Category Archives: writing

A Life List

I wondered what had happened to all my “life lists.” The Life List is a technique I used for many years to help me figure out who I was, without the overlay of abuse, the abuser, and others’ opinions.

I found one this morning in a box of papers. This list is over 30 years old. I quit smoking in my 20s. My current reactions are in bold below.

Much of this list, 4 pages, were pictures of china from the Sunday newspaper’s magazine. The patterns are mostly pastel, stylized flowers on white backgrounds.  I still like the china patterns, although of the seven I cut out, only one is something I still really like. It’s yellow spider mums on a white background, called “Dreaming” by Denby. I’d include an image but can’t find one to copy, sorry!

Aside from the china, the list says:

…herbs hanging by a string, I do this.

an orange/clove pomander in every closet, I don’t do this.

growing vegetables in pots, I don’t do this.

a fave radio station’s call letters I’d probably still listen to that station, if we didn’t live on the other side of the country!

small white ashtrays at pier 1 I don’t smoke any more.

The white German china which was my Mom’s and the Corning Centuraware my Dad used as everyday. I have some of each, so they’re still “me.”

A list of flowers: columbine, lily of the valley, miniature roses, daffs, vinca, Icelandic poppies I still like all of these, but don’t grow many flowers.

Linen placemats/table cloths, Definite change here: I have cloth placemats, but rarely use a table cloth.

Berries for breakfast.  Yum!

I thrive on change – a man who can rest but not stop. Not the way I see my former self. I don’t think I  really thrived on change, but I desperately wanted it since this is from the time in my life when the emotional pain was constant. 

Not interested in a man who rests but doesn’t stop — in some ways. In others? Yes, this is still true. 

Wrap around skirts, bell sleeves, capes. I still like these, but don’t wear them. I’m pear shaped, so they’re not flattering any more.

A plain shoe doesn’t drown out you! Who cares? But I still wear shoes which are pretty simple.

Lastly: Perky, smart, happy, pretty … such are dreams. I find this sad.


Some of this is taste, obviously. Some of it’s who I wanted to be or how I wanted to be seen.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand the need for this how much these lists meant. They were affirmation, vindication, and hope all in one.


I threw the pages out after I wrote this. Interesting? Yes. Do I want to keep it?

No.

Books & Reading: Legacy & Healing

My parents met because of books. Mom was a bookseller, Dad a book collector.

Books saved my life. For decades, I read compulsively first thing in the morning and last thing at night. They were my only constant: no matter how bad or good the day was, the words on the page remained the same.

The abused, wounded little girl I was to the young woman I became, desperately needed a constant. God had been blocked from me, as had any belief system or group of people — as part of that abuse.

Then I met this quiet 6’1 man who decided he was going to take the person he said was, “the most cynical person I’ve ever known,” and be the rock she needed. It worked, but it took years.

During those years, I still read compulsively. I opened the shop, in part to thank the literary world for saving my sanity/life. Then, at 45, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and the therapist, DH and I slowly but steadily unpicked the knot of my abuse and traumas.

My therapist said that when people get PTSD, the first thing which eases the pain becomes the addiction. In my case, I was 3 and it was books and reading.

stack-of-books

(Not sure where I got the image, I’ve used it before, sorry!)

More years, more books, more healing. The store closed in 2005. Sometime afterwards, about the time I started knitting (2015), I stopped reading compulsively first and last thing every day.

I’d gotten to where I almost resented books. I had too many, they cluttered up my life and were a continual reminder of how wounded I’d been.

I count people who write, illustrate, publish and edit as some of my dearest friends. There are 6 books with my name on the cover, and two more scheduled to come out late this year or early next.

One of the future books is the memoir and that’s the period, for me, on the end of the abuse/PTSD sentence. If one person, just one, doesn’t commit suicide or tries to find another way — just once — the ten years it took me to write will be worthwhile.

Behind that 10 years are hundreds of hours of therapy, both effective and not. Also behind it are thousands of hours of reading: recharging my batteries, giving me hope, giving me respite, and telling me to try again and again.

Recently, I plucked a copy of Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy from a box. I was completely prepared to get rid of it, and will, but I hadn’t read it. I’ve read everything else she wrote, except her text books, and I skimmed those! So I picked it up and started.

In the course of reading about how she became the person associated with the Marks & Co. bookshop and all that happened to her because of that association, I found a new way to adjust for my past. Having books and reading is fine. It’s no longer my refuge, safety and salvation, it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.

I still have way too many books — but somehow, it’s hard to resent it.

 

 

I Have Been

Working hard — on the house. I’ve been following my cleaning plan.

It seems to me that a major shift is in order. Instead of trying to sell the memoir as a psych. program auxiliary piece, maybe what I need to do is sell the cleaning plan and make the memoir the back piece to that.

It would solve the problem of the memoir just not having a plot, being first-person, too short, and a mess of other issues. Of course, I still haven’t heard from my publisher, but my feeling is that I will not. Not now and not in the future. It will be as if it dropped into a black hole and vanished… poof!

This has completely stopped the work I was doing on the memoir. I had even talked to a friend about coding it for an ebook. Okay, fine.

I can’t sell the cleaning plan if I can’t use it, right? I can’t set myself up as an expert on anything unless I can actually DO whatever. (Well, that’s not true. These days the woods are full of blow-hard know-it-alls who make pronouncements about any and everything. EVERYONE is an expert, about anything they feel strongly about!)

But I was raised by someone who genuinely was an expert in his field. My brother is. My husband is too. I have been surrounded my entire life by men who are really good at their jobs, and became “experts.”

