Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Flurries

It's that crazy time of year again. The holidays. Most years I really love this time of year and the hustle/bustle of it all. Not so much this year. I have been trying to get everything done before I have to go for my final round of chemo on Dec. 14th. I'll probably feel rather crappy afterward and not want to do better to get done what I can while I can, I suppose.

I am ahead of where I usually am at this point. My house is totally decorated. Almost all gifts are bought AND wrapped. My Christmas cards are written along with the Christmas letter and photos. All that's left there is getting stamps and mailing the darned things, which I have to say has taken me the better part of a week to get to that post office. I have to now because i also have packages to mail (returns.) The only thing I haven't started yet is holiday baking.

The baking is the fun part for me. All the rest of it is a nuisance. I love the cooking part. Not the grocery shopping or the dishes that come along with it.. I really like to bake and create. Oh to be a chef and have someone else in the restaurant/kitchen doing the cleanup for you. Heaven! I need some baking staples in order to start this part of the holiday preparations - like flour, for starters. That's the problem - the grocery stuff that goes along with baking. It's so cold out and I just hate going out with this damned bald head of mine. I never realized how much my hair kept me warm. (And the wigs are a pain in the ass.)

Sometimes I think I am the only one who cares (in my family) about keeping up traditions with Christmas. Today I was wrapping and my husband watched me working for awhile. He went up for about an hour and a half (or more?) nap, and when he came down I was still wrapping. He couldn't believe I was still wrapping. How easy does he think it is to wrap something like 70 or 80 gifts? It takes time! And energy. And every year I am the one doing 90% of it. Or more. Just like everything else.

Same with the shopping. You might think that going through chemotherapy at the holidays might just merit me getting out of having to do all the shopping. Not so in this family. All I get is harped at over spending the money doing it. And this year I have been very good at shopping sales, using coupons, etc. I've probably saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars by being careful this year. No credit for that either. My mother and mother-in-law BOTH asked me to do their shopping for them. Really? Really! You couldn't manage it this year by yourselves? I did it of course, dutiful daughter (and in-law) that I am. But I have to say it made me just a little bit mad to have to have done it this year. I think perhaps I have enough on my plate.

Then there is the holiday parties. Christmas Eve will be at my son's house this year. I have to say I am relieved about this. For years we have gone to my brother's house, or parents (or my house) to celebrate Christmas Eve in Slovak tradition (no meat) with certain foods preparations. I KNOW I couldn't handle having the parties myself this year, so I am happy my son stepped up and that I don't have to spend the holiday with my brother's families. Not that I don't love them all - I do.... I just really wanted a smaller, quieter Christmas eve this year. Happy that is just what I am going to get.

Now about Christmas Day. OK here it is. Almost every year we host the Christmas Day party. Usually we have between 30 and 40 people here. This year though, the two main hostesses, myself or a cousin's wife are both going to be recuperating from major illnesses. Cancer and a big operation. And another cousin from my husband's side too will be recovering from major surgery. So all THREE of us couldn't have hosted the big group. Another cousin's wife /family has come to our house year after year. You might think that jUST ONCE she would offer to have the holiday at their house. No dice. That really burns me up. So I will have Christmas dinner here for my family and my parents. The debate is whether or not to have any cousins. I'll probably end up asking some of them sort of last-minute. I just don't know if I really WANT to this year. I mean, would it kill us all to spend the holiday apart with our own families?

I guess the saying is right...there is no rest for the weary. I can see why some people get depressed during this time of year. It can be overwhelming. The shopping, the wrapping, the cards, the letters, the baking, the groceries, the cleaning.... Apart from wanting my health back (and hair), what I want for Christmas this year isn't really material goods. Frankly, i have everything I want and need. What matters to me most is that my family pitches in and lets me rest and regain my strenth again. That FOR ONCE I would not be just taken for granted. That things would get done without my having to ask for them to BE done. That someone would freaking NOTICE that I'm tired and feel poorly. That someone would volunteer to walk the dog out in that cold that goes right through me. Instead of them asking me, "when are you going to bake?" or "When are you going to wrap gifts?" etc....

Yup - the holiday time is one big flurry of activity. And all I want is to sit quietly and watch the flurries outside, sipping a hot chocolate and listening to some music, perhaps. I want to be invited to someone else's table and for them to say, "just bring yourself." I don't want meaningless gifts. I don't need expensive gifts. I just want peace. The peace of Christmas. Isn't that what it's really about, anyway?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Mirror Cracked

I have been lamenting the loss of my hair all week due to going through chemotherapy. I did a small "class" this week on journaling at the local cancer care center in town and it's really got me thinking about a number of things.

For a long time I think I have been obsessed with my appearance. This is sort of funny, because I've let myself gain a LOT of weight over the years due to what can only be regarded as rampant hedonism - so much so that the thought of going on a sufficient enough diet to lose it is a daunting task. Still, I have always been rather particular about how I look. Rarely will I step out of the house (for instance) without makeup on my face, or my hair fixed nicely. With my hair losses mounting by the day, looking in the mirror is becoming increasingly difficult. All I see is the baldness coming through...and yet...

The loss of hair is in a small measure a little liberating. I can't really fuss over what isn't there, and looking in the mirror is starting to become less about real appearance than perhaps mental and physical health. Perhaps this is way overdue for me as well. I've needed to pay better attention to my overall health for some years. This lack of attention has lead to physical (medical) problems as well as some emotional ones over the weight gains. I think it's changed the nature of some of my relationships. And who knows, perhaps it lead to the lymphoma I am now fighting. Losing hair has allowed me to look closer at my identity and less at the outer shell.

This week I saw an Oprah show that talked about a man called "John of God". He is a Brazillian healer. A man who went to see him as a journalist came back from his visit profoundly changed and he was interviewed by Oprah on the show. He made one comment that has resonated with me this week. Something I've know and believed all my life as a Catholic, but not paid much attention to. He said our bodies are not who we are but are just the shell/casing of our beings. He said alot of other things too - about how we are all connected and that our minds are so much more than we intellectually "know." I really got that.

So this week when the woman presenting the journaling class asked about who my authentic selves were I had to step out of my "body" and think hard about it. I immediately had an image of the multiple personalities person "Sybil" from the book and movie of the same name. So I got to thinking about my selves/what comprises all the "hats" that I wear. And not just the labels like "wife", "mom", "friend", "daughter". Those are roles. I think the authentic self comprises personality traits and the longings/strengths/weaknesses of our souls. I had a hard time defining those at first because just asking the question makes me have to think about myself as a soul and not as the shell I see in the mirror each day. Something I am really unaccustomed to doing.

For the most part I like my soul and I'm comfortable IN my skin/shell. Not so comfortable WITH my shell. There is a difference. And it helps me put into perspective the hair loss thing too, which I have been so focused on. What I am noticing this week is that even without hair, I am still the person underneath. I still am a peacemaker, a creative entitity, a nurturer. I still like to read the same kinds of things. I still like to do the same kinds of things I always did. I have the same thoughts and feelings. My hair, it turns out, has little to do with me. If I focus on that, I think I'll be able to get through the loss fairly easily. Besides, it grows back, right?

The moderator of the journaling class steered my thinking this week. She had me veer away from the familial titles and think about my traits. So here it is....I acknowledge that I am sometimes naive. I have a gift for seeing situations for what they are and cutting to the chase to get solutions, particularly for others. (Not always as good with my own interpersonal relationships. My insecurities get in the way.) I can be morose, but it usually doesn't last a long time as my nature is to be optimistic. I cannot say I really "hate" anyone or anything with particular vehemence. (Brussels Sprouts?) I can be slothful/lazy for only a short period of time before guilt sets in over not getting something done. I seek others' approval, usually by doing things for them so they can see my "value." I love family unreservedly but am really guarded when it comes to romance for fear of being hurt. I have been hurt romantically many times, one of which was profoundly. It's hard for me to trust, so I end up taking on more than I should instead of letting go. I am childlike in my love for holidays, most things Disney, great books like the Harry Potter series, and getting ANYTHING new. My authentic self is giving as a rule, sporadically organized, a pack-rat, and a dreamer. I am a Pisces for sure because I could stare at a lake or ocean all day. I love the water, but am afraid to drown/swim - though I know how. I am fearful of a LOT of things, sometimes to the point of inaction. I encourage others to advocate for themselves but rarely do it on my own behalf. I can be critical of others and acknowledge that I have some biases learned from an early age. I wish for greatness but have not achieved it I don't think. I know I am smart and have a good sense of humor - two things I am also rather proud of.

I can go on and on when I think about what I am, how I react to things, how I was brought up, what I think about myself and the world around me and what comprises my dreams. The truth is we are all complex beings. The mind is vast and not understood by science all that well. I do think I will live forever in some capacity because I have often felt the presence of others around me whose "shells" are in the ground. I believe in God - a creative force/energy. I am fortunate to have many people that I care about and that care for me. THIS is what makes me, ME. Not the shell that I have put too much emphasis on for too long.

Funny how a "little" think like losing your hair can change a point of view so dramatically. There is no choice but to see beyond the hair once it's gone. To look in the mirror and see the soul residing there. I have to think more about that when I meet others, too. So much attention in our society is placed on the shell and not NEARLY enough is placed on our spirits. Chemo may be taking away my hair, but it cannot strip my spirit away - my authentic self.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chemo Brain

It's been a crazy, frustrating, depressing ride the last 16 days. I began what will be three "rounds" of chemotherapy on November 2nd, Election Day. I feel as if the time that has passed has been as in a fog of some kind - or like time just kind of stood still. In this time I have discovered some of my frailties as well as strengths, but the process is not easy. How could it be, really?

