Simplify

When I posted here on December 31, 2012, I spoke to the need to recover balance in my life and family, specifically seeking God’s guidance in what He has in store for me.  Since then, I’ve posted only once — a book review of Morning at Wellington Square by Susan Wiedener.
I have spent some small spaces of time in quiet reflection, dabbling in my writing projects, and expended huge amounts of time on failing laptops and computer equipment and getting those replaced or repaired.  In so doing, I have been given in those special quiet moments a word on which to reflect in 2013:

simplify

By placing the word “simplify” at the forefront of everything I seek to accomplish, I’m hopeful that when I feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the direction I should take I’ll simplify.  By leaving something behind, perhaps undone for the time being, and allowing myself to find those quiet moments again.

But I must admit I’ve missed the blogging and writing community.  I need to write — it is where I find myself most at home and thriving in my own creative world.  My husband has his creative niche — art and design — and mine is the need to use language, words, communication to bring my world alive.

So, I’m easing back in to blogging and writing and will begin to be more active as time and life allow.  After all, simplify is my mantra for now.  I can make it as simple as I want.

Seeking Quiet and Invisibility

“It’s time to fall back in love with your artand practice invisibility.”
~ Don McAllister of Linchpin Bloggers

Not too long ago I wrote a series of posts on time management.  Wondering how in the writing world I could or would find time to build a platform, find my tribe and keep up with social media AND write my memoir.  Sadly, I have found the answer.  The source of the answer has been a huge cost to my family and me in two ways.

First, a vicious and devastating illness trapped my husband’s brother in a rapid cognitive and physical decline.  We spent many miles and hours traveling to help with his care beginning in January 2012 until his passing on November 19th.  And then we spent about three weeks after that assisting his wife with details of a service, the estate, and much more.

About the same time, we learned that the oldest of our three children, a son aged 41, has cancer.  A highly treatable form, testicular cancer, and yet the word “cancer” itself is unsettling, unnerving, unwanted.  Our emotions are still tied in bundles as we await a visit with an oncologist.

During the weeks since November 19th, I’ve had lots of time to think. While away from home at that time, our schedule didn’t allow for computers.  It meant a forced stepping away from blogging, emails, social networking, writing. Upon returning home, sadness has kept me away from all this during the last month. It’s amazing when forced to give up all these cyber-tools how comfortable we can become without them.

I’m not certain just yet what God is trying to tell me, and if you know me at all, you know my faith is in Him and His Word.  What I do know is the season of my life is changing.  I can feel it, but I can’t yet wrap my arms around it.  One thing is for certain — God wants more of me than I have given.

There are things in our family order that need to be tended to and I need to be there for those who need me.  Simply said, I need to be the wife and mother I signed on to be long ago.

In order to listen more closely to God’s guidance in this part of my life, I have decided to grant myself a season of retreat.  For the next three months — January 1, 2013 – March 31, 2013 — this blog will, for the most part, be inactive.  Starting now, I’m turning off comments.  I am eliminating such distractions as social media and blog comments from my days.

My season of grief and sorrow is fading but I am uncertain about my future as a blogger.  During the time that I am not here, I hope to continue work on two projects:

  • Drafting my memoir
  • Research into the orphanage system of this country during the late 19th and early 20th century in preparation for a book about my father’s life as an orphan

In addition, I have registered for a writing workshop, Beachside Writers 2013, in Yachats, Oregon (March 1-3, 2013).  A place to learn from experienced writers, a place to meet new writing friends, and a quiet place by the Pacific to reflect.

For the time being, I hope that some of the friendships I have made through my writing interests will continue.  You my contact me via email, or find me on this blog’s Facebook page, but otherwise I need to retreat into a quiet space and time with My Master and listen for His Words to direct my next steps.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (Book Review)


Perhaps the subtitle (A Memoir of Going Home) is what threw me a curve when I first put this memoir on my “to read” list.

You see if the title, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, precedes a hint at this Mennonite going home the reader may expect some facts about the Mennonite faith, what life was like growing up a Mennonite, stories of buggy rides (or am I confusing them with the Amish?).

But that is not what Rhoda Janzen has written.  Janzen, who is not only a writer but also a poet, teaches English and Creative Writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  Using her expertise as a writing professional, Janzen weaves her story with nostalgia, humor, some facts about her family’s faith, talk about aging, and tops it off with a look at parents who have accepted the woman Janzen grew up to be.

I found Janzen’s book so engaging that at times I found myself chuckling out loud or uttering an affirmation of my agreement about “going home.”  A journey toward the home of your childhood as a 40-year old divorcee whose husband left her for a gay man he found on Craigslist isn’t paved with thoughts of warmth and welcome.

Yet Janzen’s deadpan, witty and wry humor makes it a journey her reader enjoys.  My recommendation is:  If you haven’t read it, do!

Change Means . . . Moving On!

Today I’m guest posting at Belinda Nicoll’s blog, My Rite of Passage, where Belinda has been sharing what change means.  Each Friday someone has told a personal story on change, rite of passage as it were, and what it meant in their lives.  Here’s where change started for me:
When I married my second husband in 1981, I envisioned living out our lives in Tennessee.  It was MY home state, where I was born and raised.  Other than two years living outside Nashville while in college, I’d never thought of living elsewhere.

I had been well-versed by my mother in the belief that one never “left home” — your immediate family implied here.  Her temperamental nature had also been engrained in mine.  It was understood that she was the matriarch and hers was the last word.

Fast forward to 1983.  A friend of my husband’s called from Oregon and offered him a lucrative opportunity in Portland.  We had struggled financially in the intervening two years, and the offer would improve our circumstances.  The choice to make a physical move was easy for the two of us.  However, there were contingencies to be faced.

You can read the rest here.