Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: blogging Page 1 of 2

A Blog Journal? More Like Free Tangled Thought Therapy!

Another journal post? Yes. I told you there would be, but it’s not in the direction I thought it would take. Instead of continuing my journey back in time, my mind went to this “book blog,” more like blog journal really. But that seems to be where it needs to go.

I’ve spent the last couple hours sitting here wondering if I should write anything at all, let alone post it. I don’t know what to say. And then, for some weird reason, I opened my WordPress reader and found “Something to Ponder About” wrote a post just for me, “Is a Blog an Online Journal?”

This line specifically spoke to me:

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”Barbara Kingsolver

I have a lot to say. I’m never at a loss for words. I’m triggered to speak a thousand times a day, and when I can’t speak because no one is around to hear it, I write. I make notes in a journal to remember my thought and express it later.

Lyrics to songs, quotes from interviews, billboard slogans, and encounters with people are all noted down for future use.

So, the real trouble is not that I don’t know what to say but that I’m not sure if I should say it.

I’ve billed this space as a “book blog” of sorts, but it’s clearly more than that. Books are usually what inspire me to write, but it’s not necessarily about the book itself. I don’t do traditional book reviews. I’m thinking I need to update my home page to tell you that but I’m not sure how just yet.

The quote from Barbara Kingsolver is exactly the trouble I’m having. I’m puzzling over trying to write what a reader might want to hear. I’m following the advice of bloggers that make money and have hundreds of millions of followers. They sell something, a product or system. I don’t, I’m an artist not a business. When I attempt to follow their advice, when I look for the best way to get eyes on my page, I end up in a tangle of “shoulds” instead of sifting through my thoughts and untangling ideas into sentences and paragraphs.

My recurring thoughts go back to taking a break from posting at all, but then if I’m not posting, I’m not writing, and not writing is like not breathing. I can do it for a little while, but I have to get air somewhere.

My thoughts on the world around me are a like a hank of yarn that was snatched up by the dog and then batted around the floor by the cat while I was at the grocery store. It’s good yarn, expensive and fine. I can’t just throw it away. The only thing to do is slowly untangle it, wash it up, and roll it back into a ball for future use.

That’s what this blog is to me. When I write I’m quiet and focused on a note I took or a quote from something I’m reading. That triggered thought is running wild among the others, so I put it down on the screen and start to comb it out into a straight line. One line after another into a paragraph, and then a page.

This blog journal is that cleaned up ball of fine yarn for future use.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but it’s there waiting and just the process of gathering it together and knowing where it is has made my world a better place.

The purpose of my posting here is clear to me at the moment: to keep collecting, combing out, and cleaning up my thoughts, all the while watching them to see if they ever lead in a consistent direction. The process is what I’m aiming at, not an outcome.

Come to think of it, that’s the story of my life. It’s worked well so far.

If you missed yesterday’s post, jump back to “Can Personal Journals Lead to Better Days?”

Mid-Life Crisis or Existential Crisis?

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? It’s not quite an existential crisis, but I feel that something does need to be done.

I’ve been sitting at the corner of “The Past” and “The Future,” wondering what I’m supposed to be doing for quite some time now. I’m sure you’ve been there. You may be there right now. Life is just full of these intersections. Some of them have nice rest areas we should take advantage of before we move on.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been heading down one street and coming back, then heading down another, circling and ending up in the same place. I sit down and think, try to group my thoughts, and head off in another direction, only to feel like I’m still headed the wrong way and stop again.

This morning I was chatting with a friend and grumbling, not in a sad or frustrated way, just in a curious way, about what was going on in my head. He listened, threw out some suggestions, and virtually gave me hug and a “it’ll pass” pat on the back. That’s all I needed really, just to be heard.

At the end of the conversation, I decided not to write anything at all and got up to get in the shower to do some thinking. That’s where the best thinking happens. Right? Side note: I really need to start bringing my notebook in the bathroom with me to write down my idea before it gets whisked away by distracting chores. I held it in my mind this time though. It must be a good one.

When I was child, I didn’t give a flying leap about the future, and I had no past to ponder. All I cared about was if my mom would make cookies, if my dad would take us to the movies this weekend, and if there was going to be someone to play with at the park. Right now, right in front of me, was all that mattered.

Then adolescence came. Stupid teenage angst: wondering what I would do after high school, if that person liked me, who I would become. Soon I’d have to make it on my own, get a job or go to college, find an apartment, make my own dinner. And I wanted to, desperately. If I were on my own, I’d be in control of my destiny. No one could tell me no.