I am "battling" stage one Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, found during a routine (and first time) colonoscopy in late August of this year. To say the diagnosis threw me for a loop would be a gross exageration. My mind has been in somewhat of a tailspin since early September. Some would say I am lucky having found it so early and to have not discovered it anywhere else, despite copious testing. Lucky seems to me to be the wrong word altogether. Relieved is a better word. Good that it was caught so early and that I have doctors that are on top of things. But lucky? Not so much.

The plethora of side effects that comes along with chemo is scary, annoying and REALLY difficult to take. It's not like taking antibiotics when you have a sinus infection. To sit in a chair for six hours while toxic chemicals are dripping steadily into your veins is downright unnerving. Thank GOODNESS that the first one they give you pretty much puts you right to sleep for a couple of hours. It doesn't really hurt while the drugs are going in. It's a day or so after that all hell breaks loose.

I went to "patient education", taking my daughter along with so there would be another pair of ears to hear all about side effects and what was going to take place. Too bad I can't remember nearly a single thing said that day. Too nervous I suppose. My daughter remembers everything he said to me and each new side effect that takes a grip on me is met with a shrug and a "oh yeah, they told you about THAT." Like hell. I had no clue the extent and breadth of the upper and lower G.I. tract "issues" I'd have. Now I'm praying this stuff isn't doing permanent damage. In order of severity, here's what hit me: Painful constipation, Heartburn to the point of esophageal spasms/gastritis, headache, fatigue, mouth dryness/soreness, body pains - particularly my ribs and back, nausea, eye dryness/blurriness, forgetfulness, and finally - the capper - hair loss. It would have been nice to have medications to combat some of these before they hit. The nurse taking care of me says that next round at least they will know what to expect. I'll say.

All this is hitting at the holidays. Not that it would be any better another time of year, but it's really hard to think that I will not be able to taste (or have any taste for) Thanksgiving dinner. I may not have a sense of taste for Christmas either. And forget about all the stuff that needs to be done this time of year. I'm the one who does EVERYTHING for this family for the holidays. Let's see who steps up to the plate this year. I'm not going to push myself 10 days post chemo to host the entire family. This year I get to be the one who is waited on. Let's just see if that's what happens. I can't even figure out how I will organize all the stuff to get done when my head is in this fog, particularly the week or so following a round.

I'm blaming any balls I may drop along the way on chemo brain. What the heck. All the bloggers talk about the effect of chemo on cognitive function. May as well use that as a good excuse. Not that chemo itself isn't excuse enough already. It's just weird being the one sitting back and letting others do the work. But I am entitiled, I think, to a rest. And if no one else steps up to take over what needs to be done I'm going to become the worlds most annoying delegator.

That is if I can remember what needs to be delegated.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have started chemotherapy. So far one round of R-Chop down, two to go. I figured that I'd feel pretty much ok after a few days, being that my body was "healthy" going into that first session. It's demoralizing to now understand how wrong I was. I keep praying that the usual side effects won't hit me, yet one by one they seem to be coming.

I'm not coping well either. Oh I tell people that I'm lucky this was found at stage one and that things are "as good as can be expected," but how in the world could someone know what this feels like unless they'd gone through it themself? A friend (Julie) has been most helpful, sharing her personal journey and warning me of some early symptoms of side effects. If only the doctors could have warned me in advance of the heartburn and GI troubles.

Today I have had chest pains. I don't know if this is related to esophageal spasms such as I experienced over the weekend, or something worse. Tomorrow morning is my visit with the oncologist's office for a blood draw. I can't wait to tell them yet feel wimpy in bringing up every little pain or ill that I feel. But I'm entitled, right? I'm having to go through massive poisoning, essentially. Why shouldn't I complain if I'm not comfortable.

Many nurses around the hospital have said my particular Oncologist is "into comfort" for his patients. I'm not sure I see evidence of this and it has me more than a little ticked off, really. I don't even officially see him until the morning of the next round. That seems rather callous of him. I get the blood drawn and he looks at the results, but I have to wait 10 more days to know where I stand? This is not right.

I learned several years ago when my husband was gravely ill that the best advocate to the medical constituency that one has is one's self. It's just a shame that I haven't the energy to fight or to demand. I have to rely on others to do that for me as my husband relied on me to advocate for him when he was unconscious. Problem here is that I go to the appointments alone. So much for backup.

I'm terribly resentful of this whole process and what is being done to me, regardless of the fact that it's saving my life, potentially. I want to be wholesale taken care of through this. I don't want to still be pickup up my family's dishes and doing their laundry. That seems unfair to me. And as much as they say they are stepping up I see little evidence of it and I am getting madder by the day.

Chemo stinks. Being sick stinks. Relying on others stinks. Every single thing about this stinks except that it was caught early and is curable because of it. I guess I have to hold on to that.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scarier than Halloween

It has been weeks since I have written a blog. Time seems to have suspended for me the last few weeks as I now wait in limbo for test results. A polyp from a recent colonoscopy tested positive for B-cell lymphoma, though as of this writing, doctors are not sure which type or what stage. So it's been a blur of large, scary tests and waiting for each result and a concrete diagnosis and treatment plan.

So far, it seems the primary lesion was caught with that colonoscopy. A CT scan, PET scan and a whole lotta blood tests have been performed and all have come back "clean"/normal. Today I underwent a bone marrow exam, which was (I have to say) one of my bravest moments ever. The doc had to draw it from my sternum. I feel tonight as if there is a big weight on my chest pressing down. Not exactly hurting, just a lot of pressure. It was so weird to be able to both feel and see the oncologist literally screwing in the needle. No tears though - I'm rather proud of that. Won't get those results for another week.

This whole business of a cancer diagnosis is frightening. The first news that a tiny polyp the size of a grain of rice contained lymphoma cells was probably the worst of it emotionally. I mean, I really thought it would literally never happen to ME. How naive could I have been? It can strike anyone - why NOT me? My gastroenterologist must be one of the most compassionate people in medicine. He put me at ease (as much as could be done in the moment) and set me on the new track of testing to see where else this stuff may be lurking. A few trips now to the hospital for CT and PET scans, as well as a few visits with the oncologist later and I'm no closer to having anyone figure out how that lesion could have gotten there or what exactly it was. So today the bone marrow draw was the last of the big tests. I'm wearing the bandage like a war wound and to remind me that I CAN be brave if I HAVE to.

The things that go through one's brain though after a diagnosis of cancer are varied and awful. I waffle between despair and optimism (as each GOOD test result comes in) but feel like the shoe is gonna drop here any time now. Even if it doesn't - I know that I forever will be thinking about how in the world my body could have made those cells and when it will make them again. Is this how I will die some day?

It's made me think of all those things I have wanted to do and put off. A good friend of ours died about 13 years ago - a very jovial fellow that had end-stage liver cancer and never knew it. He died weeks after his diagnosis at the age of about 35. No kids - he and the wife kept putting it off for "a better time." I often think of her now without Brian and with no children either. The last weeks I have thought of them alot in terms of what may be left undone in my own life. Because how much time do any of us have, really? If I had to be gone in five years, what would I like to have accomplished and done with my time? Lymphoma puts all things into perspective.

I'm going to work on a list, but I don't want to call it a "bucket list," as many do with such things as these. I guess I'll call it "My Plan." Because I think it will be important for me to focus positive and creative energy into my daily life, I have to have goals again and some purpose. My purpose now is to live, first of all. Not to wait, pine away, complain or moan, or (God-forbid) be sorry for myself, but to get up and do things for myself that are physically, spiritually and emotionally satisfying. For too long I have waited (I think) for others' permission to live my life how I want to live it. I think I'm done with all of that. I am going to have a plan - and that plan is NOT going to include lymphoma worries. Maybe I will have to fit in my plan around medical tests or treatment, but it doesn't mean that is all I have to think about or do. And it's not going to be spent just cleaning up after others, organizing others or picking up after other's emotional, spiritual, medical, financial and physically messes. I think I've done my time in this regard.

I am not going to let this diagnosis define me. Yes, I am now officially a "cancer patient" but it's not ALL I am or will be.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Media

This will be short and (not so) sweet. I am extraordinarily sad today, and I think I need a Facebook break. I don't understand people who use it to brag, to bash others or to promote their agendas. We have enough mainstream media doing all of these things. To me, Facebook, My Space, etc are meant to connect, not dis-connect people.

I made a comment on a friend's "wall" after his posting and the various comments from his friends, one of which I agreed with. He slammed back at me with such vitriol for my difference of (political and religious) opinion I have no idea where it came from. All I know is right now I don't want much to do with him. There is an invite to his wedding on my desk, and I just don't think I'm going any more. I'm really saddened by this remarks and can't believe a friend would react in the way he did, unless he wasn't a friend in the first place. After 15 years believing he was a friend, it is a big blow.

Just because Facebook is a social media does not mean that people should post without any regard to social graces. What has happened with our society?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

After Effects

My son has gotten married. It was a wonderful wedding with a unique ceremony (as only he would have) and a really, really fun reception. I enjoyed the entire day, as did our whole family. It couldn't have been any better (unless it was a bit cooler outside - poor Ryan was sweating buckets in his tux.) Speeches were made, toasts given, dances performed, songs sung - just a great time. I hope he will remember it as fondly as I will as the years go on. Hard to forget the day your first born marries. I am happy for him and will miss him at the same time, because I know he now officially belongs to someone else. And she is a wonderful girl, so what more can a Mom ask for, really.

