Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anyone? Anyone?

Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. ---Ferris Bueller

The sun coming up through the Bradford Pear trees in my back yard is at the same position as when I took a picture of it in the spring. That morning, also cool, the trees were covered in white blossoms and the sun's rays pierced through in clear, yellow-white light. It was Spring in a picture.
Now the sun's rays are golden and the tree is covered in dark green, headed to burgundy, leaves. The morning is almost cold, especially for Georgia. We got down into the 40's last night.
Seems like I took the blossom picture only a few days ago.
That's what made the quote from Ferris Bueller come to mind.
Summer '09 has come and gone. I don't think I have any regrets. Those things I wanted to do, I did. The hard talks, the fun times, the days in the pool, the visits, the dinners on the deck. When I think of not missing life, I often think of the fun, exciting things. But I'm coming to realize that a big part of not missing life is not letting people slip through my fingers. But sometimes that's hard - and not at all fun.
Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Monday, September 28, 2009


On windy days I walked home from Cherokee Elementary the back way. Across the blacktop, into the little valley, past the swings and seesaw, and up the hill. Climbing the gentle slope, I reached the crest and the open land between back yards and the tree line. The grass there was only cut a few times during the summer so it was long and plush. Open, high land let the wind push back and forth with abandon. The grass undulated like a green ocean and the tree line danced as if putting on a show for God. A show which enthralled and lifted my soul. The wind rushed by me and around me and through me.

Grown up and living in Illinois,I'd go on early morning, solitary walks. I began noticing just one branch often moving when no wind was present. Not always the same branch, or even the same tree. I decided it was God saying, "hello" and I started watching for it. Still do.

Is it the idea of things moving without a visible reason that makes me associate the wind with God? The power. The quiet. The roar. The whisper. I'm not sure, but I know a breezy day speaks to me and reminds me to look up - to watch clouds rushing, trees bending, birds soaring. I can't resist stepping into the wind and opening my heart and senses.
And I don't believe God passes up that invitation.

It's a Mess - and I Like It!

My kitchen is a mess this morning. Mike left for Philly yesterday afternoon at one o'clock. Since then I've not put one dish in the dishwasher or even wiped the counters. (And, yes, the dishwasher is empty.) I'll clean it up later, but for now I kinda like it.
If you want teenagers to love you, just let them find out you don't make your teens clean their rooms. I remember once when the youth group kids were over. Suddenly there was a crowd outside Robert's open bedroom door. Whispers filled the hall. Wide-eyed, one girl looked back at me and asked in awe, "Don't you make him clean his room?"
"No, not really. As long as there are no dirty dishes or food and he's functioning well, I really don't care what it looks like." Suddenly there were several requests for me to talk to their parents.
In my backyard I have a thicket. Yeah, like in Bambi. Celestine Sibley, Atlanta icon of writing and gardening, said she loved having a place in her yard to try different plants, throw weeds and clippings, and to let the weeds run wild. And, if you call it a thicket, she added, it sounds like it's part of your landscaping, when in reality it's just a big ol' mess.
I know that for some of you right now, your skin is crawling. Others are grinning and nodding. Don't know why I wrote this today, there's not really a point, or a learning moment and it's certainly not beautiful or poignant.
But it's the truth, and that's not bad for a Monday morning.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Things Stink

Learning new things can stink. One reason to go to writer's conferences is to learn, right? But there are some folks who never get around to submitting a manuscript because each time they learn something new, they go home to incorporate it in to their writing. Thus, nothing is ever finished.
We're told, in everything - not just writing - "do your best", "put your best foot forward", "don't settle" and yet if there is anything left to learn then your current effort can not be the "best". You must "settle" at some point.
"You can never be too skinny or too rich." And so we have anorexia and Bernie Madoff. Getting a 4.0 isn't good enough - weight those grades. And then there is giving 110%.
But what if for one day - I just did what I already know. If I didn't worry about also learning to knit, but just enjoyed crocheting? If I didn't look for a new recipe, but made something familiar? If I treated folks the way I know to treat them and didn't worry about what "more" I could do?
This train of thought came because of a Bible verse I found today, which I'd never noticed before. "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (Phillipians 3:16)
Now I know the Bible points to being "people of excellence" and "striving", but this little, non-heralded verse grabbed me this morning. It speaks of contentment and of the truth that most of us know what we need to know - we just need to do it.
Hmmm - might be interesting to try.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Autumn again.

