Sunday, November 30, 2008

Running Late

I slept in this morning and am running late. I need to be out the door in 15 minutes. It's my sponsor's AA birthday today so I'm headed to town to celebrate with her. It's also the first day of Advent and that means I can start decorating. Ha, as if that's all Advent is about! I love Advent. The idea of hunkering down and waiting for the Light. It was during Advent a few years ago that I started getting honest with myself and God about my sexual addiction. Here's a post from back then, more for a reminder for me than anything.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Doohickey

As you can see I DID IT! 50,071 words and I am done. That little sign is the official doohickey you can upload once you paste in your words and get them verified that you really did more than type randomly for the past month. (Although at times it felt as if I was simply typing randomly.)

First I spent an hour online avoiding writing the last few thousand words.
Then I cried as I was writing the final scene.
I was mourning being done the damn thing plus the scene was heart wrenching, too.

Today has been an exceptionally good day all around.
It was birthday meeting day at AA.
I was privileged to see one of our home group get his one year cake.
We are a very small group but today we were nearly triple in size.
Every day one of us is sober feels like a miracle.
I am very thankful though, that drinking is not one of the ways I need to celebrate being done the book!

The Home Stretch

As BP is fond of teasing/encouraging me - I really am on the home stretch of the novel, first shitty draft and all. I worked hard yesterday on other stuff and as a result by the time I sat down to write last night I was weary. But I churned out over 4,000 words so that between today and tomorrow I have 2800 words left to type. I can do this. I will do this. I even know where the story is going in its remaining pages so that's a bonus.

This afternoon I'm having tea with a writer friend who is one of my biggest cheerleaders in this life. Yesterday as we were talking about the novel and I was telling her how I could just delete sections that were crap, she told me that nothing of it was wasted, that I had put in the time and discipline and that the characters, all of them who showed up, were a gift. So last night when the story took yet another detour I simply kept typing and waited to see what would happen next. Whenever I discuss the plot line and all the possible 'what ifs' with Youngest Son he tells me that I am a mean person.....mean to my characters and a little deranged to boot. Which just makes me smile. But then, you all knew I was a little deranged already didn't you?

Friday, November 28, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

*The title and the theme is courtesy Conversion Diary.


Yesterday I was going up and down the aisles in the grocery store and was stopped by a man who wanted to know what the difference was between bleach and javex. When I told him they were the same thing, except was one a brand of bleach he replied that they sure charge a lot more for the brand.


A few aisles later I was trying to figure out what kind of dog food to buy because the store was out of our regular brand. A man walked by me and said, "Just buy a bag of this and a bag of that. They'll eat it all anyway." I must have had a puzzled look on my face for him to read my mind like that. Creeped me out.


I have a favourite cashier who hasn't been at her regular til for quite a while. Turns out she'd been on holiday so it was a treat to go through her til yesterday. She has a slightly cynical view of life plus a great sense of humour. She's entertaining, I'll give her that. She can't be more than 27 and has already gone through the death of her dad and her only sibling. I'd be a bit cynical, too if I was her.


I like listening to country and western music on the radio. It plays as I type these posts every day. Some days I feel like I must be turning into my mother who listens to the radio (same music) more than she watches tv. Me, too. (However I am an avid fan of The Amazing Race and Saving Grace.)


Only 6900 words left to write on my novel. Won't you be glad when I stop posting about it? I know I'll be glad to type the words "The End". I feel like I should celebrate somehow but haven't come up with anything yet. Ideas?


We've been getting together with 3 other couples on a weekly basis for 7 years now. We orginally met to study this book and have recently reached the last few pages. Over time we've grown to share our spiritual, parenting, and marriage journeys with one another. One of the couples just went through one of their adult sons surviving a serious car accident. He still can't walk but is alive, which is a miracle. Last night was the first time they were able to make it to one of our gatherings in nearly 2 months so of course on nights like that we don't open the book at all. When we do finish the book we are going to the local indoor swimming pool and are all going to jump off the rope swing. I've never seen anyone middle aged do that so we are either going to garner a lot of applause or we'll be asked to leave for causing so much commotion. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.


I continue to be hopelessly gullible. Dearest One and Youngest Son love to tease me and string me a line. I'm sure I'm a source of great amusement for them. Yesterday I walked into the public library in town and went to put my books in the return bin. A librarian I've known for close to 20 years looked at me and said, "You can't put them there." Obedient person that I am I stopped mid air and looked at her. She then continued, "We just got it cleaned out, you're making more work for us." I told her she shouldn't tease me like that because I am the most gullible person on the planet.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It's dark outside yet.
A few hours until the sun rises.
We've had mild weather for all of November.
It makes the winter seem a month shorter.
I like that.
This time last year, winter had settled in
and the long, dark days stretched out before us
like a cat.
No purring around here about that.

The privilege of buying groceries.
Having gas in the vehicle to go to town.
My Christmas shopping is nearly done.
It will be done before the month is over.
I'm grateful for the blessings of life.
Which really have nothing to do with material things.
But with the peace in my heart.
A new day.
Opportunities abound.
Let's make the most of it.
(7528 words to go on the novel.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Peeking At Jesus

I will never win an award for housekeeping.
I am surrounded by sister-in-laws who keep orderly houses
as if it is no effort at all. I have never seen their homes
in the kind of disarray mine is in on a regular basis.
Not even when I've popped in unannounced.
One of them who has things just so.
I love the way it looks.
It isn't uncomfortable, just so orderly.
I sometimes ask dearest one if he doesn't wish
our house was like that.
He shudders and says no.
I know he would do something on purpose to wreck
the orderliness of it if I all of a sudden
improved my housekeeping skills.
He'd drop his coat in the middle of the floor and leave it there just
to remind me to relax a little. Which often baffles me because he is an
orderly person by nature.
I often feel bad he married someone who
has to work so hard to pick up after herself.
I do pick up after myself but it might be several weeks in the coming.
And I squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, too.