So much of my time the last weeks was wrapped up in that wedding I'm finding it difficult to reorient myself to the "real" world going on around me. News events, family drama, work committments - everything has sort of taken a back seat to the preparations leading up to Ryan's big day. Now I barely know what to do with myself. Well, that's not ENTIRELY true - I always have a significant "to do" list going. It's just a little hard to focus now that the big event is done.

I've been hanging out this week in the northwoods at our family cabin with my husband and his cousins, for the most part. A relaxing week was needed for BOTH of us, and I'm glad that he ended up taking the time to be here all week with me. It's been a good time with great weather up to now (it's storming as I write). So I'm a bit sunkissed and a little tired - all in a good way this evening. My puppy is even tired - which is a VERY good thing tonight.

And so it is that I enter the next chapter of my life both literally and figuratively. While here I have gotten some background information about a local island and its colorful owners- the setting for a story I have been cooking up and playing at writing for some time. The fresh information has renewed my enthusiasm for writing and so it is that I'm blogging again and giving serious consideration to becoming what it is I've always SAID I wanted to do - become an author of fiction. And maybe a little history too - the real history of Denby Island is as interesting it turns out as what I have been dreaming up. Oh the lives people lead!

After a week of lounging around, eating more than I should and soaking up the sun and the lake, it's nearly time to head home and begin anew my day to day life. I think now I am going to schedule in the time to write each day - if only for an hour. Even if I have to get up an hour earlier to do it, I think I owe this to myself.

Life goes on. My son has moved on, and so now will I. Time to turn the page.

Monday, July 19, 2010


It's been several weeks since I have last written. A busy time in my life, to be sure. My son is getting married in two weeks, and I spent a few weeks in Northern Wisconsin at our lake house early in the month. It was pleasant, but rather lonely for me as my husband was not there for very long - just three days at the "fourth". I spent the second week with a cousin, whose company is good, so I don't mean to demean it - but I have been wanting to spend a little time with my husband.

He has been in a job that takes him to other states the majority of the time. And because he is and always has been a career focused person and a workaholic, it seems family has come last on his to-do list for some time. It's a not-uncommon scenario in lots and lots of households, I imagine. And on the bottom of that "sacrifices" list is time with his spouse - me. We talk about it, that sacrifices now in time and energy will benefit us in the long run, but it's really getting increasingly hard to take day to day. I spend my days largely alone, and my nights as well. Though my daughter lives at home yet, she has her own life and I see her almost nearly in passing.

So it was that last night we talked about spending a week together (as we have been planning for some months) following our son's wedding. We have friends coming with us for four days, but following that was to be time spent together. Last night I was informed that after our friends (business friends) leave, he may have to leave again too. He did this to me last year as well. I looked forward to our week together, only to see him bolt as soon as the business guests were departed from our company. I suppose I should be grateful that he at least warned me this year, but it doesn't tamp down the disappointment in any way. Or the feelings that it's all just a bit unfair. Everyone gets his time but me.

I couldn't tell him I was terribly hurt. Again. I think because in saying it out loud it makes the bruise all the more real and all the more painful. Instead I rolled over and tried to sleep, which ended up being a very fitful night for me. I noted he slept soundly.

It's had me thinking all about disappointment today and how people (and I) deal with it. I'm a stuffer. I just take a deep breath and choke back the inevitable tear and push it down, holding in my dismay and dejection. I was raised to never let others see your emotions. Funny, because I'm an emotional person, really. My feelings are usually all over my face, even if I don't say a word. But I'm certainly not a screamer or bitcher/moaner or conversely a "take it in stride" person either. I simply stuff the feelings away and try to move on. Problem is...I don't actually ever move on. And then resentment builds, like a volcano lying dormant waiting for the right time to blow.

So lately I am feeling as if the magma is rising and that the top of the mountain is about to come off. And as I said, I'm no yeller, so it won't be violent - more like the insistent hissing of steam from a bubbling teakettle. I'm really tired of taking a backseat and of being made of "cellophane", as my earlier blog eluded. The confrontation will have to take place soon, and I dearly hate confrontations. What to do....what to do....

First things first - I think I need a nap to sleep on it. Maybe the feelings will be gone when I get up. Or maybe not.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I am overdue for a true vacation. I love to travel, apart from the airline stuff. (What a bother that is these days.!!!) While I have stamina and (a little) youth left, there are places I want to go and things I want to see. I think I need to make a bucket list. Not that I'm kicking off any time soon - I just think everyone needs goals. Paris, Russia, Bejing, the Pyramids, The Parthenon... Hell, I'm excited that I finally saw the St. Louis arch!

In my head I tend to plan from major event to major event or bit of travel. It gives me something to work toward and to look forward to. I don't have any such thing on my horizon right now, apart from my son's wedding in a few weeks. This will be fun, but not a vacation by any means. A vacation is a respite. It's an interlude of fun for fun's sake. It's a refresher of the soul/spirit. It's INTERESTING, for heaven's sake. I don't want to sit on a beach somewhere staring either. I want to SEE places!

The economy being the way it is, this is not the year for big travel. My husband is on an expensive fishing trip, but he's worked his butt off for the last several years and has earned the money and needs the rest, frankly. I hope he comes home renewed and happier, because that is what a vacation should do. I do not fall into his category, but I went into downtown Chicago with cousins and my daughter yesterday. It was fun and SORT OF like being on vacation. We walked around, shopped a bit, had a nice little snack in a little bistro and a delicious dinner at a favorite restaurant. It was hot and steamy walking in the city in nearly 90 degree heat, but I didn't much care (especially after I put my hair up, which I should have to begin with.) It was a get-away, and EVERYONE needs a bit of a get-away sometimes.

I went to Europe on my own two years ago to meet up with my son and his girlfriend, who had been traveling for three months there already. We went to some exotic places (well, for me.) Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Munich, etc. And we drove in their rented Renault. It was wonderful and one of the best times I have ever had traveling. I have been on fancier trips - like to Maui or on a European Cruise, or even Caribbean cruises, but the pace and company of that trip was great for me. I liked everything about it. I loved being with my son for two weeks. I will treasure memories of that trip forever and hope I get to travel with him again some time. He's a med student so time is not his friend these days. Not much to spare. Still I hold out hope.

If I know one thing about myself, it is that I need to look foward to something. I'm a planner and a list-maker. I need to know what I'll be doing next month and the month after. THis year, after the wedding is done July 31, I really don't have anything on my platter that falls into the category of "looking forward to it." It's bugging me. My daughter is going on a cruise with some cousins in October. I am dying to go with, but I want to go with my husband, who won't take the time or spend the money to go this year. And really he is right, we shouldn't spend the money. But it seems there has to be a way to do something together that doesn't have anything to do with running the business of the family or commerce. I am longing for a vacation and need a change of scenery and a few new experiences. And I need time with him.

I think a vacation does not have to be a huge expense. We have a lake home in Wisconsin. I love being there, but I don't want to sit up there alone. I spend A LOT of time alone. I better get cracking on some plans for the future and some trips to break up my (long) year. My sanity and happiness literally depends upon it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Writing

I have been thinking the last few days about writing. I fancy myself somewhat of a writer. I write grant requests for a non-profit. I've written articles and newsletters. I've written whole training manuals over a variety of (mostly banking or managment related) subjects. And for better or worse, I blog. I have a few loose stories floating in my brain that I have thought about working into a novel (or two), but can't seem to get a real solid idea out of any of it. I have written some chapters, but just this week sat down to read them again after an absence of some months.

They aren't good. It's humiliating really. I felt I was being so clever when I wrote the beginning to my big story, but now in rereading I just think it comes off as maybe nearly juvenile or at a minimum, unedited and raw. I've been better (from a writing perspective) than these chapters. At any rate, it's forced me to rethink not only about whether or not I'm cut out to be a writer, but what I maybe want in life in general. (And yes, this is a big topic for me.)

I think I work best in a collaborative environment. Some people are loners who have to do it all themselves. I am better at refining and focusing an idea. I'd make a great editor, probably, even though I don't often edit myself enough. (Who does?) How one gets to BE an editor anywhere I haven't a clue. I just think I'd be good at it.

Is the nature of being a writer to have self-doubt? To wonder if anyone will be interested in what I may have to say in print (or cyberspace) or if even I will be interested after a time? Certainly in rereading my text I have come to see how raw the work is and that I'm in need of a genuine tight idea to go with my spectacular setting. And how do people come up with names for characters or places anyway? Maybe I should join a writing club or something? Is there such a thing? I'll have to Google/Bing around looking.

But back to the collaboration thing. When I read books there are always long lists of thank yous from the authors to a myriad of people in their life who helped them (A) finish the work in the first place and (B) give advice or actually read and edit the work. Does that count as collaboration? I think I need a team, really. I work better on a team.

When my kids were young I used to make up bedtime stories off the top of my head. We (they) called them "Stories without a book". And they were usually of the ilk of campfire type stuff - mildly scary or fantastical. Its funny, but my 22 year old daughter still remembers some story I told them about a place I called "Diamond Lake," and she had to be maybe 5 when I wove that yarn. Obviously I can make up stuff when I have to. How is it when I have to WRITE it though, it's harder? Is it the commitment to the words? Commitment to the work?

I read alot about authors/writers. They all seem like driven individuals who are nearly compelled to write - like they HAVE to do it. They are letter writers and bloggers and twitterers and diarists. I'm not that way. Truthfully there isn't anything I feel that strongly about - that I HAVE to do it or I'll be sad, or feel "less than" or feel something is hugely missing for me. What does that say for me? I think perhaps I am more in love with the idea of being an author than acually becomming one for real. Like everything else, it's gonna take a lot of work. It's about making a decision. And I've been putting a few off for a good long while....

