The Finish Line


junah42 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I’ve reached the finish line of the NoMo challenge of a post a day. (Cue singing choir of angels.) It feels good to add one more thing to a growing list of accomplishments.

Here’s a little secret. I have anxiety issues. Every box I can check off where I’ve done something in a public forum is a big, bold check mark. The hurdles are big, but I’ve been practicing my leaps, and I can sometimes make it over. I wish I would have learned earlier in life that you only build resilience through practice, failure, and more practice.

Curiously, it took a friend who I had always thought to be the epitome of self-confidence telling me that underneath it all she was nervous. She was just really good at faking it. She would plunge ahead, and I watched people react positively, even when something she said or did caused me to wince for her. After that, I pictured her outward confidence and it inspired courage in me. And funny thing, now I have enough courage on my own and don’t have to picture hers any more.

There is a moment that is forever etched in my mind – a pivotal moment, a decision that affected the majority of my life. I was a young, introverted 7th or 8th grader. The class was called “Creativity,” and it hinged on integrating other subjects with creative writing and art. I had written a poem from my heart. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Marshall, approached me and asked if I would mind if she hung it on the wall. I was mortified that my words would be out there subject to criticism. I was the type of girl who wrote with her head and hair hanging over her paper, while the other arm shielded it from view. Yet there was a part of me that was proud, and that part of me nudged the anxious part, but not hard enough. Anxiety won out. My poem remained unseen. I was safe. But was I happy?

Fast forward to my blog. It’s a work in progress, a baby taking tottering steps. It doesn’t really know what it wants to be yet, and that’s okay because the fact that it exists at all is me leaping over one of those hurdles. Being published. Putting my words and ideas out there for someone else to read. It has taken me a long time to build the confidence needed to make that leap. I know there will be some flops, and I still fear that they may all be flops, but I am getting better at shushing that bully inside who wants to keep me down.

Is it still hard to hit the publish button? Sometimes. But while my finger may waver a while, I soon think Oh, what the hell, and push. It’s not like it’s the infamous red button that’s going to cause worldwide nuclear war. It’s just a small victory in the war of attrition between my bully and me. I think at last the bully is losing.

As I move forward, I will probably not publish every single day. I may be inspired to publish more than once a day, it’s really up to my muse. I will try to keep in mind number one on Kurt Vonnegut’s list for creative writers:

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

This quote has made me cringe more than a couple of times during the course of this challenge. I hope you have not felt your time wasted, even by a moose dream. 😉


As I added this to my blog, WordPress kindly noted that this was my 100th blog post, adding to my happy day.

 

Life Beyond the Blog

Blogging has taken up my life for the past month.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it seems like it. I start in the morning with my laptop and cup of coffee. I may head over to The Daily Post to see if there’s something to inspire me if I don’t already have something already in mind. I look forward to the fiction writing challenge days where I can wrestle my creativity into something that, hopefully, you will enjoy reading. Some days I am lost, sitting for extended time with my computer on, but no happy clicking of the keyboard. Some days I just peruse what you have written.

But there is life beyond blogging, right?

“Mom, you’re always on the computer.” It’s a complaint I hear often. I hope it’s not entirely true, and the fact that it’s coming from teenage boys who are often on their own devices makes me think it’s code for I’m hungry. Feed me. But it is a reminder not to be on my computer too much.

Life calls, as it should. It is, after all, out there, not in here. There are chores to be done and kids to feed. The seasonal changes in the yard inspire me to break out the gardening gloves and the camera. Pumpkins from the garden beg to be cooked into bread and pies. Tomatoes in jars line the shelves, as do tomatillos, ready for winter salsa. And every moment playing Frisbee with the pup is to her a moment of heaven. 

Work calls me away from my screen, but also gives me inspiration. I see hundreds of small faces, usually smiling, but occasionally troubled. They ply me with pictures of homes and rainbows and 2-D versions of themselves with plastered smiles. Their exuberance and energy give me hope for the future. I hope I make a difference in those small lives. They make a difference in mine.

