Why I Put Fire in My Name

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Like Her Hair’s On Fire: Writing to slow down and warm up to life

The lady in this shot has the feeling I’m going for in my blog. For that matter, she has the feeling I’m going for in my life.

I posted before that I am doing the Zero to Hero 30 day challenge. I’m beginning to wonder if the 30 days will turn out to be a year long process. I’ve now finished posting a new theme and giving myself a new name. It took forever. I’m waffling on it (and may change again if my brilliantly creative niece comes up with something better) but am going with what Gilbert says here:

These bloggers with their catchy names inspired me when I first started renaming.

The Book Addict

Witty or Not, Here I Come

cupsrunningover

She’s a Maineiac

I attempted to find my own name by mind mapping, muttering to myself, scribbling in my journal and annoying my teen by asking for his suggestions. My circles fell back on each other because I’m not writing about running specifically or about writing (although I’ve written much about both lately). Instead I’m writing pieces from my life in hopes of connecting with readers who might later like to read my published works. It feels like a crazy idea (writing in general, that is), but I can’t stop myself and as a woman I admire said:

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”
― Doris Lessing

Here was my thinking behind the name and the theme that I picked to go with it:

I once read (but cannot now find) a quote from Buddhism that urges you to understand that you have already reached enlightenment and, at the very same time, you need to practice like your hair’s on fire.

The longer I plug away at writing, the more I realize that I need to apply the same feeling to this practice. I am already a writer. And I need to practice like my hair is on fire because I urgently need to get better. The older I get, the more I notice how quickly life flutters by me. If you want a longer more eloquent explanation, here is a link to a Shambala Sun article I found while searching for the original quote. It’s got the fire but not the enlightenment already idea.

Plus, I have been messing with my hairstyle lately, so the bit about hair in my name feels appropriate to my life as it is now. (Don’t worry. I’m not planning to change to flaming red. Yet. Maybe in my 60’s.)

Writing to slow down and warm up to life

My tag line has to do with a Carly Simon song from my long ago days listening to KOMO radio with Larry Nelson as my parents drove me around.

In “The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of” Simon croons to a woman who longs for more pizzazz in her marriage. Simon tells her to open her eyes and see the beauty of the marriage she’s in at the moment.

In case you haven’t heard that song or it is sitting back where you don’t remember it, here’s a clip. It’s sappy. Be warned. You probably need only a few seconds to get the feel or jog your memories if you also listened to your parents’ radio station.

In my best writing moments, when I get myself to my page and type out those words, I am able to see the joy in my writing life right now. Without a book deal or Amazon numbers or Goodreads reviews or even enough writing income to got a 1066 for Uncle Sam last Thursday when I did my taxes. The slow and steady fire. Thanks, Carly. And thanks to the lady I’ve never met with the fiery red hair on Pinterest. You made my blogging day.

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A Winter Root Canal of My Blog

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gap tooth

Here you see a cute young person with her new tooth ready to grow in. I looked something like this only 40 year olds don’t look as adorable when toothless, and a metal cap peeked through my gums instead of the growing tooth you see here.

Last Monday, I sat in the dentist’s chair as he tried to break off the five year old ‘temporary cement’ on my front tooth, and I mentally cursed my 16 year old self for her carelessness.

Sometime in the 1980’s I had ridden my bike down a hill thinking the most important thing was to get to my job at Payless drugstore on time. I hadn’t worn a helmet (although I knew better) because it was 80 degrees outside and the sweat would mess up my hair.

I saw the stop sign at the end of the road where I had lived for most of my life and went to use my usual trick: ignore the stop sign and pull to the left side of the road, wait for traffic to clear and then move to the right side of the road. But the stop sign was at the bottom of the hill, my bike was a bit old and rickety with brakes I hadn’t dealt with appropriately and the van was coming my way in the left lane at exactly the wrong time. I looked to the right to see if I could move over and then crashed into the front of the grill, flying up onto the windshield with my face.

I owe my life to the fact that the driver had mostly stopped by the time I hit him. Every so often I envision what my nose must have looked like from his perspective, squashed up on the glass in front of him. I’m sure it wasn’t my best look. I didn’t see him gasp. I had shut my eyes.

I was remarkably lucky and only lost my front tooth to the incident along with a few aches that will never go away in my neck and knee. I made it through 20 years with a root canal and then the shell of a tooth snapped on a Starbucks sausage sandwich, of all things.

Since then I’ve had an implant with a slightly grey gum line just above it. My dentist was trying to fix the color for me. He snapped off the cement of the white tooth cap and unscrewed the hardware in my jaw to hand it to the lab guy waiting and looking down at me as they discussed how to best rework the porcelain to ‘pink-up’ my gums. The lab guy needed to work on it overnight so I left the office with an embarrassing gap, praying I would not have an accident or get a ticket as I drove.

I went directly home that night to my sweet family and listened to them chuckle a little as they said it didn’t look that bad. No, my son would not go to junior high looking like that. “But,” he said, “we’re family, Mom. It’s fine.”

I rushed back for my tooth first thing the next morning eager to comfortably say words with fricative sounds once more. The gum is now slightly less grey, and the experience certainly made me grateful once again that modern dentistry helps me with my past mistakes.

As I thought about it, I realized mistakes like running my bike into a van have helped me have the courage to step forward with other potentially mortifying experiences like blogging. I’ve found that in posting over the past year and a half, I’ve made plenty of blunders that aren’t unlike walking around toothless with my IQ lowered by 10 points just by smiling. It’s not that anyone openly mocks me. But in my imagination, at least, plenty have turned away and said something to their friends.

All of which is leading up to my next step in this writing business. I’m talking a break from my mostly weekly postings. Using a book by Dan Blank I am sitting back, looking at where I’ve been, pondering where I am going and exploring what I’d like most to do with this space I’ve created on the web. I expect this blogging root canal to take about a month which means I’ll be back online in some form by February 1st. In the end, I may decide an implant is needed and completely recreate the blog. We’ll see. Whatever I do, I know I owe thanks to the writers who have gone before me for sharing their wisdom like I owe my dentist with his medical magic.