End of 2020

Finally! Its the end of this year. We will all be glad to see it go.

There are so many things that I could reflect on about this past year but I really want to try to focus on the positive. That’s not to say that I haven’t had really rough days like everyone else. I tend to feel things deeply and have had times of fears and tears. Yet there is always something positive. This year we just needed to look harder.

I worked on my novel steadily until just before Thanksgiving. That is a huge accomplishment for me and I’m very happy with the work I got done. I finished two complete drafts. Then in November I realized that I have a huge flaw in the story and need to fix it. With the holidays coming and after working on it nonstop for the year, I realized that for the first time since NaNoWriMo 2019 that I didn’t have the energy or the drive to work on it. I also felt that I’ve been looking at it so closely for so long that I didn’t have a good perspective on it anymore. So I’ve taken a break. Which has been a good thing because just last week I finally have an idea of how to fix the problem. I think I came up with this idea because even though I wasn’t physically writing, I was still mulling over the story. So now I’m debating about working on it or just giving it to beta readers and see what they have to say about it first and then dive in again. I’m leaning that way because I’m sure they will find things I don’t see and then I can tackle it all at once with renewed energy.

I discovered that working on this book has been a wonderful escape from the world this year and that has been a gift.

Surprisingly there have been some good things from this year.

-To know that I need to get outside and enjoy nature more. I got to do quite a bit of camping this year which was really a sanity saver for me. It was amazing to see how many people have discovered camping this year because it was one of the few things we can do safely. I have never seen the campgrounds as full as they were this year. And most of the places I went did a fantastic job of keeping people safe.

-This year gave us more time to focus on things that make us happy at home. For me that’s organizing more, digging out old hobbies and projects and working on them. Really focusing on my home.

-I discovered that there are good things about wearing masks; like you don’t need to worry about pimples, stray whiskers or food in your teeth.

-I have learned so many new programs and apps for both work and home. Who knew we would become such experts at video chatting with people? That we would need to think about things like lighting, sound and background noise. How cute has it been to see all the cats and dogs peeking at everyone? Or one of my favorites was the disembodied arm that appeared to float behind one person in their virtual background?

-I appreciate what is important to me more than ever, like family and friends, and to never take any of them for granted.

-To be caring and considerate to others because everyone has different comfort levels. And on top of that despite how much time we have been dealing with this virus, we still have good days and bad days which I for one, never expected to still be happening.

-To respect each other.

-To always be as kind as we can be.

Now that this year is at an end, I think we can all agree that it has been full of learning opportunities. I remember thinking before the year began how interesting it would be to live in the year 2020. 20/20 is perfect eyesight. I thought it would be a good year to focus on clarity. Who knew that we would be forced into seeing things we never wanted to see? But I think in many ways it’s been a year of clarity. As a world we have all learned to see many things clearly, whether we wanted to or not. But I also think it has been an amazing opportunity to look with open eyes at what is really important in our lives. Not just individually but as a world.

Hindsight is 20/20. Time will tell how true that is.

I wish you all a good 2021. I wish everyone good health, good family and friends. I wish continued growth and happiness for all of us.

Happy New Year!

Camping and Going With the Flow

We went camping this past weekend for the last time this season. Many of the campgrounds around here close after October. So I had planned on posting about the cool fresh air, the smell of fallen leaves and campfire smoke, the changing leaves and savoring every minute of this last weekend. And we had all of that.

Our site

This weekend was also one of this campground’s Halloween weekends and luckily we saw on their website that there would be trick-or-treating. A couple of times in the past we have arrived only to find out once we were there and we had no candy to hand out. We would hide inside the camper feeling guilty. This year, we saw it ahead of time so we brought a couple of those big bags of mixed candy bars feeling happy that we could participate. We hate to let kids down.

