life and say so.

  18. I’ve recently started reading your blog and thoroughly enjoy such. Thank you

    The last part is such an interesting idea, what (gifts) would we share from our towns with others. I have started thinking about this, most certainly takes a lot more thought, but it has me viewing the positives instead of the negatives. Not that there’s negatives for me, but when your look at your town through others’ eyes, you may feel it’s not up to their standard you know? It doesn’t glitter and shine, there’s not much to necessrily do here, but then I found that I enjoy staying here, so there must be something. It’s smallish (popn what 40-60 000?), quiet and peaceful , the kids can still walk to school or town center or ride a bike most days without getting driven over etc etc. Lower crime than the cities, certainly les traffic and hustle and bustle etc though Saturday mornings I do stay as far from town center as I can.

    So thank you for the reminder, that our dreary small town, with not many activities to attract ‘tourists’ of any kind, still does have some positive beautiful aspects.

    I am now going to make a list of at least ten with my children so we can all appreciate the good life here…

    • Lovely to meet you! I’m so excited to read that you’re sharing this with your kids and have seen your town through new eyes. Writing and blogging both help me see my life through new appreciative eyes!

      I empathise completely. One of our main reasons for still being in this small town, despite my craving to live by the sea again, is that it’s quiet and peaceful and relatively safe for our kids. The people are, for the most part, decent, and all the schools are smallish and the teachers know the kids. Sorry for the mixed metaphor I’m about to shame myself with, but by the time the kids get older, they’ll feel like big fish in a wee pond and will probably have a natural desire to spread their wings!

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