Sunday, March 23rd and apart from the sunshine you wouldn’t know it’s Spring

I know that I tend to gripe about the cold.  I can’t help it.  Despite having lived my entire life in places where winter is the longest season, I just can’t get over it.

Friday was the first official day of Spring, and the forecast for next week?  Expect January-like temperatures.  The projected high for Tuesday is supposed to be a balmy -18 degrees Celsius.  Yay.  Can hardly wait.

I’ve been keeping my bedroom window open at night in the misguided belief that it’s NOT THAT COLD, and THE FRESH AIR WILL DO US GOOD.  What I got for my troubles was a sore throat and a sinus cold.  Yay, Again.

We had a good lot of snow this winter and last week most of it melted.  Creating lovely, goopy, slimy mud pits everywhere.  The street I live on in my idyllic little rural community are not paved.  They are gravelled.  But, I was happy that the snow was gone out of my driveway, and that at least I could see the gravel again.  But, then, the local idiots decided that tearing up and down our side street and four-wheel driving through the muck in their Mazda hatch-back and sore-excuse for a sports-truck would be fun.  They made a grand mess of the road and the boulevard.

Yet another sign that Spring has arrived.  And, here’s another. . .

The husband took matters into his own hands and went after one of them.  Talked to a dad of one of the boys and told him the police would be called next time it happened.  Barricades went up the next day.  Hope the two are related.  The traffic has been a lot more sedate since, however.

Now things are frozen again.  I guess we’ll see what happens when Spring decides to stick around.

I can’t wait for Spring to really arrive.  I’m thinking it might be for real somewhere around Easter.  Until then I’ve got Pinterest.

 

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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.

My New Year Plan for 2013

Jar full of memories -- what will mine be?Image courtesy Google images.

Jar full of memories — what will mine be?
Image courtesy Google images.

Saw this neat idea on Facebook about creating a jar full of happy memories that you would then review at the end of the year.  It’s very simple:  you take a large, empty mason jar and every time something good happens in your life you write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in the jar.  On December 31st you open the jar and read all the wonderful things you experienced throughout the year.

I think this sounds like a terrific idea — sort of the daily affirmation thing (that I’ve kind of let slide lately).  But, what I’m going to do is use my blog as my jar and post my good things on here, and, I’m going to try and post something each day.

That’s 365 good things, one small post a day.  I think —  I hope — I can manage it.  Surely, there has to be at least one nice thing that happens each day.  This little experiment will prove it.

I sometimes find myself feeling very depressed and sorry for myself, but when I look back at my wonderful life I can see that really I have nothing to despair about.  Anything that bothers me is usually because I choose to let it bother me.  There is so much in my life that I have to be happy and grateful for that maybe by writing down one thing each day I will stay focused on that.

And so, with that little preamble, here goes.

Monday, near the end of November

It’s hard to believe, but this month is nearly at an end.  December is a mere 5 days away.

December.

Christmas.

The longest night of the year.

The beginning of the depths of winter.

It has been an exceptionally rough Fall this year.  For me, anyway.  I’ve had what I think is more than my fair share of trials and tribulations.  That may sound like whining, but I’m being honest when I say it’s been a helluva long haul.  And it ain’t over yet.

Oh, no.  There’s still plenty coming my way.  Only now, I’ve managed to gain a modicum of perspective and I think I’ll manage to get myself through without too much trouble.  (That’s my fervent hope, anyway.)

I’ve had help from those nearest and dearest who have listened, talked, calmed and helped me see that it isn’t as bleak as I sometimes paint, and when I’ve felt that I’ve painted myself into a corner they’ve been there with the rags and the thinner to help show me the way out.  I truly am blessed.

Sometimes, it’s easy to lose your perspective.  Easy to give into the dark thoughts and fears that wait for the times when you’re feeling weak and vulnerable.  But, with perseverance and love and kindness, eventually you’ll see that all the good, joyful, wonderful bits that make life bearable are still there and that they can overcome your fears and insecurities.

