Gusto- enjoyment or vigor in doing something. As I sat to contemplate a blog entry the phrase "Do this day with gusto" came to me. I am in the mindset of one day at a time these days. I am in a recovery and renewal mode and every day I try to embrace that. Embracing it takes some determination as I have a long established habit of putting others first . It is a new and challenging task to put my own well being ahead of everything else. My needs are simple though and today I have already had the gift of gusto. I swam with gusto. I love moving my body through deep water. I would prefer it be in my lake with the vast sky above me but for the next while the hotel pool will do. I felt the sunshine, felt the breeze and gazed at the clear blue sky with gusto. I felt the energy of the city and watched young people streaming out of the high school next door feeling their energy. I sat with a friend and enjoyed a tasty lunch. I came back to my small space and sat to write and hope to produce new words with gusto when I finish this entry. Yesterday's sorrows and concerns still exist and tomorrow's challenges and uncertainty are likely. But gusto is possible too and a choice I make. The sunflowers and pumpkins in the photo below are from a past season, a past garden, past days lived with gusto. But today's gifts and the season I find myself in, are just as bountiful.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Every Saturday from May to October I stand behind my table at the Kingston Farmer's Market. Some days offer more book sales than others and I am always happy for the sales. Making my table is the goal and I have always been able to do that. But so much more than the total books sales each week provides, is the gift of the people I meet. Each Saturday I see neighbors, friends and family. I usually get a hug from Alida and Elinor, have a nice chat with Jim, touch base with my sister in law Louisa, wave to folks walking by, glimpse people out in the courtyard and meet lots of new people. I usually sell a few books to those who come by to get the latest or maybe buy a gift for someone. I meet lots of new readers. Yesterday I had a woman and her husband come by who have bought books from the start , one book in particular having a family connection for her. A character in The Sewing Basket was based on her aunt and yesterday she told me of that aunt's passing. I have dedicated readers who wait for each new book. I have readers that come back after reading one book to get more. Always there are meaningful interactions that make the early morning worthwhile. Yesterday among all the others it was meeting two sisters, Alison and Julie. I noticed them at the jewelry table next to me. Attractive ,vibrant women enjoying their time together. A brief stop at my table can go several ways; polite acknowledgement, a nod or greeting, " Are you Susan White?" gets asked a lot, pickups , some back reading , a question or two. Sometimes the person states some familiarity with my work; they heard an interview or saw my books somewhere. Maybe they have read a book or two. Sometimes students stop and say they remember having read or being read one of my books in school. Lots of interactions take place in the five hours I stand behind my table. But sometimes those interactions are deep and meaningful , the discussion and sharing is profound and generous. Sometimes tears well up or fall and connection is made. The amazing thing is that every Saturday I am given at least one of those interactions. Alison bought The Year Mrs. Montague Cried after a short, meaningful conversation. She left the dining room and her sister stayed behind and we continued talking. I will not even attempt to detail the ground that conversation covered except to say it was raw and real and touched us both. Two strangers let their guard down and shared a bit of the sorrow , the joy and the wisdom life has dished up. Julie bought The Year Mrs. Montague Cried even though she could have borrowed it from her sister. But of course it is not the book sale that mattered to me. On this quiet Sunday morning as I absorb and process the day ,sitting quietly with my inner voice I recall the minutes two sisters and an author were given. This happened because I showed up and they stopped and we spoke and listened to one another going further than a polite hello , allowing another person to see what lies behind the face we present as we move through this world. It is moments like those that will bring me back next Saturday and keep me at the keyboard.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
I took a break from work to go for a walk on this gorgeous afternoon. I walked a couple of blocks to where my boys are working on the Wentworth complex. I scanned the windows looking for them. I was pretty sure I spotted my youngest son so walked back and forth on the sidewalk across the street waiting for another sighting. When I'm sure it's him I stop and stare up at the window hoping he will look out. He spots me and gives me a big smile and a wave. My heart fills and I walk away with the joy of the sighting. My work in progress is a story of a mother whose son goes missing and she lives her remaining twenty some years never knowing where he is or what has happened to him. I caught sight of my son for seconds and the happiness I felt speaks loudly to the depth of a mother's love . I get back to a text from my daughter saying she will come for supper and a movie date. How full this mother's heart is. I hold each one of my four children in my heart and treasure each sighting even when the sighting of one can only be photographs, dreams or memories. Now back to work!
