Happy New 2013

AS THE NEW YEAR APPROACHES, I  wondered how I would be “celebrating” it.  It has been a long time since I’ve deliberately stayed up to see the New Year noisily heralded in.  In recent years, I try, but fall asleep, only to be awakened by neighbors celebrating.  Not an irritating thing…a little bit like an alarm clock reminding me of the time, so I usually mumble ‘Happy New Year, everybody’ to my critters and fall back asleep.

Yesterday, I finally figured it out (tentatively), for both before and after the new year debuts.  Writing, writing and more writing before the celebration.  Then, I get to go play on the Peninsula, sketching and photographing nature with a group on New Years Day, so I certainly won’t be staying up late.

The New Year’s Eve celebration craziness is less and less appealing to me as I get older.  I don’t think it’s age related.  It’s not that special of an event for me.  It’s just another day.  Yes, a new year is making an appearance, but I’ve never been a ‘party-hardy’ kinda girl, so I don’t need it as an excuse to party, which is how so many look at New Years Eve.

For me, it means I’ve managed to fly through another year relatively unscathed, look forward to another adventurous year ahead and, I’ve got to remember to write 2013 rather than 2012.  Historically, it will take a few weeks before I can, without thought, scrawl the right date on my checks, notes and letters.

And what about making New Years resolutions?  Has anyone been able to keep their resolution? (Where on earth did this tradition come from, anyway?) For many, many years, I would make, then turn around and almost immediately break all of the resolutions I’ve ever made.  Finally, I made one resolution I was able to keep.  My resolution?  To never make another resolution.

Instead, I find that I prefer to review my life, weighing the accomplishments, wishes and dreams to see how I’ve fared.  I celebrate those things done well and try to figure out what I should do better with the other stuff — and there is always room for improvement and another year to work on it.  So, would these qualify as resolutions?  I don’t know.  And, honestly, I don’t care.  To me, it’s simply an ongoing, personal evaluation.  Moving forward, with a positive twist to it.

I want to improve, as would most people I know, so these little “PEs” help me.  Over this last year, without realizing it (too much), I improved my diet enough to lose 25 pounds.  That was a wonderful feeling, and has inspired me to keep up the good work (once this holiday feasting is done), to continuing the losing–I’d better…I just paid a fortune to have all my pants altered to fit the skinnier me.  And, my writing volume (and quality, I might add) has improved also.

Today, in one of my frequent spontaneous moments, I found such a renewed joy in walking while at Garland Park in Carmel Valley.  I would have been dragging around my camera and tripod, but discovered I’d left an all-important item (bag

sketched view of Garland Park

never said I was good, but I do enjoy sketching. This view is looking southward into the hills at the ranger’s station at Garland Park, Carmel Valley on 28/12/12

with all the memory cards) at home, so instead, I pulled out my sketch pad and pencils, and drew the landscape after walking around the park.  Admittedly, I am a much better photographer than sketcher, but then, I don’t practice sketching much.  Walking helps me lose more weight, the natural setting energizes my mind for my writing and gives me a cornucopia of material for my photography and sketching.  All in all, it was a wonderful couple of hours between errands and appointments.

I’ve found that If I try to micro-manage my time, I usually end up spinning my wheels.  When I am spontaneous, even if it doesn’t work out as I imagined (like today), I find so much more.  The sketching is something I don’t do as often as I’d like.  I always default to my camera, so having to go to a ‘back-up’ plan turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  In my spontaneity, I am allowing God to work in my life.  When I do that, amazing things happen.   You’d think that with results like that, I’d keep God smack-dab in the center of my life.  Unfortunately, not.  I keep getting in the way.  Barging to the front of the line with the ‘me first’ attitude that inevitably results in unhappy or at least unsatisfactory endings.  To help me cope with the problem, I’ve put up notes in the car and various places in the house, reminding me, it’s not about me, it’s about Him.  It has helped.  More often now, I find me as the ‘satellite’ with God at the center.  There are still bad days, but even they are more tolerable when I remember there is an unconditional, non-judgmental friend to lean on, no matter when I need Him.

So, as the new year approaches, I will be focused on my tasks–writing, classes, every-day chores, along some play, but will keep spontaneity in mind, ever-ready to do something fresh to engage my mind, spirit and heart.  But, for right now, I will put the bag of memory cards back into my camera bag so I’ll be ready for my next adventure jaunt out.

As my last post for the year, I wish you and your family the best every New Year.  May your dreams be fulfilled and may God fill your years to come to overflowing with Joy and New Beginnings.

Happy New Year.

 

Falling Apart…

OK.  SO IT’S OFFICIAL. Christmas is over, and all that is left is New Years Eve–four days away.

With time running out, I finally decided to check on my warranty, and after completing an exhaustive questionnaire, the company’s response was obvious, and actually, expected.

“Due to excessive wear and tear, in addition to user abuse of said item, any and all warranties are null and void. No refunds; no free replacements will be authorized.”

That’s what happens when you don’t read the owners manual.  Never did find mine.  Just winged it all these years.

So, I’m stuck with what I have and will spend this next year polishing up and repairing what I can, and live with it till it breaks.

Wait–do you know of a place that takes trade-ins?

