Don’t Wait For Your Life

It saddens me greatly that I have only one life in which to read and write. All those books I will not have opened, the ignorance I will take with me to my final bed. And of course, the books I will have left unwritten. And yet, I’ve been given, this year, pages to add to the annals of community, and to culture and art at large.

You know how writers start a blog in the dubious hope of being discovered out here (by a publisher)? Well, one found me. I responded to the encouragement to submit, and the narrative The Measure of a Woman made its way into the 2018 New York’s Emerging Writers anthology. I put in under New York for the relevance to my mother’s early immigrant years there. The editors will offer a solo book deal to the author who draws the best reader feedback, so imagine how much I will appreciate anyone who takes a moment to put up a good word for me on that Amazon page. You can take to the bank this public assurance that I will remember you when I’m rich and famous, ’til I wake from that dream. Here are examples of comments that their readers have dropped on a previous series.

In the summer, I then reached out to WestCoast Magazines, a publication that serves the affluent families and businesses in this part of Southern California. After reading my work, the CEO gave me the run of her upcoming feature, each hard print issue drawing 100,000 views. Don’t bother tapping in if you’re not within distance, but I will say the article explains the distinctives of public, private, charter, and home schools to help families navigate choices and to build bridges across the school sectors. Unwittingly, I made some important contacts in the research, and now am on board with a large reputable school district to teach its students poetry and its teachers how to write. For starters, I was asked to share some poems at the district poetry showcase last week, where my husband and son also got to do a steel drum duet. (Yes, that is really my husband out of costume.) A few things have evolved for me simultaneously in all this.

Camera-shy (more like vehemently averse), I had always preferred to be read, not seen. And I honor the written poem because the way it looks on the page matters to me. Add to this the jarring thought that in performing a poem, I myself visually become part of the piece. Just as I had talked myself into going for it, I learned of a sudden passing of someone I had known in high school. Her lights went out after 45 brief years, in a brain aneurysm. She was my age. In the face of the sure limit on my own time, I decided to forge ahead into the world of Spoken Word. Perhaps it’s as simple as middle-age bungee jumping. But I want to create in new ways, while I can. It turns out that some of my posts – prose and poetry – work well in speech. And so in an earnest defense against dementia and related demise of brain cells, I have been memorizing my work, and performed – not recited – it at the showcase last week. It was an electric evening with a great turnout. Entering my zone while connecting with the audience was an amazing experience that pushed me beyond the comfortable ride of rolling out words in print.

Connecting with readers virtually is a special privilege, but engaging an audience face to face – offering my physical and emotional self – is a challenge, thrill, and power all its own. Blogging has taught me to write not like I’m educated but like I’m human, to step closer to the reader. Performing literally brings me in front of people to ask them to let me in. Perhaps a student of color, along the way, will find her own voice from watching the way I modulate and present mine. Of course I questioned whether I was good enough, but was invited back for a literacy conference next month and a poetry festival in March. Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge, and I think this is so because knowledge brings us to just the knowing, but imagination allows us to keep discovering, as the arts enable us to do – not with the fastidiousness of a scientist or scholar, but in wonder. The turn in my journey isn’t only about fuller living and the evolution of an artist but also a modeling for my son. I want to help nurture his own proficiency in presentation and performance because if you can look a crowd in the eye and tell a story or share your conviction, you can influence a great many people in today’s world. DIY YouTubes and the variants of TED talks that are shaping our culture say it all. I applied and was accepted as a speaker at an annual state homeschool conference a few months ago. It both empowered and concerned me to see the homeschooling parents take to my workshop like water. They were so grateful to be led them through the precepts on writing I have shared in past posts, the response made me want to go to the public school teachers. Writers who teach are busy with aspiring writers at conferences and special programs. They are not in the schools. I am excited to be guiding teachers so they can build their own skill set along with their students’.

