Comments

  1. says

    I have been singing since 12 years of age. Took opera lessons. Used to have a coloratura Soprano (3) octave range. When I was 16, I won a scholarship to College of the Pacific in Stockton for the summer. It was there I met and fell in love with Wayne, 18, who was a jazz musician. He lived in Vallejo, I in San Luis Obispo. We communicated with love letters. He joined the Army and was stationed at Camp Roberts in Paso Robles. His parents used to put him in the trunk of their car and bring him to see me. He, with over 100, tried out for the 22nd Army Band as their drummer, and he was hired. He went to Japan for 3 years.

    After singing in productions at my High School and as a member of the Senior Six, I went to Redlands University for 2 years where I sang with a Madrigal Group.

    When Wayne was discharged from the Army in 1954, I left college and we married. We moved to San Jose. Little did I realize when I married a drummer, we would have 150 kids from 8-18 in a Drum Corps called “The Rebels” which was the official marching unit for San Jose in 1964-72. We marched the entire state of California from May to October.

    The best part was our three kids were all involved. Our oldest daughter made all the uniforms and flags. Our second daughter was in the Girls Corps, “The Liberty Belles,” and our young son was our mascot. I worked part time, had all the responsibilities of being Mom and Wife and on weekends booked the buses for our parades, as well as keeping apprised of all the equipment, and making sure we had enough parents attending each parade. As if that weren’t enough, I also wrote and published a magazine elaborating what went on behind the scenes at parades covering over 50 drum and drum and bugle corps in the United States who came to California for their Competition Shows. I was able to procure enough money through professional advertising to publish my magazine “Drum and Drill”.

    I was blessed with being able to hear a tune and remember it as I’d never learned to read music, and with that ability, I taught music to these corps members.

    One day, I dropped from total exhaustion. I came to a screeching halt. It caused me to question why I was not living a balanced life. When our son told us he didn’t want to be involved any more, I realized I didn’t either. I am still singing with choirs and hope my voice continues as I age.

    • says

      Fran: I loved this sentence: “We marched the entire state of California from May to October.” I loved hearing about your ability to remember music and teach it to corps members. Thank you.

    • jo says

      This was fun to read, Fran! It was interesting to see the world of ‘The Rebels’. Sounds like an incredibly busy time of your life!

    • beverly Boyd says

      Fran, you tell this story so well. I really felt like I was along for the exciting ride all of your family was involved in. I could also relate to the screeching halt from total exhaustion.
      You brought many talents to this activity: organizational ability, music, writing and even publishing and fundraising. I bet developing them has also served you well in other activities.
      Thank you for sharing.

    • Magali says

      What an amazing gift of music, Fran, thanks for sharing this remarkable story. I trust you will always sing on.

    • says

      Dear Fran,

      What a beautiful story of the pleasure, pain, and both bittersweet and pleasant memories of your talent. I love that you continue to cultivate your interest in singing.

    • Jane says

      What a beautiful story, Beverly, and I especially loved this part: “I was blessed with being able to hear a tune and remember it as I’d never learned to read music, and with that ability, I taught music to these corps members.”

    • says

      Your story tells perfectly how a passion can turn into an all consuming event and you described so well what happens when it leads you to a point of exhaustion. I was glad to read that you still have your passion today in a more balanced way. Thank you for sharing!

  2. jo says

    I have a talent that rests in the two flaps that protrude from the sides of my head – I have a talent for listening. I listen deeply. When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I listen to what people don’t say. I listen to the silence between words and I listen to the way they breathe when they tell the stories of their lives. There is both pleasure and pain in my talent to listen.

    The pleasure of listening deeply is easy to articulate. It is a pleasure to see how people change when their stories are expressed and I hear them with respect and attentiveness. I don’t judge people when they tell their darkest secrets, I encourage them to dredge up the darkest spaces in them and to bring that material to the light of day so that they can understand themselves better. When people come into my office, their energy is often low and muddled. It is usually puddled around their feet and is dark and dreary. Their shoulders are slumped and they walk in with the weight of the world on their shoulders. When they settle themselves in to talk, they usually take a deep breath and in that moment, their energy begins to move up from their feet to their ankles and it starts to look a wee bit brighter.

    The people who come into my office are there to talk about their inner darknesses, the shadowy stuff that dances inside their hearts and torments them. It’s not easy to talk about but they do it. I hear stories of violence, abuse, broken hearts and damaged childhoods. I hear about crimes committed, prison endured, anger that’s been repressed for years, sometimes decades. Stories of loss, abandonment and stories that I as a writer, could not have imagined in my creative brain.

    The pain of this talent of listening is hearing the stories. One of the paradoxes of my life – the pain and the pleasure reside in the same place. When a client leaves my office, there is a marked difference in them. The energy is swirling around their heart and it’s bright in colour and it feels uplifted and grounded. Their shoulders are high, their is a light in their eyes and colour in their cheeks. I’ve often noticed the difference from when they came through the door to when they leave-it’s quite something to see.

    My energy is also different. When the stories are particularly difficult to listen to, I feel the darkness of their story in my own heart and soul. I feel drained and tired when some clients leave, not every client but some of them. I have to always remember to clear my own energy before the next client comes in. I make sure I wash my hands and imagine the dark energy draining out of my body through my hands and down the drain and then I open the door to the next client and the process begins again. I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life – like all things though, it’s a paradox that contains both pain and pleasure.

    • Laura Davis says

      beautiful, Jo. It makes me want you to listen to me!

      I loved this description of what you do: “When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I listen to what people don’t say. I listen to the silence between words and I listen to the way they breathe when they tell the stories of their lives.”

      Very moving, very powerful.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Jo,
      This is a well written piece. Thank you for sharing it. I could really feel like I was with you.
      I liked this phrase and the paradox it expresses: “the pain and pleasure reside in the same place”

      I have experienced similar feelings as a practitioner in the Rosen Method sessions I do using my eyes and hands to see and feel as well as hear what the body has to say and where it is holding painful information to be released.

      I also like the way you describe the difference in the way your clients carry themselves before and after a session.

    • Magali says

      Thanks for this piece, Jo. As a colleague, I especially appreciate how you described the transformation that happens in clients in the therapy office, and also, the slippery slope of compassion fatigue. How amazing our work is, and how important our own self care. You express it very well.

    • says

      Jo, I love this piece. I get the listening thing. I do it too and just can’t turn it off! The subcontext of each subcontext screams at me! Good listeners are hard to find. The pleasure and pain of it. Thanks.

    • Jane says

      This is beautiful, Jo, and I especially loved this part: “I have to always remember to clear my own energy before the next client comes in. I make sure I wash my hands and imagine the dark energy draining out of my body through my hands and down the drain” This is wonderful, that you are caring for yourself as much as for your clients.

      • Lee Xan says

        I too really enjoyed this piece and the language of it–parts people mentioned here and others. I enjoyed hearing the descriptions of the listen-ees and the listener and what each looks like, and that specific ways–the handwashing etc of clearing the energy in between.

        (From my perspective, this seems a gift, a true gift, that many–such as I–do not have the capacity for–the hardest stories are so effecting–I’d be washing my hands for days afterward! And still not be able to clear the energy. Thanks for this insider-feeling perspective!)