I used to be an all or nothing person when it came to housekeeping.
Either total chaos or complete spotlessness.
Woe to anyone who wrecked the couch cover which
wrinkled up if someone so much as sat on it.
I don't miss those days.

Yesterday I spent the bulk of the day cleaning and
getting rid of piles of papers and such.
Last night I plugged in the mini Christmas lights
that have been on the top of the kitchen cupboards
for several years already.
I always mean to take them down, or at least vacuum
the dust off them, in between one Christmas and another
but so far it's just a pleasant thought.
When I plugged them in last night and surveyed the cleaned off
countertops and the warm glow I thought to myself,
"Yes, it's that time of year again."

I unwrapped the Advent calendar and set it up on the diningroom table. A table that a few hours earlier was strewn with newspapers and books and empty tea cups and the like. The calendar has sparkles and a nativity scene. I haven't had one like that for years. The stores here only offer ones of Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse. It always strikes me as odd to have Advent calendars like that. I don't think they call them Advent calendars, though. Just 24 numbered little doors with chocolates in them. When I was a child my great aunt (the one who I've modeled the novel on) bought an Advent calendar for the girls bedroom and one for the boys. I loved that little calendar. It had sparkles and a Nativity scene. I also couldn't wait to see what was behind those little doors. I remember my panic when I went ahead and peaked behind number 24 and then tried to make it stick back down like I hadn't opened it. It was one of those things that migh set my mom off and well, it would have been a little, okay a lot, ironic to beat a kid for peeking at Jesus, you know?

Well, didn't this post veer off into something I didn't see coming. There's no neat and tidy way to wrap it up either. I'm just thankful that clean house or not, impatience at waiting, or Jesus embraces us in it all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quiet Expression Of Our Inner Life

"I do believe that one day I won't even take so much notice of my life but let it be as it is and trust that as I open myself to God, God continues to work behind the scenes. The outcome in some ways, is none of my concern."

I wrote that in a post last week. This morning, courtesy inwardoutward, was a quote by Thomas Merton that says it so much better.
In the Quiet of Our Own Being

It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from the effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting any immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition.

Source: No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton

Racing Towards The Finish Line

I reached the 40K mark in my novel last night
by sheer grit and determination.
The more I try and hit these milestones the more
convinced I am that the whole book is crap.
I won't be doing this next November.

I may write another book.
I do have another one that I've carried
around in my head for nearly 10 years.
And a children's book for nearly that long, too.
But never again on such a short deadline.
It takes the enjoyment out of it.

I know now that a detailed outline works for me.
It doesn't detract from the actual writing of the book.
Too bad I only had that done for part of this book.
I'm making things up as I go now.
Dearest one gave me an idea last night
and that netted me several thousand words.
Then I remembered something I'd written on a scrap piece of paper,
a two word term,
and that gained me several thousand more.
I put a little sticky note over the word count calculator
so I can't obsess about every word as I type.
I only peeked every so often
and either groaned that I was 200 words further on
or felt quite pleased with myself when I'd added 2,000.
Okay, in all honesty, I never waited between peeks that long at all.
I pulled the sticky note away for night when I reached 40,044.

I have 5 days left to write the last 9,956 words.
I told dearest one last night that I would much rather be
editing the book right now than adding to the word count.
He said that at the rate I was going I could have the book done
in two more nights and then start editing.
I told him that once I'd reached the 50K mark
I was going to stick the book in a drawer
and forget about it for a while.

I've never been great at finishing things I start.
I love coming up with new ideas or projects.
I have unfinished cross stitch and crocheting projects
stuffed in drawers.
There are places in my home that are half organized
and half danger zone.
The cupboards have ingredients I thought would make a great new recipe
only to find that I still don't like curry.

How can you tell that not following through is one of my character defects?
So while I may continue to bitch and moan for the next 5 days
or until I reach 50K,
secretly (shhh, don't tell anyone)
I am pleased to be racing towards the finish line.
This story has been my companion for 25 years.
How strange to be writing a young adult novel
only to find myself growing up somewhat in the process.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Size Smaller

I'm playing Scramble on Facebook as an avoidance tactic for writing on my novel. I have 6500 words due today and I feel lost. I know where I'm going with the story but I don't know how to get from here to there. Thankfully it's just the book that feels like that today.

Yesterday during Mass I felt very small. Some people would term it "cut down to size." I don't mean that in any bad, negative self talk kind of way. Rather, in a I'm not God and I've just remembered that again kind of way. I need reminding. It's far too easy for me to think I am God and then to act like I am and to put out vibes to the world that I think I am, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tread Softly

In preparation for a conversation that I really didn't want to have, I sat in silence for 20 minutes this afternoon. In those 20 minutes I opened myself up to what God might have to say to me. I was struggling with wanting to blast this person. Into my head came the phrase tread softly. That's the only thing that surfaced in the 20 minutes that felt like guidance. And it kept surfacing. At the end of 20 minutes the person I wanted to speak with arrived but not by themselves so the opportunity to speak to them vanished. I was relieved. I don't tread softly very well. I'm more likely to stomp all over the place. I am open to learning a different way. I have always envied people who were diplomatic, who get their point across with diplomacy and firmness. This past week Fr. Charlie ran several scenarios past me - giving me an opportunity to learn how to approach this situation differently - in a way that would get my point across and yet do no harm. He knows my style is more like a bull in a china shop. He has, after all, been hearing my confessions for nearly 4 years already.