Pixabay/Qimono

I laugh some moments, marveling that I can make up stuff and convince people to buy my wares. But I embrace the deeper lesson that opportunity isn’t so much something that shows up, as something to create. Don’t wait for your life. The doors I tried this year have swung open, but I first had to imagine and believe people would make space for me, should make space for me, and then knock. Only one life, friends. To dream, think, pursue, make, and because we have not only hands and brain, but also spirit, to do it in community. You bet I had the little Naysayer on my shoulder to deal with. But you’re too old to be doing Spoken Word. Talk to me when Sarah Jones stops doing whatever strikes her fancy on that stage. Your material isn’t angry enough, hip enough. As long as I’m asked back, I will stake my place among the ten thousand voices of poetry. There are better writers. Always. But they didn’t call the district superintendent. It’s one thing for finances, health, or death to get the better of me, but I will not live beneath my ability out of self-scripted fear. Do my job where I am? I am letting life and joy follow where I go.

166 thoughts on “Don’t Wait For Your Life

  1. Well, if that wasn’t a needed kick in the pants I don’t know what is. I’ve long sensed the time to speak what I’ve written and/or put my writing before established audiences instead of waiting for them to happen across me. But knocking…all they can say is no, right?

    Good for you Diana. Too many stories go to the grave, too many talents lay wasted. But not you, not me either❤️

  2. This sounds wonderful! I am so happy for you! I remember some dark posts of yours, full of sadness and longing … it is good to hear (= read) that those doors opened for you … that you opened them! All the best from the other side of the Atlantic!

  3. Hey, you’re back! I was about to ask where you had been, but there’s the answer. It’s been a Hell of a year, good for you. I’ll be sure to comment on The Measure of a Woman. I’m not a woman, but I know lots of them, including four sisters, so I feel sure I will have something relevant to say. Thanks a lot for liking my Saint Crispin’s Day post, I liked it too and I appreciate the encouragement.

  4. Amen! You really should push, you should just go for it. Do it now. So I don’t want to disturb your mojo here, but I do have to tell you a story about just this one sentence, “It saddens me greatly that I have only one life in which to read and write.”

    The word for “mansions” in heaven, “in my Father’s house are many mansions,” is actually more accurately translated as “libraries.” In my Father’s house there are many “libraries,” like presidential libraries, or old English libraries with a fireplace and tea and plenty of time for finishing long forgotten conversations and reading all the books you never got to. So yes, time is of the essence, but time is also eternal. Don’t be too sad, because we’re only temporarily separated from our unread and unwritten books, before finding ourselves dumped into a library more elegant than we can even imagine. That is where the real stories are told. 🙂

  5. I agree – there aren’t enough days in a life time to read and write enough! Big congrats to you!! I tried posting a review on Amazon and I wasn’t able to – they directed me to the guidelines and it says I had to have spend $50 on amazon.com in the last year. I have an amazon.ca account which I use regularly but apparently that isn’t the same as .com or they don’t recognize it. Your writing is thought provoking and meaningful.

    • Thanks so much for the thoughtful effort. It s–ks that Amazon doesn’t make it easy for some, when we are all bound in a mutually dependent digital ecosystem. I appreciate the support you’ve shown, and that you would spend the time on my words.

      Xxx
      HW

  6. Woo hoo! Sounds like a great way to end the year. I have had many classes in public speaking and used to have to give many presentations but I find it difficult when I’m presenting me. I do a really bad job of it. Happy to help out.

  7. Congratulations as your opportunities are well-deserved. I love the message of not waiting for our lives. I believe a lot of us wait for life to happen instead of making life happen. There is a keen difference between the two and knowing that difference, well, makes all the difference! #seewhatIdidthere

  8. Well then, bravo! One need only imagine, as Einstein says… knowledge supplants belief, and imagination supplants knowledge. Most people fear public speaking more than death! Meanwhile they ramble on at the water cooler as if they were a politician stumping for office. What you offer is so practical, and will affect generations, if those parents heed your voice. I like Ted, but don’t like the way it works… if you get the invite take it, but I know you won’t waste time chasing it. I’m still not sure where my voice will end up – (Dale Carnegie graduate) Glad you are finding yours, when you speak your passion the words come come without hesitation.