Usually our weekend camping trips consist of quiet and relaxing. That was not to be this weekend. The entire campground was buzzing with energy and excitement. The kids were running around in their costumes most of the day Saturday. People were decorating their sites. Seriously decorating their sites for Halloween. Unloading boxes and boxes of decorations and spending hours making them look festive. We did a lot of walking around admiring their handiwork.

Saturday the trick-or-treating was to begin at 2:30 in the afternoon which is brilliant! It’s daylight and everyone can still enjoy their evening. As the time approached, and as the hay rides went by over and over again, we saw the final preparations around us. And then we became concerned. People were setting up mini candy shops! And most had non-candy treats as well. Our site neighbors went all out. They had those items as well as treats for the many dogs in the campground. (In case you didn’t know, many dog lovers go camping since most campgrounds are dog friendly).

Our little table

Neighbors awesome decorations

We had our cute mini camp table with a Halloween themed table cloth on top which was full of wrinkles since who knew that last time we had used it. We had our one light-up jack-o-lantern, and two bags of candy and nothing to put the candy in because we forgot to bring a bowl. It was pretty funny.

We could have retreated. We could have given up. But no! We went with the flow and offered what we could. And it turned out fine.

We had a lot of fun watching all the kids and their wonderful costumes. We were incredibly impressed by how polite these kids were! Most of them only took one piece of candy. Almost all of them said thank you and so did their parents. There was so much excitement and laughter. And they just kept coming.

Backing up a bit, I have to say that we never lived in a neighborhood when our kids were little so we never got many people at our door. Now we live in a small neighborhood and have about a dozen kids show up. So getting to see so many trick-or-treaters was exciting for us.

This weekend we estimated that we had about a hundred kids! Wow! After one hour it was like a faucet was turned off and they were all gone.

Once again, we are so happy to be campers. If you ever want a taste of old-fashioned community you need to go to a nice family friendly campground.

Kids can ride their bikes or wander around without fear. And go trick-or-treating with or without their parents. Everyone watches out for everyone else. There are hay rides, ceramics, bingo and so many other activities for young and old. And everyone is welcome.

So despite this weekend not being the really quiet and relaxing one we usually have, this was a fun time. We’ve met some new and friendly people. And we still got to have our campfires and relax a bit too.

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

What I Did This Summer

As you can tell I didn’t write any blog posts this summer. In fact I haven’t written an original post since March 3rd. Sometimes I go through dry spells with writing and I used to really worry about it. I don’t anymore. I always come back to the writing.

I was also delayed when my laptop decided to stop working. Something in the BIOS went crazy and luckily I only lost a couple of months worth of writing and photos. Most of the photos I’ve been able to piece together from my camera, phone and places like Facebook or family and friends.

Even luckier is that most of the writing was done in notebooks first. I have been doing a lot of writing by hand and now I’m very happy that I did. I’m also back to making regular back-ups.

The beginning of this summer was really stormy and we had some interesting storms and saw amazing clouds in the sky. Luckily we didn’t get anything too serious like a lot of other people.

This was a warm and humid summer but it seemed pretty normal. Whatever normal weather is anymore. Sometimes I think we forget that summer is supposed to be hot and humid.

We did some camping which was great.  We love spending time outside and around other campers. Everyone is happy and relaxed. I love being around trees and all the greenery. It recharges me.

Curtains and kitties as a bonus!

Something I did this summer was to pull my sewing machine out of the closet. I haven’t sewn in years! I decided to make curtains for our new little mini camper. I found fun camping-themed material and proceeded to make new curtains for all the windows. I had forgotten how much I enjoy sewing. It felt so good to be working with material and my hands again.

Even though I haven’t posted here I have been writing. Lots of ideas, a few poems and journaling. I’m hoping some of it ends up here and may even be of interest to you.

This has been a summer of deep thinking. Hopefully some growth. Both good things.

Now at the end of summer, the sounds of the cicadas are loud, the crickets are soft and the katydids are somewhere in between. True sounds of late summer.

