That's what I wrote about in my newsletter that just went out a few days ago. That if you feel like you've gotten off to a sluggish start for the New Year instead of kicking open the doors of your life with guns blazing on photon torpedo speed ready to kick some procrastinating, unorganized, unhealthy choices out the door but instead you are still in bed reading this on your little blue thing-y with a blanket over your head - hey, man - no worries. I swear. January is the getting ready, fix-in to, month. Who can come out blazing every year in this kinda cold? Not me. I'm just trying to survive and clicking my heels together like madness saying, Magnolia, Magnolia, send Spring right over.
But I have hopes that February will settle me in with a hope of March and then green things will be sprouting and I want to be ready for the sprout, like short sleeves so maybe I'll consider picking up these barbells by the desk and curling a few. A do-over, start over, begin again month. That's what it is so let me help you take the pressure of your goals to perfection. We ain't gonna get there. Better? yes, we can all be better at SOMETHING. Be it patience with our children, parents, spouses, and cohorts. But sometimes, patience with ourselves is truly in order. And, I only say that because I need it.
Recently, I started tracking my time the way some people track their coins. Writing down exactly what I'm doing at a given time or how long it took me to finish that newsletter and get it out. (Hours and hours - not the minutes or one hour I thought it would be.) It gives me a better sense of how many words I can get down and how long it takes me to edit interviews for Clearstory Radio or produce the show. And how much time a person say, maybe could spend, say looking for cool little things that writers would like on Etsy - (It's amazing what's out there!) But then I start wondering how many languages I could speak if I didn't watch three episodes of Burn Notice back to back with Husband but hey - we missed Season 7 so we're trying to catch up.
Do - overs.
Some people say they wouldn't change a thing. God bless those birds. I'm not one of them. I would have flossed more. Worried less. Studied physics earlier because there is something about time travel, string theory, particles and atoms and . . . this electric current we call life that is mind-blowing interesting to me. But then so is astronomy (yes, I'd take a trip i a space ship - but hey - only if I volunteered!) and movie making, and writing and . . .
And I'm right back to writing. And thinking that no matter what choices I would have made deferently, it would have led to me writing. And that some of the best time I can possibly spend is rocking my youngest grandbaby (when I can catch him because he is a new story in the making) or riding in the car with my Mother through the cold country-side and listening to her tell stories. And watching one of my husband's favorite stories with him. Or having a Margarita with my sister and sharing stories. Of our children, of our past, of our future. Of laughing with Cousin Deb and our 'remember when's'. And all my do-overs turn to nought. Because even though I might have tidied the rough edges of my life, it might have cost me a fortune in the good graces, the experiences (even from the hard knocks) and an untold number of stories made and shared and still being written.
It's the do-over month. But what I think I really want to do on the cusp of this cold, January morning, is ride into the New Year with a hope for New possibilities and complettions. Think I'll pull up my boots, and tell a few stories.
(Please join me with a great host of wonderful writers at Books Alive in Panama City, Florida February 1 on the FSU campus. I'll be speaking at 9
One of the problems of being a writer is the fact that you are always writing. In your head. But not always getting it down on paper. Or the screen. Or posted.
As I was living out my days during the holidays I kept thinking - I should post this on Facebook, twitter, blog. But then I was in the middle of it so I kinda had my hands full and I don't seem to be a twitterpath like my friend author Shellie Rushing Tomlinson so I simply live and think. A lot. And on some slower moments, write and share about it.
Christmas dinner this year at our house was served by Cosco in the form of finger foods. And lots of them. I swore to people it felt like I had JUST washed and put away the Thanksgiving dishes which consisted of ham, turkey, dressing, pies, cakes and more - and more! So I bolted on the Christmas dinner. The trays kept coming, the presents were opened and husband later told me, "There were 11 people, three dogs, and two cats in here." He cracks me up this man of mine.
Thanks to that same good man we had a roaring fire in the fireplace and for just a moment the carnage under the tree of wrapping paper and boxes was piled up high. Not big presents, mind you. Just tiny things for everyone. But it was the together that was my greatest blessing. Our little house overflowed with Mom, and Sister and the Niece and nephew, son and daughter-in-law, and the youngest Michael and Damon otherwise known as - the Charmings AND cousin Deb from Florida. I kept wanting to stop all the festivities to say wait, I am thankful, I am thankful, I am ever so thankful but between the baby and platters coming and going and dogs to chase down and cats to catch it was just the right amount of our family crazy. So I was never able to stop it all for a formal benediction. But there was a perpetual one playing in my heart.
And it continues as we have made our way for a few days to the coast to see our Adorables. It's so good to hear their laugher in the house. So their beautiful Mom is cooking our dinner and son and husband are building something and the girls are playing games from Santa and I am thinking how rich this time is with moments worth living.
I hope wherever you are that your most high, holy days were full of family and laughter and food and peace and light and all the good things that come from living a simple life.
The photo? - Well, who can't love a kid and her camel sharing a good laugh? :)
I miss the Halloween I used to have as a kid. So does my mother. She decorated the front yard, put on spooky music, dressed up and played the piano. The sidewalks were full. Trick or treat was a family affair and it went on for hours.
Every year she continues to buy candy "just in case" but the neighborhood has changed. The children have grown and moved away. And let's face it - Halloween in many places has become either taboo or confusing. No one knows what to do anymore. Trunk or treat? Say what? Go to the mall? Wander Wal-mart in costume?
Add to it this year our weather became severe so many cities postponed the trick or treat event until Friday night. But some didn't. Our's was one of those NOT officially moving but so many other cities in our county had that it was just confusing. Some die-hard enthusiasts stood out on their front porches, homes decorated from yard to roof-top to meet the occasion. Them in costume and candy galore. I know because we drove past them, the wind howling, the Charmings in the backseat and me trying to suggest McDonalds for treats. It wasn't a fit night our for man or monkey.
