The Magic of Snow

Sunday, January 31, 2021. The last day of January. It’s 28 degrees outside, has just started snowing and is predicted to keep snowing until early Tuesday morning. Depending on where the heavy snow band sets up we can get anywhere from 8 to 14 inches. That’s a big storm for us! Whenever we get a snow storm like this it always makes me feel like a kid getting a snow day. I was going to wax poetic about it all and remembered that I have written about snow a few times in the past. This post was from two years ago and sums up how I’m feeling. Except for the first sentence, it all applies.

If you are getting this storm, stay safe. Do you have favorite snow memories?

If you are reading this in a warm and sunny place enjoy a little winter. And thanks for stopping by!

As I wait for the third snow storm in three days I was feeling a bit done with it all. For some reason I began to reminisce about how I felt about snow as a kid. I wrote down a bunch of memories and by the end of it I realized that snow really is amazing and how sad it is that as adults all we worry about is the shoveling, trying to drive and lost work time. It’s been a very gloomy, long winter around here and since I felt cheered up by the end of reliving my childhood memories of snow, I thought I would share some of them here and maybe you too can remember the magic of snow. (There’s no promise that I will enjoy shoveling later!)

In trying to remember my earliest memories of snow the first thing that comes to mind is looking out the window and seeing white snowflakes falling from the sky. How amazing is that? If you’ve never seen that before it is a beautiful sight. Or waking in the morning to a white and softened world? Did my parents know it was going to snow and didn’t tell me so it was a wonderful surprise? I am still surprised by how the world is transformed by snow.

As a kid the excitement burst throughout my whole body. Snow! Running to the kitchen and eating something quickly so I could start the long process of dressing for hours of playing in the snow.

Putting on the warmest pants or maybe two pairs. A turtleneck sweater and shirt over that. Two pairs of socks. Snow pants which made a loud swishing noise when you walked because they were so thick the legs rubbed against each other. A thick snow coat which made it hard to bend your arms. A hat and mittens that Mom had knitted. They were thick and warm and quickly got heavy and soggy wet, but she always had another dry pair waiting to switch out. Boots. They were rubber boots that had a flap you pulled over to the side with an elastic loop to put over the big button to hold them shut. They never kept the snow from getting inside and melting but they were the best we had. And when they leaked, we would put plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet dry longer. Dressed in all of that, we were ready to go outside.

The excitement of those first steps in the snow. How deep was it? Was it dry and light or heavy and wet? We liked the heavier kind as kids because you could make anything out of it. Snowmen, snowballs, snow forts and one year I made a whole snow village with a bunch of simple rectangular houses all around a half a foot high and probably a foot long. Small roads connected them all. Working on them for so long I remember being so cold that even my knees felt frozen from crawling on the ground.

I remember feeling like I could make anything out of snow. Being lost in the moment and not feeling the cold until eventually my body was screaming that I had to go in and get warm. Then suddenly feeling it and going inside for lunch which hopefully included hot chocolate. Toes numb and then tingly and then incredibly itchy as they thawed. After being inside long enough to feel toasty again, we would bundle up and do it all over again.

Another huge thrill was going sledding somewhere. The first sleds we had were the traditional Flexible Flyer. Metal runners with wooden slats to sit or lie on. A rope was tied to the cross-piece and you could steer it by pulling on one side or the other. Those sleds were fast in the right conditions and if you were really daring you would lie on your stomach, head first and feel like you were going a million miles an hour! They were very heavy to pull back up the hill. Later we had plastic sleds in a variety of configurations. The saucer which was wicked fast and no way to steer it. Then the thin sheet of plastic sleds which you pulled the front up by holding the handle giving it a toboggan shape. That was super fast too and you felt every bump, rock or stick as you slid over it. Eventually we had the molded plastic sleds which were a bit thicker and more comfortable to ride in with handles to hold onto. Steering involved leaning in the direction you wanted to go. It was never a guarantee. You always hoped you ended up where you wanted to.