The gardens all look tired and some yellow leaves are appearing. The lawns are muted and burnt from the heat. The birds don’t sing as much but are just as busy looking for food.

The days are slowly getting shorter.

And despite knowing that we will have some more hot days ahead, summer is ending.

For now I will enjoy the cooler weather and enjoy the many offerings of Autumn.

Today’s Perfect Day

What Today’s Perfect Day Looks Like?

For me a perfect day is one that is completely of my making.

Full of promise and possibility.

I wake when I want to and sleep when I want to, never worrying about it being too early or too late.

Having some goals in mind but being loose about whether I do them or not.

A balance of getting the practical, responsible things done with the creative, fun or decadent.

Getting to the things I crave to do.

The wonderful feeling of never being rushed or pushed or pulled in any direction by myself or others.

The amazement of how good I feel and how much energy I have to accomplish so much

because I’m not fighting the tension and friction of obligations.

Of moving easily and effortlessly.

Of going with the flow.

Of checking in with myself and feeling what is right.

Time to myself.

In silence.

To hear and feel clearly what I need to do.

What I want to do.

Of deep, contented sighs

of satisfaction.

 

Friends

When I was younger and watching the TV show, Friends, I always thought it would be amazing to have the kind of relationships that those characters had. They had fun, were silly, but also cared about each other deeply. They accepted each others’ quirks and always tried to have each others’ backs. I loved how comfortable they were with each other.

Growing up my family moved. A lot. The good thing about that was that it taught me to be flexible and adaptable. I learned how to get along with most people. I developed really good people skills.

The bad thing about moving was I was never able to develop those life long friendships that I saw everywhere. Kids who had known each other their entire lives; who had a long history together. I kind of envied that but was always grateful to those who included me despite my being the ‘new kid’. They were the ones who made it all easier.

When I got married, I moved away from my family to start a new life. And this wasn’t as scary as it seemed. I was good at moving.

What I wasn’t prepared for was once I was out of school and working, the dynamics of making friends became different and more difficult. I relied on my husband’s friends and that was okay for a while but I soon realized that they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I socialized with coworkers and I had some fun times and made some good friends but something was still missing. 

But I hadn’t achieved that long ago dream of having a group of friends who felt as close as family. Who shared my interests and accepted my quirkiness.

Fast forward many years and a few jobs later. I eventually got a job in a large chain bookstore. I was working with books! Any of you who have read this blog for a while may have noticed that books are kind of my passion. This bookstore was a new one in a new building and I got to help set it up while meeting other book lovers. For the first time I was having discussions about the books and authors I loved. I also discovered that many of the people there were also closet writers like me. Once we realized that we all wrote in isolation, we formed a writing group. We also formed many book groups of different genres. These were my people!

I felt very connected to three others in particular. This was when the new Lord of the Rings movies were coming out and we discovered that we loved these stories and decided to go watch the marathon together. And that was the start of my group of ‘Friends’.

The four of us just clicked despite the fact that we spanned four decades. Each of us represented the twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. It didn’t matter. We were silly but could also talk about issues about which we felt deeply. And we laughed. A lot. The great deep laughter that brings tears, leaves you breathless and feeling healed and whole.

We call ourselves the Fellowship because of course we were our version of the Lord of the Rings Fellowship!

Now to the present day and more than a dozen years later these three people are my family. We still laugh a lot! We have LOTR marathons at each others’ houses. We go to Renaissance Faires together. We watch movies and eat out together. Like Bilbo and Frodo, we have adventures together. Sometimes our schedules make getting together a challenge but we keep working at it and make time for us.

They are my greatest friends and I now have the friendship I dreamed of all those years ago. We have shared all the ups and downs that we as humans go through and have been there for each other.

Whenever I spend time with the Fellowship, I feel like I’m recharged.

I am incredibly grateful that we found each other and continue to be the best of friends. So many times we have talked about our bond and how strange and wonderful it is. We know this is an incredibly rare thing and never take it for granted.

