Woe! It’s Wednesday

This post is about why I’ve been not blogging for the last month.

I think both of my blog readers are also Facebook friends, so this won’t be news to anyone, I don’t think.

But we’ve had an awful November. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the whole last two years have been awful. We’ve gone through an arrest, the judicial process, and health issues.

Just when you think things may be looking up, you’re hit again.

I read a quote from St. Theresa of Avila recently: “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!”

Preach it, Sister Theresa. I’m right there with you.

For the most part I haven’t really questioned God or railed at him. Until this last blow.

LauraOur beautiful, funny, fun, witty, amazing niece Laura Padgett Brickey lost her fight with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 10th.

She was sick for just over a year, diagnosed just under a year before she died.

I’m usually more like Job who came to realize that if we accept God’s blessings, we must also accept it when things not-so-good happen.

But this time He went too far. I’m still angry. I know I’ll eventually get over it (and myself) but for now I’m letting myself be angry, sad, in denial, or whatever I need to feel to get through this time.

Laura was two months younger than my oldest and they were the best of friends all their lives. We saw Laura in the hospital the day she was born and she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen (next to my own, of course), and I fell completely in love with her and that never changed.

“She lights up the room whenever she walks in,” is a cliche’ but it’s true about Laura. She always had a joke or an observation to share. She was tall, blonde, and hysterically funny, an unbeatable combination.

Laura was married to DJ for ten years and they have a three-year-old. She left devastated friends and family and broken hearts when she left us. I’ve shared a lot of memories on Facebook so I’ll only add one more here. Her dad reminded me of this one at her memorial service. When she was a year old, her family moved from Madera to Clovis, at the time a suburb of Fresno. It’s now more like an extension of the bigger city with brown street signs instead of green. A freeway was built to connect the two cities and to help commuters from Clovis to downtown Fresno. It was an expansion of a rural route. Laura decided her little hometown could never have a freeway and refused to even acknowledge it, much less drive on it. To my knowledge, she never did drive on it and never willingly rode in a car on it. The freeway opened when she was a young adult and when she was a passenger going on the overpass over the freeway, she would avert her gaze so she didn’t have to see it.

Laura was a peacemaker. She couldn’t stand to see people she loved at odds with each other. She didn’t always make things better, but she tried and her heart was in the right place. I think now that God gave her that gift so He could take her and she’d know she’d done everything humanly possible to bring reconciliation to all her relationships.

I miss her as much today as I did the day she died. I pray often for her husband, daughter, parents and siblings. And when I join her, I’m going to have a serious talk with God about why He thought this was a “good” idea. I’ve come to the realization that Romans 8:28 isn’t really about what I think is “good.” What is good for me is what makes me more into the image of Christ. So yes, all things work together for “good,” in that even the bad stuff makes me more patient, kind, humble, generous, faithful, i.e. more like Christ. But so far, this loss has just made me angry, hurt, and hurting.

I do trust that someday I might know why. I definitely trust that I will see Laura again and get to spend eternity with her and Jesus. In fact, she better be there to welcome me or I’ll be highly upset.

In the meantime, Laura’s family and mine appreciate so the prayers and encouragement we’ve received.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Do you NaNo?

I’m deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo.

For those non-writers out there, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November. Writers join NaNoWriMo for accountability and fellowship. They each vow to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day. Not impossible at all. At the end of the month, you should end up with a short, rough, dirty, ugly first draft of a novel.

I’ve attempted NaNo five times in the past and completed it four times. I then spend the better part of the next year rewriting and polishing that ugly thing into something a bit more presentable and suitable for public viewing.

One of the benefits of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing every day. Or on the days you skip, you’re still thinking about your story and letting it percolate, so when you sit down to do twice as many words the next day, they should flow. In theory.

Typically I start strong, right on track for the first week. The middle two weeks are hit and miss. I’m usually seriously behind by at least 15,000 words coming into the final week. Then I put my head down and my fingers on the keyboard and type until the I hit 50,000, usually around 10 PM on November 30th.

