Okay, this blogging effort has gotten lost in Life. Not my plan and it took me a while to knit it all back together. Turns out the question was not “Do I write novels or write non-fiction about retirement issues?” The question was “What do I really need in my life?”
The answer is “Both. And a lot more.” That insight involved working with a life coach for a year. Good experience, but again, not what I thought I was going to be doing at this point in my life.
After the soul searching, I spent almost a year reworking the retirement website. You can find that at mining-silver.com. I am working on “the next book” in that vein as well. But I’m also noodling story ideas and am excited about getting back into that.
It’s great to be excited about anything. That’s probably the biggest takeaway from what’s been going on with me for the last four years. It’s a good lesson –that even when things are looking really bleak and the professionals are telling you “Get used to it. This is your life now.”, there’s room to hope and reason to keep trying to get to a better place. (I go into this a little more in the “Greetings from Lazarus” blog post on mining-silver.com if you’re interested.)
I’m ecstatic to report life is fun again Here’s my version of “cooking paleo.” (Good thing the grandkids weren’t watching…..)
I gave this the title “Phhfsdt….plksd….teraew22..#..dtrah?!” A few minutes ago. Then I had the good sense to put real words in the title so Google would like me. (Not that putting that gibberish in the first sentence helps much…)
I like the idea of building a sense of group here–of me giving you regular doses of “writing” that you can both enjoy and–at least sometimes–use. I’ve been blogging for over six years, so it’s not like this is a new skill base that I need to acquire.
But suddenly, it is.
How did that happen? I found having something to say pretty doable when I was talking about retirement issues. Of late, those posts had turned into mostly “life in general” commentary anyway. so I could just do that on this site instead of the old one, right?
… it’s not working. Today I am finally starting to see why. As an “authority” you have to have a voice. You have to talk about the things that can make a difference in whatever aspect of life you’re trying to be a resource on. But as a novelist? It’s just the opposite. You don’t need my voice–in fact it’s an obstacle when it’s time to create a new story, You need to be able to hear the voice of that book, not me as a writer of several books.
I am writing a new story and that makes this a key factor to figure out. I want to engage. But I also want to give you a really good story in what I offer next.
I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with this. There are probably very effective ways, and I just haven’t uncovered them yet. For now, instead of my voice, I will give you my eyes–some of my favorite shots from what I’ve been blessed to be able to see for myself.
Abiqui, New Mexico….red rocks and desert: connecting soles to soul.
Sunrise….the ultimate statement of hope. (Mount Rainier, WA)
Oneness: us and the ocean (Ruby Beach, Washington Coast)
I do pretty well at avoiding ruts–mostly because I’m terrible at doing anything again and again. But a groove? That’s something I not only want to find myself in–I want to stay there once I get there.
I‘ve been thinking a lot about the value of routine lately. Too much of it and you get stagnant. Too little and you drift. I believe in routines. But what I can finally see is that they’re tactical–part of something bigger that makes them worth sticking to. That’s where this yearning for a groove took root. A groove is strategy. It’s a commitment to doing what you believe in on an ongoing basis.
A groove is only for stuff you want to work on. Day in and day out. For me, that’s writing. One of my sisters has an amazing curiosity about fibers–for her it’s dyeing, spinning, and knitting–or otherwise working with–whatever combination of fibers she’s decided to try.
One of the great delights of a groove is that you get to decide how big it’s going to be–how much time you’re going to dedicate and how often. For me, three hours of writing on a new book each day is about right. I may also do a post like this or work on promotional stuff, but that’s different and not part of my groove. The three hours is for creating the next book.
That was the most important ground rule when I launched my groove seeking effort January 1. Three hours every weekday, two hours on Saturday, and one on Sunday first thing every day after my morning routines. (Did I mention I’m awful at doing exactly the same thing again and again?)
I’m almost 3 weeks into this now. They claim it takes that much repetition to create a new habit. I think this one is going to work. And I think that even after having my groove shot to smithereens for most of last week. It was a bad week for a groove–but come Monday of this week, I was on it with as much enthusiasm as January 1
If I’m rigid about what I want to get done, I’m in a rut. When I had to deviate, I resisted and resented the interruption. With a groove, it’s a matter of accepting the reality of the moment and then getting back to in the groove as soon as I can. (I never really leave it in my mind and I have more energy because I’m not fighting the need to respond to the “fire.” )
One of the coolest things about a groove is that it makes drifting far less likely. When I get pulled away by other things happening in my life, I yearn to get back to what I was working on. When I was more rigid with what I expected of myself, it was an on/off thing…and once I turned the switch off, it was really easy to leave it off for long time–to my own detriment.
