Re-emerging

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“Bless me Father for I have sinned…”   It’s been six months since my last post.

I have struggled on many fronts, though the lessons learned have ultimately brought unexpected joys and self-knowledge. I stopped publishing because I began to feel raw and vulnerable. There was too much of me out there, as well as others whose lives touched mine.

“Try another voice? Dial it back from reality?” the suggestions only brought a sense of defeat – a stilted story of someone else. Don’t get me wrong; I adore fiction and devour at least one novel a week. I, however, can never produce fiction. So I have not stopped writing. My journals overflow with more than 4000 words a month. The editing is woefully lacking and I question whether anyone else would find solace in the words.

How does one reinvent, reemerge, recover lost ground? One thought is to compose a letter, a pen-pal style missive once a month to those who kindly support me and have an interest in my writing. If recipients were those I knew is some capacity,  and I could feel more comfortable sharing my intimate view of life, perhaps many needs could be met and the dilemma would be solved.

Thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Alice

Useless Spring Chores

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It’s 25°s cooler today than the day before, still a balmy 68° but overcast and humid. In the distance, through the woods comes the muffled sound of a lawn mower as a neighbor begins the weekly ritual of trying to create a green space out of granite. The Ravens murmur to each other as they silently swoop overhead and the crickets thrum as they will for their short lives.

New and repaired screens are installed, final three pots are planted with saucy yellow flowers and the garage is swept. My list grows shorter and I take a break to step out onto the freshly stained, front deck and admire my little homestead. Splashes of color are appearing amid the overgrown patches I consider my gardens.

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I’m not sure what tree is shedding these blooms, I suspect the giant oaks, but like the leaves in Fall, suddenly they are carpeting all the clean spaces.

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They cling to spider webs and dance in the slightest breeze.

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They curl around the corners of every chair and table, leaving a dusty mustard-colored silt. I grabbed a broom and made a stab at ridding the deck of them. It was like pushing snow. The broom clogged and I immediately lost interest. A useless spring task indeed. I think I will just wait for the rain to wash them away…

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Enuj – as in, this month is backwards as well

Selling my home is a peeling away of the layers of self. I feel vulnerable and exhilarated; I question my integrity – do I mention the tiny little downsides of living here? Though this particular process definitely is a Guinness World Record in patience, it is beginning to dawn on me that change is finally happening.

Unraveling and finding joy in knowing nothing remains the same and no matter how hard I have tried to imagine the future it has never been the image I held in my mind. Last weekend was three packed days of packing. I made many trips to the storage unit and tucked away out-of-season treasures. Winter coats, christmas decorations, garden sculptures and books went into limbo.  This weekend it was a relief not to have to keep the house in “showing ready’ condition and to take time to ride. Night and I went out alone on Saturday, though we met other riders in the apple orchard, enjoying the cool lushness of Spring.  Today it was a slow walk through the hills with a companion who would like to lease Night for three rides a week. I rode a farm pony and led the way, rewarded with how well Night took care of her rider. There were moments of slight confusion for Night when I wasn’t on her and she looked to me for reassurance. I think they will be good for each other.

The next six weeks will no doubt bring moments of stress and worry but for now, I have a plan.  I have another garden to curate and a next chapter to write.

Backyard in Spring

On another topic, I made myself stop working and indulged in reading a post by a blogger from my past. She wrote painfully and elegantly of the ebb and flow we all experience. And she wrapped it in the cloak of a question: Why do you write?

  • Because one of these days, I’ll get it right and rainbows will appear, Unicorns will dance in a spotlight of sunshine and bluebirds will be a choir singing Disney songs.
  • Because I owe something to the writers who take me away from the routine, bringing stories and people alive for me.
  • Because there is less pressure in simply writing than in writing and publishing
  • Because I may not remember this part of life as it really was…

 

Update on yam – that’s May spelled backwards

I’m seeing a trend here. My week days consist of 3 out of 5 early mornings. By 7am I am engaged with my new community. Each phase of life brings a new set of faces/personalities  – Single-Serving Friends, Hanni once called it. From the days at the Oil & Vinegar store, to my short-lived stint as a bank teller, and today at the Chamber of Commerce, my circle of comrades who share the day helps define who I am at the moment.