In the end I had to step back and take a look at what was pissing me off. I sat there and did a step 4 in my head. I had to admit to myself that it had nothing to do with the other person. It was my stuff. My issues. My reactions. As much as I wanted to desperately point fingers I knew I would be side stepping my part if I did that.So it turned out to be a blessing to not have the opportunity to speak to this person in private. Our paths will continue to cross on a regular basis. Normally I would just avoid someone who triggers me, someone I don't like and would rather not be around. But that is not about to happen any time soon. I know my advice to someone else in this situation would be that the person who irritates you to no end is your best teacher. Embrace the opportunity. To quote Kathleen Norris from the previous post

"For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn't know we needed and take us to places where we didn't want to go."

Lord, oh Lord, have mercy.

Places We Didn't Want To Go

"The comedy of grace is that it so often comes to us as loss, sorrow, and foul-smelling waste; if it came as gain, gladness, and sweetly scented flowers, we would not be grateful. We would, as we are wont to do, take personal credit for the unwarranted gifts of God. It is easy to be attracted to the idea of grace - which one dictionary defines as 'divine love and protection bestowed freely on people' - but much harder to recognize this grace when it comes as pain and unwelcome change. In the depths of our confusion and anger, we ask: "How can this be God's love? Where is God in this disaster?" For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn't know we needed and take us to places where we didn't want to go. As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before. And maybe that's the point. It is a divine comedy."
~ Kathleen Norris in Acedia & Me(emphasis added)

I'd written a whole slew of thoughts to accompany this quote. Then I deleted them. Then I hit the pubish post button. Then I came back to write some more.

I find myself in much need of grace today. This afternoon I'll force myself to have a conversation that I feel not one ounce of courage to have. Earlier this week I told Fr. Charlie I'd have that conversation or would stop bitching to him about this person. Then, to lighten the atmosphere, I told him that I had to have the conversation otherwise I was going to end up in Reconciliation confessing that I'd told this person to fuck right off. And that, with my luck and the offending person's lack of comprehension of the English language, they wouldn't even understand what I'd told them and the wrath would be wasted.

And that would never do.

I know the big girl, sober,grown up thing to do is have the conversation. I will feel better and will go from being reactive to proactive. And I'll have avoided being mean and nasty, too.
I will have done my part and then hopefully can let go of it.
Fear has held me back from having the conversation.
I wish I could elaborate on that part of it here, but I can't.
This person's presence in my life is making me come face to face with some deep rooted fears and so, in that way, they are a gift. Hopefully in time, I'll be grateful for that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let There Be Light

A new day.
I laid in bed this morning for a while and prayed.
I feel really calm.
And full of hope.
Whatever life throws my way today
I don't have to handle all on my own.
It's good to know that.

I'm headed to town for my AA meeting.
The roads are in decent condition.
I have no inkling to go into the mall.
For some reason all the holiday decorations are driving me batty.
They're disorientating.
Is that even a word?
All the decorations and hype in the stores make me feel dizzy.

I am however, looking forward to the beginning of Advent.
I'm really glad that the first day of Advent is the last day of NaNoWriMo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Slow, Demanding Generosity

I'm turning down the corners on favourite pages of the library book I'm currently reading. Wouldn't that get a harsh look from my grade three teacher if she could see me now! The other night as I was reading I realized I should have a stash of sticky notes by my side. My grade three teacher would have loved sticky notes.

Here's a bit that got my attention last night as I read:

"'What God does in us always produces humiliy,' writes the Carmelite Ruth Burrows. "All that comes from self, be it delight or suffering, tends to boost the ego. She regards any authentic religious experience as entailing 'a slow, demanding generosity,' one that does not short-circuit within us but flows outward naturally, until what we believe becomes what we do. The thrust of many self-help authors,however, seems to be to assure people that the ultimate goal of their spiritual practice is to reveal what good and deserving people they are."

As I read this quote I thought of the handful of times when I was greatly humbled by the work of God in my life. Times when I was keenly aware that the change within had nothing whatsoever to do with me but with God. Times when those things that I cannot change on my own strength were somehow different. It always feels like a miracle when God does for me what I cannot do for myself. I often wish that feeling of humility would last forever, it is such a softening and openness, of walls down and brokeness, but soon I am back into my own ego driven life. The above quote does give me great hope, though. I do believe that one day I won't even take so much notice of my life but let it be as it is and trust that as I open myself to God, God continues to work behind the scenes. The outcome in some ways, is none of my concern.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pages Of Life

"Writing fiction is like being an alcoholic. You create a crisis and immerse yourself in what happens next."

There was collective laughter yesterday when I shared that piece of information before the AA meeting started. My home group is being incredibly supportive as I slog my way through NaNoWriMo. When someone added that fiction couldn't hold a candle to the real life experiences of active alcoholics more laughter followed.

Being able to laugh with others about what fuck ups we've all been is precious to me. We've all been there, same story, different description. You know how uncomfortable it can be when you're in a group of people where someone is not embracing their humanity? (I'm talking about myself here). In recovery the key word is all. Our sanity depends on us not pretending we're unique, not set apart as other than human. What a blessed relief.

