Tuesday, December 31, 2013

celebrating the realm of possibility

I guess you could say that New Years Day is special to me because, depending upon how you look at it, the day symbolizes a new beginning--the dawning of a new year. A time to begin whatever you have been putting off...or to begin over again if your last attempt didn't work out as you had hoped.

Perhaps this is the year you will start the novel you've always wanted to write...

...or get back to a moldering manuscript and give it another try. Maybe you'll sign up for the art or photography class you've been aching to take...or get out your sketch book and start drawing again. Maybe this will be the year you join a gym...or take to the woods again.

Hopefully, this is the year you will silence the voices in your head that tell you nothing is going to change.

Soon they'll have you believing that, like every other year in the past, you simply will not find time to write or compose. You will not get around to clearing some space so you can dance, or indulging yourself with new paints--whatever it is you long to begin. You'll fall back on all the old excuses. You're too busy at work. The kids have too much going on. You have more important things to do--staying ahead of the laundry, keeping up with your friends on Facebook, solving the problems of war, poverty and world hunger.

The question is: Who are you going to listen to? The voice of reason or the pleading of your heart?

Who will you follow? The lumbering ogre of restraint trudging along the same well-worn path...

...or will you test your wings and fly away to the place where dreams come true?

 Does the arrival of New Years Day simply mean that another year has gone down the drain? Or is it a portal to possibility that is limited only by one's imagination and courage and passion?

What are you hoping to begin this year?
"Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment,
Sparkling like a star in our hand--
and melting like a snowflake."
--Sir Francis Bacon--


Hoping you celebrate the realm of possibility this New Year!
Stay safe tonight.
ps.: After wrestling with Blogger for many hours...I apologize for the funkiness of the post. Something just isn't right with the site, but you'll have this in a small town without a sheriff...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

don't get me wrong

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas!

When I was a child, Christmas was a very big deal at our house. I grew up on a Christmas tree farm where we celebrated the approach of Christmas with each passing season--planting in the spring, pruning through the summer, and harvesting in the fall...

...in the cold, in the gloom, in the snow...until the yard was piled high with trees. At Christmastime the place came to life with young and old alike. Back then, whole families drove out from the city for a visit to Pine Hill Farm to select a tree, or to cut their own. Then we welcomed them in out of the cold with hot chocolate and cookies before we saw them off.

Our entire life revolved around Christmas and creating holiday memories for others. This probably explains why we still trek out into the cold to cut our own tree every year--the memories are just so sweet.

By contrast, this is the quietest Christmas on record for me. The house is empty. We have no special plans for the day, although that will change on Saturday when the kids come home to enjoy a belated Christmas. There will be eleven of us for dinner...with four rambunctious dogs...a circus to be sure! 
Until then, this is the perfect time for me to reflect on the season--on its beauty, its joys, and its meaning.

Today was a good day to read. A good day to write. A good day to worship. And...a quiet time to ponder the problem with Christmas...because, for me, it isn't the easiest celebration to pull off.
The problem is that I have friends who are sick...so sick in fact that this could be that last Christmas they see. I have friends who are grieving. I know people who are alone today. And most likely, you do, too.
Enter sorrow. Enter despair. Enter bitterness, anger, and fear...on one of the happiest days of the year.


Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed my quiet Christmas day. I'm grateful that I had time today to embrace the part of my heart that aches for all who cannot celebrate this day. I'm glad that I remembered my friends. That it was quiet enough for prayer. That I spoke with my children, and walked my dog in the woods, and shared a quiet meal with my husband.
Of course I wish everyone could be merry today. That everyone had hope. That everyone was at peace...because that is how Christmas is engraved in my heart.

Just one more thing. I was reminded of my father today when I came across this image:

 ...because in the winter he, too, fed the birds out of the palm his hand...as did St. Francis of Assisi, I believe.

Except that when my father did it, it was 20 degrees below zero out there!
Wishing each and every one of you a peaceful
and blessed Christmas~~

Saturday, December 14, 2013

hunkering down

Today was a perfect day to hunker down against the massive snow storm that has been working its way across the country for the past couple of days.

