I’m Back!

I’m back with exciting news! I finally surrendered to the notion that I will never remember my WordPress password and decided to reset it. I can now log in and post new posts. I have found my way back home.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I always had the power to do this, but I put it off. Oh, yes, that’s a thing I will do, I would say while I busied myself not doing it. I will revisit my blog and raspberries3connect it to my new website and keep writing about the things that happen day-to-day. The raspberries are ripening. The dogs are growing older (but seemingly no wiser). The kids are moving on. I have much to say about all of this. Why did finding my way back to the spot where I say it take so long? I’m not sure. Why do many seemingly simple things take so long?

Perhaps because I’m too spent from doing the hard things. I’ll get to it, I tell myself, right after I climb down from this mountain. But there always seems to be another mountain. My mountains are work deadlines (Who doesn’t have these? No excuse!); anxiety and delight for the people I love who were once tiny humans but now have their own lives (two quite far away); the need to clear and reorganize the basement and closets of 18 years worth of living; the time to repaint faded walls and replant the flower garden; the desire to sit and be and remember. Remember important things, like my WordPress password.

My mountains are worthy mountains all, but they have not kept me away for good. I’m back. I’ve found that even forgotten things can be reset, and I can keep going.

 

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From the files . . .

I found an old interview I did years ago for a student completing her senior project for high school graduation–I think from 2011. She asked some pretty cool questions about writing. It’s fun for me to revisit my answers. It reinforces for me why I love what I do.

  1. When did you first become interested in writing?

My interest in writing came about rather by default. In school, it was the only thing I was good at; but fortunately, this helped with all the other subjects where I was weak. In honors biology my freshman year in high school, we had to do a genetics-probability type of experiment where we kept a journal of our findings. My journal had really nothing of any scientific value in it, but my teacher enjoyed the lively story about my penny collection. He told me I should consider being a writer when I grow up, and the next year I was dropped from the science honors program.

Later, after I had married and had my first child, I watched horrified as footage of baby victims of the Oklahoma City bombing were pulled from the rubble. I vowed to leave my full-time job in banking and find a career I could do from home. At around the same time, my mother gave me a box of stuff she had saved from my childhood and in it was an award I had won for writing in the first grade. I decided to give writing a try. I started by selling articles about family life and child care to local baby magazines, and was soon hired as a reporter for the Brockton Enterprise, where I worked for about seven years before I moved to Rhode Island.

2. Do you ever get writer’s block?  How do you overcome it?

First, I eat. I’ve gained 15 pounds since I went back to work as a newspaper writer last spring, after moving away from the teaching profession. As deadlines loom, I panic, eat, and chew my nails. It’s not pretty, but there it is.

Then, I start writing anything at all. Often, when I’m really stuck, my opening sentence will look like this, “I really hate this stupid assignment and I wish I hadn’t said yes to it, but I did, and now I have to write about stupid people who make money selling crafts on eBay…” And then I go on to write the story, making absolute certain that I erase the first sentence before I submit it.

And sometimes, I just type in all the quotes I’ve gathered from my research in no particular order. After they’re all on the page, I cut and paste them into a flow that I like, and then I fill in between with my own thoughts and connecting paragraphs.

And when I’m done, I eat some more. I’m thinking of replacing the “eating to break writer’s block” technique with exercising, but I’m not there yet.

3. What’s the most interesting story you’ve ever written about? 

Cool question.

One story I’m most proud of wasn’t actually that interesting to write. It was about a woman who had been a physician in Ukraine before she moved to the U.S. She was collecting money, food, and baby items to send to her former colleagues who ran an orphanage in Ukraine. I just wrote a small piece about what she was collecting and where donations could be sent.

I didn’t know this at the time, but the story was translated into Russian and reprinted in a Ukrainian paper, and Russian officials thought that the U.S. was publishing stories about the government not caring for its children.

A government official was prompted by the article to investigate and visited the facility to make sure the children were getting proper care. The official had recently been at an orphanage 100 miles away, noticed a child who resembled and had the same last name as a child in the orphanage I had written about, and brought the two boys together. Each had thought his brother had been killed in the same accident that killed their parents, and of course were delighted to find each other again.

So while the story itself wasn’t all that interesting at the time, it felt good that my writing had made such a difference in the lives of those two boys.

As for the most interesting story I’ve ever explored and written? I just don’t know. There have been hundreds. I’ve written about former CIA agents, a 9-year-old high diver who was blind (can you imagine???), a young man who survived a rare, often fatal form of brain cancer who went on to graduate from college and become a naturalist and a teacher. I’ve also covered drug busts, political scandals, and murder scenes. Not one stands out as “the most interesting.” I think, in general, I find them all interesting because people fascinate me.

My New World of Hygge

It’s been about a week since my girrl headed out into the world into parts unknown, and by parts unknown I mean Italy, which has Wifi and other modern conveniences like FaceTime and WhatsApp. She has used these modern conveniences to post pictures of the charming medieval village where she lives: the gorgeous architecture, the cobblestone streets. So, we’ve been in touch and it turns out she’s okay. Happy even. Who saw that coming?