Two of this week’s early mornings were yard work at the Chamber. The building sits at the intersection of Routes 101 and 202. The irony of this is not lost on me as I gaze across the street at the empty lot that once held the house my Great Grandfather built. The small Cape-style house that has become the Chamber office boasts straggly gardens that suddenly burst into color. The pink azalea and bright patches of mixed daffodils literally sprang from weed-choked ancient bark mulch. I spent two mornings from 7am to 9am weeding, raking, loping vines and roots. A small crew of us made short work of the clean up. I felt good.

The other morning was a 7am set up for the monthly Breakfast Forum. I had a quick flashback to breakfast meetings when I worked in the real world. This was so much less formal and more relaxed. The Education Committee was presenting an update on the proposed Visual Arts Center. This was on the heels of a meeting the night before regarding the possibility of a community college coming to town. Numerous folks got up to speak in favor of both projects. Money will need to be raised on a grand scale.

Meanwhile on Tuesday evening the Selectmen met and voted to support the Scenic & Cultural Byways project. Full steam ahead on writing the application to the State.

The One Hundredth and forty-fifth running of the Kentucky Derby was this evening. Most people probably watched the fastest 2 minutes in sports history with an eye to the parade of hats and horses. Stunning, for me, was  the crisp, cleanliness of the winner when the rest of the field was buried in slick mud. My attention was on the jockeys who paraded past with a coating of earth and water, their horse peering out from a layer of slime that had to add a pound or two to these athletes.

Stunning to think I once spent my days among such beasts, (even on a very small-scale,) to the hard-won participation in a contest like the Derby. Mike Smith, the oldest jock in the contest at 51 is my longtime hero since the HBO series “Jockeys” back ten years ago. I also was an avid fan of “Weeds” but mostly because I think Mary Louise Parker is an unsung hero of Hollywood.

Yes, YAM, or May, depending on how you look at it is off to an auspicious start…

Application is in for the Byways project. Waiting on the ad sales sheet for the CURRENT magazine (your relocation guide to the Contoocook River Valley) and I am plodding along with the body copy. I have 12 towns to write about and 6 dedicated sections on subjects such as Healthcare, places of Worship, Recreation and Education in this corner of the State. It is a massive undertaking that affords me an intimate look at the history of the world where I choose to live.

As a sneak preview, I have written my Editor’s Note for the publication. I am thanking the three professional photographers who have donated their images to this project. I’ve chosen one photo from each to highlight my point here. The shots are all the same subject – Mt. Monadnock  – with a little different perspective… Here’s an excerpt of my draft:

The Photographers Perspective

Not only is Mt Monadnock the second most hiked mountain in the world, I would venture to guess it is probably one of the most photographed; particularly when Mother Nature dresses the region in glorious Autumn colors.

Perspective is key in choosing a lifestyle and the place to pursue your dreams. Just as everyone sees life a little differently, our three photographers capture the same scene with their own perspective.

What are you looking for in your new home? Close proximity to nature? Uncrowded recreational opportunities? Artists and cultural opportunities as your neighbors? Perhaps it is great schools and a community of like-minded folks?

Whatever your perspective, I believe you will find it here.

I am indebted to three professional photographers who donated their work to this publication.

The AWE – Advancing Women Entrepreneurs grant was finally approved by the USDA. We await the next step in the process, and of course the cash to move forward with plans. So many things to divert my attention from what isn’t going right in life.

Instead of coming home and collapsing on the couch for a quick nap before dinner, I am finding comfort in writing and creating. What was that favorite phrase of mine?

“It doesn’t matter what you do. It matters that you choose whatever way you work because it nourishes you and feels true.” *

This Time I Dance – Creating the Work You Love by Tama J. Kieves

I’m back. It is a day later and I’m marveling at the life that has popped despite our cooler than normal, rainy weather. I have three sizes of woodpeckers. They remind me of those nesting dolls; they could fit easily inside each other. Their markings are so similar yet their range of size is stunning. From the petite Downey woodpeckers to the bluejay-sized Hairy and finally the ‘Woody Woodpecker’ of them all the Pileated. Since I haven’t been able to catch a good shot of the three of them together, you will just have to trust me on this…

Mourning Doves have returned and serenade at sunrise and sunset with songs reminiscent of lazy days in the tropics when it was hot before the sun came up. Tree-toads are replaced at night with the barking of coyotes and the hoot of owls. I still need to patent my owl feeder idea…

 OK, this full moon is definitely not having the usual negative effects on me. The Full Flower Moon has found me sleeping soundly, waking refreshed and feeling more invigorated. Meeting a new real estate agent has brought me some hope in ending this drain on my energy. Seeing my home through someone else’s eyes, particularly someone who stands to gain financially in a transaction, is gratifying. I don’t know why this house hasn’t sold in a year, but perhaps as a wise friend once said, “It can’t happen until you know where you are going next.” Much as it will be a wrench, it is time to move on from this address.

