Okay, so I had a talk with my mother yesterday. We were just chatting — I had sent her some flowers the other day on a whim and she had called to say thank you. We were talking about everything and anything — the dream I’d had about my father a few days earlier, the nightmare I’d had the night before, moving, being bored, a new baby born into the Black clan, etc., etc., etc.
At one point in the conversation she asked me: “So, why aren’t you writing?” I was a little taken aback. Not that she would ask such a question, but because she asked. I really didn’t think anyone paid attention to whether I wrote or not. It’s such a personal thing, and I do so little of it, really, that I figured it was mostly un-noticeable.
Anyway, after I got off the phone I really started thinking about why I don’t write anymore. I know focus is a problem, but that’s simply an excuse. And it occurred to me that I really don’t do much of anything anymore. Since I stopped working. Since I retired.
The other day I wrote a little bit about man’s search for meaning, and for finding purpose in life. Well, I guess my purpose had been working, at any job, for so long that work had become my purpose. Not the satisfaction of any particular skill or achievement, but simply the act of working.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the jobs I had — except selling encyclopedias — that I was dreadful at, but I know I was good at just about everything else I did, and especially as an education assistant. Then, some things happened in the last year/year and a half at my job that really made me doubt myself and my abilities. Coupled with some big personal family issues I began to spin into depression and became unable to cope.
With the help of a great doctor, some fantastic meds, counseling and support from friends and family I was able to get out from under the feelings of despair, anxiety and depression that had taken hold of my life. I made the decision, for my personal well-being, to not return to work. And, I think that I’ve been unconsciously doubting the ‘rightness’ of that decision for the last little while.
Because I’ve not come to terms with not having a job anymore, I’ve been unable to move forward with anything else — especially writing.
Writing was that thing I always lamented I didn’t have enough time for, because I was always working. And yet — I accomplished more writing when I was working than I have since having all the time in the world to do as much of it as I care to. Crazy, huh?
Last night, while out for a walk, I decided that something needed to change. I thought about how I used to think when I was working, how I used to make plans all the time for what I would do with my free time — my days off, my holidays, my evenings, my weekends.
This morning I got up and I made a plan. For my health and for my personal life. It’s a pretty simple one, but it’s a plan. I’ve given myself small goals to accomplish daily, weekly and monthly. Essentially, I’ve decided to treat retirement as a job. A job that I control, and that can provide me with as much meaning and purpose as I choose to create.
So, yesterday, I got up close and personal with my kitchen and bathroom floors. For the first time in over 10 years I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed them.
Now, don’t go thinking I’m some kind of slovenly pig — I do wash my floors quite regularly — at least once a week, but I usually do it with a mop.
My husband owns this horrible pair of black-soled shoes that leaves awful scuff marks whenever he tromps through the house with them on. I’ve asked that he cease doing that, at least in those shoes, but, he’s a man and he forgets. So, I’m forever stooping down to scrub them away and cursing him while I’m at it.
Yesterday, I decided it was high time to wash the floors and I noticed that there were scuff marks all over the place. I would be stooping and cursing a lot, it seemed.
It would, I thought, be easier to just stay low to the floor. Out came the mop bucket, a good rag, one of those miracle sponge thingys and a scrub brush — and a towel for my knees, which I didn’t think of getting until I was nearly half-way done.
I enjoyed the exercise. Honestly. While I was down there scrubbing away and wiping off the scuff marks I had a great conversation with myself. I thought about the Christmas just past and how much I’d enjoyed myself, I envisioned my afternoon with friends and the movie we were going to see. I mumbled and muttered away to myself about all kinds of little, forgettable things. Yes, it took twice the amount of time it normally takes me to wash the floors, but, it was time well spent.
My floors are old. They’re pushing 30, I believe, and need replacing in the worst way. But, they’re going to have to last for a couple more years, at least. I took my time while scrubbing and wiped the baseboards down, I dug into corners and scrubbed grimy spots under the cupboards. I was horrified to discover just how much hair I’d lost — my god, it was everywhere!
While I was down there I thought about how much use these floors have seen: the years my son spent growing up here and the thousands of footsteps he’d taken upon them; the scrabble of our two dog’s nails upon them as we tossed balls or played catch-me! with them; the hushed footsteps of my husband and I as we traversed the cool linoleum on early mornings trying not to wake each other as we begin our days; the untold number of friends and family’s footsteps during visits and holidays; and now, the constant patter of my grandchildren’s small feet as they run and dash through the house whenever they’re over.
