Dec 012014
Tethered to the past

Tethered to the past: the ropes can keep us safe or tie us in knots

Tethers or connections? The past is an integral part of our future. When we write memoirs, memories, or histories that create a positive connection with the past, it grounds us. When the past colors our existence to the point that the present and future are drained of reason, it’s a tether to be broken–or at least loosened up a bit.

How are You Tethered to the Past?

There’s an apt German expressions for those times when you are torn about an event: “One eye laughs; the other cries.” When we reminisce and remember the events and stories of the past, we often experience that dichotomy. It’s hard to say whether we’re tethered to the past by fond memories or ghosts of better times.

Even the painful memories can be tough to let go of. Added up, they account for a huge chunk of life.

My dear friend and across-the-street neighbor recently decided to sell her house. She agonized over whether or not to leave her home of 27 years. Her house is full of comforting memories. But, it also has a lot of reminders of happier times.

Let’s face it. Looking back isn’t always a joyful sojourn in yesteryear. There are times when we look back and long for the people who are no longer with us, the innocence we possessed, not to mention rolling back the ravages that time has inflicted on our appearances.

I know. I sometimes look at pictures of my parents and feel a tug in my gut. I still miss them. A lot. I long for their advice and companionship. The past, that Never-Never-Land of What-Could-Have-Been, beckons. The memories that warm me on some days push me into melancholy on others. If I don’t shake myself out of my reverie (or if the dog or the kids don’t do it for me), I find myself tethered to the past—at least in an emotional sense. Sadness creeps in, shrouding my day.

Tethered to the past or anchored

Are you tethered to the past by an anchor that drags you down, or one that keeps you from getting lost at sea?

Anchors and Letting Go

There’s a physical exercise that makes the concept of releasing the past very real. You place one foot firmly on a mark on the floor. That mark is the past, and your foot anchors you there. With the rest of your body, you reach to see how far you can get without moving your foot from that mark. Assuming that there is something tempting out of reach, like a cookie or new job, you quickly realize the importance of letting go of that mark.

As much as I like the exercise, I don’t always.

For one thing, anchors aren’t all bad. Although they can’t still the waters, they keep us from being lost at sea. They remind us where we wanted to stay. They help us from getting lost or unintentionally drifting into danger.

On the other hand, anchors have hoists. They’re not constantly schlepped around. They’re dropped when it’s helpful and raised when you need to move on.

What Lies Ahead Means More if You Know What Lies Behind.

Another German word helps the metaphor. Rücksicht, taken literally, means backward sight. But what it actually means is concern or consideration.

We don’t move forward in a vacuum. We move forward from a starting point. If we completely disconnect ourselves from the past, our journey forward has less meaning. It’s like a silhouette instead of a landscape. It’s missing context.

That’s why, for example, old friends are so comfortable to be around. You don’t have to explain back stories or worry that they’ll misconstrue things. They understand you and your history.

Keeping the Anchor and Losing the Ball and Chain.

It’s a balance isn’t it? We want to be tethered to the past, but not haunted by it. Which will take us to Part 2—When and How to Let Go. Stay tuned….

Oct 202014
writing about personal facades and the secret centers

Writing about personal facades can give loved ones a taste of your “secret center.”

Writing about personal facades is a great way to connect with loved ones. Plus, it can be therapeutic.

When I lived in Europe and tromped around medieval cities, I marveled at the intact buildings. Buildings remained as beautiful in the 1980s as they had in the 1510s. Yet modern businesses and households were operating out of them. Their trick? Extensive renovations that didn’t touch the street side facade. The buildings themselves were nothing like the original structures, but through the centuries, the historic fronts were maintained.

Large or small, good or bad, we all have them. What’s your facade? How does it function in your world? Such introspective topics aren’t just good things to discuss with your best friend or therapist (assuming those are two distinct individuals). Your legacy of yourself and your past doesn’t have to be limited to narratives. Continue reading »

Jul 222014
Writing about bullies of childhood

Writing about bullies is a way to open up your past to your readers.

