December 2019 is here. Where did November, October, and September go? In my world, they seemed to fly by. How about you? The image above reflects mostly what I’ve been doing–reading by the fire.
In looking through my blog yesterday, I was shocked to find my last post was on November 19, 2019. The post is my review of Kathy Pooler’s second memoir, Just the Way He Walked(see Disclosures). I have other book reviews to share but I’ll be honest and not beat around the bush. My motivation to write, even a book review, is gone.
I seek inspiration looking out the windows, listening to music, reading others’ work. Nothing happens. Nothing comes to me. I go back over my list of ideas for blog posts. Nothing jolts me into action. And it’s not just writing.
Some days I can’t find interest in doing much of anything. I tackle the mundane–household chores, laundry, cleaning the kitchen following meals, wiping down countertops. These are chores that cry out to be dealt with NOW!
Why am I telling you all this? Simply to let you know that I’m going to turn out the lights on the blog until January 2020 in hopes of feeling more like the writer/blogger I have been. I may even tackle sending out a monthly newsletter. Who knows what the new year may bring?
With the preparations needed for the holiday season and appointments four out of five days next week, I need to devote time to get through this month.
I came across this quote from Marianne Williamson this morning.
‘Once everything falls into place,
I’ll feel peace.’
‘Find your peace, and
everything will fall into place.’
A still small voice said, “You need to find peace with your current situation.” That’s my plan for December 2019.
First things first on Sundays. Once awake and with my feet under me, I prepare breakfast. It’s simple and quick. I have other tasks to do before leaving for church.
This Sunday is special as it’s musical from beginning to end.
At church, we expect the sounds of our Children’s Choir. Hearing these young voices is always a joy-filled experience. Children present the fresh and unadulterated faith we all should carry in our hearts.
Under the direction of a talented young man, the children sing a new arrangement of Down by the Riverside. Our choristers range in age from kindergarten through grade school. Their abilities follow the same range. Their performance gets rousing affirmation with applause.
From here, we dash for a cup of coffee and some fellowship with friends and new faces. We can only stay a short while as we have other places to be.
Early afternoon and after a bite of lunch, we head out to attend a concert by the Bach Cantata Choir. This organization is made up of some very talented vocalists and musicians. The choir’s goal is to sing all Bach’s cantatas in 30 years. I have no idea where they are in accomplishing this.
Yesterday’s concert was billed as “Super Bach Sunday.” The group’s director offers this concert as a substitute for an annual football game on TV. We were blessed with some awe-inspiring and spiritual cantatas by Bach. Pieces by siblings, Felix and Fanny Mendelsohn, and Handel finished the program. We left feeling overwhelmed in a joyous way. We commented to the director that yesterday was a WOW! performance.
It was a beautiful blessing, both morning and afternoon. The feeling will carry us through this week.
As a full-time legal secretary, wife, and mom, I felt busy. I longed for the days of retirement. People said when they retired there was never enough time for all they wanted to do. How could it be?
Now I know. With retirement in our lives for a combined 17 years, it seems each day reaches the brim of overflowing. Yet there are always things still left undone.
Add in my chronic pain and minor injuries (both of us) and it seems even more overwhelming. Facing surgery and recovery, I realize the time has come to make changes in my handling of this gift called life. Read with me for a few more paragraphs to see what my plans entail.
Achieving a Balanced Life
Balance is something we all count on in our physical world. Walking, running, biking, hiking, and any number of physical activities need good balance. Some of us have excellent balance, and some of us are likewise blessed, or not, with poor balance. I fall in the latter category (no pun intended).
Poor physical balance doesn’t mean I can’t have a balanced life. Life itself is:
Incrementally divided by time and how you spend it;
Affected by our activities, whether physical, creative or otherwise;
Based on our relationships and others’ impact on our lives;
Enriched by solitude.
1. Time and How We Spend It
Due to chronic pain and an unhealthy spine, I’m spending far more time on the computer than I should. Both sitting and standing are painful so those options aren’t as available to my writing as I’d like. Besides my writing, there is a newsletter and blog post reading. Then comes social media and email correspondence keeping me current with writing friends. Social media also helps keep up with family. More and more, everything requires a computer.
