Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sign of the Times

There are few things in my life of which I’ve been absolutely sure. That I was born outside the United States (which quelled my presidential ambitions very early), that each day the sun will rise and set, and that I am a Pisces. That is until today. For some reason someone—probably the same brains that demoted Pluto from being a planet—has come up with a new astrological calendar attributing new dates to old signs, and adding one for the hell of it. Well, I’m not going to take it. The earth may be round, we may revolve around the sun, but I will remain forever emotional, dreamy, an artist, with sensitive feet. Cause if I can’t remain a dual water loving fish, I’m worried what will come next if suddenly I am Aquarius, joining the tea party?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Three Little Words

During the past couple of days I've stumbled across some incredible moments of synchronicity. On Wednesday, I was sitting at Milo's having some lunch at the counter. No big surprise here. A friend who also frequents Milo's sat next to me and we exchanged a few words, catching up a bit since we haven't been at the counter at the same time, thanks to the crazy-making the holidays does to my routine.

I happen to turn around as this woman was walking to the bathroom and lo and behold, it was a friend from law school. Someone I hadn't seen since 2004, or maybe earlier. After joyfully reuniting, I had to ask her how her husband was and needed reminding of what he did. She said it was the same thing as before, working with military vets with PTSD. All very well. We exchanged business cards and went on our way. The restaurant was loud, and I doubt anyone could overhear our conversation, which is important to know to understand the next revelation. As my other friend was wrapping up his lunch, we chatted about his recent work and he said that he was tossing around the idea of writing a thriller about a vet with PTSD. While it's not a huge stretch to find me at Milos and chatting with my writer friend, having two unrelated people talk to me about vets with PTSD just seemed too coincidental.

At the same time, I've been kicking around the idea of a blog entry focusing on a great idea that my friend Laura introduced during our New Year's Day lunch. She pulled out a sheet of paper with a number of words, and was thinking of choosing a word to define 2011. Our conversation soon ran around all sorts of topics, but I continued to think about Laura's words. Enough so, that I was ready to blog about what I would choose as my word(s) for 2011, while the Bob Marley tune Three Little Birds became an earworm stubbornly burrowing in my brain, except for the word birds, I was instead, thinking--three words.

I had to google "three little words", to make sure that I didn't have Bob's words wrong. Okay, Bob Marley wrote Three Little Birds (you knew that, didn't you?) but someone did write, Three Little Words and it was none other than GEORGE WELLS. That's right. Andy's grandpa wrote a little movie called Three Little Words, which starred Fred Astaire. Tucked deep down in my subconscious I may have known that, but if so, I've completely forgotten about it--until today.

But how random is that? Walking around with a title in my head that had a much stronger connection to me than I could imagine. Sometimes I feel like a conduit in the universe. Someone who has no other purpose than to bring a person or idea together with another person or idea, with no benefit to myself.

So, what is my word that describes the theme I wish to carry this year? I've got a few:

As far as finances go, Intention. Rather than not spending money at all, a pretty unrealistic goal, I think that if I spend with Intention, rather than impulse I will be happier about how I've used my money.

With my writing, my word is Completion. I am focusing on finishing what I've started, which includes the step of sending the material out into the world. Probably the hardest step, next to starting.

And the third word? Incrementation. Taking things in baby steps, rather than looking at a huge project--a business, my health, trip plans, as a huge daunting mountain of challenges that drive me to absolute distraction--and biting off a bit, day by day, or as Anne Lamott calls it, Bird by Bird.

What would be your word for 2011?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Oh, What a Decade!

At some point yesterday Dylan informed me that today is 1/1/11. Didn’t see that coming. I’m still processing the fact that another decade has gone by and remembering the things that became a part of my life; things that didn’t even exist ten years ago. Things like friends who I’ve met in the past ten years, new babies who have joined our family—some are now almost 10—and technologies I’ve embraced. Hello Facebook and iphone.

Sadly over the past decade we’ve lost a number of people dear to us including Andy’s grandpa George Wells, my two grandmothers Bertha Werking and Viola Lake, and Viola’s sister Margie. Two of my dearest friends (Lili P. and Sam W) lost a brother, and sister in the 2000s. Some friends have moved, others divorced and some are no longer part of our day-to-day life.

On the upside, I found a space at Milo’s counter for me in the 2000s and my brother Miles was able to re-enter our lives during this decade after an eight year absence, bringing a sense of peace and wisdom that he gained in the hardest of ways.

Yes there were the notable events during 2000-2010. Y2K, Gore v. Bush, September 11, 2001, the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, a wardrobe malfunction, international terrorist attacks, the patriot act, two terms of Bush, Obama, Palin, the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, a 700 billion dollar bailout, and enormous oil spills off the coast of the US and Africa. But each of us spins our own universe inside these greater dramas.

What rocked my world this past decade? First it was Dylan’s transformation from a curious, intrepid preschooler to a composed, ever-evolving teenager. It has been a privilege to be there every moment, watching and perhaps having a hand in forming this whole person. As Dylan got older it was time to see the world. Not only did we execute and launch our yearlong, round-the-world journey in 2005, we made travel a priority, where I visited Korea for the first time since leaving in 1969. We also explored Japan, Indonesia, France, the Netherlands, Canada and Mexico—okay it was just Tijuana, but we did walk across the border.

Finally, it wasn’t until the 2000s that I realized (with a bit of therapy and counseling) that I wanted to be a writer more than a lawyer. On April 24, 2000 I started typing a journal into my computer and as of today I’ve written about 700 pages. What did I have to say in 700 pages? I guess I pondered GM’s car designs, theoretical physics, and my place in a post-9/11 world. I’ve also written a couple of novels, (or at least 200 page starts of novels) a couple of screenplays, over a hundred blog entries, not to mention untold pages of short stories, essays, and emails. I may not have reached my 10,000 hours necessary to master a craft, but I’m working on it. I’m pretty sure I can say that I write better today than I did in 1999.

My writing has focused on a couple of themes; creativity and the struggle that exists when trying to write—a solitary journey—and being a mom; the least solitary endeavor in the world and figuring out who I am, and where I end and the rest of the world begins. Not the lightest of topics.

I not only told my own stories, but I discovered and embraced a number of stories, whether they came in theatres (The Lord of the Rings trilogy—thank you Peter Jackson—the Matrix, Harry Potter, and Slumdog Millionaire,) on TV (Angels in America, The Wire, Arrested Development and Lost) or in books (too many to list, too many forgotten).

I have no predictions of what the next year, let alone next decade will bring. Dylan will probably graduate from high school and college before 2020. I hope there will be more stamps in our passport. Andy, the dog and I will undoubtedly get slower and greyer and I’m sure new adventures will beckon, even when we’re not ready for them.

I leave the decade with this quote because it sums up the magic I’ve been driven to conjure these past years. And I wish you a peaceful transition out of this decade into the next. Namaste.

“The writer who shuts himself up in a room and goes on a journey inside himself will, over the years, discover literature’s eternal rule: he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people’s stories, and to tell other people’s stories as if they were his own, for that is what literature is.” Orhan Pamuk, New Yorker Dec 2006