So writer's block be damned, I want to work on that story. I know I can do it. I just have to carve the time out (and what else do I have, really...?) and get to work. Hatchet Island, here I come. Now what exactly WILL be out there? Hmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I have had the song "Mr. Cellophane" in my head all day today. The one from the musical "Chicago". It came up this morning in a conversation I was having with my therapist, actually. I was trying to describe how I feel a good deal of the time to my family and friends and this is what popped into my mind. All day I haven't been able to shake the song (my son used to call this a "brain worm". )

It's not really the catchy tune that hooked me, but rather the feeling of the song and some of the lyrics. "...oh you can see right through me..." When I am a little overwrought and feeling like I am likely the last person on everyone around me's list, I feel like cellophane. You know it's there, but you can see right through it as if it weren't. Lately I'm humming this tune more than I would like.

I used to have more people in my life to whom I could turn for a good ear, a little advice and little (less or more) judgement. It's at these times I miss Kate most of all, God rest her. She always seems to be sympathetic and encouraging and allowed me to vent, as we all need to do from time to time. I don't think I have had that luxury in my life for some time now - that is, the comfort and security with another individual to let it out and vent with no fear. Not that I just want a bitch session with a friend - I'm really talking about something deeper than just moaning about kids, husbands, pets and families.

It is about being seen. I'm rather tired of not being truly seen. I'm REALLY tired of being the one everyone calls to fix their problems but not really having anyone who can help fix mine. (Not sure my issues are actually fixable - that's something to chew on...hmmm). My daughter pops in my office or room nearly daily with "just a little favor" she needs, or calls me on the phone at the last minute to find something, do something or go somewhere for her. Frustrating because with a little planning she needn't rely on me. Kind of like my mother-in-law, whose philosphy seems to have been "why do it when someone can do it for me" for the last 30 or more years. Or my son, who ignores a text message from me asking when he may be available to help me with my garden - about an hour's worth of work I cannot do alone, but when he needs a little cash it's an easy call to Mom.

So today it was suggested to me that others may not know what I need because I don't vocalize my needs. I did think on this alot today, and have realized that this is by-and-large the truth. I have my moments of frustration or anger when I'll just blow up, but I'm more or less a calm person, so this doesn't happen very often. So it got me thinking, how in the world should I or can I tell those around me what I need for my own happiness. Seems selfish to me to ask, but there it is, I guess I will have to, otherwise, they will continue to "see right through me". The old adage, "Ask and Ye Shall Receive."

It's the asking that's the hard part of course. Everyone carrys around their own sack of "stuff". The worries, troubles, doubts, fears, personal histories, and experiences that make us individual. Some people cannot look past their own stuff to others' stuff, as much as we may almost want to WILL it so. It's that measure of not wanting to feel like cellophane, but rather having someone express a care or concern without having to ask. Maybe that's unrealistic? I don't know. I really don't. I have a hard time expressing my troubles - especially to those really closest to me because I don't want to burden any of them further, and this is particularly so for my hard-working husband.

So it seems its a bit back to the rock and hard place for me. I AM fed up with being taken advantage of, and being "looked right through" by my family especially, but by the same token, I don't want to add a log to the fire and create more of a fuss than is needed. It will just boil down to communication of course, and being (somewhat) a writer you'd think I'd have this covered, but nothing is further from the truth, really. It's a WHOLE lot easier to talk to cyberspace than face to face with a human being. It's why kids get so worked up about Facebook comments and cyber-bullying. Half of it wouldn't go on if they had to be said aloud to be heard. But I digress...

I have to work on this communication thing. My husband comes home from a fishing trip tomorrow. I haven't really had time to sit and talk with him for more than 10 minutes in probably a month or more. I guess there's no time like the present. IN the meantimes...."Cellophane, Mrs. Cellophane...Oh you can look right through me...."


Sunday, June 6, 2010


It has occurred to me lately that I am a person who allows herself to become overly obligated. This applys to nearly every aspect of my life, from charity work to helping my kids (who are now fully grown). Why I continue to do this to myself is a little beyond me and leads me to endless bouts of depression, self-pity, resentment and anxiety. Pretty lame. I think I may have it figured out finally though - what drives me to keep taking on more than I should.

It's my "drug" of choice. Some people drink, others eat, shop, are promiscuous, do actual drugs, exercise themselves silly, etc. All obsessive compulsive behaviors. Keeping myself loaded up with "stuff" to do has become for me, the way I tamp down feelings or avoid getting to things I really ought to be doing or thinking about/addressing. I've written before about my apparent inability to say "no" to a friend or family member who's asked for help. I don't think that it's because I seek approval so much as perhaps just filling up the ennui of my life. At least this is what I have been thinking lately.

Of course the problem with saying yes all the time is that the obligations do pile up. I end up feeling anxious because I'm behind schedule, overstretched financially or just plain TIRED. I end up with stacks of commitments that end up making me feel guilty if I can't get to them. The other side of this coin is feeling good if I DO get to the piles of work and get them done. It's just that there always seems to be a new pile.

Maybe this is how life is? Perhaps we all take on too much and fill our lives with tasks, debt, social and work obligations and the minutae of daily living/households. Where is the time to just STOP and be quiet, both literally and figuratively? For me, even when I sleep my mind seems to be racing, all the time. My dreams are filled with chasing, vivid color and quests, as if even in sleep I can't keep up. The result is endless worry and never being able to outrun, outwit and outlast the chase, to borrow a "Survivor" phrase.

American life has gotten pretty fast. It's why I love going up to the Northwoods so much. There I seem to be able to handle my tasks - maybe because I'm watching the buzz of hummingbirds and gazing out at a pretty lake between jobs and tasks. I take the time to go down to the pier for even 10 minutes in the evening just to sit and stare. It's wonderful. I find the time to read when I'm there. Or to play a game of cards or boardgame with friends or family. Life slows down - or so it seems. Whay can't that translate to my life when I'm at "home".

Something to think about. Now I have to go fish the puppy out of yet another wastebasket, put another load of clothes in the washer and shower for a barbeque this afternoon. Let the races begin....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mystery Island

There is an island on a lake in Northern Wisconsin that positively intrigues me. Denby Island, between Medicine and Laurel Lakes in Three Lakes Wisconsin is the setting I have chosen to use for a story I've been writing (or more like thinking about writing.). It's a seriously creepy place that sparks my imagination in a huge way.

The island is shaped (from the air) like a hatchet. In fact, my story will be called "Hatchet Island" or something like that. The large part of the isle is fenced in with 10-foot high chain-link fencing that is topped by barbed wire in some spots. Parts of the fencing appear almost new - other areas are in disrepair, though still standing. Where the large island joins the long spit that juts out from it there is a stone archway set with a door in the fencing. Then a bridge over to the spit, on which sits a several-hundred year old French chateau, slate roofing and all. Apparently it was dissassembled and brought over near the turn of the century. There is also a small caretakers cottage on that spit, along with two over-the-water boathouses and a permanent dock. Near the bridge is a grotto of some kind with a sundial and two other arches made of stones. That area seems nearly like a ritual setting. The chateau is stone and the whole of that spit and the big island is heavily wooded. From the water, one cannot see into the interior of the large part (the hatchet) of the island, though I know there are a few buildings in the center of it. (My son and cousin did a fly-over and took pictures from my cousin's two-seater plane a year or so ago for me.) Those buildings appear to be either barns (or something similar) and perhaps a big greenhouse of some kind.

Whenever we have asked townspeople about the history of that island, it seems to us that the questions are either evaded or met with a shrug. Can no one know what goes on (or went on) in that large part of the island? For two years we have asked and asked about this property. The local antiques shop proprietess claims to know the owner and have toured the house, which she claims is "loaded" with french antiques. Interesting. But no one seems to have been able to get on that island to look around at what is going on. Hence the mystery. As to the buildings in the center of the large part of the island - well no one knows about them - or at least is talking.

It so happens my son is good friends with a local boy. The young man has stayed with us a number of times at our property nearby. I asked him about Denby's history and was again met with the "I dunno" shrug - but this time with a promise that he'd ask his father, who is postmaster in that area for the last 20 some-odd years. So he knows both the owner and some of the details about that property. At any rate, the father has agreed to get me an interview with the owner, who is apparently quite elderly. Am I ever excited about this. I've been photographing that place for two years from the water. Maybe finally I'll get some answers!

Guesses about what has or is going on there have ranged from "Jurassic Park" kind of wild-goose musings to the more practical suggestions of "deer farm". That doens't seem to fit either though. Deer farm in the Northwoods of Wisconsin? Kind of an oxymoron. It has to be something else entirey. My son thinks they are growing "weed" up there. My daughter thinks it's a government operation. See what I mean? Hugely varied ideas about that place.

Certainly that place has seen its heyday come and go. Much of it appears in disrepair. The owner is in her 80's and reputably, her offspring aren't interested in the place. I've seen her once, walking up to the house from a pontoon boat moored at her boathouse landing. I am so looking forward to meeing her and maybe even getting a tour myself. It seems that one day very soon, the big mysteries of the island will no longer be consigned to my imagination but will be out-in-the open.

Not sure how I feel about that. Sometimes it's a whole lot more fun to guess. :) Now back to my story writing....