Sitting in my rocking chair looking out the front windows, I notice the maple across the street is beginning to turn. Before long it will be orangy-yellow. The tall walnut beside our house will be pure gold, towering over our roof. A jewel-toned tapestry is what the oak will remind me of and the half dozen crepe myrtles will turn peachy-red. And then every single leaf will fall to the ground. Every one. Hard to imagine.
When we lived in Jacksonville, Florida folks took their vacations in the fall to go to Tennessee and "see the leaves turn". Since I'd grown up in Tennessee, I thought that was funny. Until I spent a couple falls in Florida. Then I found myself seeking out roads lined with sumac - basically a spindly weed, but which turns scarlet red in the fall. That was the height of my autumnal glory for a few years.
I love summer, but when the leaves begin to look tired and the flowers struggle to appear happy, I'm ready for everything to have a rest. For the trees to go out in a blaze of glory. For the zinnas and begonias to be put out of their leggy misery. For the sky to deepen to match the deep blue of September's birth stone. All signs it is time to say goodbye to summer.
When something's been good, it's hard to let go. With two engagements this past week and Lizzy settling in and busy at college, the future is very much with us. However, sometimes in the early darkening of the afternoons, I remember those days when I gathered my little ones inside as the leaves fell. Remember the laughter and red cheeks around the table, eager to share supper with mom and dad, brother and sister. Tales of their days at school or play winding down in cozy beds sheltered from brisk winds.
Lengthening shadows seem to lenghthen my memories.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two for Two!

Flood waters, closed bridges, constant calls from moms - nothing could stop Ryan on his quest yesterday. Finally, late last night in the chapel at Camp Glisson in Dahlonega, Georgia, Ryan asked Casey to marry him and she said, "yes."
In case you're keeping count - that means the Shostak boys are two for two this week! We gained two fiances, Carrie and Casey, and we couldn't be more thrilled. Even from another time zone.
It's been fun to be on the guys side of things. The discussion of rings, types, sets and then timing. Talking to dads, making those romantic arrangements of candles, flowers. Those white lies to get the girls in the right places at the right times. And then throw the Georgia flood in just to give things a dramatic edge.
We left Georgia knowing that when we got home on Wednesday, both boys should be engaged. I've never been more thankful for cell phones!
So, we're heading home later today and we're ready to be there. Tomorrow I'll be able to blog without watching the little clock in the bottom of the screen telling me how much time I have left!
Oh, one more note - Mike and I were also engaged this same week - 26 years ago!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making Memories

Still had to pay for internet this morning - but you're worth it! It's our fourth day in Chicago and heres some memorable moments.
Giordano's Pizza and beer on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.
Walking downtown
Pumpkin spice candle
Croc store in the hotel; new "cute" crocs
Pittsburgh Steelers staying in our hotel
Seeing Steelers load their 5 buses to go to the game
Bears and Steelers fans filling the streets
Old, familiar downtown restaurants
Dinner in Greek town - Oompa!
Wine tasting luncheon and lecture
Walking along Lake Michigan
Dinner at sunset on the 95th floor of Hancock building - Amazing!
Anticipating spending the morning at the Art Institute, yeah Impressionists - I can't wait!
Lunch with Joni, who I've not seen in too many years

Monday, September 21, 2009


So, we're in the big city and nothing is free - including internet. So I won't be posting anything tomorrow, unless I find some way and Wednesdays will be late.
It's interesting being somewhere familiar, with familiar folks and yet be constantly aware of how time keeps moving. Grandbaby pictures, old stores gone, catching up with friends and their lives. And even while we are so far away from Georgia our lives are changing.
Robert asked Carrie to marry him Saturday night! We are thrilled for both of them. We watch our friends here who've had son and daughter-in-laws for years. It always seemed so distant, so unusual and now it's here. Every step forward as parents brings to mind how our parent must've felt when we took these steps. And of course it brings to mind how we felt when we were young and no one - no one had ever felt like us.
Part of getting older seems to be an awakening to universal experiences. What a blessing to be able to see both sides without regret, without lamenting growing old, with appreciation for time and it's most telling attribute - it doesn't stop.
Sometimes I've acted like I had all the time in the world and other times like I will never have enough. But I have the same 24 hours in a day Ben Franklin and Mother Teresa did or John Grisham does today.
How exhillarating to know what all is possible! Ready, set, Go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Grouchy Georgians

