2018 Loading: Reflections From a Year

2018 Loading: Reflections From a Year

31 December 2017

Whoa.

This has been a hard month, where recollections from a little over a year ago continue to plague my thoughts, while some of the strangest dreams infiltrate my sleep…what little I still get.

I am still in a state of depression, and, recognizing this, I am persistent in keeping the exercise going and the writing flowing. I must.  Even on days when it’s been ridiculously cold by 7pm, and it’s too cold to walk Duke-puppy, I move around the house, do some yoga, and find more housework to do.

When I was discussing this with my therapist she offered sound advice. “Think about how far you’ve come.”  And she’s right.

I think back to where I was a year ago: in pieces, sitting in an airport in Chile, Santiago, in tears, no appetite, as my then husband was off “getting me coffee” which was the new translation for him talking to his whore. Often. Exhausting. And I’m still exhausted.

Then life ran away with a bullet train this December, and I swear God was testing me. After NaNoWriMo, I had to get my holiday baking extravaganza done, and got away for some much-needed family time. (That’s another post I’ll put up in 2018.) My brother survived a near-tragic accident and I am extremely thankful he is with us here today. Proof that our (my siblings and I) guardian angels were with him that day. I was ready to hop on a plane to NY immediately, but he didn’t want me there.

The holidays are extremely stressful and trying. Even as I suffer from depression, I use my outlets (talking to my “twin” cousin and close friends; writing; exercising) to get through some tough times. Recently, a cousin committed suicide, and nothing is more disheartening than someone who feels their life is not valuable. I ask you, my readers, to take care of yourselves, and encourage discussions around depression and even suicide. It’s important and help is always available. Life is too short, as I learned after the deaths of my parents and a brother, and we should all Carpe Diem!

I still have people tell me they are amazed by my strength; they’re not sure how I’m still on my feet because they couldn’t have survived what was done to me and in the manner it was done.  My sister and I refer to this time we call, “when shit hit the fan.”

I had to survive.  For so many reasons I had to. I have decided to write a memoir, and have begun the story’s beginning, but that book will be a product in 2019 or 2020.  In the meantime, watch for the 2018 publication of THE DOWNFALL (TBD) to read about one woman’s journey from the depths of hell, overcoming her worst fears from a marriage, and how she needed to stand her ground.  No woman, or man, should ever be treated the way I have; and I know so many do, and they feel stuck. What happens between four walls is not what everyone else sees, and I can tell you it is not pleasant. It’s heartbreaking, sad, and disrespectful.

I finished two novels and one poetry book in 2017. I will be in full edit mode in 2018, while I’m in the middle of packing. I have an expiration date of all sorts by early March. Please note that this pertains to dwelling and work. I am simply looking as 2018 as a new beginning for a new life.

While I am reflecting, I would also like to add how much I cannot express my gratitude to all my friends and family who have been with me during this tumultuous year. It really warms my heart with the outpouring of support, love, opportunities for gatherings as a distraction, and even shoulders (or ears) that I have cried on during my crumpled moments. I still am evaluating those who do not have my wellbeing in their best interest and have zero problems cutting the cord.

I have three hours left until 2018 arrives, and this princess is almost ready for the ball…after I wrap this post up for 2017. I really cannot wait for 2017 to join 2016 and go where it belongs-in the past. However, it’s not all bad and this is something I can’t forget. I had significant time with family and friends; I got the degree I’ve always wanted, and even made new friends from my newest alma mater (SNHU); I took trips to do my heart good; I was wrapped in love by my siblings and family back home and around the U.S.; my friends around the world have also stood by my side, and we have watched bridges burn, separating the “us” as they stood on the ledge with me, watching it fall as an opposing individual is on the other side still oblivious of what has happened.

And I am on vacation!!!!!  I am doing what I love to do: spend time with myself, learning more about what I want out of my next wave of life.  It’s been one hell of a ride, with so many interesting stories this storyteller has banked in memories.

Finally, I became an aunt for the tenth time! My nephew is absolutely adorable, and I got to spend “time” with him, his new mother (my sister), and her husband. It snowed on Christmas Eve day when I landed in Indiana, and snowed on Christmas night when my sister and I left the movies. She really wanted to see “The Last Jedi,” and I was up for watching it a second time (contemplating a 3rd while on vacation! Haha). His little face lights up every time I tell him he is “my golf and Disney buddy,” and this is not something I will waiver from. This kid will be well-versed in all things Disney by the time he’s 5 years old, and we take our first trip to both parks.