Well, after so many thoughtless years as a child and teenager, falling off of play houses, rope swings, jumping from a car…and the careless years as a young adult (quite a few car accidents, helicopter falling out of the sky and bicycle accidents, I will now endeavor to gentler usage, regular exercise, improved diet and massage for my staples in 2013.  Hopefully I’ll get many more years use out of this bedraggled body–as long as I’m nicer to it.

 

It Is Christmastime. Really?

HMMM…THINK I MENTIONED being a bit bah-humbugish earlier this month.  Oh, yes.  Usually, as Thanksgiving is creeping up upon us all, I’m counting the days to the day after so I can start pulling out all of my Christmas decorations.  When December 1st rolls around, I find myself craving the music of the season, but this year, it took me much longer to warm up to the idea of decorating…and even for the music.

Very slowly, I started–with Christmas music whispering in the background.  One ornament or decoration at a time…now the living room is finally looking a little more festive.  Because I have back problems, I found it so much easier to just leave the Christmas lights up all year (they are very unobtrusive, so they cannot be seen that well during the ‘off-season’).  All I have to do is go plug them in.  Ta-da!   And I’ve resorted to the same idea for my little four-foot Charlie Brown tree.  I love the smell of fresh pine, but must resort to a fake tree due to allergies, so I’ve tried to make up for that fact by finding one that looks as real as possible: real redwood trunk with fake branches and needles, decorated with lights, ornaments and an angel atop.

Dragging the tree out of the garage and lugging it into the living room was the hardest part.  Then, simply remove the protective plastic bags (keeping dust and mice at bay), set it up on the table and plug it in.  Part of the reason for the little tree is space is limited in my home and I have a cat that has proven to be a Christmas tree attacker.  He plays with ornaments, so through trial and error, the only ones on the tree are non-breakable or non-valuable ones.  My cherished ornaments languish in the box, hidden for yet another year.  Also, a little tree is something I can place out of tail-wagging reach of our golden retriever/lab mix, who sometimes has bouts of going berserk, running through the house chasing the cat.

So, the tree is up, the little ceramic village laid out at its base (forgoing the lights inside each house this year), most of the decorations are up around the living room, and outside is appropriately lit with festive little twinkles of coloured light.  Christmas music is slowly increasing in frequency on the radio station I listen to, intermixed with occasional iPod blasts of 100% Christmas music.

Yet, with only a few days left till Christmas, I am still having some issues with getting “into the Spirit of the Season” — at least the commercial aspects.   I have completely resisted shopping, choosing instead to give gifts of ‘promissory notes’ & persimmon puddings to those close to me.  I have fallen into a very bad ‘tradition’ of getting my Christmas cards out after the new year has been celebrated — each year, I promise to improve the delivery time, yet it seldom happens.

Perhaps this lack of Spirit is because this is only the second year I will be spending half of the traditional holiday alone.  It’s not a ‘poor girl’ kind of thing.  It’s just different.  Adjusting usually takes me some time–in this case, several years, I guess.  I need to find new traditions since the old ones were for a family of three that is no more.  For a family that visited grandparents that are no longer living.  New traditions for a single person with a grown, married ‘child’ — sorry — daughter.  I know my daughter and son-in-law are trying to figure out and establish their own traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So must I.

But, I think the biggest reason is because I have shifted my focus from the ‘gimme’ of Christmas to what it’s truly about.  The beginning of the sacrificial giving of a child so that we may claim kinship with the mighty Lord.  Adopted into His family as sons and daughters — Princes and Princesses of the King.  What a delightful and cherished gift to receive.

As a parent, I understand the emotions behind giving up a child — though, not the heart-wrenching loss He must have felt, knowing full-well what His son would soon go through.  Giving.  Without receiving anything in return, except adopted, unruly children that mostly do not realize what a magnificent gift they have received, He handed over His only son to the World.

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11

May your Christmases now and forever be blessed; filled to overflowing with the true meaning of this season.

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.  I know I will.

Giving

THE OTHER DAY, AS PART OF THEIR CHRISTMAS season reporting, one of our local news stations told of wealthy man, giving out cash in a Goodwill Store (or was it Salvation Army?) to people he felt looked deserving.   He was supposed to remain anonymous, but I was disappointed with the station’s ability to hide his face.  At first, they did well, but as the report continued, they failed miserably.  That kept me from fully enjoying the report, since I was so focused on the quality of respecting his wishes…that is, until they interviewed many of the individuals receiving the money.  My attention shifted to a wonderful, feel-good warm glow, knowing that this man most definitely made quite a few people very grateful that day.

Most recipients tearfully said they were tremendously grateful for their windfall and, when asked, said they would spend it on food, paying down a debt or other necessities. But one said she would frame it. Hang it where she could see it, to remind her of his generosity.

Definitely honest.  But it surprised me.  And it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.  The man was trying to improve their current situation, even if only temporarily, and all this woman wanted to do was to frame it.  I was appalled.  What a waste.

I continued whatever I was doing, mulling this woman’s decision over in my head.  The absolute first thing that came to mind was one of Jesus’ parables (Matthew 25:14-30) about talents (money)–a master gives three servants money and tells them to take care of it–to “put it to work”–in his absence.  When he returned, he found that two had invested it and each had great returns on their original sum.  Their master rewarded them.  The third had buried it in the field, to keep it safe.  The master was greatly disappointed and called him a fool.

