If Trees Could Talk

2011 – The last time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and the only year out of  5 that I  crossed the finish line.

Yes, I wrote over 50,000 words in 30 days and did so as a single mom working full-time while raising two kids AND blogged regularly! I even wrote guest posts for other blogs, including the Pep-Talk variety for other WriMos! WHEW.

No sooner had I accomplished my goal, though, when something really weird happened:  I lost all motivation to write and stopped almost completely.  No more novel writing, no more blogging.  In fact, I stopped writing anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, specifically, journaling and whatever was needed to fulfill my professional obligations.

REALLY weird.  And the burn-out or whatever it was lasted for years.

I learned a lot about myself from 5 years of NaNoWriMo-ing, though.  I learned the early morning hours are my most creative, and that it’s HUGELY frustrating to need to stop in the middle of The Flow because Duty Calls.  I experienced how elusive, magical and fickle The Muse can be.  And, perhaps most importantly, I discovered  writing fiction isn’t really my thing.  My natural inclination leans towards storytelling based upon my own experiences.   Real Life Stuff.

But I think that is about to change.

A couple months ago, while on a lunch and shopping date with a girlfriend, I had the most amazing encounter .  WE had the most amazing encounter, I should say.  And Thank The Writing Gods I had a witness to all that happened.  It all started with a unplanned stop at an antique store in the Old Towne district of Tustin.  We weren’t sure if the shop was still opened since the sign in the window said “Open”, the sign on the door said “Closed”,  but a bunch of framed art was still outside on the sidewalk.  So Girlfriend went to see if we could get in, and after she waved an “OK”, I got out of the car and went immediately to the art on the sidewalk.  One piece in particular caught my eye: Framed in old Walnut, it’s a large  3 x 4 oil painting…of trees.

Here’s a close up of it….

 

Those who know me know I am a Tree Person.  Our home is surrounded by them and we love camping in the middle of them.  A Tree Hugger for decades, I’ve hiked miles to embrace the oldest living ones on Earth (in the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest).  I’ve blogged about them (Like HERE and HERE), painted them, planted them and every room in our home has some sort of homage to The Tree.

So this old painting really spoke to me on several levels.  After a day of fruitless shopping, I thought I had finally found something worthy of taking home – until I saw the price tag.

Anyway, we went inside to look around.  It was your typical antique shop in that it was  so PACKED with all manner of collectible, vintage, and antique goodies, we could barely squeeze through the displays.  But we did, making our way eventually to the back of the shop  and THAT is where it all happened.

I’m not going to tell the story here (sorry), but I am going to tell the story and I’m going to use NaNoWriMo2017 as my kick-in-the-literary-ass to write it.  Yes, I’ll still work on the cookbook.  Or not.  But I have to do this.  I mean, I have to.  The first thing my friend and I did when we got into the car to leave that day was to turn to each other, wide eyed with amazement, and simultaneously say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”  In fact, it was Deb who first told me, “You HAVE to write that down!”  And her encouragement hasn’t stopped.  So, I’m going to.  I feel like if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

And the old painting?  Well, it’s hanging right here over my desk while I’m typing this.  How THAT came to be is part of the story as well, and another reason I know I have to do this.  Why?

Because Trees Talk, don’t ‘cha know?

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November 1st is fast approaching.  If YOU are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, please let me know!  I would love to be part of your posse and lend you my support!  You’ll find me over there under the pen name JaneBond.

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

Falling

Early Fall days are some of my favorites.

The change in light, the change in colors…..the change in me.

The vapid summer days here in So Cal drain me, both physically and energetically.  Yes, I love the sunshine and – occasionally – the longer days. But we’ve had a helluva hot, humid summer this year and I couldn’t be happier that darker cooler mornings are here with the promise of nights sleeping with open windows vs. A/C dronings.

Suddenly, I feel like cooking again. Hearty, earthy dishes like pot roasts and soups and fruit pies.  The gem-like ambers, oranges and browns of nature have inspired me to decorate for Halloween. I’ve been feng-shuing, decluttering and re-organizing and

I feel like writing again.

It’s been nearly 6 months since my last post and about that same length of time since I’ve written anything for my book (and thank you to those that reached out to make sure all was well in the midst of my silence. It is and I am. Thank you, Jesus, for curing the incurable).

I recognize several things contributed to my stall out.  Life happens and priorities shift. For example, I’ve been working two full days a week since the end of May, and I’m also responsible for making sure our grandson gets to school by 7:50 every morning.  My morning routine – and typically my most creative time – has altered.