They are old floors, they are battle-scarred and worn, and as I washed and scrubbed and scoured I felt thankful that I had such wonderful floors.
Still, when I was done, when I stood up and slowly flexed my aching knees and stretched out my crooked back I took an appraising look at my handiwork and declared loudly that that was the last time I’d wash a floor on my hands and knees. Ever.
Oh, and lovely memories or not, those floors gotta go.
Just a little bit about being grateful —
I am grateful for
I am grateful for
Fresh ground coffee
Irish cream to go with it
And time to enjoy it;
I am grateful for
I am grateful
My love of them and
My ability to use them;
I am grateful for
Aargh! They are forecasting snow flurries for today!
It’s too soon, I say, too soon!
Ah, well, it was bound to happen. We do live in the frozen god-damned North after all.
I’ll just try and remember the beautiful summer we had and the absolutely stunning month of September. Nothing to complain about there, that’s for sure. But still, snow? On October 10th? It’s just not fair.
This is going to be a quick ramble about the past couple of weeks. We celebrated our 33rd anniversary on Sept. 29th and spent a wonderful, somewhat leisurely weekend at home. Tim bought me some beautiful roses and we went for dinner at what was once one of my favorite restaurants, The Creperie. Sadly, it was not as good as I remembered it being. In fact, the whole meal was a complete let-down. The place is old, an institution, really, but whereas some institutions have worked hard to cultivate and maintain that specialty of feeling that goes along with such a designation The Creperie has merely stagnated.
The decor is too worn and frayed to be considered quaint or antiquated; poor Tim was nearly crippled by the time they got around to bringing him a chair that had even a tiny bit of support. The tables are too small and wobbly — every time the waiter brought something to the table I had to lift my wine glass for fear of it winding up in my lap.
The food was barely mediocre — our parmesan crisps (cut up crepes deep-fried and then dusted with garlic and parmesan) were a soggy, oily mess — inedible. My chicken cordon bleu was overcooked bordering on burnt, the vegetables were cold and the ‘new’ potatoes were anything but. Tim said his crepes were fine, but nothing remarkable. Dessert was a let-down as well. Pre-frozen then thawed ice-cream filled crepes doused with store-bought chocolate and raspberry sauces.
The service was adequate, but not what I’d consider attentive. When we mentioned the inedible crisps the response we got was, “yes, it’s a always a mixed bag when you order those”. Wtf? But, I had promised Tim I wouldn’t make a fuss seeing as it was our anniversary, so I just told the waiter to take them away. Then, when we mentioned that Tim’s back was killing him because of the horrible chair he was sitting in and that we would like a replacement, he said he’d see what he could do. Well, his stellar efforts brought Tim a chair just as we were eating dessert.
I have every intention of writing to the management of The Creperie to let them know of our horrible evening, but I’m terrified if I do they’ll offer us a coupon or something to return and I just don’t think I could.
On to better experiences. . .
We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada last weekend. We had our three grandchildren for most of the weekend and that was a blessing. It was tons of fun — just the medicine I needed. Prior to that I had been feeling kind of down in the dumps — I think it’s the changing of the seasons. But with their boundless energy surrounding me I couldn’t help but be lifted out of my funk.
Monday, we went over to my son and daughter-in-law’s new home here in Bon Accord and had a lovely Thanksgiving meal. It was simple, delicious food — roast chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, gravy and stuffing. Followed by pumpkin tarts and apple crisp — which I supplied. Grandma always does dessert!
After we got home I decided to go out for a quick walk to help settle my tummy and I realized as I walked just how great my life really is. I had spent a great deal of time earlier in the day talking to my parents and my siblings and that was a joy. I got to spend precious time with my son and his family, I didn’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, my husband finally finished our deck, I have a lovely, comfy home in a small, quiet town where I can safely go out for a walk in the darkening evening. And, to top it all off as I strolled about the streets of Bon Accord the northern lights came out to play.
Thank you everyone who left me such lovely comments about the Kreativ Blogger award. Sorry for the delay in replying, but, as usual I’ve been crazy busy.
At this moment, I am typing on a computer in the Olds College Library. It’s a beautiful spot. Both the library and Olds.
I am here on a CUPE Weeklong School retreat. Taking New Officer’s training. As I’m now 3 years into my term as President of our Local I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘new’ officer, but I figured the training might have some relevant stuff.
