Monday, March 31, 2014

Taking it to the limit

          Think back twenty years ago. 
          Can you remember who you were then? 
          What you were doing?  Thinking?  Feeling? 
          It's been almost two decades since the initial inspiration for my first novel, Surfacing, appeared in my life.  Fourteen years since the first draft was completed.  It's gone through numerous edits and rewrites (I stopped counting after twelve).  The initial 1,200 pages have been whittled down to just under 400; at one point I completely gutted the last section and tried to piece it together again, only to find some major inconsistencies that had me back at the starting block.
          I cut my novelist's teeth on this one and from its inception, Surfacing has forced me to push past old boundaries.  To halt a host of horrible writing habits.  To keep working on my own personal issues so I could clean up the manuscript and carve out those things that had no place or purpose in the plotline.
          And throughout the process, a song by The Eagles has consistently spirited me forward.

          Providence whispered in my ear in the fall of 1994, as the song "Take it to the Limit" followed me wherever I went.  On the radio...in conversations with friends...in dusty mix tapes I found in the corner of a bookshelf.  Over time I listened to the lyrics more closely, wondering if they held a message, a lesson I was meant to learn. 
          When I was inspired to write a short story in October of that year, "Take it to the Limit" coincidentally was playing on the radio once again, and I knew this was more than a synchronicity.  When the story became a novel, I wove it into the manuscript, giving its influence to one of my favorite characters, Michael Schreiber.  The last verse in particular seemed to echo his ethos, his never-ending search for freedom.  And even though Michael struggled mightily with a host of demons of his own, even though AIDS was ravaging his body, he continued to push past his own limits.  To find meaning in his abbreviated life.
          Once the initial book was completed in the spring of 2000, I began the long search for a literary agent all the while continuing to do the often tedious work of creating my own autonomy.  It would be eleven more years of growth, of healing, of becoming a better writer and a healthier human being before doors would open in the publishing world.  In the meantime, I would often revisit Surfacing to glean more insight.  To stretch my boundaries.  To hone the manuscript.
          And every single time I was knee-deep in rewrites, "Take it to the Limit" would surface to remind of who I had once been and how very far I had come.

          In preparing the manuscript for publication this spring, I know this is not a book I would want to write today.  And yet, having already written it, I doubt I would need to.  Not that I remember writing it in the first place.  I can recall sitting in this office in front of my little Mac back in the late nineties, drinking endless pots of coffee while I worked.  I remember the days and weeks and months and years it took to finally put all of the pieces together.
          But as I cut through the narrative over the weekend, much of it was a blur. 
          But isn't that life?  We all move through our multitude of experiences, sometimes at a snail's pace, but more often than not, at lightening speed.  Time and space can play tricks on our memory and much of what we encounter falls through the cracks in our consciousness.  That's one of the reasons I still choose to journal.  Why I feel an affinity for every character I've written, for each one has whispered their story in my ear, has shown me a different facet of humanity.
          In once more sifting through Surfacing, I've revisited Allyson's narrative and remembered her distinct voice...sometimes disjointed, often watery.  And even though it was painstaking to trim the redundancies, to cut through the scenes that weighed the story down, I saw the opportunity in recognizing how I've evolved.  As a writer.  As a woman.  As a human being trying to live the life I've been given.
          Now I can finally let go of this novel.
          Let go of the past twenty years and all that has happened in that time. 
          Let go into a place no longer encumbered by expectations and judgments.
          I can move on and embrace what is here right now.  What I am creating in this moment. 
          At the end of this long journey, I can finally head out on the highway and look for new signs.
          And I imagine I will always take my life to the limit...one more time.

 
SURFACING is available for digital download at
http://www.amazon.com/Surfacing-Turtle-Island-Katie-Ingersoll-ebook/dp/B00JDLFHUK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396294541&sr=1-1
         
         
         


Thursday, March 27, 2014

The real work

          When I was in my thirties, I had a lot of tolerance for other people's drama.  Over cups of steaming coffee I would listen for hours to issues that needed lots and lots of tissues.  I would sympathize and empathize and proselytize with my friends until my ears rang with cyclic stories from the past that never seemed to end.  Of course, back then I stirred the pot of my own drama quite a bit, too.  I had a lot of personal sifting to do and although I didn't always do it well, I usually tried my best to move through the challenges placed before me and move on.
          Granted it sometimes took years of living through the same scenario with different faces and places before I was able to recognize a pattern of my own behavior that needed changing.  And then creating that change took a lot of energy and dedication.  But as I look back, the real work didn't really become clear until I started my yoga practice.