I don’t know why, really, it was so hard for me this year.  Usually, I’m pretty tough.  I can take just about anything and bounce back ready to fight.  But this time around. . .

. . .I don’t know.  The fight seemed to go out of me.  I’m tired of fighting, I guess.  And that confused the hell out of me.  Because if I’m not ready to fight, then what am I to do?

I know what I want to do — and that is simply just to be.  I want to relax in the evenings and bake cookies if I feel like it.  I want to go out for leisurely strolls in the cold winter evenings, even though I hate the cold.

I want to curl up on the couch and read.  Pick up the crochet book and the yarn I bought.  I want to rearrange my bedroom.  I want to wander over and see what my grandkids are up to and then wander back home and have a hot cup of tea and go to bed.

But right now I’m not capable of any of that.  Right now I’m simply rallying.  Rallying my defences — physical, mental and emotional.  And that is taking a lot out of me.  Slowly, slowly I’m beginning to feel strong again, a little bit of the fight in me is showing through again.  It won’t, I don’t think, ever come fully back.  And that, I believe, is because I won’t let it.

It’s time for me to take care of me.  There’s only so much of yourself that you can give away before something inside you gives way.  It’s been a tough lesson, one I would have thought I was too old to learn.

Apparently I was wrong.

I’m hoping that my mind is a little clearer a little more free again and that one of these days I’ll start writing something besides these angsty, self-analysis posts.  Until then, thanks to everyone who has continued to check in on my meagre and sporadic offerings.

The glass half full — with cranberries!

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?

 

January 1, 2012 — the hiatus is over

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a fantastic, joyous Christmas and are now enjoying a wonderful New Year.

I took a deliberate break from the internet for most of December.  Mainly because I just needed to disconnect for a while, but also because it is such a deadly busy month.  Work is stressful, getting ready for the holidays is stressful, and my body simply said:  Enough!  So, I listened.  And I did what I could and was happy with what I managed.

There is nothing seriously wrong with me — let’s get that out of the way (aside from needing a good head examination, that is) but some minor arthritis problems were flaring up and this necessitated weekly trips to the chiropractor and check-ins with the doctor, etc., etc.  Then, there is the usual mental and emotional, shall we say problems, that afflict me this time of year.  Try as I may to be the happy, carefree soul of Christmas joy and peace that I try so hard to emulate from the sappy Christmas movies and stories that I adore, it’s always a tough haul.

This year, though, I managed to come as close as I have ever imagined I could.  I had an epiphany, midway through December, a real one, and it has given me a new perspective on my life.  There was nothing so dramatic as a Clarence for me, but all the same, I felt something touch me and show me life is good and that I deserve my place in it.  And that I need to stop expecting disappointment, for it will certainly find me as long as I stand there waving my hand in its face.

As crappy as 2011 was as a year, I can be thankful that I learned something important about myself and that I can face 2012 with a sense of restored hope.  I am looking forward to accomplishing goals such as editing my NaNoWriMo novel into something publishable, spending more time with family and getting myself back in to better physical and emotional health.

To my family and friends who check in here once in a while I send you love and appreciation.

And, to each and every person who has touched my life through this blog, I wish you the very best of New Years.

It’s going to take me awhile to get caught up with everyone, but I’m going to do my very best.

 

Sunday, and I just blew past 10000 words!

Wow!  Didn’t think I could do this, honestly.  Have never written anything longer than say 2500 – 3000 words, and that was for one of my literature courses.

I am thoroughly enjoying this process.  My characters are becoming a little more real every day.  And I’m wondering what’s going to happen next.

But I know I have to pace myself or I’ll lose focus.

Which leads me to make a comment about some of the other nanomowriters.  Some have got 30000+ words already!  Yee, gods, that’s a lot of writing!  I am muy, muy impressed.

I’m still waiting for them to put up the word count thingy, until then I’ll just keep updating my novel stats to post the increase in my word count.

Just want to give a shout out to those who come here faithfully and cheer me on.  It really means a lot!

