Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Best Laid Plans and How To Blog. Or Not.

Boo in B+WA year ago I started a blog. I didn’t have a hot clue what to write about.  It was just something I felt inspired to do. The goal was to write two posts a week.  Maybe more, if the muse struck with high pitched frequency.  Kind of the opposite of lightening.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Really, how hard could it be?

Bloody hard.  I’m not one to make excuses, especially when it comes to myself.  But it turns out writing one post a week was a challenge. Two, damned near impossible.  And more than that, well forget about it.  What I didn’t realize a year ago was that I actually had a bit of a life beyond the iMac and the things that go on inside my head.  So I reset my sails, pared down my goal and determined that one post per week would do.  Not only would this do, it would be an enormous accomplishment.

This is my 54th post.  Bravo for me.

Little back story. I had read an article online in The New York Times by Eric Weiner called “Americans: Undecided About God.”  This article intrigued me because the premise was something I thought a lot about. God was on my mind.  Here, there and everywhere. Just a little insight into my interior world. I thought it would be interesting to engage in an online conversation with other folks of a similar ilk.  I thought there had to be millions of people out there who would love to do this.  And most importantly, participate via my blog.  Looking back, I don’t know if I was incredibly naive or full of hubris.  Or just a pompous ass.  I’ll leave that for you to decide.  Keep it to yourself though.  My ego is fragile after a year of this.

Long blog short. This didn’t happen. None of it.  You know what they say about best laid plans. I don’t either.  But I think it had something to do with mice and men.  And things not always turning out the way you expected.

As it turns out, this confounding cliche proved to be true for my blog about God. It’s painful to be reduced to a literary cliche, I might add.  Thank you very much Mr. Steinbeck.

Not that God isn’t a hot topic.  He/She most certainly is.  It’s just that very few people wanted to read my blather on this theme week after week.  Good God jumping Jehoshaphat.  Truth is, I didn’t even want to talk about it.  I only thought I did.  I thought I had tons of things to say, given the amount of time I spent pondering. Contemplating. Meditating. Ruminating. Praying to and mulling over God.  Turns out I didn’t.

I had about three posts-worth.

The thing is, I didn’t deliberately change course with the blog.  It just happened.  It took another three posts to realize that I was telling these stories about my life growing up at 204.  As it turns out very few were interested in that either.  So on that level my little foray into blogging was a colossal failure.

Either I have an extraordinary talent for picking lousy topics to write about. Or very few people care what I have to say about those topics. Or I just write poorly about the topics that interest people, and therefore, refuse to engage. Thus, the lights go dim on computers worldwide whenever one of my posts is broadcast.  Regardless, my naive, hubristic, pompous dreams of blogging to the masses was possibly just a tad grandiose.  Do you think?  Don’t answer that question.  Remember the fragile ego.  May the echo of cracking ice on a frozen country pond haunt you eternally if you dare.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to not let those kinds of failures stand in the way of having a good time.  And that’s exactly what this past year has been.  The time of my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for a wiener on a stick.

It wasn’t easy.  In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Except for childbirth.  Truth is, this blog was a bit like giving birth.  In this past year, I gave birth to a new me.  The authentic me.  100% genuine.  Bona fide and real. Most importantly, it gave life to the storyteller me.  And it set me free.

Before Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter came to life, I never in a million years would have considered revealing the things I did.  The thought was enough to make me shudder and hang my head in shame.  Oh shame. How vindictive, rancorous, spiteful, venomous, cruel and unkind you are. You are the schoolyard bully.  The coward. Tormentor and thug.

But through God’s grace, and one blog post a week, you are gone.  I, and those who shared this journey, have been liberated. Telling these stories about my life growing up with Ma and The Old Man at 204 didn’t cause my heart to stop, my world to implode as I had so feared all my life.  No.  In fact, the exact opposite was true. My heart beat stronger and fiercer.  My world exploded with love and kindness, compassion and empathy, joy and appreciation.

Although I didn’t intend to go down this path, I am so grateful I did.  Along the way, I discovered my parents, Ma and The Old Man.  I got to tell their story with all of its complexities.  Their complicated love for each other.  Their unconditional love for me, my siblings and their grand children. The lessons that love taught me.  Somehow through the rush of time and the dailiness of life, I’d forgotten that.  Or dismissed it as being trivial.  Or worse yet, not true. But this past year helped me to realize and remember all the love that lived at 204.  In all its shades, muted and glorious orange, the highlights and the dark shadows, the frostiness and the humidity, the large blue skies overhead and the beige sand beneath.  The home in our hearts and the heart in our home.

On one of our many walks together, Ma said, “I’d love to write my life story but I don’t know how. And who would read it anyway?” This notion, this gut-wrenching, heartfelt cry touched me.  Far deeper than I realized at the time.  It took years, and much practice as a writer and storyteller, to bring her story to life.  A simple tale about an ordinary woman, who in many ways, lived an extraordinary life.

I can write Ma.  I can tell your story.  Does it matter who reads it?  I think not.

As for The Old Man, had I not written this blog I may never have realized just how much I miss him. Orneriness and all. He had always been such a thorn in my side.  Not any more.  Extraction is complete.  Wound healed.  Only love remains.  I am proud and honored to be The Breadman’s Daughter.

Although there weren’t any grand discussions about God in my blog, the presence and influence of the divine was the underlying melody throughout.  God was present in every grace note.  Not only in the process of telling the story.  But in the stories themselves.  It was there.  In the space between the notes.  The reading between the lines.