          On a chilly Tuesday night in November of 1996, I spent an hour and a half in a yoga studio housed within the walls of an old schoolhouse.  The forced steam heat hissed and whined as we gently moved from warm up exercises to tree pose to triangle.  From cobra to child's pose to savasana.  Silently I competed with myself and the others in the class to see how much I could do.  How deeply I could bend forward.  How long I could balance on one leg. 
          The relaxation exercise at the end was uncomfortable as I didn't like laying on the floor with my eyes closed in a room full of strangers, but I tried.  And I felt better.  Better than I had in a long time.  Week after week, month after month, year after year, I went to yoga class once a week, then twice, then finally three times before I felt comfortable enough to become a certified instructor myself.  What tipped the scales wasn't my ability to finally stand on my head after years of preparation.  It wasn't the accomplishment I felt when finishing a fire session completely drenched in sweat.
          What tipped the scales for me was the memory of a quiet moment in the middle of my first year when I moved beyond the beginner level and into an intermediate class.  At the time I was still teaching first grade and desperately needed a place where I could hide in the corner and be the student for a change.  Unfortunately, on that given day, there was no space for me in the back and I had to be in the front row, surrounded by a host of other more experienced yogis.  The instructor guided us through sun salutations and standing poses, then invited us to come down to our mats for a series of back arches. 
          All around me were men and women stretching here...bending there.  I felt like I would snap like a twig if I tried to look like them.  Still, I practiced every cobra variation that the teacher demonstrated, all the while noticing that one of the women closest to me did not.  She just lay on the floor face down, her face cradled in the back of her hands.
          Why aren't you doing what the teacher says? I wanted to ask her.  You're here to practice yoga...so why aren't you?
          After the class, I was talking to the instructor and mentioned the student who had skipped half of the poses.  "Does that bother you when people don't do what you're teaching?"
          He shook his head and smiled.  "Not at all, Katie.  That woman was practicing advanced yoga."
          I wrinkled my brow.
          "You see, she was listening to her own body...not to my instructions.  Yoga is about connecting with yourself, not keeping up with the class."
          I laughed out loud, recognizing my ingrained attitude about being a classroom teacher.  How many times had I said to my students, "Please listen to my words" or "Would you please complete your work" or "What are you supposed to be doing right now?"
          "You push yourself really hard, Katie," the teacher said gently.  "I imagine you push hard in other areas of your life, too."
          I nodded.
          "And how's your body liking that?"
          Touché.

          This past week I was teaching a chakra workshop in which the students and I were talking about healing and the real work it takes to be consistent.  To honor a commitment to oneself or someone else. 
          I had mentioned that for many people, it's easier to stay stuck in their stories, their patterns of behavior, their victim mentality than to make the effort to create real change in their lives.
          "I think some people don't really want to heal," one the students said.  "Because if they did, then they would have to be accountable for their choices.  If they stay stuck in the past then they can blame everything else...everyone else for the way their lives are." 
          I nodded.
          "And if they did let go of their story...," she added.  "Maybe they'd be afraid to ask themselves, 'Who am I now?'"
          "Ah...but that's the delight in the healing process," I smiled.  "Stepping out of the known and into the infinite possibilities of the unknown."

          It's been a privilege and a pleasure to teach yoga for the past fifteen years.  I've noticed that the students who resonate with my style are often the ones who are willing to do their own real work as well.  How wonderful, too, that each one has something to teach me.  And over the years, I've learned more about yoga instruction from watching my students and detaching from an unspoken agenda when I practice on my own. 
          I've learned to let my body and breath guide the tempo. 
          To allow the spaces I'm creating to open up more than just my hamstrings or shoulder girdle.
          To let go of drama and do the real work of self-awareness which naturally leads to taking responsibility for my life and moving into positive transformation.
          These are all reasons why you'll never see an ad for my classes with a picture of me practicing a yoga pose.  Why, even though I've been asked a few times, I will probably never write an instructional yoga book or make a DVD.  Why I'm content to teach only five students at a time in my cozy yoga room on the second floor of my home instead of opening a studio that could welcome many more.
          As my students and I climb the stairs, I know that for the next hour and a half, what we practice in that space has nothing to do with me or what I can do.  It's about who my students are in any given moment.  How they feel.  What they bring to the group.  What they need to receive.  What I can reveal that sparks an awareness of something they intrinsically already know.
          It's why I don't mind at all if a student practices relaxation throughout the entire class or if after checking in with my students' needs, I shift away from what I had planned and toward what that moment is revealing.
          For I've come to understand that the real work of healing, the real work of transformation, the real work of living is to be present with myself.  With others.
          With the gifts and challenges of any given moment.
          Through this form of yoga, this conscious connection, I am able to let go of the past more fully.  Let go of that which no longer serves me or anyone else.  Let go of the need to control the way my life will unfold.
          And enter into the joy of being in this real world more completely.
         