Oh boy, and with both feet, too!

Well, on impulse, I just signed up to take part in NaNoWriMo.

What have I done!

I procrastinate and procrastinate about writing all the time and now I have to commit myself to a month of writing daily.

I’ve heard about/read about NaNoWriMo before and always thought it would be an interesting exercise.  But I’ve never taken the plunge.  This morning I read a Freshly Pressed blog by a young woman who is doing this for her third time and something just came over me.

I googled the competition(is it a competition?) and bang!  signed right up.

What will my novel be about?  I’ve got 3 days to figure that out.  Also, a game plan.  And I think I definitely will need one of those.

How many words a day will I write?  When will I write them?  Hmm, seems like I won’t be on my blog space much, but I will try to post from time to time to let anyone who cares to know how I’m doing, (or, simply to let you know I’m still alive.)

Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend everyone.

TGIF

I’m attempting to get back to a normal routine.  And so. . .

can anyone tell me why the main WordPress page hasn’t changed in over a week?  Usually, there are new Freshly Pressed sites at least every other day.  This past week?  Nothing has changed.

I am posting a couple of shots I took in my garden yesterday.  One is a giant Liguleria leaf — it caught my eye as I walked up the driveway, and I thought:  Okay, that made me smile.  So, go get the camera.  Then I had a moment of:  I should just keep trudging into the house and stay feeling miserable, but then I gave myself a mental shake and told myself to stop being ridiculous.  It’s time to get on with it.

Things change.  That’s the reality.  Life, however, will just keep on unfolding as it always has and always will.  I can keep my eyes and my heart open to what change will bring or I can put blinders on and hobble myself with futile thoughts of what I wished was true.

And, with that

I give you these pictures of simple beauty from my yard.  The geraniums just don’t have enough sense to quit — I admire that immensely.

Saturday morning

Well, it’s my first Saturday morning of my return to work.  It already feels like I’m living for the weekend again.

However, I’ve put a plan in place that I hope will make life easier for me, and create more ‘free’ time in my working-for-a-living life.

I love plans.  I love coming up with ideas to bring some kind of small change into my life.  Sometimes they’re big plans, like the ‘no shopping for a year’ plan, or wacky like the ‘eating no dessert for a year’ plan.

The first was very successful, the second — not so much.  Seems like I can avoid buying things, but not eating things.  What does that say about me?  Hmmm….

Anyway, what I’ve decided to do heading back into this work year is schedule everything.  This follows beautifully with my penchant  for making lists.  (I have them laying all over the house.  None is ever completely crossed off, and I’m forever picking them up and creating new lists out of all the things I didn’t get done on the others.)  Never mind that, though.

My new plan is a schedule of housekeeping chores — all the stuff I hate doing and continually put off until it’s a great big disaster and I’m stuck spending an entire weekend trying to get it all done.  This generally makes me really cranky.  So, to avoid having to use up my valuable weekend time doing stuff I don’t want to do I have doled it out during the week and now have set days on which I will dust, wash floors, do laundry, scrub toilets, etc., etc.

Now, I’m sure there are many out there who are going, Duh?!  Who doesn’t do that?  And why did it take this woman over 30 years to figure this out?  Let me just say, in my own defense, that sometimes, the obvious answer is a little over my head.  It’s like those jokes everybody else gets — I laugh along politely, in confusion, wondering what the hell is so funny.

I started my new plan this week, and so far it’s working beautifully.  Here I am with time to sit and blog on a Saturday morning!  Just like McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it!  I feel no stress heading into my busy weekend.  I’m going for a much-needed haircut this afternoon, need to stop and pick up a few groceries for the barbecue I have planned for tomorrow and this evening we’re going out to Yuk Yuk’s with my brother and his wife.  And I feel entirely relaxed.  It’s wonderful.

Of course, I only worked one day this past week — yesterday.  We’ll see how my beautiful little plan holds up once I’m fully back in to the fray.

 

 

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