Frog and Heron

"Why?" asked Frog, and Heron shuffled with discomfort.

"Self-doubt," said Heron, and the Frog smiled kindly, understanding.

"I know that feeling," said Frog. "I think sometimes that people will figure out that I can't play the violin."

Heron was amazed. She'd heard him play, seen people change from dark creatures to Creatures of Light because of his music.

"It's the same for you," Frog went on.

"But I can't play the violin," Heron replied, knowing he wasn't talking about her playing the violin.

"There's only one thing self-doubt it good for," said Frog. "Dodging responsibility."

Heron blinked. She thought about all the people waiting for the stories in her heart, the ones she had trouble getting on the page.

"I say this to you, because I need to hear it too," said Frog. "You are who you are made to be. I know you are a Writer. And responsibility is the ability to respond. And when you're ready, you *will* be able to respond."

Later Heron heard the Elder in God's House say, "It is the Holy Spirit who equips us and calls us to do His work in the world."

And on these things, the Heron meditated, grateful for their words.


No One Trick Pony

A little accounting of the week's purchases:

Village Books:

I Was Told There Was Cake (Sloane Crosley)
The Language of Balkava (Diana Abu-Jaber)
Born Standing Up (Steve Martin)


Ellipse (Imogene Heap)
Let's Get Small (Steve Martin)


Safekeeping (Abigail Thomas)
A Three Dog Life (Abigail Thomas)
Thinking About Memoir (Abigail Thomas)
The Guild Seasons 1 & 2 (DVD)
Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-blog (DVD)

The Thomas material was three-fer bundle, as was the Guild/Dr. Horrible set.

Looking over the list, it occurs to me that the list accurate describes my personality.

I ain't no one trick pony. :)


Words of the Day in Practice

Miri struggled against forgetfulness, her sense of agnosia so strong it was as if her memories were so much smalto, bits of fine glass glazed and shining, yet never coming together again as a whole.


Concert Benefits Artistic Development of Native Youth

On Friday, August 28 at 7pm, a special group of Sudden Valley neighbors will sponsor a concert by Swil Kanim to benefit Native youth in the foster care system.

For many Sudden Valley residents, it’s the neighborly thing to provide the one next door with the missing ingredient for a dinner being prepared. It’s a neighborly thing to take your kids and the kids across the street to school and sports practices. Neighbors share barbeques in the summer and snow shovels in the winter, but for the neighbors living near the corner of Harborview Drive and the newly named Thunder Peak Way, being neighborly goes beyond their special ‘hood.’ They are gathering together and extending their neighborly ways to change the lives of Tribal children in the DCFS system.

The benefit concert is open to the public and will be held at the Sudden Valley Marina located at Gate 1. Community organizers suggest bringing lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Donations of $5 per person or $15 per family will support expressive art development for these children who are facing layers of challenges and Blue Skies for Children has agreed to handle the distribution of the funds.
Blue Skies for Children is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 corporation founded in 1997 by a task force, who enlisted local organizations including DCFS, Brigid Collins, Catholic Community Services, Whatcom Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, Northwest Youth Services, The Opportunity Council, WWU and Whatcom County Community Network. A continuous effort is underway to restore hope and self esteem to homeless, low income and foster children in Whatcom & Skagit Counties, by providing support and valuable enrichment opportunities. Concert donations are tax deductable.

Beautiful Lake Whatcom will be a stunning backdrop to Swil Kanim’s haunting melodies. Swil Kanim, himself a member of the Lummi Nation, travels nationally and internationally as musician and inspirational speaker. He is a recent recipient of the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center Peace Builders Award and Whatcom Family & Community Network Community Builders Award.

A world class virtuoso violinist, Swil Kanim advocates self-expression to create stronger community. He intertwines his music with storytelling, poetry, and audience interaction. His original compositions are mesmerizing and inspiring to all ages alike. While quickly becoming the most popular Native American Violinist, Swil Kanim is also a keynote speaker and notable actor; he starred as "Mouse" in Sherman Alexie’s highly acclaimed movie The Business of FancyDancing.

Sudden Valley resident organizers offer a range of volunteer, donation, and sponsorship opportunities to support this event. "It takes a village to raise a child" goes the old African proverb. In the case of this special group of Sudden Valley residents, supporting a child in need is just the neighborly thing to do.


