March 20th

Day 79 — First day of Spring–hah!  But, at least it’s here.  Days are longer, you can feel the change in the air.

A bit of a disappointment today — the kids couldn’t come for dinner as planned because they’re all sick.  But nice of them to stay away so Tim and I don’t catch it.  Not with the Break coming up.

Silver lining — my sister in law Michelle called with an offer of a free ticket to go see Billy Elliot.  Couldn’t refuse!  Have been wanting to see the show, and an evening with her was long overdue.  Unfortunately, neither of us was really impressed with the show — for some reason it comes off very flat and emotionless, for a story that’s supposed to be so full of the joy and spirit of life and following your dreams.  Ah, well, it was still worth it.

Gotta get back, gotta get back. . .

Some words borrowed from The Who.

That’s really dating me, I’m afraid.

I can just imagine some younger readers going The Who who?

But, I won’t be going there.  This is not a post about old rock and roll bands.

This is a post about old me.

Although, really, I’m not old.

But, man!  Was I ever starting to act like I was!

For a couple of years now I’ve been kind of free-wheeling in place, not really knowing what I was doing or where I was going.

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve really been doing some stock-taking, some re-evaluation, some soul-searching, some trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with what’s left of my life.

And, I’ve decided I need to get back.

Back to a place inside myself where creativity once reigned supreme.

I used to pride myself on my ability to creatively problem solve.  If we didn’t have the money for something (which was quite often) I could usually come up with some way to find it.  I thought outside the box.  It was normal.

As time progressed and money became less of an issue I began to find it easier to just buy whatever it was I/we needed.

Not creative.

Well, maybe a little.  Because, I always look to get the absolute best deal I possibly can — and that can require some small measure of creativity.

There’s another word for that, I know.  Cheap. I prefer frugal.

It sounds more creative.

However, I need to get back to what I was saying.  About getting back.  Getting back to a part of myself that I’d abandoned.

About a week ago I was talking with a friend and she mentioned how she sees herself doing something entirely different from what she is currently doing.

She envisions herself as being a motivator.  Talking to others, giving them inspiration.

And I know, that if anyone can do this, my friend can.  She inspires me.

And, after I got off the phone I started thinking:  where do I see myself in 20 years time?

Sitting in front of a TV?  With knitting or crocheting?  Waiting for a phone call from my son or my grandchildren?  Waiting for the community senior’s bus to pick me up so I can go play cards or do a jigsaw puzzle?

I was horrified.  This is not what I had ever imagined for myself.

No, the future I had imagined long ago, in the time before marriage and children and grandchildren was something entirely different.

I saw myself as an adventurer, a photographer, a writer.  I saw myself as living in a place that nurtured me and inspired me and fed me.

Somewhere along the way that vision was altered.

And, not for one minute do I regret the alteration.

I have had a wonderful life up to this point.

Marriage, family, grandchildren, love in abundance.

A beautiful home, a great job, money to pay my bills and afford a few luxuries.

But, now, as time seems to slip and slide around me and I become daily more aware of the preciousness of it, I’m beginning to wonder.

Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life?  Shouldn’t I be trying to live as creatively and beautifully as I possibly can in the years left before me?

Because, really, how many are there left?

As my favorite sister and brother-in-law pointed out to us this weekend it could all end in a moment.

You could step into the shower feeling strong and healthy and then, as you step out, have your heart falter and fail.

All chances to live better, live to your potential, live with creativity– gone.

And how you are going to be remembered is who you were when you stepped into that shower.

Maybe you wanted to be someone different.  Someone who ran marathons.  Someone who wrote poetry and read it aloud in small coffee shops.  Someone who painted.  Someone who took singing lessons. Or swimming lessons. Or bungee jumped.  Or sailed around the world.

We all have dreams.  We all dream that we can do and be so much more than who we really are.

Very few of us ever actually pursue those dreams.

Because doing that takes conviction and creativity.

And being creative takes work.  It means always thinking beyond what’s obvious.

It means being willing to take a chance.

It means choosing the road less travelled, risking failure, forsaking ‘normal’.

I don’t know yet what it is exactly I’m going to do, but I do know it’s going to be something great.

I don’t mean great as in President of the United States great (I am Canadian, after all).  I mean great in that it will make me feel great, make me feel as though each day I live has meaning and purpose.

It’s going to be fun and I’m going to do it with joyful abandon.

I’m going to get creative.

I’m going to inspire the people I love most in this life to live their lives the same way.

To their fullest, most creative potential.

That’s something I wouldn’t mind being remembered for.

So, it’s a New Year. . .

. . .  and, as always comes the resolutions.  This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.

There, that’s done.

Now, onward.

As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have.  Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:

1.  Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.

2.  Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel.  I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold.  It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age)  I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life.  Life is.

3.  Read a book a month.  I love to read.  Really love it, almost as much as writing.  But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did.  I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away.  I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust.  No more!  I will make friends with reading again.

4.  I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines.  And I will watch HGTV from time to time.  I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful.  Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows?  Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity.  I used to be quite creative  — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.

5.  Start crocheting again.  Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time.  Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns.  Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards.  The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf.  For me.  Ha, ha!

6.  Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in.  It is such a hideous space right now.  Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in.  I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling.  I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains.  I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them.  It would be a space as delightful as they are.

7.  Become a better, more accomplished cook.  It’s funny.  I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it.  I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration.  I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day!  Can’t wait to put it to the test.

8.  Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week.  ‘Nuff said.

9.  Dream more.  Plan trips I might never get to take.  Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial?  That’s me and Tim.)  Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent.  See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS.  Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me.  Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.

10.  Organize my photos!  My lord I’ve got gazillions of them.  Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous.  So, I have decided to become ruthless.  And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!

11.  Exercise regularly.  I walk a lot, but not nearly enough.  Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week.  I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use.  I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week.  Yoga starts again on the 16th.  I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work.  This sounds exhausting.  Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be.  Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.

12.  Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week.  Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me.  I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day.  In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits.  I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like.  No concentration, constant interruptions, etc.   Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that.  So, once a twice a week it will be.

13.  Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging.  There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits.  Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on.  Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to.  I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box.  There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time.  So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly.  The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them.  And really, it’s only just me.

14.  Worry less.  I used to joke:  If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.

15.  Say “I love you” more often.  Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten.  I want the people I care about to know it.  Saying those three little words is all that is needed.

16.  Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions.  I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago.  It affected me more than I thought.  I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it.  I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being.  It’s time to yank it out and burn it.  Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic  horror.

Well, that’s it.  My list of things to do this year and beyond.  I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station.  On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper.  Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?

 

It’s Tuesday and I’m at 14,042 words

I’m kind of surprising and scaring myself here a little.  I’m a bit ahead of myself on the word count, which is great, but I’m beginning to wonder if my story will hold together for 50, 000 words.

Time will tell.

Right now I think the thing is getting kind of boring — I’m going to have to start jazzing things up a bit.  This is a rough draft after all.  Later on, I’ll need to sit down and really go over it with a critical eye .

But, you know what?  Mainly, I’m having fun.

This has got me thinking about all the other stuff I’ve written and that if I can sit down each night/day and pound out close to 2000 words then I can revise and resubmit some of what I’ve written and let collect dust for all these years.

I love writing.  I don’t know why I never pursued it as a way to make a living.  Well, I did once, for a short time.  And I was doing okay, until I hit a bump, lost my confidence and decided to do something safe.  Ah well, lessons in life.

So, here I am, half my life over, thinking that maybe it’s not too late.

Never give up on your dreams.  How often do we hear those words?  How many of us actually listen to them?

Thank you NaNoWriMo for the opportunity to try.