This post is closed to comments. Thank you for joining me…

lirpa – that’s April backwards because that’s just how it is

Congratulations! In the contest of life called “You Couldn’t Catch a Break If It Hit You Over The Head And Landed In Your Lap” you have earned the title of Grand Champion!!

After all these months, this turning of the calendar and trip around the sun, a sure thing once again seemed to unfold. A project, so perfect for my creative salvation with its intense writing, photographing and marketing, was handed to me. I went to the EDA (the local Economic Development Authority) to ask for a partnership, a 60%-40% investment in creating a State of NH Scenic and Cultural Byway (a state sanctioned tourist route) in the Monadnock Region. The need was clear:

  1. The State contacted the Chamber suggesting we apply for it.
  2. This is the only corner of the State that has no Scenic & Cultural Route.
  3. The impending demolition and rebuilding of a bridge on a major route into town scheduled to begin in  late 2018 is projected to depress business severely in the downtown district.
  4. With a tourist route in place we could market our way through the crisis and control the traffic to benefit rather than bypass our fragile economy.
  5. I could do something so right and so fulfilling at a point where I most need to.

My presentation and estimated budget for the project was not unreasonable and it would buy me desperately needed relief from emotional and financial discomfort. Not only was it unanimously accepted, the vote  increased the split of funding to 70% EDA, 30% Chamber of Commerce.  I took a deep breath and walked out into the raw April rain smiling so hard my cheeks cramped.

Seven hours later, I looked at the title of the email and thought, “Not funny George!” expecting a cruel joke followed by congratulatory support. It read, “Scenic By-way Vote Rescinded.” The reality of small town politics and its inherent lack of dedicated souls to fill the committees and boards of directors came rushing through the Internet. It seems the EDA vote was not legal as both George and I sit on the boards of  the EDA and the Chamber. A lesson in government states we should have recused ourselves from the vote. But it wouldn’t have mattered because without our votes there would not have been a quorum, so no vote could have occurred.

There is perhaps a work-around by going to the selectmen and getting their votes as the EDA is under their jurisdiction. Do I trust this news? Not even a little. I refuse to believe in the fairness of life at this point. My dreams have been shattered too many times. I have reduced, minimized, lower, tightened-my-proverbial-belt to the point of breaking. All my positive energy and stamina have been repaid with defeat. My knees are scraped, my nose is bleeding; I’ve run out of fight.

The new normal is furtive collecting of the flood of thoughts in journals with no plan of publishing. Shame? Perhaps, yet who have I really disappointed but myself? Certainly, I have not brought emotional distress or financial strain on anyone but Alice. While she notes a shift in my cheery attitude, (for a long time I stopped singing our silly songs to her). She is more affectionate in her own singular way. One would never compare Alice to a cuddly Golden Retriever. She and I share the end of the day, curled in complimentary commas in bed, but otherwise she is most comfortable shadowing me with little physical contact. We read each other’s expressions and live in our routine like an elderly married couple.

So where does one go from here? If you have no expectations, perhaps the best will happen? I keep thinking of the childhood rhyme “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” I will bloom again…

And so it goes…

A wise woman said to me “Perhaps your house hasn’t sold because your next home isn’t ready yet?” We were wandering the trails around the backside of Temple Mountain on horseback. The air had that gentle promise of spring, water gurgled below the surface of the snow, creating space for the earth to push up and soften. Indeed, paths open and directions become clear on their own schedule.

It has been a long slog. I try to end every day listening carefully to the positive small voice that tells me it will all be OK and I have done all I can for now. There are times in life when the timing of events is completely out of our control. It is best to give in to the small joys of the moment, ignoring the ‘elephant in the room’ anxieties.

Where have I been for the past six months? Every month I titled my journal entries:

  • When Inspiration Abounds
  • In the Beginning
  • The End is Near
  • Rhythm and Speed, Rhythm and Reason
  • Send my social security number to Bangalore India? Why, YES Please!
  • The Optimism of Uncertainty

I took a job at a bank. It was a decision born of desperation but it provided some respite from financial stress. Unfortunately, it is probably the only job I have ever held that had the potential to utterly eradicate every shred of self-worth I possess. My journals are full of raw emotion and fear.

