Tag Archives: being alone

Jingles, Tingles, and Shingles: It’s That Time of Year Again

IMG_0011

It’s a dark and dreary night. The sky is black with rain clouds and the wind is whipping the branches outside my window into a frenzy of tap, tap, tapping. But that can’t be right! It’s 7:27 in the morning, ten days before Christmas and all should be shiny and bright! If I look out my window to the right, I can see the neighbors-across-the-street’s tree blinking through their front bay window. If I look to the left, I can see a blow-up Santa surrounded by colorful lights being batted around by the wind. So, all is shiny and bright through the storm. Well, shiny, anyway, and slick with rain.

Christmas in Florida is just not the same as Christmas in Maryland or Ohio or New Mexico. There’s no snow (I miss snow!) or sparkling ice or icicles (I miss icicles!). The temperature dipped down into the low seventies this past week (brrr) but besides the pine cone wreath on the front door and the neighbors’ lights reflecting off the rain puddles in the street, nothing feels Christmasy this year.

I’m tempted to buy a can or two of snow and frost the windows just for fun. Or paint my front door bright red. Or dress my dogs in ugly Santa sweaters or hats with jingle bells. (That might work for Sophie but the other two would put up a fight, I’m sure. They’re pretty sensitive when it comes to their dignity.) 

Shopping doesn’t put me in the Christmas mood either. The stores are crowded and the pickings are slim when it comes to buying woolly sweaters and socks, gloves, and mittens, and sheep skin coats and hats. Most stores simply don’t carry them, which is sensible I suppose since the big sellers seem to be Hawaiian shirts with Santa under palm trees on them and red and green beach umbrellas. This is a tourist town, I keep reminding myself, filled with people desperate to get away from the wintery things I miss.  Maybe next year is my mantra now. Maybe next year I will roll in snow and freeze my butt off. Maybe next year I’ll return to one of my old haunts and get snowed in. Maybe next year!

This year, I will listen for the jingle of sleigh bells on the radio; I will wait for the tingles that come with watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the hundredth time; I will be thankful for the correct diagnosis of shingles, take my medications, and think of my red itchy patches of skin as organic holiday decorations; and I will think of Tiny Tim and his message of hope:

God bless us, every one!

 

 

 

Silence

Grey sky with trees 01

Silence

Unnerving silence.

The house is quiet this morning. No whining dogs. No banging trashcans. No voices drifting over the back fence. It’s eerily quiet really, the kind of silence that would propel a sci-fi-minded writer into the realms of zombie apocalypse.

Tree branches are shifting in a soft breeze, but I can’t hear the wind. Even the birds are silent, huddled in their nests, resting, waiting. Normally, I can hear trucks on the highway, the squeal of brakes; the bell ringing first period from the school up the road. This morning, there is nothing but silence under a grey sky that stretches as far as the eye can see. No blue. No clouds. Just grey.

The world feels muffled, cut off from the normal creak of its axis. As I write, there are no cars whizzing by my window, no walkers, no joggers, no one.

Silence.

Unnerving silence.

It’s time to begin again, to write a new story, to create a new life.  It’s time to fill the silence with song.

Rose-Colored Glasses

 Pink morning

A pink haze hangs over my day today. I awoke in darkness, too early really to get up and begin my day but too achy to stay in bed. I puttered around the house in the dark, making coffee, reminding the dogs not to bark as they scooted out the back door for a quick run along the fence to smell for visitors who’d come in the night. While I was in Scotland in July, an opossum found its way under the fence and was corned by a frightened and shaky Bella, a mid-sized black lab who was unprepared for a snarling, equally frightened wild animal. Both escaped unscathed, but Bella sniffs tentatively each morning, excited I think but still a little afraid of what she might find in her own backyard.

It’s been a week since my return from California. The red-eye flew me into Atlanta, arriving just at the break of dawn. After three and half hours on a small, cramped plane, I was tired and bleary-eyed, ready to get home, ready to sleep, already missing my family in California. There was a pink cast over Hartsfield Airport as I recall, a morning much like this one, early light in pinks and oranges hovering and then dissipating in a clear blue sky.

I feel bewitched by the pink haze that caught my attention earlier, as I shooed the dogs back into the house; I am besotted with the brilliant colors that, lasting only mere moments, seemed to permeate my house and my soul. I feel as though I’m wearing rose-colored glasses as I contemplate a new project, a new story and speculate on the potential and possibility of change.

There is joy in viewing the world through a prism of color, through rose-colored glasses that both soften and illuminate the moment. That moment is gone now.

