Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rest,Regroup, Repeat

I find myself again on another Sunday morning having the same kind of talk to myself I so often have. It is raining steadily and the November sky is grey and dark. Its just the kind of day for staying inside and resting. Last week was a busy one. I only had one day of writing and only that one day at home with no interruptions or obligations. Weeks like that at this point in the game wear me out. I spoke to several teachers yesterday that had just finished writing report cards and I thought back to those hectic demanding days and must say I breathed a huge sigh of thankfulness. But with change comes new demands and one must step to meet them ,then wind down to recover from them.That is what this day looks like for me. In my way I will rest, regroup and repeat. Firstly I make a list of my blessings and my concerns. I look at each (concerns mainly) and decide if I can do anything about them. If not I attempt to let them go. Yesterday on my walk I reminded myself to only carry the burden of one day's worry at a time. This is a very wise approach as so much of what we (me anyway) worry about is not immediate and important at the very time we worry about it. I can't think of the exact quote but the wisdom is don't borrow tomorrow's troubles. I can not remind myself of that one often enough. So today's troubles are few. I have a dry roof over my head.I am warm. I have food to eat. My family is well and several of them will gather at my table for Sunday supper. I feel healthy. I have choice and can let this day be whatever I need it to be. I have people who love me and I love my people. The bathroom renovation I have dreamed of for several years is underway and about half finished. Materials and tools are the mess I walk around and that is a good and hopeful thing. I have another school visit scheduled for Tuesday in St. Andrews which will mean a very early departure. I hope to get my winter tires put on tomorrow and I have two days at home before I have to put my energies and emotions into what I expect will be another rewarding and exhausting experience as an author.Looking only that far ahead I return to the gift of this day and tackle only the challenges this day gives me. Top of my list will be to get dressed and that does not seem to taxing. Rest, regroup and repeat and in all that be grateful. Seems doable!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Back at Bayside

Yesterday I spent the day in the Bayside Middle School library surrounded by books and 26 very keen, very engaged and very kind kids. I began with getting to know them a little bit first,learning their names. Lots of Rileys and lots of Katelyns made for a few mix ups and I mixed up Chase and Grace a couple of times but for the most part I didn't do too badly. Some of the kids were more vocal than others but each and every one of them brought something to the table. The long tables held copies of four of my books they had read and paper which they so willingly wrote their own thoughts and stories on. It was a magical day. We shut out the grey day outside and the frenzy of activity in the halls beyond the library door and concentrated on reading and writing. The kids shared parts of the books that had touched them and I was thrilled as they read passages I had written. The Sewing Basket group were especially vocal and I was so pleased Ruth's story had impacted them as it did.They asked good questions and made insightful observations. They compared and contrasted the four books and discovered slivers of similarity in them. They discussed the emotions, the conflicts,the settings and the characters in each. They shared their own aspirations and listened to mine.They divulged their writing interests and brought their own personalities and experiences to the paper.We discussed the things that keep us from writing and realized the common threads of being too busy,lacking confidence and doubting our own ideas that all writers no matter what age experience. I was completely exhausted, but hugely rewarded and encouraged as I left the building and waited in my car for the long row of buses holding our future to leave so I could go home. What a gift for a writer and former teacher the day was! Thank you Mr. Laskey and thank you Riley, Rylee, Jeana,Hannah, Sara, Madison, Lydia,Savannah Kate, Taylor,Jackson, Brady, Luke,Mathieu, Kaitlyn, Kaitlyn,Megan,Katelyn Valerie,Chase,Mackenzie,Riley,Reece, Hadyn, Lily, Grace.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Silent Song