This belle is ready for a ball! No, I am dating yet, but I am going out to have a great night welcoming 2018 with open arms. Be safe if you are out tonight. I am doing the same (will let someone else drive me around safely).

So long 2017!  I am moving in one direction and that’s forward. New adventures await.

Happy New Year to my friends and readers.

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Bookstore Adventures: Reading and Writing Conversations

Bookstore Adventures: Reading and Writing Conversations

5 December 2017

Some best moments of my weekend happened in a bookstore, when I was with my cousin and his family.

  • As we entered I said, “You know it’s dangerous for a writer to go into a bookstore, right?” Of course, I walk out with three books. In my defense, only one is for me, and the others are gifts;
  • The10 yr old boy asks his parents for one of The Boxcar Children books; his sisters search and ask to read other books; ones that make them cry. A decision is made to visit the local library to check out the book the girls and their mother will read. Warms my heart. It’s good to hear people still go to libraries;
  • Talking about reading & writing, a woman overhears my conversation, apologizes for eavesdropping, then begins to ask me about my writing, and explains why she loves to read. She enjoys the escape, even if it’s short-lived. We talk about genres. She is someone who finds a moment to escape the craziness of daily life by picking up a book;
  • My cousin tells me about the Star Wars books written to explain what happens between the movies we grew up with and why the latest movies begin where they do. I add more books to my ever-growing list, talking about why I love having a physical book in my hand and how I’ve been packing up all of my books first the books, the books I’ve already donated to the library, plans for another large round, and why I can’t pass up the great prices to own some books through Kindle. I notice another woman nearby laughing, shaking her hand, and I know she identifies with everything I’m saying.

The above accounts are only some of the reasons I love to read. My nieces and nephews always received the gift of books from me. My new nephew is going to be exposed to a world of books, golf, and Disney. It helps my sister is also a big reader.

More importantly, I read because I also write. I have been marketing my November novel, to strangers in wineries, and other writers at the Night of Living Dangerously; to friends and family, and I have ambitious goals to send my books to certain individuals (author uses confidentiality clause in this post).

I write for myself, but do not mind sharing my books with the world. If any one book, story, or poem makes an impact on one single person, then I am happy to say I’ve done my job. I heard the stories over and over after my poetry chapbook was published, and now in second print. Life is far too short to keep any story hidden.

Share in the excitement of a child wanting to read books. Enjoy conversations with family, friends, and even strangers, over reasons we read, and how some of us have books as our largest collection. It’s almost an addiction. Expensive, but very healthy.

Take time out to read. Visit a bookstore. Visit a library. Donate your unwanted books to your public library.

If you like to write, write that memoir, or poem, or story; take the time to write it all down, no matter how long it takes you.

Beyond the words of conversations in bookstores and libraries, are an infinite amount of worlds waiting to be discovered. It only takes a spark of a conversation to help someone else opens those doors.

Halfway Into NaNoWriMo: Writing Extravaganza

Halfway Into NaNoWriMo: Writing Extravaganza

15 November 2017

I am in my favorite writing place-the patio. I walked to work, then home after boot camp class. It felt good to get back to exercise after a small procedure was done nearly two weeks ago, and the stitches came out Friday night, so I’m back on my normal exercise routine again.  Dinner tonight is a large grilled chicken salad, loaded with romaine, super greens and a ton of other veggies, knowing I couldn’t afford wasted time tonight for dinner since I have a long list of various writing projects I need to get done. Plus, I’ve recently had a knife casualty, and I burned, no, charred, my grilled cheese sandwich the other day. Again, can’t cook. Not domesticated.

A friend sent me a link to a writing job last night. Very much appreciated.  As I appreciate the large outpouring of support from friends and my network. However, just as I will not return to New York, I will not go to California, if I decide to leave. Too expensive. You could say the message opened the flood gates, and I began to search under different titles, coming across five positions.

My emotional state is still fragile. I was sitting at work today wondering why my head was such a mess.  I wanted to get up and escape again; I still do. My depression is visible around the house: empty boxes everywhere, small piles that I don’t like having rest on the table; Xmas gifts are on the pool table, as is my box of baking decorating supplies. I don’t want to work. I only want to write.