Georgians are grouchy. And sleepy. The rain is not going to stop. The first day it was fall-like and cozy. Now it's - not. I had to run out early this morning and although it's not raining, the sky matches that description found in westerns - gun-metal gray.
I don't do well with a lot of gray days. I have relatives that love these extended periods of rain. However, most folks that live in the South like those sun-filled days on end. We feed on it. Not a lot of vampires with southern accents, unless you count (get it, count) New Orleans.
I warned about this. Last year when everyone was complaining about the drought, I tried to warn them. Because, of course, the drought would come to an end. Daddy told me one time, that with everything there is a pendulum. It goes so far one way and then it comes back. In my warning, I said, "Do you know how much rain we're going to have to get to get back to normal?" Folks would say, "Oh, won't that be nice?"
All morning people fell into two camps. Those who don't watch weather reports and those that do. The first group would say things like, "Hope it doesn't rain today." The others just looked at you from beneath scrunched eyebrows and snarled, "Suppose to last all weekend and into next week."
Forecast for Chicago is sunny, and I'm leavin' on a jet plane.
Could someone do something about the rain before I get back?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking for Questions

In the pastor's Bible study last night, he would read a verse or two and then say, "Now that makes me think of some questions, like . . ." His questions sometimes were answerable, but some were those which you only get answers to in heaven. He would then ask us what questions the verses called to our minds. Several people answered each time, but I noticed something. None of us were laying out questions. We all either had observations about the passage or possible answers for his questions. Not one of us had another question, any of the times. The pastor was gracious and never pointed it out, but he kept asking.
So I started trying to find questions in the verses. Man, it was hard.
I realized how often I look for answers, not questions. I've already seen a quick look at how it would change my Bible reading. What about other reading?
In an on-line discussion writers group recently the subject was why is Christian fiction often looked down on. My response was that many times Christian fiction doesn't leave us with questions. When I read a book that leaves me with questions - not about the plot - but questions like "What would I do?" "Why would they act that way?" "Could I live like that?" "What makes them think that?" I tend to revere that book more highly.
As I said earlier this week, I like to fix things so I tend to look for answers, especially when reading the Bible. This looking for questions is interesting.
I love new thoughts!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stuck in a Dark Parking Lot

I locked my keys in my car last night. As a friend and I left a book club meeting, I discovered my keys weren't in my purse or pockets. Mike is in California, so no getting keys from home. And because he's out of town, I'd made sure the house was locked up tight. The only way for me to get into my house, was to get the keys out. And the only way to do that, was to find a locksmith who would come to downtown Roswell after 9 pm.
An earlier blog this week talked about the birds in our yard and the lengths we go to to attract them. I wondered that day about the friends I've gathered and surrounded myself with.
Last night, my wondering was answered, again. Cindy never made me feel guilty or stupid. Never sighed or looked at her watch as the minutes creeped by. The leader of the book club, a woman I barely know, insisted on driving us to the police station. Without a moments hesitation, she handed me her cell phone, because I forgot my phone at home. Catherine drove us to a couple places looking for help and never once acted like it was a chore. Cindy's husband, Mark, looked up 24-hour locksmiths and called her with numbers. I kept Cindy's phone through several calls from the locksmith as he tried to find the parking lot we were in.
Mike and I have never lived near family. From the very beginning we had to search out these kinds of friends. The ones that will drop what they are doing and cheerfully be there for you. We found them at church. From Jacksonville, to Tampa, to Chicago, to Marietta, we found family in the pews of a local church. Of course that's not the only place to find wonderful people, but if you're looking to add some to your life - I believe it's a good place to start.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Addendum for Today's blog- heart of a mother story

Okay -this didn't work out the way I thought it would. I guess there's only one post a day? My blog for today is below this story. Sorry! I'll work on it.

