Reading & Writing a Life

Carla Pineda's blog


My Granny and the Songbird

A few weeks ago I was rereading in my journal some of my entries written during the peak of the pandemic. I wondered on the page what things will look like on the “flattened curve”. Would there be a “flattened curve?” How will we know when this is all over? Will it ever really be over? I realized we will never be unable to “unsee” what has/is taking place. It is a strange and somedays unsettling place to be. There are things about this we have little control over. And, that is hard for some of us.

I realized I had been thinking a lot about my Granny, my maternal grandmother. I caught myself thinking about her strength and her faith. Her mother died when she was a little girl. She lived through the 1918 flu epidemic, through the depression, through world wars. She outlived 3 of her 4 children.

I wondered, “what would she be doing during this time?” Whatever it was…she would be singing. Maybe she would be baking yeast or cinnamon rolls, painting, or dusting…but she would be singing. She always sang.

Me, well, ask my kids…I can’t sing! But, I can put pen to paper and write. And, that is what keeps me grounded and calm.

Some prompts to consider:

What keeps you grounded when life feels “out of control?”

What settles you when you are unsettled? When life throws you unexpected unknowns?

How does writing/journaling reground you? Bring you back to center?

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Joy ( a journal entry from early virus days)

There is this joy that comes from an international Zoom call with my little gang

spread out from Austin, to Houston, to London

across the country, across the ocean, across time zones making for a 6 hour time difference

when this happens everything feels like its going to be ok

that even in spite of this pandemic

when I see my kids

lay eyes on them

take their temperatures with my eyes and my heart

all is well.

(personal journal entry from May 6, 2020)

I am beginning a reread of my journal from this last year. This last year of so much being so different. This year of lockdowns, unknowns, new ways of being. I find myself seeking out the times I wrote of “normal”, of things that can and do happen in any other regular time. When I find one of those times, like this one of a call with my children, I remember that embedded in the unknown is the familiar and I breathe and I smile. Yes, we have gotten through this. We are getting through this. I remember to be grateful, to smile, to find and feel the joy of life lived each day. (and thank you Zoom, you are a lifesaver!)

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Straight from my Journal

My Writing Table this Morning

Sitting at my writing table…I feel flat this morning. I am grateful for the song birds who are singing so beautifully today, just now coming to the feeder. I am all of a sudden (listening to the nudge) re/membering a small book on my shelf behind me. I go straight to it (often I have to scan shelves to get what I’m looking for).

The book is The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal by Sallie Wolf. (published 2010).

At first glance this is a book about bird identification and behavior. But look more carefully: journaling helps us to observe, think, evaluate, record and create.” (from the back cover).

She did a book signing at Viva Books where I use to work. I had forgotten that this book was signed:

“To Carla – It all begins in the journals. Write on!” Sallie Wolf

This idea of “write on” – I do that and sometimes I wonder what in the hell for

Some days it feels like a useless waste of time and paper

The filled journal then added to a stack of other filled volumes – put in a box under the bed or in storage

Is there any redeeming value to this practice that I cannot not continue?

Stay away 3 or 4 days and I’m running back here to the blank page

Sitting down to write

If nothing comes I’ve been known to mark the date and move on

My messy writing table and the clean slate of the blank page together settle and center me

My breath deepens, I sense this flush deep in my body

I sit here and release myself

to the mercy of the pen and the paper

and all feels right

So, yes! Write On!

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A Book Review

What Stories are You Living: Discover Your Archetypes – Transform Your Life by Carol S. Pearson

I’ve read Carol S. Pearson’s previous titles, The Hero Within and Awakening the Heroes Within.  When I saw this new book by her coming out I knew I wanted to read it.  I’m fascinated by stories and by archetypes, so it was a given I’d read it.  Being able to take the PMAI Assessment and get a personalized report made me really want to read it!  In the opening chapter Pearson says, “We humans swim in a sea of stories.  At best our stories can help us grasp on a deeper level what is going on within us and around us.” (p. 1)

Because stories are alive and to be able to learn the power of them with an instrument that lays out their pathways, for me, personally, that encourages evolution and growth is a gem!  With the use of the PMAI you have a way to “reveal the plot lines you currently are living and what superpowers they can promote.”  