My young adult life proved that to be a false dream. Life tells you no all the damn time. But I was still happy. I had my own apartment, a great job that I thought I’d have forever. I was dating a lot, had a few good friends. The license plate frame on my truck said it best, “Part of the Magic.” I was a part of something bigger than myself.

Life snowballs. Did you know that? Sure, you did. Everyone knows that. Dating turned into serious relationships that in nasty, mean break ups. Jobs turned into careers. Debts were incurred and paid. Marriage. Kids. House. Car. Playgroups. Arrest. Yes, you read that right. I’ve written that book, but I’m afraid to try and publish it. Homeschool. Moving out of the city. Motocross. Eventually, the kids grew up and started their own lives. I know you’ve heard me tell that bit before.

And here I am now with that “Now what?!” feeling, that endless song loop playing in my mind.

I started reading more, writing this blog. I volunteered a bit. I’ve made some new friends and gone on a few adventures. But nothing seems to feel like it used to. I’m not part of something. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just wasting time and energy in the wrong direction.

This morning, it dawned on me. Could it be because I AM heading in the wrong direction?

The one thing I know for sure is that nothing is certain in the future we have coming to us. Just about everything is up in the air, anything can happen. My job right now is to get my own shit in order. Do the repairs that we haven’t had time for in the past. Save the money, pay off the debts. Clean up the stuff that has accumulated over the years and regroup. Reading, writing out my thoughts and posting them to this blog, meditation, and podcasts are part of my own preparation for what’s coming.

Life, right now, is preparation for what’s to come. I didn’t know what it was when I started college. I didn’t know what it was when I was building a career or my marriage and family. I don’t know what the future holds now either. All I know is that I’ve learned in the past to trust my gut and listen to myself. My place right now is making space, getting ready, building up skills to deal with whatever comes my way next. And I’ve never been very good at staying still and waiting.

What does that mean for this blog? It means that I’ll keep writing about the things I find when I find them. I’ll be making time to write and re-write, put my thoughts in order and post as often as I can. My hope is daily…unless I can’t, at which point I will not be freaking out and throwing things at myself because I’m such an awful blogger.

The point of what I write here is only to show someone else what I’ve learned. Teaching/showing is the best way to learn. I’m not telling anyone how to live their lives, what they should do, or how things should be done. I’m just here marveling at the world around me, the same way I would if you and I were on an adventure together. Yeah, I probably talk too much. I have a lot going on in my head. I get very excited about strange things, like this dwarf mongoose I saw at the zoo.

Mid-life crisis is not a thing for a mongoose.
He jumped up there so I could take a picture!

But I hope you’ll stick around. Adventuring alone isn’t any fun. Who would I look to and scream and point at things if you weren’t here?

Blogging: A Message in a Bottle

I just don’t know, you guys. Maybe blogging isn’t my thing after all. I’ve sat and thought about it, wondering what it is that I offer. What is it that my writing can give you that no one else’s can? Nothing. But I still can’t help but write things down, tap them out on a screen. I have things to say, things I want to share, ideas, thoughts, recipes, important things that fill up my mind and spill over. Where else can I share them but here?

You would not believe how many pages of notes I took while driving the eight hours up to my mom’s house and then back a few days later. Nine pages seem like a lot, but it’s a smaller notebook and the writing is crazy big and all over the place since I’m writing while driving. I only glance down to put my pen in a blank space, my right hand scrawling blind.

I’m glad I took up this practice. It really helps remind me what it was I was listening to. I also jot down funny ideas and things I see along the way, like the girl in her soccer uniform lying on the side of the highway in the dirt under a tree looking at her phone in one of the small desert towns I passed through. You’d have thought she had been transported from some suburban park, it seemed so out of place. If I hadn’t noted down “dirt girl under tree lol,” the scene would have been lost forever.

The first thing I heard as I started my journey on Monday morning was from Secular Buddhism. He said that he isn’t teaching on the podcast, he isn’t telling you what you should do or believe. He’s only sharing his own path, his discoveries, and interpretations, as he goes along through this world. It made me smile and I made a note.

That’s what I want to do here. It’s what I crave to do. And why I keep blogging, even when it seems random. No, this blog doesn’t have a theme and I’m not writing to teach you anything. I’m simply sharing my experience of the world around me.

If we lived in a world without the internet, I guess I’d have to find another way to pour this stuff off, but we don’t. I can share my thoughts with the world. I’ve mentioned a message in a bottle before, and that’s still exactly how I feel about writing here. I spend some time each morning writing out what I’m feeling, experiencing, reading, learning, roll it up, stuff it in a bottle and cork it. Then I throw it out as far as I can and hope the current catches it and brings it to you. If you like it, if you find value in it, share it with others. That’s why I keep blogging.