This woman, in my mind, was like that third servant.  But, I do love how God works in my head.

The more I thought about it, I realized (through God’s prodding), above all, I was not supposed to be judging this woman — or her decision.  And she was not like the servant.  True, the money would not be put to use, to physically better her life or those around her.  No food on the table, no gifts under the tree, no paying down of a debt.

Perhaps, though, that framed bill would remind her again and again over the years of the graciousness of another, which might help her to remember that, even in her plight, there are good people out there willing to help.  Perhaps, that gift would prompt her do better in her life, helping others, or even, help to lift herself out of her present situation.

Like the poor woman in another parable that gave all that she had (a meager two coins) for an offering, while those around her scoffed at her petty offering as they threw in a much larger amount of money (though, percentage-wise, her offering exceeded theirs), perhaps this will be the beginning of giving from the heart for this woman.

And lastly, a wonderful reminder to us all that we cannot always understand why others do what they do, just that God knows their hearts–and ours–and will act accordingly.

Creating Imagination…

FROM THE OUTSIDE, I MUST LOOK HILARIOUS yesterday.  Still in my pjs and robe at 2pm, wearing a toasty warm Santas hat (it is almost Christmas) as my head bobs in and out of view. I am, after all, sitting very near the window on my aeRobic Rider, that ancient style of exercise equipment that is like a rowing machine and…well, not sure what else, but instead of maintaining a horizontal forward and back, it moves me up & forward, then down and back.  It’s funky. But, it gets the job done, exercising arms, back, legs, hips and waist.  And get a the heart rate up too boot.

But still, for someone outside, it must look pretty peculiar.  Especially with the red hat.

It’s cold in the house. My single paned windows just don’t hold the heat in, so the poor heater keeps cranking it out, only to be sucked away before I can enjoy it. So, I decided that I’d work the ‘internal heater’ a bit via some good old fashioned exercise.  It worked, sort of. It’s still cold in here and my body won’t allow exercising long enough to warm me for more that a few minutes.  And I keep finding myself returning to my writing (well, blogging–I’m still in ‘procrastination’ mode for my novel) — the stillness of sitting in front of the computer chills me even more.

For me, the positioning of the equipment was important. Yes everyone can see the foolishness, but more importantly, I can see out to my beautiful, naturally landscaped front yard. No, I don’t mean weeds. Well, yes, there are those. But what dominates the landscape are graceful, gnarly oak trees that have been here since before we moved in some 40 years ago — the landscape peppered with a few much younger ones also.  The bed of rich brown decomposing leaves, against their craggy brown-to-almost-black and mottled with greyish, striated trunks, and capped by their green foliage is quite picturesque.  Behind that, I can see a small hillside and ledge, made of a natural stone outcropping, then my neighbours manicured garden (I only see small glimpses of this). Off to one side, peeking through the branches, I can see wee bits of another neighbour’s home, painted an aesthetically pleasing green.

The beauty triggers my imagination. I am renewed just by sitting and staring out at it.  I am invigorated by this exercising to my visual ‘music’ that reaches out beyond my view to both sides, and it leaves me to imagine what lies beyond.   And what plantings I could paint the landscape with to improve the view.  And then, my imagination dances with ideas for my blog novel…

Oh, I love my imagination. If only I could harness it.  Fully.  Dominate it.  Completely.  Be the master.  Forever.  It’s like a wild horse, prancing just beyond my reach, daring me.  Taunting me to try. I’ll never catch it, tame it, train it completely.  Not in this life time, at lease.

All I can do is dance with it and see what happens.

More Than a Writer…

I AM MORE THAN A WRITER.  Of course, I love my words, but when I am not trying to shape them into something worthy of your reading, or working on ideas for a new storyline for my storytelling, I am looking around me and seeing the world full of visual cues for my artistic side.  God is wonderful that way.  His world is filled to overflowing with things for me to work with.

Mission San Juan Bautista

Solar Etching Prints of Mission San Juan Bautista

Choosing colors

Choosing colors for Temple Bar globe

My photography is not just point, shoot, print and frame…I have discovered a delightful way to switch it up.  I am able to take my digitized photos, use a process called solar etching, and create a solar plate where I then play with the colors and create beautiful prints.  It thrills me as I ink the plate, carefully place it and paper on the press, then rolling both through and slowly, gently lifting it up to see the final results.  It’s like magic.  I love it.

But, I play with other things too — mosaics, painting, sketching.  I love working with my hands.  Less artistic (oh, yes…definitely less artistic) and more “hands-on” are my building projects.  I’ve built a chicken coop, and it now houses a dozen delightful, egg laying characters (no noisy roosters, thank you).  They entertain me and keep me sane in this crazy world of ours.  And, I share the eggs with my neighbors and friends.   I haven’t built anything recently, but am contemplating a

Some of my Girls

My Girls — at least a few of the dozen roaming in the coop.

few things:  a retaining wall…remaking my driveway gate and add a parking pad outside my fenced yard, a taller fence around my property so my girls can roam freely without too much danger…my list is exhausting just thinking about it.