I reference this story in today's blog and I wanted to put it's link in. Not being that tech savvy, I decided the easiest way was to add it to my blog list. So, this is not today's blog, it's just an addendum. - Kay
This was published in the compilation book by Wayne Holmes, Heart of a Mother.

Time for One More Hand?

“Your daddy gets home in thirty minutes. Now help me get this place picked up.” Mama would push her chair back from the table, leaving the cards for one of us kids to pick up. She had bigger fish (well, really hamburger) to fry. “Linney, go get me a pack of hamburger out of the freezer. David, you clean up the living room and Kay, you take care of this.”
“This” she defined with a sweep of her arm at the dining room table where we’d been holed up for a full day of our summer vacation. “I’ve got to get dressed!”
At some point in the day, one of my brothers might have pulled on a pair of shorts and his cowboy boots. However, as the sun started dropping in the sky, we usually were still in our pajamas.
Hot summer mornings often began with my two younger brothers and me pulling out a game board or a pack of cards. We preferred canasta and gin rummy, but liked those games best when four people played. That meant we needed Mama. She’d listen to our pleas, pick up her cup of coffee, take it to the dining room table and agree to a couple of hands, always adding, “And then I’ve got work to do.” Of course we didn’t need to beg too hard, Mama loved playing games and cards. We joked that she wanted three kids so she could always play a hand of cards. And of course one hand leads to another hand and another…
Now, we didn’t live in some kind of poker hangout, pool hall combination. No, a suburban ranch housed our family of five. Daddy worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee at one of the government plants, and Mama took care of us kids. Summer was our favorite season. We went strawberry picking, planted a garden, loved to go water skiing on the Clinch River, camped as much as possible and spent Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights at Cedar Grove Baptist Church.
On those card playing days we didn’t do a lick of work; we just stayed in our pajamas all day. We laughed and strategized. We learned about each other: who could bluff, and who couldn’t, who always wanted the high cards, and who would take a risk. Mama told stories of growing up in North Georgia with 13 brothers and sisters, and we’d talk about the happenings in our lives. At some point we ate bologna sandwiches, but we never stopped playing. In my memory, the house stayed dark. We didn’t even open the curtains and that only added to the secret pleasure of the day.
Mama liked having kids. And she really liked that we were those kids. She never played easy with us. We all tried our best to win, but we always laughed a lot while doing it. Mama knew us and told us about ourselves as we lay down and picked up cards. “There goes Kay grabbing up the aces. She likes those high cards. She wants to win fast.”
Because she really knew us, she boldly told the world who we were and didn’t back down. “No, David doesn’t have a learning problem. He just doesn’t want to do the work. He’s only seven and he beats his older brother and sister, his daddy, and me at Clue.” Then she told us how she looked at the school psychologist and asked, “Have you ever played Clue?” If she knew where to find that psychologist today, she’d be the first to rub David’s college degree in computer programming in his face.
Then the complicity we shared after we played the last hand. Mama chunked that frozen rectangle of hamburger into a pot on the stove to defrost. We threw open the curtains and then dashed off to put on our clothes. Cleaning up was part of the day. Mama played hooky with us, now her day’s work waited. We giggled a lot during those thirty minutes of scurrying around. We weren’t trying to keep it a secret from Daddy how we’d spent our day. Mama always told him as soon as he came in. No, the giddiness came because we’d stepped outside what the world said was good and right.
You just don’t sit inside on a beautiful summer day, and you definitely can’t still be in your pajamas at suppertime. Adults have too much to do, too many things on their mind to sit around playing games. Besides, who wants to play with a bunch of kids? Where’s the fun of playing with a seven-year-old when you’re eleven?
Mama tossed off the confines of being an adult and we rose above the passivity of just being kids. We stepped outside the world as we knew it for a day.
God watched our little family and surely smiled at the lessons Mama provided. Those times we left the regular routine taught me that the world doesn’t always know what is good and right. What the neighbors might say isn’t nearly as important as what your heart says. Mama knew that a day of just being, loving, and laughing—a day of ignoring what the world wants to force down our throats—is sometimes needed. Those card-playing days happened in the summers of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Now, as an adult, I know that the world outside my house was falling apart during those hot and humid days. Mama couldn’t keep Watergate, or Vietnam, or death out of our world, but she did teach us to step out of that world occasionally.
I remember those days when I hear God calling me to stop, take some time, just spend a day with him. I want to tell him how busy I am, how much I need to get done. Then I recall a darkened house, empty bologna rings on the kitchen counter, three kids in pajamas laughing and loving their Mama, still in her robe as she deals the cards.
You know, God, maybe I do have the time.

