Change is Inevitable, I Guess

img_3909Four months ago I went on a writing retreat at a cabin a few hours from my house. It was early August, the weather was hot and humid, there were thunderstorms. Hydrangeas bloomed outside the window and it stayed light way past my bedtime.

Today I’m wrapped in a blanket, sitting underneath a pile of more blankets, and the hydrangeas are dried on my mantle. Snow is piled on the rooftops and it will be dark soon, even though it’s only mid afternoon.

This is not news. The seasons change, life changes. Nothing is surprising about this. Even my blog has changed. (Did you notice? Long story short – I was out of my depth on my old platform technology-wise and so I switched to the convenience and ease of the WordPress.com format. I like it here. It’s pretty.)

There are other changes to note. My age changed (hello, fabulous 40!). My health changed a bit. I had a non-routine mammogram  & ultrasound that were initially worrying, but everything was okay. Still that, plus my creaky knees, makes me aware of how my body is always changing (the extra 10 pounds I packed on this fall has certainly contributed to this awareness).

My writing life changed, too. I have several projects in mind and I want to do all of them now, which means I get paralyzed and I haven’t done any of them. I almost gave up on the blog a few months ago, not convinced I had much more to say, and wondering if freeing up the blog would free up more time to work on other projects. (Results are uncertain since I was still too paralyzed to  write anything of note.)

And then there was the election and the world changed again, tilting on its privileged, white, entitled, anti-intellectual, racist, bigoted, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic axis.

Since then (and sometimes in one day alone), I’ve spiraled, I’ve cried, I’ve rallied, I’ve withdrawn, I’ve grieved and succumbed to fear. Above all, I’ve wondered what world I live in. And what world will my kids inherit?

In this ever-changing world, I return to writing. As I write, I catalog and document what I see. I organize my tumbling thoughts and I communicate those thoughts to the world. I expect I’ll be blogging more frequently. As a librarian and writer, it is my responsibility to call out attacks on freedom of speech and to decry fake news (and to help educate people on how to spot and combat fake news). As a member of a diverse family, it is my responsibility to stand up against injustices and to work for the wellbeing of all people. As a citizen, it is my responsibility to hold my government accountable and to work for a just world.

See you again soon.

Summer resolutions

 

I am a big fan of setting intentions and making (un)resolutions. I enjoy them so much that I don’t just limit myself to New Years. Nope, it’s a full service, year round feature here.  I’m also a big fan of marking cycles: the end of spring, the beginning of summer, the end of the school year, the beginning of a different way of operating.

Summer stretches ahead of me. My goal? To make sure it doesn’t suck. Even if there are sucky things happening, I’m not going to let my summer be inherently sucky. Why the worry about suckiness? Well, I’ve got a few new endeavors that might turn out fine….or they might be a drag. But don’t we all have situations like that?

I choose not to get dragged down into the emotional morass that comes with sucky circumstances. I choose to do the work that needs to be done and not let myself whine. I choose to do what I can and let the rest go.

I also choose summer! Gardening, reading, days at the pool, bike rides, t-ball games, bar trivia & screen porches. (Okay, so I actually hate going to t-ball games but see how I’m not getting drawn into the emotional morass of youth baseball? More on this later.)

I also choose writing. It’s what brings me joy and I’m going to maximize that joy, especially during these lovely summer days.

In particular (because I am trying to stay accountable to myself), here are specific projects:

  • Finish the bulk of a really cool freelance assignment (more on this later, as well)
  • Finish yet another draft of my YA fantasy novel
  • Start (and maybe finish) revisions on the fourth draft of a separate YA novel
  • Hang out with and support my writing group

So basically I’m prioritizing writing. Last week I spent every day waiting for the other shoe to drop, glued to email, just waiting for some crisis or another. That’s no way to live a life, much less a single day. Instead, writing comes first. And the bigger intention? Carry the attitude – and my writing priority – into the rest of my daily life, even after summer’s done.

C is for Cemeteries

Okay, so maybe this letter is a bit obvious, since my theme for the month of April is cemeteries. So consider this a meta post.

Why cemeteries? When I was a kid, I didn’t like visiting cemeteries. I was keenly aware of what lay beneath my feet. I used to walk wide swaths around graves so as not to step on them. Cemeteries made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to confront the truth that my loved ones would die someday. Or that I would.

I avoided cemeteries until the summer of 2013, when I drove past one on a misty July morning and got an idea for a new novel. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Then I started visiting cemeteries to get a sense of setting. What they gave me in return was time and space to reflect on mortality, on my discomfort with death, on what I wanted to do and explore before my life was done.

I haven’t made peace with death, by the way. I want to get to that place, where I can accept the fact that my life will end, and to do so with peace. Perhaps it involves some letting go. And some more time in cemeteries, listening to the lessons of those who have gone before.

I took one of my sons with me on a cemetery walk. At four, he had a rudimentary sense of death. He grasped somehow that the dead were buried beneath our feet. I watched as he stepped carefully around each plot, just as I had done so many years ago. I wondered what he made of it. As I was strapping him into his carseat later, he gave me his gift of wisdom: “The dead are beneath us, holding us up.” He may have meant it literally – and it is true in a literal sense – but there is wisdom there. I hope I can live into it.