Letting go of creating a crisis in real life, not being a drama queen, looking at situations as they really are without minimizing or inflating their impact; that all takes practice and intention in recovery. As my recovery progresses I find it easier to accept the every day, revolving nature of life. It's a sign of health for me to not go looking for the drama, to accept life on life's terms, and to be content with what is. Of course I do all of that imperfectly but as I said later on in the day with my family doctor, there is no going back to that place where denial trumps awareness. Sure, some days I wish it would, and some days it does, but thank God it's only momentarily.

Take yesterday. I'd had my shower, was cleaning out my ears with a Q tip, when instead of seeing the normal wax build up there was dried blood on the end of the cotton swab. I went from oh, that's weird to OMG my ear drum must have burst and I didn't even notice it(as if that is possible) in a nanosecond. Then rational mind kicked in and I realized it really was no big deal, I'd had no ear pain at all, at the worst a tiny bug got squished in my ear, and I went on with my day. When I related the whole thing to my doctor he smiled and humoured me with looking in that ear only to reiterate what I'd come to earlier. It was no big deal. My ear drum was fine.

Writing a book is, in part, about keeping the "what ifs" coming. Today, when I try to add a few thousand more words to my novel, I'll dream up a crisis or two, wonder about the impending what ifs, and write down what happens next. I'm just grateful that it's work to dream it up, that drama is slowly finding its rightful place in my life, between the pages of a book, not the pages of my life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have 45 minutes before my doctor's appointment so here I am, typing as fast as I can. It was a shock to the system to have the alarm go at 5 AM so that I could come into town with dearest one. I am not, never will be, a morning person.

Last night I churned out the words and reached the 30,000 word mark in NaNoWriMo. As I wrote only daughter yesterday:
We will prevail, we will prevail, we will prevail.

It's sunny, there's no snow falling and that makes the day wonderful. Time with dearest one on the way to town was great, too.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PH Awareness Day

I opened my email this morning to find a note telling me today is PH Awareness Blogging Day. You can find a list here of bloggers who are participating. This is something dear to my heart. Please take a look at the links and educate yourself. I'm quite sure there are lots of people out there misdiagnosed with some other lung problem when it's really PH.

In the beginning, when I first got sick, the powers that be thought I might have PH. My friend Karen who passed away in August had PH and it was ultimately what caused her death.

Part of the reason my blog has the word breathing in it is because when I started this blog nearly 4 years ago breathing was something I really didn't take for granted. On the worst days I could talk or breathe but couldn't do both at the same time. (Me? Choosing not to talk? What a concept!) It was a long road to a diagnosis. At one point a specialist stuck me in the hospital for 10 days and ran all kinds of tests. They even flipped me over to repeat one CT scan to double check for abnormalities in the vessels in my lungs. In the end they took the chance and put me through a risky heart catheterization, the gold standard test for PH. A risky test, because of my bleeding issues, which showed I was on the cusp of having PH. Had I been in the United States I would have been diagnosed and put on medication to halt the progression. The specialist told me there was no funding available for medication until my numbers reached a certain point. I looked at him and said, "You mean it's a crap shoot, then. Wait until the numbers rise so the government will pay for medication and hopefully it will halt the progression of the disease." He nodded. I felt very frustrated.

I don't know what happened. God only knows. A few years ago I had some prayer before I gave a talk at a retreat. I remember standing there afterwards and commenting to someone that I was breathing as clearly as I did when I was on oxygen. It felt surreal. A few months later my lung function tests showed an improvement. Eventually the specialist said I didn't need to see him anymore. Then, last year when I went to rehab and started dealing with a bunch of issues, my health improved even more. The days of having to count my spoons became a thing of the past. Our trips to town had previously very planned out, I was always dropped at the door and had to choose which stops were priority. These days I delight in parking as far from the door as I want. Yes, I still sometimes have rough days. Days when lifting my arms to shampoo my hair expends more energy than I can muster. Those days are very discouraging as I have no idea if they are temporary or the start of a downward spiral. Thankfully, they've continued to be temporary glitches.

It could have turned out so much different.
I try not to take my current health status for granted.
My friend Karen wanted nothing more than to live to see her 50th birthday.
For a long time I read the PH Message Boards for support and encouragment, especially when I had to deal with doctors who looked at me like I was just attention seeking. That if only I would lose weight and exercise my breathing problems would go away. They conveniently overlooked the fact that I had been doing just that when my problems surfaced. Please don't look at someone who is obese and on oxygen as if it's their somehow their fault. PH is high blood pressure in the lungs, which has nothing to do with diet, exercise, or weight issues. You can't prevent it. Skinny, fit people get PH, too. And there are others who look perfectly healthy but who struggle mightily to be out and about. So many times people would tell me I looked so good as if looking good nullified how I felt. I never bothered to tell them that on the very worst of days I never went anywhere, so they only saw me on my best days.

Take a deep breath and be glad you have the ability.
Trust me, if you can't breathe, nothing else matters.

Lawn Free

School buses are being cancelled today.
So much ice and snow make for wretched road conditions.
Lovely, lovely weather.
We're supposed to be in the lawyer's office this afternoon
to sign our wills, personal directives and power of attorney stuff.
Fatalistic thinking creeps in and I'm sure we'll be killed on the way to the lawyer's office before we can sign those papers.
That's how my brain wants to work.
But I'm trying to ignore it.
I think because dearest one has seen
so much death in his line of work,
we're a bit hyper aware that lives get cut short
all the time.

