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Posts Tagged ‘choices’

I sometimes pet sit. One of the dogs I walk takes us through a moss-lined, wooded path under a canopy of green trees and climbing vines. A stream runs alongside. Ahead, near the wooden footbridge, slick with moss, I can hear racing water. Because the dog I walk is a hound, we frequently pause so he can conduct in-depth sniffs of particular odors. This gives me time to notice and enjoy to flowers, ferns, plants, orange-capped mushrooms and small wildlife. I see ducks, squirrels and untold numbers of birds. And insects beyond number.

Today I glanced back to where we’d come. It was a pretty view. Green moss rolled out like a carpet. Trees reached out, touching branches to form an arch. Ferns and flowers made countless bouquets and fallen flower petals formed a white trail, stark against the green. It made me want to go back that way instead of crossing the bridge to the road, like we normally do. I knew what was back there and it was pleasant.

And the whole event, which lasted maybe two minutes before the hound was done sniffing and investigating, got me to thinking. As writers, is it important to stop and think about where we’ve come from? At least once in a while?

 

Only we can tell about the path we’ve been on, first the road to publication and our journey since. We know how hard or easy it was, how long it took, how pretty of an experience or how painful and terrible. Knowing this, having the memories fixed in our minds, we tend to concentrate on the trail ahead.

Where do we want to see ourselves? Like the dog and I, we must cross the bridge and trudge up the road to reach his driveway and ultimately home. He has a bone and water waiting for him.  As a writer, I know where I want to me by the end of this year and where I hope to be five-ten and twenty years from now. I have a plan — a footbridge and road– to get me there.

However, as I reflected today, it might be wise to include some reflective study in that plan. Once in a while, I should pause on my writing journey and look back at where I came from. The awkward first starts, the endless queries and just as endless rejections, the first few acceptances. The high of the first time seeing my name in print. The author events, workshops, practice of my craft, networking and the people I have met, seeing my book on a library shelf for the first time, and the list goes on. All the great, wonderful, exhilarating and all the sad, heart-breaking and bad things that have made me the writer I am today.

And in two years or five years I will be a different writer then I am today.

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A thought on how art, my world and writing all lately reflect reality, blending them into a therapeutic cocktail. Much like some artists paint or sculpt to find their inner self or new direction, oftentimes so do writers.

directions sign

On a personal front, I feel as though I’ve been living two lives for a while.

On one hand, I am blessed beyond imagination, surrounded by wholesome goodness, sweet success and pleasant pastimes. I can sit at my desk and listen to the happy chatter of my pet parrot, watch the songbirds merrily gathering at the feeders and know what tranquility feels like. I have my home, my pets, a growing writing career and a lovely spot in the region to plant my roots. I have people in my life; special and dear, appreciated, liked and treasured. I have coffee and chocolate. God has been so good and gracious to me.

girl at brook writing

But on the other hand, the one with different fingers, I can only describe the feeling as slowly sinking in the quagmire of a toxic pit. Wow, what a sudden change. Hence the emotion of having dual lives. And I pass as easily from one to the other as easily as a person can cross from one room to the next. However, my dual life is not the object of this post, rather my observation of it.

Recently I realized I also gave a character in a current Work In Progress a double life, though slightly different circumstances and situation. She had left one life for a new one, never fully leaving the old one behind. Ultimately, because this is fiction and we need conflict, her two lives can no longer compete and she must make a choice. While I suspect this was unintentional, I now see how much tension it creates for the story.

I see no resolution like that in my situation(s). I suspect they can continue on as thus far indefinitely. Back to that other hand with the different fingers.melting time

Interestingly, I have written this method before. I used it as a coping strategy. During a period of time when I was working through some health issues, I scribbled a short story. I took a character, the heroine, and plagued her with health concerns that resembled mine. And because it was fiction, I gave her the conflict of pending love to compete with her burden. Which would win out? The result is a ten thousand word story that I just this month signed the publication contract for. It’s called ‘Glimpse Eternity’.

In another Work in Progress, one I’ve been chipping away at for over a year now, I feature the heroine who has a sibling. The relationship they share closely mirrors the relationship between my sibling and I. Sublime message or unconscious thought? Art or life?