I resurfaced on Facebook the other night. Not really a fan. I am constantly being asked, “Where are you going?” I am constantly answering, “Nowhere. I’m still here.” I am also tired of talking about the divorce. I have two simple answers these days: 1) I divorced his adulterous ass, and he still doesn’t leave me alone, and 2) You can read about it in my book.

Which brings me to my favorite topic of writing, NaNoWriMo and my novel. This is where the fun really begins. On October 31, I created a firm writing schedule. I go home after work, eat, walk Duke, then get ready for hours of work. I call my writing work now because it is my new career. Nothing is as exhilarating as discovering what you want to do the rest of your life. And at my age, I don’t want to restart a career; I’m already restarting so many other things. The calendar sends reminders. I have a 2 ½ hour block for nothing but writing; some nights it goes longer because I’m on a roll; other nights, I am writing something, and taking a short break to recharge and get in more words the next day. I haven’t stalled yet, and the emotions are starting to return, but I know they will in order to get things written down. I have my NaNoWriMo 2017 music playlist, and is what I listen to as I write. My phone stays in the other room.

NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words in 30 days. We’re halfway through, and I am more than halfway through the 50k. By day 8, I wrote over 26,000 words. By day 14 30,698 words, and I’m hoping to break 35,000 by tonight; 40,000 by Friday. Can I get to 50,000 by Sunday?  We shall see. Regardless, the novel will be closer to 65,000 words, or more, by the end of the month. More importantly, it will be done.

And I’m having a blast writing this work of FICTION.  I can’t stress this enough. It falls under women’s fiction; there is an important theme in the book, which is the primary reason I want to write this. The Downfall is the tentative title. Kiki is the protagonist, and Darius is the antagonist. Kiki has the best support system, although she only sees her girlfriends once a year, as a group. She is very successful, and a strong woman who knows what she wants.

Meet an unexpected character: Edward. Let me explain this first. Writers are the masters of the worlds they create. They build, add, and destroy. They create characters. At some point in the novel, the characters might take over. They begin to run the story, and the writer doesn’t have the control any longer. In some instances, this is good because the writer can “sit back” and watch events unfold. But the writer must always return to keep things under control; in check, if you will.

Edward quickly, at a rapid rate I might add, became a character who: 1) was not supposed to be in the story, 2) showed up and I don’t know how (I might know the why), 3) showed up and took over. Honestly, he was running the story. The distraction was good. The interactions between him and Kiki were interesting, but no.  I’m not crazy, but I did have many conversations with him.  I asked him what he was doing, why was he doing what he did; he was doing a good job evading Kiki’s questions about a secret she thinks he’s hiding; she’s a people person and has a pretty good read. After several days, I make the authorial decision that Edward’s time was up. He needed to go. And he did go.  However, the question remains is…will he be back?  Is he gone for good?  Oh Lord, he can’t possibly come back, especially after I just sent him away. Hahahaha Guess you’ll have to read the book when it’s published…

As I said, this is going to be fun. I get to talk about life, and how NaNoWriMo has taken over my life! I’m loving every moment! By the time December rolls around, I’ll be revising my thesis-turned-novel, while The Downfall recovers from the steam rolling off the pages. I’ll return in January to revise, and begin to find homes for both books.

More writing adventures are just around the corner and I’ll be writing an update at least once a week as the end of the month draws near.

So excited about so many things. It’s nice to have positive things to look forward to.

 

Dinner of champions.

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50,000 Words-It’s Go Time

50,000 Words-It’s Go Time

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

31 October 2017

Today is Halloween, and I am dressing up as a writer.  Hibernating as a writer. Preparing to be more of a writer than I have been for the past 2 years.  It’s also the day before NaNoWriMo begins, and I am in the final prep stages for writing my next novel.  This is the story that must be written.  I believe it will help me in another stage of healing. There is a clear message in this story, and is one I hope to share with the world.

But first, I need to write my story. I need to write THE story.  In order to do this, I will have to revisit everything: all of my notes, journals, documents, and the secrets contained within some of them; a gazillion emotions and feelings (sorry, anger, fear, doubt, hope, joy, happiness, relief, loneliness, loss, despair, shock, and so much more).  I have a stock in tissue boxes because to write this story, I am going to need to feel everything all over.  Remember that emotional roller coaster I spoke of earlier in the year?  It’s here and bigger this time.

