For anyone in need of a smile

I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!

I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.

Thankful Thursday: Mary Oliver edition

Today I’m grateful for Mary Oliver who created accessible poems that were simultaneously simple and profound. Here’s one of my favorites from American Primitive.

Vultures
Like large dark
lazy
butterflies they sweep over
the glades looking
for death,
to eat it,
to make it vanish,
to make of it the miracle:
resurrection. No one
knows how many
they are who daily
minister so to the grassy
miles, no one
counts how many bodies
they discover
and descend to, demonstrating
each time the earth’s
appetite, the unending
waterfalls of change.
No one,
moreover,
wants to ponder it,
how it will be
to feel the blood cool,
shapeliness dissolve.
Locked into
the blaze of our own bodies
we watch them
wheeling and drifting, we
honor them and we
loathe them,
however wise the doctrine,
however magnificent the cycles,
however ultimately sweet
the huddle of death to fuel
those powerful wings.

Rest in beauty, Mary.

Thankful Thursday

When you rise in the morning,
give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
                                                                       ~ Tecumseh

Thankful Thursday: friendly NaNo nudge edition

Today I’m thankful for critique partner and friend, Laura Perdew, who encouraged me to try NaNoWriMo this year. I’m positive I wouldn’t even have considered fast-drafting if she hadn’t suggested NaNo as the cure for my exceedingly slooow outlining and drafting of this new project.

Today is the halfway point for NaNo and here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:

I’m more than halfway to my target of 52,169 words for November (I’d already written 2,169 words and didn’t want to “cheat” on achieving 50,000 words in 30 days so included them in my final draft target). I am thrilled. Absolutely over the moon with my progress. Hooray! Etc.  🙂

It’s amazing what I can accomplish once I banish my internal editor to a corner with tape over her mouth.

Thankful Thursday: writing retreat

As the election results came in on Tuesday night I was seized by a sudden urge to get away. So I went online and found a good deal for two nights at a lodge next to a river. The room has a woodburning stove and a table for my laptop and big monitor.

I’m leaving in about an hour to drive to Estes Park. The temperature is hovering around freezing and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in my tiny room. Just me, my NaNo project, and a crackling fire.

I’m very grateful I have the means to make this happen and plan to enjoy every moment of creative solitude.

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

Thankful Thursday: critique partner edition

Last night I met with my critique group (Writing Roosters) which always results in renewed energy and inspiration. What was different about last night’s experience is that I came home with a whole new game plan for my work-in-progress. A kinda scary yet exhilerating plan!

Laura Perdew and I were talking before the others arrived and after describing where I was at in my new project (outlining, figuring out stuff, writing VERY VERY slowly), she suggested I do NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November and participants set a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it before (although back in the glory days of LiveJournal I used to participate in writer Jo Knowles’s modified JoNoWriMo+1.5 which ran September 15-November 30).

Normally, I’m not a proponent of banging out a whole bunch of words in a short time because I know how easily I can get off track. Fast-drafting can also lead to SLOW revising as I struggle to make sense of the “story” I created. However, I think I can get myself set by November 1 so that I have a strong outline and characterization in place before writing this book. I realize that part of the reason for the SLOW writing on this project thus far is due to me second-guessing every other word. I need to give myself permission to get the story down as outlined and then revise from there.

So. Today I’m grateful for my critique partner’s kick in the butt.

I’m in for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else participating this year?

Thankful Thursday: the hello-there-old-friend edition

I just completed five days of a fasting-mimicking diet in which my caloric intake was greatly reduced. I embarked on this deprivation adventure because I’ve been feeling the effects of stress on my body and wanted to give my system a reboot. My sister and her husband have been doing the diet and their experiences convinced me it was worth a try. (Shout-out to my sis for all her guidance!)

Day One wasn’t bad. Day Two was rough. Days Three-Five were not too bad (my foggy brain went away and I was able to resume light exercise/walking).

And today? Day One of my return to normal eating? A happy day, indeed.

Anyone interested in trying this, go here for lots of good information. Also, the Cronometer is an absolute must for calculating calories and percentages of protein, carbs, and fat.

Today  I am exceedingly thankful that I do not have to measure every bit of food that goes in my mouth.

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.