Top Nav

This is Courage

Courage CNF Writers Conference

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings

I am sitting alone at my writing desk, black ball point pen in hand. The page is half full of scribbles of thoughts from my mind. Residue from my dreams that ended just twenty minutes before are colliding with rising awareness of the coming day. Between these spaces I am aware that I feel fear when I write about Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference coming up at the end of May in Pittsburgh, PA.

Attending is a leap for me, a leap that clenches my belly and draws my breath up short. Attending is staring at my fears about writing and mingling with professional writers dead in the eye. Attending is movement toward my dreams. Attending means participating in a workshop and sending in a manuscript — I am not sure I am ready for that level of exposure. I am not sure about the money.

Jay says I shouldn’t let the financial aspects hold me back. He says I should go. Jenna, my writing coach, says I can hold my own in a workshop. I feel confused considering all of this—yet I know what I need and want to do. I know in my bones I need to go and move in the direction of my dreams.

So it looks like I am going to attend the Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference at the end May. My breath is short, my fingers are numb, I feel light-headed. I guess this is courage.


This post is part of the April Moon reflective writing challenge with Kat McNally. It’s never too late to join in!


Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Spring buds

“Even while you strive to improve your life, part of you is whole, well, and perfect right where you stand. ” ~ Alan Cohen

This morning the sounds of robins, crows, and blue jays fills the space of my small writing studio. Jay is still asleep as I sip my hot black coffee and linger longer than normal reading an article in the New Yorker about a bus ride on the B46 line. I love the languid space Sunday morning offers.

The neighbors have yet to wake and start their various power tools and machines to prepare their yards for the coming season. In my haste for winter to end, I forgot that the sounds of spring are not just lovely birds, wind chimes and peepers waking in the black mud, but also lawn mowers, leaf blowers and motorcycles. Not to mention the vexing thrash metal music blaring from the 20 years olds across the street.

The warmth of spring is opening the world up— all of the world— not just what I find beautiful or appealing. So this is my practice, being with both the joy and not so joyous. It is learning to sit with everything, even the discomfort of what I don’t like, knowing it will pass. (And it is learning that when the power tools start up and I am trying to write, I can put on background ambient noise to help me concentrate.)

Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

How I Became a Booktuber- I had no idea such a community existed. The internet is a wide wonderful place. I will have to go check out some of these folks when I have time to get lost down a black hole.

Leaving the Church of Self-Improvement by Danielle Laporte- I have to confess I have struggled with Danielle Laporte’s work over the years. On one hand, I am completely attracted to it and then most of the time I read it and I am left with a feeling of “Shit, I am not doing enough.” I admit, I have the internal settings to be a self-improvement junkie, which can cause large amounts of anxiety. I have to be very careful to not fall into the trap of getting better, doing better or being different. It is a dangerous place for me. So when I read this post I said “Hallelujah!” I could relate with so much of what she said.

60 Powerful Photos about the Human Condition- Gripping photos of humanity. Some of these are iconic, some are new to me. I love people.

How to Be Alone via Brain Pickings- Simply lovely. I love being alone. Growing up I spent most of my time alone. It was only when I got older that I started to feel like something was wrong with me for being comfortable alone. Now that I am older with wisdom, I can embrace my superpower of being comfortable being alone.

Photographic Tour of America’s Public Libraries- Anywhere there are books is a magical place. While a good photo, I dislike the fact the Detroit picture is one of the abandoned branches. Detroit has a large magnificent public library that is still operating.

May your coming week be filled moments of awareness of everything —the beautiful and the vexing. ~ Kira



Thoughts About Detroit

Detroit Eastern MarketKat McNally sent me a link to this article, The Death of a Great American City: Why Does Anyone Still Live in Detroit? in my Twitter feed and I am compelled to share my thoughts about Detroit.

I have to admit when I first starting reading this I was defensive and coming up with all kinds of counter arguments in my head. Too many articles only showing the decay and problems of Detroit are floating around out there. But as I continued to read this article, I had to concede the piece was well investigate and it is true. Then I felt depressed.

Detroit is facing huge, almost insurmountable, problems. Words and pictures cannot tell the story of the region. It cannot show the vast empty landscapes dotted with crumbling buildings—remnants of a city that used to function.  However, not all of Detroit is like this. Investment is happening in core neighborhoods and Downtown, so much so I barely recognize it, with all of the people and new buildings. But Detroit is huge and much of it is crumbling.

I admit, I steadfastly focus on the small movements towards revitalization. I put my blinders on to the rest of the City — it is too big, too complicated to comprehend. While I don’t live in the City proper, mainly because I can’t sell my house and I am not sure I could afford the taxes and other high costs of living in the City, I want to believe deep in my bones and in my heart it is possible to revitalize Detroit—that it will become a vibrant livable city again.

What does this have to do with living with an open heart? I cannot stand by and witness the crushing poverty, the decay, the vast emptiness without my heart cracking open and feeling raw. I cannot help but think of the stories and  ghosts of those that once filled the homes and businesses now vacant. These  haunt me. The ruins propel me to ask how can this be fixed? What is my part? I don’t know the answers to these questions. The problems facing Detroit are bigger, much bigger, than me.