  3. says

    I have a gift for playing piano. I took lessons when I was young and quickly discovered that playing music provided an oasis for me. I could sit at the piano in the living room and escape into music. When I played the piano, I felt like I was surrounded by beautiful sound. It felt protective to me.

    It also felt like it was a way to provide commentary to situations. If I felt that things were unjust, I could play some sort of protest song. If I felt seriously depressed, I would venture into “Danse Macabre,” a song that was supposed to cause your death if you played it just right. If I wanted to tease my older sister, I would play the “Theme from Love Story” when I saw the boy next door walk up our front steps. (That was another great thing about playing the piano. When I played, I could look out the front window and see what was happening in the world in front of me.)

    When I was eleven, I lost my teacher. My family moved to California. We took our piano with us, but I rarely played it once I got there. I thought that I wanted to play rock and roll, and the only way to do that was to play guitar. So, the piano just sat there for years. It took up such a big part of the room, and I felt I could hardly look at it. I don’t know what happened to that piano.

    I took up piano again in later life when I wanted to sing. I started taking lessons and encountered vocal problems, and my teacher also happened to be a pianist. So, I started taking lessons again. It seemed like an afterthought, although in some way, I had kept my fingers in shape. I have typed all my life. The first time I played, my teacher looked at me in amazement. I had never told her what pianos had meant to me. This time, I fell in love with Celtic music. It’s a form of music where the piano is not usually the lead instrument. I hit a block in trying to understand/be motivated in learning how to be part of the rhythm section instead of taking the lead. I eventually sold my clavinova.

    Now, I have a half keyboard that I bought last summer at a flea market. When I first brought it home, I figured out some songs, and then I stopped again. Why? I told myself I was too busy. But I’m currently writing about pianos and music.. I’m hoping to figure out a way back there again.

    • Laura Davis says

      Wendy, I really hope you find a way to keep playing–the piano has clearly been such a strong place of solace and self-expression for you.

      I was also fascinated by the way typing kept you in shape for piano-playing!

    • beverly Boyd says

      HI Wendy,

      I could really relate to your story. I have a similar relationship with the piano. It wasn’t okay to be angry in my house and the piano was my refuge. I’d play “Rustles of Spring” as loud and fast as I could, then work my way through “59 Piano Pieces” until I had quieted down with “Andante Cantable”.

      I went without my piano for thirteen years and will never do it again. I will always at least have a decent keyboard even if I seldom play it.

    • says

      Dear Wendy,

      I could so sense you as a young girl, ‘playing out’ our moods via the piano through your song choices. It reminded me of the Magnus chord organ my mother bought for us one Christmas and the ‘American Song Book’ I played through.

    • Jane says

      Beautiful story of your lifelong love affair with the piano, Wendy. I especially loved the part which described how you: “quickly discovered that playing music provided an oasis for me. I could sit at the piano in the living room and escape into music. When I played the piano, I felt like I was surrounded by beautiful sound. It felt protective to me. ”

      Yes, yes, and forever yes. I had lessons up through early college. Unfortunately, I gave up after one semester and forfeited my piano scholarship. Even so, I still play. Nowadays, I especially love buying the music books of David Lanz’s compositions, and play those, along with the classical pieces.

      Nothing in the world can ever take away your talent or your love of music and the piano, Wendy, and I applaud your courage to listen to and follow that part of you.

    • jo says

      Hi Wendy – I really enjoyed reading your piece! I especially liked when you said, “It also felt like it was a way to provide commentary to situations.” I learned a lot about the power of music through your piece – we can express how we feel about things by playing music – the musical notes become the words and that’s a powerful communication tool.

  4. beverly Boyd says

    I was thirty when I had an “ah so” moment. I realized that I was blessed and cursed with an overactive curiosity. I also was blessed and cursed with talents and abilities in several different areas. And I do mean different: sports and music as well as enjoying cooking and sewing, writing, crafting… You could make a case that sports and music share similarities, rhythm and balance, etc. but they are disciplines that in order to excel require quite different activities. So you might say, I was a “jack of all trades and a master of none.” I don’t say that as a criticism of myself. It is simply a truth that while I worked at developing a skill enough to be near the head of the class, I never had the time to pursue anything with passion. I guess that is the down side for me. I would love to have had something that I was passionate about.

    Forty years after graduation from high school I was visiting my hometown. I was sought out by one of my old band mates. We played first clarinet side by side in the marching band. In the concert band he played first oboe; I played second. Every year he and two other nerdy friends who hung out in the music room during free periods recruited me for a woodwind quartet to compete in the annual interschool music competition. Of course, I always played the simplest part. I made sure I practiced (something I rarely did otherwise) so I wouldn’t let my friends down.

    That day forty years later, Andy said, “We always talked about what a great musician you were.”

    I was amazed and puzzled. “But, Andy, I never practiced.”

    “I know,” He answered, “but we thought what a great musician you could be if you did!”

    So I guess I never did go to that dark place Erica Jong talks about with any of them. But it was an asset for me as a mother of seven very different children. I could easily feel enthusiastic and help them with the various activities they wanted to be involved in.

    Now, lower body pain makes if hard to do the athletic stuff; loss of hearing and false teeth make singing in a choir harder to do, though, I can still play the piano; my children are grown, actualizing their lives and taking good care of my grandchildren. Now I have plenty of time for the writing, which always seemed to take the back burner before.

    I still have an overactive curiosity with almost a thousand bookmarks on my computer to show for it and reams of printed files and magazine clippings. Therein lies another point of pain, having so much “stuff” that I don’t want to let go of because I might need it sometime. It is easier to throw away some things now, that, with the internet, I can quickly find the same or similar information.

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the subjects I write about is clutter from the point of view of someone who has it, not just a kindhearted organizer who has little problem with it. And, by the way, I have helped a number of people come to terms with their stuff.

    What is they say about the plumber who has leaking faucets?

    • says

      Beverly, I appreciated both the humor and the pathos in this piece. It’s easy for me to imagine that you could excel at many things. Thank you.

      • beverly Boyd says

        I don’t think it is as heavy as pathos! There was usually too much good things, even when things were at their darkest. There is an irony, though and at least now writing has become a passion.

    • Magali says

      Hi, Beverly, you Jill of all trades! Thanks for sharing this story, which reminds me so much of my own. I love your insatiable curiosity. Perhaps we should form our own club. What should we call it?

      • beverly Boyd says

        Let’s see. You said you had Gemini rising. So do I. Hmmm. Maybe that would be a good name: “Gemini
        Rising”

    • says

      Dear Beverly,
      Thanks so much for this story. I loved your description of that picture of yourself you got 40 years later from your old classmate. That was priceless.

      I too share the ‘curiosity’ bug including the thousands of bookmarks and files of information on my computer desktop. I will have to say that I am in what feels active ‘recovery’ now as I trashed about 20,000 computer files over the weekend!

      • beverly Boyd says

        You trashed 20,000 files over the weekend! I’m beyond impressed! How did you do it?

        Check my exchange with Magali above. Do you have Gemini Rising too?

        • says

          Hi Beverly,

          I really don’t know if I have Gemini Rising (I’m a Virgo), but I do know that I feel so much better and my shoulders feel ‘lighter’ after having trashed all those electronic files I haven’t looked at for years. It was an unexpected benefit.

    • Jane says

      Your enthusiasm shines through this whole piece, Beverly. I especially loved this part: “Now I have plenty of time for the writing, which always seemed to take the back burner before.” I like this part best because this allows you to be part of this group!