I need to write this story to take the next step.  To continue moving on. I poured my soul into my poem, “Youth Lost,” and was able to walk away feeling a little bit lighter. I hope this novel will give me even more of that feeling of liberation.

Some of my future readers might understand where I’m coming from because they’ve been there before, but our stories are a little bit different. Mine is about isolation and losing the one thing you thought you’d never lose. The empowering message is how to overcome adversity.

I need to write this story for me.

Welcome to The Downfall.  It is a work of fiction.  Events, names, places, etc. are fictional.  It is going to be an adventurous story that travels around the world.

Here’s a teaser before I go underground for NaNoWriMo.  Our lives were COPY. PASTE.

T-minus 3 hours. I will begin writing for a short bit at the stroke of midnight tonight. For prep work finished I have:

  • Blocked out time on my calendar, every day to write 1,667 words
  • Created two separate writing spaces
  • An exercise plan in place that will also help Duke
  • My plot written
  • My “Brunhilda”-my wine glass that fits an entire bottle; I’ll use it for water, along with several other super large cups. Alcohol is OFF THE TABLE! I will only enjoy a glass or two of wine, or a few beers during milestones. I CANNOT drink while I write this story
  • My grocery list ready, to buy more veggies and fruit to have on hand; have small bags of popcorn, nuts, and other healthy snacks in the house
  • Plans to have the phone in a different room during my writing blocks

I still need to:

  • Finish character profiles
  • Outline (something I don’t normally do)
  • Finish compiling my NaNoWriMo music playlist; I will be using some of the music I’ve put into three different playlists since December
  • Make sure I have a hefty supply of tea and honey on hand; I already have coffee, but will want tea in the evenings
  • Be diligent with staying on a keep-healthy schedule…the best I can…sleep still eludes me, and my appetite died (again) in San Antonio

I will be writing, writing, writing.  I also have some travels in between.  I’m excited. Some of my planned travels will keep me away from my sanctuary, giving me some breathing room to write with clarity. I’ll post on this blog every so often, because it will be great to switch gears every so often.

50,000 words in 30 days.  It can be done.  It has to be done. It shall be done.

My thesis-turned-novel’s protagonist was Natalie.  Meet Kiki. She is the new character in The Downfall.  I can’t wait for these characters to begin living, breathing and taking over the spaces they live in. When it happens, I get to hit the auto-pilot button.

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone had a great, and safe, night.

Welcome to November-for writers, we know it as National Novel Writing Month.

the-art-of-writing  writer superpower

 

Forks in the Road

Forks in the Road

28 October 2017

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ─
I took the one less traveled by…” -Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

 

It’s the perfect fall day.  Then again, I think just about every day is the perfect fall day because the weather is fantastic. Although it is fairly cool, high 40’s, here today, I’m on the patio with my extra large coffee mug.  The morning warrants the large mug.  I slept for more than 8 hours last night, although my sleep was disrupted (only twice this time, not 5!). I had some of the craziest dreams (that I can’t forget to write down in my journal), and woke up warm and cozy under my blankets. It’s been a week of roller coasters, so the sleep was very welcoming.  And since I have returned to the gym, my body shouted at me this morning, pleading for a break.  It’s a gym-break day.  I’ll walk Duke, but let my muscles heal.

It’s still quiet in the neighborhood.  Some children were out raking leaves in their front yard yesterday. A reminder that I should finish cleaning up the wood in my backyard for a couple more fires this fall and winter before I leave.  Now, if only to get the coffee warming up my veins, I’ll be ready for the day.

Switching gears from daily life to writing, Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets.  “The Road Not Taken” is, by far, my favorite poem that I return to time and time again.

I have a couple of my own favorites; poems I have written.  In my poetry ebook (currently off the shelves for revisions) I wrote, “Paths (Senderos).”  This is a poem I wrote and did my own translation in Spanish.  I had editing help from the renowned Dr. Rafael Lara-Martinez, and should remind myself to collaborate with him again.  “Watcher on the Horizon” was also written and translated, and I was inspired to write that poem during one of the last visits my mother made to New Mexico.  “Christmas Memories” is also a personal favorite because it combined some of the best memories of my youth, while incorporating a sense of nature into the poem.

