Lessons from the Knit Wit

I've enjoyed some quiet time knitting over the past couple of much-enjoyed holiday days and I've learned two things.

1.  Don't leave your knitting out where the dogs (or more specifically, Maya) can get at it.

2.  The practice of knitting, whether it is the rhythm of the process or just sitting quietly and relaxing, invites ideas for writing to come into one's mind.

I was up at 5:30 today and have spent much of the morning at the computer.  I'm deep into the second draft of my memoir today and it's flowing! Oh, what a feeling!

Never Say Never

I just did something that I swore I would never do.  I got up at 5:00 am to go shopping on Black Friday!  I'm the one who doesn't like crowds and for many years have refused to go to the mall on any weekend in December.  I do my Christmas shopping early, on weeknights, or online. 

Alas, in the massive bundle of flyers that came with our Thanksgiving morning newspaper was one for Kohl's that contained something that I've been planning to buy for someone at some point, and the mark down was enough to incite me to break my cardinal shopping rule.

So, there I was just before 6:00 this morning, circling the parking lot at Kohl's watching for those white backup lights that mean someone is about to pull out.  What a sweet sight when I managed to snag a place fairly close to the door!

Once inside, I was stunned by the line-up to pay for things.  They actually had a woman holding up a sign that said "end of line" to help shoppers.  Once I found the item I was looking for, I made a bee line to the end of the line, not even taking the time to browse.  I was a woman on a mission.  The line-up moved fairly quickly, and I was in and out in about 45 minutes. 

Now I'm thinking that perhaps some of my rigid rules could be relaxed a bit.  Maybe I'll do something radical like skydiving or bungee jumping next!  Or maybe not, I think I'll just head downstairs and do some knitting.

Twenty Years in the Making

Today I celebrated twenty years with the company that I work for.  Twenty years! 

In 1989 the record of the year was Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin, the cost of a US stamp was twenty-five cents, Lucille Ball died at age 87, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction was awarded to Anne Tyler for Breathing Lessons.

I was a thirty-year old woman, my children were eleven and nine, and I was driven to move us forward into a life that, at that time, existed only in my mind.

I could never have fathomed the changes that would take place in the next twenty years.  I have changed careers, survived more than one company downsizing (Or rightsizing as they say now.  Yuck.), moved to Washington State, and watched the closure of the office in Canada where I first worked. 

The celebration was bitter-sweet for me in some ways.  Of all the great people I worked with when I started with this company only a handful remain, and only one with whom I still work.  In twenty years, one would expect there to have been retirements, and departures due to attrition, but the significant loss of co-workers due to the change in the economy and the business climate is a heart-breaking thing to ponder.

Don't get me wrong, I still work with a world-class group of individuals, but tonight my mind is on those I started out with twenty years ago in a tiny Business Systems department in Canada. 

My manager, Bob - He was an English man of integrity and grace who always did the right thing for his employees. Forced to retire, perhaps before he was ready.

Ray - an English curmudgeon of a man who frustrated me to no end at times.  Retired many years ago when he reached that age.

Ed - a man with a sense of humor and tales to tell from his childhood that kept us entertained many an afternoon.  Retired when he was ready.

Wanda - She is still my very best friend. We shared the best of times, and the worst of times over the years.  Retired.

Dan - Retired.  He had a nickname for everyone he came into contact with.  I was known as Linda Lou.

Barb - A behind-the-scenes girl who had a great sense of humor.  Once, when I left my pencil in her office she sent me an email telling me that she was holding it hostage and if I didn't do something-or-another she would take the lead out! Outsourced and then terminated due to changes in the company.

Norma - Retired, also perhaps before she was ready due to downsizing.  I bet she's square dancing and having a grand time these days.

Pete - The last man standing, a man of integrity and someone I consider a friend.  He, alone remains.

So today, I raise a glass to toast these who have crossed my path.  Each one has left an impression, each one is remembered with a smile on my face.

Good to be home.....

