Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writing about emotions’

It’s a distasteful emotion. Who wants to admit they envy the cut arms of so-and-so? But I do. That is one thing I’ll never have but wish I did. Firm, muscular arms. A smaller nose, maybe as long as it is now and with the same bump, but not so bulbous at the end. And a more angular face. Not one that gets jowly as I age.

I remember a game I used to play in my head where I’d give myself one thing I could change about my appearance. Would it be more height? Straight hair? Thicker eyebrows? I did this when I was 20-something and insecure, when the best thing I had going for me (in my opinion) was a beauty mark on my chest.

I still try to get cut arms, still use weights three times a week, still think that maybe, miraculously, they will tighten up before my eyes, like in time-lapse photography.

When I was a girl and we got Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Penney catalogs, I would go through the toy section and pick one item on each page that I could have. Just one. I allowed myself to cache my picks–if I skipped a page, didn’t want anything it had to offer, I could pick two items on another page.

I especially liked Easy Bake ovens and tall dolls with blue eyes and brown hair. I skipped bicycles and sometimes rocking horses. In my perfect world, I had a miniature kitchen in my room and a little crib for my make-believe daughter. How did I end up becoming so not-domestic now?

I was my most envious when I was in high school. Leanne S. got a jeep, white with a convertible top, in 11th grade, and I dreamed of driving that thing in summer. The whole notion of a jeep, rugged and carefree, fit completely who I wanted to be. I envied her parents who slipped her money with, at the most, a sort of disgusted look.

Dad always made a big deal out of giving me money. It was a process. First he said nothing, then he complained, then he took out his wallet and looked through it slowly and carefully, and finally he handed me the money, but reluctantly, like he might pull the bill back just as my fingers made contact. His final final step was to pull out the miniature spiral notebook from his breast pocket, open to the current page and note in his teeny-tiny handwriting the amount he’d given me.


______________________________________________________________________________________
 

Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned? 

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings  and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY

To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!

Read Full Post »

Envy leaves me cold. What do I envy? Not material things. More clarity. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do at 12 years old and went on as adults to make it a career. I envy those who have never suffered from depression or anxiety or lack of belief in themselves. I envy the way Nature doesn’t have to worry about its next move; she simply knows where to step. The next step. The next right step.

Envy can be paralyzing. Comparing my insides to someone else’s outside. Maybe that’s a form of envy. What about the competitive edge in sports? Envy? I read that Tiger Woods was throwing his golf clubs in anger right before he left the last tournament; he was way down the list as a finalist. Was that envy? Not healthy competitive nature to throw metal objects in uncontrolled anger. Even if it is directed at the self. I remember those days in high school and college sports. So closely identified with athleticism and winning that I soon forgot how to lose. I’m glad to be away from all that.

Envy. Is it green or red? I’m thinking more red. Is envy a form of self-hate, anger, insecurity, lack of self-esteem. I feel envious when I’m not doing as well as I’d like to be doing. Usually when I’m more down than up. When I’m doing well, I don’t care what others are doing or what they think; I feel like I’m on the right path for me. When I lose my way, those are the times I am more apt to feel envy.

I used to be insanely jealous in relationships. I clung to them to feel safe. My whole identity was wrapped up in friendships, attachments, partnerships with other people. People that sometimes weren’t good for me. I had to do a lot of work to let that go. When I learned more about who I was, I let go of what I thought I had to be in order to be loved. Does that make sense? Jealousy is another emotion that takes us out of ourselves, away from core goodness. I do believe that we all start out as good people. Things happen along the way that change us. Sometimes those changes are irreversible. And we walk around carrying envy.

The things we carry. Envy, greed, jealousy, hate, rage. Love, kindness, gratitude, generosity, warmth. I’d rather focus on the glass half full. What changed me? Hard work. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Reconnecting with people. And looking at my own faults, so I could more readily accept the faults of others.

I want to say envy is something I don’t experience. But I do. The last month I have envied those who are not grieving or feeling loss. I have envied those whose lives seem happy and well on track. Something will happen in life — a death, or the end of an important relationship, an illness, or the loss of a job — and an old tape is triggered. It taps at the brain, scrapes at the edges of self-worth.