The Way Back Machine – An Origin Story

You know about the “Way Back Machine,” don’t you?

The Way Back Machine
Set the Wayback Machine to…

When I did a search for “way back machine,” looking for Mr. Peabody and his boy, I found out that others are using the same words to refer to internet archiving. Internet Archive Wayback Machine is just one of them. The fascinating things you learn when you simply type a few words into an internet search engine!

It all started when I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about today. I thought, “You know, I should go back to my old blog and look around, see where I’ve been.” I did, and I found something interesting. I decided to use some of it as a post here, so I copied and pasted a few things together. It wasn’t that long ago, only 2015, that I started that blog. It wasn’t my first.

My first was pre-social media and consisted mostly of what my kids were doing, where we went, what we were reading, etc. I’d read in a homeschool forum (you remember forums, don’t you?) that blogging was a great way to document the journey if you weren’t using a traditional curriculum of textbooks and written tests.

It certainly was that and a great way to show friends and family what we were up to since we didn’t have school functions to go to or report cards to brag about. I enjoyed doing it and it brought me much peace of mind in those moments when I felt like we weren’t really DOING anything. I just scrolled back through those posts and could see all the places we’d been, all the books we had read together, and the conversations we’d had.

As the kids got older, and Facebook took the place of my blogging, I used that to communicate more often and lost interest in blogging. Most people these days don’t read anything more than a few words anyway. Paragraphs on Facebook were a waste of my energy. I posted pictures and quips instead, to document where we’d been and what we were up to.

But then something else happened. My sons were growing up and moving on to their own lives, undirected by me. With all that spare time, I began to broaden my own education, reading and studying more myself, and I felt like I needed a place to share more of that journey instead of my kids’ homeschool one. I decided to go back to blogging. That’s when I started Roadrunner Musings.

Here’s my first post from there.

April 29, 2015
What am I doing here?

Simply, it is this. I read a lot. I think a lot. I don’t get a chance to talk a lot. I use my personal Facebook page as a scrapbook and have it printed at the end of each year, so I don’t want a load of political and philosophical ramblings all through it. Besides, sometimes I’d rather not know if my friends and family disagree with my thinking. I think I’ll just post it here…sort of anonymously…and see where it goes.

I’m not much of a writer but I do have somethings rolling around in my head that I’d like to get out to the world, not just in my journal.

Let’s see what happens.

And here we are over six years later and not much has changed. Well, yes it has. My new blog, the selfhosted one you are reading now, was started in 2018. At first, I continued with the theme of “random thoughts,” but it quickly evolved itself to focus on the books I’m reading, and my thoughts and ideas connected to those books. I wouldn’t exactly call it a traditional book blog, but that’s the general idea.

I still enjoy writing about what I’m reading and sharing it here. It helps me keep on track, remember what I’ve read, and connect those books with other ideas. I feel like I’m become better at it. And I’m beginning to get better organized at posting. As a retired homeschool mom and housewife, it makes me feel more connected with the world. And before you start to think, “You should actually connect with the world, Michelle. Get a job, join a club, something.” That’s just not my style. I’m happiest and most productive with fewer group activities, less social obligation. It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept that and I’m not going back.

One more positive outcome of the Covid pandemic is that more people are accepting of my decision to stay at home, away from people. That reminds me that I need to write a post about THAT! “Top Ten Positives about the Covid Pandemic (no matter where you are on the political scale)” That will have a link next week. I promise you that!

Using the way back machine (my old blogs, journals, photos, etc.) has helped me make a little sense of where I am right now. It’s put some things into perspective and eased my heart and mind a bit.

What’s up for the next half of 2021? I’m not sure. For now, I’ll keep posting about My Precious, I mean my reading. And I think I’ll be going through and sharing old posts with some commentary updates in the future as well. It’ll be a combination of the old and the current. Maybe it will help me evolve into the next iteration of this blog.

Like the Buddha says, “Nothing is forever, except change.”

Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than A Social Media Feed

I can hear you now, “I don’t check my email. I never read newsletters.” But hear me out! Checking your email each morning and opening a couple newsletters each week, could be a far more efficient use of your time than scrolling any social media feed.

Newsletter vs Social Media Feed
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

If you’re an avid reader of mine, or happen to know me IRL, you know I’m an evolver. I’ve never been one to sit still long. It’s not because I’m bored and need to be entertained, like most people might think. It’s because I crave a new experience to learn from, something new to grow on. I’m a sampler of the world, a taster, not one who gorges (unless we’re talking about tacos).