And I will make a guess that somewhere down the literary road, I will do this again. Something will pull that trigger and art will imitate life. I will write a story based on reality. Health challenges, family dynamics, dual lives, we can only guess at what will be next.

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February

February is the shortest month of the year. For me, this year’s February has been fraught with challenges and quandaries worthy of filling the longest season. Normally the first two weeks of April is historically the traditional time of great dread for me, when it seems the whole year’s worth of misfortune pours itself out over my head. This year, however, we seem to be getting a head start–several weeks early.

On the ninth, I fell, not in a glamorous fashion on the ice like some folks. I was simply coming home from work, was tired and forgot to pick up my feet. Or something like that. The good news is nothing broke in the fall, but it sure rocked my world. I was stunned for several moments before I could slowly–and oh so gingerly–climb to my feet. The next day I discovered a rash on my knee, that slowly turned a rainbow of bruising colors ever since. Now, 2 1/2 weeks later, it’s still an irritating dry patch of red. My hands and shoulder were also injured in the fall, excruciating at first, and slowly easing up as the month ends. While the swelling has gone down, the pain continues to remind me.

In addition, about three weeks ago, just before the graceful fall, my hot water stopped running. Due to the below freezing temperatures, I kind of assumed it was a frozen line and would thaw out soon enough. Well, I’ve been boiling water in my copper tea kettle, bird bathing using my ceramic bowl & pitcher set and generally roughing it ever since.

bowl abd pitcher

I did go to a friend’s house a couple of times for hot showers and do a load of laundry when the pioneer woman mentality ran thin or I ran out of work clothes. I kept plastic jugs and refilled them at work and at my friend’s house.

In the meantime, our temperatures have climbed well into the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and still no return of my hot water Finally on the 22nd, I went out to check on the situation. I was greeted with at least 6-8 inches of standing water in the crawl space. This was not good.

Monday the 23rd I contacted the company that services the home warranty I took out when I bought the house. They assured me they’d take care of this and hook me up with a great technician. Well, they did that much. To take a long week of frustration and impatience and condense it down, it happened like this: Yesterday a nice gentleman from a company specializing in water damage arrived. He drained all the gallons of standing water out, so the crawl space was pretty much dry for the plumber who came this morning. Over eight hours later this poor soul had more or less replaced most the piping under the house. Shout outs to both these guys and their companies.

I did learn, however, that neither my home warranty nor house insurance will cover nor reimburse any of my expenses. So thank goodness I had the money available on the plastic, unfortunately, they are almost maxed out now. But I have hot water once again and no fishing hole in my crawl space.

And apparently February wants to keep reminding me we are evidently in early training for April. As I was running a fast errand this morning, the check engine light come on the dashboard of my Jeep.

check engine

 

So tomorrow morning I have an appointment for that next.

If this keeps up, you won’t see me in April, I’ll be hibernating beneath a big rock!

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Lately I feel I have been on a journey of sorts. A prodding to step out from the norm and known into something new and different. I am reminded of the quote, source unknown, that reads: Some lessons are best learned through trials and understood through perspective. It might have been my profound wisdom but honestly, I don’t recall.

journey

For a number of years I have been content, and perhaps have even grown complacent, in my dwelling. I had a plan, to remain and save funds and eventually leave when I had what I considered to be adequate funds to go on to the next step in my plan, or journey.

Well, the trouble with Plan A is it seldom works out like we thought it should have. So we move on to Plan B or Plan G or sometimes even Plan N. That is  the Journey. Up those steps to the unknown. With a healthy mix of curiousness and trepidation, we begin our ascent up, looking up, peeking behind us, wondering both what does lie ahead and what are we leaving behind.

So my Plan A has recently been crushed and my hand forced into the next step. Well before I was ready. But I know what I have to do and why I have to do it. So this week I placed an offer on a different house and wait anxiously on return word. Somehow, regardless what the answer is, I will have taken another step up those stairs on my journey. There is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with that knowledge. Is that learning through trials? I’m not sure.

In just a few days, my next book goes live into the virtual world. Nervous? Sure I am. Having twins is hard. I barely have time and thought for one book, let alone two. But that is part of the journey too, is it not?  There is a sense of validation that comes with this though, and I suspect it has to do with perspective.