Weakness = Strength?

There's a thought going round that we focus too much on our weaknesses, which takes time and energy away from furthering our strengths. I understand the point, but I don't agree. More to my way of thinking is the belief that one's greatest weakness is also their greatest strength. In my story, which was published in the compilation book, Heart of Mother, I write of how Mama knew me and my brothers and told us about ourselves. Through playing cards, she pointed out my desire to win fast. You can read that story by clicking here
My three kids have weaknesses - sorry for the sudden shock. One hates making decisions, one is an instant expert, and one has never met a good change. But those are also their strengths. Not making decisions quickly means all sides are examined and many options usually come to light. Being an instant expert, means being confident and ready to lead. Disliking change makes that one laid back, easy going and comfortable to be around. Who better than parents to tell their kids who they are - good and bad.
Me being aware of my desire to win fast had helped me know myself. The strength in that flaw? I'm a mover. When something is wrong or messed up, I gotta get involved. Often I've lamented that I hate to find a problem, because I can't rest until it's fixed.
So knowing our strenths AND weaknesses makes for better knowing ourselves. I heard this one time and liked it so much it still hangs on my refrigerator door.
"Walk in your strengths, manage your weaknesses."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Like a Disney movie

Hummingbirds dart around our yard, streaks of brown and green. Finches, looking like handfuls of lemon pudding, cross the deck in their scalloping flight pattern.
Yep, we attract birds like the princesses in Disney movies or that song from the seventies, "Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near? Just like me they long to be close to you." It's just that kind of love song, magical place at the Shostak house.
Or maybe the birds come because we have several finch feeders we keep filled with finch food. And the hummingbirds may actually be attracted to the bright red hummingbird feeder brimming with fresh sugar water. Yeah, on second thought, that's probably it.
Makes for a delightful time out on the deck. The finch feeders are long tubes with eight perches. The other day there were six finches and wrens on the perches and one big, red cardinal sitting in the saucer at the bottom. (All this frantic eating and waiting to eat reminds me of arriving at a McDonald's right behind a bus load of folks.)
So if the birds in our yard are not an accident, what about the people around me? Why are the friends I've gathered, gathered? Do I seek out friends with certain qualities? I know I stress that to my kids, but what about me?
Am I as intentional about attracting and choosing and sustaining the humans around me, as I am about the birds?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looking for some Rejection

Somewhere in the night I decided to sent query letters out to several agents today. A query letter is one page asking if the agent might be interested in seeing some or all of your book. The problem with sending out query letters is they lead to a lot of "No's".
Most of the "No's" aren't mean, but they're still a rejection. And, seriously, who goes looking for rejection? The truth is, most anyone that gets anything done. In baseball, a coveted .300 batting average means you fail way more than you get a hit. And for Michael Jordan to be the highest scorer, also meant he held the record of missing more shots than anyone.
Haven't we all been turned down on something we really, really wanted? But we walk away, saying that at least we tried.
So somewhere in those moments of waking up, I decided to go for some big ol' "No's" today and do it enthusiastically. (Yeah, right.) With cup of coffee in hand I turned on the news and remembered that today is the eight anniversary of 9/11.
And it hit me. Those folks that died that day would've loved more chances to try for their dreams and be told "No."
So today I'm going to send out those query letters remembering that life is short and we never know when our dreams run out of chances.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So What?