      I also admire your ability to follow your instincts and pursue your many talents and interests.

    • jo says

      Hi Beverly – What a sweet piece you’ve written! I love the humour and the self-awareness in what you’ve written, especially in the lines, “I don’t say that as a criticism of myself. It is simply a truth that while I worked at developing a skill enough to be near the head of the class, I never had the time to pursue anything with passion.”

  5. Tom says

    Some people have told me that I have a talent for writing. Apparently, I can put together words expressing thoughts that others have responded to (in a positive way). Of course, this makes me think that I have a skill and it makes me feel good to have people compliment what I write. Some days I sit and write with great ease, but other days, I cannot write a word. The most unsettling thing is that the majority of time I cannot write, and this is where the pain comes in. My problem is that when I try to spend time alone to write, that is not socializing with my wife, it seems selfish and a bit presumptuous (as if I really think I’m good enough to write things people will want to read). Therefore, little is created and if I continue in this manner nothing will ever be created.

    • Laura Davis says

      Dear Tom,

      Welcome to the Roadmap Blog! Your post points out some classic problems writers face. Unfortunately, we can’t just sit down and have eloquence and meaning pour out of our pen. Writing, like all arts forms, requires a long apprenticeship and much practice.

      As far as your wife goes, I ‘d hope that part of living you is supporting you in what you love to do–in this case, writing.

      It may be that you modeling commitment to your own passion will create the space for her to follow or pursue a passion of her own. I believe this can create a stronger bond between you.

    • says

      Tom, I definitely have had that experience where it sounds great in my head or what I imagine it would be and then when I actually sit down to write, well, it’s not as great. However, I have been really seeing this year that if I do give myself that time to write, that something that please me can occur at the time that I least expect it. I just need to show up and humbly put my pen to the page or my fingers to the keyboard. Anyway, I really related to what you said. Thanks for your post.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Tom,
      I think it is a good thing that you care about your wife and marriage but what you bring to it important as well. Please bring a writer who is honoring his need to write and doing it. It really doesn’t matter if your writing is good enough for other people to want to read. If you have spent much time on this site or other writer’s forums you will have head the importance of the “shitty first draft” or second, or third, etc.

      I write because I have to write. I can’t bear having those thoughts rattling around in my head. I have to get them out somehow. I think the more I write and share and get constructive (not critical) feedback from other writers I become a better writer. I’m sure the same is true for you.; Then when you socialize with your wife it can be something you planned to enjoy together: something as simple as taking a walk after dinner that you are really doing together.

      • Tom says

        To All,

        Thank you so much for the encouraging words! Hearing encouraging words at points in your life is like a warm hug when you are shivering from despair. These are the words most people need. Thank you again.

        Tom

        • says

          Dear Tom,

          I joined the Writer’s Journey Roadmap online writing group three months ago, taking the plunge and making the commitment, and I haven’t looked back since.

          Jump and the net will appear!

        • beverly Boyd says

          Oh, my!,Tom. I hope you are not really shivering with despair, but just in case you are here are some more encouraging words i.e.warm hugs to help lift your spirits.

    • Jane says

      Welcome, Tom! We are glad you are here, writing, and I loved reading your thoughts about your talent. I especially loved this part: “Some people have told me that I have a talent for writing. Apparently, I can put together words expressing thoughts that others have responded to (in a positive way). Of course, this makes me think that I have a skill and it makes me feel good to have people compliment what I write.”

      It takes humility and maturity to begin to accept compliments from other people, and to give careful thought to it. Perhaps they are right! Perhaps you have a gift and a talent for writing! That is wonderful. Too many times, I know I have doubted myself and thought I wasn’t good enough at writing, or whatever.

      I look forward to hearing more from you here!

    • jo says

      Hi Tom – I hope you allow yourself the time and space to explore your creativity – like Laura said, perhaps you will become a mentor to your wife so that she explores her own talents.

      • Tom says

        Thank you very much for your comment. I will make a greater effort to write, it does bring such pleasure, and your suggestion to mentor my wife, who enjoys drawing, is brilliant. Maybe she will derive the same pleasure from drawing if she makes the effort to create, as I do when I actually sit down and write . Thank you.

        Tom

        • Lee Xan says

          Love the piece you wrote–the honest-feelings in it. The bravery of naming things that are hard to name.

          (For me, I’ve sought out specifically, things and voices that make me feel good just spilling it all out. People who just encourage me and want me to spill it all and groups that do that, and voices who help me understand how many of us learn to not trust our voices, our spilling–I often re-read parts of Pat Schneider’s “Writing Alone and With Others”–she very powerfully lays out, the hows and whys so many of us come to not trust our voices. Also in her new book “How the Light Gets In”, she models being unsure and writing anyway.

          I think writing and learning to trust oneself in writing is a process and it takes time and thought to feel more comfortable. I think also I’ve come to realize that when I spill, I do not yet know the value in what I spill, I cannot immediately see the little sparking things buried in the compost or the mulch.

          I seem to love writers who write not just when they have something to say, but writers who write when they have nothing to say and end up trusting the process enough to get somewhere. What I have to say when I do this, will bubble up.

          Some people really want to write about the important thing or they are looking for the important thing to write about, but for me, I think of painters–painters can pick anything as their subject and what needs to come out will come out. I try to be gentle with myself, to trust where my writing leads whether I understand it or not. I write into what is difficult–what is blocking me, the feelings I have about that, who I want to be, what brings me pleasure and always about the moment–for me now–the bird at 6:45am–why am I up this early? the comment I didn’t leave (should I leave the comment about Holocaust deniers? or is it too harsh?), the silence of my house–only 1/4 of which is mine, that I just sat up straighter after realizing my back was crunched down, but now I need to scroll up so my head doesn’t have to look down so far, the castle in front of me–is that Findhorn where the Waterboys guy recorded an album or two? How I like and dislike that open mic that I love, but can’t hear sometimes the heavy heavy abuse stories that lighten the reader but weigh me down, and how I delight in the band that plays “Fisherman’s Blues”…”I wish I was a fisherman, tumbling on the sea, far away from dry land and its bitter memories…casting off my sweet something with abandonment and love, no ceiling baring down on me, just the starry sky above…” and I sing it loud from the back row and why does that guy’s guitar sound so bad and why is it still so right to be singing loud and not caring.

          Isn’t that in some way what it’s all about–singing loud and not caring? Isn’t “Fisherman’s Blues” about the creative urge, the trust, the freedom, the letting loose, the trusting oneself and for all one’s connections or not, the solitariness in some way of venturing out into the ocean or into whatever terrain frees you?

          (I’d say for me it was a long process to feel okay writing whatever–but I have to say, I’ve loved it and do although sometimes still, I feel the shackles and have to find ways of wrestling out of them or writing about them or writing them into cotton candy, taking my mouth to my wrists and letting the shackles dissolve leaving their sticky trails behind. Not re-reading and just reaching my right arm out, pulling down, left finger to the trigger of my blue mouse and pressing the blue matching rectangle with the rounded edges and the capitol sans serif “POST COMMENT.”