But in all honesty, it’s been more about motivation. I mean, even with a printer that didn’t work and a computer that barely did, I could’ve been writing.  I still journal most days.  But the book or the blog?  Well…I just haven’t been feeling it.

Thankfully, lack of inspiration isn’t a permanent condition.  Ask any artist.  Everyone goes through dry spells or blocks.  Muses can be fickle companions.  Then again, I tend to enter new projects with all pistons firing and my foot to the floor – which might be why I seem to excel at short term commitments and struggle a little with those that take a loooonnnnggggg time to complete.   I like to finish stuff.  Check it off my To Do List.

Or maybe, I just like Instant Gratification.  Ha!

But I’ve learned the importance of giving myself the grace to put something down and to feel my way through my creative endeavors.  Sometimes the best thing I can do to reboot is to walk away.  Like, literally, take a walk.  Hike in nature.  Socialize with friends.

Live life!

In years past, unfinished projects use to mock me…. half finished piles creating feelings of guilt and (depending on how much money spent on supplies) shame. But if Cancer  taught me anything, it is this: Life is short so focus on who and what is really important – and let the rest go (temporarily or permanently, depending).

So.  Here I am. Yesterday I cleaned and reorganized the office and the computer is fixed.  A new printer is being delivered on Tuesday along with a new mouse pad to replace the one I LOVE but was looking as grimy as our grandson after a day at school.

And I’m writing…..

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The house and yards look festive.  It’s a nipply 70 degrees, the windows are opened wide and the sun is just peeking over the hill.   I’ll be doing breakfast and a little shopping with girlfriends this morning, and then enjoying the rest of the day doing “whatever” since all my chores are done.  Maybe I’ll plant a few seasonal flowers or make that wreath I’ve been thinking about.  Or, maybe I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet of an early Fall afternoon with the house to myself.

Fall. My favorite time of year.

 

God In My Garden

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“To what shall I liken me?
To little birds in their nest.
If the father and mother do not bring them food,
They die of hunger.  Thus is my soul without you, Lord;
it does not have its nourishment, it cannot live.

To what shall I liken me?
To the little grain of wheat cast into the earth.
If the dew falls not, if the sun does not warm it,
the grain molds.
But if You give your dew and your sun, the little
Grain will be refreshed and warmed; it will take root and will produce a beautiful plant with many grains.

To what shall I liken me, Lord?
To a rose that is cut and left to dry up in the hand.
It loses its perfume; but if it remains on the rosebush,
It is always fresh and beautiful
and keeps all its perfume.

Keep me, Lord, to give me life in You.

To what shall I liken you, Lord?
To the dove that feeds its little ones,
to a tender Mother who nourishes her little babe.

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My enraptured spirit contemplates all Your works.
Who can speak of Thee, O God so great!
O Omnipotent One, it is my ravished soul,
A nothing, a bit of dust says to You:
Come to me.
Who can say that an Omnipotent One takes notice?
One glance! You who look at me, come to me.
You alone, my God, my all.
I see Thee, goodness supreme; Thy glance is maternal.
Come quickly, O Sun of Justice, arise!
My soul is consumed, I languish while waiting.

Come quickly!”

Psalm of Blessed Myriam Baouardy
1846 – 1878
From “Prayers of the Women Mystics” by Ronda De Sola Chervin

True Confessions of a Terrible Blogger

20150613_112004_resizedI’m a terrible blogger.

Long gone are the days when I would write a daily post, and then go around checking on all my blog “friends”, commenting here and there and interacting along the way.

When I first started blogging back in 2004 or so, it was a whole ‘nuther world.  Blogging itself was a relatively new phenom.  This was in the days before “Smart Phones” and tablets, social media and “monetizing”.

Before the “Like” button.

Sure, the platforms themselves were pretty rustic compared to all the bells and whistles available today.  We had a small handful of options for templates and such.  Corporate websites weren’t yet using a blog as a generic marketing tool.  “Click bait” would’ve been mistaken for some sort of fishing apparatus. But oh, those were great blog times.  I sometimes miss them in the middle of the night.

These days, I “think” about writing here far more often than I actually do.  One reason (the main reason) is, I’ve lost the plot. I don’t know what my motivation is….the whole “WHY” of it.

I’m not an “expert” on anything.  I haven’t any earth shattering wisdom to impart, a book to promote,  or a service or product to sell.

I have no interest in trying to be “someone”, or garner an adoring crowd (well, actually, that part sounds pretty good.  haha!)

So why write here?  What is it that keeps me coming back (albeit sporadically), year after year, even after weeks and months of being MIA?