The days are getting shorter, which means the nights are getting longer. This morning we drank our coffee out on the deck in the dark. It's also very cloudy here this morning. In that pre-sunrise, cloudy gloom my white geraniums, moss roses, petunias, and begonias looked almost ghostly. The vibrant colors that shine in the daytime appeared gray, but the white petals glowed.
An article in Southern Living a couple years ago introduced me to white gardens and what happens to them in fog, at dusk or dawn, or on a moon-lit night. Up to that point, I never even considered planting white flowers. However, now they're among my favorite.
Some friends are expecting their first grandbaby (Hi Rob and Sherry). When their daughter was only a few weeks along, she had an ultrasound and the parents got to see their baby's heart beating. At that time the baby was actually about the size of a grain of rice. A grain of rice.
But so what? Each one of us began tiny and white flowers are common.
I think sometimes I wear blinders on my eyes and my heart because to actually process and take in everything would leave my mouth hanging open in awe. It might prove to be too much.
However, miracles are still miracles, even when I don't acknowledge them. A miracle does not need my blessing to happen. But I do control whether I take the blinders off or leave them in place.
Miracles are still miracles.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Never let 'em see you Sweat

Walking past the deck doors yesterday, I noticed my zinnias were hanging low. Curled leaves, turned dusty green, drooped beside orange flowers with sagging petals. This wet summer has made me even less vigilant on watering. Most of the flowers I plant in pots don't show that daily wilt of weaklings like impatiens or fuchsia. Much too fussy and demanding for me. Geraniums like to go dry and then get a ton of water - I can do that. Lantana love the desert-like conditions of my deck and my sporadic watering habits. Same for moss roses. Only problem is that by time they do tell me they're dry - they're most likely dead. So the wilted zinnias caused everyone to get a drink and an instant lift.
A friend called last night and she was having a horrible day. She said it only started getting better when she acknowledged it and shared it. I have an e-mail prayer group for my writing because I need to have a few folks I trust to let me vent, cry, express my fear, doubt and panic. Many times just typing the words starts the healing. Then to know others are reading about my pain and praying for me. It's like a cool drink of water on a hot day.
Writing yesterday's blog about the darkness of the tunnel was hard - to lay it out on the line and say, I'm struggling. But being strong all the time is a fallacy. A lie. Portraying never flagging strength is a sure sign of inner weakness. To never stop and rest is to deny being human. To want to be God.
And I'm pretty sure that's what got Adam and Eve in trouble.
God knows we have limits and gave us each other to lean on. I need to be more like my zinnia and let others see my struggle. Not like my lantana - only admitting failure when I'm dead.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Dark in the Tunnel

I've often said it's hard enough when the kids go away to school, that I can't imagine how hard it would be if they weren't happy once they got there.
Now I can imagine it.
Lizzy is having a tough time and she just can't seem to catch a break. The one break she did get, turned out to be not so good.
Mike was in Oregon last week and their high-rail truck (a pickup truck with attachments to allow it to ride on railroad tracks) died in the middle of a tunnel and then derailed. Luckily, the line is abandoned, so no oncoming trains. But he says it was dark - very dark. They had to walk a long way and then ended up pushing the truck out of the tunnel.
When you're in a tunnel you only have one choice - keep walking until you're out of it.
Lizzy keeps walking. But the lights she sees in the distance, keep turning out to not be real light. It's just another branch of the tunnel. And she keeps walking. She knows she'll get out one day and this will just be an unhappy time in her past. But it's so dark.
And I'm so far away. I guess that's good because everything in me says, get a flashlight and go get her. But this is her faith journey, not mine.
You know that footprints poem? Well, if I go rushing in to carry her she'll never understand what it is to be carried by God.
All I know is I can't imagine her being so far away without her faith.
And I can't imagine me being here without mine.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Golden Air

The air turned gold yesterday.
One day, late August or early September, the air changes and is threaded with gold. Sometimes the gold goes away and summer's blue-white light comes back. But today, the gold returned. The gold means Autumn is pushing Summer off center stage. This year it's been a rather dramatic entrance. Summer didn't put up a fight at all, well, not yet.
I'm loving the change, but it did happen a little too suddenly. The pool is not going to get warm again. Bummer. We thought we'd have this weekend to finish up pool season or maybe even next week. But when our water gets cold, it's cold. And I don't do cold water.
So, no end of summer celebration. No last time in the pool. The last time passed unnoticed.
A toddler's mom recently asked if she should rock her son back to sleep when he unexpectedly woke up crying in the night. I said, "Absolutely, because you never know the last time they cry for you in the night." One day you realize no one has woken you up in a while and the night time vigils are over. The rocking chair gets moved to the living room and those wakeful nights that would never end - end.
Such a balancing act - the Past and the Future. Regrets and Hopes all trying to share space in my little brain and heart. And yet if I don't find room to house all of it, the Present is poorer.
God, give me the ability to mark this time you've given me. To not waste it with either regrets or hopes. To walk the particular balance beam that is my life. To bring it all to This Day.
After all, you've made the very air gold.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quality or Quanity?