I hope you have people like this in your lives. Whether they are related to you by blood or you find each other along the way, make sure you let them know how much they mean to you.

And may you all have wonderful adventures together. Remember to laugh! A lot!

(The featured photo is a picture of the paver that we designed to honor our Fellowship and is at the Pennsylvania Renaissance fairgrounds.)

Rainy Sunday Morning

It’s a dark, wet morning. The sound of a downpour of rain on the roof and tapping on the windows makes me feel extra warm and cozy in bed. Knowing it’s Sunday morning lets me pull the covers up and breathe in happy contentment. The experience of being warm, cozy and relaxed with no reason to have to get up. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Soon the Possibilities of the day start nudging me. “Hey!,” they whisper, “You can write, read, draw, play with the cats and more today!”

Oh yeah! I say to myself, stretching, waking up more.

Then the Shoulds speak up. “You need to dust, vacuum, pay bills and more today.”

Ugh! I curl back up and hide under the covers.

Then Common Sense and Logic step up. “How about if you get up now? Then you’ll have time to do a little of each? In fact, let’s start with something nice. You know, ease into the day.”

That does it. I’m awake with my head full of all this day can hold.

Now I’m sitting with a hot cup of green tea, a book, the occasional raindrop running down the window, birds on the feeder outside, the cats watching eagerly with tails twitching, a notebook, favorite pen and these words.

A day full of possibilities.

I hope you have one too.

The Wisdom of Kittens

It was a long week so I looked back through some of my posts and this one still makes me smile. I can’t believe my kittens are almost three years old! They still show a lot of wisdom about life and are a joy to have. I hope you enjoy this too. 

Just for fun, this is a small list of watching kittens exploring the new world they find themselves in. We can look at the world like it’s all new again when we watch the young do this.  I hope you enjoy some of these things in your own life. What would you add to this list?

-Look at anything new that crosses your path with curiosity and wonder. Then play with it!

A box and tissue paper. Amazing!

A box and tissue paper. Amazing!

-Play a lot.

-Remember to notice even the simple things in life. Take nothing for granted.

So that's the sky!

So that’s the sky!

-Enjoy the comforts life offers like a big warm pile of laundry. 

Warm clothes.

Warm clothes.

-Sometimes you just have to run at full speed because you are so full of the energy of life! Plus its fun.

-Play until you can’t keep your eyes open for another second.

-Eliminate the negatives in your life by swiping at it, slapping it, shaking it until it can’t hurt you anymore.

-Get plenty of rest.

-Cuddle with a friend. 

Cuddling

Cuddling

-Take care of the ones you love.

Taking Our Time

One of my greatest pleasures in life is having a day to take my time. Those are rare days.

People in this world always want us to rush. Everyone is always in a hurry. Time is money but maybe we have it backwards. Maybe we would get more satisfaction in life if we didn’t have to rush for everything. If we put value in quality rather than quantity.

I’ve always done things slower than most people. I like to savor things in life. I eat my meals slowly. I like to read every word in a book and not skim. I like to take my time to make sure I am doing something right.

And while the world makes us rush, I know that I can make myself rush. Like when I have a whole day to do as I please, I find myself running around trying to cram in everything. That takes away from enjoying it. I end up jumping out of bed and rushing to get to as much as I can. There is something much different about rushing because you want to rather than outside influences forcing you to do something your heart isn’t into. Yet even when we rush ourselves, we are missing something. That isn’t the best way to go about things.

At the same time it seems time is limited and if we want to do all the things we want to do in life, we have to hurry. There is a sense of urgency to life. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to take our time?

My best days are when I wake up in the morning with a clear picture of what I want to get done that day and make a point of doing each thing at my own pace. My own pace is the key. Then I can relax and enjoy whatever I’m doing.

