It was a lot of work, time and effort but the spring push to get an additional paver patio put in that offers me a better view of the mini-forest behind our house was worth it. I have a place to sit and write to my heart’s content, and the birds aren’t afraid to come in for a visit. I will try to capture some of my feathered buddies over the next months. For now, I offer you some pics taken from the new patio. I took these photos only a week or so ago and the difference, day by day, is amazing.
It’s like that with writing, too. One paragraph, one page of dialogue may seem minuscule when faced with an entire novel to compose. Yet each word is a seed. Some words sprout into sturdy, tough plants like my tomato. Others are more fragile like the clematis who is so very tentatively starting to climb up the trellis I painted for it.
I don’t have control over what will bloom or not in my garden, not really. I can only do the research, consult experts, and time my planting as close to Mother Nature’s schedule as possible. Of course she, like my story, changes like the wind, like a mere few strokes of the keyboard.
Plant a seed today. In your life, in your words, in your garden.
My retired Navy family is hitting a major milestone this summer as we approach the two-year mark for how long we’ve been in one house, one home, one spot on the globe–and we’re going to stay here. After 13 moves in 26 years, you can imagine my relief. Even though I know we’re done with the Navy moves, and hope no other moves are in the near future, my brain seems to have a special compartment that must be labelled “Navy Move” or “PCS” (permanent change of station). I found myself restless about a month ago, thinking I needed to purge the house of junk, accumulated clothes or papers, books, etc. But wait–I did that when we moved in. And before we moved from Russia. And before we moved to Russia…
What do normal people, i.e. people who don’t live tour-to-tour, do?
Remodel! But wait, there’s the college tuition to consider for the eldest kid, and younger kid will be in college soon enough. What’s more economical?
Curb appeal! (HGTV junkie, full disclosure).
But we’re not selling, so who cares about the front of the house? I spend close to three seasons writing on my laptop or iPad on the patio. Shouldn’t it be a place of serenity and escape for me?
I am no gardening expert. After living in so many different places I’ve learned that if I want to have any success I need to stick with native plants. Lucky for me there is a local gardening expert who also happens to write a column in our paper and, for a very reasonable fee, make house calls and landscape design charts.
This has been a spring of deadlines and looming deadlines, and the excitement of attending a particular writer’s conference I haven’t been to before. But somehow the plans were drawn up, I limited myself to one side of the house per year (or every 5 years!) and besides the start of a wonderful garden I also have a second paver patio from which to write my novels.
Seeking a full-time, paying career in writing brings madness, mayhem, and all to often, discouragement. This is why I glommed on to writers like Julia Cameron, Stephen King, and Anne Lamott even before I knew I was a writer. They speak honestly and often with humor about the writing life. I’ve learned that the writing thing is like the life thing–I only need take each day as it comes, step-by-step, word-by-word. There’s not a lot of drama in that, is there? As a recovering trauma-drama queen, it was hard to accept that while I can get as nut-so as I want on the page and in my novels, that is not the way I want nor need to be living my life.
In essence, I had to slow down. It’s a daily process and I’m not the best at it. But when I slow down and listen to the quiet, it gives my spirit room to grow and create.
It gives me room to live.
I hope you have a special space in your living today.
I love the word sparkly. My friend Erica uses it a lot, and while we lived in Moscow at the same time I picked it up from her. It’s a great word. Thinking of sparkly things makes me smile–frozen snow sparkles in the sunlight. Christmas ornaments sparkle next to twinkle lights. A smile sparkles when the bearer is filled with joy.
For the holidays and New Year, I wish you many joyous, sparkly moments.
We’ve been back home in the States for 10 months. I’ve settled my office (um, er, well, you know–it’s functional), planted flowers and now vegetables, and both kids have made it through most of a full school-year. I’ve had more writing success than ever–I’m launching my Whidbey Island series in June with the first book (and my fourth published novel) NAVY RULES, and I’m in the midst of contract negotiations for a 3-book deal with Harlequin Superromance. There will be more Whidbey Island books–yeah!!
The work-up for June promo, as well as getting ready to speak at RWA in July with my Romvets sisters, is exciting and exhausting. I’m so excited about all of the new changes and opportunities that I often find myself awake at 4 am, pondering the universe (or what subplot I should write next). I’ve found that when I’m getting too full of “me” stuff, it’s good to get grounded by reaching out and helping others. So this year I’m again happy and humbled to be a part of Brenda Novak’s Auction for a Cure for Juvenile Diabetes. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, there’s something here for you, including a book club basket from me and an Amish gift basket from the Three Glindas–me, Ann DeFee and Linda Cardillo. Check it out–there are so many wonderful items to bid on, and each bid takes us another dollar closer to a cure for this devastating disease. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/.
I’m also getting geared up to meet my readers and re-connect with so many writing colleagues at many different events this spring and summer. Please peruse my bio page and scroll down to the Events list. If you can come out and meet me, please do! I’d love to meet you and talk about books, writing, knitting, military family life–you pick!
I don’t know about you but I’m going to brew a cup of tea now. Plain green. Peace.
Each New Year’s for several years (maybe even a decade) I’ve picked a word or phrase to inspire me. I’ve made out a list of goals and intentions. I’ve created 10 yr, 5 yr and 1 yr plans and back-stepped to figure out what I needed to do each day to achieve said objectives.
Today I’m happy to sit still and be. “Be” as in sipping some great tea out of my Russian porcelain tea mug that I purchased last year while still a Moscow resident. By simply “being” I’m able to be overwhelmed with gratitude that my family has made the transition back to the USA and we’re each thriving in our little corners of this earth.