I have decided to follow her example and experiment with new life philosophy. This week I’ve chosen the Danish concept of Hygge, which, loosely translated, means that I should be 100 percent comfortable 100 percent of the time.

Luckily, this has been easily accomplished. I have simply gone out into the woodland garden and created spaces where I can lose myself in complete comfort. I have cleared brambles from beneath a blueberry tree to create a spot for my morning coffee.

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I’ve moved stones (sorry for the thunderstorms) to plant roses to enjoy while I take my mid-morning tea.

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I have enjoyed reading time (which may or may not have turned into nap time) here.

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Or sometimes I switch things up and do some reading or restful contemplating here. Though Hygge advocates for the comfortably familiar, I want to be careful not to get too complacent. (Or maybe that’s missing the point. I don’t know. I’m new at this.)

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My late afternoon coffee is taken here, near my way-in-the-back vegetable garden, so I can meditate and tell the deer not to eat my spinach.

 

Or sometimes here, for a better view of the roses.

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Late-night chamomile tea, taken to offset the late afternoon coffee, is enjoyed outdoors under the stars and the moonlight, which is not crazy at all, no matter what people say.

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I’ve also made some lovely new friends, who also speak a language that I don’t understand.

In short, I have stopped at nothing to create a world in which I am always comfortable, all the time. I believe the complete and total physical comfort promised by Hygge is a worthy goal, and if I have to suffer poison ivy rashes, insect bites, burns, bumps and bruises to get it, then I’ll do what I have to do.

So you see? Though my girrl is far away, she’s still inspiring me. I’ve embraced a different culture and a new way of life right here in my very own back yard, thanks to her ambition and boldness.

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By the way, I’ve found Hygge to be exhausting. Next week I’ll try something else.

Time for an April Fool’s Snowstorm

Sorry. I’ve missed you. I took some time off from blogging to have some quiet time.Zen frog 2

I spent my quiet time being quiet, in the garden and in the greenhouse mostly, meditating and resting.

Also, I was on a treasure hunt for the cause of some weird health issues. The whole thing is not completely sorted out, but I’m on the mend after months of doctor visits and blood tests that left me looking like a boxer who punches solely with her inner elbows.

Also, I worked very hard at work, because I love it so much. When asked to take on an overload, I can’t resist and won’t say no. I know am blessed to feel this way.

Also, I wrote a series of nonfiction children’s books on the U.S. military, which I found to be challenging because military information is, by nature, classified and top secret. I learned some kind of gross things that didn’t make the final edits, but I can’t un-know them and they’re really fun and gross, trust me.

Okay, I see it now. My quiet time was not all that quiet, but it was quiet enough for me.

Now I’m back. I supposed there’s no better time celebrate the noise and chaos of a busy life than right before an April Fool’s snowstorm.

Elsie and Nick April snowstorm 2

This picture is from the last time we had an April Fool’s snowstorm. Elsie is a college graduate now and Nick is in his junior year at UConn. May it be that long before we have another one.

If I Could Talk to 2-Year-Old Me…

A young but wise beyond my years 2-year-old me.
   A young but wise beyond my years 2-year-old me.

This is a picture of a 2-year-old me holding my very best friend, the doll I got for my birthday and named Baby Hat. I know it’s not possible, but if I could talk to 2-year-old me, this is what I would say:

You are not going to grow much taller than you are right now.

See that black-and-white TV on your right? Laugh at it. In 25 years, you’ll understand why.

Keep that silly pink hat on your head. You are going to need it to cover a horrible perm when you’re in the 7th grade.

You will never learn to cook.

Baby Hat is not a bad start, but you are going to get much better at naming babies.

BLOG Kristin jr highThis is what you are going to look like in junior high school, but like all painful things, it, too, shall pass.

You are going to marry the man of your dreams and live happily ever after.

You should take care of your skin.

I already know that you’re not going to, but don’t worry about it. When you start to wrinkle, your eyesight will fade, and it will all be good.

You will travel the world wide, but you will always love home the best.

You will survive childbirth, a car crash, and your first year of teaching, but wisely, you will never submit to having a root canal.

People will think you are weird, and they will be right. It’s okay, because all of your favorite people will be weird, too.

Put your head down and go.

Do the hard thing first.

Chocolate loves you.

You won’t remember anything I’m telling you, because you’re only two and do not have a memory bank yet, so you’re going to have to figure all of this out on your own. But don’t worry, you will.

This is what Baby Hat and I look like today. I am not sure to whom time was kinder, but it doesn't matter as long as we still have each other. We are nothing if not loyal.
This is what Baby Hat and I look like today. I am not sure to whom time has been kinder, but it doesn’t matter as long as we still have each other. We are nothing if not loyal.