“She wakes up each morning feeling like she has nothing to do. No routine. No purpose.”
Lisa Genova: ‘Love Anthony’
I read these words this morning and thought, that is exactly ME. That is me when I wake without that feeling of excitement about hurrying to a sewing, writing or art project, or without an appointment, or wanting to return to a novel that is drawing me with the power of the tide.
I do enjoy sitting, apparently doing nothing, but my mind has to be engaged in creative thought for me to relax.
I keep a pile of six to eight library books on hand to alleviate the desolate feeling of nothing-to-do. Mind you, there is always housework or organizing a closet or room, but at this stage of my life – been there, done that.
Our journey thro this life is tumultuous with its constant ups and downs, its real or imagined slights. We all barter, in one way or another, to maintain a relatively consistent feeling of well being.
I thrive on passion – for opportunity, creativity, my family.
The alternative to feeling purposeful is, for me, depression. So, in order to ward off that monster, I always have a multitude of projects on the go.
Early in my marriage, it was one project only – needlework. Then I needed a new interest and, for a few decades, it was researching and publishing our genealogy. With that completed, I felt lost, until my creative juices latched onto sketching with pen and painting in watercolour. Florals are my thing.
Gradually, after several years, I began to feel I had said all I could in that media. My search was on for new artistic horizons.
I don’t know if it is because I am now in my early 70’s, but I now seem to flit from one project to another. Whatever it is, I am artistically all over the place – a true jack of all trades, master of none.
But there is nothing as satisfying and addictive as waking to a passionate urge to create.
That is what keeps my juices flowing and keeps me loving my life.
It will happen on May 1st in the year 2015 — a date so far away, it almost seems unreal to you, right?
On that day, you’ll remember how your mother told you that when she turned forty, she sat down on her bed and cried. For hours. Cried, not out of sadness, but out of intensity.
As for you, you will have seen your forties coming for a long time. You, the forever teenager, solidly rooted in reality, but a total vagabond at the same time, never really staying in one place, never really satisfied, and eternally curious, you will have taken turning 38 as a shock. That was when you finally realized what was happening to you.
Life, your life was here! Not in the future like you’d always imagined it, preparing yourself for “later”. But right here. In the present. Everything you do today, every minute, that’s your life.
That kiss you give, that place where you live, that work you do, that’s your life.
Readjusting to the present is something that will have happened to you kind of late, but it will finish the work of liberating you from your fears. After that, for you, turning 40 will be a gift.
First of all, my dear, because you’re alive.
It sounds silly said like that, right? When you’re 20 you never really think about it, and that’s a good thing. But, by the time you’re 40, you’ll have lived a life. You’ll have seen the world lose wonderful people much too soon. And you will think of aging as a serious privilege.
You’ll see, being 40 will be cool…
For one thing, when you say how old you are, people will stare at you in disbelief and say: “But you don’t look 40 at all!!!” and you won’t be able to keep from blushing – you’ll still be just as sensitive to flattery at 40, in case you’re wondering, but you’ll answer with a big smile, because you really believe it when you say:
“No, it’s not that I don’t look 40, it’s just that this is what it looks like to be 40 now!”
When you’re 40, you’ll still be coming up with theories about life. You might as well accept that right away, because it’s not going to stop. You’ll have a few completely dumb theories, but I really like the one you’ll have about aging physically.
You won’t think of it as a kind of defeat, but rather as a chance to really learn to take care of yourself.
Today, you’re 20, and your body can take all those excesses with no problem at all (Don’t try to look innocent, the truth is you won’t have changed very much when you’re 40, in terms of excess. Well, you will, but not really, I mean – you’ll see, let’s keep a little bit of the mystery, right?) but when you’re 40, you’ll immediately be able to see and feel what’s good for you.
Is it because you’ll know yourself better or because your body will be more sensitive?
Probably a little bit of both. Use it as a guide for staying well.