It’s only outside my computer that I can breathe the humus-filled air and listen to the birds and rushing water. Mr. A and I have our favorite spots now that we like to revisit, trails that skirt gorgeous stretches of river through fir, hemlock and cedar forest or through fields of alpine wildflowers to get to a spectacular view, but it requires shutting off the computer.

I could go on and on. There are so many reasons to close the screen. All I have to do is remember them.

 

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And because there’s always another side, and life isn’t all “out there,” I have to share this wonderfully penned response from lifelessons .

Moose Dream


kevin dooley / Foter.com / CC BY

 

A moose wandered into my dream world the other night. It was a big, hairy, swamp-grass munching creature. I had had no experience with a moose lately. No moose movies, commercials, pictures – nothing. But here was a moose in my dream. Where he came from, I don’t know.

After walking together on the road, he seemed to want to go in the water. I led him to the front pond, which is the diameter of a kiddie pool and two feet deep. This massive moose immersed himself in the pond, rack and all. And that was it. Dreams, unlike real stories, don’t have neat endings.

So I’m left to wonder, what is the significance of a moose in my dreams?

How about you? Any strange dreams lately?

The Best Laid Plans

Thanksgiving isn’t going as planned. Illness has struck our house, and Goose and I are taking up the couch, covered in blankets, dozing to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

We don’t have a turkey. Mom and Dad were covering the meal this year. I even got out of side dishes because Monday and Tuesday were busy. We do have a ham in the fridge and a pie on the table, so there’s potential for a quick and easy dinner for those who aren’t sick.

Our plan was to head to my parents’ house yesterday and stay a couple of days. Their side of the mountain was hit with a snowstorm. People were stuck in traffic for hours, and I don’t mean 2 or 3… more like 5. I can’t imagine driving in that mess, but we were willing to make the effort.

In spite of the sad turn of events, there’s always something to be grateful for.

  1. Whatever I have is temporary. I keep in mind those who suffer from chronic and debilitating conditions.
  2. I have a small, but warm and cozy home to recuperate in. I remember those who may not be so lucky.
  3. I have my husband and two of my four kids around me. I think of those who are celebrating the holiday far from family.
  4. I didn’t have to drive through the poor conditions. (I guess I’m thankful for that.)
  5. I’m thankful we thought to get that snow blower for my dad last year. He’s 75, and I don’t like seeing him shovel his rather large driveway.
  6. I may not have the whole Thanksgiving spread, but there is food in the fridge. I know from teaching that for many there isn’t.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your circumstances are better than mine today. 🙂

 

Let It Go

A ten-year-old Maverick walked down the beach glaring, holding the heavy rock. After we had gone about a mile, he was walking backwards and tripped into a somewhat deep, sandy tidal pool, immersing himself in cold salt water to gales of laughter from us, his family. He hadn’t seen the humor, and now he was toting his irritation also, it weighing him down like the rock he carried.

“Maverick, just put the rock down,” I had said before the incident. “We can pick it up on the way back.” He had declined. I didn’t know why he wanted to take it back to camp, and I had thought wherever he set it we would find it when we returned. Rocks don’t tend to move around on their own.

At one point he had asked me to carry the rock for him, but motherhood has its limitations. Maybe my job was to help him know when the burden wasn’t worth carrying in the first place.

As he trudged, dripping wet, back to camp, his ire surrounded him like a thick ocean fog. We tried to distract him with familial joviality, hoping to rouse the cheery Maverick who was with us moments ago, but this Maverick carried his humiliation and irritation like that rock, refusing to put it down.

I sidled up to him again. “Maverick,” I said gently, “what you did was funny and unexpected. If any of the rest of us had done it, we would have laughed as well. You are wet, but unhurt. Please, just let it go.”

He ignored me, in true ten-year-old boy fashion, toting both burdens all the way back to camp.