...well, kind of.  I have been home about an hour.  I miss these beautiful faces already!

Grandma's Evening

I am rushing around - my thoughts one step ahead of my steps.  Remember such-and-such, I remind myself. And with that I am hurrying downstairs to get something important.  Then back upstairs, my arms full of that such-and-such as well as a few other things that I meant to pick up.

My cell phone chimes and I look down at the number displayed on the front.  Realizing who is calling, I quickly pick up the phone.  Hello! I smile as I speak like an exited small child just before Christmas.  We speak, make plans, make notes, and say goodbye for the night. 

I'm back running again.  Into the closet where I stand looking at the hangers filled with clothing.  What to choose?  Then I chide myself for thinking, yet again, that I have nothing to wear.  I hurry back to the guest room where my suitcase lays open on the bed waiting for me to make a decision on what to take.  Back into the bathroom, thinking, pondering, planning.  What do I need to take? Which lotion should I pack?

Remember your passport.

Remember your itinerary.

Don't forget the GPS.

Is everything going to fit into that one piece of luggage, given that the other one is filled with other things meant for the babies that I love?

Such is the evening of a grandma on the night before she boards the plane to visit those she loves.  A daughter, a son-in-love, a son, a daughter-in-love and, most wonderful of all, a granddaughter and a grandson.

How will I sleep tonight with such anticipation running through my mind?  Doesn't matter.  Tomorrow I will hold my grandchildren!

An Empty Inbox

I have recently realized how much serenity there is to be found in an empty email inbox.  It's not uncommon for my inbox at work to contain a hundred or more unread messages during busy times.  As of this moment, my main personal email account has twenty-nine unread messages and there are ten more in other secondary email accounts I keep.

Sometimes, I must confess, I only have time to deal with those that are nearest the top.  I have my email sorted in order of receipt, with the most recently received ones at the top. It's quite possible for some messages to get buried as the unread messages pile up. There is a direct correlation to how many unread email messages I have and my stress level.

A few weeks ago I managed to get all of my inboxes to the point where all messages fit on one page, and the only ones that were saved were ones that I needed to do something with immediately.  What a sense of being in control I felt!  Each morning when I logged on, I was able to deal with new items as they came in, I felt relaxed and able to cope with anything.

Alas, the serenity was fleeting and I am once again at the point of being in email jail.  What was life like before the terms email and inbox controlled our life?  I'm guessing it was less stressful.

February in Texas

I booked my travel today.  In February I'm going to the SCN Stories from the Heart conference in Austin, Texas.  When it's dark and raining here in the Pacific Northwest, I'll be in in a warmer climate learning more about memoir with some incredible women.  I'm looking forward to it.

I wanted to introduce to a few women who will be participating on a panel with me called "Finding Our Voices Online".  Each of these women have been recipients of the SCN Star Blogger award, and if you haven't yet checked out their blogs, you better click right over and pay them a visit!

Nita Lou Bryant has two blogs, Cafe Nita Lou and Electric Nita Lou where she is sharing her adventures on an electric bicycle!

Rhonda Esakov writes at Rhonda's A "Musing'-ing Rambles.  She is shares some beautiful photographs of her gardens, is sometimes serious, sometimes thought-proviking, and if'you are looking for tax-tips for writers, it's the place to go.

You will find Kara Flathouse at Eskimo Kisses and Air Hugs.  Kara blog is choc-full of nuggets about her her faith, writing, family, home, garden, crafts, and her life in general.

Seasonality: The Common Sense Guide to Living the Good Life is where Becky Lane (also known as Hill Country Hippie) writes about living her own good life in the Texas Hill Country, including her very creative To Do lists.

The International Mom, Judy Miller is a mother of four beautiful children, a writer, and adoptive parent mentor.  Judy blog is a wonderful resource to anyone involved in adoption in any facet.

Becca Taylor, at Becca's Cyber Home also shares some beautiful photographs from her travel adventures and, in her words, "celebrates both the magical and the mundane".