Sometimes I find myself wondering about people who die in accidents and how they start their last day on earth as normal as everyone else.
A few years ago I had an accident with the riding lawn mower. As the brakes failed on the lawn mower I was squished between the seat and that little A shaped bit at the end of the swing set. With only 6 inches to spare between the two I'm still a bit dumbfounded as to how I fit. Later I told dearest one how it felt like the seat of the lawn mower had tipped over backwards as I was squeezed between the two. We checked and the seat doesn't bend backwards. My throat was sore from where my neck rubbed against the bar as I squished under it. I must have turned my head at the last minute otherwise my chin would have caught on the bar. Makes me shudder to think of it, still. That incident really shook me up and I was grateful to not have any serious injuries from it. Dearest one was on a tractor in the field and out of cell phone range. I was pretty shook up and thought to myself, that's how quickly death happens to people all the time. My last thought as I went under the bar was that I was going to go under the bar. That was it until I came out the other side. Had it killed me, well, my last thought would have been something mundane. I have a bleeding disorder and internal bleeding would kill me quickly; that's what I was worried about the most when I was finally able to stop the mower. Man, I shook for a long time.

Well, that's kind of morbid to write about first thing in the morning. Didn't see that coming. It's been two years and this past summer I finally could mow the lawn on that side of the yard again although I panic easily if I think I'm in a tight spot. We replaced that lawn mower but I still prefer mowing in a wide open space to between trees and around that swing set.

At least with ice and snow there are no lawns in need of mowing.
Today, I'm grateful to have the gift of life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Slogging It

There's still 3,000 more words to write tonight.
What, oh what will my main character do next
to warrant such a word count?
God only knows.
Slog, slog, slog.
What a puny problem to have
in the whole scope of life.

Same Old, Same Old, Thank God

Routine pleases me.

I don't know how others start or end their day but sometimes to entertain myself, I picture the people I'm with getting up in the morning and making their coffee, eating breakfast, getting ready for work and then picture a reverse routine in the evening. I find that comforting. We all have little routines that shape our days. Which makes me smile when I hear people bellyache that ritual is meaningless and pointless. Some of those people mean the rituals in church, especially the one I attend, yet I bet they get up and have their little morning routine that comforts them and adds to their day.

Yesterday my routine went out the window. My sinuses are on the warpath and this morning my one eyelid (the side that had the Bell's Palsy) is doing a slow ooze, just hovering on the tips of my eyelashes. Which means something's whipping my immune system good. Anyhow, yesterday was a full blown pajama day and I did nothing except sit on the couch, read and watch TV. Dearest one and I had time to sit and visit which was a bonus. I ate popcorn for supper.

Today the weather is doing its dance between winter and not winter. Freezing rain has been a reality more days than not the past while. Dearest one and youngest son will stay in town tonight, avoiding a 150 km round trip on roads that are less than ideal. The energizer bunny will hound me to take her for a walk. She'll bring me her toys and prance around hoping I'll play. She'll beg to nestle on my lap. Recently dearest one started a new game with her where he throws Cheerios in her direction and she jumps and catches them in her mouth. Right now she's snoring away on her blanket beside me. She knows my routine so well that she makes a detour into the office every time I go down the hallway. She always looks confused if I keep on going.

In the morning I get up and make my breakfast and eat it while I write a post and check my email. At 9:00 AM (which is in one minute) I log off email and go do something else. Hopefully today I'll go for a walk, do some housework, do some writing and enjoy a cup of tea. I'll make myself something tasty for supper and have a quiet evening.

In the midst of the uncertainty of life (which comes with the territory of not being God), I find ritual comforting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bit By Bit

It's early.
Too early.
I was so determined to sleep in today.
C'est la vie.
I'm listening to goldie oldies on the radio as I type.
Charley Pride and Merle Haggard's singing is comforting to me.

Yesterday I went to my AA meeting and then to a book launch for an author who passed away before her final novel was published. I sat in a room of 100 people realizing how rarely I put myself into a situation where most of the people are strangers to me. This particular author had been very encouraging to me about my writing over the years. She headed up the local writers group and although I haven't been to a meeting in a very long time she continued to call and remind me of the meeting every month. In fact she called just a few days before her unexpected passing. I'd never been to a book launch before so that was a new experience for me (thought of you BP!). Lord willing, I'll have one of my own one day.

Thank you for all your comments yesterday.
I often feel whiny when I ask anything of you.
Like I should just be able to suck it up and get over it.
But it's good to be vulnerable and human
instead of thinking I can do this all on my own.
I can't.
Pretending I never have needs is a lonely place to live.

Yesterday at my AA meeting I was able to share honestly
about the funk I'm in.
One person told me after the meeting to basically get over it.
I thought to myself, "It's way more important that I am honest about the funk I am in than pretending I'm fine." I've spent far too much time pretending in this life and it's never been worth it. I know the funk won't last forever and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other in the meantime. I look at all I have to be grateful for. I try to keep the bigger picture in focus.

There are people around the table who I want to put on a pedestal. They consistently walk the talk. I learn much from their experience, strength and hope. However, the sharing that touches me the most is when they are human and struggling just like the rest of us. It doesn't take away from their journey. It means I can trust them with my stuff.

The main character in my book is trusting that I will tell her story with integrity.
Last night the NaNoWriMo word count was 25,014. It feels like pulling teeth. Sheer grit and determination is what is getting my butt in the chair lately. I suck at commitments. Always have. I resist showing up for anything on a regular basis. I've been working on that character defect for a while now. Show up Hope. Do what you said you would. Expect more of yourself. And bit by bit what I commit to, I follow through on. I don't think I like it any better but it's one area I can grow up in.

