Thankful Thursday: grateful for slovenliness

I started the day grumpy and dissatisfied with various aspects of life and when I got to work on my revisions, my grumpiness and dissatisfaction grew. BUT. I stepped away from my desk to do some cleaning before Wildebeest arrives this afternoon and I’m happy to report feeling more centered. More calm. More whatevs about life.

Today I am thankful for my dirty kitchen sink that provided an outlet for frenzied scrubbing and J. Roddy Walston and The Business for the soundtrack for said scrubbing.

Not my kitchen, but rest assured my sinks are equally shiny.

CREDIT: Photo by Matt Wignall

 

 

Thankful Thursday: Better Late Than Never

Sometimes taking the most simple action can quell my anxiety. Yesterday as I worked on this revision and felt overwhelmed by the many, many details of my madcap story that must be explained by the end of the manuscript, I started a list.

LOOSE ENDS / EXPLANATIONS NEEDED

Whoa. Behold this literary rocket scientist at work!

I’m trying hard to stop kicking myself for not creating the list at the outset of this round of revisions and, instead, be grateful for my peace of mind in the here and now.

A good day in the Mind-Doh factory

I’ve spent the day working on the third draft of my work-in-progress. Thanks to three reads (partial and full manuscripts) from the wonderful Writing Roosters critique group, the book is in pretty decent shape, which makes for a pleasant writing experience. I can see the good that’s already there and can easily envision the good to come. I’m about sixty pages from the end and hope to have the draft completed by the end of the month.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have this creative outlet.

Twofer Tuesday: running mantras

This morning Zippy and I went for a run on the trails. Trailrunning is great fun because it usually keeps my thoughts focused on the rocky, uneven terrain. My mantra is “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.” That helps keep me in the moment so I don’t hook a toe and fall on my face. However, today I struggled with the nasty voice in my head, telling me I was slow and tired and really-Tracy-you-should-just-walk-because-you’re-not-a-real-runner.

So I fought back with two new mantras.

The sky was blue, the temperature was a perfect 58 degrees, and the Western Meadowlarks were out in force, warbling their beautiful songs. There was no reason to feel anything other than pure joy and gratitude for my time out in the open space.  Today’s mantras became “Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing. Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing.”

Once those went on repeat in my head, the nasty voice was nowhere to be heard.

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes the universe gifts you a tin filled with popcorn kernels. And sometimes the gift comes in the form of a writing project that transports you away from life’s challenges and makes your heart sing.

Thankful Thursday

I’ve kept a gratitude journal on and off for a number of years, but am currently in an off phase. I hope to resume my bedtime ritual of listing five things I’m grateful for, but in the meanwhile:

Today I am grateful . . .

  • my sister helped me feel more at peace about a friend’s death.
  • my critique group gifted me another week to finish the draft of my work-in-progress and that
  • I am, indeed, making progress on that work.
  • I enjoyed a calm, non-aggressive walk in the warm sunshine with Emma, even though we passed other dogs.
  • I completed my four-minute plank despite learning the hard way that Led Zeppelin’s Four Sticks is absolutely not a good motivational song. Nope, not even close.

Still standing

Wildebeest, Zebu, Tracy, and Zippy on this New Year’s eve.
It’s been a hard year on the planet, but we’re still upright.
There’s definitely strength in numbers, and I’m grateful we have each others’ backs.

Happy New Year to you and yours.
Here’s hoping we kick every ass that needs kicking in 2018.

Need more goat

Cute goats,

I beg-your-pardon goats,

and goats that recognize revolution’s a-comin’ and they’d best get out of the way or risk getting mowed down by angry mobs.

Thank goodness I still have access to a free internet and all its goat images.

Liar, liar

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
~ Pablo Picasso

        Portrait de Dora Maar, 1937          Print hanging in my writing room.

I guess that’s basically what I strive  for with my fiction: to write lies in such a way the reader realizes some truths.

I loathe liars, but this kind of lying is a pretty good gig.

