Being a writer is not only my dream, it's what I feel called to do. Compelled, if you will, like metal to a magnet, despite being equally repelled by the marketing end of things. This standoff between attraction/repulsion makes for a lot of waffling on my part. Am I a writer, or just a faker- someone who dabbles, and then retreats to the safety of doable, yet less fulfilling work when the going gets tough?
My husband - lucky man! - is a contented type, not driven though hard-working, happy in the same job for his entire career through all its ups and downs. Yet... even he is struggling a bit as he looks toward retirement, wondering what he'll do with himself. At least, he reminds me, I have ambitions.
What I'm often short on is grit. Good ol' suck-it-up and do the hard stuff attitude. I can preach it, but can't quite reach it. Part of me wants to settle in on this plateau, learn to love what I'm doing now for work, instead of just like it. The other part of me rails against the idea that what I feel is my most valuable potential contribution to the world isn't as profitable as my "day job".
So, what do I do? Where am I going?
Looking out over where I have been vs. where I would like to go, there is a lot of landscape yet to be conquered. Here at the midway point, the journey still seems unbelievably daunting. But, my husband is right: at least I have a destination in mind. Always - since early childhood - had it in mind. How do I get there from here?
I take the next step.
I won't always see the finish line - heck! I may not even see a clear path! I might stumble over my own feet, and fall flat on my face. But, if I get up, if I keep going, I will at least get closer to that mountaintop. Because, even with a destination in mind, it really is all about the journey.
It was a l-oooong time coming, but this week summer was finally in full swing, with 80+ degree temps and alternating sunshine & short thunder-boomers. Beach-perfect days and refreshing rain at night. it was just what we longed for all the dreary winter. Too bad hubby was away teaching at a Soils Instutute. leaving me to hold down the fort and entertain the restless natives, and is coming home today to cooler temps and more clouds in the forecast.
It has been an interesting two weeks. I am usually barely able to handle all I regualrly do, yet had to keep up with his chores as well as my own - no small feat, since he is much more of a putterer and handiman than I am. But... I managed to keep: the greenhouse watered, weeded and aired; the lawn mowed; the chickens fed, watered, and deprived of thier eggs; the nightly dishes done (to Music from the WIne Country, of course); his office building cleaned daily (hubby's secondary job); the neighborhood bear fended off and damage to the henhouse repaired; the youngest child played with, carted hither and yon to various entertainments, tucked in and sang to, as well as continually consoled due to missing her father (lots of ice cream helps); the local catholic congregation led in hymns; and the roofers supervised - all this on top of my own added activities: adult children and their guests entertained and fed, with a birthday party for our college girl thrown in; her boyfriend occupied 4 days running while she worked; an extra day of housekeeping (my secondary job); massive signs chalk-lettered for an upcoming local mountain-biking event, and I'm sure there is more, but you get the gist. It has been full.
Which is a good thing. It kept me too busy to pine - for hubby, and for writing.
Today he will return, I hope. He was supposed to be home yesterday, but foul weather in a stop-over city, and then mechanical problems with the airplane kept him grounded in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is either in the air, or at the airport in Burlington as I write this, where he will have to wait for his luggage, which didn't make the connecting flight.
But soon, my heart, you will return..........and take over your chores.
Happy Belated Valentines Day to all you good people and, hopefully, readers out there! Since I haven't touched base for while, I thought I would give you the low down.
I am still teaching art and loving it, feeding that creative side of me - though I miss writing. But there are times in life when you just need to step back from things and take a look around. As an artist, I call that gaining perspective. In this hustle and bustle world of Facebook rants and fragile opinions, taking time out to think something thoroughly through has become a rare event. Kind of like those movies that slow down the action to show what the character is imagining might happen - Should I stop at this intersection to look both ways, or should I plow right through? - pondering can not only help us formulate our plans, but might just save us from making a huge mistake.
I've slowed down to look around a lot lately, taking a break from some of the "extras" in my schedule. While I love singing with a local hospice choir, time off from it has allowed me to focus my energies on healing my own body, and spending more time with my family. Not everything we give up is bad for us; sometimes it is just a matter of prioritizing. That holds true for writing as well, for me at least. Even though becoming an author was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, the road forward was fraught with so many speed bumps and barriers (not to mention wrong turns and extra mileage; see former posts) that I wondered sometimes if I was even on the right road. Being the smart cookie that I am, I pulled off the road to check my map and ask for directions. I yielded to the times rather than barrel through them hoping to come out the other side unscathed.
Sticking with the automotive metaphor, if you were behind me you might have gotten frustrated when I slowed down to look around, maybe even cursed me out (I hope not), and flipped me off as you sped by when I pulled over. But I really hope you are still with me. Goodness knows I could use the company on this journey! Because.... all signs are indicating that it might be time to move forward again. Emrysia, here we come!
Story ideas have been overflowing like the sweet, maple sap soon to take priority in this neck of the woods. My head is reeling with new plot twists and adventures for my three, brave heroines; they have been waiting far too long for their tale to continue. Last month I was contacted to give another book talk, and am looking forward to it in just a few days. And just last week, out of the blue, I was contacted by a marketing/publishing company in California that hopes to partner with me in promoting my work. Not that I'm going down that road, but still, it was nice they showed interest.
