In January, I posted this update relating to my site and my thoughts on future writing plans. At the time, I chose a new title for my site. That was not to imply I wasn’t happy with the previous title, The Writing Studio. It didn’t seem to fit my online persona as well as it did the actual studio my husband designed and built for me.
Today’s post, I hope, will give you a look into how I chose the new title, Life in the Slow Lane. My explanation is long in coming but with this bit of change, my desire to write grows stronger each day. And so it is that I share the origin of the new name.
Living in the slow lane is a beautiful gift. A gift of time. Time for planning and dreaming and reflecting. Each of these processes brings a special gift. These gifts conjured up images of trips down long and winding country roads, thus the title “Life in the Slow Lane” was born.
One day, while struggling with chronic pain, I realized that I pushed myself in ways I could give up. Overload, perfectionism, and social media took precious time from my family and faith. Without either of these, I am lost as an individual.
Slowing down is hard for a perfectionist. The detail-oriented tend to bury themselves in overload. My thoughts gave me a sense of humility and raised questions. All this forced me to take a good look at what I want the next decades to look like. Asking yourself questions can be scary and humbling but it also guides and directs you.
One of my biggest writing battles is with myself. I love the craft and process of scripting words together to tell a story, my story. I have completed a manuscript of my memoir. But I’ve reached a point where I can’t make up my mind about publishing it. I know it’s well written although it needs some restructuring. It tells my story with truth, love, and faith. With very little work, it could be ready for submission in a few days/weeks.
I’ve wrangled with myself like a cowboy trying to rope a calf and brand it. Bob and I have had discussion after discussion about what I should or shouldn’t do. In all honesty, there are many points under my “shouldn’t” column. And if anyone ever needs someone to coach them into doing something, I’ll hire Bob out.
The biggest part of my problem? I’ve finished the fun part of writing this book–the writing and researching. I don’t want to deal with launching, marketing, selling, and putting myself in front of the book. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am. However, I did what I’ve always said I would do: Write the story of my difficult relationship with my mother. It seems others have always assumed I meant I’d publish it too.
During the last three years, my inability to focus on writing has taught me several things. First, I could have spent many more years sitting or lying in pain than I have. Diagnosed at age 12 with scoliosis, I was fortunate to not suffer from back pain until I was in my late 30s/early 40s. Luck was with me all those years.
During this time, I’ve enjoyed the love and companionship of a caring husband and one of the best nurses I know. He’s cared for me through more surgeries than either of us wants to count. Despite this, we have enjoyed the activities we enjoy both at home and in our community.
My thoughts next turned to once the recovery from this recent surgery is behind me. What do I really want to do with my life? Lots of things came to mind, but the best and most important are below:
Wake up every morning looking forward to spending each day with the love of my life, 24/7, no less.
Listen to classical music every day, whether via radio, CDs, or Bob practicing one of his many horns.
Love our home and care for it as I have always done, except when unable to because of pain.
Spread our love to our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids despite the miles separating us.
Gardening! I haven’t been able to dig in the dirt and garden for so many summers now. I’ve watched Bob do it all and longed to be out there with him.
Volunteer my time as I am able, especially with the Mothers of Preschoolers program.
Ride in our red convertible come spring and summer down those long, lazy country back roads.
Write, write, write! Whatever I choose to write. Whatever I want to write. Simply because I want to write. Not because I’m looking to make a name for myself as a writer, or get rich as a writer, or whatever. I love words and writing them down. And I love telling stories.
And whatever I’m doing I want to do it all giving the credit and glory to God.
There you have it—the name behind this site is a short summation of my life from here until God calls me home. Nothing more, nothing less than who I am and believe I should be.
Since my mid-November post, I’ve spent a lot of time watching the changing seasons. Most winter days in the Pacific NW are gray, foggy, and rainy. Not uplifting.
I spied a joyful surprise on one of these gray days as I returned from our mailbox. Abundant blossoms are peeking from beneath the leaves on our Christmas Rose Helleborus. (See image above, thanks to Pixabay).
With the changing seasons come changes in our lives.
Unfortunately, my surgery still isn’t scheduled yet. My husband and I have been waiting for this date for some time. But, insurance companies do not move quickly in approving surgeries.
Waiting leads to boredom. I find myself dabbling in a variety of pastimes. Lots of reading, some knitting, adult coloring, and trying my hand at journalling. While dabbling, I sense joy in what I’m doing. Quite often one thing leads to another.
Like thinking. I’ve been doing some deep thinking about my writing. Starting now, the focus of my site and blog is changing. I’ll no longer post instructional writing topics and tips. Book reviews from time to time remain in my plans.
The big change is a move toward a more contemplative style of writing. Within my life experiences, my faith, a love of words, and memories, there are many things to share with you. I will be bringing to the blog a greater sense of who I am and where I come from. I’m excited about writing something new and fresh.
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Have you ever noticed it doesn’t matter to a cat where it rests or naps? Or when or on what piece of furniture? Or in what position–belly up, draping its legs this way and that? Oh, to be so relaxed that it doesn’t matter.
