Stories, Perspectives and Systems

In 2018,  the film,  The Shape of Water won the Oscar for best picture.  For me, it was an intense film.  It began innocuously enough, taking place in the 1950’s.  A woman and her gay neighbor are living over a theater.  She and another friend are cleaning ladies at a large government experimental facility.  The military has captured an alien creature held under high security.  The story unfolds from there, weaving in other stories creating a larger picture.  The various perspectives are told through a sundry of character lenses–very effective storytelling.  

WIthin the structure of the film, there were the “system” stories being told, i.e., the scientific system with its particular agenda, the military machine which includes its “Five Star Generals,” the systems of class, gender and more that I haven’t named.  Operating within a system, say the military, there is a whole set of values–being a good soldier or civilian ‘soldier’ entails following orders,  climbing the ranks, career achievements, showing one’s loyalty to the system, total devotion. This system has no tolerance of “failures.”  Failing a mission, you are disposable.

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Seeing this film, brought to mind how we each have a personal
story.  Using our particular filters, we project our views onto the world.  These stories continue to propel our lives.  It is hard to step out of one’s own story to consider that what we have formulated as “the way that things are” is only our own individual story.  Likely, the one that was handed down to us at birth and which we named “true.”  We often bind ourselves to a story bouquet based on the fears, dreams, desires, flaws, etc. of our parents and ancestors.  It is seemingly impossible to unravel and find a clean thread that is entirely yours.  That’s probably not the goal anyway.  What then?

It is difficult to see outside of a system (boxes)  that we create as humans.  There are layers of complexity in what we inherit and how we integrate (or don’t integrate) our experiences.  I wonder if we stay in the same few boxes over the course of our lives or do we trade boxes?  Aren’t we all bound by something?

Perhaps, over the course of our lives, we have experiences that take us out of those boxes.  Do you?  I have had such experiences on rare occasions.

What once upon a time are you and I living?

Expressive.2019

Perspectives

Continuing with the Questionnaire

What has remained the most
consistent?

My reply:  It takes a long time for a culture to undo historical “wrongs” and shift old beliefs.  Often, it seems that women aren’t taken very seriously to this day.  For a woman to enter the political arena, she often takes on the attitudes and attributes of the predominant male paradigm.  It is hard to consider that this woman represents feminine values if she conforms herself to what is in place within this hierarchy.

However, Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes to mind as someone who embodies woman and women’s rights while working in a predominantly male environment.

One of our modern day heroines.

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To change the world, feminine values and concerns have to be appreciated and seen as valuable for the whole of humanity and the planet.  While values of conquest, overpower, reckless use of resources, disrespect for other cultures and classes predominate, real change seems elusive.  Until our laws reflect more of what have been termed feminine values, things are proceeding in a direction that doesn’t serve anyone ultimately.

Dear Followers of Wakeupprincess.com

I’m taking a break from the blog for now.  With the loss of my friend Richard followed by the loss of my sister, Kathy, I’m feeling the grief.  So for now, time out.  Best wishes to each and every one of you.  Thank you for being in the circle of wakeupprincess.com.

If you haven’t had a chance to do the writing prompts offered with each blog post, why not give some of them a try now!

Sincerely,

Christine

Does this poem have relevance for you?

The images in this poem remind me of a surrealistic painting.
Of Mere Being
by Wallace Stevens
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Writing Prompt:
This is one of those poems that people read over and over trying to capture the relevance of it to their own lives.  Have you found something that is meaningful to you in these few verses?  Appreciating the imagery could be enough.

Entering the Wilderness with Vivaldi!

Today, rainy and wet outdoors, I decide “It’s a good painting day.”

Many an art instructor suggests that you “paint to music.”  I rev up Spotify to see what is on my playlist.  Ah, Antonio Vivaldi.  I wonder what inspired him?  Brushes and paints in the ready.  Take me away, Antonio!  Immediately I’m immersed in an intense and manic Vivaldi. I go manic on the canvas.  Then, abruptly, the music shifts to lyrical and light.  WHAT!

Do I stay with the manic?  Or do I transition into lyrical as I’m painting?  Or, do I turn the music off completely?  Guess what?  I, that means you too, can do whatever I (or you) want.  I can stay with Vivaldi on speed or adapt to lyrical…or shut the music off entirely.  Vivaldi’s Storm, at least, got this painting off the ground! Right?

 

Painting or Writing Prompt:
What does this music inspire in you?  Take three minutes and listen to this piece with pen and paper nearby.  Afterwards, take your journal and write away!  Let your writing be in direct response to where Vivaldi’s music takes you.  Or grab your paints, a large brush and a piece of 140# weight watercolor paper–a large sheet is the most fun–play Vivaldi’s Storm as you play on the substrate.

 

“This Is I Who…”

Repetition is a writer’s and poet’s deepening tool.  I said, “Repetition is a writer’s and poet’s deepening tool.”  Repetition is a way of giving emphasis and getting someone’s attention.  The repeated line typically begins each new stanza.
The lead line is a driving and deepening force for me as the writer. For the reader, it provides a rhythm and induces a trance-like quality when reading the poem.