Mostly, aside from my critters, the artistic side keeps me busy and there’s little time for the heavy-duty hands-on stuff (thankfully, my daughter would say).  My newest endeavor is to create mosaic pieces and with the help of a friend, teach classes.  Right now, I’m in the “collection” process — collecting broken and chipped pottery, plateware, pitchers, glass beads and jewelry bits — even sea glass, so I (we, actually) have a good stockpile to chose from.  My first piece was a complete experiment — testing out how each piece would work due to their thickness, opacity and placement.  It ended up looking like a bit of a hodge-podge piece, but it has meaning for me on several levels.

My first mosaic piece

My first mosaic piece

I call it my Memory Mosaic.  All of the pieces have meaning.  Both from a sense of a past memory and a reminder of how the medium works.  Can you tell I’m partial to pink, floral (plants) and coffee?  I have another piece (lower left), but have yet to put the finishing touches on it (grout & sealer).  My friend, Nan, did one that is great (below, on right)–again, sans grout!

We both had a terrific time at the workshop where we learned the craft.  It is easy enough to learn — it’s just the skills of patience and an artistic eye to find the right pieces for the finished work that take time.

Mosaic sans grout

Mosaic sans grout (unfortunately, on it’s side…tilt your head?)

It will be fun to teach our friends how to make mosaics.  But that will have to wait until the new year, since there are so many Christmas related things that must be attended to at present.

Nan's mosaic piece, sans grout

Nan’s mosaic piece, sans grout, again…on it’s side–her thumb is at the bottom.

And my novel will be vying for my attention, also.  Hmmm…me thinks I have too many fingers in the pot, don’t you?

But when did that ever stop me from keeping busy, frantically moving back and forth between each endeavor, loving the chaos each creates in my life?

Choices

A DEAR AND EXTREMELY TALENTED friend of mine, Nan Madruga has given me permission to use her poem for this blog:

love,
care,
give, help,
forgive,
touch,
encourage,
sacrifice,
accept, … repeat. ♥

Another friend made the suggestion of writing a letter to the people of Newton:

“When I most feel helpless, I have to do something so I don’t feel so helpless.  My therapy after the Aurora shooting was to write a letter to the town. I felt like I had done something.

Six months later, I received a printed thank you note that was very grateful and kind. I did make a difference in some small way to some one.

The mailing address is Newtown, CT 06470.  Please, just do it.”

All of these are choices.  This simple poem and the plea to write letters were my friends ways of coping with yesterday’s tragedies in Connecticut and China.   Their choice to use their voice constructively.  Instead of condemning or lashing out against the troubled young men, Nan prayed and mourned the loss of innocent lives and of ever feeling safe again.

The choice to follow your feelings — are feelings ever the best thing to follow?   The dictionary says it is an emotional state or reaction.  Everyone’s gut reaction to these events was one of disgust, anger, sorrow.  When in this state, it is difficult to think straight.

My minister once preached on reacting vs responding.  For me, praying, Nan’s poem and the letter writing are wonderful examples of responding.  These are all things we can do to help in these awful situations.  The disgust, anger, sorrow simply feed on themselves, perpetuating the feelings.

Make a choice, use your voice to help change the situation from despair to a sliver of encouragement and hope.

 

Thoughts On Getting Old

I THINK I SELF-DESTRUCTED over last weekend.   And, I am still *trying* to recover from the idiocy.  I think I am a “weekend warrior” — but my ‘weekends’ can fall during any time of the week, really.

When I haven’t been doing anything but sitting…and writing, whether my blog, working on my book or posting and responding to posts of FB, or attempting to catch up on my monster back-log of emails in my various accounts…and then decide to act as if I’m 20-something, launching into chores only muscle-bound weigh-lifters or seasoned construction workers should dare, well, that’s when I self-destruct.

My mind is forever young, but I keep forgetting the reality of just how old I really am.  It’s laughable.  And, in many instances, age really means nothing.  But to try to wield around about 20+ cement-filled cinder blocks, climbing in and out of the truck to get them positioned “just right” so the weight distribution will allow me to get the truck up our mountain of a driveway, then climbing up and down a ladder and cranking my head in unnatural positions to snake conduit in the guise of helping my lovely son-in-law (daughter was otherwise engaged, otherwise, she would have been helping) was just plain dumb on my part.

Had I done one or the other, I might have been fine.  When I drove home at the end of that madness, I even contemplated doing a little digging, but, thank God, thought better of it.  I’d hate to think what shape I’d be in.  Just the thought makes me cringe–and chuckle.

Is this part of growing up, growing old — the not wanting to grow up, grow old?  As a child, we want to hurry and grow up so we will be allowed to do all the things our parents say no to, because we are too young.  Even as we approach that “legal age”, we want to hurry it along.  But somewhere along the way, many pull the reins back and want to slow everything down.

Not me.  I wanted to charge ahead, full force, enjoying every single second of my life with full gusto.  Any many times, plowing ahead without thinking.  Thus, several stupid accidents that I didn’t think much about at the time.  There were some accidents I had no choice in–in the wrong place at the wrong time.  They just happened.  And, I eventually healed from each one of them.  I kept moving forward.