Poetry is easy for me, but also envelops the personal space.  Fiction is where my heart beats strong because I love world building, and sometimes hide behind the mask of a character.  Both genres evoke emotion.  This is where my pre-NaNoWriMo blog post will cover a few details.  And you, my dear readers, will get a glimpse into the new world before it goes hidden behind a curtain for 30 days.

“Paths (Senderos)” captured the memories of lives observed or experienced; it was almost a pre-cursor to another poem (unpublished) I wrote many years later called “Alternate Route.”  This one was written when my poetry group, The Tenth Muse Poetry Collaboratorium, assigned homework to further motivate us to keep writing; since then we’ve been writing rengas, and the last 2-3 we have written have been some of the most powerful writing we have done as a group.  Six women strong with many backgrounds.  There is a reason they are my diamond-my support system.  Oh yes, back to the subject of “AR.”  We chose lines from our favorite poems and had to work from the partial quote. I chose, of course, “The Road Not Taken,” using the same segment that I quoted above. I wrote it in a transition phase, a fork in the road so to speak.  It was written March 2011, 10 months short of the year anniversary of my mother’s death; my parents both gone at this point.  It was also five months before my brother’s untimely death.

And this is where the title of this blog enters the discussion.  “AR” is about options faced on many paths during our lives. Emotions came alive, and I used colors for expression.  I have been using colors for the last 10 years: in my poetry, teaching a workshop, teaching a community education class, and in my thesis-turned-novel. In fact, all of my writing. The poems end with new visions, but poetry is all about how the reader translates, feels, and relates.

We all have a destiny.  It seems like my destiny began when I returned to grad school to get my MA. I originally wanted an MFA, but chose the MA to keep options open. It was the degree I always wanted, and one I was hoping to begin in 2010, before getting derailed.

Life is full of paths.  The forks we stumble upon the in road are our options.  Today, with everything I’ve been through, I call these forks transitions because every couple of months I have new transitions.  I think of these forks/transitions like the people who are coming into and exiting out of my life. They’re practically intertwined.

I see not two forks, but three. My third fork is my writing path; one that is my straight fork that I won’t veer away from.  It’s the fork that my mind focuses on. The other two go in a specific direction, and they are categorized based upon what is happening at the current time in life: right and wrong; familiar and unfamiliar; clear and unclear.  Currently, I see the forks as one direction being a solid, worn path while the other is overgrown and unchartered. As I face them, the worn path is my past; a comfortable life with small goals. The unchartered path is the one I choose to take: it’s a new life, a fresh start.  I’m creating the path for any who find themselves in the same position and want to follow. This path has bigger goals, new dreams. There are branches along this path, leading me to new people, new places, new experiences, but these branches reconnect on this path. Since I have chosen this one, I am guessing the branches on the worn path end with no reconnection, but have no way of knowing because I’m not looking back, nor am I curious.

Some of my transitions are short-lived, and I now understand they are designed to help me move through my own space, place and time. The designs are helping me make new discoveries, find new friends, stay connected to my stronger friendships, and term out old ones that no longer serve a purpose. I’ve spoken about the difference between being alone and being lonely. I have never felt lonely, but I do feel the moments of being alone, and realize this has more to do with the noise in my life. Noise has always been important, and I believe it’s because it’s been so prominent in my life growing up.  Being one of seven people in a tiny house, there was always noise. Those noises faded as we (children) grew up, moved out, and some moved away, but pieces have always remained. Perhaps this is the noise inside of myself. I am creating new noises, even as I move along the unchartered path, moving further away from the fork that kept me stagnant. The grasses and weeds rustle beneath my feet.  I choose to tread barefooted to feel the rocks, dirt, and everything against the soles of my feet, and brushings up against my ankles.  On this path, my allergies don’t exist to distract me from progressing; I welcome how every smooth, sharp, bumpy, soft, bristled surface feels. I see it as a new construction moment, with smaller reconstructions occurring along the way.

