Tuesday, April 25, 2017

That Thrill Again

Book number six arrived yesterday. My publisher and all her minions worked tirelessly to put it all together to insure delivery before my April 29th launch date. I marvel at the process from the first tiny seed of thought that makes its way to the page, the hours of unravelling the story , the months of revising and fleshing out the work , the submission , the acceptance, the editing, perfecting, developing, the designing of cover and interior, the proof reading, the back and forth checking and tweaking, the printing and the shipping. The work sounds daunting and I probably missed some steps and the book has flaws and mistakes( Burton found one in the first two minutes of perusing the book)but I am perfectly all right with that because life has mistakes. Nothing is perfect but effort and intent are everything as far as I'm concerned and this morning as I look at the boxes of books waiting to be sent out into the world I am proud of the work that was done. And thrilled I might add. My dream of writing and being published has been realized six times. I continue to write, now working on book number ten and the writing is the light I go to. I have been accused of writing books that are difficult to read without choking up or shedding a tear. I remember apologizing for this at first after The Year Mrs. Montague Cried was published. I have long stopped apologizing. I remember hearing a writer say once that if you haven't cried and laughed over your own work you can't expect your readers to. I can honestly say I have done the laughing and the crying, and have in turn compelled my family to feel the emotion the pages hold. But what a thrill comes with it all. Yesterday Caleb had just arrived to feed his animals, I knocked on my office window and held up a book for him to see. He knew I was awaiting the arrival of the book and gave me a huge smile and a thumbs up. I had dragged him up to my office after I had written the first few pages excited to introduce him to Hazel. He had given an opinion about a piece of dialogue that didn't ring true to him and he was right on. So the thrill comes every step of the way, every single step of the way.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It is What it is

I am no expert , no Dr. Phil so to speak but I know stuff. The older I get the more I come to believe knowing stuff comes with age ;sometimes anyway if you are paying attention. I pay attention, too much sometimes but nevertheless I notice stuff. Last night I listened to a talk Kate, Will and Harry were having about mental health. Just three normal people who happen to be royalty but also just happen to know about mental health. The reason for that of course is because mental health applies to everyone even the rich , the famous and the crowned. It is a juggling act we are all called to take on the moment we enter the world and it continues until we are given our leave. The trick is to keep the balls in the air the whole time or at least most of the time and when balls drop pick them back up and get the rhythm again. Now to the stuff I know. I know grief and worry and anxiety. I know fear and doubt and panic. I also know when they mount up and surge. I make the comparison that you can sometimes feel a storm coming. You stand outside and feel the wind picking up. Something tells you its coming and it is not in your control whether it does or not. What is in your control is what you do when it hits, how you ride it out and what you do to clean up afterwards. The storm comes usually while I am sleeping. It sneaks in the cracks and wrecks havoc tossing me like a feather in a hurricane. I have seen it come enough times to know the signs. So it is the morning after. I hold tight to what I know, to who I love and to those who love me. I search for the balls and put them in the air again.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

For the Love of Journaling

Yesterday I gave another journaling workshop, this time at the East Branch Library. What a lovely facility and what a warm and welcoming group of converts I spoke to. I am hopeful that most were sold on the love of journaling. This morning after I write this entry I will attempt to organize my journals back in to their keeping place. What treasures they are to me. From the first 5 year diary I began in 1968 to the one I wrote in this morning each one holds snippets of the life I have been given to live , to love and to remember. Each of the twelve participants brought their own lives, loves, memories and passions. The first writing exercise brought a wonderful range of that experience. Emily voiced fear and uncertainty, Jan voiced her despair and disappointment at the demolition of the three jelly bean houses on Wellington Row, Peggy spoke of her indecision and doubts about coming to the workshop and then the validation for the journaling practices she already had in place. Carol wrote about the sound of birds she heard this morning and the hope of Spring. Nan wondered if her dull days held anything worth journaling about. Marie chronicled her morning, mentioning the purchase of sandals which spoke of the prospect of warm weather. Angela wrote about a phone call to her mom that held such love and devotion .Stacey wrote about her anticipation of her upcoming trip to Ireland. Sue wrote about her morning, the highlight being a two hour swim. Charles shared what he had learned about Rockwood Park , Lily Lake, and the World Skating event held years ago that attracted half of Saint John to the rows of bleachers that used to encircle Lily Lake. The group listened while I shared my love of journaling. I read emotional and humorous entries. I read the April 6, 1900 entry from my great grandfather's journal which was the day his father died. He took the horse and wagon to Hampton to get the coffin. I read the entry I wrote shortly after my 101 year old grandmother died. I read the day my youngest granddaughter was born. Oh the gifts those journal pages hold. So I will stack my full journals with the many empty ones that wait for me to fill them and journal on hoping that I convinced some around the table yesterday to do the same.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Each Battle Fought

My father in law William Elias White fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was a 21 year old man from rural New Brunswick sent to fight one of the most horrendous and memorable battles in the First World War. He survived. On Sunday I will stand with his sons and daughters, his grandsons and granddaughters ,and his great grandchildren and remember him and his comrades. When thinking if I would leave the comfort of my bed and my home to stand at sunrise while the flag is lowered I reminded myself of just how minuscule that sacrifice is compared to the one Burton's father and thousands like him made that day. Yesterday coming back from my walk I slogged through the mud on the wood road thinking of those men. They slogged through mud amidst death and agony and the possibility of their own demise . I was heading to a warm and welcoming house not the misery and destruction of war. We can not even imagine what they went through. We can remember though and honor their bravery. The other thing that came to my mind was the legacy of his survival. I of course would not be walking on the land I walked yesterday if he had met his end at Vimy Ridge. His son , my husband and the father of my four children would never have been and our lives would not have intersected. That fact also led me to realize that the battles I've been given to fight; loss, sorrow, worry, uncertainty would have taken another form if his destiny had altered mine. In remembering tomorrow I will remember it all; the young boy in the portrait on our bedroom wall, the soldier who went to battle, the husband who fathered my husband, the son he raised with deep military values and deep pride in what his father lived through, the sons and daughter I was blessed with, my present and future grandchildren, the land we built our home and life on , the past, the future and the present with all its challenges and battles. The simple act of standing and remembering is not simple at all. It holds the enormity of what has been, what could have been and what is.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fools

Here we are in April. I sat with my journal this morning to make my April goals list. April is a heavy month for us. Just the thought of approaching April holds so much. But it has arrived. The first day is traditionally light hearted, silly, foolish filled with tricks and such. I never was a big April Fools trickster. Tricks and practical jokes made me nervous. I don't have a poker face and don't do well with trickery. The first day of April is my friend Alice's birthday and who better than Alice to be born on such a day. Over the years Alice has pulled off her fair share of tricks and jokes. My favorite remains the time she and Megan hid on me in my Dad's big three ton truck. They crouched silently until just the right moment for ultimate effect which was to scare the life out of me. A couple of years ago she was looking after my granddaughters for me one afternoon. When I arrived to pick them up there was not a sign of them anywhere. Not a sound was made until searching the house for them I heard Paige's giggle. Alice , Emma and Paige were squeezed into the upstairs bathroom shower stall just waiting for the right moment to jump out at me. Perfect! She had taken the thrill to the next generation. I love my crazy friend Alice. I love that she snatches birthday cards away at parties scratching out the giver's names and replacing them with her and Paul's. I love that she is full of surprises, some intentional some not so much. I love that at the beginning of the month that became the hardest to get through eighteen years ago I can celebrate the birthday of a loyal and hilarious friend. My foolish friend Alice is no fool at all but she certainly can bring a smile to my face. Love you Al!