          • Jane says

            Hi Lee, your comment was fun to read. And it seems you saved the best for last:

            “I feel the shackles and have to find ways of wrestling out of them or writing about them or writing them into cotton candy, taking my mouth to my wrists and letting the shackles dissolve leaving their sticky trails behind. Not re-reading and just reaching my right arm out, pulling down, left finger to the trigger of my blue mouse and pressing the blue matching rectangle with the rounded edges and the capitol sans serif ‘POST COMMENT.’”

            Lovely description of that hesitation before we find the courage to post our words. Thank you!

    • says

      Tom, Like everyone else, I am encouraging you to harvest those words inside you! In my marriage, I occasionally feel some flack about interests we do not share. I accommodate myself one way but don’t always see that back. Quietly, I became resentful, accusing myself of selfishness, thinking I’m ‘all that that’, etc. and then I woke up one day. I don’t think I’m that important: I just scribble down words on paper like someone else marks up cakes with icing. Trust yourself. Please don’t shiver. Enjoy those nurturing hugs. :)

  6. Camilla Søresen says

    One of my talents is to see into people’s hearts. To feel my way into that space were not many people want me to see, but at the same time crave for me to be. When I open my heart to see – I see darkness and light – I see the truth many people try to hide. The darkness of their lives in which they try to escape, and the hunger for love they so desperately crave. That little child and the yelling and screaming, the pointing fingers at this fragile little girl’s heart, who have had to build such thick walls around her in an effort to just survive, however, I see through those walls live. I see the light that once were, as when she took her first breath, and it hurts inside of me to see, that light shining out, but never making it proud, and it hurts inside of me to see that, that beauty never makes it out to be. It sadness me that this little girl, who is standing behind her mother, her proctor, is not allowed to come out to play in the light of the early spring, and to feel her trust and faith, she is trying to sing slowly dying with the loss of every breath of fresh air on a birds wing. I see the girl standing there in fear, but with a gleam in her eyes, which is almost too much to bear, and a little smile forming on her small face, slowly coming into my space, her eyes searching for mine, her curiosity, that almost makes me blind, her wanting to play with me, I desperately want her to see, her little hand slowly raising up to wave to me, I gently smile and wave back for her to see. What at beautiful little girl, and what sadness she has had to carry on her two small feet, and I wish I could reach out and take her little hand blind, so I could show her another world of mine, the freedom of playing outside those thick walls of pride, she has had to live behind for so long to survive. And then the sound of the train, and she is gone…

    • Laura Davis says

      Dear Camilla,

      Welcome to the Roadmap Blog! Your capacity for deep empathy and perception is indeed a gift. I wonder if it ever feels like a burden, too, and what you’ve learned over time about how and when it is appropriate to share this gift with others.

      • Camilla Sørensen says

        Thank you, Laura, for having me here on the Roadmap blog. Yes, it can be a burden to have this gift, and sometimes I need time for myself. I’ve learned along the way, to not say to much of what I see and feel, if people are not ready for it, and to sometimes not use it at all, but just give people loving energy on their way.

      • Jo Aylard says

        Hi Camilla – As others have said, you write with a poetic tone and it was lovely to read!

    • beverly Boyd says

      Dear Camilla, thank you for expressing these thoughts so beautifully. It was like poetry.

      Behind a busy exterior and taking care of others, well into my adult years, I have been that child you write about and am thankful for those, like you, who have been able to “feel into that space where not many people want me to see, but at the same time crave for me to be.”

    • Jane says

      Welcome, Camilla, and I loved reading what you wrote. I especially loved this part: “It sadness me that this little girl, who is standing behind her mother, her proctor, is not allowed to come out to play in the light of the early spring, and to feel her trust and faith, she is trying to sing slowly dying with the loss of every breath of fresh air on a birds wing.”

      The poetry in your writing is a delight.

  7. Magali says

    When I was young and not-so-innocent, my astrology teacher told me, “With Gemini rising, you have an insatiable curiosity, you want to know everything, learn everything.” He looked like Merlin, or Professor Dumbledore, but with a shorter beard. He continued in a stern voice, “When you grow old, you’re gonna know a whole lot of things that aren’t gonna make you any money.” I must confess I was a little worried at that prospect, it didn’t bode well, especially since many people had already admonished me about becoming a starving artist, if I insisted in being a writer.

    My astrology teacher was wrong. Not that I’ve ever made much money, but I have definitely made money doing all kinds of different things. During college, when I was adding German and French, to the other three languages I spoke, I taught English to grad students and translated books, which allowed me to save up enough to travel in Europe every summer.

    I had a brief stint as a chauffeur and tour guide, and I got to drive a famous movie director and a couple of rock bands around Mexico City, and I personally gave them a tour of the pyramids in Teotihuacan. Later on, while living in a leftover hippie commune, I earned my keep by cooking certified organic vegetarian meals for 150 people. When I worked at a homeless youth shelter, I made my living by teaching the kids origami, enlisting them in helping out with chores, and looking over them when they slept, making sure that no boys tiptoed over to the girls’ area in the dead of night.

    In my long social work career I’ve done some bizarre things that went beyond my job description, like salsa dancing in the middle of a hospital room to cheer up a Guatemalan client, a torture survivor who had just given birth to a baby with spina bifida. I once had a client with multiple personalities sign a no-suicide contract with 32 different names, in 32 different kinds of handwriting. And I used to take busloads of teenage survivors of sexual abuse to the riverbank to make paper boats with the letters they wrote to their abusers and place them on the water, then light their little sails on fire, and watch them be consumed and taken away.

    For a few years I worked as a simultaneous translator during exchange programs for leaders with disabilities from all over the world. I then earned my salary by translating from Spanish to English, so that an American Sign Language interpreter could translate from English to ASL in the hopes that a deaf woman from Malawi or the Philippines could use her own sign language to figure out what the original participant was saying.
    I have made money by teaching about cultural sensitivity and eradicating oppression, and also by interpreting astrological charts, teaching kundalini yoga, healing with meditation and performing shamanic cleansings.

    A few years ago, when I took a sewing class at my local community college, I called my mom on the phone and told her I made pajama pants for every member of the family for Christmas. This is what she had to say, “Honey, the good thing about you is you can never starve to death. If you find yourself without a job, you can always set up a booth and hang up a shingle that reads: ‘I write love letters, do translations, cook Mexican food, give therapy, do astrology readings, teach yoga, perform healings, and make pajama pants. With all the things you can do, you’ll never lack for money, rest assured you’ll never starve, my love.”

    • Laura Davis says

      Magali, you are definitely a woman with many, many, many talents. I loved this piece. I was especially wowed by your creativity as a social worker: “In my long social work career I’ve done some bizarre things that went beyond my job description, like salsa dancing in the middle of a hospital room to cheer up a Guatemalan client, a torture survivor who had just given birth to a baby with spina bifida. I once had a client with multiple personalities sign a no-suicide contract with 32 different names, in 32 different kinds of handwriting. And I used to take busloads of teenage survivors of sexual abuse to the riverbank to make paper boats with the letters they wrote to their abusers and place them on the water, then light their little sails on fire, and watch them be consumed and taken away.”

      You are a true renaissance woman. Thanks for sharing this litany of your talents!

      Five languages? I’m jealous. I’m struggling to learn some basic Spanish and aside from exercising my brain, I doubt I’ll get beyond ordering in a restaurant and asking for the check. La cuenta, por favor.

