Thursday, April 26, 2018

Breathing New Life And Blogging A New Book

Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien

My blogging has almost come to a standstill, as you well know. From posting every day in the beginning, to several times a week, to once a month, it has the look of a writer gasping her last breaths.

At first, I thought posting less often was a result of working offline on other writing projects, and that I didn't have energy or inspiration for both. Yes, that was true, but I also realized I was running out of fresh new things about which to write. It was not that I stopped seeing those 'glimpses of heaven' in my world around me. But, I did start asking myself, how many flower photos can I show you, how many times shall I tell you that I'm enjoying the view from my study window as I watch the birds at the feeders, the squirrel chasing down the back fence, and the neighbourhood bunny having another nibble from my rosebushes? What if my posts were getting a bit stale?

Since those early blogging days my life has changed. I'm not involved in the many outside activities I used to be. For the most part, my daily life is simple and quiet, pleasant and enjoyable for someone who loves her solitude and quiet space. But when it comes to blogging about what's going on, well, there's just not a lot new to chat about. I don't have kids or grandkids to talk about. I don't go to Oxford every year for my birthday (see previous post). I even read less these days, slowing my pace down so I can savour and ponder more. Which means less books to talk about too.

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Originally I started blogging to establish the habit of writing more regularly. I wanted to share 'the breathings of my heart' further afield. From the very beginning, I loved the whole process: designing it, learning how to create posts, and finally, by pressing publish, bravely sending my words out into the world.

From the start, blogging gave me a small audience. Even a dozen readers was more than I had before. I wasn't looking for hundreds, certainly not thousands, to read the blog; in fact, I felt a little nervous about that kind of exposure. But I knew I wanted to connect with kindred spirits, those individuals who shared similar interests and then wrote about it on their own blogs. I appreciated the immediacy of connection in Blogland. I certainly loved the beautiful feedback and affirmation that began to show up in my comment boxes. The truth of it, that's what I looked forward to the most after hitting the publish button -- finding a comment from someone who resonated with something I wrote. That's what moved me, continues to move me.

The truth is, I don't want to park my blog like an old used car. It's still my favourite way to write and connect with kindred readers. And what I've been finding out recently, this blog continues to have value and meaning for many of you. You've told me so, some even saying, you wished I would write more often, as you'd love to read more. Trust me, those comments are like music to my ears.

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So, I thought about what to do. I waited, listened, prayed. All the while thinking about how I still wanted to write about living a beautiful life, but that I needed a new focus, a new direction for the blog.

And, finally it came to me. There's a story I've been wanting to write out for a long time now. And, I found out, too, that I really like writing blog posts much better than trying to write a manuscript for a book. So I'm going to post what I've been trying to write in a book. It's the story of how I found my beautiful life. How, when I found myself 30 years old and still single, I had to set aside the long cherished dream of being a wife and mother by age 22 or 23, and by 25, at the very latest. It was the life-changing inward journey of discovery. When I look back at it all, I marvel at how God directed my steps and brought me into a place of wholeness, beauty, and joy.
“It has always been on the written page that the world has come into focus for me. If I can piece all these bits of memory together with the diaries and letters and the scribbled thoughts that clutter my mind and bookshelves, then maybe I can explain what happened. ... Maybe I can tell my story in a way that is useful to someone else.” ~ Nancy Horan, Loving Frank
Some people I know have blogged their story and then later turned it into a book. Depending on how it all turns out, perhaps that's what I will do down the road, but for now, I just need to write it down. And, to share it with you, my friends.

I'm not sure how often I'll post about it. I'd love once a week, but it takes me ages to sort out what I need to say, so I'll aim for once a month for right now. Plus, I will continue to post the occasional 'letter from home' or a Friday Five collection to fill you in on what's happening in the garden, what the birds are doing, not to mention the silly squirrel, and all the other good stuff called life.
"When a book (post) leaves your hand, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God's business."  ~Flannery O'Connor
So often we like to signal a new season in our lives with a marker of some kind. Like getting a new hairdo or writing a new poem, or reading a new-to-us author. It's a signal to the world that something has changed in us -- something old has passed away, something new is about to spring forth. In that vein, you might find some little changes to the blog when you next visit.

On that note, I'm wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.

With love and hugs,

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Birthday Treats, Past and Present!

Photo Kelly Neil |

This week's my birthday. Cards are arriving in the mail, I've been treated to lunch out, and had surprises in beribboned packages handed to me across the table. I feel like a child ... a little giddy even if I am turning 61. The feeling of being loved never gets old, does it?

