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I cannot believe it has been so long since I wrote in my own blog. For some reason, I have not written in my own journals either. That sometimes means one is hiding from something, or perhaps even hiding from themselves. I am not certain how this relates to me, but I am going to figure it out.

I am calling this blog “GROWTH”. 

I was speaking to a friend via BBM text this morning, and our banter back and forth was exactly about this. Now, this friend is highly successful, publicly recognized for that success, and has had a life full of checks in the ‘win’ box. One thing struck me when speaking though. They are in a need to ‘grow’. I began to think about my own life. Specifically the last year, and I certainly know that I have grown. I have been challenged, I have been tested, and all has resulted in growth. I am on Twitter and Facebook, and in paying attention to everyone from a well-known person that has fame, to a philanthropist, to the modern college student, a mother, a father, an aspiring artist, a banker, a teacher; I noticed one common theme in the communication shared with one another; that is encouragement to grow. Encouragement beyond restriction. Wanting to help one another.

I have been the victim of internet gossip, or internet rumor mill. It can be vicious and just plain mean. I find that in communicating through social networking, like anything else, has good intended counter-balance to the reprehensible and immoral commentary that seems to draw large volumes of traffic and attention. Each morning, I am flooded with vast amounts of posts and Tweets full of love, light, encouragement, and motivation. People encouraging each other to move forward, live, learn, and ‘grow’.

If you study psychology, you will learn that much of what you put out is actually how you feel about yourself, or about your current life situation. Hence, all you can say about this is that if someone is being harmful, or even evil in his or her behavior towards you, even and mostly if you have never met the person before, it is likely that it is only a reflection of how they feel about themselves. I am not an expert. I am certainly not preaching any of this as fact. I am just saying there seems to be trends here that do also seem to be validated by psychological study. I say all this only to say, that when you are down, when you are confused, this is always, and always a time to grow. 

My Father passed away just two weeks ago. He had been ill most of this year, and was deteriorating rapidly the past few months. It was sad to witness. Sad to know that he was out of the person he truly was, and unable to control the inevitable last phase of life – – – death. He had such peace in his final months. He knew he was dying, and there was beauty in him finding that place in life where he was content. For me, this was gratifying, because it showed me that it is never to late to grow. To learn. For beauty.

We did not have a large funeral at his request, as he was cremated. Only a small Memorial for his immediate family and friends. It was at my Father’s house that my cousin, Bonnie, asked me about this blog. She had loved the first entry so much because she too had visited my maternal grandmother’s farm with my mother and I when she was young. She remembered my Irish-American grandmother caring for her cold, and how different her large farm was in comparison to our urban life in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Bonnie and I laughed as she reminded me of our trip. She was a few years older than me, so her details were much more vivid than mine, and I appreciated her memory for the both of us. Bonnie encouraged me to write another blog soon, and in fact, showed me articles her daughter had cut out on me that I had even forgotten about myself. She reminded me how much I love writing, and she didn’t even do it intentionally.

All year, I had been putting off a writing retreat to work on my novel and screenplay. I had been accepted into a retreat on Whidbey Island, Washington called HEDGEBROOK. It is a retreat on a farm off the coast of Washington State that was founded in 1988. It is set right off the beach, in lush green pastures that are surrounded by evergreen forests, dairy farms, and orchards of apples, Asian pears, raspberries, and wild flowers. It is a most idyllic setting for finding peace and tranquility. Finding the mind for creative inspiration. Suddenly, it hit me. I was supposed to now not put off my acceptance into this prestigious group of women that have called Hedgebrook home. I was not to delay myself the opportunity to grow. It was then that I called the Residency Director, Vito, from Washington, D.C. I said, “Vito, hi, it is Lisa Ellis”. Vito replied with sentiments about my Father, and excitement that I thought this was the best time of any to come to Hedgebrook, and like that, I booked a ticket to leave the next week.

I have been here in Hedgebrook for three days now, and I know it is exactly what I needed to initiate another phase of growth. I made the time to come. I made the time to write. I made the time to share with the other women writers from around the world (there is one in residency here from Australia, and another from Palestine), and to share with women of extraordinary experiences and backgrounds (one woman is among the 1% of women construction and electrician laborers in the United States, and writes articles and poetry in protest of the sexism and racism in the labor unions, another a well known published author of fiction). It has been inspiring. It is here I decided to also, and finally, enroll in a program I had been accepted to at an Ivy League university. All of this, really, for myself. All because I always wanted to do it to grow, but always found a reason to not ‘grow’. 

The world is ever changing. Ever evolving. You should also. Whether your goals are small personal goals that I have recently decided to finally grasp, or larger life changing goals, business ventures that have been dreams, or even a goal that has a long term impact on your happiness; you must begin in order to make that ‘growth’. 

“If you want to change a situation, or change the world, first try to improve and bring about change within yourself. That will help change your life and the lives of your family. From there it just gets bigger and bigger. Everything we do has some effect. Some impact” – Dalai Lama