I wander with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

That personality holds true to my writing and blogging, as well.

I’ve been blogging about books for over year now and that’s pretty damn consistent for me. My monthly newsletter, inspired by a book I read in January 2020, “Ten Years in the Tub” by Nick Hornby, (man…that feels like a million years ago), has been sent out a total of fourteen times.

Over the past year, I have learned a lot. I’ve become a much more predictable blogger. I’ve begun to find my voice through writing about what I read every day. This past month though, I’ve felt the pull to try something a little different, but I haven’t been sure what that is.

Right now, I’m looking at the monthly email newsletter a little differently since I listened to the Creative Nonfiction Podcast last week. At the end of an interesting interview, he mentioned that he had left social media almost completely over the past few months out of frustration mostly and was starting over in small ways. That’s where my ears perked up. I’ve been in the same boat. Once again, my thoughts and actions are not original, others are reacting to the world around us in similar ways!

And then, hours later, at lunch with a friend, she mentioned that she hadn’t seen something I posted until I messaged her directly about it. This happens often and I wish more people were aware of it. Social media feeds, specifically Facebook, aren’t timelines exactly. You don’t open it up and see what everyone you follow has posted chronologically. What you see is a curated list of what they think you want to see and what they want you to see. It’s not malicious. It’s just what it is.

While I was gone from social media, I found myself relying on email newsletters from websites, podcasts, and blogs that I follow. Now that I’m back on Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, (I’ll admit, I just want a place to share the funny things I find and get likes for my hiking pictures) I’m not “liking and following” pages anymore.

Why? Because the emails were far more reliable. Instead of getting only the posts that Facebook decides are important, along with ads for closely related items, I get the information that the poster believes are important. The weekly newsletters highlight things the specific blogger or podcaster wants me to see and when I click the links, I get to their page directly without the distractions embedded in Facebook. It takes less time and I get more of what I actually want.

Which leads me to thinking about my own newsletter. Should I change it from a monthly rundown of the books I’ve read to a weekly highlight reel straight to your email box? I think so and I’m sitting with paper and pencil (my go-to when I need to plan) attempting to create an outline this week.

I’ll be honest, a weekly newsletter seems a bit much for me. I’ve never been good at a weekly anything, just ask my kids. When the prospect of required weekly attendance came up for any of their activities…well…I broke out in a cold sweat. But this feels different.

In the past, I challenged myself to read for two hours every day and have been getting so close to that goal. I decided to write consistently about the books I’m reading; once when I start the book, quotes from the book, and a paragraph or two about it when I’m done. And then I took up the challenge of writing a newsletter once a month and did it. I think I can do this.

Why should you sign up for my newsletter, let alone any other email subscription? Well…

Here are my positives of an email newsletter. Maybe that will help you decide.

  1. It’s there when you want to read it.
  2. When you’re done reading it, or you decide you’d rather not, you can delete it and it doesn’t come back in your feed over and over again.
  3. There are no ads for related goods and services (at least not in mine). And if there are, they benefit the author of the newsletter, that person that you esteem so much that you subscribe to their news.
  4. If you open a newsletter, you stop reading at the end of it. You don’t get sucked into scroll mode!

What would my newsletter include?

  • Books, of course. Books started, books finished, links to articles about said books written by yours truly or others.
  • Podcasts! I’ve fallen in love with them, so I’ll be highlighting my favorites each week.
  • Funnies? Possibly.
  • One liners. Things I’m pondering but haven’t written whole paragraphs about.

When will this glorious piece of genius come out each week? I’m thinking Tuesdays. It’s my most productive day of the week, but I reserve the right to change that. The bottom line is that I’ll only harass you with in ONCE a week and I won’t be selling your email addresses to third party BS.

There it is! While I’ve written this, I’ve decided. I’m going to start writing a weekly newsletter instead of the monthly rundown. Will you join me?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Join Me in my Adventure to Wallow in Some Self Pity!

I think treating self pity as just another emotion to jump in and swim around in a while is a practice of good self care. Come on! It’ll be fun. Really!

Self pity medicine. Otter Pops for grown ups: Cosmopolitan Vodka Martini
These usually cheer me up on a warm afternoon!

“I had every intention of writing this morning, I swear, but here I am again with nothing to say. That’s a lie. I do have things to say, plenty of them. I’m just not sure how or, more importantly, why I should say them.”

Me this morning

Yeah, I’m pretty far out in the deep end these days. I just can’t seem to get a grip on it. I’m going to stick with the swimming pool analogy for a moment.

Emotions are like swimming pools. I have several and some of them have very deep ends, so deep you can have a good, high diving board. My pools have nice steps to get out at the shallow end, and some have ladders to climb out at the deep end. Some. There’s the trouble.

