For the Poetry Lovers
During Nora Roberts' Girls Night Out earlier this month I met up with friend and fellow writer/poet, Barbara Harrison. She mentions the night in her own blog, which you can read here.
I met Barbara from attending meet-ups of the Western MD Writers Meetup Group.
They're a very diverse group of writers and a nice bunch of people I haven't joined in awhile, but will have to start attending the groups again soon--maybe THAT'S what I need to jump-start this 4th book!
I have blogged about happiness and gratitude on here, and for me, simplicity goes hand-in-hand with those 2 qualities. So Simplicity is the topic for this blog post!
Last night I went out with some friends to a fun event, designed to generate sales for some authors. I didn't buy anything, because with Dave retired, I am trying not to spend too much on unnecessary acquisitions.
This morning I woke up thinking about Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond experiment, and also the Buddhist principle that life is a state of constant suffering because we are never satisfied with what we have. We always need more money, a bigger house, a newer car, a better job....
And then in my emails was a mention of this book about making 2018 your best year. On Amazon the book was only about $14, and I felt that pang of compulsive need (yes, I do cave in to those spontaneous bouts of weakness from time to time!) but I didn't hit the infamous 1-Click Button. Especially after hearing the spiel for the book,(which only left me wishing I were that good with a sales pitch). I was reminded of this morning's earlier ruminations, and I thought, I already have my best life. There's really nothing I feel I'm lacking.
It seems to me we complicate our lives searching for fulfillment and we never find it. Maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones, who doesn't need a lot of material things. The other day we took Dave's wedding band in to get resized and the jeweler immediately launched into hard sell mode; "Look around! Make a list for things you might want for Christmas!" While I like to look at sparkly shiny objects like most primates, I am not gonna request Santa bring me diamonds and rubies for Christmas.
In my quest for simplicity, I am successful much of the time in not giving in to compulsive buying, which is especially hard to do nowadays with online shopping! Instead of a treadmill that will only take up precious space in our small living room and collect dust, a comfortable pair of walking shoes is all I need and we can walk in the park or in our own neighborhood FOR FREE. A lot of this mindset is surely due to being reared by parents who grew up during the Depression, but boy, life in the 21st century is full of temptations my folks couldn't even begin to imagine!
BUT, all that being said for simplicity, I do like to get my money's worth on, say, appliances or linens. I would rather pay a little more for a food processor that will last me 15 years or 500 - thread -count bed sheets that won't wear out in 5 washes. But that's just being practical.
As I conclude this blog entry, TV ads with their festive jingles are enticing me to SPEND SPEND SPEND! Go out and buy! Replace the old, even though there's nothing wrong with it.
No thanks. I'll wait 'til something wears out.
The Ripple Effect
No, I haven't been working on Book #4. One reason (besides the accursed Muses taunting me with just the slightest tidbits of inspiration) is that I need to work out how ALL the characters' lives are connected--I need a common thread.
Like ripples in water, our actions, no matter how slight, expand outward, bumping into other ripples. The individual ripple may weaken and eventually subside altogether, but the other ripples are no less affected.
At the center, the main SPLASH in this little analogy of mine, has to be Agnes Harper, the eccentric widow with the kleptomaniac tabby and the annoyingly chatty parrot. I really love this character and want to find her a worthy home among the pages of a finished novel, and it's so hard to be patient as I try to figure out how best to assemble this latest work. But I really want to flesh out Agnes and the rest of the populace of my fictional town of Berryville. So I have a feeling I'll be working on this project for years to come!
So MEANWHILE, my only outlet for writing has been this blog, and that's gonna have to sustain me until all these puzzle pieces fit together and I can figure out how to get all these ripples to harmonize.
And when I figure it out, it will make for a great novel!
With Thanksgiving looming in the near future, I'm all full of thankfulness and blessing-counting.
I tried keeping a Gratitude Journal a couple of times; supposed to list about 5 things a day I was grateful for. After a time it got a bit redundant and repetitious, and I put it aside.
But I often find myself counting my blessings anyway. And, all things considered, there's no such thing as a small blessing.
Just being able to bathe, dress and feed yourself are MAJOR blessings. Having a home. A working vehicle. A job. A really comfy bed. YOUR HEALTH! None of these are small on any scale.
