A V-formation flock of geese seems to have one member of the group as the leader, but each member takes its turn at the point of the V, leading the way as the others in the formation honk in encouragement. The geese stay together, even when one becomes sick or injured; the group stays with it until it is well enough to continue the journey at its regular pace.
This isn't a good blog writing day: I seem to be coming down
with a cold.I hope it's just a matter
of being time to go back on my allergy meds, but my husband and several
grandkids are just getting over nasty colds so . . .
Anyway I considered writing about the loss of life and
property in Moore, Oklahoma, and how we never know when tragedy might
strike.However all I can think of is
the importance of being prepared with 72 hour kits, establish a contact place
outside of your area where you can meet up with loved ones or leave messages, and
the importance of making sure the people you love know you care about
them.I've been impressed with the
courage and bravery so many have shown, I've wiped away tears for reunions and
losses, and I've wondered why zoning laws don't require safe rooms in houses
and public buildings along tornado alley.But the fact is, I don't feel like writing at all.
I'll admit it's unusual for me to not want to write.This feeling is different from writer's
block, a malady that strikes all writers sooner or later for varying lengths of
time.With Writer's block we may want to
write, might even be in the middle of a project we want very much to finish,
but feel stumped, don't know where to go, sometimes feel overwhelmed, the words
just won't come.But in this case there
are thoughts in my head, things I could write about the tornado, about my
sadness for the death of President Monson's wife, my disgust for the political
scandals that were hid from the public before the election and the extremist
views and comments from both the right and left that are only making a bad
situation worse, all the cute and funny moments my grandchildren have brought
into my life, and the kind action of my daughters who undertook a shopping
expedition for me. (I now have a pair of pants that fit!) I could even write
about my therapy experience.Who would
have thought learning to bend and straighten a knee could be so exhausting and
What I really want to do is crawl in bed.I had a strenuous workout today so I'll
probably run the ice machine on my knee first, then swallow a few pills.I'll try to do better next time I blog.Good night all.
The latest Reader's Digest has an article featuring a new book by life coach J. P. Hansen, The Bliss List. There's an exercise entitled "Bliss: List What you Love." #1 is Identify Your Passions. As I thought about this, I wasn't surprised to realize I would be in a totally 'blissful' state if I could spend every afternoon doing family history. Or maybe even all day long every day!!
Then on the 22 hour drive home from South Dakota, I listened to an audio book by Stephen Covey, "Focus: Achieving Your Highest Priorities." I scribbled a few things that came to mind as I drove across those endlessly beautiful miles of rolling green hills dotted with sheep - lots of little white lambs frolicking about and black calves following their mothers, and even buffalo and hundreds of antelope.
What did I want to focus most on? What were my highest priorities? You will not be surprised at my list. I want to finish my Mom's life story this year. I had 91 pictures set aside and labeled as to where they went in the story she and I worked on for the better part of 10 years before we left on our mission to Armenia...and never finished when we returned. I have dipped into that cache of pictures many times for relatives who wanted copies - now I have to start all over again organizing. But I will finish this year - it will be my Christmas present to my three sisters.
Next on my list was typing all my old journals into the computer. I have been a daily journalist for over 35 years and didn't begin typing them on the computer until Armenia when the beautiful journal I had taken filled up. Thus I have about 25 years worth of journals to type. Worth the effort? Absolutely. If they are digitized, they will take up much less space and if anyone is interested enough to read them, it will be easier. I don't really want anyone to read them, but I was being obedient to a prophet when I began and it became a habit. Can't tell you how often they have been indispensable in retrieving forgotten information!
Next on my list of things to focus on (and that make me blissfully happy when I'm doing it) was to get as many of our pictures as possible into Shutterfly albums this year. I've had them all scanned and organized by year. What fun gifts for my kids for birthdays and Christmas to see their life stories in their own books!
After those blissfully fun goals, next on my list was sorting all the family history papers, scanning them into the computer and tossing the ones that aren't important. This will not be as fun, but I have to tell you, it will be far more enjoyable than trying to please evaluators who wish I would write the story the way they would write it instead of the way I envisioned it. No more editors except for spelling and punctuation!!
I invite you to check with me periodically to see if I am actually accomplishing my goals and achieving that state of blissful happiness that is promised when I do!
I took a walk in the mountains this morning. I was surrounded by the glory of nature: aspen trees crowned with small pale green leaves, yellow wild flowers, a hawk catching thermals, and a squirrel surprised by my passing. There was blue sky and a soft breeze, and I felt one with nature.