On my drive home yesterday after the annual shopping trip Ashlie and I take with Brianne, her Mom, sisters, aunts and cousins I did a draft of this entry in my mind and it seems I have a lot to say. First of all we have been doing this trip long enough to have accumulated a lot of memories and stories. We used to go to Bangor and have now for several reasons gone to Moncton instead. Lots of laughs , lots of shopping , memorable meals and a connection that increases every year. More than anything our trip builds a bond of love and support that is worth so much more than the purchases we take from our bags for our Saturday night post shopping Show and Tell.Another year and another great trip. Yesterday as the others broke off to do more shopping I went to visit my dear Aunt Lois. She is in a lovely care home and every time I visit her I am more impressed by the staff and comfortable caring home they provide. If someday I find myself unable to be in my own home I wish for a home like Serenacare on Briarlea. My beloved aunt is in the final stages of Altzheimers. She now spends most of her days asleep and unresponsive. When I arrived I was led to a lovely little sitting room where she was nestled comfortably into a comfy chair. She was looking beautiful , her snow white hair styled , her alabaster skin with just a hint of blush, her black turtleneck and red fleece vest was topped off with a lovely necklace. She was covered with a warm cozy blanket and her head tilted comfortably resting on a neck pillow. She looked beautiful to me and I was so thankful for the obvious care she'd been given. I knelt beside her chair and spoke to her telling her only half of what my bursting heart was feeling. I touched her cheek, her soft hair and I cried . I thought of so many things , so many memories, so many years of sitting in the presence of my aunt , my mom and their two other sisters bearing witness to the love they held for each other. I looked at the piano across the room from my silent aunt.My cousins gifted the piano to the home in memory of their dad my beloved Uncle Bernie who left us around this time last year.I thought of the part music played in my aunts and my Mom's life. They sang in church, played the piano publicly and daily for their own pleasure. I could almost hear my aunt's voice and Mom's voice joining hers as I sat in silence, the only sound being the shallow breathing of the woman I love so deeply. I could hear her loving words, her genuine interest in every aspect of my life. I could hear her comforting words as she came through my door the day Zac died.I heard the lines of the theme from Romeo and Juliet that she sang at my wedding.I remembered when that voice faltered as she kept playing unable to sing caught up in the emotion. The songs of her life were always songs of love and caring and of a faith so strong and constant. My silent aunt and my silent mom gone before they leave us but present in my very being which gives me the assurance that they will never be gone and their song will never be completely silent. My cousin Joy when visiting her mom these days sits at the piano and plays and Lois opens her eyes and her mouth and sings in her weak and wobbly voice. I did not attempt to play but heard her voice in my heart. A time for us, someday there'll be. A new world, a world of shining hope for you and me.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Love the Life You're in

Twenty seven years ago I was patiently waiting for my fourth child to be born.I had stopped teaching right after Thanksgiving as being on my feet and trudging up the stairs to my classroom was more than my girth would allow. The baby boy I would deliver on Nov 6th weighing in at 10 lbs 8oz was the reason for my discomfort in those last few weeks. He was welcomed and immediately loved by his two big brothers and one big sister. His nicknames of Cale-man ,Caveman and Bo Hunk were quickly given him and he took his place in our family. He now gets the name of The Farmer. We love our boy and all he's brought to our family (top of the list being Ashlie whom we love like a daughter)Yesterday I was privileged with a group of other writers as part of the WFNB WordsFall event to visit Beth Powning. What a wonderful gift that was. She welcomed us warmly to her home , to her writing garret and to her wealth of wisdom and experience. She and her husband Peter settled into their home and property in the early seventies and every nook and cranny of their old farmhouse speaks to their creativity and the beauty of the life they have lived within its walls and in the fields and woods of their property. It was wonderful to spend the afternoon with her.Coming back home last night I digested all that I saw and felt in Beth's home and in hearing her story.I thought back to the old farmhouse Burton and I looked at in Wickham when Zac was just a baby. We had dreams of buying an old farm and making it our own. I remember the summer kitchen and back porch attached to the house and Beth's house reminded me of that . I have often thought how different our life would have been had we been able to purchase that house in Wickham. Instead we redirected our dream to the piece of land Burton's father had given him years before. There was no house on the property and we needed to see a vision and wait for the resources to build a home and a life on that land. I went off to St. Thomas with a nine month old in tow and got my Bachelor of Education. We returned to the peninsula and rented for a few months while I started teaching and we began building a small shed on our property. We moved in with a two year old Zac. Meg came shortly afterwards and we realized the shed was too small and a bit too pioneer-like so we bought a trailer. For five years we lived in that trailer while building our cordwood home. Lots of stories there for another time. Fast forward to today and to my thoughts on my drive home.One can always look at another person's life, another person's home, and another person's achievements and feel discontent with your own. The choice is allowing that to diminish your own or instead to take that comparison and let it shine the light on your own blessings. I believe cleaning and attending to your home is a form of worship. Today I will mindfully worship my home and my property trying hard to see its beauty and its worth, not its flaws and shortcomings. The life I have been given has brought me right to this day. I will clean and make brown bread rolls to accompany the chili Ashlie will bring for our Sunday supper. I will walk the wood road to the top of the hill and deeply feel the amazement of my people , place and purpose.I will not covet, but celebrate and worship and take strength from that choice.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