I married, had a delightful child that grew into the beautiful woman she is today.  My husband died far too early in his life, leaving me to finish raising her by myself.  Yet, still full of energy, I continued on without much thought of being “old”.  And continued to have mishaps (am I klutzy?  Hmmm…maybe) — some my fault, some not.

I’ve always felt old age is truly a ‘state of mind’.  It’s a place most people, as they ‘approach’ it, would rather avoid.  I welcomed it with open arms, because, to me being ‘old’ was just a chronological thing.  I would jokingly say that I improved with age.  But, as all of my mishaps of the past built up and tangled themselves together, I found myself slowing down.  Cooling down.  Contemplating how I’d get through each day more.  I’m only 62 and there are days I feel older — but more days I still feel young-ish.

So, apparently, this state of mind is more than just in the mind.  More than chronological.  It seems, it is the culmination of all that you were, rolled up in a not so neat little package.  I’ve heard so many times, “Life is messy”,  “Getting old is not for the faint of heart” — they are right.  If life has been serving you up “bowls of cherries”, then watch out and be prepared for it to get messy.

Life is messy.  And strength, not necessarily physical, is a must.  And it cannot, well, should not be done alone.  So many have tried.  We just weren’t made that way.  We were made to want to share our lives.   Someone we can lean on in the hard times, someone with which we can celebrate the good times.  We’re always searching for the Right One to walk through Life.  A husband or wife is a great way to get through life.   Friends and pets are other ways to share a life.

I had my parents to share my life with as a child, then I just had friends when I left home.  Well, parents were still there, but kept at a distance as I sorted out who I was.  Once I married, my husband and I shared many, many good years and several not so good ones together.  My parents died, one at a time, then my husband.  My daughter moved out and married.  The one constant for me has been my faith in God.  Never faltering, always present when I needed Him.  I may have fallen away from Him, but he has always there for me and welcomed me back with open arms when I realized that I’d wandered off.

He’s there for me when I need to rant or a shoulder to cry on; to accept my praise; He’s my Counselor in times of need.  We all need someone like this, whether we want to admit it or not.

So, in my misery of my self-destruct weekend, I turned to Him, asking for healing — and for wisdom in the future so I won’t be quite so stupid the next time.  Who do you have to share your ups and downs?

 

 

 

Technology dinosaur

SEEMS I’M ALWAYS HOPPING onto the train as it’s pulling out of the station. I guess I’m one heck of a dinosaur.

It took me forever to start using a pager for communication, beyond the land lines, and only because my ailing father needed to be able to reach me no matter where I was.  I finally “graduated” to a cell phone long after all my friends.  My poor daughter was relegated to old fashioned phone lines until she was in high school–until then, when she begged, I’d explain that all her friends (they were pretty much attached to her hip anyway) had phones, so why did she need one?  And the computer?  My husband was quite adept at using it.  When I got in front of it, it froze–especially when I tried to get onto the internet.  I hated it.

It was another age or two before I used a computer for anything more than a glorified word processor.  After my husband died, I had to be trained by my daughter in the art of the using the internet, as she rolled her eyes (like ‘tweeners’ and teenagers do).   It helped that we switched to the more user-friendly Macs.  My husband–an IBMer– was an avid PC user and to use anything else was sacrilegious.  But, with the change, we got through it.  She still has to give me advice now and then…she’s 24 now.

When my young daughter wanted to get a Facebook account, I got one too & knew her password, so I could monitor activity on her account (little did I know that she’d ever think of opening another account–sigh).  She was a very smart kid.  But also prudent, careful, and didn’t do the stupid things you hear about less fortunate kids, thank God.  At least I taught her well.  But, as she became more mature & able to deal with it on her own, without my monitoring, I fell away from Facebook.  The account remained, but I never visited it and forgot it even existed.

Once she went off to college, one way to keep in touch was via Facebook (and texting–her favorite way of communicating, so I upped my texting plan to unlimited so I would not go broke).  I revisited my FB account and began accumulating friends.  Only a few.  I built in a “50-friend” limit — I’d seen some people with hundreds and hundreds of people as “friends”.  Goodness!  That is ridiculous.  Now, my friend base is a bit more and my “limit” is gone, but I maintain it for relatives & friends I want to keep in touch with.  It is a love-hate relationship with this creature called Facebook.  But I won’t go into that–I’m sure you are aware of the issues.

I love the feel & heft of a book in my hand…snuggling up on the couch, or even in bed, with the book, turning pages and reading.  I just recently discovered (after a trip to the Trinity College Library in Dublin) how much I love the smell of books, too. So, it’s only within the last three years that I switched to actively using my computer to initiate my stories.  I love the action of writing, too.  So, before the switch, I would hand write, then transfer onto the computer.  I’m struggling with the fact that I am in the minority on wanting to read hard bound books.  I must seriously consider, as I work on getting my book published, adding the e-reader option as a necessity.  Personally, I have tried reading e-books, but it is just not the same.  For some reason, I lose interest.  I don’t know why.  I will stick with the “real deal” as long as I can and leave the e-books for those that don’t want the paper.

It’s only been since this year that I have embraced my blog completely. I doubt I’ll ever use Twitter.  Why would anyone want to tell the world all of these mundane things–and how on earth can I limit my tweet to so few words?  I’m content to blog away into cyberspace, not knowing who might see it.

