By Malena Lott
I’m not unlike you: scurrying through life with the keys to the mini-van in one hand and my second cup of (strong) coffee in the other. My children’s voices fill the air (fighting) until it’s replaced by Katy Perry’s “California” blasting through the car speakers as we head out to school, dance, and doctor’s appointments.
|Tap into the nature of all things through writing.|
I’m Malena Lott of Many Labels: mother of three, wife, brand and marketing consultant, zumba enthusiast, seeker, Starbucks lover, writer. Ah, there. That last one. Out of all the “I AM” statements, that one speaks closest to the Me-Without-a-Label, the inner sanctum that takes me from everywoman to my divine purpose.
Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, what I needed was within me all along. I’m not sure if writing found me, or I found writing, but I’ve been scribbling stories since I was in sixth grade, filling notebooks with monsters in closets, unpopular girls and journeys big and small.
I’m also unsure if I find stories or if they find me, but I know if I practice awareness, staying in the moment, I See what would otherwise stay hidden. I do force myself out of my comfortable bubble to explore, including estate sales: you know, when someone has died and those left behind sell off the house and all the contents within. I love figuring out the story of someone’s life by perusing the stuff they couldn't take with them. Every house and every life has a story. This summer, I found a coup on the bookshelves: The Zen of Seeing and The Book of Angelus Silesius, both hand-written, translated and drawn by Frederick Franck, a very talented artist. I snapped them up and have spent many a quiet night in the bathtub soaking up the beautiful language.
He quotes many Zen sages, explaining that it is not some Buddhist sect or school of thought.
What then is Zen?
Zen is: being in touch with the inner workings of life.
Zen is: seeing into the nature of things, inside and outside of myself.
Zen is: when all living things of the Earth open their eyes wide and look me in the eye.
I get there most easily when I’m writing. I’m taken both within myself and outside of it, for I get to explore the nature of things and do my best to articulate it with words. Franck did this with pictures. Every artist has his or her preferred palette.
The Zen of Writing is not judging, but submitting completely to the characters, to the story. Time and space seem limitless. We are “lost” and only realize where we’ve been when we bring our eyes up and step from one world back into another.
I’ve had two novels published, both journeys about women, and my next, Fixer Upper, will be an ebook about a woman searching for her purpose long after she’d thought she’d found it. Can we change our minds, change our futures, even if that means destroying the order of the lives around us?
I’m also working on something completely different: a young adult paranormal that came to me as a dream (okay, nightmare) about four years ago and wouldn’t let go. Stories can be needy like that. Finally, I decided I had to write it down to be rid of it. I’m in the revision process now.
Another great way to practice awareness is within the pages of someone else’s stories. I read at least a book a week, but I’ll leave you with a sampling of this summer’s delicious fare: our own girlfriends’ tomes: The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle; Slim to None by Jenny Gardiner, The Other Side of Me by Sarah Pekkanan, The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate. Also, I highly recommend An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor for more on the sacredness in the everyday; The Season of Risks by Susan Hubbard (an intellectual vampire series); and I’m completely absorbed in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which really is as good as everybody said it was.