My heart wrenched as one daughter moved back across the country to her new destiny, and the other brought my family together with a most magical wedding, renewing my faith in love. When the job proved too much for my soul, I threw all caution to the wind and left. My latest reincarnation on the employment front is to go back to my creative roots  and public service. I am back at the Chamber of Commerce where we have applied for a Grant to start a women’s entrepreneur network. AWE – Advancing Women Entrepreneurs, is a fledgling effort; full of hope and promise. A logo to design, marketing to consider, ideas spark and take hold.

The days are longer, warmer. I  leave home and return again in day light. The dark, short days and cold nights ending in a hurried dinner and early bed are gone. Windows are cracked open; my heart is lighter.

Five years ago I left a big, corporate job. I promised to write, to BE a writer. I self-published my memoir. I wrote my blog and I found ways to exist with less. This is hard, harder perhaps than anything I have done before because the luxury of years ahead to correct the course has been remove. Yet, the quiet voice eggs me on – do good, be good and it will be OK.

The re-emergence I wrote of has been hard-won. I’ve lived in my head for far too long;  but the comments and support from  readers have been the push I needed to start again, It would seem the world in general is telling me to follow my dream and write it down…

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My New Year’s Eve tradition of opening the Memory Jar…

 

Thank you and goodbye

I have been writing this blog for 3 years, 7 months 4 days for a total of 800 posts. I started at 5 times a week. It was drivel with some bright spots. As followers grew, I dropped back. There’s still a lot of navel gazing. The concept, “Reinventing oneself at

pick at number; 50,55,60

 

was something I thought others could relate to and it followed on nicely to the journal entries I write incessantly.

2016 has been a year of reinventing. I am learning about myself,  non-profit organizations, unemployment, real estate,  and writing.

Along the way, I have inadvertently overstepped the bounds  with my “bare my soul’ approach to this blog. It is time  to reevaluate my purpose and direction.

One thing I have learned is that there is a wonderful community of bloggers out there with a targeted focus for their writing. I will continue to follow these folks hoping to learn and hone my skills. For the moment, I do not feel worthy to participate and call myself a writer or a blogger.

Thank you to the community who has encouraged, inspired and supported me.

Paddling toward destiny…

I gave myself the afternoon off. It was a week ago that I lost my dear Gunther and with the golf tournament over, volunteer work at the Chamber is slow. I have worked six days a week for many months now and my kayak was beckoning  from the rafters in the garage.

The morning was in round two of the ‘very important’ job interview. As I write this I don’t have a confirmed outcome but I am feeling cautiously confident about the opportunity. Once the stress of that meeting was over I decided to just check out from life for an hour or two.

Putting the kayak on top of the car has limited my excursions. In the past, when I had a truck, it was merely the effort of tossing a boat in the back, attaching a bungee cord for extra care and driving to my destination. Loading ‘Limonotta’ on the roof is a bit more daunting. This boat was chosen specifically for its size and weight. I should have no trouble hefting it onto the racks. Though it may be a display of awkwardness, I do manage to get it on the roof racks without knocking off my side mirror. No one ever offers to help, so that tells me I either look like a disaster you should run from, or I look competent.

I chose Dublin Lake for my sojourn. It is a short drive, easy parking along the road and has a good boat launch. As it was a weekday, there were few others using the launch. I set out drifting with the wind, letting it push me to the middle of the lake. The sky was that unbelievable blue of an August afternoon.

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Every lake and pond has a pubic boat launch,  even in this very tony neighborhood with its mansions and picturesque boat houses. Dublin Lake was originally a summer colony for folks escaping the summer city heat in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of the mansions that sit on the foothills of Mt. Monadnock were built as summer residences in the Victorian Shingle Style. In fact there are 45 historic and architecturally important homes on the lake.

thumb_DSC_0189_1024 thumb_DSC_0187_1024I was just have fun floating and gazing at their splendor, day dreaming about sitting on the lake shore in a fancy boat house that rivals normal people’s homes.

thumb_DSC_0196_1024 thumb_DSC_0197_1024 thumb_DSC_0202_1024I am in waiting-mode, no news is good news, right?  This is either going to be sheer hell or I will  go with the flow.