         


         


         


          

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Breathing lessons

          Twenty years ago an image came to me when I was writing a skit for a group of my friends.  While it had nothing to do with the project I was editing, I jotted down a few notes and slid them into a desk drawer.  Weeks later I revisited the idea and wrote a scene in which a woman in her early thirties is sitting in a Hospice Center watching her brother slowly deteriorate from the AIDS virus. 
          A few weeks after that, I shared it with a group of friends and while I listened to one of them read the scene out loud, a little voice inside my head whispered, "There's a novel in that scene...you need to write that story."
          At the time, my life was fall apart.  Almost everything I had trusted and relied upon had failed me.  Addictions to coffee and sugar and unhealthy relationships kept me circling the drain.  Exhausted and stressed by too many commitments, my nervous system was shot.  Being single, solitary and unsure of what to do next, I desperately looked around for a template of how to maneuver through the murky waters of the unknown without drowning myself in the process.
          But no one could help me.
          All of my friends were either dating or married.  Many had children, or babies on the way.  While they could sympathize with my situation, none of them could truly understand what it was like to physically, emotionally, and psychologically disintegrate...and do it alone. 
          And so I began to write the story of Allyson and her brother, Michael in the hopes that getting lost in the process would provide me a respite from my life.  Little did I know it would help me to completely transform it into something completely new.

          I had no idea how to write a novel.  No clue how to edit.  I was inexperienced and scattered and the earlier drafts revealed how much baggage I needed to unload.  I wrote the chapters out of order, for at the time I'd sit at my little PC and write whatever came to mind.  It was a schizophrenic process and one that I abandoned more than once.
          In 1999 I left my job as a classroom teacher to finish the book.  And I did in the spring of 2000.  At 1,200 pages, Surfacing was a behemoth.  Over the years I've honed my editing skills and cut over 800 pages of sloth and sap and excess stuff that weakened the story.   Three more novels have followed which reveal new dimensions of the characters and breathe more life into the stories which will eventually span more than seven generations.
          Who'd have thought it would have begun with a simple scene?  A small, but powerful image that lit a fire in my unconscious and eventually would reveal a bonfire of exposition? 

          For the past three years I've been hopeful that the third book in the series would be published first.  That Surfacing would eventually find a place in the publishing world.  How surreal to come full circle.  To appreciate how swiftly twenty years can pass.  To prepare the latest draft of a book I would not write today, but to understand more fully that had I not written it all those years ago, I would not be who I am in this moment.
          I can now breathe in the delight of finally being able to share this novel with the world...my first baby.  My first attempt at finding my way through the shadowy waters of composition that taught me how to create and trust my own healing process.  To trust my instincts.  To listen to the characters as they whisper in my ear.
          To continue listening as the years unfold to that still, small voice that says, "There's a story in that image...write that story." 

SURFACING will be available on March 31st!
You can digitally download it to your computer, I-phone or mobile device via Amazon.com.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Equinox, the sequel

          For those of you who read "Equinox" last September, you may recall the rash of injuries I suffered as the days led up to September 21st.  From cold-cocking myself in the face to falling off of my bike, I was in sad shape by the time day and night were perfectly balanced. 
          Now we're heading toward the spring equinox and don't I know it.  In the past week I've hit my head three times.  Nearly fell UP the stairs while toting a basket of laundry.  Dealt with a plethora of shenanigans played out by my kitten who thinks she's Spider Woman and can scale curtain rods and anything else above my reach. 
          And just this morning I realized it must be "Hit a Pedestrian Day" (and I missed the memo) after being nearly sideswiped three times in the Target parking lot.
          Okay...I know we just set the clocks ahead.  And another snowmaker is on the way tomorrow.  And the moon will be full on Sunday.  It's supposed to be spring, but I guess Mother Nature didn't get that memo either as I haven't seen the gardens in my backyard since Christmas.  We've all got cabin fever here in the Midwest and beyond, but I know the way I'm feeling is also related to the upcoming equinox.
         