Bottom line, too much of my time seems front and center with my laptop. And I’m beginning not to enjoy it so much. You might say it’s because of my current spine pain and impending surgery but that’s not what I’m feeling. It’s what I’m going to call “computer burnout.”
2. Activities, Creative or Otherwise
If I’m going to be able to sit more comfortably after surgery, I want to quilt! If I could have a day or two a week in which I cut quilt pieces and sew them together, I’d be a happy camper quilter. And improved sitting means I could play the piano more often. Improved standing means I could work on my flute music. Both of these I miss because of (drumroll, here) “computer burnout.”
Also, I volunteer as a mentor in the Mothers of Preschooler program at our church. It requires only two Friday mornings a month, but there are other outside activities. Then new births among our group which include cooking for the family until mom is back on her feet again. Case in point: One of my mentees this past year gave birth to triplets. Although they were born in May (quite early in fact), they are just beginning to transition home. We’ll be cooking for them soon.
A great love of mine is being a “groupie” for the bands my husband makes music in, among them a Dixieland jazz group. I enjoy getting to know the other members and their spouses. And it’s great fun helping now and then hosting refreshments at a concert.
Bob and I enjoy supporting our church home and family in many ways. Each which requires a time commitment. This is something I’m not willing to give up yet.
3. Relationships and How They Affect Your Life
If I overload my day, I easily grow frustrated and a bit testy (don’t ask Bob what he calls this, OK?). This isn’t fair to Bob, especially if he’s in the middle of a new design project or new music or whatever he’s engaged in. My frustrations taken out on him make him feel less important than he truly is in my life. And it works both ways.
Time for keeping our relationship rich and loving should always be at the top of our list.
Friendships need a similar consideration. We never should take out on a friend our daily frustrations. Keep this in mind and you’ll feel better and so will your friends.
Don’t forget family, including children, parents, siblings, and even your pets. They don’t deserve to receive the brunt of your disgruntlement. And most importantly, they need to hear you say, “I love you.”
Bob and I both tend to be introverts. Solitude is important to each of us. And one’s desire for some alone time doesn’t bother the other. I probably have the advantage here. Bob has music rehearsals two nights per week plus an occasional Sunday afternoon. Concerts and performances come at odd and random times. As I mentioned above, I love to go along and support him.
We are both avid readers. Often we find solitude sitting in the family room reading. Soft classical music may be playing in the background. It’s amazing how you can find solitude in the same room with another person. We spend many pleasant hours that way in our home.
Solitude is an important part of self-care and we need to bring this to the forefront of our own well-being. Time to reflect on your life, values, memories or to spend time in meditation is healing in many ways. Don’t ever forget to take care of yourself.
I’ve taken a long time explaining myself (sorry!). What I need you to know is that my posting schedule with the blog will soon change. In fact, I missed posting last week.
Starting today, I will be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites much less than usual. I will continue to participate in a few groups a bit more actively because of their relationship to my writing.
Beginning with this post, I’ll be posting every other week, when possible. Surgery, recovery, and rehab will dictate sometimes. Those who requested my posts via my newsletter will arrive as they always have. When I post, you’ll receive it under cover of my MailerLite account.
My newsletter schedule will change as well. The newsletter will no longer come out on the third Wednesday of the month. Instead, I plan to make my newsletter quarterly rather than monthly. This change will take place beginning in October. The first quarterly edition will arrive in your inbox on Thursday, October 4, 2018.
I hope you will each take the time to review your own lives and commitments. Take time to look for balance, harmony, and joy in your life. If it isn’t there, figure out why and then make whatever changes are necessary.
Buy the Little Ones a Dolly: A Memoir by Rose E. Bingham Published by HenschelHAUS Publishing (December 1, 2017) Genre: Memoir/Family Relationships/Mental Health Source: Purchased Format: Kindle, 260 pages ASIN: B077KDHXFK
In a small, close-knit Wisconsin community, a mother goes into town and never returns. It’s 1952 and Rose, at 15, is the oldest of seven children, the youngest of whom is only 3. As hard as Rose and her father tried to keep things together on the home front, with the help of kind relatives and sympathetic neighbors, in 1954, the children were ultimately placed in an orphanage, and later split up into five different foster families.