    • I’m not sure that I beLiEve knowledge supplants belief =), but yes, public speaking is a tough nemesis for many.

      “What you offer is so practical, and will affect generations…”

      It will be so interesting to see how the culture evolves just ten yrs down, the skills our kids will need to flourish in and lead the workplace, which I think I’m right to peg public speaking.

      I appreciate the thoughtful encouragement. Every bit helps. =)

    • I would ask to just read and write each time if I were given three more lives. Hey, so we have some hoops to jump to be able to comment on your board. A beautiful new spread, but each page took a long time loading, FYI, and I am asked to fill out a bunch of stuff to comment – which I have done my best to do this yr, but…you wanna be as reader-friendly as you can. Dunno if you can reconfigure anything.

      • Thanks Diana. I’ve got someone working on the loading. As for the questions, it’s the new GDPR policy that came into effect a few months ago. We had to add it for compliance for the EU, all self hosted blogs had to add the plugin in order to keep from being fined. 🙂

  9. Wow and congratulations Diana! I have missed your writing and wondered where and what you were doing. Clearly, following your dreams and passions. You stir up many questions of what do I want to be doing with my life? Writing, counseling, and/or teaching are among the top candidates. And at 60, I don’t have much more time to waste. I’m delighted you’re sharing your gifts with the world and following your passions. Kudos my friend.

  10. You have definitely forged ahead! Good for you, you’ve really opened some major doors this year. From a blog, to being published and speaking out loud, you have every right to feel damn proud. What a fabulous way to end the year. Warmest wishes from me down under 🙂

  11. I’m happy for you, D. Writing is one activity that I am sure brings joy to the soul. Even before the work is accepted, the joy felt in writing it to completion is unequaled. Have you wondered that works that require genuine love, humility, honesty, satisfaction, etc, works that require and exact virtue from us . . . are the least rewarded, or the least likely to be rewarded, in this world? Writing, though it can sometimes send the mind tumbling into dark places, is one such. What crime does a poem commit that s/he should not be rewarded for an excellent work?
    Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Congratulations and do have a Merry Christmas ahead. I will look for the New York anthology.

    • “Have you wondered that works that require genuine love, humility, honesty, satisfaction, etc, works that require and exact virtue from us . . . are the least rewarded,” Mmm. Probably because they are a reward in themselves. But yes, it’s a shame they typically don’t usher in the pay of other professions.

      “Writing, though it can sometimes send the mind tumbling into dark places”
      Most of the students who presented their poetry at the showcase are just beginning to find themselves. They could have visually scratched at the air in their recitations, clawing for the light. I would like to point them to the redemption that awaits their writing, although I know that’ll come many yrs down the road.

  12. Hi, D! I know we haven’t met each other in person and we only get to interact through reading and commenting each other’s writings over the years, but I want you to know that I feel so proud of you. Doors are definitely opening for you my friend! Congratulations!. More than anything, I agree about what you said regarding following your heart. I also liked the passage about the wonders of imagination over knowledge.

    P.S.
    Why do I get that feeling that you have grown immensely wiser? 🙂

    • Not sure about immensely, lol. I’ll take any bit of wisdom – esp in the parenting! Thanks so much for the heartfelt cheer. Life has gotten even busier. I am always creating (and recreating, in performing). It also feels good revising some poems! Keep that imagination on its toes, C.

  13. First, D, congratulations. Your recognition is well earned. And second, YES in going for it. We only have one round, at least on this whirling ball. That’s exactly the way I felt when I took off and backpacked over 700 miles this summer at age 75. Life is to live, regardless of your age! –Curt

    • I thought of you, Curt. World-class trotter that you are, with a book to claim. Keep rockin’ and showing us how it’s done. At 89, Christopher Plummer is brimming with ideas for the screen, and feels like he’s starting fresh, in some respects.