We became experts of snow conditions and which sled worked best. Heavy, icy snow; the Flexible Flyer. Light dry snow of only an inch or two, the plastic sheet sled. A few inches of almost any kind of snow, the molded plastic sled. And the saucer was best for the soft powdery kind because you always had to bail out of it to prevent crashing into someone or something.

I remember going to a golf course where there were a lot of people sledding. The thrill of sitting at the top of a steep hill on that sled, being pushed really hard by my dad. It wasn’t just a push. It was the back and forward to build up power and excitement. The one, two, three! And I was heading downhill like a rocket!

We had to help shovel snow too which wasn’t as much fun but it was all part of a snow day. And again, if the conditions were right we would build snow forts from the snow piled next to the driveway. Digging holes and tunnels, stopping to eat the snow every now and then looking over our snow kingdom. After the forts were done, the snowball fights. I usually got laughing too hard to be very good at aiming.

And even as a kid, just sitting and listening to the blanket of silence that only comes from a good snow fall. If it was still snowing and nobody else was outside, feeling like the world was contained in that moment of crisp cold air and snowflakes melting on your face.

The world and nature were amazing.

I need to hold on to that feeling later today and tonight when I’m out shoveling. Maybe I can catch some of that magic again.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I’ve been trying to get outside every day and was just thinking how wonderful and calming it is to hear the cheerful birds and see the plants growing as usual. Some normalcy in this scary time.

Thanks to David Kanigan for posting this. Margaret Renkl perfectly expresses what I wanted to say but couldn’t find the words.

Please enjoy.

Read via Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

NaNoWriMo 2019 Done!

I won!

I’m as surprised as anyone. Was it easy? Definitely not. Was it worth it? I think so. I have a very rough, very messy first draft of a complete story.

I’ve learned a lot.

I learned that I can’t write for more than an hour or hour and a half at a time before I need a break. Not only physically but mentally. I found that I would get that far and my thoughts just stopped organizing themselves in a coherent way. And despite all the action taking place in my head, my body let me know loud and clear that we are meant to move and move a lot. Also, writing in different locations with slightly different body positions makes a world difference. I don’t mean you have to go somewhere else, but just moving from the desk to the couch or even standing at the kitchen counter was good.

I discovered that despite having a pretty clear idea of how the story was going to go, I ran into a few bumps along the way. So I skipped ahead when I got stuck and that worked well. I also have a notebook full of notes and computer files full of comments or highlighted areas to easily find places that I need to go back to.

I did not give in to the temptation of researching online! I know from past experience that turns into a huge time dump. As soon as I saw how quickly I got behind if I didn’t meet my daily word count I realized I did not have time to do any of that.

I wrote every day. A couple of those days were just handwritten notes or a few hundred words. I felt if I skipped even one day it would be too easy to lose the momentum I had going. That meant I had to write a lot on a day off to catch up. On those days I wrote for a while, got things done and then went back and wrote some more. The neat thing about that was keeping the story in my head and when I sat back down to write, it usually flowed easily because I had planned the next scene in my head.

The story and characters really took on a life of their own during the third week. And that is when writing fiction is the most fun for me.

Overall, it worked great for me.

Everything I’m reading is saying to let the story sit for at least a couple of weeks but I’m not sure that will work for me. I think I’ll still play with it to keep it alive. I feel like I just found the real voice of the story and I don’t want to lose that. I definitely won’t work anywhere near the pace I just did. Now I can enjoy messing around with it.

Will I do this again? Probably if I have a large story that needs to get written. This method forced me to get it out as fast as I could and not overthink things.

Also, the writing community is great. Knowing that so many other people were doing the same thing at the same time is energizing.

If you participated, how did you do? I think even if you didn’t get to the crazy word count goal, if you got more writing done than you usually would, then you won.

Keep on creating!

NaNoWriMo Day 9

I’m writing this nine days into the NaNoWriMo challenge and so far so good.