          I'm not really all that comfortable when things are linear and balanced...not any more.  I used to decorate my mantle with two of everything, perfectly placed to be mirror reflections of each other.  I used to plant a garden that was the same every single year, with a repetitive, predictable pattern.
          No more.
          Now I prefer things to be a little off center...just as I am if I'm completely honest.  It's more interesting when the teeter totter is in motion, not hanging in the balance immobile. 
          And yes, I know I need to be a bit more careful as we head toward another day when light and darkness are in equilibrium.  Yet it's good to be reminded once again that I'm more comfortable in the ever-shifting motion of life.  That I'm not stuck in old patterns that have me crossing a room ten times to get the couch pillows to lay "just right." 
          That I'm willing to see life as an ever-changing, ever-evolving opportunity to be present enough to be where I am in any moment so that I can avoid any more head injuries as well anticipate the wonder-filled changes spring will surely bring.
          Whenever it decides to finally arrive.

          So as you venture out into the world for the next week or so...please be mindful of pedestrians.  Practice patience.  Be willing to be present.  And be open to creating balance in the smallest of places.  The earth will meet us there next Thursday.
          And without a doubt, on Friday you'll find me jumping for joy. 

          


Monday, March 10, 2014

A writer's "roots"

          Last week I was perusing the DVD's at my local library when I came across the 30th Anniversary Edition of "Roots."  Remembering the first time I watched the mini-series, I was eager to revisit the multi-generational story of Alex Haley's family traced to Kunte Kinte, his grandfather six generations back, who was captured in Africa and sold into slavery.  Mesmerized by the multitude of ways the writing and acting has stood the test of time, I also had visceral memories of watching the show as a child and how it positively influenced me on a very profound level.  Lessons that, to this day, continue to evolve as life brings me ever-changing opportunities to deepen my awareness.
          I was thinking last night that roots are not only through bloodlines, but also heart lines as well.  I became the person I am today through the influence of a host of people, many of whom I write about in the "Planting the Seeds" chapter in my memoir.  Not all family members, their presence in my childhood modeled for me a love of reading, writing, and language that I am proud to embody today. 
          So here are my writing "roots"...and long over-due thanks to those who helped me carve out a path to the life I'm now creating.


Victor Miller, maternal grandfather

            Kudos to Pa-Pal for creating his own language full of babbling that often bubbled over with my name so that I'd stay interested enough to try and figure out what the story was about.  He kept my sisters and me enthralled with a host of "Pa-Pal Adventures."  And I loved to listen to him read us stories from start to finish and then back for another round.  From Pa-pal I learned that re-reading a book allows me to enjoy it that much more!

 John Ingersoll, paternal grandfather

            Granddaddy's rec room had shelves and shelves of books from Shakespeare to Andy Rooney.  Whenever we'd come for a visit (after sitting on his lap for a while), I'd peruse his vast library and always learn something new.  It was from Granddaddy that I developed a love of all things diverse and expansive.  I am overjoyed to have inherited his leather-bound copies of the sonnets and several Shakespearean plays...along with his appreciation for wit and dry humor.  


My mother

            An avid reader, Mom always had a book (or two) in progress and filled our family room with stacks of magazines ranging from Reader's Digest to Tennis.  From Better Homes and Gardens to Family Circle.  She taught me how to use her old Smith Corona when I was in second grade and encouraged my love of typing by giving me boxes of note cards and old envelopes.   A word-enthusiast, Mom can do a crossword faster than anyone I know and always knows how to find the right word for the right occasion.  From her I learned the didactic use of vernacular (and even called her once to define those words in context).

Joyce Kurtz-Yarnell, 7th Grade Language Arts teacher
Editor for Open Road:  a life worth waiting for

            If you've read my memoir, you already know how influential Joyce has been in my life, both as an avid lover of metaphor and as an eagle-eye editor.  From her very first lesson, she engaged me in the inner exploration of how books can open doors for self-awareness and integration.  No wonder I was blessed to have her serendipitously enter my life as I began to write the first draft of what would become Open Road.