I just love how after twenty years of being married to my wonderful guy, Rick still knows how to surprise me with lovely treats for my birthday. This year he's taking me to see Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. We've only heard the opera music on the radio. Rick's never been to an opera and it's been years since I've been to one myself. So we are looking forward to this evening of operatic splendour and grandness. And who knows, this might spark a new interest for both of us to pursue in the future.

For a wonderful rendition of the Overture (about six minutes), click here for the link. And, below is the 60-second trailer for the production we'll be seeing later tonight.

"He’s sly, arrogant, and takes pride in breaking women’s hearts — opera’s most notorious bad boy Don Giovanni is back in all his seductive glory! Often regarded as the crowning masterpiece of Mozart’s Italian repertoire, Don Giovanni combines elements of comedy, tragedy, and the supernatural in a riveting opera experience." ~ from their website
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"When I'm in London, Claridge's is a great place.
I'm a great fan of art deco architecture and the
rooms are extraordinary." ~ Roman Coppola 

It's now a year since that extra, extra special birthday treat from hubby last year. As you may recall, we took a little trip to Oxford to celebrate my 60th, posts here. We stayed several wonderful days at the Holywell Bed and Breakfast with our hospitable hosts and now friends Carrie, Stuart, and Jack, their most adorable doggie.

From there, we traveled up to London where we were booked for two days at the very nice (understatement) Claridge's Hotel. Rick had roses and champagne ordered ahead which arrived in our room shortly after we checked in. The lobby was spectacular. Every corner was polished. An elegantly attired elder gentleman invited us to step inside the opulent lift to whisk us up to our room, which was beautifully decorated and plush. I wished I had packed all my diamonds and a tiara (wink) when I saw what we'd stepped into. In spite of being tiara-less, we were treated royally. Did I mention that hubby did not tell me about this part of the trip ahead of time? It was all a big secret to be revealed once we arrived by London taxi at the impressive front entrance of Claridge's Hotel.   

First, we visited the amazing Victoria and Albert Museum, where Rick had searched out the Beatrix Potter exhibit for my great pleasure. We walked through some of galleries filled with art of some of my favourite painters. Such a thrill to see their work in person. We snooped in their delightful gift shop with all sorts of treasures to bring home. There was just so much to see -- a person really needed several days to see even just a few of the great exhibits.

Back at our hotel, a doorman was at the ready to open the taxi door and help us out. We swept into the great lobby as if we'd always done it that way (just like in the movies). Soon we were enjoying Afternoon Tea and, in my view, it really was afternoon tea at its ultimate best. And I've had lots of elegant afternoon teas in my life. We had polite and friendly, not to mention handsome, young waiters to wait on us and pour our cups of tea. We could select different varieties of interesting teas to try with each 'course'.

Photos on the walls indicated well-known people had visited this fine establishment over the decades, including Audrey Hepburn. I understand Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and The Queen Mother herself enjoyed taking afternoon tea there. And, apparently, Spencer Tracy once said he'd rather go to Claridge's than to heaven when he died.  We understood, we felt quite spoiled amongst all this poshness and glamour, sitting on chairs where maybe someone more famous than I once sat to drink tea and eat cucumber sandwiches. Believe me, we soaked it all up, and loved every minute!

I've included the link to a short video with some footage of the inside of Claridge's. It's from their website. You really do want to take a moment to watch it. Oh my goodness, it's a stunning peek into this beautiful and glamorous 5-star hotel. They gently advised not taking photos in the public areas to protect the privacy of all their guests. We felt a little sad about that, we're so used to in this day and age snapping pics at every turn. It reminded us that we were not at a tourist venue, but the real deal. So, thank goodness for memories.

And now, just to prove we really were there, here are a few pics of our fairy tale stay at Claridge's in London. 

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"The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose."
~ George Gissing

On that note, I'm off to get ready for our outing tonight. To my favourite Thai restaurant for dinner and then off to za opera.  

Here's wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
not to mention some proper Spring sightings in your part of the world.

With hugs and love,

PS. Aren't these take away boxes elegant?

"Take away boxes"

For the little desserts we just didn't have room for...
to be enjoyed later in the evening

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PSS. Oh, I just remembered the birthday note
I received from our waiters

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PSS  More mementos for the scrapbook

Just remembering it all again makes me feel happy!

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