With Gratitude for Patsy Terrell

 

 

I was on vacation when I heard.

For more than a week I have been trying to wrap my head around what it means, what I want to say, how to make sense of it.

Many years ago, when the internet was still mostly new and online communities functioned with yahoo group lists, I found some of my people – people who wrote things by hand, loved words, believed in the power of words and the worth of communication, kept journals, practiced gratitude, aimed for grace, embraced the wider world, lived consciously.

We didn’t know each other. Not really. We were a far flung group. But we shared. For years. And when social platforms moved on, we moved our friendships to Facebook. We kept in touch, some of us.

That’s where I originally met her – way back when. I ran some groups she participated in, she ran some groups I participated in. I can’t say we were close, but we knew what mattered to the other, we cheered each other on in life, and through the years we kept in touch. Journals and journal keeping was a shared passion. We’d send each other articles we knew would be appreciated. Exchanging bits of wisdom, thoughts on art and writing. She sent a collection of notes from a writing class she took on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. I sent little care packages of antique linens or fabulous costume jewelry when one of my clients was downsizing such things. Contemplating community, happiness, beauty, inspiration.

She was an inspiration alright. Indefatigable. A powerhouse of ideas and a wellspring of kindness and compassion, always seeking to understand, learn from and appreciate others. Even from a distance I knew she could bring out the best in people.

We always said we’d meet.

She promised me lunch at Roy’s when I eventually got there to visit – which I assured her I would, someday.

I’ve done a lot in the journal keeping community in the past. She supported everything I did and everything I dreamed of – a magazine, an archives. I appreciated and learned from her input.

Recently she could no longer stand by and watch unfairness and corruption in the political world so she stepped up and she ran a grass roots campaign. Fighting a long time incumbent to gain a seat on the Kansas Legislature. And she WON!

It was so exciting to watch the results of a Kansas election from my home in Connecticut and brag to those around me – “I know her! She’s wonderful. She’s running for all the right reasons. She’ll be so good at this.”

And she was good at it. Insisting on respectful discourse, she said she would not participate in debate that was not respectful on both sides, always. Such class.

My vacation was a whirlwind thing. A road trip planned in a week and consisting of nearly 6,000 miles in 17 days.

My honey wanted to visit his mother in Utah. He said – “Check the price of plane tickets.”

But no. I think flying these days is hateful. I pushed for a road trip and I won.

We’d been to Luray Caverns in Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kanab Utah, Zion, White Pocket, scenic Rt 12, Back through Colorado and now we were driving across Kansas.

We didn’t actually have time to stop in Kansas, plus I knew that if she was in Topeka she was likely busy with the legislature, and if she wasn’t in Topeka, she’d be too far off my path there in Hutch. Nonetheless I thought I’d take a quick look at her facebook. It was dinner time. Maybe if she’d just posted, “I’m having dinner at such-and-such place in Topeka,” I might swing by for a quick, surprise, drive-by hello. I knew that was unlikely. But I looked.

Her most recent post (earlier that morning) – “You’re waking up in a Kansas where the Brownback experiment has ended. Good morning!” And a few other posts about the successful override.

How exciting!

I sent her a text.

“Patsy. I’m on a quick road trip and passing through Kansas headed east. 40 or so miles from Topeka at the moment. Had hoped to make time to meet you but it’s not going to happen today. However I did look at your Facebook page to see what you’re up to as I pass by and I have to say CONGRATULATIONS and thanks for all your work making Kansas and the country a better place. PS. It’s gorgeous here!”

She didn’t answer. Yep. Must be busy.

We stayed in Missouri that night and the next day headed for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. My sweetie was driving.

That was when I saw the text from a creative maker friend whom I’d introduced to the amazingness of Patsy on Facebook.

His text said “I’m so sorry” and included a link to the news story “Kansas Legislator found dead in hotel room in Topeka.”

My mind stumbled and I looked up at the world around me in a blur. Then my eyes focused on a passing highway sign – Paducah this exit.

Seriously?

This can’t be right. In fact it’s quite wrong.

Patsy was from Paducah.

Patsy doesn’t exist any more?

How can that be?

Ten days later and I still trip over this fact, daily. Patsy is no longer smiling in this world. Patsy is gone. I never got to meet her.

We weren’t close but she meant so much to me. She was so very important to the world.