I started with intentions of keeping notes about how I was doing day by day but I haven’t had time. I did do that for the first couple of days and here is what I wrote then:

November 1: I was off work so I devoted a lot of time to getting my project started. But I haven’t written anything this length seriously for a long time. I won’t lie; the first hour I wrote pretty quickly but it was just crap. I took a break and gave it some thought. I needed to get in my main character’s mind and get out of my own way. Stop overthinking it and just write a scene.

And that’s what I did for the second hour. And it just flowed and it worked and I almost doubled the required daily word count that I need to finish this. I ended on a very upbeat note.

I jotted a few notes about the next scene/chapter for the next day.

November 2: I worked all day so I couldn’t do any writing until after dinner. But in a way that was good since I had time to think about the next scene and where I wanted it to go. I wrote for a little more than an hour and got down 1486 words.

This scene will now tie in with some writing I had done a long time ago. This is the first time I will see if I can tie this new idea with the old one and make it all work.

After that first day most have been pretty much the same once I got going.

Is it easy? No. I’ve figured out that I do well for about an hour and then I need to stop and regroup my thoughts. It’s a learning process.

Is it any good? Ha! I’ll see when I’m done if any of it is good but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m just trying to get the whole story down.

Are there sacrifices being made to do this? Absolutely. But most of those sacrifices are not that important. I really don’t miss watching TV in the evenings. I will admit that I’m missing my video game play time more than I should!

I did give up going to friends’ house today to catch up on my word count since I had fallen a little behind the last couple of days. It’s difficult to get much writing done after a full day at work. It was hard to not go and laugh with good friends. When I explained why, they were supportive. They are the best.

More than anything I’m mostly surprised at my determination to do this at all, let alone actually do it. For some reason, right now, this means a lot to me. 

Also, this week I had the second meeting of the Young Writers Group at work. There are four young ladies who are participating and we had a gentleman who came as well. I don’t think he realized it was for young people but he was more than welcome and I think he had a good time. Everyone is welcome to support each others’ writing. All together there were six of us sitting around the table comparing how we write, what we write and giving each other tips.

One of the reasons I enjoy the company of teens is because they have so much energy. And this group is no exception. Three of them were typing away at their stories while the rest of us talked but also adding their comments to the conversation. Amazing to be able to multitask like that!

After about a half hour, we decided to use the rest of the time to write. What is it that is so energizing about sitting in a room full of people being creative? It’s wonderful.

And my word count so far? 15,908

Not too shabby.

How are you doing?

And if you have done this before, do you have any advice?

Good luck to all! Keep writing!

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019

nanowrimo

Guess what I’m going to try for the first time?

I believe we are given signs when we choose to look for them. And I had a series of signs within a couple of days in September that were steering me in the direction to try and do NaNoWriMo. Here is what it is all about: https://nanowrimo.org/

I’ve had a story kicking around in my head that won’t go away for an embarrassingly long time but I’ve been stuck on how to move the story forward.

So when one of my favorite bloggers, Lillian Csernica wrote a post about prepping for NaNoWriMo, I saw that as my first sign and I was intrigued. Then I had one of those conversations which instantly sparked a solution to my plot problem and I immediately knew of a way to continue the story. Next I came across a book that grabbed my attention noticing that it was very similar to the story I wanted to tell but also saw how my story could be different and unique. And finally, someone at work mentioned that we should try doing NaNoWriMo as a program at the library. All of these things happened within a few days of each other. I was getting the message. It was time to write and work on that story again.

Most of the programs I run are for middle school age kids and teens. I love working with teens and we never have enough programs for that age group. It’s notoriously hard to keep a teen program going because young adults have very busy lives. I have had a couple of teens ask if we could do a writing program. So I’m going to try doing a NaNoWriMo Young Writers program. We will have a prep meeting. Then we’ll have weekly programs through the month of November and then a wrap up one the first week of December. So it’s a short time commitment which hopefully will appeal to everyone. The program is good for the library and selfishly, I’m hoping it will push me into serious writing mode again.

