This past Monday, September 14, 2020 was my 6 year wedding engagement party. While this date is not as momentous as a wedding anniversary, when I saw my timeline and pictures of my engagement party, I was pulled back to that time in my life–2014, when I was newly engaged, a budding writer, and imagined my life – five years later a little differently. I remember, during our party, I was sitting on a chair with my then fiance, now hubby by my side and taking in the scene in front of me- family and friends clamoring for the photographer to take their picture on the stage. I recalled embracing this moment because in a few years I predicted that I’d have a novel, house and kids in my life.
Well, that was six years ago and nothing I had imagined came to fruition. My hubby and I still rent; God hasn’t blessed us with kids yet; and the draft of my novel is still in the drive of my computer. Yes, I can sulk and criticize myself for not obtaining my “life goals,” but guess what? I have achieved more that I can imagine.
In Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Wright, she offers a writing exercise where she asks the writer to write down 50 things you are proud of- small or large. She explains:
“We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know. We do not credit ourselves with what it is we can- and often do- accomplish. We are blind to our gifts; we are deaf to our voice. We do not see or hear our magnitude. Why is this?
When people cannot see the larger picture of what it is we are trying to do, they will pick out some detail and pick at that. We have, many of us, had the experience of being all dressed up, ready to go somewhere and feeling pretty marvelous, when someone –a parent, a friend, even the babysitter — picks a small piece of lint off our outfit. Lint picking is focusing on the small imperfection rather than seeing the greater glory of the whole.
We must be small enough, humble enough, to always be a beginner, an observer. We must be open to experience, new experiences, new sources of knowledge and insight while still staying grounded in the fact that what we already know and have done is also estimable and also important. In other words, how do we stay vulnerable enough to and tough enough to survive.
Valuing our experience is not narcissism. It it not endless self- involvement. It is rather the act of paying active witness to ourselves and the world. Such witness is an act of dignity, an act that recognizes that life is essentially a sacred transaction of which we know only the shadow, not the shape. As we attune ourselves more and more closely to the value of passing moments, we learn that we are something of moment ourselves.”
Julia Cameron, in her eloquent prose, reminds me that we have to celebrate the accomplishments, however trite and minuscule. Small or not, they carry a significance. So while I may not be where I had envisioned, another writer has gently reminded me I’m where I need to be, and that is worthy of celebrating.
Below is my list towards 50 things I’m proud of. What would you include in your list?
- Selected as a fellow for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers
- Writing 10 short stories
- Jogging 3 miles (although I am currently taking a break)
- Making vegetarian pancit for the first time
- Google hangout with my parents in the Philippines once a week for the last 6 months
- Offering a virtual writing class with 40 attendants
- 1000 piece puzzle
- Meditating for 5 minutes a day
- Webinar for Wonders ELD and EL resources
- Making a gluten free coconut cake
- Running a half marathon with my sis and friends
- Moving during COVID
- Keeping some indoor plants alive
- Learning how to apologize and really meaning it
- Getting better with keeping in touch
- Supporting local artists by buying their paintings
- Eating mostly plant based since January 2020
- Paying off credit card bills
- Achieving and maintaining a credit score of 800
- Traveling to South Africa and Iceland
- Resurrecting this blog
- Singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to my niece
- Parallel parking uphill in SF
- Getting accepted in an MFA program and graduating
- My job for SSFUSD
- Opportunities to read my work for literary events such as PAWA and Napa Valley Writers Conference
- Publishing my work in various publications
- Accepting my body in any shape and size
- Perfecting my skin and teeth regimen (because you know I have an obsession with teeth)
- Owning 300 books but reading more than 300
Here are some pictures from our “Books and Beats” theme engagement part. I’m “books” and hubby is “beats”, obviously because I’m a writer and he’s a DJ.
More pictures here