      P.S. Here’s my son’s origami video. The one I told you about–the one that I think got him into MIT several years back:

      • Magali says

        Wow, Laura,

        Eli’s origami feat is beyond amazing! That fox has five toes in each extremity, not to mention seven tails. I think they should change the MIT entrance exams to submitting a video of an amazing origami project. The world would be improved because of it. Thanks so much for sharing!

        On another note, congratulations on your Spanish studies. I find it funny when people romanticize learning a language. Speaking a foreign language is romantic, sure, but learning it is like combing the fleas off a grizzly bear, or hiking straight up a mountain in a fat suit: it is not fun. It entails tons of memorization, learning verb conjugations and noun declensions, and gendered articles, ugh! I am such a language nerd, that I`ve read entire books in another language and looked up every single word I didn`t fully understand in the dictionary, and written its meaning down in index cards, of which I have hundreds. Talent: being willing to do lots of work so that the grizzly bear is flea free.

        • Laura Davis says

          Yes, but you obviously have a natural talent for languages. My daughter seems to as well. She’s fluent in French and is learning Spanish and Arabic. I have a still chemofied brain so memorization is very very difficult and my brain is not very flexible and fluid, the opposite is true. I don’t romanticize it. I just don’t think I’m capable of doing it. But I am doggedly listening to language CDs in the car (can’t seem to get passed Lesson 5 of Level 1), having my weekly session with my teacher and doing the very simple homework she gives me, a little bit each day. I doubt I will ever be able to speak Spanish, but at least I’m giving my rusty brain a workout.

        • Laura Davis says

          PS And as a teacher, I think it’s always good to be a student, especially at something I struggle with and with a subject I doubt myself about. It gives me more empathy and compassion for my students and helps me understand their struggles in class.

          • Magali says

            I wholeheartedly agree, Laura: our own struggles teach us compassion. I think that is why I always want to be a beginner at something, to give myself full permission to make mistakes, to know struggle and be humbled. I am really bad at sports, and when I dared to compete in a few triathlons–and come in next to last–I learned so much. I learned that something that is incredibly hard for me can be easy for others, and that, as Franz Kafka’s hunger artist said, “I am the sole spectator of my art”. Nobody can know how hard you’ve worked for something, except you. Isn´t that amazing?

            By the way, I wasn´t trying to minimize anyone else’s struggles with learning a foreign language. I hope you enjoy your Spanish brain workouts, and that your Spanish takes off. And whether it does or it doesn´t, you can still learn some choice things, like one of the cat calls my sister used to collect, from what men yelled at her on the street back home: “¡Quisiera ser aguacate, para embarrarme en tus tortas!”, which means “I wish I were an avocado, so I could spread myself over your sandwiches!” It beats the hell out of “La cuenta, por favor”, don´t you think?

            On yet another note, I truly appreciate the way you teach. You never forget that we are vulnerable beings baring our souls. Thank you.

      • beverly Boyd says

        This is an amazing video of Eli. If you haven’t sneaked a peek at it, I urge you to do so. His twenty hour project in fast action only takes 1.41 minutes!

    • says

      Dear Magali,
      I so enjoyed the vivid way you described all the ways you’ve done your work in the world. What is apparent is the sense of utter abandon; your commitment to whatever it is you are doing, in that moment. Thanks for these images!

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Magali,
      I really enjoyed your response. You did a really good job of giving us a taste of so many different events of your life in a cohesive whole. I loved your description of your astrology teacher. “He looked like Merlin, or Professor Dumbledore, but with a shorter beard.”

      As I read I had the same feeling you expressed in your response to me about the similarity of our stories. Even though our paths and the details have been quite different, the wide range of experience in different places,I can certainly relate too as well.

    • Jane says

      Have I told you I love reading what you write, Magali? I do. I especially loved this part: “And I used to take busloads of teenage survivors of sexual abuse to the riverbank to make paper boats with the letters they wrote to their abusers and place them on the water, then light their little sails on fire, and watch them be consumed and taken away.”

      What an inspiring picture of naming and destroying the power of the abusers, and how freeing that must have been to the survivors’ spirits. Thank you for this.

    • Jo Aylard says

      Hi Magali – I look forward to reading your pieces each week and this week was no exception. You write vividly, your images jump off the page and I’m in awe of the varied things you’ve done in your life!

  8. says

    This post seems like a combination of ‘going out on a limb’ and describing the pleasure and pain of one of my talents. I’m still working on reclaiming this talent and getting to know it again after a long absence in my life (although I’m probably kidding myself that it’s been totally absent).

    The talent I have is intuition, and it helps me to deeply understand the dynamics of groups and organizations and communities. I have this ability to take in a situation and identify and name the core or essence of what’s going on, especially what’s below the surface. I’ve mostly used this talent when I’ve worked as an organizational consultant. It’s probably why I was attracted to doing this kind of work from a communication perspective through the lens of listening in the first place. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve recognized my talent in such a way as to describe it as an intuition. Over the years I’ve thought of it in different ways, more like an ‘interest in the power of deep listening,’ and I’m still trying to wrap my head around what having an intuition talent means.

    The way that my intuition works is it’s very kinesthetic. I feel it in my body. I feel it on my skin. I also see things as a whole and I see those things through my body as well as through what I hear. I try to ‘see’ with my ears; not just the mechanics of hearing but actually listening empathically to what’s underneath the words or the utterances and what’s in the inflections and tone of what an individual is saying (or not saying) or what I notice is happening in the give and take of a collective conversation from a meta or big picture level. I am able to piece together several individual or collective conversations with various players over time and see what they (the conversations) tell me. It’s kind of like mining. It’s also like identifying the network. I can’t help but see the connections in things.

    The reason why I became estranged from my talent is that when I was growing up whenever I would spontaneously use this talent I didn’t get a very positive response from others. My family sometimes laughed at me. Knowing or seeing things in this way just wasn’t part of their experience. They couldn’t see, hear, feel or understand it in this way themselves so they couldn’t believe that I did or could either; they thought I was just making it up. My family would laugh at me and so I stopped using my intuition, I stopped following it, and I stopped trusting it; or at least it went underground and I tried to ignore it. I would say that how my family responded to my intuition was not atypical in the 1960s and 70s unless you grew up in one of those rare families of that time who embraced, understood, or valued the way of knowing that is intuition. Early on using my talent was painful because of their response and at the same time I don’t blame my family.

    I think part of what’s been hard about reclaiming this talent is that sometimes I intuit or see or hear or feel really wonderful things and sometimes I don’t. It was true when I was younger and it’s still true now. I’ve been learning how to work through those times when what my intuition is telling me isn’t so pleasant. So I have to insert here that even in this ‘wacky’ California place where I live; even in this wackiest part of this California place where I live, it still doesn’t feel totally safe to reclaim my intuition. This is the part about me going out on a limb.

    This talent in me feels very grounded or ‘of the earth’ and it doesn’t feel ‘woo woo’ or flaky or ‘floating above the earth’ which is the way I think things like this often look to people on the outside of it, like it did to my family when I was young. It was unbelievable to them partly because they were a part of some of the situations that I would make comments about and they didn’t see what I saw themselves or feel or understand the situation in the way that I did. They assumed that I was making it up. Or maybe they wanted to pretend that these aspects didn’t exist. Those are both common reactions.