Luckily, the self is connected to the wide and deep tree roots on the ash in the front yard. Self is connected to last night’s July sunset backlighting fishermen in a canoe; the outdoor orchestra playing in the band shell by a glacial lake; sweating and geocaching through the woods with Liz; the spiderwort, evening primrose, or red pepper growing in pots on the deck.

Self is connected to the purple finch at the feeder, the Lake Harriet Lake Creature, the ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s, the fact that yesterday marked the beginning of another year I may walk this Earth. All good things come to pass if we let them in. Sometimes that’s not easy and goodness is blocked. Envy follows.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________
 

Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned? 

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings  and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY

To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!

Read Full Post »

Snippet of emotions from written list

I did the emotional vocabulary exercise this weekend. The exercise is this: For five minutes, list every emotion you can think of. Write as fast as you can. Don’t stop to think.

Except, after five minutes were up, I kept going. I went for an hour, and then as I typed my list into the computer I went further. Eventually I stopped, but afterwards, when I was slicing potatoes or brushing my teeth, I’d think, Did I remember excited?

The next step of the exercise was to take one of the emotions from my list and do a 15-minute writing practice on it. I thought about emotions all weekend — lust and envy, distress and kindness — yet I never made it to the writing practice.

I shared my list with Ritergal, and she shared her list with me. When I saw some of the emotions in her document, I was like Homer Simpson when he realizes he’s missed something obvious. Doyt, how could I have forgotten flabbergasted?

I’m not going to publish my list, but I do want to share these things I learned in the process of doing the exercise:

  1. I often used strings of words to describe emotions — loopy for someone, out to get you, walking on water, all over the map, on pins and needles. I was quick to find a way to say what I wanted, even when I couldn’t pinpoint the one word that captured it exactly. It was empowering to realize I can get where I need to go with the words I have.
  2. I sometimes wondered whether something was an emotion or not. After I did the exercise, I googled “what is emotion” and found this helpful link.
  3. Each emotion I wrote triggered another. When I fell into a negative streak, I flew with it. Then I balanced with opposites. It was like flying in zigzags with words.
  4. Whenever I got stuck, I used the prompt I feel…. That always got me started again.


This exercise made me think of the song “Feelings” by the band Gemini. It came out when I was in 7th grade. Thecla and I were in love with Kenny Martinez, who in turn loved Carmen.

I was nothing but emotion that year. Hating Carmen, who was actually my best friend. Lusting over Kenny in his polyester bell bottoms. Finding solace that I at least had a budding friendship with Thecla, which perhaps was better than Kenny, better even than Carmen. Thecla was loyal in a way neither of them were.

Up until 7th grade, emotions were like arms or bony knees or movements of my body — something you just had. But in 7th grade I suddenly found words to describe what I was feeling. Puppy love. Infatuation. Longing. Insecurity.

Ritergal said: “The golden nugget I have discovered the last few days is that a five-minute writing exercise can turn into a potentially life-changing event. Exploration and review of one small area may ripple out into your whole life or way of thinking.”

I’m right there with her, and I honestly still don’t know why. Somehow I think it has to do with emotions being at the core of writing practice.

Then again, it might have everything to do with that blasted song.

               One page from my list

Read Full Post »


Dios Mío, pen and ink and pencil, November 2007, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Here is a test. For the next five minutes, list every emotion you can think of. Write as fast as you can. Don’t stop to think.

How many did you come up with? Ten? Twenty?

I could make something up and say, 30 and over means you have a rich emotional vocabulary and, thus, deep emotional intelligence. Ten and under means you need help.

Ah, but this isn’t really a test. This is an exercise to bring light to the richness of human emotion.

Happiness and sadness and anger are like green and blue and red. Primary colors. A writer needs a broad palette.

So, after you’ve made your list of emotions (and grown it a bit as you remember all the emotions you forgot the first time you made the list), pick one. Use it as a prompt for a fifteen-minute writing practice.

Write everything you know about that emotion — when you’ve owned it, when it has owned you, how you’ve used it, why you gravitate toward it or avoid it, where you got it from. If your 15 minutes are up yet you still have more to say, keep writing. Go as deep as you can with that emotion.

Emotion. In motion. Go.

Read Full Post »