Speaking My Mind

As a writer with a new book out, I’m not turning down any invitations to read my work in front of an audience. I had the privilege last Sunday of participating in an outdoor literary event sponsored by the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. http://www.cityofasylumpittsburgh.org/

CityAsylum-30

The provocative theme we writers were asked to respond to was “I Don’t Know What I’d Do if I Couldn’t Speak My Mind.” Every 10 minutes for six hours, a different writer read from their work while groups of people walked past, lingering a bit as they participated in the Mexican War Streets Annual Home Tour.  I read a short excerpt from Warrior Mother, and three short pieces inspired by the topic.

Speaking My Mind
Before I speak, my focus goes to stillness inside.
Before I speak, my ears listen for the sound of suffering
Before I speak, my heart decides, will this serve love?
Before I speak, my gut signals something must be done.
My hands speak as I type and text.

The tone of my voice speaks, revealing sorrow.
My muscles speak as I lift debris from the river.
The twinkle in my eyes speaks of a grandmother’s joy.
My arms speak as I churn the chocolate chip cookie batter.
demanding peace.

Speaking My Mind 2
My mind’s in my feet, like a choreographer taught me years ago. We were rehearsing a dance in a church, suspended high over the pews that the congregation would soon fill for the service. We danced on a ledge over the pulpit, perhaps illustrating a story from the bible, “And David danced before the Lord.”
There was no railing, nothing to catch us if we fell. “Keep your mind in your feet,” she called out from below. “That’s the only way to stay safe.”
That’s how it is for dancers, writers, musicians, spoken-word performers – people who insist on staying in touch with their souls. Having your mind in your feet means that your sole is in touch with the earth, a necessary connection as you move about on uneven surfaces, exploring the territory close to the edge.
To be an artist is to live there, on that edge, and though you become accustomed to dancing with your own fear, your witnesses, fanning themselves as they recline in comfortable cushioned seats, are both enlivened and terrified by the possibilities you present.

Speaking My Mind 3
People who know me as I am today might not believe it, but I haven’t always spoken my mind. On the surface of things you might say I’ve had the freedom to do so. But like other children of “The Silent Generation” I learned early not to disagree out loud with the adults around me.

As a young woman I followed the rules, even the stupid unwritten ones, like women must behave as proper ladies, and be careful not to threaten men. I finally found my voice to object to being paid less than men I supervised, to being given half my ex-husband’s debts but not his good credit score.

2 thoughts on “Speaking My Mind

  1. I love our synchronicity!
    I totally understand ‘speaking my mind 2’ as a dancer. I am fond of saying that “English is my second language” since movement is my first. As a young adult dancer, I totally followed the rules as the discipline of ballet training requires. But dancing a character in a ballet gave me the room to experiment with being other than me. This was actually developmentally helpful.
    ‘Speaking my mind 3’ is so close to my experience as well. Being born in the mid 1950’s and coming of age in the radical 60’s gave me a vision of what could be possible as a woman. However, it took years for me to find my voice and use it. I too, was the ‘good girl’ and suffered silently to maintain the outward appearance of trying to satisfy many masters simultaneously. My gifts have enabled me to pull this off quite successfully to this day, however with great cost to me personally. Even now when I do speak the stress or pain of existence, most people are turned off and clearly only want the strong Lynn. It is difficult for the world to accept a vulnerable warrior. I love that your book shows you as both, the suffering mother and the strong warrior who marshals the resources to care for her family. Brilliant, yes, you are!

  2. Thank you so much for your articulate comments. We really are on the same page because just yesterday I wondered if I would ever get comments such as yours on my blog. Till now, they’ve mostly been people trying to sell me or my readers something. I’m struck by your expression, “vulnerable warrior.” A true warrior knows what’s at stake, and that their own welfare is in the mix however it turns out.Thanks for being and saying who you are, all parts of you.
    Sheila

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