Gold in The River

Gold in The River





Today, I recall the stories my father told his children and grandchildren in the kitchen.  His travels through European countries suddenly come to life as I am vicariously living through my husband and son’s recent trip to Europe.  His stories had always seemed so far away, and momentarily unimportant.

And yet, his world was only about a 10-hour flight across the ocean from the eastern seaboard.  My heart is stirred by the memories of his sojourns after his escape from a war-torn country.  As I now study the map, the path he took seemed magical and fantastical.  Sadly the younger version of myself lacked the patience to record the details.

Yes, I regret that I barely recall the names of the cities and towns as vaguely imprinted in my hazy memory.  Had he only written it all down, had I only written it somewhere, I would not feel the intensity of my loss at this moment.  The recognition that stories may come to life someday when you’re gone, invites the flow of tears.  And of course, the song “In the Arms of an Angel” by Sarah McLachlan begins to play. 

I feel pain mixed with peace, that he is now in the arms of an angel.  It doesn’t relieve the anguish of regret.

I wish I had listened more.  I wish I had cared more.  My remorse only returns emptiness as I’m left alone with my imagination.

The treasures he dreamed about finding as he looked for gold in the river on his land were right in front of us all the time.  All we had to do was pay attention to the stories in the kitchen.

– Erika K Rothwell

Revival of Simplicity – Finding the Pooh in You

Revival of Simplicity  – Finding the Pooh in You

Humble beginnings.  Discouraging self-talk.  A revival of simplicity.  Today exemplifies a combination of the three. 

For an idea to take root, it must be planted.  The sparks of my recent seeds of thought have created an unsuspecting wave of activity, and I see the inspiration of my example and provoking lessons growing in a garden around me. 

The humble harvest of my own garden cannot and should not be compared to others.  Yet, I find myself viewing my work as rather simple lacking the buttoned-up professional edge.  This critique is generated by a lack of self-confidence and a fear that I’m not who I say I am or believe myself to be.  Years of life and work experience do not equate to years of structured education, nor should it.  The MFA degrees and Ph.D.’s earned by hardworking and committed individuals are undeniably deserved and respected. 

I find myself questioning whether my self-respect and confidence requires a title to prove the authenticity of my venture.  Educational goals hang in front of me teasing like a motivational carrot, as I suffer from the pit deep in my soul that screams “Imposter.”

At the height of my negative self-talk, a book comes into my day.  It’s always words that soothe and revive me.  This amazing book, The Leadership Gap, What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, written by Lolly Daskal, position my discouragement where it can be defeated. 

Although she teaches that confidence is built from skill and debunks a few myths that claim confidence is created solely by a sheer belief in yourself, she provides a roadmap for discovery.  She states, “Overcoming the imposter gap begins by breaking the chain of self-doubt and understanding how the imposter syndrome suffocates and shackles us…Change requires rethinking what we know–the old, outmoded thoughts, patterns, and beliefs that we’ve carried for so long in our minds—and adopting new, more positive thoughts, patterns and beliefs.”

Furthermore, turning the topic of comparing ourselves to others on its tail, she writes, “There will always be people who are in front of you and behind you who are doing better than you.  Everyone’s success story is different, and yours will always be uniquely yours.” 

She goes on to say, “When you compare yourself to others and are being critical about yourself, this is never constructive.” And finally, the quote I add to my long list of motivational sayings, “When you compare yourself to others, it is a battle you will never win.  The greatness you seek is in understanding you will never be anyone else, and no one else will ever be you.”

So now, I create a new mantra for myself and others who struggle with similar feelings of inadequacy.  “Embrace the qualities that make you who you are, and give yourself some credit for your personal accomplishments.”

IMG_3763Once the weight of discouragement was lifted, I was able to appreciate the simplistic nature of my creative work. 

I recalled the Pooh story, from one of my loved books, The Tao of Pooh, written by Benjamin Hoff, where Pooh was recounting Rabbit’s characteristic of cleverness.

“Rabbit’s clever”, said Pooh thoughtfully.

“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”

“And he has a brain.”

“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”

There was a long silence.

“I suppose”, said Pooh, “that’s why he never understands anything.”

The author gets to the heart of the matter, by summarizing, “When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret…Life is fun.”

In part, I believe I’m attempting to capture what he said in the humble beginnings of, “And the nicest thing about that simplicity is its useful wisdom.”

Yet, I still find myself “lost in thought”, at times.  So the following story helps bring me home.

After Rabbit asks for a suggestion on which way to go when trying to find their way back home, Pooh answers simply, with a random idea.

“How would it be, “said Pooh slowly,” if as soon as we’re out of sight of this pit, we try to find it again.?”

“What’s the good of that?” said Rabbit.

“Well,” said Pooh, “we keep looking for home and not finding it, so I thought if we looked for the Pit, we’d be sure not to find it, which would be a Good Thing, because then we might find something we weren’t looking for, which might be just what we were looking for really.”

And that explains my revival today.  I found what I was looking for, by simply not looking for it.

The Heart of the Matter – Write From the Kitchen

– Erika K Rothwell

Peas of Thought

Peas of Thought

My mother always told me “Don’t throw your peas on the wall.” Other than the obvious literal sense, I was never quite sure what that meant, until now.

In the kitchen, I can only imagine how many times we have all tried to share, explaining things in family conversations, only to be unheard, misunderstood, or clearly ignored.  And now, I envision holding a bowl of peas and hurling them one by one at the wall, watching them roll down to the ground, and if not eaten by one of the dogs squashed beneath an unsuspecting foot.

Each little pea, a delectable morsel of thought clearly born only to be squashed!

And now, the peas have been carefully positioned in a photographic piece of art used as a temporary backdrop for my blog which contains hundreds of pea size thoughts. I may be throwing them against a wall, but with each tiny pea hurled onto the page, I feel a sense of fulfillment that can’t be described or manifested in any other manner.

Further, the pods they grew in are still alive bursting with myriads of insights, revelations, creating the next generation of peas.

Although I appreciate my mom’s admonition, writing from the kitchen appears to go against her words.  Therefore,  I will give my children the advice, “go ahead and throw your peas, because you never know when one will stick.”

– Erika K Rothwell