Thankful Thursday

  1. I am almost finished with revisions and will send off manuscript tomorrow.
  2. My smiling, happy Emma dog and I had a nice run around the neighborhood after I finished working for the day.
  3. Zippy vacuumed while Emma and I were out running.
  4. Michigan State is up by 20 over Notre Dame at the half.
  5. I can still feel gratitude in the face of so many scary-difficult realities in the world.                                                                                                                                                           

My knight in white satin

I was just getting ready for bed when I realized:
(1) I’d neglected to blog today and
(2) it’s National Cat Day.

So, here’s Marcel from two years ago:

I can’t imagine life without the lovable drooler.

Thankful Thursday: Writing Roosters edition

Last night I met with my critique group, The Writing Roosters. (Yes, we’re aware that it’s funny for a membership of six women and zero men to be roosters.)

Our mascot that oversees every meeting.

It was my turn to receive a critique and the group didn’t disappoint. I’m grateful for their willingness to point out holes and weak characterization and plotting improbabilities in my novel, and also to let me know what they felt I’d done well. It was my first draft and I now have a pretty firm grasp on how to revise.

I received lots of guidance last night, but want to give a special shout-out to Claudia Mills for using Track Changes/Comments a whopping 429 times! Thank you for getting down and dirty with my manuscript, friend!

 

Thankful Thursday: trail run edition

Today I’m thankful for these awesome shoes that carried me over the rocky and uneven trails this afternoon:

I’m also thankful I had the trails 100% to myself as I ran, never seeing another human during those 35 minutes, not once, not even off in the distance.

I am thankful for the company of the 80 million grasshoppers, the occasional butterfly, the what-I-hope-was-a-hummingbird-and-not-an-enormous-insect buzzing in my ear, the one bunny that allowed me a glimpse before disappearing into the rabbit brush, the sunshine, and the unidentified bird with the black tail.

I’m thankful for the strength in my legs, the power in my lungs, and the lack of ego that allowed me to walk when I felt like it.

Finally, I’m thankful that the rain didn’t fall until I was already home.

Thankful Thursday: The sunshine edition

weather-station

This is Zippy’s indoor weather station. As you can see, it’s sunny and 65 degrees outside. Granted, the outdoor thermometer is in direct sunlight right now so it’s really only 65 degrees against the bricks on the south side of the house. But still. Sixty-five degrees in January!

I’m going out for a run around the neighborhood and am looking forward to cruising past the snow piles lingering from last weekend’s storm.

Gotta love Colorado and its split-weather-personality.

 

 

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Thankful Thursday: The I-finally-freakin’-did-it edition

If you happen upon this, writer-friend Linda Salzman, you might be happy to know that yesterday I finally, finally wrote the final scenes of the YA I’ve been wrestling with since the beginning of time. Are they perfectly written scenes? Hells no. Are they fleshed-out scenes? Absolutely not. Are they even close to being what they’d need to be in a final draft? HAHAHAHAHA.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement (“Do it!”) to the tortoise-slow Tracy.

The scenes I wrote yesterday are, at this point, a collection of placeholder words. A roadmap for the next draft (should I ever have the inclination to wade into the manuscript that right now feels like a horrible, torturous place to spend time). I learned about the value of using placeholder words from writer-friend Laurie Schneider, and I must say it’s one of the most liberating tools in my writing kit. The pressure is off when I’m creating placeholder words; all that’s required of me is to literally hold the place in the manuscript with clues for my authorial intent. The details come later.

So after writing those scenes, I printed out a hard copy and wrote out a few notes for myself before packing everything away in an accordion file. At the soonest, I’ll read that manuscript again in a month. But I have a feeling it’ll take longer than that for me to muster enthusiasm. After finishing, I’d gone back to read the opening chapter, thinking it would fire me up by reminding me the rest of the book is stronger than the ending. *insert hysterical laughter* Turns out, I’d arrived at the THIS BOOK SUCKS MORE THAN A HOOVER stage, and it’s gonna take some time for those feelings to fade.