Turns out the first two days are all about public speaking. Now, I can speak, some times endlessly. I’m also fairly confident getting up in front of a crowd and saying a few words on behalf of whatever. But, when it comes to personal stuff — that’s a whole new ballgame.
We started out having to give a short, 2-minute, blurb about ourselves. I wrote it out no problem, but when I had to get up and read in front of everyone. Well. I was nervous. My voice shook. My hands shook. I couldn’t look at anyone. Of course, everyone was kind and told me I did fine, but I felt ridiculous as I walked away from the podium.
Today, I have to make a 5-minute speech. We were told it can be about anything we like. I chose New York. Because, well, it’s the greatest city on earth (that I’ve been to) and I love it there. Am planning my third trip.
So, anyway I practiced my speech in front of my roommates last night. Apparently I say um and and a lot. Also I bob and weave. Looks like I’m trying to dodge a fight. The first time I did it, it took me 10 minutes. Decided that I had to drop a lot of extra detail if I was going to make the 5-minute mark.
Gave it another go. Got it down to exactly 5 minutes, but still too many ums and ands. Tried concentrating on standing still, but then I felt like a total knob. Maybe I’ll just try swaying. Oh, another thing I do, I wave my hands around. But I think that could be a good thing. Distract people from the panic-stricken look on my face.
On my walk this morning I gave myself a pep-talk. This is not life and death. This is just a short speech in front of people who will treat me kindly. I’m third to go this morning, so I’ll be getting it over with quickly. Once it’s done, it’s done. I can move on and put it behind me.
I love to write. I think I wrote a very good speech. It’s the speaking part that terrifies me. But, I can fake the confidence I need. I know I can.
And you know what else is really lovely about this place? There are horses out behind the residences where I’m staying. And they have foals. New ones. There are even a couple of sets of twins. I watched them playing in their pens beside their dams this morning.
God, they are the sweetest little things with long, gambly legs and their soft twitchy noses. They were calling out to one another, but because they’re separated by fences the most they can do is bump noses before leaping away and kicking their little heels in the air.
Meanwhile, moms are standing eyeing me like I’m some sort of predator. With a soft nicker they’d summon their young back to their side. They’d come, reluctantly, and mom would give them a reassuring touch, but the babies would toss their little heads in impatience and leap away.
Hopefully, later, during a break I’ll be able to get back over to the pens when staff are present and get up close and personal with a couple of these little beauties.
Well! I got the nicest surprise when I checked my blog today. Grandmalin has nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger award. I am so tickled. Thank you!
I really, honestly was surprised, because most of the time I don’t feel like I’m being very creative at all. Mostly just blithering away about stuff that I think no one will find interesting. (Well, maybe one or two people who know me and humour me, but that’s it.)
Lately, I haven’t had a lot of time to blog or to catch up on other’s blogs. It’s been a very busy time here at Casa Larson, in the wee town I live in.
Work has been nuts — we’re heading into the last two months of the school year and everyone starts getting very nervous and stressed out about jobs and assignments for the next school year. Education is often not a pretty career choice.
I have big exciting news that I can’t share yet — it has to wait until after Father’s Day. Suffice it to say it involves travel and my favorite musician. I am so stoked I can barely stand the fact that this ‘event’ is 4 months away. How, oh how, will I make it?!
So, now on to honouring, or attempting to honour, the requirements of my award.
Here are the rules for those nominated:
Copy the Kreativ Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
List 7 things about you that people might find interesting.
Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Kreativ Blogger Award.
Leave a comment on the blogs you nominate to let them know about the award.
Seven interesting things about me:
1. I love red cars — once wrote a piece about them that I read on-line for CBC radio.
2. I always root for the underdog — it’s just so much fun, and worth it when they come out on top.
3. I dabble in many things — but never really master any of them. I blame it on time — the lack of.
4. Being a mother and a grandmother are the two things I’m most proud of in my life.
5. Back in the days of drive-in movies I was a lover of drive-in food — corn-on-the-cob, foil-wrapped burgers, fries in little card-board boats. Yum!
6. I weighed 104 lbs when I got married. 165 lbs when I gave birth to my son. Yikes!
7. Reading Mark Helprin’s A Soldier of the Great War changed my life.
There you go — some stuff a little personal, but the best I could do. (It’s hard!)
Now to nominate bloggers I admire (this is going to be harder — I admire them all):
For those I didn’t nominate I will still give a shout out to you as being great motivators and wonderfully creative human beings. Reading your blogs often gives me a lift when I desperately need one. Anyone who dares to put themselves out there in front of the big ol’ scary world deserves an award.