Lately the journey has been a combination of knowing when to be gentle with myself and when to kick my own butt. I'm determined to hit the 50K word limit by the end of the month if for no other reason than to prove to myself I can follow through and finish something I started. This past June I told myself I was going to post something on the blog daily. I had a feeling then that I was following through on that commitment in preparation for something bigger. Now that November is here and the book is taking shape, I realize I was training myself to show up for that. In the whole scope of life it's really a small thing but I can feel a shift happening within as I continue to show up and write. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Temporary Glitch

This is Saturday's post written on Friday night.
I am so, so weary tonight.
No spoons.
Not sure what's going on with my body
but I've been having problems with my heart racing
and lessening spoons for nearly 2 weeks now.
(I'll be seeing my doctor this week.)
Dearest one had to push the grocery cart in the store tonight
and I couldn't carry in any of the shopping bags.
I knew carrying them would make my heart go berserk.
I feel discouraged and weepy.
Long time readers know of the vast improvement to my health
that I've enjoyed since I came home from rehab
a year ago. How I went from having my days dictated by my
spoon supply to not giving them much thought at all.
If I have any say in it I'm not going back to that.
I hope this is a temporary glitch.
Lord have mercy.
Please delurk today, whoever reads this.
I just need to be reminded that I'm not alone on the journey.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coming Into Focus

But then you already knew that.
Appointments in town.
Freezing rain in the forecast again.
It's one way of wishing winter would settle in
once and for all.

I've reached that magical age
where I need glasses to read.
My arms were getting too short
to make the words come into focus.
Today that should be fixed.

Dearest one and I both looked at the clock last night
sure that it was past bedtime
we were both so tired.
It was 7 pm.
We both groaned.
And went to bed shortly after.
We were just about asleep when this loud breathing
jostled us awake.

Dearest one kidded me there was a bear outside the window.
Then we heard it again.
I went to the bedroom door to find
the energizer bunny with her nose under the door
wanting to come in in the worst way.
I should tell her she breathes loud enough
to get mistaken for a bear.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In High Demand

Butt glue was in high demand today as I churned out enough words to hit the 20,000 word mark in NaNoWriMo. Ugh. I sat and wrote out a synopsis on note cards first to see if what I had written so far made any sense. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it did. So then I wrote out some more cards as to stuff that needed filling in and a few more cards so I know where I'm going. Anyway, I am still amazed I am doing this. It is fun and it is so not fun.

Staying Put

It's snowing to beat the band out there and there's a wind warning to boot.
The last time there was a wind warning several huge trees came crashing down outside and one would have hit our bedroom window had it broken off closer to the ground instead of half way up the trunk.

Yesterday it was freezing rain so I cancelled my appointments and stayed home.

Here's a snippet of an email I sent to a friend this morning:

My NaNoWriMo writing feels like total drivel these days but I am continuing to add to it anyway. Anne Lamott calls them shitty first drafts but I'm sure mine must be diarrhea by now. :) And I'm behind on the word count by the thousands, too. Slow diarrhea then.

Those gall bladder attacks are wretched, simply wretched. We lived/worked on a dairy farm when I got mine out and we had access to as much fresh cream as we wanted. Foods high in fat are a no no for gall bladder problems and I made a pie and whipped up some rich cream and well, it was all downhill from there.

I will go light the candle and hold you all in prayer today. Just happened to light the green one the other day for you all -I call it my hope candle. Today I'll light the one I call the Mary candle. For some reason she gives me great comfort, especially for the stuff that worries a mother's heart. Whenever I am really down about parenting stuff and all the mistakes I've made, when I ask her to intercede for me I always end up in tears.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Words of Grace and Hope

Katherine Paterson has written some of my favourite children's books. This week she wrote the letter to encourage writers of NaNoWriMo to keep on writing. This led me to her website and the question and answer below. I love it. Sometimes when people find out I am writing a book (something I've been doing in my head for 20+ years) they ask me if it is a "Christian" book. I am always tempted to reply, "I don't know. Is it saved?" Grates, grates, grates on my nerves that question does.

"In what ways has your religious conviction informed your writing? And would you comment on the presence (or lack ) of religious content, specifically Christian, in recent children's literature (say the last fifteen years or so)?"

Katherine Paterson answers:

"I think it was Lewis who said something like: "The book cannot be what the writer is not." What you are will shape your book whether you want it to or not. I am Christian, so that conviction will pervade the book even when I make no conscious effort to teach or preach. Grace and hope will inform everything I write.

You're asking me to comment on fifteen years of 5000 or so books a year. Whew! We live in a Post-Christian society. Therefore, not many of those writers will be Christians or adherents of any of the traditional faiths. Self-consciously Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) writing will be sectarian and tend to propaganda and therefore have very little to say to persons outside that particular faith community. The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress."(emphasis mine)

Other questions and answers can be found here.


This hits me right between the eyes this morning.
Have a great "enough" day.

"Enough You don't have to have everything. Whatever it is, whatever you have within yourself, consider it enough, and that the Spirit behind, above, and below you will do the rest. Your house is enough; it's got plenty of floor space, great windows. The goods stored in your cupboards are all you need. The place you live will give you what's necessary. Notice how different it feels in your body to have enough. Try it. Say to yourself, "It's enough. What I have is what I need."

~Patrice Vecchione in Writing and the Spiritual Life

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Butt Glue

I wrote just over one thousand words for NaNoWriMo at a hotel on Friday night. I haven't touched it since. That means today is a catch up day and I will be using what author Elizabeth George calls butt glue to get those missing words caught up to date. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Being Known

Home safe and sound.
The last hour and a bit of driving was in pretty well white out conditions.
Thankfully the snow held off until then.
I can't imagine if we'd driven in 12 hours of it.