Monday, August 30, 2021
I feel this day even though this is the twelfth year I have not had to go back. But on this day I feel the end of August sadness , excitement , challenge and pressure. I remember the marathon of meetings, the creativeness of classroom set up, the catch up with colleagues, the changes and the giving up of summer. For eleven years I returned to writing on the day the teachers went back and was so happy to do so. This year my summer routine changed drastically and I have been at my desk in July and August but still feel the importance of this day to get myself back to some serious work. I have one ms a third done and have just begun another. I must settle myself today to concentrate on one or the other and possibly taking the time to blog this morning is my way of avoiding this decision. Or maybe it will help me arrive at the decision and I will follow up with some new words being written and a direction being cemented. Going back is on my mind for other reasons and the next few weeks and months will navigate that as well. But for this day August 30, 2021 as teachers go back and a new school year is planned and navigated I will take comfort in exactly where I am. I will stand proud of my past , my present and look with hope to the future. I will relish the words written in the last twelve years and the words yet to write. I will hold all teachers and especially Brianne and Jenna in my thoughts and remember what it is they are feeling on this day. I will be thankful for the years I was right there with them and thankful for the years since. I will be thankful for the books I read to my students and the books I've written that are in classrooms and in the hands of today's teachers. I will settle down to write and look forward to some author visits that will take me back into schools as an author. How very lucky I am !
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
I love summer. I also love the fall, winter and spring. Seasons are such a gift and carry us year after year. Last night on my city street walk I felt the tug of the next season in the gentle cool breeze. As stated earlier this season is very different and I am daily adjusting, processing and settling myself to my present situation. But in reality of course that is always the case. Life is not a stagnant experience but a constant state of flux. We know not what will come at us next. This morning I look out my small window and it is another day of overcast, misty skies. I have to get to a brand new work only a few paragraphs in and that is both exciting and frightening. Yesterday I finished the read through of the designers draft of The Wright Retreat and feel the excitement of its final stretch toward publication. A new small window of opportunity is what each season provides. I will embrace the days left of summer, the lake swims I will get , the warm sun and colorful flowers. I will figure out the path I'm on and work toward a healthy road back. The zigs and zags and obstacles are the unknown but the tools I have are there whichever season and whatever comes along. I will keep my tool box full, pay attention to what I put in and what I take out. This is the day I will face and for that I am grateful!
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Amid preparation for tomorrow's launch; you know picking an outfit, deciding on glasses vs no glasses, choosing and practicing a reading and settling on what will be seen in the background I feel the need to write a blog entry. I also feel the desire to start a brand new book from a blank page with only a snippet of an idea but that will wait for another day. Earlier I went out to attend to some errands; vehicle registration, purchase lipstick for my non existent lips , return library books, buy fruit and one cob of corn. On my walk back I felt excitement and elation and it occurred to me it felt like when I was a kid or at least a young adult embarking on an adventure. It felt so good. It felt like I had found me. Now some might say I ran away from home, perhaps they would say I left my marriage, some might think I left my kids and grand kids. Others might marvel that I left the home , the farm , the lake and the life I love. There is a shred of truth in all of that perhaps but I would argue that instead of leaving anything I ran toward something and that something or someone is me. I ran to where I find myself right now to find myself. To some that might sound dramatic but I don't particularly care what it sounds like. For now all I care about is what it feels like. I am hurting no one, abandoning or betraying no-one . I am taking care of me.