The sun is shining, the sky is a deep blue and the world is as it should be on a warm October day in Florida. Contemplation continues.

Pink morning 02

Speechless

LaManchaColorweb

This morning, while floundering for something to write about, swallowing my desire to rant about the negativity that seems to be spreading like an unchecked virus around me, a song came to mind: The Impossible Dream. I have fond memories of Man of LaMancha. My brother went to see the musical in high school and came home inspired. He gathered our friends, handed out roles, taught us the words, and we re-enacted various scenes from the play. That memory of my brother standing in our backyard belting out this song is still my go-to when it feels like negativity is winning.

As to the negativity? When this is the best advice a woman can offer young girls in finding their place in the world, I am profoundly saddened: “The world we live in is a twisted and broken place.” I have no words to describe how wrong this feels to me.

So, I offer you this little bit of nostalgia and hope. You can find it on YouTube but it won’t compare to the wonderful memory I have in my head.

The Impossible Dream

Music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.

One last thought for today:

Stars

One Thing Leads to Another

"Make Things"

“Make Things”

My recent trip to Scotland seems to have flipped some strange Ms. Fix-It switch in me that I’m having trouble turning off. In the past two weeks, I’ve renovated my office, built shelves and a desk to create a mini-office space in my old closet, and relocated every book I own; repurposed cabinets and shelving (the cabinets in my old office closet now reside in the master bathroom); rearranged and/or replaced all the photo groupings and pictures in my house (I scanned old photos to create a huge black and white montage); repaired the dishwasher that has sat dormant in my kitchen for the past eight years. I’ve moved furniture, sewn cushions and made three new dog beds from an old, holey comforter that I could not bring myself to throw out; I’ve made several cork boards using old picture frames; spray painted just about everything not nailed down; made tissue paper flowers to keep my hands busy while I’ve planned new projects and compiled lists of things to scavenger hunt at the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store down the street. I’ve cleaned every closet in the house, rearranged every nook and cranny of storage space, and I’m now in the deep-cleaning phase of my whole-house makeover.

YIKES!

My renovation binge began simply enough. I was anxious to write about my trip, to organize photos, to relive my adventure on paper. My office, however, was left in a disheveled mess as I’d neglected it in the weeks prior to leaving, stacking papers and books and scribblings here and there for future reference. Sitting down at my desk that first day back, I realized that I needed to make some breathing space, to move a few things to de-clutter my work area. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was emptying out the closet, taking down shelves and cabinets, and spackling nail holes. My office is now clear of clutter but I have yet to accomplish what I originally set out to do. (I now believe that tidying, the most harmless of chores, is the gateway to full-scale revamping. Now I know better!)

Who IS This Person?

This person who is bustling about sewing and organizing and remodeling seems unfamiliar to me. Granted, I like to sew. I like to organize. I don’t mind a little remodeling. But this is out of the ordinary for cave-dweller-me.  I’ve been shopping! I’ve been to Home Depot three times in five days! One project leads to another–and another–and another. And although my comfy cave is becoming a little more comfy, I’m finding that the deeper I go in my quest for completion, the more problems crop up.

So, my new goal for the coming weeks is to find balance in my mania to renew and refresh and revitalize both my cave and myself. I will finish the projects I have in process and get back to writing. I’ll give the house one more quick cleaning and then close the door on all of the DIY projects on Pinterest that are calling my name. And while it’s been mostly fun moving book cases and solid oak desks and repairing the dishwasher all by myself, I think I’ll call for backup to fix the new leak under the kitchen sink. Even a cave dweller requires a little professional help once in a while.  Fingers crossed that this is not one thing that leads to another. 🙂

Just for Fun!

Elephant and water

When DIY jobs go bad, there’s only one thing to do: laugh! (And then call a plumber!)

The Art of Being Me

I’ve been spending waaaay too much time on Pinterest lately! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? My sense of what’s okay and what’s not okay seems to be a little skewed when it comes to cruising through the pins. I find myself flipping through the Photography board and the Geek board with joyful abandon, frittering away time that could be better spent writing or editing or (gulp!) cleaning. (But that’s another story!)

My boards are beautiful and relaxing. I find it calming and inspiring to scroll through Abundant Beauty, my collection of pins that range from beautiful flowers to glorious sunrises to majestic moons. Photography has never been my thing but there is a newfound sense of joy welling up in me and I find that I have a serious urge to run out and buy a good camera. Or at least skip on over to Amazon and do a little comparison shopping.