I am hoping for a sweet sleep tonight.

Here is a post so rich in experience, strength and hope that I printed it out to reread often. Please go read it.
I think it spoke to me at that gut level because when I came back into AA I remember sitting around the tables one day realizing that, if I didn't get honest, I was going to get drunk.

Also, I had a conversation last week with an old friend
about what is real community.
We were talking about the internet and the relationships found here.
We were also talking about a job opportunity in my home community and when she challenged me on my reasons for not wanting to apply for it, one big one, if I was honest, was because I didn't care to work and be known in my own community. Didn't want to take the chance on people thinking they knew me when they didn't. Didn't want to give them the chance to define me. Much more appealing to go to the city and work "anonymously" there.
That was like a kick in the guts, or rather the ego, when I told her that nugget of truth.
"No, let me just be known online."
Um, yah.


When you read this we'll be on the road home.
It's been a good weekend.
Things to process.
Growth to celebrate.
Growth that is obviously
still in the germinating stage.
C'est la vie.

I'm applying for a job this week.
I have mixed feelings about it.
When I thought about the pros and cons
the pros side was full and the only thing
in the cons side was that I feel passionless
about the actual job.
I'm trying to keep an open mind.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

70 Years Young

What fun it was to surprise my mom last night.
We went over to my sisters' where the rest of the family (minus one brother)
was hiding in wait.
We have never pulled off a surprise before so this was extra special. My mom was tickled pink. She got some lovely gifts that showed we've all paid attention to what she likes and it was great to be able to shower her with love in that way.
This morning I washed dishes while my younger brother dried them. That was possibly the first time we did them together in 40 years. I distinctly remember the day when the boys in the family were freed from dish duty because we all fought too much in the process.
Tonight dearest one and I will head to the city and spend the night there before heading for home early tomorrow morning. Of course my family would prefer we stayed here one more night but a night in a hotel is a luxury and we rarely get the chance.
Hopefully the weather holds.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Arms Wide Open

Safe and sound at my parents' place.
Other than an hour or so of driving through thick fog, the roads were great.
My mom was totally surprised to see us, which is wonderful. In all her 70 years we have never been able to pull off a surprise so we're gloating for a good while as it may be the first and last time we achieve such a thing. She stood there with her mouth open for a long time and then came the tears. She hugged me once and then talked for a bit and then threw her arms open and hugged me again. If you only knew. We are not a huggy family. My mom is not prone to such outbursts of affection. It is wonderful.

We'll be here all day tomorrow and then drive 600 miles home on Monday.
The road trip has been great so far. Having each other's undivided attention is a good, good thing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Road Trip

We're off to my parents' for the weekend.
Dearest one and I haven't been on
a road trip by ourselves
for a long time.
It's one of our favourite ways
to spend time together.
1200 miles between this afternoon and Monday seems a bit extreme though.
I have a bladder infection trying to come along for the ride.
I've forgotten how those pesky things play a person out.
I only have one kidney so keeping an infection in check is
a necessary thing.
I hope you have a great weekend.
I hope I do, too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Predictably Soothing

There's frost on the windows this morning. Looks like winter is doing her best to take up residence. C'est la vie. Yesterday morning I tried venturing to town but only drove 2 miles, then turned around and came home. The thought of driving on a snow and ice packed highway for the next hour didn't thrill me so I decided I really didn't need to go to town that bad. When I called to rebook my appointment I found out I had the days mixed up. That made me doubly glad to have turned around and come home. The thought of arriving at my appointment only to be told "I'm sorry your appointment is tomorrow afternoon at 1:30." made me cringe. At which point I would have pulled my hair out and cried. Or not.

So I spent some time yesterday writing some more on my book. Nearly 9,000 words now. I don't want to talk about it much but it's loosely set on an account my great aunt wrote about the family's journey from Norway to Canada. She wrote the account 40 years ago and I have a copy. I pulled it out yesterday for some inspiration. My character is veering off the planned trail quite a bit so I wanted to read and figure out some plot stuff. I have no idea how it works for other people but I write what I see in my head (oh, now that is scary). Main character goes to barn to milk the cow and I picture it in my head and dutifully write it down. Except I didn't plan for her to go around the barn and find a stray dog who was hurt, growling at her. But hey, it's not my story. I am still a little amazed I'm actually doing the writing. I've let youngest son and dearest one read the first 8 pages and last night I was telling youngest son about the what ifs to come and he said I was mean. When he read the first few pages and I asked him what he thought of the Pa in the story, he replied, "He's a dick." I knew I'd conveyed the Pa exactly how I'd envisioned him.

Dearest one brought home nearly 800 envelopes and such to do a mail out yesterday. I took on the responsibility of mailing out these thingamajigs for something I'm involved in, 4 times a year, and this week is the week to do it. 375 envelopes later I went to bed. I sat and put address labels and postage stamps on the envelopes while youngest son stuffed and sealed them. He found it boring although he talked a mile a minute while he sat there and I enjoyed that immensely. I told him I found the repetitive nature of it to be very soothing because it was predictable. I like predictable. And there isn't too much of that in this life, is there? He found it interesting that predictable to him meant boring and to me it meant soothing. Anyway, only 400 or so more envelopes to do today and then it's back to unpredictability.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Playing Hookey

There's a blanket of snow out there this morning.
It makes it feel like I woke up to a whole new world.
A clean slate.