The sun is out, warming my skin.  The neighborhood is awake and alive. Duke follows me everywhere today; even he seems a bit restless. The coffee, nearly gone, has found my veins. My published poetry books are sitting in front me, and motivates me to finish the revisions on the one I pulled from the shelves, as well as finalize my next book that I am very excited to begin pitching. Like my thesis-turned-novel, and my NaNoWriMo novel, it’s an important book with a great message that I want to share with the world. I write for myself, but if I can make a difference in at least one life, I am happy. I know artists (musicians, authors, painters, etc.) find small fulfillments when they hear that their art has helped someone.  I believe it does.  So much music, some art, and books have helped me.  Wild; Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It; Runaway Husbands; Option B have all made some type of an impact on my life. In some ways, they have helped me stay true to myself, confirming I did the right thing, and unafraid to travel new forks alone; while keeping in mind that I am not alone with my friends and family cheering me on from the invisible sidelines. So many messages.  This is why I write. This is my segue-way into my next blog post.

I challenge you to accept the forks in your road as new challenges that are exciting. Don’t be afraid; you won’t collapse.  You might stumble, but the solid ground, and your foundation (friends and family) are right beside you to help you get back on your feet to continue moving forward. Even I am here, in the backdrop, cheering you on if you have stumbled. God only knows I’ve been stumbling and continue to do so.  It’s even okay to learn that you can only breathe in a single day; Out of six days this week, I have only been capable of breathing for five of them. Embrace these breathable moments as a time to dig deep and put one foot in front of the other along your new path. It’s a temporary transition that steers you away, but reconnects.

I want to thank you, my readers, for following me along these interesting journeys. May you accept the small blessings in your life and cherish them. I hope you have a great weekend. I will be spending mine packing some more while I watch college and professional football, and the World Series. I am in a house divided, but cheering for the Dodgers.

Until we meet again.

Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind

25 October 2017

Imagine Dragons, in their song “Nothing Left to Say” sings, “Who knows how long I’ve been awake now.”  Tuesday was a testament to my slow awakening, and that I realize I’m coming out of the fog is a big deal.  I didn’t want to get up; crawled out at the last minute to hurry out the door to not be late for an appointment.  By the time I got home that afternoon, I was exhausted.  Simply exhausted. It’s also exhausting to talk about the divorce, so I tell many they can read my next novel. I want to be done with it.  I want to move on.

I also missed my caffeine Tuesday morning, so it didn’t take long to fall asleep for a 2 hour nap. With a racing mind, I hit a large bucket of golf balls, walked Duke, watched the World Series, and went to bed at a ridiculous (early) hour.  Still didn’t sleep well through the night.

With my blinders off, I am learning it’s absolutely futile to speak to a narcissist.  There is no reasoning behind the hurtful words conveyed.  It’s not their fault; it never is. I know I did nothing wrong. I can’t waste any more energy on someone who simply can’t use logic and prefers to point fingers at everyone else but themselves.

So yesterday was a dark day and I felt it the moment the alarm clock went off.  The first alarm, not the fourth, and not the four different snooze buttons I was hitting. Mornings are still hard for me, especially when I’m not sleeping through the night. However, after yesterday I was in a different mindset this morning, ready to face the day.  Perhaps it was because I knew I would end the day in my bootcamp/Tabata class. It was one of the hardest workout days I’ve had in a while, too.  Sweat dripped on everyone in the class. I used to think it was disgusting to sweat, but now I embrace it because it’s beautiful to be working so hard on yourself.

My dark days become paler when they are followed by lighter days that simply shine.  And I show up. I’m a little more focused at work. I can write. I remind myself why I am working out: for my sanity, for my mental health, for my health, for me.

Writing is my therapy. So is being physically active. Add in some social activities and I have a decent mix for maintaining a healthy mind. Remove toxic words, behaviors, and people and I can manage keeping my thoughts positive. I can find more ways to make myself happy.  And it’s a huge sports week for me between football and the World Series. It’s nice to have friends I can talk to about sports. Makes the night go faster, but also makes me happy because I’m talking about something I’m passionate about.

I’m wrapping up a few more writing projects this week so that I can focus on preparations this weekend for NaNoWriMo. I’m excited and still have an interesting post in the works.  Soon.

Making Waves

Making Waves

21 October 2017

This is NMT’s homecoming weekend.  Last weekend was SNHU’s. Between the two I felt more connected to SNHU.  They included virtual events for those who couldn’t travel to New Hampshire, and it helped me remain connected; even if most of us were online students, I can honestly say I have Penmen Pride because the university has done a really good job making sure all students are part of the family.  I’ve even formed new friendships between classes and social media.

