Books, Inspiration, life lessons, Strong Women, Wisdom

8 Life Lessons from Women Writers

On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed
On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed

 

Joan Didion looks way cool in that Corvette. Reminds me of me, back in the late 70’s, in my blue metal flaked Chevy Malibu. But back to the life lessons.

In my section of the Southern California coast the marine mist appears in the early evening and grays over the landscape. This becomes a perfect time for reflecting on the day and writing in my journal.

Today I cleaned out one bookshelf and selected 25 books to donate to the library. The first 10 books were an easy choice, the last 15 much harder. A short task took a few hours. Any reader knows how you can get lost in a book, even if you’ve read it before.

I flipped through pages, reread paragraphs, remembered characters, and debated whether the book made it into the donation box. Many times I pulled a book out and put it back on the shelf.

At the end of the book donation I wrote down a few life lessons that made their way into my heart again.

One of the books was from Joan Didion. Here are seven more life lessons from other women writers:

 

1. Kindness can be a lifesaver.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop…Naomi S. Nye

2. Always be true to yourself.

“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are…” Sandra Cisneros

3-Heal your wounds. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you think you do. You’ll get through it, survive and thrive. 

 

“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise…” Maya Angelou

4–Leave the past in the past.

“Remember the past, but don’t get lost back there. Celebrate the blessings of the past in the present, but remember to live today. Today is built on the past and tomorrow is evolving from both the past and the present. The future? Quien sabe? (who knows)” Denise Chavez

5-Age is a number and an attitude.

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan

 

6. Solitude can be valuable. It’s all in your perspective.

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up. ~Pearl Buck

 

7. You can begin again.

Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer

Only one of the books that contain the above quotes made it into the donation box. Can you guess which one? Where do you find your life lessons?

 

 

Encouragement, Grief, Healing, Self Care, Wisdom

How Tears Lead Us Home

 

Crying can be good for you
Crying can be good for you

How do tears lead us home?

 

There is crying from sadness, grief, anger, frustration,

and sometimes there is crying for happy.

I imagine different rooms in a house, with appropriate decor (gray’s, brown’s, red’s), with soft blankets and big cushy pillows

where we can go to cry our eyes out.

But I’d gather most of us spend time stifling the times in which we want to cry.

I do that myself sometimes and end up feeling miserable, guilty, and congested.

Sometimes I feel dumb for even wanting to cry.

That is until I came across this blog post from Annie Lalla, which gave me much relief and a new philosophy.

Here are some excerpts (emphasis mine).  I encourage you to read the full post on her website-she’s awesome.

Crying is a secret sacred place, a place of solitude.

It’s not a space we navigate with much finesse; there are few maps on how to cry.

Many conflicting feelings arise around tears -fear of looking weak, of being too emotional, guilt for making others feel bad, relief at sharing pent-up thoughts, joy at being seen in our truth.

To cry is to render your heart naked, undefended & utterly exposed to the world. No wonder it is shrouded in so much terror, secrecy and shame.

Tears…your tears, are the way your body shows you what’s important to you. Holding them back is a form of self-deception and a withhold of your deepest truth. When I feel that familiar proto-tear sensation rising up in my throat, I know I always have a choice in that moment:

to cry or…to lie.

Every uncried tear is a lost epiphany, a missed lesson, a moment that failed at aliveness.

Each time you cry you release ancient tears from all the moments you didn’t let yourself cry in the past.

No tear is ever wasted, each one holds in it’s liquid infinity, 1o years worth of therapeutic salve.

Knowing this, I now look forward to opportunities to cry…once the portal is open, I let as many drops out as I can. The more I cry, the more alive I feel.

Tears teach us what we actually care about, they point at what matters the most, they take us back to a place of innocence & transparency.

Tears lead us home.

From a place of frustration, anger, or grief, we can release the tears inside, feel the pain, examine it, and do some self talk, without any guilt or shame.

Think of crying as part of self-care and good mental health.

This attitude sure beats stifling our feelings and tears and becoming congested, or overeating, over drinking, or being in denial.

Have a great weekend and I hope you remember that it’s healthy to release yourself with a good cry.

 

Encouragement, Family, Inspiration, Wisdom, Writing

Perseverance and Blessings

Perserverance-VIctor Hugo, Novelist
Perseverance-Victor Hugo, Novelist

One of the best things that happen to a writer is when someone judges their work as ‘worthy.’

We get excited, do a happy dance, have an extra scoop of ice cream or glass of wine to celebrate.

I say this so I can move to the next bit of news.