Now, there are naysayers who asperse the title of human, and contend that we are the brutes of the planet, or (a little more kindly) the ignorant contributors to the earth's demise. I do not agree. I take a more lofty position when it comes to people. I believe the majority of us not only appreciate the planet, but care about, wonder at, and celebrate its beauty. I think of all the artists who have painted nature's image, the authors who have struggled to put a sunset into words, the scientists who thrill at some aspect of the earth's diversity. (I always get a chuckle when I'm watching the science channel, and there's a story about a person who's an expert on giant toad migration, or fungus).
And, though there may be the occasional callous CEO who sees only the profit margin of his or her company, most people are conscious of the responsibility we share to take care of our "home." So, get out into nature and enjoy!
The lot of a writer is one of long hours hunched over a keyboard in a dimly lit room with nothing but a cat for company. Shut away from the real world we pull faces and make hand gestures as our characters do, mutter dialogue to ourselves, and live in a strange environment peopled entirely by creatures of our own imagination. Alone we face the frustrations of edit after edit, and the crushing disappointment of rejection after rejection of our precious offspring. It's little wonder that many of us seem to be a little eccentric, if not downright mad.
As least, that's how it used to be. These days writing is no longer the lonely and solitary profession.
Today a dear friend and fellow author is coming to my house to work on her next novel, Race for Eden, and do some pre-publication work on her sci-fi dystopian New Earth: Beginnings. She's coming partly because I have a spare desk and she won't be tempted to do housework in my house (although I've told her she'd be welcome to), but also for the company. And once in a while she can ask me, "What's that word that means..?" or "How would you describe the smell of..?" Hellen and I have, in fact, written a book together, and writing in the company of others is a lot of fun.
Over in the USA a lot of wonderful writers, including many of the contributors to this blog, are reflecting on all they learned at the LDS Storymakers Conference which was held in Utah over the last weekend, and culminated in the Whitney Awards Gala. I dream of going to that conference and rubbing shoulders with those talented and illustrious authors one day, but I think it's about as likely as me winning a Whitney.
Years ago when my first novel was printed my editor put me in touch with a fellow author I admired, Kerry Blair, and she in turn "virtually" introduced me to several other LDS authors, most of whom I have now met in person. For many years we emailed each other frequently with messages of support and encouragement. We congratulated each other on books accepted and published and commiserated on rejections. We cooed over baby photos and offered prayers in times of illness and despair. Most of all, though, we shared the experience of writing, its rewards and its difficulties, and we were there for each other. At a time when I was indeed feeling lonely and isolated as an LDS writer out in the wilderness of the mission field, these women were truly a godsend. Now we blog together.
I belong to two writers' groups (Writebulb and Rayleigh WINOS) and thus two Saturdays a month are spent writing flash fiction, undertaking challenges and setting goals with other writers. It's a really wonderful opportunity. One Writebulb member pointed out "We learn far more in two hours than we could at any creative writing class".
Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month - November) sees groups of writers meeting together in libraries for "sprints" on their laptops, badges popping up all over Facebook, and a real sense of solidarity as thousands of writers struggle to write 50,000 words in just one month. I've only done it once, and I failed due to poor planning (got 20,000 words in and realised I had no idea where the book was going and needed to do some major research) but I'm going to try again in this year.
Writing may once have meant working in glorious solitude, but it doesn't have to any more. We authors can support and encourage one another, get together and share our experiences and goals, either online or in person. Even if, at the end of the day, we like to retreat to our dimly-lit attic room with our laptops to immerse ourselves once more in the worlds we create.
Once an aspiring newspaper reporter asked me what was the
most exciting thing I'd done in my life. To me the answer was a no
brainer--being a mother.I don't think
she believed me, but it's the truth. Flying on a refueling mission, scaling the
Snake River Canyon wall, donning fire gear and going inside a burning house,
rafting on the "River of No Return", hiking in Montana's wilderness
area, sinking in quicksand up to my shoulders, being part of a traveling
theater group, are just a few of the exciting adventures in my life but raising
five children of my own and three foster children has brought me more
excitement, tears, laughter, and personal satisfaction than anything else I've
A few days ago I finished reading Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen.More than any other book I've read about
motherhood this one touched me and expressed many of my own feelings and
discoveries about motherhood.She
compares the essential elements of mothering children to the key concepts Jesus
taught and lived while here in mortality:creation, teacher, succorer, provider, cleaner, defender and protector,
one who loves, sacrifices, forgives, shares, and saves.With realistic short sketches from her own
life as a young mother she points out the challenges, discouraging moments, and
the triumphs that face mothers and relates them to mothers' eternal
relationship with God as they walk closely in the Savior's footprints.