I hope you are all having a lovely Spring weekend.
Well, the Oscars weren’t much to waste 3 hours on, but I did it anyway. Sigh. Billy Crystal wasn’t all that funny; I found some of the comments he made kind of rude, actually. The gowns most of the women wore were gorgeous, but what was that thing with Angelina Jolie and her skinny leg? Bizarre.
Unfortunately, the only movies I saw out of this year’s crop were The Help and Hugo. Hugo was terrible; The Help fantastic. I was pulling for The Help to win, but The Artist looks like a fabulous film, so I’m going to have to reserve my opinion until I see it. I was happy for Meryl Streep (isn’t she absolutely gorgeous?) and thrilled for Christopher Plummer — the way he bounded up those stairs you wouldn’t think for a moment that he’s 82.
But, it’s all behind us for another year. Just one question though, why was there only two songs nominated? Does no one care about the music that accompanies movies anymore?
We had our blizzard. Our burrowed into the house with my books and waited it out. It was lovely. Tim was away and I had the house entirely to myself. Quiet. Long stretches of it. Bliss.
And then, I had to face the hip-deep drifts of snow that had blown into my driveway. My doorway and steps and walkway were obliterated by snow. I headed outside around 11:30 yesterday anticipating a couple of hours of back-breaking lifting and heaving. I got the steps, landing and walk done, and then the driveway around my car. As I was getting ready to tackle the deepest stuff, though, my neighbour from across the way came over with his snowblower and did it for me! I can’t tell you how grateful, how relieved I was that he did that for me. I finished up in just over an hour. So very, very grateful.
Now, we’ve got just over a month to go before Spring is here once again. I love that the mornings are getting lighter and lighter each day. I can feel myself waking up again. The world is a wonderful place.
. . . and, as always comes the resolutions. This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.
There, that’s done.
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 been an incredibly busy last week of NaNoWriMO. But the end is in sight.
I posted 46,690 words tonight. Tomorrow I will be finished. I’m thinking I’m going to surpass the 50,000 word mark by just a little bit.
The ending of my book has been harder to write than I thought. The beginning and middle were easy by comparison. But, I like the way it’s turning out.
What I’m also liking is that my normal life is just there on the horizon, and after midnight tomorrow night it will be within my grasp.
There is much decorating to be done, and the possible painting of a bedroom. As well as baking, as in Christmas baking.
Then, too, there is Christmas shopping to ponder. Usually, I am all done, but for a few small things by this time. This year, with all the upheaval and uncertainty that has been part of my existence for the last few months, I didn’t do any shopping. So, over the next few weeks I’ll have to dig deep and get out there and brave the — dunh-dunh-dunh — malls. I hate the malls during busy holiday times.
Enough whining! I must go to bed. My eyeballs feel like little balls of sand.
Twenty one thousand, two hundred forty words! Holy crap I can’t believe I’ve written that much!
I’m a few hundred words behind where I ought to be, but I’m still feeling awesomely good about this.
Yesterday and today were not very productive as far as writing goes. In fact, I deliberately took yesterday off to get out of the house for a while. Much needed, let me tell you.
I bought a miniature pre-lit tree to put all of Tim’s Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments on. I’ve been wanting to do that for a few years, so, now I have no reason not to create a special ‘space’ tree. Think it will be fun.
Today, my son and his children came for supper. I had to do some housecleaning before they got here because this writing thing, well, it takes up a lot of time, especially when you’re not used to writing a novel.
Speaking of novel writing I got to listen to an interview of Stephen King on CBC on Thursday. It was fantastic. I hope, someday, to be able to see, or even better, meet him. Can’t wait to get his newest book: 11/22/63. Sounds like a brute of a novel — 850 some odd pages — but that’s what I like about King, he can write these giant books, that when they’re done you’re still left wishing it hadn’t ended.
But back to my son and grandchildren’s visit — I baked cookies and we had a pork picnic roast with sauerkraut and potatoes, and carrots, cauliflower and snap peas. Hailey didn’t care for the sauerkraut, but Timothy actually liked it. Ethan, well, he ate the meat with applesauce, but being two he has a mind of his own, and it wasn’t on eating supper tonight. It was a nice visit. Tim and Landon watched parts of the football game and then the hockey game. The kids and I did puzzles, coloured and generally had a wonderful time.
I’ve had four glorious days off work, and tomorrow it’s back into the trenches. It was lovely while it lasted.