When you’re 40, you’ll have friends of all ages, and they’ll add just as much to your life as you will to theirs. You’ll often wonder how your 20-year-old friends can be so mature, since it took you 40 years to get there, but you will have beautiful, balanced friendships with them. You’ll help each other, you’ll give each other advice, and you’ll laugh like crazy.
A good girl is a good girl. Whether she’s 5 years old or 95, you want to have her in your life.
You’ll have lots of good girls around you.
When you’re 40, you’ll be someone that people listen to. Weird, right? You’ll be perfectly certain that that’s the real treasure of your life. People will read what you write. A lot of women, like sisters, or best friends, will give you the opportunity to be heard. And they’ll respond. They’ll be incredibly generous, and sometimes hard on you. Deep down, they’ll be like you.
It’s pretty funny – there will be a few people in your life that see you as a mentor. I know, it seems ridiculous, since right now you can’t even find your way to class C, and you wonder why you ever enrolled in this stupid university, but one day, people will seek out your advice. And you will be really happy to give it – you’ll try to be for others what some people, either by accident or intentionally, have been for you in your life.
And you’ll know that it’s important to say that you’re 40 and that you want to celebrate your age, and that you’re proud of it, and that age definitely isn’t something we should hide, especially not as women.
In 2015,I know it’s hard to believe for you, but we’ll still have a long way to go. One of the rights we’ll need to reclaim is the right to age peacefully.
My dear 20-year-old self, I know you so well, so here’s the most important thing I want to say to you. What I want is to send you a little perspective.
No, seriously. Stop freaking out.
The truth is, everything you’re afraid of is going to happen to you.
You’ll be poor. You’ll get dumped. You’ll lose someone you love. You’ll be ridiculous. You’ll make mistakes. Oh yes, you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make so many mistakes!!! Sometimes you’ll feel completely lost.
But whatever happens, you’ll always have yourself.
Your sense of humor, your crazy theories, your love for life, your curiosity about others. Your ever-changing vision of the world — all of these things will stay intact.
And you’ll realize that right when you think you’re going to fall into pieces and crash on the floor, that there will be loving arms there to catch you, and whether that support comes from close friends or strangers, they will be there. Learn to recognize it, and give yourself over to those loving arms.
Learn to let go and give yourself over to loving arms. Learn to see the magic of existence.
Learn to follow all those invisible threads that you’ll weave together just by being yourself, always progressing toward more light, more acceptance, and more truth.
You also need to know that you will be loved, and you will be successful. And all those difficult moments that came before will protect you from being afraid. Stop worrying. You’re going to see the world, and meet people, and learn to love them. You’ll learn tenderness. Toward others, and toward yourself.
You won’t be so afraid anymore. Don’t be so afraid, sweetheart.
And don’t worry, you who loves nothing more than having a good time. You’ll have just as much fun at 40 as you did at 20, maybe even more. Life won’t become this gray, serious, full of responsibilities thing you imagine.
Life won’t be at all like you imagined, so stop guessing and go experience.
The more you’ll go, the more your life will take on richer, more vibrant, deeper colors. You won’t regret all the silly things you’ve done, not even for a second. You’ll always be here, the same person, with the same hunger, the same thirst, the same dreams of new adventures. And there will never be a second to waste on feeling sorry for yourself. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you’re annoying.
Work on becoming a good person, and hope that one day, if you have the privilege to get very old and wrinkled, you’ll be able to look back and feel that you brought a little light into the lives of the people around you.
Put this letter down, grab your keys, and get out there and discover the world.
Everything will be fine, sweetheart. It will all be okay.
On the day you turn 40, maybe you will sit down on your bed and cry too. But I have a feeling they’ll be tears of joy, gratitude, and an immense love for life.“
A Reminder for Me, by the fabulous Katherine Hepburn
End view showing inserts and elastics. Such a clever system!!!
