Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do Something Useful

I was inspired by Garrison Keillor's column in the newspaper today. He spoke of "cheerful stoicism" and said, "If you moped around, Mother gave you two options: Go outdoors or do something useful. Or both: Go mow the lawn."

It struck a chord with me because as a child, I had plenty of chores. In the photo on the left, I am probably nine years old and minding my little sisters. That was my basic job for many years in addition to hanging the laundry out on the line and bringing it in. I swept and mopped floors, cleaned the toilet, scrubbed the tub. I was my mother's apprentice cook as well--so was my brother. As my little sisters grew up, they too became Mom's apprentice cooks. 

We still had time to play, but chores came first. We never watched television in the summertime. The television inevitably needed repair every summer and my parents wouldn't have it fixed until September because during the summer there were nothing but reruns on the tube. It was fine with us. We didn't miss it. 

None of us had to go off to karate or dance classes. My parents couldn't afford anything extra. My brother was a scout and so was I. Plus we went to CCD classes as required by our church. That was the extent of our extracurricular activities. 

I didn't mind having chores. It was part of life. I was a valuable member of my family--and I knew it. I didn't get paid for doing chores either. There weren't any options. I did it because I was told to do it and it needed to be done. All that prepared me to be an adult. I was "adulting" at the age of nine. 

That was also the time I started to write in my "free" time. 

Some things haven't changed in all these years. I still write in my "free" time, but right now I have a load of laundry to do. Chores never end.

Friday, August 25, 2017

When Writing Is Eclipsed By Other Events

The sun on Monday, August 21, 2017, was only about 75% obscured by the moon in our area of New Jersey. That didn't matter much. Most people wanted to see the eclipse.

I wanted to see it, but I didn't have the special glasses and I hadn't made a pinhole camera. Instead of writing, I watched the event online at NASA's site. But then we went to visit my mother-in-law at the assisted living facility where she now lives. When I stepped outside to get in the car, I was surprised to see the sunlight coming down through the trees had cast crescent-shaped images on the driveway. That was quite a surprise. I was impressed.

When we arrived at the assisted living facility, we noticed that all the residents had been provided with eclipse glasses. They sat quietly enjoying the phenomena on the patio. Hubby and I were handed glasses as well and so we did get to view some of the eclipse. It was a special day and I am happy we were able to enjoy it with my mother-in-law.

But I didn't get any writing done. That's the way it is. There are many times when my writing is eclipsed by other events such as trips to the ER, plumbing catastrophes, and car troubles.

A writer should have a schedule. A writer should write everyday. But even someone with a regular nine-to-five job takes days off now and then for doctor visits, dental work, or even--on occasion--what some like to call a mental health day.

My saving grace is my capacity to juggle tasks. If I know I won't be able to write at my usual time, I write before or after that time. Or I spend the next day doing little else but writing. A writer must write, even though there's a guarantee in life that when something can go wrong, it will. But a writer gets back to work as soon as possible.

There will always be other events that take priority over writing. I'm glad I was able to view the eclipse and though it eclipsed my writing that one day, I more than made up for the time I lost the next day.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

In Peaceful Times


My mother and my father posed for this photo in 1961. They were rowing on Treasure Lake, which was behind our house. The little dinghy, which we had christened "Scout" with a bottle of 7Up, provided endless hours of summertime enjoyment for all of us. 1961 wasn't a particularly peaceful year for the world. There was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The Berlin Wall was completed. President Kennedy urged everyone to build fallout shelters. My father shrugged at that. We lived across the bay from New York City. He figured NYC would be bombed and we would perish instantly--so there was no point in building a fallout shelter.

But all the trouble in the world didn't seem as close back then. My father was a journalist so I knew what was happening but I wasn't bombarded with it constantly. I was happy. We rowed around the lake in our little dinghy. We caught fish and turtles. We played with the neighborhood children. My mother baked cookies, cakes, and pies. We swam at the beach. In the evening, we'd build a fire and toast marshmallows.

Life seemed simpler, or maybe it was because I was a child with loving parents. I was lucky.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wisdom


I posted this a few weeks ago on my Facebook page. It had been part of one of the readings at Mass that day. I used Canva as usual to make a nice frame for the quote with an especially lovely photo I had taken of sunset on the Navesink River.

Afterwards, one of my Facebook friends discovered she couldn't find the quote in her Bible. That's because it's from a Catholic Bible, which has more books. You can read a short explanation here https://www.quora.com/Why-are-there-more-books-in-the-Catholic-bible-than-the-Protestant-bible
There are longer explanations if you care to Google them.

At any rate, I've read the entire book of Wisdom. It's good. Take a look at it sometime.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Writing It Down


I bought a new journal this week. I have kept a journal for a long time. I was inspired as a child after I read Anne Frank's story. While I do not write in it everyday, for the most part I faithfully record all the major events in my life as well as feelings, disappointments, and dreams. Every year of my life has presented me with stress or one kind or another. (Just like everyone else on the planet.) 😉 On occasion, I reread some of my journal entries and it makes me a bit depressed, but I remind myself I have survived the crises I've been handed so far. I pray for the strength to handle the next crisis, whatever it might be.

After talking with a friend, it occurred to me that maybe the journaling actually has been helpful for me. My friend does not keep a journal. She has suffered through some extremely stressful events, but she tends to dwell on them. She doesn’t write them down. She continually goes over and over the incidents. She never lets them go.

I realized for the most part, I do not dwell on past traumas--not always anyway. True, the problems don’t go away, but I move on—or my pen does at the very least, usually to the next problem. Still, the actual writing seems to be cathartic. It’s not that I don’t remember the difficulties after I record them—it’s just that somehow I forget the sequence—even if the events pile up one on top of another as they usually do.

Journaling is a very good thing according to the article below:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

So if you’re feeling stressed, write it down--with a pen on paper--you know, the old-fashioned way. Even if you don’t become a romance author--which might be a good thing--you could be doing yourself a big favor.