Words That Land
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Walking Down Another Street

Walden 1Hey, Writerly Women,

It's so easy to retreat into our caves in seasons like the one we're experiencing now, isn't it? While we probably need to do a little of that, just to stay sane, most of us don't write well in hidey-holes. Not enough air in there. Not enough vision. Not enough of any of the things that allow us to be our best creative selves. 

Again, some of that is due to the circumstances of the pandemic and the political turmoil, and some of it comes from our old patterns. Tough times? Take cover! Whatever cover looks like to each of us -- be it eat all the things, do all the things, watch all the shows, take all the naps or clean all the things. Okay, maybe not that last one.

The point is, if we're going to continue to do one of the things that remains essential -- which is to write -- I'm thinking we need to be conscious of what cave we may be cowering in.  What hole we're falling into.

You may have seen this poem before, but even if you have, it bears looking at in this context. It was written by Portia Nelson in her book There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.




“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
      I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.” MV5BMmIyYPortia Nelson


When I first read Ms. Nelson's piece, I cringed, but we don't have time for self-recrimination right now. Instead, I believe that as writers, we need to do two things:

(1) Look at the hole we keep falling into


(2) Find another street

Shall I give you an example?

The street I've been walking down for 8 days now is Grief Boulevard. Took me until this morning to find the sign that named it, which is no wonder, since I have spent most of those 8 days in a major pothole right in the middle of it. That's where I  tell myself I can't fold, even though I want to wrap in a blanket by the fire and pray into the flames and discover what is really mine to do. It's the place where instead I keep moving, keep reading, keep trying to write, all while I stop eating, stop taking walks, stop falling asleep without an episode of Shakespeare and Hathaway flickering its ridiculous self across the TV screen. The crater is small, so I'm basically running in circles.

About two days in, when I began to experience deadening fatigue, I started to claw my way out with self-talk. Slow down. Rest. Take an afternoon off.  It took forever.

Once I was out I spent the next couple of days acting like the temptation to jump back in wasn't there. Until I heard in my head, "Get it together! You're being a sloth. A slug. Stop babying yourself and get things done."

But how was I supposed to balance that rest vs. keep busy seesaw? I knew that was what was happening. Actually, it was good to see it. At least I knew what I needed to do.  

So for another day or so, I focused on creating a different rhythm. A healing rhythm. The pothole was still there, but I could skirt it as I practiced more meditation. As I prayed more. As I journaled how I really felt and shared that with some intimates in my life. Finally this morning, I'd spent enough time out of the pit to be able to look up and see the street sign. Oh. This is Grief. It makes sense. Something I'd held onto -- my trust of most Americans -- was slipping away. I was so busy grasping for it, I couldn't see that the segment of the population that is creating chaos and fear is a relatively small slice. Even that piece is painful, but there is still hope.

I looked for another street. I found Essential Avenue.I like it here.

This morning, I wrote ten pages.

VisionI would love, love, love it if you would give this image a try. What street have you been walking down that contains a pothole you continually fall into that keeps you from writing? (It doesn't have to be related to the country's current climate.) What does it look like in there? Is there another street you could walk down? Something positive you can attach yourself to?

As has happened all week, I know your responses will be like little forklifts, pulling us all out of those hidey-holes -- so we can see ourselves, see God, see what is ours to write.

Meanwhile, let's keep our eyes open. 


Nancy Rue   




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Pam Halter

I missed this blog post. I came here because I knew from the newest post that I missed something. The internet is so weird.

My road is called STOP AND GO STREET. Sheesh. I get all revved up to write and then the reality of what's going on right now stops me in mid cursive. My husband is teaching music from home - elementary school - lots of singing. LOUD singing. He's using my office. Which I've never had the opportunity to use since Covid hit while I was working on it. I don't even have decorations up!

And my adult special needs daughter is home full time because her day program is closed. So she's watching videos on my other side. Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, Mr. Rogers and more. The same videos over and over and over and over ... for years. We've added 2 Zoom meetings for her every week now with the staff of her program. I have to go it with her because she's not capable. It's not a lot of time, but I have to get supplies for the activities they want to do with her. One more thing to think of.

There isn't one minute of quiet in the house, and I can't go anywhere because Anna needs full time care and hubby is teaching during the day. Even after dinner, I can't use my office because all hubby's teaching things are set up on the desk.

I sometimes have the opportunity to go away for the weekend, which helps. So, I get all excited to get writing and then I come home again and reality hits and I either stop or I don't get started.

I gotta think of something!

Nancy Rue

Y'know, Cathy, I don't dwell too much on what Satan is doing. God's got this. If more than one door opens and they're all good doors, any one of them is worth doing. If you don't choose one God really wants you to walk through, that door will still be open when you're ready. We can give "the Enemy" way too much credit. If what you do is done in love, using your essential gifts, it can't possibly be the wrong choice. Fret not, my friend! This isn't a test!

Nancy Rue

ALL of these comments -- including yours, Colleen -- are so perfectly expressed. Such visual metaphors. Striving is a hard street to leave. (Ask me how I know!) But Dwelling Street, that sounds so peaceful and good and real. It's such a place of knowing, isn't it? I love that you're there, and if you ever find yourself back on Striving Street, let us know. one of us will come for you. We'll go over to Margie's porch on Confident Street or Cathy's kitchen in the house of Overcoming. See you there!

Nancy Rue

This is so CLEAR, Margie. Not only have you named the streets precisely but you've given us all a mantra with which to walk our own roads: "do it afraid." I'm imagining you sitting on the porch of a Victorian home on Confident Street where the world can see how beautiful you are. May I come by for tea?