The late Dr. Masaru Emoto did some fascinating work with water and how its molecular structure can be affected by thought and intention. Positive emotions like Love, Appreciation, Peace and, of course, Gratitude, caused the water crystals to form beautiful 6-pointed snowflake-like designs. Water crystals responded either positively or negatively to various stimuli. Depending on the source, the greater percentage of the human body is made up of water, so exposing ourselves to positive or negative thoughts, it stands to reason, greatly affects our well-being. I admit I can struggle with keeping positive sometimes, but I try to keep in mind the importance of my own attitude, and how very blessed I am.
There are lots of great articles online about Gratitude and how it is one of the highest vibrations on the scale of emotions, so I won't go into a lot of that here. I just wanted to take a moment to look back on this year, and how I am glad to have so many dear people in my life!
Reflections on a Successful Book-Signing
After last week's successful but exhausting book-signing at Turn the Page in Boonsboro,
I came away marveling at some of the other featured authors who are so much more diligent and productive than I--working a full 8 hours a day ON THEIR WRITING, creating fun (but questionably cost-effective) swag bags and having their spiel down tightly it comes off as second nature.
These gals mean business.
I would love to be that productive, but with productivity comes expectations and with expectations comes stress.
I don't do stress well.
I write when the Muses direct me. I write mostly for the love of writing; if others buy my books and enjoy them, that's a blessing and a bonus.
But I also thought up some promotional ideas of my own that, hopefully, will generate interest and sales in 2018.
I feel like I am really in my element at a book-signing. It was a lot of fun meeting so many nice people last weekend. And to those who purchased one or more of my books, I thank you a million times and hope you enjoy them!
Which leads to next week's post, which will be about GRATITUDE!
As I prepare for today's book signing event at Nora Roberts's Turn the Page Bookstore and Cafe, I am excited to meet new people and hopefully sell a few copies of my Puritan Chronicles Trilogy!
So as I prepare for today's event, my focus is on having fun and rubbing elbows with a few fellow authors. Thanks in advance to all who come out to see us. I hope everyone enjoys themselves and have as great a time as I know I will!
Liberty and Family Dynamics
noun, plural liberties.
1.freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2.freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3.freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
Having just returned from a niece's wedding last weekend and spending time with all 6 of my beloved siblings and their families, I considered what I should blog about next. And then my good buddy Kelly inspired me with an interesting blog post of her own.
First let me say that I do not get to visit with my siblings as often as I would like to, so when we do get together I visit so hard I wear myself out!
It's almost inevitable that a family of 7 siblings with 17 in the next generation and 23 (and counting!) in the NEXT generation will have different political views. There were a few civil political debates during this weekend reunion, and although it is beyond my comprehension how peoples' individual views can differ so greatly, I'm glad for the diversity.
How can one point of view appear so obviously correct to one person and the opposite seem equally valid to another? This is a great mystery to me. On the flight home I was left baffled by this.
Sadly, some families are irreparably divided on political issues, and I'm glad that mine can participate in lively debates without any divisive discord. Admittedly, there were times I just wanted to throw my hands up in frustration but just having the opportunity to be in the presence of family outweighed that.
So I concluded that I'm tremendously thankful that we live in a country where we can have differing views and more importantly, openly express them.
1. Something that provides mirth or amusement. A picnic would be fun.
2. Enjoyment or playfulness. She's full of fun.
Years ago in a women's magazine I read an interesting essay comparing FUN and HAPPINESS. I have since forgotten the author's name, but nowadays you have only to Google "compare fun and happiness" and you get 150,000,000 results.
They are awfully close in meaning yet are not interchangeable. Both nouns, FUN seems to require an event, such as enjoying the company of family and friends. But after the event is over, has the FUN stopped, leaving you with a feeling of HAPPINESS as you remember the good times?
Of the two, I think I prefer HAPPINESS to FUN simply because of its "staying power." I can be happy for no particular reason other than I woke up to a lovely morning. HAPPINESS doesn't require an amusing event to be my current state of mind.
It's FUN to write fiction and it makes me happy when my words flow smoothly onto the screen, but I can experience HAPPINESS while executing mundane tasks like folding clothes, too. Folding clothes is not a particularly FUN chore, but I can be happy doing it.
Dave and I have FUN playing cribbage but just being with him gives me tremendous HAPPINESS. My cats make me happy, even when I am not having FUN playing with them.
And while FUN requires amusement, HAPPINESS is more of a personal choice. Despite your own present circumstances, no matter how much or how little you have in the bank, you can choose to experience HAPPINESS. The whole "Attitude is Everything" axiom.
But wait--can't you also choose to have FUN? yes, but again, it requires amusement. You could swing on a swing or attend a party and choose not to have FUN, but you had to get on the swing and attend the party first.