I hope you still do, too.
My takeaway from this - and hopefully yours, too - is that yielding can lead to smoother flow - in life, in writing, and all along the road.
Here's to continuing the journey, and happy travels!
A lot can happen in a year - births, deaths, life changing events and days of routine sameness - all of it water under the bridge. Learning to savor the variety of its flavors as life rushes by is what reflection is all about. Knowing oneself, and recognizing the value of all that is. Imperfections lead us toward perfection when we admit to, and learn from them. This year, like most others, I have done a lot of growing because, upon reflection, I have seen much need for growth.
My year began with a painful sense of resignation. The writing was going nowhere, book sales had tanked, and I had little to no ambition to resurrect them. With three kids still in college, and fifth that will likely expect to go someday, I was feeling the familiar weight of my inability to contribute to the family finances. So what did I do? Began subbing occasionally at school, and accepted a part-time housecleaning position. The rationalization was that it would become my new workout, wouldn't take up any brainpower, and would leave plenty of time to write when that train finally got back on track. I also chopped off my long blond hair, settling for a silvering pixie-cut.
By mid-March my WIP still waited, mocking me every time I sat down at my desk. Besides low self-esteem, I was having serious issues with my back and the ensuing lack of sleep; not a good recipe for creativity. While we began the hunt for a new mattress, I decided to cut myself some slack and take time off from writing until I felt well again.
Spring came and went with another child graduating from college, and our eldest securing a well-paying job. Subbing ended, but by then I had been offered a part-time position teaching art. I would have the whole summer to plan. As August approached it occurred to me that I didn't miss writing, in fact, was less stressed than when I was constantly beating myself up over it. I may not be a top selling author but - by gum! - I do know how to tidy a home, and to share my love of art! It felt good to have my efforts appreciated, even though it meant lowering my career expectations. Again.
My only fear was another total derailment.
By summer's end my back was still an issue, so, after way too many tests to determine why, I began physical therapy. Despite constant discomfort, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching again. The relationship I'd developed with the couple I clean for became another source of joy, as did the weekly greeting I received from their "herd" of cocker spaniels. As physical therapy finally began to pay off, I noticed a change in my attitude as well. I was - am - content. Life has me exactly where it should; learning to be a better person. The lesson is being served, not as I had hoped or expected it would be, but just as is needed at this time. This moment of clarity finds me seeing the lesson, tasting, and finding it good as it flows on around me.
Adequate sleep also helps.
I will get back to writing when and if the time is right, though I may never again pursue promoting my work with the same life-draining vigor. In the meantime, I am enjoying being an average working schmo. And if, occasionally, someone discovers my books...? Well, that's good, too.
*The photo is of my youngest journaling beside the Passumpsic River during a class outing. So thankful for her - our - school!
What I love most about this time of year is just what you see in the above photo, taken only moments ago: snowflakes coming down soft and silent, though heavy enough to have layered 8 inches of fresh, white powder over the foot of packed accumulation of the last two weeks. All is peaceful. Calm. Winter has come early.
Today is a day made for sitting inside by the fire, nestled in blankets and sipping Earl Grey, the smell of cookies baking in the oven. But... in less than an hour I will brave the elements, slip-sliding off the mountain all the way to school, where a noisy classroom of fourteen fifth-graders waits to finish their Outside of the Box building challenge. And I'm looking forward to it.
Teaching art has become my new winter sport, transforming this burrowing-in, couch potato artist/writer into a lively, engaged inspire-er of creativity. It is getting me out of my own box to see the hidden beauty of EVERY day.
It is nourishing me to grow them.
Who knew winter could be so bountiful?
Today is a big day!
After a long, hot summer of preparation, I am beginning an exciting new venture. The tables are scrubbed, materials gathered and sorted, and lesson plans tweaked in anticipation of this next chapter; the hard work is done. Now comes play time! I am the new art teacher at my daughter's school!
I have taught before; as a visiting drawing instructor for 2nd & 4th graders back in my former life, one-on-one art lessons for various home-schooled and adult students over the years, and even music - another art form - in an earlier stint at the same Pre-K through 8th grade private school. Last year I subbed there in just about every grade, but this is different. Now I have my own classroom, and latitude to teach whatever I choose. My goal for the year is to make art fun for everyone.
Most of us have choices about whether or not to have fun, whatever we are doing. Yet, too often, we plod along in dead end jobs, stale relationships, and making the same lousy choices about our health and habits, when all it really takes to change things is a change of attitude. As an artist, I know it is all in how you see things - your perspective. Boredom is the breeding ground for creativity. With proper perspective, hard work becomes what makes you strong. Troubles become challenges to conquer, obstacles opportunities for growth.
So, today I don't start a new part-time job; I begin a new adventure! When the students walk (slow down, please!) into that art room and sit (no tipping!) quietly (let's use our indoor voices) as I pass out supplies (pencils are not for poking! hands to ourselves, please...let's give each other plenty of room) and the magic begins (very creative! good use of line! I can tell you thought a lot about that! You kids rock!), I will be right in my element.
What are you doing that's fun today?