      Love,
      D.

      • Don’t know about the 89 business, Diana, but good for Plummer. And thanks. Deep into my next book now. 🙂 Each day brings something new. It’s the best way to stay young. And love back to you. –C

  14. Many congratulations Diana! Great news! Here’s to ongoing success! A very merry Christmas to you and family and may 2019 be your best year yet! May joy, peace, love, creativity and a great sense of humour be you constant companions

  15. Love, love, love this Diana! And a big kudos to you for swapping fear aside as you pursue your dream. Thanks for the inspiration to live life NOW and not in some hazy what if moment on the future.

    • You put it so well. I think so many of us just go with the flow. In all this, I have trusted Him to keep the wrong and even unnecessary doors shut, and to open doors no one can shut.

      Hope it’s a wonderful season.

      Xxx
      D.

  16. Look at you go, Diana. Congratulations on your success! Talk about a timely and inspiring post – I really needed this one. You are fierce, and I am in awe of your drive to achieve. Very happy and excited for you. 2019 is shaping up to be a most memorable one, and I am looking forward to hearing about the many good things to come for you. All the best to you and your family this holiday season. Take good care. Big hug. xo

  17. Congratulations here too, Diana. I commented on your blog post The Measure of a Woman. Good wishes for continued success in your writing, teaching and speaking venues. 🎄📚 Christine

  18. Glad I read this – it is encouraging to see you move ahead on your writing career, and so wonderfully. I am in a stale place after serious illness in the spring trying to get back to writing, but feeling downhearted (am quite a bit older than you!) and the awfulness of our present government (UK) is unbelieveable – “Brexit” is a silly dangerous game and has nothing whatever to do with doing what is good for our country as a whole … it depresses and angers me so much …and has stymied my writing totally except for my blog … so, maybe I will take heart … thank you and happy holidays/Christmas/whatever you do!

    • We are not faring much better politically in the U.S., so I commiserate. But I would never let our so-called president kill my inspiration, so seize whatever flash of light you can and shine it on your words.

      Xxx
      D.

  19. Would you have a higher grade of accomplishment if you were living two lives? Keep working at that and you will be remembered as the Mom. To me, that is a complete life. I really enjoy that you are back.

  20. Many congratulations on taking your writing life into your own hands Diana and helping to make that success for yourself. We so often don’t like to push ourselves forwards, but if we don’t, then who will? We have to be our own greatest supporters. And I’ve added a comment on Amazon.

    • Oh my, are you the one who used the words sculpts and sit taller? Amazon’s been blocking some legit comments. Andrea, thank you so much for taking the time. That’s a whole other platform, as you understand. And I appreciate the thoughtful encouragement. I feel so fortunate for your ongoing support.

      I am thinking a lot these days on the many ways we don’t take care of ourselves and of our one life. The little things we do today have lasting repercussions.

  21. For your Two 24K Gold Cents of magnificent reflection of not waiting for your life, I got caught up on your opening paragraph. The gist of which be the issue that kicks one around ceaselessly, especially when one attains a certain age, I’ve no doubt well past yours, but surely more than close to mine. Thus armed with this age disadvantage, I use my humble scribble to sympathize with you and your reference to time sadly limited by having but one life…

    “ Grieving ”
    ~ time neglected ~

    I grieve for time
    Passing unseen,
    Tho anxiously
    I try redeem,
    An absurd task
    Be but a dream,
    Behind the mask
    That only seems,
    Assuage ones fear
    Now less than keen,
    When down the line
    Reality finds clear,
    That life left behind
    Actualizes many years,
    Yet neglected tell my mind
    There’ll be life past the tears,
    For obtuse squandered plans
    That has me grieving, now ill timed!

      • Thank you for that, though grief is merely the subject of one of my humble scribbles, that of grieving, which is but a reflection of lost or wasted time, we all too often realize as we get older, and said time seems to evaporate ever so quickly!