The art of hunkering is something I learned as a child growing up in the snow belt south of Buffalo. In fact, my hometown made the news this week because of the heavy bands of snow that blew in off Lake Erie and blanketed the area. In the good olde days, when 30 inch snow falls and temperatures in the -25 degree range were commonplace, we learned to hunker down for weeks on end. Laid in supplies and food. Dusted off the snow shovels. Ordered in extra coal for the furnace. Often we were stranded for days because the plows couldn't get through.

So...hunkering down for a couple of days at a time is easy for me. It brings back happy memories of a cozy house and a welcoming kitchen, evenings spent reading or playing Scrabble, and heavy kettles of homemade soup.

Not that we spent much of our time indoors as children. Bad weather never kept us inside. We built snow forts and tunnels. We filled the yard with snow angels. We struggled through the drifts hauling sleds up the hill. We tested the ice on the creek. There is nothing quite as sweet as hunkering down for bad weather and then going out in it...

...because it sets you up to enjoy it as an adult.

Today I filled the bird feeders and shoveled the sidewalk. I walked my dog in the snow and rustled up eight deer and a red fox in the woods. I walked a mile to get the mail. I finished decorating indoors and out. I would have baked some cookies...but my oven died the day after Thanksgiving, and they called today to tell me the new one won't be delivered until the day AFTER Christmas. This is not funny, Santa!

The point is this:
If you write, you need to be able to hunker down with it. For me, this means stocking up on coffee, good red wine, and dark chocolate. It means turning a blind eye to the dust bunnies when they take over the house, and it involves letting the laundry pile up. It may require missing lunch with friends and backing off at the gym. It definitely means long hours of solitude punctuated with frustration, impatience, and insecurity...

...which is why I'm glad I know how to hunker properly. I'm starting work on a new book.

Do you have a routine you follow to prepare for bad weather? How do you get ready to start a new project?
"So you see, imagination needs moodling--
long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."
--Brenda Ueland--

Hunkering and moodling. Good stuff.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

you simply must begin

This is the challenge going around on Facebook this week:
List fifteen books that changed your
I wish it had asked for fifteen authors who changed my life/soul/heart because when I read a book that has a profound influence on me, I want to know everything about the author. Mostly, though, I want to know how they learned to write something so powerful, or so true, or so heart-breaking, or so funny. I want to know if I can do it, too.
This challenged me to think about fifteen books I would like to write:
  1. A scathing critique of the American medical system--the corporate greed, the loss of physician autonomy/authority, the wiles of the pharmaceutical industry...don't get me started.
  2. A reflection on faith titled, "Beyond Belief." This will probably be my next project.
  3. A memoir of the childhood illness my brother and I shared...that led me into the study of medicine, but propelled my brother into a lifelong quest for healing, titled "The Telling Time."
  4. An inspirational book based on this blog--the idea that it's never too late to "begin again."
  5. A reflection on the lighter side of medicine...the incidents that made it all bearable.
  6. A piece about the "joys of country living."
  7. A Christmas tale, something to do with a mean old man and the furry creatures who soften his heart, as furry creatures are wont to do...
  8. A book of my short stories.
  9. A book of essays on the practice of medicine.
  10. A book of poetry.
  11. A study of patients I have known and what I have learned from them.
  12.  A book for misfits, like myself.
And, the three novels that are collecting dust on my desk and need revision:
  1. "The Bandaged Place" about a physician who is the target of medical fraud by trusted colleague.
  2. "Torched" about a physician who weeds out a sex tourism operation at a safari resort in Africa.
  3. My NaNoWriMo project, "Touchpoints" about an international abduction and a mother's quest to save her daughter.
Do you have a book simmering inside that need to be written?

A picture that needs to be painted? A song you need to sing?
Then you simply must...

"The scariest moment is always
just before you start."
--Stephen King--
Christmas is just around the corner. Need a gift for a special woman in your life? Tired of traipsing around the mall? "Empower--Women's Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery and Triumph" makes a wonderful gift, and you can order it here .
What could be easier?