PERSPECTIVE AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Remember when we thought we had a “crew”? When we believed we were important enough to have others follow us? Remember when we felt like we were part of the crowd that would make a difference? Make changes in the world?

When the recent ignorance reared its ugly head, and attacked our sacred place, our democracy, it was a wake up call. It was a warning to each person to complete a soul search of what we really believe, what is right and just, who our “crew” really are. We cannot instantly go to the belief that we are always right and that we are the product of what we inherited. We cannot continue to believe that we are the product of our parents and embrace all of their beliefs. We have to think for ourselves and make the changes that are needed. We have to think what is right and just every day in our dealings with others.

Am I my mother’s child? For a long time, I didn’t think so. I kept telling everyone I am different, that I was born into the wrong family. I believed that some higher being was playing a practical joke on me. I told myself that I was making the right choices, albeit very different from my family, and telling others all about how I led my life. I was so righteous inside my head. There was always that “Yeah, but,” echo in my head, so now I am giving myself a wake up call.

Have you found perspective later in life and found your voice to express it? We struggle each day to find the right words. We struggle to be the person who understands our words and learn how to portray the meaning of those words correctly.

Each day is a challenge – trying to find a groove that makes sense. Now we have the choice to blend old beautiful traditions with new and innovative ideas. We can move forward to understand what others have suffered and begin reparations. This momentous day is the time to move onto greater thoughts and actions. With beautiful traditions in play, with a new commander in chief, we can choose to make a difference.

Turn negative thinking to the positive and move forward from this day on. Make your life better by letting go. Think locally and how it will affect global decisions. Ask your local government to start moving on change, working together and not constantly argue about silliness just to be obstreperous. In my day, we always had a saying to “Check your ego at the door.” Ask local officials to do the same, to work on big picture items that will make change. Train people and have expectations of them to complete those expectations. Commit to a “no whining” policy from every worker and supervisor. Train people and work together. Do the job you were hired to do. Police need to work with all agencies to look for peaceful solutions. Policy has to be changed. Make a policy for survival of the streets. Make an effort to find the agitators who usurp peaceful negotiations. Help create peaceful solutions and assuage violence and frustration reactions. Cast off old ways of thinking. Get out there and create something such as programs that focus on education and mental health. Help all those in need. If you are retired, volunteer so you appreciate young people and create an environment where they appreciate you. Make a difference ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Find a friend who makes you laugh. Shut out the world, have a great meal, and laugh at all the stupid people. Forget and forgive all the past hurts, for at least an hour a day. Because your friends think you are the toughest person they know, be that person – you don’t need validation from the ones you love. Organize everything inside and outside your head and heart. Even if you want to give up to all the negative things that are still happening, say to yourself: “Today is not the day to give up. Today is not the day to die.” Shout to the Ravens: “You won’t be able to pluck out my eyeballs today!” This is a new era. We can only hope for peace and love, knowing that we have a long road ahead of us.

2021-New Year-Better Year

It seemed to have started so well. We are getting the vaccine – yes people, you are not confused, you just have to be patient – so media stop searching for people that say they are confused. We are not confused!

Then, there was this crazy day yesterday. What happened to sanity? Why is this crazy man being such a [insert expletive here] and encouraging chaos and treason? What is wrong with him? Moreover, you people that violated the sanctity of our democracy, I am ashamed of you. For crying out loud, stop being a bunch of babies and go away! What did you accomplish other than making white people stand out as nuts once again? (Is your mantra still ‘We want what we want and we want it now regardless of who is harmed’?) Your party didn’t win, so stop reading these crazy Twitter posts and go home!

Every sane person sees you as a bunch of bullies. Where is Captain America when you need him to solve these injustices? Your cult-like behavior will not work anymore. We as a nation must move on. So, get a sense of perspective and make the best of your lives. Do something good for once in your life. Think beyond yourselves.

I am embarrassed that these people, these anarchists, were smiling on camera, sitting at desks where they do not belong with their feet up and being so proud that they were there! I feel for the government officials that had to endure this. The bullies of my childhood reared their ugly heads once again. I hope they will prosecute those who broke into the capitol and damaged property. Thank you, Senators and Representatives who went back to work after it was all over, doing their jobs diligently and ignoring the crazies! You are the real heroes out of all this.

Some people I have talked to chalk the mob behavior as racism. Yes, that is part of it, but I think it is so much deeper than that. I think it boils down to fear that their way of thinking has been wrong and that they have to change. Things are changing, selfishness has to go away, and ignorance cannot prevail. These folks have gotten their way a long time. Now it’s time to go beyond the individual and come together as a nation. We have to do what is right, not what gives you a sense of righteousness and your 15 minutes of fame.

This year will only get better if we pull together as a nation. We must think beyond our individual selves and create an act of kindness each day. Get to know your neighbors. Talk to them and help them see a wider perspective. We may never all agree on everything, but the one thing we have to agree on is that things HAVE TO CHANGE. Let’s work together and make that happen!

To a better 2021!

IT’S A HARD KNOCK “COVID-19” LIFE

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives forever. We were faced with something almost none of our generation has ever faced: Illness and Isolation – and yet, not isolation. We were bombarded with so many facts and fiction through the media, our phones and then we had to sort out how we were going to interpret those facts and live with them. We saw the horrors of bodies being stacked up – not in wars such as Viet Nam, or Iraq, but in New York! Workers and clients alike were getting sick and dying, abandoning loved ones in dark rooms, family not being allowed in nor being able to take the bodies anywhere. People all over the world were dying in numbers a single human could not fathom.

At first so many people denied it, including our illustrious leader. Then, there was grudging acceptance by half the population, because lots and lots of people started dying in the US. But so many so-called “Normal” people still denied it and demanded they have their rights, even at the risk of others, and went out into the world, rather than quarantine, and then more people got sick and died as these people spread the virus some more.

Half the people hunkered down and became more and more isolated. The media said we’re in this together and to help others, but yet everyone has to stay inside and keep safe. How could we have it both ways? You Tube channels became popular and some of the isolation dissipated as we found someone to talk to who was like us in the same situation.

We tried to pretend that life was normal, spent more time with our families, and yet there was this cloud over our heads. The fact that everyone was home and on top of each other was overwhelming for so many people.

Relief was a long time in coming. Some people were able to work from home. But, so many other people were laid off. Some were finally able to collect unemployment, but so many lost everything. Businesses shut down and some changed reluctantly to try and adapt to the new model given to them. Takeout was popular and outdoor seating became a thing once again. GoFundMe programs soared to help those in need. “Social Distancing” became a generic phrase in our new lives. Masks became the normal trend and we got used to them.

Grocery stores were packed. No cleaning supplies or paper supplies were on the shelves. People learned how to cook with what they had, and use what they had to clean everything. Everyone gained weight because we had no reason to go outside and we were trying all kinds of new carbo-loaded recipes!

So many of us cleaned and remodeled our houses as we kept to the stay-at-home orders. Home Depot and Amazon soared in the pandemic. We walked the dogs more than we ever had before. They had never had this much attention and became exhausted. We set up rooms for working at home and in-home classes, but children and spouses remained underfoot.

And then, the fires started. No rain, 100+ degree temperatures all summer and smoke from the fires isolated us even more. The heat got to us Coloradans. We weren’t used to it. And, the air was thick, so thick that we didn’t see the sun for days. We didn’t expect so much devastation. But, we still didn’t have anywhere to go unless we wanted to chance going in our cars. So many people lost their homes this year. We went a little crazier.

We recognized injustices and surged out to protest them, but cases soared again. People needed a reason to get outside, but everything escalated and protesting felt like the only way to change things. It was reasonable to do this in “Normal” times, but these are unprecedented times, and people of color were dying for no reason.

Restrictions began to lift and the cases surged forward once again. Everyone wanted to just “get it over with” and get back to normal even though things weren’t normal at all. No one wanted to believe that his or her lives had been changed forever and irrevocably.

Schools were starting to recognize that their model of teaching was going to change, and yet they continued to cling to the fact that everyone would eventually come back. Students became guinea pigs for the new learning process. Teachers have had the toughest time, not quite sure of themselves, and sometimes there were epic failures. Most persevered and tried to present the material in a better way, but some were just not getting it, so the kids suffered. Parents freely admitted they weren’t teachers and this year was slowly getting “written off” that most kids would have to do summer school or something else to catch up.

And, then it hit again, a third and really bad wave. We got pulled back home and life went back to the “New Normal.”

We are slowly changing our lives to fit in this new model. There are good things and bad about spending so much time with your family. Isolation is hard. There continues to be people who cannot cope with change and are trying to run backwards and it’s not working. Cities have to change and grow just as people have to change and grow.

I had to decide if I could put up with another year like this one—working from home and not making much of a dent in the things that needed to get done. I thought long and hard and decided it was time to retire. I knew I would never be happy trying to do all the things I wanted to do, in the current environment (having been in this environment for nearly 14 years). So right before Thanksgiving, I gave it up. I was old enough for Social Security, and I felt that I had accomplished all that I could. I was ready for the “Social Security Crowd” (at a distance and maybe only a selected few of them, and only in short bursts, and socially distanced of course)!

For the first two weeks into retirement, I slept longer, and cleaned the house a lot. I made it through that initial stage and now I am moving on. Once we are at a point where we can go back to “Normal” activities, I will take the time to go out and learn something new and help people where I can with what I know. I am ready.

With the elections over and having a new leader, we can only hope for a better future. I don’t listen to the news much because there is just too much speculation. I am reading a lot of history, nonfiction, as well as fun and poignant fiction novels that help me put things in perspective. Check out Graham Greene’s “Travels with My Aunt” for example. It is weird and funny. Currently I am reading “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” by Emmanuel Acho and it is definitely a revelation. It is a book that you have to read a chapter at a time and digest it. It is a little bit of work, so keep reading! I agree with him that we are privileged (yes I know we don’t like that, word, but hey, I am an old white lady, so I can say that). I had a hard time with all of the issues being a woman in a male work force growing up, but I don’t think it was anywhere near as hard as any person of color has had in their entire life. Yes, it is uncomfortable to think about it but we have to. We have to start and get along and accept our past, and change our future for the better for EVERYONE.

So, maybe I am finding my own, very opinionated voice by reading others who have strong, opinionated voices. Maybe I’ll make a small difference in someone’s life each day that I live and breathe. I challenge everyone who reads this to make a difference in his or her community, no matter how small. Right now I am knitting scarves for everyone in my City that has to work outside! Shh… it’s a surprise! Learn that you can do things in isolation by just being there for those you love, even if they drive you crazy! Take some time to listen to whoever is talking to you, even if you don’t agree with them. That is the only way to make change happen, one person at a time. Happy Holidays everyone!

NEW YEAR’S REFLECTIONS, 2020

Last year, there was a televised “loft” party in Brooklyn after the first woman Dr. Who and the new season was introduced to the world. These people weren’t the most “beautiful people” and they weren’t even knowledgeable of who Dr. Who really was and how important is was to my generation. I was mad, but then didn’t really begin to understand why I was so mad that the younger generation co-opted my Dr. Who until now. I grew up with all of the Doctor versions and each one was very important to me. Most of the people that the media interviewed didn’t know anything about the past ones, only the new re-booted season of Doctors. They didn’t have the sense of wonder that the older generation has had for each new doctor. They didn’t care about what they represented, the possibilities in our generation to travel in time and space and how we would be a significant part of it. They were only in that present moment, enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame. It is still in my mind and it is weird how that makes me feel.

And, why am I anxious and disturbed when I see something that I don’t like? For example: Rituals of the dead e.g., Indonesia – body prep; handling loved ones’ ashes, eating and drinking them after the body is cremated; or the show about the idea of purging people periodically? Is the purpose of these shows to be so graphic that they continue to be etched into our brains long after they are aired? Media needs to relax and let individuals analyze the content and make their own conclusions, and choose to make those type of shows go away. Details do not need to be so explicit. A show becomes better because it allows us to understand the wonder without over-explaining every detail. But, perhaps it’s not what the general populace thinks, or what the shows’ executives think.

Is there a pattern in our universe that determines how we view things? Is there a plan in place that is taking us in the direction we are currently going? Are we evolving or are we degenerating – knowledge slipping away as people choose a lifestyle of ignorance? Or, are we as a species tapped out and just going crazy? What will our society be in twenty years? What would our grandparents have thought of the way we have become? Have our daily lives become so self-centric that we no longer know how to communicate? In the past, no one appreciated the younger generation. Distrust ensued for the older generation so now the younger people don’t think the older generation knows anything. Tech companies will not even hire people over 40! I am sad to see that happen. All generations should be able to work together to solve a problem, taking and using the best of both worlds and solving global issues and continue creating new inventions together. We all know something and can help each other out every day. We should not dismiss each other so easily.

Do we distrust our elders so much nowadays? Take a look at the new shows. Many of these shows are re-boots of old ones. Is it because the executives are made up of the new generation who believe they are independent thinkers, yet are afraid to try something new? Did the past shows have a better track record? Why are they playing it safe? What is the risk? Is it because the older generation came up with such incredible innovative ideas and were willing to take more risks? Or, is it because the younger generation is afraid to create new ideas? That they just want to go with the flow? Or have their parents made them into non-decision makers? Perhaps sometimes we all are just over-thinking everything and can’t make a decision. Hate and distrust ensues and keeps getting in our way until we just give up. Some things to think about.

Having said all that, as always I try to leave with a positive note. Life has always had its ups and downs in my family. And yet, this year, we still have jobs, we still have food on the table and a roof over our heads. We donated as much cash and goods as we could afford to our favorite charities. We were even able to live through a basement remodel so our son has a great place to continue to grow and thrive (6’1” and still growing!), and hopefully, moves out of his new cocoon, and onto college in 3 ½ years.

Life will always be crazy in our household, since I am overly ambitious with all the things I want to do. But, we are trying to move beyond the media, and the hate, and simply love each other, and love the way we interact with the world.

Happy New Year everyone!

FRANKIE & JAMIE BOOK RELEASE

What a great day for a winter release book!! I am proud to announce the release of my new book FRANKIE & JAMIE, the second in the SILVER RANGERS MINI-SERIES, available on Amazon.com. Visit my author page to see all of the books and ebooks available in this series as well as the CAITLIN FERGUSON MYSTERY SERIES.

https://www.amazon.com/Drusilla-M.-Tieben/e/B00ET98OVA

Thanks for all of your support over the years!

20190111_104636

Backyard in Colorado on this January 2019 day!

 

 

The Doo Dads on your Desk – New Year’s Reflection

2018 is ending and as I look around my desk, I notice all of the things that I’ve collected over the years. Each item inspires me but also tells me a story of my life:

-An eggplant pottery jar-stem and leaves for a lid that my friend and neighbor went to Japan one year to see their grandson and brought it back to me. I reflected on the good times we had and the sadness that ensued when they moved.

-A dragon watching over me – it sat on my first computer monitor.

-4 mugs of colorful pens and pencils – each mug telling its own story – the wizard’s apprentice; the No Guts, No Glory one with the small armored warrior attacking a dragon; Far Side’s aardvarks in love with their red tennis shoes; and the $100 flowered mug from Hawaii (go to the ABC store a million times and once you spend $100 you get a mug!)

-A beeswax candle from my in-laws from a Christmas past (not unwrapped because it is potent!)

-Various business cards, both mine from books past as well as others I’ve collected over the years

-Hundreds of pages of notes and article printouts from the various books I am working on

And all of the knickknacks my son made for me over the years:

-The colorful sand filled jars – how careful he was to layer each colored sand – a masterpiece!

-A bird on a stick made out of Styrofoam

-hearts made of “melty” beads

-An erupting volcano made out of clay

-A beautiful crystal art masterpiece – blue crystals erupting out of a gray rock – fired clay

But the best item on the desk is the “I Can” soup can decorated by my son when he was in preschool. In the can we cut up strips of paper and he wrote these little sayings of things that he could do:

-count to 100

-do mazes and puzzles

-say my ABCs

-sing

-do karate

-make a worm house (I don’t remember what that was….)

-help mommy clean up the dishes

-pick out greeting cards and write thank you notes for people

-write my name

-play

-help mommy measure, eat the ingredients and bake

-ride my scooter

-bike all the way to the park

-clap and dance

-add numbers

-sing

-draw myself

-spell

-put on stickers

-play board games

-eat by myself

-serve food

-buckle my seat belt

-dress myself

-brush my teeth

-run around outside and bark like a dog (all kids do that!!)

-help mommy grocery shop

-clean up my room

-behave

Each year we add a few more accomplishments to the can – our accomplishments, our hopes and dreams, simple reflections on our lives.

Lately, he wrote:

-buy my own stuff

-whistle

-build a home computer for work and to play games on it

And for my latest thoughts I added:

-heal

-be positive

-write

It’s a simple exercise but it makes a world of difference looking at the accomplishments over the years, remembering the good times and the bad and moving on to the next task at hand. I am grateful for my life, for my family and friends. I am looking forward to 2019! Happy New Year everyone!

THE SUN WILL COME UP TOMORROW

After the crazy snow thunderstorms, 80+ mph winds, rain, and more snow, the sun came up today. Beautiful, bright orange and above the clouds – streaks of yellow fanning out, just like you see in cartoons. I am grateful for another spring, and for every day that I see the sun. I am grateful that I’m still alive to see more sunrises over the Colorado mountains. And, I am grateful to see growth and a promise for things to come this summer.

Last year revolved around school, work, music, a fantastic eclipse, job searching, aches and pains, and trying to keep up in this crazy world. Our son enjoyed the experience of a lifetime, spending two weeks without us in the Colorado Mountains. He learned about nature, camaraderie and independence. He climbed rocky cliffs with ropes, mountain biked, paddle-boarded on in cold mountain lakes, kayaked, canoed, hiked and camped, overnight in the high mountains. Last summer was the first time he had been away from home without us, and he reveled in the experience. Our plans have created a similar adventure in the mountains this summer as well as parkour, weight training and swimming afterwards, and a 6-week STEM program at LMS.

Last summer, I planted late as it snowed Memorial Day weekend! But, I had a terrific garden and put away vegetables for cold winter night meals. I made a terrific New Year’s Eve Rigatoni Bake with my homemade sauce. I baked and gave away many cookies and breads to my friends and co-workers. This year, I don’t know if I’ll be able to plant anything with this whacky weather. But, the grass is green and the flowers are in bloom. I may have to live with just that. Not a bad way to live, though.

Last year, I took on a new job with more responsibility and hours. I learned about millennials and how to work with them. I learned to let go of the words that describe how men should behave, such as Man Up, Suck it Up, Strap on a Pair, Toughen Up – words that defined my prior world. I learned how to live in a newer world where men and women work hard and play hard, and don’t need definitions that describe them in the classic sense. I learned to tell people what I think without being too harsh. I learned how to speak up and be passionate about what I am and what I do, and not worry that someone else isn’t doing the same thing (well, at least I tried not to worry). I learned new skills and made old ones come back to life and improve. (Still learning the “let it go” part, however.)

I learned how to curb my anger when people didn’t listen to me because they were thinking about something else or were rushing to the end to speak their mind. Sometimes, they would actually do the things I requested of them, and not get mad in the process. Sometimes, they would appreciate the experience. Sometimes, they also helped me understand what I needed to do as well and that made me a better person. But, sometimes they just look at me as if I was just old and didn’t know anything and that saddened me.

Winter was a time of loss and sorrow. We all lost people who meant something to us. I was sad that I made promises to see some of them and didn’t follow-up. I hope they are in a more peaceful senior/rec center and playground and have forgiven me for not always being there. Last year, we praised our accomplishments, yet found it okay to mourn our losses and defeats, with hopes that the positive would overwhelm the negative.

This year, my friend of 20 years moved away to the east, to be closer to family, and new faces are in the neighborhood. I haven’t gotten to know the young couple who moved into her house. I mourn the loss of my friend and all the times we laughed and cried, baked together and talked about Velma’s next actions. I am not ready to see what the new couple has done to her house or yard. I hope to get to know them, but things change and that’s hard. I know I have to embrace the change.

As part of my spring ritual, now going rapidly into summer, I’ve cleaned out my closets and vow to get clutter-free, I gave away furniture to a friend in need, only to realize how much glorious space I now have in this house. This process made me reflect on cleaning up the rest of the clutter in my life. I am working on forgiving myself for my past and answer that age-old question: “Why are we driven to do the things we do?” Being in the service industry—i.e., a government job, I am learning to take pride in what I do every day, and not worry about what others think. (Still working on the worry part.)

My goal for this summer is to learn how to decrease stress and try to make the best of it. I want to read more, write more and finish something for publication. I will be there for my family, but also attempt to learn to be there for me. It’s a hard process and progress will be slow. I want to figure out how to “keep up” with my expectations and forgive incompetence in others and myself. I want to learn to let go and do the best I can.

I read this somewhere and love it. I want to make it my current motto:

“Anything good in writing comes from the truth we live.”

I know that everything will get better and every morning I look outside and watch the sun come up once again.

BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS

A few days ago, I drove to work in my usual morning stupor only to be stopped abruptly by a line of cars. The gates were down and the train horn was very loud. It is always frustrating when that train comes and backs up traffic past the light at Dillon Rd. and 95th. All the drivers were anticipating a long wait as usual. People had turned off their cars and were already messing with their phones (which I still do not understand why a person is so worried about the next Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram that early in the morning – but that is another story). We heard the long whistle blow its eerie wail. When the train passed the trees and went through the gated intersection, there were only two engines, front to back. That was it. There was no middle – no miles and miles of boxcars, oil tankers, or flats stacked two high with truck trailers – and definitely no caboose. There were only the two engines chugging along. The wait was definitely shorter than we anticipated.

This brought me to ponder a writing analogy and the ensuing life lessons:

  1.  Beginnings always seem to be strong for trains (and writing and love).

The powerful engines have to be stacked heads to tails, sometimes more than two of them to pull their load. So, what was going on with only the two solitary engines with no cars attached?

Locomotives (“engines”) are designed to be ‘lashed up’ so that multiple engines can be controlled by the engineer in the first cab, and used to pull a chain of rail cars (a “consist”) regardless of whether the cars are passenger, freight or anything else.

In writing, beginnings have to be powerful and quick. Otherwise, no one would buy the book! When you begin a story, you are excited about the adventure, about filling the blank pages with a beautiful tale of love, excitement, danger and adventure. You want to express who you are through the characters you write. You know no boundaries, and the adventure unfolds. Sometimes there are two beginnings and two endings. Sometimes there are two tales to tell. Your story is like the cars and their contents following the engines, chugging along the dedicated path.

How many engines needed depends on the interaction between how much of a load you need to pull, and what the grade is up which you need to pull it. If you’re taking a train over the Rockies on a steep grade, you might require a helper engine to be added to even a short train. A long, heavy freight train on a steep grade can require eight engines—or even more! Therefore, the second locomotive supplies power. You add the number of locomotives required to ensure there is enough pulling power. On very long trains, say > 100 cars, a locomotive can be placed in the middle of the train. This is called distributed power. The middle locomotive is controlled from the cab of the first locomotive and add power or braking to manage the in-train forces, called buff and draft forces. One other common reason that trains have two engines, often with one pointing in the opposite direction of the other (and thus running “backwards”) is that it eliminates the need to ever turn the engines around before hooking up to another train because you can run the set of engines in either direction and have an engine pointing forward. On freight trains it’s about overcoming the inertia of the load and then keeping it rolling and then stopping.

Characters are the engines – how many depends on the power of the story and the uphill climb of the saga. The main character can have one sidekick or several depending on what is transpiring in the story line. Sidekicks may be almost as powerful as the main character. As the story unfolds, each character contributes more and more and the group has a powerful impact on the ending. The characters may seem at odds – one headed forward and another headed backwards. The story weaves and provides its own inertia, keeping the movement forward with no sliding backwards, slowly rolling to a stop when it is time.

The locomotive provides so much horsepower to pull trailing tons. The more freight trailing tons you will need more locomotives. The lead locomotive is the controlling locomotive. When you raise the throttle all locomotives also raise or vice versa. The couplers which join the individual freight car can only handle so much pull. When a train is going uphill many times you need to take off some of this pull on the coupler or it will break. The way you alleviate some of this pull Is to have locomotives push from the back of the train or in the middle of the train. In the old days each of these “helper” pushers had a separate train crew than the head unit. The head unit crew consists of a locomotive engineer and conductor. On the “helper” pusher the crew consists of a locomotive engineer, and a lookout (this is a fancy name for brake man).

The writer is the lead locomotive and is the conductor of the story – the horsepower that controls the story. She helps the characters push uphill and tries not to break the couplings along the way. Her main character is the engineer with her helper crew, with a lookout (brake man) to keep the main character on tract.

     2.  Why is the middle sometimes so brief?

What is that train doing? Ferrying an engine to another location to pick up the middle cars? Where is the substance of the train? One can only assume that the railroad companies have to move the engines around and connect them up to other engines for a heavy load. We can always expect a long train when moving freight over the Rocky Mountains of Colorado – a long treacherous and arduous route.

A writer always has to look out for the middle of the story. Beginnings and endings seem to go very fast, the two main engines back to back. She has to constantly look at the substance of the book. As a writer, I struggle with getting the message across without beating people over the head. I try to bring a balance to the middle and give a deeper meaning to every character and every scene. Some writers are extraordinary with brevity. Others fail in giving too few details. What I learn to do a little better each time is all in the details – giving enough to describe a scene but not overwhelm the reader. I am learning to give meaning to each character and event with less verbiage.

  1. Why is there no end to the train? Why are there no cabooses?

As children, we anticipated the end of the train with pleasure, running along and waving at the engineer as he blew the whistle and waved at us as he passed. We knew that he was the lookout or brakeman – maybe even more important than the driver – the engineer. He would let them know if there were any problems along the way. He had an important position. I’m sure we can explain this away with all of the new technology and automation, but it was a sad day when the caboose – and thus the operator – went away in the 1980s. It was an end of an era.

Many books give up before the end. There are fewer and fewer spectacular endings, only references to the next sequel. Endings of books should wrap the story up. It’s what we grew up with: fantastic drama and action. All books should have an abundance of action and drama and page-turning excitement. There should be resolution and hope. There should always be a spectacular ending, even if a sequel follows.

Taking a life lesson from a train, I want to continue to inspire others and give the reader hope for a better world, hope that we can survive no matter what gets thrown our way – hope to achieve lifelong dreams. I want to continue to make a difference, no matter how small. I’m not giving up and you shouldn’t either. As I begin to accept my senior status, allow myself to grow into that skin, I refuse to just get by until I die. I have hope every day that my contribution will make a change in the way we all think and live. I have had a great beginning, am living the life I chose in the middle with a bunch of great co-workers, and am striving for that spectacular ending no matter when it comes.