Another cool thing is that when you treat it like a groove and the work isn’t going well, working on a different aspect of it is more satisfying than throwing in the towel for the day.
Ah, yes, a groove is a beautiful thing. But why?
It keeps you going in the direction your authentic self yearns to go. If you have to hop out for a day or two to deal with family needs, it will be waiting for you when you can slip back in. No recriminations, No nasty self-talk about needed to stop for a bit.
I hope this groove thing is part of my life from here on. Working that way leaves me feeling authentic and satisfied. I also tend to get a lot more of the other stuff done. (I have no idea why.)
So as a belated New Year’s wish, let me toast you with this: May you be blessed with a long, happy, beautiful groove.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. That can be a very gray place this time of year–at least if you are looking at the sky. A few days ago, I was out for a walk, hoping I didn’t get soaked before I got back in my front door, and a very cool thing happened.
I noticed the sky. The sun was trying it’s best to come out. The gray clouds were lining up in wispy rows of support for the sun’s effort. It was pretty.
It’s easy to notice the carpet of wildflowers on a glorious August day in the mountains. It’s easy to notice when a whole boulevard of maples or oaks puts on its autumn best.
But this winter sky? I came so close to missing it.
Poop Dud saved Christmas the year he was with us.
He was not a pretty tree, but the joy he brought was immense. You can’t say that for most Christmas trees–even when they are real and cut with tenderness by those who want them as part of their Christmas.
Poop Dud was born of frustration rather than revelry. He was a solution to mild irritation and significant disappointment. I had just divorced and as part of that had reclaimed my right to a real tree. I’d vowed only months earlier to have an honest-to-goodness conifer of some sort as part of my holiday decorating for the rest of my life. The wrench in that plan came when I learned I would not be able to get my family all in the same place (my house) to celebrate until Jan 8.
Real trees are hard to keep real. Even with daily watering, the few times I’d had them after we’d moved to the Pacific Northwest hadn’t improved my track record of turning them into very dry kindling in situ. I accepted that trying to keep a real tree until January 8 would be an invitation to the local fire department for a dramatic visit sometime before that.
So I didn’t get a real tree.
But I was adamant about not going back to a fake tree. I’d spent too many years as the unwilling participant in that option. So I did nothing about the tree, assuming the world would not end if I didn’t put up a Christmas tree.
But it still bugged me. I wanted a tree–sort of. Mostly I think I wanted my kids to be more committed to being with me at Christmas, but I wasn’t going to admit to that kind of selfish expectation. They were old enough to have lives, and the reasons they couldn’t gather sooner were legitimate and positive. So I let “the tree thing” just hang in the air–no action and no (obvious) angst.
Until a couple days before Christmas.
Both my brothers and a sister-in-law who live near me were going to be available on Christmas Day, and we’d decided to have dinner together at my house. Without any forethought, the details I gave them a few days before included a request that they bring whatever construction materials they had on hand that might be useful in building a Christmas tree.
I come from a family who strains at the ordinary. We did not build snowmen–we went for snow kangaroos and elephants. We’d also learned a lot about how to construct things growing up. So this notion of building a Christmas tree was not all that far fetched for us.
We were down to three by the time they got there–my sister-in-law had a massive headache and opted for the living room couch instead. After hauling in all they had, plus the stuff I had in my own garage (mostly from the previous owner), we got right to work.
It was like watching the reverse progression of intellectual development. First, my two brothers considered the very adult things–like how to make it stable, what size was going to work for the space I had, etc. They talked triangles and opposing triangles and came up with an intelligent framework so that the whole thing didn’t fall over once we had it done.
Then we moved back to “building something.” I ran for the saw, the hammer, etc. and pulled materials out of the pile to suggest as they worked away at creating something Christmas-tree shaped. (I was sort of the gopher and the general contractor rolled into one. I had final say in what went up, but also knew where the tools were.)
Once we had the “tree” up, decorating it became the work of happy children–three siblings, all magically aged about five again. (My sister-in-law said we sounded like a bunch of kids playing in the basement together.)
We hung pretty stuff. We hung silly stuff. We hung ugly stuff. Eventually, we found a collection of letters from a mailbox I’d been married to that included two o’s. two p’s and two d’s as well as the frame to hold them. We wanted to name our new friend. When we realized we could turn the blank into a “u,” POOP DUD was born.
I had decided early on that it would be “seasonal art.” He was going out in the trash after we finally gathered in January. I cheated a bit on that–I could not bring myself to give up the name plate. It makes me laugh every Christmas when I come across it in the box.
The memory of building that tree with my brothers is with me all year long. The joy and delight we spontaneously found in doing something outlandish together is part of my heritage. Long live Poop Dud.