“Buy the little ones a dolly” were some of the last words Rose received from her mother in a Christmas letter, sent without a return address. Rose made it her lifelong mission to maintain contact among the siblings. Rose intimately escorts the reader on her journey through trials, tribulations, joy, and love. The mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance comes to light 59 years later.
The first sentence in the synopsis above is almost unfathomable to most parents, especially mothers. However, it is something that happens more often than we probably know. Given the time frame, it likely happened frequently in a family the size of Rose Bingham’s. It was this sentence that caught my attention because of its similarity to an incident in my mother’s family history.
When I picked up Buy the Little Ones a Dolly, I had no intention of giving up everything else I had on my to-do list. If I remember correctly, I carried it to the kitchen while I prepared our evening meal that day. Yes, it’s that compelling.
Not only is Rose Bingham an exceptional writer, she tells a story of rising up at the age of 15 to the role of mother of six younger siblings, a role which takes courage, strength, faith, and a positive outlook. Rose tells her story with sincerity and authenticity. I continually found myself wanting to sit down and visit with Rose, and since I couldn’t, the book was an excellent substitute for real-time conversation.
In addition to caring for her siblings, often in the absence of their father as well, Rose dreams of solving the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and where she is. Occasional letters bear no return address. Rose is blessed with pluck and hope and eventually, the mystery is unraveled and revealed to her readers.
Be sure to keep tissues handy. They’ll be useful.
Meet the Author:
Rose Bingham is a retired registered nurse. She graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and received her BSN from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. She has always enjoyed writing poetry but has written a memoir. Rose’s memoir is about moving on after the disappearance of her mother. A three year study by Lynn Davidman, a professor of sociology, of men and women who had lost their mothers, discovered many go on to careers such as nursing. There are four nurses in Rose’s family.
Rose and her husband, Mike, reside in Wisconsin Dells, Wi. They have six children, seventeen grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, and a spoiled dog, Rylee.
Drawing on a line from the movie, The Wizard of Oz, I kept running the title for this post over and over in my head to the cadence used in this scene.
No, I haven’t faced anything nearly as frightening or deadly as lions, tigers and bears in recent days. But Microsoft’s Windows 10 soured my technology tastes just before a two-day writing conference. Hurrying home on Saturday, I planned to spend Sunday getting Windows 10 up and running, only to decide the Geek Squad would be my best bet. And then they took longer than first thought.
A Word on Windows 10
My purpose here is not to speak negatively about Windows 10 or Microsoft’s decision to upgrade to a new version of its operating system. Frustrations grew out of my haste in choosing to upgrade before all the bugs were worked out.
Husband Bob and I had upgraded his computer to Windows 10 without a hitch. Only one little problem after the upgrade finished, and it was such a minor issue it only took seconds to correct it. Why would it not go the same on my laptop?
Well, it didn’t. Nobody knows why Windows 10 chose to destroy and almost annihilate my poor Lenovo laptop. Suddenly, in the middle of the upgrade, the screen flashes as if it were a neon sign directing consumers to a favorite local pub or special event.
Nothing would make it stop or clear its throat but shutting down the computer. And nothing I tried that long Thursday evening would bring it back to life.
Earlier in the day, I backed up to a thumb drive all manuscript files as well as other projects not yet completed before attempting the upgrade.
I should have known better than to rush into this the night before my conference began. And I strongly recommend giving it some time to work out all its little issues, obviously some larger than others.
Willamette Writers Conference 2015
Day 1 (Friday)
Despite the events of the night before, the first day of the conference, including a 50th-anniversary celebration for Willamette Writers, dawned glorious and energizing. A keynote speaker Friday morning woke us up with an inspirational sharing of his own story as a writer and the truth of the hard journey writers often face.
My schedule for the day included back-to-back workshops, most focusing on the mysterious world of self-publishing. I met Carla King briefly as she facilitated a panel discussion of three writers who have self-published. Later in the day, I listened carefully to Melissa Hart‘s three-hour presentation on writing and publishing a book-length memoir. Well worth every minute spent with these two women.
I did reserve time for one writing workshop in the morning hours led by the keynote speaker, Bill Kenower, founder and editor-in-chief of Author Magazine. Listening to Bill both in the morning and in the workshop was like an instant makeover of my perspective on the writing life and where I am in my journey. Thank you, Bill!