Since I haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, I’m researching it and am getting more excited about trying to do this. If I can get some teens to do this I’m hoping our enthusiasm will keep us going and we can figure it out together.

I just registered on the NaNoWriMo site for myself. And if the teens who come to our prep group want to do the Young Writers program officially, I will register there as an educator so we can set up a virtual classroom. If they don’t want to do it online, we will set our own goals and cheer each other on.

I am committing myself to this goal. That way if I want to avoid being horribly embarrassed and shamed by everyone who knows I will undertake this event, then I need to complete it. And for those of you who plan on not letting me get away with failing, according to the NaNoWriMo statistics, there is only a 17 percent success rate for completing this task which is kind of sobering. Even if I don’t make the 50,000 word goal, I will be writing and that is a good thing.

Right now I’m reading the incredibly helpful and funny book called No Plot? No Problem! written by the founder of this annual event, Chris Baty. Lots of good information in this book. I’m getting familiar with the NaNoWriMo site now so I don’t waste time figuring it out in November.

I’m also making notes about the story I want to write. I’m not really a plotter but this way I’ll have a loose guide to where I want the story to go. I’m making scene titles and have to restrain from working on the scenes now.

So wish me luck! And hold me accountable. I don’t like commitments so this is a stretch for me. Pushing our comfort zones is what makes life interesting, right?

Oh, and if you have participated in NaNoWriMo and have any tips for me, please share them. I need all the help I can get.

If you want to show support with kind words and encouragement, I would love that too.

If you are participating I wish you good luck and good writing.

The Magic of Snow

As I wait for the third snow storm in three days I was feeling a bit done with it all. For some reason I began to reminisce about how I felt about snow as a kid. I wrote down a bunch of memories and by the end of it I realized that snow really is amazing and how sad it is that as adults all we worry about is the shoveling, trying to drive and lost work time. It’s been a very gloomy, long winter around here and since I felt cheered up by the end of reliving my childhood memories of snow, I thought I would share some of them here and maybe you too can remember the magic of snow. (There’s no promise that I will enjoy shoveling later!)

In trying to remember my earliest memories of snow the first thing that comes to mind is looking out the window and seeing white snowflakes falling from the sky. How amazing is that? If you’ve never seen that before it is a beautiful sight. Or waking in the morning to a white and softened world? Did my parents know it was going to snow and didn’t tell me so it was a wonderful surprise? I am still surprised by how the world is transformed by snow.

As a kid the excitement burst throughout my whole body. Snow! Running to the kitchen and eating something quickly so I could start the long process of dressing for hours of playing in the snow.

Putting on the warmest pants or maybe two pairs. A turtleneck sweater and shirt over that. Two pairs of socks. Snow pants which made a loud swishing noise when you walked because they were so thick the legs rubbed against each other. A thick snow coat which made it hard to bend your arms. A hat and mittens that Mom had knitted. They were thick and warm and quickly got heavy and soggy wet, but she always had another dry pair waiting to switch out. Boots. They were rubber boots that had a flap you pulled over to the side with an elastic loop to put over the big button to hold them shut. They never kept the snow from getting inside and melting but they were the best we had. And when they leaked, we would put plastic bags over our socks to keep our feet dry longer. Dressed in all of that, we were ready to go outside.

The excitement of those first steps in the snow. How deep was it? Was it dry and light or heavy and wet? We liked the heavier kind as kids because you could make anything out of it. Snowmen, snowballs, snow forts and one year I made a whole snow village with a bunch of simple rectangular houses all around a half a foot high and probably a foot long. Small roads connected them all. Working on them for so long I remember being so cold that even my knees felt frozen from crawling on the ground.

I remember feeling like I could make anything out of snow. Being lost in the moment and not feeling the cold until eventually my body was screaming that I had to go in and get warm. Then suddenly feeling it and going inside for lunch which hopefully included hot chocolate. Toes numb and then tingly and then incredibly itchy as they thawed. After being inside long enough to feel toasty again, we would bundle up and do it all over again.

