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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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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A Long Year

2020 Journals

It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on the end of September and before long 2020 will be over. It’s been a long year. A long drawn out year. With the pandemic, the political climate, and now the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg it just feels like too much to take it, to deal with, to continue to live with. I’m tired.

My journals have filled up quickly this year. Here’s the stack of them and I’m almost through volume #7. I’m finding that I need the blank page more often these days. Somedays I only write a line or two. Then there are days like earlier this week when I wrote almost 20 pages. My pen would not stop. Ever had a day like that? Where you are just the scribe and you are not even sure what you are writing?

I often get hung up on expecting that what gets on the page will all have deep meaning, be profound, or answer the most elusive question I have. Ha! Give that one up!

Here’s the thing. Just write. Take a few notes on something that spoke to you. Take a picture of the birds on your patio or a fresh flower that just bloomed. Write a short prayer or poem. Respond to the tree in your yard.

Life will still be going on. All the muck and muddiness of the year isn’t going to go away overnight. Just record something on the page of your journal and things will lighten a bit. Then, do it again tomorrow. I’ll be on the page with you. #readingandwritingalife #journaling #journals #writing

Wishing you well!