What are your plans for early February?  If you have any interest at all in memoir then why don't you join me at Stories from the Heart V!

Ancestors and Descendents

Recently I heard someone say that not only are we descendents we are also ancestors.  I had to think about that for a minute when I first heard it before I understood what the speaker was saying.  We are the ancestors to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all of those who will come after us. 

I know how much I treasure little snippets of the past like letters that Dad wrote to Mom when they were dating, an aunt's diary from when she was a child, recipes that my grandma used with little hand written notes on them.  I have to believe that my descendents will be interested in similar snippets of my life one day.

Becky has a great post on her blog called Seasonality about this topic. I agree with Becky and Susan Albert in believing that we all have a story to tell, and that there is someone, somewhere, sometime who will treasure those stories.

Do something special for your descendents and write your own stories.  It can be as simple as a few pages about your favorite teacher or best friend, or an entire book about your life.  Whatever you write, believe that your words will be treasured and that you are giving someone an opportunity to know you better.  What a wonderful gift!


I'm going to turn into one of those eccentric older ladies; all the signs are there. We were out and about shopping yesterday and I saw two must-have items for my retirement.

The first was a cloche felt hat at Macy's.  I feel absolutely in love with this hat, and I'm not a hat person!  I can see myself wearing this hat and a cotton dress on a hot summer afternoon out for a drive in a jalopy. Sounds crazy, but it has a certain appeal to me.  They have it in red, which would be perfect for someone attending a Red Hat Society function.  I won't be joining though.  I plan to enjoy my unscheduled days and embrace spontaneity wearing my black cloche felt hat.

The second item was a Vespa.  Gerry and I both liked these, and I can picture the both of us taking a quick trip to the grocery store on our matching Vespas.  Of course, I'd have to be wearing my cloche hat, and Gerry would be wearing his fedora.  Perhaps we would have a side car of some sort for Maya and Chelsea.

Shoot...if I'm having these thoughts now one can only imagine what I'll be developing a yen for when I'm eighty!

Message from Nature

Once again I find myself taking cues from nature.  Well, nature as portrayed in a modern neighborhood anyway.

In our neighborood in the summertime the yards are, for the most part, beautiful.  (Don't get me started on those occasional few who choose not to mow the grass and to let the weeds run rampant.  That's a tale for another day.)  Saturday mornings find the yards filled with homeowners cutting grass, deadheading flowers, pruning bushes, and other tasks that make a yard look cared for.  I enjoy taking walks and drives to look at what others are doing in their yards to get ideas for my own.  It's a busy time.

Around mid to late September, the activitiy begins to slow down.  Leaves begin to turn and before you know it, the same yards that were perfectly kept in the summer become littered with leaves and other autumn debris.  It is kind of comforting.  It is a message that it's okay to relax a bit, we don't have to be perfect in our yard care.  It's okay to go out every week or so and rake up the leaves.  It's even okay to wait until the trees have all finished shedding their leaves before going out and tidying up the yard.  In sort, it's a time to chill out.

I'm enjoying autumn this year.  Each windy blustery day is an opportunity to enjoy the blessing of a home that I love, the huge windows in my new office, an afternoon browsing in the mall, or other indoor activities like knitting!

What autumn activities are you enjoying right now?

November Challenges

It's November, and November is choc-full of writing opportunities and inspiration. 
For fiction writiers, there is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where participants write an entire novel during the month.  Not only am I not a novelist, but that sounds like way more pressure than I need in my life. 

Then thre is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) that invites bloggers to post every day during November.  Again, perhaps a bit daunting for some.

Recently, I learned about WNFiN (Write Nonfiction in November) and this one is something that I can get my arms around.  To participate in Write Nonfiction in November, all you have to do is start and finish one piece of nonfiction during November.  It can be an essay, the chapter of a book, a query letter, anything.  To participate all one has to do is make up his or her mind and get started.  There will be daily posts on the on the WNFiN website with information and tips for all writers. 

Come on and join me in the WNFiN challenge this month!