The good news? I’m already reacquainting myself with another project. This one has huge potential and fills me with excitement. So take that, nasty voice! (Also, I was very grateful for the distraction of this “new” project when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie Reynolds dying the day after losing her beloved daughter.)

There are sad and horrible things happening all over the planet, but I’m grateful for the fictional worlds I create in my mind. Sometimes the pretend is the only thing keeping me from being crushed by the real.

 

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You can teach an old dog new tricks

Zoey has lived with us for the past eleven years and for the majority of those years, remained in either the house or yard. She (and Coco) didn’t get to go on neighborhood walks (or open space hikes) because they were out of control on leashes. When they saw another dog, no matter how far off in the distance, they’d bark, growl, lunge, and generally behave in a bat-shit manner.

zoey-after-walk

Zoey right after we got back from today’s walk.

At one point early on, we spent a whole lot of money to have a personal dog trainer work with us. That strategy ultimately failed because of a lack of consistency. The dogs responded to me as the alpha, but couldn’t care less about pushover-Zippy’s commands or young Wildebeest and Zebu with their high voices and unassertive attitudes. The dogs still believed they were the alphas who needed to protect the pack.

It all came to a head years ago when I took Zoey and Coco for a walk. They went nuts when they saw another dog, and in their ensuing barking / twirling / lunging, knocked me to the ground. Both my knees were thoroughly black and blue.

That was it for me. I no longer felt guilty about having two dogs that never, ever left the yard.

And then Coco died. To help Zoey through her grief, we started walking her once a day. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience (one walk lasted a full three minutes because I had to drag Zoey home after she went ballistic at the sight of another dog), but I am pleased to say we’re having some enjoyable walks. Today’s, for example.

Zoey still has an alpha attitude, but she’s older and wiser (and a little less strong). I’m grateful we can give our old girl the gift of a daily walk.

 

 

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Feeding frenzy

house-finch-feeding

There’s a snowstorm headed this way, and the finches and chickadees are very busy at the feeders and heated bath. I’m grateful for my warm home and wish I could open it to my feathered friends tonight.

Then again, it’s probably not very cool to invite birds into a household that includes two cats.

 

 

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Wearing the shriveled skin of the ordinary

When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning,
it satisfies the senses amazingly.
~  Virginia Woolf

old-berries

My senses are doing all right today, I guess.
Not what I’d call amazingly satisfied, but well enough.
I’ll gaze on those old rose hips a little longer.

Happy Thanksgiving to friends in the U.S.!

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The eyes have had it

After a revision-filled day, I’m pleased with my progress. In fact, if I pushed on for just one more hour, I’d probably make it to The End. But my eyes are screaming for a break and, since my peepers work very, very hard for me every single day, I owe them a respite.

file4831302548667

This lemur’s calling it a day.

 

 

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Thankful Thursday

Zebu and Wildebeest have been avid Spotify users for years, and now Zippy and I also have access to ALL THAT MUSIC.

It’s great to have a song pop in my head and then seconds later, I listen to it. It was years since I’d heard Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and then the other morning her voice gave me chills.

Spotify is also great for quickly checking out bands and musicians I read about in Rolling Stone, plus I discover new music while listening to other people’s playlists. Case in point, Earl St. Clair. Spotify = MORE MUSIC TO LOVE.

But the absolute greatest thing about Spotify is how it’s rejuvenated my hoop dancing. In the dark ages, I’d cobbled together a playlist of songs that were mostly good for dancing within my hoop. And while Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” are kick-ass hoop dancing songs, I was bored.

Doris Humphrey in her hoop many years ago.

Dancer Doris Humphrey (1895-1958)  in her hoop many years ago.

Enter Spotify.

I’m now the proverbal kid in the candy store. New songs every day to inspire my hoop dance. New favorites to sample again and again without fear of getting in a permanent rut.

So on this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for:
my hoop,
all the incredible music that makes me want to dance,
and Spotify which makes it easy to do.