Another huge thrill was going sledding somewhere. The first sleds we had were the traditional Flexible Flyer. Metal runners with wooden slats to sit or lie on. A rope was tied to the cross-piece and you could steer it by pulling on one side or the other. Those sleds were fast in the right conditions and if you were really daring you would lie on your stomach, head first and feel like you were going a million miles an hour! They were very heavy to pull back up the hill. Later we had plastic sleds in a variety of configurations. The saucer which was wicked fast and no way to steer it. Then the thin sheet of plastic sleds which you pulled the front up by holding the handle giving it a toboggan shape. That was super fast too and you felt every bump, rock or stick as you slid over it. Eventually we had the molded plastic sleds which were a bit thicker and more comfortable to ride in with handles to hold onto. Steering involved leaning in the direction you wanted to go. It was never a guarantee. You always hoped you ended up where you wanted to.

We became experts of snow conditions and which sled worked best. Heavy, icy snow; the Flexible Flyer. Light dry snow of only an inch or two, the plastic sheet sled. A few inches of almost any kind of snow, the molded plastic sled. And the saucer was best for the soft powdery kind because you always had to bail out of it to prevent crashing into someone or something.

I remember going to a golf course where there were a lot of people sledding. The thrill of sitting at the top of a steep hill on that sled, being pushed really hard by my dad. It wasn’t just a push. It was the back and forward to build up power and excitement. The one, two, three! And I was heading downhill like a rocket!

We had to help shovel snow too which wasn’t as much fun but it was all part of a snow day. And again, if the conditions were right we would build snow forts from the snow piled next to the driveway. Digging holes and tunnels, stopping to eat the snow every now and then looking over our snow kingdom. After the forts were done, the snowball fights. I usually got laughing too hard to be very good at aiming.

And even as a kid, just sitting and listening to the blanket of silence that only comes from a good snow fall. If it was still snowing and nobody else was outside, feeling like the world was contained in that moment of crisp cold air and snowflakes melting on your face.

The world and nature were amazing.

I need to hold on to that feeling later today and tonight when I’m out shoveling. Maybe I can catch some of that magic again.

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.

 

The Power of Creativity

Orange SparkDo we create in order to have some control of our lives in a world that dictates much of how we live? In a world of cubicles or ‘How may I help you?’ from the back side of a counter does our desire to create come from the desperate need to have some personal freedom? And does everyone feel this way? Or are some people totally content in accepting the 9-5 grind? Or the swing shifts or the ever-changing schedules of retail? Are there people for whom that is enough?

Much of our world does not reward creativity and often punishes or demeans any spark of individuality or independent thinking.

So for those of us who find this way of life draining we crave to be creative. On our own limited time we have the desperate need to write, draw, sew, design, paint or build. We wake up early or stay up late to work on our own creations. We spend hours dreaming, visualizing and ultimately bringing our ideas to life.

And doing all of this empowers us. We feel more in control. We get recharged. We are happy that we get to create.

If we had lives that we could create all the time without limits, what would that be like? Would we lose the desperate feeling of needing to create? Would we settle into a peaceful contentment of working on what we love all of the time? I can only imagine.

For those who can only do the dreaming and the visualizing but never get to manifest their ideas must be the saddest of all.

To live a life flat, sterile and devoid of passion would be the worst.

If you have the craving to make something; do it. Start small. Start tiny. Jot down a few words. Make a rough sketch. Take some measurements. Then see how you feel.

Excited? Scared? A spark of … something?

It’s a start.

Think of it as an adventure. How can you take the next step?

Grab on to your creative spark, add a tiny bit of kindling and blow gently. Nurture your idea; your vision. Feed it a few minutes at a time.

Little by little your dream will come to life and you will benefit from the boost it will give you. You will thrive in a tough world.

When you are in your cubicle or ringing up an order at the register, remind yourself that you have a creation in the works which will make you smile and give you something to look forward to. Something to love.

Use your power of creativity. Let your imagination shine!

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.