So I have standards about about what it takes to BE an expert:

  • You must know what you’re talking about.
  • You must be able to do something rather than just talk about the subject.
  • You must have some sort of track record, that is a history, of successfully being able to do whatever it is.

My dad taught aeronautics  and designed airplanes for 40 years, my brother has worked in his field for the same amount of time and he’s still teaching and writing about it, my husband has been in his field since the field started, about 30 years now.

Me? The only thing I’m expert in is the inner workings of my head. The memoir is 50 years of life & learning and took me 10 years to write. The cleaning plan started in one way when I started this blog in 11/2011. I’ve been whacking away at the problems since.

I couldn’t do the memoir until I did the trauma work.

I could write, but not use, the cleaning plan until I did the memoir.

So, we’ll see if the next step is what I want/hope it to be? That is, using the cleaning plan, make it  a habit, and a book and/or app is the next step. (Habits take 90 days to be established.)

I sure hope so! I don’t know that I have the patience to spend 10 more years on this project.

So, I’ve shifted gears. I was all set to publish the memoir, whack away at the cleaning plan, then when I finally got it to work, get it ready for publication.

Nope.

Doing it the other way around. Going to get the cleaning plan working,  finish up the writing related to it, get DH or someone to make the app I have in mind, then publish the CLEANING PLAN, with the MEMOIR as back material.

Then the lack of “plot” or “arc” or sex, drugs, rock n’ roll won’t matter. I’m not selling the memoir; it’s explanatory material, I’m selling the cleaning plan. Want to know why I set the cleaning plan up the way I have? Read the memoir and you’ll find out.

street signs

Image is not mine, not sure where I got it. Sorry!

Slog, slog, slog. . . .

There’s 75% of another book box dealt with. The box of used checkbooks has been gone through and I filed what I could — I ran out of supplies.

There’s 2 boxes of books to be donated at the swap shop Wednesday. A sealed box to go to the storage for the flea market, whenever. Two partial boxes in the living room also for the flea market, one books, one not.

Progress of a sort.

Did a little writing, a very little writing.

Have I mentioned that I hate winter? Everything, or nearly everything, gets put on hold, or feels like it should be.

DH on the other hand, got the 2nd set of new lights up in the kitchen. Hurrah! I can actually see in there when I’m cooking!!!  And we talked about my problem with the current kitchen cabinets. I want to paint them. Partly because to me they always look dirty; even when I’ve just cleaned them. I don’t mind cleaning things, but I purely HATE cleaning things which still look dirty afterwards!

Today I did laundry, dishes, the checks, and books. DH did dinner, we had leftovers, so it was just reheating. I was all prepared to cook, but he reminded me that we had pot pie to eat, so no cooking for me!

Slog, slog, slog . . . .

And so it continues. I’m tempted to quote Tolkien: “The road goes ever on . . . .”

end of road

Happy

  • YEAR of the Pig
  • Get organized, clean up your computer, and creativity MONTH
  • Science fiction and world introvert DAY!

(There’s more. Want more? Info here.)

So, I’ve been working on my organizer or getting ready to. I couldn’t find another PlanAhead Mother’s Organizer, and I tried. I won’t buy one at Amazon, forget that. I looked though the stores I will go to and didn’t find one. So, I’m back to DIY, again. I did buy a planner, but it;s a regular thing for appointments mostly.

I liked the mother’s organizer because it had columns for 5 kids. With me? That was 5 projects and I could carry things one step one day to the next step two days later on their weekly spread. It was great.

Multi-Day Projects This Month:

  • So, I have a planner/organizer designed, but not made. I’d already had that. So, this year I will actually make it as my first multi-day job.
  • Get the financial info together so that at the end of the month it’s all ready to go to the accountant. Unsure if I’ll make that, but it’s the goal!
  • Write a promised article. The deadline for that is 1/15, so it will probably be done before the financial info, which I can’t finish before all the paperwork from various places arrive.
  • Finish the storage move.

This morning I went through a box in my office full of china and glass pieces. Most are going away. Some of it was pieces I was missing and I wasn’t sure where I’d put them?

There are 2 boxes with pieces priced, boxes labeled and sealed — for the spring flea market. A 3rd is started.

There’s a crate of pieces going to the antique store when they get back from their year-end break.

I haven’t stopped what I’m doing, I just haven’t written about it much!

We’ll see how much I actually can do!

image from workitdaily.com via google images

In Limbo

I’ve been avoiding this place, because I’m ready to and have indeed done much of the work to split the two main topics into two blogs, well three.

Frankly, I’m waiting on  the publisher and I’ve been working on the house in my usual semi-organized way.

But none of the “next steps” can be done until one of three things happen:

  1. I decide to take the mask off I have here just because.
  2. I decide to do #1 because I have a publisher for the memoir and news about that.
  3. I get the house clean and the book finished about it, and have THAT book to promote.

I haven’t forgotten about this place. Have thought 100 times I should write a blog about a topic — but I’m not ready.

image from workitdaily.com via google images

(image from workitdaily.com via images.google.com)

After 10 years of work, from rough stories because I thought I might need an online memorial (had an operation in 2008) to more refined to yet more refined, to finally being far enough away from the stories that I could use my professional skills and pull a book together?

After 3 editors, 3-5 computers, 3 word processors, a file which was so corrupt it had to be retyped, etc. I am done.

And done in I think too, or maybe exhausted is just a better word?

Having the memoir done and knowing it’s pretty good has changed me in some weird fundamental way. I don’t really have anything else to say right now.

I’m done.

 

 

(But Happy holidays!)

And Counting

Sent note today, no answer, yet.

Sigh.