Thursday, February 25, 2016

Just Write

Reading over my last entry I see that what I was saying about my wood road walks was exactly what I was feeling about my writing yesterday. I could take every thought and apply it to writing, to anything challenging in life really. I have been experiencing a bit of a slump lately and a good talking to myself is in order. Today's rain and high winds will likely keep me from taking my wood road walk but shouldn't keep me from getting down to business on the story that has me stuck.(unless the power goes out) Just write I always told my students, so I will try to take my own advice. I will just write and revise later. In my last entry I referred to the wild animals , the ice,the pitfalls along my walk and there are those to face in my writing. Look ahead , look behind and take a really good look at what you can see right where you are. And watch out for the nasty rooster but keep in mind that often the attack to be most afraid of comes from within.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Heartbreaking and Thrilling

Burton and I were asked something the other night and my reaction was what prompted my title this morning. I will share the question at a later time. It got me to thinking on my walk yesterday about opposites. How can something be heartbreaking and thrilling? Defeated and victorious. Discouraged and hopeful. Timid and courageous. On my daily walks I seem to run the range of all of these emotions . Part way along the wood road it occurred to me that this walk gives me back so much more than what it requires from me. I must first of all embark upon it. Some days I almost pass on it. I almost give in to the urge to stay in my warm house and not bother. Even after getting myself out there sometimes I consider only going part way up the hill. Usually I keep going and do the entire route and I am always glad I did. The walk takes concentration especially when the ground is covered in ice. Each step is considered and I must remain mindful of where I am putting my foot as I proceed. I try to not get so caught up with my footing that I miss everything else around me. I often stop and gaze into the woods, down the hill , at the sky. There is one particular place where I can clearly see Chapin and Brianne's roof and I stop myself there to get a good look at it. I look ahead and I look behind while at the same time looking down being certain of my footing. I watch the dogs bound ahead of me and run back toward me. I think about the possibility of wildlife lurking in the trees. I watch for tracks. Once in while the dogs bark and I wonder if they will run into an animal . I wonder if that animal will be a squirrel or something a bit more frightening. I don't let thoughts of confrontation with wildlife deter me from my trek. I have given thought to the moose tracks I have seen hoping the large creature doesn't chose to run across my path while I am actually there. So far so good. So what I am getting to is the effort is worth it. By the end of it I have been rewarded and convinced again of the value of the simple exercise of getting outside. I am always sad when it comes to an end. As I come out into the field and cautiously walk by the chicken shed, mindful of the nasty rooster that hangs out there, I am reluctant to give up what I have been privileged to receive just by showing up. Why is that lesson so hard to learn? Why do we have to be reminded over and over that life comes with two sides; the heartbreaking and the thrilling.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Worry List

Yesterday I took a walk where days earlier I would have snowshoed through deep snow. Warm temperatures and rain have taken most of the snow. The sun feels like spring. I again walked to Chapin and Brianne's house, a building in progress. I walk through every room envisioning it as a home. I stand at an upstairs window and look out at a yard and imagine the lives that will someday center in that home. I worry. I wish.I dream and I despair. My walks are such an emotion of all that. I often make a worry list trying as I put my concerns in writing to see the problem clearer. I sometimes put remarks beside the worry putting it in perspective.Once a month I meet with a group of dear friends. The group began seven years ago and evolved into what we call the 82 Moms. We all had babies in 1982 and while we do not exclude others it has just worked out that the core group of us all have that status. We are a group of middle aged woman and we gather to laugh , sometimes to cry and to support each other as we journey along this road called life. Some have lost children, have lost a husband, have gone through divorce, have battled cancer, have lost sibling or parents, have elderly parents, have celebrated grandchildren, long for grandchildren. A common thread is worry, a mother's worry and concern for her children and the family she heads. Oh what a gift and what a burden. We carry our loved ones with us always. We always eat and every month the hostess outdoes herself providing tasty treats. As we fill up our plates there are often remarks made about eating too much, watching our weight, self restraint. Several times yesterday amid talk of illness, early death, and suffering the comment was made that we should just eat up and enjoy. When thinking of that it again brings home the lesson I try to learn every day but somehow keep having to be re-taught. Worry gets us nowhere. Life is fraught with sorrow, with problems , with the difficulties of being alive. In most cases no amount of worry changes that. This wonderful group of women is such a picture of life and such a illustration of the beauty and bounty it provides. The months go quickly like the blink of an eye. We always marvel that it is time again to meet. We spend two or three hours in each others presence and come away thankful and mindful of what we truly have been given. We eat from the table of friendship and fill our bellies and our souls. A lot of years have passed since 1982 and we fill a room with experience . We know not what the next years have in store for us but it is safe to say it will bring more suffering and challenges. No amount of worry will alter that but friends and afternoons of laughter and good food will certainly make it easier along the way.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