    A lot of the things that I took for granted other people saw, heard or understood, I now realize many people don’t. I started to learn this the last two or three years of my classroom teaching. I couldn’t assume that my students knew some of the things that I had assumed that everybody just knew; I began to see that my intuition operated in a way that I saw other layers to situations they couldn’t or didn’t yet. I began to hear that when I shared my perspective from what I saw while using my intuition many students found this very, very useful.

    It still feels somewhat scary to put this out there in cyberspace. I think some people who feel that they know me quite well would be pretty shocked to read this, although I could be wrong. I don’t present myself and I’m not in the world in such a way that I look like someone who’s an intuitive or a psychic or a channel or like any of the people who do what is considered metaphysical work. My intuition comes through to me kinesthetically; through my body primarily and perhaps that’s the difference, I don’t know. I look forward to continuing to explore what it means to develop this talent and use it in my writing to develop pictures of situations and circumstances in the world that I feel compelled to write about.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Gayle,
      Kudos for owning your intuitive talent. I think many more people are receptive to the idea that this is a real and valuable talent…not “woo-woo” or ‘flakey”. And if people are shocked, so-be-it. I’m glad you felt you could trust us here.

      • says

        Hi Beverly,

        Thank you. You’re right, I may not be giving some of my family or friends enough credit here. Being made fun of for using my intuition is one of the very early ouches that I’ve been working through in layers for most of my adult life.

    • says

      Gayle, I found this fascinating–you so vividly described a “sense” that I don’t have or aren’t aware of. You made it sound like a wonderful gift and also the challenges of “seeing” in a way that others around you do not. Good luck as you reclaim this powerful integral part of who you are.

    • Magali says

      Thank you for this important piece, Gayle. I believe Western civilization is full of people who’ve lost touch with their intuition, and there are so many institutions (like school) that are bent on shutting down the natural intuition of children, for example. This is not to excuse your parents, but rather to consider that this repression goes much further than them.

      It is too bad, about losing intuitive abilities, because we live in overwhelming times when it is difficult to navigate life. My spiritual teachers all converge on this point: the only way to navigate difficult times is through intuition. You can’t think your way through these times.

      I celebrate not only your topic of choice for this piece, but the gift of it. And just to be clear, this is coming from me: a person who is both engaged in doing metaphysical work but also very grounded, practical and responsible. As you fully reclaim your gift of intuition, I hope you will also let go of the mistrust of people who do spiritual work. There are flakes and quacks in every profession, ours is no exception, but some of us retain our integrity and a healthy skepticism, too.

      • says

        Thanks for your supportive comments Magali. I think one thing I may not have expressed very clearly is that having grown up working class there was a particular distrust of my talent because it was not something that the people I was surrounded by could see, hear, feel, taste or touch; so it was not viewed as useful or practical for ‘getting real work done.’ And, it is true that I will need to continue to heal from this judgement I experienced early on in order to give up my biases in this area!

    • Jane says

      Thank you for another intricate and interesting writing piece, Gayle. About those people who mocked or discouraged you: How about if they were wrong? I especially loved the part about you learning to trust your own heart’s call and your own intuition.

  9. MaryL says

    A Gift and a Gift

    We knew that being with people who were dying was part of our calling. I became accustomed to those final visits in which there were only a few hours to tell a lifetime of stories, to the new pastor before they said their goodbyes.

    There is a very deep, piercing pain to carry as you lead a funeral when you know the person who has died, when you loved him. When our dear, dear friend died last year, my pastor friend and I led the service. I knew from experience that it is possible to be calm, to keep my emotions sealed, to focus on the tasks, on doing the work of ministering to the person who has passed and to the family and friends. They counted on our self-control, I think.

    As the congregation sang the final hymn, the casket had been moved to the entrance of the church and the funeral attendants stood in place for the recessional.

    We walked slowly. We were about two-thirds down the aisle when everything – time, space, past, future – stopped. We held on to each other as the tears came, our own private moment of mourning.Then we walked out to help with the internment, to attend to the families. Like a bright spark, the loneliness and the communion of living melted into one another.

    Finally, I went home, fell asleep, and kept the dreams away for one night.

    • beverly Boyd says

      MaryL
      Thank you for sharing this lovely and inspiring story. I’m so glad there are people like you and your pastor friend who are able to be there with folks as the make their transition: when they are often still present even though they can’t speak or seem to respond.
      I had the experience of being at the bedside of a much younger dear friend, holding her hand as the nurse turned off the life support. The pulse showed flat in the monitor. The nurse said, gently, She’s gone. but I still felt a pulse between our hands. A few weeks later I was taking part in a group reading a friend had recruited me for so neither of them knew about her, My friend, Brinton, came through and thanked me for holding her hand.

    • says

      MaryL, I’m so glad you shared this gift with us that has graced so many lives. I’m so glad your words and presence give comfort. That is a gift. Blessings to you!

    • Jane says

      Thank you for your writing about this difficult task. That silent pause for open tears during the recessional may have healed many hearts that day.

  10. Jane says

    “Everyone has a talent; what is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” –Erica Jong

    This is a hard one to write about. It would be easier to tell you about the skills I have. I knit Fair Isle patterned gloves, and sweaters and blankets and hats and scarves for my family. I bake delicious food. I play beautiful music on the piano. I have loved and nurtured three children. I walk with women through a crowd of protesters, as they walk to the abortion clinic. I sing the entire musical “Wicked” from memory. I can type really fast. I help people all day, every day, over the phone in a call center, no matter what they say or where the conversation leads.

    And that brings me to the idea of a talent which asks me to follow it into the dark, to the talent of survival.

    To a time when all that stood between me and suicide was knowing I had one good thing left about me, one thing I could do very well. I knew I was worthless, except for that one talent. I knew how to blindly surrender and give sex. Was I a prostitute? No. But the person who stole my soul did teach me about sex, and there is nothing new in that story, or I would tell you. Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and seen the hunger and need there, and although you couldn’t put it into words, you knew that your hands and mouth could meet them and find wholeness in satisfying them completely? That was me. Outside, I continued to go to school, to study piano, to master French, to wait tables in a German deli. Inside, looking out, the world was full of people who would hurt me — unless I satisfied them.

    I sought refuge and shelter in marriage. When he left, the tornado inside me spun me out again, seeking to give others what I could not receive. Again, I sought shelter in marriage. When he left, I chose to live alone. For 14 years, I worked and raised my three children. Alone. Once my children were grown and out in the world, I took another chance in a three-year whirlwind of violence and abuse. When I left to save my own skin, it occurred to me that my “talent” might not be such a good thing, after all. It was just a lifetime of being very, very alone.

    When I am at work with someone who has called to get the balance on their account or to ask a question about their claim, sometimes (not very often, just sometimes) there is a click in the universe and our spirits connect. Suddenly, they are pouring out their heart, telling me their life story, and all I can do is listen with compassion, and offer hope where I see it. They tell me I understand them better than their family or the people they pay to listen. My close friends say I should be a professional psychic or counselor. I seriously doubt that. It just tells me I have learned a little compassion.

    Through many years of therapy and journals, I have found another person to love: myself. So when I chose to love another, it became human connection, not just sex, and not just the “talent” forced upon and into me. I have learned my real talent is for loving and being loved by people with compassion, listening, and empathy.

    And I’ll take that talent with me into the dark.

    And that is way, way better than sex.

    • Laura Davis says

      Jane, thank you so much for the astounding courage it took to commit these words and these realities on the page. Thank you.