I feel like time favors those who are truly in it and appreciate exactly what is going on; really being in the here and now. The entire feeling of time seems to shift. That feeling of being in the flow happens and isn’t that what life is really about? Being and enjoying exactly where and when you are and what you are doing? Appreciating every breath? Looking around and realizing that there is no place else you would rather be?

I wish I could do that all the time. It’s harder than is sounds which seems silly.

Maybe hobbits have it right and we should just have more mealtimes? Good food with good company makes time just right.

Do you like to take your time? Do you get to?

Believe and Focus

2017. What a year!

I was really struggling in the last quarter of 2017. I’m usually a pretty positive person and for the short times when I’m not, I can pull myself out of it and move on. I wasn’t able to do that as well as usual. I had a sense of anxiety that didn’t seem to be caused by any one thing. That was unnerving. And scary. And for those of you who suffer from severe anxiety on a regular basis, I have a new respect for what you deal with on a regular basis. And I’m so glad there are a variety of treatments out there.

I knew that I needed to keep searching for a solution and an answer to why I was feeling this way. But the more I thought about it the more I worried and the worse it got. So I stopped questioning why I felt the way I did and shifted my focus. 

This all sounds very deep and wonderful but I’m also a bit stubborn so I sometimes overlook the obvious. After a week or so (maybe it was longer) I was in a store looking at Christmas ornaments and I found one that had the word ‘believe’ on it. I realized that I had been seeing or hearing the word ‘believe’ over and over again for weeks! I mean a lot. Like a ridiculous amount of times. I finally really saw it and knew that this was my sign, my word, and I was on the right track. I bought the ornament and hung it on the Christmas tree at eye level, (which is pretty low because I’m short) so I could see it as a positive affirmation every day.

Just focusing on that one word a few times a day made a difference.

For me, focusing on believing that things happen for a reason and that it will all work out was what I needed to get out of my funk. Mostly. It’s a daily practice. Sometimes it’s hour by hour or minute by minute. It depends on the day.

So that brought me to the word ‘focus’. Our thoughts are powerful so we need to focus on what we want in our lives and not all the craziness in the world around us. I know this sounds like a cliché but it’s true.

If I can focus on finding something beautiful, positive or inspiring every day it’s amazing how much better life is. It never fails. It isn’t easy, but it works.

Like what?

Like the miracle of the tiny Juncos that visit my feeder in this frigid weather. The fact that these tiny creatures can survive outside when the temperature has been in the teens during the day and in the single digits at night amazes me. 

Junco hanging on a windy, frigid day.

Or the soft touch of my cat’s paw resting on my arm at night. And that gentle look of contentment on her face.

Or the giggle of a toddler at work.

Or helping someone anytime and anywhere. It doesn’t have to be big. Just seeing someone smile or say thank you because of something I did is huge.

When I focus on these things then I can believe that there is good in this world and if we choose to focus on that instead of all the terrible things the media throws at us then I believe that 2018 will be a better year.

I wish everyone a positive 2018.

Happy New Year.

Oh, if I could be more like a tree on this Sunday morning

This is a beautiful post from one of my favorite blogs. Please visit Live & Learn by David Kanigan. Happy Sunday.

Live & Learn

See how the trees
Reach up and outward
As if their entire existence
Were an elegant gesture of prayer.
See how they welcome the breath of spirit,
In all its visible and invisible forms.
See how the roots reach downward and out,
Embracing the physical,
The body and bones
Of its soul of earth and stone,
Allowing half its life to be sheltered
in the most quiet and secret places.

Oh, if I could be more like a tree on this Sunday morning,
To feel the breath of invisible spirit
Touch me as tenderly as a kiss on the forehead.
If I could courageously and confidently
Dig down into the dark
Where the ground water runs deep,
Where shelter and sanctuary
Can be had and held.

Ah, to be like a tree
With all its bent and unbent places,
A whole and holy thing
From its topmost twigs
To the…

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