This doesn’t include nor give credit to three wonderful women writers I met on Friday–Karen Garst, Cecelia Otto and Nikki Martin. We enjoyed conversation and chatter over lunch and drinks, and I hope to continue to connect with each of them.
I went home at the end of the day filled with motivation, encouragement, inspiration, and a notebook stuffed with notes and handouts. I determined not to even cast a glance toward my laptop.
Day 2 (Saturday)
A slight change in my schedule found me sitting in Larry Brooks‘s presentation on getting to that “true final draft.” Larry is a consummate teacher and lover of words and writing. His passion for the subject he’s teaching combined with his own best-selling books make him the perfect writing teacher.
Larry’s genre is fiction, primarily suspense and thriller stories. He has also written nonfiction but instructional nonfiction on the subject of, what else, writing. However, I had heard so much about his teaching that at the last minute I switched workshops to experience him in action firsthand.
I was not disappointed. And as Larry moved through a topic about which he gets excited, humorous, flippant, and sarcastic at times, I knew I was listening to someone who really knew his craft. By the end of the 90 minutes, I saw the connection between what he was teaching and my work in writing memoir. Following the workshop, I told him of the connection I had made and we discussed it for a few moments. I’m glad I attended Larry’s session.
Then another panel but this time with editors who wanted to share how writers should write to please editors. It was a lively and fast-paced panel discussion, including a freelance editor who also works for a local house, a traditional house editor working from home here in Portland, and lastly another traditional house editor working in-house. Their processes were very similar with respect to agents and writers, with the major difference being in their respective proximity to their personal editorial teams.
In that last session on what editors want to see, I may have met a potential writing/critiquing partner, Linda Atwell, also working on a memoir project. Networking and meeting up with new people is a huge benefit to conference attendance.
One last workshop on print design with Cheri Lasota, a young woman well-versed in book design and design software. In fact, Cheri’s knowledge coupled with her enthusiasm for writing and publishing almost demolished the six minds sitting in the room with her. There was no way we could absorb everything she wanted to share, and we were all grateful when she indicated she would email us her slides. Whew!
Another workshop was available but after that last one, it was time to head homeward.
Geek Squad to the Rescue!
After a good night’s rest, I arose on Sunday determined to conquer Windows 10 and resurrect my Lenovo laptop. After preparing breakfast and seeing Husband Bob off to church, I settled into the task. Online I found many sites offering instructions on reverting back to Windows 8.1 and then installing the Windows 10 upgrade again. These were daunting words. They meant others had met a similar problem.
I followed their instructions to the letter multiple times. Not once did I ever get a positive response. Around noon, I caved in and called the Geeks over at the Squad.
The “agent” assigned to “my case” quietly checked the laptop out with a few almost doctoral sounding hmm’s and aah’s. Finally, he tells me he’s keeping my laptop for the next couple of days. With disappointment, I left alone.
Patience has not been a longstanding virtue of mine, so Monday and Tuesday weren’t especially easy for me. I now had all this new knowledge and inspiration to complete my manuscript, but I couldn’t get to a computer to get it done. Finally, late Tuesday afternoon another “agent” called to give a status update. And late Wednesday afternoon, I picked up my laptop and gently brought it home.
But I still had work to do. All applications and software loaded on my laptop after I purchased it were wiped out and needed reloading. Guess how I spent my Thursday? After several hours, I had things back pretty much where I wanted them, and today I typed this post on my newly restored Lenovo laptop upgraded to Windows 10 and operating quite well.
⇒ Never, I say, never again will I rush into a Microsoft upgrade. In an earlier life working in a law firm, I had gone through many such upgrades, always before any bugs were worked out.
⇒ Never again will I attempt such an upgrade the night before the first day of a conference. It causes frustration, loss of sleep, and a bad start to the next morning.
⇒ Never will I miss attending the Willamette Writer’s Annual Conference, if I can help it. Too valuable to miss.
⇒ Beginning now, I will work on exercising greater patience in all areas of my life.
Do you have any similar stories to share about computer failures or upgrades or other crises happening just before a writing conference you’d like to share? Leave them for us in the comment section below. We’d love to hear your stories too.
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