Some of those deeper pools are hard to get out of. You have to want to and have the strength to get out on your own or have a friend available to lend a hand. At the moment, I have none of those things, so I’ve decided to float a bit instead of struggle to tread water. I’m conserving my energy until I find a solution.

Besides, I kinda like here right now.

Yes, I’m well aware that everyone’s world has changed. I know everyone struggles. I’m not alone in anything here. But this story isn’t about everyone. It’s about this girl, so come swim with me!

Things I’m considering:

  1. Daily routines…boring…what can I do?
  2. Writing. Should I quit? No. Writing things like this helps me think. It’s word therapy.
  3. Blogging. What to do here? Posting every day is a lot. Maybe I should adjust that. Or maybe give up blogging all together?

Something that I’m pondering on:

A friend of mine just told me (this morning, no kidding), “No one is going to come knocking on your door and ask you to be friends.” I told him that I’d rather just stay locked in my house and yard.

That’s me in a nutshell. “Help! I’m in a nutshell! How did I get in here?!”

I’m just not sure where to go from here, so for now, I float and rest.

Going back to the post Why DO I write here anyway? was a good idea. This feeling of self pity is a recurring cycle of self-doubt. I’ll be back again…and in great numbers!

An Empty Nest Can Inspire A New Beginning

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

Oh, my sweet readers…I know you were looking forward to another post about “The Art of Happiness” this morning but I sat down to work on it and the next post but found my heart wandering elsewhere. I closed my laptop and decided to take a break for some breakfast, more coffee, and a couple delicious Winternacht cookies that my older son was so cruel to send to me in the mail.

As I sat there, listening to my younger son watch “Clone Wars,” my pen poured out ideas into my journal. I swear it does that, you guys. I’m serious. I sit and look at the page and out come words. Sometimes those cursive sentences are not fit for human eyes. They are uncensored and sometimes very ugly. That’s the process of journaling thoughts as they come up instead of burying them to fester or throwing them out into the world to poison others. I write them as they present themselves in the hopes that seeing them on paper takes some of their power away. It works…usually.

Today was different. These thoughts need to be shared. Maybe I can make them clearer and more useful to myself if I can type them. Maybe you can use them if I do.

There are big changes coming to my home. Those changes were delayed and altered by the reaction to Covid-19, but they are now here big as life. The whole house is feeling it, but unlike my family, my emotions run all along my surface, so I tend to react more than they do. You can usually see how I feel about things without me saying a word. Positive or negative, excited or depressed, love or hate, you know what I’m feeling, but you may not know what it’s about or why. There are many times that I’m not sure either. Let’s just say I’m fun to be around.

So, what are these changes? Every mom reading…hold on to your heart…my youngest is leaving for university in another state.

The empty nest has come.

No need to go into those details. There are movies, books, podcasts, songs, anything you can think of to tell that age old story. But what does it mean to me and you? How will it change our relationship? I know that’s what you’re wondering!

That’s what I’ve been asking myself the past year, and more in the past few weeks as plans became reality. You know what they say, the goal of a mother’s work is to work her way out of a job. My mom career is officially over. What’s next?

I’ve always written and for the past few years, I’ve been working toward writing more and in better ways. This blog was a hobby, then a part-time job, and now that I have no other demands on my attention, it will become my full-time job. I have big plans and I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

What now? I think I’ll change the pace and some of the content of this blog, just a little. I’m becoming burned out writing so much about the books I read. I love it, but there is more that I want to say, and I’d like to work some time into my life for writing more short stories.

I know, “Get to the point, Michelle!” Here’s the schedule I came up with.

  • Monday: Gratefulness Post
  • Tuesday – Friday: Book Quotes and New Read Posts
  • Saturday: Short Story of the Week
  • Sunday: Nothing. It’s my day off.

And, of course, there’s the monthly newsletter. That’s a separate special opt-in list! If you’re interested, go to My Autobibliography page to sign up. That’s another something I might put a spin on this month!

I plan to keep writing every morning of the week. I love creating habits and I have morning routine that rocks, when I don’t get derailed by an extra cup of coffee, “Clone Wars,” and brilliant conversation with my family.

I’ll be totally honest here. I’m terrified by the prospect of my last child leaving. What will it be like? Will I go crazy in the house alone all day? Will I drive my husband and friends crazy? Will my blog end up being a non-stop rant about the birds on the porch or the cat on back of the couch?

…deep breath…

Change is an inevitable part of life. We’ve trained for this. We’re ready.