So as I wait for word on my offer on a house, and the final few days slide by before release date, I dream of paint schemes and think of impressed readers. Soon enough the holidays will enter my busy world too. This year will fall away and  a new one will open up, a new phase of this journey of life. And I will take a few more steps up to see what is really waiting at the top of our trek.

 

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Life from cut stump 7-31-14

I spotted this tiny maple tree shoot growing up from where a maple tree had been cut down. The tree was removed perhaps one or two years ago and I just discovered the fledgling shoot yesterday. It made me very happy as I stood there, thinking about it.

It tells me we have the ability to start life over when our original lives are in one way or another greatly altered. I spend a lot of time feeling like things are frequently changing in my life. Sometimes if is good change and sometimes not so much. Many times I lack the heart, strength or desire to begin again in whatever capacity I need to. I don’t want to have to pick up the remaining pieces and move on, especially if it requires learning new methods or changing comfortable old ones.

But here is this little tree. The original lovely tree had been removed, ground up for mulch. The site has been barren and void of life. Now, a brave shoot has gathered itself together to push up through the dirt and mulch and reach for the sunshine. It is trying its best to begin again.

What fate has in store I don’t know. It might get pulverized by a lawn mover or it might grow to great heights. Either way, it is trying and that is the lesson I need to take from this scene and carry with me when I feel like the remaining dead stump. There is still a spark of life left inside me that wants to reach up and grow and begin again.

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It has occurred to me today, that God sometimes pushes or pulls us through various stages of our lives. Actually. since He’s present at every stage, I am referring to ones specifically for His plan. Some stages or periods of time– years maybe– are smooth, easy and tranquil. They are full of possibilities, sunshine and brightness. And He is there enjoying it along side of us as we bask in the warm glow of goodness.

And then it seems He feels it is time to bring us out of that, to maybe bring us back. Perhaps we have grown complacent. I can be guilty of that. Perhaps we have stepped over to sin. Perhaps we have rebelled. Whatever we have done or not done, it is now time for God to shake us out of our happy little tranquility daze.

And it occurred to me He often does this by bodily throwing us into a storm-tossed sea. I have a wallpaper picture on the computer of a clipper ship under sail. It’s in the dark, swirling waters all around, waves breaking over the bow, threatening clouds, flashing lighting and the ship, so big and strong, is helplessly tossed like a toy in the storm.

Ah, how many times do I go back there? Feel like that? Several, that’s why I keep the picture. Way too many times I have felt just like that clipper ship being tossed to and fro in the storms of life.

But God seems to take us there for a purpose. And by deliberate design. I thought about it and sometimes it’s a physical illness or condition. Sometimes it is work or job related. Sometimes it’s family issues. Sometimes it could be the result of really bad choices. There could be lots of reasons we get tossed out into the storm. Either way, God has now taken us out there to the deep end of the storm and dropped us off–sink or swim time– or something like that.

We can flounder and fight it out on our own. We probably won’t get far. We probably will end up going down with the ship. Yeah, I’ve done that before, metaphorically speaking. Or we can learn to depend on Him through faith, believing that this period of insanity is serving some Higher purpose  Believing He is still with us in the height of the storm just as He was way back in the glow of goodness.

And, in the end, once we finally make it make it back to calmer waters, hopefully we have used that time in the storm to grow in our understanding of God, grown closer to Him, grown wiser in life and His plan for our life and maybe impacted others around us, witnessing our struggles.

Then the cycle seems to continue. We get to experience that soothing period of tranquility. We can catch our breath. Hopefully we don’t become complacent or wayward. Because up ahead there is a waterfall, a big one, and it is going to plunge us straight into the deep end of the maelstrom again.

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I had moved from the north to the south in 2004. For some reason, I was thinking of this move today.The van on loan from my home church resembled Noah’s Ark. Literally. Wally my plecto (big 16 inch ugly fish) and Bruce (14 inch shark) traveled in watery totes with battery-powered air supply. Their large aquarium  was nestled safely among my few belongings.