      I found it striking that you had to start with the acceptable things you’re good at first, before you could find the courage to write what you really wanted to write. I think that’s true for many of us as writers.

      Your honesty will clear the space for others to be that much more honest as well.

      • Jane says

        Thank you, Laura, for your kind words. After I wrote it, I debated for an hour whether to post it. There’s always the fear of judgment. Part of staying alive is trying to keep it honest. For me, anyway.

        As a writer, isn’t it difficult to face the multitudes who want us to stay quiet? I’m curious how you manage that part of it.

        I mean, fluffy kittens and windswept leaves aside.

        Thank you,
        Jane

          • Jane says

            Not sure which to thank you more for – - that you told me about this, or that you wrote it. Wow. That is exactly the set of questions spinning in my head! Well, except I didn’t write a revolutionary healing book. I loved reading that. I’ll probably need to spend some time mulling it over and rereading it before I can sort out my own ideas about it.

            Another hallway, another door, another place to sit and read and think.

    • says

      Dear Jane,

      Thanks so much for writing this and taking the big step to share it with the community. You showed so eloquently the strength it takes you each day to take your soul back. This is honest, inspirational writing.

      • Jane says

        Thank you, Gayle, for your kind words. Finding ways to express our own reality through our writing seems to be one reason people enjoy this writing blog. In this writing, I don’t mean to sound like I am strong all the time, every day, because nobody is. I just wanted to write about turning that corner. And it such a joy to come here and read all the fascinating stories you and our other writers are sharing. I look forward to reading and learning more from you, and from everyone here.

  11. Laura R says

    Talent: Magic. Mysterious. Unfathomable. This word hangs weightily; attached to images of virtuosity, excellence, ambition, creative genius and superb ability. We’d all like to have it and most of us think we don’t. Is it a natural born trait which strikes like lightening in some of us and leaves others of us genetically bereft?

    The word talent conjures up images of violin-laden four year olds playing Suzuki pieces in front of adoring, proud parents, certain that their child will eventually be the soloist for a well known orchestra. Or, we use it when someone’s creative efforts have moved us. If you hear the word used, it is often in the negative, an excuse for lack of trying: “I am not talented, I can’t do X, Y, or Z.” Or, to a person with promise: “He is so talented!” Our hope for their inspiring ability begins to precede them. It is hard to live up to this thing called talent. We yearn for it, often fail to capture it for ourselves, yet continue to strive for it.

    I read a book once that said you have to do something 10,000 times before you ever become expert at it.This makes a lot of sense to me, as most abilities in life are not created by talent, but by recognizing interest, practicing, crafting and being persistent. I have seen many of my interests improve following this formula. I have also had people tell me I am talented at this thing or that, and despite the sincerely expressed compliments, I don’t often feel the admiration in my bones. I don’t always feel worthy of the words. There is something about confidence and judgement which winds its way through this quality called talent. I think I learned in my childhood that it was best not toot your horn too loudly, as it was not seemly. Despite this, my parents made sure we had many opportunities to learn the value of becoming proficient. So, I learned how to downhill and water ski, ride horses, play piano, sing in chorus, act in plays, draw, compete in swimming, track, softball, and tennis, become a math whiz in 6th grade,

    My most vibrant moments with music have happened when I was alone, warmed up, feeling comfortable and unfettered. My best work comes at that moment I leave my thoughts behind, say goodbye to the critics mind, the “how to” mind, the nerve sense mind and just do it, feel it, love it, be it. I’ve learned from sports and music that all that practice and repetition creates a body memory I can count on, an imprint that sticks through nervousness, interruptions, or blank outs. Then the sharing or performing or competing is a letting go, a letting it come out. Bringing what you created, taking a risk in sharing it and enjoying it. Allowing the genius to arise. If there is natural talent at all, I sense it originates from a streaming of the spirit and the ability of the body and mind to let it pass through.

    What if we all carried the talent gene? What if it was possible for all of us to have IT? What if we left all our doubts behind, put forth our best effort, let go and shared the joy of it? The amazing joy of giving the best of ourselves to the world, whether it is recognized as talent or not. The scary part of living up to talent is that it is larger than our efforts, it can dwarf our dreams. It carries a responsibility, so that when I see it shine out in someone, it truly IS magic, mysterious and unfathomable. I cannot help but be entranced and moved by it. If I am lucky enough to have it happen to myself, may I have the courage to gracefully accept it.

    • Laura Davis says

      Dear Laura, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog and thanks for this wonderful piece. I love Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” where he talks about the idea of 10,000 hours leading to peak performance.

      Your piece was thoughtful and resonated deeply with me. I particularly loved these lines, “My most vibrant moments with music have happened when I was alone, warmed up, feeling comfortable and unfettered. My best work comes at that moment I leave my thoughts behind, say goodbye to the critics mind, the “how to” mind, the nerve sense mind and just do it, feel it, love it, be it. I’ve learned from sports and music that all that practice and repetition creates a body memory I can count on, an imprint that sticks through nervousness, interruptions, or blank outs. Then the sharing or performing or competing is a letting go, a letting it come out. Bringing what you created, taking a risk in sharing it and enjoying it. Allowing the genius to arise. If there is natural talent at all, I sense it originates from a streaming of the spirit and the ability of the body and mind to let it pass through.”

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Laura,
      I agree with Laura’s response and I especially liked the same paragraph and also your comment: ” I think I learned in my childhood that it was best not toot your horn too loudly,”

      During my Rosen training I was doing an exchange with a fellow student. As she lay on her back on my table, I noticed that, even though her face seemed calm, her lips were tightly closed. I commented about it to her. “Yes, I know I do that,” she said. I wondered what she might be holding behind her teeth. My first thought was to ask if she was holding back anger (that is what I would be most likely be holding behind my teeth). Fortunately I was silent until a better question came to mind. I asked, “What is it you are holding behind your teeth?” She suddenly sat up, waved her arms in a “tada” style and said triumphantly, “Did you see me! Did you see what I did?” Of course she had been told it wasn’t polite to blow her own horn and people would not like her if she did.

      It seems the only place most people are allowed to celebrate themselves is in sports, where you can wave your arms in victory when you make a score or an exceptional play. The rest of us have to silently wait for the audience to clap, or tell us we made a good meal, did a good job mowing the lawn, or made a good presentation at work.. Why do we have to think talent is only about the arts and sports anyway?

    • Jane says

      Thank you for your insider’s view of what it means to have talent, to have others see it, to begin to see it within ourselves as more than a polite compliment, to open yourself to seeing everyone as owning unlimited magic and precious talents. I enjoyed reading this because you painted a picture and it was fun to follow. What a beautiful idea you have expressed here. I wonder too if life might be less about finding out who we are, and more about discovering and leaving behind us on the roadside everything that isn’t who we are.