  22. It is wonderful how one thing can lead to another and the timing was right for you. But nothing happens by accident – you deserve it. You can’t have an effect with it a cause. So those in any creative field, you have to want what you’re after and don’t doubt yourself. Love your life and and appreciate every day.

  23. Congratulations on your writing success through the blog, D. You should be very proud and who knows, you might get that book deal. Good luck. Try at every moment that comes by. Best wishes for the year ahead.

  24. OH, I am so very happy for you! Truly happy. This is more than well-deserved and I’m glad to see a larger audience heading your way. You inspire and the ripple effect is real. Stomp on that nasty self-critical voice. Stomp on it. I’ll say it again. Stomp on it. Encourage the kind one that whispers to you, “Grow, grow, grow.” I’m applauding you from afar.

  25. Ecc 12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. ❤ ❤ ❤

  26. First of all CONGRATULATIONS!! I love hearing a great report and this is a firm reminder to actively participate and dictate my own life.
    You are quite gifted and it was only a matter of time before someone in the publishing arena noticed. Your unique voice will not only motivate and mentor young writers but more importantly, create new ones. Very well done!
    My mother once told me when opportunity knocks (or you create your own) you must be ready to make the most of it. You have been more than ready for years. I can’t wait to see how you take your gifts to the next level and hopefully a generation of writers with you. God gives us gifts. We either use them or lose them! All the best to you in 2019!

    • Aw, Lilka. Look at you with your bouquet of encouragement. Greatly appreciated, my friend. Your mother was right on. Slam poet Beau Sia (whose style and content remain far different from my own, if not at odds) took off in his career in college. An envious poet who interviewed him asked (in so many words): “Wasn’t much of your success dumb luck?” To which he replied, “Of course. But I had prepared for it.” That spun her with a new perspective, and she went on to collaborate with him. As a believer in blessing and providence and not luck, I have taken every step entirely open to shut doors with the confidence that He will keep open the ones no one may shut on me while I insist on my best. Jacob wrestled with the angel and his imploring was as much a demand: “I will not let you go unless you bless me”. Our dreams are not as big as our God. I am so blessed for my friends here who cheer me on. Wishing you great things this yr, L.

      Xxx
      Diana

  27. My congratulations, Diana! It’s been a breathtaking journey for you. Wishing you warm wishes. So probably blogging here won’t happen as often.

    • Ha ha ha. There’s the practical Jean. I can be in only two places at once. =) And yes, blogging probably won’t be one of them this season. But I have a lineup of post topics in the wing. We shall see! I am putting the final touches on Friday’s writing workshop for the tchrs of the local school district. I’ll also be performing the poem Age. I feel the luv. Thanks, you! Hope you’re off to a wonderful new year.

  28. Without an imagination, nothing new gets created. Why not imagine two lives, or three, or three million? Reincarnation is a wonderful way to approach life. Maybe you, the Holistic Wayfarer, do not live again, but your spirit might. One lifetime isn’t enough for anyone. Whether you are seeking knowledge, or wisdom, living, or creating, reincarnation brings every possibility to your spirit. Imagine those possibilities! Create them!

  29. “It’s one thing for finances, health, or death to get the better of me, but I will not live beneath my ability out of self-scripted fear. Do my job where I am? I am letting life and joy follow where I go.”

    (You saved the best for the last with your closing two sentences hitting me off my sofa. No more giving self-scripted fear the chance to play itself out in my life.)

  30. With an excellent winning outlook of ‘letting life and joy follow where you go’, you will never fail. I wish you much success in the future! Great blog you have here! Tony

  31. Diana, you a) were missed; and b) are a force to be reckoned with, embracing your own fears and head butting them into oblivion. You inspire others to do the same. I love it! Kudos, and I will get on over to Amazon and check out the story. xo

    • Thanks, Pam. Terribly sweet of you. I got to teach English teachers at the district conference last week (who were so appreciative!) and just met with the head of professional development to discuss other performances as well as poetry workshops I will be offering students. We ain’t gettin’ any younger. Plow on!

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