Stuffed with an unlined notebook (writing journal, poetry), and two notebook inserts I made myself – one with kraft paper (for drawings), and one made of Arches 140 pound cold pressed watercolour paper. Also I have a zippered bag (micron pens & a view finder) plus several pockets; also, an art booklet.
I am awaiting arrival of a grid insert for organizing, lists, notes.
Midori supplier, ‘Wonder Pens’, Queen West, Toronto; and Amazon.ca online service has been excellent.
Now, can I squeeze in a watercolour paint tray (small traveler size), and 2 or 3 small brushes? Ideas anyone?
Today marks a huge milestone for me. Since beginning this blog -‘inknpetals.wordpress.com’ seven months ago, in April of this year, I have been blessed with 400+ followers, with more coming on board daily.
This amazes, thrills and humbles me. Some followers are my friends, neighbours, family; some are my fellow bloggers. Some of you follow my blog directly; others follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Some of you have accumulated thousands of followers; tens of thousands, and unbelievably some of you have hundreds of thousands. So to you this modest milestone may not seem much. To me it is huge.
To each and every 416 of you who have clicked that little ‘Follow’ or ‘Like’ icon, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your support.
I do not write every day but try to post something each week on my blog and Facebook. Tweets are usually more frequent.
Please continue to read occasionally and even jot a ‘comment’ or a ‘like’. It is helpful to know what appeals, and conversely, what does not.
Thank you once again. Whether as a writer or a reader, I love this feeling of belonging.
Only yesterday I blogged that I would not be writing much the next while, but creativity infuses your thoughts at the most irregular and often inopportune times. I awoke at 4 am with creative juices surging and so alive that I felt impelled to jump out of bed and record them. So, coffee is on and here I go …
I was in love from ages 16 to 20 with someone who fortunately loved me back just as fiercely and passionately. This was no puppy love. It was the pure, intense, all-consuming first love. During one summer we were apart. We wrote each other almost every day. The letters included our adventures, our plans and our promise to each other that if our love did not last, we would meet again, if we were both available, when we were 60. It seemed reasonable to think that if we were alone at that time, our shared interests and affection would make a good partnering for our senior years together. Since then I have learned that this is a common idea in many young relationships – a way to hold on to something good.
I kept those letters, and a large collection of newspaper accounts of his hockey and football accomplishments, in a shoe box, and then a second box, squeezed full of love, hopes and our dreams. The boxes travelled with me, into nursing, into my first apartment shared with my new husband and our newborn daughter, a second apartment with my husband, daughter and newborn son; into a third apartment with the four of us and a new baby girl; then into our first home where yet one more treasured babe arrived.
I remember the morning as clearly as if it were only last month. G and I were playfully enjoying the new day. Our babes were quietly engrossed with their toys and each other in their rooms. I was sitting on our bed, legs folded under me, wearing ‘baby doll’ pj’s. I was happy. G went into our closet and returned with the shoe boxes. I had never hid them, nor did I flaunt them, simply kept them and the memories.
My husband put it to me that perhaps it was time to throw the letters away. We were a unit now with our four children. Perhaps it was time to put that part of my life behind me. I think I put up a small resistance, but not much. I shrugged and said OK. I thought the request unnecessary, but I understood his reasoning, so I willingly acquiesced.
Only years later, when I began genealogy did I realize that I had stuffed other letters in those boxes as well. There were some from my Mom, from my maternal grandmother and a special note written by my father-in-law to welcome me into the family. This lovingly and generously written note was all the more treasured for two reasons: I was joining a staunch Roman Catholic, Irish family and I was a Presbyterian as proud and staunch. In addition, I was very pregnant with our child. But Chas’s open heart reassured me that I was a welcome addition to their loving and loud clan. I always loved him for that small act of kindness. He instinctively knew how vulnerable I felt.