In the weeks before November 1, forums and blogs and the Twitterverse are full of people talking about the outlines they’re making, the character sketches they’re completing and how they’re sharpening their pencils in anticipation of NaNo.

I, on the other hand, open a new document on November 1 and start writing the story that’s been brewing in my head for the last couple of months.

I’m writing this post before Wednesday. It’s actually still November 1. I wrote 1802 words today.

Writers love NaNo because it gets us back on track if we’ve strayed from a disciplined writing schedule. I love this quote from Nora Roberts: “You don’t find time to write. You make time to write.” NaNo helps me make time to write. I don’t have publisher deadlines or other exterior motivation. It has to come from within. My critique group is one exterior motivation I rely on. NaNo is the other.

Non-writers are not quite so enthusiastic. This is a real conversation in my house earlier tonight:

Me: Do you know what day it is?

Stud Muffin: … um … the first day of the rest of my life?

Me: Besides that.

SM: … um … November 1st?

Me: Yes. And November 1st is …?

SM: {blank look}

Me: The first day of … NaNoWriMo!

Sm: Oh. NO!

Yes, it’s November. That means Veterans Day, Thanksgiving (in the US) and NaNoWriMo. It’s a good month.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Being Brave, part 2

Well, I did my second brave thing this week.

A question was asked on one of my writers’ online email loops. I wrote a response, prayed, and clicked send. Then the wifi connection dropped.

braveRats.

Then I had second thoughts.

I decided not to send it.

I went in to my email to delete it from the outbox.

And watched it sail away.

Oh well, I told myself. You were brave. That’s the main thing.

There have been a few comments that I’ve responded to off the loop. Then yesterday a message came through that the officers in charge of the loop were crafting a response to me.

Ooops.

I’m soooo not a pot stirrer. Not a drama addict. I’m a keep-the-peace-at-all-costs kind of girl.

Gulp.

I wailed to one of my besties, “WHAT HAVE I DONE??!!” She talked me off the ledge. She reminded me that I didn’t say anything inflammatory. What I said needed to be said and it needed to be heard.

So …

If i let myself wallow, I start to panic again. Will my hand get slapped? Will I be scolded? Then I climb back off the ledge and remember the important things:

I was brave.

I addressed something that needed to be addressed.

I was brave.

This stuff is harder than I thought it would be.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Being Brave

I finally figured out my word for 2015. Or more likely I guess, I already have my word for 2016.

I had decided on “Let it Go” for 2015. But as much as I liked it, it didn’t really resonate with me. I did work on letting things, not worrying and/or obsessing over what I can’t change. I think I’m better about that.

CatFantasizesatMirrorSo maybe Let it Go was not ambitious enough.

You know how things/phrases/people sometimes converge and you know you need to pay attention?

I’ve had that happen lately about being brave.

I read an amazing book recently. I’ll review it soon, I promise.

Then I heard a podcast sermon about Matthew 18. Closely followed by a podcast interview which cited the same passage. What I took away from both was that when someone has hurt you, the burden to set it right is on the person who was wronged. I think I had to hear two separate messages about this because the first one I pretty much ignored.

I saw a quote from Louis C.K. recently. He said, “When a person tell you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

I love this! For several reasons, but first of all because several years ago, I was hurt by someone. I told them I was hurt and was told I was in the wrong for being hurt. That festered for a long time. I did the right thing. I took it to that person in private and was completely shot down and ignored. That’s not a great way to heal a damaged relationship. Reading this quote was incredibly freeing. It validated everything I felt back then as well as the lingering vestiges of hurt that still try to derail me.

Then, as if I needed one last indication, an opportunity fell into my lap last week to say something to someone that needed to be said. Normally, I’d just pass it by and tell myself not to rock the boat, “let it go.” 😉

But instead, I decided to be brave and speak up.

Guess what happened? The person heard me, apologized, and we moved on. It’s over.

All because I was brave.