However, each university has its own energy.  NMT is a specialized institution, catering to math, science and engineering.  Some of the best technology has come from here: the nicotine patch being one.  There’s also newer, forward-thinking technology being developed, but not quite available. I was interviewing a student today for the NMT alumni magazine, of which I am the freelance writer, and got to not only hear about the research project, but I got to experience a small demonstration. It was really cool, and something I am not at liberty to talk about.  You’ll hear about this young gentleman in years down the road.

So, NMT’s homecoming, called 49ers, becomes 4-5 days of activities and events.  I’ve been helping the NMT SPE Student Chapter with their Gold Rush Golf Scramble for 13 years. Between ATCE and the golf tournament, my October turns into a nightmare with weeks of no sleep.  This year it’s even more of an issue than in the past.  It’s also the last golf tournament I am truly behind the scenes coordinating. I know how to work hard, and play harder, wearing many outfits to complement each occasion.

Last night, I went to a friend’s house, then walked to the infamous college town bar a bit later. I almost stayed home, curled up nice and cozy in my sanctuary, but had another friend tell me that [staying home] wasn’t going to happen and I was going out!

These are the friends I like and cherish: the ones who motivate me to get out of my comfort zone, offer words of encouragement, and haven’t judged me through a long process.  They quietly watched my drinking, and are more than relieved now to know I’ve moved past those days. Although I lost my sobriety in a divorce, I no longer rely on alcohol to move past the pain. I have created new strategies.

It has also been a strange week.  Several times this week I had numerous people tell me I’m beautiful, and a lot. My therapist says I’m still glowing. It’s amazing how being happy can produce an aura. Friends and acquaintances are thrilled to see me happy. My inner beauty is definitely shining on the outside. I sent two pictures to my cousin, and her reaction matched that of what I’ve been hearing. I miss her, my twin. Haven’t seen her since May, but my schedule is too crazy to get back to see her.  I am also missing a very special niece, who is close to my heart. We haven’t Skyped in months!

Overall, I am simply exhausted. The next thing I can do, and need to do, for myself is take a vacation; get away from here, from the daily grind that slowly drains my soul, and get away from various things causing tension.  I want to pull up a chair on a beach and read for hours on end, visit wineries, experience different food and cultures.  I want to see another part of the world I haven’t explored yet. I’ll get there and soon.

It’s a cooler fall day. I am writing from my favorite place with jeans and a light sweater because the sun has fallen on the western side of the house, and it’s colder on the patio. It’s the perfect night for a fire, but there’s a good chance I will either fall asleep on the couch, attempting to watch a movie, or get caught up in packing.

Yep, I’m beginning to pack!  First up are things I won’t need for 6-8 months, and I start with my most prized possessions: my books. There will be some things I will gladly part with, but my books and music is not part of that list.

I’m also applying to various jobs!  As I only have 4 months and 7 days left in the house, I’m motivated, and very excited, to begin the next chapter of my new life.  A fresh start is exactly what I need.  Duke doesn’t know what’s happening next, and I will have to pay attention to him a little more.  Rescued him as a puppy and he has only lived here. I’ll make sure the transition is easier for him.

Definitely making waves.  I expect a full storm surge in 2018.  On Twitter the other day I wrote, “My 2017 mantra, “making waves.” 2018? Let me get the most important novel written during NaNoWriMo first.”  NaNoWriMo and other crazy, writing-related conversations in my next post!

The sun hasn’t quite dipped beyond the mountain, but I have wood piled in the fire pit.  The mosquitos are currently out, and my current scent is Off! (a mosquito repellent)  As long as the wind remains calm, I think tonight will be a good night to get some writing done by firelight.  Oh, the simple pleasures in life!  They’re always great when you can take a step back and away from the chaos of daily life to soak up the quiet moments. And it’s fairly quiet outside right now.

Another good reason to go on vacation!  Now to choose a destination and figure out if I can do it (well, that’s just silly; of course I can!) during NaNoWriMo, where a 3-day trip to San Francisco is already scheduled.

If you’re out celebrating homecoming for the weekend, stay safe.  If not, enjoy your Saturday evening.
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Photos:  Getting ready for the morning of the NMT SPE 49ers Golf Tournament-sun barely rising. Working hard, playing harder. Writing by firelight.