by Kelly Hams-Pearson
Each day begins with a moment of mindfulness. Instead of clamoring out of bed, I pause for a moment in that fleeting nocturnal realm, that place where sleep is twilight and the corner of wakefulness has yet to be turned. Here fresh wisdom and clarity are found around lingering issues that have tugged at my life spirit. Here I am provided the answers to questions that have festered. This state of mindfulness at the brink of waking, while not easily attained, can be acquired with patience and practice. Over the years I’ve trained my body, mind and sensibilities to wake naturally most mornings, well before the alarm, even before the brightening of the sky. I linger in this sacred space for merely fifteen or twenty minutes, rarely more, but this has become the most important time of my day.
In this period of quiet contemplation, this time of pause I’m always gifted with a simple word or phrase to meditate and reflect upon. Carrying it with me into the day as a token, a prayer, a mantra, it turns over and over in my mind, providing me with greater clarity and understanding. This exercise has allowed me to find my true voice. Through this discovery my writing, speaking and living practice has been formed.
Once up and out of bed, I shower and dress, eager to complete tasks that comprise morning ritual, tasks that allow me to walk upright, vertical on the solid ground of the day. Moving from the comforting cocoon of bed, the sanctuary of bedroom I go in search of my writing space. Currently, that is the perch at the end of my kitchen breakfast bar. Through the years I have created writing space all over the house: an oak partner’s desk in my bedroom, a book lined loft on the second floor, a corner hallway desk crafted by my husband’s hand, even a writing room converted from the bedroom my daughter vacated. She never looked back as she departed for college, deployment to Afghanistan, marriage and ultimately West Texas residency. Over the years, in bursts and spurts of what I thought to be inspiration or divine vision, I’ve created half a dozen writing enclaves in my house but it is that corner at the edge of the breakfast bar that is my “sweet spot.” My point? Seek and you will find the piece of creative real estate that is right for you.
I write every day, something; anything. It doesn’t matter how little, how much, what genre or whether it is “good,” worthy of showing or even re-reading. Words are always worth the invested time.
No matter how dark the previous night, morning is a time of renewal. Senses and sensibilities are keen. It is the perfect time to practice flow writing: writing from stream of consciousness, devoid of the preoccupations of studying, reflecting and perfecting words. This is a writing process that allows initial thoughts to tumble uninhibited upon the page. I have found what is most helpful during this process is to reflect back on the brilliant diamonds gifted to me during my morning meditation; that simple word or phrase that was placed upon my spirit at the cusp of the day. Often times to make a connection, to glean greater meaning from the meditative phrase I reach for a companion prompt by scanning the stack of poetry, philosophy and world theology books stacked high on my kitchen counter top, selecting a random passage for inspiration.
After five or ten minutes of reading, I put the book down. Jotting the date and time across the top of my journal page I begin the write. There is no need to time myself. Instead I write the length and width of an entire notebook paper sized, narrow-ruled page. Through this practice I have discovered that even in the “flow” I am able, to develop natural closure with a symmetry that creates an “essay of the day”. Reaching the end of the page I close the cover, letting the words, the musings incubate anywhere from a few months to as long as half a year.
My final step is to revisit a previous journal entry. Here I review, revise, and rework my thoughts from an earlier morning. It is during this reflective process where the previous entries take shape as poetry, essay, fiction or in some cases, nothing more than cathartic rant. Even at this stage there are many revisions ahead, but I’m rarely disappointed and often surprised by the force of my raw emotion, the vivid imagery and expression. This process is much like peering into a mirror; viewing a simultaneous image of who I was those months before and who I have become.
It provides an awareness that while difficult to articulate, is quite liberating and healing. It is the power of words as witness manifested through a dedication, a perseverance to simple and sustained morning ritual.
Kelly Hams-Pearson writes and performs poetry, creative essay and original theatre from her woodsy perch along the river in Parkville, Missouri. When she is not working as one of the directors for a local government agency or as a volunteer hospice counselor, she facilitates workshops and writing sessions. Possessing the belief that everyone must be given the ability to affirm their creative voice, to share their life story through the open, equal opportunity mediums of artistic expression, she focuses on sharing her craft with youth most at risk for entering the juvenile justice system. Working in the genres of poetry, creative non-fiction and story-telling, she has won several writing fellowships and state contests with her most recent work appearing in The Crucible, Origami, The Black Chronicle and Splendid Table. Channeling the spirit of the late great June Jordan’s revolutionary blue print, Poetry for the People, Kelly stresses to inexperienced, often tentative artists the simple truth that hope floats not on air and expectations but through the power of words.