Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Conference Was a Hit With Me

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association annual conference at the Seatac Hilton. I was a lot more focused this year about what I am writing and where I want to go with it. That helped me get more out of the weekend than the other two times I have attended the conference.

A couple of the conference perks are being able to make editor and agent appointments. I met with an agent who said she liked my idea, and invited me to send her a few pages to review.

So, I am writing more, and have contacted an editor to work with me. If I knew how to add links to my blog, I would add links to PNWA and to Writers In Action.

A friend had been inviting me to join her writing group for a while. I finally attended and found it useful. It is a group where writing actually happens while we are meeting. So far, I have been able to gear the writing exercises to advancing my storyline, and that has been most helpful, as well as keeping my enthusiasm up. I just might pull this off after all!

My wonderful friends have become the best cheer squad one could hope for: everyone is asking for signed copies...of course, someone has to accept the book first, and then publish it, but my friends seem to think those things are just minor details. I'd like to believe that, too.

I'm also finding that I enjoy writing my story longhand. I think it keeps me better connected to my characters. (and I like looking at my handwriting) This is becoming fun!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Things Do Get Better

I spent a wonderful nine days in Houston with my son, his beautiful wife, and three amazing little Texans. Also got acquainted with a new granddog, Molly. Molly is a sweet, gentle little soul, and has wormed her way into the hearts of all five members of the family.

I was spoiled. My son treats me like visiting royalty; he always says, "You're on vacation, mom." I love that. It really makes me feel special.

So...I have my equilibrium back, have my meds straightened out, and feel so much more hopeful about my life and future (like, I now feel like I have a future!). Those two critical meds are now on automatic refill so I won't be able to let something like that happen again.

How God works: while I was yelling at God for making me the way I am, I was inspired to sit down and make a list of all my meds to have in my bag for my trip. That was when I realized I was off of those two important meds. Now, maybe God didn't inspire me to make that list, or maybe He did. Maybe it was divine intervention, or maybe it was Grace.

Whatever, it was a blessing and a relief to be able to fix the problem, and to know what the problem was. Once I knew, I began to relax, knowing there was an end in sight. What a challenge!

I don't know a lot about Grace. I am not aware of having experienced it a lot. Maybe it is Grace that has brought me through my life to this point. Grace that is responsible for my never having had a heart attack, in spite of a history of severe blockages in my heart. So, why am I here? What is my purpose?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two Little Pills

I resent being labeled bi-polar. I am angry with God for making me this way. Being bi-polar means I have had few happy days in my life. Contrary to popular opinion, some bi-polars have only one extreme mood: depression. Lately, I've been off two of my meds which are critical to treat this problem.

I take a boatload of pills daily, and when these two ran out, I just forgot to refill them, and didn't really notice that I was taking fewer pills. It took about two months before I crashed, and believe me, you would not want a crash like this. At first I found myself overeating; then the anger set in. I spent days crying and screaming. Screaming at my shoes for not feeling right on my feet, screaming at God for making me this way...and just screaming in general. I would get in the shower and cry and scream. The only possible end I could see to the misery was to get rid of me. I had enough pills in the house to do a pretty good job. Instead I emailed my psychiatric care provider, as soon as I realized I had been missing those meds. She called in refills immediately, and spent forty minutes with me today, to help me get back on track. One of my meds will take several weeks to get built up in my system again. She also started me on a third, which will have a more immediate effect - within about three days--so there is a light at the end of this tunnel. At last.

Maybe I can quit hating who I am now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Facebook is Over

I just canceled my Facebook account. I enjoyed it for a while. I enjoyed the pictures my daughter posted, and I enjoyed keeping up with my son's life, but too many people use FB as a forum to publish any stupid-ass thing they wanted and I have been getting too pissed off to continue reading that s**t. The rest of the world will continue with their FB nonsense and will get stupider by the minute, but I will no longer be in the audience.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Ocean

My Family took me with them to the ocean yesterday. We rented a miniscule cabin (just enough room to turn around) and spent the night. Brett was a hero. He wrangled kids, luggage, a fire, food, and driving, and kept a great sense of humor through the whole trip. We left about noon yesterday, and were in our tiny overnight home by 4:00. The twins had a great time! They found a broom to fight over, and no, they couldn't take turns with it.