I do not know who originated this writing exercise.  I only know that I have borrowed it. I thank the author and if I could give you credit, I certainly would because it is very important to me to give credit where it is due.  This exercise makes good use of repetition.  Here is my version of a poem using repetition; it is neither edited nor crafted yet.  It is actually stream of consciousness about the way I begin a new day.  The one borrowed and repeated line is “This is I who…”  Please note that sometimes the repeated line can be implied and not actually stated.

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This is I who…
lies in bed amidst the tumbled-down covers and forgotten dreams,
cranky like a flower bud pried open too soon.  I who would like to curl backwards into the secure fist of sleep and let the world do what it does…”call me when the war is over”.

This is I who…
says a prayer to my God of choice, not chance “…and let it be a good day.  Let me be respectful of self and other…” as I stretch into my feet, arms raised in a half-hazard salute, twirling my legs over the side of the bed, sitting upright.  Smiling at my reflection in the passing mirror on my way to the bathroom…hair spiky like liberty herself, skin less green.

This is I who…
sock-footed, pads  to the kitchen to brew that first cup of Argentinian Yerba Mate, promise of mental clarity and sustained physical energy.  Returning to bed with the blue and white dragon cup, made in China, set prestigiously on the nightstand.  My latest knitting project pulled onto my lap like a recalcitrant cat…knit and purl, knit and purl, knit and purl to end of row.

who…
slinks into my leotards, flicks on the tv like an automatic friend.  “Bend your elbows, fists clenched, arms pulled back, breathe in.”

I who…
boils water, 1/3 cup of oats with raisins.  Toasts a fistful of almonds, sprinkles wheat germ and nutritional yeast, a splash of soymilk.

This is I who partakes.

This is I who am grateful.

Let the games begin.

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WRITING PROMPT

Try it…write your own poem or prose with the lead line THIS IS I WHO…” or any lead line of your choice.  Enjoy where you go with this.

flower

Writing from the daily mundane–Part One

floral1

from the Tao of Women, by Pamela K. Metz & Jacqueline L. Tobin

“The muse’s energy is tapped when you stop
and listen to the silence inside.  Creating
sparks of brilliance from barely glowing
embers, she is only a breath away.
Expressions of the self wait to be birthed.
Look to the potter’s hands, the weaver’s eye,
the basket maker’s techniques.
The creative spirit lives on in women’s tasks.”

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One way that we tap the quiet space inside is through our repetitive tasks.  Though society has devalued women’s work, we no longer need to abide that false notion for what has been termed mundane is often where we find our muse–especially when we are able to be fully present with the task at hand.

WRITING PROMPT:

  1. How do you perceive this quote from The Tao of Women?
  2. Consider ways that you experience creativity (in any form) in your life?
  3. Do you garner gifts from your daily repetitive tasks?  What are a few tasks and what are the gifts in them?

As you go about your day today, witness yourself in your repetitive tasks.

INSPIRATION

 

I’ve heard some say that they receive inspiration while in the shower or on a trail in the forest or beside a lake.  I’ve had a poem write itself when I’m stuck in traffic.  There are innumerable places to find inspiration.  Consider if there is a place or time of day when you typically receive inspiration.

INSPIRATION–Truly, it is everywhere, in any moment if we are RECEPTIVE!  Aren’t we blasted by inspiration of one sort or another daily.  When I look out my bedroom window, I see sky and natural beauty everywhere.  When I’m traveling, I view highways, vehicles, people, bridges, bays, high deserts.  In a cafe, I overhear a line from someone at the adjoining table that I have to write in my notebook. Or an aroma crosses my olfactory awareness and I’m transported back in time to when my mom used to make her famous spaghetti sauce.  Or, as often happens, the words of an old familiar song take me right back to my twenties.  With all the inspiration around us, we could easily go into overwhelm.  For the writer, there is a necessary sorting process to determine what “scents” we want to explore further.  The sorting of dross from gold. That’s where our particular inspiration comes in.  You’ve decided, haven’t you, what you want to write about, where your passions lie?

According to Mr. Webster himself, inspiration is “A divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify her or him to receive and communicate sacred revelation.”

NOW THAT IS A POWERFUL CALLING!

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It’s a good idea to be a witness to how your unique creative process works and how you respond to inspiration.

WRITING PROMPT:
Think of something you wrote recently.  Then back track…and list the details that lead you to explore this particular topic.

  • What was the topic?
  • Where were you when inspiration hit?
  • What were you doing?
  • Were you in conversation with someone?
  • Did you immediately know that this was a hot topic for you?
  • Did you write it down?
  • Tell someone about it?
  • Put it aside for another time?

This is a way to witness your own process when it comes to how you respond to the muse, to inspiration.

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Next, consider
“What does it take for you to leap from the point of inspiration to write something on the page?”