Gal Pals

I just saw the movie "Sex in the City II", or whatever it's called. I have never been a fan of the series, having seen maybe 1.3 episodes over its entire run, but I have read enough about the characters to know a bit about the show. And I'm just not a huge Sarah Jessica Parker fan - I don't get all the hype. And I dig her character, "Carrie Bradshaw" even less. So I didn't have a whole lot of expectations for the film, nor any real vested interest either (I went because my daughter wanted to see it.)

At any rate, I did think there were some really funny momemts in the movie (the gay wedding with Liza as minister was indeed hilarious.) I read a review of the movie before going to see it, which I usually don't do as most movie reviews are so wrapped up with the reviewers' points of view, politics and biases that I just skip over reading them mainly and go a see what appeals to me and make my own judgements. I have to say though, this particular review was accurate - this movie tried WAY too hard to be clever and ended up being its own cliche. I don't know any one person who would use the term, "inter-friend-tion" when referring to giving advice to their gal pals. It was too contrived. And the characters have become caricatures, really. I don't think I'd ever be friends with any of them - maybe just Charlotte the stressed out Mom. I don't believe New Yorkers are so cosmopolitan in general either. It just didn't seem plausible. So I didn't really get the vibe of this flick because it just seemed so over-the-top fake. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know - it's just a movie, and belief is supposed to be suspended - yet I just don't think women talk to each other or act with each other the way these women do. And I know lots of women.

What the movie did is get me thinking about friendships in general, and in particular, women as buddies. I have never been a person with a gaggle of female friends that meet regularly for chic lunches with all of us decked out in four-inch heels and the latest haircuts and bags. I have few really close friends, and only one best friend that knows me more than anyone. My closest female friends tend to be family members, which can be complicating. Still, as the movie portrayed these four women who'd been through thick and thin together, I can see where that would be both reassuring and maybe a bit cloying too. Do people stay in one place long enough any more to hang onto a "crew" of friends? There is some comfort in shared secrets, camaraderie and histories. Do we as women need that? I got me wondering if I need it.

Maybe I am an oddball in this. Or a loner? I never used to be. I did have a bunch of girlfiends growing up and through high school and college. I still talk to two of those gals from gradeschool to this day, from time to time. I've even remet some of those college sorority friends via Facebook lately, which is kinda fun. Still, at this moment in time, I don't have a pile of girlfriends to go out to the theater with, or to the city for cocktails and chic dinners. I don't really even have anyone nearby to just go to a movie with - usually it's my daughter with whom I do these things, which frankly has to be a drag for her, even if it comforts me. It's really not until I see a chick-pack movie like this one that I think to either miss having a scad of female buddies or want to have them at all.

Tonight I could be out seeing a friend's husband's band play, but I'd have to go alone, which I just hate doing. My son was going to come out with me, but we both ended up opting to have a quiet night. I have lots of them. Lots. Maybe I would have met some friends there - but more than likely it would have been awkward for me, and I just would rather closet myself at home on the computer than be uncomfortable. I'm wondering what this says about me and where I am in my life. Because I think I really could use a gaggle of girlfriends to shop with, have lunch with, etc. every now and again, as Carrie and company in this movie. Nothing like a girlfriend to dissect your troubles. Chasing my puppy around all day just ain't cuttin' it. Waiting for the phone to ring with my husband calling is getting old too. Conversation is what is missing in my life.

So I am beginning to "get" this girlfriend deal. My mother has been friends with the same eight gals from the time they were in high school together. They are now in their 80's. How cool is that? They all settled in the same general hometown (or close by) and have remained close, having regular golf games, bridge games, dinner parties, etc. I always kind of envied her that group of "girls". I guess it's a rare thing to stay close to your high school friends your whole life. People move away, grow up, have familes - there are a million ways to grow apart. Yet this group of eight never has. It's astonishing, really. And a great comfort to my mother. Still, can't imagine that group having an "inter-friend-tion". Ewww.

So I guess once again I'll pine away for somthing I don't have and probably never will. However, my high school best friend is STILL my best friend though - so I'm fortunate to share a 30 plus year history with her. We have dramatically different lives, yet respect and love one another. A male friend of ours having dinner with us a few years back claimed we "speak in code" - the shorthand of a long friendship - finishing a sentence with a knowing look or a raised eyebrow and a laugh. It's that sort of thing that made the "Sex in the city" flick watchable and the only part that seemed really believable for me. Because anyone who's had a friend or two for a long period of time can appreciate the compexities as well as subtleties of that level of relationship. At any rate, the concept of four friends hanging together through the years is nice. I've had a real life example of that to look to all my life, watching Mom and her pals.

So maybe it's time for a margarita night with a few gal pals after all? Gee, we can get all gussied up and give each other advise and speak our minds without fear of judgement or recrimination. Yeah right. I am far more likely to share a simple meal at Panera Bread Co. wearing jeans and tennis shoes than four-inch Louboutins and Chanel. And amen to that. Just keepin' it real. My best friend and I will meet in the shoe department of Macy's halfway between where she and I live - do some cursory shopping and then settle in for a good chat over pasta someplace in the mall. I think women are more likely to be forthcoming one-to-one, and not in a group anyway. A glass of blush wine, some gnocchi and a little gossip. That's interacting. THAT is what a real long-time friendship looks like. Not four gals dolled up in harem pants and hideous hats jetting off to Abu Dahbi together, as cartoonish as that was on film. I'll take my one long-term buddy over four fake pals any day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Daughters and Diets

Tonight my daughter asked me to go on the Jenny Craig diet with her. She's tried this plan four or five times already and has a heck of a time sticking to it. There is no doubt we both need to do something about our figures. I just really have to say I don't like that particular plan because I don't enjoy their food. If I don't like the food, how will I stick to that plan? It's all so regimented. Augh. And I love to cook. Microwaving doesn't count.

I want her to have success. I want to have dieting success myself. Actually, I have had sucess this year, having now lost about 25 lbs, most of which I fear my daugher has FOUND. So much for Jenny Craig. Doesn't help if between Jenny meals there are Micky D's stops, you know? We are under a deadline this time. My son is getting marriend in 11 weeks and we both want to look good in our dresses (and without undergarments with enough inward g-forces to suck the breath out of us.) At any rate, it is true I haven't lost even a fraction of what I had hoped to lose in the last year since their engagement. And any diet works if you stick to it. Hence the problem.

Dieting in highly personal. Controlling what we put into our bodies is a matter of self-denial, forethought and focus. You can't take your eye off the ball when seriously dieting, and where is the fun in that? Honestly, sometimes gluttony is easier, at least for a few moments. I am not, however, a crazy binge-type eater. I've gained weight over the years, a few pounds a year, and probably mostly due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. In fact, as soon as I begin regularly exercising it seems as if the pounds drop off easily without having to crazily limit food intake. So that is what I choose to do - exercise in the form of a daily walking program. It's easy for me - I have a new puppy. He's got to go out anyway. I'm seeing results from the walking, so why should I go on an eating program I really can't stand?

Should I do it because of mother-daughter solidarity? To show her I am in it with her? Because I'm really not. She needs to come to some personal decisions about her body, as I have. She is only 21. It breaks my heart to see her gaining and gaining. I worry about her health, both physical and mental as relates to the weight too. Both are suffering, I can see. But how in the world can I help her while not doing what she wants? Why, for instance, do we have to spend LOTS of money (she is good at that) on a program when we just need to learn to prepare healthy food and engage in daily exercise? I'm frustrated with her belief that this Jenny Craig stuff is the only way she can lose weight. Why can't she believe otherwise? Her father lost nearly 80 lbs this past year, and not by going on Jenny Craig or any other packaged plan.

Self-denial type plans NEVER work. If I want ice cream, then I'm going to have ice cream. Just not a huge trough of it. I can live with a smaller dish and still have the satisfaction of having had the treat I wanted. (Actually I just "discovered" Edy's frozen yogurt blends. YUM!!) And because I'm walking every day, I don't have to have the guilt either. I just don't understand how to get this through to her. A plan is good if you like it and you can stick with it.

There has to be a better idea than tandem dieting. I want to help her. She's mad at me because when she asked me tonight to go on that plan with her, I didn't respond. I couldn't find the words to say no or yes. I'm not saying I don't want to lose weight, eat healthy or watch what I put in my body. I'm doing all those things. She's going to have to decide for herself what will work and what she can live with. Dieting is too personal. The bottom line is I cannot do it for her. Motivation has to come from within. I sense it's going to be a long 11 weeks to come.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fluff Stuff

Rom-Com, Chick Flick, Fluff Piece. All nicknames for that genre of movie that is a little romantic, usually scenic, kind of funny/kind of cute and infinitely entertaining. At least to me. I saw a charming movie this evening - "Letters to Juliet", probably inspired by the catchy little song by teen country cutie-pie Taylor Swift. I loved this movie in every way, predictable as it was, from the eye-popping Tuscan countryside to the moonlit nights to the pretty people who played the characters. It was a two-hour getaway. Lovely.

The movie inspired me in many ways - even (dare I say) made me think a bit. That's not usually the reaction one would have to a typical romantic comedy, but this one touched a few nerves for me personnally. I could see myself as one of the "Secretaries of Juliet", writing responses to the lovelorn who'd left letters on the famous Juliet's wall. What a cool job! And I could see myself in the main character, Sophie too. She knew she had a talent but was afraid to use it, afraid to show it off, yet eager that someone recognize her. Folly! And I recognize her lonliness too, living with a man preoccupied completely with his own life and business, unable to really "see" her. Finally, I thought about Claire, the woman searching for her Lorenzo from 50 years prior, and that it's never too late to go after a dream, whether that be a lost love or building a dreamhome or finally writing that story.