We humans live under too much stress to act like a cat. Yet, I’m going to try. I managed to do it once before and then lost it.
In 2005, I enjoyed a three-month sabbatical with my last employer. Obviously, it was to my credit that my temperament improved from the law firm and its lawyers. At the end of my time off, my husband announced he had enjoyed my time at home with him. So much so, he had decided it was time for me to retire.
In a few months, I retired.
I haven’t looked back with any regrets. With one exception, retirement has been everything I hoped for. However, I tend to take on too much too often to enjoy any time for me. I’m learning to say the word “no” more often, but not yet well-practiced at saying the word “yes” to myself.
I’ve enjoyed the time to write, but life has gotten in the way of publishing my memoir. And I’m growing tired of blogging and social media. I don’t find joy in any of them at the moment.
That’s why it’s time to pause. Like a cat–right now–today.
November 15th is the beginning of personal time for a while.
I will not be posting to the blog for approximately six weeks. There won’t be a quarterly newsletter until after the first of 2019. I will not be on social media for reasons other than family and keeping up with church and volunteer activities.
I am hoping to get some work done on my manuscript, but I’ll also be preparing myself for a third spine surgery. I want to be in the best physical state possible as I want this surgery to work in easing my pain to some degree and to experience a good recovery.
Thanksgiving and Christmas
To each one of you, I send Thanksgiving and Christmas greetings. I hope the season of gratitude and the season of His birth bring hope, joy, and love in abundance to you and yours.
As we move from summer to autumn, changes appear all around us. We notice changes in tree colors, smells in the air, cooler temperatures, and the length of days. We even note changes in how our bodies feel.
A larger scope allows us to see larger and often destructive changes all around us. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and raging wildfires across our country left much destruction. In our treatment of each other, we sense the destruction of community.
So many things are changing
The list could go on, but this gives you an idea of what’s coursing through my mind.
A look at the weather
We moved from Tennessee to Oregon in 1983, arriving a day or so before July 4th. Imagine my surprise when Bob suggested I grab jackets as we left our hotel in the early afternoon. We were visiting with friends for burgers, and fireworks in the later evening. But gosh! It was the 4th of July! The day couldn’t possibly cool off that much.
Hold on just a minute. Believe me when I say this. I was actually in disbelief when I asked Bob to go to the car and grab my sweater around 7:00 that evening. The sun was still bright in the sky, but a wind had come up and was casting chilly breezes around.
Fast forward to the summer of 2017. The hottest summer on record for our area. Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, and all the Willamette Valley registered temps well into three digits. This lasted several days and lingered in the 90s for the rest. No rain for over 90 days. The parched ground cries for water. What is usually covered with green grasses is brown and ripe for the flick of a flame to start a fire.
Many landscapes in our world are transforming, whether by Mother Nature’s normal routine. Or is it due to global warming, or perhaps unwitting actions we take?
If August’s heat wave wasn’t enough, September 2nd provided the next shock for Oregonians. News images left people in disbelief. One of Oregon’s greatest natural treasures was engulfed in flames. The Eagle Creek Trailhead and Campground erupted in flames that afternoon.
As of Sunday last, the fire had reached 48,000 acres and was 32 percent contained. The landscape of this sacred place has changed.
As the fire burned, it grew closer to Portland. The smoke filled the valley’s skies and air quality created breathing issues for some. I have never lived where smoke from a large fire came so close that ashes fell to the ground and the air became heavy. The fire was 22 miles from where we live.
Remembering Harvey and Irma
Let’s not forget Harvey and Irma. Harvey left inflicted immense damage on Houston and surrounding area. A great deal of the State of Florida were in Irma’s wide and sweeping path. These people now look outside and see a landscapes changed drastically.
Changing attitudes toward others
News reports involving the Eagle Creek Fire suggested young boys were responsible. Social media took up its standard and attempted to crucify these young fellows. At this point, authorities had not charged the boys with anything. Nor were they commenting widely in the news media.
In my opinion, the boys may be found responsible for throwing fireworks and starting the fire. One eyewitness reports seeing them. Perhaps someone failed to teach these boys respect for public trails and nature’s beauty. To damage these areas is to hurt more than just the brush and trees along the way. It deprives others of the pleasure of using the trails and camping areas.
Another sign of a changing landscape in our world today. Living among us are people too quick to judge and accuse others, even before they know the facts or truth of a matter. What bothered me most was the finger pointers and accusers called themselves Christians. They had children of their own. I wonder if they stopped to think how they would feel under similar circumstances.
* * *
Signs of changing times, or did I just imagine that we’re back in the 1960s? Of course, we weren’t talking about global warming or climate change then but we weren’t being good stewards of our country environmentally. Our attitudes toward our differences in skin color, religion, ethnicity were under scrutiny, but personally I don’t believe we’ve come far enough to make a difference.
What have you noticed around you–in your family, your city or town, your church or school, your neighborhood, your various landscapes–that is or has changed recently? Would you be willing to share with us in the comments? I hope so.