Happy Thanksgiving

I am listing to pleasant instrumental music as I sit here. The turkey is in the oven and the pumpkin pie is cooling. In another couple of hours, I will sit down with my children at the table and enjoy the feast.

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My brother should be at my mom’s soon with my sister-in-law and his friend Bud in tow. I love whenever he brings Bud over. Bud is an elderly gentleman in his 90’s. He fought in WWII and often shares his memories of that time as well as how things were when he was growing up. This first-hand look at the past through the eyes of someone who has lived it is always a blessing.

Normally I would have baked a couple of pies and headed over to my mom’s by now too. However, my mother reminded me that kids grow fast. She said that sometimes it is important to slow down and savor these holiday moments while I have them. I am of course welcome to join her, my dad, and the rest. I may even stop by later just to visit but I am also taking her advice.

Often we get caught up in obligation and rushing from one place to the next that we don’t get to enjoy the holiday. We get wound up and stressed out from travel logistics and traffic. This is a time for reflection. It is a time to count your blessings. Yes, it is a time for families to come together as well but love doesn’t care about miles. It is there between people if they live in the same house or in another state. Love stretches great distances.

My love for my family is always there. So while I might not be part of the busy bustle at my mom’s table in person, my heart is there with everyone and it is also here at my home with my children. That’s another thing about love, it can be in multiple places at once. It’s not limited to Thanksgiving dinner.  And that is something to be thankful for.

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Writing in November

dream timeLife is weird. Life is also busy. It is now November. I have two sick kids who are on the mend and I really just want to take a nap right now. I slept well last night, aside from strange dreams, but I feel like I need an extra thirty-minute nap or something to reach fully recharged. I think these days that is a permanent feeling. I am always a nap away from not being tired but I never actually get the nap.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Three days ago NanoWriMo kicked off and thousands of people out there are furiously writing away at what will hopefully be a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. My friend Lori is giving it a shot. I have competed against time and life to write that 50,000-word novel in a month before too. I am considering doing it again. Only this time I think I will give myself a break. I mean I did just finish a book. Not quite a 50,000-word novel, but a book none the less.

I think I will write a book of short stories. There are hundreds of writing prompts you_fail_only_if_you_stop_writingfloating around out there so I can just pick one or two a day and write a bunch of short fictional narrations that will eventually add up to the necessary word count.  That is the tentative plan. I also have another book idea but I have so many writing irons in the fire I really don’t want to chase after another long project right now.

If anyone out there wants to hop on board the National Novel Writing Month train, I have provided links to the website. It is fun and challenging, especially if you have never done it before. I am just giving it a shot for fun. I know I can write a novel in a month if I need to so I am not as worried about if  I can. I am just writing to support my friend in her endeavors as she runs the race and to enjoy writing just for writing’s sake. Who knows, maybe I can churn out something useful by the end.

Taking Punches

road-sign-940644_1280Someone said something to me a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It just pops up every now and then. I can hear the voice and everything.

I was sitting at my desk at the beginning of a long shift at work when one of my co-workers, several desks down, looked up and said: “I want to be Tammi.” I remember my surprise and the way I replayed her words to make sure I heard what I thought I heard. My clever reply, of course, was “What?”

So she said it again. “I want to be Tammi. Nothing ever seems to bother you.”

I blinked for a moment as all of my current struggles flashed before my mind’s eye. “No, you don’t. You really really don’t.”

Looking back I am still surprised at her words. I don’t know if I will ever get over the surprise. It isn’t that I have a bad life. I am actually pretty blessed. However, it is not all roses and sunshine. This person knows this. She has been there to see when life sucker punched me over and over. It has taken a while but I think I understand what she meant now. I guess I have rolled with those punches and gotten back up. That is what she was expressing envy for.

I still don’t think it is that big of a deal. I think I do a crappy job at this whole existing as a responsible adult thing. It is hard. Every day is hard. It feels like life is just one big constant fight.

I fight to wake up in the morning. I fight to get Toby to school on time. I fight to get to boxing-415394_1920.jpgwork. I fight the school when they can’t understand Toby’s Autism. I fight to pay bills, to write, to have groceries, to walk the dog, to feed the cats, to wash the laundry and the dishes…every single day is pushing against the wind. It may not seem like it on the outside. Many of these are things everyone has to do.

Simple things take so much energy. I am tired all the time. Which is why I guess I don’t react as much as others when life throws me those sucker punches. I am already fighting. It doesn’t make sense to stop just because I got decked with a harder blow than normal. That doesn’t mean I like it and that doesn’t mean I don’t loudly express my exasperation and frustration. Sometimes I throw myself a toddler style fit until I cry and have to take a nap. I am not unaffected by life’s punches. I just don’t know how to stay down for the count. I don’t wish those punches on anyone else either, because I know how much they hurt. boxing-984174_1920

(I am honestly a little afraid to post this because the universe might see it as a challenge. Please Universe, don’t see my words as a challenge. Life punches hard enough already.)

Cookies, Coffee, and Contentment

There is something about baking cookies just because that brings me a sense of peace. It has been a tough week. My son has been sick since last Thursday. First, he had a stomach virus. That lasted Thursday and Friday. By Saturday he seemed to be over losing the contents of his stomach but he still wasn’t feeling well.

cold-1947995_1920.jpgOn Sunday he started running a fever. By the wee hours of Monday morning, the fever was up to 102 and he was laying in the floor crying because his ear hurt. He wouldn’t say much else. (Toby has ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.) Not sure what else to do and with hours until the doctor opened I took him down to the emergency room of the children’s hospital.

The doctors there were fantastic as always. They took their time with him and explained everything they were doing. He was diagnosed with an ear infection, we were given a prescription for antibiotics, and released. I continued to alternate ibuprofen and Tylenol to help with the pain and the fever.