Lately I've been thinking about what I want out of life. Of course, daily living isn't like the movies. We still have to clean our houses, do laundry, pay bills, dig in the garden - do the stuff there is to DO. It's just that sometimes I long more for the fluff than the stuff. The easy-breezy moments like sitting in a Venetian palazzo sharing an ice cream with my spouse, or just a Diet Coke in the back yard at sunset. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love takes focus, committment and attention to the fluff times - because they don't come around often enough. The ones we do share have to be savoured. I wonder if my spouse thinks of these things in this way too. (Clearly I need to ask. )

In the Chick Flick type movies, girls have perfect hair and great, supportive friends, interesting jobs, handsome-if-aloof suitors, great living spaces and even better vacations. How fun would it be to live that every day? The "if money were no object" scenario. I think of this sometimes. If I had the cash, where would I go? What would I be doing? What would be different in my life? Who would I help? How would I spend my time? (And I mean SERIOUS cash - the kind where you aren't worried about the next taxbill or even the next Visa bill after the vacation, for that matter.) I guess I have to adjust my thinking. VERY FEW people fall under the "if money were no object" category. The majority of us still pay bills and worry about money, don't have enough time TO vacation, have multiple home-projects in a queue and don't look tousled-fabulous when we get up in the morning. So much for the movies. Not real life. Too bad. I guess that's why these movie are so popular and why they call them "escapes".

So I'm left tonight thinking about these characters and what their stories mean to me - how I can apply their lessons learned. How to turn the fluff/getaway feeling into the stuff of everyday living. Man, I've got to think it would take A LOT of work, courage and fortitude to just boldly follow your heart. Aren't most folks FAR more cautious than that? But what the heck, why not? Why SHOULDN'T we (and by we, I mean me) live our best life? Doesn't Oprah talk about that nearly endlessly? She's right, which is why she's always talking about it. There is no reason to be stuck in any kind of way.

Life is about choices. I think I need to go and live mine without my own boundaries getting in the way. Do I DESERVE my best life? Should I be spending my time in other ways to please other people? Am I good enough? Will others approve of me? Should I care? I'm 51 for heaven's sake, isn't it time to put these questions to bed once and for all times? Hmm - that's what therapy is for I suppose. I have to say - I AM on the path though, not just thinking about being on it, which is a huge difference. I can recognize in myself the need to make changes - decisions, and I'm starting to do that, if only in baby steps. Fluff is attainable. I want to go for it!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Worry Wart

The apple did not fall far from the tree. I freely admit that I am a worrier, as my mother before me. I learned at her knee to fret quietly and to just hold my head up an push forward, but it doesn't alter the fact that I do in fact, worry a lot. Sometimes the worry keeps me up at night, or causes enormous emotional upwellings that end in tears of frustration.

I don't want to be a worrier. In fact, I hide it pretty well (I think) most of the time. Because I keep my feelings to myself a good deal of the time (and whether or not this is a good thing is a debate for another blog), people assume that I am a "strong" person. While it is true that I have handled multiple tasks, illnesses, catastrophies and problems (sometimes simultaneously), it doesn't change the fact that I fret over all of it, silently - most of the time. (Sometimes, unfortunately, the pressure cooker blows.) I bear some of the results of this penchant for quiet hand-wringing in my overall health. I am CERTAIN that my overweight is in direct correlation to stress and worry. I'm a nervous nibbler. It's my one vice.

Worry has caused me endless migraine headaches, blood pressure woes, sleepless nights and enough shoulder and neck tension for a lifetime. I don't like being a worrier. It's demoralizing to dwell on inner demons and exhausting trying to keep everyone happy around me or die trying. Some nights it is difficult to shut off the firehose of thoughts, unresolved situations and problems and personal doubt. I turn to Tylenol PM to shut my inner TV off. Then the dreams start - always chasing, action dreams with me. I can't seem to escape the chase.

I worry about those close to me most of all. Will my kids be successful? Can my husband learn to balance work and home? Does my husband still feel attracted to me? Am I enough for him? Do others appreciate all I do? How is my parents' health? What will I do without them some day? Will my brother take responsibility for his life? How can I help my nephews? What more should I be doing for the foundation I (charitably) work for? What housework have I neglected and should get to? What have I forgotten to do or say? What does my future hold? How much longer will I have to be alone all the time? Will our family finances stabilize? Can I get my daughter to take control of her life, weight and career? Why won't my son call more often? What will happen when he is married - will he call even less? The list is endless of worrisome thoughts that bombard me all day long.

Maybe I'm just the same as anyone else. Maybe everyone is constantly working out their problems and feelings about themselves and others, about careers, families and friends. It's just that the older I get (now 51), the less patient and tolerant I seem to become for stress. It all effects me more and more. I know intellectually that worrying accomplishes exactly nothing. It moves me neither forward nor backward (well, maybe backward.) What it does is stall me out. I get gripped by worry so much at times that I just can't focus even on what task comes next.

I long for an easier life. And mine isn't so bad, admittedly. I live in a beautiful home. I have two great, grown kids and a new daughter-in-law in the wings pending a summer wedding this year. I have a good husband that I love dearly but whom I feel takes me for granted in SO many ways. I own my family vacation home on a quiet lake in Wisconsin - my refuge. I've traveled rather extensively, having taken some spectacular vacations in my lifetime. I have loads of cousins and family that I cherish. I'm VERY fortunate to still have two healthy parents. Despite all these things and MANY more, I feel my life isnt easy. Blessed, yes. Easy - not so much. There always seems to be a hurdle ahead of me.

What I am unsure of is how to break my own cycles of worry so I can move forward with better health. I've read all the stuff about stress relief through exercise and better diets. I am trying to do those things regularly. They do help. I think I am a victim of myself a whole lot of the time. I am unable to express to others my emotions and thoughts a lot of the time, (blogging helps) so worry sets in. My inability to open up then stalls my efforts to unburden myself. It's circuotous.

These are tense times in the world. Collapsing economies, untrustworthy government, endless news cycles bearing witness to catastrophy, crime and critique, murderous regimes run amok, environmental disasters, breakdown of family values and unit and a world that has become selfish in the extreme. It's hard to live through this and be unaffected. I wish I could say faith pulls me through, but I have doubts there too, though I acknowledge that SOME kind of force had to there to create the universe. At any rate - the havoc around us is tough to take these days. It doesn't create anything near peace of mind.

Can there be any such thing AS peace of mind? I'm wondering. As thinking, imaginative beings, maybe we are not meant to have complete peace of mind. There will be time enough for that after death, right? Maybe the turmoil allows us to evolve, refine our perceptions and minds. Perhaps the strife is a matter of life passages, like adolecence or menopause. What I do know is that I need to find ways to calm my mind and treat my body better. Suggestions anyone?
This one I can't ask my mom about. We are rowing the same boat. :)

To be or NOT to be...

More accurately, to blog, or not to blog - THAT is the question. I have been thinking about why people blog, about the people who read them and what it all means - specifically to me. I'm not sure how to check how many "hits" a person has on their blog. Does it really matter? Does a person write a blog to be read by multitudes? And what type of person writes only for an audience? It seems to me that this is inauthentic. If I write to an audience, it's about what they want rather than what I wish to express, right? That doesn't seem right at all.

To me, the purpose of blogging is to make a comment or observation of some sort. Or perhaps to record a memory. (I like to think of it like a Pensieve device from the Harry Potter books.) I don't think I would want to be censored by what an audience expects of my opinions and experiences. What would be the point of putting personal stories and thoughts to paper (virtual or otherwise) then? I'm sure there are those out there who DO write to influence or to entertain in their blogs, but for me - writing is a deeply personal experience and reflection of my essence. I write what I want, feel and about what is important to me. I'm not counting on others to read it, really. I'm not even sure I want others to read it, exactly, although admittedly when a friend makes a comment to me about something I have written I do experience an odd pang of pride along with genuine surprise. What I don't wish to feel is shame over my words.

Recently I wrote a blog article about something really bothering me - an absentee friend I've known for 30 plus years that I miss talking to. I received feedback about that blog from someone close to me who disapproved of (and misunderstood completely) this subject matter. To appease that person, I deleted the blog, but with a lot of resentment, I have to say. It occurred to me later that the commenter expected me to write as if an audience is following me, and that I should be editing content as such. The more I stewed on this, the worse I felt about deleting my article. Damn it anyway - it was from the heart and really expressed how I felt about missing an old friend. It was nostalgic and well-written, and I let myself get edited by a comment from one person. I have been ashamed of myself for caving in, to be honest. It was a memory of a feeling I wished to reflect on - maybe even at a later date. (Back to that Pensieve again.)

I don't care if ANYONE reads my blog. As far as I am concerned, I write to the wind and to get things off my chest. I write to myself, really. Years ago, I had a dear friend (who has since passed away, suddenly and at a very young age) that I used to correspond with daily via email, and via snail mail before that. Her absence has created a huge personal void in my life since she is gone. Essentially we blogged to one another for years and years. Because I missed that interaction (without judgement or comment, by the way, as was our habit), I began blogging. I also began writing for the exercise OF writing and to let off steam of a sort. Not in an angry way - more like the releasing of the nob on a pressure cooker allows for the lid to come off safely. Blogging allows me to organize my thoughts and verbalize my opinions where I may not have otherwise said anything out loud. How could editing to an audience help this exercise in any way?