In Love Again

No my entry is not announcing a new relationship or the renewal of my old one . It is celebrating my joy in realizing as I write today that I am hooked on the book I'm writing. I am in love again. I often get asked which of my books is my favorite. There is no one answer to that but one thing I've noticed is that as I start a new piece of work I am always filled with doubt and skepticism. I don't always love it right away. Today 62 pages into the work that I started at the end of August I feel an attraction and a connection to it. It has a long way to go and many changes and revisions will take place but I care about it. This morning I finished reading the manuscript that I will soon begin the editing process to get it ready for a spring release. I cried and felt the deep hold it has on me. I believe in it and am ready for the next step to get it ready for a reader. My current work is in such beginning stages that I have not been sure of its value. As I work this afternoon pounding and sawing is my background noise. My friend Skip and his brother Tim are working away at our bathroom renovations. They are putting in a new window today and I am thrilled about that. I began with a vision , a hope of renewal for a dated somewhat moldy bathroom. The plan saw the demolition taking it right down to the bare bones. Walls will be re-located, all new fixtures and a walk in shower stall will be created. I see the vision and despite the inconvenience and annoyance of being without a tub and shower I am so excited for the outcome. It seems to me that is similar to the arch of creating a new book. Hard to let go of what was done in the past, hard to let the doubt and fear and worry go , hard to hang on to the vision but all so worth it. Nothing is free or easy or without effort.Every little step is meaningful and contributes to the beauty of the end product.I will post finished bathroom pictures(hopefully before Christmas)

Monday, October 30, 2017

And it's Monday Again

I debated with myself as to whether or not to write this entry. I will write it and then decide if I post it or not. The debate comes from the feeling that I sometimes get that I should be fine, I should not be dwelling on it. I have been told this over the years and I understand the people's good intentions to tell me that but I feel the way I feel which leads me to believe that others probably do too. Loss is a fact of life and I understand that very well. The measuring or comparing of loss is sometimes used to help put things in perspective and I get that too. But the daily living with and processing of emotion and all the things that come from loss is a reality and I think talking about it is better than pretending it doesn't exist. I lost my son 18 and a half years ago. I can clearly see healing and progress in dealing with the challenges a loss brings but I know the truth of it. Yesterday I gave a lot of thought to what Sunday mornings are for me. I calculated that since Zac died I have had 960 Sunday mornings.That also means I have had a lot of Saturday nights . For the first couple of years I woke up at 3:00 almost every night. It was 3:00 when we got the call that Zac had been in an accident. Oddly enough during Zac's first year and for a few months beyond he woke at 3:00 almost every night to be fed and snuggled before returning to his crib. So there is that. I have worked through the emotion of that but my fear and anxiety around Saturday nights continues and the weariness and defeated feeling I face on Sunday mornings has not gone away either. I recognize it and I give myself permission to feel it,ride it out and rally from it. Possibly another approach might be better but I haven't found it. Some might say get yourself to church or get out and help others. Some might say a lot of things but what I am saying by sharing this entry is that people struggle. You might look and say things like " it's been eighteen years' or whatever else we say to assure ourselves that people are all right. The truth of it is each person has their triggers, their struggles and the times that are more difficult and they have their own ways of getting up each day and putting their feet on the floor. Each of us puts on a good face but the obstacles we face don't go away.But the next day comes and we keep putting one foot in front of the other.I am so thankful for wood road walks ,for Sunday suppers with my loved ones, for tears and laughter and for Mondays.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

What 82 Moms Means to Me

I do not have time to write this entry. I am sure I could find a few more dusty surfaces, a dead fly of two to sweep up or some clutter to relocate but I am done. I will put the finger foods in the oven in twelve minutes then put the kettle on. My dear friends who have become the 82 Moms group that meet once a month will be arriving shortly after that . I said to Burton yesterday "Why do I put myself through this?" he wisely observed that I do this so that I can go to their homes (and eat all afternoon) for the other months of the year. There is something to that but having the 82 Moms in my life is so much more.I know that when it comes our turn we all clean and cook and try to plan a menu that will measure up to the food the others served. We do put our best foot forward but we also know that despite our frenzy of preparation our friends are not coming to inspect our houses or criticize our cooking.They come to catch up , to laugh and to sometimes cry. They come to hear of the joys, the sorrows ,the struggles and the victories. We tell of weddings and births, of sickness and loss. We hold each other up and expect to be held.We eat and celebrate another month in the lives we have been given. We all had babies in 1982. 1982 seems a lifetime ago and oh the changes we have all seen. But we gather together with a year in common and oh so much more.What a wonderful gift and well worth the effort it takes to welcome them in to my dusty and imperfect home. And for those of you that read my last blog entry, Burton scrubbed the back veranda this morning on his hands and knees. I love that man!