Our family had a major loss this year with my father-in-law’s passing, and as with any family loss it’s triggered moments of sorrow, laughter and reflection.
Am I living my life to my fullest?
I’m in the midst of re-reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I’m struck by how he captured the present moment that he lived and wrote in. That’s my one professional goal this year (okay, besides hit the NYT and make gazillions of dollars in royalties)–to write in the spirit of capturing the moment that my characters are living in. Because in that moment, I’m living “there” with them. And I need to hug each breath, each thought, each second. They are all precious.
Sounds like a Wheel of Fortune “before and after” puzzle doesn’t it? The only reason I am thinking of Wheel of Fortune is because I’ve spent the better part of a week with family members who adore Wheel of Fortune. Me, I’m more of a Jeopardy girl.
I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving and the past few weeks it has hit me that yes, I’m part of the Sandwich Generation. I have children still at home, or in college, and aging parents. I’m not alone. There are millions of us.
I am blessed. My parents and my in-laws have wonderful insurance and any help needed from the kids is relatively minimal.
Yet as I prepare for Thanksgiving (eldest son’s first time back since leaving for college!) my mind goes to all the adult children taking care of their elderly adult parents. How are they doing it? How are we doing it?
One day at a time, one meal at a time, one doctor’s visit at a time.
When faced with what can be a heartbreaking road, I’ve learned that gratitude is the best antidote for me. Not Pollyanna “all will be swell” crap. It’s the simple stuff. So in light of this week and our national feast of the yummiest dishes native to the USA, here’s my gratitude list. Feel free to add yours!
I am grateful for:
1. My health
2. My family–no matter their age, political preference, state of health or mind, lack of boundaries or too many walls to climb over. We are family.
3. My friends who keep me sane and laugh with me on this journey.
4. Great recipes, the funds to buy the ingredients and a comfortable kitchen in which to cook them.
5. Is there anything else worth mentioning?
In a blink, summer’s giving way to autumn. Today’s most likely the last hot day we’ll see in the Northeast.
I’ve been away from the blog due to a global move and associated tasks. Fancy speak for I’ve been overwhelmed by life.
Great news–I have a new book coming out in June 2012 with Harlequin Superromance, set on Whidbey Island, Washington. Details will emerge as the publication date gets closer. I already have two events planned for June which is the precise reason I’m so thrilled to be back in the States full-time. There’s nothing like connecting with dear readers in person.
No matter how crazy it gets, I try to eek out at least a smidgen of serenity each day. My dog Misha is often the source of this. Sometimes it’s Ripley the Fearless Parrot. What’s your serenity source?
Every two to three years our family goes through a major transition. We move, whether it’s cross-country or across the globe. This year marks an even bigger transition–this may be our last big move in a long while. Our eldest graduated high school and is soon off to college. Our youngest will settle into the last years of her secondary education. I finally am face-to-face with the opportunity to write full-time with no distractions of Navy/diplomat-spouse duties.
Yet I’m very, very excited. There are all the practical aspects to be happy about. Finding and purchasing a new home (roots!). Getting active in my daughter’s last years at home as much as she’ll welcome (i.e. allow). Setting up my own office with it’s own door that I can close. Caller-ID so that I can only answer calls I need to when working. Starting over with the nutrition–bringing only healthy, clean, delicious food into the house. Leaving the dark M&M’s on the grocery shelf (we’ll see how long this lasts!). Getting a new car.
The intangible side of this transition is overwhelming, yet still, I welcome it. Whether I look at it as fulfilling my artistic destiny or dealing with can-I-swing-writing-only-or-do-I-supplement-income-with-second-job choices, it’s all good. Because I’m still on the path to discovery, still on the road to my dream of being a very successful full-time writer.
Transition is an opportunity to be kind to myself. To applaud the fact that I have an August 1st deadline (yeah, another contract!) and to NOT berate myself that it took 2 years between the 3rd and 4th contracts. I always lose by comparison–no matter what. It’s about my journey and my motives. My destiny.
Of course the big gratitude box must be checked. Grateful for my health, my family’s health, my husband’s ability to be our family’s rock (anchor, actually, but that’s too cliche when you’re a Navy family).
While I don’t wish the multitude of headaches associated with a move on anyone (e. g. the seller on the house we bid on just walked away from the short-sale 2 wks before closing), I do wish you the chance to take stock of your life and your soul’s desire. What is your heart’s desire? Are you taking little steps to get there? Even if you’re working 2 or 3 jobs to feed your babies, can you do something tiny towards your dream today? Just 2 minutes of prayer or meditation, or 20 minutes spent reading something that lifts you–can you find room for it?
Life’s not easy. Transition sucks. But they both bring untold joy if I keep an open mind and go with it.
We have a great example of what great smarts and a sincere heart can do for a person and in turn, for the rest of the world. Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is not only the Second Lady of the United States but also a teacher at Northern Virginia Community College. She holds a doctorate and is a fierce supporter of military families. She’s a military Mom and knows the sacrifices we all make on this unique path. I had the privilege of meeting her (and her husband!) yesterday and gave her a copy of SASHA’s DAD as a small token of my appreciation. It’s always great to be a writer, wonderful to be a published author, but even better when I can hand an extension of myself to someone as a gift. For whatever reason, but this was a great one!
The next time I get bummed about too long between contracts or the difficulty of pursuing a writing career while overseas, I’ll think “what would Dr. Biden do?” She’d get to work!