I guess I’ll never be a “cutting edge” sort of person.  And I’m fine with that.  If it’s something that will help me in my endeavors, then I’ll check it out.

…as soon as that last car of the train is nearly ready to leave the station.

12.12.12 12:12.12

THESE DATES GREATLY AMUSE ME for some reason.

I have one friend in the UK that is completely fascinated by them, posting on Facebook their arrival (though, this time, I was the one that posted the part about the association of time) whenever they pop up.  And she has plenty of friends (including me) that inevitably comment on it.   Is it just the numbers?  Is it some mystical thing?  Are there meanings behind these digits?

Who knows.  I’m not even going to open that can of worms.  I’ll leave that for you to sort out.   I just think it’s neat to see the repetitive numbers.  She and I will be sad that, with the coming of the new year, we will not have the fun of these runs of numbers…unless we start looking at 11/12/13 or some such combination.  It just doesn’t seem quite the same.  But, I guess it will have to do until we turn over to the next century.

Um, I don’t think I’ll be here for that — I’d be a very ripe ol’, doddering 1051 before the next one rolls around — I don’t think even biblical people lived that long, but I’m sure there will be others out there to announce the changes…if we can manage to keep this planet livable that long.

But, then, who’s to say we won’t be able to to this up in heaven??

I look forward to that day when I finally arrive there, but that doesn’t mean I am not enjoying my earthly life here.  There’s way too much yet to be done before that day.  I have more growing to do (even at 62), more to give others, much, much more to learn before I leave.  But I do not — nor does anyone —  know what day will be the last, so I’m trying to make each one the best that I can.

This upcoming Mayan doomsday thing does not bother me one bit.  Like I said — no one knows when the end will happen.  Could be before I finish this post, could be a thousand years from now.  There’s only one that knows, so do not fall prey to all the naysayers.

Live your life the best you can, helping others — this season is a wonderful place to start if you haven’t already.   Share what treasures you have.  Give of your time, your money — even what you might consider too small an amount is more than what some have — and, your talents.  Talents you may not even know you have.  Explore.  Find out what God has given to you so that you might share it with others.

My friends, I hope you have many years of life to live doing just that.  Helping others.  Loving others.  Sharing.

Have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  What treasures does 2013 hold for you?

Tidbits & Teasers…

WELL, I DECIDED — AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGEMENT — to post a tidbit of my first draft of my novel.  Please, please.  I must remind you:  my internal editor was turned off for this so that I could produce the volume of words, not the quality (in any way, shape or form).  This is extremely rough, but it will give you an inkling of what kind of story I am trying to write…but please remember, this IS my work, please do not copy in any form, fully or in part without my written consent.

Enjoy:

Two excerpts from Beyond the Shimmer (working title):

…Mrs. G’s warm laugh filled the air, putting Amy at ease.  She had decided tonight that Mrs. G’s gift must be that beautiful laugh.  Turmoil and frustration seemed to melt away when she spoke — and especially when she laughed.

“Dear Amy.”  Her words seemed to wrap around her like a warm comforter.  “He is not here to answer all of our questions.  Life goes on and we must learn how to deal with it, especially with our new found gifts.  It was hard for the four of us when we were young — just like you.  We wanted the Guardian to answer all of our questions.  To smooth the way.  To make all wrongs in the world right.  That is not his job.  He is there as our — and your — counselor, our guide, so to speak.”

It all made so much sense when Mrs. G said it.  But her head was beginning to spin.  And her headache came back with a vengeance.  Her hands went to her head and she moaned.  She wondered, why now?

Ty bristled, as did Ms T and Mr G.

Something is going on, thought Ms T.

Ty nodded, but what?

Noticing that his father had also reacted, he wondered aloud, “Father, what is it you feel?”

“Like you, Ty, sometimes it is hard to discern — yes, I too have that gift and have yet to master it completely.  This is something new.”  He turned to their teacher and posed a question, “Do you hear anything from the Portal or the Guardian?”
“I’m not sure.  It is so strange.  Like something beckoning.  But it doesn’t feel right.”

Ty nodded in agreement.  “Now would be a good time for Rocky to talk to — “

In her pain, Amy was the first to hear Rocky.  He was calming her and she was surprised to see Ty at her side, hand on her shoulder, just as he had that first time.  And, again, he had that far off look.  She accepted it, closed her eyes and relaxed in the chair.  The tingling spread up into her head and down her arm to her throbbing wrist.  Slowly, the pain subsided.

The adults looked on in amazement.

***

…Before she could respond, he added, you will have to wait.  Take this time to be observant.  What do you see?

The mountain above us, the valley below.  The beautiful colors…

Is that all?

Well, no, from the corner of my eye — it’s frustrating.  I can’t see it straight on, but there is something absolutely magnificent out there that I just can’t seem to hold in my sight.  I saw it in my dream while we were sleeping, but I can’t really remember it.  It’s weird.

It is always just out of our reach, Amy.  We can endeavor to do what we can to “catch it”, to pursue it wholeheartedly.

Is it something we can hold onto?  To actually see, straight on?