More Than Just a Valentine

I am beginning my day with some Valentines day reflections. On our kitchen table there is a vase filled with beautiful orange tinged roses. They are not mine. The last time Burton gave me roses he had them delivered to Rothesay Elementary School so it was sometime before 1986. I chastised him a bit telling him not to waste money on flowers, lobster or a meal out would be better use of our limited funds. That put a stop to flowers real quick. The roses are Ashlies and I am happy to be a part of enjoying the beauty of them. I am however not the least bit disappointed that I did not receive a token of love from my husband. I had considered celebrating this morning by going out for breakfast but quickly decided against it. Why leave the warmth and comfort of our home. It may seem as if I am just trying to convince myself that no gifts or celebration of Valentines day is perfectly fine with me. It is just another day and I am so blessed to be a part of a love that has endured many many days. Burton and I started this journey about 44 years ago when we started going out ( although I don't remember going out much) in Grade Nine. We had a couple of sabbaticals (I like to call them) and after re connecting we got married in 1977.I could go in to detail about the ups and downs this journey has taken us. I would rather just dwell on the gifts our love has given us. Four beautiful children, three wonderful in law kids, two delightful grandchildren, many dogs , a house and a home that has grounded us. So without roses, lobster or a fancy restaurant meal, even without a card we celebrate this Valentines Day and let our hearts fill with gratefulness at what has been and what we hope for ahead. Notice the heart shape in the middle of the wall of our cordwood home. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Is it a February Thing?

Thursday, February 12, 2015 Just Put One Snowshoe in Front of the Other OK here's the wisdom I procured on my snowshoe trek today. Last night I went to an author event in Fredericton with my friend Barb. Barb and I had supper at the Diplomat which is always life affirming as far as I'm concerned. I had a wonderful visit with Barb and her husband Tom . We chatted into the early morning hours while we knit on our respective projects. We talked reading and writing and much more. The event itself was held at the Fredericton Public Library and WFNB presented three of their authors Carla Gunn, Gerard Beirne and Chuck Bowie moderated by author Corey Redekop. It was well attended with lots of good discussion and writing talk. But somehow I come away from these things in a crisis of confidence. What is it about hearing other authors talk that sometimes makes us question ourselves? So in a bit of a slump I headed out on my snowshoe this afternoon and this is what I came up with as I put the effort of lifting each snowshoed foot through the deep snow in a breathtakingly beautiful forest glade. (too flowery? I don't think so) Why do we tell ourselves we're not good enough? Why is it that what someone else does always seems better? What is it we are striving for? When we make a cake do we need to believe it is the best cake ever made? When we build a house do we convince ourselves it is a house so much better than everyone else's? So when we write why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we measure our accomplishments against the backdrop of someone else's? Don't get me wrong, we need a measuring stick. But I think the best measuring stick is our own informed and evolving standards. We need to honestly approach our craft and get our motivations in order. Tell the story that you need to tell and tell it the best you possibly can , knowing that hopefully you will look at it down the road and realize with what you have learned you probably could have told it better. Are we trying to write the best book ever? Are we trying to outsell or out review all the others? What would be enough recognition to erase our self doubts? Nothing. So accept your self doubts and get on with it. Fast forward to February 10,2016 I searched out this entry from last February when I recognized the way I was feeling this morning as the way I felt around this time last year. Crisis of confidence. Is it a February thing or just a thing that constantly creeps in? I find I feel it often after being in the company of other authors. Are we really that hard on each other? We pretend to be supportive and encouraging but is that really what is going on. We have criteria , standards, professional integrity. Do we? or is it just the playground all over again? Who is the popular kid? Who is the best on the monkey bars? Who can swing the highest? Even giving in to this thread of thinking am I just whining, feeling sorry for myself, venting, being a poor sport? Not sure but as a new board member ( or the new kid on the playground) of WFNB I sometimes come away feeling like I did being the new kid at Beaconsfield Elementary School in Grade six. As a teacher years later I tried to teach my students to be kind and accepting. I tried to teach them to have self confidence as well. Be proud of your own uniqueness and self worth. All that! Reading what I've written so far I feel I should shut this pity party down. I came to the same conclusion last year. Just get on with it and accept there will always be the feeling that someone else does it better and has it together more than you do.Just put one snowshoe in front of the other.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

This Time Last Year

I've warned you about my compulsion to look back. Couldn't help but reflect as I was walking up from getting Nellie this morning about this time last year. I re-read the first few days of February 2015 in my journal as I ate my breakfast. I didn't need to check to remember the huge amount of snow we had by this time last year. Three days in a row we got heavy snowfalls adding to the amount that had fallen on Jan 27th. Not this year. Yesterday we started with snow and it turned to rain and this morning there are just a few patches of snow left, some ice and lots of mud. It is 8 degrees. We had very cold temperatures for a long stretch of January and February last year. Enough of the weather comparisons. Last year I had just received the cover and the interior for The Memory Chair. I was busy making wedding preparations. I had started a new book. I am now waiting to get the interior back for that book so that I can proof read it. I have already seen the cover. I began a new book two weeks ago and maybe if I am lucky it will be the one I am waiting to proofread this time next year. I have two other manuscripts at publishers right now and every day I think positive thoughts hoping to see them come to be books I hold in my hand and add to my bookends in the living room. I have a dream of someday seeing a hard covered book with my name on the cover.I will continue to dream about many things and carry those dreams in my heart. The days and months will unfold and before we know it we will be looking back to this time in 2016.