Nancy Rue

Cathy, your wonderful comment is like a marvelous blog post in itself! Thank you for sharing both that very apt metaphor and your very transparent self. Just in the writing of that, I think you did a lot of OVERCOMING. I am so looking forward to this year of hearing how you walk this new road, unhindered by growling dogs and threatening bears. I just have a feeling it's going to lead you to places you haven't even imagined.


Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, as well as the reminder of those verses, Cathy. May we both take a new and wonderful path from striving.

Cathy Mayfield

Wow, Colleen! I think I'm your co-walker on those streets! The whole striving for your calling ... how I relate to that! I don't want to fail God ... even though I know I never could. But I often think, "If I don't get it and do it, He'll give it to someone else." And so, yes, I strive to figure it out, fear I won't, doubt when I think I have. Will I ever get to a place where I feel I've arrived? Maybe ... maybe not, BUT I like your word for your how you will travel the new street ... "tottering." My way exactly! At this point, that "big project" the Spirit has given me lies heavily on my heart and mind. But new opportunities keep coming up, things only God could have orchestrated, such as a chance to write for yet another Guideposts publication (currently writing for two of their devotionals, one a yearly book, the other a magazine genre). I'm SUPER excited over this possibility! BUT ... the little voice inside says that maybe, just maybe, this is Satan's way of keeping me from what God REALLY wants me to do. Sigh ... how does one ever know?! When this other opportunity unlocked the "door," I stuck in my big toe and asked God to open it a bit wider if it was His will. The answer came within hours: an email address and option to contact the editor!! (Guideposts is hard to get into unless you are asked to audition!) I'd say that was opening the door much wider! But ... again ... the enemy can also open doors. UHG! What's a girl to do? I'm choosing to walk through that door with arms open wide to accept the possibility if it happens. I'll be able to reach so many people in a way I've dreamed of since second grade!

So, Colleen, I pray your tottering steps take you along the path God made just for you to walk. Proverbs 16:3 and 16:9!! :)


I’ve read this post three times now. The comments are amazing.
So I can tell you the name of the street I’ve been walking down is Striving. Striving in my housework. Striving in Bible reading. Striving in prayer. Striving to figure out which way is up in writing. Part of my striving in the latter is that it is so strongly, iron clad-ly linked to “my calling” and worrying about missing my chance, hearing correctly, longing for a clear path...and etc. Striving. God addressed this in my life this week. Colleen, no more striving. He says I’m enough just like I am. And He is sufficient. He wants me just to hang with him. The rest of the stuff will come. But first things first.
So the unfamiliar street I’m tottering down now is Dwelling. Dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty. Dwelling in the cleft of the Rock. Just dwelling.
The striving calls to me. My whirring mind asks me what I’m doing. My GPS signal is bouncing off a zillion towers. I’m putting pen to paper on this journey.
So grateful to be part of this community.

Cathy Mayfield

Streets sound too much like city life, of which I've experienced several years two times in my life and choose to forget. How about I choose two ROADS? Sounds much more countrified! LOL!

For the first, I'll consider our road, Hunkey Hollow (Yes! It's a real road!) as a pattern. It's only 2.2 miles long, but at present, I can only walk one half mile of it. People with dogs they don't keep tied make it so I can't walk past their homes. And bear have been seen at opposite ends of the road, animals which I don't care to run across with our dog at my side.

Those hindrances match, in a way, the troubles on the road I've walked for way too long: Troubled Health Road. I've longed to get past that half mile mark, but the dogs and bears stand guard. The dogs nipping at my heels are the constant calls of wrong foods, little exercise, the start of arthritis, and my own emotions. The bear that growls menacingly is the fear of hurting my back further. I keep walking the half mile, peering ahead to see if any of those animals lie at bay, but instead of pursuing the possibility that they aren't, I turn around and drag my body and our pooch back home. Try again another day, I say.

This year, my word-of-the-year ... well, phrase-of-the-year really is OVERCOME FOR THE GENERATIONS. I've determined to OVERCOME my body's issues so I can be present and able to spend quality time with my aging mom, our three daughters and sons-in-love, and our growing grandchildren numbers ... generations. I've also determined to OVERCOME the fears and doubts holding me back from doing a major project the Holy Spirit has given me which has the potential of touching generations of readers.

With this in mind, I've continued going to my physical therapy appointments (just started in late December) regardless of a hard fall I had last weekend, further injuring my knee, foot, and back. I wrote four books (stories, really) last week for our grandsons' February birthdays and plan to tackle the rest of our granddaughter's American Girl books for her birthday in March. I'm also making plans to pursue the project the Spirit has continued to woo me to. I'm OVERCOMING!

So, my new road? The Road Taken.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
--Robert Frost (if you didn't know)

Margie Wood

Celebrating with you, Nancy. Ten pages is awesome!

A street I've been on too many times is "fear". It's in this pothole that I've tortured myself with doubt and unworthiness. In the past few years, I've learned to pull myself out of this horrible place through prayer, journaling and remembering to just "do it afraid". Stepping forward, one foot in front of the other, has helped me get past this crippling fear.

Now I live on "Confident Street". A peaceful place where I live with God and his promises. I bask here in gratefulness that He's guided me through some very difficult situations, and undoubtedly will see me through many more. I love this place of courage and boldness to do my best. And I'm so thankful that even when I try to take a stroll on "Fear Lane", God always draws me back.

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