So for now, I hold my steadfast focus on what is being done now to help the City. I continue to spend time in the City. I continue spread positive news about Detroit and not only stories about the brokenness. I continue to attend meetings with community developers and groups who work in the City. I lend my knowledge and experience, even though I do most of my community development outside of the City, in other impoverished neighborhoods that have fallen like Detroit.

And yes, I know it is not enough to change the trajectory the City is on right now, but perhaps it is enough to start a ripple effect in another direction.



Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Spring Flower Inspiration to Open Your heart

“Oh dear Sunday, I want to sleep in your arms and have fun day.”― Santosh Kalwar

I love Sundays. I woke this morning not in the predawn darkness but to the soft orange glow of the early morning light filtering through the curtains. I heard the songs of not one but multiple birds drifting in from outside. With no destination or pressing responsibility, I chose to linger in warm soft bed and just float, feeling my breath and my muscles relax. A moment of awareness without apprehension of activity. For me this is pure bliss and rare. My mind is generally scanning ahead four or five steps to prepare for the next thing. So to wake, not jump and get to it is a gift I can give myself, if I choose.

It is a beautiful early spring day, crispy frost coats every surface this morning but it will warm up enough later for a bike ride. Perhaps to the grocery store. Sunday’s feel luxurious and endless.

As always on Sundays I get to share Inspiration to Open Your Heart links.

Sparks Will Fly by Damien Walter- A fascinating piece about how development of a creative culture will provide for a sustainable economic future. Mr. Walter’s early work of teaching writing to those wanting to reclaim their creative work thereby promoting self-development is compelling. I want to be able to help others do the same.

4 Ways to Find Purpose in Any Job- Yes to this article, which does not give Pollyanna advice to find passion but rather practical ideas for finding purpose right where you are —yes in any job. Let’s be real, sometimes you have to do work that seems not to aligned with your purpose but does mean you cannot be making a difference while doing that work?

How to Overcome the Fear of Putting Yourself Out There- I struggle with this issue—greatly. This blog, my tiny baby steps on social media, my writing work, all of this — is so uncomfortable and scary. Here is a list of some things to consider if you too struggle with putting yourself out there. I am not sure I agree with working at night, I don’t think well at night, my vital energy is too low.

Authentic Writers- Inspiration for writing your truth

And Finally, PostSecret- This is one of my favorite (aside from writing Inspiration to Open Your Heart posts) Sunday rituals. Jay and I have been reading PostSecret every week together for over three years. For the first year and half, when Jay lived in Portland, OR and I was in Detroit, MI, we read together on the phone. Now that we are together in the same city, it is over hot coffee on the couch. While many of you may already visit this site every Sunday, I wanted to share. It is worth it.

May your coming week be filled with courage and grace to put yourself out there. ~ Kira


A Mindfulness Reminder

Fire in the Heart of MaryIt was raining and sunny as I walked out to the mailbox before I went into the house this afternoon. I stood in the driveway, the spring rain gently falling, staring at a plain white envelope mailed from Michigan addressed to myself in my handwriting.

My mind searched for what this was, I could not remember sending myself a letter. This was a practice I used to do often years ago—send little love notes and letters of encouragement to myself. I have not sent myself something in years. Confused I went into the house to open the letter.

I opened the letter and grew even more confused, it was indeed a letter to myself written from myself but I did not remember writing it. As I continued reading about being proud of myself and encouragement for continued mindfulness practice, it finally came back to me.

Last September I participated in an eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class to reset my mindfulness practice, which after D died had become spotty and I became consumed with restlessness and aggravation. I write about this here. At the end of the class, the teacher welcomed us to write a letter to ourselves that she would mail to us at some time in the future.

So on this cold rainy day I was given a gift of encouragement and reinforcement for my practice. A mindfulness reminder of sorts. I share with you the letter I wrote to myself back in November at the end of the class.

Dear Kira,

Well I am really proud of you. You really know how to take care of yourself and mindfulness is key for everything you do. Please remember there is no fire—walk slow, stop and ask yourself, where is the fire?

As you move on from this point, remember the following things:
Practice mindful eating, you will taste your food.
You need more retreats, it is balm for your soul. You have been through so much, let it heal—remember there is no fire.
Start integrating yoga back into your life.
Go on a 10 day retreat. You need this and you are ready.
Continue sitting each morning— remember above all else this is your priority, without it you have seen what happens.
Also, practice walking meditation more, it slows you down.

You are doing great—there is no fire anymore. You are safe. Be here now.

Love to you always, Kira

I am happy to report my practice continues to be consistent and continues to grow. I am moving slower (and not just because of the foot surgery), taking more time and I ask myself often—where is the fire? Taking that class was one of the best gifts I gave to myself last year.

May you find moments of mindfulness and remember to ask yourself—Where is the fire? ~Kira



Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes