Writing and Holidays and Tears and Goodbyes

January 21, 2015
Whew! It feels like it has been ages since I last updated this blog. I try to be a good little blogger, but I'm just terrible at it (as is evidenced by my posting history...).

It's been an eventful few months. I got to spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family, and we threw a surprise Sound of Music themed 90th birthday party for my grandma, which was a huge success and I'm sure I'll be hearing teary-eyed reminiscences about it for years to come. I spent November and December working on my first round of revisions on the book, and then sent it to my editor for a first round light edit over the holidays. Christmas found us spending time with my mom her side of the family. It was beautiful, laid back, and relaxing. I played Yahtzee and card games with my Grandma Norma (mom's mom) and got to hang out with my sister and her family who just moved back to the states from Peru.

I'm so thankful for that time at Christmas, because on January 10th, my Grandma Norma passed away.

Grandma Norma and me at my baby shower in 2009.

The last 2.5 weeks have been full of nerves and tension and tears. We scrambled to get out to my mom's house in time to see Grammy one last time, but we just missed that opportunity by a small window of less than an hour. It will probably grieve me for a long time to come that I didn't get to say one last goodbye, one last I Love You. But I know I can't dwell in the past. So I will try to breathe and continue to be present as I live out my own life. She would have wanted that.

We ended up in New Jersey for the funeral, and while it was difficult (financially and emotionally), I got to see extended family I hand't seen in years. Under the circumstances, I realized that I want to make every effort possible to visit with them as much as I can. Saying goodbye to a loved one is hard, but so much harder when you haven't talked to them recently.

The funeral was beautiful, and my husband and I were humbled by the opportunity to sing Grandma's favorite song, "How Great Thou Art," during the service. Somehow, miraculously, we made it through the song without falling into tears.

In the midst of this flurry of activity and grief and introspection, I am trying my best to get my book into shape. (It's my book's New Year's resolution.) Currently, I'm working on cover design, and I plan to commission a map for the book in the coming weeks.

Due to the very eventful past few months, and the fact that I am grieving (and prone to depression and anxiety), I'm trying to give myself some space to breathe. I need to make sure that I remain healthy through this process of self-publishing. And because of that, I've decided to push my release date back a few months. I want to make sure every detail is taken care of and every loose end is tied up before sending this baby out into the world. I want it to be perfect for you, the reader. I want it to pull at your heart in all the right ways. And so, I'm now looking at the Summer Solstice--June 21st--as the new release date for the book.

And from now on I will try to be a better blogger. :)

Wild Words: Dining Room

August 27, 2014
I keep thinking back to when I first saw the photos of my dining room on the real estate website. My husband and I had been wanting to buy our own home for years, but the timing was never right. But in the midst of searching through endless listings, I found this picture of a dining room, warm and bright with sunlight streaming in, falling all over the floor. It felt like home, just looking at it. This house wasn't the "ideal" of what we were looking for. We had been looking for something with more space - something where we could each have an office (I write, he composes music) and maybe a playroom/schoolroom for the children, as we wanted to homeschool them. This house was smaller by several hundred square feet. Still much more room than we'd ever had before. But I hesitated because it didn't fit into the box.

But when house after house fell through (we had put in several offers and even had a contract fall through), we came here on a rainy day in May of 2013 with our realtor to walk through the house. 

Our kids loved it immediately. Our daughter ran into the large living room, lay down on the new carpet, and started making "snow angels." Our son enjoyed how is voice echoed through the dining room and bedrooms with their hardwood floors. I remember standing in the dining room, looking out through the double glass doors at the rain pouring down onto the deck, closing my eyes, and imagining the sunlight streaming into the dining room, streaming over me where I stood. 

We made an offer on the house. The owners liked the offer. But then, during the inspection process, we found out that the roof had to be replaced and there were moisture issues in the crawl space. We sat on the floor in the living room with the home inspector, listening as he listed off the things that needed to be fixed before FHA would approve a loan. I looked at my daughter, making snow angels on the floor, and I cried silent tears. How do I tell her this isn't going to be her home?

In a miraculous turn of events, the roof inspector, who came to give us a second opinion, told us that the owners may be able to claim the roof under their insurance, as there was extensive hail damage. Our realtor talked to them, and the roof was replaced without us having to pay a dime toward it. The moisture issue in the crawl space was remedied, without us having to pay a dime for it. And in July, we moved in. 

It's been a little more than a year since we moved into our own home. The sunlight still fills the dining room, warming the walls and floor, brightening the atmosphere, although the dining room often has a cluttered table, books everywhere, backpacks and a purse on the floor, and a million random preschooler paintings floating about. It's not always as pretty, aesthetically, as it was in that picture that first captured my attention. But it holds its own beauty. And I want it to always be inviting - to me, my husband, our children, and whomever might walk through our door. I want to be able to offer a cup of tea and a chat to a friend as we sit in my dining room, enveloped in the warm light of the sun.

Wild Words: Ancient-Place-Experience

August 6, 2014
I have to travel the world. It's an insatiable need. I must stand on rocky promontories on the coast of Ireland and feel the sea spray kiss my face. I need to watch the sun set over a glassy lake in the Swiss Alps. My soul craves the lush foliage of the ancient forests of China. I have this deep need to visit the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, the Redwood Forest, and plant my feet where the native people of this land walked hundreds of years ago with a deep respect for the earth. I want to see Machu Picchu. I need to experience the wonder of Aurora Borealis.

I need to feel the earth and its wonders with an ancient knowing of place. And I feel this need growing all the time. It hits me randomly , unexpectedly. When I'm drinking coffee in the morning, or watching my children ride their trikes in the driveway, or when I'm writing.

I can't escape it. My soul swells, sighs, with anticipation of digging my toes into ancient soil, of breathing in the salt and air of the Irish coastline, of witnessing the amazing light show God made in the north. It makes my breath catch.

But how am I supposed to travel? How am I supposed to experience these beautiful, amazing things? I can't even afford some normal, everyday things. So, how does one travel? How does one fill that soul-requirement of ancient-place-experience?

I could dream. Imagination in and of itself is quite a wonder. And my imagination does take me to some wonderful places.

But it's not enough. It's not enough to just think about it. I need tofeel it. To experience it. I need to be there, to let the earth speak its secrets to my soul. I need to hear the whispers of those who have gone before me. I need my feet to walk to the same path, my soul to follow the same wind.

I need to absorb the spirit of the earth by experiencing these places, these wonders.

I need to breathe in and exhale their stories, their life. My own life feels incomplete without these experiences.

And I don’t seek them out of selfish gain. It would be lovely to visit places simply because the experiences would make my life more meaningful. But, I feel this connection to these places I’ve never been, like the stories are calling out to me. Stories of pasts that never were. Stories of futures that could be. Stories of beauty, devastation, life, death, ethereal wonder. The stories find my soul, and they tug at me, pulling me until I have no choice but to follow.

So follow I must. Somehow, some way. Someday.

I want someday to be now.