This is a book that I will dip in and out of for probably a long time.  The more I read the more I want to read.  The twelve individual archetypal stories are the idealist, the realist, the warrior, the caregiver, the seeker, the lover, the revolutionary, the creator, the magician, the sage, the ruler, and the jester. The instrument is scored in highest, midrange, and lowest scores with chapters on looking at these archetypes through an individual lens as well as how they live out in narratives in the world. To discover the stories that influence your life,  to bring them to conscious awareness and learn the most you can from them are possible with this book.  It is so layered and full.  Reading it does take some work but what fun!

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Sunday Morning

I am up at 5am. The two day old dishes have been washed. Now, the sink waits for the next load of dirty dishes, a sign of life around here. The familiar sound of Mr. Coffee perks, slow but steady. I drink my first cup of his coffee, savor its smooth, dark taste.

The phone # for yesterday’s vaccine registration sits in my line of sight. My phone registers 21 attempts to get through for an appointment. They are all unsuccessful. The virus numbers are off the charts.

I read a phrase this morning, “the art of observation”. I like it. It rolls around in me a tad differently than “the art of noticing” which is the title of a book I have.

To observe. To notice.

They are different I think. I observe. I spend time, catch the sight of something, spend time taking it in. I notice. I just see “it” and maybe make note. I miss the nuances (I like this word) that observations pull forth.

My friend, the writer and poet, Edward Vidaurre, says “see beyond the ordinary eye.” And I say, listen past the quiet.

Absorb the sights and sounds. The coffee pot is done perking. Now I hear the sound of the refrigerator hum and beneath it, the quiet of a Sunday morning at my writing table in the kitchen.

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New Year’s Eve 2020

It is early on this last day of this year. It is cold. It is raining. I am at my writing table, rereading my journals from this past year and writing down thoughts, fragments, questions in my final volume for the year. Since I have filled 10 volumes this year this entry from my first volume of 2020 made me smile.

I cannot find words this morning. I feel at a loss for anything to write…no questions, quotes, prompts surface. I just know I need to be on the page. I need the discipline, the practice, the commitment, the feeling of being loyal to the blank page. “Just be here” comes before the physical words begin to appear.

Just be present to the pen and the paper. Trust that something will reveal itself on the tabula rasa journal page and will in turn reveal, perhaps, a nugget of wisdom or a question needed for the next step. Just show up.” (from my personal journal entry of Jan. 12, 2020)

How did you show up on the pages of your journal in 2020? Are you ready to begin another year on the blank page? When you just show up, trust the process, the journey, and practice the discipline, you may find yourself with 10 (or more) volumes too!

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Questions and Stilling Water*

This thing about questions…there being no limit to how far one can travel (John O’Donohue)

Where does the question travel from? Where is the question going?

Me and the question going on a journey together, to the recesses of my mind, of my heart, we sit together, still and quiet

The question rolls around inside of me, most likely it begins with sharp prickly edges

Then after time, living with it, the edges smooth out, like a rock in a tumbler

Is this living, quietly into the answer, somewhere along the way (Rilke)

Not at Point A or Point B, but just somewhere, gradually, without any thinking on my part?

The question is answered, revealed, comes into focus, a reflection on the surface of stilling water.

*from a journal entry dated August 7, 2020 in the midst of the pandemic

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The small things

It is the morning after Christmas

Yes, it was different

Yet, it was Christmas and that is what matters

A “less is more” day (and year)

We had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner

Something very comforting about ending the day with those foods

Basic and fulfilling

It is the small, is it not?

#readingandwritingalife #writinglife #journaling #journals #creativelife #creativity #reading #gratitude #cronewisdom #wisdom

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I am sitting amidst the sounds of the washing machine and the coffee pot

It is a new day, the Winter Solstice, my sister’s birthday, the week of Christmas

A candle flame glows gentle

I take time for a pause in this time of a long dark

I sit slow, move gentle

Immerse myself in this place of unknowing

Embrace the darkness

It is good for the soul











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A Small Thing

First chore of the morning is to fill the bird feeder. Lately, they go through a feeder full of food a day. Before I fill it I can hear them in the bushes and see them come in for landings as they wait…

They flitter, they flutter, the December morning chill must make them frisky. They push, they shove, they hover, wait their turn maybe…on the railing below or watch for a dropped seed to snatch up.

What is it about this little scene out my back door that brings me pause? Makes me smile, even laugh out loud, settles my heart in joy?

#readingandwritingalife #journaling #journal #writinglife #gratitude #wisdom