Mr. John Beck (second row, first picture), English teacher, freshman year of high school

            All hail to Mr. Beck for his stringent teaching methods that had his students memorizing parts of speech, lists of prepositions (I can still name them all) and then reciting them verbatim.  Mr. Beck would ask, "How long will you remember that, Miss Ingersoll?"  The proper response was, "'Til the day I die, sir."
            We read To Kill a Mockingbird and I was enthralled by the way Mr. Beck made Boo Radley come alive as he read passages to us.  He taught me how to diagram sentences until my eyes blurred.  But the best moment came the day after winter break when Mr. Beck said to us in his ominous monotone, "I have spent the better part of the year teaching you all the rules of grammar."  He lifted a brow mischievously.  "Now I will teach you how to break them for effect."
            To this day, every single time I sit down to write, I thank Mr. Beck for his attention to detail and his ability to set my writing maverick's heart afire. 

Mrs. Frankel, English and Speech teacher, Sophomore year of high school

            Mrs. Frankel taught me the meaning of "stalwart" when I took her speech class as the only girl in a sea of Junior and Senior football players who wanted nothing more than to sleep after lunch instead of working on their oratory skills.  Hilarious and often anti-establishment, Mrs. Frankel introduced me to Shakespeare and encouraged me to embrace the idea that being another version of "Kate" in "The Taming of the Shrew" was something to proudly celebrate.
            "No one can bend you to their will unless you let them," she often reminded me.  Wise words to ponder as I venture into the publishing world this year.



Miss Elizabeth Papps (top row, third picture), Honors English teacher, Senior year of high school

            Miss Papps began every 8:00 AM class with open-ended journaling which taught me how to keep writing even when I was stuck.  When I had nothing to say.  When I was frustrated with syntax and jargon.  When I didn't feel like writing. 
            She told us on the first day of school, "At the end of this quarter all of you will receive a 'C,' so don't worry about failure."  I was used to getting "A's" in English, so this horrified me.  I soon learned that the "C" was a generous gift as she was uncommonly hard on all of us in her honors class.  But her diligence in making me work harder helped me clean up some awful writing habits and earn a year's worth of college English in the process when I took the A.P. test in the spring. 
            I still have some of the papers I wrote that year which earned me a "5" (the equivalent to an "A") and am more proud of them than anything else I accomplished in high school.  Miss Papps passed away a few years ago, and I'm sorry I was never able to thank her for her profound influence in my life.  But I imagine she's still out there somewhere encouraging others to better themselves in order to better their prospects in life and within their own spirits.

My first grade class, Greenwood Elementary 1994-95

            If a teacher is blessed to have a magical class in their career, I can't imagine it would be better than this group of wise and winsome souls I had the pleasure of teaching twenty years ago.  They were so sharp and savvy, I had to throw out everything I knew about instruction and discover new ways of encouraging them to "show what they know" and continue developing their skills as lifetime learners. 
            Oddly enough, it was this class that silently revealed the awareness that I didn't want to spend my whole career as a classroom teacher because, through their influence, I was able to tap into my own spirit and began writing short stories.  It would take four more years to find the courage to move into the unknown and work toward a career as a novelist and writer, but these kids set me on the path to freedom. 
            On the last day of school, I asked them to tell me things they had learned that year and once everyone had their turn, Kaitlin asked, "What have you learned, Miss Ingersoll?"
            "Oh, too much to say now," I said, tears standing in my eyes.  "I learned so much from all of you."
            "I know," she said gently.  "We taught you how to listen to your heart."
           

Kinga, my dear friend at Esalen Institute, 2007

            Kinga and I met in Big Sur in the summer of 2006 and spent a wonderful Wednesday night chatting in lodge about writing and the process I had endured in trying to find an agent but to no avail.  She was captivated when I told her the plotline for my first novel and encouraged me to continue trying. 
            "You're meant to be published, Katie," she smiled.  "Just give it time."
            "I've given it over a decade," I said sadly.
            "Time doesn't matter when it's real," she replied.
            Thanks for helping me keep it real, Kinga...then, now, and always.

All the children in my life, past, present, and future

            You're the ones who've modeled for me the joy of being alive.  Of telling the truth.  Of giving me the opportunity to live with integrity so that I can write from the heart.  You've listened to me read thousands of books with expression.  You laughed out loud when I read Junie B. Jones.  Cried when I read the final pages of Charlotte's Web.  And encouraged me to keep honing my skills as a storyteller and novelist.
            Each one of you has been a gift and a blessing and I hope to pass on a love of reading.  A love of writing.  And a love of language....so that you can live out your own story with grace and hope and truth.