In our minds, and our hearts, while we are in this world — or even when you are in yours.  But, no, not with our eyes.  Not now.

Amy was formulating a response to that when she let out a scream.  Her hands flew to her head, trying to stop the pain she felt.  The thoughts and feelings pouring into her head were beyond belief.  The pain, anguish, fear — it all flooded at once, like an unstoppable breech of a dam, into her head.

She could feel Rocky trying to quell this onslaught of emotions that hit her.  She could feel Ty grabbing her, holding her tightly to her, trying to sooth her.

She sobbed uncontrollably.  No, no!  Noooo, she moaned.  What is happening?

Shhhh, whispered Ty as he stroked her throbbing head.  She buried her head into his chest and continued sobbing.

Why?  Why?

It will be alright.  Breathe, Amy, breathe.  Slow it down.  It will help.  His hands shook as she sobbed.  Not from her crying, though.  He saw and felt what had happened.  They were so connected, it was unbelievable.  Please try to relax.  Relax, he kept repeating it under his breath, trying to get some semblance of calm restored.

Rocky– he began.

Yes, I know.  We must leave.  Immediately.  We will take a short cut.  I will have to shield you completely.

Fine.  Just do it.

The ledge around them grew rapidly to enclose them completely.  The only light was a slightest bit of a shimmer emanating from the dome surrounding them.  Enough light for Ty to make out Amy’s sobbing shadow, resting against his chest.

He continued to hold her, to soothe her as they journeyed home.  Bit by bit, she calmed.  Her body shuddered occasionally as she rested, held tightly, comforted by her friend.  Her breath evened out, and with one final long, deep shudder of a sigh, she moved slightly, pushing herself gently away from her friend.

“The pain is gone”, she said with a weak, shaky voice.  “Oh…” she didn’t dare finish the thought.

Ty asked how she felt.  She rolled her eyes and moaned, “like I’ve been pulled through a key hole?  Tied in a knot?   Beat — “

I’ve got the picture.  I mean, are you feeling better?  Well enough to talk?

Amy pushed herself up against the wall, looking around at the faint shimmer that surrounded them.  She was glad for this low light.  But she also could feel the calming effect  it had on her.  It washed over her, filling her with a sense of peace.

Bah Humbug…?

I HAVE BEEN A CURMUDGEON this last month.  Yes, I know, euphoric as I worked on (and achieved) my word count for NaNoWriMo, but a curmudgeon none the less…

I’ll even go as far as to say, a “Bah-Humbuger”.  From me, that is saying an awful lot.  Me. The ever-cheerful, always optimistic individual…to be down, anti-holiday, anti-social, well…let’s just say, where the heck is the real me hiding??

Okay.  I have to admit, aside from the NaNo project, there hasn’t been a lot of positive things going on in my life — that I could focus on.  There are always positives in our lives to focus on, if we try.  But I didn’t want to try.  That would require effort and I simply had no energy to try.  Pity party, anyone?

I desperately needed an attitude adjustment, and today was the perfect day to begin.  I started my day, as usual — greatly needing coffee, doing the things that are required of me first thing, then went back upstairs to dress.  My bed beckoned me, so without even a second thought, I acquiesced…no, that’s the wrong word — there was no reluctance.  I fully supported the idea, so on the bed I flopped.  My cat joined me, trying to snuggle in as I pulled covers over my head.  Go away.  He did.

Then, for some unknown reason, I decided to do something I haven’t done for almost a month.  I did a few of my “bed exercises” — micro exercises, really.  My version of situps…simply engaging the muscle because of back issues.  Then, since that felt so good, I stretched out my legs.

It’s funny how the simple act of moving can engage the brain.

I was then up, wandering into my “exercise room” and opened up my DOAC (that’s short for Dinosaur of a Computer) and cued up my Christmas music.  With the music blaring, I found myself even more energized & began a short stint on my archaic Aerobic Rider, and then sat on my exercise ball for a bit, to engage the back muscles with micro movements.

As I exercised, I bemoaned that fact that I have not, over the last four or five years (…or more), been able to find one story that I use to read to my daughter every year at Christmastime.  There were many stories, but this one, though fictional, has settled firmly and is planted itself deeply into my mind.  Some day, I will find the book and rejoice.  Until then, I can only think about the ideas presented in the story.  A creature from Santa’s Village, thought to be a bumbling fellow, somehow was given the responsibility of bringing back to the Village the beautiful rainbow that represented God’s Promise.  There were many adventures as he went to retrieve it and he succeeded in finding it, but when he was almost home with it, in his excitement, he dropped it and it broke into millions of pieces.

Crying, everyone admonished him for destroying God’s Promise.  But wise, old Santa was overjoyed with an idea.  He instructed everyone to pick up all the pieces and to put them on the Village Christmas tree.  The beautiful blues, reds, yellows, oranges and purples adorn the tree magnificently.  God’s Promise, sparking for all to see.  This is the story of how we acquired the lights for our trees to herald the season.

So, every time I see those little glitters of light in the night on rooftops, in windows and on trees, it awakens something deep inside me, reminding me of God and his gift to us.  Yes, that particular Promise, in the form of the rainbow, was a promise to never destroy the world again, but because of that, we are now able to enjoy the most magnificent of all gifts that He has ever presented us.