…big smiles…

Why Do I Get Up in the Morning – Episode Three

Not following me on Instagram?
You’re missing out! @desertmichelle

This week’s “Why I get up” crept up on me a little at a time until…POUNCE…I was bowled over.

Last week I got three invitations to answer questions about how to homeschool. Three. I think I got three last year and here I am with three in one week. One email, one phone call, and one meet up. The meet up was the pounce!

I know…you didn’t ask me about homeschooling and I’m not going to tell you how you can or why you should or shouldn’t, don’t worry. Mentioning homeschooling in most circles has much the same response as a “Jesus Juke.” Yes, Jesus may have changed your life, but it doesn’t always apply to everyone in the same personal way.

When you feel something strongly, when you discover something life-changing and fantastic, it’s hard not to share it with the world…loudly. I did that for a long time.

These days I’ve matured (in some ways, shut up), calmed down a bit, and found that, like spiritual matters, parenting and education decisions have to come from inside a person. It’s personal. If someone asks where my kids went to school, I answer honestly. If they are curious and ask questions, I answer them. If they want to know how we did it, I’m happy to discuss it. It’s been a long lesson to learn, but I learned not to bring it up myself. Again, like religious experiences, seekers will find their answers.

The “Why I Get Up” though, that’s the thing I want to tell you and it’s related to those people that reached out to me about homeschooling.

This past week I got three chances to share the joy and love I have for homeschooling, specifically the private “radical unschooling” that we did with our children. There are few things in the world more wonderful than getting to share with others things that have changed your life, hoping that in some small way you are able to pay the universe back for bringing that change into your life.

How did they find me? Because on my blog there is a small page about it and I’m listed as a contact on some small homeschool sites. Finding my name or something I wrote is like finding a penny. It’s not hidden. It’s not all that rare. And it’s value is relative. If you found it and you want it for whatever reason, then it must have been something you were looking for.

I got to spend some of my time this week explaining the rules and encouraging a few people and I’m excited that I may get to do it again. I was also reminded that I should probably put some love into my homeschool page, especially right now with a lot of schools not opening back up in the Fall and a lot of parents looking into alternatives.

Here’s the thing: I’ve always been a positive feedback kind of person. I feel that I need to know that someone out there appreciates what I’m doing to feel good about continuing the work. I found out this week that I should learn to stop that practice if I’m going to have more of an impact in this world.

I should write and post because I have something to say, not because I want applause and kudos. I do enjoy putting my thoughts in order. It’s definitely good for me. I’d much rather talk out my process than write about it, but that’s not always feasible. So here I am tapping away. Lucky for you! I may not get “likes” or “follows.” My website may not reflect all of my actual readers. But my happiness with my work should not depend on that. It should depend only on my own satisfaction.

I love the thought that someone might read this and feel something. I’m thrilled at the thought that, maybe not today, but some time in the future, someone could read what I wrote and use the information or be encouraged to try something new. But that, my sweet, sweet reader, is an awesome side effect if it happens, not the reason why I write.

Writing is a reason I get up in the morning. And the hope that someone will read it, somewhere, someday, that’s just icing on the cake!

I follow my passions where they lead and probably “overshare.”

FB_IMG_1575828882776.jpg

I generally write a journal page to get my brain going before I attempt any brilliance (that’s sarcasm) in blog post form. I used to handwrite journals, but I feel like when I use my laptop, I get more than just a few highlights in my journal entries. When I can type and edit the mess, I get more of my feelings about the day, more details about what’s going on in the world around me and inside my head. I’ve given up a bit of the more personal for more intimate details about my life. I think it’s a fair trade.

Sometimes something comes up in a journal entry that I copy and paste into a new document to expand on for a blog post. I thought I’d end up doing that very thing with a piece of this entry, but it flowed so organically out of mind that I felt like I had to add it in its entirety.

I hope you like this ride on my train of thought!

December 10, 2019, Tuesday 5:44am

A little early, don’t you think? Yeah, I’m usually finishing up an hour of reading and getting to my yoga and meditation at this hour, but yesterday someone suggested writing first thing in the morning and I decided to consider it an option.

I thought I had been writing first thing in the morning, but generally, I’ve been getting started around 10am. Well, last month I did. This month I never seem to get to it. I have some holiday something going on every morning this week that I’ve let take precedence over the writing. Then again, when I do get a chance to sit down to be brilliant, nothing comes to mind and I sit in silent sadness, questioning my existence. It kind of sucks.