Fast forward to this Thursday. The fever still hadn’t gone away and despite three days of antibiotics, his ear was still hurting. So we went to the doctor to follow up and found out he had both an outer and an inner ear infection. The Doc prescribed some ear drops to go along with the antibiotics. The fever is finally gone and my son is on the mend.

Friday a sweet friend gave me a tub of cookie dough he had bought to support a fundraiser. Today, with Toby feeling better and with the sun shining after a week of rain, it seemed like the perfect time to bake some cookies. I didn’t even have to tell my son I was baking. The cookies had been in the oven less than two minutes before he followed his nose into the kitchen. Now the discs of deliciousness are cooling and I have a fresh cup of coffee in hand. Soon Toby will have a glass of milk and we will sit down with a couple of chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. For this moment, life is good. cookies-933191_1920.jpg

Morning Contemplation

cupI’m writing this on a Tuesday morning before getting ready for work. I have a new coffee mug that states “Mornings are for Coffee and contemplation”.  It is actually from the Netflix show Stranger Things, but I have wanted one ever since I saw a character drinking from it. Not because of the show but because I liked the mug. I like the show too of course, though I haven’t seen the second season yet. I am waiting to watch it with my eldest child and teenagers rarely have time for moms.

Anyway, I am rambling about the wrong thing. What I wanted to ramble about is the tree in my neighbor’s yard. The reason I like my new mug is that it reminds me to set aside time just to be, to sip a cup of coffee or tea and look around the world instead of just rushing through it. I am trying to be better at doing that.

So, I was sitting in my favorite chair with a hot cup of coffee and my front door wide open. The only light was from the door and the windows because I  wasn’t quite ready for artificial light yet. I heard the cicadas singing and there was a light breeze rustling the flag still attached to my porch from the 4th of July. I had the passing thought that these five minutes of my morning sound like the beginning of some sort of patriotic commercial or political ad campaign. Then I notice the gentle trembling of green leaves.

My across the street neighbor has a huge tree in her front yard that squirrels delight in. The wind this morning just teased its boughs while it was bathed in early sunlight. I waxed poetically inside my head about how pleasant the morning was and how nice it was to watch the oak tree across the street, and then promptly tripped over my own thoughts. Was the tree across the street an oak? Maybe it’s a maple?

I got up from my chair and moved to the door with my coffee so I could squint at the fall-leaves-63221_640foliage, trying to make out a single leaf. The wind picked up just enough to toss a couple of yellowing small ones from a top branch. They twisted and danced as they fell to the ground, making it impossible for me to tell what they looked like. My morning contemplation has been filled with: “Is it a maple or an oak?”

I am pretty sure the tree is a oak. Maples around here aren’t usually so big. If it is a maple tree it is very old. I could just walk across the street and look but that feels too much like giving in.

Ramblings from a writer

william_cullen_bryantToday I sat down to look over a poem I wrote earlier in the week. I have sent it to a few good first readers to get different viewpoints. I have spent way more time on this one poem than I ever planned on, but then I never really planned to write it either. A line just sort of popped into my head one day, so I wrote it down and the rest followed. That’s usually how poetry works for me. Often that is the way stories work too.

I am pretty much one of those people who write by the seat of their pants. I rarely plan anything out. I think it is more fun that way, even if it is a bit chaotic. However, if I am writing non-fiction, then I do plan things more carefully. I have the ability to plot things out, I just don’t usually do it because it seems to make getting the words down harder for me. I tend to daydream quite a bit as well.

The idea that I don’t plot things out drives a few of my writer friends crazy. They always plot. I know others that never do. I mean, there is always a vague idea where the story is going. Usually.

I do have eight pages of a work in progress that just kind of popped in my head like poetry normally does. That one I have no idea where it is going. It probably won’t turn out to be anything good enough to share with the rest of the world, but it is fun to write so I am keeping up with it as sort of a writing exercise.

Anyway, my rambling point is that I have spent a lot of time working on a poem. I like this one and I want to get it right but it isn’t quite there yet. I am not sure where “there” is but I am working hard on finding it.

 

Unplanned

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Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. Take this weekend for example. I had planned to get a ton of writing done. I was going to work on this short story I want to finish and send out before the end of June. I was going also work on this other thing that looks like it might be part two of something I’ve already completed. I was also hoping to plot some of a series I’ve been planning, then write a blog post.

None of that happened. Well, this is the blog post but not the one I originally planned on. Yesterday the sky was overcast and the wind was shouting nature’s fury through the trees. Then the storm began and the power went out. No power, no internet.

It was fine at first. All the people in my neighborhood opened their curtains and doors. People stood on their porches and watched the storm rage. When it the weather cleared the power was still out, so my son and I went to visit family, run a few errands, and grab some lunch. We passed downed trees and broken limbs everywhere; evidence that the storm had been worse than I thought. Traffic lights were down and a lot of places were without power.

It took us longer than expected but we returned home by seven in the evening to a dark house. The power rarely goes off where I live so I had expected it to be repaired by the time we made it home. It wasn’t a big deal to me. We have candles and lanterns if we need to see and I have a camp stove if we needed something warm to eat. I also have a reading list that never seems to get any smaller.

My son, however, thought the apocalypse had come. The battery in his game console was almost dead and so was his phone. He couldn’t turn on the tv or his computer and we had to use a tap light to see in the bathroom. I told him to read a book. He pouted for a bit but finally started a series he received for Christmas.

The power was back on by 10PM but it was kind of nice to unplug from technology for a bit. I managed to read three books and my son focused on something that wasn’t Minecraft for a few hours. So, even though things didn’t go as planned and I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted, it was still a pretty good day. (The power went off for a while today too but only for a few hours.)