I can’t wrap my head around how hard this has been on me. I can only imagine the grief of those who actually knew her buoyant energy.

And I feel for her dearest friends Mark and especially Greg.

If you guys see this – all of my hugs and love to you both.

Thank you for being in Patsy’s life.

And Patsy, thank you for being in my life – however much on the fringe, you mattered.

Peace.

  • The photos here were taken from Patsy’s Facebook page – photo credits to Greg Holmes, Kristen Garlow Piper, and David Bell

I’m talking about Journals. (Diaries, Notebooks.)

hollie_notebooks

Wow.

It’s not like I’m old really – I’m only 52 – but I feel like I just found a whole new world online. And that’s kinda crazy on some levels because I am hardly a noob here. (Though perhaps the use of the word noob shows when much of my online experience was gained?) I know my way around this wild west pretty well and I’m rather phenomenal when it comes to finding shit on google. But… there’s a whole world that’s opened up in the realms of some of my biggest life interests, that wasn’t here last time I looked. (Which has been many many many years, admittedly.)

 

I’m talking about Journals. (Diaries, Notebooks.)

 

I’m a lifelong diarist. I have filled nearly 100 blank books. I have written about my inner and outer life, as I’ve lived it, for my entire life. I’m fascinated by the concept that some of us write about our lives, (be it consistently or sporadically,) while others would never dream of doing such a thing. None of that is new. There have been diarists and journal keepers since the dawn of writing instruments. I’m just one in an unending line of life writers.

 

At times in my life when I’ve felt lost I often find my way to journals. Like finding, in Powell’s Bookstore in Portland Oregon while I was house sitting for some friends in the early 90s, an entire section of published journals and books on diary studies. (Side note – I use the words interchangeably and call my own book “Notebooks.” and I suspect someday I’ll write about my impressions of the words, but today isn’t that day.)

 

Or like in the early 2000s when I decided that Diaries and Journals were my main life passion and I revived a magazine called The Diarist’s Journal, and I met up with (and physically visited) those few people I found in the US with HUGE collections of published journals, and I participated in many an online forum dedicated to life writing, and I ran a book discussion group that read published journals from the likes of Fanny Burney, Jack Kerouac, Simone de Beauvoir, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Marie Bashkirtseff, Eric Hoffer, and Edward Robb Ellis, and I desperately wanted to start a Diary Archive like the one in France.

 

At the time I owned and operated a Gourmet Coffeehouse and these journal forays were a side project that cost me two tons of money – so much money, in fact, that I practically spent until I was nearly broke. (But again, that’s a different topic.) Soon, I had to let these dreams slide – it just wasn’t financially doable at the time.

 

What lead me, yesterday, to youtube videos about journals and journaling? It was my work on my notebooks from the 80s when I traveled around with The Grateful Dead and lived in my van, and the reality that I am going to publish some of those writings. (Again – a topic for a different post.)

 

But here’s this guy talking about how to make the best journal of yourself ever, and why journals are important. (The way he marvels over the difference between his new empty book and his recently filled one SO reminds me of me!) He happens to have a great presence and motivational bent that appeals to me on many levels – his role as coach for bettering oneself is something I do innately and have only started to make a career of – but I digress. There’s a lot of people sharing videos of what to write in your journal if you don’t know where to start. And people showing their many journals and telling what they use each for. And instructional videos about how to make an art journal, or a smash journal, or an omni journal, or a bullet journal, or…. or…. or….

 

Holy crap! So many people interested in journals! And me, here, thinking – none of these are like mine. My notebooks are dense blocks of text – year after year – just words piling up. Until I find this woman who says just that – “So many YouTube videos of journals but none are mostly text, like mine.” (And all her commenters who say “Me too!”)

 

I suspect one of these days I’m going to need to do a video about my many text filled books – and maybe even a video focusing on my Grateful Dead Tour books with their stickers and decoration.

 

And I’ve yet to start oogling over the videos I see where people are just (I think) going to share views of their collection of blank books –  but I’ve got them lined up for watching! I’m addicted to black books!…

 

Okay I’m babbling but it’s what I do – and isn’t that the best way to get in the habit of blogging? There will be more on this subject to come, I’ve no doubt, but I don’t want these posts to get too long…

PS – I may need to make back issues of The Diarist’s Journal available for sale again…