My NaNoWriMo word count is over 7000 words.
As I write I keep Anne Lamott's "shitty first draft" in mind.
It helps me just write and not edit as I go.

Some days blog posting is like that, too.
Hitting the publish post button before I edit,
feels like I'm playing hookey or something.
Methinks I take it all too seriously.
Especially for being a kid.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Personally Crazy

Yesterday I kept doing the next right thing and made it through the day in a much better frame of mind than I've known for a while. Last week I filled out a personal craziness index and came up with a list of 7 things that are warning bells for the slippery slope of relapse. Taking a look at that and taking an inventory every night before I go to bed has helped me expect more of myself. I might sit down to fill it out, look across at the day's dishes sitting on the counter and get up and do them. People, that is not my normal behaviour. It is however, a sign that I'm turning towards recovery instead of away from it. Which gives me great hope.

We're headed to my parent's this coming weekend to celebrate my mom's upcoming 70th birthday (if you read my previous post you can see she just celebrated 52 years of the math, wow, eh?) Anyway, paying attention to those 7 warning bells will help me keep my head screwed on straight in an enviroment where a high personal craziness index could be seen as normal and healthy. But then again, my mom was married when she was a teenager. Wait a minute, so was I. I'm stopping before I write myself into a corner again. Have a great hope filled day.

Monday, November 03, 2008

And You?

I really want to sit here and whine this morning but am choosing to stuff a sock in it and write a gratitude list instead. I am grateful to know that I have the power of choice today. I remember sitting outside a DQ restaurant the summer before last, talking with another AA member about how to reply when asked, "How are you?" If I was crabby, well, then I was crabby through and through. She helped me see that I could say, "Well, today I'm feeling a bit crabby but otherwise life is good." It's that kind of thing I need help navigating. Yesterday at church a young mom who I hadn't seen in a while, asked me how I was. When I told her I'd been in a funk for what felt like weeks already, we ended up having a really good chat about how the encroaching darkness outside affects our moods and the ongoing effort it is to put one foot in front of the other day after day. Just before Mass started I said to her, "Anyway, that's the real answer to how I am, I could have just told you I was fine."

Today I'm grateful for

  • my sobriety
  • a God of my own understanding who loves on me 24/7
  • the power of choice
  • faithful readers who journey with me
  • the lack of snow on the ground!
  • the gift of writing - NaNoWriMo word count yesterday was 3500+
  • my parents - it's their 52nd wedding anniversary today

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Showing Up

Tears are close to the surface tonight.
It's been that kind of day.
Biotchy I think it's called.
Thankfully these days are few and far between.
It used to be that I didn't know any other way to deal with my emotions
or the actions of others.
I'm writing this Saturday night to post Sunday morning.
Maybe in the morning I'll have something else to say.
Or not.

I vented at my AA meeting today. Gained some perspective in the feedback I got from my sharing. I love my homegroup. These people know and love me as I am. They also kick me in the butt when needed. They're about the only people in the world I'll welcome a butt kick from. I can't do this journey alone. Yesterday someone in the fellowship told me I was trying too hard.

Today I was reminded how far being grateful goes when a person feels down. How much thinking of other people helps one quit taking life so seriously. And I got reminded that there are much worse things to have my panties in a knot over than my mountain of a molehill.

It was a day.

I wrote 1738 words when I got home for NaNoWriMo. I'd written about 600 of those a few years ago and had forgotten just how much detail I'd done in outlining about 6 chapters of this book. Who knows if it will make sense at the end of the month but, one day at a time, I will hopefully make the 50,000 word count. I wrote in the space of about an hour today so I can churn the words out if I have to. I'd forgotten I'd learned how to do that eons ago. Dearest one told me I could write all the papers he has due for the rest of his courses if I wanted to. Hah.

The editor in me is chomping at the bit, wanting to go back and edit in between, but that will drive me batty before too long so I'll just keep going. I'd been posting here daily since the beginning of July to simply learn how to show up to the page whether I felt like it or not. That's helped me gain courage to try the NaNoWriMo thingamajig.

Well, I am so tired I am not going to be coherent much longer.
Have yourself a great turning the clock back kind of Sunday.
As my dad says, "Every day above ground is a good day."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Counting The Words

The craziness of NaNoWriMo starts today. Last year I entertained the idea and even signed up, but didn't follow through. This year I'm going to give it a shot. It's time to get the main character, whose been riding around in my head for 25 years, out of my head and onto the page. She deserves a place to call home.

Not sure how I'm going to find the time to write today but I'm doing it anyway. Today I have to go to town and when I come home we're off to a community supper. Tomorrow there's a potluck after church so there's cooking to do for that yet today, too. And then there's the every day stuff. Yet if people who leave their house every day to go to work can write a novel in a month then all my hemming and hawing are just excuses.

Part of the motivation to write the book comes from when I went on holidays last month. I spent some time in the classroom of a friend. His students were reading a book set in my province and had lots of questions for me. My friend had them peer editing each other's work and at the end of the day I told him I was very tempted to get the book written and sent to his class chapter by chapter so they could peer edit it for me. Getting their feedback would be fun.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind for today. We made it through Halloween without a snowflake in sight so that is a bonus. Last year at this time we had snow for good and the long winter trek had begun. Every day without snow feels like a mini miracle. It's enough that my mood takes a yearly dive every October/November and the only thing that's kept me off anti depressants is a healthy dose of vitamin D. Living this far north means the hours of daylight are shrinking fast. Thankfully one's own inner light can still flicker and light up the world.