  12. Jenna says

    All of my life I’ve been a bit of an introvert. I find it difficult to be the centre of attention and at parties and social events if there’s a kitchen then you’re likely to find me hiding in there.
    Several years ago I decided that I wanted to learn burlesque dancing.
    Now its entirely possible to learn burlesque and never to perform it outside the bedroom, kitchen or dining room, wherever tickles your fancy. For me that was never the case. From my first one-to-one lesson I wanted to perform a routine to a small group of friends. I was happy to simply learn a routine and then perform it in a dance studio or somewhere similar.
    Of course that never happened. The small group of friends turned out to be one of my fellow students, my teacher and one of her friends. The venue ended up being the luxurious lounge bar of a public house.
    Glammed up to the nines, the trip to the pub was amazing. Having to stand in a convenience store waiting for my teacher to buy some cigarettes wearing an outfit that certainly stood out and getting wolf whistled certainly boosted my confidence. Performing the routine and then sitting outside the pub for the rest of the evening watching the world go by rounded out one of the most pleasurable evenings ever.
    Naturally being the shy, quiet thing I am I would never have dreamed of performing to a bigger audience, especially one made up mostly of strangers. You’d have to get some strange pleasure out of dressing up as a drummer girl for a Christmas show, or as a bee for a Valentine show or debuting a fan dance routine in the same show.

    My burlesque has caused me some pain. Spending 4 weeks learning a fan dance routine and then being unable to perform it with the two other girls you’d practice with was hard. Not getting to classes as much as you like is hard when you’ve made some totally amazing friends. The latter has been more painful for me because I so love my burlesque, I have a number of routines I want to develop but having a place to practice and being able to get feedback from the other girls makes it really difficult to do and its far too easy to find excuses not to dance.

    Burlesque is part of me though and the delights that I’ve had, being complimented and hugged after my fan dance mean that I will get back into it, somehow.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Hi Jenna,
      What fun. I loved your story about the introvert allowing her inner burlesque dancer out to shine and the details of your surprising first time out…Glammed to the nines, enjoying the wolf whistles while waiting outside the convenience store, the drummer girl and bee costumes you wore for different holidays. You gave such a tangible description in a fairly short story. Good job.

      I hope you do get back into more dancing, but then, as one of my mentors likes to say…”This or something better!”

    • Jane says

      Congratulations for finding a way to shine in spite of your shy feelings. It sound like you’ve been bitten by the bug. The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd gets into your blood. And you have perfectly captured the delight of getting back those good vibes from the audience, your teacher, your dance friends, and even the odd wolf whistler on queue at the store. Do you find that when you’re “playing the part” of the burlesque dancer, that it is a safe and protective masque, that you can be and express everything within you, yet “they” cannot reach your secret, hidden, inner self? I just wondered, because you have evoked for me vivid memories of feeling confident and strong while “being” inside and out the character I was playing on stage. Thank you for the courage to become and be a dancer, and to share that with us here. What fun to read your story! And good for you to keep going, when you can, since it gives you so much joy.

  13. Andrea says

    Someone previously wrote that they had many talents. I also have different talents. I can knit, crochet, sew, work on cars both mechanically and body work. I love the outdoors and enjoy many physical activities, biking, snorkeling, horseback riding, etc…

    The two talents that are my very best are writing poetry and drawing in pencil. For years, I did not share any of my poems or drawings with anyone. They were my own personal therapy, so I was terrified to let anyone inside my world where I felt so different form others.

    I had shared the fact that I drew and wrote poetry with the therapist I had been seeing at the time, this was back in 2004. She asked me to bring some of them with me to our next session. I did not realize I had a talent. I only did both because I felt impelled to do so, plus it helped me work through the emotions I was feeling overwhelmed with. I brought some of my drawings and poems with me. She asked me to read a few of them to her. I did. She was speechless. I thought something must be wrong with them. She said they were amazing and asked if she could keep them. Of course, I had made copies of them for her. Then came the drawings. I was so hesitant to share them with her. I just handed them to her. I didn’t have a portfolio or anything. I had them in between two pieces of cardboard that I had put rubber bands around so the drawings wouldn’t fall out. As she looked at the drawings, she kept looking up at me. At this point I’m thinking to myself, “They must be worse than I thought. I shouldn’t have brought them.” She turns the page and looks up at me with tears in her eyes that begin running down her cheeks and says to me, “These are beautiful! Do you know what a gifted artist you are?” Here I’m thinking just the opposite. What an eye-opening experience that was for me.

    Since then, I have continued to write and draw. I have published a few poems here and there. I am in the process of putting together a poetry book that I would like to publish for those who have been affected by childhood sexual abuse, rape, and sexual assault within marriage. Along with the poems, I am going to add some of my artwork as we’ll.

    I was going to send you a personal invite to my private board on Pinterest so you could look at my drawings but I was unable to find your name or email. My name on there is apurplicious. Anyway, I would have liked to have shared one of my drawings on here but I was unable to copy and paste it.

    Even though it has taken me several years to believe it and then actually say it, my greatest talent is that I am an artist!

    Thank you,
    Andrea

    • Laura Davis says

      Andrea, welcome to the Roadmap blog–and thanks for using your first post to claim your right to call yourself an artist. Bravo! I hope this is the first of many posts on our site. Welcome!

    • says

      Dear Andrea,

      I loved reading what you wrote and shared with us here. Thank you! This is very descriptive, very vivid, and very moving to read. Although I haven’t seen your beautiful artwork or read your amazing poetry, it is lovely that you chose to write and post your writing with us here.

      To me, you are an excellent writer, although you say your real talents are creating your drawings and your poems.

    • beverly Boyd says

      Andrea,
      Thank you for sharing this moving piece about your talent as an artist and poet.
      You told it so well. I had a huge lump in my throat! I’m so glad your therapist was able to encourage you to bring your talent out into the world.

      • Andrea says

        Laura, Jane & Beverly,

        Thank you all so much for your kind and positive words. Laura, for the “Bravo!” Comment about how I openly admitted to being an artist. Jane, for expressing how my words moved you and you believe I am a writer. Beverly, how you said my words moved you. Wow! That makes me feel so good about myself, you can’t even imagine.

        I decided I would share one of my first poems I wrote with you. I’m just going to type it here. This is one I was planning on putting in my book of poetry that I’m hoping to publish eventually.

        Confliction

        There is a game of tug o’ war
        Taking place very deep inside
        A roller coaster full of emotions
        That I wish not to ride

        I’m pulled strongly to the left
        With a love I cannot explain
        Then, with a yank to the right
        A hate that crashes of thunder, lightning and rain

        Form one extreme to the other
        Up and down like a seesaw on the playground
        Or the spinning, out of control feeling
        While on the merry-go-round

        I’ve tripped, fallen, skinned my knee
        It hurts so bad, there is so much blood
        But the deepest wound is inside my heart
        And it is bleeding just like a flood

        I just don’t understand all of this confliction
        Between a love so strong and a hate so deep
        The tug o’ war game never seems to end
        I pray The Lord my soul to keep

        The little girl inside of me
        Just wants out of this amusement park
        To leave behind that ‘tunnel of love’
        That has been so cold, dreary and dark

        Andrea – June 2001

        • beverly Boyd says

          Hi Andrea,
          I liked the way you developed the amusement park theme to describe the tug of war deep inside between a love so strong and a hate so deep, the roller coaster full of emotions…being pulled to the lift and yanked to the right: the seesaw, merry-go-round The deepest wound inside your heart. good strong details.

          Then the shift to the child’s prayer “I pray the Lord my soul to keep and the little girl inside that who wants out of the amusement park. It is interesting about those amusement park rides. I think the reason they can be fun is because we know they will only last for a few minutes. If they went on and on and on it would no longer be fun and we would feel desperate to get off the ride.
          This was very powerful..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>