My blog web address was sent out with my Christmas letter this past year, so I acknowledge that there may be some friends or relatives who may take the time or energy to read what I have to say from time to time. (Perhaps is presumtuous of me to even think anyone WOULD read my little musings.) At any rate, I think those people would tune (log in?) precisely because they may be interested in my authentic opinions. I think I know myself well enough to realize that friends are attracted to me for my insight, wit, sometimes sarcasm and (usually) honesty. To NOT say something because a potential reader may misinterpret my words, or not approve of an opinion or feeling I have would be doing myself a grave injustice, I think. I really am not afraid of what others may say about my blog, which is why I gave the address out to begin with. I hope they, my "audience" respects me enough to accept my musings for what they are and not what they think, read into or hope that they may be. But I'm really not going to worry about it.

So I promise to not cave in again, and to boldly go wherever my mind takes me in the future. Maybe along the way I'll figure out some things too - for myself - through the act of writing. It's why I do this. I am not going to be intimidated. Blogging is a solitary, sometimes lonesome experience - there is no dialogue except with myself. No social interaction, no validation of self. So I owe it to myself to be true and real. Read if you must, but at YOUR own peril, not mine, because I will not be censored, by self or others. There would be no truth in that. When I read these things years from now, I want to remember them as they are, and not as they were altered to fit someone's perception of me. I am learning to become my authentic self - to accept all the thoughts and emotions that comprise me, without stuffing anything away or putting feelings aside, or hiding from my experience in any way. It's a journey, but one I hope to continue honestly. Blog on!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fifties

No, not the era, the decade - of my life. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I am actually here - in my fifties. How did this happen so fast? People and events have come and gone in my life now so much that some feel like a lifetime ago. I'm the same person...or am I?

Lately I have to say that I just don't feel all that good, either physically or mentally/emotionally. I haven't been sleeping very well and when I am asleep I have nightmares or "chasing" type dreams, leaving me restless upon waking and sometimes rather tense. My muscles ache more, joints creak more, eyes don't function up close or at a distance despite multiple contact lens trials, and I feel altogether listless. I have some health issues, but not overwhelmingly so. At least, I don't think enough to make me feel this lousy. I think it's just the fifties, damn it.

When I was younger I just handled everything easier. I could kneel down and not hurt. I could sit cross-legged on the floor and not feel like I need a knee replacement when I unfold myself after 10 minutes. I could remember everything without writing stuff down. Since turning 50 I just seem to have slid in all those areas - a lot. OK, my memory is actually pretty good, but I do have occasional mind-freezes where I can't pull up a name or word. More annoying than anything, really. What's bothering me more than anything is the aches and pains. I hurt somewhere on my body all the time.

Usually it's my back or knees, but lately it is also my neck and shoulders. My husband suggests that I go for massages, but every time I go for one I end up hurting worse than when I went in because of having to lay on that (very) flat surface for a prolonged time. I try to keep moving, every day. Lately I've started walking in my neighborhood, each day, with my new puppy. I can go a bit further every time, but I still ache in hips and back at the end. What I worry about is whether or not this will be the pattern as I get even older? Will I just hurt more and more? Dad told me an aunt of his told him "lose your legs, lose your life," so he's kept walking, every day of his now 83.5 years. And I think he can walk faster than I can with less pain too. So I do try to model him and stay active and moving. I guess it's all I can do, but it is disheartening to have the discomfort of pain.

I know I need some serioius lifestyle changes and that I need to stop monkeying around and drop the extra weight already. It's not helping those aches and doing nothing to elongate what I believe will be a long, long life. (Somehow I have always known I will live to a very old age - I believe it to my core.) But I want to get to that old age comfortably and with all my marbles. It means I have to get serious about my health.

I love to watch Oprah. She talks alot now about being in her fifties. Of course, she's got a whole lot of people helping her every day with workouts and cooking for her, etc. But what she talks about most isn't the physical aspects of being in the mid-century, but the freeing aspects mentally and emotionally. I have to agree with her there. I care less and less what others think and more and more about what I think. I am far more able at this age to stand up for something I believe in or stand up for myself than I have ever been at any age before. These are all good things. I'm just as smart today and I like to think that I am interested and continue to pursue learning. These will help my brain stay engaged and keep the synapses working - at least I sure hope so. I do the crosswords nearly daily as well. (So does Dad!)

I just want to feel better physically and perhaps emotionally too. While I have opinions, I keep most to myself. Sometimes I have let myself be a doormat and have had a difficult time setting boundaries with others for my time, talent, energies...and even love/friendship. It's all a balance, isn't it? The physical, emotional and intellectual? Seems like at this time in my life, if i have learned ANYTHING, it has to be that there has to be a balance in life. Yin-Yang. My challenge in my fifties is now asserting myself enough to get the balance right, and fight for what I need, not just for what everyone around me needs (which is where my typical attention and time are spent.)

So yes, Oprah, the fifties are freeing, and FLEETING. Time passes much faster than we'd like, doesn't it? I have much more to be done, and I need body, mind and soul to do them. Time to get serious.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Puppy Cuts and Pee Pads

Today my puppy Gunner got his first official "grooming". He did well at the little dog salon, actually. I expected him to be nipping at the groomer, but he didn't, for the most part. Like taking your child for his first haircut, I was nervous about handing over my puppy to a stranger to have his hair cut. He needed it, as yesterday's walk in 80 degree weather indicated. Still was hard for me to get it done.

And I have to say, I was fine until he did his face. One of the features that is so adorable on Gunner is the spray of fur/whiskers around his nose, like a halo. The groomer trimmed back so much of that fur on the top of his nose that the effect was to give him somewhat of a mustache. NOT the look I wanted. I couldn't see him when he was trimming that part. So when I got home I figured Gunner was already used to being handled, so I did a bit more trimming myself of the mustache to even things out a little more. He looks more like himself, and his fur grows very fast, so I'm sure he'll be shaggy again in no time. Still, I do miss the face fur halo. He's asleep now, so I'm actually thinking about trimming a bit more as he naps....

I find myself wanting to take him everywhere with me, reluctant to leave him at home alone. He screeches for a few minutes when I do have to leave him in his cage. I know he is fine and in his "home", but it's hard to hear the crying, nonetheless. It effects my daughter even more. So Gunner does ride along in the car with me when I have "drive through" types of tasks like the bank and post office, dry cleaners, etc. And when I have to go to the pet store he just goes right in the cart (he is a Shih-Poo) and stands up on the edge, watching everything. Funny!

The thing that is not going as easily is potty training. Oh, he is find with the pee pads. Does his business on the pads consistently, actually. He's learning to walk on a leash, aand does realize it is acceptable to pee outdoors. Just doesn't have the poop hang of it outdoors quite yet. So I'll go for a long walk and the second he is in the door he's straight to the puppy pad to poop. Augh. Not big stuff (tootsie rolls), but not exactly wonderful to pick up and with some great big smell, for sure. (He can clear a room!) Just part of having a puppy I know. It seems I'm the only one doing around here doing either the training OR the picking up. Par for the course I suppose. He's my dog.

I am wondering how to keep him from trying to eat/chew every little thing he spots on the grass or sidewalks outdoors. He seems particularly enamored of grass clumps on the lawn (from the mower). I have to stop all the time to fish something out of his mouth. Sticks, grass clumps, rocks, you name it. He ate a pine cone while up north and yaked it back up. And he's been chewing on my sheffelera tree in the dining room that I've had for 20 years. It doesn't seem to hurt him at least. I'm wondering how long this mouthy stage will last.

It's a lot of work having a pet, particularly a puppy. I hesitated in beginning again with a new dog after Jake (our lab) died. But I'm really happy that I took the plunge again. He's adorable, very attached to me and vice versa in the two months he's been here. So I am looking forward to many many years of fun with my new little one. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Press Pass

With all the buzz lately about health care reform, I feel I have become desensitized to the press and news coverage. I am a reasonably well-read person and I take an active interest in the politics and news of the day, watching nightly news as well as some CNN and FOX News. I read Time, The Economist and other magazines weekly. I have to say though, with all there is in the world to talk about, does every newscast and every newscaster have to drone on and on about this health care package? Some are positively gloating while others are reporting as if it's the beginning of the end for the U.S. Like it or love it, we just can't seem to stop hearing about it. Therein lies the problem.

I think the immediate nature of todays news dissemination has rendered the public immune to big news stories and to caring about them. The sheer volume of news coverage today is staggering. You can't hardly turn on a television or even go to your mailbox without being inundated with political rhetoric. If a story breaks, all networks and large cable news organizations have the news within minutes. Forget daily newspapers - by the time the daily paper comes to me I know all the news of the day (before). It's too late! It's both tiring and overwhelming sifting through the minute-by-minute firehose of information coming at us. So much so that I, for one, get to the point where I just don't care about ANY news coverage. It's all too much.

It would be easy to be scared silly by the nightly news. There is nary a human interest or "good news" story to be told any more. Those nicities are left to the last 60 seconds of a newscast so viewers turn off on a "good" note. Never mind the other 30-60 minutes just watched of murders, scandals, political in-fighting and sensationalism that was just paraded in the name of "coverage". About all the local coverage is good for is weather, and I can get that on my iphone with a few touches to a screen. I don't have to wait until the middle of a newscast to find out if it will rain tomorrow.

Sure, there are plenty of news junkies out there. My husband is one of them. He flips between nightly newscasts (he actually DVR's the 6pm news!), CNN and FOX, for hours at a time. I can watch for a little while, but after a time it just seems repetitive and like the anchors are trying to CREATE the news, not just report it. What passes for coverage these days would be closer to nightly debate over news rather than the telling of facts. I really don't care what the anchor's opinions are - I just want to know the facts about what has happened both locally and nationally. How the news-addicted can watch for hours on end baffles me. How can one be shocked by anything if shocking things are being reported hourly, over and over?