I read a lot. Books, magazines, online articles. I read novels, classics, and non-fiction history, self-help, and religion. I read about writing, building a brand, creating email lists, writing better content. The bottom line for me right now, the thing I keep coming back around to is…what the heck am I doing here? What is it that I’m trying to say? I have no focus, either in life or writing. I write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it’s about family life, social media, books, writing, homeschooling, kids, cats, hiking, self-whatever. I recently put my hand to a bit of fiction just because it got in my head and I went with it.

When someone suggests that I send out a weekly newsletter, I think, “About what? Five random thoughts of a stay at home mom?” I’m not even really that anymore. My youngest is almost 18. He’s at work or college most of the time and doesn’t really need my help. I’m simply a housewife now. What can I possibly say to anyone?

I can talk about the past, homeschool and parenting stuff, reflections. I can talk about the books I read, the desert, hiking…it all sounds so damn boring. Who the hell wants to read my thoughts on what my damn cat is doing and what geocaches I found?

But then…I have learned a lot over the last twenty years. I feel like I do have a unique perspective to show the world. What if someone out there is waiting to hear that they can simply enjoy having their kids around the house instead of sending them to school? I survived being a homeschool Mom! I learned to enjoy the moment and not worry so much.

I don’t have one thing I write about. I just don’t have an all-encompassing passion for one thing. I love a lot of stuff. I like getting a little into everything. I enjoy people, in small doses. I follow my heart into all kinds of situations, from reading to knitting to hiking to coffee dates. I like movies and books and mountain trails and Disneyland. I like going out and staying in. I like quilting even though I’m terrible at it. I collect things. I work in my garden but rarely grow anything. I love the weather. I like traveling in my car and want to do more of it. I genuinely love my kids, my parents, my husband, and my friends just as they are right at this moment, even when they are being punks.

Can I just write about those things? Can my posts just be about living happy and content with what I have? Can it be about my own process of creating a satisfying life? I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have a game plan for success to share. All I have is my own light to shine. This is what I have created. This is how I’m doing it. Maybe it will work for you, or maybe it will inspire you to try out your own ideas. I don’t know. Take away what you want, leave the rest.

All I know is that I can’t stop writing and posting. I don’t want to. I just want to write the same way I live, the same way I talk with my friends and family. I want to be open and honest about my feelings and share my life, my thinking, my light with others in the hopes that it might make them happy. I just want to bring a little bit of joy into the world.

Thirteen Books!

20190911_110615.jpg

For a while now, I’ve been attempting to post about every book I read but I think I’m changing my plan. I have a backlog and it’s disrupting my peace. The picture you see above is my current pile of already read books waiting to be summed up. When anything starts to pile up, my anxiety starts to build and that’s when I shut down and discontinue my practice. Homework, email, laundry, diet plans: that overwhelm feeling grates on my nerves and colors everything else I attempt to do. I’ve found that it’s much better for me to pick and choose my battles. I can’t just throw out the clothes or the dishes instead of washing them when they pile up, but I can delete all the emails, drop the class, or walk away from the diet, so I do.

So here we are with a pile of books on the corner of my desk, waiting to be reviewed and blogged about. Every day I see them and walk by. Every day I pick up the top one, thumb through it, look at the rest of the pile, and walk away. I can’t even sit at my computer and write about something else, because those books are looking at me in the accusatory way that makes me start to sweat every time I see them.

This morning, I walked by and thought, “My that pile looks so pretty like that. I should take a picture.” As I did, I had an epiphany. Why not post about that pile? Maybe pull one thing from each book to write about, give them closure so to speak, and then file them away on my bookshelf? And that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

This may be a bit long and boring but it has to be done. My reader heart needs closure on these. Feel free to scroll through and find a title that catches your eye! I will allow it…this time!

“Following Muhammad – Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World” by Carl W. Ernst

This book was suggested reading from another book I read about religious literacy and it was an excellent read. I highly recommend it for everyone. It really helped me understand Islam, its history, its diversity, and cleared up a lot of misunderstandings for me. It’s also not a long, boring, overly detailed read. It’s just an overview, something to get you started on the path to understanding and tolerance. Go get this book right now.

“The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California” by Curt Gentry

A friend sent me this book, with a few others, after our last big earthquake. He thought I’d like it and he was so right! It’s historical fiction, written as if the “Big One” hit and all of California was dumped into the sea, disappearing forever. It’s so easy to read and a great story. Most of the book highlights California history in the first half of the 20th century. What would the rest of the country miss if California disappeared? I couldn’t put it down and ended up adding a few other California History books to my reading list.

“Writing as a Path to Awakening” by Albert Flynn DeSilver

This one was a little too “woke” for me, but not a waste of time. I found some inspiration. Little things like “we are meaning-making machines” made me smile. I wrote that one down and posted in on my “writing altar” along with “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes process, and with consistent attention, proficiency, and eventually, with further devotion, mastery.”

