Stephie Smith never dreamed of becoming a writer until a series of her humorous essays about family were published behind her back. Unlike most things done behind her back, this one she actually liked.
And now she writes.
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Category Archives: Florida
What’s the affirmation for today?
First I seek JOY, and all else follows.
Once upon a time, my desk window overlooked my garden. Ah, how I loved to sit there and write.
The window faced east, but the rising sun in the morning was blocked by a row of trellises that I’d put in with the help of a friend. There were four trellises, each 8 feet long with a couple of feet between them, and each about 8 feet tall from the ground. The garden part was mostly on the other side of the trellises, facing the street, but that didn’t matter. From my side–the side that I looked out at while writing, I could see the cascading coral honeysuckle vine. Birds–mockingbirds and cardinals–flew in with twigs to build their nests in the woody thicket. Often one of a pair would perch at the top of the trellis, standing guard, shooing away other birds that had the gall to think they might nest there too. Later, after the nest was finished, the pair took turns standing guard while one brought food for the babies. I started my writing around five a.m. and the babies began chirping, or rather, squeaking, around that time too. The squeaks became more frantic, reaching a crescendo as the parent bird, food clutched in its beak, lit on a nearby vine and and began nosing through the thicket to the nest.
One morning, a ruby-throated hummingbird appeared. He zipped from flower to flower, hovering for a few seconds above each to drink the nectar. He seemed to hit them all, but never the same one twice. After that first day, hummingbirds showed up daily, several times a day.
One would think that having such a view would interfere with writing, that it would zap my concentration, but surprisingly, it didn’t. In fact, I wrote faster and better with that view than with any other before or after. I felt buoyed by hope and awe and joy, and those feelings didn’t dissipate when I drew my gaze from the view back to my work.
I’ve come to realize that I have to go to my writing with the expectation of experiencing wonder and joy. For many writers, those feelings come from their self-confidence, from knowing that they will write something they are proud of. I wish I were one of those writers, but I’ve never had self-confidence when it comes to things I create. When I lost my beautiful view after the hurricanes took it away, I lost my joy in writing; I had nothing to look forward to when I entered that room that looked out over a dismal, ravaged landscape.
I’m finally making a new view for myself, one that invites me to sit down and enjoy it while I write. Maybe I won’t always need a beautiful view to experience joy while I write; maybe someday that joy will come solely from within. I just know that to commit to something such as writing, which takes up every second of the “spare” time I don’t have, I need the expectation of joy, so first I seek JOY and I hope all else will follow.
I guess I’m raising serial killers. Don’t they say serial killers start out by torturing small animals?
Okay, so I’m talking about my cats, and the small animals are lizards, snakes, butterflies and frogs. That doesn’t make it any less painful—for me anyway. I know it’s all part of nature—this hunting instinct—and I know my cats think they are doing not only a good thing, but something they should receive super kudos for. But I just can’t hand those out. Instead I scream, “Joey, NO! Back off!” and Joey (my orange tabby) backs off, looking confused.
I took the day off from work so I could clean the house, something that I hate more than anything else, and so, of course, I immediately went shopping. Not for clothes or shoes. (I evidently was not born with that gene.) I went shopping and bought tile grout sealer so I could seal the grout on my new, beautiful tile on my new, beautiful back porch, and I bought some weird rachet screwdriver that stores all the different types of attachments inside its see-through handle—which will only come in handy if I actually put them back into the see-through handle, which may or may not happen. And then I came home to clean the house.
I’ve been home 45 minutes and I’ve already rescued 3 lizards. Sometimes I hear the bell on the collar of one of my cats jingling away like mad and I hear the cat sliding across the floor, leaping into the air and landing with a thud, and other such noises that are unusual when a cat is alone. That alerts me to the fact that something is going on. Sometimes I just get to a room to clean, and find the lizard then.
I never liked lizards. Well, that’s not really true. I was always afraid of them, and of anything else that moves quickly, sometimes straight at me. But a strange thing has happened. The lizards are no longer afraid of me and when I put my hand down to pick them up, they actually come to me. Yesterday when I rescued one and tried to put him on a tree, he refused to go. He ran up my arm toward my neck, scaring the heck out of me. It took me a few minutes to convince him to leave. Meanwhile, the neighbors were watching me talk to him, most likely thinking I’m a nut.
I think I am a nut. I’m raising serial killers, after all, and rescuing all their victims. What could be nuttier than that?