Chattering Mind

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Inspiration Report

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Eighteen years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine that got me called in for a taped interview with a Fox TV morning news anchor. Being an effective communicator and a skillful public speaker was a dream of mine at the time. And still is.
After some 30 minutes of prep with the station’s hair-and-makeup lady (which only made my anxiety mount), I clopped up to the dias and faced the camera in a carefully-pressed business suit and taupe high-heeled shoes. I was horribly nervous.
As the camera was queued to roll, and as the anchorman commenced his chirpy questioning, I found that, despite the prepared notes in my lap, I could not speak coherently. Words were coming out of my mouth that in no way connected to the chattering, critical thoughts in my head! Then I kept talking, hacking away at the spoken sentences, striving to perfect my thoughts. I couldn’t stop. After 15 minutes of this, the anchorman said something like, “O-kay, I think we’ve got it…”
I looked at the cameraman, who seemed much less ebullient and flirtatious now than when we’d started.
Clearly, I’d flubbed the interview. But then the anchorman leaned forward and gave me advice aimed at teaching me how to emote better on television. And what he said rained down on me as if he were Yoda, and I was young Jedi Luke Skywalker. His words had the strange ability to change a disaster into something better. He said: “You should never feel like you have to fill up all the space.” He paused before continuing.
“When you complete a thought, just stop and I’ll start talking. That’s my job. The responsibility to fill the space is not all yours.”
A-ha. This story came back to me so vividly yesterday as I was sitting on the subway, pondering what I would write you in my final post, now that I’m taking my blogging break.
Filling this space has been a total joy. Every writer’s ego’s dream is to spout off, have a column with a photo on top for all to see. My happiness with the project deepened as I realized that I was really uplifting you, or inspiring you, or that I made you laugh a time or two. Your letters earlier this week were read and re-read by me with such pleasure! Thank you!
But I don’t have to fill the space forever. It’s an appropriate time for you to talk more in other contexts about what you know and believe. For if you don’t, the louder-mouthed, we’ve-got-the-total-picture people will blab right over us, and fill our space with their pompous inanity. I wish I could say that blogging about spirituality has made me more sure that God exists or helped me decide which dogma is absolutely correct, but in truth, I’m comfortable admitting that there’s a hell of a lot of wonderful overlap–we are truly all one–no message is best.
Read on to connect with which websites and blogs I think you’ll like in my absence.

soulcollage.jpgHere are some blogs and websites I like. It’s not a complete list. But it’s a start.
The first is called New Moon Journal and it is written by Michele Bailey-Lessirard, a life coach, collage artist, and “shamanic astrologer.” On the opening page of her site, you’ll find a little slide show of her amazing, healing artwork (which she encourages you to do alongside her). As a longtime lover of the work of Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters, I too believe that arranging collage images on paper is “spirit” work. Intuition reigns supreme as you connect with what feels aligned and right, and you’ll learn ways to connect with your shadow, as well as your most divine self. So visit Michele, “a student of symbols and feminine mysteries,” try some collage work, and start following the moon as closely as she does. Her blog is excellent.
Another “symbolist” and student of calendars is the ever-fruitful, gorgeous font of wisdom Waverly Fitzgerald, creator of Unique is the right word. I feel I couldn’t have written this blog without her. Visit her site to strengthen your connection to religious/spiritual holidays and the organizing principal of ritual. Waverly also blogs about flowers. And passion. And love.
Then there’s Caroline Casey’s site The Coyote News Network. Man, watch out! As we edge into a political year, it will be impossible for Caroline not to froth! She’s a divinely-connected female John Stewart–she’s also the beloved sister of novelist John Casey, a writer I knew at the University of Virginia. Caroline, who I met through my pal Shelley Ackerman, has a “Visionary Activist” radio show that’s unlike anything else you’ll hear. Fun, passionate, fired-up! I think you’ll want to check in with her periodically.
Thanks to all the people in the last two years who have given me courage and support: my husband, co-founder, Steven Waldman, my kids, my sister Kathryn Janus, my loving dad and my precious in-laws, my editor Valerie Reiss, the whole edit staff, Frances and Chris Stahnke, Domenick Masiello, Nell Minow, Laura Stanley, Myra Klockenbrink, Cristy West, Kathleen Currie, Lisa Schamess, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, Teresa Riordan, Sheila Kaplan, Art Levine, Laurie Sue Brockway, Vic Fuhrman, Lama Surya Das, Elizabeth Lesser, Jim Kullander, and all you readers.
Again, send your email addresses to me at, and I’ll find you again! (Remember that great scene where Daniel Day-Lewis screams “Stay alive! Do whatever you have to do to stay alive. I’LL FIND YOU” as he leaves his new girlfriend and jumps down a cliff in “The Last of the Mohicans”?) Continue to read It is not a Christian site, by the way. I guess it’s just that the Christians are noisier. The Holistic Spirituality page of the site remains an excellent meeting place, and is always a good place to find articles.

starcard2.jpg“Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest,
let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes.
Let go, let fly, forget.
You’ve listened long enough. Now strike your note.”
From “Station Island,” by Seamus Heaney