When I was a young mother I really didn't like Mother's
Day.No way could I measure up to the
saintly examples extolled in the talks or poems given that day.The perfect mothers lauded that day made me
feel inferior and like a failure.Fortunately Mother's Day talks have become more realistic through the
years and I've gained a better understanding of what being a mother means.I'm not perfect and I didn't raise perfect
children.What matters is how much I
love them and how grateful I am to be their mother.I'm thankful too for the memories we share
and that they've all grown up to be responsible adults.Along with the fine people they are, they've
given me five more responsible adult children to love, and a baker's dozen
nearly perfect grandchildren.
In the Art of
Motherhood, which I've talked about before, I had the opportunity to tell
of the miraculous arrivals of my two youngest grandchildren. (The two-year-old
has been very concerned about Grandma's big owie and became nearly hysterical
when she saw my leg in the CPM machine.She's convinced it's an alligator because it opens and closes like the
actions for a familiar nursery song about an alligator that snaps monkeys out
of a tree.)I often call these two
little girls our miracle babies, but in truth I consider all of my children and
grandchildren "miracles."Nothing could possibly bring me more happiness than being their mother
I have driven a long way to be with my three sisters. Once a year for the last several years we have gotten together (with husbands) in Palm Springs. This year we decided to do something different - sans husbands. Unfortunately, after my trip was planned, and one sister had made her reservations to fly from Michigan to join us, the youngest decided she had to have knee surgery - it couldn't be put off. So three of us are doing fun things for the weekend, then on Monday we will join her, fresh from the hospital, to fix lunch, watch a movie, help her with her rehab exercises and just have a fun time reminiscing.
We are all so different. I'm 5 years older than one, 7 years older than the next, and 9 years older than the youngest, but it's funny how age difference disappears as you age. We are all grandmothers, and this year I will be the first to have a grandchild marry. (when we finish our sister's retreat, I'm on my way to South Dakota to help plan the wedding!)
We don't look anything alike. One is taller than the rest and her hair is red (now.) Another is pencil thin stemming from drinking turpentine when she was 18 months old. Her hair is rich dark brown (her daughter keeps it that color.) Another is pleasantly plump and has blonde streaked short hair. I couldn't stand the thought of the time, effort and expense of coloring my hair, so I'm almost white. We make an interesting quartet.
Our interests are all very different. The Michigan sister discovered quilting and has done several masterpieces. Another is totally devoted to grandchildren and spends copious amounts of time in that glorious cause. The youngest just retired last year and is enjoying her first year of being able to choose what she does with her time, but is involved with all her grandchildren who live nearby.
I had lunch with my two favorite cousins yesterday and we were talking about the passions that govern our lives. They both named family history as their passion, and indeed, it is. I guess that would have to be listed along with grandchildren and doing things with hubby as my passions. Interesting that family seems to take precedence in our lives. After all, it is the most important thing we can devote our lives and our passion to - and the most rewarding. May our families continue that tradition down through the generations.
Here's a photo of me, my sisters, and my cousins, taken in the mid 1950's. I'm the little tyke on the right hand side. My sisters are the two on the left. My cousins are in the middle.Don't you just love the girl's Capri pants? I think mine are so stylish with the little bow ties.
My sisters and I are holding apples, and, if you look carefully, you can see that I've already taken a bite out of mine. Perhaps that was my philosophy from early on, "Don't let any good thing pass you by."
Through the years, I've been offered my share of "good things:" love of a mom and dad, enough food to eat, a modest but comfortable home (my sisters and I shared a small bedroom, but we liked it), pets, a safe town where I could roam, friends, schooling, and scope for my imagination.
As the years flowed, I was caught up in the waves of change and adversity. Sometimes the changes were exciting: making new friends, advancing to a new school, or moving to a new house. Sometimes the changes were sad: the death of pets, the divorce of parents, and the moving to a new house.
As I reached adulthood, the vicissitudes of life were much more intense, perhaps because I did not have the buffer of parents to stand between me and the crash of the wave. I had a good husband, but for the majority of challenges, we faced them together--head on into the storm.
I look intently at my face in this photo and think, "Oh little one, you have no idea what's coming." But here's the interesting thing...it's okay. Even though I've spent a lifetime navigating the rough and smooth seas, I'm still okay. I still get that little gleam in my eye; I still giggle when my picture's taken, and I still hurry to take that first bite of apple.