“The Best American Essays – 2018” edited by Hilton Als

I love a good essay! These would have been better if fewer of them were about how much Trump has ruined their lives. There were some great ones though. I love hearing people’s perspectives and experiences.

“Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them” by Francine Prose

“Hey! That’s me!” That’s what I thought when I saw the title on Amazon and clicked BUY. It was a bad idea though because…well…it added a couple dozen books to my reading list! Ha! It is full of great examples of narration, character, and dialogue, among other things. Reading it is like talking to a fellow book lover!

“The Man Who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen

I read this under duress. It was assigned to my son by a college English Composition teacher last year and there has been much debate about its content, premise, and subject, but…no one had actually read it all. I decided I would. “In 2000, Daniel Suelo gave away his life savings. And began to live.” It was hard to read. I kept thinking, he’s not living with less or living without or “off the land,” he’s only living off others. He stays with friends, dumpster dives, and uses the internet at the library. I honestly don’t think he was any happier living that way than if he had just focused on being more conservative in how he lives, using less, etc. The only reason he could live the way he did was because most people don’t. Most people have more than they need, throw away excess, underuse what they have, so he has those resources. There was a lot to think about though and I appreciated his journey.

“Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney

So, what do I think when I read that title? “James and the Giant Peach” of course! I hear the centipede singing it every time I read those words. I hear there was a movie of this very book. I know…I’m so lost. Anyway, book was…interesting. Pretty darn sad. And deep at the end. Wow.

Two things I took away from it that were awesome. First of all, he works in a magazine’s “Department of Factual Verification.” I can’t imagine doing this job before the internet! Every article they buy from a writer must be “fact checked” by a third party before printing. They have to call places and look things up in the encyclopedia, libraries, and other publications. It’s a huge amount of work. The magazine has a reputation to protect. They can’t just pull an article off the internet if it turns out to be false like they do now. Once it’s in print, it’s there forever! Wow.

The other thing was this quote, “…what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions, until all you can remember is a name.” Ouch.

“Carrie” by Stephen King

This book has a back story too. It’s one of the scariest movies I ever saw, mostly because I saw it when I was around six years old! Before you go calling my mom a monster, little kids are supposed fall asleep late at night and my brother and I were safely tucked away and sound asleep in the back seat of our car in our feet pajamas when the movie started. You just gotta love drive-ins! My parents were watching the movie in the front seat and at the end of the movie, there I was with my head poked between the seats, eyes wide. I had nightmares for years! We were all traumatized!

Something I noticed when I finished the book…Carrie is just Frozen with a much more horrifying ending. Small girl with latent powers the adults can’t deal with so they lock her away until she becomes an adolescent, at which point her powers are too much for anyone to deal with including the girl.

“How to do Nothing – Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell

Another great book with some amazing insight into stepping out of the world for a bit and changing your focus. I just wish it could have been done in a more positive way, without adding “the world is ending because Trump is president” bologna. The world is just as messed up as it always was. The internet isn’t destroying us. Facebook is not the great Satan. Please. Just stop. I also wish it had more examples and ideas of “how” instead of so much “why.”

“Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor

Ok. This…was strange. I never got the point of the story. Didn’t really care about the characters. The whole book was odd. Maybe I missed the point? While I did finish the book, desperately hoping for meaning, it did start a series of DNF’s (did not finish) in August.

“Beyond Good and Evil” by Friedrich Nietzsche

DNF. That’s what they write by your name if you start a race but don’t finish. Maybe your bike broke down or (Lord forbid) you crashed and didn’t get back on the bike, but you never crossed the finish line.

This book I did not finish. I just couldn’t read it. Several pages in and I had no idea what he was trying to say and no patience to have every page explained. I’m not sure if it’s the translation or what. I enjoy Nietzsche’s philosophy, so I was disappointed that I couldn’t read it for myself. Maybe I’ll find about book that explains it better? Or…maybe…take a class?

“Revolution at Berkeley” by Miller and Gilmore

Another DNF. A collection of articles about the protest at Berkeley in the 60’s. Fascinating read, mostly because the articles are from that time, not ours, but I gave up reading about a third of the way through. I had enough information and just wasn’t interested the subject anymore.

“Night Shift” by Stephen King

On a bit of a Stephen King jag lately. I have two more on my “to read” shelf! This guy really knows how to entertain through horror. My husband walked into the room while I was reading this and I about jumped out of my skin!

So, there you have it! Thirteen books! Phew…I’m exhausted!

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: