"Fear not November's challenge bold. We've books and friends,
and hearths that never can grow cold. These make amends."
attributed to ALEXANDER L. FRASER
Outside my window: This morning we have overcast, moody grey skies, and snow is in the forecast. Blue jays fly in looking for breakfast, recognizable shrieks announce their arrival. Which makes me smile; it's as if they're saying, we're here, be sure the peanuts are out.
Inside my head: At the moment, I feel a similarly moody grey. Perhaps it's not quite enough sleep, or maybe I was hoping for winter sunshine to perk up the weekend.
What I'm wearing: Black jeans, patterned cotton t-shirt, grey cardigan, scent.
Two lovely books I read this week: First, Elizabeth Berg's 1996 novel The Pull of the Moon which is the story of a 50-plus woman named Nan who, going through the change of life, runs away from home and husband to take a road trip by herself. It becomes a look back as she recalls what she once dreamed when she was young and eager for life. . .before life got tangled in all the should and have-to's. Mostly Nan hopes, as she writes on-the-road letters to her husband of where she is and what she sees, that she can say on paper what she feels stifled to say face to face. She hopes he'll hear her, listen to what she's saying. But even if he doesn't, she's learning to be true to herself again. This gently written story is both poignant and humorous, with LOL moments I found delightful, especially when I recognized myself in them. A lovely read. I came away wonderfully grateful to be a part of the world's great company of women, knowing we can arrive at this season in our lives and know we're not alone in it.
The other book I finished is Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by British author Katherine May. In it she explores those literal and metaphorical dark seasons in our lives, sharing her own journey and how she has struggled to find the way through them. The book is beautifully written and has many nourishing, encouraging lines I've underlined and starred. Here are a few that touched me:
- "Like the robin, we sometimes sing to show how strong we are, and sometimes sing in hope of better times. We sing either way."
- "I began to get a feel for my winterings: their length and breadth, their heft. I knew that they didn't last forever. I knew that I had to find the most comfortable way to live through them until spring."
- "Plants and animals don't fight the winter; they don't pretend it's not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through."
- "He told her that they could keep tinkering with her medication, but it would never solve everything. 'This isn't about getting you fixed', he said. 'This is about you living the best life you can with the parameters that you have.' "
I participated in: A writers' retreat via Zoom last weekend. It was called Heal Create Writers Retreat led by a fellow in California named Jacob Nordby. There was a lovely lineup of speakers; I mainly signed up when I heard Julia Cameron and Anne Lamotte were speaking. Both were wonderful to catch live. Below are a handful of nuggets that stuck out for me. Perhaps they'll sparkle for you too, as you get on with your own projects, of whatever nature they might be.
- Julia Cameron. "Lower the bar" (of expectation). She said she writes two pages per day every day rather than aiming for 20 pages and only accomplishing it sometimes. "Easy" accomplishes it, she says. Probably good advice from someone who's written forty books.
- Julia Cameron. "Grab time". Don't wait for swaths of time. We all have 10 or 20 minutes here and there. Grab those few minutes to write. Grabbing time also works when I'm procrastinating for whatever reason, or I am overwhelmed by the size of the project. Deciding to focus on one small task for even 10 minutes often releases me from feeling frozen with impossibility. Flow happens from there.
- Julia Cameron on perfectionism. "If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I'd try." Doesn't that lift a load off?
- Anne Lamott: "Stop not writing". This was in response to all the excuses we use for not working on our projects, writing or otherwise.
I am looking forward to: Putting up my new 7-foot pencil evergreen tree festooned with permanent yellow-warm white lights. I loved it as soon as I saw it set up and lit at Michael's the other day. It was even on sale. I find so many of the new LED Christmas white lights are in a cool blue light, which to my view is not cozy at all. I brought the tree home eager to set it up, but.... hubby might look at me and wonder if he should call the 'Christmas police' as this is far too early for Christmas trees, even though it is snowy and dark and cold outside. This year though, I don't think I can wait until December. I'm longing to see twinkle lights now in that dark corner of the living room. So, I'll just set it up one day when he's out shovelling, or something. He'll grin and pretend he's mad and then enjoy it with me. hehe
On that note: Time has past since I started this post. I look up from my computer screen. The day outside brightened and writing today lightened my greyish frame of mind. Some friends stopped in for tea and blueberry almond muffins. We tried out a new box of Twinings Christmas Tea with cinnamon and cloves—it was delicious. As I type these final words, from my window I see the sky is now turning a pale cotton candy pink in the westerly direction. It's just 4:35 in the afternoon and already it grows dusk. I love this time of year. Time to turn on some lights, including the cozy lamp on my desk.
Wishing you a pleasant evening,
Top Image by Melanie from Pixabay