So that’s why I’ve adopting it as my 2016 word. It’s kind of like the calendars that go on sale at this time of year. You know. They’re advertised as being 16-month calendars, to encourage you to buy now and use it for the rest of this year and all of next year. Except the extra four months from this year are all listed on one page. No pretty picture as a header. No space to write appointments. Basically, a bait and switch, in my not so humble opinion.

But I’m getting an early start on being brave and I plan to carry it from this year and throughout the next.

Have you started thinking about your word/phrase for next year yet? Or am I the only one?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: We’re Not Getting Old, We Are Old

Tomorrow is our 38th anniversary. Friday Stud Muffin turns 60.

Where do the years go?

60th-birthday-clip-art-564852 It seems like last year we celebrated ten years; last week our first grand-daughter was born; and yesterday he retired.

We’re having a big party for him this weekend. I’m very excited to share this milestone with forty of our closest friends and family. These are the people who have walked with us through the challenges of life, who haven’t given up on us when we’ve been less than lovable, who’ve prayed for us, laughed with us, supported us through tough times, and celebrated with us the sweet times.

Stud Muffin is going to roast a whole pig in his La Caja China. We’ve got salads coming, decorations purchased, and the yard is almost ready.

When Stud Muffin turned 30, he was depressed and complained that his life was half over. I asked him if he was only planning on living till 60. I’m glad to report, he was not middle aged at 30. He may not have half of his life left, but he’s still pretty darn vibrant and active and alive. That’s the main thing.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Friends, part 2

I had a lovely time at the spa a couple of weeks ago with my old friends that I blogged about here. My concerns about the minerals and my skin allergy were unfounded. I was no worse (and perhaps a tiny bit better) after the visit. Of course, I did avoid the actual mineral baths and instead enjoyed the saline pool, the hot and cold pools, and the various other pools the spa offered.

Darling Grand-daughter fixing the face
Darling Grand-daughter fixing the face

Now we get to take another trip with long time friends. There’s some overlap in these groups so we get to see some of these people again soon. We’re leaving today for a long weekend in Yosemite at our friend’s family cabin. We’ve been visiting this cabin for over twenty-five years now. Our daughters grew up looking forward to cabin trips. Now our grand-daughters love the cabin too.

This trip will be a mini-reunion with the arrival of a family who moved out of state several years ago. They’re coming back with their grown kids and grand kids, so it will be a busy and wonderful time of making memories, eating, swimming (presuming there’s still water, always a concern in August), drinking, puzzles, reading, digging in the dirt, collecting rocks and feathers, forest golf, ping pong, Rook, cribbage, relaxing, laughing, and having fun.

The dog and house sitter is booked. The menu planning is done. The shopping and packing is done. We’re ready to hit the road!

Where’s your favorite place to make memories?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Friends

I’ve blogged before about how special my friends are. I think I have the best group of friends in the world.

I know many others think their friends are the best, but they’re wrong.

Glen Ivy https://www.flickr.com/photos/miheco/4719605398/
Glen Ivy https://www.flickr.com/photos/miheco/4719605398/

I’m so excited to be spending a few days visiting these friends and we’re even sneaking in a spa day.

We started having a girl’s getaway when each of us turn 60 but we’re in a bit of a lull right now. It’s been a couple of years since the last 60th and we have another year or so until the next so we’re having an interim spa trip.

48 hours from now I’ll be laughing, getting a massage, and loving life.

I’m a little concerned about one thing. I’ve got a funky kind of skin sensitivity issue and I’ve been having a flareup for a few weeks. Okay a couple of months. I can’t get rid of it. The last time it was bad, a doctor said to avoid mineral products and use plant-based products. That seemed to help immensely and I’ve had minimal problems ever since then. But our spa has all kinds of mineral baths and treatments and I’m debating on the wisdom of partaking.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course, I’m going to enjoy every minute and not think about the consequences. Truthfully, this is an irritation only, not nearly as severe as other people with allergic rashes. So I can handle a couple days of discomfort in return for a spa day with my BFFs.