Cassie made me take my bi-pap so I wouldn't snore, and I couldn't figure out setting it up, so Brett took care of that for me. I vainly searched the car fifty or sixty times for the jacket I remembered carrying out of the house before we left (it was on the armchair when I got home today). Of course, Erica and Megan wanted to help yaya find her jacket, but they could only do that if they were standing directly in front of me. The wind off the ocean was frigid, and I spent several hours wrapped in a blanket. I think maybe I ought to invest in a sleeping bag, in case they ever take me along again. And maybe I will put a jacket in the car permanently, just for future reference.

Unbelievably, we stumbled upon a surfing convention! The surfers all seemed to be wearing wetsuits, which probably was really smart of them. We didn't hang around to watch anyone surf; our goal was an empty stretch of beach so Cassie could hunt for agates and the kids could run free. The twins ran about ten inches from the car, squatted and filled their buckets with sand. They were happy! Jack ran around with his dad, and managed to get a little wet from the waves. One of the girls fell into an incoming wave, and got stripped down to her skin next to the car while getting into dry clothes. Poor baby. In the relative smallness of the car, and also the cabin, the girls seemed to multiply until I was sure we had several dozen toddlers with us.

We stopped for a nice pancake breakfast at Denny's in Aberdeen, and got back in town around 1:00, I think. I'm worn out, and it feels good. It's the kind of tired one gets from having fun. I'll bet my bed feels extra good tonight!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oprah Had an Epiphany

Oprah, probably the United States' most famous yo-yo dieter, has had an epiphany, and has declared that she "will never diet again." That is good news for me and, I'm guessing, thousands of other American women with negative body images. I have been thinking a lot recently about body image, and about where we learn the messages that we are not good enough as we are.

It is a lesson I am sure I learned at my mother's knee. With love in her heart, she put an eight year old child on a diet, and continually reinforced for that child that she was fat and didn't quite measure up. It was never enough to be smart or pretty or capable. As long as she remained overweight, she was not good enough.

I know my mother loved me. I know that now, at my age, being angry with her for my weight issues is inappropriate. I am old enough to make my own choices now, and have been for many years. I have no one else to blame but myself. I still console myself with food, and relieve boredom with food, and celebrate with food. Ironically, I find it simple not to smoke or drink, or do drugs -- other unhealthy practices.

I don't think I learned my negative body image from magazines or television or movies. I think I learned it from my mother and every doctor who ever told me (like I didn't know) I was overweight. Over the years of my life, plenty of people have kindly informed me that I am fat. Oprah helped me with that image. By publicly being so unhappy with her own weight, she influenced me to believe that weight is an issue. Oprah is a mighty agency. She is rich and powerful with or without a weight problem, and even her power and her millions could not make her feel ok about herself. If that is the case, what chance do I have? I can't afford a dietitian and a personal trainer. My doctor refuses to discuss weight loss surgery with me, so I can't even resort to Star Jones' cure. (Star, by the way, was much more attractive when she had a little meat on her bones and didn't look so angry all the time.)

Oprah's announcement this week is liable to set the American multi-million dollar weight-loss industry on its ear.

Oprah's announcement has set me thinking. I think I can no longer feel sorry for myself or make excuses about my weight. What I can do is live a healthier lifestyle. "Healthy" to include appropriate food choices and physical exercise. I'm tired of not liking myself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rites of Passage

No kid ever left childhood with all his baby teeth intact. I love this picture of Jack with the space from which where his first tooth fell. He really cashed in--got $5.00 for this first tooth. I remember sometimes getting a quarter if the tooth was a big one, like a molar, but most of my teeth were worth dimes. Inflation, I guess. Well, I know he is on track developmentally, doing all the right things at the right times, even if he was a little late walking.