DSCN6103Thankfully, he eventually let each one go. The rock has been long-since forgotten, and falling into the puddle remains a funny family story that seven years later even he can now reluctantly appreciate.

It takes a lot of energy to carry a large rock for miles. It wears you out. The same is true with a grudge.

When we choose to carry a grudge, I think we feel like it will somehow affect the people who have wronged us, that they will vicariously feel the impact and be burdened as well. They may not even know you are carrying it at all.

We lighten our load in life when we choose to put aside our grievances, to forgive a wrong done to us, to pick ourselves up after a fall and walk with our head held high, and unburdening ourselves frees us up to walk arm in arm with those we love.

DSCN6115


In response to the Daily Post’s prompt: “Do you hold grudges, or do you believe in forgive and forget?”

 

To Forever See Your Face

Your smile slit the darkness in my soul, and my heart rejoiced in that space.
Through loving moments it became my goal to forever see your face.

Exploring a new world made for two, and you my heart did truly love,
Alone, once solo, now embraced my role to forever see your face.

Snow white gown in wedded bliss, a foreign aisle we glided down,
To each other promised a lifetime, whole to forever see your face.

Love like a bubbling broth overflowed, intertwined in creative force,
As our eyes looked upon small kindred souls to forever see your face.

Your shoulder my rock, you held my hand as news shook our world that grim day,
And by me did stand as my hope they stole to forever see your face.

Though lines are etched from years of life, I will cherish the time that remains
As we descend the other side this knoll, to forever see your face.


Ghazal attempt – check.

 

Day 23

I didn’t think a month-long writing challenge would be this hard. I love to write. I write all the time. How hard could it be?

When you throw an audience in, it can get very hard, indeed. I’m on day 23, and so far still on the streak, although as the times gravitate to later and later in the day, I might just blow it before it’s all said and done. (I’m too old to relive the days of late night cram sessions.)

When it comes to writing, I’ve found that mornings work better for me. When I have to work, that’s impossible. Afternoons are alright, I can still think creatively, but my recent busy schedule has kept me from my laptop until evening. By evening, I feel like the well has run dry, not to mention the ever-present blare of the television, which I must endure if I wish to spend any time with the guys in this house.

Back to the day – 23. What could be special about a number?

I initially had nothing for 23, except that it’s a prime number, and I have a nerdy love of prime numbers.

A little searching reminded me that it’s also the number of one of the most famous psalms of the Bible, the Shepherd’s Psalm.

It’s the elemental number of Vanadium (yawn) which is named after the Scandanavian goddess Vanadis, aka Freya, goddess of youth, love, beauty and the dead. (Infinitely more interesting than an earthly element also known as brown lead.) I have to claim ignorance when it comes to the pantheon of my ancestors, but I have been watching Vikings, if that counts for anything.

23 is also the number of pairs of chromosomes in the human genome, which has been mapped in my lifetime. That’s pretty amazing. We live in crazy times.

It’s one of the LOST numbers – 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. I was such a fan of that show, but they lost me, as they did many of their fans, in the final season. But the numbers…

So there are some interesting links to the number 23. I know there are more, but in the interest of time (mine) and need for sleep (also mine), I’ll leave the rest of the research for another time.

But since I brought up the LOST numbers, and though it’s totally unrelated, I should probably give a shout-out to 42 since it is the answer to the universe. 

If you’re still here, thanks for coming aboard my random ride today.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. 😉


(I’ll be back tomorrow.)

The Small Things

It’s been a hard week. I feel like the world has taken a hit.

But…

The smiles of little first grade faces lightened my heart just a little bit.

The walk through my peaceful, little town with Mr. A lightened my heart some more. We walked and talked about nothing in particular for five miles. Two foxes crossed our path.

The potluck dinner tonight with the family renewed old bonds. It was good to see familiar faces. We shared good food and conversation, and we hugged before leaving.

World, I think I’m ready for you again.