As for those grander God discussions, I learned that in the end, I’m ill-equipped to have those.  I’ll leave that to Eric Weiner or Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay or David Javerbaum, even.  I could never write something so sublime and witty as The Last Testament.  Not in a million blog years.

What next?   More storytelling.  I think I’m better at that than blogging. I’ve joined Cowbird, the online community for storytellers, so all five of you can find me there.  I do have a few more Daughter stories to share with you.  You’ll find those here and on Cowbird.

If the blog survives, it’s my plan to take it in a completely different direction.  At least I think I will.  As you know, I’m easily sidetracked. And we all know what happens to best laid plans.

One parting thought, watch out for mice.

Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Sometimes It Can Be Awkward.

boo posing awkwardly in white communion dress with white bible in front of floral curtains.

The day that I had the epiphany, that ‘ah ha!’ moment after reading Eric Weiner’s article in The New York Times, I got to thinking about when this whole thing began.  Not the world beginning, that big bang thing or whatever it was that started what is commonly known as life.  I’m talking about something far more personal.  I’m talking about my life with God – and when that all began.

I wish I could say it started in the womb and that I had these primordial memories of being in heaven and sitting on God’s lap, but it didn’t.  Or if it did I don’t remember so that doesn’t count.  The best I can recall is that this ‘relationship’ (and I use the term loosely, at least in this context) began in elementary school.

Little back story.  Until this juncture I don’t recall being from a terribly religious family.  We celebrated Christmas (with presents under the tree and a turkey with cranberry sauce) and Easter (with ham and scalloped potatoes, new shoes and an awkward photo op.)  But we also celebrated Thanksgiving (with mashed potatoes, turkey with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie instead of presents), and Birthdays (no turkey, no cranberry sauce, no pumpkin pie but a galaxy of presents for the special one of the hour.)  So throughout the year there were many celebrations and it was hard to tell which ones, if any, had religious affiliations.  It was confusing at best, given the abundance of delicious food and divine presents attached to every one of these celebrations that took place at 204.

Anyway, my best guess is ‘it’ all began sometime in early elementary school when I hooked up with S and T and we became the three Musketeers, a nickname coined by T’s father, who was the manager of the local movie theater. It could have been worse. We could have ended up the Three Stooges.

They both went to church, as did many of my other classmates.  I did not. This made me feel bad.  Inferior. Flawed.  Unworthy of God’s favor, whatever that meant.  To not feel bad, or worse yet, to not be a blemished cursed sinner I approached my parents with the notion that we go to church.  At least this is what I recall.  I probably didn’t.  It was most likely their idea, but this is my take.  Besides, I’m too old to have clear memories, and that was a long long time ago.  But we’re talking about God and He/She forgives the forgetter.

Of my parents, oddly enough, it was The Old Man who had the closest connection to what would be considered organized religion. He was a Finlander and there was some sort of ancestral connection to Lutheranism.  Ma may have been Anglican as a child but that affiliation was long gone and best forgotten.  Her connection to religion was unorganized, I suppose.  So off we went to Christ Lutheran Church.

Thus began my indoctrination into the Christian faith.

Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Letters to God.

The thing about God is.  No one knows for sure. Really.

I read this article in The New York Times by Eric Weiner called Americans: Undecided About God.  Weiner so eloquently writes that the national conversation about God “has been co-opted by the True Believers, on the one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other.”  He asks,  “what about the rest of us?”   Weiner calls these folks the Nones.  Nones doesn’t do it for me.  I think of myself as an Other.  Don’t ask me why.  It’s just kind of the way I am. But regardless of the moniker – Nones or Others –   I agree with Weiner, we haven’t been a part of this conversation.  We’ve been this tight-lipped group who shied away from any discussion, even remotely religious, like sheep about to be sheared and left standing naked in the field.  Awkward.  Embarrassing.  Uncomfortable.  Skin-crawly. To say Weiner’s article resonated with me is an understatement.  It got me thinking.  Then it inspired me.  And then I felt like having a conversation about None Other than God.

Little back story.  For the past twenty years I’ve been writing these letters to God.  Some people, far more intellectual or spiritual, or hip to this pursuit than I, call this “Journaling.” I call it writing letters in spiral bound Hilroy notebooks.  Nothing terribly fancy.  But organized.  And to prove that these are letters, not emails or memos, or blogs to the Big Guy in the Sky, they all begin “Dear God” and end “Love, Me.”  In my world that constitutes the basics of Letter Writing 101.

I write one almost every day.  Except on the weekends.  I do other things.  Like grocery shopping.  Errand running.  Movie watching.  I relax and generally do everything I can to break the Monday to Friday routine. Basically I laze around and waste time.  Even God rested on the seventh day.

Box of Letters to God

After reading the New York Times article it occurred to me that after twenty years of writing almost daily to God, I must have something to say about the topic.  I’m an “Other.”  Typically when it comes to religion I keep my opinions to myself. Unless in the company of other “Others.”  Then I might say something provocative like “no one really knows for sure do they?”  Even that comment is plagued with doubt.  Ends in a question mark, implying uncertainty.  Not a definitive, confident period.

This blog is about all things God – big and little g.  It’s about wonder.  And awe.  And marvel.  About where we came from and where we’re ultimately going.  Not only in the big cosmic sense but in the small personal close to your heart way too.  All are welcome here – Others and everyone else.  Just open your heart.  And bring your head.