That household is celebrating another rite of passage. The twins are in panties now, instead of diapers. Erica had an accident this evening and it seemed to upset her. I found my son easier to train than my daughter. We'll see how this works out for DD's family. My Cassie was a little flirt; if there was a man visiting at the house, she would insist that he take her to the potty. She doesn't do that anymore. I wonder what she will think if she reads this.

I hate to see the kids growing up. What I hate even more is missing the Texans' growing up. That family simply will not send pictures. I even bought Steve a digital camera, but it didn't make a difference. I don't know what the deal is there. Maybe it is a side effect of living in Houston.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God says, "My name is I Am."
Live in the present
Observe the present
With all senses
Experience the present
With all senses
I hear tv
I am aware of lights and screen
I touch the smooth surface of keys,
Pressure of cushion beneath me
I smell nothing
I taste nothing
I cannot be in the past
I cannot continue to relive the past
I must live in the Now
But the past is a part of that
And I cannot escape.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Summer in the Sixties

I think my cousin Danny must have been driving that old beat up truck
Helen and I sat on the black, sun-faded roof of the cab
We bounced through the hayfield
While the older boys loaded bales of hay into the bed of the pickup
The sun beat down on us.
The thing I remember most about that day is how hot it was.
The surface of the truck burned our bare skin.
Dust motes sparkled in the air.
We were kids having a summer adventure on the farm that neighbored Uncle Dan's.
Decorum didn't matter; there were no rules to follow.

Later we would have a swim in the creek that ran along the back of Uncle Dan's farm
Floating in giant black inner tubes pulled from tractor tires, we went with the gentle current.
That creek is a faraway place now;
It has disappeared in the distance of the many years that have passed.
It was a time of magic;
I milked a cow,
Played in the hayloft,
Learned to make butter from fresh cow's milk.
Never thought it strange that Uncle Dan's place had a two-seater outhouse.

I loved my cousins, Danny and Helen, Diane and Barbie, and "little" Steve because he was younger than my brother "big" Steve.

It's all a comfortable memory, lost in a summer's haze.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Reports

I have finished two books this week. The first, for the Pastor's Book Club at church, is The Help. It is a coming to awareness look at the earliest days of the Civil Rights movement, weaving the stories of three "colored" maids, working for white families, with events in the early sixties. The march on Washington, which hasn't happened yet in the course of the story, is a reference point. Thought-provoking for me; this book gave me a perspective on times that I lived through; times that I was barely aware of, in the shelter of my little white family.

The other book, for another Book Club, was The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. This collection of folk tales also addresses the life of Joel Ben Izzy, the author and narrator. A common theme is silence. Indeed, ben Izzy loses his voice after a bout with throat cancer, and lives in a virtual silence which is enriched by the stories he tells. I find a correlation with my own search for meaning as a newly retired person. Another book I am reading is called The Purpose Driven Life, this book discusses the impossibility of understanding for myself what my purpose is and why I was created. It instructs me, instead, to turn to God to learn what the Creator has in mind for me. I think, like Joel ben Izzy, I must accept the silences in my life and see them as living, as part of the story that is me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another New Year (sigh)

And no reason to think this one will be any different than the past 20. I hate being retired and struggling with this bad back. Feeling discouraged this evening. I began stitching Megan's Christmas stocking this week. It will match Erica's in style but not in design. Cassie and Brett have made a point of treating the girls as individuals and not as clones of each other. Their personalities are so very distinct. Whatever one does, the other hurries to do also. Watching them is great therapy for me. I do love toddlers. These two are becoming very verbal and I can more often understand what they say to me, and we can almost have a conversation. It usually does something like this: Twin: "Yaya dink." Me: "Yes, that is my drink." Not deep or intellectual, but rewarding in its own way.

I may be discouraged, but I am well aware of the blessings in my life.