I’m Back!


nature-3I know I have been rather quiet on my blog, and to tell you that I’ve been busy is an understatement. Summer vacation came sooner than I expected, and with my daughter home from school, getting the same number of hours of writing each day didn’t happen. (no surprise for any of you who have children.) That said, I did enjoy the many extra hours I got to spend with her, baking cookies, taking walks at the park, seeking out anything wabi-sabi, playing board games, losing to her at mini golf (seriously? High score doesn’t mean I won?), going out for ice cream, playing dress-up, and having fancy tea parties in her room where we pretend we are the oldest and dearest of friends.

Still, the writer in me craved a few hours of time on my laptop. And when I claimed those precious hours, the sweet voice of my daughter asked…

“Aren’t you done working yet?

I let you write in peace for a whole half hour. Isn’t that enough?

Geez, Mommy, you seriously look like you could use a break!

While you’re waiting for your characters to talk to you, could I sing?

If you name one of your characters after me I’ll let you have 15 more minutes of quiet.

CRASH in the kitchen followed by, “Everything is nearly OK in here. Don’t bother interrupting your work to check…

The dog told me he wants you to take him for a walk. Can I come along? We could stop at the playground for a couple of hours. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

I managed to squeeze in two hours of writing time each day and happily gave the rest of day to my little girl. “Focus,” I told myself. “Make a list of your goals and stick to it.

I gave myself the gift of the Kidlit Summer School classes. Weeks of daily lessons on the ins and outs of plotting from a cornucopia of talented writers. I read each lesson twice, highlighted the points I wanted to work into my writing, and then spent my precious two hours a day at my laptop—fingers flying on hot keys.

After the sad, last day of Kidlit Summer School, I flew with my family to California for the wedding of my sister-in-law, followed by the daunting task of emptying my childhood house. With the passing of my father, this task took precedence. If you are picturing a typical family home filled with typical household furniture and array of knickknacks–stop the vision.

The house I grew up in was far from typical. (Something I never realized until my first play date when I was seven.) My father was an astrophysicist by day and a master violin maker by night. Around the holidays, he lived in his printmaking shop, printing 20 color block prints on vintage presses. My mother, a scientific illustrator, drew the color separation images on wood blocks that my father later engraved. Dad had other interests and hobbies which filled bookshelf after bookshelf in our home – two layers thick per shelf. Bookshelves were my parents’ answer to wallpaper (mine, too). Dad worked beneath our home – that is to say, in place of a standard basement one might use for a TV room, recreation room, storage space, laundry room, Dad designed our home with two levels of basements. (I thought that was normal, too.)

icebergThe basements, like the underside of an iceberg, was where Dad kept his scientific machinery for his work along with a metal machine shop and wood shop.

So, for the last three years, my sister and I have been working to find homes for everything, not to mention hiring an industrial auction house to identify the equipment for sale. As of last week, the house is empty and nearly ready to go on the market. Somewhere in the experience of rummaging through my mother’s and father’s lifetime of possessions, lives a book I need to write, maybe several books.

The jist of this blog post: I’m back and will try to connect with you more frequently. I’ve missed our chats.

Happy writing.

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Can I Quote Me?

Blog post after blog post, writers (myself included) love to quote the profound musings, thoughts, and philosophies of great writers and other famous individuals.


Because we read those brilliant phrases and think to ourselves, gosh, I can’t believe how much Hemingway and I have in common. Imagine both of us feeling the same way about the writing process…. Sigh.

Don’t we all, in our various professions, (writers included) have thoughts worth sharing? Aren’t we all brimming with quotable feelings on the subjects closest to our hearts–thoughts so profound they deserve to go viral? Okay, I’ll back off a tad…. How about, quotable feelings so profound they deserve to get tweeted a few times?

Today, I have decided to quote someone who isn’t famous. She is a writer like so many other writers in the world. She sits at her computer daily, pouring out her inner most feelings, eats low-prep meals, drinks coffee in excess, dresses frumpy, celebrates the hole in her sweater, labeling it Wabi Sabi (see earlier post) for its natural, imperfect beauty, snarls at the ringing phone for snapping her from her stream of thought, ignores the precarious pile of crusty dishes in the sink, and sprays scented room freshener on the heap of smelly laundry. (Actually, it isn’t quite that bad…)

You’ve waited long enough. Drum roll, please…quote-me

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Living A Wabi Sabi Life

wabi-sabi-daisiesSince my daughter was two she has amazed me…shamed me… in her innocent appreciation of the world–a world I hadn’t truly seen in years with my mature eyes. Now almost nine, she continues to notice the simple beauty, imperfect beauty, impermanent beauty around her. Through her, I have come to walk slower so she can remind me how to see like a child, breathe deeper so I can notice the many different smells, and to pause along our walks to marvel at the intricate work in a fallen bird’s nest or appreciate the determination of a dandelion, thriving between a crack in the sidewalk.

I remind myself often that the best way to see is to forget the names of everything around me. I like to pretend I don’t know what something is made of, what it feels like to my touch, and what it smells like. This is how children approach everything shortly after they are born. A whole new world awaits them. My daughter’s favorite question, once she learned to speak, was, “What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?” I used to answer that question all day for her.

“What’s that?” She ran her fingers around the rim of a cup.

“That’s a cup.” I said.

“What’s that?” she asked again, still touching the cup.

“It’s still a cup,” I said, taking a closer look at what she was pointing to. A hairline crack ran down the side of my favorite teacup. I can’t drink from it anymore, there’s no point in keeping it in the cupboard with the other perfect cups, but still, I couldn’t throw it away. Too many memories lingered in it.

My daughter studied the meandering crack, nearly meditating over its path with greater interest than she took in the spray of flowers decorating the cup.

This appreciation of beauty in all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete is something I never knew had a name. I figured it was one of those gifts some might call a quirk but for which I felt lucky to have since my daughter awakened it in me. I used to be this way when I was a child, and somewhere along the road to adulthood, school, work, and grownup responsibilities squeezed it into a smaller place inside of me.

A year ago as I browsed through the stacks at the library, I came across a display of recommended books for writers. Many of them I already had at home on my well-stocked, dedicated shelf. But one little book caught my eye…Wabi Sabi for Writers by Richard R. Powell. What is wabi sabi? At first I wondered if somebody thought up those catchy little words which are so nice to say and hear, but as I began reading, I discovered an entire world behind those words. I discovered that the appreciation for all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete is wabi-sabi.

To quote Richard R. Powell, the author of Wabi Sabi for Writers, “Part of the job of a writer who knows and loves wabi sabi is to remind others of what they already know but have forgotten…”

These words are special to me because without knowing it, my daughter, since the age of two, has lived a wabi sabi life and thankfully has reawakened it in me.