I think that is why there is such a disconnect between lawmakers and the public, for instance. People are so tired and worn down by debate that they just don't want to hear it any more. So health care "reform" passed and was signed into law. So our freedoms have been eroded in the name of the "rights" of SOME people to have health coverage. It's just one more piece of bad news to add to the pile we receive hourly in the news. People have become complacent and almost accepting that government will do what they want regardless of the wants of the people, and that bad stuff will just keep happening no matter what, so why bother to care or really do anything about it?

My belief is that more than anything else, the PRESS are to blame for American complacency. So much "news" is sensationalized, over-reported and created by zealous news organizations trying to create market share. Americans need to wake up! It is one thing to have genuine debates so the public may come to their own (voting) decisions. It's another entirely to try to sway public interest in any particular political direction if you operate a news organization. Unless that group is touted as members of a certain party or outlook, viewers need to take notice that the information coming at them is blatently, systematically and repetitively biased.

The public is being buffaloed, and they are allowing it to be done. This administration is getting sweeping legislation passed in the name of "rights", while taking them away, with the help of liberal media delivering their message without a dollar of advertising money changing hands. I hope people are beginning to wake up and get mad. I am. Once indifferent to politics and governmental machination, I can no longer abide the eroding of constitutional values and principles that our nation was founded under. The light has gone on for me with regard to the press. I'm taking a pass. We have a voice and need to use it in November. No longer will I abide my freedoms being taken from me by our government, or will I ever listen to another newscast as factual. I've had it, and I hope others have too. Our future depends upon it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red Wine and Politics

I live in a largely conservative household. My husband is a stanch conservative, as is my best friend. I would say I have more moderate leanings, but overall share many conservative philosophies. My son, as well as many of my friends are liberals, and some of them are ALL THE WAY liberals. It seems like under this particular administration (Obama) there has been so much political discussion in our household - MUCH more than any previous administration, to be sure, and with MUCH more vehemance and fervor on both sides of the aisle, as it were. Add in a liberal dosing of red wine over a meal...and presto! Heated debate ensues, EVERY time.

I am fine with political debate, provided both sides actually LISTEN to the other's point of view and bring their points to bear with an "inside voice". I absolutely deplore when these discussions become standoffs at increasing decibels and with facts and figures being lobbed in like grenades. Because no one around here is an expert, to be sure, but BOY OH BOY do they keep throwing those fire bombs at each other. I have to confess that when discussions ramp up in this manner I am apt to just shut down and go in another room. Particularly if this happens at my own dinner table. I just can't stand when voices begin to raise and talk over one another (like a bad day on "The View") and NO ONE is listening to a word each other has to say, only thinking of what they plan to say next.

OK, I get it that the country is fired up. Things have NOT gone as promised. (Change? WHAT change?) It is scary how messed up government has gotten in this country. It doesn't matter what party a person is affiliated with, EVERYONE who is in government gets jaded and sucked into a vortex of red tape, politicking and personal gain. The only logical thing is to throw every last one of them out and start fresh. Too bad it can't be done in one fell swoop. Because I'm really tired of getting agitated during what should be peaceful meals. No one is making sense any more. No one talks reason or puts ideas out that are doable, incremental and in synch with the populace. It doesn't even happen in my own dining room! How in the world will those who SHOULD know better can't even get it done?

Perhaps red wine should be banned from meals. It seems to contribute to the idiot factor around here. There are SO many things to talk about in the world - why muck up a good meal with political sparring? Maybe dinners should be planned with -pre-determned subjects known to all to spark real discussions. And it is frustrating that political knowledge by the masses is gleaned in increasing numbers by the talking heads on television - CNN, network news, FOX, etc. Those aren't NEWS casts any more. Not like when I was young. Everything has become so editorialized. It's like the nightly news is one giant op-ed. I don't need that creeping into my dining room. It's so annoying and even insulting when I've spent half a day cooking for a group, only to have the meal conversation take a huge downturn with the inevitable veering towards the politics of the day, courtesy the second of third glass of Mike Ditka's "Kick Ass Red".

Give us cooks a break, people. Back off on the controversial discussions when the meal is still on the table. At least in the old days they guys retired to a library with cigars and port to begin the heavy debate. Dinner should be pleasant for all of us. Not that we ladies (and some gentlement) can't handle the discussion - just perhaps not in the initial stages of digestion. I'd like my steak to stay put, thank you very much. Certainly there are subjects of note that may be discussed at a table without causing rifts, arguements and raised voices before dinner plates are cleared.

Time and place for everything you politicos. Time and place for everything. We don't have to die on every hill and certainly don't have to make every meal a "learning" opportunity for the other side. Go easy on the red and perhaps pay respects to all present. Not everyone wants in on your bucking bronco of a debate. Some of us perfer to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors, saving the wide ride for later. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Creative Process

As I mentioned in the last entry, I have not been writing in a few months. It's not that I haven't wanted to write or thought about writing; I definitely have. Inspiration has been a problem, what with a whole lot on my mind and the minutae of day-to-day life overtaking any creative juices tha may have been brewing.

For the last year or so I have reconnected with a friend via phone and facebook who is a talented, brilliant writer, musician, poet - a "renaissance" man, as it were. Our conversations have meandered from the daily doings of our lives to the arts and the creative process of late for both of us. I have valued these talks more than he knows, because they have lead me back to writing again and to think/wonder and create, which frankly I have been on autopilot for now many years past. We are similar souls, I think, though our politics and ages differ greatly. A true friend, he has bouyed me up during a very difficult passage of my life. I am grateful beyond words. He is a creative force I admire so much.

As such, one of our recent conversations revolved around creative blocks. For me, writer's block is a more apt description. I have come to think about creativity as a river. There are times when it flows with great gushes, spraying forth with such force and vigor as to liken a tidal wave. Other times, as of late, the river has been dammed up by the stones and mortar of worry, sickness, mundane tasks, family, work, and just plain stuff, so that all that is getting through is an occasional drip. It has been my ongoing personal challenge to remove those obstacles in such as way as they cannot collapse and jam up the flow again. It seems like it should be easy. It isn't.

I am one of those people others may consider a "go to" person. Need a little cash? Go to.... Need consolation? Go to.... Need help with a project? Go to.... Need a volunteer to fill in? Go to.... Need X amount of chores/errands run? Go to.... Need, need, need. My problem (and shouldn't it be obvious) is that I have a very difficult time saying no, and protecting my time and energy. Because if I think there is a need, then I think I should do the "christian" thing and helping out. In helping others I feel validated and valued I suppose, and on some level, liked/loved a bit more because of my efforts. But as my counselor says, that's messed up. (Well, she doesn't say it exactly that way, but it boils down to that.) Now I know for sure that life doesn't actually work this way (that love, respect, etc are earned by doing for others), and I have been taken advantage of WAY too many times to count by bosses, friends, family, associates, and so on, proving just that point. The problem with being a GO-TO is that it leaves little left for my own real needs, aspirations and goals. Everyone elses's come fiirst. And I really don't feel any more loved than I ever did. Sometimes less, actually.

It is fairly obvious that some things are going to have to change drastically if I am going to achieve my creative goals. First of all, in any creative process I think that practically there has to be some objective set. Well, for me, anyway. I function much better under deadline - it keeps me on task. Years ago I went to a Franklin Planner seminar that was not only about using the planner, but mapping in personal goals to the planning of time. I have never forgotten that speaker or the message, though until recently, I had forgotten the goal I said I wanted to accomplish at the time I took that class. It is now some 15 years later and I am no closer to achieving that goal, which is a first draft of a novel idea I've had for some time. "Some time" being the last 18-20 years. So that begs a whole lot of introspection, methinks.

Perhaps it's just that I am afraid to write? My father always said "never put anything in writing.". Of course, he's a lawyer, so go figure, right? I kind of took that to mean never-ever write down something you FEEL. Trouble is, you have to feel to write. It doesn't matter whether or not you are Dr. Seuss or Dr. Oz. Something has to motivate you, get you out of your head and onto paper. For me, it absolutely is about feeling something. So it will take pushing through my head and those paternal warnings to get this done. It's going to take dusting off past hurts and allowing them to run their course. It will take courage - to boldly go where I haven't before, to put myself out to the universe and not care what comes back, only that I have put it out there. THAT is the creative process.

And yes, setting goals is an important component that I cannot overlook from that long-ago Franklin Planner seminar. If the tasks are scheduled into my calendar, then I can find the time necessary to inch closer to a tangible realization of my goal. When my friend and I spoke a week or two ago, I reminded him that we can't let that stone and mortar settle in from the minutae of daily life - either of us. The river needs to flow. I need to take my own advice, certainly. He has since put pen to paper. I have yet to do so, other than here. But his action has inspired me to take like action. I CAN find the time if I just plan it. I will find the time to make a difference not in someone else's life, but in my own. At the end of the day, I'm the one I have to live with, right?

When they are planting me in the ground some day, I don't want to be remembered as just that "GO-TO" girl. I really want my life's work to be more tangible. I don't want fame - I'm far too shy for that. I do want my stories read, if only by a few people. (But being published WOULD be sweet!) I do want others to say that I made them think and maybe even feel with my words. I'm no spring chicken any longer. And time's a-wasting. So Paul, my friend, if you read this, know it's YOUR words that have motivated me to take the chance. Now or never, baby, now or never.