I had three cats–Sebastian, Kirbie Leigh and Pepper-who were all too advanced in age to be left behind. Sebastian and Kirbie had been with me long before my failed marriage had started. They were to be with me to the bitter end. I had a rescue rabbit–Jade–riding in his big bunny cage, munching hay. Taz, my blue and gold Macaw rode shotgun on the back of my passenger seat. Sharing hip space between the front seats were my last two remaining collies, Kip and Riley James. On the dashboard, looking like a stuffed bubble head toy was my Papillion, Scrapper. The only one missing was my horse. He was being cared for by someone and I would return for him in a few weeks.

I had managed to fit a few suitcases and boxes in for my stuff, but most the van space was indeed devoted to the pets and their stuff. It was much like traveling with a baby or toddler, nine times over. For about 850 miles. I am glad to say they all handled it very well. I do recall Taz got a little bored around southern Ohio so he and Pepper swapped places for a few a short while. And the last few miles to our new home the collies started growling and snapping at one another but they were tired and hungry and cramped so I understood.

So we all survived the journey, we settled in and blossomed where we were now planted in our new home, new region, new everything. And it occurred to me today that ten years have gone by since that time. Wally and Bruce– the fish I could not bear to part with–both died within a few years of fishy infections. I lost Sebastian and Kirbie Leigh within the first year, a scant thirteen days apart. Kip and Riley James were both passed on by 2010. Scrapper was let go just this year at the age of 17. Jade the bunny died within a couple years. Even my horse had to go on.

Of the original Noah’s Ark, only Taz and Pepper remain. Taz is 21 and Pepper is 18. The clock has started on Pepper’s countdown. Taz is expected to hopefully outlive me and everyone reading this post.  Maybe in 50 to 80 years, someone will read my journals and these blog entries and marvel at his travels.

So today I was taking a break, and I happened to realize who was chilling with me–Whymzie, Kryshnah and Muldoone. Just so happened it was these three. These are the three kitties I adopted shortly after moving to the south. Two were kittens and one was around a year old. And now all are ‘young’ seniors themselves. That was a scary revelation today. And finally there is the newest members of my group–Aspen who is about a year and her baby, Avery Faith, who is roughly 5 months old.

I see a cycle and I see time marching on. I do have new sharks, Zechariah and Malachi. They are still young, neither one not quite reaching a foot long yet. No dogs and no bunnies and no horses any more. The desire is certainly there, the time is not right. So I heed to the practicality of time over heart.

Time is such an odd and abstract creature. Unshakable, unchangeable, uncontrollable. It only marches onward, but our memories can take us backward. Today I think of my personal little Ark, full of pets who I wanted to have with me to begin a new life together. Isn’t it odd how choices and time often travel together?

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I will make no excuses for what I cannot do. I will make no apologies for what I cannot do.

If I think or suspect I can do it, I will most certainly try. If I know beyond reasonable doubts or expectations that I cannot, I shall not try. And if that decision happens to upset someone, then so be it. That is their problem, not mine. As for me, I shall only do the very best that I can for as long as I can.

Others may be irritated at my limitations, perhaps not understanding them. Or caring. I cannot help that either. I am not like more able-bodied people. Not anymore. And I make no apologies for that fact. No one is more aware of my limitations then I am, or more upset by them. No one is more inconvenienced or affected by my limitations then I am. So if there is any apology to be made, it should be made to me. But none is required.

I know what I have been reduced to. I live it each day. Others do not. I know what has been taken away from me, forever. Others might not. I still travel on. Others can only watch and form their own opinions. To each their own I say.  I know what I once was capable of, and more so, what I will never be again. I know the bitter taste of unfairness slowly melting in my mouth.

So for this I make no apologies. I am no not the person I once was. I am now less. But I am also more. Because I have had to become more in order to overcome.

I also know what I can do and do quite well. Things that so many others cannot. What most of the population cannot do actually. When I look at my list of personal accomplishments, I have to smile. How many can really do all the special and unique things that I can do? And to do so while carrying the unfair load I must carry and ‘look good’ while going it?  So few really. Just the travel weary warriors that share my same spirit of being a riser. Just those few who are like me.