Photography might just be the one thing that would get me out of my cave on a regular basis. Then again, one can take only so many shots of the moon rising over the ocean or dawn breaking through the palms. I’m already feeling the pull of a road trip out west and having a camera in hand might nudge that fantasy into reality. Or I can pull up Pinterest and look at mountain ranges from around the world without ever having to leave my comfy cave.

As I move through the boards and pins, admiring some, laughing at others, I find little pieces of myself scattered here and there. I’ve been told that it’s a great marketing ploy to pin photos as representations of emotional moments in my books. “Look for things that evoke the emotions you want your readers to feel.” So, I have boards for Ripple and A Solitary Life and Martin Vane Says Hello and within those boards are the thoughts and emotions I felt as I wrote and edited and worked to pull my characters into being. Each board is a peek into my soul as well as a hint of what lies between the pages. Each pin is a choice that brings to light a sliver of me.

I’ve discovered that there is an art to being me just as there is an art to being you. Your likes and dislikes don’t define you as a whole being, but I believe there is true insight into what really matters in our lives. I don’t pin every pin that makes me cry but I’m beginning to see a pattern in my pins, a true collage of what it is that inspires me and keeps me whole. There is so much beauty in the world that I will never get to see. But I can see it through the eyes of a photographer, amateur or professional, who like me, yearns to capture the moments of life that define me, inspire me, and make me who I am. There is an art to being me and I’m refining it every day.

Just for Fun!

SONY DSC

I’ll be leaving for Scotland on Monday. As you may know, I’ve been planning this trip for two years as a surprise graduation present for my oldest daughter. The Big Reveal took place a couple of weeks ago to the accompaniment of bagpipes. I guess that’s another thing that can lure me from my cave: bagpipes! (Or maybe it’s the man in the kilt. )

Finding a Happy Medium

(And I don’t mean the kind with Taro cards or crystal balls.)

 OMG!

Have you ever been zipping along in your daily life, just going about your business thinking all is well and life is great, and then suddenly catch sight of yourself in a mirror or a window or a photograph and think, “What the hell happened?”  Freaky, isn’t it? That happened to me last week. All I can say, to quote yet another granddaughter, is OMG!

I have this image in my head of who I am and what I look like. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that most of us carry around in our heads, if not our wallets, an image that we define as “me.” We see ourselves in the mirror every day but the person in the mirror is not necessarily the person that we see in our mind’s eye, the strong, vibrant self that looks back with confidence–until the blinders come off and voila, there we are, the real “me” that we present to the world.

I am a Cave Dweller, after all!

My days are most often spent within the comfort of my cave. I don’t greet neighbors on a daily basis; I don’t entertain friends or have weekend company. I see family occasionally. I go out to lunch once a week (okay, sometimes I go). I go to the grocery store (when I have to) but I don’t think about how I look beyond brushing my teeth and hair, putting on clean clothes and a dab of lip gloss. Clothes are not my thing. I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of jeans and the same brown t-shirts (I have six) for quite a while now. They fit, they’re comfortable, and although sometimes I notice the jeans feel a little tighter than usual (damn that dryer!), I don’t think about how I look. I guess I focus on function and utility in my apparel rather than aesthetic appeal.

I guess it’s time for a reality check. While I’ve been snuggled in my comfy cave, writing, working, focusing on the virtual rendition of me, I’ve allowed the physical me, the one that appears in photographs, to atrophy. I’ve allowed tunnel vision to set in, seeing myself as a productive person, functioning and vital from the neck up (well, including my hands), while ignoring the needs of the rest of me.

It’s all about the focus.

I need to find a happy medium so that I will, once again, be a happy medium rather than a not-so-happy large. It’s not a matter of size, really. It’s about how I feel having focused for so long on one aspect of me rather than on the entire package of me. I need to find a way to get the exercise I need while still feeling productive and connected to my work. When I’m away from my computer, I’m thinking about what I could be and should be writing. When I’m writing, I don’t feel guilty about not working out, not watching TV, not cavorting with friends.

So, how do I find a happy medium without changing my productive routine? It’s a challenge but one I’m up for. I think. I guess I’ll just have to tape that not-so-flattering photo of the real me on my monitor as a reminder that there is more to life than writing. And then I’ll have to go look for that other thing or those other things that will offer a happy medium of fun, fitness, and life.  It’s time to stop, take a breath, and figure out a way to integrate mind and body more fully. Happy mind, happy body. Happy medium.

 Just for Fun!

 Stop