So I'll take HAPPINESS over FUN anytime. It's something I can generate on my own, even if sometimes it can be a challenge to do so.
My husband has been officially retired for 9 days now. His last worknight was Sept 26th. It's so great to have him home all the time now! And, as always, I am willing to adjust my own routine to accommodate HIM.
A morning person by nature, it was difficult for me to get accustomed to his working swings and mids in the USAF for the first 11 months of our marriage, but he preferred working nights. After the Air Force, he still avoided day shifts. I used to try staying up until Dave got home around 12:30am. I remember nights I'd have our first cat, Mocha, in my lap as I waited for him. She would hear the car pull into the driveway and the creak of the old gate as Dave passed through it. She readily jumped down from my lap and ran to the door to greet him with a friendly upraised tail and a sweet meow.
Through the years I worked various jobs, coinciding with his, working evenings. Since 2011 or so I have been a full time homemaker, and that suits me and Dave just fine.
Eventually I abandoned the idea of staying up for him. The cats always insisted on getting me up on THEIR schedules anyway, be it sticking a little nose in my ear and purring loudly (Mocha), licking my hairline (Kali), knocking items off my dresser (Storm) or batting at framed photos til they're almost knocked off the walls (Lily). I don't mind being summoned awake at 4 am. I'm a morning person, remember?
I love my morning time. I love my morning routine. I feed the cats (first things first, if I want any peace in the house!) and check email and Facebook over coffee. If I'm lucky, the Muses will inspire me and I'll do some actual writing.
For 28 years, my mornings' big concern was, what to make for lunch before Dave leaves for work at 3pm? And once he left, donning his black paramilitary uniform, the evening was MINE! and I had designated routine for the rest of the day.
I seldom ventured out unless I had a supper date with a friend (and she knows who she is, right K?).
After Dave left, I'd be on the computer for maybe 3-4 hours, chatting or playing games with lovely group of online friends. Later, I use this quiet time to read (if Dave is home the TV is on and that's not conducive to reading). I tend to get sleepy when I read, so most evenings by 6:30 I am in my jammies and ready for bed, all snuggled in with my latest library book. I'm asleep before 10pm usually, which is fine because like I said, I'm a morning person.
So why am I rambling on about how boring and routine my quiet little life is?
Because now Dave is home all the time. And I LOVE that. I really do. But a part of me really wants to fight to maintain my established routine. Fortunately Dave is a big fan of naps and while he naps I can play Boggle at 4pm then more often than not still have time to chat with a dear cousin at 5pm.
Forgot to mention, I would likely have my supper around 5 or just before, so I get typically get HUNGRY around then. I like a plan and I like to know what we're doing ahead of time. I have learned, however, Dave likes to be more spontaneous. He doesn't want to eat until later and frequently insists we go out. So once again I am having to accommodate him. Unfortunately, as I wait for him to decide what he wants to do for supper, I get hungrier and hungrier and then I get CRANKY! lol
So I am considering establishing a few "house rules" of my own now that we've reached a new chapter in our lives:
I'm all ears!
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The above is one of my favorite quotes from which to gain comfort and perspective. After last weekend's worst mass shooting in US history, my first reaction was, "well we gotta do something to restrict gun purchases."
But the problem is, anybody could snap--from stress, reaction to drugs, whatever.
And some people enjoy hunting, shooting guns for fun (like my husband) or just collecting them. And that should be perfectly legal and fine to do.
But so what, aside from offering prayers of healing and sympathy to the victims, do we do?
WHY?! Why do bad things happen to good people? We scream in anguish. Why does this stuff keep happening, and why does it seem to be accelerating so quickly it happens almost DAILY?!
We can't regulate everything. We can't watch everybody. All we can do is live our lives the best we can and consider that even events like those of last weekend are part of the greater scheme of things.
I really do believe that everything plays out as it's meant to. Maybe this happened to draw out compassion in others. Someone might be inspired to become a paramedic or even a doctor or at least a blood donor from this, thus saving others' lives. Someone else might be motivated to act politically, and push for stricter gun laws. The victims themselves may have had their organs harvested and donated, saving yet more lives.
Events send out ripples that effect everyone and everything, however slightly. You let someone ahead of you in line at the register and they're the 150th customer, promptly presented with a $500 gift card. The short cut you chose to take to work one day may have prevented you from being in an accident.
Everything plays out as it's meant to, whether we like the outcome or not. Maintaining our perspective in the aftermath of horrific tragedy can be difficult, but it's really all any of us can do.