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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
I viewed a lot of “hater” Valentine Day quotes, images, and jokes yesterday. And hey, that’s okay, been there, done that, too.
This made me think about the times I’ve been brokenhearted.
It sucks when your heart is broken, double sucks when it’s before the holidays, Valentine’s Day, or New Year’s Eve-all the majors.
When our hearts break, we examine and turn each chunk of our shattered heart over and over, ‘we got along so well, the dates were good, we laughed, he shared himself, I listened, don’t I get points for listening?’
We can rehash that scenario until the second coming.
What the brokenhearted needs (at least I did) is time and some action to put the pieces back together. Time to practice some self-care and self-love.
Imagine this scenario:
Light some candles and fill a basin with warm water. Now, imagine holding a chunk of your heart safely in your hand.
View it carefully. Look at the bruises, the bumps, the splinters embedded deep into the recesses.
Soak your heart piece in the water until it plumps up and everything not of the heart floats away. The water may turn dark and murky.
Blot the little lump dry. Place it lovingly, like you would an infant, on a warm towel. Swaddle your heart and cuddle it until you feel warm inside.
Come on, it’s not silly to care for yourself. Go ahead, wrap your fingers around your hunk and let your hands provide a cocoon to nurture your heart.
Find the other pieces, there on the floor, or under the bed, where you cried until you shook. Pick them up.
Tomorrow you can go through the process again with the other pieces.
When all the pieces are bathed, lift them to your chest, the left side, feel the warmth against your clothes or skin.
Take a deep breath, maybe two, and open your hands. They are empty now, having released your heart back into place.
Remember, your hands did this, your nurturing helped put together the pieces. It was your careful handling, over time, that made your heart whole again.
You did this for yourself and you aren’t holding on to broken pieces anymore.
This morning I woke up too early, barely four o’clock. I fumbled for a book from the eight on my nightstand. I didn’t particularly care which one, I just wanted to fall asleep again.
My fingers chose Julia Cameron’s book “The Right Way to Write.” I hadn’t read this book for a few days. I had used the book cover as a marker, so I opened it to the last place I had read.
The title of the chapter was “The Well.”
“As writers (insert your word choice: mom, dad, student…)we draw on an inner fund of images that I call ‘the well’…an inner pond, one that must be kept both stocked and free flowing. We have simply overfished our inner reservoir…”
“YES,” I blurted out, there in my bed, and waited for a second wondering if I had awakened my son in the next bedroom.
“Yes, I’ve overfished,” my words now in a murmur.
There is no more fish, and the water has evaporated much like that in my beautiful terracotta fountain in the patio, neglected during this cold season.
Imagine your mind, body or soul emptied. Not a healthy picture.
To restock the pond, Cameron suggests an “Artist Date.” You can name it a “Mom Date, Me Date, Dad Date,” but whatever you call it, it’s for you alone. It’s a once a week date for one hour. Your AD or MD must be a solitary expedition to some event or place that interests you: a museum, the garden nursery, a movie, etc.
Go alone, that’s the deal.
You are to romance, flirt, court, woo your creative consciousness. Allow yourself to soak up the images, aromas, colors, textures, sounds. This is self-care, nothing to feel guilty about.
You don’t have to document anything on paper. Just BE THERE.
You are there to fill up your well, not fish from it.
Makes sense to me. I fell back asleep for 90 minutes.
In the early morning I peeked into my backyard filled with shadows of slate grey sky and flicked on the patio light. The wet flagstone surrounding my triple fountain brightened up.
After an hour, with hot coffee in a gloved hand, bundled in a bathrobe with my tennis shoes on I visited my fountain. Rainwater filled the smaller bowls up with some in the largest bowl.
I hit the switch, sat down and listened to the water move up the center, over the top spout, trickle to the mid bowl, spill into the last. I sat for half hour, just listening to my well filling up. The air chilly, but it was worth it to be out there. (I’ll go back for another half hour later on today).
Right now I’m reflecting on the sound and image of one of those old-fashioned wooden waterwheels, its baskets dipping into a slow running river, scooping up water on a bright blue skied day. When the basket moves to the top it sprays cool water over me. My dry skin turns moist. My emptiness fills. I feel replenished. So much so that I’m now a mermaid.
Now go find some place to fill up your well and have a delightful weekend.