I say “snuck out” because I promised all three of my children that I would stay home all day and write. I agreed with them that since I’m 65, I should stay home, sheltered in place, because that’s what we are all being asked to do where I live. This Corona Virus thing has me good and scared and I completely understand that to stay healthy, it’s best to avoid contact with others.
It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do. I’m in the middle of writing the next chapter in my book, making a quilt and I have a new found desire to bake. But that’s where my troubles began–I needed eggs and butter. That is, I needed eggs and butter if I was going to stay home for the next two weeks, feed my husband breakfast and still bake.
I figured that if I ventured out early enough, I might not run into as many people. So I did and I was right. My beach city was quiet, devoid of crowds, bikes and surfboards. I got dressed and was in line by 9:10. The store had opened at 9:00 and there were already about fifteen people in line ahead of me. Kudos to the pleasant Trader Joe’s staff who kept the store well stocked and the line moving. And kudos to the folks in line who, thankfully, approached the whole event with smiles on their faces. We all made a point of not standing too close together and I’m grateful that I heard neither a cough nor a sneeze.
In thirty minutes I was in and out of the store with lots of good stuff, including eggs and butter. I also left with another unexpected bonus. I met a new character for my book. She is a combination of the three wonderful women who I stood in line with. Total strangers, they shared their good humor as they threw out questions to the crowd like, “How many of you are over sixty and snuck out today?” and comments like, “I won’t tell your kids if you don’t tell mine!” All three were colorful women with infectious smiles who I soon found out were actually as scared as I was to be out and about when we should have been at home. I took all three home with me in my heart and joyfully morphed them into my new character.
These are challenging times for our world and I do not take lightly the recommendations coming out from the CDC and our local health officials. And I must admit that it will be a while before I need or want to venture out to the market or Trader Joe’s again. But, I am grateful to the staff who continue to work so hard to keep our markets full. I also want to extend a personal hurrah to the medical community who are working so tirelessly to get us all through this crisis. I have a first hand view of it as I watch my daughter, who is a nurse, march off to work to keep her cancer patients safe.
Good health and best wishes for an end to this soon!
Over the past week, my two year old granddaughter has been staying at our home. She is the definition of joy and I am so very grateful to have her in my life. However, I now understand why I had my kids young; what a whirlwind of endless, positive energy she is.
I am pleased to say that her mom and dad have done a wonderful job teaching her to always say thank you – and I do mean always! Whether I am giving her a sippy cup or offering to help her walk down the stairs, she never fails to say, “Thank you, Grandma.” And when she doesn’t want to do something, she just laughs and says, “No thank you, Grandma”. Okay, maybe she says that part more times than I’d like, but heck, she’s only two!
This beautiful little child has shamed me, reminding me of something so crucial in life – the need to say thank you to those who help you along the way. It is humbling indeed to realize that I have not always done a good job in this area. Writing can be a solitary, lonely activity and I know I would never have continued trying, had it not been for the support of many other writers, family members and friends.
Marianne Donley offered me a chance to blog for A Slice of Orange when I was just starting out. And when I faltered, she gave me a second chance. Thank you Marianne.
And to all of you out there who have given me or another writer a helping hand, thank you. You may never truly know how much your help meant to us, but take it from me, it did.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Thank you!
Lately, whenever I sit down to write, a million extraneous thoughts begin to wheedle their way into my head. Some irrelevant, others more important, they all tangle together, creating a web of distraction that entraps my creativity, smothering it in disorganization. Priority be damned, I sadly seem to let every random thought overtake me, derailing me from my storytelling track.
Frustrated and struggling to find some much needed time to finish my next chapter, it suddenly occurred to me that my biggest stumbling block to success is me, myself and I!
Anxious to finish chapter thirteen in my new book, I sat down at my computer and constructed my opening paragraph. Yeah, I can do this. But then I remembered, I forgot to pay my Talbots bill. Struggling back to the story line, I was distracted by my rumbling stomach. Did I ever eat breakfast this morning? Oh yes, I had toast with peanut butter. My neighbor called asking to borrow something or other and my mind began to wander. I definitely need to take a trip to the market to get more something or others. Back on task again, I glanced at my calendar resting on my desk. Jeez, I forgot my dentist appointment was tomorrow. Noting the date, I panicked. My daughter’s wedding is in three weeks and I have a million more things to do. Where am I ever going to find a pair of shoes to go with my dress? The shoes need to be the right shade of blue, comfortable and not too pricey. Maybe I should check online.
Achh, I was doing it again! I needed to stop my wandering mind and get back to my chapter. But how was I ever going to tame my chaotic brain?