Happy Holidays everyone from me to you. Enjoy your loved ones and continue to read, hope and dream!

For more information about the contents of my train analogy, please go to:

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-trains-have-two-engines

 

GIFTS OF THE SEASON

You know it’s the holiday season when they advertise the Clapper and Chia Pets on TV. For all of you Bob Ross fans, they actually have a Bob Ross Chia Pet! So cool! I wonder what he would have thought about it if he were alive today. He always seemed so shy, with his happy trees.

Inexpensive gifts are hard to find. Each year I struggle to find things that are useful, interesting, won’t break the first time they are used, and hopefully, something the person will enjoy. I craft and bake, but there is always something knew that my kid wants. And, with a tight income this year, it’s hard to know if you got the right thing. It’s something you think he wants, but it is also something you can afford so it is not as big as what his friends get. Each year is a challenge. I only hope that he is grateful for what we give him every day.

This year I remind myself that it will all work out in the end, that he lives in a great little town, has a warm and cozy home to live in, food in his belly, clothing and shoes on his body and a great school to attend. That is the best I can do for him at this moment. Happy holidays and enjoy the little things every day.

 

 

 

 

 

SNOW AND GRADUATION-2017

It rained, it hailed and finally it snowed. Mother’s Day weekend was amazing, we began planting our flowers, and some of us even started our vegetable gardens. We were so anxious to get things happening. The storms had passed, right? It was 80 degrees and we were ready! Every year we go through this. We should have known. The rain began to fall and then it hailed big, big hail! As the temperature dropped, it snowed, and snowed, and snowed—that thick heavy spring super-wet snow we get in Colorado. Plants were smothered. Rose branches broke, and trees snapped, some into the roadways. By Thursday, people were cancelling their park shelter rentals for their big graduation parties outdoors. Everything and everyone moved inside.

Yesterday, the sun came out, melting away so much of the snow, but the trees are damaged and our plantings have died. Sad, but true. Nevertheless, it was also a happy time because my friend, neighbor and mentor introduced me to the Bloomin’ Seniors. I participated in the annual plant sale. This was my first year that I was involved, and it was a wild chaotic mess at the beginning, setting up for the sale, just as it was when we planted the seedlings. But truthfully, it all worked out. We were quite organized by the end of it and it was a loving adventure, coming together to raise money for the next year of planting.

We had planted all of the seedlings a few months ago and many people tended to them during the course of their development. Lots of love was given to these tiny plants and with everyone’s help, they matured. When they got too big, we transplanted them into bigger pots. Many of us also started seeds in our greenhouses and thus, we pulled it together and had a spectacular sale. Now all of Louisville gets to share in our tomatoes, peppers, herbs, zucchini and cucumbers, for only $1 or $2. I’ve learned a few things from these amazing master gardeners.

Today, I’m moving on with my life. I’m grateful for a new purpose in life, my new group of compatriots in the fight to keep things alive. I’m grateful for my new job and all the men and women who keep the plants alive during this crazy weather of spring and early summer. They are the ones behind the scenes, who go out and cover everything with plastic on those rainy/snowy days, and the ones who have to tend to the trees after this devastation. I am a part of something bigger. I have a nurturing environment to live in where I can learn new things. It helps in my creativity, the writing coming alive after a few months of down time. I am getting close to publishing Frankie & Jamie, the second short story in the Silver Rangers mini-series.

It really is mind-boggling, the stuff we nerds dig, literally and figuratively.

And, even though I am sad that my neighbor and mentor is moving after living in Colorado for thirty-two years, I am helping to create new mentors, ones where we learn together. I will miss her, but just as the young graduates are moving on to a new future, I am moving on as well. Happy Graduation everyone! Do good things. Do epic. Be brave!