Writing for Self Discovery

What life experiences have shaped us? Who has influenced our development from girlhood to womanhood? Why are we where we are today? Where do we go from here?

These are the questions women often ask in order to discover the stories that define our places in the world. They are the questions I will ask participants in a class that begins in four days at the Jung Center, located at 5200 Montrose Blvd. near the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. We’ll explore our reactions and responses to life events, analyze our relationships to uncover the deeper meaning they have given our lives–and much more.

Nine people have enrolled already. That leaves 3 seats… Would you like one? Tick-tock.

Classes are from 5:15 – 7:15 on Thursday evenings for 5 weeks (Feb. 2 – March 2.) As facilitator, I’ll give you writing prompts to delve into your psyche to discover the real you. The power of telling your story to people who listen with their heart’s ear is astoundingly powerful, but sharing is a choice, never a requirement. Honest to goddess.


Sage advice

Going through my deceased father’s filing cabinet this morning has been a prospector’s dream. The following is one of the gems unearthed from his writing files:

What I saw that night on my father’s face and early the next day on my mother’s was the same look I discovered on most of the adults I encountered in the following months and years. My teachers at school, the clerks in the grocery stores, the policeman who came by the school at dismissal time and whose presence noticeably slowed traffic, all these adults looked busted. Oh, there are nicer words to describe the look on their faces: fear, bewilderment, frustration. Busted is the right word. They looked busted. They were busted.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt shook the look just a bit when he told my parents and the nation that we had “nothing to fear except fear itself.” I watched the busted look on my father’s face mend a little as he listened. He never healed completely from the shock of 1929, which is certainly understandable.

What is far more complex is that I, a child of the depression, along with millions of others, grew up amidst visible poverty, and we never lost the fear of being busted. Economist easily identify our group. “Cohorts,” they label us. We are marked by an historical event; we share a distrust of plastic credit cards and we believe in saving for the rainy day we know is inevitable.

Our children are different. They are now over-40 year old parents who embraced the play now/pay later way of life. Some of them, when things get out of hand, flee into the closet of bankruptcy and play again while there is still money on the table.

How can my older generation reach our grown children? Is there no way to share our truth? Let’s try.

Children, you who are the parents of my grandchildren, listen! Choose to do without before you are forced to be without.

Put off the European vacation you can’t afford.  The huddled masses of Europe, yearning to be free, used to hunger for the protection of the Statue of Liberty; nowadays, hungry American tourists huddle in masses under the golden arches of MacDonald’s in foreign cities! Try appreciating America before you get homesick and deeper in debt.

Put off buying the status symbol car. Postpone moving to the exclusive subdivision. Give your children a taste of public school and get active in the parent-teacher association.

Save some money! Spend the money you have wisely and you will have some to save. Buy a new car if you truly need one, but educate yourself about the costs of acquiring and maintaining your chariot. Renovate the home you live in. Get involved in your neighborhood and civic activities.

Pay off your foolish debts and help our county pay off our national debt. Republicans and Democrats agree on our need for concerted action, raising taxes we can tolerate, but only if we spend the new money on paying off the old debt.

If we fail to act together, we will not pass our final exam in international economics. We will get the message we never want to hear: “The party’s over. You’re busted.”

My dad wrote this in the late 1980s, when the oil dependent Texas economy was plummeting. I don’t know about the rest of the nation, but I hope Texan “Boomers and Gen X’ers” reflect, process, and adopt this sage advice as the Texas Legislature determines how to use its 140 days.

Winter weather report

Baby, it’s c-c-cold outside. This past week had temperatures dip into the (gasp) 20s.

Of course, this is nothing compared to the states north of the Mason-Dixie Line where folks are trying to dig out of four and six feet of snow in sub-freezing weather (Minnesota was at -7, not counting the wind chill). Yikes! But then again, that’s why we live in the South – to avoid cold winters.

Good thing about Texas: wait a week and the weather will change. Today, we woke up to 20 degrees, but tomorrow the temps start climbing again. Low on Monday is predicted at 40 degrees; Tuesday, 58; Wednesday, 62; Thursday, 66; and Friday will be 68. Highs for each of those days will be in the 70s. Don’t put up your winter coat, though, because temps will slide again next Saturday.

Yep, weather in Texas is a roller coaster ride. Our weather folks are our local heroes because they tell us (and we listen) if we’re going to have a 30- or 40-degree difference between sunup and sundown. Trust me, it happens more often than you think.

We’ve had to bring in the dogs from the cold this past week. With three, it’s been a challenge. Lucy is the oldest and the most well-mannered. The boys, Riley and Jackson, are typical males wanting to mark their territory, but Ronnie is the alpha dog in this house and tries his best to keep them from doing that. They want to sleep with the alpha dog, but that’s my job and I don’t share. So, they have to settle for the mud room. Ronnie put an old sofa in there for them, and they pile atop each other like puppies.

We keep saying we’re going to clean out the shed in the backyard and fix it up for them, but then the temperatures rise again and we put it off. Truth is, these dogs are outside critters – they love roughhousing with each other, running under the house, walking the perimeters of the property to guard against the neighbor’s cats and barking at passing vehicles.  They come inside when Ronnie calls them – I think they’re curious about where he spends his time – but they are quicker than bullets to get back outside when he opens the back door.

This afternoon, they’ll be lolling in the backyard soaking in the sunshine.  Since it won’t freeze tonight, they can stay out.  The moon is waxing – they’ll love nature’s nightlight.

But next weekend? We’ll watch our hero Shel Winkley on KBTX-TV for his weather report and make our plans accordingly.

Lucy Riley Jackson

Happy 2017

Happy New Year! I had another birthday yesterday, and as I face 2017, I ask myself a question: what makes me happy?

Easy answer today.

Sunshine on a cold day. Autumn energies me. I love the way the colors of nature brighten before the leaves drop to the ground. I love the crisp air, the lack of wet humidity that slugs me in the summer. Woodsmoke perfumes the air. I take my book and a mug of brewed coffee out on the porch. I read and watch my neighbors drive by, and I find happiness in the slow but sure pace of small town Navasota.

Happiness is listening to the preacher speak of a merciful and loving God. I sing off key but no one notices except my sweetie because of the strong melodious voices that surround me in the First Presbyterian Church. Ronnie drapes an arm around me and just smiles.

Happiness is riding a motorcycle with my man through the backroads of the Brazos Valley. Smelling the pungent scents of the countryside… the farms, the winter crops, the animals. Feeling the rise and drop of temperature. Feeling the muscles of my man’s shoulders.

I had another birthday yesterday. I’m slipping into the “late afternoon of life,” a new phase for me, a new adventure with new possibilities. I am finding that I am happy when I live in the tender awareness of the present and embrace the splendor of this life of mine. God is good.

Blessings to all.