Last Friday, I wrote that I decided to make the full moon, Friday the 13th, a double luck day. A few hours after that post I received an email from the CreateSpace people at Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest.

My novel was in the quarterfinals, the top 5% of 10,000 entries but it did not proceed to the semi-finals, which is the top 25.

That e-mail was a crusher. I wanted to delete my last post, say “double luck, my a**.”

But I didn’t.

I continued with my vacation, commiserated for a few minutes with my mom and sister. I emailed my writing hermanas. They sent me texts of support and lit the writing candle for me.

After awhile, I sat on the balcony and gazed at the mountain in front of me. My eyes landed on a heart.

Heart in Mountain-alvaradofrazier.com
Heart in Mountain-alvaradofrazier.com

“Count your blessings,” swung into my mind. “Yes, indeed.”

It’s a blessing to be with my mom, still fairly active in her mid 80’s. It’s a blessing to have close relationships with my sisters and brother. It’s a blessing to have supportive writers who cheer you on and forward. It’s a blessing to go on vacation

After dinner, I watched the full moon rise over a silhouette of mountains while I sipped at a glass of cold Pinot Grigio.

Full moon-Jeffey Sullivan, CC license
Full moon – Jeffry Sullivan, CC license

Over the weekend, I thought about the ABNA. It was a great experience for me.

I had fun, I had hope, and I dreamed.

Nothing wrong with any of that.

Now it’s time for the next steps. Wherever they lead.

 

 

 

 

Chingonas, Strong Women, UFW, Wisdom

Why Dolores Huerta is Important to Remember

 

Dolores Huerta-Ventura College, CA-alvaradofrazier.com
Dolores Huerta-Ventura College, CA-alvaradofrazier.com

 

The newspaper said that Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) was to speak at a local community college.

My mom immediately said, “I’ve never seen her up close or heard her speak. I want to go.”

Now, I was a little surprised since my mother marched four times with Cesar Chavez with the fifth time being his funeral procession to his resting place in Keene, CA.

That evening we arrived early so we could sit up front. The college students, who sponsored the presentation, made Champurrado, Arroz con Leche, enchiladas, rice, and a whole array of foods. One thing about Latinos, we do like to eat and we put out food for guests.

At the appointed time of the presentation there were no seats left with at least fifty people standing.

Dolores Huerta, a petite woman with a strong voice, took the stand.

She spoke about the hardship of the early days (1940-60’s) of farm labor work. No bathroom facilities, one water jug with one shared cup for everyone, the short handled hoe, no rest periods, and pesticide spraying over farmworkers in the fields.

My mom made the migrant circuit to pick crops with her parents. She nodded her head at this information.

This is what I learned from her presentation:

Dolores Huerta was a teacher in Stockton, California:

I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children.

She co-founded the National Farmworkers (later the UFW) in 1962. This was made possible by collaborating with other workers, mainly Filipinos, who were ‘imported’ to work the fields. She was not only an organizer, but a contract negotiator.

Who has the power? We have the power. People power. 

Non-violent protest is difficult. Organizing workers was tough especially with backlash from growers and police.  Huerta was severely beaten, resulting in broken ribs and ruptured spleen, by San Francisco P.D with batons during a non-violent march. Later she won her court case.

Dolores and Cesar spoke with Latino leaders in Arizona (his native state)when the legislature pushed through an agribusiness sponsored bill denying farm workers the right to strike and boycott.

Latino leaders declared this bill couldn’t be beaten. Cesar and Dolores silently listened while they explained why the fast and efforts by farm workers would be fruitless.

“No, no se puede!” (“No, no it can’t be done”), they kept repeating in Spanish. Dolores responded,

“Si, si se puede!” (“Yes, yes, it can be done”). Dolores Huerta coined that phrase.

Dolores Huerta is an intelligent, tenacious woman who has dedicated her life to her passion for social justice and equality for all people.

 

She teaches us that we have to get out there for the things we believe in and value. It’s not easy to make that trip, but it is worthwhile.

Dolores Huerta quote. Walk into history with us.-alvaradofrazier.com
Dolores Huerta quote. Walk into history with us.-alvaradofrazier.com

 

Ms. Huerta is 83 years old and still advocating for farmworker rights, women’s rights, and heads an education and leadership foundation.

Now, when you go see the movie about Cesar Chavez, UFW, and non violent organization (I really hope you do attend a showing) remember that this is a true story, part of history, and Dolores Huerta carries on this work.

Cesar Chavez Movie
Cesar Chavez Movie