So long gone were those treasures as well as the record of first love. I was not bitter, nor resentful, only a little sad at the loss. Decades later, after yet another move to another new home, did G unfurl a painting he had done before we married. It was a nearly life-sized, sultry portrait in charcoal, of a beautiful woman with flowing dark hair. I recognized her immediately. It was Siobahan, G’s romance before moi.
The sheer gall of the man came to mind. He pleaded the case that I should toss the symbols of my high school love, while he held onto a relic of his university dalliance.
But it was art after all, so I suggested our daughter might want to hang evidence of her father’s talent (hurmph) in her home. There it stays to this day.
Now, due to the absence of those long ago letters tucked into a shoe box, I miss the opportunity to access conversations of a first love. What grand plots and truthful dialogue they might inspire in my writing today.
Destroying the physical evidence of our past does not improve the present. Perhaps we should consider, that each and everyone of us comes to a new relationship with a back story that helps make us who we are.
Sunrise in Wasaga Beach, as I finish this blog entry.
This is my very favourite way to wake up … slowwwwwwwly, with my coffee, my lap-top or iPad, a good book and my dawg at my feet. Most especially I enjoy this awakening on my back porch in lovely weather. Otherwise, the ritual is indoors, in my comfy wing-back chair or at the table.
This pleasurable interlude is a recent occurrence … relatively, after decades of being awakened early morn by my babies, being on duty in hospital for seven A.M., arriving at an early nursing appointment, or rushing hither and yon to various life commitments.
Funny tho’ how I do this now with a weight of guilt hovering. I should be cleaning or organizing, or watering and dead-heading plants, or cutting through the mountain of laundry, or creating an inspiring art studio, or I should paint or write. With all the shoulds, how in the name of all that is right with the world, is someone supposed to live in the moment?
Sounds good doesn’t it, this living in the moment thing? Smell the roses. Enjoy whatever you are doing, at the time you are doing it. Otherwise life passes by while you are thinking of, planning for, some moment that may never come.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding on my bird feeder after his long flight from South, or perhaps Central, America
Blogger, twenty-one year old Sophie Naz is very wise for her years.(www.TheLazySlinky.wordpress.com) She wrote:
“In some sense now I can understand why growing old is so frightening. It’s not about wrinkles or health entirely. It may not even be entirely about fear of death. It’s a fear of being left behind…”.
You get it girl!
So I replied to her: “OMG when I read that, bells went off. That is exactly what I feel. At 69 I am madly racing against the clock. Oooohhhhh, I feel a new blog coming on! Thank you.”
I have been on a treadmill for the past several years – not one of the huge black, dust collector machines, but the treadmill in my mind. I am constantly trying to experience all I can, enjoy whatever years I have left in this incredible world. I am also attempting to keep up with some of the technology of my grandchildrens’ era. This is an impossible feat, but I feel I must scrape the surface … I enjoy the opportunities and the challenges. It amazes me how I can ‘publish’ a blog and it is instantly everywhere – not just on my blog, but on Facebook (on my separate ‘writing’ page); on Twitter, and on LinkedIn. This is fascinating me. The younger generations take these new innovations for granted.
I am eager each day to see the new readers and followers of my blog. I am so gratified and amazed that people are actually reading what I write. And I am equally curious about those people, their lives, their perspectives. I am in awe of the number of writers with ‘real’ talent out there. I am buoyed by their happy experiences; I am travelling to points previously unknown to me, via the written word and accompanying photos. I am experiencing their experiences, their thoughts, and seeing parts of the world which time, or circumstance, does not permit me to encounter. Some blogs are beautiful, some are true eye candy. What a treat.
At this point in my life that is what makes me happy. I know there are tremendous problems and hateful people sharing this life with us (there always has been and always will be) but that is not the kind of blog that will catch my eye and beg me to linger.
I have many friends and acquaintances who want no part of social media, not even email. I cannot relate. Communicating with the world is exciting now. And I am thrilled to still be alive for these experiences. After all, when I was in school, we wrote everything long-hand with a pen (no, not a quill and nib).