            May you live it well.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Miss Imperfect

          When I was in eighth grade, my family adopted a black schnauzer we named Cinder.  From the moment he arrived in our home until the day he passed, Cinder was an incredible animal.  Part canine, part human, part angel, he was loyal, lighthearted and above all, lovable.  During his puppy-hood, Cinder earned the nickname "Mr. Perfect" and it stuck with him all of his life.   How lucky was I to adopt a black, male kitten in 2009 who instantly seemed like Cinder in a cat suit.  Having lived with the feline version of "Mr. Perfect" all these years, it's been a joy to watch Forest welcome friends and yoga students.  To appreciate the care he's given Aditi during her often tumultuous first six months.  And just a few days ago when I brought Jhoti home from her annual visit to the vet, Forest immediately started grooming her to comfort and calm her after a long, arduous ride home.
          Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and I have spent a lifetime meandering through the multitude of lessons that have taught me to embrace flawless moments while also accepting the imperfections in myself and others.  As a former elementary school teacher, I was faced with countless facts, figures and textbooks filled with just the right answer.  The correct response.  The logical choice.  I asked questions with the expectation that at least a few of my students would know the proper answer.  And while I compassionately encouraged the kids to move beyond their mistakes, I often had a lot of trouble applying that example in my own life. 
          It took years before I was able to admit that I didn't have all the answers.  That I didn't know how to work through difficult challenges on my own.  That I needed to ask for help.  In the meantime I kept an immaculate house.  I spent incredible amounts of time in my classroom creating just the right display, the eye-catching attention-getter, the most efficient environment in which my students could learn and grow.  
         And then I found myself in the mud and mire of a health crisis that instantly made my life a murky mess. 
          My life wasn't perfect. 
          I didn't have the perfect husband.  The perfect children.  The perfect house.
          I didn't have the financial stability needed to overcome the potential illness that might materialize.
          And so the night before I went in for diagnostic surgery, I made myself the promise that if I had full-blown cancer, I would stay in teaching for the constancy and the benefits.  If I didn't, I would make plans to unearth my life in search of something better.  Something less stressful.  More enduring.
          Two weeks later the test results were in and I was going to be fine.
          A year later I left the classroom and skidded headlong into a life that was far from perfect.  That had no template or logic.  That forced me to stay present with what was happening in the moment instead of blindly counting on the status quo.
          Fifteen years later, I'm still immersed in a life far from the perfect one I had imaged, but closer to the heart of who I truly am.  Closer to my integrity.  To who and what I am becoming day by day.  It doesn't always feel comfortable or safe.  It's not a life I had wanted to personify when I left teaching, but it's the best life imaginable now.

          As a writer, I am constantly editing my work.  I search for typos.  Glean the prose and cut the extraneous.  Strive to put my best work forward.  In preparing my memoir for digital release, I spent so much time in front of the computer screen, my vision eventually blurred and I opted out of wearing contacts for nearly three weeks until my eyes healed.   Formatting drove me nearly insane, but I learned some shortcuts along the way and that is making all the difference as I prepare my novels for publication this spring and summer. 
          That said, in the past month I have been horrified to discover numerous typos in the manuscript.  Embarrassed and hoping my readers don't think I'm a dumb box of rocks, I'm infinitely grateful that I can easily log on to KINDLE and NOOK to make the changes so that the next time they open the book, a cleaner version will be available.  One of my eagle-eye editors is currently reading the memoir and sending me corrections along the way.  At first she was cautious about letting me know about the errors.  But I spoke with her last night and reiterated how thankful I am that she's been able to find them when, after ten re-reads, I was unable to recognize the imperfections.
          "You know what you want to say, Katie," she replied.  "And when you read it, the words in your mind were the words you read on the page."
          "True," I admitted.  "But I'm still glad you're helping me clean up that book."
          Many of my friends say readers will blip over the mistakes.  Others say that comes with the territory of online publishing.  Still, I imagine I will always strive to "get it right."  To "do it properly."  But I've come to recognize that imperfections in my life often reveal those tender parts of me that need more compassion.  Forgiveness.  Understanding.

          And so it is with my own "Mr. Perfect." 
          Last night I caught Forest on the kitchen counters crying for a toy I had put into the cupboard.  When he saw me, he immediately jumped down, but not without giving me the business about how I had taken away his plaything.  It's easy to forgive my sweet little fella and understand there's a reason why he sometimes breaks the rules.
          Not so much with my inner perfectionist. 
          And yet, without our flaws, we would be much less lovable.  Without stumbling and getting back up again, how would we ever learn endurance and grace?
          How would we begin to accept our imperfections in the hope that we might someday transform them into something softer.  Something more genuine.
          Something beyond the outer experience that gently encourages us to embrace the healing spaces deep within.