Press Release by Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor appeared in the August issue of Sudden Valley News and is available for general distribution.


Notes: Why We Write

"I wrote my world and, in doing so, felt myself participate fully in its unfolding...my drive to write is the same--language, penned to paper binds the inner world to the outer, satisfying my desire to unite with creation." - Elizabeth Andrew, Writing the Sacred Journey

A few days ago, a fellow RWW participant (who's name fails me... I hope my memory returns when I've had more sleep) asked me about my email addy (word.binder) which bears little resemblance to my name (in any of it's iterations). She asked if I was into book arts, and I said No (although I really think book arts is cool and wouldn't it be great to have time for it?).

I told her about my blog and how my writing is about bringing all my many worlds/experiences into one space. ElizabethA resonates that idea while pointing out to me that the "one space" isn't really here at this blog, it's here in me. She goes on to say:

"When we write with the professed hope of helping others, I suspect that many of us are really writing for our former selves...what we are writing is the book we wish we had read during our own trying, formative experience...writing for oneself seems selfish, so we obscure our real motivation with the altruistic desire to help others. In fact, writing for one's self is noble. Each of us is worth of that generosity."

This goes back to what I think about "Tao Po!" the practice of declaring "I am a Human Being." Not a human been, past tense, but a human being, or better, human becoming. I write to say to myself, "these are the things that have happened to make me, me, in all my multiplicities." This sounds incredibly arrogant, to declare my story as somehow significant, but when I teach Tao Po!/Tuloy, I am also encouraging others to write their story because we all need to know our stories are important. We each make a difference, especially when we own, declare, and become better because of that owning and declaring of ourselves.

So what makes all this more than navel-gazing confessional? Jane Yolen notes:

"Every writer has three responsibilities: first to the story, second to yourself, and finally your audience."

To which ElizabethA expands to: "For writers of spiritual memoir, story is not something born of our imagination or of history; it's the very stuff of our lives. It is the aching and questing of our souls."

Heavy stuff, but again, something that resonates - while at RWW, I noted several times that writing non-fiction was a compulsion for me, something I'm driven to do in a way different from writing poetry or fiction. All the genres are about Story, but non-fiction is about claiming my own story without the shields poetry and fiction provide. Writing non-fiction makes me aware of the themes and questions I'm working through, allowing me to find the meanings I'm trying to learn and articulate.

JaneY's quote, though, points out one very important thing I need to remember when I write - Story First - because every understanding hinges on how fully engaged I can be with the story I'm telling/sharing/writing. I can't just say - I was 13 and on a road trip to Richland, WA when the sky opened up and felt totally connected to God and the world in that Dandelion Wine-Ray Bradbury way. Just stating the story short changes the experience for me and the reader, and we both need the story to unfold in a meaningful way in order to be in the place of honor provided by the well-told story.

"When memoir writer's are responsible to the story, they honor that which is vital and true - the spirit - within their experience." - Elizabeth Andrew

What greater reason is there to write than to honor that which is the human experience?


MFA Re-Entry

Returned from PLU's Rainier Writing Workshop Residency tired but happy. Met so many incredible artists, faculty and participants both. Learned all sorts of new terms like Rhymed Scenes, Digression (as a good thing), and Braided Essays. My two workshop pieces aren't as far along as I had hoped, but I received really good feedback as well as a sense of where to go next with them. I'm going to let the drafts mellow, though, and start creating new stuff.

I feel very fortunate to be working with Brenda Miller in the the coming months. Her work in lyric essay and her gentle discipline has been inspiring to me for many years. She's having me read three books to start:

Fearless Confessions by Sue Silverman
Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth J. Andrew
New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver

I went into the residency with as open a heart and mind as I could manage (given my terrible nervousness) and came to a space that has to do with the question "What is Tribal and How have these themes/ideas intersected my life?" I'm not planning to write specifically /to/ answer that question, so much as I know that "tribal" will be part of my consciousness as I work my writing paces.

Although I'm happy to be home, I already miss my PLU-RWW 'tribe' and hope we can find each other in the broad spaces of the Internet. It's always good to have traveling companions.