I'm starting Chapter 6 in my new book today. At this point in a book I'm not really sure where it's going. (See this previous blog for what that means.)
So what I'm writing seems a little discombobulating and I'm not sure that it fits. Last night it hit me that a lot of what I'm writing right now will end up being taken out later because it's not needed to move the story along.
Barbara Kingsolver's book, "The Poisonwood Bible", tells the story through the eyes of five characters. At least that's what the final book is, but she initially wrote the entire book through each character's eyes. Then took parts from each of those to make the book. That's a lot of words to not use. But she wanted to know in her own mind and for her background what each character thought of each happening.
And that's what's going on with me - the scene I wrote yesterday may have been written just so I'd know what was going on at the house, but that may not be needed in the final story.
Made me think about how I often don't take the time to get to know the background and details of folks around me. I want to just get to the interesting part or the part that concerns me.
It's back to that time thing - it takes time to get to know my book characters or other folk. Time that might appear wasted, but makes everything else come into a clearer view.
It's that old argument about raising children, isn't it? Quality versus Quanity. Maybe that's it - to get to the Quality we have to invest some Quanity.
So where, and on whom, do I need to invest some Quanity today?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tis the Season!

Seasons really get to me. They dictate the candles I burn, the colors of my clothes, my shoes, my perfume, how the house is decorated, what I cook, and more. If I smell a cinnamon candle in the spring it just seems so wrong. So very wrong. Or to wear lavender in the fall - shudder. I even have trouble looking at those purple mums mixed in the rust and gold mums in fall displays. And as for music, I can only play Jimmy Buffet if it's summer weather. My brother says he needs it in the winter to get him through, but steel drums in December makes my skin crawl.
So this shot of fall weather here the first week of September is making me antsy. It's not time yet and I'm afraid I'm going to get into a fall mood and then it will be 90 in a week. I did just check and the 10-day forecast remains autumnal.
When we lived in Jacksonville,FL, autumn was manufactured. The grocery stores would pile up apples, pumpkins, gourds and indian corn AND turn down the air conditioner. Even the office buildings would turn the air down so it would feel colder. (I'm not making this up.) That way everyone could wear their fall clothes. Men would don tweed sport coats and women would pull their sweaters to the front of the closet. Now in Tampa, it was just tropical, so there was no pretending there were seasons. Air conditioning stayed on, because it was hot outside.
In Chicago - well, summer was the season we manufactured by pretending we weren't cold all the time.
Interesting to have lived many places and have different experiences. It's a wonderful world out there!
I think I'll get my fall purse out of the closet - maybe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Maybe It's Just Me

Several of my facebook friends are daughters of my friends. Daughters who are wives and mothers. Two of them this morning listed in their status all the things on their plates today. One is an expectant school teacher, another is the stay-at-home mother of four. Both have a lot to do before they go to bed tonight.
I have a dentist appointment. And that's pretty much it for the entire week. Oh, I do want to vacuum sometime.
Those days of constant to-do lists that never get done are still very much in my memory. Just last year I had a full-time job with part-time pay (you know how that is) as youth director at our church and kids at home, which kept my calendar full.
And I do like to have a full calendar, because I'm very much a planner. To me, planning an event is almost as much fun as the event. Plus, you get such kudos in our society for being busy. People are awed by busy people. I'm awed by busy people. So much so that although this blog was running around in my head this morning I kept thinking. "But I can't let people know I only have one thing to do this week!"
It's such a quandry - folks respond to and love the posts where I talk about taking time to pay attention or doing nothing. But it's hard for me to admit to a blank calendar because while folks say they wish they had more time, I'm not sure I always believe them.
Or maybe I'm the only one that finds it hard to say I have nothing to do.