It’s simple, really. I long to connect.  To reach out and touch someone and maybe, if I’m lucky, have them touch back.  To write something and have someone say, “Hey, me, too!” or “I totally get you!”

Being “get” cannot be rated highly enough.

One of the most unexpected developments of having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago was how it would impact my relationships.  I’ve written reams about it in my journal, and mentioned it briefly here (I think….)  And I suppose much of the changes stem from how the news – and the treatment journey itself – impacted me.

Unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who’s been told they have the Big C, it’s hard to understand, even if you are close to someone who has or is going through it.  See, you can’t be in their head.  You aren’t there in those dark, solitary, sleepless hours in the middle of the night with your thoughts running amuck.  Hell, even my own family doesn’t know some of the stuff I had to deal with – emotionally and physically – because I didn’t want to burden them any more than they already had to deal with.  I still don’t.

Long story short, and not surprisingly, I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago.  For example, I’ve essentially ditched the New Thought/New Age/Alternative spirituality stuff I had been practicing for a decade or so.  I found that 97% of it was pretty useless when it came to dealing with the diagnosis.  My beliefs were tried by fire.  I am, most assuredly, a Jesus person again.  NOT a fundamentalist.  You can’t “unknow” or “unexperience” certain things.  I love and support my gay friends and the LGBT community at large.  I still swear up a storm and I don’t go to church (although, if I could find one where I “fit in”, I would go in a heartbeat).  I still believe in the Feminine Face of God, and the Mystery of the spiritual realm.

Physically, I’ve changed, too.  I don’t have long dyed hair and acrylic nails any more.  My face is different….a little more battle-scarred and war-weary.  And my wardrobe.  Ugh!  After being away from the corporate environ for this long, and after going from 2 incomes to 1, well, the word “limited” comes to mind.

Hell, some days I don’t even put makeup on except maybe my eyebrows.  They are a MUST HAVE, if I want to avoid looking rather alien.  I didn’t have much before and, after chemo, things didn’t improve.  At least I got my lashes back.  Mostly.

Another big change is how I spend my days.  I am, by and large, living the life of a retiree – even with my part-time bookkeeping job (which, as it turns out, is VERY part-time).  My days are spent doing mundane “housewife” things like cooking and laundry and cleaning.  I actually don’t mind that, interestingly enough.  And I have plenty of time (if not money) to do the crafts and classes that I enjoy.

I never did relate to the “cancer survivor” meme, even though – technically – I am one.  Never joined a support group and don’t have a single piece of pink-ribboned paraphernalia.  Going through breast cancer was more like going through an ugly divorce or a death or some other trauma. I am doing what I can to put “that phase” of my life in the past as much as possible considering it was – well – cancer.

So I didn’t come out of that phase with a tribe of “sisters”, even though I was told I would.  In fact, some friends have drifted off into the sunset.  Why?  I dunno…Changing interests or lifestyles, maybe?  Some of that is to be expected, I suppose.  In July 2015, when my BFF broke up with me  after my 2nd round of chemo (and right after I shaved my head), I had a big wake up call.  Another one, I should say.  It was the understanding that some people can’t handle the tough times…the really tough times.  Times involving a drastic change in availability, or appearance or energy.

Times of facing one’s own mortality.

My friendships have undergone a serious pruning.  In spite of that, the relationships I have with myself, the God of my understanding, my husband and my children are all stronger than ever.  I’ve made a few new acquaintances and friends along the way, although no one (yet) to fill those BFF shoes. But I appreciate these women when we spend time together.  We laugh and have fun as we get to know each other better.

But in my heart I believe there is one special woman out there.  One who is also looking for me, wanting the same sort of “sisterfriend” relationship I want.  Someone like-minded and enjoys the same things.  A woman who  makes the best of things and lives life  – every day – to the fullest.  She’ll be down to earth with a good head on her shoulders and a smartass remark on her lips. And we’ll laugh our asses off, A LOT, even when we’re crying.  It’s just a matter of time before we are connected.

CONNECTED.

Connection.  That feeling you get when you know someone is there for you, and you for them, during good times or bad, happy times or sad.  When the people involved experience the strength and comfort that comes from doing life together vs. going it alone.

I want more of that in my life. In real-time.  Because as wonderful as online friendships are, they aren’t the same as those where you actually DO stuff together, physically, in the same space.  Words written on a page (or in a text) are not the same as those spoken face to face, eye to eye.

Maybe even heart to heart, when someone needs a hug……

CONNECTION.

I may be a terrible blogger, but I give great hugs.

It’s just a matter of time.