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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Steps to Meeting my Goals

My writing mentor, Rosemary Daniell, leads an ongoing writer’s workshop in Savannah called Zona Rosa on the first Saturday every month except August, when we are on sabbatical. The group has been ongoing for 30 years! A wonderful and acclaimed published writer and poet, Rosemary has other ongoing workshops and does guest appearances all over the country, speaking and teaching at writing events, retreats and festivals. She even leads retreats abroad. There is a retreat in Aix en Provence, France, in May. The Saturday group is exclusively for women, and we have members who range in age from their twenties to their eighties.

Learn more about Rosemary and her workshops by visiting her web site - Secrets of the Zona Rosa.

One of the many creative aspects of our group is that, each month, Rosemary gives us a list of “exorcises,” topics designed to keep our writing fresh, creative and real. These "exorcises" are not mandatory, but some very good writing has come out of them. They are designed to keep us writing our truths. They can be very therapeutic. It is from Rosemary that I learned how important truth is to good writing.

So, today I am publishing my “exorcise” here on The Red Sweater.

Here is a sample of a few “exorcises” from last weekend:
“How my awareness of mortality affects my thinking and writing.”
“How my house speaks to my writing.”
“Steps I am taking to meet my goals.”
"Write about the thing you most don't want to write about."

I fell headlong into “Steps I am taking to meet my goals.” A little voice in my head tells me that Rosemary was looking for text on writing goals, but I turned it on its side and went in another direction.

My goal is to maintain what semblance of sanity I have left. Here are some steps I am taking to keep my sanity:

1) After all these months, I feel as though Clint died yesterday, not on June 8, 2019 at 6:33 PM. I was unprepared to be actively grieving 21 months later, but here I am, still on the roller coaster of relative peace followed by reactivation of my grief. Stress at work, stress in my personal life, hearing a certain song, gazing at a photo of us dancing at a wedding, smiling, our eyes locked on one another, his side of the bed, stretching out like the ocean reaching toward the horizon - these are just a sample of the things that can leave me unbalanced, sad, helpless.

My Rx? Work, work, work. Write, write, write, especially in my paper journal. When not at work, I find myself fighting an inertia that is difficult to describe. My house is a mess, my housekeeper has been out for three weeks with a sick child, and I hate housework. I sacrifice in other areas in order to have someone come into my house and clean it for me. But, today I am going to attack this little cottage with my Swiffer products and elbow grease - after I come home from the gym, where I have been going every day I’m not at work. I carry a three pound weight in each hand and walk hills on the treadmill for an hour. That, I am certain is helping me keep my balance.

2) The conundrum that is my son, Parrish - mentally ill, as most of you know. He has been putting pressure on me to come back to Georgia, to Atlanta, where he once lived on the streets and in parks and under bridges. I would rather go to prison than see him back in Atlanta, and I have told him so. Nevertheless, he continues his passive-aggressive attempts to change my mind. He has been in hospital three times since he was here in December, and I believe that all three were attempts to get me to jump on a plane and come rescue him. His last hospitalization happened when he checked himself into the psych ward at University of Miami Hospital, saying he was having suicidal thoughts. He called me to let me know where he was but refused me access to his doctor. Last month it was his back (two failed fusions). He said the doctor wanted him to have more surgery but one more refused to give me access to his physician.

My Rx? I love him from afar and refuse to be drawn into another enabling web with him. I am sympathetic when he calls to tell me his troubles, but I refuse to intervene in his life. I have found that, if I simply listen and refuse to buy into his “crisis du jure,” it mysteriously goes away. His illness makes it so hard to detach from him. I do worry about him, but the stark naked reality is that he cannot live with me or in Atlanta. So, we do the best we can. On April 16, I will fly him to Atlanta, where I will meet him, and we will stay two nights. He will be able to see his oldest friend, Michael. Now he has something to look forward to, and my fervent hope is that it will keep him focused on that and not on his living situation, and assisted living facility which is not optimal. Unfortunately, I cannot escape the belief that, when the weekend is over and he returns to Hileah, he will be in hospital within a week, sad and depressed that he could not stay in Atlanta. It is impossible for him to make the best of things and focus on what he has instead of what he has not.

Sure, these are mental health goals, but I think they are as important as writing goals.

So, Rosemary, this post is for you!


© cj Schlottman 03/11/2011

3 comments:

Katie Gates said...

Hi CJ, I think mental health goals ARE writing goals! Keep moving forward, even when it feels like a treadmill... Sending you good wishes!

Kat said...

Goals are goals, whether they be mental health, life goals or writing goals. Your writing groups sounds wonderful, I'd love to find something like that here. I'm sure I could in Austin, but my schedule is so erratic I'd be afraid to commit. Kat

Sue said...

Sounds like you are walking the line of parent/child boundaries as well as can be expected in this kind of situation, CJ. I know how hard it can be.

Hang in, and keep writing!

=)