Be Grateful, Stay Sane

DSC00487.JPGIt’s the time of year when all of us start looking forward, wondering what the new year will bring our way.  Though I prefer to live on a day to day basis, I’m  preparing for the big renovation we’ll be doing here in January.  I’ve got things to pack up and sort out. I need to figure out how I’m going to handle certain problems like continuing to eat the healthy way I do while not having a fully equipped kitchen available to me.

For part of the time we’ve decided to get a room at the nearby Residence Inn where we’ll have a small kitchenette and our dogs are welcome.  I’m making double recipes of things like soups and freezing the left overs so that we’ll have some good quality food while we’re there. But if the project takes longer than they say it will, we’ll need to move back home, rather than spread our budget to its breaking point.  It’s all going to be costly, and we don’t want to go overboard.

While part of me excitingly deals with details like paint colors, choosing a new bathtub, and lighting fixtures, another part of me is freaking out. “Everything will be a mess. How will I organize the things I ‘may’ need on a daily basis? How will the cat adjust to the noise and invasion of her space?  Will I be able to keep my cool without living with the debilitating anxiety that often overtakes me when I’m living in a transitional space?”

I’m easily triggered by what is happening around me and having my house torn apart will not be an easy.  I was a building contractor’s daughter and have lived this kind of life many times before. The idea was that once a house my Dad was building was under roof and halfway finished we’d move in and work on finishing it up until it was done and the buyers took over.  We’d move on to the next unfinished home often living without doors on bathrooms, cooking on a camping stove, and once again waiting to move on the next site. I also know that projects like this usually takes longer than first expected. We’ve been told it will take four weeks.

I’ve come a long way in recovering from my PTSD and I think I’ll be fine.  I can easily recognize triggers and change the direction of where I’m headed quickly. I’ve learned a lot about patience and the things you can’t do anything about like ice storms, power outages, getting the flu, or simply feeling sorry for myself. What ever happens, I know I’ll get through it and will learn a few lessons along the way. New life lessons are always a given.

I’m preparing by designing a plan that will help me focus on being comfortable throughout the project.  I’ll get back to meditating on a more regular basis, make a few artist dates with myself, keep working on my book in my studio, which is over the garage not in the house, move a cot up to the studio for an occasional nap, and just do the best I can. I may wipe out once or twice, but I’m only human and know I won’t fall as hard as I used to.

I plan on staying mindful and somewhat balanced by sharing things that I am grateful for on my Facebook and Twitter pages, on a daily basis, until the project is done and I’ve moved back into my house. I’ll start on January 1th  in preparation for the the first day of work which is scheduled for January 6th, when the slate tilesd floor in the kitchen will most likely be demolished.

I’m calling it, “Be Grateful, Stay Sane Month.” It will hopefully be a way for me to keep my attitude positive during a possibly trying time. If any of you would like to join me please do.  Simply post things you are grateful on my gratefulness posts on Facebook or Twitter.  It will be a great way to start the New Year.

Being Left Behind

DSCF1059Just two days ago I was feeling envious and abandoned. Bill went off to music camp to learn more about playing his uke in the mountains of North Carolina, very close to where our daughter and grandkids live. He’ll be gone for two weeks with one or two other adventures added on to his agenda.

Besides that, my next door neighbor, who always keeps me laughing, is away for the summer. And special friend, Sharon, with whom I talk on a weekly basis is in Taos, New Mexico, on a writing retreat led by Jennifer Louden. That is where this whole crazy writing project began in 2010, and where I met Sharon and a whole bunch of other great women. I kind of wish I was there right now.

“So why didn’t you go to Taos or go along with Bill and spend time with the grandkids?” you ask. A few months ago when I felt my memoir beginning to take shape, I decided I would dare myself to have my first draft done by September first. It was a test of sorts to get myself to either put up or shut up.

I knew that if I really wanted to write my memoir, and get the first draft done on deadline, I’d have to stay home and do the work. I wouldn’t be able to do any traveling. I figured that if I gave in and said yes to a few friends who wanted me to join them in Taos, and/or go off on some other adventure with Bill, I would know I wasn’t serious about my writing project. Conversely, if I stayed home and did what I promised myself I would do, I’d feel very proud of myself and believe in myself a whole lot more than I used to.

So here I am at my computer and writing up a storm. I’ve written two chapters over the last few days and the words keep coming.  I took a break Sunday afternoon and went to a movie.  It took a good twenty minutes into the film for me to shut off my writer’s mind and begin  enjoying “The Way Way Back.” Later, I spent another couple of hours writing. The dogs were asleep at my feet and I was flying in a world of winged words. Oh how good it felt.