Writing about bullies doesn’t come easily. We want to put that behind us. We wonder, “Who wants to read that?”

Probably most people.

Whenever we get together and share memories and stories, encounters with belligerence, arrogance, or outright bullying invariably come up. It’s always a compelling story.

Our listeners commiserate. They respond with their own stories. This happens when we write too. When we write about bullies and persecutors, we connect with readers and start conversations. We see new facets of each other’s personality. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
Looking forward or backward

Looking forward or looking back?

This is an odd title for me—I spend a lot more time looking backwards than I do looking forward. But, as the calendar turns the proverbial page, it makes sense to look forward—and to write about it.

Looking forward by setting goals

Yep, each New Year’s Eve, I try to set some goals for the coming year. (One year I came up with a suggested list of goals for my kids. That didn’t go over very well.) Often, my list is nearly identical to the previous year’s. That means those ten pounds still sit around my hips. The ambitious exercise program has again been usurped by exercise that’s more fun. In other words, if I’m not chasing a ball, I’m not running. Continue reading »

May 242013

Five Minute Fridayis a great writing exercise even if you’re not blogging your treasures (memories). Your spontaneous thoughts on a given subject can reveal your personality, daily life, beliefs, etc. If you are blogging, I encourage you to join in! If you want to connect on Twitter, use the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday.

This week’s Prompt: View

Prayers of Praise–How to Give Words to Your Heart Continue reading »

May 172013

Five Minute Fridayis a great writing exercise even if you’re not blogging your treasures (memories). Your spontaneous thoughts on a given subject can reveal your personality, daily life, beliefs, etc. If you are blogging, I encourage you to join in! If you want to connect on Twitter, use the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday.

This week’s Prompt: Song

My song This prompt is too rich in metaphors for a five minute session! Cue the dramatic, frenetic music!

My life is a song. It’s a pretty good one, in my opinion, but I’m not sure I deserve the credit. I have a Master that helps me compose.

It’s not a song written for performance or a Grammy. My song is just the tune that is me.

Like all lives, it has moments of harmony. Like all lives, it has its moments of discord. Even the unexpected discord is important, driving a longing for resolution into a new harmony. Continue reading »

Apr 122013

Five Minute Friday


Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker, founder of “Five Minute Friday,” broadcasts a writing prompt, challenging writers to writer for five minutes only. In her words, “It’s not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. “

This is a great writing exercise even if you’re not blogging your treasures (memories). Your spontaneous thoughts on a given subject can reveal your personality, daily life, beliefs, etc. If you are blogging, I encourage you to join in! If you want to connect on Twitter, use the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday.

Today’s prompt: HEREHere I am

Confession: My five minutes lasted six minutes.


Here:  We should be able to look around us and accurately describe where we are, what “here” means to us.

Often we can’t; our view is obscured or filtered. Continue reading »

Apr 052013

You can’t go home. It’s not just a cliché. I’ve tried. However, going back to the geography of my roots proved to have a powerful allure all its own.

Rolling Hills of farmland

Photo Credit Wikipedia

As I drove away from Richmond and towards Prince Edward and Lunenburg counties on Monday, more than just the topography changed. As the miles progressed, years rolled away, returning me to the car rides of my childhood. As the same (or similar, I’m not really sure) roads cut through the same wooded hillsides, my senses went into full-immersion recall of countless car rides during the 60’s and 70’s. It looked the same, smelled the same, and felt the same. Continue reading »

Mar 152013

Today’s #FiveMinuteFriday Prompt: Rest

Sunset on St. Simon's Island is always conducive to rest.

Sunset on St. Simon’s Island is always conducive to rest.

Sleep restores our bodies; rest restores our brains and spirits. It’s what we need to re-group, re-ground, and re-start.

I’ve often wondered why God didn’t give our brains an off switch. (No hint of a lie—I even asked a psychologist once if she could help me figure out how to turn myself off.)  For me, rest isn’t just something I can sit down and do, but I can open myself up to it.

Rest comes in those treasured moments when I’m just being—enjoying life and those I love. Continue reading »