Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Report Card--with Friars!

I was feeling pretty good about my summer until I read this story in yesterday's The Washington Post, about six Franciscan friars who walked 300 miles from Roanoke, Virginia to Washington, D.C. They took nothing but a blanket, water, a change of underwear, and a toothbrush, and one cell phone for the six of them (to be used only in emergencies, of course). It took them 6 weeks and they ministered to many people along the way, while relying on the kindness of strangers (and God) to sustain them (for my blog post on the spiritual dimensions of this story, go here to my other blog).

And I thought that I had been living outside of my comfort zone this summer! Now I'm feeling inadequate again.

But before I succumb, let me remind myself of some of the things that I've done. I joined a fitness center. In long ago years, I'd go to a gym if it was covered by my student activity fees. But pay for it? Never. I went to a spinning class, something I was convinced I couldn't do and couldn't keep up. And I'm enjoying it so much that I'll be paying for more. I anchored out on my sister and her husband's sailboat--sleeping on a boat in the middle of water! I became more intentional about keeping up with people on Facebook. I sent some of my strangest poems out into the world--and they were accepted for publication! I continue to think about alternate ways to live out the second half of my life, visions based on what I'd like, rather than what the world tells me I should achieve.

Now it's time to shift my attention towards September. In past years, I'd already have all of my envelopes addressed, waiting for poems to be mailed to journals that only read during the school year. I'd have poems in the offices of all the journals that read through the summer. I might have put together a book manuscript or two, whilst reading a novel in the late afternoon. Ah, what one can achieve during periods of underemployment.

I'd like to spend the next two weeks sending out some poetry packets to the few places remaining on my list of places to which I meant to submit in June. And it's time to strategize my fall submission plan. I'd like to get all the poems for my next book length manuscript typed into the computer if they're not already, so that when I go on my writer's retreat in November, I have a sheaf of poems to take with me. At my writer's retreat in November, I want to decide on the best order for that manuscript.

I need a new poetry composition process. I've gotten into a blogging rhythm that works for me, but my poetry writing has tapered off. I'd like to spend time with my poetry notebook before I touch the computer. Once I start Internet surfing and blogging, my poetry composition time is over. I look up and hours have passed and I have that groggy feeling that I get from too many hours of staring at a computer and zipping around, spending less and less time on each site.

I wish I could be looking forward to the cooler weather that would invigorate me and energize all my efforts. Alas, down here in South Florida, we won't be getting much of that until November. But that's no excuse for slogging down into the slough of despond that August can be. It's time for my own metaphorical march from Roanoke to D.C., just like those friars on their journey of discovery.

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