I remember when my parents bought the newest innovation of its time – a television. It was the 1950’s. Our boxy television had only one channel and programming didn’t begin until 8 PM. A stationary and soundless ‘test pattern’ was the only picture on it the rest of the time. (remember the Indian head within circles)
‘Test Pattern’ on early televisions, before programming began
Technology continued to advance. I remember my first Commodore computer. It was a step up from an electronic typewriter but with an ability to save documents. A few years after that, my husband bought me one of the first iPods Apple designed. He purchased it on a business trip to the US and brought it home to me in Ontario, Canada. Exciting.
And so on … more powerful and complex computers, my first MacBook Pro, my first iPhone, and then I felt so incredibly satisfied with my iPad 2.
So the continuum into the world of blogging is a natural progression. I love writing my thoughts, memories, dreams. I love being fascinated, surprised, energised and in awe from the wonders I experience in the writing of fellow bloggers.
I have a decade-changing birthday approaching, so I rush headlong into new adventures, experiencing as much as possible within my own little part of the world, while I am still in it!
Blogger, Sophie Naz, ‘The Lazy Slinky’, is right – I dread being left behind. I do not want to miss anything. I am a believer in the philosophy that “every day above ground is a good one”. Today is a good day … and I am blogging!
Feeding Frenzie Outside My Window – I Don’t want to miss That!
I believe we are all the same. We share love, hate, loneliness, frustration, despair, anger, ambition, creativity, life’s ups and downs; and a need to be a part of something more than ourselves.
The difference is in the variables … time and place; extent of each person’s need; their choice of belief system; their environment, genes, and their ability to be open to their place in the world; their choice to love .. or not, to be happy .. or not.
It is those variables that create our individuality. And it is that individuality, when written of, makes a good read.
‘DECADES’ is my memoir, a compilation of stories and essays which document my experiences, growth and feelings through the years and decades of my life.
Some facts are difficult to share, so when I read Sandra Danby’s blog today, it struck a chord. It was relevant.
Sandra Danby and Rachel Cusp (whom Sandra quotes below) validate the creative process of writing a memoir, and the sharing of intimacies.
“It takes a particular kind of courage to write memoir. All writing – all creativity – involves self-exposure, but in memoir the exposure is twofold. The self is both subject and author, and as authors we are duty-bound to treat our subjects with the greatest possible objectivity. Is it possible, or even desirable, to be truly objective about oneself? And what value does that objectivity, if achieved, have for the reader?”
Sandra Denby continues: “I’ve always been too intimidated to attempt memoir, though I have used my experiences in my fiction particularly for setting. But I do agree that all creativity must involve self-exposure, or be weaker for the omission. Surely in order to write, we have to be self-aware and with that self-awareness comes objectivity?”
So, I ask those of you reading my memoir ‘DECADES’, to consider Sandra’s comments, in particular:
” … all creativity must involve self-exposure, or be weaker for the omission.”
My thanks to both of you for the following blogging tips (below). I am unsure of the ethics of blogging. I hope it is kosher to share blogs on my site. If, not, I will delete immediately.
* * *
“To the Frustrated Blogger
by Andra Watkins on April 10, 2013
Frustration. It’s been in the air for a while now all over the Great Blogosphere. In private, I’ve felt it myself. But when some of my favorite writers started expressing their own agonies, I decided to write this post. I hope it will give you a massive confidence bump. Or something.
The recent changes in your blog statistics are not about you.
Panda was such a fundamental change to Google search that most SEO-types recommended that folks go back and optimize every bit of content to meet the new rules. And, it teed up Google’s new mission to require a Google+ account with linked authorship, which will usher in a new system called ‘Author Rank‘ in the coming months. To me, Author Rank is little more than a popularity contest.
I thought I graduated from high school in 1987. I want to scream ‘what grade are we in?’