So last night, in an effort to salvage the event for the children we piled in cars and went to my sister's neighborhood. Some neighbors were out in force, sitting on porches, candy within arms reach. We hit a few houses with the monkey running down the middle of the empty street turned loose and full speed. Do you know how long it takes a kid to learn to walk up the steps, knock on a door and ask for candy? One big brother ahead of him ahead of him and his two older cousins behind him trying to catch him and keep up with him all night.
My sister's house was in full holiday swing. Decorations, Party trays, and music. It was all downright festive. Even we Eeyore's put on our dancing shoes. So our usual Halloween door-to-door 'till you drop and carry home fifty pounds of chocolate routine was replaced by a little family party. And the monkey? How was his 2nd Halloween? All he knows it that for some reason we costumed like crazy, visited lots of friendly neighbors who liked to share, and made merry. And that he was born to dance to Motown Sound. He was captured and enraptured and baby has moves. (All attempts to upload video here have failed.)
Do I miss those Halloween's of the sixties? The ones that looked like the street scene in ET where every child in the world is on the sidewalk and in costume. You bet I do. But tradition is a funny thing. It carries on in it's own way. It evolves with the times, with the season, and with the circumstance. To me the value is in the power of story, of the family being together, and of the memories we make that matters most of all.
I'm back. And my brain feels both blessed and a bit bruised maybe from the recent SIBA trip. (See Radio page) I have had the extreme honor and privilege of interviewing - which for Clearstory is more like chatting with good friends with authors attending the SIBA trade show. The list is too long to type here without running out of time. It included some of my all time favorite authors like Elizabeth Gilbert and Lee Smith, favorites for a number of reasons like Joshilyn Jackson who has known me since college and the beginning of good words, and great new discoveries.
But - right now looks like me staring out the window at the rain and thinking - I need to make a doc appt for a check up. I need to write 5000 words today. I need to edit interviews from SIBA, upload, check social media to check on a the illness of a friend's husband, make professional appts about professional things, write a friend, call my Mom and walk her through using her smart phone, pick up medicine for me and the dog, cook dinner, blog, and pray and walk and breathe, and plan my funeral. (I'll save that for an upcoming blog but I'm not dying any faster than I know of - it's just a southern thing.) And complete a few interviews about an upcoming event in Panama City Beach next week. Which means I need to pack. Which means I need to shop because I am out of decent clothes to wear in public and my jeans from Walmart most likely won't cut it for this event. (I'm not a shopper unless it's for tech toys, purses from Italy, or Channel perfume. And the rest of my fun shopping is from flea markets, yard sales and Goodwill.)
Why are we all so crazy busy? Because I know it's not just me. It seems to be everyone I know. But the fact is - as Celia Rivenbark says, I'm living the good life, baby - because I am. I get grand baby hugs and kisses. And I get to talk to you, and to authors I love and you love, and to promote their work. And on my very, good days I work in a letter to a friend, a little treadmill time, and I write a few 1000 original words.
On my worst days where I don't meet any of my lofty goals, overdraft my checking account by 32 cents, lose something important on the way to the coffee pot (who can do that!?!) and be a total mess all day, I still manage to say a prayer for a stranger that crosses my path. An imprint of a face, of a name, of a something about someone that I may say nothing more to than How are you? But by God I mean it. And I think in the end - that's what makes all the difference in the world.
Peace to you as you go about living your sloppy, beautiful, messy life. We're living the dream, baby. Living the dream!
Van Morrison is singing, 'let me rock your gypsy soul' and I'm thinking - it's all mystic. All. This thing we call life. Full of surprises and pleasures and pains and these things we call good days and bad days.
I'm cooking dinner when the wet adorabes come wet and dripping and stand before me. They have a certain guilty air about them. I hear them whispering covertly consulting each other.
"Should we tell her now?"
"Well, we have to tell her."
"Zaza . . . " one begins. The other helps her out.
"We have some bad news for you," the oldest finishes.
"What is it?" Obviously, they are ok. I'm looking at them. So, how bad could it be.
Then the oldest produces a dripping iphone from behind her back.
"Leo was swimming with your phone."
"Really," I'm nodding my head. I don't know why. "And when exactly did you realize he had my phone?"
"When we saw something blue and blinking under the water."
My phone had obviously been sending out a distress signal. It didn't make it. And no, there is no rice in the house but I think it was beyond the rice trick anyway. (Please don't share with me about waterproof cases. I know all about otterboxes and lifeproof. I've had them but this time . . . )
I find most days are a mixture of bad and good. That they can be full of frustrating moments and then suddenly a seven year old child says, "Look!" and is looking up with wonder. And I turn to took up and the early morning clouds are arranged just so and colored pink and the child gets the moment. So, I get the moment. "I just love the clouds today," she says again. "Just love them."
And that's the secret. That's the Into the mystic morning secret. That we get that mystical magic from the great Creator of all time in the middle of it all. That we still get it when we are in the middle of the moments when life just isn't life-proof.
The morning of my last day on this trip to North Carolina has fallen. And today with great, great pleasure I get to have lunch with my talented, funny, friend Celia Rivenbark. It's a well deserved break. A much needed breaking of bread and sharing of stories. Then I'll be off to Nashville for one night with my husband and take off Wednesday again to speak in Kansas City.
Which brings me back to the page. There are stories to be told. Two sisters are currently in the middle of discovering a secret, and a love to be found, and a mystery to be solved somewhere deep in the night of Nashville. And they are waiting for me to give their words life.
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.