Afraid I might be losing my writing mojo; I called my good friend who suggested that I create a To Do list and make a check each time I finish a paragraph until I finish the entire chapter. Good idea, right? Wrong. At least wrong for me. I already know what I need to do, I ‘m just not doing it. So I rationalized, if a To Do list can bring success, how about a Not To Do list?
After some reflection, I grabbed a moment and created a short, but sturdy Not To Do list:
It’s day three of my Not To Do list and it’s going okay… I guess. Unfortunately, chapter thirteen is still incomplete, but at least it’s a lot further along than it was.
I think I need to add a 6th item: I will neither panic nor give up if this doesn’t work right away.
Perhaps you too have faced these same struggles? If you have any strategies that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them.
Until then, Happy Writing!
Fall is my favorite time of the year and an opportunity for me to share three unusual witch facts with you. Why? Well, of course, because I write about witches. But since my witches live primarily at the beach, and since that might seem peculiar to you, I thought I’d share a few other things you might find different, unusual or just plain funky about my favorite subject—witches!
Many practitioners of witchcraft were originally respected as healers, providing helpful healing aids to their villages. Using plant based remedies they created tinctures, oils and healing potions which they shared freely throughout their communities for the purpose of curing everyday maladies. Many were known for having vast gardens, where they harvested plants and flowers for medicinal uses. The popularity of using natural plants and flowers as healing tools is on the rise again today. Herbal Medicine, Natural Remedies by Anne Kennedy is a great resource for info on this.
(My book, The Witch of Bergen shares a witch who is one hunky healer)
People who practiced witchcraft experimented with herbs and potions in rituals that may have used the Mandrake plant. Mandrake contains scopolamine and atropine, two alkaloids that cause feelings of euphoria in low doses and hallucinations in higher doses. The rituals—performed in the nude—called for the participants to rub an herbal ointment containing the mandrake on their foreheads, wrists, hands, and feet as well as on a broomstick that they would ride. The ointment would be absorbed into their system, causing a floating sensation—and their description of that feeling is what perpetuated the image of a witch flying on a broomstick. Adapted from an article in https://mentalfloss.com
Others believed that brooms were never “flown”, but rather used to sweep rooms clean to allow for a sterile environment for creating powerful potions.
There is and it’s not Salem, Massachusetts! It is Vardo, Norway. It’s dark, cold and hard to get to, but what else would you expect from a place that honors witches? Called the Steilneset Memorial it recognizes the ninety one victims of the witch persecution that started in Norway in the early 1600’s and ended in 1692. 135 people were prosecuted for the crime of being a witch with 91 of them actually dying at the stake for their crime. The structure itself is a bit haunting, but none the less memorable. When I was in Bergen, Norway, I attempted to go there. But the train trip required was far too long and I had to put my trip off for the next time I’m in Bergen. I hear visiting there at midnight will set your teeth to chatter!
Just a few thoughts on witches to warm a cold October day.
There’s a certain time of the day when the world slows down and you can’t help but wonder.
I experienced one of those times last month as my husband and I walked the beaches at sunset on Marco Island, Florida. As warm breezes gently reorganized the clouds in the sky, pelicans skimmed the waters in search of their dinner and children raced along the shoreline squeezing one last ounce of fun out of the remnants of their day, I wandered and I wondered.
Looking up into the sky, it was almost as if someone unexpectedly tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, Hey! Have you done everything that you ever wanted to do, needed to do in this lifetime—and have you done it well?
It’s funny how such a grand sunset can make one feel so small. It’s not like I don’t see sunsets at home all the time, I do. I live at the beach. But somehow, this one felt different. Instead of leaving me with warm and mellow feelings, this fiery red sky sent out a challenge—Wake up! Live a little more. Laugh a little more. Challenge yourself to try something different. Be the best person you can be. See the good in others. Stop whining about the petty things. Tell your friends and family how much you love them.
Wow! That was some unsettling sunset, and the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me stop and think and I felt somehow rejuvenated, convinced that I would not forget all that I had been inspired to do.
But by the time I sat in the airport for five hours waiting for a long overdue flight, watched two women get into a weird cat fight over who was looking at who, got on an airplane where nothing seemed to be working, moved from carousel to carousel in search of my misplaced luggage and finally collapsed in my bed at four a.m., I had forgotten everything. Until this morning, when I pulled this picture up and started thinking. I’ve got a lot to do before the sun sets tonight. I think I’ll start with a cup of hazelnut coffee and tell my husband that I love him.
I hope you too find an inspiring sunset of your own.
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