A gift that is with us today, and forever.  Through the giving up of His only son to us, He gave us the gifts of Grace and Forgiveness, so that we could forever be part of His family.   Princes and Princesses, Children of God.  Such a blessed gift that no one should take lightly.

But to receive these gifts, we must ask.  He will  give them freely, but you cannot expect to be given them without first asking.  And that asking requires a mustard seed of faith in Him (but that’s another blog entirely).

This is the season of giving.  Stop for a moment.  Be at peace.  Why are you frantically scurrying around to find the “perfect gift” for your child or spouse or loved ones?  Isn’t there a better way?

YES.  For both family and friends, the very best gift is the gift of giving.  Why not give a gift of time or money to charitable organizations in the name of your friends and family.  There are so many wonderful organizations that are begging for help so they may help others in need.  Make your life less crazy so you can enjoy the season, and put a light into the life of someone else.  Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Second Harvest, any of the soup kitchens in your area, ordinary families asking for assistance through local churches and organizations — believe me, they are there!  Simply open your eyes, ask around, Google your favorite cause.

Remember the reason for the season and give.

May this Christmas and those ahead of you be a blessed, peaceful time for you and your family.

Peace and Joy to you all.

Sucked-In to Writing…

MY NANOWRIMO ML (municipal liaison) kept telling me (and everyone else) to kill a character.  For the past two years I’ve attended, this seemed to be his mantra.  Kill a character.  And he had a method: with a shovel.

Well, you don’t kill characters with shovels in a kid’s novel, right?  I had a number of people point to Harry Potter and a few other kids’ books for examples of multiple brutal killings.  Well, not in my novel, you don’t.  And that’s that.

Well, I found out last year that characters have a mind of their own.  They do not go where you planned for them to go.  They don’t “stay with the script” that you’ve planned out in your head.  They go, do, and say what they need to as a character.  And I am fine with that.  It has helped me grow as a writer.  It has helped my story line, and it has helped my characters.

But, I was frustrated with where they had taken the storyline.  I needed them to be back at home.  But, noooo.  They had to go traipsing off to their ‘Never Land’…I was driving down to the last Write-In, having already reached my 50,000 word goal–such a wonderful, euphoric feeling in itself–when it dawned on me how I could solve several problems at once…not only get them back to where they needed to be, but help one of the characters do a little bit of growing.

And then, I laughed.  I was going to kill a character?  You’ve got to be kidding!  No.  I could not possibly kill a character. I did much soul searching.  This started as a children’s book..that now reaches up to the middle school age group, not unlike the Harry Potter series.  I don’t want to be responsible for younger kids’ nightmares!  What to do…listen to the character or my alternate storyline…

Uh, oh…spoilers?  Well… I guess you’ll just have to wait till the book is published to find out, won’t you?

But, what I really wanted to talk about was how my characters have pulled me in.  I don’t know if all writers feel this way, but when I write, I feel my characters’ joy, their pain and frustrations.  I laugh at the things they do and occasionally find myself a bit sad.

It is a beautiful thing, to have such alive characters — at least in my head.  I know I have much “fleshing out” of each character to make them more believeable to everyone else.  It is only a first draft.  There will be more to come before I am comfortable in showing it to an agent (if I can find one) or someone that can help constructively to polish it into a final product that I might just self-publish.

I am thinking about them, day and night.  An obsession?  Who knows.  This is one obsession I don’t mind having.  I’ve been working on this for so long.  I started it just before my mother died and tried to write as I took care of my dad, but ended up shelving it for quite awhile.  I’d occasionally pull it out, trying to edit it, then do some writing, but couldn’t get motivated.  Or captivated by the story or the characters.

Finally, I’m captivated.  I believe I have invested my heart and soul in the characters in this story.  The last two years (and especially this last month), I think I’ve managed to dive in and create what may be the beginnings of a trilogy…or, at least I think so.   And my mind is not done with this story.  No, not by a long shot.  And that makes me happy–and frustrated, because I must find some sort of ending so I can say it is done.  Done, but left ‘open-ended’, so that I can easily continue it on. That way, I can stop what I’m beginning to call the ‘never-ending story’ and begin the process of editing my first draft.   I will keep making notes when thoughts arise for new material (that means continuously), but my focus must be on completing this one first.

I love my characters.  How can I not?  I’ve been told to focus on one, dump the other–I have two.  They are too engaging to get rid of one.  They work very well together.  I was told to write from the viewpoint of one.  I chose to write from multiple viewpoints…it was necessary.  If you ask me who my primary character is, I am not be able to tell you — at least not now.  Maybe after re-writes, I’ll know.

Like I said before, I think about them all the time.  How can I get them out of the trouble they always seem to get into?  What characteristics do each have?  How can I grow their characters as the story progresses?  All of this seems to float around in my brain all the time now — especially during and after NaNoWriMo.  I’m excited about this story, as I should be.  But…

Perhaps, I just might, sometime in the future…yes, I just might post some excerpts.

I will now let you get back to your normal lives — away from the rambling of this deranged woman.  Sorry to have kept you for so long.

Peace be with you as we get closer to the frenzy the World calls Christmas.  May you find quiet, and the real reason for the season.