Five Minute Friday Link-Up :: Back

Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt—BACK—leads me.

FMF, #FMF, back, prompt

Right now, in this very moment, my days are focused on the word “back.” In a variety of ways, yes. But because of one distinct meaning for this word. 

First of all, I think of back, and I think of making a comeback. I really want to come back to writing more. More of anything–essays, memoir shorts, perhaps my memoir–I just want to write. And I haven’t done much of that for almost four years. Why?

When I toy with the word “back,” I also think of the last almost four years. The chronic pain in my lower back and legs kept me distracted, unable to focus, therefore unable to write. At least that’s how I’ve experienced it. It might be different for others, but then it’s my back, my pain, my experience I’m writing about now.

So, following surgery in March, I’ve been working hard to come back from that almost four years. I’m not there yet. There’s more rehab to get through, more progress to make, more fog and darkness to push through, and more prayers to pray and patience to learn.

When I’ve accomplished all this, with God’s help, I’m certain I’ll be ready for a comeback to so many things, but most of all, to the joy of writing.

 

Feature Image Attribution: engin akyurt from Pixabay 

 

Origin of Life in the Slow Lane

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.

Word for 2019

Lots of folks make resolutions each new year. Others set specific goals. I’ve never been successful with either. As I attempt to live in the slow lane, I’m putting aside such organized planning for my life.

 Instead, I’ve chosen the word contemplate” to guide me through my next year.
 
Slowing down has shown me areas in my life lacking attention. Examples include God’s teachings, prayer, reading, music, and more. When we center on a given activity, we hear more, see more, sense more, and learn more.
 
The word “more” in that last sentence excites me. Why? Because in this fast-paced, recognition driven, madcap social media world, I run to keep up. If I slow down and allow myself space to focus on the important things, I receive boundless gifts in the form of “more.”
 
All that translates to slow down, think, contemplate.
 
About the time I reached this conclusion, Mary Oliver left us for a better place. Yet, during Oliver’s life, she gave us many gifts in her poetry and other writings. I began to scour the Internet reading about her life and her poetry. While doing so, I came upon one of my favorites, thanks to a high school English teacher, The Summer Day.
 
For me, the most stunning lines in The Summer Day are the last two:
 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

 
It’s my belief God has slowed me down for a reason. Perhaps so He could shine a light on what I need to be doing more often and with greater intention. And He’s probably asking Himself, “What is taking so long?”
 
Well, there are a few things over which I have no control currently. I firmly believe in God’s understanding and patience much more than I do my own. So, I’ll push forward with this new lifestyle and way of thinking and writing to see where they take me.