When I look back at the life I have lived, at the accomplishments I have achieved, and what I am still doing, I have nothing to apologize for. The trivial things, everyday, ordinary things that I cannot do are nothing compared to the extraordinary things that I can do.

Philippians 4:13

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Scrapper 1-5-2014This post is about my Papillion Scrapper. She would be turning 17 this coming April. Perhaps. Beginning this past weekend she starting a frantic pacing about the house, crashing into litter boxes and through the water dish, bashing her nose into cabinets and wheezing during the few moments she would stop to rest. It was dreadful to watch as she careened, falling down the stairs whether she was headed up or down them for our walks outside. I cancelled my Monday morning appointment in order to get her in to see her doctor instead.

In the meantime, as Sunday wore on, I abandoned all suggestion of writing or work and tried to get her to settle down. I did not have much success as she was not in the cuddly mood. Suffice to say, this past weekend was a painful experience for me, agonizing on what I felt was coming at her Monday vet visit. The whole time driving her there, I really felt this was the end I had been anticipating. Up until a few months ago, she had been in great health, but I have noticed a gradual decline in both her eyesight and her overall health. But this weekend was the ultimate worse in which she had precious few good moments to outweigh the terrible panic and pain she must have been experiencing. It was nearly unbearable for me and I was just watching it.

Yet in the end, as I held her, choking back the tears, prepared to give my approval to let her go, I faltered. I could not do it. Was there something we were missing? Something left we had not considered? A single slice of a ray of hope? It was possible she had experienced a mini stroke over the weekend, which was causing her blind stumbling. If so, she might recover over time. She would improve to the point of being comfortable again. And I recalled my collie, Kip, had experienced a few strokes before the end and he still lived comfortably and happily for about a year or two  before his great heart and arthritis took him down for good.

However, if she were to have a tumor in her head, which we had suspected a month or two ago, she would not improve but continue to worsen. What a choice. What a decision. I opted on Monday to give her a few days, try some new medication and see if time would grant her some restoration. I left the office with her next to me, riding shotgun again, feeling as if I had cheated death– if only until Thursday. That was the deadline we set to make or break it.

Well, today is Thursday. To say it’s been an emotional week would be a huge understatement. I’ve kept an eagle eye on her, looking and praying for any slight sign of improvement. I finally saw it Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, when she met me at the door, ready to go out, I knew we were on to something.

This morning has been a series of small signs of improvement in her cognitive awareness and overall attitude. So I rang up the vet, requesting a refill on her medication. Let’s go for another week supply, see how things go over the weekend. I have just returned from the veterinarian’s office with a big bottle of medication, a bottle filled with hope and desire.

It might give her days or weeks or months of quality time. Or it might not. And in the end, ultimately I know in my aching heart, she will still have to be let go. I dread that day with everything in me. I cannot imagine how unpleasant I will be to be around on that day. On the drive back home, I kept wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I know there are days in which my chronic suffering is to the point I wish I could just be put to sleep, end my misery. But those days pass and are replaced by better days. And there is Pepper to consider. My 18-year-old kitty in which I have kept alive on a wing and a prayer, love and an arsenal of medications given on a tight schedule. Now I am committing the same tight schedule for Scrapper.

I have been asked before why I have such old animals. Most of my pets reach the double digits, many nearing two decades before I say the quality of their life has lessened and it was time to say good-bye, however painful. Quality has always been my number one goal over quantity, though I am glad they had such long wonderful and happy lives to share with me. As I point out when asked why I have geriatrics, they did not start out that way. They started out young and grew up, over time, to be old and full of years. Great years I have enjoyed sharing with them. Some folks ought to try it. Get a pup or kitten and grow it out to about 13 or 18 years. What an experience!

And now, Scrapper having had her treat and now sleeping peacefully at my feet, her breathing comfortable and her dreams happy ones, I know for today at least I made the right choice. Whether I borrowed some time today or simply cheated it, today was the right choice. Tomorrow is unknown. So is all of our futures.

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Let me be a little kinder.

Let me be a little blinder

to the faults of those around me;

Let me praise a little more.

Let me be when I am weary,

Just a little bit more cheery.

Let me serve a little better

those that I am striving for.

–Author unknown.

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