For now my envy and abandonment issues are gone. I suppose they could return, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I want to do, and being true to myself without regret. I’m happy that I held myself to my word. What could be better?

I’ll get to play later on. I’ve added another month on to my deadline. I’m shooting for October 1st.  After that, I’m off on an adventure in London. When I return, the editing and rewriting begins. Great thing to do during a long, cold winter.

By the way, if your looking for a fun movie to see on a hazy, hot and humid afternoon go see, “The Way Way Back.” It’s full of good laughs and made me feel very happy.

Good News!

IMG_0006Good news! My new website is getting closer to being finished and my memoir progresses.  Once my website is up, you’ll find out the title of my book and get to read Chapter One. Hopefully you’ll get a hint of what I’ve been up to and perhaps you’ll give me a push now and then, because you just can’t wait to read the rest.

I still struggle with time management, but I’ve come up with a new idea for my Sacred Writing Time, and so far it’s working perfectly.  Sunday through Thursday I’m out of bed by 6:30 AM. I walk the dogs, have breakfast and get some exercise … either more outdoor walking time or on my cross trainer.  Hopefully I’m done with that by 9 AM. Then I write until noon. There is no messing around on the Internet with twitter, Facebook, or email during that time.

I’m always trying to find new ways of staying on target because sooner or later something happens and I let it all go.  I’m hoping that this time it will last longer and keep me going until it’s done.

Should you insist on coming to visit on those mornings, you’ll most likely come upon a sweaty, smelly me, not really wanting to see you until after I’ve taken my shower and brushed my teeth properly … sometime after lunch.  Of course there will be exceptions … emergency visits to doctors or veterinarians or maybe a visitation with someone I adore and haven’t seen in a gazillion years.  All else gets put off until the afternoon and early evening hours.

Part of me wants to rebel; afraid it might miss something. It isn’t easy to keep my inner brat from trying to make trouble, but I’m serious about getting my book written and published. I feel great when I’m writing, and at the end of the day, my level of satisfaction for my work and myself goes way up on the charts if I stay on track. I feel as though I’ve accomplished something and I can relax, do something wild and crazy.

When I recently took ten days off from posting on my blog, I got an amazing amount of stuff done. I even found myself not checking email, Facebook, or Twitter as often as I had been.  I took time to take better care of myself and spent a bit more time preparing good, healthy food, and to read books that don’t necessarily have anything to do with writing, self-publishing or book promotion.

So as a way to give myself a bit more lee-way, starting next week, I’ll only be posting on my blog once a week, on Wednesdays.  That way I won’t get overwhelmed with all I have to do, and you, my readers, won’t get bored reading something that I wasn’t really into, just to keep you entertained.

What are you doing to keep yourself motivated and on target as you work on your creative projects?  Do you ever deny yourself time to keep going because you don’t feel like doing the work?  Do you have a stack of unfinished projects waiting for you to get back to them?

Painting Spring


Water soaked grey sky
pure tones of birch
magnolia, forsythia
spring green leaves


Raindrop music
fills the air
my paint brush
drips with color


I made these photographs and wrote this poem back in April of 2008, posting it on the blog I was then tending.  I’m going back through all of the posts now and considering putting together a small e-book to repurpose some of the writing and photography I was doing at the time.

Spring, being the season of rebirth finds me also at work on a new Website and hope to have it up and running before too long.  I’ll let you know more as it progresses.  In the meantime next week will be all about getting my studio cleaned up and getting back to work on my memoir.  There are many new ideas filling my thoughts.

Practice … Practice … Practice

DSCF0277“Why is it we understand that playing the cello will require work but we relegate writing to the magic of inspiration? Chances are, any child who stays with an instrument for more than two weeks has some adult who is making her practice, and any child who sticks with it longer than that does so because she understands that practice makes her play better and there is a deep, soul-satisfying pleasure in improvement. If a person of any age picked up the cello for the first time and said, “I’ll be playing in Carnegie hall next month!” you would pity her delusion, but beginning writers all over the country polish up their best efforts and send them off to The New Yorker. Perhaps you’re thinking here that playing an instrument is not an art in itself but an interpretation of the composer’s art, but I stand by my metaphor. The art of writing comes way down the line, as does the art of interpreting Bach. Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means to get to the art, you must master the craft.

“If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish but because you long to write well, because there is something you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sediment: The only way to get the clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the fresh water underneath.

“Does this sound like a lot of work without any guarantee of success? Well yes, but it also calls into question our definition of success. Playing the cello, we’re more likely to realize that the pleasure is the practice, the ability to create this beautiful sound — not to do it as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but still, to touch the hem of the gown that is art itself.”

Ann Patchett, The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life.